Week 7 NFL Picks

Rob Gronkowski: Set to return in week seven?

With six weeks of the NFL season in the books and the standings starting to really take shape here are my predictions for week seven. With many fascinating match-ups, not least Peyton Manning’s return to Indianapolis, this evenings slate of games should not be missed.

Tampa Bay @ Atlanta

Neither of these teams have had the seasons they hoped for, and as a result the play-off implications are minimal. However Atlanta still has a shot to resurrect their season with a win, and if they can get the W they could find themselves in a tie for second in the division with Carolina. Running back Steven Jackson remains injured and Roddy White will miss the first game of his NFL career. Nonetheless the Buccaneers showed nothing at home to Philly last week to suggest they can stop Matt Ryan from connecting frequently with Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez. Home win. Buccaneers 17, Falcons 27

St. Louis @ Carolina

This game pits two teams who routed their opposition last week against each other, with both well in the hunt for a wild card spot. The Rams destroyed Houston, on the road, 38-13 and Carolina were equally impressive in beating the Vikings 35-10 in Minnesota. While both Cam Newton and Sam Bradford are playing good football at the moment I think the Rams defense is more advanced than Carolina’s, so although the Panthers enjoy home-field advantage in this one I’m going to go with the visitors in what could well be a tight game. Rams 24, Panthers 23

Cincinnati @ Detroit

Another game where both sides are well matched, with both the Bengals and Lions 4-2 in the early going. While Cincinnati have been winning predominantly with a stingy defense Detroit have weapons such as Calvin Johnson, Reggie Bush and rookie sensation Joseph Faruia to call upon when they have the ball. As good as A.J Green is, Andy Dalton often struggles to get the job done at QB for Cincy and as a result I’m picking the Lions and their explosive offense, especially with Megatron nearing 100%. Bengals 21, Lions 28

San Diego @ Jacksonville

Although they remain winless the Jaguars at least put a fight last week against Denver, while the Chargers made it back to 3-3 with an upset over the Colts. Antonio gates is having a bouncback season and new addition Danny Woodhead has given the San Diego offense a dimension it previously lacked. This could be a chance for the Jaguars to get in the win column in 2013; sadly I just don’t think the Chargers are bad enough to let that happen, and the motivation to move to 4-3 is all they’ll need to do exactly that. Chargers 30, Jaguars 24

 Buffalo @ Miami

This AFC east battle is a fantastic opportunity for Miami to make a move in the division, especially with Bills QB E.J Manuel still sidelined. Thad Lewis will once again start at Quarterback for Buffalo, and with running back C.J Spiller not fully fit the Dolphins defense will fancy their chances of shutting the Bills O down. Ryan Tannehill has played steady football and although Mike Wallace is yet to break out Miami should have more than enough on offense to score the points that will take them to 4-2, and potentially just a half game behind New England. Bills 13, Dolphins 21

New England @ New York Jets

Things are looking up for the Patriots, who pulled off a stunning last minute win over the Saints last week and who also have TE Rob Gronkowski medically cleared to play for the first time this season, although he remains questionable. The Jets appear to be heading in the opposite direction and their terrible showing against Pittsburgh last week was troubling after some encouraging early season performances. Geno Smith will be pleased to see linebacker Jerod Mayo and cornerback Aqib Talib both ruled out for this one, although that won’t be enough for New York to upset New England thanks to Bill Belichick’s renowned mastery of rookie Quarterbacks. Patriots 27, Jets 16

Dallas @ Philadelphia

While neither team has been spectacular in reaching 3-3 this game represents the battle for NFC east supremacy. I think Dallas are a better team, and they could quite easily have beaten Denver two weeks ago. However since then they’ve lost DeMarco Murray and DeMarcus Ware to injury, while defensive lineman Jay Ratliff has been released. The Eagles have lost eight games in a row at home, a staggering and unwanted record, so really this game could be a case of who makes the fewest mistakes. I was tempted to go with Philly, but while they could score plenty of points their porous defense is just too bad to ignore and I can see Tony Romo having a field day against the Eagles secondary, with Dez Bryant the main beneficiary. I hope I’m wrong, of course. Cowboys 38, Eagles 34

Chicago @ Washington

The Bears have had a ten day break since they beat New York on Thursday Night Football, which I think gives them the edge heading into this game against the desperate Redskins. Chicago has played solid football all season and their defenses propensity for forcing turnovers combined with Washington’s habit of committing them means that Marc Trestman’s team should exit FedEx Field with a crucial win and a 5-2 record. Bears 28, Redskins 21

San Francisco @ Tennessee

Jake Locker is back for the Titans, who struggled with Ryan Fitzpatrick under centre in his absence. The 49ers were able to defeat Arizona at home last week with Frank Gore topping 100 yards and Colin Kaepernick throwing two TDs as he looks to emerge from his early season slumber. However Vernon Davis was the real star, as he caught both of Kaepernick’s touchdown tosses and went off for 180 yards receiving. Even with Locker back in the fold beating San Fran will be a tough ask for the Titans, who while looking solid defensively have really struggled to score points. 49ers 24, Titans 17

Cleveland @ Green Bay

The Browns three game winning streak is now well in the rear view mirror, and they won’t be returning to winning ways this weekend against a very good Packers unit. The most surprising thing about Green Bay has been their stifling defensive play, which combined with their potent offense makes them a touch match-up for any team. Eddie Lacy has injected some life into the Pack running game, another positive as they look set to move to 4-2, with the Browns falling below .500 in the process. Browns 19, Packers 31

Houston @ Kansas City

Case Keenum looks set to become the first Quarterback in NFL history to see his first regular season action against the Chiefs in KC, as he goes up against what is probably the best defense in football. A lot of pundits have drawn comparisons between Keenum and Tony Romo, who was also undrafted. However while Romo has gone on to have a very good career he did suffer some growing pains early on, and it’s unlikely the Kansas City D will give Keenum an easy ride this evening. Last weeks blow out loss at home to the Rams was extremely troubling for the Texans, and Andy Reid extraordinarily looks set to take his team to 7-0 after a 2-14 campaign a season ago. Texans 16, Chiefs 24

Baltimore @ Pittsburgh

These two waning AFC north powers meet in a must win game for both sides. The Steelers will be looking to build on last weeks win over the Jets, their first of the season, while the Ravens could move into a tie for the division lead should the Bengals lose in Detroit. I’m not convinced about either team, but with their season hanging by a thread I have a feeling the Steelers will move their winning streak to two games. Whether I’m right or not remains to be seen. Ravens 17, Steelers 20

 Denver @ Indianapolis

The game of the week, Peyton Manning returns to the city where he made his name as an NFL superstar and led the Colts to 11 play-off appearances and one Superbowl title. He’ll square off against his replacement Andrew Luck, who himself looks primed for a successful NFL career and has Indianapolis well positioned to make the play-offs for the second consecutive year with a 4-2 record. Unfortunately for Colts fans that will probably read 4-3 after tonight’s game thanks to the irrepressible  Broncos offense and a defense that will be bolstered by the return of star linebacker Von Miller from his substance abuse related ban. It should be a fascinating contest with plenty of points for both teams, but I think Denver could be home and hosed before the closing stages. Broncos 37, Colts 28

Minnesota @ New York Giants

In what has been statistically proven to be the worst Monday Night Football match-up this late in to the season ever, the hapless Giants host the equally terrible Vikings. Josh Freeman makes his first start in purple and gold and that adds intrigue to an otherwise unglamorous encounter, but he’s new to the system and with the Giants desperate to finally get a win this season I sense they’ll take the opportunity to end their losing streak, sinking the Vikings to 1-5 in the process. Vikings 19, Giants 28

So those are my predictions for week seven, let me know if you agree or disagree in the comments or tweet me @fredjstanley. If you haven’t listened to this weeks podcast you can access it via this link at Mixcloud. Make sure you check back for next weeks edition, and if you did listen you’ll have noticed I correctly picked a Seattle win on Thursday Night Football, while my guest Scott Taylor unsuccessfully chose the Cardinals.

NB: New Orleans and Oakland are on their bye this week.
 

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