NFL Week 7: Sparse Weekend Highlighted By Broncos/Colts Battle
We’re almost at the halfway mark of the 2013 National Football League schedule and Week 7 probably looked good on paper when it was set. After six weeks of battle, however, those once-glamorous games have been reduced to afterthoughts as only the Monday night trip by the powerhouse Denver Broncos – and QB Peyton Manning – to Manning’s old stomping grounds in Indianapolis looks to be what you would call a “marquee matchup” (home teams are in CAPS, lines from the Mirage in Las Vegas and the choice for the game in BOLD).
Seattle Seahawks (-6.5) vs. ARIZONA CARDINALS
After losing their first game in Week 5 versus Indianapolis, the Seahawks came back with a tougher-than-expected win against a Tennessee team that gave them a fight. This week, the ‘Hawks are back on the road again, traveling to take on a 3-3 Cardinal team that has been a bit of a surprise to this point in the season.
The key point to this game will be whether the Cardinals defense (ranked 5th in the league) can shut down the 2nd ranked rushing offense of the Seahawks. If that happens, the Cardinals will keep it close, but I would take Seattle QB Russell Wilson over Arizona QB Carson Palmer if it comes down to the quarterbacks. I am not expecting the Cards’ D to excel in this game, thus give up the points and look for a solid Seahawks win.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+7) vs. ATLANTA FALCONS
This is one of those games that might have been “marquee” at the start of the season. Now, it’s just a game between a winless Bucs squad that seems to be trading every valuable piece they have and a one-win Falcons team that has been devastated by injury.
Buccaneers QB Mike Glennon, a rookie out of NC State with two NFL starts under his belt, has yet to surpass the season totals of former starter Josh Freeman (who has landed in Minnesota), resulting in the worst passing game in the NFL. Falcons WR Julio Jones is gone for the season, leaving QB Matt Ryan with limited options (outside of TE Tony Gonzalez) to continue to be the second ranked passing offense in the NFL. This game will be a grind-it-out affair, with both teams trusting in their running games; while Atlanta will win, the Bucs will be closer than the seven point spread.
Cincinnati Bengals (+3) vs. DETROIT LIONS
The Bengals have been rather consistent to start the NFL season, although their 4-2 record only has them one game ahead of the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC North. Detroit is also 4-2, but they have been quite “Jekyll and Hyde” with a win against NFC North rival Chicago but a loss against the Arizona Cardinals on the record.
The availability of Lions WR Calvin Johnson will be the question mark here. He was inactive versus Green Bay (a loss) but came back for last week’s game against Cleveland (a win). The Bengals are right smack in the middle of the NFL when it comes to both passing and rushing, which should be enough for them to keep the game close, if not take an outright win.
Buffalo Bills vs. MIAMI DOLPHINS (-8)
I would have taken the points and the Bills in this game if it weren’t for their current quarterbacking situation. QB EJ Manuel, who went down in last week’s loss to Cincinnati, is out 4-6 weeks with a knee injury; backup Thad Lewis also went down in that same game. The Bills went out and got QB Matt Flynn to take the snaps, but there isn’t enough time for him to even know the names of his new teammates, let alone try to mesh with them on offense. With that in mind, you have to take the Dolphins and give up the points.
New England Patriots (-4.5) vs. NEW YORK JETS
This game is almost a gift from the Mirage bookies. The Patriots shrugged off a loss to Cincinnati in Week 5 by going out and knocking off the then-undefeated New Orleans Saints last week with a sterling performance from QB Tom Brady. The Jets, with the 12th ranked passing defense and 2nd ranked rushing D, might try to slow the Pats down, but remember the old axiom, “Don’t bet against Tom Brady unless he’s in a coma.” Take the Pats and give the points in this game.
Dallas Cowboys vs. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (-3)
Much like the Buffalo Bills, I would have taken Dallas in this game except for the rash of injuries they have had. RB DeMarco Murray has already been ruled out for this game and DL DeMarcus Ware is not expected to play either due to injuries suffered against Washington. The Eagles will be without QB Michael Vick, but backup Nick Foles has shown he’s more than capable of operating the offense (creating another QB controversy in the City of Brotherly Love).
With both teams at 3-3, this game is for supremacy in the NFC East (shouldn’t that read NFC Least?). After Sunday, the Eagles should be the ones who will sit atop what has been a rather dreadful division this season.
Chicago Bears (+1) vs. WASHINGTON REDSKINS
This is one of the toughest games to pick this weekend. Oddsmakers have it anywhere from favoring the Bears by a point to Washington by a point to a pick ‘em. Although they’ve lost their last two games, I would expect Chicago to shake off some doldrums against the Redskins, who are still trying to find their footing this season.
St. Louis Rams vs. CAROLINA PANTHERS (-6)
The Rams have quietly gotten out to a 3-3 record to start the season and were impressive in their thumping of the Houston Texans last Sunday night. The Panthers haven’t exactly been quiet either, with their two wins coming against the New York Giants and the Minnesota Vikings. The Carolina defense (seventh in passing defense, fourth in rushing D) will be the difference maker here in driving the Panthers to their third win of the season.
San Diego Chargers (-7.5) vs. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
There is no reason to believe that the Jaguars will even cover this game, although they did against the merciful Denver Broncos last weekend. ‘Bolts QB Phillip Rivers is under consideration for MVP honors this year and TE Antonio Gates has been reborn under new head coach Mike McCoy. The Chargers will not be as kind to the Jags as the Broncos were; expect a pretty severe beat down by the boys from the West Coast against the lowly Jacksonville squad.
San Francisco 49ers (-4) vs. TENNESSEE TITANS
The 49ers are trying to keep pace with Seattle in their division and, if they are going to continue to do so, this is the type of game that they need to win. The Titans aren’t going to just roll over for them, however. Expect a hard fought game but for the 49ers to pull it out with a late touchdown to cover the spread.
Cleveland Browns vs. GREEN BAY PACKERS (-10)
Two injury ravaged teams will go at it on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field (not so frozen right now, game time temperature is expected to be 48 degrees). The Browns will start former first-stringer Brandon Weeden again (with Brian Hoyer once again out), while Packers QB Aaron Rodgers will have to do without WR Randall Cobb. Surprisingly, the Pack offense (4th in passing, 5th in rushing) has been stout with all the injuries and they should be able to roll at home (2-0 this season, 1-2 on the road with last week’s win over Baltimore) over the Browns.
Houston Texans vs. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (-6.5)
Time to pull the plug on the Texans’ season. Off to a dismal 2-4 start, with a QB in Matt Schaub with a battered mind (and a leg injury, which might keep him out of this game), they have little shot of catching Indianapolis for the division crown and a wild card berth is unlikely. The Chiefs, under new head coach Andy Reid and new QB Alex Smith, have been crushing teams in rolling out to a 6-0 start. That won’t change this weekend as the Chiefs will batter the Texans yet again.
Baltimore Ravens (+1.5) vs. PITTSBURGH STEELERS
Although they looked out of sorts against the Packers last week, the Ravens aren’t as bad off as the Steelers are. Where he once looked around at quality assistance, Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger now has little help, thus the 1-4 start to the 2013 season. That will be 1-5 after the Ravens come to town in their effort to defend their Super Bowl championship.
Denver Broncos (-6.5) vs. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
Are you going to be the one to bet against Peyton Manning? Off to his best start for a season in his career, this “marquee matchup” will probably be a slaughter as Peyton looks to exact some revenge. Comments by Colts owner Bob Irsay regarding Manning’s performance with the team (one Super Bowl title in his 14 years), the bush-league move by Irsay to “pay tribute” to Manning during pre-game and the lack of comments from Manning regarding the divorce from the Colts in 2011 just set up for a Manning performance that might be his best of the season (and remember, this is a guy who threw for six TDs in Week 1).
Minnesota Vikings (+3) vs. NEW YORK GIANTS
What might have been expected to be a “marquee matchup” at the start of the year is going to be a bit disappointing for ESPN. The Giants have nothing to bring to the table with their 0-6 record (although they did look like they were living against the Bears last Thursday night) and Minnesota, with new QB Josh Freeman, isn’t much better at 1-4. Expect a heavy dose of RB Adrian Peterson throughout the evening as the Vikings send the Giants to 0-7 and the sounds of “With the first pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the New York Giants select…”
Last Week: Damn, 6-8, breaking our streak of .500 or better weeks at four. Time to get a new streak going.
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