Breaking down Week 7 in the NFL

Week 7 is already upon us, and this so-called year of parity
is really only a half-truth. The NFC is wide open with no one-loss teams after
just six weeks, but it’s the usual suspects in the AFC.
This week features a few key divisional games, perhaps none bigger than Monday
night in Dallas
between the surging Giants and the fading Cowboys. Will Wade Phillips,
remarkably still employed at this point, still have a job if Big D loses that
one? At any rate, let’s dive right into the picks:


Last week: 7-6-1

Season: 44-42-4


Buffalo at Baltimore (-13)

Seff’s take: The Ravens are 4-2 and not happy about it. They
feel they could be 6-0, yet are smarting after blowing a 10-point lead in New England last week. The Bills enjoyed their first
non-losing Sunday in Week 6 with their bye, but it will be back to reality this
time around. Ed Reed or no Ed Reed, Ryan Fitzpatrick is in for a long day. The pick: Ravens.


Cincinnati at Atlanta (-3.5)

Seff’s take: With a chance to prove some of their doubters
wrong last week, the Falcons came up flat in Philadelphia
and fell back into a first-place tie with New
Orleans in the NFC South. Now they get the reeling but
rested Bengals to start a three-game homestand. Cincinnati
needs to get it together quick in a tough AFC
North, and this one doesn’t figure to come easy for Atlanta, who has seen far too much of Terrell
Owens throughout his NFC years. The
pick: Bengals.


Cleveland at New Orleans (-13)

Seff’s take: The Saints finally enjoyed a laugher in Tampa, not to mention hit
30 on the scoreboard (31 to be exact) for the first time as well. The woebegone
Browns may just stick with Colt McCoy, who performed as well as could have been
expected in the team’s loss to Pittsburgh
last week. Yet to enjoy a big performance at home, this could be the week for
the Saints in that capacity. The pick:

Jacksonville at Kansas City (-9)
Seff’s take: The Jaguars were
pummeled last Monday night and now will likely turn to Todd Bouman with
David Garrard injured. The Chiefs dropped a heartbreak and need to get
it going and try and create some distance in the AFC West. Although it
would appear Bouman’s presence gives the Jags no shot, Jacksonville has
won the past four meetings in this series, and Jack Del Rio’s teams
seem to put up a fight when their backs are against the wall. Kansas
City should bounce back at Arrowhead and get to 4-2, but often times a
young team put in the position of being expected to win tends to
struggle somewhat. The pick: Jaguars.


Philadelphia at Tennessee (-3)

Seff’s take: The Titans are an early-season
surprise at 4-2,
but are just 1-2 at home. Philadelphia,
on the other hand, is 3-0 on the road. Kevin Kolb will likely get the
again, but the bigger QB question resides in Nashville. Vince Young was
knocked out in the
first half Monday night in Jacksonville,
and backup Kerry Collins is limited by an injured finger on his
throwing hand. One figures to start, but it may be problematic against
a blitzing Philadelphia defense. The pick: Eagles.


Pittsburgh (-3) at Miami

Seff’s take: The Dolphins came up big in Green Bay last week, but now they come home
to a stadium where they have lost four straight dating back to last year. That
includes a Week 17 loss to the Steelers, who enjoyed the return of Ben
Roethlisberger last week against the hapless Browns. Miami
was embarrassed by New England two weeks ago
and needs to establish some kind of comfort at home. Unfortunately, with the
league’s best defense and a proclivity to win on the road, this may not be the
week for it. The pick: Steelers.


St. Louis at Tampa Bay

Seff’s take: There has been no quieter success story this
year than the St. Louis Rams, who have tripled their win total from last year
through just six weeks. Sam Bradford looks like the real deal, even if he
doesn’t have a glamorous group of receivers to throw to. The Bucs, meanwhile,
feel like the worst 3-2 team in football, having suffered two embarrassing
losses at home to Pittsburgh and New Orleans. The bad news
for the Bradford is that he has yet to win on the road; this will be his third
start away from home, and the last one was an utter disaster in Detroit. Expect a good
game between these teams, but the Bucs should have enough here. The pick: Buccaneers.


San Francisco (-3) at Carolina

Seff’s take: How about those red-hot Niners? Blazing into Charlotte riding a
one-game winning streak, they are entering the lush part of their schedule. The
Panthers had a bye last week, meaning Steve Smith had time to heal. This week
it will be Matt Moore trying to keep him happy, not rookie Jimmy Clausen. You
have to feel for John Fox, one of the league’s better coaches who has very
little to work with. Carolina
will find the win column eventually, but this is the time for Mike Singletary’s
group to try and gain some momentum. The
pick: 49ers.


Washington at Chicago (-3)

Seff’s take: The Bears have been anything but impressive the
last three weeks, and Jay Cutler has been banged around considerably in the two
games he’s played (both losses). The Redskins defense showed some weakness last
week, but to be fair it was the Colts. Washington
has been involved in a close game virtually every week, while the Bears are
still trying to shed some doubt despite a 4-2 start. This one has the feel of a
struggle throughout, so it’s anyone’s guess at the end. The pick: Redskins.


Arizona at Seattle (-5.5)

take: Another quiet 3-2 team resides in the Pacific Northwest. The
Seahawks have a chance to put a little distance between them and the
rest of the division with a win over Arizona. The Cardinals have won
the past four meetings in this series, but Max Hall will be making his
first road start in one of the loudest stadiums in football. If
Marshawn Lynch gets going early, the Cardinals will have a long uphill
climb. The pick: Seahawks.

New England at San Diego (-3)

take: The Chargers are in quite a mess. Under .500 after six games for
the first time since 2003, they get the red-hot Patriots and will
likely be without the services of Malcolm Floyd and possibly Antonio
Gates as well. The Patriots are loving the fact that they can further
rub it in the face of their critics by winning a critical road game
without Randy Moss. The Chargers haven’t solved the Patriots, losing
twice in the playoffs to them this decade. Amazingly, the most
significant matchup in this game won’t involve Tom Brady or Philip
Rivers, but rather the mismatch in special teams, which has had a hand
in all four of the Chargers’ losses this year. New England’s have
played a role in at least two of their wins. To boot, perennial
playoff-choking kicker Nate Kaeding is out, meaning another recent
choke artist, Kris Brown, gets the nod. Bad news for the Bolts. The pick: Patriots.

Oakland at Denver (-8.5)

take: As bad as things have been for the Raiders, they have gone into
Invesco Field at Mile High the last two years and taken down their
archrivals. The plot is slightly different this time around. Not for
the Raiders, who are in a familiar spot at 2-4, but for the Broncos,
who with the same mark are in unfamiliar territory. Oakland’s pass
defense should be able to keep the Broncos’ high-flying attack in
check, but they are having a plethora of plroblems with their own
offense. A lack of offensive production could hinder their chances of
covering, despite the fact that the oddsmakers are being quite generous
here. The pick: Broncos.

Minnesota at Green Bay (-2.5)

take: Favre Bowl III (II at Lambeau) lacks a bit of the luster of last
year’s game because neither team is above .500. But they appear to be
going in opposite directions; the Vikings edged the Cowboys for a huge
win last week, while Green Bay has lost back-to-back overtime games.
Last year, Minnesota’s defense tormented Aaron Rodgers, notching 14
sacks in the two wins. Brett Favre is always up for a challenge, and
the Packers are hurting. Either way, this should be an entertaining
game with plenty of subplots. The pick: Vikings.

New York Giants at Dallas (-3)

take: Alright, seriously, it really is put-up-or-shut-up time in Big D.
At 1-4, it’s hard to believe Wade Phillips still has a job and Jerry
Jones is still calm. But things could spiral out of control with a loss
at home to the Giants, quietly surging to the top of the NFC ranks at
4-2. They had some tentative moments in a trap game last week, but
their defense is starting to resemble that of the championship team of
2007. Dallas has often been its own worst enemy with foolish penalties
and untimely turnovers, but something tells me they’ll be a lot more
focused and disciplined with the whole world watching. The pick: Cowboys.

Upset of the Week: BENGALS over FALCONS. To be fair, there weren’t many
great upsets to choose from this week. But the Falcons raised some
eyebrows in a negative way by falling behind so quickly in Philadelphia
last week. The Bengals need to get things turned around in a hurry, and
if nothing else are well rested off their bye. If Carson Palmer can
avoid the mistakes that have plagued him in the team’s three losses,
the Bengals should be able to steal one in the Georgia Dome.

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