Neither Dan nor I liked the lines much last week and agreed they were a manure based bread snack.. However, the games were excellent, with the highlight probably being an improbable victory for the Rams over the visiting Seahawks. A win that included two great special teams plays that are well worth a look if you haven’t seen them yet. Also worth mentioning is that Peyton Manning passed Bret Farve to become the quarterback with the most passing touchdowns in league history, and given that he doesn’t look like slowing down anytime soon, I think that record is going to get a lot bigger.
I’m kicking myself a little bit about picking the Chargers last week, I was tempted to pick them as the injuries are mounting up for the Chargers, the Chiefs were coming off a bye and had been playing well, despite the now odd looking loss to the Titans. What I didn’t know was that Andy Reid had a 13-2 record coming off a bye, more proof that he is a pretty good coach.
I reverted very quickly to gallows humour on Sunday whilst watching the Bengals get bludgeoned by the Colts defence. I’m adopting the new nickname of the Cincinnati Bagels for my team, as heard on the Tuesday Morning Football Podcast, for this week and hopefully they can manage to score some points against the good visiting Ravens, but as I’m beginning to talk about the games, I guess I should start writing them up properly.
Gee: Week 7 6-9 Overall 52-54
Dan: Week 7 6-9 Overall 55-51
Chargers @ Broncos (-7.5)
We have now had two good Thursday night games in a row and this one looks like it should a cracker. Both teams are playing well, although the Chargers are the much more injured team. I’m really looking forward to going through the coaching tape of this one, but for me I think there is only one likely winner. The Chargers have been kings of the time of procession battle and I think it is possible that they keep it close again, but the problem is that the Broncos defence is playing very well and they are surging ahead atop the DVOA rankings. This could backfire on me as these larger spreads are difficult, but I have a feeling that the Broncos are going to do well at home.
Gee’s Pick: Broncos
Dan’s Pick: Broncos
Lions vs. Falcons (+3.5)
Not only do we get a game in London this week, but the NFL are experimenting with an early kick-off. This will, as much as anything, tell them if they can fit another game into the Sunday TV schedules, firming up the rationale for putting on the games in London and possibly giving them another package to sell to the American networks. Sadly I think this is going to be a very one sided game. The Lions defence is playing brilliantly and the Falcons have lost five o-line starters to injury already this season. Not a good combination, and although the Lions have been struggling on offence, the Falcons defence has been worse so for me this is a simple pick.
Gee’s Pick: Lions
Dan’s Pick: Lions
Bills @ Jets (-2.5)
I was pretty impressed with a lot of what the Jets did against the Patriots last week, and you can make a case that they should have won the game. The problem is that they didn’t, and they failed to win in particularly characteristic ways. The bad penalties and the offence lack talent is not something that is going to turn around quickly. I wrote in my recap of the game that you can’t fix a lack of talent during the season, and the Jets immediately go out and trade for Percy Harvin. The history of high profile wide receiver transactions has not often been successful, so I’m really not sure if Percy Harvin will have an impact in this game. The deal was worth doing as Harvin’s contract means they can cut him easily if things don’t work out, and they only gave up a sixth round pick, but this isn’t a magic panacea that is going to fix all of their problems.
It turns out that Sammy Watkins is so good, that you only need competent quarterback play to win games, although the Bills left it very late against the Vikings. However, I don’t think the Jets will have the same success running the ball in this game and as a consequence I think this is a worse match up for them. I think this will be a very good close game, but I think I know where this one is going.
Gee’s Pick: Bills
Dan’s Pick: Bills
Bears @ Patriots (-6.5)
I’m really not sure what to make of this game. The Bears have so much talent at the skill positions and Jay Cutler has the arm you would want, but he doesn’t protect the ball. The defence is ranked twelfth, which I think a lot of fans would have taken at the beginning of the season, and would be good enough to win if the offence was firing. Last week’s loss to the Dolphins was horrible, and there were was apparently plenty of frustration in the locker room after the game. However, this might not be that bad a game for them. I’m not sure that the Patriots team are firing on all cylinders yet, and they definitely can be run on, so I can see the Bears keeping this game close.
There is no doubting Brady’s competitive nature, and there are signs that things can work for their offence, but I’m not convinced. The ball doesn’t look like it is coming out of Brady’s hand as well as it used to; there have only been flashes from Gronkowski, Wright, LaFell, Edelman, and Amendola in the passing game; and they looked to be missing Stevan Ridley in the rushing game last week. I think they will win this game, but I don’t think they are going to run away with it. These are two teams that I have not been picking well all season, but I’m plumping for another close game.
Gee’s Pick: Bears
Dan’s Pick: Patriots
Ravens @ Bagels (-1.5)
Oh dear… The Bagels couldn’t get anything going on Sunday and it was painful to watch, although not as painful as the hits on Giovani Bernard, who got drilled twice on attempted screen plays that went nowhere. There are injuries in the receiving corp, but we have enough weapons. The hard truth is that it looks like that Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard are playing the wrong roles, in that Hill should be getting more carries and Bernard should be coming in as an awesome change of pace back. The defence stood up pretty well considering the number of three and outs the Bagels offence had to start the game, meaning that the defence was not getting a lot of help. The only crumb of comfort I’ve drawn so far, was the suggestion by Ross Tucker that the Bagels and Panthers’ poor play in week seven could be linked to them playing a full extra quarter of overtime in week six. I really hope that explains it.
There are questions about the Raven’s high rankings in the Football Outsiders stats due to the schedule they have played, but they look very good to me. The defence is playing a familiar brand of tough excellence, and Steve Smith has really added to an offence that really seems to be firing under new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak. I would love to be proved wrong, and I really hope that we get a close brawl of an AFC North game, but I’m worried about this one.
Gee’s Pick: Ravens
Dan’s Pick: Bagels
Texans @ Titans (+0.5)
The Texans had fairly spectacular collapse in about two minutes at the end of the second quarter, which was enough for the Steelers to turn the game around and continue their very good run on Monday night football. The questions about the offence remain, and they feel like they are a team that are going to hover around .500 all season. They are currently 3-4, and I fancy them to get back on track this week.
One of the biggest questions about the Titans is ho w did they get their win against the Chiefs in week one. They just managed to beat the Jaguars in week six and then lost to Washington on Sunday, but they have not been good and it looks like they will have a high draft pick to find themselves a franchise quarterback.
Gee’s Pick: Texans
Dan’s Pick: Texans
Rams @ Chiefs (-6.5)
So this is a game between the pick that got away from me last week, and the result I never saw coming.
The Chiefs are a very solid football team that have some weapons on offence and a very solid defence. They beat the Chargers at their own game last week and welcome a Rams team that got the result of week seven. This is one of those games that I’m going back and forth on, but the Chiefs are ranked thirteenth in special teams, and I can’t see a repeat of the Rams heroics on that side of the ball in this game so I’m worriedly going with the Chiefs to beat the spread.
Gee’s Pick: Chiefs
Dan’s Pick: Rams
Dolphins @ Jaguars (+5.5)
The Dolphins had a very good day in Chicago on Sunday leading the entire game as Ryan Tannehill threw for 277 yards and two touchdowns on twenty-five of thirty-two pass attempts. The defence are currently ranked third by DVOA and if they can get play like this from Tannehill more regularly they could really make fight of the AFC East.
Although it destroyed another pick for me, I’m pretty happy for the Jaguars as they finally notched one in the win column. That they managed this despite Blake Bortles throwing three interceptions, which speaks of a solid performance by their defence. The problem is that they lost Paul Posluszny for the rest of the year to a torn pectoral, and he has been a cornerstone of their defence so I think they will come down with a bump in this game.
Gee’s Pick: Dolphins
Dan’s Pick: Dolphins
Vikings @ Buccaneers (-2.5)
So the Vikings narrowly lost to the Bills with Teddy Bridgewater throwing a pair of interceptions and the Bills losing two running backs during the game. Their o-line is not good and the defence is ranked a lowly twenty-second, which is surprising given Mike Zimmer’s ability as a defensive coach.
The Buccaneers are coming off a bye week having been thoroughly beaten by the Ravens, and although it was not as bad as the Falcons drubbing, it was not good. They’ve been pretty poor, with only the week five overtime win against the Saints to cling to.
I don’t like either side in this game, so I’m reluctantly taking the points as I have to make a pick, but I’m glad I don’t have any money riding on this game.
Gee’s Pick: Vikings
Dan’s Pick: Vikings
Seahawks @ Panthers (+4.5)
So I follow up one game where I don’t know what to make of the teams, to another that I’m struggling with but for different reasons.
The Seahawks lost another game road game, and their special teams have plummeted down the DVOA rankings after last week’s performance. They are looking good on offence, with Russell Wilson continuing his excellent season, but they are a bit thinner on defence, the pass rush is not creating pressure like it was last season. However, they are still a good team with very good players and I find it hard to believe that they will lose three games in a row.
The Panthers had one of those games that can happen to anyone visiting Lambeau Field. They simply don’t have the secondary to cope with Aaron Rodgers, and having only allowed two touchdowns in the first quarter before this game, found themselves down at the end of the opening quarter. Cam Newton has been playing well this season, but he couldn’t get the Panthers back in the game. I have gone 2-5 picking the Panthers this year, and I don’t feel great about this, but there is a large gap between them in the DVOA rankings, and I think that the Seahawks will return to winning ways this week.
Gee’s Pick: Seahawks
Dan’s Pick: Panthers
Eagles @ Cardinals (-2.5)
The Cardinals got their fifth win of the season last week, and stand atop of the loaded NFC West despite various injuries. Carson Palmer has looked okay when he has played, but the offence is ranked only twenty-fifth by DVOA, and it is their top five defence that’s keeping them in games. They were comfortable against the Raiders without exactly impressing, and I’m sort of waiting for the key injuring on defence to catch up with them.
The Eagles are the other team coming of a bye in week 7, and were very impressive in their week 6 game against the Giants. They got a pass rush unlike anything we have seen from them all season, and somehow they are ranked higher in defence than offence by DVOA. I think this will be a really good game, but I think right now that the Eagles are the healthier and therefore the better team so I’m taking the points.
Gee’s Pick: Eagles
Dan’s Pick: Eagles
Raiders @ Browns (-7.5)
I don’t like this line at all. The Raiders are not good, although there are signs that they might have a quarterback in Derek Carr, but I’m not sure where their first win is coming from. The Browns however, seem to be struggling due to the shuffles on their o-line since the Alex Mack injury, and whilst I think the Browns should win, I don’t like the points. I don’t like picking the Raiders, but in this game I’m going to give it a go.
Gee’s Pick: Raiders
Dan’s Pick: Raiders
Colts @ Steelers (+2.5)
I do not know what to make of the Steelers. They are up and down on offence and ranked a measly twenty-sixth in defensive DVOA. Their defence doesn’t look right and the offence isn’t scoring that many points. They put up thirty points last week, but they had two drives that started in the red zone in that game, and I think they might struggle this week because of the opposition. Plus, if they lose they get to keep their alternating win-loss record they’ve currently got going.
I have watched the Colts for two weeks straight now and have been impressed by their defence. They are blitzing a lot on third down, getting pressure, and are much better than I was expecting, or gave them credit for until recently. When you couple this with an offence led by Andrew Luck, you can see why they are 5-2 and heading up the AFC South. They have joined the Ravens in having all three phases of the game ranked inside the top ten by DVOA and I think that they will win this game and cover.
Gee’s Pick: Colts
Dan’s Pick: Colts
Packers @ Saints (-1.5)
The Saints could be due a win, and possibly should have had one against the Lions, but there was some horrific angles taken by their secondary in conceding a touchdown to Golden Tate and once again the Saints offence isn’t quite running as smoothly as we have come to expect.
The Packers on the other hand, are up and running after their 1-2 start. Their defence is ranked a credible tenth by DVOA and the offence is looking like the well oiled machine we have come to expect, and have the number two ranking to match. I see this game going only one way, which is worrying as this is a competitive league, but I do think the Packers will win this one.
Gee’s Pick: Packers
Dan’s Pick: Packers
Washington @ Cowboys (-9.5)
The Washington season is not going well, they have lots of questions surrounding their quarterbacks, and for this game they are starting Colt McCoy, which can’t be good. Their defence is doing okay, but they’ve just lost Brian Orakpo for the season to a third torn pectoral muscle of his career. The good news is that they are ranked top ten in rush defence by DVOA, which is going to be handy in this game as the Cowboys are pretty good at running the ball. I do not think they can win this game, but the points worry me in this game.
The Cowboys continue to be one of the stories of the season, and took care of business against the Giants at home in what could have been a letdown game after they went to Seattle and beat the Seahawks. I am pretty confident that they are going to win this game, but the points worry me. Washington’s defence is ranked a little worse in pass and a lot better against the run than the Giants, who lost by ten to the Cowboys. It might be that I got bitten by this number last week, but I just have a feeling that in a divisional game Washington might keep it closer. I’m worried about the Colt McCoy experience, and I’m sure that the Cowboys will win, but I’m backing Washington for the cover. Eeep.
Gee’s Pick: Washington
Dan’s Pick: Cowboys