I'm sorry, NFL fans. Another poor week for football. If you haven't noticed by now, and haven't read any of my previous work, it is pretty apparent that the NFL is having a down year. I am sure ratings have never been higher and merchandise sales are through the roof, but the NFL has put out a pretty bad product on the field. Most teams are just god-awful, and it reflects in the weekly match-ups between teams looking to tank for a top pick. Nevertheless, here are your Week 7 picks.
Seattle(-6.5) at San Francisco
Pete: This has the makings of being a great game. Seattle is struggling and San Francisco is finally getting out of the cellar of the NFL standings. At home, San Francisco has a pretty good chance of winning this game. However, there is no way that Seattle is this bad. Look for Seattle to tough it out and get a tough game on the road.
Niko: San Fran gutted out a gritty win at home against the Ravens last week (25-20) thanks to a very impressive performance from highly scrutinized QB Colin Kaepernick (16-27 340 yards 2 TDs), who punished the Ravens sorry secondary deep all game. Kaep will have a much harder time hitting on the long ball against Seattle's defensive backfield however. I expect the Seahawks to cover on the road. They need it.
Matt: On paper, this sounds like a very good game between two fierce division rivals. However, the rivalry has simmered down now that San Fran is not very good anymore. I expect the 49ers to cover the spread because they are starting to play better football but I still believe the Seahawks will win a close game.
Buffalo(-7) at Jacksonville
Pete: Buffalo has never really lived up to all the expectations that they had at the start of the season. People were thinking that they would challenge the Patriots in the AFC East, but it turns out they are just another mediocre team. However, Jacksonville is terrible, so look for Buffalo to pick up another W.
Niko: Anarchy in Buffalo! That honeymoon ended pretty quickly, huh? 300 million dollar d-line and no results to back it up thus far. Rex better get his guys going this weekend, or there's going to be more internal uprise. I think he does it. Buffalo covers on the road.
Matt: The Bills are struggling, Rex Ryan's defensive play calling has come into question recently. Despite this, I believe the Bills will still cover the spread because Jacksonville is horrible.
Minnesota(-2.5) at Detroit
Pete: Prior to this season, Detroit would be an absolute lock at home against the Vikings, who didn't have a quarterback and looked to be in the process of another rebuild. Fast forward a year and these two teams are in different stratospheres. Minnesota should win this game easily.
Niko: These two teams already squared off in Week 2, with Minnesota winning fairly handily (26-16) at home. That being said, I'm going to go with the Lions to split the season series and defend their home field. No rhyme or reason really, just a hunch. Stafford will continue to build on his performance last week against Chicago (27/42 405 yards 4 TDs 1 INT).
Matt: I am on the Vikings bandwagon. I really believe Teddy Bridgewater is the next great thing in the NFL. The Lions are giving up 120 yards per game on the ground so I expect Adrian Peterson to run all over this defense. I expect the Vikings to cover the spread.
New Orleans at Indianapolis(-4.5)
Pete: After a relatively decent showing against the Patriots, the Colts may have newfound confidence as they approach the 2nd half of the NFL season. This is going to be a tough game for both sides, as the Saints look to be righting the ship after a shaky start and an unhealthy Drew Brees. Nevertheless, I have to take Indianapolis at home here.
Niko: Well, Indy lost their Super Bowl. After all the fourth down attempts, onside kicks, and fake punts (or whatever the *insert here* that was) the Colts came up short...again. Good luck coming to Foxboro in January. Thanks to an Indy hangover threatening mine on Monday morning, I'm going with the points here and taking New Orleans after delivering Atlanta their first loss last weekend.
Matt: The Colts are now the laughing stock of the NFL. A team has not had an embarassing performance like that Sunday night game since the butt fumble on Thanksgiving a few years ago. Anyway, I would not be surprised to see the Colts season completely fall apart. I'm picking a New Orleans team fresh off their first victory of the season.
Pittsburgh at Kansas City (PUSH)
Pete: Until we know the status of Big Ben, this game will be a push. However, the Kansas City Chiefs are TERRIBLE this year. Pick Pittsburgh, regardless of who their QB is for this week.
Niko: Have to agree with Pete here. I've been down on KC for weeks now, and think Pittsburgh has figured out how to win without Big Ben, after huge wins at San Diego and home against the Cardinals. Look out for Pitt when they get fully healthy.
Matt: With or without Big Ben, I am picking the Steelers to win this game. Although Arrowhead is a difficult place to play, this Kansas City team has been a huge disappointment and I expect the losing to continue.
Houston at Miami(-4)
Pete: Last week, Miami surprised me as they won their first game under new head coach Dan Campbell. The Dolphins have so much talent that it is hard to pick against them. Couple that with the fact that playing in Miami is so difficult for some reason, and I think that Miami edges out the Texans in this game.
Niko: This game looked far more attractive in September. From Hard Knocks (Houston) to the signing of Ndamukong Suh (Miami), these teams were very highly regarded coming into the season, especially on defense. We now have a pair of underachieving squads searching for an identity. I'll take the home team and go with the Dolphins as well.
Matt: I really think Miami may have found new life under interim head coach Dan Campbell. Joe Philbin had no control over the locker room and really had no clue what he was doing. I really like Bill O'Brien but I'm picking the home team to win the spread.
NY Jets at New England(-10)
Pete: This is without a doubt the game of the week. To be honest, even as a die-hard New England Patriots fan, that line is crazy. The Jets always play the Patriots hard and, under new head coach Todd Bowles, look to be an actual contender for a playoff spot. We will talk about this more in the Roundtable, which is slated to come out Saturday, but in short I will say that New England wins in a close, hard-fought game.
Niko: It shocks me that the Jets are getting more points than Indy got. This is a defense that recently has had a fair deal of success against Tom F Brady, due to featuring the most physical d-line in the NFL (Wilkerson, Harrison, Richardson). Add another beast up front in Leonard Williams, the best cornerback in the game (Darrelle Revis), solid auxiliary corners (Skrine, Cromartie) and on paper, this Jets defense has the personnel to slow down our Patriots. This will be close, but (drum roll please) I'll say the Patriots cover and keep this train moving.
Matt: This game will definitely be decided by less than 10 points. In fact, I would not be surprised to see a field goal separating these teams at its conclusion. This Jets team really scares me. They have a formidable front 7 and they have a guy named Darrelle Revis playing corner. I am expecting Dion Lewis to have a big game making catches out of the backfield. Anyway, Jets cover the spread but the Patriots will win the game.
Cleveland at St. Louis(-5.5)
Pete: Last year, this game would be a dumpster fire. This year, however, St. Louis looks to be an actual football team, and not just a bunch of random guys running around in pads and helmets. Led by rookie Todd Gurley, St. Louis should handle the Browns with ease.
Niko: Todd Gurley is going to go off against a struggling Cleveland run defense. He gives the Rams an actual sense of legitimacy on offense. St. Louis will win and cover.
Matt: The Rams may actually be the second best team in the NFC West. Now that Todd Gurley has returned from injury, it will be interesting to see if the threat of Gurley's rushing will improve the passing game. St. Louis wins by a touchdown.
Atlanta(-4) at Tennessee
Pete: I kind of hate Atlanta. I don't know why, and I am sorry if you're a Falcons fan. They just bug me. Their stadium always seems to dark because they play in a stupid dome and I hate their uniforms. They have Matt Ryan, a BC kid, but I think he isn't a great quarterback. They aren't a legitimate threat in the NFC, but they are a decent team. Atlanta covers.
Niko: Atlanta should bounce back from their underwhelming performance against New Orleans last Thursday. This especially rings true if Mariota can't suit up. Fresh off giving up 180 yards to Lamar Miller and the rest of Miami's backs, the Tennessee run D will have their hands full this Sunday. Expect another good one from Falcon breakout running back, Devonta Freeman.
Matt: Atlanta lost their fist game of the season last week. This game will be important if they want to show the league that they deserve to be included in the list of contenders. I think they will bounce back against a weak Titans team. Atlanta covers the spread.
Tampa Bay at Washington(-3)
Pete: Tampa stinks. Washington is a dumpster fire right now, and they look to be restructuring and rebuilding for the 2016 season. Nevertheless, I guess I will take the lesser of two evils and pick Washington.
Niko: See above. In these situations, go with the home team. Washington covers.
Oakland at San Diego(-4)
Pete: This will be my sneaky great Game of the Week. San Diego has had a tough stretch as of late, but I love Philip Rivers. The guy loves to compete. Oakland QB Derek Carr is one of the best young quarterbacks in the league, and should have a very successful career. Nevertheless, San Diego in a close, good game.
Niko: I have San Diego bouncing back in a big way this Sunday. While SD is 2-4, three of those losses have come on the road. This is a must win for Phillip Rivers and co. and I think they're finally going to deliver for the entire 60 minutes. San Diego covers.
Matt: I have always kinda liked Oakland and I hate San Diego and Phillip Rivers. I think Rivers is very overrated. Anyway, I think Oakland comes into San Diego and covers the spread, led by Derek Carr on offense. I'm a big Derek Carr guy. I believe Oakland finally has found their quarterback.
Dallas at NY Giants(-3)
Pete: A great divisional rivalry game. The NFC East is still up for grabs, so this game means a lot. As a Patriots fan, I want to avoid the Giants in the playoffs at all costs. Coupled with the fact that Matt Cassel will be under center instead of Brandon Weeden, I believe that Dallas will put up a fight, but just miss out on pulling off the upset. Giants in a close one.
Niko: Consider me surprised and impressed by Dallas' effort (uh...on defense) in their last game, the 30-6 loss against our Patriots. That D gave the Pats the most resistance we've seen all season (by far, really), and as much as I hate to admit it, Greg Hardy is a game changer and force to be reckoned with on the football field. This is going to be a hard fought game, but without a full deck of cards offensively, I just can't take the Cowboys on the road. Giants cover.
Matt: I am not a big fan of the Giants. I hate Eli Manning because he is very inconsistant and only shows up to the big games. Odell Beckham Jr. is very overrated (read my article) and the media loves him. However, the Cowboys are hindered on offense without Romo or Dez. I expect the Cowboys D led by Greg Hardy to tease the Giants and keep it close but in the end, the Giants will win this game and emerge as the leader of the NFC Least.
Philadelphia at Carolina(-3)
Pete: This, surprisingly, should be another good game. Philadelphia seems to have finally found their groove and the Carolina Panthers are still somehow undefeated. Cam Newton is playing great, but Philadelphia is the all-around better team. Philly wins on the road.
Niko: Really looking forward to this matchup as I've been going back and forth with it all week. I've decided to reluctantly go with the Birds on the road. They've looked a lot better in recent weeks and eventually Cam Newton will slip up. I'll go 26-24 Eagles in a Sunday night thriller.
Matt: I expect Carolina to keep on winning. They had a big win in the great northwest. This has the makings to be a great primetime game, especially now that Philly has started to play better football. I am picking Carolina by a touchdown.
Baltimore at Arizona(-9)
Pete: Another hated team and a fake contender. What a terrible Monday night match up. Although, to be honest, I haven't watched a lot of Arizona and look forward to seeing them live. Baltimore is a mess right now. Arizona easily, as they live another week as an "elite team," according to ESPN (barf).
Niko: I'm still not sold on Arizona, and last week's loss against the Roethlisberger-less Steelers certainly didn't help the cause. While the Cardinals should win on Monday night, it won't be as easy as this line seems to insinuate. I'm going to take the points here and go with Baltimore.
Matt: Baltimore is not good anymore. Arizona has cooled off recently with a pair of loses. I expect Arizona to win a close one and move to 5-3. However, this does not make them a contender yet. They still need to prove themselves against the elite of the NFL.