NFL Week 7 Picks

-Mike Visconti

Last week straight up: 9-5 / vs the spread: 8-6

Year to date straight up: 30-13 / vs the spread: 16-11-1

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*Thursday Night Football Prediction

Seahawks @ Niners / Line: SEA -6.5

How the tides can change in the NFC West. The once titans of this division have fallen on rough times as of late. Most of it is the massive talent exodus that both the Seahawks and Niners have experienced, and that can be directly related to having to pay all the elite young talent that both teams accrued in the beginning of the decade. The Seahawks have seemed to reach the playoff breaking point. One more loss could knock them out of the playoffs for good barring a miraculous run. The Niners have rebounded as of late. Embattled QB Colin Kaepernick has performed better in the last two weeks. The Niners have played well at home, the Seahawks always have their troubles away from the Clink. Kaepernick will still have to figure out the Seattle D, although they are not the historic group he’s use to facing. The Seahawks have held 4th quarter leads in every game this year they’ve lost. I’m going with Seattle to pull off their first “must win” game of the year. The Seahawks are the better and more talented team, but expect the Niners to fight them tooth and nail.

Seahawks 23 Niners 20 / SF +6.5

Bills @ Jaguars / Line: BUF -5.5

Gotta give it to the NFL, trying to expand their brand overseas by putting the their crappiest teams in front of the Brits. The London games are always tough to predict. In Week 3 I said these things about the Bills; “Rex Ryan is a good coach, Tyrod Taylor is a legitamate QB and the Orchard Park home crowd is a legit advantage”. The first statement is obvious false by now and the latter two the Bills will appear to be without on Sunday. The Jags on the other hand are an interesting case. Blake Bortles looks to be building on the top 5 draft potential we’ve heard about. He’s got legit weapons on the outside, Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson, to go along with rookie RB T.J. Yeldon. But they still stand 1-5 because their defense is just not dependable. Usually I differ to the team with the unit I trust the most, and right now that is the Buffalo defense, but if Tyrod Taylor can’t go Sunday, expect Bortles to put up enough points to make it interesting.

Bills 24 Jaguars 20 / Jags +5.5

Buccaneers @ Redskins / Line: WSH -3.5

With three of the five undefeated teams on bye this week (Den, GB and Cin), this is what we get. A bunch of bottom tiered teams beating the crap out of each other, it really is one of the weakest slates we will see this year. The Bucs have been up and down, Jameis has shown flashes but that has mostly occurred at home. The Redskins have been putrid offensively, especially in the passing game, the skill players have just not been there early in the season. Desean Jackson will finally be back so that should give a stagnant down field passing game a little more juice. I look for the Redskins to make Winston’s life difficult on Sunday as they really have been the only dependable unit Washington can hang its hat on. Vegas seems to think so as well, but only marginally with the -3.5 point line. I’m taking the Redskins defense at home.

Redskins 23 Buccaneers 17 / WSH -3.5

Falcons @ Titans / Line: ATL -5.5

Just a couple of minutes ago I got an update that rookie QB Marcus Mariota will be out for this weekends game. In his place, Zach Mettenberger, not that much better for the Titans hopes. After being exposed the last two weeks by both the Redskins and the rival Saints, the Falcons have lost a little bit of the early season luster. Devonta Freeman continues ton run like a man possessed but his main side-kick Julio Jones has been slowing down as he deals with injuries. Usually I am not a fan of Atlanta on the road but getting Mettenberger in this game seals my pick. I look for the Titans to put up a fight for the first half, and then the wheels come off.

Falcons 27 Titans 13 / ATL -5.5

Saints @ Colts / Line: IND -4

Aside from the worst attempt of a football play I’ve ever seen in my 20 years of watching the NFL, both teams rebounded last week. The Saints found their home mojo with a W against the Falcons, and while the Colts lost, they played an undefeated Patriots team very well. Luck still looks like he’s dealing with that shoulder injury but he put up his best performance of the season to date. Drew Brees is also dealing with a similar injury but has found ways around it as well. I don’t expect either teams defense to step up at all this game, this will be an old fashioned shootout. Only i think Drew Brees will run out of bullets faster than Luck.

Colts 33 Saints 28 / IND -4

Lions @ Vikings / Line: MIN -2

Matthew Stafford very well might’ve saved both his and Jim Caldwell’s career last week with his “2011¬†renaissance” performance. A loss to the lowly Bears would’ve likely spelled the end for Caldwell in Detroit and sent Stafford further down the rabbit hole of trying to be a good quarterback, let alone an elite one. The Vikings were able to out last a punchless Chiefs team at home, barely. Concerns about QB Teddy Bridgewater’s ceiling are now real. At this point he looks to be a game manager, but considering what his team consists of; a legit defense and an elite RB, there are worse things to be right now, like say Peyton Manning. The line says basically a toss up, I mean this Vikings team can’t even get the 3 home field advantage points! I think Stafford found an offensive strategy that works last week, 10-step drop and heave to Calvin Johnson 50 yards downfield about 15 times a game. Megatron will catch at least 3 or 4 of those throws, you gotta think 2 or 3 more will draw pass interference penalties, and there you go, field goal range already. Problem is, what happens when one of the best secondaries start picking the remaining balls off? Yeah, I’m not going with the Stafford led Lions clinging to life support here.

Vikings 23 Lions 17 / MIN -2

Browns @ Rams / Line: STL -6.5

The Browns had last weeks game won, all they needed was one first down and they would’ve dethroned the unbeaten Broncos, but the Denver pass rush got to McCown. it doesn’t get any easier this week. The Rams are coming off their bye in which, defensively, they play the Packers very well on the road. Nick Foles did not play so well, probably his worst professional game as a starter. But Cleveland lacks the pass rush that Green Bay has, and they cannot stop the run. This could be the game Todd Gurley goes for 200 yards, maybe even 300! He’s that good, the man is a transcendent talent. He has put up over 150 rushing yards in the last two contests and is strongest in the 4th quarter. Nick Foles will not make the same terrible throws that Peyton did last week. I expect the Rams to control the clock and simply wear down the Browns. The Rams are good, I think they make the wild card this year.

Rams 27 Browns 16 / STL -6.5

Texans @ Dolphins / MIA -4

What a difference a firing makes. It had long been rumored that the Dolphins had quit on Joe Philbin, there new coach has now turned back the clock with his hard-nosed and old school approach. Now granted, it helps when you play a Titans team thats led by the front runner for worst current coach in the NFL. The Dolphins showed some juice last week by making it a point of getting the ball to Jarvis Landry and Lamar Miller. Speaking of getting the ball to their playmakers, that is the lone bright spot on a Houston Texans that has the “Hard Knocks” hangover. DeAndre Hopkins is on pace for one of the greatest seasons by a wide receiver in NFL history. Bill O’Brien has botched the QB situation so badly, its a wonder how Hopkins has put up these astronomical numbers. And that is the thing, so much uncertainty in the Texans outside of Hopkins and an occasional Watt sighting. Im going with the more talented team.

Dolphins 27 Texans 20 / MIA -4

Chiefs @ Steelers / Line: KC -2.5

I had no idea what this line would be. Kansas City did not inspire much confidence last week in their first game post Charles. To have to be able to depend on Alex Smith to be your main offensive threat is never good. The Steelers defense has rebounded as of late and showed some real grit vs a legitimate Cardinals offense last week. The change to Landry Jones seems to have ignited a fire on the offense, but I’m still cautious. The Steelers are nearly back to full health on that side of the ball; Bell, Brown and Bryant are as explosive as they come. The Chiefs simply don’t have the firepower to match or the quarterback willing to exploit the matchups down field. Landry Jones on the road? More like the killer B’s against Smith and Maclin? Kelce……

Steelers 24 Chiefs 16 / PIT +2.5

Jets @ Patriots / Line: NE -7.5

New flash, the Jets are good! But are they ready to be playoff good? A win against the Patriots would put them in that category and give them that signature win. Their defense, as always, is for real. And Ryan Fitzpatrick is guiding a friskier than expected offense. Chris Ivory is running like a top 5 RB so far this year and he has help on the outside in the form of Brandon Marshall. The Patriots are part of the last 5 unbeaten teams and probably look the best of the bunch so far, but, their injuries are mounting. It is never good when your offensive line looks like a mash unit. It seemed like Brady and co. just wanted to just get out of Indy in one piece rather than risk any more attrition to their walking wounded. The Pats are playing at home, they still have Gronk, Lewis, Blount and Brandon Lafell is coming back this week, but Julian Edelman may be rendered ineffective with a finger that Brian Baldinger would be proud of. I like the Pats to win, but i’m taking the Jets and the points to cover, 7.5 is just too much for a Patriots team that knows October statement wins don’t matter all that much.

Patriots 27 Jets 23 / NYJ +7.5

Raiders @ Chargers / Line: SD -3.5

Mark Fabiani reports that the Chargers will file for relocation to LA in January. I’m sorry San Diego, but in the words of Bill Simmons, “when your quarterback is forced to go to a silent count at home, you deserve to lose your team”. The Chargers played both the Steelers and the Packers to the very last play and came up just short in consecutive weeks. And its a shame because against GB, Philip Rivers put on one of the best displays of quarterback play I have ever seen. The Raiders on the other hand have let two games get away from them in similar fashion. They just could not close out either game. Six weeks in and the Raiders appear to be halfway decent. Solid but not spectacular defensively and the makings of a legitimate offense with both Derek Carr and Amari Cooper. But I’m going with the best player on both sides of the ball, Philip Rivers. If he keeps this up, he has a legitimate claim to NFL Offensive POY and possibly Peyton Manning’s single-seasonpassing yards record.

Chargers 27 Raiders 23 / SD -3.5

Cowboys @ Giants / Line: NYG -3

So Dez Bryant being out 12 weeks was total bullshit. Five weeks after he broke his foot, the Cowboys are legitimately putting him as doubtful to play Sunday. With the Giants shitting the bed last Monday night, they have left the door open for the Cowboys to get back into the playoff picture. Eli looked terrible against the Eagles, but are we really surprised? This has been going on since 2004. The Cowboys look to spice things up this week as they turn to Matt Cassell in hope that he will push the ball down field field and not be check-down Weeden. Still though, no Dez, no Romo, and the same Dallas D that is very suspect against the pass. In the words of Michael Irvin, “Elliot Manning” showed up last week, look for the real Eli to please stand up on Sunday.

Giants 28 Cowboys 20 / NYG -3

Eagles @ Panthers / Line: CAR -3

This past week ESPN came out with some FPI NFL BCS Power Index ranking, and the Philadelphia Eagles were ranked 3rd! 3rd?! Are you kidding me, they stand 3-3 currently. What signature win have they had? Some horseshit win against a bottom 5 Saints team and a gift against Elliot Manning? I’ll give the the Jets win but that was hardly impressive. You know what is impressive, going into Seattle and beating the Seahawks. The Panthers are for real and Cam Newton is a legitimate MVP candidate. They get the Eagles at home and despite the majority of “supposed” talent residing on Philly, I just don’t think they are good. I’m taking the Panthers and not thinking twice about it.

Panthers 23 Eagles 17 / CAR -3

Ravens @ Cardinals / Line: AZ -8

Welcome to our number contender for biggest dumpster fire of 2015, the Baltimore Ravens. It wasn’t that long ago that I was talking myself into the notion that the Ravens weren’t that bad. That ship has sailed. They looked hapless against a 49ers squad that just got steam-rolled on TNF. The Cardinals have that “New England Patriot gear”, they just destroy the cupcake teams they should. I could see Joe Flacco throwing 4 interceptions and 2 of them returned for touchdowns. The Cardinals have two of the front-runners for NFL Comeback POY in Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald. At home and on the national stage of MNF, this could get ugly quick.

Cardinals 37 Ravens 17 / AZ -8

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