Here is a preview look at the Week 7 NFL games on tap.
Falcons at Ravens
Atlanta Started the season 2-1, but things have quickly gone down hill for the Falcons. Both of those wins were at home, where the Falcons average 35 points per game. Unfortunately, they average just 19 on the road, which is where they’ll be when they match up against a Ravens team that is 5-0 in it’s last five home games.
Matt Ryan is second in the league with 1,850 passing yards, an average of which is 3rd best in the league at 306.8 per. That’s about where it stops in terms of production, though. They are 20th in the league with just 103.2 rushing yards per game, and they let up the 29th passing yards (278.8) and 28th most rushing yards (140.2).
As for the Ravens, Joe Flacco has 12 touchdowns and 1,596 passing yards, and his favorite targets on the season have been Steven Smith and Troy Smith. In the absence of Ray Rice, the Ravens are also doing well running the ball, where Justin Forsett carries the majority of the load for a group that is 10th best in the league at 132.8 yards for.
The Ravens currently sit at 25/1 odds to win the Super Bowl, while the struggling Falcons have fallen to 150/1.
Titans at Redskins
The future looks dreary for both of these teams. Just a few years ago the Titans drafted Jake Locker and the Redskins grabbed Robert Griffin III, yet neither player has been able to live up to expectations. RGIII won’t be playing on Sunday, as Kirk Cousins will take his place, and Locker is still trying to prove that he can be the future in Tennessee.
The Redskins have lost their last four in a row, three of which were by double digits. The Titans, who have just a slightly better record at 2-4, are coming off a 2-point win against a winless Jacksonville team.
The Redskins are favored by about 3 in this, but both teams obviously have a long way to go. Washington is slowly falling behind in a NFC East division that is surprisingly talented this year, while the Titans are hoping to keep in the thick of things in the AFC South.
Seahawks at Rams
Even the most diehard Rams fans can’t be looking forward to the Seahawks coming to town this week. The defending champs are coming off an emotional loss against Dallas, and the Rams haven’t won a game since Week 2. Late in the week it was announced that the Seahawks had let go of Percy Harvin in a trade with the Jets. Harvin, who is arguably one of most explosive players in the league, was having a hard time finding packages that would utilize his skills set while in Seattle. The trade may also be a bit of a wakeup call for others in the Seahawks locker room to show that no one is safe if they keep playing with lackluster performances.
The Rams came out firing on all cylinders against the 49ers last weekend, but things quickly died down after the first quarter. Despite Sam Bradford not being there, the Rams do have the 7th most passing yards in the league at 270 per game. The bad news? They have the 26th highest rushing against average at 139.8, and Marshawn Lynch is coming to town.
The Seahawks are favored in this one, and they still sit at 6/1 odds to win the Super Bowl. The Rams, though playing admirably without Bradford, seem to just be falling further and further behind in the NFC West.
Browns at Jaguars
Right after the NFL Draft back in April, a lot of people circled this matchup on their schedules as it was expected to start two top rookie quarterbacks in Blake Bortles and Johnny Manziel. But while Bortles will get his third straight start since being inserted in the lineup at the half against the Colts back in Week Four, Manziel still finds himself behind Brian Hoyer on the Browns’ depth chart.
With Hoyer under center, the Browns have done a modest job of being effective. To avoid putting Hoyer in trouble, the Browns have a league-high running percentage of about 51%. With the Jags having the 18th worst run defense in the league, expect the Browns to keep pounding the ball with Ben Tate and Isaiah Crowell.
Jacksonville is the last remaining team in the league without a win, while Cleveland finds themselves in the mix of a tough AFC North battle at 3-2.
Bengals at Colts
The Bengals are hoping to shake their recent woes after losing to New England two weeks ago and then playing to a tie against Carolina last weekend. This week won’t be a push over, as they play a Colts team that has won its last four straight after dropping their first two of the season.
The Colts offense, led by Andrew Luck, is 1st in the league with 328.7 passing yards per game. He has to be excited to have those kind of numbers as he heads to take on a Bengals defense that ranks 22nd in passing yards against at 257.4. The Colts defense is also the best team in the league on third down stoppages, a place where Andy Dalton has just a 31 QBR.
The Colts, in the midst of a wicked hot streak, are now at 15/1 to win the Super Bowl, while the Bengals are right behind them at 20/1.
Vikings at Bills
Teddy Bridgewater has excited fans in Minnesota, but that hasn’t stopped the Vikings from starting the season 2-4. Bridgewater and company, who are now with Adrian Peterson, are just 30th in the league with 194.8 yards passing per game. They have also thrown just 3 touchdowns on the league, while turning the ball over on 9 interceptions.
The Bills, who started 2-0, have now dropped 3 of their last 4 and sit in second place in a tough AFC East. Last weekend the Bills lost to a resurging Patriots team, but this week they’ll hope to stay ahead of Miami with a win. There is no question that they have plenty of weapons on offense with CJ Spiller, Fred Jackson and Sammy Watkins, but EJ Manuel was benched last week in favor of Kyle Orton, and it looks like the latter will get the start against Minnesota.
The Bills are currently at 100/1 odds to win the Super Bowl, while the Vikings are a bit further behind at 200/1. It’s still a work in progress for both teams, but you can check back with Sportspicks.com handicappers for insight into this game and all of the other action during Week Seven.
Dolphins at Bears
The Bears are favored at home against Miami, but it’s important to keep in mind that they’ve lost three in a row at Soldier Field. One of those loses was in the opening weekend of the season, where the Bears lost to another AFC East team in the Bills.
In order for the Bears to be successful against Miami, Jay Cutler will have to be effective. In games where Cutler throws at least two interceptions, the Dolphins are 4-8, while they are 21-5 when he throws less than two. Against a Dolphins defense that is 8th in the league with 221.6 yard passing against, Cutler will need to make his sections carefully as he looks to find Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery on Sunday.
Thanks to Lamar Miller and Knowshon Moreno, the Dolphins hare 6th in the league with 136 rushing yards per game. Unfortunately, Moreno tore his ACL last weekend against Green Bay and he’s done for the season. Now more of a load will be put on Ryan Tannehill, who has gotten plenty of criticism this season. He has thrown just 1,146 yards, which averages out to be a 25th worst at 217 per game.
Saints at Lions
This NFC showdown could be one of the more interesting ones on the day. The Lions are off to a 4-2 start and are atop the NFC North. However, after seeing their collapse in the second half of last season, the jury is still out on whether or not this team can sustain things throughout the year. In addition, they’ll be without Calvin Johnson this weekend, which will change the game plan entirely for Matt Stafford in the backfield.
The good news for the Lions is that they still have the best overall defense in the league. They allow just 197.2 passing yards against and only 73.5 rushing yards against, which is 1st and 2nd in the league respectively. They will, however, be put to the test against Drew Brees. The Saints have the second most passing yards per game at 309.8, and they rush for the 9th most yards per game at 133.
At 2-3, the Saints certainly aren’t doing as well as they would like to. However, they still remain in second place in the NFC South and they could use a big win at Detroit to get momentum back on their side before taking on a big stretch in the coming four weeks.
Both teams sit at 30/1 odds to win the Super Bowl, so this match-up should be a good one on Sunday.
Panthers at Packers
The Packers are coming off a miracle win against Miami, and they’ve someone managed to stay atop the NFC North at 4-2. The Panthers, coming off a tie against Cincinnati, are at 3-2-1 and atop the NFC South.
All eyes this weekend will be on Aaron Rodgers and Cam Newton. Rodgers has throw for a modest 1419 yards this season, but his 15 touchdowns is tied for 2nd in the league with Peyton Manning and Phillip Rivers. He’s also throw just 1 interception, which shows hes being incredibly effective with his passing choices.
Last weekend was the best of the season for Newton. He threw for 284 yards and rushed for another 107, and he’s thrown for at least 2 touchdowns in each of his last two starts.
Despite having a bit of an up and down season thus far, the Packers have the third best odds in the league to win the Super Bowl at 10/1. They’ll need a huge statement win against a Panthers team, 50/1, to show that they are legit contenders.
Chiefs at Chargers
Philip Rivers is playing some of the best football of his life, and he has the San Diego Chargers atop the AFC West at 5-1. He has the third-most total passing yards at 1,756, and his QBR of 117.6 is best in the league. Despite the fact that they rank 25th with just 92.7 rushing yards per game, un-drafted rookie back Brandon Oliver has come on strong in the last two games as well. Oliver has seen a substantial increase in touches in the last two games, both of which he ran for over 100 yards and scored a touchdown in both.
The Chiefs haven’t been able to be as successful to start this season as they did last. This time last year they were battling it out with Denver atop the AFC West, but now they find themselves at 2-3 and coming off a loss against the 49ers. Kansas City did get a big win against New England two weeks ago, so they certainly have the fire power to hang with a tough team. Their 137.6 rushing yards per game is 4th in the league, and that’s an attack led by Knile Davis and Jamal Charles.
The Chargers may be one of the more surprising teams in the league and they are currently at 13/1 odds. The Chiefs, who will need a win to stay in the mix of things in the AFC West, are at 70/1.
Giants at Cowboys
How about them Cowboys? It’s been a long time since anyone could say that without a smirk on their face. The question is: will a team that has started the season at 5-1 be able to keep things up? There is no denying that Tony Romo has been playing some of the best football of his life, and he’s getting a ton of help from DeMarco Murray. Murray leads the league in rushing yards (785), as well as attempts (159). The season is not even half way over and Murray is on course to shatter the attempts record if the Cowboys continue to rely on him as often as they have in the past.
It’s hard to say what you can expect from the Giants. They started the season 0-2 before getting hot and going 3-0, but they were embarrassed last weekend in a 27-0 shutout against Philadelphia. Now they are out on their second road game in a row, and you can bet that fans in AT&T Stadium will not make it easy for Eli. What’s even worse for the Giants is that they will be playing without Victor Cruz, who is out for the season after getting injured last weekend against the Eagles.
49ers at Broncos
To cap Sunday off, the 49ers will head into Denver to face a Broncos team that has won its last two games. The 49ers are coming off three wins in a row of their own. However, the stat that may be worth keeping in mind is that over the last decade, teams that are coming off a Monday night game are just 6-11 in Sunday night games the following week.
The night will also be a special one as Peyton Manning aims to break even more records in an already record-breaking season. This weekend he’ll need two touchdowns to pass Brett Favre for the most ever in NFL History. And while Manning has been scorching opposing defenses all year, he will be going up against a 49ers D that only allows 207.3 passing yards against, which is 2nd least in the league.
The 49ers struggled in Weeks Two and Three, but they seem to have things going now. This one should be a great one, as the Broncos are favored with a league-best 4/1 odds to win the Super Bowl, with the 49ers just slightly behind at 10/1.