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NFL Picks for Week 7: Every Game Predicted Straight Up, Against the Spread, O/U

Totals:  At end of Week 6

Straight Up:  58 – 32,  Against the Spread:  51 – 39,  Over/Under:  46 – 44

57% ATS:  Not my best couple of weeks, but I’ll break 60% soon. Promise.

Can I just say that I am happy for Juan Castillo? I believe that it is quite possible that Andy set him up to be the scapegoat if the Philly D failed. I wasn’t thrilled about my ‘Skins losing, but at least Juan gets one week of not hearing himself skewered on the airwaves.

And, on a personal employment note, I plot to apply for the playback consultant’s job in San Francisco. Excuse me, but who is advising Jim H. on these challenges? twice in three quarters he was given terrible advice! either Jimmy Boy is a jerk and someone chose to hang him out there (which, apparently, is possible)—or the person in the booth is an idiot. In which case there should be a job opening, right? I like San Francisco. I’ll relocate.

As long as we’re talking about San Fran, how about that D shutting down Calvin Johnson? first time all year.  good for them.

Begrudging congratulations to Tom Brady:  he has a 78% career win percentage. Maybe we could convince him to stop now? no, I didn’t think so. Yeah, I know—no bias in sports writing. Give me a break. I don’t hate the guy; I’m just over it with the Pats. 

And I am among those who think that the Dallas coaches undermined their team on Sunday. Wouldn’t you be a tiny bit embarrassed when Tom Brady is not only unhurried, he gives a whole new meaning to “standing in the pocket.” I mean, his feet do not go. Statue of Liberty? he could be Michelangelo’s David back there, surveying the field with no one even close to him. And, zone D against Brady in the two-minute? Are you insane?

Coming East Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

I guess I have to weigh in on the coaching battle—you know, the real one in the Silver Dome. Harbaugh shouldn’t have pushed him (it wasn’t all adrenaline, but probably some) and Schwartz should have let it go. Oddly, with all of the “what would you tell your kids” talk, this has turned out well for parenting. they both look pretty darn stupid and juvenile. So there’s your teaching moment. Can we forget about this now and get back to the game? where, incidentally, I would hire either Jim tomorrow. 

San Diego Chargers at new York Jets 

Straight Up: new York Jets

Against the Spread:  new York +1.5

Over/Under: under 44  60’s and partly cloudy

Gates swears he’ll be back on Sunday for San Diego. but DE Castillo will not be. And WR Jackson has a hamstring problem, even though he is probable. but Gang Green’s CB Cromartie suffered a groin injury. Maybe the two of them could just call it a draw and watch from the sidelines?

I know one thing:  the Jets had better start averaging more than 234 yards per game on offense (their number for the past three weeks.) particularly if they continue to give up 340 on defense. Statistically, the numbers favor San Diego by five points on offense and 4 points on D. Hmmm.

So why am I picking the Jets? Momentum. Monday night may only have been a win against the Dolphins, but it gave them a lot of confidence. And it gave the fans confidence, too. Which they will certainly need against the Chargers.

Welcoming old Friends Marc Serota/Getty Images

Then there is that whole “travel to the East Coast and play the early game” thing. Although, this season, that has not held as true as it usually does. but I still think it’s a drag. So I’m going with the J-E-T-S.

Seattle Seahawks at the Cleveland Browns

Straight Up:  Cleveland

Against the Spread:  Cleveland  -2.5

Over/Under:  under 40.5  cloudy and 50’s but these guys have a hard time scoring 

How is Peyton Hillis’ hammy? Not that it made much difference against the Raiders even when he was playing early on Sunday. did you ever imagine a team with Hillis toting the rock would be averaging less than 75 yards per game on the ground?

Every team in the league is going to be running safety blitzes on the Browns. There is no deep passing game, and neither the O-line nor the QB seem able to handle pressure with any kind of blitz.

The Browns’ D missed Joe Haden against the Raiders, and I don’t expect to see him in the secondary against the ‘Hawks. SLB Fujita is questionable after dealing with a head injury last week.The only good thing I can say about the Browns’ performance is that it took a freak run back and a gadget Punter TD pass to win instead of regular offense and defense.

Meanwhile, Seattle’s two best WRs are both trying to come back from concussions. Charlie Whitehurst is in at QB. I haven’t seen Whitehurst this year; does he still look like Serpico? with a bye week to practice, Charlie should be fine. They’ll just hand it off to Marshawn Lynch as long as he maintains his newfound football focus.

Stop him. someone? Harry How/Getty Images

Defensively, I want to see how the linebackers do now that Curry is rocking the Silver and Black. this has been one of those “give up yards, not points” defenses with 400 yards but only 21.7 points per game over the last three weeks.

I know that I’m going out on a limb with this pick, but I think that if the offense can get up to 21, they could win.


Atlanta Falcons at Detroit Lions 

Straight Up:  Detroit

Against the Spread: Detroit  -3.5

Over/Under:  over 47.5

Wow. Jason Hanson missed a kick! It was over 52 yards and he looked so disheartened. Relax, Jason—you’ve been the Lions’ only offense for a decade. You can miss one. (Did you hear it announced that Hanson has played for eight different head doaches—all in Detroit!)

I feel terrible for the Falcons, Ryan and Mike White. 2011 is not rolling out the way that anyone in Hotlanta expected it to. In addition, now the expensive Julio Jones is hurt. It doesn’t matter. The problem is the O-line pass protection and the defense. still.

Nevertheless, this is an even match statistically. The Lions are running a small less well, but this week Ronnie Brown may be in for Jahvid Best. that could be a good thing—Brown has more power, and the Falcons’ D has less.

It’s been that kind of year. Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

I would like for classy Ryan and White to win, but I think mad Jim and Matthew will probably get back in the W column.

The exception to this theory is if Michael Turner gets on a tear against a Lions’ run D that is allowing a surprising 146 yards per contest in the last month. But, that number is probably more a function of Frank Gore and the San Francisco O-line. So, I’m sticking with Detroit.

Washington Redskins at Carolina Panthers

Straight Up: Carolina

Against the Spread:  Carolina  -1 (this line has jumped all over the place – don’t go over 2.5)

Over/Under:  under 44.5

Well, the Redskins weren’t ready for the desperate Eagles last week. how is that possible? I knew the Eagles were going to come out smoking; I’m sure you knew the Eagles were going to come out smoking—how exactly is that the Redskins’ offense seemed somnambulant the entire first half?

I had nearly forgotten that Dante Stallworth was a Redskin until he re-emerged last week in the slot. they should use him more often in this role. He’s not a deep threat anymore (if, in fact, he ever was—which is something with which I quibble), so stop pretending and place him over the middle.

I hear Beck is starting this week; I’m not surprised. on one hand, the Panthers’ D is so thin that this could be a good week to try a new guy. on the other hand, the Redskins just lost two starting offensive linemen and stud TE Cooley. Hmmm. unless those second-string O-linemen are really good at run-blocking, this might not be the week you want to start under center. good luck with that.

Starting take 2 Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

In Carolina, Shockey needs to get into the endzone. Can we at least try to hand it off to Williams more often? The Panthers’ replacement LBs need to step it up—big time. I could be incorrect, but it seems that allowing opponents to score less than 31.7 ponts per game would help you win.

Chicago Bears at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 

Straight Up:  Chicago

Against the Spread:  Chicago -1

Over/Under:  under 44

Are the Bears going to stick with their “new” safeties? were they brought in just to stop Adrian Peterson on Sunday, or is this a relatively permanent arrangement? Against a team with Blount and Graham, they might think about it.

Incidentally, it is nice to see that Jay C. can still lob it downfield as long as he is standing. And it only took eight-man protection. but here is a shocking stat for a Martz team:  155 yards per game on the ground in the last three games. I’m speechless.

Did the Bears rally defensively, or was that just the total lack of an offensive line (still) in Minnesota? Well, at least the run D rallied, because Adrian Peterson went nowhere in the first half Sunday night.

The Bucs shocked the Saints huge-time last week on both sides of the ball. Freeman was 23 of 41 for 303 and two TDs. he threw bombs to people named Preston Parker and Desmond Briscoe. now, I have heard of these two young men—and that’s the best I can do. if this continues, but, we will all know a lot more about the Tampa WRs.

something new. Cutler on his feet. Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Defensively, while I don’t think it’s possible to shut Drew Brees down, the Bucs’ D sure gave him a hard time. (And how about Ronde on the sidelines with headphones and a clipboard coaching up his guys? I have seen lots of tremendous players with tremendous leadership skills do a lot of coaching on the sidelines. I’ve just never seen one really wearing cans and drawing plays.)

Let’s see if they can make Cutler forget that lovely night he had at Soldier Field where he stayed clean and threw the ball all over creation.

Denver Broncos at Miami Dolphins

Straight Up:  Denver

Against the Spread:  Denver +1.5

Over/Under:  under 43 On top of everything else, it will be “thunder storming.” 

Yes, I’m going to say it—it’s Tebow time! now that Brandon Lloyd is a Ram, I would think Miami will start playing its safeties closer to the line. Much closer. I’m sure Tim’s attitude is “bring it on.”

Honestly, what a bungled job of leadership in Denver. I wish Tebow well. Fox and Elway should both have their wrists slapped for idiocy. Shame on the fans for treating Orton so shoddily.

I don’t expect much consistency out of this offense, but it will probably be entertaining enough to distract from the defense. for a while.

still got it. Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Not that the Dolphins are doing any better. could any franchise possibly screw up the leadership positions more thoroughly? Parcells fled the building, then Sparano is marginalized and nobody drafted a QB. Yeah, that’s going to lead to good things.

Nobody outside of these two cities cares who wins this game. I’m picking Denver on the “spark” factor only—but watch out for Daniel Thomas and the ‘Fins running game.


Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans 

Straight Up:  Tennessee

Against the Spread:  Tennessee   -3

Over/Under:  over 44.5   Sunny and 70. The fans will like it. 

The last time we saw Houston, Schaub was being his usual courageous and talented self, Foster and Tate could really tote the rock, and there was no Andre Johnson or discernible defense of any kind post-Williams. unless things have changed, the rested Titans should win and cover.

That is, as long as Titans’ RB Chris Johnson has finally gotten up to speed. That’s probable, I think, unless his slightly tight hammy rears its ugly head. Hasselbeck is calmly going about dissecting defenses with a bunch of quickly improving WRs. Craig Stevens’ rib injury is a blow, but I guess Matt will throw to whoever is running in the middle.

I have a slight concern that both starting Tennessee Safeties are hurt; Chris Hope is out.

Well, I won’t say it twice. Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

This is not a sure thing, but the spread favors Tennessee.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Arizona Cardinals

Straight Up:  Pittsburgh

Against the Spread:  Pittsburgh   -3.5

Over/Under:  under 42  Sunny and 94 degrees is forecast. Oh my goodness. Gatorade, please!

I certainly hope that Whisenhunt and Grimm did something about that that offense. first Warner, then Boldin, then Breaston and Urban. then Williams got hurt. but that was a while ago and the Kolb era hasn’t exactly blown me away. Fitz can’t do it all. Especially with three Steelers DBs hanging off of him. Less than 16 points per game.

Wells and company have managed over 100 yards per game on the ground. That’s a start.

Don’t forget about a defense that was giving up 26 points every week. they aren’t giving up many yards, but a ton of points. That’s not the way you want that ratio to work.

On paper, this is no contest. Mendenhall will kill them on the ground, Ben and Wallace (or Emmanuel Sanders) will burn them through the air and the D will harass Arizona at every snap.

But, we do know that the Steelers are without Harrison and possibly without Troy of the Hair. Wells could be successful against the run D, and Fitz will probably have some great catches against an older secondary that wasn’t first rate to start with.

still Got it Redux Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

So, the home team could prevail. but if it does, it will be on spirit and not talent. Sorry, Larry.

Kansas City Chiefs at Oakland Raiders

Straight Up:  Oakland

Against the Spread:  Kansas City  +4

Over/Under:  over 41.5  sunny and 80 

I have to hand it to Hue Jackson: he has guts. Jason Campbell went down with a broken collarbone, and Jackson ran a QB sneak on Boller’s first snap—and it was fourth down at the time. Wow. he then had high school QB and pro Punter Shane Lechler throw a TD pass to Kevin Boss. It’s about time Lechler had some fun; he and PK Janikowski have been the entire offense for a decade. 

Now we have to wonder if Jackson would dare to start Palmer so soon. Personally, I’m betting that Boller starts and we see Palmer by halftime—unless he just goes for it and starts Carson from the snap. with those speedy WRs, we will quickly find out just how strong that elbow really is.

I don’t know how impressed to be with the Silver and Black defense. Jackson obviously had enough faith not to even attempt a FG on fourth and goal in the fourth quarter. It was the Browns, after all. I do think that Aaron Curry is going to be a terrific addition to the LBing corps.

Back. In Force Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Meanwhile, we wrote off the Chiefs by Labor Day due to miscues, weird attitudes and injuries. Not so quick. Matt Cassel seems to suddenly be on throwing terms with both Bowe and Breaston. no one had ever heard of RB Jackie Battle until last week. but then he sustained a head injury, so Thomas Jones may finally get a chance to score. Or maybe they’ll give it to FB McClain (I wondered where he went)  or McCluster—although Dexter seems like the forgotten man here.

Here’s something that may come as a surprise to you:  both teams are averaging 22 points on offense, while KC is giving up 20 points per game and Oakland nearly 23. Hmmm.

This is too close to call with Kansas on the rise and the Oakland breaking in a new/ancient QB—so keep the wallet in the pocket and just delight in the game.

Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings

Straight Up:  Green Bay

Against the Spread:  Green Bay  -8

Over/Under:  over 46.5

I really wanted McNabb to have a great game Sunday night. Sigh. Maybe McNabb hasn’t “risen to the occasion” for the Vikes, but since it’s the same O-line that tried to get Favre killed for the past two seasons, how can I be surprised? now two starters are hurt.

But you know it’s going to be a long night when, at the end of the first quarter, you blink and say, “What is Joe Webb doing in there at QB?” (Not much, as it turned out). Have all of the offensive coordinators in the National Football League lost their tiny minds? It certainly appears so. At the end of the first half, Donovan was 13 of 17. And they still kept taking him out on third downs.

Then, they took him out altogether and now Ponder is starting. Who knows? Maybe Ponder and Tebow will inspire their teams to over-achieve. It has been known to happen.

The worst aspect of Sunday’s game was the manner in which Chicago shut down Jared Allen on the pass rush. The Vikes clearly miss Edwards, because with Allen double-teamed, there was no one else getting to Cutler. Cutler!  he of the non-existent O-line. Geez.

Speaking of Cutler, is that not the most animated you have ever seen him? he darn near smiled.

The Green Bay Packers are not a perfect team. Awesome tackle Chad Clifton is out. for all of the fireworks, they have several injuries in the secondary that make them vulnerable. we just don’t notice them because they continue to dazzle us with the best QB and five WRs of this young decade. I’m not surprised. What did surprise me, but, was that they didn’t play this way at the beginning of last year.

(And can we ease up on Favre’s comments? I know that I certainly expected the Pack to win it all two years ago and then to come storming out in 2010. I didn’t expect to have to wait until December for them to play the way we all knew they could.)

Well, they’re doing it now. Heaven help Ponder. 

Matt’s new toy. Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

St. Louis Rams at Dallas Cowboys

Straight Up:  Dallas

Against the Spread:  Dallas -13

Over/Under: under 43

Dallas is extremely lucky to be facing the Rams after their exhausting trip to new England. I just hoped people wouldn’t find some way to blame Tony Romo for this one. of course, but, they did. At least this time, Garrett is also getting some heat.

I know the temptation to get conservative in the fourth quarter when Tony has made a lot of late mistakes. but, not only does that show a complete lack of confidence in your starting quarterback, is this really a strategy to use against Tom Brady? What are we calling it? A “prevent offense?”

Sam Bradford must be wondering what the heck is going on around here! Last year, Rookie of the Year; this year, dog meat. Wow. Poor kid.

See above for concern over the sanity of the NFL’s O-coordinators. I would like to know when the offensive line became optional in this game. Forget the fact that you drafted Bradford with the last mega-expensive rookie pick ever—how about the fact that we all saw the Steelers lose the Super Bowl in no small part due to the absence of Pouncey. Hello? Am I shouting to the wind, here? okay, okay—back to the pick.

To add frustration to injury, the very week that your front office finally hires one of the best WRs around (Brandon Lloyd from the Broncos in case you haven’t been tuning in), you can’t play because your offensive line got you pancaked into a high ankle sprain. Yeah, like Feeley can really light it up with Lloyd. It won’t be pretty.

Then there is a Steve Spagnuolo-coached defense that fell for every trick in McCarthy’s arsenal last week. Granted, it’s a really big arsenal—but come on.

I give the Rams this bone:  Steven Jackson is capable of being a one-man offense. Maybe he can distract Ware so that he doesn’t kill Feeley and the DBs so that they forget about Brandon. Uh-huh.

Not even close Bob Levey/Getty Images

Sunday Night Football:

Indianapolis Colts at new Orleans Saints

Straight Up: new Orleans.

Against the Spread:  Indianapolis +15.5

Over/Under:  over 48

I know that I’ve been saying (and saying and saying) that Indy is due for a win, but I really cannot imagine it coming this week—not after the Saints lost to a Tampa team so young they are practically toddling.

Drew Brees is on pace to throw for 5,700 yards. Yeah, that is probably not going to happen. but he is the first QB to throw for over 350 yards in four straight games.

The Saints have to start running the football, though. Why on earth did you draft Mark Ingram if you are not going to use him? Not to mention the new contract for Pierre Thomas? I’m sorry, running Sproles doesn’t count because Darren is some kind of weird, not-so-secret football weapon all unto himself.

I’ve also been complaining about the Saints’ defense. no offense to Josh Freeman, but how else can you clarify 26 points last week? of course, Ernest Graham certainly stepped in for Blount in heroic fashion. but that N’awleans’ D has got to figure it out. with Curtis Painter starting to “figure it out” in Indy, this would be a good week for Gregg Williams’ group to get it together.

That said, with Addai still hurting, I don’t hold out much hope for a balanced Indy offensive strategy Sunday night. but, with Painter’s improvement, I‘d give them 21 points. So it will be up to an Indy D playing the water boys in the secondary to stop Drew Brees. Yeah, that’s going to happen.

Ready or Not Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Monday Night Football:

Baltimore Ravens at Jacksonville Jaguars

Straight Up:  Baltimore

Against the Spread:  Jacksonville +7.5

Over/Under:  over 39

All hail the appearance of a deep wide receiving threat in Baltimore. A really deep threat. Rookie Torrey Smith is making the fans say, “Lee, who?” Flacco and his receivers are getting comfortable, even Boldin had a deep ball. of course, it was a perfect throw. Meanwhile, Ray Rice continues to be a threat with 23 carries for 101 yards as he quietly frightens all opponents.

The Ravens’ D hardly had to try against the decimated Texans offense last week. but I’m pretty sure that they are still at full strength. look out, Blaine.

It has taken a safety as great as Troy Polamalu to shut down MJD this season. Guess who he’s against this week? Yeah, Ed Reed. Oh, dear.

But, Blaine Gabbert and his offense fared surprisingly well against the Steelers in Week 6, so I’m going with them to beat the spread. The over pick is solely in honor of Torrey Smith.

NFL Picks for Week 7: Every Game Predicted Straight Up, Against the Spread, O/U