Aaron Rodgers took down the Houston Texans last week, throwing for six touchdowns and dismantling one of the NFL’s best defenses. Houston’s lopsided defeat led to the Atlanta Falcons being the lone undefeated team heading into Week 7. Considering that the Falcons are on a bye, this fact will hold true for at least one more week.
This week, Houston will look to rebound against the Baltimore Ravens, who recently lost both Ray Lewis and Lardarius Webb to major injuries. Meanwhile, Rodgers and the Packers travel to St. Louis and hope to build on last week’s momentum. Elsewhere, Rex Ryan and the Jets travel to New England, RGIII and the ‘Skins battle the Giants and the Lions face the Bears on Monday night.
Over in the “Pick Your Knows” department, I cooled off slightly, posting a .500 record for the week, with seven victories. A number of this week’s spreads were tricky in my opinion, but hopefully I focused on the right stats and made a number of smart calls. Only time will tell.
Last Week: 7-7
This Season: 47-44
Last Two Seasons: 144-112 (2010) and 131-125 (2011)
It’s once again time to “Pick Your Knows” – the only time it’s not a disgusting habit – and here are Week 7’s scheduled games (with spreads as they appear through CBSSports Fantasy).
Pick Your Knows: 2012 NFL Week 7 Picks Against the Spread
Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers (-7.5)
A defensive, low-scoring battle is expected between these two teams. Five of Seattle’s six games have been close (a touchdown or less). Russell Wilson was solid leading a comeback against the Patriots last week, but Seattle’s pass offense is still ranked 31st in the league. San Francisco’s pass offense (26th in the league) isn’t potent either. The key matchup in this game will be the Niners’ rush offense (1st in the NFL, 176.8 ypg) versus Seattle’s second-ranked run defense (70 ypg allowed). The Niners have also allowed the third most sacks, which could mean open doorways for Seattle’s pash rush. Taking these stats in mind, coupled with Seattle’s ability to defend and stay in close games, I’m taking the ‘Hawks and the points on Thursday night.
KP’s Pick: Seattle
Dallas Cowboys at Carolina Panthers (+2.5)
The Panthers are coming off a bye week and have had plenty of rest to prepare for Tony Romo and the Cowboys. DeMarco Murray will be out this week, and Felix Jones will need to pick up the slack. Cam Newton and Tony Romo have struggled this year, each throwing more interceptions than TD passes. Therefore, turnover margin could be the key here. In the end, the Cowboys have the league’s top pass defense. On the other side of the ball, Dallas has plenty of offensive weapons that will challenge the Carolina defense. The Cowboys are in need of a win after losing three of four. Even with a week of rest, I don’t see the Panthers matching Dallas on this day. Cowboys cover… but not by much.
KP’s Pick: Dallas
Cleveland Browns at Indianapolis Colts (-3.5)
Both teams’ run games are ranked in the bottom ten, so it will be expected to see more offensive productivity in the passing game. Brandon Weeden and Andrew Luck are rookies that have had their moments. Indy’s pass defense is ranked third in the league (200 ypg), yet have allowed ten touchdowns on the season. Cleveland’s pass defense is ranked third from the bottom, allowing 15 TD’s, while managing 10 INT’s. The 3½-point line is always a tricky one, and my gut is leaning towards the Colts on their home turf. Indy covers at home.
KP’s Pick: Indianapolis
New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+3.5)
The Saints are coming off a bye week and have had a week to prepare for the Bucs. New Orleans has the NFL’s top passing offense, averaging 326.8 ypg, with 14 touchdowns. Tampa Bay’s pass defense is ranked 31st in the league, and could have a long day against Drew Brees. The Bucs also only have 8 sacks on the year, meaning Brees could have plenty of time to find open receivers. Tampa Bay has talent and is playing at home, but all signs point to the Saints winning on the road. New Orleans covers.
KP’s Pick: New Orleans
Washington Redskins at New York Giants (-6.5)
The Giants have allowed just five sacks on the year, the fewest in the NFL. The Redskins have sustained injuries on its defense, but recovered to play well over the last few weeks. Still, the Giants will likely move the ball down the field. New York has multiple running backs showing up on the injury report. Robert Griffin III adds a unique dimension that will challenge New York’s pass rush and keep its defense honest. RG3’s talent alone has been keeping the Redskins in games. As mentioned by USA Today, Washington is 6-2 against the spread over its last 8 games. ‘Skins keep this one close.
KP’s Pick: Washington
Baltimore Ravens at Houston Texans (-6.5)
The Ravens suffered major blows on defense last week, losing both Ray Lewis and Lardarius Webb. Haloti Ngata will likely play, but is also fighting off injuries. There’s a chance that Terrell Suggs may return to give Baltimore a boost. Meanwhile, the Texans are coming off a blowout loss to the Packers, and will be looking to recover. The Texans have allowed just six sacks on the year, and have to be angry after last week’s performance. The Ravens are hampered on defense, and could be vulnerable to Houston’s balanced attack, featuring Andre Johnson and Arian Foster. Four of Baltimore’s games have finished with a field goal difference or less. Houston should take advantage of Baltimore’s depleted defense, and covers at home with at least a touchdown victory.
KP’s Pick: Houston
Green Bay Packers at St. Louis Rams (+5.5)
Aaron Rodgers silenced his critics last week, throwing six touchdowns against the previously undefeated Texans. This week, the Packers will play in a dome, likely adding to its offensive firepower. Rodgers is on the injury report with a calf injury, but is expected to play. Green Bay’s defense has 21 sacks (best in the NFL), and will likely put a lot of pressure on Sam Bradford and the St. Louis offense. The Rams are without Danny Amendola, which has meant a hit on the team’s offensive efficiency. St. Louis is at home and playing well under Jeff Fisher, but the Packers have too many weapons. Green Bay covers.
KP’s Pick: Green Bay
Arizona Cardinals at Minnesota Vikings (-6.5)
The Cardinals have lost two straight and travel to Minnesota, where the Vikings are undefeated at home. Arizona is an interesting team in the trenches, allowing 28 sacks (most in the NFL), while managing 19 sacks, the third most in the league. Christian Ponder has been steady at quarterback, and the Vikings will also rely heavily on Adrian Peterson and the run game. The Cardinals will move back to John Skelton at QB, with Kevin Kolb out with an injury. The line is a little high, but the Vikes are so dangerous at home. Minnesota wins by a touchdown.
KP’s Pick: Minnesota
Tennessee Titans at Buffalo Bills (-3.5)
The Bills had a solid win last week on the road in Arizona, and this week face a Tennessee defense that is ranked 29th against the pass. Tennessee is also coming off a solid win, knocking off the Steelers at home. The Titans have had a few extra days of rest to prep for Buffalo. Kenny Britt appears to be getting healthier, therefore adding another weapon to Tennessee’s offense. Buffalo is last in run defense while the Titans are last in rushing offense. Still, Tennessee has Chris Johnson, who could break out. This game could be a back and forth, high scoring affair. With the line the way it is, I’m banking on a late field goal to seal the win.
KP’s Pick: Tennessee
New York Jets at New England Patriots (-10.5)
It should come as no surprise, but Rex Ryan is running his mouth, stating that his Jets are going to win. New York players are talking, too. But the fact of the matter is the Jets have played well over the last few weeks, hanging tough with the Texans and blowing out the Colts. The Jets are without Revis, yet still have the league’s sixth ranked pass defense. New England will move the ball and score points, but it won’t be a cake walk on every drive. On the other side, Mark Sanchez has struggled at times, but could have some success against New England’s pass defense, which is ranked 28th in the NFL and has allowed 15 passing touchdowns. Expect a few new wrinkles in New York’s offense, perhaps some involving wonderboy Tim Tebow – and with that in mind, this spread is a bit high. New England wins, but the Jets will keep this one closer than most people think.
KP’s Pick: New York Jets
Jacksonville Jaguars at Oakland Raiders (-4.5)
The Raiders and Jags have a combined seven sacks on the season, and are 31st and 32nd in the league, respectively. Jacksonville is coming off a bye and has had plenty of time to rest and prepare for the Raiders. The Jags are averaging just 13 points per game, which is dead last in the NFL. Blaine Gabbert’s completion percentage is just 54.79%, throwing for less than 800 yards on the year, which clearly shows that the Jags rely heavily on Maurice Jones-Drew and the run game. If MJD has a solid day and the Jags can control the clock, there’s no reason to believe that this won’t be a tight game. I’m taking Jacksonville and the points.
KP’s Pick: Jacksonville
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals (+2.5)
Here’s a tricky one between two division rivals fighting for position. The Steelers have had a few extra days of rest, following its loss to the Titans last Thursday. The Bengals are also coming off a tough loss, dropping a game to the Browns. The Steelers are suffering through a number of injuries, most notably to LaMarr Woodley (questionable), Troy Polamalu (out), Rashard Mendenhall (questionable), Maurkice Pouncey (questionable) and Isaac Redman (questionable). With a lack of depth on both offense and defense, Pittsburgh will face a major challenge on the road in front of a hostile crowd. Pittsburgh’s run game is ranked 31st in the NFL, therefore leaving Ben Roethlisberger and the pass game to carry the offense. The Bengals have 20 sacks on the year, which is the second most in the NFL. The Steelers have allowed only 10 sacks, but could face issues with Cincy’s pass rush, especially with a possible lack of depth on its offensive line. With some of these stats in mind, I’m taking the Bengals to win at home.
KP’s Pick: Cincinnati
Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears (-5.5)
The Lions are coming off an emotional comeback win against the Eagles, while the Bears had the week off to rest and prepare for Detroit. The Bears have 18 sacks on the year, which is the fourth most in the NFL to date. Chicago also has the league’s top run defense, allowing 65.8 yards per game. The Bears will likely force Detroit into being a one-dimensional offense, while attempting to put pressure on Matthew Stafford and limit the damage coming from Calvin Johnson. One additional stat to point out is the fact that Chicago’s defense has allowed just five passing touchdowns, while managing 13 INT’s. Playing at home with plenty of rest and preparation, I expect the Bears to cover – and win by double digits.
KP’s Pick: Chicago
Bye Week: Atlanta Falcons, Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, Miami Dolphins, Philadelphia Eagles and San Diego Chargers