The seventh week of the 2011 NFL regular season is clearly the weakest to date, at least on paper, with few marquee matchups to leave fans scrambling for their remote controls.
The cream of the crop matchups for Week 7 appear to be the Lions and Falcons, Bears and Bucs – and biggest of all, thanks to Rex Ryan’s mouth, is the New York Jets hosting Norv Turner, Philip Rivers and the rested San Diego Chargers.
Meanwhile, in the “Pick Your Knows” department, another solid week bumped my regular season record above the .500 mark, but there’s still room for improvement and more consistency.
Last Week: 8-5
This Season: 46-44
Last Season: 144-112
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: 2011 NFL Week 7 Picks Against the Spread
Washington Redskins at Carolina Panthers (-2.5)
The Redskins are battling some O-line injuries, while the Panthers have the 31st ranked rush defense. Both passing offenses have more INT’s thrown than TD passes. The Redskins defense has 17 sacks and has allowed just 4 passing TD’s, so Cam Newton will have his challenges. John Beck gets his first start of the year, but he could do just fine against this lackluster defense. ‘Skins win outright on the road.
KP’s Pick: Washington
Seattle Seahawks at Cleveland Browns (-3.5)
The Browns have a question mark in the running back department, with Peyton Hillis battling a hamstring injury, and Montario Hardesty potentially getting the start. Seattle has allowed 20 sacks on the year, the second most in the NFL. Both offenses have struggled, but Seattle is rested and has had time to prepare. Bank on a field goal game. Take Seattle and the points.
KP’s Pick: Seattle
Atlanta Falcons at Detroit Lions (-3.5)
There’s a good chance that Detroit RB Jahvid Best will be out with a concussion, leaving a hit to the balance of the Lions offense. Atlanta can focus more on Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson and the pass game because of it. The Falcons, led by a balanced offensive attack, hope to ride the momentum of last week’s 31-point effort. I expect a close game, perhaps by a field goal.
KP’s Pick: Atlanta
Denver Broncos at Miami Dolphins (-2.5)
Two struggling teams face off in Miami, with the Dolphins sending Matt Moore out again, while Denver gives Tim Tebow his first start of the season. The Broncos lost their top receiver Brandon Lloyd via trade, while Brandon Marshall has struggled to make clutch plays in Miami. Tebow adds a run and pass game that could keep Miami’s struggling defense off balance. Tebow earns a win in his first start this year, as the “Suck for Luck” campaign continues in South Beach.
KP’s Pick: Denver
San Diego Chargers at New York Jets (-1.5)
Rex Ryan made a typical comment, which even after an apology, could spark Norv Turner and the Chargers this week. San Diego is back from a bye week, not only having a week to rest injuries, but also to prepare for the Jets. The Chargers are also likely to get healthier versions of Vincent Jackson and Antonio Gates on the field. All signs point to a San Diego road win.
KP’s Pick: San Diego
Chicago Bears vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+0.5)
This tossup game is being played in London. Both teams played great last week, as the Bucs knocked off the Saints, while the Bears dominated the Vikings. Chicago has had trouble protecting Jay Cutler, but the Tampa Bay defense has allowed 10 passing TD’s and managed just 10 sacks on the year. If the Bears O-line plays like it did last week, then Chicago wins in a close one across the big pond.
KP’s Pick: Chicago
Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans (-2.5)
The Texans will be again without Andre Johnson and Matt Schaub is banged up, too. Therefore, expect Tennessee’s top 10 run defense to focus on shutting down Arian Foster. On the other side, the Titans have played well at home, and have allowed an NFL low seven sacks this year. With this in mind, expect the Tittans to eek one another home victory this week.
KP’s Pick: Tennessee
Pittsburgh Steelers at Arizona Cardinals (+3.5)
The Steelers have been picking up steam in recent weeks, including Rashard Mendenhall last week. The Cardinals have allowed 16 sacks on the season, and the Steelers could take advantage of that fact, pressuring Kevin Kolb into mistakes and trying to keep the ball out of Larry Fitzgerald’s hands. The Steelers have too much talent, even with Arizona coming off a bye week.
KP’s Pick: Pittsburgh
Kansas City Chiefs at Oakland Raiders (-3.5)
The Raiders would normally seem like the obvious choice, but with the report that Carson Palmer may not start (he’s likely rusty anyway), it leaves the starting gig to the mediocre Kyle Boller. Oakland still has Darren McFadden and does a great job protecting the quarterback, but the Chiefs have played better over the last three weeks, including a win against the Adrian Peterson-led Vikings. Because of the QB situation, my gut thinks KC keeps it a field goal game.
KP’s Pick: Kansas City
St. Louis Rams at Dallas Cowboys (-12.5)
Felix Jones is out, and will be replaced by DeMarco Murray, while mixing in Tashard Choice. But the most important absence could be Sam Bradford, who is dealing with a high ankle sprain this week. If Bradford doesn’t play, the Rams could have trouble staying in this game. Either way, expect Rob Ryan to put pressure on the St. Louis QB, whether a backup or an injured starter. Dallas has a lot of weapons, and this is a team playing with a chip on its shoulder after last week’s loss to New England, so expect the Cowboys to cover on this day.
KP’s Pick: Dallas
Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings (+8.5)
The Vikings looked horrible last week against the Bears, and this week, Minnesota gives rookie QB Christian Ponder his first start. Ponder’s first opponent is the aggressive and talented Green Bay defense, who will show him a lot of looks. Adrian Peterson could be used a lot here, but Green Bay’s weakness is more in its passing defense this year. With all this in mind, expect Green Bay’s potent offense to pull away, and cover.
KP’s Pick: Green Bay
Indianapolis Colts at New Orleans Saints (-14.5)
The Colts offense is ranked 31st in total yards while the Saints are ranked 2nd in that category. Indianapolis has played better in recent weeks, as Curtis Painter continues to get reps and game experience. The Colts have also only allowed nine sacks on the season, and for this reason and more, it’s tough to pick the Saints to cover with a spread this high. Indy is the safe pick.
KP’s Pick: Indianapolis
Baltimore Ravens at Jacksonville Jaguars (+7.5)
The Ravens clearly have more talent on its roster, but the Jags have given Baltimore all it can handle in the past, especially when playing at home. Jacksonville has a top ten passing defense, and has a good chance to keep Joe Flacco in check. The likely scenario: These two teams duke it out on the ground with Maurice Jones-Drew and Ray Rice. If that’s the case, expect a low-scoring game that falls inside a touchdown by the final tick. Take the Jags and the points.
KP’s Pick: Jacksonville