by Ryan Meehan and Ryan Spickler
Coach: Last week I able to go 4-10 with picking the spread which means that I know just as much as every other analyst out there, nothing. But it’s another week and another format to make your reading much more condensed and Meehan and I will try to sway your decisions and get you pick with us using only the highest level of thinking. Week 7 in the NFL is sure to bring a migraine to any fantasy football owner as six teams find themselves on byes which can mean some poor soul will be debating on whether to start Carson Palmer or Blaine Gabbert at quarterback. I am here to tell you to just what to do, accept the fact you are not winning this week unless your opponent is starting Tim Tebow. In all seriousness last week proved more than anything that the NFL is driven by parity and even though some of our writers (Cal Meacham) disagree, it just shows how much fun the NFL truly is. This week has games that should be stinkers, games that could be playoff previews, and in a league where parity rules anything can happen. Let’s get onto the picks…
Thursday Night Football: Seattle Seahawks (4-2) at San Francisco 49ers (4-2)
Coach: Not even Dennis Green coaching the Cardinals could say either of these teams are who we thought they were after last week. The Seahawks defied the Vegas odds and were able to beat the New England Patriots while the 49ers who many had picked as the best in the NFC forgot they were supposed to play a football game. I wish I knew the last time that Tom Brady threw for two touchdowns, 395 yards, and still lost. It defies all odds yet somehow even with Marshawn Lynch only running for 41 yards the Seattle Seahawks were able to hold off the Pats. I stated last week that I thought the NFC Championship rematch of the Giants and Niners was going to be the game of the week. Instead it was a complete blowout after the first quarter. The 49ers who had a top run defense gave up almost 150 yards rushing and could get absolutely no offense going at all. This once again from the team that still leads the league in rushing after running for a combined 80 yards as a team against the G-Men. That brings us to this week as the NFL has the best Thursday Night matchup since I’ve been doing predictions, both these teams are 4-2 and tied for the NFC West lead. This is actually a tough game to pick as the spread favors the Niners by 7 points. So far the Hawks have beaten the Packers and are coming off that huge win vs. the Pats. The difference in this game is that both of the Seahawks losses have come on the road against division opponents. Although the Seahawks have looked better than advertised and the Niners looked less than impressive last week I still think the Niners will bounce back to cover the spread at home but stay strong Seattle fans you have a good team and it is going to be an interesting rest of the year.
Coach Ryan’s Prediction: Niners 27, Seahawks 17
Meehan’s Pick: 49ers 19, Seahawks 17
Tennessee Titans (2-4) at Buffalo Bills (3-3)
Coach: As a Browns fan the Titans were my second favorite team last week as they beat the Squeelers. As a football fan I was shocked to see one of the worst teams in the league take out the mighty Steel Curtain. Still either way you look at it last week that upset was just about on par with the Colts upsetting the Packers the week before. This week the powerhouse that is the Tennessee Titans travel north to Buffalo to take on the Bills who are coming off a thrilling overtime win against the Cardinals. Even though I picked the Bills to win last week with the reasoning that the Cards defense isn’t as potent as people thought, many still saw the Bills having an upset as well. Now we are to this matchup where both these teams are coming off of “upset” wins. This is a much bigger game for the Bills due to the fact that their whole division is tied at 3-3 and if Buffalo wants to stay relevant than this is the kind of game that they simply must win. Even though I think that Buffalo will eventually fall off as they tend to do most years I will give Buffalo credit on winning games against teams that they should beat. Say what you want but there is something to say about that, just ask Pittsburgh and Green Bay. With that in mind I think Buffalo will hang out at the top of the AFC East for one more week after they cover the 3 point spread and take care of business in Buffalo.
Coach Ryan’s Prediction: Bills 24, Titans 13
Meehan’s Pick: Titans 18, Bills 16 1/2
Washington Redskins (3-3) at New York Giants (4-2)
Meehan: I’m a little bit torn here because both of these teams stuck it to 4-1 squads last week. Just because the Giants beat arguably the better team doesn’t mean that they should be able to whoop up on the Skins at home. However, last time RG3 had a great outing he got rocked the next time he took the field, so that’s something to consider as well. Washington’s defense looked good early in the Minnesota game, but struggled towards the end and that might end up being the deciding factor in this one. There aren’t a whole lot of unanswered questions about the Giants’ defensive front. On their good days, they are easily the most feared D line in all of the NFL. If San Francisco wanted to lay claim to that, they shouldn’t have let Ahmad Bradshaw rush for over a hundred yards and Eli Manning should be in a coma. Of course I am going to jock the G-Men here, but if there is any group of guys who can make life a living hell for a rookie that group of guys is lead by Jason Pierre Paul and in my opinion the Redskins don’t have the offensive line to hold him coming around the corner. I think that at least ten of Washington’s points will come off of turnovers, which Eli is prone to causing at home.
Meehan’s Pick: Giants 30, Redskins 28
Coach Ryan’s Prediction: Giants 30, Redskins 24
New Orleans Saints (1-4) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-3)
Coach: Earlier I talked about how the NFL is a great league for parity, if you want an example of this look no further than this matchup. Sure NFL fans knew that the Saints were going to suffer from Bounty Gate but few would have predicted that at week 7 the Saints would be coming off their first win looking up in the standings at Tampa Bay. If the Saints want to have a prayer at sniffing anything close to the playoffs than they have to start their revival now! Tampa Bay is another team that has been less than impressive. They are coming off a win that just snapped a three game losing streak by blowing out the visiting Chiefs. Don’t smirk, you forget that the Saints lost a game to the Chiefs IN NEW ORLEANS. I know that the Bucs had a much easier time dealing with the high-octane offense combination of Romeo Crennel and Brady Quinn but it doesn’t change a thing in the standings. The Saints are also coming off of a win against the San Diego Chargers in New Orleans but now they have to go on the road in a must win situation. Luckily for the Saints, Raymond James Stadium isn’t exactly the same road environment as playing a division game in Atlanta. Still it is a conference game and anything can happen. The Saints are 2.5 point favorites in this game and even though you can’t judge by their record I am taking them to cover in Tampa. I still think it’s too early to decide the faith of the Saints but this week will tell a lot and New Orleans is going to have to depend on Drew Brees against a terrible pass defense. Look for Brees to have a 300 plus yard game.
Coach Ryan’s Prediction: Saints 41, Bucs 33
Meehan’s Pick: Saints 35, Buccaneers 26
Dallas Cowboys (2-3) at Carolina Panthers (1-4)
Coach: I wish I could share with you all the e-mail Meehan sent me earlier where he said I had all the good games to pick this week. He obviously must have missed this stinker between the Egos of Jerry Jones and Cam Newton. In one corner we have one of the most overrated teams in the NFL (no offense to the Jets) and in the other the extremely disappointing Cam Newton. Let’s get ready to FUMBLE! Seriously I just checked Cam Newton has 5 interceptions, 3 fumbles, and a QB rating of 80.9; Tony Romo has 9 interceptions, 2 fumbles and a QB rating of 82.1. Wow if you have these two on your fantasy team, you might as well rename your team the Chiefs. I really am at a loss on where to go with this pick, the one thing the Cowboys have it’s still the top rated passing defense in the NFL which probably will help Cam Newton up his interception total so it’s closer to Romo. I guess on that alone I will take the Cowboys to cover the ever so large 2 point spread, buckle up this game is going to be a doozy.
Coach Ryan’s Prediction: Cowboys 17, Panthers 14
Meehan’s Pick: Cowboys 20, Panthers 18
Baltimore Ravens (5-1) at Houston Texans (5-1)
Coach: Being as I almost gagged writing that last prediction I have come to the Holy Grail of Week 7, Ravens at Texans! At least this was an AFC Championship caliber matchup before last week when the Texans let Aaron Rodgers throw for six touchdowns and got destroyed at home by 18 points. I still don’t know what to make of that game and although I do think the Texans are a good team I am starting to question if they are the great team that they seemed to be only a week ago. The more you analyze the Texans this year you start to realize that outside of Denver they haven’t played any good teams until the Packers. Does that discredit the 5-1 record Houston is bringing into week 7? Absolutely not, their record is what it is and all that matters at the end of the day is wins and losses but if they want to be a team that is playing into February they are going to have to beat teams much tougher than Jacksonville and Tennessee. Baltimore should be that top tiered team I was just referring to. Baltimore’s only loss was by one point to Philly and they have a win against New England but if you have been paying attention the Ravens got a bit of unwelcomed news this week. Ray Lewis’ torn tricep puts him out for the rest of the year and even though that got all the headlines the Ravens also have lost cornerback Ladarius Webb for the year (ACL) and Haloti Ngata (MCL). Ngata is expected to continue to play but the loss of Lewis and Webb keep the defensive casualties piling up. It’s no secret that Baltimore’s dominant defense isn’t getting any younger and now that Lewis and Suggs are both out I can’t help but wonder if they even have the players to step up let alone lead Baltimore back to the promised land. The rest of the season for Baltimore will depend on Joe Flacco, Ray Rice, and the rest of the offense. Although relying on the offense is uncharacteristic of the defensive minded Ravens, Baltimore should still be able to contend in the AFC North (if they can hold of the Browns). Houston is another team that should wrap up their division meaning that this rematch of last year’s Divisional Playoff game where Baltimore beat the Texans 20-13 could also be the second act and a preview to this year’s playoff. The spread on the game is favoring Houston by 6.5 which I find to be pretty big all things considered still I am going with the Texans due to the fact that they are going into the game angry after last week and Baltimore being so depleted on defense.
Coach Ryan’s Prediction: Texans 24, Ravens 14
Meehan’s Pick: Texans 27, Ravens 22
Cleveland Browns (1-5) at Indianapolis Colts (2-3)
Coach: I finally got to celebrate with a nice chilled shot of Crown Royal last week as the Browns got a huge monkey off their back and beat the Bengals. Not only did last week’s victory snap an 11 game losing streak for Cleveland but it was also their first victory over a division opponent in two years, happy days are here again. This has been a big week in news for the Browns as Jimmy Haslam officially took over as new owner of the Cleveland Browns. Haslam being unanimously approved by the league brought other front office changes as Mike Holmgren is “retiring” as team President/CEO at the end of the year. That position is now going to go to Joe Banner who was hand-picked by Haslam to be the mind behind the football decisions as soon as the sale was reported. Haslam has said that he is going to hold off on putting his touch on personnel decisions until after the season but Browns fans know that this more than likely means more jobs will be lost as soon as the season ends and the list could quite possibly involve GM Tom Heckert and Head Coach Pat Shurmer. Haslam has stated that he believes in the route the Steelers take to running things by sticking to a coach and a front office but I am pretty sure those will be personnel that are hand-picked by Banner and Haslam, not Holmgren. If you’re the Colts how do you follow-up one of the most inspirational wins of the season against the Packers? By getting blown out by the Jets in New York of course. Last week the Colts pass defense continued to impress but they might have forgotten that teams sometimes do this running thing. The Jets got a combined 252 yards on the ground including 161 yards and 3 touchdowns Shonn Greene. This should be exactly what the Browns want to hear, except for the fact that Trent Richardson suffered a rib injury against the Bengals last week. Richardson says he is going to play but unless that comes from a team doctor I won’t believe it until I see it. If Richardson is healthy enough to play you’d be crazy not to start him but in the event he doesn’t it’ll be a great time for Montario Hardesty to show off for Jimmy Haslam. Hardesty came in for Richardson on Sunday and actually outgained Richardson along with scoring a leaping rushing touchdown. If the Colts want to win the game they are going to have to get a big game from Andrew Luck against a Browns defense that is not nearly as bad as their numbers indicate, credit most of that to Joe Haden being back in the lineup. If the Browns can get a healthy Phil Taylor on the field the Browns defense will return to its top ten form of a year ago. The spread on this game is 3 and get ready Cleveland cause as usual I’m picking you to win!
Coach Ryan’s Prediction: Browns 27, Colts 24
Meehan’s Pick: Browns 30, Colts 21
Green Bay Packers (3-3) at St. Louis Rams (3-3)
Meehan: The Pack is back – but were they ever really gone? If last week’s blowout win against the Texans in Houston showed me one thing about the Packers, it’s that their offensive line has returned to protect Aaron Rodgers once again. I was very pleased with what I saw from Green Bay last week, and if this ends up coming down to a battle of quarterback skills in a shootout I don’t think I’m out of line saying that Sam Bradford won’t emerge victorious. St. Louis has been very scrappy on both ends of the pigskin, but you have to wonder can they take on a team of this magnitude? (Arizona doesn’t count – thanks…) On the off chance that they can pull this one off, it will be interesting to see how they fare in their two meetings against the 49ers later this season. However, it’s hard to believe that there is any way the Rams can do that after seeing how well Green Bay played last Sunday Night. The Packers are the real deal once again and maybe if they win this game the Vikings and the Lions will shut up, so I can’t root for the Rams based on principle alone.
Meehan’s Pick: Packers 32, Rams 17
Coach Ryan’s Prediction: Packers 27, Rams 10
Arizona Cardinals (4-2) at Minnesota Vikings (4-2)
Meehan: Someone is going to come out of this one as a farce unless it’s a really good game with very few mistakes and turnovers. Since I don’t foresee that happening, I have to take Minnesota here because Arizona seems streaky and shaky. And even during their good streaks, they don’t really strike me as a team who can run up a ton of points on the Vikings in the manner that the Redskins did. You might remember me mentioning in the week six wrapup piece that you haven’t heard much discussion about Christian Ponder and his ability to dominate an opposing defense. That’s because I still haven’t seen anything that leads me to believe that he has that switch available on his dashboard. Until I see him come out and prove otherwise with a 400 yards showing (and that’s not going to happen against Arizona) I will always consider him to be in the middle of the pack. That said, I still like the Vikings in this matchup because the Cardinals should have been able to put Buffalo away and failed, and I smell a huge losing streak coming for them. Like the Bills game, I expect this game to come down to an overtime field goal.
Meehan’s Pick: Vikings 27, Cardinals 24 (OT)
Coach Ryan’s Prediction: Vikings 17, Cardinals 14
New York Jets (3-3) at New England Patriots (3-3)
Meehan: A few weeks back when the Jets looked like the NFL’s version of the Bad News Bears, I would have said this would be an easy pick but now I’m not so sure. I was pretty surprised that Shonn Greene returned to glory last week, scoring three touchdowns and looking very sharp. In fact, the Patriots could use a running back like that but it’s unlikely they will need it this week against New York. Personally this should still be a very easy game to manage for the Pats. As I said in the wrapup (boy we’re making a lot of references to our previous work in this one, aren’t we?) this would be a great game for the Jets to pull another fake punt featuring Tim Tebow like they did last week. New England isn’t exactly known for their special teams, so that will be something to watch for. Plus no one usually expects for a football team to do something twice in a row, and with Dez Bryant not present to drop the ball it would be a smart strategic move. (Yeah, I just went there…eat a dick) I can’t imagine that the Jets are going to test Sanchez’ sorry arm against a team eight months removed from the Super Bowl, so the real test here will be how the Patriots will respond to the Jets running game if Rex Pedifetish chooses to use Greene in the same manner he did last week. Either way, I look for New England to come back strong at home.
Meehan’s Pick: Patriots 27, Jets 18
Coach Ryan’s Prediction: Patriots 31, Jets 10
Jacksonville Jaguars (1-4) at Oakland Raiders (1-4)
Meehan: Since Spickler got stuck with the Titans/Bills under the new format, I guess I can’t complain too much about having to write the preview for this game even though I could sit here and list at least fifty reasons why I don’t want to. Both franchises currently sit at 1-4 with absolutely no shot at making the playoffs, barring some horrible natural disaster or terrorist attack. And they both don’t play well at home either, so although conventional wisdom tells me I should pick the Jaguars here there’s a pretty high chance they could get beat up on their way into the stadium. In all seriousness though, Oakland gave the Falcons a run for their money so I have to give them some credit for that performance so I’m taking the Raiders to cover the spread and then some. As for the Jaguars, apparently they are going to stick with Blaine Gabbert but even I can’t help but wonder if right now Donovan McNabb couldn’t do a better job. For all of those who are snickering at that suggestion, you might be forgetting that no football team in the state of Florida happens to be selling a lot of tickets at the moment and it might not be a bad idea to sign him for a couple of weeks. Sure he’ll be out of shape and it will be comical at best, but isn’t that what sports is – entertainment? And while you never want to see a guy get hurt – Donovan McNabb is the only excpetion to that rule. What were we talking about? Oh yes, Oakland by 16 to cover.
Meehan’s Pick: Raiders 26, Jaguars 10
Coach Ryan’s Prediction: Raiders 17, Jaguars 10
Sunday Night Football: Pittsburgh Steelers (2-3) at Cincinnati Bengals (3-3)
Meehan: Sunday Night Football is looking for one of these teams to break out of their slump and put up some big points here, which very well could happen. It probably won’t, and even though I want to pick Cincinnati at home I just can’t bring myself to do it. The Bengals have to be the most bipolar team in the entire NFL. Sometimes they look great – their special teams play very well and they have an extremely heightened sense of awareness everywhere on the field, and then other times they look like they should never have gotten off of the plane. It’s because of this that I am much more skeptical about their success in 2012 than I was when the season started. The more I take a look at these two teams the more I realize that they are very much alike. However I have to believe that Steelers coach Mike Tomlin has had about enough subaverage play from Pittsburgh after two straight losses to Oakland and Tennessee, and the Steelers will come out firing with Ben Roethlisberger and fired up on defense. Since this is such an even matchup, I do believe that it will be close but the Steelers will pull it off by a smidgen. And I promise you that I won’t use the word “smidgen” from here on out.
Meehan’s Pick: Steelers 21, Bengals 20
Coach Ryan’s Prediction: Steelers 20, Bengals 17
Monday Night Football: Detroit Lions (2-3) at Chicago Bears (4-1)
Meehan: Even though the Lions went into Philadelphia last week and mounted a stable comeback, you have to also factor in how much of a mess the Eagles were to let that happen. The Bears had last week off and are a half game above the Vikings and a whole game ahead of Green Bay in the standings, and the Lions could have beaten almost any other team other than Philly last week and people would be gushing about how they are perennial playoff contenders. Look, Detroit is not one of top six teams in the NFC by any stretch of the imagination so I’m not going to treat them as if they are. That’s a 9-7 football team at best, and I guarantee you they won’t finish with that record unless their defense has some unspeakable moment of clarity. (Fat chance that’ll end up happening) If Chicago comes out and makes an example of them on Monday Night, then we have to seriously take a look at the Bears as a team that could potentially be a Super Bowl contender. When everyone on that team is running on all cylinders, they can beat the 49ers, Giants, Falcons, Packers or any other team that they may face in the divisional round of the playoffs. Additionally, with Green Bay having lost three games already (sort of) they control their own destiny because their bye week is out of the way. As much as it burns when I pee to say it, the Chicago Bears might be for real this year.
Meehan’s Pick: Bears 27, Lions 20
Coach Ryan’s Prediction: Bears 30, Lions 24
Bye Weeks: Atlanta Falcons, Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, Miami Dolphins, Philadelphia Eagles, San Diego Chargers
Atlanta should be using their week off to figure out how to get up early and keep the lead. Denver will be riding high in a vehicle most likely sold by John Elway Motors, and rightfully so. Kansas City is going to need to do their best to avoid the press and decide whether or not they will be getting the shit kicked out of them under the leadership of Brady Quinn, or go back to their original plan of getting the shit kicked out of them under the leadership of Matt Cassel. Miami looks good at the moment and their defense is gaining a lot of respect around the league whereas before the season started they were viewed as pretty much being a doormat. The Eagles have already fired their defensive coordinator as of Tuesday morning, and have publicly stated that there might be other personnel changes on the way. They’re still 3-3, but they are the worst .500 team in the league even though amongst those teams they might have the best roster. (save the Packers) Speaking of a team that might need to make some personnel changes, the San Diego Chargers are coming off of one of the most embarrassing losses in the history of Monday Night Football against the Broncos and hopefully they’ll finally decide that Norv “Burn Victim” Turner just isn’t working out for them.
Once again thanks for visiting First Order Historians and enjoying more of the internet’s finest in user generated content.