by Ryan Meehan
It’s hard to believe that we’re almost two months into the NFL season. One minute we’re sweating our asses off in the summer sun, and the next minute we’re freezing our asses off in the middle of Winter which now starts in late October. Such is life in the Midwest, but at least we have football to on those cold Sundays that used to be something called “autumn”. So let’s take a look at some of the things I expect to go down in week seven.
Thursday Night Football: New York Jets (1-5) +10.5 at New England Patriots (4-2) (45)
There is literally nothing in me that says the Jets are capable of pulling the upset here in New England. They’re poorly coached, have a terrible quarterback, and their defense can’t seem to hold anybody under 30 points. On the other side of the field, you could make the argument that the Patriots have been the exact opposite of that – taking advantage of every adverse situation and turning it into instant gold. After what many (including myself) considered to be a rocky start that could have very well signified the beginning of the end for that era in Foxboro, the Pats have came out and made two teams that were slightly overrated look very mediocre, and averaged forty points on the scoreboard while doing so. New England lost both running back Stevan Ridley and linebacker Jerod Mayo for the rest of the season in the Buffalo game, but that franchise always seems to be really ahead of the curve when it comes to getting the next guy in line to step up. I’d be willing to say that they probably have the best practice squad in the league, but it’s not like they will need it against the Jets who appear as if they will never stop running into each other. I like the Patriots to cover the spread, but seriously…who wouldn’t? As previously stated, I would avoid the point total on any game this year involving the New York Jets.
Patriots 31, Jets 13
Minnesota Vikings (2-4) +5 at Buffalo Bills (3-3) (43)
Even though I can’t stand their franchise, Buffalo is much better than the defense that they put on the field in the New England game. Plus, it shouldn’t be that difficult to get over on a team like Minnesota given their track record. The only two teams the Vikings have beat are Atlanta (right after the Tampa Bay Thursday night blowout game) and the Rams week one in a game where St. Louis couldn’t find the endzone even though their city was clearly printed on both of them. And while the Bills don’t have a fantastic track record either, aside from the Texans two of their losses have come against primal killing machines in San Diego and New England. They are a stable home team that probably won’t make the playoffs but that still puts them a rung or two higher than the Vikings, who will finish last in the NFC North barring some sort of massive unexplained tsunami rising out of Lake Michigan and destroying the entire Midwest. I’m taking the Bills to cover here, but I’m not confident about it and you shouldn’t be either.
Bills 24, Vikings 17
Atlanta Falcons (2-4) +7.5 at Baltimore Ravens (4-2) (49.5)
This year the Blackbird Bowl finds us with two teams headed in very different directions. The Ravens find themselves in a very comfortable second place spot in the AFC North, in a conference where it shouldn’t be too strenuous to snatch a wild card spot. They seem to to have shaken off the Ray Rice thing and Joe Flacco had a monster game last week against Tampa. This is a home game for them, and the way Atlanta played in the Chicago game when it was a home game for them leads me to believe they could easily get smoked in this one. I like the Ravens to cover the spread here, and I also think that you can be safe taking the over on the point total. Because seriously, unless you believe in reincarnation – you only live once.
Ravens 33, Falcons 20
Cleveland Browns (3-2) -5.5 at Jacksonville Jaguars (0-6) (45)
You’d think that after that three touchdown beatdown Cleveland laid on Pittsburgh, Vegas would be giving them a lot more than five and half against the 0-6 Jags. And it’s not like the home field advantage really matters here, as Jacksonville can’t win anywhere. The Browns are looking impressive, but they have to keep momentum going here during the week of practice and not be expecting a free win in Florida. This is precisely the type of game that could send them into a talespin of self-doubt, and flip their season back to what we expected out of it in the first place. I don’t think that will happen, but you always have to be careful because you never know when the tortoise will beat the hare. Point total looks to be exactly where it should be so please stay away from that one, but in a very fair and just world I would have to say the Browns cover easily. And if that is the case and they DO win, then Cleveland is in great shape. They have Oakland the following week, then Tampa Bay which are both very winnable games. If they can knock off all three of those opponents, all of a sudden we have a 6-2 team that is in very good shape headed into the remainder of the season.
Browns 28, Jaguars 17
Carolina Panthers (3-2-1) +7.5 at Green Bay Packers (4-2) (49)
Two weeks after Aaron Rodgers told us to relax after a poor showing against the Detroit Lions, it’s starting to look like he might have a point. The NFL season can be both very short and very long at the same time. There are so many different nuances to manage and while some of them seem to fly by quickly, others take time in developing and making sure that they are coming around to perfection right around the first week of January when it counts the most. Carolina put up an impressive showing last week bringing Cincinnati to a tie, but let’s be honest Mike Nugent makes that field goal 95% of the time so they wouldn’t have won. I seem to remember a time where Carolina’s defense was lauded as one of the best in the league, and Ron Rivera was being labeled a defensive genius. And their tale of the tape shows a varying stat: In the three games they’ve won, they only surrendered an average of fifteen points. In the other three they’ve given up almost thirty-eight points a game. Hard to believe that an NFC South team would be so hard to predict this year, isn’t it? (Fart noise) It’s kind of funny that while I’m writing this, “I’m going to Carolina in my mind” by James Taylor is playing over the loudspeakers at work. That won’t apply here as this game is at Lambeau, and although I have to take Green Bay to win I still can’t trust their defense enough to cover the spread.
Packers 27, Panthers 23
Miami Dolphins (2-3) +3 at Chicago Bears (3-3) (49)
The Bears looked very solid against Atlanta last week, but will be up against a Miami defense that’s still pretty tough. However, getting zapped at home late against the Packers due to a fake spike with time virtually running out has to be a bit of a confidence drainer. The good news for them is this game will be at Soldier Field, where the Bears have yet to win a game or score over twenty points all season long. Cutler looked fantastic last week, even if it was just a situation where his only job was to manage the game well. So I have to believe that against a defense that can be very confusing at times, he will struggle. I’m going to predict he throws for two picks in this one and the Bears will fumble on special teams once. Last week Chicago’s defense impressed at Atlanta, but I get the feeling that it’s just as hard to believe in them as it is to have faith in Cutler. That’s why I’m taking Miami to win in a game where there would be no spread on a neutral site, which would put the Dolphins right at .500 for the year.
Dolphins 23, Bears 20
Cincinnati Bengals (3-1-1) +3 at Indianapolis Colts (4-2) (49)
This should be one hell of a football game here. This is the perfect litmus test to see if the Bengals are legitimate Super Bowl contenders, and even though I want them so desperately to be I think this will prove that they aren’t. The holes that are starting to show in that secondary and linebacking corps should make their defense ripe for the picking, enter one Andrew Luck. Team Donkey Teeth is really finding his way so far in his first three seasons, and on the AFC totem pole they are still higher than Cincinnati because (cough) they’ve actually won a playoff game the past two years. The only reason that Cincinnati has a better record is because their schedule has been much easier than the Colts’ has, even though I still can’t fully trust either of these teams due to the fact that all of the really challenging games they’ve each played so far they’ve lost. Stupid mistakes seem to creep up on Cincinnati when they least expect it, and although I believe this will be close throughout the game, eventually they won’t be able to muster up enough points against a much improved and turnover hungry Indianapolis defense. Colts cover, but don’t mess with the point total.
Colts 29, Bengals 19
New Orleans Saints (2-3) +2.5 at Detroit Lions (4-2) (48.5)
Hell has finally frozen over. There’s such little trust in the New Orleans Saints camp that they now find themselves two and a half point underdogs against the Detroit Lions. And just when you think things can’t any stranger than that, you realize the Lions are 4-2 and in first place in the NFC North. The spread of course is due to the fact that this game is at Ford Field as opposed to the Superdome, where the Saints won’t have that late game magic working for them. I can’t believe this moment has come, but here we are: I like the Lions to beat the Saints. To be brutally honest, I have to say that even as little belief I have that Matthew Stafford has the potential to lead the Lions to a playoff win – the Lions are a more complete team than the Saints are right now. They aren’t making nearly as many mistakes as New Orleans is at the moment, and their defense probably wouldn’t have given up a 31 spot against Tampa. More importantly, the only team within their division that is a legit concern would be the Packers and they are keeping the Lions on their heels. The Saints don’t have anybody holding their feet to the fire, which is ridiculous when you consider that two teams from the NFC South made it to the postseason last year. So yes, I can say with 100% confidence that not only will Detroit win here, but I am also looking for Reggie Bush to show up big against one of his former teams that thought his career was over and the Lions to cover the spread. It doesn’t feel right yet, but the more I watch the Saints the more I think: Should it ever have felt right in the first place?
Lions 24, Saints 20
Seattle Seahawks (3-2) -7.5 at St. Louis Rams (1-4) (43.5)
Seattle is easily the hardest 3-2 team in the league, but find themselves looking up at an Arizona squad who is in first place and about to be handed a win in Oakland unless they get robbed in the parking lot. Speaking of getting robbed in the parking lot, this week the Seahawks will head to Missouri where the police are always fair and balanced in every facet. Regardless of how much you believe that lie, no police force on earth will be able to protect the home team from blowing an early lead much like they did against San Francisco on Monday Night Football. I know it seems like I don’t have a lot of stats to back up my bark this week, but with a rookie third string quarterback facing secondary like Seattle’s it just seems hard to not take them to win big. Richard Sherman plus Earl Thomas alone equals more than Austin Davis can handle with only a handful of starts under his belt. This may be a trap game, but I don’t have enough faith in St. Louis to believe that it will be so I’m taking Seattle to cover. That trap game is just trying on its Halloween costume, but it makes them look fat and will be headed back to the store for return.
Seahawks 24, Rams 9
Tennessee Titans (2-4) +5 at Washington Redskins (1-5) (46)
It’s a crying shame that this game has to be played, as neither team has any sort of real playoff expectations at the moment. But even then, it’s crazy enough to see that the team with the better record is a five point dog in a building where the Redskins haven’t been able to get away with using a coloring book so far this year. Perhaps that’s because the Titans only two wins have come against the Chiefs (who weren’t really prepared for that week one game) and the Jaguars, whose entire roster is about two weeks away from being able to legally file for unemployment. I just can’t see how I can take Tennessee or see them doing enough smart things to win here, especially now that we know that Jake Locker might not be the hero Music City had hoped for. Titans fans – now might be a great time to start purchasing your Charlie Whitehurst jerseys. I highly doubt you’ll see Sportscenter lead with this one.
Redskins 24, Titans 17
Kansas City Chiefs (2-3) +4 at San Diego Chargers (5-1) (44.5)
Even though this one also seems like a total trap game for the Chargers, I’m taking them and hear me out: Kansas City is coming off of a bye week and seems very phony. Even at 2-3, it appears as if they eeked their way to that record although they did beat New England who is unquestionably one of the best teams in the league. San Diego on the other hand is firing on all cylinders regardless of the fact that Oakland almost tripped them up last week. The Bolts aren’t going to let that happen again, and I’m a little bit shocked that they’re only four point favorites in this one. I look for this to be a game where the Chargers rip Kansas City apart, and look forward to seeing plenty of clips of Brandon Flowers pick off his old teammate Alex Smith. Bolts win big, so of course they cover.
Chargers 32, Chiefs 18
New York Giants (3-3) +5.5 at Dallas Cowboys (5-1) (48)
The Cowboys are the real deal, now 5-1 and having beaten the defending World Champion Seahawks in a place where doing so is almost unthinkable. The Giants on the other hand snapped their three game winning streak last week in Philadelphia, where they laid a goose egg against the Eagles. Their star receiver (Victor Cruz) is now out for the year with a torn patellar tendon in his knee, and the rest of that team looks anything but high quality. The Giants have had a number of seasons in recent history that have turned on a dime, and I get the feeling last week was where franchise employees finally realized they need to come up with some kind of battle plan for cleaning out Coughlin’s office very soon in the near future. The Giants played so poorly in that Eagles game that Jeff Hostetler fired his agent, and he’s been retired since 1998. Dallas is well on their way to becoming the 13-3 team that their owner always believed they were, and Tony Romo is playing well enough to steal that division from Nick Foles this year. This game? Yeah, it’s not even going to be close…
Cowboys 37, Giants 16
Arizona Cardinals (4-1) -3 at Oakland Raiders (0-5) (44)
Oakland may have been able to muster up four touchdowns last week against the Chargers, but I have a pretty good feeling we won’t see a repeat of that performance this week when Arizona comes to town. The Cardinals are 4-1 and in first place in the most difficult division in all of professional sports, despite being ranked next to last against the pass, 22nd in passing yards, and 26th on the ground. How does it work? They play great on special teams and force turnovers like crazy. And it shouldn’t be that hard to get Oakland to make mistakes, with a rookie at the helm and an offense full of guys who might as well dump bacon grease all over their gloves. I’m not sure what’s wrong with Vegas when it comes to this unnecessary faith in Jacksonville and Oakland, but Arizona is one of the better teams in the league and the Raiders could very well show up to the wrong stadium every game. In layman’s terms, the men in black don’t stand a chance – Cardinals cover. But same rule applies with the point total here as does the Jets games – don’t get anywhere near it.
Cardinals 26, Raiders 17
Sunday Night Football: San Francisco 49ers (4-2) +7 at Denver Broncos (4-1) (50)
Coming off of a relatively easy Monday night comeback win in St. Louis, the San Francisco 49ers find themselves in a real pickle where they’ll have to take on the Broncos in another night game in Denver. This matchup will be decided by one thing: Turnovers. And it shouldn’t take more than one, but the more the merrier for sure. You see, each of these teams carries a great deal of pride. Denver is proud because they have a fearless leader who is one of the most seasoned veterans in the game at quarterback, and he has a ton of weapons at his disposal. And for the most part unless one of those weapons is getting hopped up out of his mind on rave candy at the Kentucky Derby, they take very good care of themselves. The 49ers have a very different kind of pride – They play the game dirty and they’re not ashamed to admit it. Fortunately for San Francisco, they have a seemingly endless roster full of guys who can get open at any point in time or fill any hole necessary when it comes to defensive necessities. What’s the point of all this crap? Simple: Teams that play with a lot of pride are crippled when a turnover occurs. You don’t have to watch much of Super Bowl 48 to remember what happens to Peyton Manning when possession changes out of his favor, and if you saw any of the week two game between the Bears and 49ers, you’ll know that Kaepernick doesn’t do a particularly great job managing his temper after throwing an interception. So it’s more than very possible this game will be decided by one of these guys’ inability to recover from such a mistake, and since this is a regular season game I’m going to go ahead and say Peyton gets the better of Colin. The spread is huge, but I’ll take it.
Broncos 31, 49ers 20
Monday Night Football: Houston Texans (3-3) +3 at Pittsburgh Steelers (3-3) (45)
Whenever you have two teams facing each other at .500 halfway through the season, they are each trying to make a statement as to where the rest of the year will be headed. It wouldn’t be too far of a stretch to estimate that neither of these teams will advance to the playoffs, and that’s actually too bad because at times they can be great teams. But toher times these two squads look so bad that when you consider the Browns and the Colts are going to be 6-2 when you’re finishing off the bag of Halloween candy you swore wasn’t there, it’s not that shocking they’ll be absent. Personally I don’t want to see Ben Roethlisberger in the postseason (it’s a stale take) and although I’m cool with Fitzpatrick sticking around for one round, I can’t honestly say at this point he deserves it. I wish I had more answers for Houston…I really do. Conner made the point a couple weeks back when I freaked out about how the Patriots kicking Tom Brady to the curb might be a great idea that he would have a ton of weapons in Houston. That’s true,but it’s just hard to watch when they go entire games or six to eight quarter frames of time without them utilizing any more than 40% of their offensive weapons. When that’s the case, as a Giants fan I can tell you that number feels closer to zero than any “High F” you can hope your English instructor gives you for so much as mentioning this website. I am impressed by the Steelers and what they have been able to do so far this season, but I still don’t like them and that counts for something in a world where Iggy Azalea is famous. I’m taking the Texans this week, because although both of these teams lost games they could have probably won in week six – Houston at least put points on the board. But don’t bet the point total or the spread by any means.
Texans 24, Steelers 23
Once again thanks for visiting First Order Historians and enjoying more of the internet’s finest in user generated content.