Saturday, October 23, 2010

NFL Week 7 Picks: Dallas Cowboys Overcome Stupidity, Beat New York Giants

AP Photo/Nick Wass

Helmet-to-helmet hits have been the talk of the NFL this week. Both offense and defense feel the league is being too harsh. We’ll have to see how it plays out this weekend, but defenders are still likely to attempt to bring the pain and challenge the NFL.

For the matchups on the field the primetime matchups should be very interesting. Both feature struggling NFC teams squaring up against their oldest division rivals.

On Sunday, Brett Favre and the Vikings return to Lambeau Field to face a hurting Green Bay Packers team. In the Monday nighter, the penalty-happy Dallas Cowboys host the New York Giants.

Both teams have great opportunities to pull even closer in the division races, but can they overcome themselves in order to do it?

Who do you think will win?

Cincinnati (2-3) at Atlanta (4-2)

The Falcons got thrashed last week by the Eagles. The defense let Kevin Kolb go downfield and hit DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin for long gains, especially when Dunta Robinson left the game.

Robinson is expected to miss again and the Falcons D gives up nearly 240 passing yards per game. The Bengals may be struggling lately but with a week off and the seventh-best passing game in the NFL they should have a strong game plan.

Terrell Owens is tenth in the league in receiving yards, and Chad Ochocinco has decent numbers as well. Expect Carson Palmer to really air it out in this one.

Cincinnati wins.

Washington (3-3) at Chicago (4-2)

Statistically, the Redskins aren’t a very impressive team, but for the most part they’re right there in every game.

At the same time, Chicago is falling back to the pack. The Bears have allowed teams to get to their quarterback pretty frequently lately and now Roberto Garza is listed as doubtful. They go up against a Washington defense that does a decent job at rushing the passer, ranking 11th in the league with 13 sacks.

Donovan McNabb is sixth in the league in passing yards, while the Bears rank in the bottom half of the league in passing yards allowed per game.

Washington wins.

St. Louis (3-3) at Tampa Bay (3-2)

Steven Jackson is the key in this game.

Both teams feature young quarterbacks without reliable playmakers on the outside, but the Rams clearly have the edge on the ground.

Buccaneers running back Cadillac Williams has sputtered this season, putting together only 190 yards on 76 carries, while the defense has allowed 157 yards rushing per game, second-worst in the league.

Jackson has piled up 507 yards on 127 carries and has two straight 100-yard games.

St. Louis wins.

San Francisco (1-5) at Carolina (0-5)

The Niners finally got on the board last week, while Carolina, off their bye, is still looking for win number one.

Carolina has been very bad, but San Francisco is an inconsistent team. And the geography of the situation does not bode well for them.

The Niners, a West-coast team, will travel to the East-coast to play a 1 p.m. Eastern-time game. Historically, that is a devastating combination. This is a team that is not good enough to overcome that. They are not in sync calling plays, their offense is up-and-down, and now their internal clocks will be off.

Like always for Carolina, they will need to run the ball. Let DeAngelo Williams win the game for you.

Carolina wins.

Buffalo (0-5) at Baltimore (4-2)

The Bills have horrible timing. After blowing a big game against the Patriots last week the Ravens will be looking for vengeance (especially Terrell Suggs, who was fired up and exchanged a lot of words with Tom Brady). They return home this week and get Ed Reed back on the field.

Baltimore wins.

Philadelphia (4-2) at Tennessee (4-2)

Two teams with top weapons wounded: The Eagles will be without wide receiver DeSean Jackson, and the Titans could be without quarterback Vince Young.

The speedy Jackson will be missed, as he scored two touchdowns before he was knocked out of the game last week, but Jeremy Maclin did step up in his absence. The second-year pro caught seven passes for 159 yards and two touchdowns.

What was surprising about last week was that the usually cautious Kevin Kolb was playing confident and throwing the ball downfield, utilizing Jackson and Maclin when he usually just dumps it to LeSean McCoy and Brent Celek.

Titans running back Chris Johnson could have another big day against a Philly defense that is 22nd in the league in rushing yards per game allowed. Still, if Young can’t go, Collins isn’t nearly as effective and the Eagles would be able to key on Johnson and contain him.

Philadelphia wins.

Jacksonville (3-3) at Kansas City (3-2)

The Chiefs has had a rough go of it since the bye, losing two games on the road. They will be very happy to come home to their supportive fans.

Not only do they have home-field advantage, but the Jaguars are likely to start Todd Bouman at quarterback, his first start in nearly five years.

The Chiefs rank first in rushing yards per game, while the Jaguars defense is 20th in the NFL in opponents rushing yards per game.

Kansas City wins.

Pittsburgh (4-1) at Miami (3-2)

The Steelers pass defense isn’t too strong, allowing 233 yards a game. The Dolphins will target Brandon Marshall and Davone Bess frequently with both playing well as of late. Still, the Dolphins average just about that 233, so the Steelers could bend but not break.

And while Chad Henne is getting to throw more, his decision-making has been lacking, resulting in turnovers and stalled drives.

The Steelers are glad to have Ben Roethlisberger back but they will still go with their bread-and-butter of grinding the game out with Rashard Mendenhall and the ninth ranked rushing offense in the league.

The Dolphins run the ball well also, but they could struggle against the Steelers top-ranked rush-defense.

Pittsburgh wins.

Cleveland (1-5) at New Orleans (4-2)

Colt McCoy wasn’t terrible in his first game, but the Browns lost again and they’ll get no sympathy this week from Drew Brees and the Saints.

New Orleans exploded for 31 points last week, led by Brees’ three touchdowns and 109.2 passer rating.

Their usual listless running game was propelled by Chris Ivory, who had 158 yards on 15 carries. He may not match last week’s production, but the Browns D does give up 120.2 rushing yards per game.

New Orleans wins.

Arizona (3-2) at Seattle (3-2)

It may not be the most respectable division, but first place is still on the line here.

Arizona won the week before the bye, and put up three defensive touchdowns (one interception return and two fumble returns). It’s impressive, but it’s hard to imagine that a team can win week in and week out like that, with so very few weapons on offense.

New starting quarterback Max Hall threw two interceptions, and playing in Seattle won’t be easy.

It may be only two games, but Seattle is 2-0 in front of the loud home crowd.

The Seahawks running game is ranked 30th in the NFL with 85.8 yards per game, but newly acquired Marshawn Lynch helped fuel Seattle’s ground game against Chicago. They grinded out 111 yards on 31 carries for two touchdowns and helped win the time of possession battle by about nine minutes in the three-point victory.

Seattle wins.

New England (4-1) at San Diego (2-4)

New England hasn’t played well on the road lately, but they did have a 41-14 win over the Dolphins in their last road outing. They also weren’t perfect last week, but the defense didn’t yield too much and came up with some big stops, and the offense played well spreading the ball around.

New (old) acquisition Deion Branch played especially well, catching nine passes for 98 yards and a touchdown. It looked like he and Tom Brady still have a very good chemistry.

Sand Diego is the top passing team in the league, but they will be without Malcolm Floyd, and Antonio Gates is questionable. Their losses have all been within a touchdown (plus a two-point conversion in the Raiders game), but the Patriots are the best team they’ve played to date.

If they can’t make the most of their softer schedule, then it’s hard to believe they’ll do well against a Pats team that is clicking.

New England wins.

Oakland (2-4) at Denver (2-4)

Denver has the worst running game in the league, but their passing game has made up for it, at least in terms of offensive production.

Kyle Orton is in the top 10 in quarterback passer rating and second in passing yards, behind only Peyton Manning. Brandon Lloyd leads the NFL in receiving yards.

The Raiders’ defense is not as stingy as the Jets to keep the Broncos from an all-out aerial attack, and they look to be set to use their third quarterback of the season as Kyle Boller could start in place of the injured Bruce Gradkowski and Jason Campbell.

Chemistry and talent could be an issue that would cause Oakland trouble in keeping pace.

Denver wins.

Minnesota (2-3) at Green Bay (3-3)

The Packers have lost two consecutive overtime games which has to be extremely disappointing. They have suffered a number of injuries and just don’t look as strong.

A big plus is that Clay Matthews is likely to go in the game, and he has been tremendous in rushing the passer. He leads the league in sacks and if he can get to Brett Favre, who’s had elbow and ankle issues within the year, it could be a long day for the Vikings quarterback.

Minnesota lucked out last week with the Cowboys continually beating themselves, but Favre, for the first time this season, did not throw an interception.

However the emotion of the game and Clay Matthews could get to him and keep Minnesota wondering what has happened this year.

Green Bay wins.

New York Giants (4-2) at Dallas (1-4)

The Cowboys continue to shoot themselves in the foot with stupid dead-ball penalties and turnovers. Statistically they are very good; they just continually find ways to lose games.

The Giants have been impressive lately, but the Cowboys are desperate and will throw the kitchen sink at Eli Manning and force him to make mistakes, which is a very likely possibility.

At home, in primetime, against a long-time rival the Cowboys will be playing, essentially, for their season here. It’s tough to go with a team that beats themselves over and over again, but this is just the set-up for a breakthrough.

Dallas wins.

Bye week: Detroit, Indianapolis, New York Jets, Houston

Last week: 9-5

Season: 51-39

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