Thursday, October 17, 2013

NFL Week 7 Picks: Dallas Cowboys to Beat Streaking Philadelphia Eagles

Seattle (5-1) at Arizona (3-3)

The Seahawks, all year, have been hyped up because of their aggressive secondary and pass defense. They are second in the league in passing yards allowed per game and are tied for fourth in the league in interceptions. Throwing against the likes of Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor is not an easy task.

The Cardinals are 18th in the league in passing yards per game and tied for second in interceptions thrown.  It just doesn’t look like a very good match-up for Carson Palmer.

Seattle wins.

Tampa Bay (0-5) at Atlanta (1-4)

The Buccaneers have a whole handful of issues. They are 31st in the NFL in points per game. They are tied for eighth in penalties and are fourth in yards penalized. They are last in the league in first downs and 31st in yards per game. If it involved moving the ball in a positive direction, the Buccaneers just can’t do it.

The Falcons have played poorly, and are really banged up, especially with Julio Jones now out for the year. But they are more competent than Tampa Bay, especially with Matt Ryan still the team’s quarterback.

Atlanta wins.

Cincinnati (4-2) at Detroit (4-2)

The Bengals have not given up a 300-yard passing outing in 20 consecutive games. The Lions, however, have the gunslinger Matthew Stafford at quarterback with a lot of receiving options.
Everyone knows Calvin Johnson is one of, if not the, best wide receiver in the league. But this year the Lions are getting contributions from elsewhere.

This season is still a small sampling size, but in the past two seasons Johnson has accounted for at least 33 percent of the team’s receiving yards (38.2 percent last year) and at least 23 percent of the team’s targets. This year he’s accounted for 19.0 percent of the receiving yards and 20.1 percent of the targets.

Yes, he was injured and didn’t play two weeks ago. But Reggie Bush, Joique Bell, Joseph Fauria and Kris Durham have all had big receiving games recently. Bell and Bush have also been dynamic in the running game and are at least keeping teams honest.

The Lions could use more production at the wide receiver position, but overall they’re getting it done.

Detroit wins.

Buffalo (2-4) at Miami (3-2)

The Dolphins entered their bye week 3-2 and that’s a good place for them to be considering the challenging schedule they were dealt.

With a week off to prepare, at home, and against a Bills offense that seems to be very unsettled at quarterback, the Dolphins should take care of business.

Miami wins.

New England (5-1) at New York Jets (3-3)

Say what you will about the Patriots and their receiving corps and their defense, but they’ve managed to start the season 5-1. In most parts, players step up when they need to. Last week, even with Aqib Talib injured and forced to leave the game, different players (like Kyle Arrington) stepped up and Jimmy Graham didn’t have a single reception, despite six targets.

And if you give them enough time and enough opportunities, like New Orleans did last week, they will make you pay on offense.

Geno Smith is all about giving the other team opportunities, as he is third in the NFL in interceptions.

New England wins.

Dallas (3-3) at Philadelphia (3-3)

These teams are pretty evenly matched. They are division rivals and both are playing well offensively. It should be a fun game to watch.

There are some worrisome things here for the Eagles, however. They have lost eight consecutive games at home. The Eagles have lost four of their past five home games against the Cowboys (including one playoff game) and have lost five of their past seven home games against the Cowboys (including one playoff game). This year the Eagles three wins have also come against opponents that have yet to win a game.

Yes, the Eagles beat the Redskins in Week 1, when they obviously had no wins. But the Redskins only have one win since then. Two of the Cowboys three wins were against the Giants and Redskins, like the Eagles as well, but have played better in losses as well, losing to the undefeated Broncos and Chiefs by a combined four points.

Dallas wins.

Chicago (4-2) at Washington (1-4)

The Redskins defense has been terrible. They are 27th in points allowed per game and tied for 27th in yards allowed per game. Against the pass specifically, they are 24th in passing yards allowed per game.

The Bears are 13th in the NFL in passing yards per game. While they are ranked worse than the Redskins in that category, they also have six more passing touchdowns and are third in the league in points per game. I would expect another big day for Brandon Marshall.

Chicago wins.

St. Louis (3-3) at Carolina (2-3)

Panthers games have been ugly affairs. That being said, they rank fourth in the league in rushing yards allowed per game and seventh in the league in passing yards allowed per game. More important in this contest, at home, they rank seventh in the league in rushing yards per game. The Rams, on the other hand, are 30th in the league in rushing yards allowed per game.

The Rams have two wins in a row, including last week against the Texans, but I expect the Panthers – at home – to use Cam Newton, DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert to pound the ball, eat up clock, gain positive yardage and not make Newton force throws leading to turnovers.

Carolina wins.

San Diego (3-3) at Jacksonville (0-6)

Credit to the Jaguars, who hung around with the Broncos for a lot longer than anyone expected.

With that out of the way, they still lost by 16 points. The Chargers meanwhile, were able to beat the streaking Colts by 10.

The Jaguars are home but this just still feels like a mismatch.

San Diego wins.

San Francisco (4-2) at Tennessee (3-3)

It’s not entirely Ryan Fitzpatrick’s fault the Titans are losing games, but the Titans have lost two consecutive games and Fitzpatrick has thrown two interceptions each game. He’s also only completing 52.6 percent of his passes this year.

The 49ers have scored 30 or more points in each of their past three games and four out of their six games this season. They are also tied for seventh in the league in interceptions.

San Francisco wins.

Cleveland (3-3) at Green Bay (4-2)

The Packers game wasn’t terribly pretty last week and they did lose several capable pass-catchers but they came out of Baltimore with a victory.

What is different about this Packers team is that they are running the ball better than they have for years. Eddie Lacey ran for 120 yards last week and seems to have been a draft day steal.

Green Bay wins.

Houston (2-4) at Kansas City (6-0)

The Texans are unraveling. They’ve lost four in a row and starting quarterback Matt Schaub is out for Sunday’s game against the Chiefs. Yes, he’s thrown a lot of interceptions this season, but T.J. Yates was able to do the same thing when he relieved him against the Rams. He threw two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown.

Yates has played 13 games in three seasons and thrown six interceptions compared to three touchdowns. He’ll have problems moving the ball against the Chiefs defense. Kansas City has allowed the fewest points per game (10.8) and has allowed the third fewest passing yards per game (190.3). They are also tied for the league lead in interceptions (10).

At Arrowhead, Houston’s problems will only continue to grow.

Kansas City wins.

Baltimore (3-3) at Pittsburgh (1-4)

Records never seem to matter in an intense rivalry such as this one, but neither does home0field advantage. The last three times the Ravens came to Heinz Field in the regular season, they won.

I think the passing game for the Steelers, however, does make a difference this year. The Ravens are 17th in the league in passing yards allowed per game while the Steelers offense is seventh passing yards per game.

The Steelers haven’t played well this season, but the Ravens are not a convincing defending Super Bowl champion and did lose on the road to the Buffalo Bills, another sub-.500 team.

Pittsburgh wins.

Denver (6-0) at Indianapolis (4-2)

The Colts are the only team that Peyton Manning has not beaten in his career. The Broncos are on the road, but I like their chances in this one.

Right now, it’s just tough to pick against the Broncos. They are on a roll and it isn’t just the passing game. Last week, Knowshon Moreno rushed for three touchdowns. The Broncos are adapting, on offense, to whatever the opposing team is throwing at them.

And he may not admit it, but I’m sure Manning will have a little extra kick to his competitive spirit.

Denver wins.

Minnesota (1-4) at New York Giants (0-6)

Josh Freeman may just need a change of scenery, but he just hasn’t performed well enough the past few years. Going back to last year, eight of the previous nine games he’s started, he’s lost. He’s thrown an interception in six consecutive games and in seven of the past eight games. Including this year, he’s thrown more interceptions than touchdowns in three of his five seasons. He’s also completed only 45.7 percent of his passes thus far this season, down from 54.8 last year and 62.8 the year before. Was 2010 a fluke?

Not that the Giants are playing so well this year, and their quarterback is a turnover machine as well. But this is a team that, even if they don’t make the playoffs, we’ve seen them turn their season around before. They are home. And with a long week (they played Thursday night last week) and playing at home, it’s time for them to get in the win column.

New York Giants win.

Bye Week: Oakland, New Orleans

Last Week: 9-6

Overall: 58-34

Photo Credit.
Tony Romo: AP Photo/LM Otero

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