Welcome to the Chat Sports Week 7 NFL Breakdown! We’ll preview and predict the score of every game being played this weekend, and we'll help you decide which games are worth watching (hint: not the Jaguars).
Wait, what's this? A Thursday night football game that might not be awful? After four weeks of football valium, we finally have a TNF matchup that won't be terrible. This NFC West showdown pits the 5-1 Seahawks against the 3-3 Cardinals, and while these aren't the most stylish teams in the NFL, they'll put on an entertaining show - this'll be like watching a boxing match after four weeks of tuning in to two drunk guys slapping each other until one passes out.
On a short week, we have to go with a young, (mostly) healthy Seahawks squad against a creaky Cardinals team that's currently held together with duct tape. The Cardinals are a very underrated team right now, but it won't matter - Marshawn Lynch will be too much for them to handle, and the 'Hawks win this one on the road, 28-16 .
This game isn't just going to be bad - it's going to be hazardous to your health. Pregnant women should stay at least 200 feet away from any television showing this game, and if none of your immediate family members are playing, you should find something else to watch.
Even with Atlanta's crazy number of injuries, there's absolutely no reason for them to be 1-4 - they've only played two good teams, and Matt Ryan is (supposedly) one of the NFL's better quarterbacks. They've stunk anyway, and losing to the Jets last Monday was inexcusable. Tampa at least has an excuse for being putrid - their organization is in absolute shambles. Atlanta wins this game, 24-9, but no one is happy about it.
The weirdest thing about the 4-2 Bengals? They could very easily be 6-0 right now, and that's with an average quarterback, two average running backs, and just one star player on offense (A.J. Green) who hadn't put up star numbers until last weekend. A lot of that comes down to their defense, which has been stellar, but they're also a much deeper team than anyone realized.
Detroit has finally found another offensive weapon who can take some pressure off Calvin Johnson - Reggie Bush has finally developed into the player everyone thought he'd be back when he was at USC, and Detroit is winning games despite a suspect defense that's allowing almost 125 rushing yards per game. This is a very even game on paper, but we're picking the Bengals to continue finding ways to win - they'll sneak away with this one on the road, 31-28.
You have to feel for the Bills, who have been forced to acquire EIGHT quarterbacks so far this year thanks a to mix of injuries and general incompetence. Matt Flynn, their latest experiment, was resoundingly bad in Oakland, but he's probably better than the pu-pu platter of undrafted rookies and practice squad scrubs who are also in the mix.
Miami's stock has fallen considerably after two straight losses derailed their 3-0 start, but they aren't a bad football team. They're coming off a bye week, and they've had extra time to work out the kinks and plan for this discombobulated Bills team. Miami would have won this without the home-field advantage and extra week of rest, but they'll make this contest even more one-sided - the Dolphins take this one, 31-13.
This is one of those rivalries that's fun even when it's one-sided. We'll be watching even if we can't see these Jets (as scrappy and Rex Ryan-y as they are) putting up much of a fight against a rejuvenated New England team that completely muzzled Jimmy Graham (the NFL's best player not named Peyton Manning so far this year) for four quarters. New England is also getting healthier every week, and if Gronkowski isn't back by Sunday...well, we aren't sure if we'll be seeing him at all this year.
The Jets are 3-3, and as great as it's been to see them at .500 when everyone expected them to tank, they aren't a good football team. So far, the teams they've beaten are a combined 3-13, and they've lost badly to a mediocre Titans team and a landfill of a Pittsburgh squad. Their last game against the Patriots was close (the Pats squeaked by, 13-10), but that was before New England got their groove back. This one won't be nearly as competitive - Belichick's squad is gonna roll, 34-15.
Could Michael Vick's injury have been a blessing in disguise for the Eagles? Nick Foles looked great last weekend, and he has plenty of help in Chip Kelly's ballistic offense. Dallas is banged up on both sides of the ball, and the Cowboys won't have DeMarcus Ware or DeMarco Murray. A few Cowboys rookies stepped in and did great against the Redskins...but those were the Redskins.
This Philly team is tough to get a read on - so far, they've lost to the two best teams in the NFL (Denver and KC), and beaten up on three of the worst (the Bucs, Giants, and Redskins). A close loss to San Diego was their only game against a middle-of-the road opponent, and that's probably a good predictor of how this one is going to go. The Cowboys are (barely) deep enough to scrape together a win in Philly, and that's what they'll do - we expect a 28-27 Dallas win, thanks to a late field goal.
Is Chicago any good? It all depends on which Jay Cutler shows up on Sunday, and he's been flashing some Rex Grossman-esque inconsistency so far this year. Everyone thought Chicago would crush the Giants last Thursday, but they somehow managed to let a 700-year-old Brandon Jacobs run all over them and barely escaped with a 27-21 win.
Washington, on the other hand, is a Matt Flynn away from being 0-5. If Flynn hadn't gift-wrapped them a win back in week four, they'd be in desperation mode, rather than just-really-bad mode like they are right now. Washington's offense is actually pretty good, but they're weighed down by a defensive unit allowing 395 yards of offense and almost 29 points per game. Chicago is the better team, and even if Cutler pulls a Grossman, da Bears are still winning this thing 35-17.
These are two teams that everyone expected to suck, but they've defied expectations by being resoundingly mediocre. The Rams are riding a two-game winning streak, but since those wins came over Jacksonville and the rapidly-sinking Texans, it doesn't count for much. If the Rams can fully embrace their youth movement and get Zac Stacy, Tavon Austin and Chris Givens involved, this team has a very bright future.
Cam Newton means the Panthers will always have a punchers chance, and he's coming off a fantastic performance against Minnesota. The Panthers are also a very good team at home - we think they'll win this game, but we aren't as confident about it as we are with most of our other picks. Carolina 27-24...but don't put money on it.
The Jaguars selfishly decided not to let the Broncos score 100 points on them last week, ruining our hopes for one of the great blowouts of the modern age. A few of their players (Justin Blackmon in particular) have looked like competent professional athletes over the past few weeks, which we guess is nice even though it isn't any fun for fans of historically bad football teams.
The Chargers...who the hell knows? A week after getting beaten by an Oakland team that's starting random dudes from the Black Hole on their offensive line, they go out and beat the Colts, who been looking like legitimate contenders. Philip Rivers, who probably owns more collared shirts than the rest of his team combined, has another dimension to his passing game with the emergence of Keenan Allen. There's no way Jacksonville wins this...right? Right. Chargers, 41-14.
Despite a laundry list of injuries and other shenanigans (will Aldon Smith be back this season? or ever?), the Niners are over the speed bump they hit in weeks 2 and 3, and they're back over .500. The Titans looked like this year's pleasant surprise, but then Jake Locker rearranged his right leg against the Jets. Locker could be back soon, but not by this Sunday, and the Titans have been a mess without him (to be fair, though, losing to Seattle and Kansas City without your starting QB is excusable).
The Niners have all the momentum, and even on the road we can't see them faltering now. People forget that they've played the entire year without Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham, and when those dudes come back this team is going to be legitimately dangerous. Until then, "pretty good" is enough, and it'll see them by the Titans, 29-20.
Take a minute and watch this play.
What could have convinced Brandon Weeden that this pass was a good idea? IT WAS FIRST DOWN! There are literally hundreds of bad decisions Brandon Weeden could have made on this play, and every single one of them would have done less damage than this one. It doesn't matter if Randall Cobb and James Jones are injured, only one of these teams has a QB with a fully functional brain. Packers, 34-13.
It's hard not to feel for Texans fans. It looked like their team was really ready to break through, they have two of the best young defensive players in the NFL in Brian Cushing and JJ Watt, Andre Johnson and Arian Foster are finally healthy at the same time, and what happens? Matt Schaub turns into Mark Sanchez, only somehow worse. Schaub has absolutely murdered this team so far, and it doesn't look like backup TJ Yates is much of an upgrade.
After six weeks, it's clear - Kansas City has the best defense in the NFL. They are going to CRUSH this Texans team, and while the Chiefs won't score tons of points, they won't need to. KC improves to 7-0, winning 28-3.
No two ways about it - this Pittsburgh team stinks. They finally created turnovers on defense (they were the only team in the NFL without an interception AND the only team without a recovered fumble before last Sunday), and they got in the win column against the Jets. Ben Roethlisberger is rapidly nearing the end of his shelf life as a good NFL quarterback (it was painfully clear against the Bengals and the Vikings), but none of that matters when the Ravens come to town.
Pittsburgh and Baltimore could both be 0-5, and this would still be a great game. These games are always fun, and even though the Steelers are bad and the Ravens have underwhelmed, we can't wait for this one. Baltimore has the clear edge in talent, but they still can't find a running back who can get more than three yards per carry, and that could really hurt at Heinz field. We're taking the Steelers in an upset win, 24-21.
So much narrative! The guys over at ESPN wet their pants every time they get a game they don't have to manufacture a story for, and Peyton's return to Indianapolis as the shoe-in MVP (through six weeks, anyway) is about as good as it gets, FOOTBALL DRAMA-wise. We're still mad that the Broncos didn't score 84 points on the Jaguars, but they'll be plenty good enough to handle a Colts team that inexplicably lost to San Diego on Monday Night Football.
The Colts haven't been able to stop the run, giving up 132 yards per game on the ground, and Knowshon Moreno is going to get the keys to the Ferrari on Sunday Night. Andrew Luck will keep the Colts in this one for a while, but no one has the ammunition to keep up with Denver for 60 minutes right now. Broncos win, 42-31.
The NFL couldn't have picked a worse Monday night game if they tried. The Vikings get to choose between Matt Cassel and Josh Freeman at QB, which is like getting to pick the color of the car that runs over your foot. Eli Manning is on pace to throw roughly 427 interceptions this year, but the Giants finally managed to get a running game going when they exhumed Brandon Jacobs before last week's game against the Bears. The Giants have the added benefit of ten days off, having last played a Thursday night game.
We think that'll be enough for the G-Men - that, and we can't believe they're really THIS bad. We'll hold our nose and pick New York, 21-6.
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