The National Football Post’s Matt Bowen picks every game on the Week 7 schedule in the NFL.
Green Bay (3-2) at Cleveland (1-5)
Current Line: Green Bay -6.5
It is hard to see Cleveland winning football games right now because of their quarterback play. Derek Anderson has shown little to make us believe that he is the answer, and unless they can find a score in the kicking game, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense should roll. Another opportunity here for the Green Bay defense to get back on track and make some plays. I am taking Green Bay all the way.
Packers 31, Browns 10
San Francisco (3-2) at Houston (3-3)
Current Line: Houston -3
A couple of weeks ago, there was no chance that I could see the Texans matching up to the Niners physically, but the Houston defense is figuring out how to stop the run. I don’t see the Texans holding Frank Gore to under 50 yards like they did with Cedric Benson last week, but I do see Andre Johnson and Matt Schaub making enough plays to win at home. Michael Crabtree’s debut isn’t enough for San Fran on the road. I am going with Houston.
Texans 24, 49ers 22
San Diego (2-3) at Kansas City (1-5)
Current Line: San Diego -4.5
What do we make of the Chargers right now? They can’t generate a running game, and they wore down up front against the Broncos on Monday night. But, the KC defense shouldn’t scare anyone right now, and I see the Bolts getting back in the win column with a game they desperately need to stay within reach of the first-place Broncos. Philip Rivers has a big day and Vincent Jackson exposes the poor tackling Chiefs secondary. Take the Chargers.
Chargers 36, Chiefs 23
Minnesota (6-0) at Pittsburgh (4-2)
Current Line: Pittsburgh -4.5
It is easy to jump on the Vikings bandwagon, just as it is easy to see that Brett Favre is playing the quarterback position as good as anyone. But, I don’t like the Vikings’ matchup against the Steelers in Pittsburgh. The Steelers defense is starting to make plays, and the way that Ben Roethlisberger is throwing the football, I don’t like a Minnesota defense that might be without CB Antoine Winfield. I see this as the best game of the day with Big Ben winning it yet again for Pittsburgh in the fourth quarter.
Steelers 23, Vikings 17
Indianapolis (5-0) at St. Louis (0-6)
Current Line: Indianapolis -13.5
The Rams are getting better on defense, and Steve Spagnuolo’s guys are starting to make plays in his system. But, I don’t see a defense in the NFL that can stop Peyton Manning and the Colts offense. In the dome, expect Manning to throw for over 300 yards again for the sixth straight game. The Rams just don’t have the talent to compete with Indy yet.
Colts 44, Rams 12
New England (4-2) at Tampa Bay (0-6)
Line: New England -14.5
Tom Brady and the Pats are coming off a 59-0 win at home against the Titans, and the Bucs are still reeling and looking for their first win. If I am the Pats, I see if the Bucs have made enough corrections in their front seven after giving up over 200-plus yards to the Panthers on the ground, and force them to stop the running game–then work their way down the field with Brady and Moss. Right now, there are too many ways to attack this Bucs defense, and I don’t see that changing this Sunday in London.
Patriots 34, Buccaneers 14
Buffalo (2-4) at Carolina (2-3)
Line: Carolina -7
With Trent Edwards likely out, the Bills and Ryan Fitzpatrick will have to find a way to get Lee Evans and Terrell Owens involved against the Panthers’ Cover 2 looks. I expect Buffalo to take some chances down the middle of the field, but after giving up over 300 yards on the ground to the Jets, Carolina would be foolish not to test their defensive front with DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. The Bills will always play hard, but they don’t have the playmakers up front on defense to stop the Panthers ground game. Close, but I am taking Carolina in an ugly game.
Panthers 16, Bills 10
New York Jets (3-3) at Oakland (2-4)
Current Line: New York -6
I loved the Raiders’ defensive game plan against Philly and Donovan McNabb last week, but expect them to see a different offensive attack from the Jets. Mark Sanchez will still see his share of throws, but this game plan from the Jets should be designed to run the ball and take chances only when needed to WR Braylon Edwards. On defense, Rex Ryan will send enough pressure to force JaMarcus Russell into some poor decisions, and despite a couple of plays he made last week, the interceptions haven’t gone away. I like the Jets on the west coast.
Jets 17, Raiders 9
Chicago (3-2) at Cincinnati (4-2)
Current Line: Cincinnati -1.5
Two teams who come off of losses where they couldn’t find a way to run the football. The Bears’ front seven has surprised a lot of people with their ability to stop the run and get to the quarterback–and I don’t expect that to change against the Bengals’ offensive line. The same can be said for Chicago who has had their own struggles up front, while RB Matt Forte has found it hard to get to the second level of defenses. This game comes down to quarterback play and special teams in the second half, and because of that I am going with Jay Cutler and Devin Hester—who both make big fourth quarter plays on the road.
Bears 27, Bengals 20
Atlanta (4-1) at Dallas (3-2)
Current Line: Dallas -4
It is easy to pick the Falcons because they are hot, but Dallas comes off the bye week with the possibility of a healthy Felix Jones–and they are a different offense with Jones in the backfield. They become more explosive, and the field opens up for the likes of Jason Witten and the new stud—Miles Austin. The Atlanta defense showed that they could make plays last week in their win over Chicago, but with limited depth in the secondary, I see Romo having his best game of the ’09 season—with his defense making a big play in the fourth quarter to hold off the Falcons at home.
Cowboys 28, Falcons 25
New Orleans (5-0) at Miami (2-3)
Current Line: New Orleans -6.5
No one wants to play the Dolphins right now. The running game of Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams is as good as it comes, Chad Henne has a big-time pro arm, and the wildcat offense is a nightmare to prepare for. But, this is exactly why Sean Payton hired Gregg Williams this offseason to run his defense. The Saints handled the Giants’ running game last week, and although I see the Dolphins making a couple plays in the wildcat, Drew Brees is too much for them in the second half. I am taking the Saints to move to 6-0.
Saints 27, Dolphins 17
Arizona (3-2) at New York Giants (5-1)
Current Line: Giants -7
The Giants were outplayed in New Orelans, but this team is the farthest thing from in panic mode with the Cardinals coming to the Meadowlands. I like the way Arizona is playing football right now, but I see them getting too pass happy on Sunday night, and to beat the Giants you have to win the time of possession battle. With little running game to speak off in AZ, the Giants use their own running game of Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw to protect their second-half lead—and Kurt Warner becomes a target when he drops back to pass. Take the G-Men at home.
Giants 30, Cardinals 20
Philadelphia (3-2) at Washington (2-4)
Current Line: Philadelphia -7
Two teams who have had rough weeks, but it is hard for me to go with the Redskins at home when they have so many issues on offense and on the sidelines. I expect Greg Blache’s defense to keep the ‘Skins in the game, but a lack of big plays by this Washington offense will allow McNabb and Philly to push this lead out of reach in the fourth quarter—and Zorn will take the blame again on Tuesday morning.
Eagles 22, Redskins 12
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