Sunday, 21 October 2012

NFL Week 7 Preview and Predictions

Tennessee Titans (2-4) @ Buffalo Bills (3-3)

I can't see either of these two making it to the post season but a win here would certainly keep their hopes alive.  Both sides had unexpected wins last week and both will come into this game feeling good about themselves.  There are a few interesting match ups in this game and they will decide who wins the game.  The Bills are 29th in passing and the Titans are 29th in pass defense so either way one of those units are going to have one of their better days of the season.  The same applies to the battle between the Titans running attack and the Bills run defense.  Both are ranked 32nd in the league and after a decent game last week the Titans will put the ball in Chris Johnson's hands.  It will be interesting to see if the Bills defense can stop him.  The Bills running game looks like the biggest difference in the teams.  The Bills are 5th in the NFL at running the ball and the Titans are 24th in defending the run.

Prediction -
The Bills to give the ball to CJ Spiller and Fred Jackson and let them lead them to 4-3. 

Cleveland Browns (1-5) @ Indianapolis Colts (2-3)

The Browns picked up their first win of the season last week against the Bengals and will be hoping to pick up another win in Indianapolis.  The Colts suffered a heavy defeat last week against the Jets.  Both sides have rookie quarterbacks and so far, unsurprisingly, Andrew Luck looks the better player.  There's not as big a gap as I expected there to be but Luck does look better.  Luck should have another decent day today against a Browns pass defense that ranks 30th in the NFL.  The Colts pass defense are 3rd in the NFL so it looks like it could be a tough day for Brandon Weeden.  The Browns best option is to run the ball against the 29th ranked run defense.  That will rely heavily on the availability of Trent Richardson who is listed as questionable with a rib injury.  The Browns aren't much better against the run so it looks as though the Colts can win this game two ways.

Prediction -
The Colts will get the win and get back to .500.

Green Bay Packers (3-3) @ St Louis Rams (3-3)

This looks like another interesting battle between the Packers and an NFC West opponent.  The Packers are 0-2 against the AFC West and all four teams in that division are carbon copies of each other.  All four are doing a good job of running the ball, all have strong defenses and none have a particularly good quarterback.  That combination has been tough for the Packers to overcome and I think they will find it tough again today.  By the time their careers are over, I'd say Sam Bradford will have had the best career of all of the NFC West quarterbacks, so there will be an extra threat for the Packers defense today.  The Packers need to do a better job of protecting Aaron Rodgers.  He has been sacked 23 times and the Rams are joint 5th in sacks with 18 sacks for the season.  Rodgers is listed as probable today and although I expect he will play, I think he will see a lot of the Rams front 7 and it could be another tough day for him.

Prediction - The Rams could cause an upset here and take the win.

Arizona Cardinals (4-2) @ Minnesota Vikings (4-2)

These two teams are my nemesis, certainly as far as my NFL Season Preview is concerned.  I had the Cardinals at 4-12 and the Vikings at 3-13, so they have already won more games between them, than I predicted.  I had some good predictions and some terrible ones.  If interested, have a read here.     The Cards have lost their last 2 and the Vikings lost last week so it looks as though the wheels are coming off but at least one of these will be 5-2 by tonight.  Kolb and Ponder have both done reasonably well at quarterback and Ponder has been supported by Adrian Peterson who has come back very well from a very serious injury.  Both sides have done well defensively so it should be a tough game between two teams with genuine playoff hopes.

Prediction -
The Vikings just seem to have that little bit more and will win the game.

Washington Redskins (3-3) @ New York Giants (4-2)

Due to Philadelphia being on their bye week , I have to say this is the game I am looking forward to the most this week.  I have been having a good look at this game and there looks to be two very interesting match ups.  The Giants are 5th in passing and the Redskins defense are 32nd against the pass.  If I was the Giants, I'd start from the first quarter with a pass heavy offense.  The Redskins best chance of winning the game is to put the ball in the hands of RG3 and Alfred Morris and attempt to run over the Giants.  It's a dangerous tactic as the Giants have some big, hard hitting guys on defense but it's the best weapon the Redskins have and they have to use it.  I think both quarterbacks will have a good game and can see the game coming down to whoever has the ball as time expires. 

Prediction -
The Redskins beat the Giants twice last year but I think this game is won by a 4th quarter drive from Eli Manning.

New Orleans Saints (1-4) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-3)

This will be a big game in the NFC South between two sides who are underachieving.  I think everyone will agree that the Saints are underachieving but a lot of people will probably believe the Bucs are where they should be but I'd disagree.  Josh Freeman in particular has disappointed me this season.  I had Freeman two years ago in my fantasy team as backup to Aaron Rodgers.  Freeman outscored Rodgers most weeks, that season, much to my dismay.  There's a good quarterback in there but we don't see it often enough.  The Saints rank 1st in passing and the Bucs are 31st against the pass, so it looks as though Drew Brees could have a big day.  The Bucs offense hasn't been great this year but either have the Saints defense so if the Bucs can carry last weeks form into this wee,k then they will every chance of picking up the win.

Prediction - The Bucs to get back to .500 with a win over the Saints.

Dallas Cowboys (2-3) @ Carolina Panthers (1-4)

The Cowboys biggest issue so far has been Tony Romo's interceptions.  If Romo can keep the ball away from defensive backs, this Cowboys team could reach the playoffs.  They have a good defense, particularly against the pass.  Offensively, they are 6th in passing, so there is definitely a good side in there.  The Panthers are 13th in rushing but with the weapons at their disposal they should be higher.  The Panthers haven't been doing great defensively and unless they can force the Cowboys into mistakes, it could be a difficult game for the Panthers. 

Prediction -
The Cowboys should have enough to win this game.

Baltimore Ravens (5-1) @ Houston Texans (5-1)

This could very well be a preview of the AFC Championship game, as two 5-1 teams go head to head in Houston.  The Ravens were hit by news of an injury to Ray Lewis and he has been ruled out for the season but they will be boosted by the news that reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Terrell Suggs has returned to practice and looks set to play today.  I have questioned both sides this season but the fact is they are 5-1 and should the playoffs begin today, they'd be seeded 1 and 2 in the AFC. The Texans defense has been fantastic and are only giving up 301 yards per game.  Their running game is doing the majority of the damage offensively but Matt Schaub is doing a decent job when called upon.  The Ravens are relying on Joe Flacco a lot more than I thought they would but perhaps it's a case of keeping Ray Rice back a bit for the post season.  Rice is averaging 5 yards per carry, so I can't imagine another reason why they would be giving him such a small workload. 

Prediction -
The Texans will bounce back from a bad loss last week and will pick up the win.

Jacksonville Jaguars (1-4) @ Oakland Raiders (1-4) 

Both of these teams have had poor seasons so far and from looking at the statistics it's easy to see why.  The Jags rank bottom in passing and 22nd in rushing.  The defense isn't much better and rank 23rd against the pass and 30th against the run.  The Raiders aren't much better and rank 12th in passing but 29th in rushing.  On defense, they are 25th against the pass and 18th against the run.  From those stats, the Raiders look like the better side but it doesn't look like being a great game of football and either way, I can't see the winner picking outside the top 10 in the 2013 draft.   

Prediction -
The Raiders to win this one easily.

New York Jets (3-3) @ New England Patriots (3-3)

This will be a huge battle in the race for the AFC East and in my opinion both teams have somewhat undeserved records.  For me the Jets are very fortunate to be at 3-3 and the Pats can consider themselves unlucky to be at 3-3.  In my opinion, the Pats are a much better side than the Jets but Rex Ryan usually has something special planned for the Patriots, so it always makes an interesting game.  The Pats are as explosive as ever on offense and rank 3rd in passing and 4th in rushing.  They have resolved their issues with defending the run and rank 5th in run defense but they are still struggling against the pass and rank 28th.  Fortunately for the Pats the Jets are 30th at passing and I can't see Mark Sanchez leading the Jets to a big win.  The Jets and Shonn Greene in particular had a good game on the ground last week and they will have to rely on him again and hope their defense can pick up a few turnovers if they are to have any chance against the Pats.

Prediction -
There often seems to be a heavy Pats win and a tight game between these two in recent years.  Tonight will be the heavy Pats win.

Pittsburgh Steelers (2-3) @ Cincinnati Bengals (3-3)

This will be a huge game for both sides as a defeat here could see them slip further back in the AFC North race, especially if the Ravens can pick up a win in Houston.  The Steelers rank 31st in rushing and won't be helped by Rashard Mendenhall and Isaac Redman missing this game through injuries.  The Steelers are doing better in passing, ranking 7th but the Bengals rank 17th in pass defense and with a non-existent running game, they should be able to concentrate on the pass a bit more.  The Steelers are still one of the best defenses in the league so I am looking forward to seeing how my favourite NFL quarterback and receiver combination, Dalton and Green, do against such a good defense.   It's early in the season but a defeat here will have the losers in a position were realistically, the best they can hope for is a wild card place in the playoffs.

Prediction -
Dalton and Green to get the job done and get the Bengals team back to winning ways. 

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