Big Blue Rolling. Week 7 NFL Picks

The New York Giants are riding a three game winning streak and look like the class of the NFC. A visit to Dallas for a fierce NFC East battle could knock the Giants off track. Plus, more discussion on the violence controversy, the Minnesota Vikings, and game by game analysis…err ramblings.

Last Week:  9 – 5 – 0
Season:     51 – 39 – 0

Licking Their Wounds (Bye Week)

The injury bug claimed Dallas Clarke, Austin Collie, and Joseph Addai last week, so the bye came at a perfect time for Indianapolis. Unfortunately, injury will keep all three players out beyond the bye week. I can’t wait for the 18 game schedule. I could end up on an NFL depth chart.

New Yorkers should be aware that Braylon Edwards has more time than usual to drive impaired. We’ll also see if the extra week heals Darrelle Revis’ hamstring. Unfortunately, the damage to his ego is irreversible.

Detroit will undoubtedly use the bye week to work quarterback Matthew Stafford back into the offense. They should also consider giving running back Jahvid Best directions to the end zone. After scoring five touchdowns in the first two weeks of the 2010 season, Best has yet to return to the end zone.

The loss of Pro-Bowl linebacker DeMeco Ryans is a big blow to Houston’s defense. It won’t get any easier for the inconsistent Texans. Of their remaining ten games, six are against legitimate playoff contenders, and the other four opponents are the Jaguars (twice), Broncos, and Chargers. We might see Houston miss out on the postseason again.

Early Games (1:00PM ET)

Bengals at Falcons
Cincinnati and Atlanta are nearly identical teams; strong defense, bruising running game, talent at the receiver position, and crippled by poor quarterback play at times. Depending on the week, Matt Ryan has been both awful and spectacular this season. Carson Palmer has been mostly awful. After receiving a butt whipping in Philadelphia, I reevaluated my opinion on the Falcons. Analyzing their wins and losses has led me to believe the Falcons are simply an average team. They’ve beaten three lousy teams (AZ, SF, CLE), one good team (NO), and lost to two playoff contenders (PITT, PHI). In other words, I overrated the Falcons. The Bengals are in the same boat. A quality win over Baltimore is overshadowed by losses to Cleveland and Tampa Bay. I’m still scarred from Atlanta’s performance last week. I like the Bengals coming off a bye. BENGALS If I were Charles Barkley; Bengals +3.5

Redskins at Bears
When I first proofread this post, I had “Wizards at Bears” instead of “Redskins at Bears.” The NBA season must be right around the corner! Ok, you don’t care. Sorry. I love this game. It’s the perfect matchup of, “our records are pretty good, but we still suck” teams. With Jay Cutler at quarterback and a lousy offensive line, Chicago sucks worse. REDSKINS If I were Charles Barkley; Redskins +3

Rams at Buccaneers
I can’t figure either of these teams out. I know the Rams are tough. I know the Buccaneers beat mediocre teams. I know I probably won’t watch more than a few minutes of the game. As you can see, I don’t know much. BUCCANEERS If I were Charles Barkley; Buccaneers -3

49ers at Panthers
Matt Moore is back, baby! I was bummed when I heard the news because I thought the 49ers were a lock to win. Now, I’m not so sure. Moore was a very capable quarterback last season. His horrendous play in 2010 totally surprised me. I’m inclined to believe that this second opportunity will work out for Moore and the Carolina Panthers. While I still don’t understand the Panthers offensive philosophy, a 2009 version of Matt Moore should at least make them competitive. Which Moore model do we see on Sunday, 2009 or 2010? I’m going with 2009, but without Steve Smith, Moore has no one to throw to. (By the way, I loved the signing of the incredibly talented Devin Thomas. If he ever gets his head on straight, watch out. It’s a perfect low risk, high reward situation.) 49ers If I were Charles Barkley; Panthers +3

Bills at Ravens
On Wednesday night, my Philadelphia Phillies suffered a gut-wrenching defeat to the San Francisco Giants in Game 4 of the NLCS. It was horrible. I haven’t felt so depressed after a game since the Eagles lost to the Cardinals in the NFC Championship. My night only got worse after the loss. When I went to shower following the game, I had no hot water. It was 38 degrees outside, I don’t have my heat on yet, and I’m standing under a stream of cold water shivering like I’d been pulled from the Arctic. For whatever reason, the cold water brought perspective, and in this moment of clarity I realized it could be worse. I could be a Buffalo fan.  RAVENS If I were Charles Barkley; Ravens -14

Eagles at Titans
The Eagles have done it again. They duped me into believing Brandon Graham was the next Lawrence Taylor. Other than injury, I haven’t heard his name mentioned since opening week. However, the performance of the Eagles defense in week six against Atlanta was encouraging. Time will tell if it was progress or a flash in the pan. If it was progress, the Eagles are real contenders in the NFC. If not, well, you know. Although Vince Young doesn’t scare me, Chris Johnson gives me nightmares. He’s been less explosive this season but is still capable of thrashing a defense. If Jahvid Best had his way with the Eagles defense, I fear what Johnson is capable of. I can’t express how impressed I’ve been with Kevin Kolb and Michael Vick. The way they support the team and each other despite their personal desire to play is unbelievably admirable. This will be the toughest, meanest defense Kolb has faced thus far, so I’m very interested to see how he performs. The absence of DeSean Jackson will require Brent Celek to step up for the first time this season. Philadelphia has a bye next week. That should give the Eagles an extra edge, or cause them to play careless, disinterested, undisciplined football. This is a bigger game than most think for Kolb and the Eagles. Wins will be tough to come by down the stretch as Philadelphia plays only two teams with losing records. That’s right, Dallas and Minnesota. Hardly guaranteed victories. EAGLES If I were Charles Barkley; Eagles +3

Jaguars at Chiefs
I’d like to thank the Jaguars for one of the worst Monday Night Football performances in recent memory. Why does Jack Del Rio still have a job? Congratulations to the Chiefs for getting this week and the next off. Finishing October with a 5-2 record is an impressive turnaround from 4-12 campaign in 2009. CHIEFS If I were Charles Barkley; Chiefs -9.5

Steelers at Dolphins
James Harrison is one of the toughest, meanest players in football. We recently learned he’s the whiniest as well. Seriously, James (yeah, first name basis), you’re not going to retire and leave all that money on the table. You’re a linebacker, not a wide receiver, so lose the prima donna shtick. I still don’t think Harrison’s hit on Mohamed Massaquoi was that big of a deal. Obviously, I’m in the minority. ESPN’s Rick Reilly used the collection of week six blows to call for a new rule that would require the player delivering the concussion-inducing hit to be out as long as the concussed. This is as dumb as regulating fast food restaurants in school zones. The NFL can’t have their cake and eat it too. When you ask the top .00045% (in terms of physical abilities) of the country’s men to run around an enclosed area at full speed and follow a small brown ball, you’re asking for some bone-jarring collisions. Yes, helmet-to-helmet hits, leading with the helmet, and targeting an opponent’s head is avoidable and should be regulated. However, vicious hits are a part of the game. It happens. The hit on DeSean Jackson was totally clean. No question. I’m sick of the overreaction to the violence. Football is violent. Rick Reilly is wrong. And Dunta Robinson delivered a clean hit that would make Dick Butkus, Lawrence Taylor, and Ronnie Lott proud. Let’s move on. By the way, Brandon Marshall, a receiver for Miami, hates the new rules. On Jim Rome’s radio show, Marshall said, “you go across the middle, you gotta pay the price.” Amen. STEELERS If I were Charles Barkley; Steelers -3

Browns at Saints
That was an impressive outing by the Saints last week. A return to the deep ball benefited New Orleans’ stale and struggling offense. I’m not convinced the Buccaneers are a good team, but it was a nice win nonetheless. Although the Browns are scrappy and tough to run away from, I’m expecting a blowout. The Saints have a week’s worth of tape on Colt McCoy’s strengths and weaknesses, and the Browns secondary is subpar. SAINTS If I were Charles Barkley; Saints -14

Game to Watch: Steelers at Dolphins
Game on Call: Eagles at Titans

Afternoon Games (4:05PM ET)

Cardinals at Seahawks
A battle for first place in the NFC West. I can’t believe I’m admitting this, but I’m somewhat interested in watching. The Seahawks may actually be a half decent team. I haven’t completely decided yet, but I’m open to the idea. On the other hand, I’m totally convinced the Cardinals are bad. SEAHAWKS If I were Charles Barkley; Seahawks -6

Patriots at Chargers
San Diego is 2-0 at home and 0-4 on the road. Don’t let that deceive you, though. Those home wins came against the Jaguars and Cardinals. It’s pretty clear; the Chargers just aren’t very good. When comparing this week’s opponent with San Diego’s previous six (KC, JAC, SEA, AZ, OAK, STL), it’s safe to assume the Chargers are in trouble, even at home. While the Patriots pulled out a win against Baltimore last week, I still blame the Ravens more for the loss than I give New England credit for the win. Regardless, I like Tom Brady’s offense without Randy Moss. Deion Branch and Wes Welker have an incredible connection with Brady. It reminds me of Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison. The Patriots look like one of those contenders that continually improve as the season progresses until they’re one of the top two or three teams in the conference come December. While Philip Rivers is money at home, the absence of Malcolm Floyd and possibly, Antonio Gates, makes San Diego a long shot to win. After three straight seasons in which they’ve overcome slow starts, this may be the year the Chargers never turn it around. PATRIOTS If I were Charles Barkley; Patriots +3

Raiders at Broncos
The Denver Broncos will welcome the lowly Raiders with open arms. After going 1-3 against the Colts, Titans, Ravens, and Jets over the past four weeks, the Broncos deserve what should be a gimme. If Denver ever finds a running game, they could win the AFC West because the division is so wide open. San Diego is struggling immensely, the Raiders are well, the Raiders, and Kansas City is inexperienced. In fact, the Raiders are the only team not riding a two game losing streak. Oakland is still a mess, though, and the revolving door at quarterback won’t help. BRONCOS If I were Charles Barkley; Broncos -7.5

Game to Watch: Patriots at Chargers
Game on Call: Raiders at Broncos

Sunday Night (8:20PM ET)

Vikings at Packers
The Packers might enter their bye week at 3-6. Not kidding. After the Vikings, Green Bay travels to New York to battle the Jets and then hosts Dallas before a week off. Right after the bye, the Packers go to Minnesota to take on the Vikings for the second time in a month. As the injuries continue to mount for Green Bay, the outlook grows bleaker. The recent struggles of the offense don’t help matters either. I think we should stop considering Greg Jennings as one the league’s top receivers. He’s not even the best on his own team. 20 catches in six games isn’t elite receiver production. As for the Vikings, they’ll be in first place in the NFC North after they beat the Bears on November 14th. Don’t forget, Sidney Rice has yet to play and will return sometime in November too. A win at Lambeau Field on Sunday night will have Brett Favre and the Vikings back in business. VIKINGS If I were Charles Barkley; Vikings +3

Monday Night (8:30PM ET)

Giants at Dallas
We’re entering week seven of the NFL season, a total of 90 games are already in the books. Only two of those 90 games have featured an NFC East matchup, so this battle between division foes is long overdue. The Giants are the hottest team in the NFC right now. The Cowboys’ playoff lives are hanging by a thread. I despise the Cowboys, but the celebration penalties the No Fun League flagged them for in each of the last two weeks were ridiculous. If the NFL wants to punish someone, they should start penalizing defensive backs who run 30 yards downfield after breaking up a simple pass. Anyway, Jerry Jones has continuously stated he won’t fire Wade Phillips during the season. However, if the Cowboys fall to the Giants at home in front of a national audience, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Phillips packing his bags on Tuesday morning. I don’t expect that will be an issue, though, at least not this week. I’m already practicing my Tom Coughlin-tilt the head to the side and scowl in frustration-face. It’s a sight to see. COWBOYS If I were Charles Barkley; Cowboys -3.5

Last Week: 4 – 9 – 1
Season:    41 – 46 – 3

(Lines as of 10/21, 10:34PM ET, from bodog)

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