There are quite a few divisional matchups on tap for Week 7 of the 2012 NFL season.
One of those has the New York Giants hosting the Washington Redskins.
This game is the most intriguing of the week because last season Eli Manning and Co. were defeated twice by the Rex Grossman-orchestrated Redskins. Now, Big Blue faces a completely different challenge in rookie Robert Griffin III.
New York is coming off a bulldozing of the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park. So it will be interesting to see if the Giants can maintain such a high level of play, not to mention that Washington won soundly on Sunday over the Minnesota Vikings.
In addition to Redskins-Giants, though, the seventh week offers up other appealing contests to watch closely. Therefore, let's dive in and see what we get.
Note: All lines are courtesy of FootballLocks.com
Seahawks at 49ers (-7)
The 49ers are coming off a demoralizing loss at home to the Giants and Seattle made an impressive comeback against the Patriots. In short, we have two NFC West opponents going through a polarizing difference in Week 6.
And that will affect Week 7. San Francisco got bullied and is looking to quickly respond, whereas the Seahawks have increased confidence. Both teams are quite similar on each side of the ball, but the 49ers are more desperate for a win.
Take San Francisco against the spread.
Browns at Colts (-3)
Cleveland finally got a win and the Colts were just whipped by the New York Jets. Well, look for the Browns to keep playing better each week as they have nothing to lose. The question is whether that will be enough to beat the Colts.
Indianapolis fields an offense capable of controlling the game tempo, but the Browns are more consistent at making plays defensively. Trent Richardson is the game's feature back and the Browns are also better on special teams.
Take Cleveland and the points.
Titans at Bills (-3)
These teams coming off impressive upset wins last week. Tennessee outlasted Pittsburgh and Buffalo kept fighting to defeat the Cardinals in Arizona. As for this game, one of the defenses must step up.
The Titans still allow an average of 421.8 yards per game and Buffalo gives up 429.8. That's a lot of yards. So the difference comes down to offensive strength. The Bills are still a great running team and Tennessee isn't as explosive when passing. Winning the time-of-possession battle will be key.
Take Buffalo against the spread.
Redskins at Giants (-6.5)
Eli Manning and the Giants look like they're on a mission. Ahmad Bradshaw has been steamrolling on the ground and Big Blue's defense is dominating the trenches.
Washington has been relying heavily on Robert Griffin III but still needs the defense to step up. After all, the Redskins rank dead last against the pass and have given up almost 29 points per game.
Take New York against the spread.
Saints (-3) at Buccaneers
Make no mistake about it, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are better than advertised. They won in crushing fashion over the Chiefs on Sunday, and their three losses have been by a combined 15 points. The New Orleans Saints are stronger than they have been given credit for as well.
This is a fascinating divisional matchup. Tampa typically plays well at home, and with its balanced offense, the Bucs can keep Drew Brees off the field. Although coming off a bye week is to the Big Easy's advantage, Tampa Bay will still move the ball on the Saints' vulnerable defense.
Take Tampa Bay and the points.
Cowboys (-2) at Panthers
Having almost upset the Ravens in Baltimore, the Cowboys proved they could play well in a tough environment. By comparison, the Carolina Panthers won't be as difficult despite coming off a bye week.
Carolina's defense is still quite suspect and Cam Newton remains in his sophomore funk.
Although Dallas failed to get constant pressure on Joe Flacco, Big D is hungry for a win in Week 7. The Cowboys displayed their offensive potential on the ground against the Ravens, and Carolina still must prove it can stop teams and score consistently itself.
Take Dallas against the spread.
Ravens at Texans (-4.5)
According to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports:
Tests have confirmed what the Ravens feared- it is indeed a season-ending torn ACL for CB Lardarius Webb. Was having an All Pro year— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) October 15, 2012
They lost middle linebacker Ray Lewis to a triceps injury. Lewis will have an MRI on Monday, a team source confirmed to ESPN's Ed Werder.
And despite Houston getting thwacked by Green Bay, the Texans still have the balanced attack and talent to remain elite. The Sunday night loss was more of a reality check than anything else.
Take Houston against the spread.
Packers (-6.5) at Rams
We saw how truly dominant the Packers can be when they're firing on all cylinders. Aaron Rodgers put on arguably his best show as a professional Sunday night as Green Bay totally destroyed the Houston Texans.
Facing the St. Louis Rams in Week 7, the Packers face another sound defense.
The Rams are solid in coverage, can stuff the run and bring impressive pressure with Chris Long and Co. Unfortunately, St. Louis got somewhat exposed by rookie Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill on Sunday: Advantage, Packers.
Take Green Bay against the spread.
Cardinals at Vikings (-5.5)
It's gut-check time for the Arizona Cardinals and Minnesota Vikings. Both fell to 4-2 in Week 6. Considering that the NFC appears to have more good teams than the AFC, winning this game is imperative if these teams want to make the playoffs.
The Vikings are stronger on the ground but Arizona has Larry Fitzgerald. Fortunately for Minnesota, RG3 doesn't play quarterback for the Cardinals, meaning there is more of a stationary target at quarterback. Arizona fields a strong defense, but the offense under the leadership of quarterback Kevin Kolb remains unreliable.
Take Minnesota against the spread.
Jets at Patriots (-10.5)
If there's a game when the New England Patriots will send a message, it's Week 7 against the Jets.
The Pats are coming off a tough loss to Seattle and Gang Green is riding high, mainly because everyone in the AFC East is 3-3.
That said, Tom Brady and Co. have yet to put together a complete performance. New York will certainly enter with confidence, but New England's defense will stuff the run and force Mark Sanchez to outplay Brady.
Take the Patriots against the spread.
Jaguars at Raiders (-4)
Coming off a bye week gives Jacksonville an edge, especially since the Raiders suffered a heart-wrenching loss to the Falcons in Atlanta on Sunday.
In a game featuring two of pro football's best running backs, the defensive front sevens will be the difference. The Raiders are much better at controlling the line of scrimmage, plus the Jaguars have struggled to pressure the quarterback.
Take Oakland against the spread.
Steelers (-2.5) at Bengals
Sunday night is a must-win game for the Steelers and Bengals. Both were upset in Week 6 and a loss in Week 7 would severely wound each team's playoff chances.
Pittsburgh is banged up across the board, Cincinnati's defense remains vulnerable to the pass. And neither is adept at causing turnovers
Whichever team is able establish a running game to set up the pass to its big-play receivers will win.
Take Pittsburgh against the spread.
Lions at Bears (-5)
Somehow, the Detroit Lions came back to beat the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 6. Chicago, though, was resting on a bye and essentially has an extra day to relax since this contest is on Monday.
One could say that the Bears have sat a hair too long, whereas Detroit appears to be finding a rhythm and some confidence. Still, Matthew Stafford can be turnover-prone and we've seen how the Bears' defense is capable of getting their offense additional possessions, not to mention scoring defensively.
Take Chicago against the spread.
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