NFL Week 7 Picks: Division Battles That Will Go Down to the Wire

Tony GiardinaCorrespondent IOctober 19, 2012

LANDOVER, MD - OCTOBER 14: Robert Griffen III #10 of the Washington Redskins passes against the Minnesota Vikings at FedExField on October 14, 2012 in Landover, Maryland. The Redskins defeated the Vikings 38-26. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)
Larry French/Getty Images

The NFL is more wide open this year than ever before.

Through Week 6, 20 of the 32 teams are at 3-3 or better while only six teams are two games or more below .500.

Week 7 will give teams a chance to separate themselves from the pack, especially those who have divisional match-ups.

Here are the biggest divisional games going into Sunday.


Washington Redskins at New York Giants

Before the season, Redskins fans were uncertain about the future of RGIII as their franchise quarterback. Six games later, the future is bright and 2012 is no longer a rebuilding year. The 3-3 Redskins are right in the thick of the NFC East race and will face their toughest challenge yet when they visit the Meadowlands on Sunday.

The Giants head into the contest at 4-2 but are 0-2 in division play and must avoid a potentially dangerous 0-3 hole. The team is coming off of their best performance of the season, defeating the 49ers 23-3 last Sunday in a dominant effort from both sides of the ball.

Containing RGIII is the obvious key for the Giants, but the task has been proven to be easier said than done.

The New York offense will look to have a field day against the terrible Redskin pass defense, but injuries may hinder their offense more than the Washington secondary. Ahmad Bradshaw is questionable for Sunday while Hakeem Nicks is probable.

Bradshaw played a huge role in the win over San Francisco, rushing for 116 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries. If he can't go for the Giants, look for David Wilson and Andre Brown to split carries.

Prediction: Washington 30, New York Giants 27


New York Jets at New England Patriots

The Jets will attempt to take the division lead on Sunday in Foxboroug after their impressive 35-9 victory over the Indianapolis Colts. Shonn Green finally showed up last week with 161 yards on the ground and three touchdowns. Mark Sanchez threw for just 82 yards but didn't turn the ball over in the win.

The Patriots are back home after being dealt a tough loss against Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks. Brady looked merely human. His 395 passing yards were on 58 attempts and he finished with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

As poorly as the Jets have looked in most of their games, they could make this matchup a close one if they can get the running game going and Sanchez limits his mistakes.

The Patriots offense will score, so the Jets just have to keep the game close into the fourth quarter and make their move late.

Prediction: New England 31, New York Jets 21


Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals

There is no team in the NFL that needs a win like the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Pittsburgh is 2-3 after an ugly loss to Matt Hasselbeck and the Titans. While this is not quite a must-win for the team to have a shot at the playoffs, it's as close as a Week 7 game can be. Baltimore is running away with the division at 5-1, and there are nine teams with at least three wins in the AFC alone.

Cincinnati is also coming off a bad couple of weeks, losing to the Dolphins at home before giving the Browns their first win last week to drop to 3-3. They are in the middle of the cluster of AFC teams at 3-3 and need to distance themselves for a shot at the playoffs.

Quarterback play will be the key for both teams, especially with the shaky running back situation in Pittsburgh. Big Ben will have to be efficient from start to finish in order to pull off the road win.

On the other side, Andy Dalton needs to limit his turnovers and get the ball to A.J. Green, the NFL's leading receiver. Whoever can play a clean game will give his team a huge advantage on Sunday night and in the playoff race.

Prediction: Pittsburgh 24, Cincinnati 20