Week 7 NFL Predictions: Washington Redskins and Sunday's Top Upset Specials
A quick look at the standings in the AFC East conveys one very important fact about life in today's National Football League.
Parity is the word of the day, and the gap between the "haves" and the "have-nots" has dwindled to the point that it's sometimes difficult to tell who is the favorite and who is the underdog.
However, the men who set the spreads in Vegas (in a smoky room filled with guys with nicknames like "Tony the Spreader"...I hope) have installed a couple of teams as significant underdogs this week that I think will not only keep things close but win outright, and it's those teams that I'm picking as my upset specials of the week.
Note: odds taken from Vegas Insider.
Washington Redskins at New York Giants (-6)
The New York Giants welcome the Washington Redskins and rookie quarterback Robert Griffin to the Big Apple this week, with both teams coming off big wins. The Giants absolutely shredded the San Francisco 49ers in a rematch of last year's NFC title game, while the Redskins defeated a solid Minnesota Vikings squad in the nation's capital a week ago.
Much of the talk entering this game has centered on how the vaunted New York pass rush will fare against the speedy Griffin, but as defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul told Ralph Vacchiano of The New York Daily News he isn't overly concerned:
Trust me, we chase quarterbacks all the time. We turn and run to the ball, no matter what. He may get past us and zoom right past us, but trust me we’re right behind him. You’ve got to respect that, too. It’s not all about the speed. We’ve got guys, all 11 guys that can run to the ball very quick.
Given how the Giants looked last week, it's not surprising that they are heavy favorites, but there are four things you can count on in life. Death, taxes, politicians that lie and the New York Giants coming out flat once a year at home in a game in which they're heavily favored.
The Pick: Washington 23, New York 21
Baltimore Ravens at Houston Texans (-7)
There are all of two teams in the AFC that have winning records at this point in the 2012 NFL season, and those two teams meet Sunday when the injury-ravaged Baltimore Ravens travel to face the Houston Texans.
Those injuries are far and away the predominant storyline facing Baltimore heading into the matchup. Baltimore lost starting linebacker Ray Lewis and top cornerback Lardarius Webb to season-ending injuries last week, and as head coach John Harbaugh told Jeff Bartl of The Associated Press via Yahoo! Sports, the time has come for the offense to pick up the slack for the defense after the opposite was the case for many years:
There have been many, many times where we've won because our defense has carried a heavy, heavy burden over the years. For our offense to carry some of that burden ... is a great thing.
The fact is, however, that that was already the case. Baltimore's defense wasn't playing especially well even with Lewis and Webb on the field, and the Ravens' talented wide receiver duo of Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin should have little trouble getting open against a Texans secondary that has looked very vulnerable the past couple of weeks.
Add in a Houston ground game that has dropped all the way to 23rd in the National Football League in yards per carry and the fact that top wide receiver Andre Johnson has looked like a shell of his former self and even that dinged-up Baltimore defense should be able to keep the Ravens in this game, while a superior offense will propel them to a close win on the road.
The Pick: Baltimore 24, Houston 17
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