NFL Picks Week 7: Bleacher Report's Expert Consensus Predictions
Week 7 of the NFL season is here, and there are plenty of storylines to discuss.
The Cincinnati Bengals and Detroit Lions face off in what could be billed as a "Contenders vs. Pretenders" matchup, as both teams sit at 4-2 and at the top of their respective divisions but seem to have just as many questions as answers.
The New England Patriots hit the road to face the New York Jets in a classic matchup featuring a couple of big personalities at head coach in Bill Belichick and Rex Ryan. What will the Patriots defense have cooked up for rookie Jets passer Geno Smith, and can their offense get rolling against the Jets' talented defensive front?
The Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers meet in an another divisional rivalry that is always a must-watch. The Steelers got off the schneid last week, but the Ravens aren't ready to give their rivals any breaks in what should be a physical battle.
Andrew Luck hosts Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts will look to be as inhospitable as possible to the Denver Broncos as they look to rebound from their Week 6 loss and prove the Broncos aren't as perfect as their record.
Our experts will pick all these games and more just a few clicks ahead! Don't like our picks? Make yours in the comments below!
Name: Last Week; Overall
Consensus: 10-5; 56-30
Matt Miller: 10-5; 64-28
Ty Schalter: 9-6; 62-30
Matt Bowen: 12-3; 61-31
Andrea Hangst: 9-6; 61-31
Erik Frenz: 9-6; 59-33
Chris Hansen: 9-6; 58-34
Zach Kruse: 11-4; 58-34
Brad Gagnon: 10-5; 57-35
Michael Schottey: 11-4; 57-35
Tyson Langland: 10-5; 56-36
Knox Bardeen: 10-5; 54-38
Mike Freeman: 9-6; 52-40
To see how Bleacher Report's experts are faring against the best at other media outlets, check out Pick Watch.
Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals
B/R Consensus Pick: Seahawks (12-0)
Schottey: Seahawks, 27-10
The pass rush gets to Carson Palmer and he makes far more mistakes than big strikes to his receivers, resulting in a big win for the defensive-minded 'Hawks.
Bowen: Seahawks, 22-13
Carson Palmer will throw the Seahawks secondary at least two picks to set up Russell Wilson with easy scoring opportunities in the Seattle win.
Schalter: Seahawks, 17-9
Palmer won't be able to throw on this defense.
Freeman: Seahawks, 21-14
Arizona's defense has proved to be outstanding. Seattle's is even better. Seahawks win a defensive battle.
Miller: Seahawks, 24-13
Traveling to Arizona shouldn't be taken lightly, and with a tough defense, the Cardinals could make things interesting. If only I had faith in their offense...
Frenz: Seahawks, 14-10
In a short week, always give me the team with the more experienced coaching staff and the higher level of talent. The Seahawks have both.
Hangst: Seahawks, 31-20
The NFC West is a hotly contested division and none of the four teams have a losing record. However, that will change on Thursday when the 3-3 Cardinals host the 5-1 Seahawks. Though it's not on Seattle's home turf and this game is being played on an anything-can-happen Thursday night, the Seahawks are just too powerful for Arizona.
A pair of Carson Palmer interceptions aren't out of the question, which will help seal Arizona's fate.
Hansen: Seahawks, 24-14
The Seahawks aren't the same team on the road, but it's hard to trust Carson Palmer against their defense. Arizona will keep the game close with its defense and Larry Fitzgerald will get loose a few times, but a couple of big plays aren't going to beat Seattle.
Bardeen: Seahawks, 23-17
Arizona's defense is good, but Seattle's is better. Arizona's offense is mediocre, and Seattle's is better. Since this game is being played away from Seattle, it'll be close, but the talent is all on the Seahawks' side of the football.
Gagnon: Seahawks, 17-15
The Cards aren't good, but they did beat the Seahawks in Glendale last September and they've had a chance to win in five of their six games this season. Seattle is tired and banged up on a short week, so I can see this becoming too close for comfort.
Langland: Seahawks, 24-13
On a short week, the Seahawks will have plenty of work to do if they want to steal a game on the road. Fortunately for Seattle, Carson Palmer's play has been abominable. Expect plenty of turnovers from the Arizona signal-caller.
Kruse: Seahawks, 20-10
Carson Palmer has two or more interceptions in four straight games, and Seattle has at least two takeaways in every game this season. Both trends continue in another ugly Thursday-night game.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons
B/R Consensus Pick: Falcons (11-1)
Schottey: Falcons, 28-13
The Falcons might be struggling with injuries, but the Buccaneers find new ways to lose every week. Got to go with the better team here—especially at home.
Bowen: Falcons, 20-16
The Falcons are dealing with injuries and are off to a rough start. But coming off the bye week, I like Matt Ryan to get the win over Greg Schiano's team.
Schalter: Buccaneers, 21-20
The Buccaneers have too much talent to be 0-5. Then again, the Falcons have too much talent to be 1-4. Mike Glennon showed some pop against Philly, and the Bucs D matches up well against Atlanta.
Freeman: Falcons, 30-20
The putridity of the Yuccaneers continues.
Miller: Falcons, 20-10
The Falcons and Bucs both desperately need wins this week, but I'm going with the coaching of Atlanta over the dumpster fire that is Greg Schiano.
Frenz: Falcons, 23-17
If there's a quick fix to the Falcons' season, it's getting a bye week and getting the Buccaneers out of the bye week. The Falcons could be without their two top receivers, and losing Julio Jones for the season certainly hurts, but the more talented quarterback should be able to pull it out against a team that just can't get its act together.
Hangst: Falcons, 21-17
Injuries have decimated the Falcons on both offense and defense, but the Buccaneers are decimated in other, more insidious ways. This is a winless team with little to hope for beyond the eventual firing of Greg Schiano. They may keep things close with the Falcons, but Atlanta isn't in bad enough shape to fall to Tampa Bay.
Hansen: Falcons, 31-21
Atlanta is in a must-win situation coming off a bye week and playing at home. The Buccaneers are a disaster of a team, starting a rookie quarterback with a head coach who has lost the players. The math should add up to a Falcons win.
Bardeen: Falcons, 20-17
Both teams are underachieving and both have a shot at winning this football game. Atlanta will have trouble moving the football with a number of key players injured on offense. But pride (Bucs beat the Falcons in the Georgia Dome last season, plus everyone has written the team off in 2013 already) and a solid bye-week game plan should help the Falcons here.
Gagnon: Falcons, 35-16
Atlanta's desperate now, and quality veteran teams like this don't mess around after the bye week. In fact, the Falcons haven't lost coming off a bye since 2008. The Bucs are in disarray, so I think this could be a blowout.
Langland: Falcons, 23-10
Losing Julio Jones for the season undoubtedly hurts Matt Ryan and Co., but the Falcons offense still has Tony Gonzalez and Roddy White. Moreover, as a whole, they are in much better shape than Greg Schiano's Buccaneers. Atlanta wins big at home.
Kruse: Falcons, 28-16
If these Falcons are ever going to put it together, the week following a bye with a winless Tampa Bay team in town might have to be it.
Cincinnati Bengals at Detroit Lions
B/R Consensus Pick: Pick'em (6-6)
Schottey: Lions, 24-17
Flip the playing site and I'd flip my pick here. These are evenly matched teams with similar strengths (defensive line, No. 1 receiver) and should play each other close.
Bowen: Bengals, 27-24
This might one of the best matchups of Week 7. Why Cincinnati? The defensive line and the secondary versus Matthew Stafford. Expect to see the Bengals defense force some turnovers in the win.
Schalter: Lions, 33-30
This is going to be a fun one. The Lions and Bengals are very similar teams, with the Lions having the edge at quarterback, while the Bengals have the better D. Home field decides it.
Freeman: Bengals, 27-22
I don't fully trust the Bengals, but I trust the Lions less.
Miller: Bengals, 28-24
Frenz: Lions, 38-24
The Lions have finally found some balance on offense, which makes them more dangerous than they ever were when they were just heaving it to Calvin Johnson every down. The Bengals have been all too willing to cough the ball up to their opponents this season, and the Lions have created plenty of their own defensive turnovers. Why should that change now?
Hangst: Bengals, 27-23
The Detroit Lions offense was plagued by dropped passes in their win over the Browns, and a dinged-up Calvin Johnson didn't help matters much. The Lions should be on their game on Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals, but it may be to no avail. Cincinnati has the more talented roster and is more consistent, which gives the Bengals the competitive edge.
Hansen: Lions, 34-28
The Lions still can't play defense, but they have an offense that can play with anybody in the league. The Bengals find ways to make games close—in a bad way. I like the home team by two field goals.
Bardeen: Lions, 24-23
This is a battle of 4-2 teams that have some identity issues. Which team will show up and play like it's supposed to? The Lions have home-field advantage and the better quarterback. They should sneak away with a win.
Gagnon: Lions, 27-24
The Lions were lucky to beat the Browns, but Cincinnati keeps playing down to the competition. In Detroit, this is a toss-up. I'll go with the home team by a field goal.
Langland: Bengals, 21-20
The Bengals are a hard team to figure out. One week, they are beating the best of the best in the NFL, and other weeks, they are barely beating the Bills. However, this is the week where Cincinnati puts it together in all three phases.
Kruse: Bengals, 24-20
I can't shake how well the Cincinnati defense handled Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady earlier this season. A front four that can create its own pressure and a hampered Calvin Johnson tilt the scales in favor of the visiting Bengals.
Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins
B/R Consensus Pick: Dolphins (12-0)
Schottey: Dolphins, 19-13
This one shakes out as a bit of a defensive stalemate, but the Dolphins just have too much talent for the injury-riddled Bills.
Bowen: Dolphins, 29-22
The Bills could be down another quarterback. That's trouble. Take the Dolphins and Ryan Tannehill to get back in the win column after dropping two straight.
Schalter: Dolphins, 24-17
The Bills keep giving every team they play heartburn, regardless of who's at quarterback. I don't think they can out-defense Miami at home, though.
Freeman: Dolphins, 30-21
This is maybe the most crucial game for the Dolphins this season. We get to see how they respond after a brutal loss. I'm guessing Tannehill responds well.
Miller: Dolphins, 27-17
The Bills were a great story in Week 6 with Thad Lewis at quarterback, but that luck will run out once they meet the Dolphins pass rush.
Frenz: Dolphins, 21-13
It's going to be a tough few weeks (or however long it ends up being) for the Bills without EJ Manuel. Not only do the Bills have to travel to Miami, but coming off a bye week, the Dolphins should be getting back to full health. If they can find a way to keep Tannehill relatively clean, they'll win.
Hangst: Dolphins, 21-13
After their bye week, the Dolphins are one of two AFC East teams with a winning record, trailing the 5-1 Patriots. Luckily for their win-loss record, they host the Bills on Sunday, with Thad Lewis (or maybe the newly signed Matt Flynn) under center.
Though Lewis held his own, with three touchdowns against the Bengals in Week 6, his inexperience plays into Miami's hands, and the same can be said for Flynn should he start. Buffalo is just trying to hang on until EJ Manuel returns, but it looks like it'll be leaving Miami with a 2-5 record.
Hansen: Dolphins, 27-17
The Dolphins are another team coming off their bye week and playing at home. The Dolphins also happen to be a pretty solid team, and they should be able to handle the Buffalo Bills because they are starting Thad Lewis at quarterback.
Bardeen: Dolphins, 24-14
The Miami Dolphins have had two weeks to prepare for the 2-4 Buffalo Bills with a banged-up Thad Lewis under center. The Dolphins are in a better place right now and should have no trouble taking care of business.
Gagnon: Dolphins, 27-17
Miami nearly beat Baltimore at home and then had two weeks to prepare for a Bills team that is 0-2 on the road. There's no reason the Dolphins shouldn't be able to beat a less talented team with fill-in-the-blank at quarterback.
Langland: Dolphins, 27-17
As long as quarterback EJ Manuel is sidelined for the Bills, I have a hard time picking them in any game. The Dolphins will be ready to go after a much-needed bye week.
Kruse: Dolphins, 30-17
At home, and with two weeks of prep time, Ryan Tannehill should be expected to outgun whomever the Bills start at quarterback. I also like Joe Philbin to throw out a new wrinkle or two with the extra week.
New England Patriots at New York Jets
B/R Consensus Pick: Patriots (11-1)
Schottey: Patriots, 24-13
A big part of the Jets' loss to the Steelers was the pressure dialed up by Dick LeBeau. Look for the Pats to follow that blueprint and confuse Geno Smith as their offense does enough to win yet again.
Bowen: Patriots, 27-13
Geno Smith struggled to figure out Dick LeBeau's defense in the Week 6 loss. I expect more of the same this week against Bill Belichick's unit.
Schalter: Patriots, 17-16
I'd love, love, love to take the Jets here, but after what New England did to New Orleans, I won't bet against the Pats anytime soon.
Freeman: Patriots, 21-12
New York's defense is at times scary good, and there is real concern about the Patriots coming off such an emotional win. But as he often is, Brady is the difference.
Miller: Patriots, 24-13
Last week, I foolishly picked against Tom Brady for the first time in my career. Tom, I'm sorry. It'll never happen again.
Frenz: Patriots, 24-14
Brady made me regret picking against the Patriots last week, and I won't make the same mistake again this time around. Geno Smith has turned the ball over 14 times in his first six games, which makes it all but a certainty that the Patriots will keep alive their 33-game streak with at least one turnover forced.
Hangst: Jets, 28-27
The Patriots pulled out a thrilling last-second victory at home over the Saints in Week 6, snapping New Orleans' undefeated streak and proving that New England can certainly hang with some of the best teams in the NFL.
This week, it's different—they travel to New Jersey to face the Jets, their most bitter of divisional rivals. The Jets aren't the AFC-championship-caliber squad of the recent past, but they aren't the dumpster fire they seemed destined to become, either. With emotions high, the Jets pull off the upset of the week.
Hansen: Patriots, 20-14
The Jets always find a way to make it difficult for the Patriots, but Geno Smith is going to have some trouble against New England's defense. I don't expect a lot of scoring, but the Patriots are finally starting to find a groove offensively and should score enough to get a close win on the road.
Bardeen: Patriots, 27-21
The Patriots are beginning to click on offense. And even though Rex Ryan should put in a few wrinkles to slow Tom Brady down, Bill Belichick will do an even better job of game-planning for rookie Geno Smith. I like the Jets defense, especially the front four, but I can't pick against the Pats right now.
Gagnon: Patriots, 34-14
The Patriots could be gaining momentum, and I just don't think the Jets are close to as good as their record. New England might crush them on the road for the second straight year.
Langland: Patriots, 31-14
The Jets go as rookie quarterback Geno Smith goes, which means 2013 will continue to be a bumpy ride. Even on the road, Tom Brady and the Patriots are the more complete team right now.
Kruse: Patriots, 27-13
Rex Ryan has given Tom Brady fits at times over the years. But there's a growing sense that the New England offense is gaining confidence, and you know Geno Smith will give New England one or two extra possessions.
Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles
B/R Consensus Pick: Cowboys (8-4)
Schottey: Eagles (35-26)
Expect Nick Foles to take care of the football and that Dallas defense to implode without the turnovers. The offense can keep up for a while, but the tempo will get to the Cowboys, and they'll throw this one away late.
Bowen: Cowboys, 37-33
I'm expecting a shootout in Philadelphia with Tony Romo making enough plays in the second half to get the road win.
Schalter: Cowboys, 28-20
Even without DeMarcus Ware, the Cowboys defense is much better than the Eagles D. Also, the Cowboys offense is more consistent.
Freeman: Cowboys, 40-28
Tony Romo lights up this defense.
Miller: Eagles, 38-35
Without DeMarcus Ware, the Dallas defense will have trouble getting pressure on Nick Foles. That will be the difference-maker in this one as the Philly offense opens it up.
Frenz: Cowboys, 28-13
Neither of these teams can play defense, so this should be a track meet, but the Eagles' three victories have come against teams that have combined for a record of 1-15. The Cowboys get the win as long as it doesn't come down to the fourth quarter.
Hangst: Cowboys, 17-13
The Cowboys aren't the same team on the road as they are at home. In fact, they've lost both road games they've played this year. In Philadelphia on Sunday, the Cowboys may not have a dominant win just based on the fact this game isn't played in Dallas. However, unlike their other road games this year, they'll emerge victorious. The Eagles are too inconsistent.
Hansen: Cowboys, 35-31
There is no reason the Cowboys shouldn't be able to score against Philadelphia's suspect defense. I fully expect Dallas to air it out without DeMarco Murray and let Dez Bryant win this game for them. Nick Foles doesn't have the running ability that could be useful in a game like this, but he'll make it close by being efficient against a defense without DeMarcus Ware.
Bardeen: Cowboys, 27-24
If this game were in Dallas, the Cowboys would be heavy favorites, even with a banged-up defense. But Tony Romo has to take his team into very hostile territory, and believe it or not, he'll win this game for Dallas in the fourth quarter.
Gagnon: Eagles, 35-31
I think the Cowboys are the better team, but they're in the wrong place at the wrong time. No DeMarcus Ware or Anthony Spencer for a matchup with an offense that is firing on all cylinders. The Eagles win another NFC East shootout.
Langland: Eagles, 31-28
Nick Foles is getting the job done in Philadelphia, plain and simple. Plus, the Eagles are at home and DeMarcus Ware is out due to injury.
Kruse: Cowboys, 34-27
Not having DeMarcus Ware is a big deal. The Eagles will move the football, regardless of who plays quarterback. I just think the Cowboys offense against the Philly defense is the bigger mismatch here.
Chicago Bears at Washington Redskins
B/R Consensus Pick: Bears (11-1)
Schottey: Bears, 30-20
I like Washington more than I did before the bye, but the Chicago defense isn't going to do the Redskins any favors, even at less than full strength. Eventually, this is going to be all about those Bears receivers running wild through the secondary.
Bowen: Bears, 30-26
Too many matchups for Jay Cutler to exploit against a subpar Redskins secondary. The Bears take this one on the road.
Schalter: Bears, 24-10
RGIII looks like he's back, but the problems in the back half of the Redskins defense (and special teams) are glaring.
Freeman: Bears, 21-10
RGIII is starting to be himself again. It will happen. Just not this week.
Miller: Bears, 27-17
Jay Cutler and friends will have a field day against this depleted Washington secondary. Mike Shanahan's team can't stop the run, either.
Frenz: Bears, 24-17
Jay Cutler is playing the most efficient football of his career right now, with a 95.2 passer rating that ranks him eighth in the NFL. The Redskins secondary just doesn't have the tools to match up.
Hangst: Bears, 20-21
Washington is a less explosive team than last year, and its entire offense has suffered. At the same time, it hasn't solved the defensive problems it had in 2012, namely the secondary. The Bears are well-equipped to take advantage of Washington's weakness in coverage, and the Redskins don't have the offensive firepower presently to match or beat the Bears. Chicago wins, even on the road.
Hansen: Bears, 24-20
Robert Griffin III is starting to get healthy, but Washington has too many problems defensively. If Cutler gets even a little protection, he should be able to exploit Washington's secondary all day long.
Bardeen: Bears, 23-20
The quarterback matchup here is something to watch, but not for the reason you think. Jay Cutler is moving the ball around well and seems to have found a special connection with Alshon Jeffery. He'll continue connecting with Jeffery and hit Brandon Marshall a few times against this porous Redskins secondary. RGIII isn't ready just yet to match Cutler's improved game. If RGIII were fully healthy, it'd be a different story.
Gagnon: Redskins, 30-28
The Bears have had a chance to get some extra rest, but that defense is still banged up. I think the Redskins are more desperate, and I have a feeling RGIII and Alfred Morris come up big. Washington pulls out a close one at home.
Langland: Bears, 35-21
Washington is an absolute mess right now. Offensively, the Redskins are stagnant, and defensively, they can't stop a nosebleed. Jay Cutler will have a field day against a leaky secondary.
Kruse: Bears, 31-27
Alfred Morris could do some real damage against a Bears defense that really hasn't been good in 2013. Still, I think Jay Cutler plays an efficient game, and a defense that thrives on turnovers makes one or two plays to swing the game Chicago's way.
St. Louis Rams at Carolina Panthers
B/R Consensus Pick: Panthers (9-3)
Schottey: Panthers, 17-10
Are we going to see the Week 6 Cam Newton? More importantly, are we going to see the Week 6 Rams offense? In the end, I think both regress, and I'll take the Panthers' defensive front to make a big play to seal this one at home.
Bowen: Panthers, 24-17
The Rams played their best football of the season in the Week 6 win. But so did Cam Newton and the Panthers. I'm taking the Carolina quarterback to build off the win over the Vikings.
Schalter: Panthers, 33-24
Cam Newton needed a "confidence" game to pump himself up, and he got one last week. I don't see the Rams deflating him.
Freeman: Panthers, 20-17
Cam Newton will outplay Sam Bradford.
Miller: Rams, 20-14
I worry about the Rams protecting Sam Bradford against the Carolina defensive line. On the other hand, Cam Newton should be good for a turnover in this one, and that will seal it for St. Louis.
Frenz: Rams, 34-21
There aren't a lot of nice things to say about either team right now, so I'll go with the head coach who has a better NFL reputation.
Hangst: Panthers, 33-13
The Rams' defeat of the Houston Texans last week unfortunately says more about the Texans' troubles than the Rams' ability to turn their season around. Carolina's defense should have a field day with St. Louis' offense, particularly quarterback Sam Bradford. Cam Newton was unleashed last week against the Vikings and should have another nice week at home. All of this will combine to lead the Panthers to their third win of the year.
Hansen: Panthers, 27-13
The Panthers are frustrating because they appear to have so much potential. The defense is strong up the middle; the offense has Cam Newton. I think we finally see a complete game from this team at home against the St. Louis Rams.
Bardeen: Panthers, 27-23
Time and time again, Cam Newton shows a spark of genius and then slips back into mediocrity the next game. This 26th-ranked St. Louis defense will give Newton the window to put together two consecutive big-time showings, and I think this time, Newton steps through the window and produces.
Gagnon: Panthers, 24-17
These are two losing teams coming off blowout victories. But the Panthers have won big twice in three games. I trust them more than I trust the Rams, especially in Charlotte.
Langland: Rams, 20-12
Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer finally figured out what makes the Rams go. By abandoning the spread-type offense and implementing two- and three-tight-end sets, St. Louis' offense is starting to hit its stride.
Kruse: Panthers, 28-17
The Panthers defense is far easier to trust than the one St. Louis will bring on the road this week. Cam Newton will be the quarterback who builds on his impressive Week 6 showing, not Sam Bradford.
San Diego Chargers at Jacksonville Jaguars
B/R Consensus Pick: Chargers (11-1)
Schottey: Chargers, 27-10
I'm just going to take this opportunity to say that I put "12-0" up there without even looking and had to change it because of Hangst. If the Jaguars win, she should get double points.
Bowen: Chargers, 33-20
Until the Jags can play consistent football for four quarters, I'm picking against them. That's the story here, with Philip Rivers throwing three touchdown passes in the win.
Schalter: Chargers, 24-14
The Jaguars showed a pulse last week, but the Chargers are playing way too well to be the team Jacksonville finally beats.
Freeman: Chargers, 28-9
The Jags will get destroyed by Rivers.
Miller: Chargers, 20-10
Philip Rivers is back to playing like a top-five quarterback, which means betting on the Chargers is easy to do. Especially when they're playing the Jaguars.
Frenz: Chargers, 23-16
The Jaguars made it interesting against the Broncos, but I can't pick a winless team. One of the Jaguars' biggest problems has been big plays in the passing game, where they've allowed 23, the seventh most in the NFL.
Hangst: Jaguars, 20-16
The Jacksonville Jaguars started strong against the Denver Broncos in Week 6. Ultimately, their inconsistent defense was no match for Peyton Manning and their offense couldn't keep pace. However, there were a lot of good things the Jaguars did that make it seem like they're due for a win. With the Chargers traveling so far East and not playing exceptional football, look for Jacksonville's time to finally come.
Hansen: Chargers, 27-23
The Chargers learned to grind out a victory at home against a quality team Monday night, but they fly across the country to play this game. Bad scheduling by the NFL may require the Chargers to grind out another victory against a poor opponent. I expect Justin Blackmon to shake loose of San Diego's coverage, but the Chargers get the win.
Bardeen: Chargers, 28-10
Philip Rivers was very impressive on Monday Night Football, getting the Chargers offense moving and keeping drives alive. San Diego wasn't always able to punch the ball into the end zone against the Colts, but the Jaguars will be easier to score against.
Gagnon: Chargers, 23-21
Based on what Jacksonville did against Denver, it's actually really tempting to pick the Jags to beat the inconsistent Chargers. San Diego is traveling across the country on a short week. This could go down to the wire.
Langland: Chargers, 27-24
After a big win over the Colts on Monday Night Football, the Chargers have to fly across the country in Week 7. Fortunately, their opponent is the Jaguars, so a cross-country flight won't matter.
Kruse: Chargers, 21-20
I'm very tempted to pick Jacksonville here, especially with San Diego coming off a Monday-night game and the sometimes tricky factor of traveling East looming. It's just too difficult to pick a bad Jaguars team, regardless of the situation.
San Francisco 49ers at Tennessee Titans
B/R Consensus Pick: 49ers (12-0)
Schottey: 49ers, 26-13
The Titans offense is sputtering and won't be able to counter the 49ers' increasingly potent pass rush.
Bowen: 49ers, 20-10
I'm looking forward to seeing Gregg Williams' game plan for the Titans defense versus Colin Kaepernick, but can Ryan Fitzpatrick move the ball and score points against the 49ers? I don't see it.
Schalter: 49ers, 20-17
With Jake Locker, I'd pick a Titans upset here. But without him, I won't.
Freeman: 49ers, 38-14
The 49ers will atomize Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Miller: 49ers, 17-10
Winners of three straight games, the 49ers are rolling. The Titans won't be an easy win, though. Two good defenses face off in this game, and it should be closer than you think.
Frenz: 49ers, 21-16
This could be one of the more exciting matchups of the week. The Titans have kept things close with the Seahawks and Chiefs, but the 49ers excel in the running game, which the Titans have struggled to stop. If the 49ers can get the ball moving in the ground game, they'll win.
Hangst: 49ers, 27-14
The Titans have been a surprise this year, especially on defense. However, their strength is against the pass, and the Niners' calling card on offense is their run game. The Niners should have little trouble running all over the Titans. Tennessee's offense won't be able to keep pace.
Hansen: 49ers, 24-20
I don't trust the Titans with Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback against a quality team. Tennessee's defense has kept the Titans in games, and I expect that to continue, but the 49ers have more offensive firepower and should be able to put more points on the scoreboard.
Bardeen: 49ers, 24-14
Tennessee is giving up 111.2 yards per game on the ground. That number will likely rise after the Titans host the 49ers. San Francisco will find ways to pound the ball on the ground and move the chains. I don't believe the Titans have enough on offense to do the same to San Francisco.
Gagnon: 49ers, 27-17
The 49ers have been putting up some serious points, and the Titans are still probably without Jake Locker. Plus, the Titans still can't run, so they'll be putting too much pressure on Ryan Fitzpatrick against that D.
Langland: 49ers, 21-14
Without Jake Locker, the Titans are a hapless team on offense. The 49ers defense is slowly getting healthy and improving, which means San Francisco should be favored in many of its games from here on out. Vic Fangio's defense leads the way.
Kruse: 49ers, 24-13
Ryan Fitzpatrick needs to play a clean game for the Titans to spring the upset at home. I don't think he has it in him against this defense.
Cleveland Browns at Green Bay Packers
B/R Consensus Pick: Packers (10-2)
Schottey: Packers, 23-14
Normally, I'd say something about Aaron Rodgers here, but I really believe it will be Eddie Lacy pacing the Packers to victory. With a balanced attack, the Browns pass rush won't get anywhere near Rodgers.
Bowen: Packers, 23-20
With injuries at the wide-receiver position, the Packers will have to adjust their game plan. That means more touches for Eddie Lacy in the run game. Packers grind this win out at home.
Schalter: Browns, 28-24
Way back in April, I called this game for the Browns and took a world of heat for it. I'm doubling down.
Freeman: Packers, 40-10
The Cleveland offense turns the ball over four times. Rodgers takes advantage.
Miller: Packers, 21-9
This is very much a trap game and one the Green Bay offense better be ready for. That said, even without Randall Cobb, the Packers have enough offensive firepower to take down the Cleveland Browns.
Frenz: Packers, 21-16
Losing Randall Cobb and James Jones in the same week could hurt the passing game, but I have more faith in Aaron Rodgers and the Packers to score points than I do in Brandon Weeden and the Browns.
Hangst: Browns, 26-23
The Packers will be down two receiving weapons this week at home against the Browns, with both Randall Cobb and James Jones off the field for at least one game each. That may force the Packers into running the ball more, which plays right into the Browns defense's strengths—they rank seventh against the run. If there's a week the Browns can take advantage of the Packers and get a surprising road win, it's this one.
Hansen: Packers, 30-20
The Packers are banged up, but the Browns have Brandon Weeden at quarterback. The Packers can't lose this one if they want to be considered contenders in the NFC.
Bardeen: Packers, 26-20
There is no way Brandon Weeden is taking this Cleveland Browns team into Green Bay and beating the Packers at home. Aaron Rodgers has a depleted receiving corps, but still has enough to defend his house this week.
Gagnon: Packers, 26-16
I don't care who's playing receiver for the Packers; I'm not picking Brandon Weeden and the Browns to beat Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay. Considering Green Bay's injuries, though, I'll keep it closer than usual.
Langland: Packers, 34-24
Aaron Rodgers or Brandon Weeden? It's that simple. I know who I've got come Sunday. Packers win easily.
Kruse: Packers, 23-16
This is a beaten-up Green Bay team on both sides of the football. But Aaron Rodgers still creates a large gap between these two teams, and the Packers are running the ball and stopping the run so effectively in 2013.
Houston Texans at Kansas City Chiefs
B/R Consensus Pick: Chiefs (11-1)
Schottey: Chiefs, 23-16
I hate the phrase "[X Team] wants it more" in sports, but the Texans do have an effort and intensity problem, while the Chiefs are playing out of their minds. Their defense is going to create a ridiculous amount of turnovers.
Bowen: Chiefs, 19-17
Kansas City moves to 7-0 with the same defensive formula we have seen all season: the ability to generate a pass rush with lockdown coverage in the secondary.
Schalter: Texans, 23-17
After what the Rams did to them, I pick the Texans against the Chiefs in the Guinness World Record-certified loudest open-air stadium ever.
Freeman: Chiefs, 28-10
The Texans' QB play dooms them.
Miller: Chiefs, 24-10
The Chiefs are rolling, and Arrowhead Stadium is again a huge home-field advantage. The crowd noise and the suffocating defense will force Matt Schaub (or whoever is at quarterback) into game-changing mistakes.
Frenz: Chiefs, 16-7
If the Texans haven't figured it out by now, they're not going to figure it out on the road against a tough Chiefs defense. The Texans defense is still a force, but their offense can't be trusted to score.
Hangst: Chiefs, 35-16
The Houston Texans have been one of the biggest disappointments of the year, with just two wins and a current four-game losing streak. That they have to travel to intimidating Arrowhead Stadium to face the undefeated Chiefs is like adding insult to injury. Kansas City's defense should have no trouble stopping Houston's weak offense.
Hansen: Chiefs, 24-14
Kansas City's defense is suffocating opponents, and Houston has all kinds of problems at quarterback. Kansas City has trouble scoring points, but its defense and special teams do a good job of scoring and giving the offense a short field.
Bardeen: Chiefs, 21-20
Kansas City is allowing just 189.7 passing yards per game this season because of its ability to get pressure on the quarterback and make the most out of that pressure in the secondary. Arian Foster will get his yards on the ground, but Matt Schaub (or his replacement) will not be able to put the Texans on his back and lead them to victory. He'll ultimately be Houston's downfall at Arrowhead Stadium.
Gagnon: Chiefs, 27-10
The Texans are a train wreck. They have no chance at all against that stout Kansas City defense, especially on the road. I can't think of a worse team for Houston to run into right now.
Langland: Chiefs, 27-16
Houston is a team that can't get out of its own way right now. The Texans offense is in shambles and penalties are killing their defense. Andy Reid has the Chiefs at 6-0 with the throttle down approaching 7-0.
Kruse: Chiefs, 31-9
This Kansas City defense is no joke, and playing at Arrowhead only complicates the task for a Houston offense that will likely be without Matt Schaub. The Chiefs' unbeaten start rolls on.
Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers
B/R Consensus Pick: Steelers (7-5)
Schottey: Ravens, 23-17
People are looking for reasons to count out the Ravens, but they're a better team than the Steelers right now. Their offense is going to look a lot better than Geno Smith's squad did against the Steelers.
Bowen: Steelers, 16-13
Two in a row for Mike Tomlin's Steelers? I like the Steelers in this one when breaking down the Ravens' inability to produce in the run game and play consistent offensive football.
Schalter: Ravens, 24-17
The Steelers managed to get off the schneid against the Jets, but the Ravens have much more offensive talent—and similar defensive talent.
Freeman: Steelers, 27-24
Pittsburgh controls Ray Rice, and the Steelers get their second win.
Miller: Steelers, 17-14
The Steelers got their first win of the season last week, taking pressure off them in Week 7. Mike Tomlin will get this team up for this huge rivalry game, and I like the Steelers offense against the Ravens defense.
Frenz: Ravens, 21-14
The Ravens have been inconsistent this year, but if there's one thing that's been consistent, it's their ability to win the week after losing (2-0 after a loss in 2013). The Steelers, at 1-4, still can't be taken seriously until they prove their tough start was truly a fluke.
Hangst: Steelers, 19-13
Once a battle between heavyweights, Ravens vs. Steelers this time around is about two teams still struggling to run the ball and find a rhythm in the passing game. The team with the least terrible offensive line wins. Pittsburgh has a slight edge, and that's all it'll need to win on Sunday.
Hansen: Ravens, 27-24
The Steelers are battling back from a rocky start, and the Ravens aren't very good on the road. That alone might make one go with the Steelers, but I'm not sure I trust that Pittsburgh has turned the corner.
Bardeen: Steelers, 17-10
Don't take this low-scoring affair as an indication of good defensive play. That's not going to be the case. There won't be many points on the board because both offenses have had a miserable time this season moving the football.
Gagnon: Steelers, 20-17
I don't trust either team, but the Ravens can't run, and I'll still take Ben Roethlisberger over Joe Flacco, especially in Pittsburgh.
Langland: Ravens, 13-7
When one thinks of the Ravens and the Steelers, one immediately thinks defense. That is exactly what Sunday's contest will be—a defensive battle.
Kruse: Steelers, 24-21
Neither of these teams can run the football or protect the passer. Those trends likely mean that a late mistake from one of the quarterbacks will be the difference. I'll take Joe Flacco making that blunder on the road.
Denver Broncos at Indianapolis Colts
B/R Consensus Pick: Broncos (9-3)
Schottey: Broncos, 34-27
If the Colts can't establish the run, they can't win. Manning will pour it on until Pep Hamilton realizes he has to go one-dimensional, and it will be too late.
Bowen: Broncos, 37-23
There is plenty of drama surrounding Manning versus Luck in Indianapolis, but I'm focused on the Colts secondary in this one. It can't match up with the Broncos skill players for four quarters. Big night for Manning in his return to Indy.
Schalter: Broncos, 38-33
I will not pick against the Broncos until they prove they're capable of losing, but this will be a tremendous game. Shootout, for certain.
Freeman: Broncos, 35-21
It's simple: Manning has the better overall team.
Miller: Broncos, 35-21
Nothing is stopping the Peyton Manning-led offense right now. Especially not an Indianapolis team that couldn't get a pass rush going against the Chargers.
Frenz: Colts, 38-37
The legend of Andrew Luck continues to grow, as the 2012 No. 1 overall pick has picked up nine game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime and has big wins against talented teams in the 49ers and Seahawks. Knocking off the undefeated Broncos would be a huge notch in his belt.
Hangst: Colts, 35-33
The Indianapolis Colts are quickly developing a reputation as giant-killers. Already this year, they have taken out the 49ers and Seahawks, the former a road win and the latter at home.
Next up are the undefeated Denver Broncos and the return of Peyton Manning. The Colts aren't short on statement-making games this year, and this week should be no different. They'll make their biggest impression yet on the national stage by upsetting the seemingly unbeatable Broncos.
Hansen: Broncos, 35-24
The Colts had a terrible performance on the road on Monday night. It's like they forgot they had Andrew Luck at quarterback. They will need Luck to sling it against the Broncos, but Von Miller returns and makes a huge difference for Denver's defense.
Bardeen: Broncos, 34-24
If you give Peyton Manning extra motivation to win a football game, is there any way on this planet that he doesn't get it done? Manning returns "home" to Indianapolis and gives the crowd one more taste of just how close to perfect he is.
Gagnon: Colts, 30-27
The Broncos are mortal. We've seen them run into problems on both sides of the ball the last two weeks. Now, they have such a stiff road challenge that I think their luck will run out. No pun intended.
Langland: Broncos, 35-31
Andrew Luck is a rising star, but Peyton Manning is the greatest quarterback of all time. Broncos win in a high-scoring shootout.
Kruse: Broncos, 37-30
Remember how focused Brett Favre was in his return to Lambeau Field back in 2009? You can bet Peyton Manning will be on that level in Indianapolis Sunday night.
Minnesota Vikings at New York Giants
B/R Consensus Pick: Giants (8-4)
Schottey: Giants, 20-13
Something has to break eventually for the Giants, right? The underachieving Vikings defense can't match up with Victor Cruz, and the Giants squeak out a home victory.
Bowen: Giants, 20-16
This looked like a quality matchup back in August, but both of these teams are just looking for a win. I'll take the Giants at home with a late Victor Cruz touchdown sealing the deal.
Schalter: Vikings, 35-30
I love Victor Cruz against this Vikings defense, but the Vikings are playing harder.
Freeman: Vikings, 20-17
Josh Freeman starts and keeps the Giants winless.
Miller: Giants, 24-14
The Giants get their first win of the year against a reeling Minnesota team that's trotting out its third starting quarterback of the year.
Frenz: Vikings, 29-26
The Vikings have fielded one of the league's worst defenses this year in both points (30th) and yards (31st). That being said, their defense has forced multiple turnovers in four of their five games. Against a Giants team that has coughed up the ball more than any other team in the NFL, the Vikings offense should have plenty of opportunities to score.
Hangst: Giants, 21-16
The Giants may not be able to turn their season around completely this year, but they should be able to get a win on Monday night against the disappointing Vikings. Playing at home and on national television might be just what the Giants need to kick-start the team and finally get out of the losing column.
Hansen: Giants, 29-23
Tom Coughlin always turns things around. If Eli Manning just stops making so many poor decisions, his team will be a lot more competitive. The Vikings quarterback situation is shaky, making it tough to win on the road.
Bardeen: Vikings, 23-13
The Vikings rank 11th in the league with seven interceptions this season, and no quarterback has thrown more interceptions than Eli Manning (15) in 2013. That's a recipe for disaster in New York in a prime-time game.
Gagnon: Giants, 30-20
The Giants actually match up quite well with the Vikings, who haven't had much of a pass rush and don't have the firepower to take advantage of that tame New York defense. At home, the G-Men get their first win of the year.
Langland: Giants, 26-24
The Giants can't possibly lose seven games in a row, can they? It's possible, but the Vikings quarterback situation looks bleak at the moment. New York gets its first victory of the season in front of its home crowd.
Kruse: Giants, 35-17
These are two of the biggest messes in the NFL right now. But the Giants actually showed some life on the road in Chicago, and Minnesota could be starting a quarterback (Josh Freeman) with 15 days of experience in the offense.
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