Last week in the NFL we saw seven teams win pivotal games on the road. Of those seven teams, three of them were underdogs: The Pittsburgh Steelers, St. Louis Rams and Carolina Panthers. The Steelers were able to pick up their first win of the season against the New York Jets winning 19-6 while the Rams dominated the fading Houston Texans 38-13. The Panthers looked like a complete team in their win against an emotional Minnesota Vikings team winning 35-10.
Every week we get unexpected upsets on the road and that will be true again this week. Let’s take a look at three underdogs in Week 7 who will steal victories on the road much like the Steelers, Rams and Panthers did in Week 6.
Baltimore Ravens (+2.5) vs Pittsburgh Steelers
The Ravens-Steelers rivalry is the best in pro football and fans are always guaranteed a close, hard-fought game. However this year, the Ravens are a much better team than the Steelers and will win easily on the road, despite being underdogs.
The Steelers’ offensive line is a mess and have failed to protect quarterback Ben Roethlisberger this year giving up 18 sacks in just five games. The Ravens have one of the best pass-rush duos in the NFL with linebackers Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil who have seven and five sacks, respectively. Expect defensive coordinator Dean Pees to dial up a ferocious blitz package against a weak Steeler O-line.
The Ravens defense has improved each week and since Week 1 has given up an average of just 16 PPG. Look for Roethlisberger to be sacked a least five times and throw two interceptions.
When the Ravens have the ball, look for Ray Rice to get back on track this week and accumulate 100 total yards on both the ground and through the air. Joe Flacco as beaten the Steelers in Pittsburgh three straight years and Sunday will mark four in a row.
Prediction: Ravens 31 Steelers 16
Dallas Cowboys (+2.5) at Philadelphia Eagles
Both the Cowboys and the Eagles are coming off impressive wins last week. The Cowboys took down their division rival Washington Redskins 31-16 and the Eagles beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-20. The Cowboys are the better of the two teams in this matchup and QB Tony Romo will take advantage of a poor Eagles secondary that is giving up 314 passing yards per game, 31st in the NFL.
The Eagles will again be without starting QB Michael Vick, but got a very impressive game from backup Nick Foles last week. Foles threw for 296 yards and three touchdowns and did his best Vick impression with one rushing touchdown.
While the Eagles will flaunt their new high-powered offense in an attempt to take control of the NFC East, their defense will hold them back. Expect Romo to throw for over 400 yards and four touchdowns as the Cowboys win a shootout.
Prediction: Cowboys 41 Eagles 28
Minnesota Vikings (+3.5) at New York Giants
The combined record of these two teams is 1-10, not an ideal Monday night matchup. The Giants have yet to win a game this year and have been the most disappointing team in the NFL, while the Vikings will start QB Josh Freeman for the first time since trading for him just last week.
The Vikings have been hindered by quarterback play since Brett Favre retired. Christian Ponder and Matt Cassell have not been the answer this year and now the Vikings will turn to Freeman.
Minnesota will run the ball with RB Adrian Peterson and also get after the quarterback, which will present problems for the Giants. QB Eli Manning has already thrown 15 interceptions this season and has been getting zero protection from his offensive line and little help from his running game.
Look for the Vikings to dominate the line of scrimmage from the first whistle against a Giant defense that is giving up over 120 yards rushing per game and put head coach Tom Coughlin on the hot seat as the Giants fall to 0-7.
Prediction: Vikings 23 Giants 17