NFL Week 7 Predictions: Projecting Best, Worst Sunday Performances
Last week was another topsy-turvy one in the NFL. As such, some of the predictions in this column were quite wrong.
But who could have predicted Giants running back Brandon Jacobs turning into Marshawn Lynch? And if you substitute Ravens receiver Jacoby Jones for Torrey Smith, you get what I was looking for in Baltimore.
At any rate, here is this week’s endeavor to predict the unpredictable.
*These predictions are based on offensive skill players who are expected to start or garner a significant amount of game action. You wouldn't expect a fourth-string receiver to have a good game—those predictions are implied.
Statistics and rankings courtesy of Pro Football Reference.
Best at Quarterback
Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys
Time to rewind to last week, when Tony Romo was billed as a top performer heading into a tasty matchup against the Washington defense. That didn’t happen.
Granted, Dallas had an easy go of it, scoring two touchdowns on the ground and one via punt return. That left statistical scraps for Romo in the easy win.
This week, Romo gets an even tastier matchup. The Eagles aren’t coming off a bye, and they have one of the worst defenses in the league. With DeMarco Murray out, look for Romo to pace the offense.
Prediction: 350 passing yards, 4 touchdowns, 1 interception
Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
Peyton Manning was paired with Romo last week, predicted to have a big week against the Jaguars. That did happen, though the game was far closer than anyone expected.
Unless you have been living under a rock on the planet Mars—with your eyes closed and your fingers stopping your ears—you know Manning is headed to his old stomping grounds, where he grew up as a young Colt.
All the rhetoric surrounding this brief reunion might have him fired up. Even if it doesn’t, it’s difficult to pick against Manning this season.
Prediction: 325 passing yards, 3 touchdowns, 1 interception
Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins are no offensive powerhouse. But neither are the Bills on defense.
Miami is coming off a bye week, presumably utilized to fix some of the issues plaguing the offense thus far this season. If the offensive line improves its blocking and the receivers spent extra time with the Juggs machine to address those drops, Ryan Tannehill could see a spike in production.
Of course, it helps that Buffalo has been a sieve to opposing quarterbacks this season. Andy Dalton was the latest to cut through that secondary like a turkey carver through mashed potatoes. (Why you would slice through mashed potatoes with a turkey carver is a good question, but the metaphor stays.)
Prediction: 275 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception—4 carries, 35 rushing yards, 1 touchdown
Worst at Quarterback
Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams
Sure, Sam Bradford had an excellent day on the road against an imploding Texans team. But if you look closely at his numbers, you will find they weren’t so gaudy.
He attempted just 16 passes—mostly because of the flow of the game, but still a low number—completing 12 of them to nine different receivers. It’s great that he’s spreading the ball around, but he also threw for just 117 yards.
The Panthers just got done mauling the Vikings, disallowing Matt Cassel to do much until late in the game. Bradford is surely better than Cassel, but don’t look for him to have such a tidy statistical output this week.
Prediction: 225 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, 2 interceptions
Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs
Everyone is down on the Texans, and rightfully so after the debacle they put up last week. Houston has been on the snide for a few weeks now, and that defense has been a major part of the problem.
You think J.J. Watt and Co. don’t know this? Au contraire, mon frere.
This unit isn’t far off from last year’s great group, and it’s about time they say enough is enough. The Chiefs might be 6-0, but they will have their hands full this week. That includes Alex Smith.
Prediction: 200 passing yards, 1 touchdowns, 1 interception—5 carries, 35 yards
Best at Running Back
LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles
Why wouldn’t the NFL’s leading rusher be included here?
LeSean McCoy has been incredible this season, though the past couple of weeks has seen his production fall back to earthly levels.
This week, McCoy gets a Cowboys defense that has been so-so against opposing running backs this season.
Prediction: 18 carries, 110 yards, 1 touchdown—4 receptions, 50 yards
Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
We keep waiting to see when Doug Martin will turn into Dougie Howser this season. It has been a brutal campaign thus far for his fantasy owners.
This week, Martin goes up against an Atlanta team that is fading fast. It won’t be terribly efficient, but Martin should grind out a good game against the Falcons.
Prediction: 25 carries, 105 yards, 1 touchdown—3 receptions, 20 yards
DeAngelo Williams, Carolina Panthers
It has been one of those years for DeAngelo Williams. He has done a good job on the ground, but his touchdown production has been nonexistent thanks to the likes of Mike Tolbert and Cam Newton playing the part of goal-line vultures.
That ends this weekend when Williams plays the Rams, who have had one of the worst rush defenses in the league to date.
Even if Williams doesn’t get lucky this week, the Rams are liable to give up a ton of yardage to the veteran running back. Houston’s Arian Foster had a huge game last week despite failing to score, totaling nearly 200 yards on the day.
Williams could see a similar line.
Prediction: 20 carries, 110 yards—5 receptions, 45 yards, 1 touchdown
Worst at Running Back
Stevan Ridley, New England Patriots
Welcome to 2013, Stevan Ridley. Now take a seat.
That Jets defense has been studly against opposing running backs, including Ridley in Week 2. Back then, Ridley got just 40 yards on the ground.
Ridley might have regained his status as the main back in the New England backfield, but that doesn’t mean he will have much running room this week in New York.
Prediction: 12 carries, 40 yards—1 reception, 5 yards
Brandon Jacobs, New York Giants
Call me a skeptic, but Brandon Jacobs’ utterly unexpected Week 6 explosion was quite the aberration to behold. The Giants opened up gaping holes courtesy of the softened Bears defensive front, and Jacobs took what he could get with gusto.
Jacobs gets another good matchup this week against a weak Vikings defense, but his performance last week is going to have owners chasing points this week. Not only has Jacobs been terrible otherwise, but he is headed into Week 7 with a hamstring injury.
He might not even play. Considering the Giants actually play on Monday night, there are multiple reasons to keep him out of your lineup.
Prediction: 10 carries, 35 yards
Best at Wide Receiver
Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys
You fooled us all, Washington Defense.
Well, not so much fooling as the Cowboys were largely dominant in other aspects of the game aside from the passing game. They didn’t need Dez Bryant to win that game, which is also why Tony Romo was a dud.
That passing game will bounce back in a big way against that Eagles secondary this week. Look for Bryant to pop off.
Prediction: 8 receptions, 95 yards, 1 touchdown
Mike Wallace, Miami Dolphins
As mentioned with Ryan Tannehill earlier in this slideshow, the Bills haven’t been very good against the pass. That goes especially for No. 1 receivers, who have feasted on the likes of cornerback Justin Rogers.
Mike Wallace isn’t an archetypical No. 1 receiver, but he is still quite good. And fast.
It’s about time Wallace put a complete game together. The Bills are a likely bunch to oblige.
Prediction: 6 receptions, 95 yards, 1 touchdown
Brandon Marshall, Chicago Bears
Brandon Marshall has caught 12 passes for 232 yards and two touchdowns in two career games against Washington.
Prediction: 7 receptions, 110 yards, 1 touchdown
Josh Gordon, Cleveland Browns
The wind has been let out of Josh Gordon’s sails a bit after his explosive 2013 debut in Week 3. A demotion at quarterback—Brandon Weeden is no Brian Hoyer, which is a mouthful—has seemingly cost Gordon some production.
He should get back into the end zone this week against the Packers, who have given up a ton of yardage and scores to opposing receivers. Baltimore’s Torrey Smith was held in check last week, but Jacoby Jones picked up that slack.
With Jordan Cameron to worry about, Green Bay is going to have its hands full with Gordon.
Prediction: 10 receptions, 120 yards, 1 touchdown
Worst at Wide Receiver
Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City Chiefs
Quarterback Alex Smith is known for many things, but throwing downfield isn’t one of them.
Dwayne Bowe is a good wide receiver, but he is not a shifty screen or underneath guy. Bowe needs a quarterback that can get him the ball downfield with regularity, and that has not been the case this season, for the most part.
The Texans defense is sure to harass Smith in the pocket, leaving Smith to throw roughly a dozen dump-off passes to Jamaal Charles this week.
Prediction: 3 receptions, 35 yards
Steve Johnson, Buffalo Bills
It looks like Steve Johnson will be back this week after sitting last week’s game out with an injury. He will be greeted by a solid Dolphins defense, however, and Thaddeus Lewis will be his quarterback.
Granted, Lewis made some great throws last week, but there is a reason Lewis was the third-string quarterback for Buffalo heading into this season. Look for Cameron Wake to come back strong and help wreak havoc against that Buffalo offense, which will hurt Johnson’s chances to produce.
Similar thoughts can be applied to Robert Woods this week as well.
Prediction: 4 receptions, 45 yards
Best at Tight End
Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots
He’s back! And that’s not even a pun!
Rob Gronkowski was cleared for game action this week after offseason back and forearm surgeries and the ensuing recovery process. This all but guarantees he will finally make his 2013 debut against the Jets, against whom he has been particularly good against in recent outings.
The T-1000 has caught 14 passes for 191 yards and two touchdowns against New York in his last two games combined. Given he is just about Tom Brady’s only reliable weapon heading into MetLife Stadium, he should have another big game.
Of course, there is still a chance that he will be held out, so be prepared to pull him out of your lineup at the last minute if you happen to be a fantasy owner.
Prediction: 7 receptions, 95 yards, 1 touchdown
Jordan Cameron, Cleveland Browns
The chagrin fantasy owners have felt over Jordan Cameron’s slide is valid, but his incredible start to the 2013 season has painted the past couple weeks in an unfair light.
After all, Cameron did catch six passes for 64 yards last week—not a huge game, but not bad—though much of that came in Cleveland’s desperate comeback bid. His inability to get into the end zone since Brandon Weeden’s re-ascension to the starting gig has been a problem.
This week provides a great opportunity for Cameron to get back on the good side of his fantasy owners. The Packers haven’t been great defensively this season, allowing some big games to the likes of Vernon Davis and Dallas Clark at tight end.
Prediction: 5 receptions, 80 yards, 1 touchdown
Worst at Tight End
Joseph Fauria, Detroit Lions
What a Week 6 Joseph Fauria had.
The mammoth rookie caught three touchdowns in one of the biggest performances of the season at his position. Normally one couldn’t argue against that kind of production, but there is reason to nitpick.
Namely, Fauria caught all three touchdowns on just three targets. He was only in the game for 23 snaps. Basically speaking, he was in the game to do one thing—go up and get it in the end zone.
That is not to say he won’t be doing that again this season, but such a miniscule amount of playing time does not lend itself to great future predictions. He is just as likely to get nothing than to score multiple touchdowns again.
Prediction: Goose egg
Coby Fleener, Indianapolis Colts
After a strong start to the season, Coby Fleener has crashed back down to earth. He has posted just five receptions for 31 yards over the past two weeks.
Prediction: 3 receptions, 40 yards