Last-Minute Predictions for NFL Week 7
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Week 7 of the NFL season is at hand, and playoff teams are starting to separate themselves from the pretenders.
While it's always difficult to make predictions about the world's most unpredictable sport, I will, as always, give it my best shot.
Here are my last-minute predictions for NFL Week 7.
Buccaneers Will Keep It Close Against Falcons
Coming into the season, the Atlanta Falcons were widely considered to be one of the favorites to win the NFC and potentially win Super Bowl XLVIII.
To say that things haven't gone according to plan would be like saying Robert De Niro's best acting role comes in Last Vegas.
The team is 1-4 and has suffered myriad injuries, none more significant than the season-ending foot malady of star wide receiver Julio Jones.
Vegas has installed the Falcons as 6.5-point favorites for Sunday's home tilt against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, per Vegas Insider, with the rationale likely being that Atlanta is still a talented squad, while the Buccaneers have been dreadful this season at 0-5.
Don't get it twisted: The Falcons should not be laying just over a touchdown against Tampa Bay. This game will be a close one.
Bucs rookie quarterback Mike Glennon came on last week against the Philadelphia Eagles, throwing two touchdown strikes to receiver Vincent Jackson. Expect Glennon to play well and running back Doug Martin to bust off a few big runs, as the Bucs could easily pull off the upset.
Atlanta will likely win the game, but it won't come in blowout fashion.
Giovani Bernard Will Lead Bengals to Road Win in Detroit
Cincinnati Bengals running back Giovani Bernard had a number of highlight-reel-worthy plays against the Buffalo Bills last week, and the neophyte looks like the front-runner for Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Sunday, Bernard and the 4-2 Bengals visit the 4-2 Detroit Lions in a titanic intraconference showdown.
That spells impending disaster for Detroit and its 29th-ranked rush defense. Detroit is giving up 5.4 yards per carry on the season, a fact that surely has Bernard salivating.
The Cincinnati defense will make enough stops, and Bernard and the Bengals offense will score over 24 points as the team improves to 5-2 and keeps sole possession of first place in the AFC North.
Robert Griffin III Will Throw for over 300 Yards as Redskins Upset Bears
Even though the Washington Redskins lost to the Dallas Cowboys last week, the game did feature a positive development in the form of quarterback Robert Griffin III's improved health. He looked terrific running the football, carrying the rock nine times for 77 yards.
Problem is, Griffin didn't look good throwing the football, as he was erratic throughout the game. Once his accuracy improves, the 1-4 Redskins will be in business.
Expect that to happen against the Chicago Bears. Chicago's defensive line has suffered a number of key injuries that will allow Griffin time in the pocket to scan the field and connect early and often with his receivers. Running back Alfred Morris should have a big game running the football as well.
The Redskins, led by Griffin's big day, will beat the Bears and improve to 2-4, keeping their chances alive in the NFC East.
Tavon Austin Will Finally Make a Big Play
When the St. Louis Rams traded up to draft West Virginia wide receiver Tavon Austin with the eighth overall pick this past April, many installed him as the runaway favorite to win Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Through six games, Austin has yet to dazzle. He's only averaging 6.6 yards per reception, and his curious lack of involvement in the Rams offense has been analyzed more than the Zapruder film.
This will be the week where he breaks out and has a game-changing play, whether on a pass reception or on special teams. He will help the Rams to an upset win over the Carolina Panthers, who are surprising seven-point favorites, per Vegas Insider.
The Panthers defense has been stout on the campaign, but it's due to give up a huge play, as the longest pass play it's given up all year has been 45 yards.
Don't be shocked when Austin finally flashes the speed and electricity that he showed at Morgantown, leading St. Louis over the Panthers and to a 4-3 record.
Dolphins and Patriots Will Both Win, Setting Up Huge Week 8 Matchup
Sunday features two AFC East matchups, with the New York Jets hosting the New England Patriots and the Miami Dolphins welcoming Buffalo.
Expect the Patriots and Dolphins to win, setting up a huge clash in Week 8 between the teams in Foxborough.
When the Jets and Patriots met in Week 2, New England's passing attack was totally out of sync. Quarterback Tom Brady wasn't on the same page with his young receivers, and Gang Green nearly pulled off the upset.
Fast-forward a few weeks later, and the Patriots aerial assault is finally clicking, and it appears as if star tight end Rob Gronkowski will make his season debut. That will be too much for the Jets, who will put up a valiant effort but ultimately fall to the better team.
In Miami, expect the Dolphins pass rush to harass Bills quarterback Thad Lewis all game. The Dolphins had an extra week to prepare for this game coming off the bye, and quarterback Ryan Tannehill will have success throwing the ball to receiver Mike Wallace. Miami will win by double digits.
That means that next Sunday, it'll be the 4-2 Dolphins at the 6-1 Patriots at Gillette Stadium.
Packers RB Eddie Lacy Will Go over 100 Yards Rushing
Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy is on a roll, having rushed for 99 and 120 yards in back-to-back games. He's given Green Bay a rushing threat that it hasn't had in years and has injected balance into the offense.
On Sunday, the good times will continue to roll for Lacy and the Packers, as he'll go over 100 yards in a big win over the Cleveland Browns.
The Browns defense has been pretty good against the run this season, but even without James Jones (most likely) and Randall Cobb, the threat of Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson and Jermichael Finley in the passing game will open up holes for Lacy.
Green Bay's defense will stifle the Browns and quarterback Brandon Weeden, and the team will improve to 4-2.
Chiefs Will Improve to 7-0, but Texans Will Play with Heart
Sunday's game at Arrowhead Stadium between the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans is a showcase of two teams heading in opposite directions.
The Chiefs are 6-0, already having tripled their win total from 2012, and their defense leads the league in sacks and takeaways. The Texans, meanwhile, have lost four consecutive games, the last two in blowout fashion, and are starting third-stringer Case Keenum at quarterback in place of the injured Matt Schaub.
Despite the disparity, expect the Texans to come out and play well. Houston simply has too many good players to keep getting embarrassed, and it will play with pride against the Chiefs.
But pride won't be enough to get the win. Kansas City is firing on all cylinders, and it won't lose in front of its home crowd. The Chiefs will improve to 7-0 but won't embarrass a Texans team that desperately needs to show some toughness and grit.
Nick Foles Will Earn Eagles' Starting QB Job in Win over Cowboys
Sunday features a monumental showdown for control of the NFC East, as 3-3 Philadelphia hosts 3-3 Dallas.
Expect the Eagles to come out on top, with quarterback Nick Foles accounting for three touchdowns in the win. In fact, Foles will play so well that coach Chip Kelly will name him the starter for the remainder of the season.
With running back DeMarco Murray and star pass-rusher DeMarcus Ware unlikely to suit up, the undermanned Cowboys won't be able to keep up with the Eagles.
Dallas quarterback Tony Romo will have a big game, connecting early and often with receivers Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams, but Foles and the Eagles offense will roll up points and yards on the Cowboys defense.
There's little question that the game will be a shootout, as the two teams possess the two worst defenses (Dallas 31st, Philadelphia 32nd) in the league. With the injury to Ware, the matchup favors the Eagles.
The Eagles will win by 10 points and claim sole possession of first place in the NFC East.
Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck Will Combine for over 700 Yards Passing
Perhaps no game this season has featured more hype than Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning returning to Indianapolis to battle his old team, the Colts, and their new stud quarterback, Andrew Luck. It's unquestionably the game of the week.
Both signal-callers are excellent and capable of huge games. Manning in particular will be motivated to eviscerate his old team, with his former boss, Colts owner Jim Irsay, seemingly slighting him with public comments this week concerning the fact that the Colts only won one Super Bowl in Manning's time with the team.
Luck is no slouch in his own right, having flashed the form of an elite quarterback in his 22 NFL starts. He'll be determined to show Colts fans that he can be every bit as good as his masterful predecessor.
Both men will throw for over 350 yards, with Manning and the Broncos emerging as the victors in an absolute shootout. Denver will pull away late and will win by at least a touchdown, improving to 7-0.
Adrian Peterson Will Have over 150 All-Purpose Yards vs. Giants
Monday night's game doesn't exactly have the sizzle of Sunday night's, as the 0-6 New York Giants host the 1-4 Minnesota Vikings.
Despite the poor records of the participants, the contest will feature plenty of fireworks, most notably from Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson. He will shred the Giants defense like a hot knife through butter.
The Giants defense has proven to be completely inept on the season and will likely make new Vikings quarterback Josh Freeman look like an amalgamation of Fran Tarkenton, Randall Cunningham and Daunte Culpepper.
Freeman should have success throwing the football, and rookie receiver Cordarrelle Patterson will finally join the party with a big reception. And of course, Peterson will run roughshod over Big Blue, leading Minnesota to victory and continuing the Giants' misery, dropping them to 0-7.