After a two-week hiatus, I’m back on the case.
These past few weeks have been very tumultuous in the NFL. The Ravens lost three straight after looking to be sure-fire Super Bowl contenders.
The Titans, after going 13-3 in last year’s regular season, are now looking worse than ever at a miserable 0-6.
Mark Sanchez is looking more and more like a USC quarterback than ever.
And the supposedly shattered, oft-criticized Broncos are undefeated after beating the Chargers in a glorious Monday Night Football victory.
Week Seven looks to be just as hard to predict with the 49ers in Houston, the terrible Bills visiting the terrible Panthers, and an interesting matchup between the 3-2 Bears and the 4-2 Bengals.
The Game of the Week, however, should be the Minnesota Vikings against the Pittsburgh Steelers, with a “healthy” Troy Polamalu (he looked a little ragged by the end of the last game) against rocket-armed Brett Favre, and Jared Allen against the hard-to-sack Ben Roethlisberger.
Week Seven is also another bye week with six teams missing out on the action. Those teams are as follows: Baltimore Ravens, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars, Seattle Seahawks, and Tennessee Titans.
Sunday, October 25, 1:00 PM EST
Indianapolis Colts at St. Louis Rams
Peyton Manning has been looking better than ever and he’s been able to use receivers that no one’s heard of before. The Colts defense has also been playing top-notch football, despite missing Bob Sanders.
The Rams are in need of some serious tuning-up. I feel sorry for Steve Spagnuolo, who deserves to be coaching a better team, and both Marc Bulger and Kyle Boller, who deserve better front lines.
This is a team that could really use a bye week. Something has to give here, but this is a bad game to start hoping. They almost beat the Jags last week. Maybe they can beat the Lions next week or the Titans in Week 14.
New England Patriots at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
There’s no doubt about it … Tom Brady is back. The man broke the record for most touchdown passes in a quarter, and his team broke the record for largest spread while demolishing the Titans. Don’t look for them to slow down at all against the second worst team in the league.
The Bucs are in sad shape. Still reeling from their firing of John Gruden and Jeff Garcia, I suppose. This team needs a quarterback, a better coach, and some counseling, especially when they have to compete against one of the best offenses in the league.
Winner: New England
Green Bay Packers at Cleveland Browns
Green Bay is starting to worry me. Yes, they beat the Lions, but that’s not saying much. Aaron Rodgers has been sacked 25 times, and a quarterback like that needs protecting.
I’m not about to say that the Browns can win this game. They can’t. But if they had the D-Line that Denver has, or even a quarterback of mediocre caliber, they could.
If the Pack gets another big game out of Driver, however, this should be an easy win.
Winner: Green Bay
Minnesota Vikings at Pittsburgh Steelers
Minnesota looks better and better each week. The only reason they Ravens almost won in Week Six was because of a fourth quarter defensive breakdown. But not to worry. All season, the Steelers have been suffering fourth quarter offensive breakdowns regularly.
If Jared Allen can actually catch the always-mobile Ben Roethlisberger while galloping through Pittsburgh’s porous O-Line, his big day will turn into a Viking rout.
The Steelers love to play at home, and they love having Troy Polamalu in the secondary. Brett won’t be able to gun-sling as much as he did last week or he’ll run into big problems.
With both these teams’ offensive and defensive power, this should be a huge game. However, the Steelers had four turnovers last week. It was their luck that the Browns were unable to capitalize. With the Purple People Eaters, they won’t be so fortunate.
San Francisco 49ers at Houston Texans
The 49ers have had a week off to look into why they were crushed by the Atlanta Falcons and don’t think for a second that Mike Singletary has let the team rest. If there is anyone who can get this defense rolling again, it’s Mike.
However, the Texans are coming off a huge win against the overrated Bengals. Matt Schaub has thrown more TDs than any other starting quarterback (that’s right, I said Matt Schaub), and Andre Johnson wants to win … bad.
Here, Houston is more motivated and playing in front of the home crowd. As much as I love Singletary, this a bad team to come back against.
San Diego Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs
The Chargers are, for lack of a better word, pissed. They came off a bye and immediately lost to a fierce rival. Though I always enjoy watching the all-talk-no-walk Philip Rivers flounder, he is a man that easily holds a grudge, and is quick (and able) to carry it out.
The Kansas City Chiefs won their first game last week against the pathetic Redskins. Congratulations are in order. However, you’re going up against an angry team that can’t afford to lose any more division games than they already have. Good luck with that.
Winner: San Diego
Sunday, October 25, 4:05 PM EST
Buffalo Bills at Carolina Panthers
Buffalo is riding high off their overtime win over the Jets (forcing Mark Sanchez, Wonderboy, to throw five picks). However, they lost to the Browns the week before, the only team to do so. The Bills offense is still too up-and-down to pick them as outright the winner of a game.
That said, is there any quarterback more up-and-down than Jake Delhomme? Probably not. Needless to say, he did seem to get his act together after the bye-week and is looking to capitalize on a thrilling victory over the Bucs last week. That and the Panthers run game is much improved, allowing them to avoid all those terrible throws Jake would be forced to make.
New York Jets at Oakland Raiders
Mark Sanchez finally got his “Welcome to the NFL” moment last week against the Bills, throwing five interceptions and looking, well, like a rookie from USC without enough experience under his belt to justify drafting him.
However, he has shown that he can hold his own in the pocket and the five picks are actually uncharacteristic for him. It seemed as though the Jets just weren’t taking the game seriously. This week, they will not make the same mistake.
Oakland probably thinks they can get to the Super Bowl after beating the Eagles last week. Unfortunately, both Tom Cable and JaMarcus Russell are still employed by the organization, so that dream was born crushed. Last week, the Raiders got lucky. This week they play a team so angry and desperate to get to the bye, they should just run the Raiders over.
Winner: New York Jets
Sunday, October 25, 4:15 PM EST
Atlanta Falcons at Dallas Cowboys
The Falcons looked great while pummeling the Chicago Bears to a pulp last Sunday night. They may have started a little slow but by the end of the game, Matt Ryan and Tony Gonzalez were on fire. Look for them to do the same thing this weekend.
Dallas had a week off to figure out what was wrong with their offense. Well, considering the two things wrong are Tony Romo and Jerry Jones, I don’t think they got rid of them. Their run game is the only thing saving them, but Atlanta showed that they can stop that easily.
New Orleans Saints at Miami Dolphins
Utterly destroying the Giants to remain undefeated proved that if there’s one thing the Saints can do, it’s score points. They also showed that their defense can hold their own against an amazing team, but can it hold up against the Wildcat?
The Dolphins had the week off to celebrate their victory over division rival New York Jets, but if they can’t get points on the board faster, they’ll have no chance against the high-flying Saints.
Winner: New Orleans
Chicago Bears at Cincinnati Bengals
Jay Cutler is angry, very angry. His offensive collapse (or Atlanta’s defensive hold, depending on how you look at it) at the end of last week’s game is not something he wants to repeat. As much as I rag on Cutler for whining (and his last post-game press conference was hilarious), he is actually a very good quarterback.
After winning against the Ravens in Week Five, the Bengals look like they could use a cat nap (not unlike how the Ravens looked after their close loss to the Pats). It’s as if the Cardiac Cats used up all nine lives on four straight heart-pounding wins. That and Chad Ochenta-Y-Cinco is already talking about what his next TD celebration will be and … when was the last time we saw one of those?
Sunday, October 25, 8:20 PM EST
Arizona Cardinals at New York Giants
This one is simple. The Giants got embarrassed last week. Eli Manning won’t let that happen again. All this talk about “I don’t know how their secondary will hold up against blah, blah, blah.” Kurt Warner, though great, is not Drew Brees, and the Cardinal offense is nowhere near that of the Saints, especially their run game. New York will own.
Winner: New York Giants
Monday, October 26, 8:30 PM EST
Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Redskins
This seems to be the week of teams that got embarrassed in Week Six going on the crush their Week Seven opponents. Monday night’s game is no different. The Eagles were dealt a harsh blow by the hapless Oakland Raiders and are looking to bounce back, hard, against their division rivals this week.
The Redskins were dealt a blow by the winless Chiefs in Week Six, but that’s not really embarrassing, just par-for-the-course for the Washington Redskins. Jim Zorn is a fine coach, but he should never have been given all the responsibilities he had at one time.
However, changing things in the middle of the season won’t help. In fact, it will probably just make things worse.
Hopefully Tampa Bay can put up some kind of fight against New England this weekend. If they don’t, what are our British cousins to think of our superior sport? It should be a contest just to intrigue them into accepting "football" as football and not soccer.
As always, I shall leave you with my Super Bowl prediction. In my opinion, these are the two best teams in the league … for now.
Super Bowl XLIV Pick: Indianapolis Colts over New Orleans Saints