NFL Week 7 Picks: Predicting Upsets That No One Sees Coming

Keegan FergusonCorrespondent IOctober 19, 2010

NFL Week 7 Picks: Predicting Upsets That No One Sees Coming

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    With expected contenders like the Green Bay Packers, Dallas Cowboys, Minnesota Vikings, and New Orleans Saints all struggling, all bets are off each and every week in the NFL.

    Jacksonville, a team that was manhandled on Monday Night Football, has already beaten the Indianapolis Colts.  The St. Louis Rams have lost by 38 to the Detroit Lions and yet beaten both the Redskins and the Chargers.

    This season, especially in the NFC, parity reigns.  With that in mind, let's look ahead to Week 7 and take a peek at a laundry list of potential upsets.

Cinncinati Bengals at Atlanta Falcons

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    Expectation:

    The 4-2 Atlanta Falcons will storm the Bengals in the Georgia Dome after a humiliating loss in Philadelphia.  The defense will correct its mistakes and shut down an interception-prone Carson Palmer.

     

    What will really happen:

    The Falcon's 4-2 record is misleading.  They've beaten the 1-5 49ers, the 1-5 Cleveland Browns, and a very up-and-down Arizona Cardinals team.  They've also beaten the Saints, thanks to Garrett Hartley's late missed field goal.  They would have lost to the 49ers had Nate Clements not fumbled an interception that would have sealed the game.  Had these two strange plays not happened, the Falcons would come into this game 2-4 after being humbled by Philadelphia.

    The Falcon's struggle against the pass and are prone to giving up big plays, as was evident this weekend.  While Terrell Owens, Chad Ochocino, and Carson Palmer have yet to look as dynamic as some predicted, the Falcon's pass defense is certainly susceptible to periodic gaffes.  Coming off a bye week, look for the 2-3 Cincinnati Bengals to exploit weaknesses in the Falcon's secondary and win this game. 

Pittsburgh Steelers at Miami Dolphins

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    Expectation:

    If a rusty Big Ben Roethlisberger threw for three touchdowns last week, expect him to torch the Miami Dolphins secondary.  The defense will turn in its usual dominant performance en route to another Steelers' victory.

     

    What will really happen:

    Don't expect Big Ben's transition back to game speed to be as seamless as last week's.  The Browns' defense is currently ranked 21st against the pass while the Dolphins are ranked 12th.  Miami is better equipped to contain the Steelers passing attack than Cleveland.

    The Dolphins will struggle to run the ball against the Steelers' first-ranked rushing defense, but look for Chad Henne to have opportunities in the air.  Targets like Brandon Marshall and Davone Bess should be able to get open against the Steelers' 22nd ranked pass defense.  If Henne's offensive line can give him time, the Dolphins' will be able to move the ball through the air and put some points on the board.

    At home, the Dolphins must protect the football and get off to a fast start to get the crowd involved.  If they can do that, they may be able to disrupt Roethlisberger and defeat the vaunted Steelers' defense.

     

     

     


Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers

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    Expectation:

    The Minnesota Vikings were able to right the ship this week against the Cowboys, and Favre has put together two strong performances against his old team.  On the other side, the Green Bay Packers have struggled and been decimated by injury.  The Vikings are currently favored to win at Lambeau.

     

    What will really happen:

    Though Favre has historically performed well after facing adversity, his meeting with the NFL this week concerning of allegations of misconduct will serve as a major distraction for him and this Viking's teamThis team as dealt with enough adversity, another Favre-related issue hurts this team.

    Additionally, while the Vikings beat the Cowboys, their performance was less than dominant.  They scored 10 points off of bad decisions by Tony Romo, and another touchdown on special teams.  While those facets of the game are certainly important, the Vikings can't expect to score on special teams on a weekly basis or force two turnovers within the opponents' 30-yard line. 

    The Packers have struggled, in large part because of key injuries.  The loss of running back Ryan Grant has made the Packers considerably more one dimensional.  Another emerging star, tight end Jermichael Finley has also just been ruled out for the season.

    On defense, the loss of OLB Clay Matthews has crippled the Packers' pass rush over the last game and a half.  His return against the Vikings should rejuvenate this defense.  If Matthews is healthy, expect him to harrass Favre. 

    A distracted Vikings team will struggle to contain Matthews, and Aaron Rodgers has performed well against his former mentor.  Expect the Packers to win at home.

New England Patriots at San Diego Chargers

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    Expectation:

    The New England Patriots are back to being a blue-collar, lunch-pail team after trading away Randy Moss and the reacquisition of Deion Branch.  This "back to basics" approach fueled the Patriots' win against the Ravens and will help them take out an ailing San Diego team.

     

    What will really happen:

    The Patriots' certainly have returned to the principles that won them three Super Bowls in the early 2000s.  Unfortunately, they don't have the same dominant defense that anchored the Patriots' Super Bowl teams.  While Belichick's defense is certainly improving, it currently ranks 29th against the pass and 17th against the run.

    The Chargers' have managed to lose four games despite gaudy offensive numbers.  Even with an injury to Malcolm Floyd, look for Philip Rivers to exploit a weak Patriot secondary.  Antonio Gates is now expected to play and he should have a big game.

    For the Chargers, this game is a must win.  They face the Patriots, Titans, Texans, and Colts in their next four games and can't afford to dig their hole any deeper if they hope to make the playoffs.  Look for an inspired Chargers team to win at home.

     


Buffalo Bills at Baltimore Ravens

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    Expectation:

    An angry Ray Lewis and the Baltimore Ravens defense will bounce back and crush an 0-5 Buffalo Bills team.  After giving up a 10-point fourth quarter lead, the Ravens defense will stymie whatever offense the Bills can muster. 

     

    What will really happen:

    Ok, ok, most of you must think I'm crazy, and I'm just going to say this is a homer pick.  Ray Lewis' "it's going to be tough on Buffalo" statement makes me dislike his defense more than ever.  Sure he's a dominant player, but I can't get over my personal distaste for him and that's why the Bills will win this game.

    They are coming out of a bye and have had a couple of weeks to prepare for this Ravens' defense.  At this point I'd generally point to statistics that would indicate that the Bills have a legitimate chance of victory, but the further I dig, the more ridiculous this pick sounds.  Basically, there are no advanced algorithms that would point to a Bills' victory.  Only my fool-proof intuition points to a major upset.