NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS) for Week 7: Steelers, Ravens and Bears

Kevin HansonAnalyst IIIOctober 22, 2011

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - OCTOBER 9:  Jared Allen #69 and Erin Henderson #50 of the Minnesota Vikings sack Kevin Kolb #4 of the Arizona Cardinals at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome on October 9, 2011 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  (Photo by Adam Bettcher /Getty Images)
Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

Every week, I make three NFL picks against the spread (ATS) for entertainment purposes and last week was another "entertaining" week.

After my only losing week (1-2 in Week 5) of the season, I got back on track with a 2-0 performance (and a push) in Week 6. Through the first six weeks of the 2011 NFL season, I am now 13-3-2 (81.3 percent) ATS.

Here are my three picks for Week 7:

Pittsburgh Steelers (-4) over Arizona Cardinals

With an upgrade at quarterback, things were going to be like "night and day" for the Cardinals' offense. Instead, it has felt like more of the same.

Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb, who was acquired in the offseason via trade, has thrown only one touchdown and five interceptions in his last three games. And it won't get any easier this week.

Pittsburgh's rush defense hasn't been up to its own standards, but their pass defense currently ranks first in the NFL as they have allowed 157.7 passing yards per game. One of the things that has surprised me about the Steelers defense is they have created a league-low three turnovers (one interception and two forced fumbles) this season. That could change this week, however, as Kolb has thrown only one touchdown and five interceptions in his last three games.

The Steelers may have found some offensive balance with Rashard Mendenhall having his 146-yard performance last week. Currently the team ranks in the top 12 in both rushing and passing offense.

Baltimore Ravens (-8) over Jacksonville Jaguars

The Ravens, who have won three straight, have outscored their opponents by a combined score of 100-38 during that span.

Meanwhile, the Jaguars will look to end their losing streak at five games. They haven't lost six straight games since 1995, their first season in the league.

Maurice Jones-Drew has been one of the few bright spots for the Jaguars as he ranks third in the NFL in rushing (572 yards). MJD has been consistent -- no fewer than 84 rushing yards in any of his first six games. However, only two teams in the league allow fewer rushing yards per game than the Ravens (76.6 YPG allowed).

In addition, the Ravens have scored four defensive touchdowns in five games while creating 16 turnovers (six interceptions and a league-best 10 forced fumbles).

While the Jaguars have run the ball well, they rank last in the NFL in passing offense and total offense. Perhaps it's a good thing that the local blackout has not yet been lifted for Monday Night Football.

(Note: Deadline to avoid blackout is Saturday at 8:30 p.m.)

Chicago Bears (-1) over Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the "home team," but the game is in London. With the Bears having a larger national (and global) fan base than the Bucs, it wouldn't surprise me if the crowd is pro-Chicago.

While he played his best game of the season last week, Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman has been inconsistent all season. Through six games, Freeman has thrown more interceptions (six) than touchdowns (five). In fact, he has thrown as many interceptions already this season as he threw in all of 2010.

Although Bears quarterback Jay Cutler can be inconsistent as well, I expect the Bears to give the ball to running back Matt Forte early and often. As great of a rookie season as Forte had, he's having his best season as pro and it's not even close. Forte has 527 rushing yards and 381 receiving yards through six games, which means he is on pace for more than 2,400 yards from scrimmage.

Cutler has completed more than 71 percent of passes (49-of-69), has averaged 258 yards and thrown three touchdowns and no interceptions in his past two games.

For the rest of our picks for Week 7, check out our weekly picks page.

If you're looking for Week 7 fantasy football rankings, our rankings are currently available although we will continue to update them until 1 p.m. kickoffs on Sunday morning.

To keep track of our fantasy updates throughout the week, you can (1) follow us on Twitter @EDSFootball or (2) "like" us on Facebook or both.