NFL Picks Week 7: Chris Simms' Game-by-Game Predictions

Chris Simms@@CSimmsQBNFL Lead AnalystOctober 20, 2016

NFL Picks Week 7: Chris Simms' Game-by-Game Predictions

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    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Troy Polamalu hung up his cleats.

    James Harrison is approximately 140 years old. 

    And the man who orchestrated the Steelers' decade of dominance is now doing the same job in Tennessee.

    Yet the aura of the Dick LeBeau era trudges mindlessly on in Pittsburgh. It really is the NFL's flesh-eating zombie—dead on the inside, but somehow still alive. Let's put it out of its misery once and for all.

    LeBeau's old defenses socked quarterbacks in the teeth and wrestled running backs down behind the line of scrimmage. This Steelers defense doesn't do either; it's too young, too banged-up and not nearly as talented. Holding it to LeBeau's black-and-yellow standard is unfair.

    I kept that in mind before picking games in Week 7. The names on the back of the jerseys mean more than the one on the front. Team personality and history only matter when the personnel is present to uphold those characteristics.

Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers

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    When: Thursday, Oct. 20, at 8:25 p.m. ET (NFL Network/CBS/Twitter)

    Aaron Rodgers hears and sees all.

    Diss the NFL's premier pocket passer if you like. He'll have the proper response ready with the whole nation watching on Thursday Night Football.

    Chicago's defense consists of one straight-line pass-rusher (Willie Young) and not much secondary help. The Bears will sit two safeties back deep to prevent big-chunk passing plays. And they'll get their zone dissected by an unhurried Rodgers underneath.

    Prediction: Packers 20, Bears 17

New York Giants at Los Angeles Rams (London)

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    Michael Thomas/Getty Images

    When: Sunday, Oct. 23, at 9:30 a.m. ET (NFL Network)

    Back-to-back road games were the bane of my playing existence.

    I can only imagine how Los Angeles players feel. After losing a last-second game in Detroit, they'll fly overseas for the second leg of their trip. And lose a home game. And kick off at 6:30 a.m. local time.

    They'll also need to contend with 'ol No. 13. Odell Beckham Jr. made tempers flare the last time he played this Rams secondary. Things could get testy if he torches them again Sunday.

    OBJ will get his. L.A. won't be able to match him.

    Prediction: Giants 31, Rams 21

New Orleans Saints at Kansas City Chiefs

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    Stacy Revere/Getty Images

    When: Sunday, Oct. 23, at 1 p.m. ET (Fox)

    Alex Smith makes his living fitting footballs in between linebackers and safeties.

    That's where the Saints' already-weak defense is at its weakest. Smith will play unopposed in the intermediate passing game—particularly when he throws to Travis Kelce over the middle. When that happens, Kansas City usually wins.

    Expect to see plenty of Andy Reid ball in this game. Marcus Peters and Co. will play conservative coverage and force Drew Brees to sustain long drives. Meanwhile, the Chiefs will mount a few of their own behind stud ball-carriers Spencer Ware and Jamaal Charles.

    Prediction: Chiefs 35, Saints 24

Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles

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    Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

    When: Sunday, Oct. 23, at 1 p.m. ET (Fox)

    Emotions will be high at the first annual Bradford Bowl.

    Should I be worried about the Vikings? Their momentum was put on pause after a five-week destruction tour. They're now throwing Sam Bradford out there off a bye week against an Eagles defense that's plenty familiar with his work.

    It won't be easy. But this team is a reflection of Mike Zimmer—calm, composed and collected. It's playing without key offensive pieces and playing well.

    Bradford can make six or seven throws against his old team. The rest falls on his defense to exploit Carson Wentz's right tackle situation. Zimmer knows where to attack.

    Prediction: Vikings 23, Eagles 20

Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    When: Sunday, Oct. 23, at 1 p.m. ET (CBS)

    While Dick LeBeau's ghost might still roam the sideline at Heinz Field, the legendary coordinator is on to a better place—coaching Tennessee's better-than-advertised defense.

    Can you name three players suiting up on LeBeau's side of the ball? He's coaxing solid performances from no-name guys. That group has something special in store for Andrew Luck in Week 7.

    Tennessee can handle Andrew Luck. Can Indy handle DeMarco Murray? The Titans' top running back is good and angry after a 65-yard dud last week. He'll take his frustration out on a stinker of a Colts run defense.

    Prediction: Titans 24, Colts 23

Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins

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    Rich Barnes/Getty Images

    When: Sunday, Oct. 23, at 1 p.m. ET (CBS)

    It looks like a trap. It smells like a trap. It feels like a trap.

    So it must be a trap for the Buffalo Bills. The key to escaping? Treat a game down in sunny South Beach like a business trip, not a vacation.

    Rex Ryan can't afford to be buddy-buddy with his players this week. Miami poses a real threat—particularly after a confidence-building win over Pittsburgh last week. LeSean McCoy might be held back by a hamstring he injured in practice on Wednesday. And Adam Gase's plant-and-throw passing playbook is tailored to freeze Ryan's intricate defense.

    Buffalo has too much building momentum to be tripped up. But fair warning: Miami isn't to be taken lightly any longer.

    Prediction: Buffalo 21, Dolphins 16

Washington Redskins at Detroit Lions

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    Matt Hazlett/Getty Images

    When: Sunday, Oct. 23, at 1 p.m. ET (Fox)

    When in doubt, take the team with the bigger uglies.

    That's my philosophy in this battle between high-flying offenses. Matthew Stafford can pick and choose his throws against Washington's secondary. He can't grind out a win or run out the clock, though.

    The Redskins finally can. Their offensive line features three top-of-the-line players: Trent Williams, Shawn Lauvao and Brandon Scherff. The latter two have been instrumental in Matt Jones' breakout the past few weeks. You'd be hard-pressed to find better guard play this year.

    Washington has the manpower to play keep-away from Stafford. It also has a few impact defenders (Ryan Kerrigan, Josh Norman) who will make one or two game-defining plays.

    Prediction: Redskins 34, Lions 28

Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals

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    Jason Miller/Getty Images

    When: Sunday, Oct. 23, at 1 p.m. ET (CBS)

    Andy Dalton was nearly perfect in a bid to upset New England.

    He won't need flawless play in order to stop the winless Browns. Cincinnati should win handily if he reprises his old role as "game manager."

    Dalton can be Distributor-in-Chief this week. Skill-position players such as A.J. Green and C.J. Uzomah can exploit a young and uninspiring Browns defense. This is the week the Giovani Bernard-Jeremy Hill duo gets back on track.

    Cleveland is missing its top guard in Joel Bitonio. Chances are, we'll see Geno Atkins line up right over his replacement all afternoon. That's what we in the business like to call a mismatch.

    Prediction: Bengals 29, Browns 17

Oakland Raiders at Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Brian Bahr/Getty Images

    When: Sunday, Oct. 23, at 1 p.m. ET (CBS)

    Jacksonville's hyped-up defense is putting it together, week by week.

    The same cannot be said for the Raiders. A gang comprised of top picks and free-agent imports has looked as suspect as suspect can get in 2016. Don't expect their play to magically improve before Week 7 starts.

    Here's what I do expect: tons of T.J. Yeldon and Chris Ivory. Jacksonville's "lightning and thunder" duo will feast up the middle of Oakland's defense. When you see Silver and Black safeties tiptoeing up to the line, you know a long toss to Allen Robinson is coming.

    Derek Carr and Co. will move the ball. They'll score points. But Jacksonville's defense will make one or two stops, and that'll be enough.

    Prediction: Jaguars 30, Raiders 28

Baltimore Ravens at New York Jets

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    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    When: Sunday, Oct. 23, at 1 p.m. ET (CBS)

    Isn't it a little strange that the Ravens are heading back to MetLife Stadium?

    They've played there more over the past two weeks than the Jets have. That's a huge advantage in a battle of mistake-prone teams.

    The Jets couldn't get their run game going against an eighth-grade pee-wee team. It won't matter much in this matchup; Baltimore shuts down the run better than all but three other teams.

    So it all falls on Geno Smith's shoulders. There are throws to be had against John Harbaugh's secondary—can he deliver? I haven't seen anything from Smith to suggest he can in crunch time. Expect a momentum-swinging mistake like usual.

    Prediction: Ravens 20, Jets 13

San Diego Chargers at Atlanta Falcons

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    When: Sunday, Oct. 23, at 4:05 p.m. ET (Fox)

    Think about the last few weeks of Atlanta Falcons football.

    They won in Denver, but beat a backup quarterback. They took a lead against Seattle in a game they felt they should have had. Can Dan Quinn's team put excuses aside and convincingly defeat a quality opponent?

    They'll be looking at one Sunday. San Diego has some juice after also beating Denver. Plus, Atlanta's pass rush is prone to too many disappearing acts as is. Now it has to contend with Philip Rivers' quick release.

    We're about to find out if this Falcons team is for real or just faking it. I'm leaning toward option No. 1.

    Prediction: Falcons 34, Chargers 31

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at San Francisco 49ers

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    When: Sunday, Oct. 23, at 4:05 p.m. ET (Fox)

    San Francisco needs to steal a few possessions to keep up in every game it plays.

    So this weekend's visitor isn't ideal. Jameis Winston had an off week to ponder his high turnover rates and adjust. We'll see a much more conscious quarterback in Week 7.

    In fact, the Buccaneers pose mismatches across the board in this game. Colin Kaepernick won't be able to test Tampa's secondary with his complement of below-average targets. He won't be able to run read-option against speedy linebackers in Kwon Alexander and Lavonte David, either.

    Add it all together and I foresee another long afternoon for the Niners.

    Prediction: Buccaneers 28, 49ers 17

New England Patriots at Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

    When: Sunday, Oct. 23, at 4:25 p.m. ET (CBS)

    Wave goodbye to Le'Veon Bell's production.

    Bill Belichick is standing on the other sideline this week. No one knows how to limit a team's best offensive weapon better than the legendary Patriots coach.

    Pittsburgh's offense looks a lot less scary after that. Is Antonio Brown going to single-handedly beat New England's defense? Not with Landry Jones getting him the ball.

    This might have been a fair fight with Ben Roethlisberger, Cameron Heyward and Ryan Shazier all in perfect health. Without that trio, I have a tough time believing Pittsburgh can do anything to slow Tom Brady's roll.

    Prediction: Patriots 41, Steelers 20

Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals

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    When: Sunday, Oct. 23, at 8:30 p.m. ET (NBC)

    Michael Bennett wreaks 10 kinds of havoc in the middle of an offensive line.

    The Seahawks might not have him at full strength Sunday night. That really swung this pick in the opposite direction for me.

    Carson Palmer's pocket will look a little cleaner without Seattle's best defender collapsing it. We'll see him deliver plenty of quick-breaking routes (curls, posts) instead of long arching throws. Bruce Arians is no fool; he knows Palmer needs to distribute quickly to best the Legion of Boom. A handful of successful David Johnson runs would go a long way in keeping that group honest.

    Arizona's defense is too often overlooked on the other end. The Cardinals' pass defense is seventh-best in football, despite a recovering Tyrann Mathieu and a struggling Deone Bucannon. Russell Wilson won't find wide-open throwing lanes in this one.

    Prediction: Cardinals 19, Seahawks 14

Houston Texans at Denver Broncos

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    When: Monday, Oct. 23, at 8:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)

    Denver's defense is already stewing over Brock Osweiler's offseason departure.

    Imagine what the tenor will be right before kickoff. I wouldn't want to be in his cleats this week.

    Tell me Osweiler won't mess up against a secondary with 11 days of game-planning up its sleeve? I won't buy it, especially with deep-threat Will Fuller hobbling around with a bad hammy.

    Trevor Siemian won't fare much better. He'll deal with a deep secondary and some guy named Jadeveon Clowney. Expect plenty of punts on both sides.

    The first team to blink and surrender a stupid turnover will lose. My money is on Osweiler over Siemian to be that guy.

    Prediction: Broncos 16, Texans 7