Here are my Week 7 picks. As usual, these picks are against the spread.
Buccaneers (+7) at Falcons (-7) -- The Falcons (1-4) need to get on track, and a win over the Buccaneers (0-5) is their best bet.
My pick: Falcons
Rams (+6.5) at Panthers (-6.5) -- The Carolina offense has come alive, scoring 35 last week against the Minnesota Vikings. That is coupled with a tough defense (second-best 13.6 points allowed per game).
My pick: Panthers
Bengals (+2.5) at Lions (-2.5) -- The Lions' passing attack, led by Matthew Stafford, might be stymied by this Bengals defense. And there's no denying how good the Bengals defense is against the running game. It doesn't help that the Lions are giving up 124.8 rushing yards per game (29th in the league) against a team that would almost prefer to run.
My pick: Bengals
Chargers (-7.5) at Jaguars (+7.5) -- Last week was upsetting because the Jaguars fought off the blowout, beating the 27.5-point spread against the Denver Broncos. This week, with a much more modest spread, shouldn't throw us for a loop.
My pick: Chargers
Bills (+7.5) at Dolphins (-7.5) -- Despite turning to their third quarterback a week ago, the Bills played the Cincinnati Bengals tough in a 27-24 loss. Thad Lewis (19 of 32 passing for 216 yards, 2 TDs, 0 interceptions) was solid. With the spread as high as it is, it's unreasonable to believe that the young quarterback will somehow be that much worse against his hometown team.
My pick: Bills
Patriots (-3.5) at Jets (+3.5) -- The Patriots have lost Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo for the season and will be without Danny Amendola and Tommy Kelly (and probably Aqib Talib). With the injuries piling up, you'd think there would be a lack of confidence on this Patriots team. But there are some talented players that are looking to step right in, including rookie linebacker Jamie Collins. But all of that -- every single bit -- can be overshadowed by the return of tight end Rob Gronkowski, whose agent said he has been cleared to play by all of his doctors. Talk about a boost to the passing game.
My pick: Patriots
Cowboys (+3) at Eagles (-3) -- This will be a track meet. The Eagles have scored at least 16 points in each game this season, and have put together two 30-plus point outings in the past two weeks, beating the New York Giants (0-6) and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-5). The Cowboys (3-3) are better than that and, as shown against the Denver Broncos, can shoot it out with the best of them. They're averaging 30.5 points per game.
My pick: Cowboys
Bears (pick) at Washington (pick) -- Washington's only win was a 24-14 victory over the Oakland Raiders in Week 5. It hasn't been the same team since Robert Griffin III's injury, and comes into this weekend's game against the Bears at 1-4. The Bears (4-2) are much more consistent all around.
My pick: Bears
49ers (-4) at Titans (+4) -- Tennessee has had a fantastic season in that it has been completely unpredictable and inconsistent, and yet is a formidable opponent each week. It has taken wins against the Chargers (20-17) and Jets (38-13), and kept things close against the Seahawks (20-17) and Texans (30-24). The Titans meet a 49ers team that is on the upswing, winning their last three games by solid margins. But the 49ers are banged up on the defensive line. Justin Smith (shoulder), Ray McDonald (biceps), and Glenn Dorsey (hamstring) have all missed practice this week. That's been the strength of San Francisco's defense.
My pick: Titans
Browns (+10) at Packers (-10) -- if there's one thing about this Browns team you can bet on, it's that they're going to be competitive. They have lost only two games by more than 10 points -- their opening day loss to the Miami Dolphins and last week's loss to the Detroit Lions. It's tough to think, even against the Packers (3-2), that they'll have two poor outings in a row behind Brandon Weeden or any other quarterback. The Packers should definitely win, but the Browns should definitely cover.
My pick: Browns
Texans (+6.5) at Chiefs (-6.5) -- The Texans will start Case Keenum at quarterback. It's a needed change from Matt Schaub, who had totaled nine interceptions in six games. Anything would be better for the Texans. But this Chiefs team is holding opponents to a league-low 10.8 points per game. That's tough for any starter to go up against, let alone someone as green as Keenum.
My pick: Chiefs
Ravens (+1.5) at Steelers (-1.5) -- I'm not entirely convinced the Steelers (1-4) are where they need to be in order to compete in the AFC North, let alone against their rival. The Ravens (3-3) should be motivated to by the renewed division competition.
My pick: Ravens
Broncos (-6.5) at Colts (+6.5) -- Don't hold last week's win over the Jaguars against the Broncos, who won, 35-19. The 27.5-point spread was a tad too much for the most respected team in the league. You should still feel confident that they can pull out any game (that's right, any) and do so by at least a touchdown.
My pick: Broncos
Vikings (+3.5) at Giants (-3.5) -- The Vikings are going with Josh Freeman at quarterback. It's for this reason that I think the New York Giants will get their first win of the season.
My pick: Giants
Last week: 6-9