As we creep up on the halfway mark of the NFL season already, Week 7 is far enough along to look at the landscape of the league. Some teams are already confidently penned in as cross-offs (we’re looking at you, Jets), while the usual and some not-so-usual suspects vie for the top seeds in each conference.
But before we get too comfortable eliminating teams in October, keep in mind the Titans were 1-4 last year. They not only made the playoffs but went on a tear. They twice had 10-point leads in the AFC title game. It’s the NFL, the most unpredictable league in the world. Weird stuff happens regularly. If you have a favorite team or a future ticket on a team in the basement, hope is not lost.
While Week 7 is a point where we can start to establish a pecking order, records can still be misleading. We need to walk the fine line between reacting, but not overreacting, and continuing to learn each week. One thing we learned Monday night is Dak Prescott has been propping up a dismal franchise for the last few years, as the Cowboys were embarrassed by the Cardinals in every facet of the game. Wow, that was ugly. Bring back Jason Garrett!
On to the picks …
Lions + 3 over Falcons. These teams have a lot in common. Both have some weapons on offense, both struggle to get stops on defense and both seem to have more talent than their records indicate. Taking the points here is the wise route, as this looks like a nail-biter. Either team can say with the bounce of a ball here or there it would be over .500. The Lions’ Week 5 bye came at the right time, as they healed some of their injuries on defense. The Lions get back into the playoff picture and win this one outright.
Steelers -1 over Titans. The Titans are a perfect 5-0 but have been lucky to win (and even luckier to cover) several times. Pro Bowl tackle Taylor Lewan is out for the season, and the Titans will struggle to run the ball in dominant fashion against a stout Pittsburgh defense. On the other side of the ball, Tennessee is beat up in the secondary and coming off of a week in which it was gashed by an otherwise pedestrian Texans offense. The Steelers get to 6-0 as we begin the countdown to Thanksgiving night, when a showdown with the Ravens will be the best dessert we could ask for.
Cardinals + 3.5 over Seahawks. The Seahawks not only have a perfect record, they have the MVP front-runner at quarterback. Those two factors create value for opponents, as Seattle has not only been fortunate but has struggled to win by margin. Dating to the start of last season, the Seahawks have won 16 games — only one by two scores or more. The Cardinals will be right in this game, because everyone who plays the Seahawks is right in the game. Will they hand Seattle its first loss? Possibly, but let’s take the 3.5 to be safe.