NFL Week Seven – predictions and thoughts

Steve Smith of the Carolina Panthers

Washington Redskins versus Carolina Panthers – The Washington Redskins have made a change at quarterback. I’m not sure if this is good or bad. John Beck is in as quarterback. For the Carolina Panthers, Cam Newton is playing fairly well in spite of last week’s performance. He has more interceptions than touchdowns passes. I do like the way he plays, but he has to tighten that up. I’m going with the Carolina Panthers in this one.

Seattle Seahawks versus Cleveland Browns – Seattle is playing pretty good defense, especially their front seven. Peyton Hillis, for the Cleveland Browns, has been bothered by his hamstring. I’m leaning towards the Seahawks.

Atlanta Falcons versus Detroit Lions – Last week, I said that Atlanta had to win. I’m going to say the same thing this week. I thought that Detroit’s front seven were playing pretty well on defense, but the San Francisco 49ers’ Frank Gore gashed them for a ton of yards. I look for the Atlanta Falcons to try to do the same. They have to get the running game on track. Detroit? I have no idea what happened last Sunday. They simply didn’t play a good game. Where were all the touchdown passes to Calvin Johnson? It didn’t happen. I think Atlanta will try to pound the ball and will be relatively successful. I’m leaning towards the Atlanta Falcons.

Denver Broncos versus Miami Dolphins – This game would be a snoozer, except… Tim Tebow. Everybody’s been fixated on Tim Tebow for the last two weeks. All I know is that running quarterbacks have modest success in this league. Michael Vick began to have a lot of success once he started throwing accurately down the field. Randall Cunningham had modest success because he was a streaky quarterback who could get on a hot streak. Unless Tim Tebow begins to accurately deliver the ball on time, he will only have modest success in this league. I won’t even go into how many college athletes were extremely exciting in college only to have mediocre careers in the NFL. Neither of these teams really do anything particularly well. I look for Miami to try to get their running game back on track. This game is a toss-up.

San Diego Chargers versus New York Jets – In my opinion, this game is all about the Jets. It is all about the fact that the Jets can’t run the ball and they can’t stop the run very well. Last year they had Kris Jenkins and Shaun Ellis on the defensive line. Both of these great defensive players have left the Jets. The Jets are 11th in total defense and they are ranked 28th in stopping the run. The Chargers should be able to run and throw the football. They’re going to put up 25-30 points. I just don’t see how the Jets are going to be able to keep pace.

Chicago Bears versus Tampa Bay Buccaneers – I don’t know what to expect from the Chicago Bears. Their defense has kind of been up and down. Sometimes Jay Cutler looks like an elite quarterback and sometimes he doesn’t. One thing I have noticed is that Matt Forte is running the ball pretty well. On the other side of the ball, Josh Freeman was mediocre to awful two weeks ago, but played pretty well last week. I’m throwing this came into the toss-up bowl. This one might be fun to watch, as I suspect it’s going to be well played and hard-hitting.

Houston Texans versus Tennessee Titans – So what happened to the Tennessee Titans? Compared to just two weeks ago, Matt Hasselbeck seems to be a little less hot. His passer rating still makes him the sixth best quarterback in the league, which is not too shabby. Can somebody tell me what’s up with Chris Johnson? Currently, he’s rushed for 250 yards. He is behind James Starks and Felix Jones. Felix Jones has been hurt for two games this year. Starks is on a pass first team and shares carries with Ryan Grant. Come on. Michael Vick has run for 120 yards more than Chris Johnson. For the Houston Texans, Adrian Foster is running well. Matt Schaub is doing okay. I think the Houston Texans will find a way to win this one, but it should be close.

Afternoon Games
Pittsburgh Steelers versus Arizona Cardinals – Arizona is a team in transition. I feel so sorry for Larry Fitzgerald, who I continue to believe is the best receiver in football. A wide receiver needs a quarterback. Kevin Kolb is almost a good quarterback. He seems to have happy feet. He never seems comfortable in the pocket. He is the exact opposite of Ben Roethlisberger. At times he looks too comfortable in the pocket. Unless something miraculous happens, like five or six Pittsburgh turnovers, Pittsburgh should win this game easily. They should dominate on both sides of the ball.

Kansas City Chiefs versus Oakland Raiders – This is one of the great rivalries in pro football. Kansas City is slowly figuring out how to salvage their season. Matt Cassel is playing better. He has eight touchdowns compared to five interceptions. His passer rating is 89.7. Not bad, but not great. The Oakland Raiders were playing really well on both sides of the ball until Jason Campbell went down. Kyle Boller was on deck. The Oakland Raiders obviously didn’t like what they saw, because they went out and got Carson Palmer. Carson Palmer is a head scratcher to me. Three or four years ago, he was one of the top four or five quarterbacks in the league. He hurt his knee and he has never been the same. I don’t suspect that we’re going to see much of Carson Palmer in this game. It’ll be interesting to see how he plays when he gets back on the field. I don’t think the Jason Campbell is going to be out six weeks. I look for him to be back in four.

St. Louis Rams versus Dallas Cowboys – This is a trap game. The Dallas Cowboys have been playing mediocre football for most of this year. They really did play a good game for two quarters against the New England Patriots. The St. Louis Rams will be without Sam Bradford. AJ Feeley will be starting. I’m hoping that the Cowboys can find a run game. I think the defense is solid enough. The question is their offense. Will Tony Romo play like an All-Star? Will Tony Romo play like he did in the fourth quarter versus the Detroit Lions/New York Jets? The Dallas Cowboys should cruise to victory.

Green Bay Packers versus Minnesota Vikings – I know that Minnesota has made a change at quarterback. That may help a little bit. Minnesota needs a lot of help. Green Bay, on the other hand, looks like a well-oiled machine. Aaron Rodgers is playing the kind of football that most professional quarterbacks dream about. He has 17 touchdowns and only three interceptions. He has a quarterback rating of 122.4, nearly 20 points higher than Tom Brady or Eli Manning (the next two closest rated quarterbacks). His receivers are fast. They’re physical and they run great routes. I look for Green Bay to chalk up another win.

Indianapolis Colts versus New Orleans Saints – New Orleans needs a victory. The Indianapolis Colts need more production out of their quarterback. I think it’s much more likely that the Saints will win. I’m still lobbying for the Indianapolis Colts organization to give their season-ticket holders their money back.

Baltimore Ravens versus Jacksonville Jaguars – Ray Rice is running the ball well. Joe Flacco needs to play better. A quarterback rating of 79 is not going to get it done. Tavaris Jackson (Seattle Seahawks) has a better quarterback rating. Jacksonville’s quarterback Blaine Gabbert (rookie) has a quarterback rating of 71. I think this game will be a lot closer than many people believe because Jacksonville’s defense is starting to come together. I still look for the Baltimore Ravens to win this one relatively easily.

From the NYT (I love these):

Here are your game probabilities for Week 7:

Pwin GAME Pwin
0.41 San Diego at  Jets 0.59
0.49 Chicago at Tampa Bay 0.51
0.47 Washington at Carolina 0.53
0.23 Atlanta at Detroit 0.77
0.34 Seattle at Cleveland 0.66
0.47 Denver at Miami 0.53
0.42 Houston at Tennessee 0.58
0.27 Kansas City at Oakland 0.73
0.62 Pittsburgh at Arizona 0.38
0.59 Green Bay at Minnesota 0.41
0.21 St. Louis at Dallas 0.79
0.22 Indianapolis at New Orleans 0.78
0.59 Baltimore at Jacksonville 0.41
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Errington C. Thompson, MD

Dr. Thompson is a surgeon, scholar, full-time sports fan and part-time political activist. He is active in a number of community projects and initiatives. Through medicine, he strives to improve the physical health of all he treats.

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