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Thursday, 16 October 2014

2014 NFL Week 7 Predictions: Can The 49ers Shut Down Manning?

Bye teams: Philadelphia Eagles, Tampa Bay Buccaneers


Thursday, Oct. 16


New York Jets @ New England Patriots, 8:25 p.m.

On a five-game losing streak, the Jets must look for a way to beat the Patriots, who have been red-hot in recent weeks. Chris Ivory and Chris Johnson have been mildly productive, and with Jerod Mayo out, they will look to have solid games. If the Jets fall behind too far too fast, though, they will be forced to lean on their unreliable passing attack. Geno Smith, who has yet to have a game without a pick, will be up against the league's third-best pass defense.

The Patriots lost Stevan Ridley to an injury last week, but the Jets' run defense, which was seen as a strength, looks like a weakness, as they have given up 214 yards to the likes of Branden Oliver and Ronnie Hillman. The Jets also have one of the worst secondaries in the league, so Tom Brady will be able to consistently move the ball.

New England Patriots Win, 35-20


Sunday, Oct. 19


Atlanta Falcons @ Baltimore Ravens, 1 p.m.

After putting up 37 and 56 points against the Saints and Buccaneers, respectively, the Falcons' offense has yet to record more than 28 points. In the past three weeks, they have averaged just 20 points. The Ravens' defense has been one of the most consistently competitive in the league, having yet to allow more than 20 points since Week 3. Matt Ryan, on the other hand, has been very inconsistent, recording nine of his 12 touchdowns in three games, while also recording five of his seven picks in two games. Without a reliable rushing attack, Ryan will be counted on to lead the offense down the field.

Joe Flacco is an odd case, throwing ten touchdowns and zero picks in Weeks 2, 4, and 6, but has thrown two touchdowns and three picks in Weeks 1, 3, and 5. If he follows this pattern, he is bound to have a bad game. The Falcons' pass defense, though, is ranked 29th in the league, allowing a league-high 8.6 yards per attempt and recording just two picks. The Falcons also have one of the league's worst run defenses, so expect Lorenzo Taliaferro and Justin Forsett to get the ball early and often.

Baltimore Ravens Win, 31-21


Tennessee Titans @ Washington Redskins, 1 p.m.

Charlie Whitehurst has been a solid fill-in for Jake Locker, and going up against a Washington defense that has allowed 13 passing touchdowns and a 105.1 passer rating, he will look to have his best game yet. The Redskins have allowed just 3.9 yards per carry, so look for Bishop Sankey and Shonn Greene to both have small workloads once again.

Kirk Cousins is not a reliable quarterback, and going up against a defense that is tied for fifth in interceptions, look for the Redskins to run the ball a lot. Alfred Morris has recorded 386 yards and three touchdowns off of 97 carries, 9th, 5th, and 6th in those categories, respectively. Both teams possess below average defenses, so this should be a high-scoring affair with plenty of big plays.

Washington Redskins Win, 30-24


Seattle Seahawks @ St. Louis Rams, 1 p.m.

Russell Wilson has been one of the league's most efficient quarterbacks, throwing two touchdowns in each of his first four games, while recording two total interceptions. The Seahawks, though, are still a run-first offense, being one of the few teams with more rushing attempts than passing. Excluding Week 1, the Seahawks have not scored more than 30 points, but it has not scored less than 20 either, making this unit one of the most consistent in the league.

Austin Davis plays at an adequate level when the pocket is clean, and the Seahawks have recorded just seven sacks, while their coverage unit has not lived up to expectations. The Seahawks' run defense, though, is still one of the best in the league, allowing just 3.1 yards per carry. The Rams' backs were productive early against the 49ers, but they stopped running the ball once they fell behind. Expect the same to happen against the Seahawks.

Seattle Seahawks Win, 34-16


Cleveland Browns @ Jacksonville Jaguars, 1 p.m.

Going up against one of the worst defenses, the Browns should be able to put up more points than weeks past. With Ben Tate and Isaiah Crowell carrying the ball 30+ times a game, Brian Hoyer will not have to do much. Expect a solid game from one of the most consistent offenses.

Blake Bortles threw just one pick last week, while recording 336 yards and an 88.7 passer rating, his personal bests in each of those areas. Bortles will have to put up more points on the board if he is gonna win this one. Toby Gerhart will not be able to get much going, even against a weak run defense. The Browns have allowed a 90.6 passer rating to opposing quarterbacks, so look for Bortles to step up and top his Week 6 numbers.

Cleveland Browns Win, 35-24


Cincinnati Bengals @ Indianapolis Colts, 1 p.m.

The Bengals recorded 37 points in Week 6 without A.J. Green, and the Colts' defense has not played much better than the Panthers'. Mohamed Sanu has really stepped up in place of Green and fellow receiver Marvin Jones, who is now on the injured reserve. Playmaker Giovani Bernard and red-zone-back Jeremy Hill have been one of the most productive tandems, recording a combined 820 yards from scrimmage and seven touchdowns.

Andrew Luck and the Colts' passing attack is first in the NFL, but the Bengals have held opposing quarterbacks to a 71.4 passer rating. Luck has thrown for 350+ yards in four of his games, but has thrown three picks in the past two weeks. Ahmad Bradshaw has established himself as the Colts' number one back, but he has been more of a receiver out of the backfield rather than a pure runner, recording five receiving touchdowns to zero rushing.

Cincinnati Bengals Win, 34-27


Minnesota Vikings @ Buffalo Bills, 1 p.m.

The Vikings scored 34 and 41 points against the Rams and Falcons, respectively, but have failed to surpass 10 points in their other four games. Going up against the league's best run defense, the Vikings will likely rely on Teddy Bridgewater to lead the offense. Bridgewater will look to rebound off of his poor perfomance against the Lions, but the Bills' front is nearly as good as the Lions'.

Kyle Orton has played well in place of E.J. Manuel, but he may struggle against a fairly stout pass defense. C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson are both good backs, but they have struggled to consistently find success. The Vikings' run defense has been below par, so look for Spiller and Jackson to rebound.

Buffalo Bills Win, 23-14


Miami Dolphins @ Chicago Bears, 1 p.m.

With Knowshon Moreno out for the year, the Dolphins will have to rely on Lamar Miller, which did not work out too well for them last year. The Bears' run defense improved a lot over the course of the year, so the Dolphins will likely keep Miller's workload small. Ryan Tannehill has had troubles with turnovers, and going up against one of the better ball hawking secondaries, Tannehill will struggle.

Jay Cutler has been amazing in some games, and horrible in others. The Dolphins' secondary is average at best, so look for Cutler to be on top of his game. After being held scoreless on the ground, Matt Forte scored two touchdowns, to go along with 157 yards from scrimmage. Look for Forte to build off of his strong game against the Dolphins.

Chicago Bears Win, 28-17


New Orleans Saints @ Detroit Lions, 1 p.m.

Drew Brees has put up good numbers, but has struggled to keep up with opposing teams' offenses. Going up against the league's best pass defense, Brees will struggle. Brees has thrown six picks in just five games, while the Lions have recorded seven picks and have allowed just five passing touchdowns. Khiry Robinson has been productive in relief of Mark Ingram, but the Lions' defensive front is good enough to shut him down.

The Saints are tied with the Jets and Jaguars for least interceptions, with one. Matthew Stafford will have a great game, even without Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush. Golden Tate and Eric Ebron may both top 100 receiving yards. Joique Bell has been struggling, so they will not run the ball too often, even though the Saints' rush defense is simply average.

Detroit Lions Win, 35-27


Carolina Panthers @ Green Bay Packers, 1 p.m.

Scoring 30+ points in each of the past two games after scoring just 29 in the two weeks prior, this offense is on the right track. Cam Newton has been playing like a top-level quarterback this season, but he will be up against the Packers' top-five pass defense. The Packers' defense has allowed just seven passing touchdowns, while picking off opposing quarterbacks nine times. The Packers' run defense, though, is dead last. Darrin Reaves has not played too well so far, but look for the rookie to have his best game yet.

Aaron Rodgers led the Packers down the field late in the game to win them their third game in a row. The Panthers have a shaky secondary, so Rodgers should continue to put up MVP-level numbers. The Panthers' front seven has not played up to expectations, allowing a league-high 5.5 yards per carry. Eddie Lacy, who is still struggling, will look to bounce back after another unimpressive game.

Green Bay Packers Win, 34-23


Kansas City Chiefs @ San Diego Chargers, 4:05 p.m.

Excluding their Week 1 match-up against the Titans, the Chiefs have played very well, outscoring their opponents 109-75. Alex Smith has put up good numbers, but has struggled to lead his team when they are behind. Jamaal Charles has been great as always, while Knile Davis has emerged as a productive spell back. The Chargers' defense had trouble against the Raiders, but they have otherwise been solid.

The Chargers' offense has been one of the best in recent weeks, as Branden Oliver stepped up in place of the injured Ryan Mathews. The Chiefs, however, are one of the two teams that have yet to allow a rushing touchdown. Their pass defense has played well at times, but has allowed too many big plays while not making enough themselves.

San Diego Chargers Win, 28-24


Arizona Cardinals @ Oakland Raiders, 4:25 p.m.

Surpringly, the Cardinals have yet to throw an interception. The Raiders have one of the worst secondaries in the league, so do not expect that to change this week. Andre Ellington has struggled recently, but look for him to bounce back against the Raiders, who have the 31st ranked run defense and are prone to allowing big gains.

Derek Carr had his best game against the Chargers, but going up against what is a very athletic and dangerous secondary, his rookie side may show. The Cardinals have recorded eight picks so far, which is good for 3rd in the league. Like Carr, Darren McFadden played well, but does not match up favorably against the Cardinals' defense. The Cardinals have allowed 3.2 yards per carry and just one run of 20+ yards.

Arizona Cardinals Win, 35-24


New York Giants @ Dallas Cowboys, 4:25 p.m.

After enjoying one of the hotter streaks in the NFL, the Giants' offense was shut down cold by the Eagles. Eli Manning did not throw a single pick, while Andre Williams did not play all that bad, but they failed to make key plays. Going 2-for-14 on third down, too many drives stalled. The Cowboys have a surprisingly stout pass defense, but their run defense has allowed 5.1 yards per carry. Expect the Giants offense as a whole to bounce back.

DeMarco Murray should continue his streak off 100-yards games, as the Giants have a below average run defense. Tony Romo may struggle to keep from turning the ball over, though, as the Giants' defense has a league-high ten interceptions.

Dallas Cowboys Win, 31-21


San Francisco 49ers @ Denver Broncos, 8:30 p.m.

Frank Gore and Carlos Hyde will face a stout Denver front, but both backs should find success early on. The Broncos have a nice secondary, and Colin Kaepernick will struggle to find a rhythm. Kaepernick must stay patient and mistake-free if the 49ers are to win this one.

The 49ers have been one of the best against the run, so do not expect Montee Ball or any Bronco back to get the ball often. Peyton Manning will likely air it out, and even against a productive secondary, he should fare well. The 49ers have been one of the best at limiting big plays, so look for a lot of screens and short routes.

San Francisco 49ers Win, 31-28


Monday, Oct. 20


Houston Texans @ Pittsburgh Steelers, 8:30 p.m.

Arian Foster will look to lead the Texans' offense in Pittsburgh, as the Steelers have allowed 4.4 yards per carry and six rushing touchdowns. Ryan Fitzpatrick will have some trouble, though, as the Steelers have a top-ten pass defense.

After three poor games in a row, the Steelers will look to rebound against the Texans. Ben Roethlisberger has been good stat-wise, but must lead his team down the field rather than playing it safe so often. Le'Veon Bell has been a star for the Steelers, and he matches up favorably against the Texans' defense, which has been average against the run.

Pittsburgh Steelers Win, 30-20


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