NFC week 7
Sports Analyst Tim CarrollTim is a freelance Sports Reporter with previous work in the Daily Vidette at Illinois State University.
Thursday 22 October, 2015
Seattle Seahawks (2-4) at San Francisco 49ers (2-4)
The Seahawks have struggled all season long, with the defense always seeming like their missing something, and an offense that keeps finding ways to not get the job done. The 49ers looked solid last week, but does anybody really believe Colin Kaepernick has somehow turned it around to the point that he’ll be the quarterback he’s paid to be? Both teams are sitting tied for fourth place in the division. That’s likely due to St. Louis playing one less game, therefore having one less loss, but still. Jimmy Graham is now the Seahawks leader in targets. He’s only caught 2 TDs, but his projected totals this year are still 77 catches, 917 yards, and 5 TDs, which are still Pro Bowl-worthy numbers. All he really needs is one big game and everybody will forget about criticizing him. Expect the Niners to struggle to move the football with a quarterback who will be kept in the pocket and refused the big play with his legs.
Prediction: Seattle 27, San Francisco 14.
Sunday 25 October,2015
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-3) at Washington Redskins (2-4)
Lovie Smith loves playing mistake-prone quarterbacks. He may have lasted a few extra years in Chicago than he did, if it wasn’t for his defense’s ability to make bad quarterbacks look awful and mid-tier quarterbacks bad. If you’re comparing his early tenure in Chicago to Tampa, this was about the time in Lovie’s second year the defense really hit their stride and their young QB stopped making mistakes. Kirk Cousins is the perfect candidate to throw too many picks against the Cover-2 to really build the Bucs’ confidence. And with oft-injured WR DeSean Jackson out likely (again), the Washington offense becomes less potent than it already was. Too many things tell me this isn’t going to be good for Washington.
Prediction: Tampa Bay 24, Washington 17.
Minnesota Vikings (3-2) at Detroit Lions (1-5)
Teddy Bridgewater has been the game-manager Viking’s fan didn’t want him to be this season. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. The defense led by Head Coach Mike Zimmer has looked stellar, giving up just 16.6 points per game, good enough for 2nd in the league. The defense has allowed Bridgewater time to just learn the offense and do what he can for now. Meanwhile Adrian Peterson looks pretty close to the old Adrian Peterson. It seems as though he’s due any week now for a big 200+ yard performance. The Lions got their first win of the season, but experts can’t decide if they won that game, or the Bears lost it. The Lions were able to win because they got their running game going with 155 yards, about triple their average heading into the game. That opened things up for Matt Stafford to find Calvin Johnson and Co. repeatedly. If the Vikings can keep the backs in check, it’ll likely be another long day for Stafford and Co.
Prediction: Minnesota 20, Detroit 13.
Cleveland Browns (2-4) at St. Louis Rams (2-3)
St. Louis has one of the most exciting young cores of skill-position talent, with Todd Gurley, Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey headlining the future. They also have very solid options in Benjamin Cunningham, Tre Mason, Kenny Britt and Jared Cook as complements to those young guys. The defense has been talked about for years as a scary-talented group. Nick Foles may be holding this team back though on the offensive end. Luckily for the Rams, the Browns have played terribly so far this season on defense. It’s the reason McCown and Manziel (who’ve both played reasonably well) only have a win apiece. Expect the Rams to pound it early, as Cleveland has given up a ridiculous 149.8 yards per game on the ground. Even if McCown can hit a few big plays down-field, it likely won’t come often enough with the defensive line continuously getting after him. The Browns may compete, but the Rams appear to be legit.
Prediction: St. Louis 27, Cleveland 19.
Dallas Cowboys (2-3) at New York Giants (3-3)
Rumor has it Dez Bryant is 50-50 for Sunday. I’m not sure I’m buying it, but even if he does play, does anyone believe that Matt Cassel will be able to get him the ball enough to make a huge impact? The only guy that could get Cassel to look like a star was Charlie Weis, and he ain’t walking through that door any time soon. The Giants took a hard loss Monday night, but Eli Manning has called out his receivers (beside Beckham, of course) to step up. Will they respond? This game may very well end up being a blunder-bowl, as the team that makes the least amount of mistakes wins. There’s no telling how this game could go, but Eli is a champ, and Cassel, well, his highlights come as the backup of great QBs.
Prediction: New York 30, Dallas 17.
Philadelphia Eagles (3-3) at Carolina Panthers (5-0)
The Eagles have bounced back after a terrible 0-2 start, winning 3 out of 4. The running game slowly but surely improves each week, with DeMarco Murray having his best game as an Eagle last week. Sam Bradford still leaves you wanting more, but if the running game starts to role, they aren’t going to ask him to do as much. The Panthers, meanwhile are riding their defense and QB to a fantastic season, in which they are now the only unbeaten team left in the NFC South. The Eagles sure could use a statement victory though, and they’ll be hoping DeMarco Murray looks even more like DeMarco Murray this week. The Panthers flaws are obvious, however, as they can tend to let Cam down and take hits, leading to both the run game and passing game to struggle. It doesn’t appear to be that week yet, but the Eagles are craving a statement win.
Prediction: Philly 27, Carolina 24 (Upset Alert pick)
Monday 26 October, 2015
Baltimore Ravens (1-5) at Arizona Cardinals (4-2)
Long-gone are the days that the Ravens victory over Pittsburgh was the one that would turn things around. 2 straight losses over teams that – on paper – you should have beaten means the Raven’s team is not good. The Cardinals are still the most talented and exciting team in the NFC West so far the season, even if 2 losses take away some of their Championship-caliber flare. The Ravens will hope to keep Joe Flacco upright as the Cards look to send him to the turf. Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald will look to punish an unproven Raven’s secondary as well. Chris Johnson also appears to be turning back the clock; he’s on pace to run for nearly 1200 yards with a 4.8 yards per carry clip. You may be able to call this Cards offense the 2008 Pro Bowlers. Too bad the Ravens don’t have that 2008 defense though, this could’ve been a game.
Prediction: Arizona 34, Baltimore 20.
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