Sunday, October 21, 2012

NFL Picks: Week 7 One Stat Game Previews

My picks in bold. Lines taken from ESPN Pigskin Pick’em Game

Sunday October 21, 2012
1:00 PM EST
Titans @ Bills -3.5
The Titans have lost their three road games by an average of 25 points.
 I see the Bills as a slightly above average team and the Titans as a slightly below average one. In today’s NFL , if you throw out the top two or three and bottom two or three teams, any team can beat any other depending on how the teams matchup and the circumstances of the games. The Bills are one of the few teams that still maintain a healthy home field advantage, and coupled with the Titans’ road woes thus far, I like the Bills to win big.  
Browns @ Colts -3.5
In their loss last week to the Jets, the Colts had fewer rushing yards (41) than their opponent had rushing attempts (44).
Andrew Luck has looked really good as a rookie, and the Colts have the firepower to compete against some good teams given the matchup; for example, their upset win over the Packers two weeks ago. They have struggled though against teams that are very physical on the offensive and defensives lines, like the Jets and Bears. I think the Browns have the defense and running game to push around the Colts much as they were a week ago.
Packers @ Rams +5.5
In their three home games (all wins), the St. Louis Rams have given up an average of just 188 passing yards per game.
Coming off of a six touchdown performance, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense seem to be back in form. I think they will be fine in the long term, but I think they will hit a speed bump this weekend on their road back. The Rams have the pass rushers and the corners to frustrate the vaunted Green Bay attack and the Pack have struggled against really good defenses, like San Francisco and Seattle. I expect St. Louis to stay unbeaten under the Arch as the hot streak of the home underdogs in 2012 continues.
Cardinals @ Vikings -5.5
Arizona has given up a league worst 4.67 sacks per game.
Vikings defensive end Jared Allen must be licking his mustachioed chops for this one. Two turnstile tackles are all that stand between him and fresh off the bench quarterback John Skelton. Until the Cardinals get better at protecting their passer, I can’t trust their offense to keep them in games against decent competition.
Redskins @ Giants -6.5
In Week 15 of last year, the Redskins beat the Giants 23-10 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
I’m not saying that the Redskins are a better team just because they beat the Super Bowl champs the last two times they played. Rather, this seems to me to be a situation where the Giants usually underperform. Coming into that game last year, the Giants were fresh off an emotional 37-34 win in Dallas. Their playoff hopes were alive and well at 7-6 and they were starting to get healthier. The next week with an opportunity to put some space between them and the rest of the division, Eli Manning has a stinker and they blew a game to an inferior Washington team with Rex Grossman playing quarterback. This time it will be “Sir” Robert Griffin III leading the rejuvenated Skins back into New Jersey to play a Giants team that is again off a big road win, this time at the Niners, and Eli and crew seem primed for another letdown game.   
Saints @ Buccaneers +2.5
Tampa Bay is giving up 312.2 passing yards a game, second worst in the league.
The Saints defense isn’t much better, and this could be a high scoring game. If it does become a shootout, New Orleans has two decided advantages. One, the best player in this game is their quarterback Drew Brees; and two, the guys he will be throwing the ball against haven’t been able to cover anyone to this point.
Cowboys @ Panthers  +2.5
The Dallas Cowboys are ranked 2nd in total pass defense, but have intercepted just one pass through five games.
The Cowboys defense has been tough to get by this year, but they have failed to come up with many big plays. The defense’s failure to generate turnovers has been even more glaring due to the erratic play of Tony Romo. The consequence of this is that they have frequently been on the wrong side of close games. I think the Panthers try to keep the ball on the ground at home and this trend continues.
Ravens @ Texans -6.5
The Texans’ average point differential in four games against non-playoff teams from last year is +17.5. Against playoff teams, it’s -6.
As bad of shape as the Ravens seem to be in, the Texans still haven’t proved they can beat good teams on a regular basis. I still haven’t seen enough from Matt Schaub and the Texans passing game to take them giving almost a full touchdown to their co-AFC leader. Baltimore's offense has been their strength this year and Houston will have to show it can match teams score for score if they want to compete with the NFL’s elite.
4:25 PM EST
Jaguars @ Raiders -4.5
Carson Palmer’s 88.7 quarterback rating so far would be his best since 2006.
In a battle of 1-4 teams, I’ll take the one at home, with the much better quarterback. If Palmer continues his renaissance, the Raiders may have a chance yet in a jumbled AFC playoff picture. I have nothing else to say about this game.
Jets @ Patriots -10.5
Mark Sanchez passed for 82 passing yards in the Jets’ win last Sunday.
The New England front seven is solid. If you want to beat this team, you need to take advantage of their secondary, which is much more suspect. I don’t think Sanchez has the ability, confidence or weapons to take advantage of the Patriots’ most glaring weakness. Without making any big plays in the passing game, it’s hard to imagine the Jets keeping up on the scoreboard.
8:20 PM EST
Steelers @ Bengals +2.5
Ben Roethlisberger is 7-1 in his career at Cincinnati.
In a tight divisional contest, in prime time, under the lights, I’ll go with the team that has the elite quarterback. Big Ben and the Steelers have had their struggles, and face a fearsome Bengals pass rush, but they have had ten days to heal and get ready for this game. I think they will continue to assert their dominance over their so called “rival” Sunday night.
Monday October 22, 2012
 Lions @ Bears -5.5
The Bears have an average point differential of +23.67 during their current three game winning streak.
Chicago looks to be in as good of form as any team coming out of their bye. With their defense playing dominant ball, they have a great chance Monday night at home to improve to 5-1 and put a little space between them and the rest of the NFC North. The Lions showed glimpses of what their explosive passing game can do last week, but the Bears are as equipped as any team to deal with Stafford, Megatron and crew. Peanut Tillman will have the tall assignment of covering Calvin Johnson before him Monday night, but he has been up to every challenge so far this season.

This Week: 0-1            Last Week: 9-5
Season Record: 47-46

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