After handing Kansas City their first loss of 2017, Pittsburgh sets its eyes on Cincinnati and the AFC North.
By: Elias McMillan
Last Week: 8-6
Big Five Games of the Week
Arizona @ Los Angeles Rams – The Cardinals could put themselves right back in the discussion in the NFC West with a win over the Rams in London on Sunday. Arizona has had a rough start to this season. They lost RB David Johnson and their defense has been a major disappointment. But the arrival of RB Adrian Peterson last week has put some life back into the Cardinals offense. The Rams are currently in first place in the NFC West. Crazy, I know. They are finally seeing the fruits of their individual talent from a couple of players (Gurley, Donald, etc.) but as a team they are still inconsistent. The Rams and Cardinals both have defenses that give up a lot on the ground and through the air. I’ll place my faith in the three old guys (Peterson, Palmer, & Fitzgerald) though the Rams will probably have the best player on the field. Prediction: Cardinals 33 – Rams 23
Baltimore @ Minnesota – With Rookie RD Dalvin Cook going down to an injury weeks ago, it felt like the excitement about Minnesota’s season went with him. But suddenly, hope springs enteral for the guys in Purple. Aaron Rodgers was taken out last week, they secured the home victory over Green Bay, and QB Teddy Bridgewater is getting ready to return. What a tremendous turn around this could be. But the Vikings can’t get ahead of themselves. They still have to take care of business at home this week against a floundering Baltimore team. Are we seeing the end of Joe Flacco? Baltimore’s offense is a mess and maybe Flacco isn’t sole to blame but he hasn’t been exactly lighting it up this season. Baltimore’s offensive struggles serve right into Minnesota’s strength: defense. Prediction: Vikings 28 – Ravens 14
Cincinnati @ Pittsburgh – The Steelers are following a familiar pattern this season. Playing down to weak opponents then playing up against stronger one. This has been in full display the last two weeks with what happened at home against Jacksonville then last week at undefeated Kansas City. Can the Steelers find some consistency? This Sunday at home against a AFC North rival would be a great time for the Steelers to stop tripping over themselves and start playing like the title contenders everyone thought they would be. Pittsburgh is taking Cincinnati seriously despite the Bengals struggles this season. Cincy has been playing better since Week 1 and are coming to Pittsburgh off a bye week, so they should be fresh. This will be a long, drawn out chess match with both teams attempting to control the clock with the run game. Pittsburgh will not be overly aggressive which will allow the Bengals to believe that they can actually hang with them. But, despite their issues, the Steelers are still the class of the AFC North and they’ll prove it Sunday at home. Prediction: Steelers 29 – Bengals 21
Atlanta @ New England – I almost called New England losing at the Jets last week. I could see it coming. New England has grossly under achieved so far this season but there’s no panic in Bean town thanks to the awful division they play in. I can’t explain what happened to the Falcons last week. To blow a 17 point lead at home to Miami? They must have been over looking the Dolphins in anticipation to this primetime Super Bowl rematch. The Patriots haven’t been great at home, losing there to Carolina, Kansas City, and nearly Houston. Atlanta can forget about what happened last week at home. They’ve been clearly waiting for this opportunity to exorcise the demons from last year’s Super Bowl meltdown. Matt Ryan and the Falcons offense will jump on the home team early and look to make a point in this one. Prediction: Falcons 34 – Patriots 27
Washington @ Philadelphia – All aboard the Philadelphia hype train. The Eagles are 5-1 and since they’re in the NFC East, all eyes are on them right now. Allow me to quickly throw shade. Who have the Eagles beaten? I guess their most impressive win was at Carolina but they were gifted in that one by a couple of horrible throws by Cam Newton. Looking down the Eagles schedule and they have a cupcake city trail that will probably lead to a 10 win season. I can’t believe it but its true. Sigh. Washington was never going to be a player in the NFC East this year but I was impressed by their defense. That unit is starting to suffer through some injuries and Kirk Cousins and the Washington offense won’t be able to save them. Philly should roll at home. Prediction: Eagles 30 – Washington 20
The Rest of Week 7
Chiefs over Raiders – Oakland has no defense. Kansas City’s offense should be able to rebound on the short week.
Bills over Buccaneers – Tampa Bay will be on my list of most disappointing teams this season. Buffalo’s defense is tough and Tyrod Taylor will have some chances for some big plays at home against Tampa’s defense.
Panthers over Bears – Cam Newton was brutal at the end of last week’s game against the Eagles. I hope he has himself figured out this week. They can’t sleep on Chicago’s defense. They have young talent.
Titans over Browns – There’s no hope is Cleveland. Tennessee must start stacking victories if they hope to win their division.
Saints over Packers – The Aaron Rodgers injury is an absolute killer. Now, Green Bay’s roster will be exposed for just not being very good. Rodgers hid a lot of problems for the Packers.
Jaguars over Colts – Jacksonville’s seesaw season continues. And Andrew Luck has had a setback during his recovery. He can’t wait to get out of Indianapolis.
Jets over Dolphins – Toss-up game here. I’m rooting for Todd Bowles. He’s a good coach and the Jets looked like over achievers last week.
Cowboys over 49ers – Trap game for Dallas coming off the bye. They can’t let their lack of defense lose it for them. Control the clock with the run game and limit San Fran’s big plays.
Seahawks over Giants – New York could make things hard for Seattle on the road judging off what they did to Denver last week. Seattle’s defense must set the tone early in this one.
Broncos over Chargers – Denver better show up this week. They were nowhere to be found at home last Sunday.
Fantasy Football Picks of the Week
QB: Matt Ryan (Falcons) – New England gives up the most yardage through the air this season. Ryan will attack and attack often.
RB: C.J Anderson (Broncos) – The Chargers allow the most yardage through the ground this season. With the question marks Denver has at QB, they should lean on Anderson and the run game.
WR: Dez Bryant (Cowboys) – I want to see Dez have a multiple TD game against a weak 49ers secondary.
TE: Travis Kelce (Chiefs) – Oakland can’t defend the pass. Kelce has been the heartbeat of the Chiefs passing attack this season.
DEF: Minnesota – Joe Flacco will not be able to beat this defense.