Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

The Lineman: Week Seven NFL Picks

October 21, 2011

By Steve Keating

That was more like it, a very solid 5-1 effort in Week 6 after a very tough month of average results.

Could we be perfect in lucky Week 7? Feels good.

Record: 19-17. Last week 5-1

Pick of the Week: 5-1

PICK OF THE WEEK

Green Bay Packers (6-0) at Minnesota Vikings (1-5)

(Lines Packers minus-8.5)

Doesn’t it seem a long time ago that Brett Favre was the only storyline that matter in this NFC North rivalry?

Now it is rookie Christian Ponder starting at quarterback for the floundering Vikes, who are flatter than the Metrodome roof after a snowstorm.

Going against the unbeaten Super Bowl champs is probably not the best way to get your feet wet as an NFL quarterback but the Vikings appear to have given up on Donovan McNabb and will get a chance to see what Ponder can do under fire.

Green Bay’s front seven will be driving the Packers Welcome Wagon for Ponder, who will be making his first career start.

It might be the Vikings defence, however, that is in for a long day against a Packers offence that is humming along averaging a league best 32.8 points per game.

Six games into the season Pack quarterback Aaron Rodger is already getting the MVP nod having thrown a league high 17 touchdowns.

The Packers defence also looks to have finally settled in allowing a total of 17 points in their last

two wins.

Minnesota will try to run the ball but Adrian Peterson is likely to find it tough slogging against the Packers fourth ranked run defence that is yielding an average of 82.8 yards per game.

The Packers rarely show their best at the Metrodome and at times this season have eased up

when they have had opponents on the ropes.

Rodgers called out his team after last week’s lacklustre second half effort against the St. Louis Rams and with a bye week coming up, I expect the Packers to keep their foot on the gas until the final whistle this Sunday.

Not much to Ponder here. Christian thrown to the lions.

Take the Packers and give up the 8.5.

- – - -

Baltimore Ravens (4-1) at Jacksonville Jaguars (1-5)

(Line Ravens minus-7.5)

Wow, another Monday Night mismatch. First Hank Williams and now this.

Ravens have the league’s best defence allowing an average of just 14.2 points per game and the Jags, on a five game losing skid, have the NFL’s worst offence averaging just 260.3 yards per contest. Oh, and they are averaging just 12 points a game as well – second worst behind the Rams.

Hard to see why anyone would want to turn in and watch this train wreck unless it’s to see if Jaguars rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert can survive a night of pounding from Ray Lewis and company.

Well, it is getting close to Halloween and this scary matchup should leave you screaming.

Take the Ravens and give up the 7.5.

- – - -

Pittsburgh Steelers (4-2) at Arizona Cardinals (1-4)

(Line Steelers minus-3.5)

I have not had much faith in Pittsburgh this season but thinking it is now time to show the Steelers a little love – especially when the line is a very attractive 3.5 points.

Big Ben Roethlisberger is starting to find the target tossing six touchdowns the last two weeks

while the Steelers defence is once again playing like the punishing Steelers defence fans expect,

surrendering a league low 270.5 yards per game.

The Pittsburgh pass defence is also the league’s best allowing just 157.7 yards per game and will

have Troy Polamalu back at safety after NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year was knocked out of

last week’s game with a suspected concussion.

Wide out Larry Fitzgerald is as dangerous as ever and running back Beanie Wells has six touchdowns but the Cards will have trouble moving the ball against a stingy Pittsburgh defence.

The Cardinals are a tougher out at home and are coming off a bye week desperate to pull out of a four game tailspin but the Steelers are back and ready to roll.

A rematch of the 2008 Super Bowl should produce the same result – a Steelers victory.

Take the Steelers and give up the 3.5.

- – - -

St. Louis Cardinals (0-5) at Dallas Cowboys (2-3)

(Line minus-12.5)

I can’t remember the last time the Cowboys were 13-point favourites but I think it might have been when Roger Staubach was still quarterbacking America’s team.

Current QB Tony Romo is no Staubach but I don’t think he needs to be to hang a big number on the beat up Rams.

After tough losses to Detroit and New England the Cowboys get the wobbling Rams at home

needing a big win to get back in the playoff chase in the NFC East.

The Cowboys wins over San Fran and Washington have come by a combined five points but I

expect an erratic Romo to finally put it together against a Rams defence that is giving up an average of 27.4 points and over 400 yards of offence per game – both third worst in the league.

As leaky as the St. Louis defence is, the Rams offence is in worse shape averaging a league 9.8

points a game and could be without starting quarterback Sam Bradford, who injured his ankle in last week’s loss to the Packers.

All Pro wide receiver Brandon Lloyd obtained in a trade with Denver this week makes his Rams

debut but who will get him the ball?

Interesting fact, Cowboys last 11 games have been decided by four points or less.

Time for a blowout.

Ride em Cowboys. Take Dallas and give up the 12.5.

- – - -

Indianapolis Colts (0-6) at New Orleans Saints (4-2)

(Line Saints by 13.5)

Like an old girlfriend you can’t let go of, I keep coming back to the Saints only to be brushed off.

Ok, this is the last chance, I mean it this time.

It’s hard to figure out why a team with so much talent and an explosive offence cannot impose

itself on lesser opponents. Well, they don’t get any lesser than the winless Colts.

After losing to Tampa Bay last week, the unhappy Saints return home after three road games ready to lay a beating on Indy.

Drew Brees remains the NFL’s second ranked quarterback tossing 2,152-yards and 13 touchdowns and is at the controls of a Saints attack that sits second in total yards (averaging 452 yards per game) and passing yards (344).

The Colts 29th ranked defence has allowed an average of 27.2 points providing Brees and the boys a chance to put up some big numbers.

Without Peyton Manning calling plays the Indy offence has stalled, averaging just 284-yards per game, second lowest in the league.

In two home wins this season the Saints have averaged 35 points.

Colts clobbered.

Take the Saints give up the 13.5.

- – - -

San Diego Chargers (4-1) at New York Jets (3-3)

(Line Jets plus 1.5)

The Jets looked terrible in the first half last week against winless Miami and now have a short week to get ready for the well-rested Chargers, who jet into the Big Apple off a bye week.

All the numbers tell me I should be backing the Chargers but my gut is telling me something else – or I could just be hungry.

The Chargers have avoided their traditional sluggish start to the season and have looked solid on both sides of the ball ranking near the top of the league in many offensive and defensive stats.

But I’m liking the intangibles and an improving Jets defence in this one.

Darrelle Revis put on a clinic in the Jets Monday night win over the Dolphins showing why he is the NFL’s number one shut down corner.

I don’t expect San Diego to find much success on the other side of the field with former Chargers cornerback Antonio Cromartie on patrol.

The Jets offence and inconsistent form of quarterback Mark Sanchez remains a worry but I am

expecting the New York ground game, which ranks second last in the league averaging just 80.8 yards per game, to get untracked behind an inspired effort from LaDanian Tomlinson, the Chargers all-time leading rusher, who will be facing his former team for the first time.

All three Jets wins have come at home and the Chargers do not play well on trips to the East coast.

This is also a game the New Yorkers must win if they want to stay in the chase in the AFC East with New England and Buffalo.

The New Yorkers talk tough and usually back it up with a gritty effort. Bolts get a jolt.

Take the Jets and the 1.5.

- – - -

And with the game in London for the international series, here is the Lineman’s verdict on how the Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Chicago Bears may go…

Should be one of the better ones they have staged in London. It was too close for me to call in my picks but if I was going to take one I would have taken the Bears.

There you have it.

Picture: Chicago Bears quarterback Nathan Enderle practices at The Oval cricket ground in London October 21, 2011. NFL International Series game will see the Tampa Bay Buccaneers play the Chicago Bears at Wembley Stadium in London on Sunday.

Post Your Comment

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
  •