So why is Week 7 an important one to NFL teams? Because players who were placed on the physically-unable-to-perform list back in training camp or the preseason are eligible to be activated after their team’s first six regular-season games. Obviously, clubs that already have had a bye week would have to wait until Week 8, but someone like the Ravens’ Terrell Suggs could be activated this week. And, in fact, he was activated and practiced Wednesday. You know Baltimore would love to have the 2011 NFL Defensive Player of the Year ASAP after losing both Ray Lewis and Ladarius Webb (he’s a bigger loss these days than Lewis) to season-ending injuries in Week 6. But it’s expected Suggs still doesn’t play for at least a few games.
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Week 6 saw its share of upsets that could have shaken up your survivor pool competition – unless you took my recommendation, that is. I went with the Falcons last week as the top choice, and they did escape a Raiders road upset.
But the Steelers lost at Tennessee (always, always stay away from road teams in those short Thursday turnarounds!); the Bengals lost at Cleveland (hey, I told you the Browns had to win sometime); the Eagles blew a game at home to Detroit (and Andy Reid thusly fired defensive coordinator Juan Castillo); the Bills won at Arizona (Cards are now showing their true colors); and the Seahawks rallied past New England (never pick a team to win at Seattle, especially one having to travel across country, it’s too tough a place to play).
Speaking of the Pats, they are now in a four-way tie atop the AFC East at 3-3. It’s the first time since realignment in 2002 that all teams in a division are tied for first through Week 6 or later. New England has lost its three games by a total of four points, while its wins are by a combined 55 points.
Week 7 is a tough one for a survivor pool because a season-high six teams are on a bye: Atlanta, Denver, Kansas City, Miami, Philadelphia and San Diego. Teams listed first below are presumed favorites.
New England vs. NY Jets: The Pats rarely lose four games in a season since Tom Brady arrived on the season. Thus, I find it hard to believe they lose their fourth game already and second at home in 2012.
San Francisco vs. Seattle (Thursday): The Niners definitely aren’t an uber-confident pick after seeing what that Giants defense did to Alex Smith and Co. last week. But, as noted above, the quick turnarounds are such a big advantage for the home team.
Chicago vs. Detroit (Monday): The Lions are starting to lip off, saying their lack of a mean streak was what caused their season-opening struggles. Detroit had no reason winning last week in Philly, but former Eagles DC Castillo inexplicably changed the game plan late against Calvin Johnson, and the Lions made the Iggles pay. The Bears enter off a bye so should be as well-prepared as they can be. In many ways, the Bears players hate the Lions more than any other team (they respect Green Bay).
Green Bay at St. Louis: Still probably too early to go with a road team this season, but the Packers looked totally refocused (especially Aaron Rodgers) in their dominating win at Houston. The Rams are 3-0 at home, however.
New York Giants vs. Washington: First off, it’s now clear RG3 can win any game by himself. Secondly, this smells like a typical letdown game the Giants are more than known for under Tom Coughlin following that huge win at San Francisco. The Skins also swept this series last year.
New Orleans at Tampa Bay: I’m not sold the Saints solved all their issues with their win over San Diego before New Orleans’ bye week. After all, look at what the Chargers did Monday night. It would certainly help that lousy Saints defense if linebacker Jonathan Vilma makes his season debut this week. The Bucs probably should be 3-0 at home this season (blew the Redskins game).
Dallas at Carolina: Why would you risk anything on Tony Romo? Plus, no DeMarco Murray for Dallas. A loss here could be the beginning of the end for Jason Garrett.
Houston vs. Baltimore: Obviously too close to call, although I am curious to see how that Ravens defense responds to those two huge injuries.
Minnesota vs. Arizona: John Skelton is back at quarterback for the Cardinals with Kevin Kolb out, but Skelton could easily find himself hurt again behind that terrible offensive line facing sack-master Jared Allen of the Vikings. Yet an Arizona victory wouldn’t surprise me, either, because the Cards have a good defense.
Pittsburgh at Cincinnati: The Steelers look like the New York Yankees right now: Old and past their prime. Troy Polamalu out again for Pittsburgh this week, so I’m even surprised the Steelers are slight favorites in this Sunday nighter.
Buffalo vs. Tennessee: One sportsbook recently had odds that Chan Gailey was the NFL coach most likely to be fired first. But the Titans’ Mike Munchak also was on that list. Both got a reprieve with game-ending field goal wins last week. I would rather watch chick flick “Steel Magnolias” for three-plus hours than this dog.
Indianapolis vs. Cleveland: Maybe Mike Holmgren was the problem? He was removed as team president under new team ownership this week, and I’d be shocked if Browns coach Pat Shurmur isn’t gone after the season. The Colts should win at home, but they don’t have starting RB Donald Brown.
Oakland vs. Jacksonville: Maybe I will follow that screening of “Steel Magnolias” for the 1 p.m. dog Titans-Bills game by watching “Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo” instead of this ghastly 4:25 p.m. ET matchup. Or, you know, actually go outside and enjoy nature on an NFL Sunday.
I have used both the Niners and Patriots so far this season, but they would be my top two choices. Otherwise, take the Bears. Chicago will miss injured rookie WR Alshon Jeffery, but the week off should do wonders for Matt Forte, who has been battling injury.
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