Clearly the most newsworthy thing to happen in the NFL in Week 6 was the torn meniscus suffered by Ben Roethlisberger in the Steelers' puzzling loss in Miami on Sunday. Big Ben underwent surgery on Monday and unfortunately will miss this Sunday's home showdown with New England. That's all I will say about that injury for now as I will preview Pats-Steelers as the Sunday game of the week later here at Doc's, although it's not quite as intriguing with Landry Jones facing Tom Brady.
Perhaps the other two most important things to happen in Week 6 involved teams on their bye in Week 7: Dallas and Carolina. The Cowboys absolutely can't turn the team back over to Tony Romo even if healthy for Week 8. Dak Prescott has been stellar in his place. They -- whoever they are -- always say professional athletes shouldn't lose their jobs due to injury. That's hogwash. Brady got his first NFL chance because of an injury to Drew Bledsoe in New England. And then Romo got his starting shot when Bledsoe got hurt in 2006 while with Dallas. In Sunday's impressive win at Green Bay, Prescott wasn't just way better than Aaron Rodgers but also broke Brady's NFL record of most pass attempts to begin a career without a pick. Brady's mark was 162 and Prescott reached 176 before he was picked off by Morgan Burnett.
Yet Prescott perhaps even isn't the best rookie on his own team .Ezekiel Elliott had 157 yards rushing in the win, becoming the first rookie in NFL history to rush for at least 130 yards in four straight games. He probably welcomes the bye week as Elliott has already carried the ball a league-high 137 times and leads the NFL by far with 703 rushing yards. Which guy do you give NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors too? If the Cowboys keep this up, you might have to consider one of them for MVP and the other for OROY.
Meanwhile, things are going downhill fast with the defending NFC champion Panthers. You can all but stick a fork in them returning to the playoffs at 1-5 even though the Chiefs rallied from that same hole to earn a wild-card spot last year. No team that started 1-5 or worse after reaching the Super Bowl has made the playoffs. Cam Newton acted like a petulant child after Sunday's 41-38 loss in New Orleans, giving a few terse answers to the media and then storming out of the press conference. Way to be a leader. Newton did become the all-time leading Panthers passing yardage leader in the game. Yippee.
Here are some Week 7 early lines that caught my eye. I won't touch on Thursday's game (Bears-Packers), the marquee Sunday matchup (Pats-Steelers) or the Monday night game (Texans-Broncos) as I will be previewing them here individually. Dallas and Carolina are the only teams off this week.
Giants at Rams (+2.5, 44): This game is at London with a 9:30 a.m. ET kickoff but the twist is that it's the first-ever NFL game at Twickenham Stadium, the home of English rugby. The Rams, smartly I think, opted to fly straight to England following Sunday's loss in Detroit rather than basically add eight hours of extra travel by flying home and then back across the country and pond. I wonder when the Rams will start looking toward the future and actually play No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff. It certainly won't be this week barring injury as Case Keenum was great against the Lions in completing a team-record 19 consecutive passes during one stretch and finishing with a career-best 321 yards passing and three touchdowns in the close defeat. Keenum also ran for a touchdown. The Giants ended a three-game skid with a 27-23 come-from-behind win over the Ravens. Odell Beckham Jr. was magnificent with 222 yards receiving, including TDs of 75 and 66 yards (the winning score) on eight catches. But he also got another really stupid penalty after the winning TD that could have proven very costly in giving the Ravens better field position after the kickoff. Guy never learns. Beckham now has 10 career games with at least 140 receiving yards, the most in a player's first three seasons. The pick: Giants and over.
Bills at Dolphins (+2.5, 44): Rex Ryan for Coach of the Year? I have to chuckle after typing that because I thought he'd be the first one fired. Everyone piled on Rex after he fired his offensive coordinator following a 0-2 start, but this is a completely different team under new coordinator Anthony Lynn. The Bills have been running the ball down their opponents' throats since Lynn took over and had a crazy 312 yards rushing in Sunday's blowout of San Francisco. LeSean McCoy has been the AFC's best back under Lynn and had 140 yards and three scores vs. the 49ers. Buffalo has won four straight for the first time in eight years and could theoretically take the AFC East lead with a win Sunday and then by completing a season sweep against New England in Week 8. The Dolphins shockingly dominated the Steelers on Sunday in a 30-15 upset. Jay Ajayi likely will be a popular pickup in your fantasy leagues this week if available as he had 204 yards rushing and two scores. He joined Ricky Williams as the only Dolphins with a 200-yard, two TD game. The pick: Bills and under.
Browns at Bengals (-10, 45.5): This might be the last time many of the citizens of Cleveland pay attention to the local NFL team this season with the NBA champion Cavaliers starting their season next week and the Indians potentially in the World Series. Looking at Cleveland's schedule before the season, there were probably 3-4 games I circled where they had a chance to win and avoid a potential 0-16 campaign. This past Sunday's matchup in Tennessee was one but the Titans won 28-26. Cleveland (0-6) now is off to its worst start since 1999 when the Browns lost their first seven as an expansion franchise. For some reason, Coach Hue Jackson went for two when the Browns scored a TD with 2:07 left to cut their deficit to 28-19. You have to go for one there to make it a one-possession game. Naturally the Browns didn't convert. Jackson is of course Cincinnati's former offensive coordinator. That unit has disappointed this year without Jackson as the Bengals were held under 20 points for the fourth time in 2016 on Sunday in a 35-17 loss at New England. Cincinnati dropped to 2-4 for the first time since 2010, when it finished 4-12 -- its worst season under coach Marvin Lewis, who might be fired if the Bengals lose this one. The pick: I wouldn't give 10 but 9.5 I would. Go under.
Want free NFL picks? Doc's has you covered. New clients can take advantage of this great offer of $60 in free Doc's Sports members' picks for any handicapper on Doc's Advisory Board. Just check out these guys' pages and see what great work they have done making money for themselves and their clients over the years. Click here for this exclusive $60 picks offer. Also, get three handicappers for the price of one when you sign up for a full-season football package! Click Here for details.
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
Most Recent NFL Handicapping
- Caesars Sportsbook NFL Futures Bettors Pile on the Buffalo Bills
- NFL Draft Betting Predictions for Props
- 2022 NFL Season Win Totals Predictions
- 2023 Super Bowl Predictions
- NFL Betting Predictions: Championship Round Weekend Opening Line Report and Picks
- NFL Betting Predictions: Divisional Round Weekend Opening Line Report and Picks
- NFL Betting Predictions: Wild Card Weekend Opening Line Report and Picks
- Basic Strategy Teasers: Best Week 17 NFL Betting Options
- NFL Betting Predictions: Week 17 Opening Line Report and Picks
- Basic Strategy Teasers: Best Week 16 NFL Betting Options