If nothing else, we have been consistent so far this season. In other words, we have split our picks for four consecutive weeks as we once again went 1-1 with our week 6 selections en route to a 4-4 record this season. It is slightly disappointing that we haven’t been able to gain any momentum, however a .500 record so far isn’t the worst thing in the world with plenty of football left in the season.
I mentioned in last week’s article that Ben Roethlisberger had a career 18-1 record against the Cleveland Browns and that he also had won eight straight against his division rival. Well, now Big Ben has an 18-2 record against the Browns and the win streak was snapped in a big way Sunday as Cleveland manhandled the Steelers 31-10 at the Dawg Pound. The Browns had a big second quarter, scoring 21 points and staking themselves to a 21-3 halftime lead and they never looked back. Even better news for Browns fans: their next three games are against Jacksonville, Oakland, and Tampa Bay. In other words, they are playing the three worst teams in the NFL who currently sit with a combined 1-17 record on the season. Things finally look bright for the Cleveland Browns.
Our winner came later in the afternoon on Sunday as the Dallas Cowboys marched into the most hostile environment in the NFL and won a huge football game against the Seattle Seahawks. I actually attended this game, and other than witnessing the best sports atmosphere I have ever seen, I witnessed one heck of a performance from all facets of the Cowboys football team. Dallas was down 10-0 early thanks to a blocked punt for a touchdown, however Dallas did not turtle and stuck to their running game as DeMarco Murray rushed for 100+ yards for the 6th consecutive game, tying Jim Brown for an NFL record. Tony Romo hung tough all game and the Dallas defence held both Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson in check en route to a 30-23 victory over the 9.5-point favourite Seahawks.
Let’s take a look at the week 7 action and see if we can pick up some steam and come away with something more than a split.
Atlanta Falcons @ Baltimore Ravens
Lines – Baltimore -7 (+100)
OVER 49.5 (-110)
My Pick – FALCONS +7 (-120)
After coming out of the gates hard to start the season, the Atlanta Falcons have lost four straight games, most recently a 27-13 home loss to the Chicago Bears. Matt Ryan and company looked as if they were the Atlanta Falcons pre-2013 team once again in their first two games of the season, however they now have some work to do in what has become one of the weaker divisions in the NFL. Baltimore on the other hand has had some recent success as they have won two of their last three games and scored 86 points in those two wins. However, expectations have to be tempered as their most recent victory came over the one-win Tampa Bay Buccaneers who seem to change from week to week. Baltimore scored 28 first quarter points against the Bucs, something Tampa Bay is used to as Atlanta did the very same thing to them in the week 3 Thursday Nighter. When you look at the numbers for both of these teams through the first 6 weeks of the season, there is strong comparisons to be made. First of all, they both average EXACTLY 27.3 points per game on offense. Atlanta is slightly better in the passing game while the Ravens are slightly better in the run game, and both teams are 44% on third down conversions. Their time of possession numbers are basically even on the year, and both quarterbacks have thrown 12 touchdowns on the year, but five of Joe Flacco’s were in last week’s thumping of Tampa. Flacco and Matt Ryan were both taken in the first round of the 2008 draft, both have had the same head coach their entire career, and both are relied upon to carry their teams on a weekly basis. There are a ton of similarities between the Ravens and Falcons and I think Atlanta is receiving too many points here considering the explosiveness of their offense. Torrey and Steve Smith will be threats for the Falcons defence all day long as Atlanta’s defence is prone to giving up the big play, but the same can also be said of the Ravens defence and Julio Jones will be more than the Ravens secondary can handle. Roddy White and Devin Hester provide superior receiver depth for the Falcons and Matt Ryan is about to find his groove again. Baltimore doesn’t exactly play well against sub .500 teams as they are 1-5 against the spread in their last six games vs. a team with a losing record. They also don’t usually play well after a huge win as they are 1-5-1 ATS in their last 7 games after scoring 30+ points in their previous game. I like the Falcons to turn their season around this Sunday and I will take the 7 points just to be sure.
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Miami Dolphins @ Chicago Bears
Lines – Chicago -3 (-120)
OVER 49 (-110)
My Pick – BEARS -3 (-120)
The Chicago Bears have been an interesting team to follow this season as it is difficult to predict which Chicago team will show up from week to week. They dropped a home game to the Bills to start the season, and completely turned the tide and stunned the 49ers the next week on the road. They were thumped by Green Bay at home in week 4 and went into Atlanta and won last week. See what I mean? Clearly, this week I am of the opinion that the Bears will show up and win a game that they are expected to win. Miami suffered a heartbreaking loss last week at home to Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers used some late-game magic that included a fake spike and a touchdown pass with just a few ticks left on the clock to down the Dolphins 27-24 in dramatic fashion. It was good on Miami to hang around with Green Bay for so long, however there is no moral victory coming out of this one, just pure heartbreak in what should have been a Dolphins win. Now Miami is forced with the task of going into Soldier Field and trying to cover the rash of Jay Cutler’s targets that sit at his disposal. Alshon Jeffrey (495), Matt Forte (376), Martellus Bennett (364), and Brandon Marshall (301) have all eclipsed the 300-yard receiving mark on the year while Mike Wallace (313) is the lone receiver for Miami that has done so. The quartet of pass options for Cutler have combined to score 12 touchdowns on the year while the top four Dolphins targets have combined for just six scores on the season, and four of those have come from Wallace. It’s no surprise that Miami averages just 217 yards per game through the air and convert less than 40% of third downs. Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill hasn’t exactly has the smoothest of seasons so far as speculation that he could be benched has perhaps soured his relationship with Head Coach Joe Philbin, and their running game took a hit as Knowshon Moreno is now out for the season after sustaining an ACL injury in last week’s loss to the Packers. This Miami offense doesn’t seem fit to take on the Bears on the road this week and I fully expect Jay cutler to make use of his dynamic receiving corps in what will be a Bears victory, and a Bears cover from Solider Field in Chicago.