Congratulations if you drafted Philip Rivers this season knowing that he was going to outperform Matt Schaub and Tom Brady. High-five if you felt that Arian Foster, Rashard Mendenhall, and Peyton Hillis were going to be more productive than Maurice Jones-Drew, Ray Rice, and Steven Jackson. Fist-bump if you predicted that Brandon Lloyd was going to have a better season than Brandon Marshall.
Every season has its anomalies, and this one is no exception. Keep proposing trades and working the waiver wire judiciously, and you’ll be able to overcome most “mistakes” you made on draft day (unless Ryan Grant and Matthew Stafford were both key players on your team, but I digress). Here are my recommendations for Week 7 - all games are Sunday during the day unless otherwise noted:
Cincinnati at Atlanta (Sunday early) - The Bengals are coming off a bye week; the Falcons are coming off an embarrassing loss in Philadelphia. Both offenses can be explosive, but both defensive units are good enough that this shouldn’t be a high-scoring game. Carson Palmer gets the better of Matt Ryan, and all the pundits who predicted a few weeks ago that Atlanta would get to the Super Bowl enlist in the Witness Protection Program. Cincinnati 24 Atlanta 21.
- Yes (Should definitely be in your starting lineup): QB Carson Palmer, WRs Chad Ochocinco & Terrell Owens, TE Jermaine Gresham, DEF
- No (Should definitely NOT be in your starting lineup): K Mike Nugent
- Maybe So (Okay to start if you don’t have a better option): RB Cedric Benson, WR Jordan Shipley
- Yes: RB Michael Turner, WR Roddy White, TE Tony Gonzalez, DEF
- No: WR Harry Douglas, K Matt Bryant
- Maybe So: QB Matt Ryan, WR Michael Jenkins
Pittsburgh at Miami - Steeler QB Ben Roethlisberger hardly missed a beat in throwing for three touchdowns last weekend in his first game back from his suspension for
allegedly raping a woman in a bathroom violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy. Miami won’t be able to run the football against Steel Curtain 2.0, and Chad Henne has looked shaky at times this season, but he’ll have success throwing against Pittsburgh’s secondary - just not quite enough. Pittsburgh 30 Miami 27.
- Yes: QB Ben Roethlisberger, RB Rashard Mendenhall, WRs Hines Ward & Mike Wallace, TE Heath Miller, K Jeff Reed
- No: DEF
- Maybe So: None
- Yes: QB Chad Henne, WRs Brandon Marshall & Davone Bess, TE Anthony Fasano, K Dan Carpenter
- No: RB Ricky Williams, WR Brian Hartline, DEF
- Maybe So: RB Ronnie Brown
Buffalo at Baltimore - Next April the Bills will have to choose between quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Jake Locker. This weekend the Bills will have to choose between quarterbacks Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brian Brohm. The results of this game will surprise no one. Baltimore 27 Buffalo 14.
- Yes: RB Fred Jackson
- No: QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, WRs Lee Evans & Stephen Johnson, DEF, K Rian Lindell
- Maybe So: RB C.J. Spiller, TE Shawn Nelson
- Yes: RB Ray Rice (Probable-ankle), WR Anquan Boldin, TE Todd Heap (Questionable-neck), DEF, K Billy Cundiff,
- No: WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh
- Maybe So: QB Joe Flacco, RB Willis McGahee, WR Derrick Mason (Probable-finger, ankle)
Jacksonville at Kansas City - Both teams are at a crossroads after starting out the season surprisingly well. Jacksonville needs this game more than Kansas City, but Kansas City is the more talented team and will prevail. Kansas City 31 Jacksonville 20.
- Yes: WRs Mike Sims-Walker (Probable-shoulder) & Mike Thomas, TE Marcedes Lewis, K Josh Scobee
- No: DEF
- Maybe So: QBs David Garrard (Questionable-concussion) & Trent Edwards (Questionable-thumb), RB Maurice Jones-Drew
- Kansas City
- Yes: QB Matt Cassel, RBs Jamaal Charles & Thomas Jones, WR Dwayne Bowe, TE Tony Moeaki, DEF
- No: WRs Patrick Chambers (Probable-finger) & Dexter McCluster, K Ryan Succop
- Maybe So: None
Cleveland at New Orleans - Not a lot to love about this matchup unless you’re a sadist or have a rooting interest in the Saints. Biggest suspense in this game involves which Browns’ receivers will be healthy enough to play. New Orleans 34 Cleveland 14.
- Yes: RB Peyton Hillis (Probable-thigh), WR Chansi Stuckey, TE Ben Watson (Probable-ankle)
- No: QBs Colt McCoy, Jake Delhomme (Doubtful-ankle), & Seneca Wallace (Doubtful-ankle); WR Mohamed Massaquoi (Doubtful-concussion), DEF, K Phil Dawson
- Maybe So: WR Josh Cribbs (Probable-concussion)
- New Orleans
- Yes: QB Drew Brees (Probable-knee), RB Chris Ivory, WR Marques Colston, TE Jeremy Shockey, DEF, K Garrett Hartley
- No: RBs Pierre Thomas (Out-ankle), Ladell Betts, & Julius Jones (Probable-shoulder)
- Maybe So: WRs Devery Henderson, Robert Meachem, & Lance Moore
Washington at Chicago - Bears’ quarterback Jay Cutler started off the season with a bang, but the last few weeks he’s been getting sacked seemingly on every other play. Part of the blame lies with Cutler and his tendency to hang onto the ball too long, but most of the problem lies with the offensive line. Meanwhile Redskins’ quarterback Donovan McNabb is taking well to his new surroundings. Chicago pulls this game out on the strength of Matt Forte’s pass-catching abilities. Chicago 27 Washington 24.
- Yes: QB Donovan McNabb, WRs Santana Moss & Anthony Armstrong, TE Fred Davis (if he starts)
- No: RBs Ryan Torain & Keiland Williams, DEF, K Graham Gano
- Maybe So: TE Chris Cooley (Questionable-concussion) (if he starts)
- Yes: QB Jay Cutler, WRs Johnny Knox & Devin Hester, DEF, K Robbie Gould
- No: RB Chester Taylor, WRs Earl Bennett & Devin Aromashodu
- Maybe So: RB Matt Forte, TE Greg Olsen
San Francisco at Carolina - This may be the week that 49ers coach Mike Singletary can finally get through a game without screaming at quarterback Alex Smith on the sideline. Panthers coach John Fox will probably want to scream at quarterback Matt Moore, but will refrain when he realizes his other choices are rookies Jimmy Clausen and Tony Pike. San Francisco 21 Carolina 17.
- San Francisco
- Yes: RB Frank Gore, WR Michael Crabtree, TE Vernon Davis (Probable-knee), DEF
- No: WR Josh Morgan (Probable-thigh), K Joe Nedney
- Maybe: QB Alex Smith
- Yes: RB DeAngelo Williams, TE Dante Rosario (Probable-knee), DEF
- No: QB Matt Moore, K John Kasay
- Maybe So: RB Jonathan Stewart, WR Steve Smith (Probable-ankle)
St. Louis at Tampa Bay - Which Sam Bradford will show up? Which Josh Freeman will show up? Without knowing the answers ahead of time, you may as well flip a coin to predict the outcome of this game. That’s what I just did (metaphorically speaking, of course). St. Louis 20 Tampa Bay 17.
- St. Louis
- Yes: RB Steven Jackson, DEF, K Josh Brown
- No: WR Laurent Robinson
- Maybe So: QB Sam Bradford, WRs Danny Amendola & Danario Alexander
- Tampa Bay
- Yes: TE Kellen Winslow (Probable-knee), DEF
- No: RB Cadillac Williams, K Connor Barth
- Maybe So: QB Josh Freeman, WR Mike Williams
Philadelphia at Tennessee - Back when Eagles running back LeSean McCoy was a wee lad Titans coach Jeff Fisher was an assistant for the Eagles. What bearing does that have on this game? None whatsoever. Philadelphia has two talented quarterbacks, only one of whom is currently injured. Tennessee has two mediocre quarterbacks, both of whom are currently injured. Philadelphia will win, in spite of missing DeSean Jackson. Philadelphia 24 Tennessee 17.
- Yes: QB Kevin Kolb (if he starts), WRs Jeremy Maclin & Jason Avant, TE Brent Celek (Probable-wrist), DEF
- No: WR DeSean Jackson (Out-concussion), K David Akers
- Maybe So: QB Michael Vick (if he starts), RB LeSean McCoy (Probable-ribs), WR Riley Cooper (Probable-concussion)
- Yes: RB Chris Johnson (Probable-thigh), TE Bo Scaife (Questionable-groin), DEF
- No: QBs Vince Young (Questionable-knee) & Kerry Collins (Probable-finger) (whichever starts); WRs Kenny Britt (Questionable-bar fight), Nate Washington, & Justin Gage (Questionable-hamstring); K Rob Bironas
- Maybe So: RB Javon Ringer
Arizona at Seattle (Sunday late) - Neither of these teams is impressive, yet they both have a chance (along with St. Louis) to win the worst division in football. It’s a shame somebody has to win this game - I suppose I can root for an overtime tie. Seattle will win, as the Marshawn Lynch experiment starts to take hold. Seattle 27 Arizona 21.
- Yes: WR Larry Fitzgerald
- No: RBs Beanie Wells & Tim Hightower, DEF, K Jay Feely
- Maybe So: QB Max Hall, WR Steve Breaston
- Yes: RB Marshawn Lynch, WR Mike Williams, TE John Carlson, DEF, K Olindo Mare
- No: None
- Maybe So: QB Matt Hasselbeck, RB Justin Forsett, WR Deon Butler
New England at San Diego - The annual Norv Turner witchhunt has started early this year, but the refrain is familiar. The Chargers will play well enough to get a win and quiet the rabble, at least for a week. San Diego 28 New England 20.
- New England
- Yes: TE Aaron Hernandez, K Stephen Gostkowski
- No: RB Danny Woodhead, DEF
- Maybe So: QB Tom Brady, RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, WRs Deion Branch & Wes Welker
- San Diego
- Yes: QB Philip Rivers, WR Butch Davis (Probable-ribs), TE Antonio Gates (Questionable-toe), DEF
- No: RBs Mike Tolbert & Darren Sproles, WRs Malcom Floyd (Doubtful-hamstring) & Legedu Naanee (Doubtful-hamstring), K Kris Brown
- Maybe So: RB Ryan Mathews (Probable-ankle), WR Patrick Crayton
Oakland at Denver Denver managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory last week against the Jets thanks to a late-game pass interference call. Oakland has been better this year than in recent seasons (thank you JaMarcus Russell, wherever you are), but both of their quarterbacks are currently banged up. Kyle Orton has just enough in his bag of tricks to lead the Broncos to victory. Denver 24 Oakland 17.
- Yes: RB Michael Bush, TE Zach Miller
- No: QBs Bruce Gradkowski (Questionable-shoulder) & Jason Campbell (Questionable-knee), RB Darren McFadden, WR Louis Murphy, K Sebastian Janikowski
- Maybe So: None
- Yes: RB Knowshon Moreno, DEF
- No: RB Laurence Maroney, WR Eddie Royal (Questionable-groin), K Matt Prater
- Maybe So: QB Kyle Orton, WRs Brandon Lloyd, Jabar Gaffney & Demaryius Thomas
Minnesota at Green Bay (Sunday night) - Ladies and gentlemen, step right up! The circus comes to town one last time. Hurry and get your tickets - you don’t want to have to explain to everyone why you missed your last chance
until next year to see hero-turned-villain Brett Favre. Minnesota 24 Green Bay 21.
- Yes: RB Adrian Peterson, WRs Randy Moss & Percy Harvin (Probable-hamstring), DEF
- No: K Ryan Longwell
- Maybe So: QB Brett Favre (Probable-elbow), TE Visanthe Shiancoe
- Green Bay
- Yes: DEF
- No: QB Aaron Rodgers, RB Brandon Jackson, WRs James Jones & Jordy Nelson, K Mason Crosby
- Maybe So: WRs Donald Driver & Greg Jennings, TE Anthony Quarless
New York Giants at Dallas (Monday night) - Let’s see what wild and crazy touchdown celebrations those wacky Cowboys have cooked up for this week’s game. Even if they don’t make it to the Super Bowl in February, perhaps the NFL will consider hiring Miles Austin and Marc Colombo to entertain the hometown crowd during the big game. New York 24 Dallas 21.
- New York
- Yes: WRs Steve Smith & Hakeem Nicks (Questionable-hamstring) DEF
- No: RB Brandon Jacobs, K Lawrence Tynes
- Maybe So: QB Eli Manning, RB Ahmad Bradshaw, WR Mario Manningham, TE Kevin Boss
- Yes: TE Jason Witten, DEF
- No: RB Marion Barber, K David Buehler
- Maybe So: QB Tony Romo; RB Felix Jones; WRs Miles Austin, Dez Bryant (Questionable-ankle), & Roy Williams, TE Martellus Bennett
Good luck to your teams this weekend!
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