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Week 7 Predictions: Scores for every game

NFL Nation reporters predict the outcomes and scores for Sunday’s and Monday’s Week 7 games.


PickCenter

Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith said it best. “We’re up and down like a freaking yo-yo in terms of between series [and] between games. … We’ve got to be a consistent defense.” In Week 5, Tampa Bay held the New England Patriots to a season-low 19 points. In Week 6, the Bucs surrendered 38 to the Arizona Cardinals, with 24 coming in the first half. If they don’t shore up their run fits, it’ll be another long flight home. Regardless of who starts at quarterback and regardless of the Bills having an extra week to prepare, the Bucs end this two-game skid. Buccaneers 24, Bills 20Jenna Laine

The Bills are playing their first home game in 28 days, good news for a team that has the fourth-highest point margin per game (9.5) at home this season. With TE Charles Clay (knee) out and WR Jordan Matthews potentially playing in his first game since breaking his thumb Oct. 1, Buffalo will need its running game to finally get going after averaging 3.4 yards per rush over the first five games (29th in the NFL). The Bills are 16-8 since 2015 when gaining more than 115 rushing yards and 2-11 when they gain 115 yards or fewer. Bills 21, Buccaneers 17Mike Rodak


PickCenter

The Panthers are 3-0 on the road and have averaged 27.7 points away from Bank of America Stadium; they’re scoring 15 points per game at home, where they are 1-2. The expected return of Pro Bowl center Ryan Kalil should shore up some communication issues on the offensive line and help a struggling running game. If Cam Newton can continue to put up good road numbers — eight of his nine touchdowns on the road, with only two of his eight interceptions away from home — the Bears will have a tough time scoring enough to keep pace behind a rookie quarterback. Panthers 28, Bears 13David Newton

The Bears have won consecutive games only twice in the John Fox era, both times in 2015. Aside from Chicago’s inconsistencies under Fox, Carolina’s fifth-ranked rushing defense (83.3 yards per game) is a real problem. The Bears must dominate on the ground to be successful. It’s too soon to ask rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky to win a game by throwing the ball 35 times. The Bears don’t have enough weapons at wide receiver for that to happen. Panthers 21, Bears 17Jeff Dickerson


PickCenter

The Titans are playing the winless Browns just six days after an emotional victory over division-rival Indianapolis. But the Titans know the potential dangers if they sleepwalk into Cleveland. They already have circled the Browns’ running game and talented rookie pass-rusher Myles Garrett as elements they would like to limit Sunday. This seems like a game where the Titans finally can get ahead early, then lean on their running game to lead the rest of the way. Titans 27, Browns 13Cameron Wolfe

Anyone who picked the Browns a week ago (me) probably should never pick them, or any games, again. However, it’s impossible to believe this team as built is as bad as it has been playing. That might be depending on smoke and mirrors, but the one thing the Browns have done this season is stop the run. The Browns are sixth in the league against the run and are facing a team that is third in the league in rushing. The difference: It’s tough to travel after a Monday night game. The Browns end the skein. Browns 19, Titans 17Pat McManamon


PickCenter

This has “trap game” written all over it since the line in Las Vegas swung 10 points over the weekend. But that’s what happens when a team loses an all-world quarterback as the Packers did with Aaron Rodgers to a broken collarbone, and the Saints suddenly have the hottest defense in the NFL (a shutout against Miami in Week 4 and a franchise-record three defensive TDs in the Week 6 win over Detroit). Saints QB Drew Brees will be making his 238th career start, while Green Bay’s Brett Hundley will make his first. According to ESPN Stats & Information, that’s the second-biggest disparity in NFL history behind Matt Cassel making his debut against Brett Favre in 2008. Saints 23, Packers 20Mike Triplett

The Packers are 3-5-1 since 2008 when Rodgers doesn’t start. Matt Flynn won all three of those games, and he isn’t quarterbacking the Packers on Sunday. What’s more, the offensive line in front of new starter Hundley is a mess. No five-man group has played more than 89 snaps together for the Packers this season, according to ESPN Stats & Information. That won’t help settle the offense. Saints 33, Packers 20Rob Demovsky


PickCenter

The Jaguars haven’t beaten the Colts in Indianapolis since 2012, but this is by far the best Jaguars team to play in Lucas Oil Stadium in that span. They lead the NFL in rushing (165.8 yards per game), but maybe this is the game when QB Blake Bortles gets things rolling. Defenses have ganged up on Leonard Fournette (the Rams used goal-line formations in Week 6), and the Jaguars expect the Colts to do the same. That should leave opportunities for downfield plays against a Colts defense that is giving up 295.8 yards passing per game (30th in the NFL). The Jaguars also have the No. 3 pass defense behind CBs Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye and have picked off a league-high 10 passes. That’s a good matchup against QB Jacoby Brissett, who is still adjusting to his role as starter. Jaguars 24, Colts 21Mike DiRocco

The Colts have won four consecutive games over the Jaguars in Indianapolis. It should be noted, though, that their two most recent home victories over their AFC South counterparts have been by a total of seven points. So much of Jacksonville’s fortunes this weekend will depend on the availability of Fournette, who is averaging 99.3 yards per game rushing. The No. 4 overall pick in this year’s draft didn’t practice Wednesday or Thursday because of an ankle injury suffered Sunday against the Rams. The Jags need Fournette in some capacity to help ease the workload of Bortles, who already has thrown five interceptions this season. Jacksonville’s defense is third in the NFL against the pass (166 yards) but 31st in the league in stopping the run (145.7 yards). This will be a low-scoring affair, but the Colts improve to 10-2 in their past 12 games after a loss. Colts 17, Jaguars 13Mike Wells


PickCenter

Everyone saw Adrian Peterson run for 134 yards and two touchdowns in Arizona’s Week 6 victory over Tampa Bay. The question this week is whether he can do it again. But regardless of how Arizona’s offense plays, the way the Cardinals win in London is by stopping Jared Goff. The Rams are the highest-scoring team in the league and have a top-10 passing game. But with Patrick Peterson nursing a quadriceps injury and questions about Justin Bethel‘s status as a starter, Arizona could need others to step up on defense. Rams 27, Cardinals 24Josh Weinfuss

Against the Jaguars in Week 6, the Rams consistently placed six players on the line of scrimmage in what looked a lot like a goal-line defense in hopes of stopping Leonard Fournette on the ground. They can’t do that against the Cardinals, even though Peterson is coming off a 134-yard game against the Buccaneers. The Rams have to account for Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald too. Not to worry. The Rams, 3.5-point favorites, have a front seven that should make life difficult for the Cardinals’ offensive line. Offensively, the Rams are far better than anything the Cardinals have seen from them in the recent past. Rams 27, Cardinals 24Alden Gonzalez


PickCenter

The Jets have won four of their past five road games against the Dolphins. More important, their offense will be at full strength for the first time in a month, with the return of RB Bilal Powell. This will be an ugly, low-scoring game between two pedestrian offenses (a kind description), as neither has scored more than two touchdowns in a game. The Jets believe they can rattle Jay Cutler into a couple of turnovers, and that will be the difference. Jets 17, Dolphins 16Rich Cimini

The Dolphins were embarrassed by the Jets in Week 3, and that revenge and motivation should have Miami focused at home Sunday. The Dolphins have won a franchise-record 11 consecutive games decided by seven points or fewer, and this should be another close one. Look for Miami’s defense to force a pair of turnovers in an ugly game. Dolphins 17, Jets 14James Walker


PickCenter

Baltimore has been limited to four offensive touchdowns in its past four games (going 1-3 during that stretch) and now will face a Vikings defense that yields the fifth-fewest points in the NFL. To make matters worse, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer repeatedly frustrated Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco when he was the defensive coordinator in Cincinnati. Unless the Baltimore defense can force turnovers, it will be difficult for the Ravens to move the ball against Minnesota. Vikings 23, Ravens 9Jamison Hensley

The Vikings ride a two-game win streak into Week 7, including Sunday’s 23-10 victory over the Packers, and are 3-1 at home this season. What’s more? None of Minnesota’s victories inside U.S. Bank Stadium have been by fewer than 10 points. This top-tier defense is rolling, while Case Keenum and the offense have found a groove, even when not at full strength. Vikings 24, Ravens 14Courtney Cronin


PickCenter

The Bengals have lost seven of their past eight games to the Steelers. However, the Bengals’ defense is playing better than it has in several years and pressures quarterbacks at a league-leading rate of 34 percent, according to ESPN Stats & Information. If the Bengals can pressure Ben Roethlisberger into making some errant throws, as he did in a loss to the Jaguars, they might be able to squeak out just enough points to win. Bengals 17, Steelers 14Katherine Terrell

The Steelers are 4-2 despite not playing their best, and Roethlisberger is eager to show his five-interception performance in his previous game at Heinz Field — where he has 175 touchdown passes for his career — was an aberration. The Bengals’ second-ranked defense has 18 sacks in five games and will be a problem for Pittsburgh. But on the other side, quarterback Andy Dalton has two touchdowns to four interceptions in his most recent 3½ games against the Steelers. The matchup favors the home team. Steelers 24, Bengals 20Jeremy Fowler


PickCenter

The Cowboys have a 20-9 record after a bye week but are just 12-7 on the road in their first game back from a one-week break. Their two previous opponents, the Rams and Packers, used 10-day breaks to their advantage in beating the Cowboys. For the 10th time since Jerry Jones purchased the team in 1989, the Cowboys are 2-3 after five games. They have made the playoffs just once after such a start. A loss to the winless Niners would not end the Cowboys’ season, but it would be debilitating, particularly if running back Ezekiel Elliott has to serve his six-game suspension at some point this season. Quarterback Dak Prescott has not been two games under .500 in his short career. Cowboys 31, 49ers 26Todd Archer

On the day the Niners are honoring Dwight Clark, and with Joe Montana set to be in the building as well, this sets up as a game in which San Francisco could spring a surprise. However, this isn’t a great matchup for the Niners, who have struggled defensively against offensive lines that don’t rank near the bottom of the league. Dallas’ group hasn’t been its dominant self so far but has plenty of talent. If the Niners can’t get a pass rush going, Prescott could throw three touchdowns passes for the third consecutive game and give the Cowboys their fifth win in six games against the 49ers. Cowboys 27, 49ers 23Nick Wagoner


PickCenter

The Broncos do have some injuries of concern on offense: Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders is out with an ankle injury, right tackle Menelik Watson won’t play unless his calf injury improves drastically into the weekend, and wide receiver Demaryius Thomas was limited in practice this week. So the Broncos’ chances on offense hinge on their running game — 140 yards rushing in the season opener against the Chargers — and whether players who wanted more opportunities to catch the ball make the most of those. Defense usually travels, as the adage goes, and there figure to be plenty of Broncos fans in the seats in a stadium where the Chargers are 0-3 this season. Broncos 24, Chargers 23Jeff Legwold

The Chargers are the pick here to make it three wins in a row. Denver quarterback Trevor Siemian is dealing with an injured left shoulder and has experienced a dip in play after his hot start, throwing four interceptions and just two touchdown passes in the Broncos’ past three games. Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa will force Siemian into some mistakes Sunday, and Philip Rivers finally will get the Chargers’ offense going early. Chargers 24, Broncos 20Eric Williams


PickCenter

Even with the Giants notching their first victory of the season in impressive fashion in Week 6, this matchup still heavily favors the Seahawks. They’re coming off a bye, and their defense has started to hit its stride, allowing only 26 points over the past two games while forcing six turnovers. And the Seahawks are returning to a place where they’ve had nothing but success. They’re 4-0 at MetLife Stadium, including their blowout win in Super Bowl XLVIII and a 23-0 shutout of the Giants that same 2013 season, when they picked off Eli Manning five times. A surging Seattle defense with a week of rest against a Giants offense without Odell Beckham Jr. is a recipe for a drama-free victory. Seahawks 27, Giants 14Brady Henderson

The Giants dominated in Denver, but it still took three forced turnovers and a defensive touchdown for them to reach 23 points with their revamped offense, which produced only 266 total yards with its new run-first approach. The Seahawks appear primed to play a complete game for the first time this season coming off their bye week. Pete Carroll’s teams have won three of their past four games after a bye. This is another tough spot for the beat-up Giants, who won’t catch Seattle off guard. Seahawks 26, Giants 13Jordan Raanan


PickCenter

The Falcons are fresh off coughing up a 17-0 lead in their Week 6 loss to the Dolphins and still hear talk of them blowing a 28-3 advantage in a 34-28 overtime loss to the Patriots in Super Bowl LI. Sunday night, they’ll have a chance to exorcise those demons by winning the rematch. The Falcons and Matt Ryan need to utilize all their offensive weapons against a Patriots defense that has struggled to stop anybody while surrendering 26.5 points per game. But the Falcons won’t win if they keep up a trend that has seen them outscored 72-40 this season after halftime. Look for offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian to stick with the running game, with Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman both averaging at least 4.5 yards per rush. And look for Sarkisian to get Julio Jones involved in the red zone, where the All-Pro receiver has been targeted just once this season, with no catches. Falcons 28, Patriots 24Vaughn McClure

This is the eighth time in NFL history the two Super Bowl teams meet the following regular season; the Super Bowl winner has been victorious in five of the previous seven matchups. The key will be turnovers, as the Falcons are a surprising minus-4 this season, while the Patriots — who are allowing 325 passing yards per game, fourth-most through six games by any team in NFL history — are plus-3. That was a stat that Falcons coach Dan Quinn pointed out, saying, “Being plus-3 in the turnover margin gives you a helluva chance to play at your best.” Patriots 41, Falcons 27Mike Reiss


PickCenter

Kirk Cousins can’t win on Monday nights; he’s 0-5. However, the Redskins quarterback has fared well in his second meeting of a season against a division opponent (4-2 record; 14 touchdowns, 3 interceptions; Total QBR of 75.0). So what does all that mean? Well, the Redskins definitely have a chance to help Cousins go 1-5 on Monday nights. The problem? Injuries. Washington lost defensive lineman Jonathan Allen, and there’s still uncertainty over injured starting corners Josh Norman and Bashaud Breeland. If those two play, the Redskins have an excellent chance. Then it’ll come down to third downs; the Redskins were 3-of-11 in the opening loss to Philly while the Eagles were 8-of-14. But the health issues are concerning. Eagles 23, Redskins 20John Keim

Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins noted Washington’s offense looks much different from when these two teams played in the opener, with zone-reads and jet sweeps added to the attack. It appears Cousins has developed more of a rhythm with his new receivers as well. The Eagles also have evolved, particularly when it comes to the ground game. They averaged 21 rushes for 78 yards over the first two games; those numbers have soared to 35 rushes for 158 yards over their four most recent outings. Washington needs this game more than Philly, but the Eagles should continue to roll on offense against a banged-up Redskins defense. Eagles 31, Redskins 27Tim McManus

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