NFL Week 7 Picks

Here are my picks for the NFL’s Week 7 slate (excluding Thursday Night Football)

Last week: 11-3

49ers at Patriots: Patriots

Panthers at Saints: Saints

Bills at Jets: Bills

Browns at Bengals: Browns

Cowboys at Washington: Cowboys

Packers at Texans: Packers

Lions at Falcons: Lions

Steelers at Titans: Steelers

Buccaneers at Raiders: Buccaneers

Chiefs at Broncos: Chiefs

Jaguars at Chargers: Chargers

Seahawks at Cardinals: Seahawks

Bears at Rams: Rams

The Pats’ Boogeymen haunt Darnold and shutout the Jets!

TEAM

1

2

3

4

T

NYJ 0 0 0 0 0

NE

17 7 2 7 33

There were many pundits who expected yesterday’s game between the Patriots and Jets (1-5) to be competitive, due to the Pats’ injuries on offense, and the return of Sam Darnold to the Jets’ lineup. However, a dominant performance on both sides of the ball enabled the Pats to cruise to a 33-0 victory and their fourth straight season sweep of New York. This win improved the Pats to 7-0 on the season, and keeps them atop the AFC through seven weeks.

Here are some takeaways from yesterday’s game.

1. Another defensive masterpiece!

The Pats’ defense was remarkable yet again, as they shut out the Jets on offense for the second time this season, and limited them to 154 yards of total offense. Following a dominant performance against the Cowboys that netted him the AFC’s Offensive Player of the Week award, Sam Darnold was utterly neutralized by Bill Belichick’s defense, as he mustered only 86 passing yards, with a QBR of 0.7. Darnold’s first pass of the game was intercepted by Devin McCourty, and appeared to set the tone for the rest of the game, as the Pats used an effective pass rush to throw off Darnold’s timing and force turnovers. Darnold threw 4 interceptions and lost a fumble, en route to the worst performance of his professional career. Darnold’s frustration can be summed up by him mentioning how he was “seeing ghosts” on the field.

Demaryius Thomas was arguably the only efficient receiver for the Jets, as he managed to eclipse 40 yards, and drew several flags against J.C. Jackson, which enabled New York to extend multiple drives. Le’Veon Bell was effective on the ground, as he totaled 70 yards off of 15 carries, after being limited to 35 yards in Week 3’s matchup in Foxborough.

The Patriots’ defense has been the catalyst for the team’s unbeaten start to the season, and will need to continue to play at this level as the schedule begins to become more difficult.

d mac v jets w719.jpg
(Al Bello/Getty Images)

2. A good offensive rebound!

The Pats’ offense entered this matchup with several questions regarding their ability to overcome their perceived lack of depth at certain positions. Tom Brady and the offense opened the game with a drive that totaled nearly 9 minutes and culminated in a touchdown by Sony Michel. After a few weeks of uneven offensive performances, the Pats were able to sustain drives and move the ball against a physical Jets’ defense. The offensive line was much better at protecting Brady, as he wasn’t sacked, and was hit only 3 times. Due to injuries at fullback, Josh McDaniels enlisted several players to fill the void at the position, with linebacker Elandon Roberts being a notable example.

The Pats were able to spread the ball around, as Brady completed 31 passes to 9 different receivers, en route to 249 passing yards. Brady’s top weapons in this game were James White (7 receptions for 59 yards), Jakobi Meyers (5 receptions for 47 yards), and Julian Edelman (7 receptions for 47 yards), with Phillip Dorsett also pitching in with a 26-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter. Sony Michel didn’t have his best game of the season, but he was effective when the Pats needed him, as he was able to score 3 touchdowns (for the first time in his regular season career).

The Patriots’ offense wasn’t as effective in the second half, but another dominant performance by their defense gave them a high margin for error. The Pats should be encouraged by how they were able to push around a physical defense, but they will need to find more consistency as the season progresses. Luckily for the offense, they will likely get N’Keal Harry and Isaiah Wynn back soon, and today’s trade for Falcons receiver Mohamed Sanu should also give the passing game a boost.

sony v jets w719.jpg
(Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports)

Statistical Leaders:

Patriots

  • Passing: Tom Brady – 31/45 for 249 yards, 1 touchdown & 1 interception
  • Rushing: Sony Michel- 19 carries for 42 yards and 3 touchdowns
  • Receiving: James White – 7 receptions for 59 yards
  • Defensive: Jonathan Jones – 6 tackles

Jets

  • Passing: Sam Darnold – 11/32 for 86 yards and 4 interceptions
  • Rushing: Le’Veon Bell – 15 carries for 70 yards
  • Receiving: Demaryius Thomas – 3 receptions for 42 yards
  • Defensive: Darryl Roberts – 8 tackles

 

What’s next?: The Pats head back to Foxborough to face Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns (2-4) for a matchup that promises to test Bill Belichick’s defense, as they face off against an offense with weapons such as Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry.

Descending in MetLife: Will the Pats continue to neutralize New York?

On Monday, the Patriots make their annual trip to the Meadowlands to play their hated rival, the New York Jets (1-4) for the second time this season. The two teams squared off in Week 3, with the Pats easily winning by 16 points, but this week’s game could look drastically different, as both teams will be starting players that missed the matchup in September.

Here are some things to consider entering this Week 7 contest.

1. Can the defense continue to dominate?

The Patriots have been able to overpower their opponents with surgical and physical defensive game plans, which have been mostly successful in neutralizing what opposing offenses do best. This week, they face off against an offense that shocked the league with their ability to dice up an usually competent Dallas defense. New York’s resurgence on offense can be attributed to the return of their starting quarterback Sam Darnold, who was sidelined due to a 4 week bout with mononucleosis. Darnold clearly ignited something in Adam Gase’s much maligned offense, as he combined with Robbie Anderson and Jamison Crowder to dissect Dallas’ secondary. It wouldn’t be overly surprising to see Stephon Gilmore matched up against Anderson once again, as he has had success covering him in recent years. Another Jets’ receiver that the Pats will likely pay attention to is Demaryius Thomas, who made headlines this week for complaining about how Bill Belichick and the Pats’ front office cut and re-signed him, before shipping him to New York (due to the failed Antonio Brown experiment). Thomas will likely be motivated to prove that New England made a mistake in trading him, so the Pats should be careful to not lose him in coverage.

In order to emerge victorious, I believe that the Pats will need to neutralize Le’Veon Bell once again, and force Darnold to beat them with his arm.

pats d v darnold w7p19.jpg
(Photo via USA TODAY Sports)

2. What will the offense look like?

The Patriots’ offense has been decimated by injuries and turmoil over the last few weeks, which has limited their effectiveness in recent games. Unfortunately for Tom Brady, he will be without yet another weapon on Monday night, as Josh Gordon will be missing the game due to knee and ankle injuries. Gordon’s absence will likely result in increased snaps for Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski, who were effective in small doses in Week 6 against the Giants. Phillip Dorsett has been able to practice all week after sitting out Week 6 due to a hamstring injury, and is likely to suit up on Monday, which will help take pressure off of Brady, and Julian Edelman.

The Pats’ offensive line has struggled in recent weeks, and Monday’s matchup with the Jets won’t be any easier for them, as New York will have C.J. Mosley and Quinnen Williams on the field (both defenders were not active in Week 3). Hopefully re-signing Ben Watson will give the Pats a slight improvement in blocking, and help Sony Michel find some lanes to run through.

Facing a defense coached by Gregg Williams is never easy, so the battered Patriots’ offense will need to be at their absolute best to leave MetLife Stadium with a win.

tb v jets w7p19.jpg
(Photo via Getty Images)

Injury Report:

Patriots

  • Josh Gordon (ankle/knee) – Out
  • Ryan Izzo (concussion) – Out
  • Matt LaCosse (knee) – Out
  • Rex Burkhead (foot) – Questionable
  • Patrick Chung (heel/chest) – Questionable
  • Phillip Dorsett (hamstring) – Questionable
  • Julian Edelman (chest) – Questionable
  • Gunner Olszewski (hamstring) – Questionable

Jets

  • Albert McClellan (concussion) – Out
  • Henry Anderson (shoulder) – Doubtful
  • Kelvin Beachum (ankle) – Doubtful
  • Trenton Cannon (foot/ankle) – Doubtful
  • Christopher Herndon (hamstring) – Doubtful
  • Neville Hewitt (neck/knee) – Doubtful
  • Kelechi Osemele (shoulder) – Doubtful
  • Alex Lewis (neck) – Questionable
  • Nate Hairston (knee) – Questionable
  • Ryan Kalil (shoulder) – Questionable
  • C.J. Mosley (groin) – Questionable
  • Steve McLendon (hamstring) – Questionable
  • Darryl Roberts (ankle) – Questionable
  • Demaryius Thomas (hamstring) – Questionable
  • Brian Winters (shoulder/knee) – Questionable

 

Prediction: Patriots 20, Jets 13

Here are my picks for the rest of the NFL’s Week 7 games (apart from Thursday Night Football)

Last week: 6-8

Raiders at Packers: Packers

Rams at Falcons: Rams

49ers at Redskins: 49ers

Texans at Colts: Texans

Vikings at Lions: Vikings

Jaguars at Bengals: Jaguars

Cardinals at Giants: Giants

Dolphins at Bills: Bills

Chargers at Titans: Chargers

Ravens at Seahawks: Seahawks

Saints at Bears: Bears

Eagles at Cowboys: Cowboys

The Pats tame the Bears in thrilling game at Soldier Field!

TEAM

1

2

3

4

T

CHI 10 7 7 7 31

NE

7 14 10 7 38

The Patriots outlasted the Chicago Bears (3-3) in a back-and-forth game at Soldier Field, with a 38-31 victory that improved them to 5-2 on the season. Playing without key contributors on offense and an inconsistent defense, the Pats relied on special teams to pull out their first road victory of the year.

Here are some takeaways from today’s game.

1. The offense was brilliant once again without key playmakers

The Pats took on the Bears without Rob Gronkowski, who didn’t make the trip to Chicago due to back and ankle injuries. They started the game hot, as they dissected the vaunted Bears defense en route to a Julian Edelman touchdown on their opening drive. However, things went downhill from there, as their third drive resulted in Sony Michel suffering a knee injury (which did not look good) and a fumble that helped Chicago take a 17-7 lead. The Patriots displayed their mental fortitude as they were able to bounce back and regain the lead in the second quarter. Tom Brady was his usual self, as he threw for over 270 yards and 3 touchdowns, along with an interception. James White and Kenjon Barner served as a serviceable running back duo, as they helped spread the field for the Patriots. Without Gronk in the lineup, the Pats relied on their trio of receivers in Julian Edelman (5 catches for 36 yards and 1 touchdown), Josh Gordon (4 catches for 100 yards), and Chris Hogan (6 catches for 63 yards). The offensive line performed well against the talented Chicago pass rush, as Brady was only sacked 1 time, and was not touched much throughout the game.

 Sony Michel’s injury is concerning for the rest of the season, as he had proved himself to be a valuable contributor, and the combination of Michel and White was extremely potent for Josh McDaniels’ offense. There hasn’t been any word on the severity of his injury, but let’s hope that he isn’t out for an extended period of time. I also believe that the Patriots shouldn’t rush Rob Gronkowski back into the lineup, as I think that it’s important to allow him to recover and stay healthy as the season progresses.  

White v bears w7.jpg
(Photo via USA TODAY Sports)

2. The defense had another up-and-down performance

Following their dreadful performance against the Chiefs, it was interesting to see how the Pats’ defense would rebound against Mitch Trubisky and the Bears offense, and the best word to describe their performance is inconsistent. Early on in the game, they were able to shut down Chicago’s passing game, but they could not contain Trubisky outside of the pocket, as he frequently scampered for first downs off of big gains. Trubisky had a 8-yard touchdown run, and also had a 39-yard run during which he maneuvered around hapless Patriots’ defenders. Despite their inability to stop Trubisky from running the ball, the Pats were able to make life hard for his receivers, as only Trey Burton (9 receptions for 126 yards and 1 touchdown) and Tarik Cohen (8 catches for 69 yards and 1 touchdown) had great performances. Another area of concern for the Pats was their number of penalties (4 penalties for 29 yards), which helped to extend drives for Chicago. 

The Pats were able to make up for their early miscues, as they forced Trubisky into 2 second half interceptions and most of Chicago’s fourth quarter yardage came in garbage time. Today’s game ended in thrilling fashion, as the Bears’ Hail Mary attempt resulted in Kevin White being tackled at the one-yard line, due to a wall of defenders led by Duron Harmon.

pats bears hial mary
(Photo by John J. Kim / Chicago Tribune)

3. Special Teams came up big!

The Patriots’ special teams did not start very well today, as Cordarrelle Patterson fumbled a kickoff which gave the Bears fantastic field position and led to them snatching the lead. Patterson was able to recover from his miscue, as he returned a second quarter kickoff for a 95-yard touchdown, as he outmaneuvered the Bears’ kickoff unit and helped the Patriots trim their deficit to 17-14. In the third quarter, Dont’a Hightower blocked a punt, which led to a touchdown by Kyle Van Noy which gave the Patriots a lead that they would never relinquish. Interestingly enough, this was the first game in Patriots’ history that featured the men in blue score on a blocked punt and a kickoff. It’s always heartening to see special teams step up when the team requires a spark in order to emerge victorious. 

patterson kickoff w7
(Photo by Barry Chin/ Boston Globe)

Statistical Leaders:

Patriots

  • Passing: Tom Brady – 25/36 for 277 yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 interception
  • Rushing: James White – 11 carries for 40 yards
  • Receiving: Josh Gordon – 4 catches for 100 yards 
  • Defensive: Patrick Chung – 6 tackles

Bears

  • Passing: Mitch Trubisky – 26/50 for 333 yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions
  • Rushing: Mitch Trubisky – 6 carries for 81 yards, and 1 touchdown
  • Receiving: Trey Burton – 9 catches for 126 yards, and 1 touchdown
  • Defensive: Danny Trevathan – 10 tackles

 

What’s next?: The Pats head to Buffalo to take on their rival, the Buffalo Bills (2-5) on Monday Night Football.  

 

 

Patriots storm into the Windy City!

On Sunday, the Patriots head to the Windy City to face Khalil Mack and the Chicago Bears (3-2), with hopes of improving to 5-2 on the season. Chicago is coming off of a demoralizing overtime loss to the Miami Dolphins, and will definitely bring their A-game against Tom Brady & Co.

Here are a few things to consider entering this Week 7 contest.

1. Brady vs Mack: Who will prevail?

The marquee matchup of this game will be between Tom Brady’s offense and Khalil Mack’s defense, with both units being considered to be among the best the NFL has to offer. Brady and the offense are coming off of a brilliant performance against the previously undefeated Kansas City Chiefs, during which they dictated the pace of the game and unrelentingly dissected the hapless Chiefs defense.  Unfortunately for the Pats, they will have to face a brilliant pass rush led by Mack, which has made a habit of getting after the quarterback and making life difficult for the offensive line. To be successful against the Bears defense, the Patriots should take a look at what Miami did last week, as backup quarterback Brock Osweiler was successful in leading the Dolphins to score 31 points. Also, Mack is still dealing with a lingering ankle injury, which may hamper his effectiveness. Look for the Patriots to use their speed at receiver and running back to take advantage of matchups against the Bears.

brady v bears 14.jpg
(Photo by Jim Davis/Boston Globe)

2. How will the Patriots defense perform?

Last week against the Chiefs, the Patriots’ defense was absolutely porous, as they gave up 31 points in the second half, which was a result of frequently busted coverages in the secondary. It’s sad for me to admit that I expect them to struggle once again this week, as they are facing off of a team that is led by Matt Nagy, who was the Chiefs’ offensive coordinator last season. Nagy has a reputation of being innovative on offense, and has definitely modeled his offense on that of the Chiefs, with the usage of dynamic running backs, athletic tight ends, and speedy wide receivers. Hopefully, Bill Belichick has come up with a game plan to deal with the Bears’ weapons, such as Tarik Cohen and Ryan Howard. One key takeaway from last week’s game is that the Patriots were able to win because they tricked Patrick Mahomes into making mistakes in the first half, and that will be essential this week when they face off against another young quarterback in Mitch Tribusky. 

howard v pats prese.jpg
(Photo via Getty Images)

Injury Report:
Patriots

  • Malcom Brown (knee) – Questionable
  • Julian Edelman (heel) – Questionable
  • Josh Gordon (hamstring) – Questionable
  • Geneo Grissom (ankle) – Questionable
  • Rob Gronkowski (ankle) – Questionable
  • Jacob Hollister (hamstring) – Questionable
  • Sony Michel (knee) – Questionable
  • Eric Rowe (groin) – Questionable
  • John Simon (shoulder) – Questionable
  • Deatrich Wise (ankle/knee) – Questionable
  • Marcus Cannon (concussion) – Questionable

Bears

  • Khalil Mack (ankle) – Questionable
  • Allen Robinson II (groin) – Questionable
  • Prince Amukamara (hamstring) – Questionable
  • Marcus Cooper Sr. (hamstring) – Questionable
  • Eric Kush (neck) – Questionable

Prediction: Patriots 34, Bears 27

Here are my predictions for the rest of the NFL’s Week 7 contests

Last week: 8-5

Broncos at Cardinals: Broncos

Titans at Chargers: Chargers

Panthers at Eagles: Panthers

Vikings at Jets: Vikings

Bills at Colts: Colts

Texans at Jaguars: Texans

Browns at Buccaneers: Browns

Lions at Dolphins: Lions

Saints at Ravens: Saints

Cowboys at Redskins: Cowboys

Rams at 49ers: Rams

Bengals at Chiefs: Chiefs

Giants at Falcons: Falcons