One of my favorite Seinfeld episodes was “The Café”, an episode where Jerry befriended Babu Bhatt, a struggling Pakistani restaurant owner of ‘The Dream Cafe’ which served spaghetti and meatballs, hot dogs, and turkey amongst other items. While Jerry is busy trying to support Babu’s failing restaurant endeavors, George is dating a woman who asks him to take an IQ test for an education course she’s taking. George is scared to take the test because in his words “You know people think I’m smart, but I’m not smart…” George conspires with Elaine who once scored a 145 on an IQ test to take the test for him at The Dream Café while George locks himself in a bedroom at his girlfriend’s apartment. Between Babu, Kramer and Jerry’s distractions, Elaine struggles throughout the test and brings back George a food stained test which he begrudgingly hands over to his girlfriend. Jerry and Elaine are anxiously waiting at Jerry’s apartment for the results when George shows up and angrily yells to the window “85 Jerry. 85 IQ!” As George enters the apartment he sees Elaine and dryly says “Oh hello, professor!"
I’m not sure this football season if I’ve been more George – “People think he’s smart, but he’s not” – or Elaine – Just a bad day at the office? – but after a 5-9 week last week, clearly I need to improve. In my defense, there have been a couple of twists this season that many would have had a difficult time predicting:
The New York renaissance of the Jets and Giants!
The emergence of Bailey Zappe and the New England Patriots
The gritty Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks giving all of their opponents all they can handle
Old Man River Tom Brady finally looking like a human
The struggles of the Green Bay Packers
And finally, Russell Wilson looking like he forgot how to play football
If you saw any of those happening, I salute you. I certainly did not, at least to this extent. However these are not excuses. I will bounce back this week, I feel it in the air…alright enough of the famous last words. Let’s get to the picks.
New Orleans at Arizona – The Cardinals laid an egg in Seattle last week scoring 9 points while the Saints gave the Bengals all they could handle at home but ultimately lost. Both teams are desperate to get on track this week in another Thursday night snoozefest, I mean thriller. The Cardinals get back DeAndre Hopkins from suspension and I think he may cure some of the Cardinals’ ails. By the way next Thursday’s game is Baltimore at Tampa Bay so that should at least be watchable. For this week however, I’m going with the Cardinals.
Atlanta at Cincinnati – Raise your hand if you had Atlanta tied for first in the NFC South after 6 games? The Falcons played a great game against a depleted 49ers defense and Marcus Mariota has been extremely efficient. The Bengals won a must win game in New Orleans and are tied for first in a very tight NFC North. Bengals D will be too much to handle this week, I’m going with the Bengals.
Cleveland at Baltimore – Teams are starting to figure out that if you stop Nick Chubb, you’re basically shutting down the Browns offense. The Browns looked lost against the Patriots last week while the Ravens inexplicably lost another game in the 4th quarter, this time to the New York Football Giants. The Ravens are much better than their record indicates and should find a way to beat their division rival this week. Going with Baltimore.
Detroit at Dallas – The Lions are coming off a much needed bye week which was hopefully spent on righting the defense which is among the worst in the league. I had said in my predictions last week that the bright lights of prime time are a different animal and that Cooper Rush would struggle and he did mightily in a loss against the Eagles. That said, the Cowboys went 4-1 in Dak Prescott’s absence and he returns this week healthy and ready to go. Cowboys should win big here.
Green Bay at Washington – The Commanders won a Thursday Night classic against the Bears (can you hear the sarcasm in my voice?) but lost QB Carson Wentz for 4-6 weeks with a hand injury. The Packers didn’t just lose to the Jets this past week, they were dominated in all facets of the game. I’m not sure what is going in Green Bay but clearly something needs to be fixed. Talent wins out here this week and the Packers finally get back on the winning side of things.
Indianapolis at Tennessee – The Colts are among the most difficult teams to figure out this year. At times they look like a competent, well run offense and other times Matt Ryan looks like a quarterback whose best days are very far behind him. The Colts beat the Jaguars last week while the Titans are coming off a bye sitting at first place in the NFC South. Could be a close one but I’m going with the Titans at home.
NY Giants at Jacksonville – The Jaguars are a 2-4 team which has more talent than their record indicates. That said they are young and so some bumps in the road are to be expected, but head coach Doug Pederson is the perfect guy to lead the charge. Alright let’s get to the good stuff – What is going on in East Rutherford, New Jersey? The Giants are 5-1 and have found ways to win in the most improbable ways. The defense was aided by the return of Leonard Williams last week and rookie Kayvon Thibodeaux and Julian Love made clutch plays in the 4th quarter to set up the Giants win. Daniel Jones hasn’t been spectacular, but he’s been tough and efficient and has done as well as could be expected with a group of receivers that most casual fans couldn’t name if they tried. The offense is creative, they take chances at the right time, and they’re making the most out of the limited options they have. Brian Daboll is a coach of the year candidate for what he’s done thus far. Keep enjoying the ride Giants fans. All of this said, I think this week’s game may be tougher than most expect. I’m going with the Jaguars in a close one.
Tampa Bay at Carolina – I won’t spend much time on Carolina as they very simply put are the worst team in the NFL this year. What is going on in Tampa Bay though? I want to be clear, I’m not writing them off by any means, especially in that division. A loss to Pittsburgh though? Tom Brady looks like a guy who just doesn’t have his heart in it this year. Screaming at your offensive line on the sidelines is one thing, doing it after you went to a wedding on a Friday night and subsequently missed Saturday’s walkthrough practice is another. Brady will go down as the greatest of all time in most people’s books, but this ending may get ugly quick if he doesn’t get his heart in it, especially at 45 years old. All of this said, Tampa Bay should roll this week. Go with the Bucs.
Houston at Las Vegas – If Carolina is the worst team in the NFL, Houston isn’t very far behind at 1-3-1. The Raider are 1-4 but only have a point differential of -5 which means this team is better than their record indicates. I still think they may be poised for a run. Make no mistake though, when you go to the bar this weekend to watch the games, expect this one to be on the little TV in the corner. Raiders win big.
NY Jets at Denver – The Jets rolled into Green Bay last week and took down the Packers and Aaron Rodgers by a score of 27-10. Quinnen Williams was a menace on defense and running back Breece Hall lead the way with 116 yards on the ground and a touchdown. Zach Wilson has been efficient since being back in the fold at QB and this looks like a team that has legitimate playoff aspirations. The Broncos on the other hand look absolutely horrendous and lost another prime time game this past Monday, this time to division rival LA Chargers. Russell Wilson isn’t being paid $245 million dollars to go 15 for 28 with 188 passing yards. My gut though says Denver wins a really close one at home. Broncos Country – let’s ride?
Kansas City at San Francisco – The Chiefs lost a close one to Buffalo this past week at Arrowhead, but definitely proved that they have the mettle to hang with the league’s best and I think there is a very good chance both teams will meet again in the playoffs. The 49ers lost to a feisty Falcons team last week however were without Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead, Trent Williams, Charvarius Ward and Mike McGlinchey. That’s a lot of talent to be down. They’ll get some of that talent back this week but I still think Mahomes & Company will win in a very close one between two very well coached teams. Going with KC.
Seattle at LA Chargers – The Chargers are 4-2 despite having a point differential of -11 this year and have won 3 in a row albeit in the ugliest of fashion. Justin Herbert is playing through a rib injury and is in desperate need for the return of Keenan Allen. I don’t see the Seahawks making the playoffs, but they’re 3-3 and playing much better than they were expected to this season, especially quarterback Geno Smith. This game is a coin flip but I usually will go with the better quarterback so I’m going with the Chargers.
Pittsburgh at Miami – Tua Tagovailoa returns for the Dolphins this week and if he’s able to return to his form before his concussion, he should be a huge boost for Miami both on the field and in the locker room. The Steelers and Mike Tomlin somehow knocked off the Tampa Bay Bucs this week despite an injury to QB Kenny Pickett. Pickett should be back behind center this week but I don’t see it being enough to knock off the Dolphins. I’m going to Miami (Will Smith voice).
Chicago at New England – The Bears have now lost 3 in a row and are also 0-3 on the road this year. The Patriots offense has looked much better with Bailey Zappe under center and despite reports that Mac Jones is definitely the starter this week, one has to wonder if Belichick will have Jones on a short leash after Zappe went 2-0 in his absence. The Patriots defense has tightened up and traditionally feast on young quarterbacks and I expect the same this week. Patriots win big.
Enjoy Week 7 and have a great weekend!