The Patriots go for their sixth straight victory over the Jets in an early game on CBS, and NFL action wraps up with Peyton Manning returning to Indianapolis as the Broncos visit the Colts on Sunday Night Football. There will be two extremes in the final two NFL games of Week Seven: on Sunday night fans are treated to a game between two teams with a combined record of 10-2, and then that is followed with a Monday night contest between two clubs with a combined record of 1-10. During commercial breaks in the Pats game you may want to check out the Lions-Bengals and Cowboys-Eagles games, as they should be fairly competitive; the late afternoon games (49ers-Titans, Browns-Packers, Ravens-Steelers) could also be entertaining.

In case you missed it in the Week 7 TV Coverage column, the Patriots dramatically outdrew the Red Sox last Sunday, despite the fact that the Pats were playing an early season game in the afternoon while the Sox were in a playoff game during primetime. That is in no way a slam on the Red Sox; it’s just a testament to how big the Patriots are in terms of interest.

Sunday’s game against the Saints drew a 35.1 household rating and a whopping 62 share in the Boston area, which translates to about 1.3 million total viewers watching the game in the Boston area. That was the highest rated show of the week in Boston, even though it was not on during primetime, and the second highest rated show was the post-game show. By comparison baseball’s ALCS games one and two between the Sox and Tigers had 21.8 and 20.6 ratings respectively; good enough to be the third and fourth highest rated shows, but both were significantly less than the Pats game.


New England Patriots (5-1) at New Jersey Jets (3-3) ★★★★★
Early game on CBS; Greg Gumbel, Dan Dierdorf
The Jets have an excellent defense (including a league-leading 3.0 yards per rush) and are very good on both lines. However, they have the same problem that the Houston and Pittsburgh defenses have: they don’t force any turnovers. The Jets’ D has just three takeaways (only Pittsburgh has fewer), and that is exacerbated by the number of penalties they commit (26, 2nd most in the NFL). To add gasoline to the fire their offense has turned the ball over 14 times (4th most), which leads to a turnover differential that is the third worst in the NFL (minus 11). If Gang Green can’t pull off a win here, the warm fuzzies from a better than expected start to the season could wear off quickly: after this the Jets play the Bengals and Saints.
Pick • Patriots 23, Jets 17
Pats -3½
Under 43½
Final Score: Jets 30, Pats 27; NYJ covers by 6½; over by 13½


The Patriots go for their sixth straight win over the Jets Sunday


San Diego Chargers (3-3) at Jacksonville Jaguars (0-6) ★★
Early game on CBS; Spero Dedes, Steve Beuerlein
San Diego has alternated wins and losses every game this year, so could this be Jacksonville’s big opportunity for their first win? The Chargers could have a bit of a letdown after getting up for a win over Indy, and west coast teams are notorious for not playing well when traveling coast to coast for a kickoff that takes place at what is 10:00 am by their clock. Even with all that, I just can’t pick a team that ranks 32nd in scoring (11.7 ppg) and 31st in points allowed (33.0 ppg) to win – but I can see the Jags keeping it close.
Pick • Chargers 24, Jaguars 17
Jaguars +9½
Under 45½
Final Score: Chargers 24, Jaguars 6; SD covers by 8½; under by 15½


Houston Texans (2-4) at Kansas City Chiefs (6-0) ★★★
Early Late game on CBS; Jim Nantz, Phil Simms
I really thought the Texans would regroup with a solid game at home against a mediocre Rams team last week; I was really wrong. If Houston can’t play well at home against St. Louis, how can they be expected to perform well at Arrowhead against the undefeated Chiefs and their defense? Gary Kubiak is going with third-string QB Case Keenum in front of record-setting loud and raucous crowd, against a D that just recorded ten – ten! – sacks last week. The one possible hope for the Texans is with their running game; the Chiefs are allowing 5.1 yards per carry, and Arian Foster had 198 yards from scrimmage, including 14 yards rushing on 20 carries. The problem is that Houston is imploding due to turnovers, and this is the worst possible matchup for them to rectify that issue. Kansas City leads the league with a +12 turnover differential, while the Texans are 31st at -12. It’s well past time to forget about how these two teams did in 2012; the Chiefs are by far the much better team right now.
Pick • Chiefs 24, Texans 10
Chiefs -5½ (four units) – Best Play of the Week✘✘✘✘
Under 40 (one unit)
Final Score: Chiefs 17, Texans 16; Houston covers by 4½; under by 7


Cincinnati Bengals (4-2) at Detroit Lions (4-2) ★★★★
Early game on CBS; Marv Albert, Rich Gannon
The Bengals have played to the level of their competition all season, so this should make for a very close and interesting game. Detroit is very talented, but at times seem to lose focus and consistency. I’ll take Matthew Stafford over Andy Dalton, Calvin Johnson over AJ Green, Reggie Bush over Giovani Bernard, and the team getting pumped up by the home crowd over a road team playing in a dome – but the Bengals defense will keep it close.
Pick • Lions 24, Bengals 20
Lions -3
Under 47½
Final Score: Bengals 27, Lions 24; Cincy covers by 6; over by 3½


Buffalo Bills (2-4) at Miami Dolphins (3-2) ★★★
Early game on CBS; Bill Macatee, Steve Tasker
Buffalo will start Thad Lewis at QB on the road, but don’t write this game off just because of that. The Miami offensive line has not played well at all this year, which has resulted in no running game, and QB Ryan Tannehill being sacked an NFL-high 24 times – which would put him on pace to set an NFL record for the most times sacked, if he lasts the full season. Buffalo comes into this game third in the NFL with 21 sacks, so the Dolphins will clearly have their work cut out for them. Miami needs to run the ball more often – they had just eleven rushing attempts last week against the Ravens, and have run just 45 times in the last three games – and take advantage of a Buffalo defense that is giving up 124 yards per game on the ground. Once Miami gets their run game going that should open up play action passes to Brian Hartline and Mike Wallace.
Pick • Dolphins 27, Bills 20
Bills +9½
Over 42 (one unit)
Final Score: Bills 23, Dolphins 21; Buffalo covers by 11½; over by 2


Chicago Bears (4-2) at Washington Redskins (1-4) ★★★
Early game on FOX; Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston
Once again the Bears have been excellent in forcing turnovers; they rank second in the NFL with 17, just one takeaway behind league leader Kansas City. They have also vastly improved their offensive line, which has given Jay Cutler time to step into his throws and be more accurate. Their problem is that they are being decimated with injuries to their defense, and have struggled to stop opponents. Pro Bowl DT Henry Melton and replacement Nate Collins are both out for the year with injuries, Charles Tillman has been unproductive due to injuries, and Julius Peppers has been invisible. The result is that compared to last year the Chicago defense has dropped from third to 26th in points allowed (17.3 to 26.8) and from fifth to 20th in yards allowed (316 to 373) per game. With the two defensive tackles out an over the hill Brandon Jacobs continually gashed the Chicago defense on the ground, and the Bears have been unable to get consistent pressure on the opposing quarterback; they rank 30th with just eight sacks. So why am I picking the Bears to win? Because the Washington defense is even worse, and their offense is not as good. The Redskins are giving up 8.6 yards per pass attempt (31st) and 28.6 points per game (27th), while forcing just eight turnovers (23rd).
Pick • Mild Upset: Bears 28, Redskins 21
Bears +1½ (two units) ✘✘
Under 51
Final Score: Skins 45, Bears 41; Wash covers by 2½; over by 35


Dallas Cowboys (3-3) at Philadelphia Eagles (3-3) ★★★★
Early game on FOX; Thom Brennaman, Troy Aikman
If you like lots of offense and don’t mind watching porous defenses, then this game is for you. Dallas ranks second in scoring (30.5 ppg) and Philly is fourth (27.7 ppg); defensively the Cowboys are 21st (25.3 ppg) while the Eagles are 29th (29.8 ppg). Dallas may be without RB DeMarco Murray, which would mean the Cowboys would rely even more on Tony Romo, who is tied for second in the NFL with 14 TD passes. The Dallas pass rush, which is already missing DE Anthony Spencer, will most likely also be without DE DeMarcus Ware. That should give Eagle QB Nick Foles (296 yards, 3 TD last week) even more time to connect with WR DeSean Jackson (34 receptions, 589 yards, 6 TD this season). Between the missing pieces for Dallas and the home field advantage I’ll give the Eagles a slight edge in what should be a very entertaining game.
Pick • Eagles 34, Cowboys 31
Eagles -2½
Over 54½ (two units) ✘✘
Final Score: Cowboys 17, Eagles 3; Dallas covers by 16½; under by 24½


St. Louis Rams (3-3) at Carolina Panthers (2-3) ★★
Early game on FOX; Dick Stockton, Brian Billick
Quarterbacks selected with the first picks of the 2010 (Sam Bradford) and 2011 (Cam Newton) drafts square off for the first time in Charlotte. At 1-3 the Rams looked like a team that had given up, 55-6 in the first halves of their last three games. At the time they had no defense and no running game, but have won their last two contests. Some of that is due to the level of their opponents (Jacksonville and Houston), but give some credit to an improved rushing attack. Daryl Richardson was averaging a pitiful 2.9 yards per carry, but his replacement, Zac Stacy, has improved that aspect of their game with 4.9 yards per carry. This week will be tougher though: Carolina is allowing just 89 yards rushing per game (3rd) 3.8 yards per carry (11th). Carolina has allowed just 32 points in their last three games, forcing eight turnovers during that time. The Panthers should have success running the ball with DeAngelo Williams (4.3 yards per carry) and Cam Newton (5.3 yards per carry) against a Rams rushing defense that is giving up 131 yards per game (30th) and 4.6 yards per carry (26th).
Pick • Panthers 27, Rams 20
Panthers -5½
Over 42
Final Score: Panthers 30, Rams 15; CAR covers by 9½; over by 3


Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-5) at Atlanta Falcons (1-4)
Early game on FOX; Kevin Burkhardt, John Lynch
Since starting out 6-4 last year the Bucs have plummeted, losing 10 of their last 11 games – with the only victory coming in week 17 last year against Atlanta after the Falcons had their playoff position secured. Meanwhile Atlanta has gone from a Super Bowl contender to a team in disarray, having lost five of their last six games. The Falcons have also lost five of their last six, with key offensive players Julio Jones, Roddy White and Steven Jackson sidelined or limited due to injuries. Adrian Clayborn has played okay for Tampa Bay, but the Bucs are getting zero production from the other side of their defensive line from either Da’Quan Bowers – who is starting to look like a draft bust and has played his way out of the starting lineup – or his replacement, Daniel Te’o-Neisheim. Darrelle Revis is being misused in zone coverage; for the money he is being paid the Bucs could have instead signed Cliff Avril, John Abraham and Brent Grimes and have been far better off. As if they needed any more distractions, the Bucs are now also dealing with another MRSA occurrence; the question seems to be not if Greg Schiano will be fired, but when. My guess is next week after they play on Thursday, which would give the interim coach a few extra days to prepare; the fact that they may be the best 0-5 team in the NFL over the last 20+ years isn’t enough to save Schiano.
Pick • Falcons 24, Bucs 16
Falcons -7
Under 43½
Final Score: Falcons 31, Bucs 23; ATL covers by 1; over by 10½


San Francisco 49ers (4-2) at Tennessee Titans (3-3) ★★★★
Late game on FOX; Chris Myers, Tim Ryan
Tennessee started off 3-1 but has lost both games since Ryan FitzPickSix took over for Jake Locker at quarterback. The Titans defense has defense has kept the team in games as it is allowing an 8th-best 19.2 points per game, and has given up more than 20 points just twice this year. Tennessee has 13 takeaways (4th best) and has a plus-8 turnover differential, which is the second best in the NFL. However, their offense has struggled; the Titans rank 21st in points scored (21.3 ppg). The offense is geared to run the ball but they’re averaging 3.7 yards per carry (23rd), leading to going three and out on 32% of their drives; only Jacksonville does so more often. After stalling early this year while dealing with an abundance of injuries, the 49ers are playing much better on both sides of the ball. One key has been to run more often and to not rely so heavily on Colin Kaepernick; that in turn has opened more play action passes. Last week SF ran for 149 yards, with Frank Gore rushing for 101 yards, against a solid Arizona defense; in the 4th quarter the 49ers ran an 18-play drive that consumed 9½ minutes to clinch the victory. San Fran has now scored 30+ points in three straight games and four times this season, and the defense forced four turnovers last week, giving them 10 in the last three games and 13 on the year. The 49er offense is capitalizing on those takeaways; in the last three games they have scored on all ten drives after a turnover.
Pick • 49ers 24, Titans 17
49ers -4
Over 38½
Final Score: 49ers 31, Titans 17; SF covers by 10; over by 9½


Cleveland Browns (3-3) at Green Bay Packers (3-2) ★★★★
Late game on CBS; Kevin Harlan, Solomon Wilcots
The Packers will be without Randall Cobb (in-season IR), who was Green Bay’s leading receiver, and possibly without WR James Jones as well. That makes Cleveland’s task of pass coverage much easier, as CB Joe Haden can focus exclusively on WR Jordy Nelson. Up front NT Phil Taylor is playing very well, collapsing the pocket and allowing Desmond Bryant and Barkevious Mingo to clean up; the Browns rank 7th in the NFL with 19 sacks. On offense the Browns are getting a lot of productivity from WR Josh Gordon 910 receptions for 146 yards last week) and TE Jordan Cameron (38 receptions for 460 yards and 5 TD). Unfortunately for Cleveland they don’t have a running game, and QB Brandon Weeden is prone to making poor decisions.
Pick • Packers 23, Browns 17
Browns +11½ (two units) ✘✘
Under 46½
Final Score: Packers 31, Browns 13; GB covers by 6½; under by 2½


Baltimore Ravens (3-3) at Pittsburgh Steelers (1-4) ★★★
Late game on CBS; Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts
Baltimore is coming off a rare home loss (just the 4th time in the last 30 home games) and has lost two of their last three. The defense played well last week, coming up with two turnovers, three sacks and allowing just one touchdown to the Packers, but the Ravens offense couldn’t get anything going. Baltimore ran for just 47 yards and couldn’t punch it in on four straight rushes on a 1st and goal from the four. Ray Rice and Bernard pierce are now both averaging just 2.8 yards per carry; Baltimore ranks 31st with 2.7 yards per carry and is 30th with 31% of their drives quickly ending in a three-and-out. The Steelers are equally inept running the ball (3.1 ypc, 30th), though RB Le’Veon Bell did manage to score twice last week. It seems odd to see two rivals who based so much of their play on running the ball for so long to now be utterly incompetent with their ground attacks. Baltimore could get a boost with the return of defensive linemen Terrence Cody and Marcus Spears. Pittsburgh ranks 29th in turnover differential (minus 9), with 11 giveaways and an NFL-worst two takeaways; don’t be surprised to see the ravens come up with a couple of critical turnovers to send the Steelers to their fifth defeat.
Pick • Mild Upset: Ravens 24, Steelers 17
Ravens +2½ (two units) ✘✘
Over 40½
Final Score: Steelers 19, Ravens 16; Pitt covers by ½; under by 5½


Denver Broncos (6-0) at Indianapolis Colts (4-2) ★★★★★
Sunday night on NBC; Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth
First Colts owner Jim Irsay pokes the bear, negatively comparing Peyton Manning to Tom Brady. Then former Indy GM Bill Polian implicitly rags on the Patriots by saying ‘we won the right way’. I guess if they’re talking about you then they must be envious, and if they’re envious then you must be doing something very well. As for the game, I would have liked the Colts more if Irsay could have managed to not provide any unnecessary bulletin board material. The Colts are averaging 24.7 points per game, which is a respectable 11th best in the NFL – yet that is nearly 20 points fewer than Denver (44.2). While most of the media is focusing on the two quarterbacks, few are mentioning that the Indy defense is appreciably better than the Broncos. The Colts D is allowing 16.3 points per game (4th), while Denver is giving up 26.3 points per game (24th). The Broncos already lost LT Ryan Clady for the season, and now RT Orlando Franklin has a sprained knee. Against another quarterback that would tilt the odds in favor of the Colts, but Manning gets rid of the ball so quickly, and has so many exceptional receiving options that it is going to be extremely challenging to limit his success.
Pick • Broncos 35, Colts 31
Colts +7½ (one unit)
Over 55½ (two units) ✔✔
Final Score: Colts 39, Broncos 33; Indy covers by 13½; over by 16½


Minnesota Vikings (1-4) at New York Giants (0-6)
Monday night on ESPN; Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden
If there was ever a case for not watching a football game, then this would be it. Two bad teams with a combined winning percentage of .091, two impotent defenses, two underachieving teams that were mistaken for playoff contenders before the season began. The feeble Viking defense is allowing 31.6 points per game (30th); 418 yards per game (31st); 308 passing yards per game (29th); 25.2 first downs per game (31st); 49.3% third down conversions (31st); 3.0 red zone touchdowns per game (32nd); and now they will be without one of their few decent players, safety Harrison Smith (toe). The one thing in their favor is that they are facing a Giants team that is gifting opponents at an unprecedented pace, having turned the ball over an amazing 23 times already this season. Once that happens the Giants olé defense acquiesces: New York ranks last in points allowed (34.8), third downs converted (7.3 per game), and in sacks (5). Josh Freeman should be very thankful he was given such a soft defense to play against in his first game as a Viking – and you have to feel bad for Matt Cassel, for not getting a chance to start against the G-Men.
Pick • Mild Upset: Vikings 30, Giants 21
Vikings +3½
Over 46 (one unit)
Final Score: Giants 23, Vikings 7; NYG covers by 12½; under by 16


Seattle Seahawks (5-1) at Arizona Cardinals (3-3) ★★★
Thursday Night on NFLN
Pick • Seahawks 20, Cardinals 17
Cardinals +6½
Under 40½
Final Score: Seahawks 34, Cardinals 22; SEA covers by 5½; over by 15½


Three-Game Teaser (two units): ✔✔
Browns +20½ at Packers
Ravens +11½ at Steelers
Bears +10½ vs Redskins

Three-Game Teaser (one unit):
Chiefs +3½ vs Texans
Broncos-Colts over 46½
Cowboys-Eagles over 45½

Three-Game Parlay (one unit):
Chiefs -5½ vs Texans
Broncos-Colts over 55½
Cowboys-Eagles over 54½


College Games

Purdue at Michigan State
Pick • Boilermakers +28 (one unit)
Final Score: MSU 14, Purdue 0; Purdue covers by 14

Navy at Toledo
Pick • Midshipmen +9½ (one unit)
Final Score: Toledo 45, Navy 44; Navy covers by 8½

Iowa at Ohio State
Pick • Hawkeyes +18½ (one unit)
Final Score: Ohio State 34, Iowa 24; Iowa covers by 8½

LSU at Mississippi
Pick • Ole Miss +10 (two units) ✔✔
Final Score: Ole Miss 27, LSU 24; Ole Miss covers by 13

Utah at Arizona
Pick • Wildcats -3½ (one unit)
Final Score: Arizona 35, Utah 24; ‘Zona covers by 7½

USC at Notre Dame
Pick • Fighting Irish -2½ (two units) ✔✔
Final Score: Notre Dame 14, USC 10; Notre Dame covers by 1½

TCU at Oklahoma State
Pick • Cowboys -6½ (two units) ✔✔
Final Score: Oklahoma St 24, TCU 10; Oklahoma St covers by 7½

Iowa State at Baylor
Pick • Under 77½ (one unit)
Final Score: Baylor 77, Iowa State 7; Over by 6½

Auburn at Texas A&M
Pick • Over 71½ (one unit)
Final Score: Auburn 45, Texas A&M 41; Over by 14½

Washington State at Oregon
Pick • Over 72 (one unit)
Final Score: Oregon 62, Washington St 38; Over by 28


$ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $


Oy vey. Week Six was absolutely putrid as far as the picks went, there is really no way to sugarcoat it. The only saving grace was getting the top play of the week correct, but even that turned out to be much closer than I expected it to be. I figured that the combination of Denver’s prolific offense, their undistinguished pass defense, and some garbage time touchdowns to Justin Blackmon would result in the Bronocs-Jaguars game easily surpassing 53 points; though I got the selection correct, it was by just one point. That four-unit play was not nearly enough to offset picks of Houston to rebound and cover at home against St. Louis. It seemed as if every bad defense that I was picking against (Rams, Chargers, Giants, Redskins, and Texas Longhorns) either played their best game of the season, or at least just well enough to cover or keep the score under. It was just one of those weeks that you don’t see coming, and it does sting a bit to see the season’s profits cut in half and the ROI drop from over 30% to under 15%.

Tale Of The Tape

Week 6 Results

Straight Up: 9-6, 60%
Underdogs to win straight up: 1-3, 25%

Against the Spread: 2-13, 13%
ATS picking favorites: 0-7, 0% (0-4, -880)
ATS picking underdogs: 2-6, 25% (0-0, +/-0)
ATS Confidence Picks: 0-4, 0% (-880)
One Unit Plays ATS: 0-1, -110
Two Unit Plays ATS: 0-2, -440
Three Unit Plays ATS: 0-1, -330
Four Unit Plays ATS: none
Five Unit Plays ATS: none

Over Under Total: 7-8, 47%
Picking Over: 4-3, 57% (1-2, +70)
Picking Under: 3-5, 38% (0-1, -110)
O/U Confidence Picks: 1-3, 25% (-40)
One Unit Plays O/U: 0-2, -220
Two Unit Plays O/U: 0-1, -220
Three Unit Plays O/U: none
Four Unit Plays O/U: 1-0, +400
Five Unit Plays O/U: none

Best Play of the Week: correct (Broncos-Jaguars over)
2-Team Teasers: none
3-Team Teasers: 0-1, -220
2-Team Parlays: none
3-Team Parlays: 0-1, -220

College Games: 1-1, -120

Week 6 Total: (2-10; 2200 risked; net -1480; -67.2% ROI)

Season Totals

Straight Up: 66-26 (72%)
Underdogs to win straight up: 11-8 (58%)

Against the Spread: 42-47-3 (47%)
ATS picking favorites: 21-25-2, 46% (11-12, -400)
ATS picking underdogs: 21-22-1, 49% (7-2, +980)
ATS Confidence Picks: 18-14, 56% (+580)
One Unit Plays ATS: 10-8, 56% (+120)
Two Unit Plays ATS: 6-4, 60% (+330)
Three Unit Plays ATS: 0-1, 0% (-330)
Four Unit Plays ATS: 1-1, 50% (-40)
Five Unit Plays ATS: 1-0, 100% (+500)

Over Under Total: 50-42 (54%)
Picking Over: 24-18, 57% (5-6, -200)
Picking Under: 26-24, 52% (10-7, +500)
O/U Confidence Picks: 15-13, 54% (+300)
One Unit Plays O/U: 8-7, 53% (+30)
Two Unit Plays O/U: 5-5, 50% (-100)
Three Unit Plays O/U: 1-1, 50% (-30)
Four Unit Plays O/U: 1-0, 100% (+400)
Five Unit Plays O/U: none

Best Play of the Week: 4-1 (+1160)
2-Team Teasers: none
3-Team Teasers: 3-2 (+360)
2-Team Parlays: none
3-Team Parlays: 1-1 (+380)

College Games: 4-2 (+270)

Grand Total:
(41-32, 56%; 13,100 risked; net +1890; +14.4% ROI)

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