Walk the Line: Week 7
Published: Thursday, October 18, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 20:11
My first week of going completely defeated – 0-2 – doesn’t feel too hot, but I’m coming back with a vengeance just like the Patriots will against the Jets this week.
I picked against two of the worst teams in the NFL last week and they trounced their opponents.
If Shonn Greene can continue to gain yards after first contact (for the first time in his career) maybe the Jets’ running game can return to form. New York looked identical to the Jets teams of 2009-11, when it reached back-to-back AFC Championship games. The Jets kept the ball out of Sanchez’s hands (he only attempted 18 passes), controlled their offense through the ground (44 rushing attempts) and had a harassing defense that kept Andrew Luck and the Colts’ offense out of the end zone for the entire game. Apparently Vegas sees this as a stroke of luck for the Jets, who are the underdog by 10.5 points in New England this week.
The true disappointment of the weekend has to go to the unforeseen injuries the Baltimore Ravens suffered. Future first-ballot Hall of Famer Ray Lewis and cornerback Lardarius Webb suffered season-ending injuries, although it has recently been reported Lewis may return before season’s end. The Ravens were without a doubt a top-three team in the AFC – along with the Patriots and the Texans – but now no one knows what to expect from them. Their dance against the Texans this week poses a lot of questions that need answering from both sides.
Is Houston really the dominant team everyone thought it was before getting blown out by the Packers last week? Can the Ravens survive despite injuries to two of their most prominent players on defense? The two will clash in Houston on Sunday and help us get a grasp of who will remain near the top of the AFC.
Matchup of the Week (3-3): Baltimore Ravens at Houston Texans (-6.5).
How do you stop the Texans’ offense? The Packers made the answer evident last Sunday night: hinder Arian Foster and the run game and let Schaub run the offense. They made it look simple. The Texan offense looked flabbergasted without the presence of its run-game.
The only problem for the Ravens is they will be without their starting middle-linebacker. Foster should be able to get it going, which will help Schaub develop the play action and get Andre Johnson more involved than in previous weeks.
And, oh yeah, Johnson won’t be guarded by the Ravens’ star cornerback. Flacco struggles on the road and he’ll have to carry this offense without the defense getting as many stops as he is accustomed to.
Ravens 17, Texans 24
Locks (5-7): Green Bay Packers (-5.5) at St. Louis Rams.
It’s discount double check time! I’m still in awe of the performance Rodgers put on last week on the road against an undefeated Texans team. When critics began asking, “What’s wrong with the offense this season?” Rodgers simply said, “Nothing.” It was only one game but I think it’s fair to say the Packers are back. Is there any reason he shouldn’t throw for at leastthree touchdowns against the Rams this week? St. Louis has one of the better pass-rushes in the NFL, but so did the Texans.
Sam Bradford is not going to be able to keep up with the aerial assault Rodgers is about to rain down upon the Rams’ defensive backs.
Packers 31, Rams 17
Seattle Seahawks (+7) at San Francisco 49ers.
This NFC West battle (who thought an NFC West game would be considered a battle?) is headlining the Thursday night game this week, but I’m writing this column well before kickoff (The Spectrum goes to print on Thursday night).
As of last week, teams playing in Thursday night games following a Sunday game are averaging 11.5 points per game below than their season average. Considering this matchup includes the two best defenses in the NFL, it’s not a bold prediction to say this game could end in a 0-0 tie.
But I doubt Jim Harbaugh will allow his 49ers to get embarrassed in back-to-back weeks at home, so I’m taking the 49ers to win, but the Seahawks will cover the spread. Seahawks 13, 49ers 16