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NFL Week 7 Predictions: Struggling Squads That Will Salvage Postseason Dreams

ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 07: Quarterback Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons walks to the sideline against the New York Jets during their game at the Georgia Dome on October 7, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Maxwell OgdenCorrespondent IIIOctober 19, 2013

The 2013 regular season has re-established the unpredictability of the NFL. Only two teams are undefeated, the AFC West has become the best division in football, four postseason teams from 2012 are below .500 and the 6-0 Denver Broncos are currently the No. 5 seed.

The question is, which struggling squads will offer a reminder of what the NFL community thought it knew by salvaging their postseason dreams in Week 7?

NFL Week 7 Predictions
DateRoad TeamPredictionHome Team
Thursday, Oct. 17Seattle Seahawks (34)24-16Arizona Cardinals (22)
Sunday, Oct. 20Cincinnati Bengals34-31Detroit Lions
Sunday, Oct. 20Tampa Bay Buccaneers17-27Atlanta Falcons
Sunday, Oct. 20Buffalo Bills16-24Miami Dolphins
Sunday, Oct. 20New England Patriots28-19New York Jets
Sunday, Oct. 20Dallas Cowboys35-31Philadelphia Eagles
Sunday, Oct. 20Chicago Bears33-30Washington Redskins
Sunday, Oct. 20St. Louis Rams20-23Carolina Panthers
Sunday, Oct. 20San Diego Chargers27-16Jacksonville Jaguars
Sunday, Oct. 20San Francisco 49ers28-13Tennessee Titans
Sunday, Oct. 20Cleveland Browns20-31Green Bay Packers
Sunday, Oct. 20Houston Texans17-20Kansas City Chiefs
Sunday, Oct. 20Baltimore Ravens24-28Pittsburgh Steelers
Sunday, Oct. 20Denver Broncos34-27Indianapolis Colts
Monday, Oct. 21Minnesota Vikings23-34New York Giants
Week 6: 13-2, Season: 60-33

 

Atlanta Falcons

ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 07:  Tight end Tony Gonzalez #88 of the Atlanta Falcons runs with the ball as strong safety Dawan Landry #26 of the New York Jets defends during their game at the Georgia Dome on October 7, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Record: 1-4

Week 7: vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Prediction: 27-17, Falcons

The only word to adequately define the Atlanta Falcons in 2013 is "disappointing." At 1-4, the Falcons have gone from the reigning NFC regular season champions to a top pick contender in the 2014 NFL draft.

To make matters worse, Julio Jones is out for the season, Roddy White is banged up and Steven Jackson is still absent, per D. Orlando Ledbetter of The Atlanta Journal-ConstitutionIn the words of Chris Trager, that is literally the worst-case scenario coming to fruition.

Fresh off of a bye week, the Falcons will face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in an attempt to right the ship. They'll succeed.

All four of the Falcons' losses in 2013 have come by seven points or less. Even with a hobbled receiving corps, Matt Ryan has 10 touchdowns to three interceptions on a completion percentage of 69.3.

Ryan has topped 300 yards in all but one game, and has two passing touchdowns in every appearance thus far. The Bucs, meanwhile, are butchering the presence of Darrelle Revis by working predominantly out of a zone defense.

Look for Ryan to pick Tampa Bay apart and lead the Falcons to a critical win.

 

Carolina Panthers

GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 06:  Quarterback Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers prepares to hike the football during the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on October 6, 2013 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defe
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Record: 2-3

Week 7: vs. St. Louis Rams

Prediction: 23-20, Panthers

Prior to the 2013 NFL regular season, I made the prediction that the Carolina Panthers would make the playoffs. With an elite-when-healthy defense, a true franchise quarterback and a running game that was destined to bounce back, Carolina has the perfect storm.

By winning two of their past three games in lopsided fashion, the Panthers have begun to flash their potential. Unfortunately, they're still 2-3 with two one-possession losses.

During Week 7, look for the Panthers to right past wrongs with a huge victory over the St. Louis Rams.

Since Cam Newton was drafted in 2011, the Panthers are 9-3 after and including Week 12 of the regular season. Unfortunately, Carolina is also 6-19 before Week 12, including its 2-3 mark in 2013.

Carolina's progression will come down to whether or not it can close out games, as it's 2-9 in its past 11 outings that have been decided by one possession.

The Rams will give the Panthers trouble, but with a ferocious front seven, Carolina will be able to shut down the run and get after the quarterback. From there, it'll be on Newton to expose a Rams defense that can be strong, but tends to take unnecessary gambles.

As long as Carolina takes care of the football, it'll reach .500.

 

Pittsburgh Steelers

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 13: Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers calls a play in the huddle against the New York Jets during a game at MetLife Stadium on October 13, 2013 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Rich Schultz
Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Record: 1-4

Week 7: vs. Baltimore Ravens

Prediction: 28-24, Steelers

Prior to the 2013 regular season, the Pittsburgh Steelers were commonly referred to as a dark horse Super Bowl contender. With two titles since 2005, it's clear why fans and analysts would believe in the Steelers turning things around after missing the playoffs in 2012.

Entering Week 7, the Steelers are 1-4.

Ben Roethlisberger has been strong, but the absence of a reliable running game has crippled the Steelers' offense. Despite ranking seventh in passing, Pittsburgh is 31st in rushing yards per game and 27th in points scored per contest.

Rookie Le'Veon Bell will turn things around during Week 7, as Pittsburgh salvages its season against rival Baltimore Ravens.

Since Heath Miller has returned, Antonio Brown has been able to find openings in opposing secondaries and Roethlisberger has displayed an elevated level of poise in the pocket. Baltimore will put pressure on the quarterback, but Miller will force both Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil to drop into coverage.

Pittsburgh has been dominant on defense, but has struggled to come up with sacks and turnovers. During Week 6, however, the Steelers had two interceptions and three sacks against the New York Jets, showing why they're still a feared unit.

Believe it or not, a Week 7 win over the Ravens would put Pittsburgh directly into the hunt for the postseason.

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