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NFL Picks Week 7: Predicting Outcomes of Weekend's Closest Contests

August 18, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA;  Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan congratulates Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) after the game at Soldier Field. The Bears beat the Redskins 33-31.  Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports
Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports
Maxwell OgdenCorrespondent IIIOctober 19, 2013

Week 7 of the 2013 NFL regular season began with the Seattle Seahawks defeating the Arizona Cardinals 34-22. It was a rare moment in which the expected came to fruition, but that doesn't mean the games can't be predicted.

The question is, which games in Week 7 will be remembered as down-to-the-wire instant classics?

Through seven weeks, only one division winner from 2012 is on top in 2013: the New England Patriots in the AFC East. The Washington Redskins, Atlanta Falcons and Houston Texans are all below .500, displaying just how strange of a year it has been.

Fortunately, the quality of games hasn't changed, and in Week 7, we'll see more of the entertaining same.

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

 

Cincinnati Bengals (4-2) at Detroit Lions (4-2)

CINCINNATI, OH - NOVEMBER 11:  A.J. Green #18 and Mohamed Sanu #12 of the Cincinnati Bengals celebrates Sanu caught a touchdown pass during the NFL game against the New York Giants  at Paul Brown Stadium on November 11, 2012 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo b
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Date: Sunday, Oct. 20

Time: 1 p.m. ET

TV: CBS

Prediction: 34-31, Bengals

The Cincinnati Bengals and Detroit Lions are both 4-2 football teams in their respective divisions. Each team has a superstar wide receiver and an improved running game, and each rests atop its division.

In the end, this one comes down to one thing: Cincinnati's defense can make stops, and Detroit's hasn't done so on a consistent basis.

The Bengals are led by quarterback Andy Dalton, who has eight touchdowns to six interceptions, and wide receiver A.J. Green, who has 37 catches for 464 yards and four scores. BenJarvus Green-Ellis has been solid as the starting running back, and backup Gio Bernard has 438 yards of total offense.

Defensively, Cincinnati is seventh in points allowed per game and ninth in both sacks and pass defense.

Detroit continues to rally behind Matthew Stafford, 12 touchdowns to four interceptions, and a banged-up Calvin Johnson. Reggie Bush has been the X-factor, amassing 637 yards of total offense through five appearances.

Defensively, Detroit is 19th in points allowed per game, 21st against the pass and 29th against the run.

It will be a close game, but Cincinnati is more likely to come up with a late-game play on defense than Detroit. The Lions have been opportunistic, coming up with 10 interceptions, but the defense just hasn't been strong enough when not forcing turnovers.

Expect a three-point win from Cincinnati in a battle between two of the fastest rising squads in the NFL.

 

Chicago Bears (4-2) at Washington Redskins (1-4)

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 18: Michael Bush #29 of the Chicago Bears runs for a touchdown against the Washington Redskins during a preseason game at Soldier Field on August 18, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Redskins 33-31. (Photo by Jonathan
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Date: Sunday, Oct. 20

Time: 1 p.m. ET

TV: FOX

Prediction: 33-30, Bears

The Chicago Bears enter Week 7 as a 4-2 football team that has displayed extraordinary balance on both sides of the football. The Washington Redskins are 1-4 with an uphill battle in the NFC East and postseason aspirations that are rapidly becoming less realistic.

Expect this dog fight to result in a very close Chicago victory.

Jay Cutler has been playing the best football of his career, completing 65.9 percent of his passes for 1,630 yards, 12 touchdowns and six interceptions. Matt Forte has added 686 yards of total offense and three rushing touchdowns, and Brandon Marshall has 40 catches for 465 yards and five scores.

Chicago's defense leads the league in defensive touchdowns, Alshon Jeffery has emerged as a star No. 2 receiver, and Chicago finally has versatility.

If the Bears have been dynamic, then the Redskins have been relatively one-dimensional. Alfred Morris has run the ball very well, but Washington continues to fall behind early and thus requires a heavy reliance upon the passing game.

After averaging 27.6 pass attempts per game in 2012, Robert Griffin III and company are throwing it 41.8 times per contest in 2013.

The key in this game will be Chicago's cornerback tandem of Tim Jennings and Charles Tillman. The duo has combined for five interceptions, four forced fumbles and one fumble recovery through six games, and it has shown no signs of slowing down.

It'll be entertaining, but the Bears top the Redskins in virtually every statistical category. Chicago secures the big road win.

 

St. Louis Rams at Carolina Panthers

ST. LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 9: Steve Smith #89 of the Carolina Panthers looks to get away from Tye Hill #26 of the St. Louis Rams on September 9, 2007 at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, Missouri.  The Panthers beat the Rams 27-13.  (Photo by Dilip Vishw
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Date: Sunday, Oct. 20

Time: 1 p.m. ET

TV: FOX

Prediction: 23-20, Panthers

During Week 6, the Carolina Panthers rebounded from a lackluster start with a 35-10 road win over the Minnesota Vikings. The St. Louis Rams experienced nearly identical success, earning a 38-13 away victory against the Houston Texans.

Carolina's passing game came to life during Week 6, as Cam Newton went 20-of-26 for 242 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. St. Louis' passing attack was proficient, with Sam Bradford going 12-of-16 for 117 yards, three scores and no picks.

Two 25-point victories over postseason teams from 2012, two No. 1 overall draft choices playing flawless football and two teams with postseason aspirations. This is going to be a very close game.

Look for Carolina to win via a major boost from its home-field advantage.

The Panthers have won three of their past four home games, losing 12-7 to the Seattle Seahawks in their only loss. Furthermore, Carolina is No. 2 in scoring defense, No. 3 in total defense, No. 7 against the pass and No. 4 versus the run in 2013.

By comparison, St. Louis is No. 22 in scoring defense, No. 23 in total defense, No. 19 against the pass and No. 30 versus the run. Seeing as Carolina is No. 7 in rushing offense and Newton is a borderline elite quarterback, the Panthers should control the pace of this game.

The Rams will make a late push, but it will be Carolina that holds on for the win.

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