Here are the top five games to watch for Week 7 of the 2013 NFL season:
5. Cincinnati Bengals at Detroit Lions
Both of these teams are 4-2 and are coming off of victories, but they are two very different teams. The Bengals are a defensively based team, with the ninth ranked pass defense and eleventh ranked run defense. The offense goes as Andy Dalton goes, who is inconsistent but can sometimes look like a great quarterback. Having AJ Green definitely helps out Dalton, and Giovani Bernard has proved to be a force in the backfield. The Lions, on the other hand, have one of the best offenses in the league. The Matthew Stafford to Calvin Johnson connection is one of the best in the league, and the Reggie Bush acquisition has paid off huge dividends. With this game being played in Detroit, the Bengals will have to put up a lot of points against an average Lions defense if they want to win.
The Lions defense is not very good, but the Bengals offense isn’t great either. AJ Green and Giovani Bernard should be able to make some big plays, but Andy Dalton won’t be able to turn the ball over against the Lions. Detroit will score a ton of points, and in the end the Bengals won’t be able to keep up.
These two AFC North teams are some of the biggest rivals in the NFL, and all of a sudden this game has some meaning. The Steelers started off their season 0-4, but after a win over the Jets they suddenly are not out of it. Le’Veon Bell adds a dimension to their offense that they were desperately missing, and the defense remains strong. The Ravens lost against the Packers last weekend to fall to 3-3, and they look nothing like the team that won the Super Bowl last year. Ray Rice hasn’t been able to stay healthy, and the running game is suffering because of it. The defense is still good, and they will need to force some turnovers if they want to win in Pittsburgh.
The Steelers are finally gaining momentum, and I think they will keep it going with a win at home over their archrivals. Ben Roethlisberger is finally working things out with his wide receivers, so they should be able to exploit a struggling Baltimore secondary. Joe Flacco has also been struggled without Ray Rice at 100%, so he should have some troubles against the Steelers constant blitz. Add this all up, and it results in a Pittsburgh victory.
3. New England Patriots at New York Jets
In what is a surprisingly meaningful game, the Patriots visit the Jets for an AFC East battle. No one expected the Jets to be 3-3 at this point of the season. Geno Smith has held his own at quarterback, and the defense behind Muhammad Wilkerson has been playing like one of the league’s best. The Patriots stunned the Saints last week to move to 5-1, and they are clearly the team to beat in the division. To make matters worse for the Jets this week, Tom Brady is getting back Rob Gronkowski for the first time. The Jets defense will need to have its best game of the season for them to knock off New England.
This game is being played in New Jersey and the Jets defense is elite, but Tom Brady will find a way to pull out a win. Brady is developing more chemistry every week with Kenbrell Thompkins and now he is getting Gronk back, so he should return to form. In what should be a low-scoring game, New England will come out on top.
2. Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles
The NFC East is having its worst season in years, but these are the two legitimate teams that play in it. The Cowboys and Eagles are both 3-3, so the winner of this game will gain a huge advantage in the division race. The Cowboys offense has been on point the past few weeks behind Tony Romo and Dez Bryant, but the defense has been struggling. They are giving up way too many yards through the air, so they’ll need to make some changes to slow down the Eagles fast-paced offense. Nick Foles was impressive last week in his first start of the season, so he’ll get another shot behind center. If he is as solid this week as he was against Tampa Bay, then the Eagles will be tough to beat.
In what should be a shootout, I’m picking the veteran quarterback over the inexperienced one. The Cowboys defense is flawed, but they’ll put more pressure on Foles than he has ever seen. Tony Romo has also been playing well, so a mediocre Eagles defense should have a tough time slowing down the Cowboys offense. This game should be close, but I’m picking Dallas.
1. Denver Broncos at Indianapolis Colts
In what is probably the highest anticipated regular season game of the year, Peyton Manning returns to Indianapolis for the first time since joining the Broncos. Manning is at the top of his game, with a 22:2 touchdown-to-interception ratio and a perfect 6-0 record. The Broncos defense will also be much improved this week with the turn of star linebacker Von Miller. However, Denver will have their hands full against a very good Colts team. Andrew Luck is already one of the best quarterbacks in the league, and there is no doubt that he will do whatever it takes to win this game. But in the end, the final score will be dependent on if the Colts defense can limit the amount of points that Peyton puts up.
Sorry Colts fans, but Peyton will once again win in Indianapolis. As if Peyton needed an emotional boost, he will be on fire all day in this one. The Colts defense forces good pressure behind Robert Mathis, but Peyton has a quick release and should burn Indy’s secondary. In what will be must watch television, Peyton will be victorious in the house that he built.