The last couple of weeks have been very solid for the picks after a horrible Week 6 when a lot of luck deserted me, but that came back the last couple of weeks to keep the season moving in the right direction. This is now the time of the season when injuries are going to really start affecting teams and there are plenty of big name players that have already seen their seasons come to a close and that is what makes picking a Super Bowl winner so demanding back in September.
Ryan Tannehill is only in his second season, but he has to do better when it comes to protecting the ball- it isn't the Interceptions that bother me, although a couple of those have been down to poor decision making, but the fumbles are beginning to hurt the Dolphins massively.
Cincinnati Bengals @ Miami Dolphins Pick: Jonathan Martin has been excused from the Miami Dolphins team after an incident in the cafeteria during the week and that is not good news for Ryan Tannehill who has been playing behind a shaky Offensive Line all season.
Tyson Clabo will come back in at Right Tackle, but he is going to be in for a long day against this Cincinnati pass rush up front and that is going to cause problems for Tannehill who has definitely regressed the last few weeks.
Miami have to do better with the play-calling that has been questioned all week, but it will be tough to run on the Bengals as much as they did against New England and that means trying to find Tannehill some time who will also be missing Brandon Gibson for the rest of the season.
The Bengals are off a near perfect performance in seeing off the New York Jets and they will still see this as a critical game to take. Andy Dalton is playing at his best level since joining the NFL, but he too will be under pressure from a Miami Defense that gets a lot of pressure up front. The Quarter Back can't rely on the Bengals establishing a running game, but will have to exercise the screen pass to Giovani Bernard and also hope Marvin Jones continues from where he left off against the Jets.
Dalton has steered clear of the Interceptions that have prevented him moving to the next level and the momentum is totally behind Cincinnati in this one. Turnovers have killed Miami during their 4 game losing run, and it is hard to see how they recover from some of the internal issues that have arisen going into this short week.
The Bengals have flattered to deceive in a road loss at Cleveland earlier this season, but I think they want to ride their momentum going into the game with Baltimore in ten days time and I like them for a unit to cover a spread that has hit the key number.
Atlanta Falcons @ Carolina Panthers Pick: This is a huge statement game for Carolina where they can put away a Divisional rival and also spark a real belief that they can either chase down the New Orleans Saints in the Division or get involved in the Wild Card race.
Carolina have a lot of momentum behind them and they have put together three good games, reminding me a little of the way they ended last season. The push has come earlier this time around and the Panthers do look a dangerous team going forward.
I expect they will be able to move the chains on the ground initially which will open the passing lanes for Cam Newton, while making the Atlanta Offense one-dimensional by slowing down Steven Jackson will help the Defense force Matt Ryan into awkward positions.
It is a big number for Carolina to cover in this one if Atlanta were a little healthier, but they have so many injuries on both sides of the ball that I just can't see the Falcons keeping up. Matt Ryan will make some plays, but Carolina should control the clock and their Defense looks the strongest unit on the field that should be able to make plays to give Cam Newton and the Offense extra possessions.
As I said, it is a big number, but I like the Panthers to make a statement to the rest of the NFC in this one.
Tennessee Titans @ St Louis Rams Pick: The Tennessee Titans are coming off a bye and will be fully focused on winning this game with a date against the dire Jacksonville Jaguars next on deck. Tennessee will look at this game as a chance to build momentum ahead of back to back Divisional games that will put them in a position to challenge for the AFC South crown.
On the other hand, I have been trying to figure all week how the St Louis Rams will get up for a non-Conference game on a short week after coming so close to beating a Divisional rival on Monday Night Football. The Rams put in everything they had in the gas tank to win that game, and I don't know how they could recover in time to be ready for this one.
The Jeff Fisher factor may inspire the home team who will want to win this game for their Head Coach against his former team, but that may not be enough for them.
Jake Locker is definitely the better Quarter Back playing in this one and I can see the Titans forcing Kellen Clemens into a couple of mistakes that allows them to leave here with the win. The spread has been stuck on a key number which doesn't help, but I like the Titans to cover here.
Minnesota Vikings @ Dallas Cowboys Pick: The Dallas Cowboys have been the team to back when it comes to against the spread this season and they covered in another losing effort last weekend.
That won't appease Cowboys fans who can't afford to see Dallas slip up in this game if they have serious ambitions to make it to the Play Offs. With games at New Orleans and New York Giants to come in the next two weeks, losing to a 1-6 Minnesota Vikings team at home is unthinkable.
Minnesota are off a big loss at home to Divisional rivals Green Bay Packers and will be starting Christian Ponder again at Quarter Back. He may have a little more success against a prevent Defense that Dallas run, while Adrian Peterson may finally get back on track as he deals with a hamstring issue.
The absence of Demarcus Ware will make life a little easier for Ponder, but I am not sure he has the confidence to take advantage behind an Offensive Line that has struggled to protect whoever lines up behind Center.
Dallas have also not looked that good Offensively in recent games, although they still have made some big plays. The lack of a running game has to be a concern, but DeMarco Murray may return this week to at least keep the Vikings honest and also offer better protection for Tony Romo. The Quarter Back has struggled for numbers the last couple of weeks, but Romo should be able to torch a Secondary that is playing a lot of young players and will be missing Harrison Smith.
I don't trust Christian Ponder in this game and I think the coaching staff haven't given him a lot of confidence that they believe in him. With Dallas well aware of the importance of winning this game ahead of two tough road games, I am going to back the Cowboys for a small stake.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Seattle Seahawks Pick: I wasn't the only person disappointed with the lack of intensity that Seattle showed on Monday Night against St Louis and the conspiracy theorists have had a field day in discussing why they didn't seem to be that interested in that game.
Pete Carroll won't care about spreads and all of that, but he will care that his team did win and will look to put some pressure on San Francisco by extending the lead in the NFC West while their rivals are on a bye week.
The absence of Sidney Rice does hurt his Offense, but home field is huge for Seattle and it is a big ask for Mike Glennon to make the plays to keep Tampa Bay in the game.
And if you want to talk about a lack of effort, the Buccaneers looked to have given up on Greg Schiano as they were beaten up by the Carolina Panthers and it will be interesting to see how they bounce back in one of the toughest environments in the NFL as a visiting team.
It is a big spread to cover considering how the Seattle Offense has looked the last couple of games and especially in the absence of Sidney Rice. However, Seattle are very strong at home and I can see their Defense forcing Mike Glennon to make a couple of mistakes and use those turnovers to power to a big win. The spread has started dropping to 14 points and I would definitely wait for that hook just as a safety valve.
Baltimore Ravens @ Cleveland Browns Pick: This is a huge AFC North game which has a lot of Play Off implications, especially for the Baltimore Ravens who will be expecting to get back to the post-season. A win would give them some momentum ahead of the game with Cincinnati, while they would also own the tie-breaker over Cleveland going forward.
They can't afford to take the Browns lightly as that team is playing far more competitive football than anyone would have expected once they traded away Trent Richardson. Cleveland have also knocked off the Cincinnati Bengals at home this season and they have a legit Defense that matches up well with Baltimore's Offense.
Neither team will have sustained success in this one as far as I am concerned, but Joe Flacco is likely to make the bigger plays compared with Jason Campbell and a healthier Ray Rice could prove pivotal to the game.
John Harbaugh is also very strong coming off a bye and has his team well prepared to win that game and the Ravens have dominated the recent series between these teams. I hate how small the spread is because it looks a big trap, but I will back Baltimore to win and cover here.
Chicago Bears @ Green Bay Packers Pick: I think the Green Bay Packers Offense is more dangerous than it has ever been since Aaron Rodgers took over as Quarter Back... Well at least since their Super Bowl run.
The year the Packers won the title, it was down to the running of James Starks in the Play Offs that sparked them and I feel the arrival of Eddie Lacy gives them a genuine Running Back that teams have to be aware of. That opens things up for Aaron Rodgers and his array of talent and this is going to be a big ask for the Chicago Bears to slow Green Bay down.
And that means Josh McCown has to find a way to spark an Offense to keep up with a high-scoring team like Green Bay. Personally I just don't think the back up is going to be capable of doing that in this game, especially if Matt Forte is taken away in the manner Green Bay have managed to do in recent games.
Brandon Marshall will likely get his catches, but McCown is going to be under pressure up front and I think it is a big ask for him to try and keep the Bears close with the Packers in this one.
One thing to factor in perhaps is the fact that Aaron Rodgers is 8-2 against the Chicago Bears as the starter for Green Bay... However, he has never beaten them on Monday Night Football where he suffered his 2 defeats against the Bears.
Even with that strange statistic in mind, Green Bay have been too good for Chicago at home and I like them to win this one going away.
MY PICKS: Cincinnati Bengals - 3 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Carolina Panthers - 7 Points @ 1.83 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Tennessee Titans - 3 Points @ 2.05 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Dallas Cowboys - 9.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Seattle Seahawks - 14 Points @ 1.92 William Hill (2 Units)
Baltimore Ravens - 2 Points @ 1.95 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Green Bay Packers - 10 Points @ 1.95 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Week 7: 7-2, + 5.70 Units
Week 6: 2-7, - 8.15 Units
Week 5: 4-4, + 0.35 Units
Week 4: 7-1, + 9.27 Units
Week 3: 3-4-1, - 1.10 Units
Week 2: 6-1, + 6.46 Units