NFL Week 7 game picks: Patriots, Panthers maintain perfection

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The Week 7 picks are in, and ... The Bills want to play a different brand of defense, Todd Gurley might rush for two bills and, no matter what, Griff Whalen will not be asked to go out in fake-punt formation ...

I think I know you, Phil "Ernest and Julio" Gallo. And if I am right, don't you have some entertainment media stuff to pay attention to, instead of 1970s Jets linebackers? (Great reference, though.)

This is the coolest Twitter avatar/name combo I've seen in some time. Do you happen to have the rawhide jacket Mr. T wore to Rocky's press conference? "Hey woman ..."

As for the rest of the non-Patriot games (see what I did there?), check out the analysis below. As always, feel free to share your take: @HarrisonNFL is the place. Moreover, we like commentary.

Now, let's get to it!

Elliot Harrison went 10-4 on his predictions for Week 6, giving him a record of 55-36 so far this season. How will he fare in Week 7? His picks are below.

Last week in this space, I promised that I would not pick the Jags to win another game if they blew it at home to the Texans. So I am sticking to that ... this week. Tyrod Taylor, Karlos Williams and Sammy Watkins have all been ruled out of this game by the Bills. That's not gonna help Watkins get the ball more. Speaking of grumbling Bills, perhaps the defensive linemen will channel their anger on the field and create a few sacks and takeaways this week. Buffalo needs those impact plays in London -- sans the Bills' impact offensive players. Meanwhile, the Allens have caught 57 balls as a WR tandem in Jacksonville, but the Jags aren't good enough to overcome silly turnovers on offense. Enough with the garbage-time fantasy stats, Blake Bortles. Be careful with the football. #BUFvsJAX

Washington rebounds at the precise moment we all think this is a bad football team. Yes, this is that annoying squad that simply refuses to give us friendly prognosticators even a hint of an idea of what kind of team it actually is. Tampa Bay could build a cupful of momentum with some roadkill here. The question is whether Doug Martin will continue to find rushing lanes on Sunday. That Washington front seven is going to be pissed off, having just been gashed by Jets RB Chris Ivory for 146 yards on 20 carries. Third down is the other key: Both Kirk Cousins (74.2 passer rating) and Jameis Winston (57.1) have struggled on the money down. #TBvsWAS

EDITOR'S NOTE: This forecast was penned before Marcus Mariota was ruled out for Week 7.

Smelling a potential upset here. That said, the all-seeing eye reports a Matt Ryan comeback drive with under a minute on the clock, setting up a Matt Bryant game-winner from 50 yards. (Bryant is the fantasy kicker for my dynasty team, "Linda Evans Dynasty," thus the need for it to be 50 -- not 30 -- yards. But I digress.)

Atlanta was exposed on Thursday Night Football in Week 6, at least to a small degree. If Julio Jones is bracketed, no one in the passing game scares people. That's why Devonta Freeman is catching all those outlet passes. And lo and behold, Tennessee has racked up 15 sacks in five games, enough to make Ryan very uncomfortable. The Titans need a ground game, though. In their last three games, they've run for 88, 97 and 63 yards. Get excited. #ATLvsTEN

Thinking the Indianapolis offense explodes this week. That unit is due. Up to this point, the Colts' offense -- a group many thought would pace the league -- sits at an unsexy 19th in the NFL. I'll say this, though: At least they haven't had any giveaways over the past two weeks, after racking up a whopping 12 in the first four games. While the Saints' defense played inspired football in Week 6, they received much help from a klutzy Falcons offense that fumbled away the game. Once again, it will be up to Drew Brees to pull this thing out. We should mention this is another Super Bowl rematch, for all you historian types. OK, recent historians. Y2K stuff. The Aughts. The Oasis generation. Nevermind, that was bad late-'90s music. On to the next game ... #NOvsIND

Two weeks in a row, folks, we are going with Detroit. Yes, youuuuur 1-5 Lions are moving to 2-5.

But before you get all pumped and do 150 reps on the Shake Weight, here's what must happen for that prognostication to come true:

» Matthew Stafford must set his feet and take what the defense gives him. (Yes, I know last week's game-clinching throw to Megatron came with Stafford on the move. But this Vikings defense is legit. No funny stuff.)
» Detroit's front four must slow Adrian Peterson, like the Chiefs did last week.
» OK, this isn't necessarily a must, but the Lions should give Theo Riddick 15 to 20 touches. He is far and away their most productive back.

For the Vikings, Teddy Bridgewater can't miss some of the easy throws he failed to hit in the wins over the Chargers and Chiefs. Yes, I pointed out wins, because those shortcomings get overlooked in Minnesota's victories. #MINvsDET

Another contest that the Steelers can eke out. Basically, we don't expect Landry Jones to light it up in Kansas City with that Arrowhead clamor. Not that Jones would be calling many audibles anyway.

OK, yes, at publishing, there remains a chance that Ben Roethlisberger could suit up for this contest. Methinks the win over the Cardinals lessened the need to rush him back. At 4-2, the Steelers are hanging right in the playoff race with two games remaining against the Bengals.

Oh yeah, we haven't even mentioned the Chiefs yet. If Alex Smith has to win this game sans Jamaal Charles and Jeremy Maclin ... Well, enjoy throwing it to Travis Kelce in quintuple coverage, man. (Quintuple coverage = five defenders. You're welcome.) #PITvsKC

St. Louis wins at home and stays right in the NFC West mix. No one really thinks of the Rams as contenders, perhaps because their play thus far in 2015 is pretty uninspiring. But with a win over the Cardinals already, St. Louis is in a better spot than its NFC West brethren to catch Bruce Arians' club. Meanwhile, the Browns look like a different club this season, but not good enough to overcome silly mistakes at the quarterback position. Josh McCown, like Blake Bortles, is putting up nice stats, but he gave the game away vs. the Broncos last week. By the way, Todd Gurley >>>>>>>>  Browns' run defense, which allows a league-worst 149.8 rush yards per game. Yikes. #CLEvsSTL

The Texans keep it close early, but Miami will go on a 20-3 run and put the game away. Once again, it will be the defense that leads the charge for the Dolphins, capitalizing on the sheer joy of seeing Brian Hoyer on the schedule. OK, maybe that's not fair -- Hoyer was solid against the Jags. Still, pretty convenient for Miami to be able to make a coaching change on a bye week with the Titans and Texans on the impending sked. The real test for Dan Campbell will come after, as the Dolphins are set to play four of the following five games on the road, starting in Foxborough. As for Houston, we've yet to see the J.J. Watt- Jadeveon Clowney duo get much going. Cam Heyward has been a more dominant defensive lineman than Watt thus far, while Clowney isn't taking quarterbacks down. The pressures are there, the sacks aren't. #HOUvsMIA

If this game were in New York, I might be inclined to pick the Jets for fun. As solid as Gang Green's been this season, something about Rex Ryan being absent from this rivalry lessens it to some degree. And my faith in Ryan Fitzpatrick keeping up with Tom Brady in any type of track meet is ... um ... nonexistent. That's why the outcome of this football game hinges directly on the New York defense. If the Jets can get to Brady with at least five coverage sacks -- and force him into at least one bad interception -- it might be enough to let Chris Ivory and the special teams do the rest. Then again, no one on the Jets is an equitable matchup with Rob Gronkowski, and none-yard outs to Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola aren't conducive to interceptions. #NYJvsNE

These two franchises have been going at it twice a year since 1960, starting when the Chargers, ironically enough, were housed in Los Angeles, and the Raiders played in a bad high-school stadium in Oakland. The path to San Diego winning starts with a defense holding down the fort -- and Melvin Gordon not providing any more short fields. Anticipate Danny Woodhead being on the field closer to the amount he was in the second half against Green Bay, as the diminutive but productive back is a giant in the passing game. Also, Branden Oliver's name might be called more. After seeing what James Starks did to this defense, Oakland likely will give Latavius Murray the rock 20 times to advance the ground attack. That's happened only once this season, when the Raiders played the Browns' horrendous run D. The Chargers, by the way, rank 29th in that department. #OAKvsSD

The Cowboys fall in New York with Matt Cassel at quarterback. After waxing poetic about Brandon Weeden last month, Jerry Jones didn't follow suit with Cassel this week. Although, if Cassel could punt, maybe some Danny White chatter would ensue. The big news, however, is the potential return of one Dez Bryant, who has been out since the opener against these very Giants. New York blew that game in Big D, and with a win here, the Giants could even up their division record at 2-2. Dallas is currently 2-0 in the NFC East, yet staying undefeated will be awfully difficult, given the Cowboys' QB situation and the fact that the Giants will be highly motivated, fresh off a blowout loss. #DALvsNYG

You might recall that this was the Monday night matchup last year when people were speculating about Cam Newton's desire, as the Panthers QB looked lazy on some throws and seemed to lack a sense of urgency. Others wondered how banged up Carolina's franchise face was. Either way, the loss put the Panthers at 3-6-1 ... and they dropped the next two. Then Riverboat Ron's group went on a serious run, winning five in a row (including a playoff victory) before losing in Seattle.

Carolina has opened up this season with a five-game winning streak, giving them 10 wins in their last 11 contests. It will be interesting to see if Newton has as much success downfield on the Eagles as he did versus the Seahawks last week. Can Fletcher Cox and Connor Barwin repeat their performance from Monday night? No matter what, for Philadelphia to have any chance, Sam Bradford must play better. Those opportunities he had downfield against the Giants will be few and far between versus this Panthers defense. #PHIvsCAR

Arizona wins. OK, we'll see you next week! ...

... Actually, this matchup will be closer than people expect. Every time you anticipate the Ravens losing 30-13, Joe Flacco goes on the kind of in-game run that reshapes the mixed bag of opinions on him (... before he and the rest of the team appear as middling as their record often suggests). With Baltimore at 1-5, though, perhaps "middling" is a misnomer. John Harbaugh's group has about a 1 percent chance of making the postseason. (Am I being too generous?) The Cardinals must be sick to their stomachs over the performance in Pittsburgh. This team was averaging 38 points per game before posting a paltry 13 against a decent -- but not dominant -- Steelers defense. The Ravens need takeaways ... any takeaways. #BALvsAZ

ALREADY COMPLETED


Another intriguing edition of this NFC West grudge match, though it's a bit different this time around. Thursday night's showdown features a pair of 2-4 teams that suddenly see there could be light at the end of the tunnel, especially since the division-leading Cardinals got Landry Jones'd last Sunday. This holds particularly true for the Seahawks, who have yet to face Arizona this season (whereas the 49ers are already down one). This ballgame hinges on one matchup: the suddenly-hot Colin Kaepernick vs. the "Legion of Boom." The Seahawks could have used a boom mic to communicate their assignments to one another on that Greg Olsen TD last Sunday, huh? The 49ers, on the other hand, are giving up over 300 yards passing per game -- net (that's minus sack yardage). Seahawks win playing conservative clock ball and running 30 times. #SEAvsSF

Follow Elliot Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonNFL.

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