NFL Week 7 game picks: Patriots over Falcons (again); Pack win!

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There is football on this weekend. Enjoy! Game Picks are below ...

Sorry, always wanted to write a concise intro like that. My editor's dream! But it seems I routinely get into the weeds on some topic in this space. So, let's stay consistent ...

Today, I'd like to circle Cowboys at 49ers. It's a rivalry that's lost luster of late, without both teams being good at the same time. Dallas and San Francisco haven't made the postseason in the same year since 1998. So, if you're under 30, you might not be aware that there were times in NFL history when these two franchises faced off in high-stakes affairs -- several, in fact. While this week's matchup is more matte than glossy, it could become a whole lot shinier if rookie C.J. Beathard were to blossom. Perhaps then, he and sophomore signal caller Dak Prescott will see each other in the postseason in years to come -- like Troy Aikman and Steve Young. And even their legendary battles merely scratch the surface in the rich legacy of Dallas v. San Francisco:

For analysis on all of this week's showdowns, take a gander below. The Chiefs-Raiders rivalry is almost as storied as Cowboys-49ers, especially in terms of fights. Redskins-Eagles ain't bad, either. Would love to hear your take on any and every matchup: @HarrisonNFL is the place.

Now, let's get to it!

Elliot Harrison went 5-9 on his predictions for Week 6, giving him a record of 49-42 thus far this season. How will he fare in Week 7? His picks are below:

Buffalo Bills 23, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 13

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, FOX

With the prospect of Jameis Winston missing action this weekend with a bum shoulder, we might be treated to Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Ryan Fitzpatrick revenge game! (You remember: He was a Bill four teams ago.) I don't know if you know this, but Fitzpatrick went to Harvard. That education should help him tremendously against the league's top scoring defense, in Buffalo, with the Bills fresh off a week's rest. Then again, the way this season has gone, Tampa probably wins 49-2. No matter what, this is a Doug Martin game. Give him 25 touches, no questions asked. Meanwhile, who knows what effort we'll get from the Bucs' run defense? In Week 2, they allowed 7 yards on nine carries to Jordan Howard. Last week, Adrian Peterson ran all over them to the tune of 134 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries.

UPDATE: Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter said Friday that Winston will start against the Bills on Sunday.

#TBvsBUF

Minnesota Vikings 30, Baltimore Ravens 13

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

Maybe the Ravens will shock Minnesota the way the Bears did them last week. Although, if Baltimore were to win in Minneapolis, I think it would be an even bigger upset than when Chicago beat John Harbaugh's outfit. (Well, the Bears didn't beat his actual outfit. He pretty much always wears dark colors and generally looks sharp -- although I'd like to see more sweater vests from him.) Anyway, the key to this matchup will be if the Ravens' horrid offense can get any movement on the Vikes' defensive unit. Baltimore might be the worst passing team in the league. (OK, officially, the Ravens' aerial attack is currently ranked second-to-last.) Running on Minnesota won't be any easier. Those guys are giving up a meager 3.2 yards per carry. Offensively, Case Keenum will be fine. He's completing 64.2 percent of his passes with a 5:1 TD-to-INT ratio. His passer rating is lower than Bradford's (93.1, as compared to 124.4), but some of that is because Bradford dinks and dunks so much that his completion percentage is through the roof. It's misleading.

#BALvsMIN

Miami Dolphins 22, New York Jets 16

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, FOX

There might be some ugly football played in South Florida this week. The Dolphins surely have a bad taste in their mouth after getting manhandled by the Jets earlier this season. If Jay Ajayi can run like he did in Atlanta last Sunday, this outcome will be totally different than last month's meeting in Jersey. Miami rushed for 30 yards as a team in the 20-6 loss. Of course, Dolphins fans are still wondering if Jay Cutler will ever eclipse the yardage Mendoza Line again. Josh McCown merely needs to play an efficient game and not give up the football. Two picks last week led to 10 points for the opposition. Relevant in a one-score defeat, although I still respect McCown and his approach. Back to Ajayi: The Fins are 6-0 when he rushes for 100-plus yards, including a 2-0 mark this season.

#NYJvsMIA

Los Angeles Rams 28, Arizona Cardinals 21

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, FOX

Going all touchdowns -- and a few missed field goals -- in this NFC West matchup. The Cardinals received quite the boost from Adrian Peterson last week. I expect he will get 20-25 carries this Sunday, too. As dominant as Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald is, he's not a "space eater." Wade Phillips' defense has allowed opponents to run wild, while giving up the most touchdowns on the ground in the league. That said, if Fitzmagic can help Tampa come roaring back against Arizona, scoring 33 second-half points, what will the Rams -- the top scoring team in the league -- do against what's been a generous Cards defense? Counterpoint: As wonderfully as Jared Goff's developed in Year 1 under Sean McVay, his fourth-quarter numbers are rough ...

Quarters 1-3: 101.2 passer rating with seven touchdown passes and one interception.
Quarter 4: 65.2 passer rating with one touchdown and two interceptions.

#AZvsLA

Jacksonville Jaguars 24, Indianapolis Colts 14

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

Going with the Jacksonville defense this week. That's reason enough. The only D Jacoby Brissett has faced that can compare with what the Jags bring to the table -- particularly in the secondary -- is the Seahawks' group. Brissett hung in there during the first half of that game in Seattle, but by the fourth quarter, the Seahawks' pressure got to him, forcing the kind of mistakes that have flummoxed Indy in fourth quarters all season. The result: a 46-18 Colts loss. This game's in Lucas Oil Stadium, though, which could be problematic for the other quarterback involved. Blake Bortles has been bad away from home this season, completing less than 50 percent of his passes and owning a 61.6 passer rating. There might have been a joke in there somewhere. What's no joke: Leonard Fournette. He's the only player in the NFL to score in every game this season, and the first Jags rookie to score a touchdown in six straight games since my colleague on the "NFL Power Rankings" show, @MJD.

#JAXvsIND

Green Bay Packers 23, New Orleans Saints 20 (OT)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, FOX

Going with a surprise pick here: the Brett Hundley-led Packers. It's a surprise because I've been behind the Saints (SEE: Power Rankings) and even picked them to upset the Vikings in Week 1. (That worked out ... not really.) Feel like Mike McCarthy will get Hundley out of the pocket, building off of what his young quarterback does well. New Orleans' defense will be a focal point -- the unit allowed 13 points over two weeks before yielding 24 points to the Lions. Yes, the Lions totaled 38 points in the game -- two of Detroit's scores came on a punt return and interception. Meanwhile, Dennis Allen's unit produced three defensive touchdowns in that wacky game. Will the Packers lean on Aaron Jones and the run more in Aaron Rodgers' absence? When the team has been without the franchise QB in the past, the rushing numbers haven't changed much. Like, at all. Green Bay has run the ball one more time per game, for 6 more yards, with almost the exact same yards-per-carry figure. I.E., Mike McCarthy doesn't rein it in for his QB2s much. Or, he doesn't help them that much.

#NOvsGB

Carolina Panthers 24, Chicago Bears 21

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

Not an easy game to call. The Bears have played most teams on the schedule tough. The Panthers look to be a quality club, but only seem to fare well when Cam Newton plays well. The franchise quarterback's season has been, in a word, streaky. His passer ratings by game: 87.2, 83.9, 43.8, 130.8, 141.8 and 41.5. His worst performance of the season came against the Saints in Charlotte. New Orleans' D: not exactly a shutdown unit. Mitchell Trubisky won't run as much as Newton, but the rookie used his legs effectively versus the Ravens. He also was only asked to throw the ball 16 times. Lean on Jordan Howard, who's averaged 153.2 rush yards per game -- at a robust 5.2 yards per carry -- in wins this season. Losses? 47.0/3.2. #justahairdifferent

#CARvsCHI

Tennessee Titans 23, Cleveland Browns 17

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

Well, it's a hobbled Marcus Mariota vs. starter-turned-backup-turned-starter DeShone Kizer. The Titans are going to run, run and run some more, but to what end? A bright spot for the Browns has been their ability to thwart opponents on the ground. Putting aside one breakaway D'Onta Foreman scamper last week, the Texans struggled on the ground. Then again, why hand the ball off when the Cleveland secondary is letting receivers run around like a bloodthirsty pack of pomeranians? Mariota merely needs the protection he was afforded in the second half this past Monday night. He made several accurate throws while standing like that mannequin in the street in "I Am Legend." That's what a bad hammy will do to you. Still much better than the alternative. In Weeks 4 and 5 with mostly Matt Cassel under center, Tennessee produced 383 total yards and 24 points in two games combined. On Monday night, with Mariota back in the fold: 473/36. #Casselmania

#TENvsCLE

Dallas Cowboys 26, San Francisco 49ers 20

Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET, FOX

Looks like Ezekiel Elliott will be playing, barring some late ruling from the High Court of Minas Tirith. In this matchup last year, Elliott and the Cowboys offense took over in the second half -- after NaVorro Bowman departed with an injury. He's now departed San Francisco -- period -- weakening the 49ers' run defense. The Niners currently rank 18th in rushing yards allowed, but a lofty fourth in yards per carry. If DeForest Buckner plays out of his mind, the game might come down to Dak Prescott being accurate, which has been an issue on intermediate throws. On that note, C.J. Beathard will make his first career start Sunday. He'll probably rip up the Dallas secondary in the second half. The Cowboys' point diff in the latter half of games is a woeful minus-29. Not woeful: The history between these two teams. If you've got 13 minutes, you must watch this. Awesome highlights, some of which you've probably never seen.

#DALvsSF

Los Angeles Chargers 27, Denver Broncos 23

Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS

Difficult it is, to have faith in the Chargers. I don't know why I typed that sentence like Yoda. But now that the sentence is there, perhaps it would take a Jedi master to figure out how Philip Rivers and Co. always seem to fall short jussssst when you think they're relevant in the AFC West again. Is the home matchup versus the Broncos one of those deals? Not if the Bolts shut down C.J. Anderson and Jamaal Charles like the Giants just did. That might be a pipe dream, though -- this is the worst run defense in the league. Then again, Denver has lost three road games in a row, going back to last season. Speaking of streakiness, Rivers used to own Denver. But since 2011, he's gone 3-11 (dropping his overall record to 11-13 now), while his passer rating during that time is sub-80. This covers the Tim Tebow, Peyton Manning and Trevor Siemian eras. Also covers the John Fox, Gary Kubiak and Vance Joseph eras. Or, simply put, the Von Miller Era. Aha!

#DENvsLAC

Pittsburgh Steelers 24, Cincinnati Bengals 20

Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS

Not doing it. Much points to the Steelers laying an egg at home to the Bengals after that impressive win in Kansas City. But I won't pick against them this week. The Bengals have their own used-car feel to them this week, having played relatively well for three straight games and coming off a bye. Then you remind yourself that these are the Bengals. My question: What to make of Marvin Lewis' defense? A few name players are there, but is this group viable enough to put Cincy in the playoff race? The unit has allowed the second fewest points in the league, but four of the QBs the Bengals have faced are Joe Flacco, Deshaun Watson (in his first career start), DeShone Kizer and Tyrod Taylor. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers scored 27 points on them. Not sure what to think. I do know this: Pittsburgh's chances again hinge on Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown. No sh$@! No, I mean really -- no bull. Those guys account for 64.9 of the Steelers scrimmage yards, most of any duo in the league.

#CINvsPIT

Seattle Seahawks 17, New York Giants 13

Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS

Unbelievable that the Giants and their makeshift receiver corps comprised of WR5s and WR6s played the Broncos secondary last week ... and now face the other best defensive backfield in football. Through five games, Seattle's famed "Legion of Boom" has been solid, if not as dominant as it used to be. Question is, can Orleans Darkwa make like Joe Morris and run right through the Seahawks' front? Could be, as this is where Seattle's defense has been gashed time and again. The 'Hawks are allowing nearly 5 yards per carry. But I don't think Pete Carroll's group will overlook the Giants after last Sunday night's stunner in Denver.

Fun fact: Russell Wilson is one of three quarterbacks who have beaten three different teams on a pitch that isn't his own: He's defeated the Giants, Jets and Broncos (SB XLVIII) at the Big Snoopy.

#SEAvsNYG

New England Patriots 30, Atlanta Falcons 27

Sunday, 8:30 p.m. ET, NBC

The Sunday night crew over at NBC will sell this as a rematch of Super Bowl LI, with plenty of 28-3 hyperbole to make you wish you heard more stories about Jerome Bettis being from Detroit before Super Bowl XL. Ah, can't really blame them. On paper, this was a fantastic matchup ... but these are NOT the same two teams we saw last February. The Falcons' offense flat sucked versus the Bills and Dolphins when it mattered. New England owned the No. 1 scoring defense last year. Does that stat even compute right now? The D ranks 30th in 2017. While the Pats showed improvement on that side of the ball over the last two weeks, they played a Bucs team that can't buy a field goal and the Jets (don't really need to add anything colorful to that). Definitely not improved? The reigning NFL MVP. Matt Ryan's passer rating has dropped 29.8 points from last year -- the biggest plunge among the 24 QBs who qualify in both seasons.

#ATLvsNE

Philadelphia Eagles 28, Washington Redskins 22

Monday, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

What an important game -- particularly in the NFC East race. Consider:

A) The Eagles would improve to 3-0 in the division with a win, while maintaining the best record in the NFC.
B) In that scenario, the second-place Redskins would be 2.5 games behind the Eagles (and 0-2 versus Philadelphia, too).
C) At 6-1, Philadelphia would be too far out in front of a Cowboys team possibly sans Ezekiel Elliott in the near future and a Giants team that might be 1-6 to really worry about either.
D) If the Redskins win, they'll only be a half-game back with a split in the head-to-head.
E) That'd also give Washington two wins with Josh Norman, Rob Kelley and Bashaud Breeland either out or at less than 100 percent. Had this team been healthy, it might've upended the Chiefs in Week 4.

By the way, Kirk Cousins is on pace for career bests in passer rating, touchdowns and interceptions. His current stat line is 106.4/9/2. Pretty strong.

#WASvsPHI

THURSDAY NIGHT'S GAME

Kansas City Chiefs 26, Oakland Raiders 20

Thursday, 8:25 p.m. ET, CBS/NFL Network/Amazon

The Raiders need this Thursday nighter. Bad. They haven't beaten the rival Chiefs since the Latavius Murray coming-out party in November of 2014. Remember that game? Kansas City has swept the Raiders in each of the past two seasons -- and I think it will happen again. Oakland's offense has been underwhelming. Derek Carr doesn't look right. Amari Cooper definitely doesn't look right. The entire aerial attack is averaging just under 200 yards a game, which would be wonderful in 1977. Another thing going against the reeling Raiders: How Andy Reid's team responds after a loss, seeing how the Chiefs just dropped their first game of the season. My main man @RealJackAndrade pulled this sucker out:

Chiefs after a loss in 2016
W-L: 4-0
PPG: 28.3
PPG allowed: 12.5
Turnover differential: +12

#KCvsOAK

Follow Elliot Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonNFL.

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