By Dan Durkin-
(CBS) The Bears take their longest road trip of the season, to play a real football match in Wembley Stadium. It’s the end of an era for Donovan McNabb, and the beginning of an era in Minnesota and Denver. Outside of a few games, there are several lopsided match-ups on the Week 7 docket. Here’s my take on how everything will shake out with my predictions, my juggernaut games of the week, and my “juggernot lames of the weak”:
(Home team in all CAPS)
Juggernaut Games of the Week
Chargers 24, JETS 23 – Noon
Which is a larger number: Rex Ryan’s weight, or his opinions? Tough call, but I’ll go with the latter. Every week, Ryan opens the wide hole on his double-chinned face and odd things leave it. This week he took a jab at Chargers head coach Norv Turner, stating that if he (Ryan) had been hired by the Chargers in 2007, that he would have a “couple” rings. Um, tubby, you’re the same guy who has guaranteed a Jets Super Bowl for the past two seasons, so, can we see those rings? Oh, wait. You didn’t win any. The year the NFL uses a head coach hot dog eating contest to determine the Super Bowl winner, the Jets are a shoo-in; for now, they’ll be an overrated team led by a mediocre quarterback. It will be strength-on-strength when the Chargers have the ball, so the game will come down to what the Jets are able to do when they have the ball, and it won’t be enough. I like the Chargers to win what was already an intriguing match-up before the crude comments from the rotund Rex Ryan.
LIONS 24, Falcons 20 – Noon
The paper champion Lions’ undefeated season came to a halt last weekend at the hands of the 49ers. The bizarre post-game tussle between Lions head coach Jim Schwartz and 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh dominated headlines this week. Why, exactly? I’m not sure. I chalk it up to two grown men acting like children, and two head coaches still learning how to deal with the pressures of success. Childishness aside, the Lions will rebound this weekend at home against an underachieving Falcons team. Seeing what the Bears defensive line was able to do to the Falcons offensive line in Week 1, Matt Ryan is going to be under heavy pressure all game long, which will prove to be too much to overcome.
Juggernot Lames of the Weak
Broncos 20, DOLPHINS 17 – Noon
Tim Tebow vs. Matt Moore. Need I say more? Last week I predicted to a t how the Tebow situation would unfold in Denver. I also cautioned billboard-buying Bronco fans to be careful about what they wished for, as now they get it. It’s times like this I wish John Madden was still broadcasting, just to hear the ridiculous praise he would extol about Tebow. The quarterback/mohel gets his first start of the 2011 season in familiar Florida against an atrocious Dolphins team. This will be a very soft landing for Tebow, so I expect him to lead the new-look Broncos to a victory over the Suck for Luck favorites.
BROWNS 20, Seahawks 13 – Noon
The Browns continue to let off-the-field contract disputes disrupt their season. Prior to last week’s game, head coach Pat Shurmur said that running back Peyton Hillis would get the bulk of the carries in their game against Oakland. Then Sunday rolls around and the Browns report Hillis has a hamstring injury, yet he starts the game anyway? Petty drama. It’s pretty hard to win games in the NFL when your best player isn’t on the field for reasons not related to performance. That said, the Seahawks are dealing with a chest injury to quarterback Tarvaris Jackson which may force them to start Charlie Whitehurst at quarterback. Jackson or Whitehurst? I think tainted cantaloupe might be a better option. I like the Browns to win this pathetic excuse for NFL football.
Bears 23, BUCS 20 – Noon
Two evenly-matched, unpredictable teams clash in London’s Wembley Stadium to play only the ninth NFL game outside of America. Most rational Bear fans acknowledge the fact that the Bears are inferior to the Packers, therefore, their only chance to make the playoffs would be via a wild card berth. So once again, the Bears find themselves in a crucial NFC game against a team that may end up with an identical record. Only the Bears and Atlanta – whom the Bears own the head-to-head tie-breaker – have played every game so far this season against NFC opponents. Thus, the web of transitive math gets very involved very quickly. While I don’t believe in either of these teams, I believe in the Bucs less, primarily because of their promising, yet very overhyped quarterback, Josh Freeman. Unlike teams in the past that the Bucs have mounted late comebacks against, the Bears are a team that plays well with a lead. I like the Bears to win in Wembley by a field goal.
TITANS 24, Texans 21 – Noon
Somebody has to win the AFC South this year, and chances are it will be one of these two teams. Seeing that the Titans best weapon, running back Chris Johnson, has yet to get on track this season, the Titans have to feel good about the position they find themselves in. Johnson has talked about adjusting to the timing of the Titans new zone-blocked running scheme, so the bye-week came at a good time. It gave Johnson time to rest a sore hamstring, and the team time to evaluate which plays they’re most effective with. It must be really frustrating to be a fan of the Texans. For years, we’ve heard about how close this team was to turning the corner, and it just hasn’t happened. Injuries to key contributors hasn’t helped things out, but even when they were at full strength, I wasn’t impressed. I like the Titans to win this week and take the reins in the AFC South.
PANTHERS 23, Redskins 17 – Noon
The Redskins didn’t really think that Rex Grossman would make it through a full season, did they? Bad Rex made his first (and potentially last) appearance last weekend in a crucial divisional loss to the Eagles. Grossman ended up with 13 completions in the game, but four of them went to the other team. Want to know the scary part? The abysmal 23.7 quarterback Grossman posted, was only the fourth worth of his career. So Bear fans out there were privileged enough to see the three worst Grossman performances. Take that, Redskin fans! The Redskins hand the keys over to John Beck, which is like Chad Hutchinson taking over for Craig Krenzel. Enough bad Bear quarterback memories. Let’s talk about a great quarterback in the making, Cam Newton. I thought Cam and crew could pull it off last week against an overrated Falcons team, but Newton tossed three interceptions of his own. The Panthers are the most exciting 1-5 team in football, and they’ll be 2-5 after this weekend.
RAIDERS 30, Chiefs 24 – 3:05 PM
The Oakland Raiders have made a lot of headlines the past few weeks. One was on a sad note, the passing of owner Al Davis, but the latest had to do with the acquisition of quarterback Carson Palmer. The Raiders paid a handsome price to acquire Palmer, giving up a 2012 first-round pick and a 2013 second-round pick that can become a first-round pick based on certain incentives being reached. I admire the Raiders’ win-now attitude, but they gave up far too much in this trade. Years ago, Palmer was a budding star. But of late, arm injuries have taken some miles off Palmer’s fast ball, rendering him ineffective. One thing is certain from this move, head coach Hue Jackson is running the show in Oakland. Palmer will be immediately thrown into the fire, but he has a familiar history with Jackson, as the two were together both at USC and in Cincinnati. I think this game will be a shootout, and like the feel-good story in Oakland to continue against a bad Kansas City team.
Steelers 27, CARDINALS 13 – 3:05 PM
How’s that Kevin Kolb trade and subsequent contract looking right about now? Kolb has gotten progressively worse in every game this season. He hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass since week three, but has since thrown three interceptions and been sacked eight times. I understand the Cardinals needed to address the quarterback position, but I think in the end this deal will be regrettable. Granted, Kolb doesn’t have much to work with outside of Larry Fitzgerald, I just think the sample size for Kolb was too small, and he came from a quarterback-friendly system. Cardinal fans hope the bye-week came at the right time and allowed the team to sort some things out. I’m not optimistic about that, especially with the Steelers in town.
Packers 41, VIKINGS 13 – 3:15 PM
If the Bears were able to hang 39 points on the Vikings, can the Packers break 50? It’s certainly possible. Watching the Vikings play last weekend, outside of a few players, this team looks disinterested. I said weeks ago that Vikings head coach Les Frasier was in over his head, and his game plan last week against the Bears just strengthened that sentiment. Every time the Vikings started to get a rhythm on offense, the Vikings inexplicably brought in quarterback Joe Webb, who brought the offense to a screeching halt. This week was Kevorkian time for Donovan McNabb, which I’m so very thankful for. The torch has now been passed to rookie Christian Ponder. What a rough week for Ponder to make his first NFL start, even if it is at home, as this will be a baptism by fire. The Packers will notch another easy victory in their quest for 16-0, keeping the 1972 Dolphin’s champagne on ice….hopefully forever.
DALLAS 31, Rams 13 – 3:15
The Cowboys are a puzzling team. They could be 5-0 this season, but they could just as easily be 0-5, so their 2-3 record seems fitting. One bright spot has been first-year defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, who has done a great job re-shaping the Cowboys defense. Last week, they held the Patriots to 20 points in Foxboro, which is no easy feat. Losses like that are tough to accept, especially when offense is supposed to be your strong suit. This week, the Rams – and whatever it is that they do – come to Big D for a Texas-size beat down.
SAINTS 34, Colts 17 – 7:20 PM
In what looked like a potential Super Bowl match-up prior to the season, has devolved into Drew Brees versus Curtis Painter. It’s unfortunate to see how much the Peyton Manning injury has affected not only the Colts season, but also the quality of several prime time games as well. Colts fans have been spoiled by Manning’s run, so it’s hard to be too sympathetic. The Saints suffered a key injury last week to head coach Sean Payton. Payton was caught in a heap of men on the sidelines, suffering a torn MCL and broken leg in the process. Seeing how involved Payton is on the sidelines, it will be interesting to see how it impacts the Saints offense. Well, it won’t affect them this week, as they will steamroll the Colts in the Super Dome.
Ravens 31, JAGUARS 10 – 7:30 PM Monday Night
Why has Monday Night football featured such awful games this year? Even if the Jaguars didn’t release quarterback David Garrard before the season, this still wouldn’t be a match-up worthy of a prime time slot. I wonder, will Jaguar fans even watch this game? There’s no possible plausible argument that can be made for the Jaguars to win this game, so I won’t bother trying to make one up. The Ravens will dominate every phase of this game.
Last Week: 9-4 / Overall: 63-27 (70%)
Dan Durkin joined The Score’s columnist community after finishing runner-up in the 2011 Pepsi Max Score Search. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois where he was a member of the men’s football team (despite his best efforts to join the women’s team). Dan is a longtime Scorehead, known as Dan in Wicker Park – even though he no longer resides in Wicker Park – who will be sharing NFL analysis and opinions. You can follow Dan on Twitter @djdurkin. To read more of Dan’s blogs click here.