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(Paul Sancy/AP)
(Paul Sancy/AP)

Pullett's NFL Picks - Week 7

Last Week’s Record: 11-4

Overall Season Record: 47-30

Jaguars @ Saints

Trevor Lawrence has orchestrated the Jaguars’ offense to help win three consecutive games, in which Jacksonville has scored at least 23 in each game during this streak. Travis Etienne has also played a big role in the Jaguars’ recent success with 187 total yards and three touchdowns over the last two games. This Jacksonville offense has looked like one of the best in the league, especially with the depth of their receiving core. Evan Engram, Calvin Ridley, and Christian Kirk have been almost equally involved in the offense, and have all contributed to Jacksonville’s encouraging start. Any defense may have a tough time stopping this unit, but New Orleans’ has a top-end defense this year. The Saints are sixth in points allowed per game (16.0) and are fifth in total yards allowed per game (278.3). The Saints’ defense may be able to hold the Jaguars’ offense, but how will the Derek Carr-led offense perform to back them up? New Orleans has only scored above 20 points twice this season and has been very inconsistent overall. They scored 34 against the Patriots two weeks ago, then scored 13 points the next week, with only three second-half points. If Chris Olave and Alvin Kamara can break tackles and make plays after they get the ball, the Saints may have a chance, but Jacksonville should win fairly easily as long as Lawrence plays.

Jaguars 24, Saints 13

Raiders @ Bears

With Jimmy Garoppolo and Justin Fields’ status in doubt due to injury, this game could be a toss-up. The Raiders defense was able to hold onto their lead after Garoppolo went down last week, as Las Vegas sacked Mac Jones in the endzone to secure their win over New England. Vegas will need to continue their defensive success to help the offense while Garoppolo is out. Josh Jacobs’ workload should see an uptick from where it has been. After the Garoppolo injury, Jacobs had an opportunity on 59% of plays (13/22). The Raiders run about 59 plays a game, leading to approximately 35 opportunities per game for Jacobs without Garoppolo. While it is important to rely on the run game when the quarterback is out, it is hard for the rushing attack to stay efficient with all the work they will get. Both the offensive line and Jacobs will become fatigued during longer drives. On the other hand, the Bears are likely to miss Justin Fields in this game. Chicago became very one-dimensional offensively once Tyson Bagent came into the game and most of their plays were short runs or quick passes to the outside. Unfortunately, the Bears do not have enough after-catch playmakers to help them out and the loss of Fields’ multidimensional playmaking will hurt. In this game, however, the lack of QB availability may make for an interesting, low-scoring matchup. The Raiders have a more healthy backfield, which should help them win this game.

Raiders 21, Bears 13

Browns @ Colts

This game is another matchup of backup quarterbacks with starters Deshaun Watson questionable and Anthony Richardson out for the season. Without their lead signal-caller, the Browns pulled off a very surprising upset last week, defeating the 49ers 19-17 thanks to their defensive presence. Cleveland’s defense is top-five in total yards allowed per game, passing yards allowed per game, rushing yards allowed per game, points allowed per game, and third-down conversion rate. Bottom line, the Browns defense has been shutdown. If the Colts want a chance to break this defense, they will need both Zack Moss and Jonathon Taylor to play to their best abilities. Moss has been very good for Indianapolis both with and without Taylor, tallying the second-most rushing yards in the league (466). Adding Taylor to a backfield that is already performing well will help the Colts without Richardson. Indianapolis will need big plays from Michael Pittman Jr. in the receiving game to keep the Browns’ defense honest. If the Colts can run the ball well for four quarters, they’ll have a chance. However, they may be too one-dimensional with Gardener Minshew in at quarterback, something they can’t afford to do against the Browns.

Browns 23, Colts 17

Bills @ Patriots

The Buffalo Bills average 28.8 points per game this season. Their offense has been fine as a whole, but they have struggled at times, as they did in their nailbiter against the Giants last week. This extreme level of inconsistency has hindered the Bills in games that they are expected to win. Buffalo has struggled offensively in both of their losses and even in their win against the Giants. However, when Josh Allen has great accuracy and decision-making, the Bills look like one of the better teams in the NFL. Since his 2020 breakout season, Josh Allen has led Buffalo to a 5-1 record against New England, averaging 235 yards per game and a touchdown to interception ratio of 13:2. The Bills should at least be able to play a similar game to last week’s against the Giants. On Sunday night, the Bills won mainly due to their defense allowing no touchdowns, and only nine points total. Most of the Patriots’ struggles this season have come from the lack of an offensive identity. Rhamondre Stevenson and Ezekiel Elliott have struggled behind an offensive line that has been banged up this season, causing the running backs to rank as the 26th-best team in rushing yards per game and are 29th in yards per carry. Mac Jones’ struggles have also hurt this offense, contributing to the second-worst scoring offense in the NFL at 12 points per game. Even if Josh Allen underperforms, it is hard to see a path toward a New England victory.

Bills 31, Patriots 10

Commanders @ Giants 

The Washington Commanders travel to New York in an NFC East battle against the Giants. New York has struggled offensively this season, averaging the lowest points per game in the league at 11.8. After scoring only five touchdowns through six weeks, it is hard to imagine that the Giants’ offense can improve enough to win this game withor without Daniel Jones. While Tyrod Taylor can be a serviceable backup, there is a clear difference between him and Jones. The Commanders’ offense hasn’t been elite, but it has been significantly better than New York’s. Brian Robinson should have a great game on the ground, as the G-Men allow almost 150 rushing yards per game. The one bright side for the Giants is that Washington’s rush defense is also bottom 10 in the league. Saquon Barkley would need to carry the load offensively for New York for them to win, but even with one of the best running backs in the game, Washington’s edge on offense will be too great.

Commanders 24, Giants 7

Falcons @ Buccaneers

The Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers face off this week for the lead in the NFC South. The Falcons’ offense has not shown its full potential yet, as they have yet to score over 25 points with their young weapons such as Kyle Pitts, Drake London, and Bijan Robinson. If Desmond Ridder can get Pitts and London involved in this game, they should have a good chance to beat the Bucs. However, Tampa’s defense has not allowed more than 25 points in a game yet this season. Their defense is best at stopping the run, so how Ridder plays could be the difference in this game. Atlanta’s pass defense is also top 10, so this game may come down to how efficient Rachaad White and Tampa Bay’s rushing offense, which has been bottom-five in the league, can be. The Buccaneers’ defense should force a turnover or two from Ridder, helping them win this game, but it could go either way.

Buccaneers 21, Falcons 17

Lions @ Ravens 

Entering this week, the Detroit Lions are tied for having the best record in the NFL. Their offense has kept the same level of efficiency that it had last year, but the main reason for their improvement has been their defense. Last year, Detroit’s offense would have to consistently score 30+ points to win. Now that their defense is top 10 in total yards allowed and points per game, there is a big weight taken off the offense. The Baltimore Ravens also have an elite-level defense, so this game should come down to which offense can break through the opposing defense more often. Baltimore’s lack of a rushing attack outside of Lamar Jackson may hurt them, as neither Gus Edwards nor Justice Hill have been able to fill the void of J.K. Dobbins. This game should be one of the better games this week, but the Ravens may be asking too much of Lamar Jackson here. To be the team-leading rusher while also needing to facilitate the offense and get Mark Andrews and Zay Flowers the ball enough to keep the defense honest is something that Jackson can certainly do, but it isn’t likely against a defense as strong as Detroit’s.

Lions 27, Ravens 24

Steelers @ Rams

The return of Cooper Kupp has helped the Rams offense as many expected. Despite Puka Nacua’s historic start to the season, Kupp has outperformed the rookie since his return in Week 5, and this should continue. As solid as the passing game has been for the Rams, they could struggle on the ground this week. Both Kyren Williams and Ronnie Rivers are out for multiple weeks, and Los Angeles’ running back depth chart is thin. The Rams signed Royce Freeman to help fill this void, but there will be a significant dropoff in production from Kyren Williams to whoever gets the main job. The Steelers defense may be able to take advantage of this, but the Rams haven’t needed great running backs the last few years to be able to stay afloat offensively. Teams like the Chiefs have done this before, but instead of running the ball in short-yardage situations, McVay is known to use quick screens and quick routes to receivers to gain those necessary yards. Pittsburgh’s best chance at this game is to completely shut down the run and make Stafford throw the ball. While this could also lead to great games from Kupp and Nacua, it is what the Steelers would need to do. If Pittsburgh can get consistent pressure on Stafford, sacking him a few times and causing him to move outside the pocket, they’ll make this one competitive. However, Sean McVay has proven to be one of the best offensive coaches in the NFL, something Mike Tomlin hasn’t been able to do with the Steelers this year.

Rams 23, Steelers 15

Cardinals @ Seahawks

With Kyler Murray returning to practice on Wednesday, the Arizona Cardinals could have the All-Pro QB back as they look to improve their 1-5 start to the season. Whether it is Murray or Josh Dobbs under center, Arizona is outmatched here. Seattle’s offensive identity has lied in their rushing attack led by Kenneth Walker III. The Cardinals' rush defense has been bottom 10 in the league this season. Walker should continue his impressive start to the season on the ground. Geno Smith and D.K. Metcalf had a few miscommunications last week, which caused Metcalf to have a few frustration penalties. Lucky for them, Arizona’s defense hasn’t been great this season, and this game should be a get-right game for Seattle.

Seahawks 27, Cardinals 17

Packers @ Broncos

After losing to the Raiders two weeks ago on Monday Night Football, the Green Bay Packers need to win this game following their bye. Although the game may have been decided by Marcus Peters’ egregious horsecollar tackle that prevented a touchdown, the Packers offense wasn’t able to produce at a high level. Green Bay’s offense seems to rely heavily on Aaron Jones and the accuracy of Jordan Love. Considering Jones has been injured for most of the season and it is Love’s first year as the starter, the offense has beene xpectedly inconsistent. Luckily for the Packers, the Broncos have also struggled with Russell Wilson at quarterback, although the struggles have not only come offensively. Denver has allowed at least 31 points in four games this season, allowing the most rushing yards and points per game. Green Bay should be able to move the ball against this defense, but this matchup should be close. This game may come down to which quarterback can play better, but the Broncos defense hasn’t shown any reason to pick them in this game.

Packers 17, Broncos 14

Chargers @ Chiefs

The Los Angeles Chargers are one of the more entertaining teams in the NFL. While this can be attributed to their young star quarterback Justin Herbert or the elite weapons the Chargers have on both sides of the ball, Los Angeles is entertaining for a different reason. Each game for the Chargers has come down to the last drive this year. Whether they play a more or less talented team than they are, the game is always up for grabs at the death. This divisional matchup should live up to these standards. The battle between Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert should be one that NFL fans see for many years to come and may become one of the best rivalries in the league. When predicting Los Angeles’ games, usually the team with the better clutch offense is the correct pick. Considering the connection between Mahomes and Kelce is one of the best in recent history, the Chiefs should be able to close out this game.

Chiefs 27, Chargers 21

Game of the Week: Dolphins @ Eagles

After losing their first game of the season to the New York Jets, the Philadelphia Eagles are eyeing a bounceback performance against the streaking Miami Dolphins on Sunday Night Football. While the Eagles have looked like one of the best teams in the league, Philadelphia hasn’t looked the same as they did late last year. Four of the Eagles’ first five games were decided by less than 10 points, and they haven’t shown the same level of dominance as last season. While they have won games, they haven’t fully clicked offensively yet. Going against Miami’s defense won’t be easy for them, especially with the rumored return of Jalen Ramsey. Miami’s offense has been too good to pick against this season. Multiple mic’d up moments of the Dolphins have been released, and the level of confidence their offense plays with is so much higher than any other team. Even without their historic 70-point performance, they would still be the second-highest-scoring offense in the NFL. Given how their offense and defense have both dominated opponents thus far, the Dolphins are striving to be one of the best teams in the NFL and compete for the one seed in the AFC. This Sunday, they’ll show the world why.

Dolphins 34, Eagles 23

49ers @ Vikings

After losing to the P.J. Walker-led Cleveland Browns, the San Francisco 49ers look to rebound against the Minnesota Vikings. The 49ers should be able to win this game as long as Christian McCaffrey and Deebo Samuel are fully healthy. While Samuel may be replaceable with an uptick in targets for Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle, McCaffrey is one of a kind. Without his presence in the backfield, opposing defenses view the 49ers very differently. It is much easier to gameplan against Jordan Mason or Elijah Mitchell in the backfield than it is to scheme against McCaffrey, especially with Samuel, Aiyuk, and Kittle all being big-play threats. However, the Vikings may find a way to keep this game close. Although they are missing Justin Jefferson, Minnesota has played to the level of their competition, coming within one score of their opponent in 17 of their previous 23 games. Jordan Addison, K.J. Osborn, and T.J. Hockenson will all need to take a step up in production for this to happen, as Alexander Matison may struggle against Nick Bosa and the 49ers front seven. Even if the Vikings make it close, the 49ers should still win on Monday.

49ers 31, Vikings 23

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