It took only six weeks, but the New York Jets made a change at quarterback, promoting Geno Smith to starter.
That’s bad news for Ryan Fitzpatrick, who, after an offseason battle of tug-of-war with the Jets, struggled mightily out of the gate. Eleven interceptions through six games is a bad look no matter how you slice it.
By comparison, our NESN.com trio of football prognosticators are actually having a decent season — well, two out of three, at least — and they don’t need to be looking over their shoulders any time soon.
Here’s how our valiant competitors fared last week.
Mike Cole: 5-8-2 (32-57-3 overall). He went three games under .500 and fell a game back of his opponents and still felt good about his week, so that’s where he’s at.
Ricky Doyle: 6-7-2 (41-48-3). Seven games away from a winning record is pretty impressive given how this season has played out.
Andre Khatchaturian: 6-7-2 (39-50-3). Solid week, but he should lose points for endangering his coworkers by smashing a lightbulb during “The Spread.”
And now, on to the Week 7 picks, with lines coming, as always, from our friends at OddsShark.
Chicago Bears (1-5) at (-9) Green Bay Packers (3-2), Thursday, 8:30 p.m.
Mike: Bears. The Packers are a hot mess, and they continue to be overvalued at home, going 2-5-1 against the spread in their last eight home games. The injury list is laughably long, and on a short week, even at home, they should be on upset alert, let alone covering.
Ricky: Bears. What the hell is going on with Aaron Rodgers? He said after the Packers got their butts handed to them by the Cowboys in Week 6 that he was going to drink some Scotch and watch film. Perhaps he should consider hitting the sauce before the game, as something needs to change in Green Bay.
Andre: Bears. Fourteen of the last 19 Bears games have been decided by seven points or less. Brian Hoyer still hasn’t thrown a pick and Aaron Rodgers’ struggles are well-documented. In his last 17 games, he has just one game with a passer rating of 100 or more. Packers win, but Bears keep it close.
(-2.5) New York Giants (3-3) at Los Angeles Rams (3-3) Sunday, 9:30 a.m. (in London)
Mike: Giants. The Rams still have a few injuries on defense, especially in the secondary where they’ll likely be without cornerback Trumaine Johnson again. It won’t be pretty, but I think another big day from Odell Beckham gives the Giants the edge.
Ricky: Rams. Los Angeles is optimistic that defensive end Robert Quinn will return Sunday. If he does, it’ll be a huge boost to the Rams’ pass rush, which has suffered in his absence the last two weeks.
Andre: Rams. The Giants have the second-worst turnover differential in football (minus-10). The Rams only have recorded 10 sacks this season (25th), but they are good at pressuring the quarterback (37 hurries — 2nd). The added pressure forces a turnover or two as the Rams steal a close one.
Oakland Raiders (4-2) at (-1) Jacksonville Jaguars (2-3), Sunday, 1 p.m.
Mike: Raiders. Oakland didn’t play well last weekend, but it was a bad matchup against a Chiefs team that rarely turns the ball over. The Raiders are among the NFL’s best teams in turning turnovers into points, and they should get a few more opportunities against the frequently sloppy Jags.
Ricky: Raiders. Oakland has struggled against the run this season, but it might not be much of an issue this week, as Jacksonville’s rushing attack has been just as bad. That means this game will be won through the air, and I’m trusting Derek Carr to make more plays than Blake Bortles in a quarterback battle of 2014 draft picks. Also, the Raiders are 3-0 on the road, for whatever it’s worth.
Andre: Raiders. I had the Jaguars initially because they allow 4.8 yards per play, but after hearing Mike’s reasoning during “The Spread”, I changed my mind. The Raiders force turnovers and they’re going up against a turnover-prone quarterback.
(-2.5) Buffalo Bills (4-2) at Miami Dolphins (2-4), Sunday, 1 p.m.
Mike: Bills. The Dolphins looked like a new team with their offensive line finally intact last week, but the Bills are starting to build a track record. They lead the league in yards per rush attempt and are second in turnover ratio, two important stats when it comes to winning on the road.
Ricky: Bills. Buffalo has been running wild (166.3 rushing yards per game, first in NFL) and Miami (147 rushing yards allowed per game, 31st in NFL) can’t stop a nosebleed on the ground.
Andre: Bills. The Bills have the second-best turnover differential in football and it ain’t a fluke. Tyrod Taylor has always been good at protecting the ball (two interceptions) and Rex Ryan’s defensive mind has excelled. The Dolphins have also allowed the second-most rushing yards and the Bills average a league-best 5.6 yards per rushing attempt. It’s also incredible that the Bills have allowed a league-low three passing touchdowns.
Indianapolis Colts (2-4) at (-2.5) Tennessee Titans (3-3), Sunday, 1 p.m.
Mike: Titans. This might be the death knell for the Colts. Tennessee almost gave one away last week against the Browns, but this is a favorable matchup. The run-heavy Titans shouldn’t have much trouble moving the ball against Indy’s defense, controlling the clock and putting themselves in a position to win.
Ricky: Titans. Marcus Mariota has made strides the last two weeks. You could argue the success came against bad teams (Dolphins and Browns), but I’d argue the Colts also are a bad team.
Andre: Titans. The Titans will dominate the battle of the trenches in this game. They have 18 sacks to their credit (fifth) and the Colts only have eight (29th). The Colts have also allowed 6.5 yards per play (31st) and that doesn’t bode well against a Titans rushing attack that averages 4.9 yards per play (second in the league).
Washington Redskins (4-2) at (-1) Detroit Lions (3-3), Sunday, 1 p.m.
Mike: Redskins. These teams match up really closely (obviously, given the 1-point spread), so here are a couple of trends I like to support the pick: Washington is 5-0 ATS in its last five road games and 8-1 ATS in its last nine games as an underdog.
Ricky: Lions. Still not really sold on either of these teams, but Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford has been excellent this season, especially over the last two weeks. It could be thanks in large to Lions offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter.
Andre: Lions. Matt Stafford is quietly putting together an incredible season. He’s tied for third in touchdowns (14) and is second in completion percentage. The Lions also have the third-most 10-play drives and five-minute drives. I also have a tough time seeing the Redskins win five consecutive games. I smell a letdown.
New Orleans Saints (2-3) at (-6.5) Kansas City Chiefs (3-2), Sunday, 1 p.m.
Mike: Chiefs. Because the Saints scored 41 points, people forget they still allowed 38 last week and are still allowing 33.6 points per game.
Ricky: Chiefs. If you think Kansas City’s improved offense in Week 6 was a product of facing a shaky Oakland defense, let me remind you that New Orleans’ D is just as poor. This could be the week Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles assumes a bigger role and makes his first real impact of the season.
Andre: Saints. The Chiefs only have seven sacks this season (31st) and if you give Drew Brees time he’s going to make you pay. They’ve put up at least 30 points in four of their five games. On the defensive side of the ball, they’ve had to go up against Cam Newton, Philip Rivers and Matt Ryan in the last three games, so Alex Smith should be a breath of fresh air compared to what they’ve had to go up against recently.
Cleveland Browns (0-6) at (-10) Cincinnati Bengals (2-4), Sunday, 1 p.m.
Mike: Bengals. Cincinnati ranks fifth in yards per pass attempt and gets a matchup against a Browns defense that’s allowing the fifth-most yards per pass attempt and has only recorded nine sacks this season. Andy Dalton will get time to throw, and Cleveland’s 31st-ranked red zone defense should cure what ails the Bengals down inside the 20.
Ricky: Bengals. Cincinnati’s four losses have come against teams (Patriots, Cowboys, Broncos, Steelers) with a combined record of 18-6. The Bengals still have a talented roster, and it should be more apparent this week against a Browns team destined to land the No. 1 overall pick in next year’s draft.
Andre: Browns. Cody Kessler is quietly putting an impressive rookie season with four touchdowns and one interception and a 65 percent completion percentage. If he had any offensive line help, those numbers and his record could be better. The Bengals defense is pretty mediocre, allowing 5.9 yards per play (24th). The Browns also average 4.7 yards per rush attempt (sixth), so they could control the time of possession in this one.
(-2.5) Minnesota Vikings (5-0) at Philadelphia Eagles (3-2), Sunday, 1 p.m.
Mike: Vikings. Mike Zimmer’s coming off a bye, which is potentially bad news for Philly. Dating back to 2008 when he was the defensive coordinator in Cincinnati, Zimmer’s defenses allowed 13 points or fewer in five of eight games.
Ricky: Vikings. The Eagles really missed right tackle Lane Johnson last week, as his replacement, rookie Halapoulivaati Vaitai, struggled against the Redskins. The task will only get tougher this week, and that’s bad news for rookie quarterback Carson Wentz and Philadelphia’s offense.
Andre: Eagles. I smell a letdown! The Vikings aren’t in the comfort of their impressive new stadium and the Eagles know Sam Bradford pretty well having gone up against him in practice many times when he was a member of the Eagles. The Vikings lead the league in turnover differential, but Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz doesn’t make many mistakes. Nearly a third of the Vikings touchdowns this season have been defensive or special teams touchdowns. Bradford is going to have to win this game with his arm and I don’t think the Vikings anemic offense (4.9 yards per play) is up for the task.
Baltimore Ravens (3-3) at (PK) New York Jets (1-5), Sunday, 1 p.m.
Mike: Jets. The New York quarterback situation is an absolute joke, but the Ravens’ injury issues — now apparently including quarterback Joe Flacco — are too much to ignore.
Ricky: Ravens. Will Geno Smith provide a spark? Doubt it. More importantly, the Jets’ rushing attack suddenly looks like crap after New York ran Matt Forte into the ground over the first two weeks. The Ravens are dealing with a bunch of injuries, yes, but the Jets are in disarray. For more evidence, just look at New York’s minus-12 turnover differential, worst in the NFL.
Andre: Jets. You know what? I had the Ravens and I spent a good two minutes destroying Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Jets on “The Spread.” But I’m taking the Jets. I’m throwing the numbers aside. I just think the Jets bounce back and beat an inconsistent Ravens team. Also, the Jets’ five losses have come against 2015 playoff teams.
(-2) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-3) at San Francisco 49ers (1-5), Sunday, 4:05 p.m.
Mike: 49ers. These are two very bad football teams, so I’ll take the team that protects the football better and is playing at home.
Ricky: Bucs. I’ll take the team with upside coming off a bye over the nearly unwatchable 49ers, who’ve been getting scoop slammed over the last five weeks.
Andre: Bucs. EXPLOSION WARNING! The 49ers have allowed the most explosive plays in the NFL (37), so maybe this is a chance for Mike Evans to break through. The Bucs are only averaging 4.8 yards per play offensively (31st) but that is skewed because of games against Arizona and Denver. The Bucs will be fine against the league’s bottom-feeders.
San Diego Chargers (2-4) at (-6.5) Atlanta Falcons (4-2), Sunday, 4:05 p.m.
Mike: Chargers. I’m still not sold on the Atlanta defense, which is allowing 7.29 points per 100 yards on defense, which is 27th in the NFL. This will be a shootout, and San Diego will keep it close enough to cover.
Ricky: Chargers. Philip Rivers is playing at an elite level right now. As long as the Chargers hang on to the football and play bend, don’t break defense like they did against the Broncos, this looks like a solid upset pick for Week 7.
Andre: Chargers. When you really look at how the Chargers have lost their four games this season, you see that they can easily be 6-0. All four of their losses have been decided by six points or less and were a result of late defensive breakdowns. San Diego’s offense is good enough to keep up with the Falcons and the point spread is big enough for them to cover.
(-7) New England Patriots (5-1) at Pittsburgh Steelers (4-2), Sunday, 4:25 p.m.
Mike: Patriots. Even if Ben Roethlisberger was playing, the trends all point to the Patriots, who are 6-2 ATS in their last eight games at Heinz Field.
Ricky: Patriots. New England’s offense is rolling with Tom Brady at the helm. It’ll continue this week, and Pittsburgh won’t be able to keep up now that Ben Roethlisberger is sidelined.
Andre: Patriots. New England’s quarterbacks still haven’t thrown a pick this year and that trend should continue against a Steelers defense that is allowing 6.1 yards per play (fifth). The Patriots also have the most explosive plays in the NFL (38) and have the best explosive play differential (plus-18). They don’t allow many explosive plays which is a great attribute to have when going up against Pittsburgh.
Seattle Seahawks (4-1) at (-2) Arizona Cardinals (3-3), Sunday, 8:30 p.m.
Mike: Seahawks. Michael Bennett is the key here. If he plays — and it sounds like he will — he’s key to helping the Seahawks stop the run. If they can do that, I like Seattle’s chances against an Arizona aerial attack that’s been largely grounded this season.
Ricky: Cardinals. An NFC Championship preview? The Cardinals seem like they’re hitting their stride after some early-season struggles. Arizona’s opportunistic defense — an NFL-best 14 takeaways — will be the difference in a prime-time matchup in the desert.
Andre: Cardinals. The Seahawks only have four five-minute drives all season and I don’t see that changing much against a Cardinals secondary (nine interceptions, most in the league) that’s going up against a pretty “meh” Seahawks receiving corps. On the other side of the ball, David Johnson is leading the league in rushing. The Cardinals will control the clock and come away with a close win. The football gods also are going to make the NFC West close at the end of the year. A Seahawks win will prevent that.
Houston Texans (4-2) at (-7) Denver Broncos (4-2), Monday, 8:30 p.m.
Mike: Broncos. This shouldn’t be close. The only issue I have with this pick is Denver’s offense, but the Texans’ secondary is in rough shape, even more so after Kevin Johnson suffered a foot injury last week vs. Indianapolis.
Ricky: Broncos. Gary Kubiak returns to the sideline, and the Broncos should have something up their sleeves for Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler, who left Denver to sign a huge contract with Houston over the offseason.
Andre: Broncos. Aside from three consecutive “big boy” drives from Brock Osweiler late against the Colts, he’s had a pretty horrible season. That type of play isn’t going to cut it against a Denver defense (allowed 4.6 yards per play — 2nd) that used to prepare against him everyday last season. He has no secrets.
Thumbnail photo via Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports Images