Bet On It: Week 7 NFL predictions
Last Week: 2-6; Season: 20-27-1
It’s been 87 years since anyone in Major League Baseball batted above .415 — Rogers Hornsby, .424 in 1924. I bring this up because, after six weeks of the season, the “Bet On It” predictions are clipping along at a .416 pace.
Ok, Ok, so Hornsby’s performance stands a little higher on the greatness scale than me getting 41 percent (42 if you round up!) of my weekly picks right. But during that magical .424 season, Hornsby took an 0-for-4 in the second game of a June 21 doubleheader at Chicago, dropping him to .388.
He then ripped the cover off the ball for the final three months of the season.
So, it’s time to follow in Hornsby’s tracks. I feel an 8-0 week coming … or at least 5-3 …
• Tim Tebow will be the leading rusher in the Broncos-Dolphins game
Hey, guess what! Tim Tebow is starting this week. That’s just a friendly reminder in case you haven’t heard about Tebow’s big day four bazillion times yet.
The Broncos’ game plan figures to include lots of Willis McGahee, who’s coming off back-to-back 100-yard games and has topped the century mark three times this year. Of course, Miami’s strategy will be to limit McGahee and force Tebow to throw.
And Tebow dropping back to throw often means Tebow taking off on the ground — he had six rushes for 38 yards in less than two quarters vs. San Diego. McGahee will find the sledding tough Sunday, meaning Tebow will have to pick up the slack.
• There will be at least four turnovers in the Bucs-Bears game
If there’s been one relative constant during the NFL’s four-year run in London, it’s that the games are a little uneven. The lone exception is the 2008 Saints-Chargers showdown, which went down to the wire.
Aside from last week against New Orleans, Tampa Bay has struggled with slow starts this season anyway. The Bears, meanwhile, blasted the Vikings in Week 6 but continue to have questions about their offensive line.
All the elements add up to a defensive battle early, and both defenses are capable of capitalizing on mistakes.
• John Beck will throw at least two touchdown passes
For some reason, making this prediction feels a bit like standing in the middle of the road during rush hour, but it’s too late to turn back now.
During Beck’s previous four NFL starts, all coming in 2007 with Miami, he threw a grand total of zero touchdowns. The one — yes, one, TD he has thrown in his career came in a relief role.
But, like the Dolphins will do with Tebow, Carolina will try to force Beck to the air. That’s especially true given how banged up Washington’s offensive line is — Beck may not have a choice but to air it out.
If the Redskins are going to score in this one, they’ll have to do so on the strength of Beck’s arm.
• Darren McFadden will rush for 125 or more yards
Back in Week 1, McFadden provided one of the increasingly-few “Bet On It” correct predictions, topping the 150 total-yard mark. Six weeks later, it’s time to go back to the well.
Sunday’s Oakland-Kansas City game almost certainly will mark the Raiders debut of quarterback Carson Palmer. But considering Palmer just started working out with Oakland Tuesday and hasn’t played a game since January, the Raiders will have to put this game on McFadden’s shoulders.
The Chiefs are allowing 119.6 yards per game, and McFadden’s due to bust loose again after three straight weeks of less than 100 yards rushing.
• Brandon Lloyd will catch a touchdown pass
Aside from Palmer-to-Oakland, the Rams’ pick-up of wide receiver Brandon Lloyd was the trade deadline’s biggest move. Even though St. Louis is 0-5 and heading to Dallas this week, possibly without starting QB Sam Bradford, Lloyd ought to be a big upgrade for the Rams’ offense.
He’s familiar with Josh McDaniels’ strategy, too, having excelled under McDaniels in Denver. Lloyd will get plenty of looks Sunday, no matter who is under center for St. Louis.
• Green Bay will sack Christian Ponder at least four times
Congrats on the starting gig in Minnesota, Christian. Your reward? A game against the 6-0 defending Super Bowl champs.
The Packers’ defense has to be champing at the bit for this one, with Ponder set to make his first NFL start behind a sieve-like offensive line. The Bears recorded five sacks against Minnesota last week.
Ponder’s mobility will get him out of some tight spots — and could cause the Green Bay D a little trouble — but he will still feel the brunt of that Packers pass rush.
• The Saints will score more than 30 points
It’s bad enough that 0-6 Indianapolis has to go into New Orleans on Sunday night. But to do so one week after the Saints lost a heartbreaker at Tampa Bay, in a game where their head coach’s leg was busted up so badly he needed surgery?
New Orleans will bring its best effort against the Colts, meaning this one could be over early. And even though Curtis Painter has been better than advertised as Indy’s fill-in quarterback, the Saints’ defense lives off mistakes. New Orleans will force a few turnovers and the offense, with a fired-up Drew Brees, will capitalize.
• Jacksonville won’t score a touchdown before halftime
The sexiest of Monday night matchups, this is not. The 4-1 Ravens, who have allowed just 71 points all year, get rookie QB Blaine Gabbert and the 1-5 Jaguars, who have racked up negative yardage on 43 offensive plays this season.
Every once in awhile, Monday night games can result in some crazy, unexpected action. And the Ravens do have a road loss to an AFC South team this year, a half-hearted 26-13 effort at Tennessee in Week 2.
So, you never know …
But don’t count on the Jaguars to do anything spectacular.