Forecasting the Top Games of Week Seven

Game of the Week Tennessee Titans (4-2) at Carolina Panthers (5-0): If people didn't believe in the Panthers as a legitimate contender before last week, they do now. Carolina showed grit by coming back to erase a first half 10-point deficit on the road, against a high-powered Colts team.

By beating the Colts and the Buccaneers, the Panthers have notched two wins against two of the top five teams in the league.


This smash-mouth Panthers team will get another litmus test this Sunday against the Titans. Unlike the Colts, Tennessee is a physical team on defense that can stop the run and put pressure on the quarterback. On offense, Steve McNair has played at an MVP level so far this season. His quarterback rating of 107.8 leads the league and he has only thrown two interceptions.


Prediction: The Panthers defense is solid, but it seems like nobody can stop McNair, who has devoured defenses in the passing game all season long. Carolina will have trouble containing McNair both outside and inside of the pocket. The Titans' defense may not be able to stop Stephan Davis and DeShaun Foster, but they can contain them. If the Panthers can't run the ball tremendously well, they may not be able to score enough points to keep up with the Titans.


Titans- 24

Panthers- 17


Game Two


Denver Broncos (5-1) at Minnesota Vikings (5-0): The undefeated Vikings will get their first true test this week against the Broncos. Minnesota is the No.1 ranked offense in the NFL despite having a bye week. The Vikings are a balanced club, ranking fourth in rushing and ninth in passing offense. Randy Moss has been on a tear since the start of the season, which is bad news for a Broncos secondary which has been the weak link on defense all season long.


The key matchup in this game, though, will be between Denver's offense and Minnesota's defense. Minnesota's early success is due in large part to the improvement of its defense, which has given up 17 points per game. Like the Chiefs and the Colts, the Vikings have such a prolific offense that the defense only needs to play at an average level, which has been the case so far. Denver is among the top rushing attacks in the league and with Plummer back in the lineup, the passing game should be back to normal.


Prediction: This will easily be the Vikings' toughest test. The Broncos offense is capable of scoring in bunches, and the defense may be up for the task of stopping Minnesota's strong rush offense. However, no one will be able to slow down Moss. The Minnesota crowd will be deafening. Coming off a bye-week, Tice's group will want to make a statement that they are for real.   


Broncos- 24

Vikings- 30


Game Three


New England Patriots (4-2) at Miami Dolphins (4-1): With the Jets and Bills fading, this game becomes a pivotal matchup in the AFC East. With a win, the Dolphins can gain a two-game lead in the division, which is why the Patriots need to steal this game on the road.


After getting shocked by the Texans in the opening week, Miami has rebounded and is playing as well as people thought they would. Specifically, the Dolphins' defense seems to be back on track after shutting down the Jets, Bills, Giants and Jaguars in successive weeks. The only lingering issue with this team has been the ground attack led by Ricky Williams, which has struggled in back-to-back weeks.


Without a number of starters on both sides of the ball due to injuries, the Patriots have won home games against the Titans and Giants in impressive fashion. New England has played tough on defense and the offense has provided enough big plays in the passing game to get by.   


Prediction: The Patriots have been able to survive without key players in the lineup the past two weeks, but it seems like their time will be up against the surging Dolphins. Although the Patriots' run defense ranks seventh in the league, it hasn't faced many top notch rushing attacks all season long. Enter Ricky Williams, who has pounded New England's defense in their last two matchups. On the other side of the ball, the Miami front seven should be able to get after Tom Brady and stuff the run.


Patriots- 10

Dolphins- 20


Game Four


Green Bay Packers (3-3) at St. Louis Rams (3-2): Sure, the Rams looked like the Rams of 1999 against the hapless Falcons on Monday Night. But there are still issues with this offense and the football team in general. For one, the running game is still mediocre at best, ranking 22 in the league. The offensive line seems to be gelling, but the interior is susceptible to stunts and blitzes up the middle. Is the defense as good as its ranking of eight in the NFL? The Rams will have to deal with these issues at some point, starting this week against the Packers.

Green Bay is back to playing smash-mouth football. Ahman Green has rushed for 100-yards for three straight weeks and the Packers as a team rank fifth in rush offense. Favre played his best game last week against the Chiefs. When he rolls out of the pocket, he's as good at throwing on the run as any quarterback in football. Still, even with the offense's success, this Packer team will go nowhere unless the defense starts playing better.


Prediction: The Packers have played well the past three weeks and let a win slip away against the Chiefs. That game may haunt them the rest of the season, especially if the Vikings win their matchup against the Broncos, setting up a home-field showdown against the Pack next Sunday night. Favre routinely struggles in dome stadiums and although the Packers offensive line has played well, they will have a tough time containing Leonard Little and Grant Winstrom off the edges. When they're on a carpet, the Rams' offense is nearly impossible to handle.


Packers- 18

Rams- 35


Game Five


Philadelphia Eagles (2-3) at N.Y. Giants (2-3): You might as well call this the desperation bowl. Whoever loses this game will need to play at a near perfect level the rest of the season in order to make the playoffs.


Even with their struggles, the Giants and the Eagles are capable of capturing the division lead away from Dallas. The rest of the Cowboys' schedule is going to extremely tough, so either New York or Philly needs to get on a roll to keep pace.


Out of the two, the Eagles seem to be in bigger disarray. Although the defense has been fairly solid, the offense has been abysmal, ranking 30 in total offense, averaging just 16 points per game. The Giants' defense has picked up its play the last two weeks, but the offense hasn't been able to produce inside of the red-zone.


Prediction: The Giants offense is too talented to not be able to score consistently. Look for Tiki Barber to start getting the ball more, either as a runner or receiver inside of the 20-yard like. The Eagles will pressure Collins early and often, but he'll be able to make enough big plays in the passing game to win the game.


Eagles- 13

Giants- 17


Last Week's Record: 5-0

Overall Record: 5-0

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