Week Seven of the NFL sees the red-hot Baltimore Ravens and Lamar Jackson aiming to extend their winning streak to six, with Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals standing in their way.
In his main column this week, our NFL expert Nat Coombs delivers his AFC power rankings as we head into a crucial run of games which will give us a clearer picture of the playoff outlook.
Below are Nat’s predictions for the Week Seven fixtures. He has a hit rate of 64% from 90 picks this season.
NFL Week Seven predictions
New York Giants vs Carolina Panthers
The Giants may be runners-up in the Banged-Up Derby, with several of their key offensive stars, including receivers Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney, looking doubtful for this game. That means Danny Dimes, playing for his Giants career, finds himself in a hole against a capable Panthers D, strengthened by the signing of elite CB Stephon Gilmore. Sam Darnold is back in the Big Apple, his early-season shine fading, but Carolina should have enough to keep themselves in playoff contention.
Prediction: Carolina Panthers
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New England Patriots vs New York Jets
Whisper it, but New England can still make the playoffs. This is partly me clinging desperately to my pre-season prediction that they would, but also because the offense is starting to find its identity — despite the baffling under-use of Jonnu Smith. Any Bill Belichick-led defense is going to contend, particularly against rookie quarterbacks that are struggling big time.
Prediction: New England Patriots
Tennessee Titans vs Kansas City Chiefs
On paper, this may look like another blow for Patrick Mahomes and Co, given how formidable Derrick Henry looked against the Bills, and how vanilla KC is against the run. But look beyond that, to a bounce back offensive performance from the Chiefs against Washington, a line that is getting stronger each week, and a Titans D that shows fight, but is fragile. I’m buying the Chiefs on the road in a thriller.
Prediction: Kansas City Chiefs
More on Squawka NFL
- AFC power rankings after Week Six
- The winners and losers from NFL Week Six
- NFL division standings: 2021/22 season
Green Bay Packers vs Washington Football Team
The major beneficiaries of the Football Team’s shortcomings on the field are Dallas, who are cruising to the NFC East and a high playoff seed. The less said about Washington’s off-field shortcomings the better. Last weekend’s tribute to the late Shawn Taylor, which the team contend was planned for months, but sceptics suggest was rushed out to distract from negative press the team has been receiving, did not do justice to one of the team’s all-time greats, lost so soon. The Packers are solidly going about their business without too much hype, which will suit them just fine after all the noise in the off-season.
Prediction: Green Bay Packers
Miami Dolphins vs Atlanta Falcons
A mixed bag for Tua in London, still affected by rib injuries and missing his leading receiver, although the emergence of Jaylen Waddle was similar to that of fellow rookie Kyle Pitts of the Falcons the week before in the same stadium. Rumours abound that Deshaun Watson is heading to Miami, which would be a baffling call for a number of reasons, not least that the team still doesn’t really know what it’s got with their sophomore quarterback. Atlanta can move to .500 with a win, and improbably find themselves in playoff contention. If the Fins are back to near-full strength, back them. If Parker, Xavien Howard and Co are missing, play safe.
Prediction: Miami Dolphins
Baltimore Ravens vs Cincinnati Bengals
Two of the most interesting teams to watch in the NFL led by two young quarterbacks with contrasting styles. Lamar Jackson continues to confound critics and is building on his already productive NFL career, maturing into an even more rounded and impactful player. Joe Burrow and Ja’marr Chase are the most dangerous tag team around, and the future is bright in Cincy. But this feels like the Ravens’ year.
Prediction: Baltimore Ravens
Los Angeles Rams vs Detroit Lions
The Jared Goff Revenge Tour — opening night! When your Head Coach is calling you out this early into the season, despite the fact you’re being armed with the weakest receiving corps in the division, behind a defense that ranks last in almost every category, and against the backdrop of two first round draft picks next season, I’d get the hint. Of course, the Rams will win this by double digits, but wouldn’t it be terrific if Goff (above) masterminds the upset of the season. He won’t, but it’d be bonkers.
Prediction: Los Angeles Rams
Las Vegas Raiders vs Philadelphia Eagles
If Vegas makes the playoffs — which I feel is more viable than others suggest — it’ll be because the adversity, not only through the exit of Jon Gruden but also because they’re consistently being written off, has driven them. There’s a motivation about the side, an improved running game to underpin the undoubted aerial prowess of the offense led by the criminally underrated Derek Carr. The Eagles look lost, and Vegas moves one step closer to the post-season.
Prediction: Las Vegas Raiders
Arizona Cardinals vs Houston Texans
I’m not sure if I’m more surprised that the Texans have only won one game, or that the Cards haven’t dropped any. They’ll cruise to 7-0, with new acquisition Zach Ertz helping to fan the Kyler-MVP flames.
Prediction: Arizona Cardinals
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs Chicago Bears
Speaking of MVP, it baffles me why very few are talking up Tom Brady’s credentials. The Bucs are banged up in the secondary, and this Bears offense, led by Justin Fields, is starting to find its identity, so a sucker punch or two could be landed. Ultimately, Tampa Bay should have enough on offense, with Brady’s sublime composure slicing and dicing once again.
Prediction: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
San Francisco 49ers vs Indianapolis Colts
Are the Colts the best team in football with a losing record? They’re not out of the hunt in the AFC South either, though this is a tall order as the 49ers emerge fresh off a bye week at near full strength. Key Colts lineman Quenton Nelson is on the mend and could play, while leading receiver TY Hilton is also back in the mix. Jimmy Garoppolo is expected to start for the 49ers — they’ll need him too, as rookie Trey Lance is out. Number 3 on the depth chart in San Fran? That’d be Nate Sudfeld, people. If Jimmy starts, the 49ers should control this one. But keep an eye out, because if he doesn’t, this represents real chance for the Colts to move to 3-4.
Prediction: San Francisco 49ers
Seattle Seahawks vs New Orleans Saints
Talk that Russell Wilson could be back by Week 10, when Seattle face a crucial game against Green Bay, means that deputy Geno Smith needs to hold firm and take at least half the wins on offer to keep the Seahawks in realistic playoff contention. The Saints are rested and then some, playing MNF off a bye week is as good as it gets in the NFL. Jameis Winston is protecting the ball far more effectively than he did in Tampa Bay, with a 12-3 TD to INT ratio, and leads the league with eight touchdown passes while under pressure (PFF). The Saints RedZone offense is ranked first too, all without leading receiver Michael Thomas.
Prediction: New Orleans Saints
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Nat Coombs is a British writer, broadcaster and NFL expert who has been anchoring live sport across UK TV & radio for over ten years. Nat will be providing Squawka with predictions for the 2021 NFL season.