Lombardi Ave Picks 2016: National Football League Week 7 Roundup

Oct 20, 2016; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb (18) celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the fourth quarter against the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field. Green Bay won 26-10. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 20, 2016; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb (18) celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the fourth quarter against the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field. Green Bay won 26-10. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports /

Following an unsavory showing in the picks department (conjoined at the hip to a miserable display on most NFL fields), this week was a welcome turnaround in at least one facet.

The overall performance didn’t really improve league-wide (and it may have been even worse, to be frank), but for the most part the games were easier to discern.

That shakes out pretty handily with how our picks went this week.


What We Got Right

There was a lot of right to be had this week, with everybody coming out at least two games above .500. How we all got there was vastly different it turns out however, with only a few games finding a consensus among our team.

We all saw (or at least hoped) for a quick return to a semi-workable offensive effort for Green Bay on Thursday night. Though it started slowly, Aaron Rodgers and his offensive counterparts — with plenty of help from their defense, or course — managed to cobble together a blowout victory and look like they actually have a gameplan in place they can rely upon to some degree going forward.

Kansas City may not be an exciting team, but they are pretty consistent in what they do: run the ball well, make efficient passes, and let their defense go to work and hold down the opposition. New Orleans on the other hand continues to stay exciting on offense and defense, but for vastly different reasons: the offense can still put up points in any giving game (29.3 points per game; 3rd in NFL), but the defense tends to give up even more in those same contests (32.5 points per game; last in NFL).

We saw both teams live up to expectations, with the Saints doing enough to keep the game close before the Chiefs snuffed out their final efforts right at the end.

Tampa Bay and San Francisco both don’t inspire much confidence for them, but the Buccaneers have the weapons on offense to at least be dangerous and take games if given the opportunity.

Case in point: despite falling into an early 14-0 hole, Tampa Bay rallied hard to turn a blowout in the wrong direction into an eventual 34-17 rout behind the efforts of Jameis Winston (21/30, 269 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT), Jacquizz Rodgers (154 rushing yards) and Mike Evans (8 catches, 96 yards, 2 TDs).

New England tends to have their way with Pittsburgh even when both are at full health (7-3 vs Pittsburgh since 2004, including playoffs; includes 5 wins by 10+ points); with a backup QB in Ben Roethlisberger’s play (Landry Jones), this felt like a lock. Pittsburgh definitely had some chances to make things interesting, but they failed to convert multiple scoring tries (2 missed field goals, as well as settling for another and having an endzone INT) and let the Patriots get away with a game they easily could have lost had they faced an elite-level quarterback.

Denver and Houston both came in with strong defenses (Weighted Defensive DVOA through six weeks: Denver #4, Houston #12) and bad offenses (Offensive DVOA: Denver #23, Houston #32), but while Denver has a chance at some improvement (due to their offensive scheme not necessarily needing a good passing game to function decently well), Houston is stuck paying $72 million to a quarterback in Brock Osweiler (26th in QBR, 30th in Passer Rating) who isn’t as good as the player he replaced (Brian Hoyer: 14th in QBR, 11th in Passer Rating) or even the one who is now playing in his stead (Trevor Siemian: 19th in QBR, 19th in Passer Rating).

The game played out pretty much as expected, with Denver finding enough in their ground game (190 rushing yards at a 5.4 yards-per-carry clip) to grind down a tired Houston defense while Osweiler continued to fail at throwing with any discernable goal of accuracy.

What We Got Wrong

In a week with many correct choices and few consensus picks, there isn’t much to discuss here. In fact, there was just a single game we all got outright wrong — and none of us would lament it.

Minnesota had looked incredible through their first five games, and while they had undeniable issues, it was getting hard to find spots in the season where it would seem teams could effectively exploit them enough to come away with a victory. Surprise! Here come the Eagles, with a winning formula in hand.

They didn’t do too much offensively (239 total yards, 14 points, 4 turnovers), but their defense demolished a putrid Vikings offensive line to put Sam Bradford under pressure on close to half of his dropbacks (per Pro Football Focus, 20 of his 47 saw pressure) and force him into 4 fumbles (2 lost) and an INT.

Behind the stellar defensive effort and some special teams help (a TD return by Josh Huff), Philadelphia enacted the blueprint for taking down this team — something Green Bay should remember for when the teams meet again. They almost managed a victory the last time due to pressure (per PFF, Green Bay pressured Bradford on 48.6 of his dropbacks), so if they can replicate that sort of effort they may yet still manage to return to the peak of the NFC North at season’s end.

I guess I should mention the Arizona-Seattle game as well; it doesn’t affect our records in a discernable way due to the tie, but I guess it technically can count as getting it “wrong” in a sense. “Exciting” probably isn’t the right word for the 6-6 tie (I prefer exhausting), but there definitely were exciting moments.

Blocked kicks (Bobby Wagner jumped the line like a gazelle!), missed kicks, and reaction shots galore. Neither offense looked anywhere close to good, but the defenses appear as elite as ever, and based on the efforts a tie feels sort of right here. This could have massive implications when it comes to playoff seeding — all teams are pretty close, and even the best have fatal flaws the others could exploit — so it bears watching how things shake out going forward.

Who Won The Week

Yours truly, for once.

In what was by far my best week of picking, I made my way to the top of the heap by going against the grain on four different picks (Indianapolis, San Diego, Miami, Seattle); had it not been for the Arizona-Seattle tie, I would have been correct on all of them.

Behind the strong week (my first alone at the top), I edged closer to the guys at the top, sitting 1 point out of 2nd place and just 3 out of 1st.

Here’s hoping Week 8 brings similar fortune.

Week 7 Picks Records:

Kenn: 11-3-1
Thomas: 9-5-1
Brad: 8-6-1
Josh: 8-6-1

2016 Picks Records:

Brad: 62-44-1
Thomas: 60-46-1
Kenn: 59-47-1
Josh: 54-52-1