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Patriots set to show they're a class above everyone in the AFC

It’s your week seven NFL preview.

Chicago Bears @ Green Bay Packers (-7.5) – 1.25am, Friday

Cowboys Packers Football Aaron Rodgers is having problems this year. Source: Mike Roemer

WELCOME TO ‘WHAT is wrong with Aaron Rodgers?’ Week in the NFL.

And while earlier this season I firmly believed there was nothing wrong with the Packers’ quarterback — putting his problems down to poor coaching, below-par receivers, etc — review of his game tape shows that the fundamentals of what made him a good player in the first place are starting to fall apart.

The biggest issue is that Rodgers has become so adept at throwing on the move that, even when he has time to set in the pocket, he’s throwing off his back foot, an absolute no-no for a quarterback as it significantly reduces accuracy.

This is not only showing up in the box score but in Rodgers’ own stats as his completion percentage has dropped below 65% for the first time in more than 6 year (it’s at 58%) while his ‘air yards per attempt’, is just 6.44 (compared to a career best 10.36 four years ago).

Verdict: On top of Rodgers’ woes, the Packers have injury issues at running back and cornerback and the prospect of a divisional game on a short week. They’ll still win, but the spread is too much. Green Bay by 6.

New York Giants (-2.5) @ LA Rams (London) – 2.30pm Sunday

Rams Lions Football This is the face of 8-8. Source: Paul Sancya/AP/Press Association Images

Oh London. What do you have to do to get a decent NFL game?

To be fair, the Rams have been surprisingly competent this season but look little more than the perennial 8-8 team that they are under Jeff Fisher.

The Giants have shown flashes of brilliance on offence this year but will be disappointed with the fact they have a -15 points differential through six games considering the money pumped into their defence in free agency.

Verdict: It’s a long way from LA to London for the Rams and they don’t have the scoring power of the Giants. New York by 3+.

Minnesota Vikings (-2.5) @ Philadelphia Eagles – 6pm Sunday

Eagles Redskins Football Carson Wentz spent a lot of time on his bum last Sunday and will again this weekend. Source: Alex Brandon/AP/Press Association Images

After losing their starting quarterback before the season even began and their Hall of Fame running back early doors, few would have predicted the Vikings would be the last undefeated team left in the NFL.

However, Minnesota has the league’s second best defence (after the Seahawks) and will have spotted the weakness in rookie Carson Wentz’s game is rushes up the middle.

The Eagles defence has been relying on turnovers this year and will hope to force mistakes from former player Sam Bradford if they’re to have any joy on Sunday.

Verdict: Teams can be sluggish coming out of a bye week — unless they’re coached by Andy Reid — but I still expect the Vikings to get the job done. Minnesota by 5+

Gavin Cooney
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New England Patriots (-7) @ Pittsburgh Steelers – 9.25pm Sunday

Bengals Patriots Football Tom Brady has more balance on offence than ever before. Source: Winslow Townson/AP/Press Association Images

There is no bigger drop off in quality from starter to back-up in the National Football League than Ben Roethlisberger to Landry Jones.

This game should have been an AFC Championship Game preview but the loss of Big Ben and Jones’s inability to implement the Steelers’ passing game — deep bombs to Antonio Brown and Sammie Coates — will come back to haunt them this week.

Rather unbelievably for a team that has won four Super Bowls with this coach/quarterback combination, this might just be the best offence — thanks, in part to the run blocking skills of Martellus Bennett — the Patriots have ever had.

Verdict: What should have been a classic will likely be a procession. New England by 10.

And the rest (picks against the spread in bold)

Cleveland Browns @ Cincinnati Bengals (-10)
New Orleans Saints @ Kansas City Chiefs (-6.5)
Washington @ Detroit Lions (-1)
Buffalo Bills (-3) @ Miami Dolphins
Oakland Raiders @ Jacksonville Jaguars (-1.5)
Indianapolis Colts @ Tennessee Titans (-2.5)
Baltimore Ravens @ New York Jets
San Diego Chargers @ Atlanta Falcons (-6.5)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-2.5) @ San Francisco 49ers
Seattle Seahawks @ Arizona Cardinals (-2)
Houston Texans @ Denver Broncos (-7.5)

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About the author:

Steve O'Rourke

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