Notes from the North

Who's your MVP for the first third of the season? Probably a quarterback, right? Not mine. To me, the most valuable player in the NFL is a cornerback: New England's Aqib Talib.

He's been all over the field for the Pats in the first six weeks and, without him, I think New England is 3-3 at best. All Talib has done is shut down, week after week, the other team's top receiver which has meant, against New Orleans and Atlanta in particular, Talib has shut down the other team's offence.

His stats aren't eye-popping (15 tackles, 9 passes defensed, 4 interceptions and one forced fumble) but the 6th year player out of Kansas has simply controlled some of the most potent receivers in the league, most particularly Julio Jones and Jimmy Graham.

That's meant that the other 10 defenders on the field for New England have been free to focus on their own jobs without worrying about what the offence's biggest threat is going to do.

He's the MVP for sure. Now if only we could change the rules of Scrabble to allow us to use proper names: there are so few words out there that have a "q" but no "u": "Aqib" would be a great weapon the Scrabble board as well.

Can you tell why I've dropped to 67th in my 69-person pool? Too much focus on word games and not enough on football games!

On to this week's picks: here are your World's Worst Football Picks for NFL Week 7:

Seattle to beat Arizona: The 'Hawks aren't blowing people away this season but they are very consistent. And I think their defence should be able to handle Carson Palmer. (10)

Atlanta over Tampa Bay: What's up with that formerly potent Atlanta offence? Have they forgotten about the run game? With the aforementioned Jones out for the season, however, the Falcons may be forced to go to the ground game. Or better, the Bucs may believe the Falcons will be forced to focus on the run game and then deploy their defence to stop the run, leaving Roddy White wide open. Or maybe I'm over-thinking it. Can you tell why I'm 67th in my pool? (9)

Carolina to beat St. Louis: This pick is a complete over-reaction after the Panthers' big win last week. The Rams should win here. (3)

Detroit over Cincinnati: The Bengals are playing pretty well but Andy Dalton won't be able to stand the heat the Lions' defensive front brings in this game. (8)

San Diego to beat Jacksonville: I can't get a read on the up-and-down Chargers but I do know they have enough to beat the struggling Jags. (11)

Miami over Buffalo: No idea why. (14)

New England to beat the Jests: The Patriots' defense lost another key player this week in Jerod Meyo (did I spell that right?) but somehow they just keep battling to win after win. And they won't lose to a divisional rival. (6)

Philadelphia over Dallas: I think this is the game where Chip Kelly figures out he's better with Foles at quarterback. Consistent quarterback, playing the system well. (5)

Washington to beat Chicago: A hunch pick (and most of my hunches are wrong). The Bears are just too inconsistent and an underperforming Washington team has too much to lose. (4)

San Francisco to beat Tennessee: What I really should write is "A talented Titans team to beat itself". Because that's what they've done, week after week. The Niners, meanwhile, are too good for anything but a perfect Tennessee performance. (15)

Kansas City over Houston: I think the Texans finally break their string of giving up a pick-six in every game. I expect the Chiefs' defence to return TWO interceptions for touchdowns in this one. (2)

Pittsburgh to beat Baltimore: Should be a great game between two strong rivals who are both struggling. The Steelers are coming together, however, while the Ravens seem to be deteriorating as the season goes along. (7)

Green Bay to beat Cleveland: It's picks like this that have driven me to the bottom of my pool. I'm stuck in the past and cannot accept that some recent powers (the Packers) have slipped and some traditionally weak teams (the Browns) are much better. (13)

Indianapolis to beat Denver: This is a pool pick. If I stand any chance of improving, I need to get some upsets right while everyone else gets them wrong. I'm banking on the return to Indy proving an emotional distraction for Peyton Manning and on the Colts rallying to prove the team can win without him. (1)

Giants over Minnesota: Who is playing quarterback for the Vikes? If New York plans to be a player at all this year, they have to win here. And they will. (12)


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