After a two week absence from picking games, I’m back.  This week, I’m going to start with a quick review of the first 1/3 of the season by sharing my NFL power rankings with you; then we’ll move onto the Week 7 slate for game picks and fantasy advice; and finally we will wrap it up with some bonus picks for the college football lineup.

Now that we are 1/3 of the way into the NFL season, I think it’s a good time to review where the teams are in the grand scheme of things.  It gives you a tool to help evaluate the games going forward and a chance to look at how poorly or how great some of our preseason predictions are faring.

32.  Buffalo Bills 0-5: Nothing positive.  They will get a win because it’s tough for road teams to play in Buffalo in the winter.

31.   Carolina Panthers 0-5: So much for the Jimmy Clausen experiment.  Matt Moore takes back over an offense with 3 legit  stars: Steve Smith is back, D-Will and The Daily Show.  This team should climb a little, but John Fox has done a good job of underachieving.

30.  Cleveland Browns 1-4: Eric Mangini is one of the worst coaches I remember.

29.  Arizona Cardinals 3-2: I’m sure you’re a little surprised due to their record, but other than 1 fluke win vs. the Saints (watch the film – Saints didn’t deserve to win either but this wasn’t a real win), this team has barely beaten a couple of other terrible teams and gotten their lid blown off in the rest.

28.  Oakland Raiders 2-4: QB roulette

27.  Denver Broncos 2-4: One trick pony, Kyle Orton, isn’t enough to save another horrible Belichick disciple.

26.  San Fran 1-5: They finally have a win and have the talent on the roster to make a run in a bad division, but Alex Smith is not good.  He kills this team.

25.  Detroit Lions: Improving squad that could be dangerous in a year or so, but still too many fundamental flaws right now.

24.  Jacksonville 3-3: Down 2 QBs; superstar MJD looks to be on the decline; bad defense; no receivers.  Yet they still have 3 wins (they’re usually competitive at home).

23.  Seattle 3-3: I still think that they end up with a top 5 pick, but Petey-boy has them playing better than expected.

22.  St. Louis 3-3: 8 wins might be enough for their division crown – wouldn’t that be the story?  I hope so for Steve Jackson – he’s the 3rd best RB i the league and would try to play through death.

21.  Tampa Bay 3-3: Josh Freeman and Mike Williams are both absolutely for real, but they have no running game with the Cadillac ready for the junkyard.  Not going to playoffs this year, but Raheem Morris has started something at the Pirate Ship.

20.  Dallas 1-4: I still think they turn it around and make a push at the playoffs, but they find a way to lose every week.

19.  Minnesota 2-3: Still darn talented, but if my boy Brett doesn’t step it up then this team will be one of the major disappointments of 2010.

18.  Cicinnati 2-3: This is your Carson Palmer, Bengals fans.  He’s not going to ever be the same, but he can manage with what he’s got.

17.  San Diego 2-4: Still enough talent to win the division and even the SB, but Norv Turner may be the WORST head coach of all-time.  It’s a shame that these talented years are being wasted on him, Chargers fans.

16.  Washington 3-3: I hate this team, but they have shown grit and could be 4-2 if they didn’t crap the bed vs. Houston in Week 2. 

15.  Miami 3-2: 3-0 on the road; 0-2 at home – uncharacteristic for a Miami team.

14.  Kansas City 3-2: Very good defense and really nice running game, but Matt Cassell blows.  I give Crennel and Weis a lot of credit.  As coordinators.  Todd Haley will sink this team in my opinion and anyone that gives up the huge lead they had last week has to be questioned.

13.  Green Bay 3-3: Injury-riddled.  Get it together this week with Minny coming to town!

12.  Chicago 4-2: Mike Martz is going to get Jay Cutler killed.  Is that a bad thing, Chicago?

11.  Houston 4-2: Nice win last week, but not going anywhere far with that pass defense.

10.  Atlanta 4-2: I like this team, but I wonder when Matt Ryan is going to step it up in road games.  Not good last week.

9.  Tennessee 4-2: If Vince Young is healthy and can be decent, this team has the defense back and can be really solid again with CJ2K.

8.  New England 4-1: Nice win last week – Tom Brady is a little POS.

7.  Baltimore 4-2: Should be 5-1 but dropped a game last week due to softness by defense and offense that I haven’t seen for a long time in Baltimore.

6.  New Orleans 4-2: Looked to regain a step or two last week, but we’ll have to see if that is a product of their opponent or not.  Magic is done but still an elite team.

5.  Philly 4-2: Leave Kolb as your QB, trade Vick to Arizona or somewhere like that and you have a top 3 team in the NFC.

4.  NY Giants 4-1: Truthfully haven’t seen them much, but their defense appears for real and the passing game is now lighting it up with Hakeem Nicks.

3.  NY Jets 5-1: Refs gave you win# 5, but still a great overall team.

2.  Indianapolis 4-2: Peyton Manning is Peyton Manning.  He’ll keep this team at the top despite the injuries.  The Colts are just built to sustain this stuff.

1.  Pittsburgh 4-1: Screw the Steelers.

Ok, now that you now where I stand on the league standings right now, let’s take a quick look at this week’s games.

Pittsburgh @ Miami (+3)

Miami has a decent pass defense, so if you drafted Big Ben as a backup this might be a good week to bench him if you can.  I think Pitts is the elite team, but Miami is normally a tough place to play, so I want the home team value and the points.  Steelers 21 – 20

Bengals @ Falcons (-3.5)

This should be a really good matchup – 2 well-coached teams with above average running games and defenses.  I think Matt Ryan at home trumps Palmer, and it will come down to how well Jonathan Joseph and Leon Hall can bracket Roddy White.  I’ll take that extra half point.  Falcons 24 – 21

Jags @ Chiefs (OFF)

No line yet due to the Jags QB issues.  I would probably take the Chiefs up to a TD.  I think you start all of your Chiefs minus Cassell here and you can only start MJD on the other side.  Chiefs 24-10

Eagles @ Titans (OFF)

Another OFF line due to Vince Young’s status.  I think he plays and this is the best game of the weekend (and there are some good ones).  I don’t think this game gives us any pause to start your stars.  McCoy, Maclin and Celek should all be solid as should CJ2K and Kenny Britt.  I’ll take the home squad in this game if it was a pick’em.  Titans 27 – 23

Skins @ Bears (-3)

Pretty even matchup according to the oddsmakers.  McNabb usually plays well in his old home town and I expect more of the same here, but Chicago stuffs the run well and Torain isn’t an outside runner.  I’d use someone else over him if you have the option.  Start Forte and Knox this weekend and Cutler could be okay if he doesn’t lose a spleen in the 2nd quarter.  Bears 20 -17

Browns @ Saints (-14)

We’ve seen a lot of 2 TD games so far this year, and the underdog has been the bet every single time so far.  I still take the Saints.  Eric Wright of Cleveland is terrible and Brees will find whatever Saints WR is lined up opposite him for sure.  All Saints are a good play including RB fill-in Chris Ivory who looks like he could be legit.  As for the Browns who don’t have concussions, Hillis is the only consideration as he should be able to move the pile this week, but they may be down so badly that he won’t be a real factor, even in protecting Colt McCoy.  Saints 31 – 10

Bills @ Ravens (-14)

I think this one is even more lopsided then the Saints contest.  Start ALL Ravens and NO Bills.  Ravens 41 – 3

49ers @ Panthers (+3)

Yuck.  Panthers don’t play much defense, so I say start Crabtree, VD and Gore for sure.  SF does play solid run defense and that’s all that Carolina can do.  That said, you can’t bench DeAngelo Williams but I don’t advise starting Stewart until they show something more than what we’ve seen so far.  Steve Smith is back this week and with Matt Moore under center, he’s back to a must-start.  I’m siding with the 49ers here, but I wouldn’t be surprised at an upset – Cali teams don’t travel East well.  49ers 23 – 13

Rams @ Bucs (-3)

Seeing this at the beginning of the year was a Yuck thought, but these two squads are scrappy teams with good young QBs, so I’m looking forward to it.  I think Freeman and Co. play well at home and the Rams don’t play well on the road (see Week 5 @ Detroit!).  Start Steven Jackson for now and always; Danario Alexander is a nice bye-week fodder as he now looks like the #1 in St. Louie, and Danny Amendola is still usable in PPR formats.  Freeman is a good bye-week filler on the other end and I like the rook Mike Williams.  Bucs 24 – 20

Cards @ Seahawks (-6.5)

Yuck…  Seriosuly, who cares.  It’s hard to start Beanie after his 20 carries for 35 yards last time out, but you may not have a better option.  Fitz seems to be improving and you can’t ever bench him.  Lynch could reach 75 yards and a score.  I’m glad I won’t be watching this one.  Seahawks 14 – 10

Pats @ Bolts (-3)

A 4-1 team is a 3 point dog at a 2-4 team?  Vegas knows their stuff.  The Chargers are ridiculously talented but have the worst head coach ever.  The Pats have an all-time great QB and coach but really nothing else standout.  I’m torn here other than to say you start who you have in this game (unless injured – doesn’t look like Floyd will play and Gates is a GTD), including Patrick Crayton who is now the #1 with Floyd hurt.  Not going against the ugliest chick out there, BelichickPats 34 – 27

Raiders @ Broncos (-8)

Can Kyle Orton throw for 400 yards this week?  Probably, but which WR will benefit?  I say it’s Lloyd and Gaffney again.  Maybe this is the week that Knoshown Moreno looks like an NFL back again?  If not now, then never.  Broncos 27 -20

Vikings @ Packers (-3)

This game should’ve been awesome but Favre is hurting and not playing well, and the Pack are riddled with injuries.  I still have high hopes for this contest, and I don’t see a reason to bench anyone here.  In fact, pick up James Jones of Green Bay if you need a WR as I think he may be a factor with Finley out for the season and Donald Driver hurting.  GO PACK GO…  GO BRETT GO….  Packers 30 – 27

Giants @ Cowpokes (-3.5)

A 4-1 team is more than a FG dog at a 1-4 team?  Start everyone here as this will most likely be a shootout.  Big games for Bradshaw, Manning and Nicks along with Romo, Felix Jones, Austin, Witten and Roy E. Williams.  Last time I’m backing the duds from Texas… Cowboys 34 – 30

A quick NFL aside – good ruling on the suspension for head shots.  A buddy of mine and I talked after last weekend about how hypocritical the NFL, Godell and the TV stations are with their fines and criticism of the hits, but they keep highlighting all of them to bring in the viewer of how great this violent sport is.  Players that make millions didn’t care about these fines, but now that suspensions are on the table, I think we will see it improve and quickly.  Finally a nice mover from the execs.

Alright, I hope you enjoyed and that this helps you with this weekend’s games, no matter how you play…

PS – A couple college picks as promised:

Syracuse @ WVU (-14) – Take the Mountaineers

Iowa State (my alma mater) @ Texas -21 – Longhorns in a rout

LSU @ Auburn (-6) – Take the Tigers.  Auburn Tigers that is.

Georgia @ Kentucky (+5) – I like the Wildcats and the 5 points at home here.

Peace