Bye weeks allow teams to lick their wounds & ample opportunity to prep for their next game. Let’s examine teams on a bye week 7 to see if they are primed to cash in our NFL picks Week 8.
Chicago Bears (2-4 SU, 2-3-1 ATS)
Chicago may have lost in Week 6 but at least they are showing their fans that this team has a pulse despite a 2-4 record. The Bears traveled to Motown in Week 6 and nearly came away with a win despite being installed as three-point underdogs by the NFL odds makers. Chicago could not take full advantage when they drew near the goal line and were only 3-of-8 in red zone efficiency having twice failed to put up six within the 10 yard line.
“I think it's a hard part of the field,” Bears head coach John Fox said. “It's harder to run because the field is short and it's harder to pass because the field is short. I think it's an area that I wished we could have executed better. I think there are some reasons; some of it's availability and you know I think it's an area we'll look at and work to improve on.”
Therefore it is not completely surprising that head coach John Fox will be putting his team through their paces during the bye week eschewing a week-long holiday for at least a few days of practice. Look for the team to build around the emerging relationship between Jay Cutler and Alshon Jeffery as the Bears are without the services of Brandon Marshall (now with the Jets) and the emphasis has shifted markedly to the rangy fourth-year man. In his two games this season he has been targeted 22 times with 13 receptions for a total of 225 receiving yards and one trip into the endzone. The Bears will host a divisional rival when they return in Week 8 when the Vikings make an appearance at Soldier Field.
Cincinnati Bengals (6-0 SU, 5-0-1 ATS)
There are a myriad of theories as to why the Bengals have broken free of their propensity to disappoint and have finally emerged as a top-tier team that poses a threat each and every week. Other than Andy Dalton's coming-of-age season where he has emerged as a top five quarterback in passing yards per game, touchdowns passes, interceptions and sacks taken among regular starting quarterbacks there are plenty of plaudits to go around.
The Bengals are no longer a team that focuses squarely on the Andy-to AJ connection. Teams around the league figured out that Dalton had one chief target and his name was A.J. Green. But now the offense is deeper which means Dalton's options are more varied. Though Green is still Dalton's primary receiver with 50 targets and 37 receptions there is also Marvin Jones who has come into his own in his fourth season out of California. And then there is the big target Tyler Eifert who has already hauled in a team high six TD passes.
As the Bengals break into their bye week they stand as only one of five undefeated teams in the league. They are no longer the whipping boys of Baltimore and Pittsburgh in the AFC North but have now become the gold standard in the division. They have done it with a balanced attack and superior performances in all phases of the game consisting of 122.2 rushing yards per game (10th), 288.2 passing yards per game (6th), 30.3 points scored (4th) and a solid defense surrendering 20.3 points per game (9th).
Cincinnati travels to Pittsburgh when they return from their bye week where they face their divisional rivals for the first of two meetings this season.
Denver Broncos (6-0 SU, 4-2 ATS)
If there was an award for least impressive undefeated team in the NFL then the Denver Broncos would be preparing an acceptance speech. Peyton Manning has morphed from a game-changer into a game-manager and if you peruse their rankings in the major offensive categories you will clearly see that the Broncos are no longer a team that will outgun their opponents and trade touchdowns for touchdowns until the better offense wins. No this is a club that ranks 18th in passing yards per game (240.8), 30th in rushing yards per game (85.0) and tied for 13th in points per game with a middling 23.2.
However the defense has been on point and quite frankly the reason the Broncos are undefeated thus far. Denver is allowing an average of 17 points per game which ranks them 4th among 32 teams and is 2nd in interceptions with nine including three pick-sixes. But the Denver defense is a nightmare for opposing QB's who want their uniforms to stay clean. The Broncos are sack-masters this season with a league leading 26 through six weeks of football. And it is because of their tenacious defense that Denver boasts a 6-0 record and why bettors who have blindly backed the Broncos this season are 4-2 in their NFL picks.
The team will welcome the Packers into the Mile High City when they return from their bye week but the status of star wide receiver Emanuel Sanders is in question after he was held out in the overtime frame of their 26-23 victory over Cleveland. According to reports Sanders injured his shoulder during the game and the bye week could not come at a more opportune time for the sixth year veteran. We will continue to monitor his progress and the NFL odds as the week progresses.
Green Bay Packers (6-0 SU, 5-1 ATS)
The Packers enter the bye week off their sixth consecutive win of the season but their first blown cover as they defeated the Chargers 27-20 but failed to cover the 10-point impost the NFL odds makers were hanging. Aaron Rodgers may be one of the most feared quarterbacks in the league but his 20th ranked passing yards per game average of 236.8 belies the offensive firepower of this team. The Pack ranks 5th in scoring averaging 27.3 PPG while their defense has been terrific surrendering only 16.8 PPG ranking them 3rd in the NFL.
If there are any concerns headed into the bye week it is the health and welfare of running back Eddie Lacy. Lacy has been one of the most dominant rushers since he was selected in the second-round three years ago but this season he has not been the same dominating runner. In the Packers Week 6 game against the Chargers Lacy had only four carries for three yards and a pair of receptions. James Starks has become increasingly vital to the Green Bay ground-and-pound as he carried the ball 10 times for 112 yards, including a 65-yard touchdown run in the first half of their win over the Bolts. Lacy has yet to post a 100-yard rushing game, and hasn't broken the plane of the endzone since Week 1 which lends credence to the reports that his ankle is far from healed.
Green Bay will travel to Denver to take on an equally well-rested team in the Broncos who also share the Week 7 bye week. You would have to go back to October of 2007 to find the last time these teams met in Denver where the Packers notched a 19-13 overtime win.