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Vilardo: ’23 Week 7 NFL West Power Rankings and Previews

The eight teams combined for a 3-5 mark in their respective AFC and NFC divisions

Posted on October 18, 2023

  By Stephen Vilardo, SuperWest Sports

Last week, NFL West teams combined for a 3-5 mark in their respective AFC and NFC divisions.

In games outside of head-to-head competition, they combined for a 1-3 record with the only win coming from the Raiders against the lowly Patriots.

For me personally, last week was a mixed bag. I did pretty well overall but not great against the spread.

Across the entire NFL, I went 9-6 with a 6-9 mark against the spread and a 10-5 over/under totals.

Season-long, I’m 59-34 overall, 53-38-1 ATS, and 51-40-2 O/U.

Below are my Week 7 Power Rankings for the eight teams with a quick look at the upcoming week’s matchups and my game picks.

1. San Francisco 49ers (5-1) ◄►

Browns Review

Brock Purdy finally lost a regular season game, in his 11th start as the 49ers’ 15-game regular season win streak came to an end in Cleveland.

San Francisco looked invincible over the first five weeks of the season. Against Cleveland, they were the less physical team, and the Brown controlled the line of scrimmage.

Now, to be fair, Cleveland has allowed just 1,002 yards this season, the fewest yards in 52 years and the third-fewest yards allowed by a team in its first five games of a season since 1970.

This is a very good Browns defense. But the Niners held a 17-7 lead and penalties that aided the game-winning drive for Cleveland.

San Francisco’s performance wasn’t typical. Could the physical element be a blueprint for success or was it a case of the Browns being a bad matchup and the Niners having an exceptionally troubling week on offense?

We will see, but I don’t expect this to become a trend.

Minnesota Vikings Preview

Monday, October 23
5:15 pm PT, ABC/ESPN

This week San Francisco will face a Minnesota team that will certainly not be as physical as the Browns were.

The 49ers have stayed relatively healthy throughout the start of 2023. But this week they have some injury issues to key players. Christian McCaffrey and Deebo Samuel both left the game at Cleveland with injuries. Trent Williams is also nursing an ankle injury.

Those are three big parts of the offense and contributed to the struggles down the stretch against Cleveland.

The Vikings are also facing some injury issues and have had their own problems this season. Minnesota’s run game has been a slough this season and with Justin Jefferson out, this offense is searching for answers.

Even a depleted San Francisco team should have enough weapons to win this one.

My Pick: 49ers 24, Vikings 14

[Advice: SF will cover the 6.5-point spread at home and the offenses will not have enough to threaten the 44-point total.]

2. Kansas City Chiefs (5-1) ▲1

Broncos Review

At the start of the season, I wrote that the Chiefs could be pretty good on defense and the offense could feel the loss of all of their wideouts.

Well, after six games, the Chiefs defense ranks second in the NFL, allowing 14.7 points per game (San Francisco is allowing 14.5), and it’s safe to say it’s looking good so far.

As for the WRs, Reshee Rice had a great game against Denver, with four catches for 72 yards. The issue on Thursday was that the rest of the WRs had just five receptions for 31 yards.

The week before Kadarious Toney stepped up, the Chiefs need to get more pass catchers on the same page at the same time. It can’t just be Travis Kelce each week.

Los Angeles Chargers Preview

Sunday, October 22
1:25 pm PT, CBS

The Chiefs defense will get tested in the coming weeks with Philadelphia and Miami on the schedule. You would think the Chargers offense would also be a stern test, but the last two weeks LA’s offense has not looked like the unit we have come to expect.

I think the Chiefs’ defense could once again hold their own against the Chargers. KC’s offense will need to get more production than we saw against the Broncos, but I think Kansas City will come away with a home-field win.

My Pick: Chiefs 20, Chargers 14

[Advice: The Chiefs will cover the 5.5 points at home and the defense will keep the Chargers offense in check as this one stays below the 49-point total.]

3. Seattle Seahawks (3-2) ▼1

Bengals Review

Seattle started things off against Cincinnati with a methodical 11-play 75-yard TD drive. After that, the offense disappeared for the rest of the game against the Bengals in their 17-13 loss.

Geno Smith threw two interceptions while Seattle was in the red zone, and that doomed their chances. The good news against the Bengals was that the Seahawk defense also clamped down after the start.

Jo Burrow opened the game with a completion on 11 of his first 13 passes, but after their first two drives, the Seattle defense took over.

Arizona Cardinals Preview

Sunday, October 22
1:05 pm PT, FOX

The Cincy offense is a lot more potent than what the Seahawks will see this week against Arizona. The Seahawks will need to get DK Metcalf going and if they can get him involved early it should increase production.

The Cardinals run game has been good this season and the Seahawks looked really good against the run in the loss to the Bengals.

Seattle will control the line on both sides of the ball in this one and should get the win.

My Pick: Seahawks 21, Cardinals 13

[Advice: The line in this one favors the Seahawks by 8, I think that is exactly where this one ends up. If you can get a half-point on either side of that go with it. The under-44 is the play in this one.]

4. Los Angeles Rams (3-3) ▲1

Cardinals Review

The Rams got back into the win column with a 26-9 win over the Cardinals.

An issue for LA this season has been the inability to put together a complete game. Despite the big win, it was once again an issue. The Rams opened the game with a season-low 123 yards in the first half only to put up the final 20 points of the game in the second half.

Much of this season it has been a good opening 30 minutes with the second half being the bugaboo. A big part of the second-half success was Kyren Williams.

In the first half, the Rams relied heavily on the pass and went 0-5 on third downs, calling only three run plays. In the second half, they leaned on Williams and the rookie had 154 of his 158 yards after the break.

Pittsburgh Steelers Preview

Sunday, October 22
1:05 pm PT, FOX

Sean McVay realized the issues of the playcalling against Arizona and things turned around. They will need to be far more balanced throughout against Pittsburgh.

The problem for the Rams is that Williams will miss this one due to an ankle injury. Last week, Matthew Stafford attempted 24 passes and 16 of them went in the direction of Cooper Kupp or Puka Nacua.

Tutu Atwell will have to be more involved in the offense, whether it is more targets or getting him the ball in the run game. With Williams out this week and Ronnie Rivers slated to miss 4-5 weeks the load in the backfield will fall to Zach Evans.

Any rushing production from a receiver may be needed to keep things from being one-dimensional and a repeat of the first half last week.

My Pick: Rams 23, Steelers 21

[Advice: The Rams are favored by three in this one. I don’t think they will cover that but they should get the win at home. The total is set at 43 and I think this one will go just over.]

5. Los Angeles Chargers 2-3 ▼1

Cowboys Review

The Chargers fought to get back to .500 on the season, but let one get away from them against Dallas.

If Los Angeles misses out on the playoffs when the season ends, this loss is going to be one they could point to as a killer.

But they’ve all been close. The three losses this season came by a total of eight points, and all five have featured a frantic finish.

The Chargers rank 30th in the NFL in rushing offense and sit 28th in run defense this season. Austin Ekeler was back for Monday’s game, but the ground game did not return with him.

LA’s backs only accounted for 35 rushing yards against Dallas.

Kansas City Chiefs Preview

Sunday, October 22
1:25 pm PT, CBS

The Chargers are committing far too many silly penalties this season and that is a trend that will have to stop in Kansas City. Patrick Mahomes is way too good to bail him out with extra plays.

The Chargers have to find a way to move the ball on the ground as well or it could be a long game vs KC.

Dropping to 2-4 after the first six games will be a killer to the Chargers’ playoff hopes, but I don’t see them going to Kansas City and getting a win.

My Pick: Chiefs 20, Chargers 14

[Advice: The Chiefs will cover the 5.5 points at home and the defense will keep the Chargers offense in check as this one stays below the 49-point total.]

6. Las Vegas Raiders (3-3) ◄►

Patriots Review

The Raiders won once again this week with a 21-17 win over New England. Getting a win is always better than the alternative, but things were not great for the Raiders on Sunday.

As hard as it is to fathom, the Patriots are one of the worst teams in the league this season, especially on the offensive side of the ball.

The good news for the Raiders is they were able to deliver a pass rush, and they got the rush from players other than just Maxx Crosby. Interior linemen Adam Butler and John Jenkins were both able to get in the backfield.

The issue that kept this one closer than it should have been was the Raiders’ inability to get TDs when in the red zone. In six trips inside the Patriots’ 20-yard line on Sunday, the Raiders came away with one TD and four FGs.

That production will need to improve.

Chicago Bears Preview

Sunday, October 22
10:00 am PT, FOX

The good news for the Raiders is they have a really good chance at getting over .500 this week with a trip to Chicago.

Both teams will most likely have to go with a backup QB—that scenario favors Las Vegas big time. Justin Fields and his ability to play is far more important to the Bears than Jimmy Garoppolo’s status is to the Raiders.

This is two-fold. First, Fields is better, and secondly, the Raiders backup, be it Aidan O’Connell or Bruan Hoyer, is better than Tyson Bagent.

The Raiders are also a better team than Chicago. The Bears have had problems against the blitz. Las Vegas should be able to pressure whoever is under center.

As long as they can cash in on the red zone trips, the Raiders should win this one easily.

My Pick: Raiders 16, Bears 9

[Advice: The Raiders are a three-point favorite on the road. They will get the win and cover. The point total is set at 37, so the Bears offense would have a hard time pushing that with a healthy Fields; without him, this total stays way lower.]

7. Arizona Cardinals (1-5) ◄►

Rams Review

Injuries may finally be catching up to the Cardinals. The lack of depth is starting to limit production.

The Cardinals’ run game in the red zone was non-existent. Prior to reaching the 20, Arizona seemed to move the ball effectively with their RB-by-committee approach.

In three red zone trips against the Rams, Arizona came away with a pair of FGs and threw a pick.

The injuries were also felt on the defensive side of the ball as the Rams were able to run at will in the second half.

The back end of the defense saw rookie Kei’Trel Clark step in and give up a reception on all five passes thrown his way for 113 yards and a TD.

A bright spot for the Cards was their ability to get to Matthew Stafford on third down as the Rams finished the day just 4-for-11 on third down.

Seattle Seahawks Preview

Sunday, October 22
1:05 pm PT, FOX

Arizona will need to run the ball effectively against Seattle if they are to pull off the upset. The Cardinals are eighth in the NFL in rushing and their 5.2 yards per carry as a team is second in the league.

The Seahawks are fourth in the NFL against the run and the 3.2 yards per carry they are allowing is tops in the league. Whichever team can win that strength-on-strength battle will have a leg up in this one.

Seattle is probably too much better in every other facet of the game for the Cards to pull off the upset on the road.

My Pick: Seahawks 21, Cardinals 13

[Advice: The line in this one favors the Seahawks by 8, I think that is exactly where this one ends up. If you can get a half-point on either side of that, go with it. The under-44 is the play in this one.]

8. Denver Broncos (1-5) ◄►

Chiefs Review

Denver’s defense looked a lot better in the 19-8 loss to the Chiefs than they have in any other game this season. Now, are they better or was it a case of a short week and Thursday night game?

I think they are getting better on that side of the ball. This is not the same defense that gave up 70 to the Dolphins. The Broncos put pressure on Patrick Mahomes and made stops in the red zone.

Denver showed a 4-3 look at times, and it was effective. Drew Sanders could be a difference-maker and a playmaker in the middle of the defense.

The offense is a whole different ball game. Russell Wilson threw for just 95 yards and two interceptions. Was it all Wilson? No. They need more production from the receivers, especially Jerry Jeudy.

This offense and the passing game in particular has a long way to go.

Green Bay Packers Preview

Sunday, October 22
1:25 pm PT, CBS

While the defense looked better against KC, the jury is still out on what the Broncos are on that side of the ball.

The Packers are coming off of a bye week and will be well-rested and ready for what Denver throws at them.

This is certainly one of the games on the Denver schedule that could provide a win, but I think Green Bay will have too much production.

My Pick: Packers 23, Broncos 17

[Advice: This one is a pick’em. I think the edge is with Green Bay. The point total stays below 44.]

—More from Stephen Vilardo—