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One Thing Week 7

Another NFL week has come and gone and the early signs of contenders can be seen among the pack. We’ll cover it all from the Raider’s Thursday night thriller to the Eagles Monday night win.

AFC

North

Steelers– After wins the last two weeks it looks like the only thing that can stop the Steelers is themselves. If they can avoid any internal mess and continue to hand Le’Veon Bell the ball the Steelers will be tough to beat.

Ravens– Joe Flacco threw the ball 39 times and couldn’t muster more than 186 passing yards and a garbage-time touchdown. This used to be a team that relied on its defense and Justin Tucker to win games but when the offense can’t even get into field goal range and the defense

Bengals– For two quarters it looked like the Bengals had a good chance to knock off the defending division champs as the score was tied 14-14 at the half with the teams going back and forth but ultimately it was the Bengals lack of quality line play and abandonment of the run game that allowed the second half box score to read 15-0 in favor of the Steelers.

Browns– After 10,363 snaps Joe Thomas missed the first snap of his career and with that, a record that will (probably) never be broken is set in stone. Joe Thomas was the best thing about the Cleveland Browns and now the factory of sadness get even sadder.

South

Jaguars– A shutout win without the guy your offense is centered around is a great win under any circumstances and to have that win come against a division opponent is just cake. The jags look to have one of the top defenses and rushing attacks in the league a combination that could end up leading Jacksonville to the playoffs.

Titans– This was an impressive game by any stretch for the Titans. The only good thing that happened this game was they eventually got the win after the Cleveland Browns forced over time. In a tight division, at the momentum, the Titans are far from contenders.

Texans– Coming off a bye week the Texans and rookie Deshaun Watson will be tested by the Seattle Seahawks after falling to second in the division.

Colts– Getting shut out is never good and then to have your star receiver call ou the offensive line is worse. Opponents have finally figured out the few plays Jacoby Brissett has had time to learn and even with new general manager Chris Ballard’s shrewd free agency moves this squad has underperformed. If this keeps up believe the rumors will start about a Chuck Pagano firing before season’s end.

East

Patriots– This was easily the Pats most complete game of the year. From start to finish they demonstrated consistent play and held a passer under 300 yards or the first time all season. That’s not to say it was a perfect game, five red zone trips and only 2 touchdowns is something Belichick is sure to point to as an area to improve but an underrated aspect of this game was the fact that it’s the first game this season where all 4 of the Pats running backs were healthy. Dion Lewis, James White, Rex Burkehead, and Mike Gillislee combined for 202 total yards.

Bills– Tyron Taylor was once again solid as the Bills survived a late rally from the Buccaneers. The Bills, according to coach Doug McDermott, are motivated by the talk of them tanking this year. It remains to be seen how the season ends for them but right now the Bills are right in the race for the AFC crown. However, a tough test awaits next week as they take on the Raiders.

Dolphins– This looked to be yet another disappointing Dolphins loss. Even after Matt Moore came in he threw an interception. But Moore galvanized this team and beat a respectable Jets squad. Right after the Tannehill injury, I thought Adam Gase should have stuck with Matt Moore but no Gase’s hands are tied as it looks like Cutler won’t make it back for this weeks Thursday night game. If the Dolphins can win they’ll tie the Patriots for the best record in the division.

Jets– Going into the fourth quarter with a 28-14 lead should give you a good chance to win but after two Dolphins TD drives the Jets found themselves tied. Josh McCown has exceeded expectations this year but with 47 seconds remaining he threw a bad interception from the Jet’s 15-yard line which set up the Dolphin’s game-winner. The Jets still aren’t out of it and a surprise win against a reeling Falcons team would far exceed expectations from the beginning of the year.

West

Chiefs– Still leading the division despite the loss the to raiders the shock and awe of the early season offensive wrinkles and ingenuity appear to have worn off. The good news is that Alex Smith continues to play at a high level previously unseen from the 13th year pro. The Chiefs will have a chance to get back to winning and reassert themselves when the Broncos visit them next week

Broncos– The Broncos offense needs help. Trevor Siemien is clearly not the guy

Chargers– The suddenly resurgent Los Angelos Chargers are sitting 2 games out of first place in the division after their 0-4 start. They have an important slate of games coming up which will tell if they are contenders or pretenders.

Raiders– This was such an important game for this team. If they were to fall to 2-5 their season could have been over. But Derek Carr wouldn’t allow it. He was great all game especially on the last drive executing the game-winning play five or six times including plays called back by penalties. The Raiders have 3 straight AFC East games coming up ending with the Patriots.

NFC

North

Vikings The Vikings are the NFC team no one is talking about and they have quietly moved to 5-2 on the strength of their defense and a running game that appears to have recovered nicely from the loss of Dalvin Cook. They will have some tough decisions to make when both Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater are healthy enough to return but for now, they sit atop their division with a game against the Browns next on the schedule.

Packers– Now that the Green Bay defense isn’t buttressed by an offense that can score 30 points there’s a lot more pressure on Clay Matthews and Co. to pick up the slack. As for the offense, it was odd to see Mike McCarthy give a guy who’s in his third year with the team a gameplan fit for someone who’s in his third week with the team. The Packers need to reshape their offense around burgeoning rookie Aaron Jones if they hope to be in a position where Aaron Rodgers will be able to come save them.

Lions– Coming off their bye this team is hoping to show more consistency after an early season run where they were all over the place. They’ll have a great opportunity as they take on the 5-2 Steelers on Sunday night

Bears– the last tie a QB won two straight games and completed less than ten passes was Tim Tebow on the Broncos in 2011, and who might the coach have been? none other than John Fox. Kidding aside Mitchell Trubisky is not Tebow. Bears coaches and players have come away impressed with Trubisky since taking over the starting job 3 weeks ago. Accolades abound for rookie safety Eddie Jackson after two 75 yard defensive touchdowns and he remains a player to watch as part of a possibly strong rookie class for Chicago.

South

Saints– After starting the season 0-2 with a blowout loss to the Patriots the Saints have stacked up 4 straight wins to move into first in the division. Despite early struggles by Brees the Saints backs once again went for over 200 total yards and the Saints were able to come back and win. The defense, although not great, is not the sieve it once was setting the Saints up well for the rest of the season.

Panthers– The Panthers Offense has problems, and they all stem from the offensive line. Without enough time to set up and throw properly Newton is forced into risky throws. The line hasn’t been any better run blocking either not giving McCaffrey room to run between the tackles and the pressure on Cam means his role is reduced to dump-offs and screens and he can’t run routes down the field like the Panthers envisioned. The Panthers have two important division games coming up against Tampa Bay and Atlanta that could put them either at the top or bottom of the division

Falcons– Despite all the “just another game” talk running through Atlanta this week it was apparent this game meant something more when they attempted a fourth down conversion 11 minutes into the game. Even with their high powered offense and aggressiveness, the Falcons would only score with under 5 minutes remaining with the game already out of reach. Steve Sarkisian has been a major downgrade from Kyle Shanahan and the Falcons need to figure it out before their season slips away.

Buccaneers– After an offseason in which many had Tampa penciled in as a playoff contender it’s more than surprising to find them sitting at 2-4 through seven weeks. For whatever reason, offensive minded coach Dirk Koetter cant seem to work Desean Jackson into his offense. O.J. Howard though has looked every bit the first round talent as he broke out last week with 6 grabs for 98 yards and 2 touchdowns. With two big divisional games looming can the Bucs save their season?

East

Eagles– The only team with one loss the eagle now sport the NFL’s best record at 6-1. Carson Wentz has been electric since week one and is finally getting the props he deserves. The defensive back seven is a work in progress and the loss of Jordan Hicks and Jason Peters will definitely hurt but with 3 division wins and Carson Wentz, the Eagles are in a great spot.

Cowboys– Will he or won’t he is the biggest question regarding the Cowboys season. So far Zeke has gone back and forth with the NFL over his suspension. The Cowboys have a difficult schedule the rest of the season and if Zeke were to miss any time it could severely hurt the playoff chances of a squad that already sits at 3-3. Also, safety Jeff Heath made an extra point last Sunday which was pretty cool.

Redskins– Washington is clearly hurting right now with injuries on both sides of the ball impacting team performance. They have a tough slate of games coming up and the ‘skins will have to come up big with or without their currently injured teammates if they hope to have a chance at the postseason.

Giants– After their big win last week many, myself included, inferred that maybe the Giants had figured out how to effectively use their personal and that the shift of play-calling away from Ben McAdoo would possibly lead to more wins down the road. After only registering 7 points against the Seahawks its back to the drawing board once again.

West

Rams– After shutting out the Cardinals its clear this Rams team is one to be reckoned with. Sean McVay continues to innovate on offense with Jared Goff taking a keeper in for a touchdown and Wade Philips has continued to improve his defense. The Rams can’t take their foot off the pedal as the Seahawks sit only one game behind them in the division.

Seahawks– After a 1-2 start, Seattle has won their last 3 as they close in on the Rams. I feel like its a worrisome thing when your star receiver shoves your offensive line coach but things like this seem to come up a few times a season nowadays for the Seahawks.

Cardinals– At 3-4 and in a tight division there’s a chance the Cardinals could still make the playoffs, but the loss of Carson Palmer coupled with David Johnson being out all but seals the fate of the Arizona Cardinals. However, you won’t see any quit out of Bruce Arian’s squad as they look to get to .500 against the Niners.

49ers– Another week, another loss for the Niners who join the Browns at 0-7. But fear not Niners fans, despite the winless start coach Kyle Shanahan believes “sometimes you’ve got to go through this stuff to find out who the special people are.”

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