What We Learned and Takeaways from Week 7 in the NFL

Photo Credit: USA Today Sports. (276)

With playoff races heating up, Week 7 in the NFL would present golden opportunities for many teams. The Jets would try to continue their strong start to the season while also taking out the Patriots for the AFC East lead. The Colts would try to open a comfortable AFC South divisional lead. The Minnesota Vikings would also try to take advantage and get to a solid 4–2 start. At the same time, many teams such as the Seahawks, Rams, and Chargers would try to get back in the playoff conversation. Would Tom Brady’s( hot start continue? Could Matt Cassell save the Cowboys? Could the Luke Kuechly and the Panthers defense hold down the Eagles offense? Could Jameis Winston have his 1st breakout game in the NFL against the Redskins?

So what did we learn and take away from Week 7 in the NFL?

We have returned to the boring, blowout Thursday Night Football games and the Seahawks silence critics… again

Thursday Night Football has received a reputation over the past couple of years in featuring sloppy, boring, and blowout games. Well… it looks like we are heading in that direction yet again. Even though this season has featured some entertaining games such as the Ravens against the Steelers and Broncos against the Chiefs, Thursday’s Seahawks domination of the 49ers might have been a sneak peek of what is yet to come. Dolphins @ Patriots, Browns @ Bengals, Bills @ Jets, and Titans @Jaguars will serve the next TNF games. Blame the short week of practice for both teams as the reason for why the games are just less interesting, but fans will tune in anyway.

With the game, it was what many expected. The Seahawks put up a vintage performance against the 49ers 20–3. The term vintage should be spotlighted because we really have not seen this type of performance from the Seahawks all year besides their 26–0 win over Jimmy Clausen and the Bears. The Seahawks defense dominated, Lynch ran over defenders all night long, and Wilson did just enough to manage a win, all three have been their core formula for success over the past few years.

A week after Kaepernick looked like a top 10 QB against the Ravens, he would go 13/24 for 124 yards and hit nine times/ six times sacked. 49ers offense would put up just 142 total yards while Marshawn Lynch would rush for 122 yards. A week after hearing about the concerns and worries from the national media, they would silence them for the time being. At 3–4, now they have a road game against the Cowboys and a home game against the Cardinals. Feeling in the Seahawks locker room? R-E-L-A-X.

Who is taking down the Patriots in the AFC and the Jets are playoff bound

New week, throw in another W to the Patriots record. In arguably one of the Patriots toughest tests of the season, they took on the Jets and their #1 defense in terms of PPG allowed. Patriots response? Tom Brady goes 34/54 for 355 yards and 2 TD’s. The Patriots basically abandoned their running game with Dion Lewis out and let Tom just attack the Jets. He targeted the best tight end in the NFL in Rob Gronkowski with 16 targets for 11 receptions/108 yards/1 TD.

What could be the most impressive from the Pats is that the Patriots inexperienced offensive line allowed just 3 sacks/5 QB hits against a physical Jets front seven. From the Pats perspective, a few negatives from the game include lack of physical play from their secondary, struggling Brandon Lafell with 5 drops, and lack of pressure on Fitzpatrick.

With the Jets, they played well. Simple as that. Made it a game but allowing 14 points to Brady and company including the Pats 50% 3rd down efficiency hurt them. After games of 166 yards against Miami and 146 yards against the Redskins, Chris Ivory was held to just 41 and was not able to get anything going. This team looks like a playoff team with their tough defense and Ryan Fitzpatrick surprisingly contributing in a positive way. Hopes of winning the AFC East is not yet gone, Todd Bowles has this team believing now.

The St. Louis “Seahawks” Rams should not be counted out at all, potential serious threat continues to emerge in the NFC

WHAT? Seahawks? Yes the Seahawks. Examine both teams. Any similarities? You have the QB that has been labeled as game manager and just does enough to win, Foles and Wilson. Power running back that is just dominant, Lynch and Gurley(yes, even if he is a rookie). You also have the dominant defense but the Rams strength is their front seven while the Seahawks live on the Legion of Boom. The Rams are quietly following the Seahawks defense to success by building their own core foundation of talent as well.

Against the Browns, they put together a solid all-around team performance. Foles did ok going 15/23 for 163 yards while the Todd Gurley show continued with 128 yards and 2 TD’s. Gurley has it all.

Rams defense also put on another vintage show. Sacked Josh McCown four times while keeping the red hot QB without a TD. They hit McCown 7 times while also limiting the damage that the Browns RB’s would do. With the Seahawks now finding their stride, it’s a good time for the Rams to go on a nice win against the 49ers/Vikings/Bears/Ravens to keep up with their playoff hopes.

Does any team want the AFC South?

Colts: 3–4. Texans: 2–5. Jaguars: 2–5. Titans: 1–5. All teams are in dysfunction and it’s not looking good.

Even with Mariota, the Titans are not a well-rounded team. Lack of running game and defense without core playmakers has cost them in clutch moments, such as with Colts/Bills/Falcons games. The Jaguars are young team making that is making too many costly mistakes and Blake Bortles has not been able to breakout just yet. The Texans spell disappointment all around them. J.J Watt continues to do his job but not the rest of the defense. Texans defense continues to get annihilated and big plays against them have been game-changers. The endless wonder of who will be starting at QB is hurting team chemistry on offense as well.

And then we have the Indianapolis Colts… You just don’t know which team you will get. Will you get the Colts led by a top 10 QB performance by Andrew Luck or a team that gets off to a slow and miserable start.

7–9 or even 6–10 could possibly win the division. It’s not looking good for the division as of now.

Raiders emerge as playoff contender in AFC while the Chargers flaws continue to be exposed

As the season continues to progress, the Raiders continue to prove doubters wrong. The Chargers were their next victim in week 7. They beat their California rival 37–29 but the box score does not tell the whole story. Heading into the 4th quarter, the Raiders put on one of their best performances in years. They were leading 37–6 with Derek Carr’s 3 TD performance and the defense shutting down Philip Rivers. 4th quarter was a mess for them allowing 23 points but it will give provide lessons for improvements by the time they review film.

What could we learn from this game? Well, these aren’t the Raiders you are used to. Derek Carr is making much better reads and accuracy is up while the Raiders front office is giving themselves a high five for their Amari Cooper/Michael Crabtree off-season acquisitions.

Their defense has been superb. They have taken unwanted players such as Aldon Smith and Malcolm Smith and Jack Del Rio has gotten the best out of them. The sky is the limit for this team but their identity will begin to mold over the next few games as they have the Jets, @Steelers, and the Vikings.

As for the Chargers, you can’t rely on Philip Rivers alone to carry the team. Running game was ineffective and loss of Antonio Gates and Eric Weddle definitely hurt the team but no excuses. Their defense is a lost cause at this point and at 2–5, you have to turn it up soon. Having the easiest schedule remaining helps as well.

Sunday Night Football: Call them the 6–0 Panthers and defense deserves credit

In the week 7 SNF game, the Panthers took out the Eagles 24–16. Even though Cam Newton threw 3 INT’s, their defense saved them en route to the franchise’s best start in their history. Three potential TD drives by the Eagles were halted and stopped by the Panthers and they were forced to settle for three FG’s. Thomas Davis and Luke Kuechly had great games today combining for 23 tackles but they did make critical mistakes in the game but nothing much to worry about. Defense held Bradford to under 60% completion, but the Eagles rushing duo of Matthews/Murray did put up over 150 yards.

This isn’t a fluke 6–0 start for Carolina, they have earned it. Their defense continues to keep Cam and their rushing attack in the game despite turnovers. Not many are believers in this Panthers team even after their win against Seattle but their game against the Packers in 2 weeks will be huge. For the Eagles, just keep on grinding and hope that Sam Bradford can just improve. This offense is made for a QB like him.

Week 7 QUICK HITS

  • Aside from week 1 dominating performance against the Vikings, Carlos Hyde has been mediocre.
  • Kaepernick is the 49ers franchise QB and their fans will just have to… deal with it
  • Earl Thomas defines consistency
  • Kirk Cousins unleashes his clutch side vs Tampa Bay, but which Kirk will we get in his next game?
  • Jameis Winston shows what he can do vs Washington, solid pocket passer and Mike Evans connection will be one of the best in the NFL once they get going
  • Dorial Green-Beckham has potential, speedy and reliable. USE HIM TENNESSE
  • Falcons defense proves in their game against the Titans that they can win games when Matt Ryan isn’t raining TD’s
  • Frank Gore signing has been a sad disappointment. Luck is just wearing out having to carry this team. Lack of running game and defense can not be relied for big stops in a game that can change momentum
  • One of Teddy Bridgewater’s finest games against the Lions, 25–35 for 316 yards and 2 TD’s.
  • Something you likely know already but needs to be said again: Lions are a mess.
  • Landry Jones’ performance against the Cardinals seemed like a one-hit wonder
  • Browns and Chiefs in similar positions at 2–5, who would have thought that?
  • AFC South teams are 4–15 against non-divisional opponents
  • Tannehill played like a top 10 QB vs the Texans and he is te obvious X-factor if the Dolphins dream of making a playoff run
  • This Cowboys team is going nowhere. When is Dez/Romo making their long-awaiting returns?
  • Giants defense let them down early on, now winning games for them too. 3 INT’s off Cassell but run defense is in question
  • Derek Carr and Amari Cooper duo will emerge to be one of the best in the NFL. Easily.
  • Philip Rivers can not carry the Chargers every game. In a similar situation to how the Colts are built on

Monday Night Football Preview: Ravens at Cardinals

The 1–5 Baltimore Ravens head to Arizona to take on the highest scoring offense Cardinals. The Ravens come into this game in absolute chaos.

If it wasn’t for field goal misses by Josh Scobee, we could be looking at an 0–6 Ravens team. Under Marc Trestman’s offense, the Ravens have looked dreadful. Their running game has been ineffective and Joe Flacco has thrown for 8 TD’s/7 INT’s. On defense, they are getting torn apart. They do not have Terrell Suggs due to injury but it is no excuse for their struggles. Their secondary has allowed an average of over 300 YPG and an inconspicuous pass rush is allowing opposing QB’s all day to make reads. With the Cardinals, they have lost 2 of their last 3. Their highest scoring offense scored just 13 points against the Steelers last week and they have to get it rolling this week to keep hold of the NFC West.

In this game, the Cardinals offense must pick apart the Ravens flaws. Carson Palmer has a good duo of Michael Floyd and Larry Fitzgerald and he must use them to an advantage against Jimmy Smith/Lardarius Webb and the Ravens secondary. Ravens have also allowed nearly 100 rushing yards per game, something Bruce Arians should look into with his gameplan for running back Chris Johnson.

With the Ravens offense, it’s really just about doing your best on what you have. Besides Steve Smith, Joe Flacco has does not have much receiving talent around him at all. Dennis Pitta is out and Smith is his only reliable target with lackluster Kamar Aiken and Marlon Brown. Could be a long day against the ball-hawking Cardinals secondary featuring Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu.

Loser of this game will go in pandemonium for the week. Ravens could drop to 1–6 and playoff hopes gone considering they must go 9–0 to end with a respectable playoff record of 10–6. A Cardinals loss and it leaves the door open for the Rams and Seahawks to regain their confidence for the NFC West. This game could be over at halftime but the Ravens will give it all they have. Carson Palmer will throw for 3 TD’s in a 33–16 Cardinals win.

Writer’s Note: All videos in this article are credited to the NFL and their respective teams.