From an explosive offense versus a dominating defense in Baltimore, to a possible track meet at Arrowhead, Breakout Live breaks down all the matchups for week 7 in the NFL.
BYES: Packers, Raiders, Seahawks, Steelers
Titans vs. Chargers (in London)
Two teams heading in completely opposite directions will head across the pond to meet at Wembley Stadium in London. Safety Kevin Byard said it’s time to re-boot the Titans’ season after getting embarrassed at home by Baltimore, but unless Tennessee brought some steel toe Wolverines with them to London, they won’t re-boot this weekend against the Chargers. Good news for the Titans: Joey Bosa is still out for LA, so giving up 11(!!!) sacks like they did last week seems highly unlikely. Bad news: LA had 5 sacks last week and has 8 over their last two games. Unsolicited crazy news: The Titans, for how awful they’ve looked the last two weeks, are still somehow tied for 1st in the AFC South at 3-3.
Panthers @ Eagles
Love a game like this where the NFL’s best rushing offense in Carolina visits a good rushing defense in Philadelphia. Whoever can impose their will in that matchup will go a long way to deciding this one. On the other side, RB Darren Sproles will be a welcome addition back into the fold for Philly, as the Eagles have thrown a ton of short passes this season and Sproles only makes them more dangerous. My main question is, can Cam Newton take over this game in a hostile environment? He’s made strides in his first year with Norv Turner, but at times it feels like he’s trying too hard not to make a mistake. In other words, he’s playing the exact opposite of the Cam we know and love.
Vikings @ Jets
I may never start another game breakdown again by praising a kicker, but New York’s Jason Myers has earned himself some love. Myers made 10 kicks (7-7 FG, 3-3 XP) in Week 6, and I wouldn’t blame Todd Bowles if he called out the field goal unit on some early downs Sunday, seeing as the Jets have converted just 37.5% of their 3rd downs this year (23rd). The Vikings wouldn’t know much about good kicking this year – they’re 3rd worst at just 64.3% on FGs. I think this one stays close throughout, and Jason Myers gets his 2nd game ball in a row after burying a 61-yard game-winner.
Bills @ Colts
Derek Anderson alert! That’s right, a dude who almost nobody knew was still in the league will be under center for the Bills on Sunday with Josh Allen sidelined for 2-3 weeks. I’d feel bad for QB Nathan Peterman, but it’s almost impossible when you realize that a whopping 72% (26 of 36) of drives that Peterman has led for Buffalo have ended in either an INT, a 3-and-out, or a turnover on downs. If Anderson struggles Sunday, we may see Chris Weinke or Byron Leftwich calling signals for the Bills before Peterman does again. Shoot, Buffalo may just grab some guy out of the stands, throw a jersey on him and trot him out as their QB1. Can’t get much worse than it is right now.
Patriots @ Bears
The NFL is a funny league, isn’t it? The second the Bears found out they’d be facing Brock Osweiler last week, they were probably licking their chops and planning the post-victory party. Whoops! 380 yards and 3 TDs later, Brock turns out to be a Bear hunter and Chicago suddenly looks vulnerable. Now here come the Pats, fresh off a 43-point output and with a 41-year old QB who looks fresh as a daisy. Chicago’s pass rush was completely shut out against Miami, and if that happens against Tom Brady Sunday, New England may put half a hundred on the board. I’m not sure what’s more fascinating: A) Brock Osweiler is 4-0 against the Bears in his career. B) 3 of those games have been his very first start with each the Broncos, Texans AND Dolphins. Like I said, the NFL is a funny league. The Bears sure aren’t laughing. Tom Brady’s no Brock Osweiler, and I have absolutely no idea if that’s a bad thing or a good thing for Chicago.
Browns @ Buccaneers
This game will mark the 10th time the Browns and Bucs have played, with all 10 featuring different QB matchups. Yeah, that’ll happen when you’ve started 30 QBs in 20 years like the Browns have, or when your Mount Rushmore of QBs consists of guys like Brad Johnson and Trent Dilfer, like the Bucs. The QB matchup here is probably the best of the bunch, so long as Baker’s knee is okay after he tweaked it early last week slipping on a first-down marker. Speaking of injuries, both teams have significant ones on defense. Neither DT Gerald McCoy – who was seen in a walking boot last Sunday – nor DE Vinny Curry practiced Wednesday for Tampa, and Browns starting CB E.J. Gaines has already been ruled out with a concussion. Gaines’ injury hurts worse considering the athletic freaks the Bucs have all over on offense, and that could be all the difference Tampa needs.
Texans @ Jaguars
Perhaps one of the most uninspiring battles for first place in NFL history. Does anyone actually want to win the AFC South? The Texans are at least feigning interest, having won 3 straight after starting the year 0-3. As for the Jags, back-to-back blowout losses have them questioning their identity while Jalen Ramsey dodges every question thrown his way. I’d like to think that teams who get embarrassed two weeks in a row would come back and ball out the following week, but I’m not so sure with Jacksonville. Their only reprieve is that they’re at home, where they play much better. But I’ll take the hot hand over the cold shoulder, with Deshaun Watson hitting his stride for Houston and Blake Bortles just Bortles’ing so hard to the point where Doug Marrone may have to finally put him on ice.
Lions @ Dolphins
The Brock Osweiler show rolls on as the Lions come to town and present another NFC North predatory mammal for Big Game Hunter Brock to slaughter. Problem is, the Dolphins won’t catch Detroit off-guard like they did to Chicago. The Lions are coming off a bye and should be well-prepared. After all, there isn’t a whole lot to prepare for. Osweiler’s not nearly as good as he looked last Sunday, and neither are the Dolphins.
Saints @ Ravens
This might be the most fascinating game of the weekend, a cross-conference mashup of two complete opposites. The Ravens live and die with their defense, and last week they lived well with a franchise-record 11 sacks last week. That won’t happen this week against a Saints team eager to prove they’re legit contenders in what may be Drew Brees’ last best shot at a 2nd ring. We’ve all heard that “defense wins championships” ad nauseum over the years, but the NFL is no longer that kind of league.
Cowboys @ Redskins
An NFC East toss-up that could put its winner in 1st place in the division when the dust settles. Both teams are coming off impressive wins, but neither team has proven they can actually put a string of multiple good games together yet. The only inkling of consistency I’ve seen between these two, is that Washington is good at home and Dallas is atrocious on the road. Good enough for me.
Rams @ 49ers
There are a lot of ways to lose games in the NFL. Losing one that you probably should have won hurts as bad as any. Just ask the 49ers, who were up 7 at Lambeau last Monday night with less than two minutes to go and still lost in regulation. The final minutes were poorly managed by Kyle Shanahan, who seems to be allergic to coaching with a lead in big games. Fortunately for San Fran, the Rams won’t let it get close enough for Shanny to flash anymore of his Super Bowl 51 PTSD.
Bengals @ Chiefs
The Chiefs lost last week, but it was hardly a letdown. The Bengals lost, too, but their hangover should be far worse than KC’s after letting Anotnio Brown go untouched for a game-winning score against them in the waning seconds. If Cincy plays pass defense like that at Arrowhead, Pat Mahomes and Cheetah Hill will turn this one into a track meet.
Giants @ Falcons
Lots of name recognition for MNF this week, but apparently big names don’t translate to good records. Saquon Barkley, Odell Beckham and the Giants are irrelevant at 1-5 right now because their QB is playing like Mr. Irrelevant. Matt Ryan and Julio Jones have both played well, and yet they’re 2-4 in part because Julio seems to have no interest getting in the end zone. Jones hasn’t scored since November 26th of last year, and there’s really no excuse for it. Stars need to step up on both sides and prove they’re worth their huge paydays. I think Atlanta’s will.