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NFL Week 7 Preview

NFL Week 7 Preview

(Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports)

(Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports)

Jacksonville Jaguars (4-2) vs. New Orleans Saints (3-3) -1.0

The feel-good momentum of starting 2-0 is gone for New Orleans after losing three of their last four. On the flip side, the Jags fly high into the Big Easy with a three-game win streak after combating a 1-2 start. Here’s the big question: is Trevor Lawrence playing Thursday? Head Coach Doug Pederson considers Lawrence day-to-day with his knee injury and simultaneously feels comfortable with backup C.J. Beathard should he need to go. Talk about some bad timing having the Thursday Night NFL slate.

Let’s get real: Lawrence is playing. Sixth-ranked rushing leader Travis Etienne must be prepared to provide extra relief to his quarterback this week, regardless of who it is. Yes, the Jaguars struggle with wide receivers, allowing the most receptions, second most yards, and 7th most touchdowns in the league. On top of that Tyson Campbell is dinged up and the Saints have Chris Olave and Rashid Shaheed both with 15+ average depth of target numbers. Yet New Orleans has only peaked 20 points once this year, against a miserable Patriots team.

The Jaguars seem on a roll and clicking versus a “What will you get this week?” Derek Carr. Close Jaguars “upset” W on the road with Lawrence playing. With Beathard? To be determined.

Cleveland Browns (3-2) -2.0 vs. Indianapolis Colts (3-3)

Which backup quarterback will prevail in this duel, Gunning Gardner Minshew or Pistol P.J. Walker? This is Minshew’s team for the remainder of the year and this is a win that could go a long way for the locker room after a tough four-turnover loss against Jacksonville. On the other side, Cleveland slayed the dragon last week (San Francisco). This Cleveland defense showed they can win you a ballgame, only giving up 200 yards a game right now. For perspective, the Niners gave up 300 last year as the best defense in the NFL. For further perspective, Baltimore is 2nd in the NFL right now and an entire 60 yards behind Cleveland. This defense is performing at a disturbingly high rate. Cleveland’s defense wins it for them again this weekend in Indianapolis against a developing offense.

Buffalo Bills (4-2) -8.5 vs. New England Patriots (1-5)

I preface that Josh Allen is day-to-day with a shoulder at publishing. He’s playing. Let’s compare some quarterback stat lines to show why New England is not going to win: 

Allen – 147/205 (71.7%), 1576 yards, 13 TD, 6 INT, 22 CAR, 131 yards (5.95 avg), 3 TDs 

Mac Jones – 129/201 (64.2%), 1208 yards, 5 TD, 7 INT, 16 CAR, 59 yards (3.69 avg), 0 TD 

Yes, Josh Allen throws picks, but you take that risk with him versus Mac Jones for double the rushing yards, double the passing touchdowns, and thrice the rushing touchdowns. 

New England does not have the offensive personnel to hang around. Here’s some further perspective looking at your leading wide receivers: 

Stefon Diggs – 49 REC, 620 yards (12.7 avg), 5 TD

Kendrick Bourne – 28 REC, 307 yards (11.0 avg), 2 TD 

Lastly, New England’s 83.7 yards per game rushing attack is not going to hang with Buffalo’s 118.2. 

Time to blow it up and start over New England. 

Washington Commanders (3-3) -2.0 vs. New York Giants (1-5)

The Daniel Jones contract shine has worn off. The Brian Daboll shine has worn off. Start fresh this week in a winnable NFL matchup against a sporadic, volatile Washington defense. You don’t know what Washington team you’re going to get every week. Are you going to get the team that held Atlanta to 16 last week? Are you going to get the team that got waxed by a BLEAK Chicago Bears team? This much we do know: the Giants’ -96 point differential is the worst mark in the NFL. You are not just losing, you are getting your ass whipped. Do we see Daniel Jones or Tyrod Taylor? Regardless, more has to be expected than the 10 points per game the Giants are averaging over their last four.

Potentially the worst offensive line in the NFL, welcome to town the Commanders’ 11th-ranked pass rush in terms of sack percentage. It’s a low-scoring game ahead. Take the Commanders until the Giants show us something different, despite being “due”. Howell has been attempting 35+ passes a game and found a way to win last week despite the Falcons having over double the team yardage. Can the Giants find a way to win? 

Detroit Lions (5-1) vs. Baltimore Ravens (4-2) -3.0

Here is Jared Goff’s production over the last 17 games with offensive coordinator/hottest head coaching job candidate Ben Johnson

391/578 (67.6%), 4473 passing yards, 29 TDs, 4 interceptions 

The Lions are 13-4 in that span. 

That is the Top 10 quarterback play unquestionably, and no, it is not “system” or “management” play, Goff has more completions of 20 yards or more this year than any other quarterback in the NFL, not Tua. Goff finds his toughest foe yet in the Roquan Smith-led Baltimore Ravens defense. The Ravens are second in the NFL in passing yardage allowed at just 163.2 yards per game and rank fourth in scoring defense at 15.2 points per game. 

Goff has to bring his A-game on the road. He will. The Lions keep it going with the upset. Until Lamar Jackson gets somewhere near equal production from his supporting cast as he is providing (MVP caliber), we won’t know what Baltimore team we are getting each week. 

Las Vegas Raiders (3-3) -3.0 vs. Chicago Bears (1-5)

Are the starting quarterbacks playing after Week 6 injuries? Justin Fields is already doubtful to play this weekend with a thumb injury. UDFA rookie Tyson Bagent will get the start after going 10/14, 83 yards, 1 INT in relief against the rival Vikings last week. Jimmy Garoppolo apparently “dodged a big bullet” with his back injury in Week 6 according to Head Coach Josh McDaniels. Who’s your guy McDaniels if Jimmy can’t play? McD makes the big bucks to make decisions like this: mega veteran Brian Hoyer or young rookie Aidan O’Connell? Defensively, the Raiders rank 11th in total defense (315.3 ypg) and 19th in points allowed (21.8 ppg). Defensively, the Bears rank 25th in total defense (356.8 ypg) and tied for 29th in points allowed (29.3 ppg). Somehow, the Raiders’ defense can win this one for them.

Atlanta Falcons (3-3) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-2) -2.5

Can the Falcons score any points (16.5 ppg)? The Buccaneers aren’t exactly an offensive juggernaut either, averaging 18 points per game on offense (25th in the NFL), but similar to Atlanta Tampa is being bailed out by a top defense, ranking eighth with 17.6 points allowed per game. Baker will have to have it this week, the Bucs will not be running the ball on the Falcons’ 11th-ranked rushing defense. The Bucs can’t run on anybody actually, only averaging 78.8 yards per game. Don’t let this be a “get right” game Atlanta. Matchup of the game? The Bucs’ Jake Camarda leads the NFL in average yards per punt this season (53.5). The Falcons rank 31st in the NFL in average punt return this season (5.1 yards). I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Atlanta’s offense is due to take care of one. I’m taking the Dirty Birds to take the division lead Sunday in an upset.

Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2) vs. Los Angeles Rams (3-3) -3.0

Each team storyline is simple. Cooper Kupp is back for the Rams and already cut the switch back on with the offense. Are the Steelers soaring still after a Ravens upset rivalry win and a bye week? Kupp had seven catches for 148 yards and a touchdown last week alongside NFL rookie phenom Puka Nacua. Not overthinking this one, I like the Rams versus a Steelers offense that isn’t ready to be better than .500. 

Arizona Cardinals (1-5) vs. Seattle Seahawks (3-2) -8.0

The Arizona Cardinals have dropped three in a row and the reality is that early season “wow, they’re playing hard and look better than I figured” is wearing off. The Cardinals’ lack of talent is starting to really show, particularly after the loss of James Conner to IR with a knee injury. The Seattle offense will be ready to eat in this NFC West battle after a disappointing 13-point performance in last week’s loss to Joe Burrow and the Bengals. Don’t overthink it. The Seahawks win at home with better talent. 

Green Bay Packers (2-3) -1.0 vs. Denver Broncos (1-5)

Denver’s defense has given up the most yards, points, passing touchdowns, and rushing yards in the NFL this season. The Broncos are 29th in the NFL in point differential at -71. This is the “wheels are about to come off” game for Denver, whose lone win is a 3-touchdown comeback against the 1-5 Bears on the road. 

End of preview. 

Take the Packers. 

Los Angeles Chargers (2-3) vs. Kansas City Chiefs (5-1) -5.5

Kansas City has won five straight games after dropping its season opener 21-20 to Detroit with no Travis Kelce. Can the Chargers slow Patrick Mahomes down? Mahomes has been sacked at the lowest rate (2.54%) among quarterbacks this season and the Chargers have allowed an NFL-worst 289 passing yards per game at 7.7 yards per attempt, and are giving up the second-most total YPG (391.6). Mahomes is about to carve LA up. The Chargers have lost five of their last eight division games, with all five losses coming by one score. Head Coach Brandon Staley’s seat is scorching and it should be before more of Justin Herbert’s time is wasted. 

Miami Dolphins (5-1) vs. Philadelphia Eagles (5-1) -2.0 *Game of The Week 

Let’s start with quarterback touchdown/interception ratios in this matchup: 

Tua Tagovailoa – 14/5

Jalen Hurts – 7/7

Can Philly hang offensively? Vegas sees this as the highest-scoring game of the week at a 52.0 Over/Under. How does Philly respond after their first loss of the year 20-14 against the Zach Wilson-led Jets? In Miami, I’d take Miami. In Philadelphia? I’m still taking Miami in the upset. That 48-20 Buffalo butt whooping 3 weeks ago was the Dolphins’ wake-up call. Tyreek Hill, Jayden Waddle, Raheem Mostert, and others will have speed like the Eagles have not nearly seen, even without dominant Devon Achane (IR)

Lastly, let’s just gawk at Tyreek’s stats: 

42 REC, 814 yards (19.4 avg), and 6 TDs through 6 games. 

That’s an average per-game stat line of 7 catches, 136 yards, and 1 TD every week. 

MVP candidate. 

San Francisco 49ers (5-1) -7.0 vs. Minnesota Vikings (2-4)

This is to a lesser degree than the Denver Broncos the “wheels come off” game for Minnesota. The Vikings seem to want to right the ship still, but it might be time to accept it’s not happening after Sunday. Minnesota is averaging 75 rushing yards per game on the ground, while the 49ers allow only 80.2. No JJ on top of that.  Put a globe-sized weight on Cousins’ shoulders again. The 49ers have lost 6 straight in Minnesota, they’re due Monday night. 49ers roll regardless of CMC, Greenlaw, Trent, and Deebo. 

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