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Everything you need to know about Week 7 in the NFL

WEEI
October 22, 2018 - 6:43 am

By JOHN ANDERSEN

Everything you need to know about Week 7 in the NFL:

BYE WEEK: Steelers, Packers, Raiders, Seahawks

Broncos 45, Cardinals 10 (TNF): What else is there to say about the Cardinals?

The Cardinals’ o-line is the Rocky V of O-lines. At least GM Steve Keim tried to fix it by signing Justin Pugh and Andre Smith, but it seems futile to sign guys who weren’t good anyway. Josh Rosen places the ball very well and will undoubtedly be a great QB, but he’s at the mercy of his own offensive line and Mike McCoy’s playcalling. Or at least he was, but Friday morning the Cardinals sent Mike McCoy to the guillotine and promoted former elite backup QB Byron Leftwich to OC. For the Broncos, they turned to Emmanuel Sanders to throw touchdown passes after that proved an issue for Case Keenum. Despite the virtually non-existent pressure, Keenum still couldn’t do a whole lot through the air but had Phillip Lindsay and his defense to lean on.

Chargers 20, Titans 19 (London): London kickoff gets the best of us

Those under the age of 30 who rolled out of bed at 12:55 p.m. covered in last night’s sweat and drink of choice and who own Melvin Gordon in fantasy football fell victim to the London 9:30 a.m. start time. Gordon didn’t go Sunday for the Chargers, but the Chargers’ receivers had the big play aspect of LA’s offense covered as Tyrell Williams and Mike Williams each had touchdowns on long receptions. The Titans offense wasn’t as much of a disaster as it was last week, but there’s still way too much pressure on Marcus Mariota given that the Titans were considered to have one of the better offensive lines coming into this season. Guys like Josh Kline and Taylor Lewan have not performed even close to the bars they’ve set for themselves in previous seasons. Mariota’s ability to escape pressure and improvise is how the Titans have won close games in recent seasons, but Sunday the Titan’s run game was buzzing like Dion as the former Patriot had himself a second half to remember. The Titans would come within one before attempting to go for two ... twice. The football gods sent Mike Vrabel a message when Casey Hayward was called for defensive holding and the Titans were given another chance to not go for two. The final score should indicate what happened.

Texans 20, Jaguars 7: Texans win 4 in a row; Jags bench Bortles

This week saw the Jaguars trade a 5th-round pick for running back Carlos Hyde, something they weren’t willing to do for Teddy Bridgewater as they continue their bout of Stockholm Syndrome that started when they signed Blake Bortles, who is a great guy, to a franchise-cripplling contract this offseason. Another crippling contract as of now is the Andrew Norwell deal, as the former Panthers All-Pro guard has struggled as he sees more exotic fronts and stunts in the AFC South. Jadeveon Clowney, in particular, had his way with the Jacksonville o-line, forcing the Jags’ run game into submission and Bortles to take the game into his own hands, which led to two fumbles, a benching, and ostensibly had something to do with the altercation media members reportedly heard and partially witnessed outside the Jaguars’ locker room after the game. It’s not to say Bortles was involved, but his play certainly contributes to the heightened tensions.

Panthers 21, Eagles 17: Defending Super Bowl champs fall to 3-4

Jay Ajayi’s absence was felt as the Eagle’s run game was held to 2.4 yards per carry. Carson Wentz went 30-for-37 but the Eagles’ overcommitment to the run prevented them from keeping the game out of reach. Cam Newton is unlike other quarterbacks who have the ability to run in that he doesn’t necessarily utilize space but instead hits holes and breaks tackles. Newton’s seven rushes for 49 yards were pivotal in helping the Panthers back in this game, as the rest of their offensive skill players didn’t impact the game as they usually do. Pro Football Focus noted after the game that Newton was more effective a passer in the fourth quarter, particularly from clean pockets after the Panthers started using the hurry-up to tire and negate Philly’s pass rush.

Vikings 37, Jets 17: Adam “Wheelin’” Theilen was dealin’ as he reeled in 100 yards for the seventh straight game

The Jets were just plain old outmatched in this one. They were Luke going to battle his (*outdated spoiler*) father in Empire, except a higher entity, hadn’t scheduled it months in advance. New York failed to establish the run in this one, an oft-used buzz phrase but one that’s applicable to what glimpses of success the Jets have seen this season. Despite the woes in the run game, the Jets’ pass protection was actually decent, but Sam Darnold couldn’t hit the ocean if he threw a football at it. Kirk Cousins didn’t start the game much better but showcased his long-standing ability to forget and move on after mistakes and make big plays. One of these big plays was a 32-yard TD pass to Adam “Feelin’” Thielen, who went over 100 yards for the seventh straight game, the most of such games to start a season.

Patriots 38, Bears 31: Playing scramble can only get you so far

Don’t get me wrong, playing scramble can win games and can be a recipe for success (against lousy defenses) but the Patriots played this one just right. First and foremost though, had it not been for some dumb turnovers-- Cordarrelle Patterson on a kick return, an “interception” that was really James Develin showing his altruistic side, and Sony Michel dropping the ball as his leg did something legs aren’t supposed to do-- the Bears wouldn’t have been in this game. These turnovers were mostly offset by Patterson’s redemption taking to the house of his next return attempt and Donta Hightower’s blocked punt, which Kyle Van Noy too delivered directly to the house. But the most critical factor in the Patriots’ win was Mitch Trubisky’s inability to throw downfield. The bulk of Trubisky’s 333 yards passing either went to running backs or tight end Trey Burton, and even those were, for the most part, broken plays and check downs. Trubisky sailed balls over receivers heads the whole game and the Bears’ success was reliant on Trubisky’s athleticism outside the structure of their offense. This isn’t a bad way to compete, but in situations where there isn’t enough time for tomfoolery, Trubisky won’t be able to take the Bears down the field in situations that call for throwing downfield from the pocket. Luckily the Patriots didn’t leave enough time for Trubisky’s chaos-based offense to get the best of them ... well it almost did but that’s why coaches preach gang tackling.

Colts 37, Bills 5: Bills defense is still elite

This is a deceptive final score, and it’s probably not the last you’ll see stamped on a Buffalo Bills game in 2018 (or 2019).  This game is similar to what happened in week one against the Ravens: turnovers gave the opposing offense great field position and it reflected poorly on Buffalo’s defense. On Sunday, Derek Anderson disproved the longstanding NFL philosophy that you can pick a QB out of hat, fly him in, start him immediately, and see success. Andrew Luck’s statline is the dead giveaway here: four TD passes but only 175 yards passing. Marlon Mack’s production takes away from potential Luck yardage, but the Colts still threw the ball 23 times and Luck was pulled from the blowout early. This game will reflect poorly on Buffalo’s team defense rankings as far as scoring goes, but not overall yards. They’re one of the best defensive units in the league but may not see success as a team in the foreseeable future.

Buccaneers 26, Browns 23: Ummmm.

Like last week, I write another entry from a place of emotional despair. A fortunate gust of wind sent this game to OT and an unfortunate gust of wind ended it, which placed my parlay of Panthers plus-5, Saints plus-2, Patriots minus-2 and the Browns money line into oblivion. The story outside of me falling short of getting my utilities paid this month is that the Browns were out of this one and brought themselves back into it. The defense made plays and Baker Mayfield and Nick Chubb capitalized on them, leading to the Browns’ fourth OT game this season. The Carl Nassib revenge game was in full effect, however, as the world’s premier spokesman of compound interest (and failing to woo Taylor Swift) recorded two sacks, including a timely one in overtime to force a punt that ended up on the ground, and a few plays later through the uprights as Jameis Winston and the Bucs ate a crucial W.

Lions 32, Dolphins 21: Kerryon My Wayward Johnson Part II

The Lions’ second round pick took over this game from the start and made it easy for Matthew Stafford, who simply needed to not turn the ball over for the Lions to win. This has proved difficult for Stafford in the past, but he only threw the ball 22 times in this game so the chance for error was significantly lower than years past when Stafford dropped back 60 times a game. Brock “The Heist” Osweiler didn’t play poorly either, but unfortunately for The Heist he was gifted with Laremy Tonsil as his left tackle-- the real sore throat of the Dolphins’ o-line. Osweiler did as he did last week with getting the ball to his skill players, but his, “actually awesome for Brock,” TD pass to Danny Amendola will go overshadowed by Albert Wilson sustaining what is reportedly a “significant” hip injury.

Saints 24, Ravens 23: Justin Tucker misses his first extra point

“It’s not automatic anymore,” proclaimed whatever color analyst was on this game, as he probably has every time there’s been an extra point attempt since the rule changed 100 years ago. Road Drew Brees is always a wildcard, but despite a lackluster statline by Drew Brees standards, Brees was as efficient as he needed to be in order to keep pace against a stout Baltimore defense, which was pretty damn efficient. But on the road in Baltimore even that was only good enough for overtime, which obviously didn’t happen. John Brown moved freely through the New Orleans defense in this one for 134 yards and a touchdown. Leaning on Flacco actually wasn’t a horrible idea with the lack of a pass rush from the Saints, with even Cameron Jordan being held relatively in check. The Saints get away with one here after the Justin Tucker missed extra point handed the W to New Orleans, but next week they look for redemption on Sunday night against the Vikings for the game in which a W was stolen from them last season.

Redskins 20, Cowboys 17: Redskins D among the elite

This is hardly a take as it should be well known by now. Washington’s front seven was annihilated last season, otherwise this could have happened earlier. Aside from their rookie 7th-round pick Greg Stroman taking the bait on a Michael Gallup double move, Washington’s defense was lights out at every single position for most of the game. The Great Wall of Dallas has nearly crumbled under the weight of time and health, and the mismatch on the front was the difference as Alex Smith and co. really couldn’t do much on offense. Dak’s ability to scramble is what kept the Cowboys in the game, but also what made this a game to have to stay in as his fumble returned for TD kept the game out of reach for the Cowboys. Even then, Dak drove down the field and put the Cowboys in a position to at least tie the game before long snapper LP Ladouceur was called for a snap infraction that put the Cowboys back five yards and led to the missed field goal by Brett Maher. Ladouceur says it’s the same natural motion he goes through each time he snaps the balls, even going through the same motion on the following play.

Rams 39, 49ers 10: Turnovers.

Even though the Rams offense hit a speed bump early in this one there was no chance CJ Beathard would play mistake free. It didn’t take long for the Rams to capitalize on two interceptions and a Matt Breida fumble to create a deficit that was too much to overcome. There’s not much else to say in this game, Aaron Donald had four sacks though. He’s good, if you haven’t heard.

Chiefs 45, Bengals 10 (SNF) - Alright Chiefs, we get it

Why the Chiefs felt the need to go for it on 4th-down up 28 in the 4th quarter is beyond me. I feel no nothing for Patrick Mahomes, who was viciously body shamed by X’s and O’s Twitter this week after his charts made the rounds. Weighing in at 230 pounds, the original pranksters took to calling him, “Fatrick Mahomes.” I feel less and less inclined to empathetic inklings as Husky Mahomes careens toward the annoying category of NFL coverage, one he may have blew a hole through Sunday night when NBC somehow acquired and subsequently aired footage of a 10-year old Mahomes playing youth basketball. It should be a message for all of us: film all of your child’s youth sports in case someone he or she plays with or against becomes a star, then sell the footage on the quarterblack market and become a millionaire.

So keep showboating that offense Kansas City, it’ll sure payoff when you play a team that doesn’t have Andy Dalton at QB and can actually keep up against your all-world, municipal waste defense.

MNF: Giants @ Falcons; 8:15pm (ESPN & Westwood One)

John Andersen is an award-winning NFL journalist and has written books on Jackie Battle and Jerricho Cotchery, maybe. You can follow John on Twitter @_JohnAndersen.

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