Tuesday, October 25, 2016

NFL Week 7 Review

TNF - Green Bay 26, Chicago 10 - This one was pretty much par for the course, was it not? A game between the Packers and the Bears will likely go Green Bay's way, especially up at Lambeau. Even when Aaron Rodgers is not playing quite on the elite level that he has played for many years now (although he still is playing quite well compared to most other quarterbacks), you just kind of figure that the Bears are going to get beaten down. That is especially true when Chicago has been as bad as it has been this season in particular. Not much to elaborate on here, right? Moving on...

NY Giants 17, Los Angeles Rams 10 - The Giants managed to defeat the Rams on the road in London, which means that they are 2-0 throughout their history in these games at Wembley Stadium. The last time that they won there, it was against the Dolphins, and the Giants went on to win one of the most memorable Super Bowls ever that season. Not sure that this team is capable of something like that, although this was a good and much needed win that keeps the G-Men in the race in the NFC East, at least, despite officially being in sole possession of last place still. As for the Rams, a third straight loss now puts them in serious trouble, and they desperately need a win very soon, being in the tough NFC West.

Kansas City 27, New Orleans 21 - Another game that pretty much went according to script. Kansas City is the better team entering this game against the Saints, and despite New Orleans hanging tough, the Chiefs wound up winning it in the end. Much as everyone expected, for the most part, as KC look to stay on pace with the Raiders and the Broncos in the AFC West, while the Saints are desperately clinging and trying not to drown in too many losses this early in the season. KC's victory here was what most would have expected. Next...

Philadelphia 21, Minnesota 10 - Well, that didn't last long! No teams managed to reach 6-0 this season, as the last remaining unbeaten team in the NFL, the Minnesota Vikings, fell to Philly. The Vikings still have a solid defense, although it did not look quite as dominant in this game (a loss) as it had to this point, when they were piling up wins. The Eagles ended their two game losing streak to pull off probably their biggest win of the season to date, and to jump back ahead of Washingon in the NFC East race, and to keep within striking distance of the 'Boys.

Detroit 20, Washington 17 - Another fairly big winning streak comes crashing to an end, as the Detroit Lions suddenly look like a serious team themselves. Yes, Washington had a solid four game winning streak entering this one, but it ended in the Motor City. The Lions needed a tremendous comeback in order to do it, as the offense orchestrated a six play, 75 yard drive in less than a minute to pull this one off. Alquan Boldin caught an 18-yard touchdown pass from Matthew Stafford with just 16 seconds left in the game to pull off the huge, come from behind win. Both teams walk away from this game with identical 4-3 records.

Miami 28, Buffalo 25 - As I was saying about big winning streaks coming crashing down, Buffalo got beat by Miami, another team that is suddenly coming alive. A week after stunning Pittsburgh, the Dolphins beat the Bills in Miami. Jay Ajayi was especially impressive, pulling off the extremely rare feat of running for over 200 yards in two consecutive games, an accomplishment only done a handful of times before. Ajayi had become the first running back to run for 200 yards in one game against the Steelers, and the very next weekend, he repeated the feat again this past weekend. Only OJ Simpson (twice in 1973 and 1976), Earl Campbell (1980), and Ricky Williams (2002) have managed the feat during the Super Bowl era. That kind of production helped the Dolphins edge the Bills.

Cincinnati 31, Cleveland 17 - Well, the Cavaliers finally ended the sports curse over the city of Cleveland, and the Indians look like they might make this a miraculous, two championship city for 2016. But it's nice to know that some things never change, right? Yes, the Browns continue to lose as always. This time, they got pounded by their cross state rivals, the Bengals, to remain winless at 0-7. Next up for the Brownies will be the New York Jets, who just ended their massive losing streak, and will try to pull off a second win in a row in Cleveland. As for the Bengals, a solid win that helps put them back in striking position in the AFC North, particularly after the recent struggles of both the Ravens and the Steelers.

Oakland 33, Jacksonville 16 - The Raiders got back on track, taking care of business with a convincing win in Jacksonville. Oakland really took over the game in the second quarter, and then essentially held the Jaguars off throughout the second half. The win gave Oakland coach Jack Del Rio a victory over his former team, and his team looked solid on both sides of the ball, raising their overall record to 5-2, and in a first place tie with the Super Bowl champion Broncos in the AFC West. In the meanwhile, the Jaguars have dropped three straight, and are now 2-4 on the year, and rumors have begun to swirl regarding coach Gus Bradley's future.

NY Jets 24, Baltimore 16 - The Jets finally ended their dreadful losing streak by handing the Ravens their fourth straight loss. New York was efficient on offense, although hardly spectacular. After getting benched and watching Gino Smith start, Ryan Fitzpatrick came off the bench to save the game for New York. The defense was very solid, containing Flacco and the Ravens offense to a pedestrian 16 points overall. For Baltimore, this is another stinging loss in a season that is quickly spiraling out of control, if they are not careful.

San Diego 33, Atlanta 30 - Now, this result was unexpected. Just when you start thinking that the Falcons are for real, with some impressive road wins, and a close loss at Seattle, one of the toughest places to play, the Falcons get knocked off at home by the Chargers. True, San Diego is probably better than their record indicates, but the Falcons finally looked like they were a serious team capable of running away with the NFC South. Instead, this loss more or less lets the Buccaneers right back into the race, and fails to put away the lowly Saints and the surprisingly bad Panthers. For the Chargers, this was a second straight win after a miserable stretch where they found remarkable ways to keep losing games, so this one was a huge win when it was most needed. The Falcons drop to 4-3, while the Chargers raise their record to 3-4, staying alive within the AFC West race.

Tampa Bay 34, San Francisco 17 - Any chance that the 49ers had of making something out of this season, however slim those chances may have been, essentially went out the window with this loss. Tampa Bay fought from behind to win on the road, and in a weak NFC South, they managed to at least stay in the picture. In the meantime, San Francisco dropped their sixth straight game and, right now, are solidly the basement team in a tough division. For the Bucs, however, they get their second straight win, and return back to .500 as midseason approaches, and they find themselves still in position to make a run for the playoffs.

New England 27, Pittsburgh 16 - Okay, so it appears that Brady and the Patriots are back to elite form once again. They had a tough road game against a strong opponent, but it was the same old result, with New England's mastery over Pittsburgh making Steelers fan scratch their heads. The Steelers are an accomplished team, but the one thing that they have never done with any degree of consistency is beat the Patriots during the Belichik-Brady era. This was a big showdown, and it did not go any better for the Steelers today, either. Brady stayed hot, completing 19 of 26 passes for 222 yards and two touchdowns, while LaGarrette Blount ran for 127 yards, as the New England offense pulled away to secure a tough road win, moving their record up to 6-1, and opening up a two game lead on the Buffalo Bills, who lost to Miami this past weekend. As for the Steelers, this is their second straight loss, and they urgently need a win to stop the bleeding.

(SNF) Arizona 6, Seattle 6 (Final/OT) - A tie is a rarity in the NFL, with usually, at most, one tie per season (if that). Well, this may be the only one we see this season, although it is not perhaps that surprising that it happened between these two teams. The Cardinals simply could not afford to lose this game, while the Seahawks wanted to come away with a big lead in the NFC West. Nobody won, but nobody lost, either, and what this game establishes now is that the Seahawks are the best in the NFC West, while the Cardinals are the second place team, now outright ahead of the Los Angeles Rams. This was a slow, defensive slug fest.

MNF - Denver 24, Houston 9 - Rather predictably, the Texans got dominated in Denver. They were fighting for a while, there, holding a 6-0 lead until well into the second quarter. Eventually, however, the Broncos offense got in gear, and the Texans just could not keep up. This was particularly true of their offense, and Brock Osweiler had a particularly bad day.  He completed 22 of 41 passes for just 131 yards, with no touchdowns and no interceptions. If there was anyone in the Denver area who felt bad about letting Osweiler go to Houston for $71 million, it is safe to assume that they are feeling a whole lot better about that now. Denver obviously wanted to win this game and, in particular, wanted some revenge against their former quarterback. However, this was just a humiliation. The Texans may be the best in the AFC South, but that is only because that division is so bad. They are not likely going anywhere anytime soon. As for Denver, what a huge victory, particularly for their suffocating defense. The Broncos end a two-game losing streak and move their overall record to 5-2 and, for now, are back alone atop the AFC West division. 

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