NFL Week 7: Previewing the Week's Best Matchups
The NFL season is about a third of the way over and there have been plenty of surprises.
There is a 4-way tie for first (and last) in the AFC East as all four teams are 3-3. There is also a 3-way tie in the NFC West as the Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals are all 4-2. The Atlanta Falcons are the only undefeated team at 6-0.
There are some good matchups heading into Week 7. The Seahawks and 49ers kick things off on Thursday. The week comes to an ends with a NFC North battle between the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears.
It’s going to be another exciting week as the best teams start to separate themselves from the pack and look towards the playoffs.
Seahawks vs. 49ers
Russell Wilson finished 16-of-27 for 293 yards and 3 touchdowns.
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Two of the league’s best defenses go head-to-head in prime time on Thursday night.
The Seattle Seahawks are coming off a huge victory against the New England Patriots. Russell Wilson found Sidney Rice wide open for a touchdown with 1:18 left in the 4th quarter.
The Seahawks defense picked off Tom Brady twice and held the Patriots to only 87 rushing yards.
The 49ers are known for their run defense, but it didn’t show on Sunday. New York Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw scored the first rushing touchdown allowed by the 49ers at home in 13 games. Bradshaw and rookie David Wilson rushed for 151 yards combined.
With the NFC West looking tougher than usual, a divisional win means so much for both teams. Owning the tie-breaker could be the difference between a top seed or a wild-card spot.
The Seahawks plan to run with Marshawn Lynch against the 49ers, who showed they are susceptible to the run. The Seahawks gave up 395 passing yards to Brady. Although Alex Smith is no Tom Brady, it’s no surprise that the Seahawks have trouble with the pass.
Redskins vs. Giants
RGIII sealed the game with a 76-yard touchdown in the 4th quarter.
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The Washington Redskins and New York Giants both had impressive wins on Sunday.
Washington's rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III suffered a concussion last week against the Atlanta Falcons, but showed no signs of it as he ran for 138 yards and two touchdowns verse the Vikings.
Their defense also had a good game as they held All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson to only 76 yards and picked off Christian Ponder twice. Griffin’s late 4th quarter run sealed the game and put the Redskins at 3-3.
It seems like the Giants didn’t get the memo that the San Francisco 49ers are known for their good run defense. Ahmad Bradshaw followed his 200-yard game against the Cleveland Browns last week with 116 yards and a touchdown on Sunday.
Eli Manning had an average game with 194 yards and only one touchdown. He didn’t need to do much though, when the running game worked so well.
The defending Super Bowl champions have a one-game lead in the division. A loss on Sunday will put these two teams in a tie, but a win will give the Giants a commanding lead. A divisional win for the Redskins will prove that Griffin is ready to take the team out from the bottom of the NFC East and back into the playoffs.
Ravens vs. Texans
The absence of Ray Lewis will force the Ravens defense to step up.
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The Baltimore Ravens and Houston Texans are tied in the AFC at 5-1.
The Ravens defense isn’t what it used to be in years past. The absence of linebacker Terrell Suggs has been noticeable. The defense is giving up 260 passing and 136 rushing yards per game this season. The averages can only get higher as Ray Lewis and Lardarius Webb are now out for the year.
The team will now rely on the arm of Joe Flacco even more. He averages 272 passing yards a game. With weapons like Ray Rice, Torrey Smith and Dennis Pitta, the Ravens have the ability to put up 30 points a game
The Texans are dealing with their fair share of injuries as well. Linebacker Brian Cushing tore his ACL against the New York Jets in Week 5. Six days later, the Texans got torched by Aaron Rodgers, who had six touchdowns. Matt Schaub and backup TJ Yates were picked off three times combined.
Many would say that Foster, Schaub and the Texans are in line for another tough game, but with all the injuries to the Ravens defense, that may not be the case.
Both teams have a commanding lead in their respective divisions. However, these two teams could meet in the AFC Championship game, so a win here could determine home-field advantage.
Steelers vs. Bengals
Rashard Mendenhall will provide a spark for the struggling Steelers.
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The AFC North was the only division to have three teams make the playoffs last year. The Baltimore Ravens won the division while the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals won the wild-card spots.
The Steelers sit at 2-3 after suffering losses to the Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders and Tennessee Titans.
They have also been dealing with injuries. Safety Troy Polamalu aggravated his calf injury against the Philadelphia Eagles. Linebackers LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison were also dealing with injuries, but seem to be recovered.
Running back Rashard Mendenhall returned in Week 4 against the Eagles and looked like he had played all season.
However, he injured his Achilles tendon against the Titans. According to ESPN, the injury seemed to be a minor one as he looks to be ready for Sunday.
The Bengals lead the Steelers by only a half of a game in the standings. Andy Dalton and AJ Green continue to build off of their magical 2011 season. Green has 628 yards and six touchdowns in six games.
The addition of BenJarvus Green-Ellis compliments the passing attack well. He has 362 yards rushing and two touchdowns.
The Steelers need a win here more than anything. They cannot afford to fall to 2-4 in the tough AFC. Their schedule doesn’t get much easier as they play the Washington Redskins and New York Giants in Weeks 8 and 9, respectively.
Lions vs. Bears
Linebacker Lance Briggs has two interceptions returned for touchdowns.
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
The final game of Week 7 is a clash between two NFC North teams.
The Chicago Bears are one of the NFC’s surprising teams as they sit 4-1 atop their division.
They are second in the league in scoring, averaging almost 30 points a game. Jay Cutler is having an average season with seven touchdowns and seven interceptions.
Michael Bush is showing why the Bears signed him to back up Matt Forte. In replacement for Forte, Bush has 206 yards and three touchdowns.
Yet, the defense has stepped up big time. They are first in points allowed per game with 14.2 and rushing yards allowed with 65.8. They have a total of 13 interceptions, five of which were returned for touchdowns.
This Lions offense is a shell of what it was last year. Matt Stafford has thrown for only four touchdowns and Calvin Johnson has only one touchdown reception, which came on a throw from backup quarterback Shaun Hill.
Teams are double teaming Megatron, forcing Stafford to throw to Titus Young and the aging Nate Burleson.
The defense isn’t doing them any favors. They are allowing 27.4 points per game. The defense has only 12 sacks and two interceptions, which is 18th and 27th in the league respectively.
If things keep going south for the Lions, it will prove that they were a fluke last year. With Megatron and Stafford leading the offense, the Lions are too good and too young to fail. A win on Monday will pull them within a game of the Bears.