NFL Schedule Week 7: Late Games with Divisional Implications

Mike MoraitisAnalyst IOctober 16, 2012

SEATTLE, WA - OCTOBER 14: Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots celebrates after throwing a touchdown pass in the first half against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on againstOctober 14, 2012 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

There are several great matchups in Week 7 of the NFL season, but some of the late games will have major divisional implications on both Sunday's schedule and Monday night.

Let's take a look at the games that fit the bill.


New York Jets vs. New England Patriots (Sunday, Oct. 21 at 4:25 p.m. ET on CBS)

Things have gone almost as bad as possible for the Jets this season, yet they find themselves tied for the AFC East lead with the Patriots after six games.

New York had an impressive showing in Week 7, crushing the Indianapolis Colts, 35-9.

For the first time this season, the Jets got a breakout performance from running back Shonn Greene, but the passing attack is still in major trouble after gaining only 99 yards through the air. At this point, Mark Sanchez's options are limited thanks to an injury to Santonio Holes and an inexperienced receiving corps.

The Pats didn't have as good a week as the Jets, dropping a close game late to the Seattle Seahawks, 24-23.

New England has been balanced on both sides of the ball this season, however Tom Brady was forced to win the game against the Seahawks with his arm. The Hall of Fame quarterback was able to throw for 395 yards and two scores with two picks, but got no support from his rushing attack.

The Jets have been good against the pass this season, ranking No. 5 in the NFL. The run has been a different story however, with New York near the bottom of the league at No. 28. That should help the Pats establish the run and open up a Jets pass defense that is without its best player, Darrelle Revis.

Luckily for the Jets, the Pats have been terrible against the pass this season (No. 28 in the league), and, seeing as New England does have the ability to shut down the run, Sanchez must take advantage of the Patriots through the air in order move the ball down the field.

New York might have gotten by against Andrew Luck without their star corner, but Brady is far too good to let Revis' absence go unexploited. The Jets don't have enough in their secondary to stop the Pats through the air, and that should open up the rushing attack for New England and an overall huge day for the offense.

Patriots 31, Jets 17


Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cincinnati Bengals (Sunday, Oct. 21 at 8:20 p.m. ET on NBC)

Thanks to a ton of injuries on the defensive end as well as some close victories this year, the Baltimore Ravens aren't looking as unbeatable as their record would suggest.

That's why this matchup for second place in the AFC North is so important.

The Steelers are coming off a disappointing loss to the Tennessee Titans in which their rushing attack let them down, failing to break the 60-yard mark in the defeat. The Titans have been pretty bad against the run, so there's no guarantee that Rashard Mendenhall and Isaac Redman will finally get it going for the No. 31 ranked rushing attack in the NFL.

Pittsburgh's key to success will be moving the ball through the air against the Bengals No. 17 ranked pass defense. Big Ben has had success throwing the ball this season, but it won't be as easy as it was last week as the Bengals are a step up from the Titans defensively.

The Bengals should be very motivated to play this game against a division rival after getting embarrassed by the worst team in the league last week, the Cleveland Browns.

Cincinnati is a one-dimensional offense right now, with a passing attack that is ranked No. 7 and a rushing attack that is ranked No. 21. That needs to change this week against an experienced Steelers defense that will make it difficult to move the ball in the first place.

Pittsburgh has been solid against both the pass and run this season, ranking No. 4 and No. 10, respectively. Things aren't likely to get any easier for the Bengals on the ground in this game and it could be even worse through the air.

If Cincy doesn't get their bread and butter going, the passing attack, the run game will suffer as a result. The Bengals are just not good enough defensively to survive a low-scoring game with the Steelers, thus making this matchup favorable for Pittsburgh.

Steelers 24, Bengals 14


Detroit Lions vs. Chicago Bears (Monday, Oct. 22 at 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN)

Despite a horrid start for the Lions (2-3), they are only two games out of the division lead at the moment with the Bears leading the pack at 4-1.

A huge win over the Philadelphia Eagles last week has the Lions riding high after three consecutive losses. A win over the Bears would really give the Lions major momentum and hope moving forward.

Matthew Stafford has been able to avoid mistakes after throwing three picks in the first game of the season, but the Lions quarterback has only gotten into the end zone four times in five games.

Detroit has been trying to get the rushing attack going this year, but have been mostly unsuccessful thus far, ranking 19th in the NFL. A fact that doesn't bode well against the Bears' No. 1 ranked rush defense.

If they are to have any hope at moving the ball in this game, the Lions must get the passing attack off the ground and only then can they have success with the run.

The Bears are well rested coming off a bye week, but if their 41-3 dismantling of the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 6 is evidence of anything, it's that the Bears will not play down to their competition.

Chicago should be able to move the ball through the air and on the ground against the Lions, who rank No. 16 and No. 12 against the pass and run, respectively. Quarterback Jay Cutler has been able to avoid mistakes in the past three games, throwing four touchdowns against two interceptions during that stretch.

But the Bears would love to get more yardage through the air from Cutler, and establishing the run will help them do that. Exploiting the weaker part of the Lions defense, Matt Forte and Michael Bush should be more than enough to soften up Detroit's front line, opening up the rest of the field for Cutler to move the ball.

The Lions simply aren't looking like the explosive offense from a year ago and that makes them perfect candidates to be eaten up by the Bears defense. Without an ability to move the ball with consistency, Detroit will be forced to play better defense to win this game. 

That's not how they won games before, and that's not about to change now. 

Bears 28, Lions 10