There are numerous intriguing matchups in Week 7 of the NFL season. That includes pivotal divisional matchups that will have lasting effects as the season progresses.
Sunday Night Football features an AFC North matchup while Monday Night Football will showcase an NFC North battle. Both of these games could shake up the current power structure within each division.
The surprising St. Louis Rams and their much-improved defense will host the Green Bay Packers in the dome in St. Louis. Something has got to give there.
Let’s take a look at each of the top matchups this weekend and find out where you need to go to find the action.
Green Bay Packers (3-3) at St. Louis Rams (3-3)
When: Sunday, Oct. 21 at 1 p.m. ET
Where: Edward Jones Dome, St. Louis, Missouri
TV: FOX & DirecTV 707
The Green Bay Packers are coming off of a Monday night spanking of the Houston Texans. Aaron Rodgers tied a franchise record for touchdowns in a game with six.
It’s a short week for the Pack, and they travel again to another hostile environment.
However, despite the Rams' defensive progress, it’s hard to imagine they’ll continue with that type of success against Rodgers and his high-powered offense. That’s especially true because they’re playing in the dome.
Speaking of the dome, the Rams are 3-0 while playing at Edward Jones this season. They’ve used their stout defense to keep games close and keep themselves in the game.
They’ve seen relative success at 3-3 despite only scoring nine touchdowns, better only than the eight scored by the Oakland Raiders and the Jacksonville Jaguars, who have scored only six times.
Washington Redskins (3-3) at New York Giants (4-2)
When: Sunday, Oct. 21 at 1 p.m. ET
Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.
TV: FOX & DirecTv 706
Robert Griffin III has more than exceeded expectations after the Redskins moved up to draft him No. 2 overall in the 2012 NFL draft. He’s done it all, through the air and on the ground, to lead the Skins to a respectable 3-3 start.
This week, Griffin III will face his toughest test to date. The NFC East division leading New York Giants know a little bit about what it takes to shut down a mobile quarterback.
In Week 3, the Giants harassed Cam Newton on Thursday Night Football and forced three interceptions from the second-year quarterback. They also bottled him up in the backfield with their physical defensive line. Newton was limited to just six yards on six carries on the ground.
Griffin III and the Redskins pose a bigger challenge than Newton’s Panthers, though. The Giants have shown they are susceptible to the run and the Redskins are second in the NFL with 166 yards per game on the ground.
Rookie tailback Alfred Morris and Griffin III will try their best to exploit the aggressiveness of the Giants defense in order to keep them on the field and control the tempo of the game.
If they can keep the ball out of Eli Manning’s hands they may be able to come up with a crucial Week 7 divisional win to pull them into a tie (pending results of the other NFC East teams’ games) for the division lead.
Pittsburgh Steelers (2-3) at Cincinnati Bengals (3-3)
When: Sunday, Oct. 21 at 8:20 p.m. ET
Where: Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio
The AFC North has been one of the most competitive divisions in the NFL over the past few years. In 2011, the group sent three of its four teams into the post season.
In 2012, though, only two teams in the AFC have winning records through six weeks with one—the Baltimore Ravens—coming from the North.
Pittsburgh has been battling injuries in their backfield, offensive line and defense while the Bengals have found themselves struggling to consistently move the ball on offense.
Despite those injuries, the Steelers have still maintained a top-10 defense. However, with Troy Polamalu ruled out again, the vertical passing game of Andy Dalton and the Bengals may be able to take flight.
The Steelers lost to the lowly 1-4 Tennessee Titans with Polamalu sitting in Week 6. They also lost center Maurkice Pouncey and running back Rashard Mendenhall during the game.
Cincy has to capitalize off these injuries and get after Ben Roethlisberger. The Steelers still have the weapons to hurt the Bengals secondary, but they don’t have an effective running game due to injuries or an offensive lineman to make holes and keep Big Ben upright.
Detroit Lions (2-3) at Chicago Bears (4-1)
When: Monday, Oct. 22 at 8:30 p.m. ET
Where: Soldier Field, Chicago, Illinois
Despite starting the 2012 season a disappointing 1-3, the Detroit Lions have performed well enough to win every game they’ve played in. However, injuries, struggles by the team’s special teams unit and turnover problems by quarterback Matthew Stafford have hampered them to this point.
Chicago, on the other hand, has had a relatively easy run of it so far. They have not played against a team who currently has a winning record. Collectively, their opponents are 11-16 while the Lions’ opponents are 17-14.
Look for the Lions pass rush to attempt to rattle Jay Cutler early. The last time the Bears played in primetime, they performed markedly better than their Thursday night meltdown against the Green Bay Packers in Week 2.
Detroit doesn’t run the football very well, and the Bears are the best in the game at defending it, allowing just 65.8 yards per game on the ground.
This game is going to come down to a Matthew Stafford and Jay Cutler showdown. The only question is, which version of each will show up?
Mike Hoag Jr. is a Breaking News Team writer with Bleacher Report and also covers the NFL and the Cleveland Browns for the site.