It's hard to believe the halfway point of the NFL season is already right around the corner. Things move quickly in a season with just 16 games, which means the mad dash to the playoff begins early for teams hovering around .500 after the early weeks.
Even though the must-win games are still weeks away, teams have the opportunity to make progress now to avoid having to go on a major hot streak late in the year to qualify for the postseason.
It all comes down to taking advantage of opportunities.
With that in mind, let's examine one team from each conference that is going to score a critical victory in Week 7, followed by a complete list of picks for the week's slate.
NFC: Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles haven't been playing anywhere near their potential so far.
When you combine the number of playmakers on Philadelphia's roster and Chip Kelly's uptempo style, the team has a lot of upside once everybody settles in—which inevitably takes time.
Luckily for the Eagles, nobody in the NFC East has pulled away from the pack. In fact, a win over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday will put them in sole control of the division, having already scored triumphs over the Washington Redskins and New York Giants.
Last week, Philadelphia finally started showing signs of serious progress. Nick Foles was terrific in leading the aerial attack, LeSean McCoy continues to be one of the league's most versatile weapons and the defense was allowed to attack instead of having to sit on its heels the whole game.
The result was a victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to get back to .500.
The task is tougher this week against the Cowboys, but the game plan should remain the same. If the Eagles put constant pressure on Tony Romo and play quick on offense, they will take charge of the division.
Prediction: Eagles 38, Cowboys 35
AFC: Miami Dolphins
Miami has been an afterthought in the AFC East. The New England Patriots continue to thrive, which isn't a major surprise, but the rookie quarterbacks leading the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills have also stolen the spotlight.
However, the Dolphins sit in second place ahead of those teams.
Coming off a bye, Miami welcomes Buffalo to town. It presents an opportunity for Miami not only to keep building toward the playoffs, but also provide a major blow to the Bills' hopes. Buffalo is dealing with a boatload of injury issues, led by EJ Manuel.
The Dolphins' passing game has taken a step forward, but now's the time to get the rushing attack to join the party. Buffalo ranks 28th in rushing yards allowed per game, so there's no reason for lackluster production from Lamar Miller and Co.
Ryan Tannehill is certainly trending in the right direction, but he's not a quarterback ready to carry an offense. If the Dolphins can get the running game back on track, then they will be ready to compete for a playoff spot.
This week is a perfect chance to begin that process.
Prediction: Dolphins 24, Bills 20
Week 7 Predictions