This week, the top teams in the league put the bottom-feeders in their places. The NFL has championed the parity in their league over the past few years, but this season, it's not here. There are more really bad teams this year than there's been in recent memory.
There was another important trend that showed up this week: the AFC dominated the NFC, going 6-2 this week. Overall, the AFC has a very slim 16-15 lead over the NFC, but Week Seven gave way to the biggest margin of victory for either conference this season.
Cincinnati (5-2) def. Chicago (3-3), 45-10: The Bengals salted this away pretty early. They dominated in every phase and never once gave the Bears any hope. Chicago's defense looked lost and confused without Brian Urlacher and Tommie Harris. Jay Cutler reverted back to his Week-One self and the Bears will not be successful with him playing that way.
Green Bay (4-2) def. Cleveland (1-6), 31-3: Why did Cleveland show up? Cleveland fans would have seen the same effort regardless. Joshua Cribbs is the Browns' only bright spot and even he was held out of the end zone. The Pack did everything right, even keeping Aaron Rodgers' jersey clean. They now get ready for one of the biggest games of the year as a certain No. 4 makes his way back to Lambeau next week.
San Diego (3-3) def. Kansas City (1-6), 37-7: Kansas City played San Diego extremely close last year...not so much this year. Philip Rivers seemed comfortable all game long as he picked apart the Chiefs' secondary. San Diego put on their best offensive display of 2009 and Kansas City seemed powerless to stop it.
Indianapolis (6-0) def. St. Louis (0-7), 42-6: Yet another blowout. Like always, Peyton Manning was excellent and the rest of his offense followed suit. There wasn't too much else of note in this game except for another phenomenal performance from Steven Jackson. It's amazing how defenses only key in on him and he still manages to break a hundred yards.
Pittsburgh (5-2) def. Minnesota (6-1), 27-17: Both defenses played well considering the circumstances, but this game came down to big plays. Big plays like Pittsburgh stopping Minnesota three times at the goal line. Big plays like Pittsburgh's two defensive touchdowns in the fourth. And big plays like Percy Harvin's kickoff return for a touchdown. In the end, Minnesota dominated time of possession and put up more yards, but the Steelers simply made more plays.
New England (5-2) def. Tampa Bay (0-7), 35-7: If I hadn't already heard that the NFL is going back to England, I would have hoped that this "contest" would be the last one. Anyway, the Pats did what they should have done and beat Tampa handily. Josh Freeman made his way into the game and will now probably be handed the reigns.
Houston (4-3) def. San Francisco (3-3), 24-21: The Texans were completely dominating this game until Alex Smith made his return into the Niners lineup. Smith immediately made an impact, leading three scoring drives and nearly orchestrating a comeback. Houston seemed to let up a bit and take their eyes off the prize. This game was a microcosm of how inconsistent each team's season has been. Neither will be more than a one-and-done playoff team until they play more consistently.
New York Jets (4-3) def. Oakland (2-5), 38-0: The Jets won this game easily, but the loss of Leon Washington hurts. He does so much for the Jets and he will be sorely missed. For Oakland, they finally benched JaMarcus Russell. Apparently he'll start next week, which begs the question: How much longer can they stick with Russell while he puts up horrible numbers? On top of that, he took no responsibility for his play.
Buffalo (3-4) def. Carolina (2-4), 20-9: Buffalo used the same formula to beat the Panthers as they did in beating the Jets: Force the quarterback to turn the ball over. Fortunately for the Bills, Jake Delhomme has been a turnover machine this year. He looks like he's lost all of his confidence, which means it may be time for John Fox to sit him down.
Dallas (4-2) def. Atlanta (4-2), 37-21: This was the most complete game the Cowboys have played in a long time. Dallas' pass rush finally showed up and harassed Matt Ryan. Tony Romo played mistake-free ball. Miles Austin played like a true No. 1 receiver again. The running game fell into place. Despite a fragile psyche, everything worked very well for the 'Boys in a game they needed.
As for Atlanta, they have some things that they need to iron out. They haven't looked all that great in three of their last four games, and good teams catch on to weaknesses when teams go through shaky stretches like this.
New Orleans (6-0) def. Miami (2-4), 46-34: Miami looked great in the first half. They managed to make Drew Brees look human and the Wildcat was very successful. Then, New Orleans exploded. This is the kind of win that prepares teams for the playoffs. Most of the Saints' other games have been blowout victories and they needed to be tested a little bit. They passed this test with flying colors while Miami let a huge win slip from their grasp.
Arizona (4-2) def. New York Giants (5-2), 24-17: Arizona played great defense to beat the Giants. Their secondary was all over the place and they forced Eli Manning to make poor decisions. New York's receivers looked like they had been reading their press clippings, not playing at all well. This is the first game this season where it really looked like Plaxico Burress would have made a big difference. He was Eli's safety blanket and the Giants certainly needed one.
The Cardinals played their best game of the year and with the Niners' steady slide, it looks like Arizona is poised to win the NFC West again and make another run.
Philadelphia (4-2) def. Washington (2-5), 27-17: Washington made far too many mistakes to beat Philly. The sole reason that this game was this close was due to how the Redskins' defense played. After giving up huge plays to Philly in the first half, they settled down and held the Eagles scoreless in the second half. Unfortunately their offense could not move the ball consistently.
Top 12 Teams (Last week's ranking in parenthesis)
- New Orleans Saints (1): They've won plenty of games via blowouts and now they've proven they can come back against a decent team. Next week they get a tough divisional test. Next week: vs. Atlanta (4-2)
- Indianapolis Colts (2): They beat up on a horrible team on Sunday, just like they should. Next week: vs. San Francisco (3-3)
- Denver Broncos (4): Coming off of this week's bye, their schedule gets much tougher. They'll have to play great football to stay up here. Next week: at Baltimore (3-3)
- Pittsburgh Steelers (6): They got a very good win and finally held off a fourth quarter comeback. Next week: BYE
- Minnesota Vikings (3): They played well enough to win in Pittsburgh, but you cannot get into the red zone five times and only come away with 10 points. Next week: at Green Bay (4-2)
- New England Patriots (7): Like the Colts, they're destroying the teams they should beat. Next week: BYE
- Arizona Cardinals (11): They beat the Giants in the Meadowlands with great defense. They are finally beginning to click. Next week: vs. Carolina (2-4)
- Philadelphia Eagles (9): They bounced back from an embarrassing defeat as they head into a huge divisional game. Next week: vs. New York Giants (5-2)
- New York Giants (5): There may be a little bit of concern for the G-Men. Nothing huge, but a little bit. Next week: at Philadelphia (4-2)
- Cincinnati Bengals (12): Cincy made the Bears look weak and confused throughout their entire game. If they play like that every week, than they can beat anybody. Next week: BYE
- Atlanta Falcons (8): Something is holding this team back. They could be great, but they need to work some things out first. Next week: at New Orleans (6-0)
- Baltimore Ravens (10): They need to play much better defense if they are going to stay with the Bengals and the Steelers in the AFC North. Next week: vs. Denver (6-0)
Week Seven is now in the books. I hope that you enjoyed this and be sure to check out my picks on Friday.