There is no question week seven of the NFL season is filled with a slew of huge divisional games sprinkled with saucy games of interest. How will the early game play out?
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons: Matt Ryan Flatlining
A glimmer of hope appeared for both of these struggling teams when New Orleans fell late last week against New England. Mike Glennon has shown some improvement for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers while the Atlanta Falcons try to move on from the tragic loss of Julio Jones. Matt Ryan excels as a game manager when he must but considering the weakness of his offensive line and no Steven Jackson, it will be difficult if his defense can’t get a few stops. It will come down to which quarterback can make more plays.
Final score: T.B. 23, ATL 26
St. Louis Rams at Carolina Panthers: Sam Bradford Smothered
Sam Bradford has proven he can make some plays when put in an advantageous position either by his running game or his defense, as was proven last week against Houston. However, the opposite is true when his offensive line starts losing the battle up front. That is something the Carolina Panthers do well. Their defensive front is one of the best in football. Meanwhile, Cam Newton and his strong ground attack face a St. Louis Rams run defense that ranks near the bottom of the league. In a game defined by control of the trenches, it does not bode well for the Rams unless they can get out to a lead early.
Final score: STL 14, CAR 30
Cincinnati Bengals at Detroit Lions: Rush, Rush, Rush
Two of the best defensive lines in the NFL take center stage in this game. The Detroit Lions have home field advantage and face a quarterback in Andy Dalton who is not known for his mobility. On the other side Matthew Stafford is probably the better of the two but he also is not exactly great under pressure. This game should become a test of which team can establish the run and handle the others pass rush. Keep a close eye on Geno Atkins and Ndamukong Suh. Whomever has the bigger day should be the winner.
Final score: CIN 21, DET 17
San Diego Chargers at Jacksonville Jaguars: Philip Rivers Cruise Control
What was scary about Monday Night in week six was that the San Diego Chargers didn’t need a big game from Philip Rivers to beat a good Indianapolis team. Now they take that momentum southeast to play a gutty but overmatched Jacksonville Jaguars team. Rivers might not succeed in the early going but as the game wears on the talent levels will start to show. The Jaguars simply don’t have the firepower or efficiency on offense to keep up with an experienced quarterback like Rivers.
Final score: S.D. 34, JAC 20
Thaddeus Lewis caught Cincinnati by surprise last week and nearly pulled the upset of the year for the Buffalo Bills. The question is was it a fluke and is he healthy enough to complete what he started against the Miami Dolphins. After a solid start to the season, the Fins are reeling somewhat from their humbling game in New Orleans. Buffalo is almost certain to try to exploit their offensive line which was manhandled by the Saints. Ryan Tannehill hopes he gets some help from his run game and gets enough time to find his talented receivers. At the same time he better keep a close eye on where rookie linebacker Kiko Alonso is at all times.
Final score: BUF 20, MIA 23
Geno Smith had a rough go of it the last time he played the New England Patriots. However there are some positives to take into consideration. His New York Jets are at home and the Patriots won’t have their top three defenders available in Vince Wilfork, Jarod Mayo and Aqib Talib. Smith is also coming off a bad game against Pittsburgh, and history shows he plays very well coming off a bad performance. The question is can the Jets defense frustrate Tom Brady enough?
Final score: N.E. 24, NYJ 27
Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles: Can Tony Romo match Chip?
They may have frustrated RGIII but the Dallas Cowboys defense can’t cover up their horrendous injury problem along the defensive line. The Philadelphia Eagles offensive line ranks first in the NFL in run blocking and ninth in passing. With DeMarcus Ware questionable for the game, it’s hard to see where Dallas can get it’s pressure from. That is why Tony Romo better be ready to put up points. He should have a good chance to as the Eagles defense is second-worst in the league against the pass. This game has all the feelings of a shootout.
Final score: DAL 31, PHI 34
Two teams featuring two quarterbacks going in opposite directions. Jay Cutler has steadily improved his game for the Chicago Bears under the careful guidance of head coach Marc Trestman. Robert Griffin III has spent six weeks trying to shake off the rust of no off-season after ACL surgery. The Washington Redskins are on the ropes and need a victory badly. Chicago has a chance to enter their bye week 5-2. In a game highlighted by offenses, it will be the defense that doesn’t fold that decides it. Washington can’t stop the run or the pass with any regularity while the Bears are dealing with a load of injuries along their front seven. Turnovers could prove crucial.
Final score: CHI 27, WAS 26