Join Date: Sep 2012
Week 7 Power Ten, Storylines, Game Balls
A lil late but at least I got it done. Midseason report coming next week
Week 7 Synopsis
1. Atlanta Falcons, 6-0 (1) - The Falcons are the league’s lone undefeated team, and they got a bye week to let it soak in. They can’t be too happy with their overall performances the past 3 weeks, and need to tighten up their sloppy play.
2. Chicago Bears, 5-1 (2) - Jay Cutler took a lot of heat after his performance against the Packers in week 2. To his credit, he has gone about business and played tough the past 4 games. Their defense is probably the best in the NFL so far this season, and the Cutler to Marshall connection is for real.
3. New York Giants, 5-2 (3) - DeAngelo Hall says they “gave” Eli Manning the 77-yard game-winning touchdown bomb to Victor Cruz. All Eli Manning had to say was “thanks“, and that Hall was right that it didn’t take a rocket scientist to hit the open man. We could call it a fluke if Manning hadn’t made a habit of scoring touchdowns in crunch time. Even if Hall hadn’t blown the coverage, Manning probably would have drove his team down the field for a touchdown one way or another.
4. Green Bay Packers, 4-3 (4) - It is a truly a season filled with adversity for the Packers. The latest news it that Charles Woodson will miss a month of action and Greg Jennings will need surgery. The good news is Rodgers is looking like an MVP again and if the team can keep finding ways to win, Jennings and Woodson will be healthy for the end of the season when they’ll really need them.
5. San Francisco 49ers, 5-2 (5) - Their game against the Seahawks last week was a classic slugfest between two of the league’s best defenses. The 49ers’ scored a huge divisional win in what looks to be a tightly contested divisional race.
6. Houston Texans, 6-1 (6) - The Texans didn’t show up for the Packer game, but they came out full force against the Ravens to claim AFC supremacy. It wasn’t surprising to see their offense come out strong against a depleted Raven defense, but it was a great sign that they shut down the Ravens’ high-powered offense without LB Brian Cushing.
7. New England Patriots, 4-3 (7) - There is a strong temptation to give the Patriots the benefit of the doubt based on their track record, but this is clearly not the dominant team we’re used to seeing. They are not doing a good job of closing out games, and the defense just can’t seem to right itself.
8. Denver Broncos, 3-3 (10) - It’s starting to seem clear why the Peyton Manning chose to the Broncos. Demaryus Thomas and Eric Decker look like one of the best WR duos in the league with Manning throwing them the ball, and the AFC West does not offer tough competition. The Broncos have survived a brutal opening schedule, and could easily run the table in divisional games.
9. Seattle Seahawks, 4-3 (9) - The Seahawks have a pretty nice formula. Pound the rock with Marshawn Lynch + Let their defense take it to every offense they play = play opponents tough every week. The Seahawks have played a tough opening schedule, and have only been involved in one game that was decided by more than a touchdown, (27-7 blowout of the Cowboys). They named Russell Wilson because they think he is a winner, and he has them with a winning record thus far. Plus, he’s the only QB in history to throw a game-winning interception.
10. Baltimore Ravens, 5-2 (10) - Their 43-13 loss to the Texans was probably the worst game this team has played in the John Harbaugh era. Ray Lewis may not be the force he once was, but he has been the face of the franchise for the past 15 years and they’re just not the same team without their general on the field.
Week 7 Storylines
1. Time for Flacco to step up
There was a bunch of talk early in the season about whether or not Joe Flacco is an elite QB. He has always been a winning quarterback, but he has never had to really the lead the team before. Because of the way injuries have devastated this team, they’re not going to be able to keep winning unless he steps up. He had a dreadful game against the Texans this week, but at 5-2, the Ravens are still in great shape. The bye week couldn’t have come at a better time, and the team should use it to regroup and get ready to rally around their quarterback.
2. Hasselbeck winning games for Tennessee
On fourth and long with a minute to go in the game, Hasselbeck hit Nate Washington with a 15-yard touchdown pass to win the game 35-34. Things looked grim in Tennessee after a 1-4 start and an injury to Jake Locker, but their veteran QB has found a way to win them their last 2 games. It isn’t hurting that Chris Johnson is regaining his form either.
3. Saints staging a comeback
It’s pretty rare that a team comes back from 0-4, but the Saints could potentially pull it off. They’ve won their last two and they will have Joe Vitt, who is serving as interim head coach, back on the sidelines. Jonathan Vilma is back on the field for now, and the defense has shown they are capable of making occasional stop in their comeback wins over the Chargers and Bucs. Drew Brees has been on fire the last couple weeks, and he will have to outduel Peyton Manning this week to keep the team’s winning streak going.
4. Eagles switch defensive coordinators
The Juan Castillo experiment was odd from the start, and this was a fitting end to it. It never made a great deal of sense for the Eagles to make an offensive line coach with no defensive coaching experience their defensive coordinator. As badly as things went last year, they probably should have dumped him in the offseason. Considering the amount of turnovers their offense has had, it’s impressive that the Eagles rank 11th in the league in scoring defense. During their bye week, the Eagles decided it was time for a change, and promoted secondary coach Todd Boyle to defensive coordinator. Maybe the Eagles should have kept Castillo around and had him coach up the offensive lineman, who have been doing an awful job in protection.
5. Jaguars banged up
The Jaguars were having a hard enough time winning before they got smacked by the injury bug. Without Maurice Jones-Drew and Blaine Gabbert, the Jaguars are clearly the worst team in the league. They blew a big lead to the Raiders and now have to travel to Green Bay for an almost certain ass-kicking.
6. Cardinals drop 3 straight
The Cardinals were flying high after their 4-0 start, but have to be feeling pretty low after losing winnable games against the Rams, Bills and Vikings. Things won’t be getting any easier for them, as their next 3 games are against the 49ers, Packers, and Falcons. The Cardinals have played their best football against tough competition and are going to need to find a way to win to pull out some wins in a stretch run against opponents with a combined record of 37-24.
7. Raiders showing signs of life
It’s easy to dismiss the Raiders as one of the worst teams in the league, but with their comeback win against the Jaguars, they are still very much in the AFC West race. With their next 2 games against the Chiefs and the Bucs, they have a great opportunity to get back to .500. The remainder of their schedule really isn’t that tough, but they will need to improve upon their 0-2 divisional record.
8. Bills cannot stop the run
After allowing 195 yards to Chris Johnson (who only had 301 rushing yards coming into the game), the Bills are now ranked dead last in rushing defense. They are giving up an astounding 176 yards per game on the ground at a clip of 6 yards per carry. To put that in perspective, that is nearly a full yard more per carry than the next worst team, and 15 yards more per game than the next worst. They’ve also allowed 13 rushing touchdowns, four more than any other team.
9. Stephen Jackson declining?
Jackson has been the centerpiece of the Rams’ offense for quite some time, but it seems as though he is being phased out. The Rams have only been giving him 14 carries per game, and he hasn’t rewarded them with great production. Rookie Daryl Richardson is averaging 1.3 more yards per carry than Jackson and his role may continue to grow as the season goes on.
10. Big-Play Givens
The Rams have dropped their last two, but their rookie receiver is on a remarkable streak. The unheralded fourth-round pick out of Wake Forest has now caught a pass for 50 yards or more in 4 straight games. For a guy who has only caught 10 passes this season, that is pretty remarkable. The Rams’ offense is efficient with Sam Bradford, but has lacked the big-play spark that Givens is bringing to the table.
1. HB Frank Gore, 49ers
In a grind-it-out defensive game, Gore was the difference maker for the 49ers. He broke several long runs right up the middle of a tough Seattle defense, averaging 8.6 yards per carry on the night. He also caught 5 passes for 51 yards, giving him 182 total yards on the day.
2. WR Lance Moore, Saints
Of course most of the credit for their shootout win over the Bucs goes to QB Drew Brees, but Lance Moore was in fine form in this game. With the running game not offering much production and Jimmy Graham ailing, it was on the wide receivers to step up. Moore caught nine of ten passes thrown his way and led the team in receiving with 121 yards. Moore isn’t a flashy player, but he has been with Brees for a long time now and his quarterback knows he can trust him when he needs to.
3. DE Lamaar Houston, Raiders
The up-and-down story that is Lamaar Houston’s career continued this week against Jacksonville. The converted DT showed great promise early in his career but disappeared for much of the 2011 season. There was no missing Houston this week as he led the Raiders in tackles, made 2 tackles for a loss and came up with a sack. Houston was a force all game and helped the Raiders limit the Jaguars to six second-half points.
4. HB Chris Johnson, Titans
Titan fans watching this week’s game had to be saying “about damn time”. Johnson has been a supreme disappointment, failing to show any resemblance to “CJ2K”, the player who set the single season record for yards from scrimmage. Johnson sprung an 83 yard-touchdown run and averaged over 10 yards a carry this week against the Bills. His 195 rushing yards kept the Titans in the game and gave Hasselbeck the opportunity to throw a game-winning touchdown.
5. S Stevie Brown, Giants
With Kenny Phillips out, there were understandably major concerns about how well the Giants’ secondary would hold up. Stevie Brown has filled in admirably, and made some big plays this week. His interception late in the third quarter set up Ahmad Bradshaw’s touchdown run that broke a 13-13 tie, and he also made six solo tackles.
6. QB Aaron Rodgers, Packers
The Packers are dealing with a variety of issues right now, but Rodgers is simply carrying this team right now. The Rams have a tough defense and had been perfect at home this year, but they were no match for the reigning MVP. Rodgers completed 30 of 37 passes for 342 yards and 3 touchdowns as the Packers coasted to a victory.
7. OLB Connor Barwin, Texans
Joe Flacco was under pressure all day, and for once JJ Watt wasn’t the main guy in on the action. Barwin hit Flacco 4 times, sacked him once, made 3 tackles for a loss, and batted a pass down. The Raven offense was thoroughly frustrated in this blowout loss, and Barwin played a bigger role than anyone.
8. DE Brian Robison, Vikings
Christian Ponder played his worst game of the season against the Cardinals, and the Cardinals were having quite a bit of success moving the ball against the Viking defense. In fact, the Vikings were outgained 356-209 in total yards in their win. The problem for the Cardinals was that all their drives stalled out because the Vikings’ pass-rush kept getting to QB John Skelton. No one played a bigger role than Robison, who had 8 tackles, 3 sacks and a forced fumble.
9. HB Jonathan Dwyer, Steelers
Down to their third string back, the Steelers figured they’d need QB Ben Roethlisberger to carry the team to a win. As usual, Roethlisberger made plenty of big plays to lead the team to victory. What they didn’t expect was for Dwyer to rush for 122 yards on just 17 carries. Dwyer gave the Steelers the balance they needed on offense to pull out a tough win in spite of all their injuries.
10. WR Miles Austin, Cowboys
Austin hasn’t had a lot of balls thrown his way this year, as Romo has been trying hard to get the ball to Dez Bryant. After Bryant dropped a 2-point conversion that would have tied the game in the final seconds of their loss to the Ravens, Romo looks to Austin more this week. Austin didn’t disappoint, catching 5 passes for 97 yards and a touchdown. Bryant caught only 2 passes for 14 yards.