Image courtesy of CBS sports
By Jack Cherico
Week 7 of the 101st NFL season was characterized by games being decided in the last minute and having potential influence down the stretch.
The best game of the week was the prime time Sunday night game between Seattle and Arizona. The previously undefeated Seahawks finally hit some turbulence against the underdog Cardinals, and in a wild division like the NFC West, where every team has a winning record, that may have some implications down the road.
MVP candidate Russell Wilson and last year’s Offensive Rookie of the Year Kyler Murray went at it down the stretch, with both quarterbacks throwing over 350 yards and each having three passing touchdowns. The Cardinals won in overtime 37-34 after Wilson threw an interception to rookie linebacker/safety hybrid Isaiah Simmons, bringing an end to a crazy game.
Although they lost, it would not be right to ignore the efforts of the Seattle wide receivers in the game. Tyler Lockett, who racked up a whopping 53 fantasy points by having 15 receptions, 200 yards, and three receiving touchdowns, carried the Seahawks. Opposite of Lockett, receiver DK Metcalf chased Arizona safety Buddha Baker almost the full length of the field after an interception to prevent Baker from returning it for a touchdown. Metcalf clocked a top speed of 22.64 miles per hour to chase down the safety, and his efforts were rewarded with a defensive stop. The Cardinals didn’t score off of the turnover, despite great field position.
Two of this year’s top rookie quarterbacks have continued to show out this year, with Bengals signal-caller Joe burrow out of LSU being the only reason Cincinnati is still in the game at times, and Chargers QB Justin Herbert from Oregon putting up monstrous stats. Against the Browns, Burrow put up another impressive performance, throwing for 406 yards and 3 touchdowns, one with about a minute to go in the game. Cleveland QB Baker Mayfield had to overcome a slow start of 0/5 and an interception in the first quarter, as well as the loss of Odell Beckham Junior to a torn ACL. Mayfield recovered 22/23 for almost 300 yards and 5 touchdowns in the rest of the game, with the go-ahead touchdown to rookie receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones with about 30 seconds left in the game.
In Los Angeles, Herbert got his first win against the Jacksonville Jaguars and is making a serious case for Rookie of the Year. Herbert has not had a single game throwing for under 264 yards, and in half of his games so far he has thrown for three or more touchdowns. He had 347 and 4 total touchdowns in the 39-29 win against the Jags, and Chargers fans have a lot to be happy about with the 5th pick in the 2020 NFL draft
The last undefeated NFL team in Week 7 was the Pittsburgh Steelers, who won their matchup against the Tennessee Titans 27-24 that was rescheduled because of COVID-19. Pittsburgh was up by 24-7 at one point, but Tennessee– as they have in multiple games this year– came back and were in field goal range to put the game into OT. However, kicker Stephen Gostkowski missed the kick from 45 yards out, bringing his season total as of Week 7 to 10/16 (62.5%), a terrible percentage for one of the most accurate kickers of all time.
The midway point of the NFL season is finally here– although it feels like it just started– the playoff picture has begun to take shape, with many teams looking to punch their ticket, and others looking back at the draft board.
Week 8 saw two division leaders being knocked down a peg, with the reigning Heisman trophy winner Joe Burrow leading the Bengals to a win against AFC South division leaders the Tennessee Titans, 31-20. Burrow, without workhorse halfback Joe Mixon due to a right foot injury, didn’t take a single sack, which has been a huge problem for Cincinnati. The former LSU QB threw for a respectable 249 yards and two touchdowns and looks to keep the Bengals in the win column against the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers in their next game, who are coming off a win against division rivals, the Baltimore Ravens this week.
The next upset was the Minnesota Vikings shocking the Green Bay packers 28-22, with all 4 Vikings touchdowns coming from halfback Dalvin Cook, who had a monstrous day with 163 rushing yards on 30 attempts and racked up 48.6 fantasy points. The Packers were suffering from the loss of their star back, Aaron Jones, who was out with a calf injury, and Minnesota pounded the rock against Green Bay’s defensive line, which has given them their second win of the season.
The trade deadline is 4 p.m. on Tuesday, November 3, and the day before the deadline, 49ers linebacker Kwon Alexander has been traded to New Orleans, Chargers cornerback Desmond King has been traded to Tennessee, and Jets linebacker Avery Williamson has been traded to Pittsburgh. Other interesting trades before the deadline were Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap to Seattle, defensive end Yannick Ngakoue to Baltimore, and defensive end Everson Griffen to Detroit.
Since it’s halfway through the season, I thought I’d take a look at my preseason predictions for the play-off contenders.
Judging by my predictions, I had
Currently, the playoff picture standings are
1. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-0)
2. Kansas City Chiefs (7-1)
3. Buffalo Bills (6-2)
4. Tennessee Titans (5-2)
5. Baltimore Ravens (5-2)
6. Indianapolis Colts (5-2)
1. Seattle Seahawks (6-1)
2. Green Bay Packers (5-2)
3. New Orleans Saints (5-2)
4. Philadelphia Eagles (3-4-1)
5. Arizona Cardinals (5-2)
6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-2)
As they say, hindsight is 20/20, and although most of my standings predictions are wrong right now, I’m very excited to see how the second half of the NFL season plays out.