Another busy Sunday is in the books, and the NFL once again threw up a lot of unexpected and sensational results. Here are our Week 7 hot takes…
The New England Patriots will win Super Bowl LII
After six weeks of awful defense and inconsistent offense, the New England Patriots looked like their old, imperious, self in a foggy and dominant win over Atlanta in Foxborough on Sunday night.
After being shredded by the likes of Josh McCown, the pass defense stepped it’s game in in Week 7, with better coverage and pressure resulting in just 233 yards for Matt Ryan as the Falcons failed to gain revenge for Super Bowl LI.
The Patriots got solid production on the ground, picking up 4.5 yards a carry with both Dion Lewis and Rex Burkhead getting over 5.0 ypc. That foundation allowed Tom Brady to do what he does best and pick apart the Falcons secondary with matchups and pinpoint throws.
After weeks of giving up points and allowing offenses to gash them, Malcolm Butler and co. kept a lid on big plays and the front were able to bottle up Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. All it all it looked like the Patriots were back on form, and that is a worry for the rest of the league.
NFC South is wide open
The Falcons lost, the Panthers lost, the Bucs lost, and the Saints won by the skin of their teeth against an Aaron Rodgers-less Packers. So, who exactly is in the driving seat for the division?
Atlanta have scored exactly seven points in their last six quarters of football, while the Panthers ground game has all-but disappeared. Meanwhile, the Saints defense has found some form and their offense remains potent. Who walks away with the division title this year is anyone’s guess, but we can almost certainly count the Bucs out.
Time for change in Denver
A shutout is never good, and while Joey Bosa wrecked havoc on the offense, Trevor Siemian’s shortcomings were once again evident as he went 25/35 for 207 yards with one interception.
For all his “game manager” attributes, it is becoming very clear that Siemian is not good enough for the long term, which means Vance Joseph needs to take the plunge and see what the Broncos have in Paxton Lynch. The answer, I suspect, is not going to be good for the Broncos, which means it is likely going to be back to the drawing board in the offseason.
Dallas’ offense is back
Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension was once again pushed back, and he celebrated by shredding the San Francisco 49ers. 219 yards from scrimmage and three scores were the headlines of his performance, but the truly impressive thing was the cuts, vision, and finish he had.
Elliott looked far more like his 2016-self than we have otherwise seen this season, and that performance eased the pressure on Dak Prescott and should scare the rest of the NFC.
Jaguars are dangerous
Through six weeks the Jaguars offense ran through Leonard Fournette. Without him this week, they proved they can still produce. 188 yards at 5.1 yards a carry, together with a strong game from Blake Bortles, really showed that this Jacksonville team is far more than their defense and rookie running back Though the defense did show it’s teeth again with another ten-sack performance.
Pittsburgh have AFC North wrapped up
An even first half against the Cincinnati Bengals soon gave way to a one-sided result as the Steelers stamped their authority on the division. They are the only team in the AFC North above .500, and the only team with a positive points differential.
They were once again carried to success by Le’Veon Bell, who ran the ball 35 times for 134 yards as he kept the chains moving and chewed up clock at the end of the game. Perhaps the best thing for the Steelers though was the defensive work. With Ryan Shazier running the show in the middle and TJ Watt playing extremely well on the edge they are looking dangerous on both sides of the ball now, and are primed for the deep playoff run so many were expecting in the preseason.
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