Week 6 treated us with plenty of large comebacks/nuclear meltdowns, changing of the guards, and shootouts. Some MVP candidacies were solidified, others got intercepted and ran back for a touchdown. The LWOSports staff went 2-1 on consensus picks, so plenty of parity reigned. Overall, it was a tough week for picks; only one writer chalked up double-digit wins.
Danny: Trying to figure out the NFC East is like rocket science this year. The Giants aren’t surprising with how bad they are. The Eagles, however, should be much better than their record indicates. The Eagles have faced the top two defenses in the Steelers and Ravens the past two weeks. The offense has surprisingly done really well. Carson Wentz is rounding back into form and carrying a bunch of backups yet again. Help could be on the way in this one which DeSean Jackson likely to play Thursday night per reports.
The Giants have shown improvement on defense this year, but the offense remains a huge problem. Daniel Jones is a turnover machine, no Saquon Barkley doesn’t help. The offensive line is still a disaster. The Giants will struggle to score in this one.
Drew: Week 6 was not kind to either of the Ohio professional football teams. The Browns got smacked by a division rival and the Bengals forgot they had to play a full 60-minute game. Cincinnati jumped out to a commanding 21-0 lead early in the second quarter last week…and lost 31-27. Joe Burrow rebounded after a rookie-level showing for 313 yards and a rushing touchdown. Tee Higgins is beginning to show why the franchise selected him 33rd overall by posting 125 yards off of six receptions. But outside of those first three scoring drives, the offense could not get too much going. Probably should have fed Joe Mixon a bit more than 18 times (54 yards, one touchdown), but after the lead, they must’ve just gone into the locker room.
Defensively, the Bengals need help. Geno Atkins, Carlos Dunlap, and Carl Lawson must have stolen DC Lou Anarumo‘s parking spot or something because they have rarely been on the field. The only positives for this side of the ball are the fact that the rookie linebackers are getting better and safety Jessie Bates is looking like one of the best at his position.
Riding a four-game win streak, optimism was running high. However, Ben Roethlisberger is 24-2-1 against Cleveland…13-0 at home. Baker Mayfield was benched. They just looked bad. Will Mayfield be the starter on Sunday? Either way, this offense is still loaded. They are still 4-2, so Browns fans should just breathe. Kareem Hunt is quite possibly the best back-up running back in the league and has filled in for the injured Nick Chubb flawlessly. Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry are still extremely dangerous.
The Browns defense is an issue, however. The defensive line is stout led by Myles Garrett, but they have allowed 31 points per game overall. Given, they have played all three divisional opponents who can score, but that Dallas shootout is looking more and more interesting as the weeks go on.
The Browns need a pick-me-up after getting thrashed. Unfortunately for the Bengals, this will likely be the week Cleveland bounces back. The only hope Cincinnati has is if the game is a shootout and Burrow is the last one with the ball. The Bengals’ defense and its atrocious 3rd-down defense (which, as it has been discovered, is due to the fact that linebackers’ coach Al Golden calls all 3rd downs) will be what does the Bengals in.
Shane C.: Two teams at a crossroads playing with one of the highest implied totals on the Week 7 NFL slate at 55.5 points. The Detroit Lions were left for dead by their fanbase calling for the ouster of head coach Matt Patricia as well as general manager Bob Quinn. After a much-needed bye week, the Lions went down to Jacksonville and put an old-fashioned butt whooping on the Jaguars. The defense, which was railroaded earlier by the Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints, appears to be stiffening. No longer are the Lions in the bottom ten of defenses across the board against each position. In fact, they are one of the best against tight ends and firmly in the middle against quarterbacks and wide receivers. They’ll need to continue this trend as Atlanta’s passing game just dismantled the woe-be-gone Minnesota Vikings, shout out to Garrison Keillor.
As mentioned above the Falcons are coming off a much-needed victory after parting ways with their head coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Demitroff. The defense, typically stealing defeat from the jaws of victory, did their job ensuring the win for interim head coach Raheem Morris. Julio Jones returned to form and with the emerging superstar Calvin Ridley, Matt Ryan was able to hang 40 points on the Vikings.
This week, Atlanta is a two and a half point home favorite. However, which Falcons team will show up? And, the same can be said for the Lions. Both teams can put up points and the last team with the ball should have the chance to win. If the Lions can contain the Falcons pass catchers they should be in a solid position to win the game. Todd Gurley has shown he still has some gas left in the tank and the Lions’ weakness is stopping the run. Conversely, the Falcons’ defensive strength is stopping the run and their secondary is terrible. That said, I like Matthew Stafford and company to do just enough to put Matt Prater in a position to kick their way to victory.
Filip: What a great matchup this is. Two undefeated teams face off in the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Tennessee Titans. This game has huge AFC playoff implications and should probably have been flexed into primetime. Besides the playoff implications, there are just going to be many great individual matchups in this game. For example, the Steelers pass rush vs the Titans offensive line or Derrick Henry against the Pittsburgh run defense.
Speaking of the Steelers, they absolutely shut down the playoff-hopeful Browns in Week 6, and it wasn’t even close with Pittsburgh winning by 31 points. This game really exemplified what the Steelers are: they have the best defense in the league. They get to the quarterback with the likes of T.J. Watt very easily. In fact, they lead the league in sacks and pressures.
This pass rush is so beneficial for the Steelers, not because they can get teams into long-yardage situations, but they force quarterbacks to make errant throws or pick-sixes. This happened in last week’s game when Minkah Fitzpatrick took it to the house.
On the offensive side, many people worried about them not playing well due to Ben Roethlisberger‘s return from injury. Though they haven’t played to their best yet, they have improved every week, and that can be seen when they put up 38 points against the Browns. Aside from Roethlisberger, who is having himself a nice year, the Steelers have gotten their run game going with James Conner, and they have a promising wide receiver in Chase Claypool who has had five touchdowns in the past two games.
Moving onto the Titans, they surprised everybody with their domination over the Bills in Week 5. They were expected to not play well, due to the lack of training, but they looked like they were shot out of a cannon. There was so much energy on that offense, and currently, they look like the best offense in the league.
Derrick Henry is running up and down the field. Most notably, he recorded 212 rushing yards in the Week 6 win against the Texans. Looks like, after a rather slow start, Henry has gotten back to his form. However, the biggest performer on that Titans offense has been the quarterback, Ryan Tannehill. With his 13 touchdowns and a quarterback rating of 83.2, many have considered putting him in the MVP race. He should continue playing well especially, with the recent return of his star receiver, A.J. Brown.
The biggest concern in this game for the Titans is their defense. Although they have the best turnover differential, they do give up a lot of yards. For example, they gave up 427 yards and 36 points to the Texans in Week 6. Though they do give up a lot of yards, they could force turnovers to put their offense into prime field positions in this game.
After looking at both teams, let’s focus on the matchups. The Titans offense has been fantastic and looks unstoppable, but the only team in the league that looks like they can stop them is the Steelers. The Steelers won’t fully stop Derrick Henry, but they might limit him. As for the pass rush, Tannehill has looked great, but the Steelers pass rush can make him uncomfortable. It should be easier with the Titans losing their left tackle Taylor Lewan to an ACL injury this week. Still, the Titans should be able to put up points because that Steelers secondary sometimes looks shaky, and Tannehill can most definitely throw the ball deep.
On the defensive side for Tennessee, they will give up points to the Steelers, but what is crucial is the pass rush. They just need to pressure Big Ben into getting sacked or, better yet, making poor throws which could result in interceptions.
One last word on the matchups, the most underrated matchup of this game is the duel between two of the smartest coaches in the league in Mike Vrabel and Mike Tomlin. It will be very interesting to see the plays each of these coaches call, and how they will try to out-coach each other.
In the end, the Titans rely on their offense to put up points, but the Steelers will be able to limit them, and Pittsburgh’s offense will put up points against the Titans defense. The Steelers will win a tight one.
Shiree: The Panthers have the 28th-ranked red zone offense in the league. The Saints? 32nd. And what does it mean for this divisional matchup between these two teams? Absolutely nothing.
Teddy Bridgewater is visiting New Orleans for the first time since starting for the Panthers. He needs to show his former team that he is capable of being a starter and I think he does it. His 1,676 yards and six touchdowns are right in line with Drew Brees’ 1,331 yards and nine touchdowns. Look for this to be a shootout between the two teams.
It’s going to be interesting watching both defenses up against these two quarterbacks. The Panthers have been getting pressure in recent weeks thanks to some new faces—namely Zach Kerr, a seventh-year defensive tackle, and Jeremy Chinn, their rookie safety out of Southern Illinois. Chinn got his first career NFL interception last week against Nick Foles so look for him to try and get another one against Brees.
The Saints have some weapons of their own on defense with Cameron Jordan leading that charge. Safety Malcolm Jenkins has stayed fairly quiet though he does have one pass deflected in four of the last five games they have played. How will the Panthers’ offense contain it this week?
This is going to be a great matchup between one quarterback and his former team. In the end, I think Bridgewater and that Panthers offense edge this one out.
Derek: The Buffalo Bills and New York Jets face off in Week 7. This is their second meeting this season. Buffalo is looking to rebound from a two-week skid that has seen them lose to the Tennessee Titans and Kansas City Chiefs. Buffalo’s defense has been poor recently and needs to get back on track if they want to remain a top contender in the AFC. They allowed the Chiefs to run all over them and now they face former teammate Frank Gore. Gore has found himself a starting job once again following the release of Le’ Veon Bell. The Jets have yet to win a game this season. Having already lost to Buffalo in week one, they look to be headed towards another loss.
Josh Allen is having his best season yet and will look to take advantage of the Jets’ defense for a nice bounce-back performance in Week 7. The Bills should also take advantage of this weaker opponent to try and re-establish their running game. The Bills have been inefficient on the ground, which has contributed to their recent losses. Devin Singletary andZack Moss need to work together to get the Bills’ run game back where it needs to be. As for defense, the Bills’ pass rushers need to begin to generate pressure, while their front seven needs to prove they can force opponents into passing situations. While Buffalo may be dealing with some issues on both sides, they should pick up a win this week against an inferior Jets team.
Nick: When the (1-5) Washington Football Team and (2-4) Dallas Cowboys meet, it could be for first place in the NFC East. Granted, that’s not saying much given how wretched the division has been through the first six weeks of the season.
The Cowboys are coming off of a humiliating blowout to the Cardinals in Andy Dalton‘s first game behind center. Dalton’s QBR was a dismal 38.7, and Ezekiel Elliott only rushed for 49 yards on 12 carries. Elliot fumbled twice and they had four turnovers total. The offensive line has been decimated by injury and is a liability in both run and pass blocking currently. Uncharacteristically, the team is 23rd in rushing yards per game. Their biggest strength continues to be their stud wide receiver core as their defense still can’t figure it out. They’re 19th in the league in sacks per game, while star edge rusher DeMarcus Lawrence has been a ghost so far. To conclude, they give up a jaw-dropping 173.3 yards a game on the ground.
For Washington, their biggest strength is the pass rush, which is bad news for the Cowboys. The Washington front seven is legit, although their production hasn’t been the same since their eight-sack win against the Eagles in Week 1. If there’s ever a week for the pass rush to right the ship, it’s this one. The pass defense is shockingly second in the league in passing yards allowed per game. So if Andy Dalton can’t get hot with his receivers, Elliot’s name will be called numerous times. Run defense has been a problem for Washington in 2020, so Elliott should get a lot of work regardless.
What makes me pick the Cowboys over Washington is how abysmal Washington’s offense is. Antonio Gibson has yet to electrify like expected in the offseason. Terry McLaurin is a future star. but has absolutely no help behind him at wideout. And none of the three quarterbacks can stay protected because of a terrible pass blocking line. Dallas should still win this game due to the star players on offense (Zeke, Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, CeeDee Lamb), but if the defense is as bad as they were against the Cardinals on MNF, it could be costly.
Chris: Fresh off a disastrous 38-7 loss at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ hands last Sunday, the Green Bay Packers look to get back on track in a rare matchup with the Houston Texans in Week 7. In a game that fell apart quickly for the Packers, Tampa Bay scored 38 straight points after falling down 10-0 to hand Matt Lafleur just his fourth regular-season loss as the team’s head coach. Flipping to the other side of the field, the 2020 season has been anything but kind for the Houston Texans. Opening the season with one of the toughest schedules in the league, the Texans have lost five of six games after a 42-36 overtime loss at the hands of their divisional rival Tennessee Titans. A game featuring two of the brightest stars in the league in Deshaun Watson and Aaron Rodgers, here’s what to expect in this matchup.
For the second year in a row, the Green Bay Packers were blown out after their bye week. Losing in a similar fashion to their 37-8 beatdown at the hands of the San Francisco 49ers a year ago, the Packers were unable to move the ball on Sunday against a physical Tampa Bay defensive line that harassed Aaron Rodgers all game long. Heading into an easier matchup with a Texans defense that has struggled to get stops all season, expect Green Bay’s offense to have a better showing in Week 7. Ranked in the bottom three teams in the league in both total yards per game and rush yards per game, look for Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams to get a heavy workload. On the defensive side of the ball, the past few weeks have been anything but kind to Mike Pettine‘s group. Unable to generate a consistent pass rush at points behind star outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith, the team will need to be much better if they hope to contain Deshaun Watson on Sunday.
A team that was expected to contend for the AFC South crown in 2020, the Houston Texans have struggled mightily through six weeks. After firing longtime head coach Bill O’Brien two weeks ago, Houston has begun to play better football under Romeo Crennel. Following a 30-14 victory against the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 5, the Texans lost a heartbreaker in Tennessee on Sunday, dropping them to 1-5 on the season. With Deshaun Watson at quarterback, Houston remains a dangerous opponent for any opposing team, leading to an intriguing matchup with a vulnerable Green Bay defense.
Currently ranked 15th in the league in rushing yards per game, the Packers run defense has struggled at points to stop opposing running backs over the past few games. After allowing Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones to pass the century mark in their week six loss, expect David Johnson to be the focal point for the Texans offense and one of the keys to victory if they hope to upset the Packers on Sunday. Romeo Crennel’s group will be in tough against one of the games premier offenses on the defensive side of the ball. Ranking in the top ten in the league in yards per game, rushing yards per game, and points per game, Houston will need a big game from J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus if they hope to slow down Aaron Rodgers and pull off the upset in this one.
A game that looks intriguing on paper with two of the game’s great quarterbacks, expect Matt Lafleur and company to bounce back after an embarrassing loss last Sunday. While Houston has begun to play better football the past few weeks, they still lack the talent on defense to slow down Aaron Rodgers and all of the Packers weapons.
Luca: This week, I am taking the Kansas City Chiefs over the Denver Broncos.
The Chiefs remain as one of the top offenses in the league, ranking third. In the passing game, the team ranks 7th, averaging 276.7 passing yards per game. The offense is filled with dynamic weapons in the likes of Travis Kelce & Tyreek Hill. The passing game can only improve with the addition of Le’Veon Bell. The Denver Broncos’ passing defense 20th, allowing 239.4 yards per game. Could the passing defense put up a fight?
In the running game, the Chiefs rank 6th, averaging 140.3 yards per game. Le’Veon Bell joining Clyde Edwards-Helaire in the backfield will only make the run game and offense altogether more deadly. The Broncos rank 13th in rushing defense, allowing 110 yards per game. It looks like the Chiefs will meet some competition when running the football.
For the Broncos on offense, the team ranks 29th averaging 305.2 yards per game. In all likelihood, the Chiefs’ pass defense will shut down the Broncos’ passing game as KC ranks 3rd in passing defense, allowing 208 passing yards per game. In the running game, the Broncos rank 25th, averaging 101 yards on the ground per game. The Chiefs’ run defense ranks bottom three. Could the Broncos take advantage?
Jordan: Both the 49ers and Patriots are coming off of very different weeks. On one hand, the 49ers grabbed a must-needed win Sunday night against the Rams, but lost star RB Raheem Mostert to a significant leg injury. On the other hand, Cam Newton and the Patriots lost a massive game against the Denver Broncos, putting up just 12 points in the contest.
The 49ers are certainly pleased to have Jimmy Garoppolo back to his normal self, and their defense also looked rather promising last week following an abysmal performance against the Dolphins. However, the Niners are still in no man’s land when it comes to the NFC. They currently sit in last place (3-3) in the NFC East with three teams with heavy playoff aspirations ahead of them. As mentioned previously, Mostert will be sidelined for at least the next couple of weeks and with the season he’s having, that is a massive blow to the Niners offense.
One the flip side, the Patriots may need this win more than the Niners do. Newton and the Pats are coming off of one of the worst Patriots games I have ever witnessed, where both sides of the ball looked tired and worn out. The COVID-19 fiasco that occurred days prior to the game may have had something to do with it, but that certainly can’t be an excuse. Nonetheless, the Patriots need to use the talent they’ve got to its highest potential come Sunday.
Both teams would really benefit from coming out of this week with a W. However, I don’t think the Niners will end up with that ending. Newton practiced just twice in the Patriots weeks leading up to their game against the Broncos and he’ll certainly be looking to prove he still has that MVP self in him. Combine that with some injured Pats coming off of IR and the COVID-19 list, the Niners are going to have their hands full. Give me Patriots -2 every day of the week.
Jordan: Two teams at the bottom of the AFC are certainly not being viewed in the same light. The Jaguars have disappointed many this season, with the breakout of James Robinson currently saving any bit of a season they had left. On the other side, Justin Herbert has truly become a promising quarterback in this league, leaving Charger fans ignoring that 1-4 record and instead looking towards the future.
Herbert has blossomed into a ROTY candidate in just a couple of weeks and he’s certainly caught the attention of every hardcore NFL fan. Herbert has thrown for nine touchdowns in just four games and has eclipsed 300 yards in nearly 3/4. The promising long bomb is a welcoming sight to Charger fans who witnessed the downfall of Philip Rivers for the past few seasons. Although the Chargers sit at the bottom of their division, they have some major upside on the back half of this season. With Herbert becoming more acclimated to the NFL playstyle and some key pieces returning on defense, this could certainly be a cinderella story for Herbert and I think it’ll start this week against the Jags. Gardner Minshew seems to have simmered down to a measly average quarterback and with a struggling defense, the Jags don’t look like they will be doing any damage to anyone any time soon. I’ll take the Chargers in this one.
Jordan: Some may call this the game of the week and who could blame them? Tom Brady and Derek Carr both achieved wins against two of the best teams in the league in the Chiefs and Packers. The Raiders went into their bye flying high having outshot Patrick Mahomes to beat KC at home. Now how many quarterbacks can say that? Meanwhile, Tom Brady and the Bucs took care of business against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in elite fashion. Talk about cloud nine, how about cloud 10?
The Raiders came into this season with very low expectations but have surprised much of the league just six weeks in. Their win against the Chiefs proves they can hang with the best of them and it certainly proves that their offensive capabilities are second to none.
Tom Brady and the Bucs seem to be finding their groove, which is a scary sight for the rest of the NFL. Brady has now thrown for 15 touchdowns through six games and looked his normal self last week after a rough outing in Chicago. Meanwhile, the absence of Vita Vea doesn’t seem to have slowed this Bucs defense down at all. They were able to pick Rodgers off twice and made the Packers offense look like a circus.
Yet another great matchup in week seven comes upon us. Both teams have reason to believe they can win this game. The talent on the Bucs is certainly starting to come together, while the Raiders have dynamic players at nearly every position on offense. However, The Bucs are simply too dangerous of a team for the Raiders to continue this storied run. I’ll take the Bucs by a couple of scores.
Will: In this matchup, we have a heated divisional matchup with the Seattle Seahawks traveling to Scottsdale to take on the Arizona Cardinals. Seattle comes in as the leader of what, in my eyes, is the best division in the entire NFL. On the other side, Arizona is currently tied for second in the division with the Los Angeles Rams.
The road team Seahawks are at a perfect 5-0 record coming off their bye Week 6. Going into their bye, this team was as good as any other team in the league, if not better. Their starting quarterback Russell Wilson is in MVP-form once again as he is going for an award that he most definitely deserves to have on his resume: an MVP. Wilson will tell you that he only cares about winning the super bowl. That could be true, but you can’t tell me that he wouldn’t have a smile from ear-to-ear if we won the award. Anyway, this is a definite playoff team with serious Super Bowl LV potential. When that offense is clicking, there are not many defensive coordinators on the planet who would be able to stop this team. But that’s what the problem has been for Seattle in recent years, not playing as well as they could. Although this team is playing at an elite level, I could see them being a bit rusty at least for this week.
On the other side of the ball, star-in-the-making Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals head into this home divisional matchup with an acceptable record of 4-2. They are coming off of a game where they absolutely dismantled the Dallas Cowboys on Monday Night Football by a score of 38-10. At the beginning of the game, Murray looked like he had some jitters since he was playing in his home state for the first time in his NFL career. After he got settled in, he and the rest of the offense were unstoppable. We can’t give them too much credit as they did play the Cowboys who have one of the worst defenses in many years. Outside of a couple of not-so-good losses, I really like the way Arizona has played and how they have worked in their new toy in DeAndre Hopkins. It seems like he and Murray are really clicking and I expect that duo to only get scarier as the season goes on.
I see the Cardinals starting a little win streak of their own and will win this game 27-21 in this NFC West battle.
Drew: Perhaps aside from the Titans, the most surprising team of 2020 has been the Chicago Bears. After benching Mitchell Trubisky for Nick Foles, many thought the season was over. This was not the case at all. Statistically, the two have been similar with the only major difference in the yards category. David Montgomery hasn’t been a superstar, and the receivers are not world-beaters, but they are just good enough. Why is that?
The defense is near-elite. Naturally, any defense with Khalil Mack is going to be great, but the rest of the unit is not far behind. Roquan Smith has been literally everywhere for the Bears and is playing at a pro bowl-level. Tashaun Gipson is having a career year in tackles and interceptions and Akiem Hicks has been terrorizing quarterbacks all season. With a defense this good, the offense only needs to be average.
The Rams have a better offense overall, but it still falls short of the expectations we have come to have with Sean McVay. Jared Goff is looking pretty good with his 1570 passing yards and ten touchdowns. Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp are a dynamic one-two punch out wide. Rookie Cam Akers is a fun running back to watch alongside Malcolm Brown and Darrell Henderson. Once they get to click, they will be able to keep up with everyone in that explosive NFC West.
As with their counterparts, the Rams have a top-five scoring defense by allowing only 19 points per game. Aaron Donald is still the best defensive athlete on the planet and rookie Jordan Fuller has shown that it may have been a mistake to allow the safety to fall to the sixth round. This is a hard-hitting defense that will likely give Foles fits.
Ultimately, I will roll with the Rams in this matchup of elite defenses. With two stingy defenses, points will be at a premium. I trust McVay and Goff more than I do Nagy and Foles. Regardless, expect to hear Mack and Donald’s names frequently.