A great matchup in Denver between the 49ers and Broncos highlights the NFL schedule. Is San Francisco too banged-up to pull the upset? We shall see.
Two other marquee matchups to keep an eye on: Bengals-Colts and Giants-Cowboys.
Also . . .
Can the Falcons save their season in Baltimore? What do Drew Brees-Sean Payton have up their sleeves after the bye-week? Can the healthy and well-rested Chiefs upset the Chargers?
Let’s dive in the Week Seven action . . .
Atlanta Falcons (2-4) at Baltimore Ravens (4-2)
Huge game for Atlanta. The difference between 3-4 and 2-5 is substantial. The Falcons are look to break a three-game losing streak, and remove coach Mike Smith from the hot seat, at least temporarily.
One factor that could help the struggling Falcons defense? The entire left side of the Ravens’ offensive line is out.
The Falcons need big games from their two starting receivers, Julio Jones and Roddy White, against the Ravens’ 27th-ranked pass defense.
This game could go either way.
Minnesota Vikings (2-4) at Buffalo Bills (3-3)
Vikings rookie QB Teddy Bridgewater showed against Detroit last week he’s not ready to start, throwing three picks against an average secondary. He telegraphed passes.
Bridgewater could use a better running game to help his cause, but that isn’t going to happen this week against the Buffalo run defense, ranked first in the NFL.
This is the kind of game the Bills generally win, against pedestrian opponents, and they should figure out a way to get it done this week.
Miami Dolphins (2-3) at Chicago Bears (3-3)
The only way the Dolphins are going to win this game is if they avoid a shoot-out, because it’s hard for them to win a gun-slinging battle between quarterbacks Jay Cutler and Ryan Tannehill.
The Dolphins boast the 7th-ranked NFL pass defense, so they should be able to do a serviceable job against Cutler and his coterie of weapons.
The Dolphins also need to establish the run to help Tannehill, which might be difficult to do, with RB Knowshon Moreno going on IR with a torn ACL.
The Bears should be able to figure out a way to win this game, but look for Miami to keep this close.
New Orleans Saints (2-3) at Detroit Lions (4-2)
Big question entering this game – which team’s top offensive weapon will play? – Saints tight end Jimmy Graham (shoulder) and Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson (ankle) are both game-time decisions.
The Lions need to get going on third down, where they have converted just two of 24 attempts the last couple of games.
It’s hard betting against Drew Brees coming off a bye-week, where he and Sean Payton have had two weeks to cook up the mother of all offensive game plans.
Cincinnati Bengals (3-1-1) at Indianapolis Colts (4-2)
With starting wide receivers A.J. Green and Marvin Jones out, the Bengals might be going to a gunfight with a knife against Andrew Luck and the NFL’s #1 offense. Luck leads the NFL with 17 touchdown passes
It’s hard seeing the Bengals keeping up with the Colts, especially with the 28th-ranked defense.
The Colts have won four in a row, and look for them to make it five.
Cleveland Browns (3-2) at Jacksonville Jaguars (0-6)
A Gertrude Stein quote best describes the 2014 Jacksonville Jaguars: “There is no there there.”
Browns QB Brian Hoyer is playing on a high level buttressed by the NFL’s #3 rushing offense.
Jacksonville quarterback Blake Bortles is learning on the job, and it shows. And this week he faces Mike Pettine’s defense, a derivative of Rex Ryan’s playbook, which generally wreaks havoc on rookie quarterbacks.
The Bortles-led Jaguars beating the Hoyer-led Browns seems unlikely.
Seattle Seahawks (3-2) at St. Louis Rams (1-4)
The Seahawks feel like they helped their locker room chemistry by dumping Percy Harvin, who has anger management issues.
They best way for the Seahawks to win this game is a heavy dose of running Marshawn Lynch, who runs angry, against the Rams 31st-ranked run defense.
Don’t be surprised if the Rams keep this one close because the Seahawks are very banged up, with four starters out–CB Byron Maxwell (calf), TE Zach Miller (ankle), C Max Unger (foot), and Bobby Wagner (toe).
Tennessee Titans (2-4) at Washington Redskins (1-5)
Whatever nickname you want to use for them, the Washington professional football club is a bad team.
The signing of wide receiver DeSean Jackson has helped little.
You see in a quarterback-driven league, quarterbacks make receivers, receivers don’t make quarterbacks.
And Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins throws too many interceptions.
But with all that being said, the Redskins should be able to beat a pedestrian Titans team at home.
Kansas City (2-3) and San Diego (5-1)
Facing Andy Reid coming off a bye is no easy chore.
The Chiefs head coach is one of the top strategic minds in the league. You give him two weeks in the lab–look out.
And side from starting safety Eric Berry (ankle) being out, the Chiefs come out of the bye healthy and well rested.
On the other hand, the Chargers are one of the more banged up teams in the league.
A Chiefs upset is entirely possible here
New York Giants (3-3) at Dallas Cowboys (5-1)
Against Tony Romo and this loaded Cowboys passing offense, you need all your good cover guys on deck, and the Giants might be without starting cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (back, hamstring).
The Giants allowed 448 yards in a loss to the Philadelphia Eagles last week.
This could get ugly, especially with the Giants losing star receiver Victor Cruz to a season-ending knee injury last week.
Arizona Cardinals (4-1) at Oakland Raiders (0-5)
The first-place Arizona Cardinals (who’d a thunk it with Seattle and San Francisco in the division), travel to Oakland to play the Raiders, who are using this year to develop a raw quarterback.
After his terrible experience in Oakland, Cardinals QB Carson Palmer will be highly motivated to light these guys up.
Which shouldn’t be a problem.
San Francisco 49ers (4-2) at Denver Broncos (5-1)
All signs point to a Denver win in this game.
The 49ers travel to the Mile High City ravaged by injuries, and might be down three defensive backs–cornerbacks Tramaine Brock (toe), Chris Culliver (shoulder), and Jimmy Ward (quad)–not good facing one of the NFL’s all-time leading passers.
Also not helping matters is star linebacker Patrick Willis being scratched due to a turf toe. So who is going to cover Denver’s red-hot tight end Julius Thomas?
Also, San Francisco’s banged-up offensive line is facing one of the NFL’s best pass rushes led by DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller.
Look for Denver to improve to 6-1.