The injury bug bit hard, that and more game breakdowns from Week 7 Sunday.
– by Adam Hocking
Falcons 31, Buccaneers 23
The Falcons get back on track a little bit despite playing without much of their star power in Steven Jackson, Julio Jones, and Roddy White. Harry Douglas stepped up big time with 149 yards receiving and a score.
Atlanta travels to Carolina and then hosts Seattle in the coming two weeks. Those will be incredibly tough, especially without their top personnel. If Atlanta gets back in the playoff race, they will have earned it.
Doug Martin left with a shoulder injury, and the Buccaneers’ nightmare season continues at 0-6. I need to see more from Mike Glennon to evaluate him as there is too much wrong with Tampa Bay to fully analyze his play.
Bills 23, Dolphins 21
This is a big win for the Bills, who have been extremely competitive with backup quarterback Thad Lewis. I thought they would throw the towel in after they lost EJ Manuel, but the Bills are putting in the effort for rookie head coach Doug Marrone.
The Dolphins have to win this type of game to be taken seriously: at home and against an inferior team talent-wise.
Lamar Miller was supposed to be “The Man” in the backfield this year for Miami, but he just hasn’t produced.
Redskins 45, Bears 41
Robert Griffin III gets better by the week, and he looked downright explosive against Chicago. He might not need that knee brace much longer. The Griffin and Alfred Morris combination looked like it did last year, combining for 179 rushing yards on 30 carries. Washington may have found something in tight end Jordan Reed, an impressive athlete that can give them a middle of the field and vertical threat.
Jay Cutler left with a groin injury and will have an MRI Monday. Backup Josh McCown actually played very well, completing 14-20 passes for over 200 yards, a touchdown, and no picks.
Bengals 27, Lions 24
AJ Green is starting to roll as Andy Dalton heats up. If Green is the second-best receiver in the game, the best was on the opposing sideline in Calvin Johnson.
I like the talent on both of these teams, and Cincy is starting to play to the level I expected before the year. The Bengals have a pretty comfortable grip on the AFC North right now.
Matthew Stafford has as much talent as anybody from a pure passing standpoint. Still, too often he sidearms throws and has inconsistent mechanics.
Cowboys 17, Eagles 3
I’ve said for the last couple of weeks the Cowboys are the best team in this division, and as RG3 gets healthy the Redskins are going to be their main competition down the stretch. It’s a big plus for Dallas to hold a high octane Eagles offense to just 3 points even without DeMarcus Ware, who missed the game due to injury. Dez Bryant continues his ascension to elite status with another 100-yard receiving day.
Nick Foles played terribly until he was knocked out with a head injury, and rookie Matt Barkley came in and tossed three interceptions in his 20 attempts. The Eagles now will have to get Foles and Michael Vick healthy and decide who their man is going forward.
Panthers 30, Rams 15
Why did I pick the Rams again? Sam Bradford left the game after tearing an ACL. Perhaps this injury spells the end of his run in St. Louis after such a promising rookie campaign.
The Panthers defense continues to play on the level of the Chiefs and Seahawks. If Cam Newton can play to his potential, Carolina will challenge for the postseason because he certainly has a playoff-level defense supporting him.
Jets 30, Patriots 27 (OT)
Rex Ryan knows how to scheme against Bill Belichick better than any other coach and consistently keeps his less talented teams right in contention against New England. The Patriots should still win this division comfortably, but Geno Smith and the Jets make it interesting.
The Jets got back to ground and pound, handing off 52 times for a total of 177 yards.
Chargers 24, Jaguars 6
A lot of media types picked the Jags here in a sort of trap game for San Diego, but the Chargers aren’t good enough to treat any game like a given. I thought they would handle Jacksonville, and they did.
Philip Rivers continues his MVP-caliber season, going 22-26 for 285 yards and a score. Ryan Mathews has rushed for 212 yards combined the last two weeks, and that type of contribution can help the Chargers make a serious push for a Wild Card spot.
49ers 31, Titans 17
The Niners have won four-straight by returning to their core identity: running the football and playing great defense. They get Jacksonville in London, which counts as a road game for San Francisco, and that should be five-straight wins going into a bye week.
Rookie second round pick Tank Carradine, Mario Manningham, and cornerback Eric Wright should all be back after the bye, and those are big-time reinforcements. Tramaine Brock has been excellent at nickel corner making Nhamdi Asoumgha expendable. Even Jim Harbaugh was in fighting shape.
The Titans lost at their own game, in the trenches.
Jake Locker didn’t look fully healthy. Why did the Titans bring him back so soon with a capable backup in Ryan Fitzpatrick?
Packers 31, Browns 13
The Packers continue to get themselves back on track and now lead the NFC North. There was no way the Browns could keep pace with Aaron Rodgers and company.
Eddie Lacy is a big-time back. He’s gone for 99, 120, and 82 yards in the last three weeks. If that keeps up, Green Bay has a shot to beat anyone.
Brandon Weeden: 17-42, 149 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT…woof.
Chiefs 17, Texans 16
Case Keenum made some nice throws for the Texans, but the season is now over for Houston as they fall to 2-5 and lose Brian Cushing for the year due to a broken leg. Cushing is the emotional leader of the defense and its second-best player behind JJ Watt.
Kansas City continues to win ugly, but 7-0 is above reproach. 17 points are the most the Chiefs have allowed to any opponent. In this day and age that is incredible.
Steelers 19, Ravens 16
I’ve been beating the “Ravens are overrated” drum, and I feel validated this week. Baltimore’s offense is just plain bad, and they don’t have enough intermediate targets to consistently move the chains. They can throw deep to Torrey Smith, but with no Anquan Boldin or Dennis Pitta they are very limited.
The Steelers are one of those teams nobody wants to play with Big Ben and a defense that can still get after the quarterback in spurts. I don’t know if they can climb back in the playoff race, but they should work their way back toward the .500 mark after an 0-4 start.
Colts 39, Broncos 33
Peyton Manning started out the story here, but another Colt legend ended up being the headline in my opinion. Reggie Wayne suffered a torn ACL, what could turn out to be a career-ending injury for the future Hall of Famer in his thirteenth season. Tears streamed down his face as he left the field, just a horrible scene for a class act.
The game itself was a full-blown blockbuster with all of the entertainment as to be expected. Peyton was off for a little bit, but his emotions settled, and he played tremendously in his return to Indianapolis.
Manning’s replacement, Andrew Luck, was just a little bit better. The Colts won the turnover battle 3-1 and held the edge in time of possession, two musts to beat Denver.
Trent Richardson averaged just 2.6 yards per carry in this contest, and that’s been par for the course over his career. I’m starting to have my doubts about his upside.
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