What We Learned: NFL Week 7

NFL Oct 24, 2021

The 6-1 Tampa Bay Buccaneers now top our weekly power rankings surpassing the undefeated 7-0 Arizona Cardinals – while the Packers (6-1), Cowboys (5-1), and Rams (6-1) round out our top-five list

It's 7th and 20.  Buckle up!

Following NFL Week 7, here are 20 major takeaways from the NFL's most recent slate of regular season games.  Let's do five of each -- the ugly, the bad, the good, and the great.

The Ugly:

(1)  Last week we posted:

That's it.  We've seen enough.  Fire Vic Fangio.  The Denver Broncos' head coach had a perfect opportunity to reboot his team to a 4-2 record and all the parts were in place versus the floundering Las Vegas Raiders.  Instead, the Broncos came into Sunday's game totally ill-prepared and were outplayed in every facet on the field, and off the field.  The play calling was horrendous.  The defence was out-coached and outmanned  And, clueless Fangio wasted a challenge and a time-out on a play that had utterly zero chance of being overturned.  Fangio has no business as an NFL head coach.  He needs to go.

This past week on Thursday night in Cleveland, Denver looked even worse. Playing against a depleted Browns teams that was missing their starting QB, the Broncos trailed during the entire game.  It was a terrible effort by Denver.  So, let's add another name of the hotseat – John Elway.  He's a great former Hall of Fame QB, but a miserably inept GM.

(2)  While we're at it, last week we posted:  

While we're picking on the Denver Broncos following three straight losses, it's time to bench hanger-on Teddy Bridgewater.  This indecisive, flat-footed, inept, gutless quarterback is at best suited as an NFL backup.  His effort today, a three-touchdown humiliating loss at home to the Raiders should be a career ender.  Horrible effort, and yes, we had the Broncos -3 so we're pissed as hell!

Let's agree, the Bronco's woes are not entirely Bridgewater's fault.  Far from it.  But he's not the leader for a team with loads of potential trying to take the next step in a tough division and join the playoff race.  With Bridgewater, the Broncos are likely to be a last-place team.

(3)  Pull the plug on Justin Fields as a starting NFL QB.  Once again, the rookie showed the pro game is simply way too fast for him.  He's toast.  On Sunday in Tampa, he was 18/27 with no TDs and 3 INTs.  He produced zero touchdowns. The Fields experiment should be over.  The Chicago Bears' history of quarterbacks is dismal, and Fields only adds to a legacy of failures.  Pull.  The.  Plug.  Now.  

(4)  It sure looks like Dallas will win the NFC East in a cakewalk.  Last season, Washington took the top spot with a 7-9 record.  This year, Dallas appears destined for at least a dozen wins.  It's possible the Cowboys could win this division with a 5-game cushion since Washington, Philadelphia, and NY Giants are all 2-5 at the moment.  

(5)  What's wrong with the Miami Dolphins?  Remember – this was a 10-win team in 2020, and was expected to push the Buffalo Bills for the AFC East title. Instead, Miami is an ugly 1-6 and has played poorly in several games.  Sunday's loss at home to Atlanta wasn't nearly as bad, and to the Dolphins' credit they even had the lead late in the game.  But let's remember Atlanta fields one of the worst defenses in the NFL.  When Miami faces tougher competition, they will certainly struggle.  Only the fact the Jets are in this division makes Miami a favourite in any remaining games they play.

The Bad:

(6) The woeful Detroit Lions at 0-7 isn't a huge surprise to anyone, but hey – they did cover at LA Rams, one of the league's very best teams.  The Lions looked like they might even pull off an upset at one point in the 4th quarter.  Glancing over the remainder of their schedule, the Lions probably will be underdogs in every game, with ten still to play.  Time to ask – could Detroit break their all-time worst record and go 0-17 this season?  It's possible.

(7)  How bad did things get for the Chicago Bears in their game at Tampa Bay?  Well, for the first time in memory, the percentage on the in-game tracker calculated that the trailing team had "zero" chance to win.  This might not seem unusual, but when "zero" percent was posted, the game was still at halftime! When the Bucs where ahead 35-3 at the half, the NFL's calculation said the Bears had zero chance to win.  Ouch!

(8)  Who's the NFL's worst team at the moment?  Maybe the Detroit Lions, who are winless.  Perhaps the NY Jets.  But probably the Houston Texans, who were bitch-slapped silly in their last two games – losing by 4 touchdowns in both games the past two weeks.  The Jets came into Week 7 off a bye week, yet allowed a whopping 54 points to New England!  So, let's put the Jets and Texans in the worst team spot, for now.  The Lions get the #30 spot, along with the Jaguars.  

(9)  The season's biggest surprise is probably the decline and fall of the Kansas City Chiefs.  Co-favourites to win the Super Bowl back in September, instead, the Chiefs are in last place with a 3-4 record.  Worse, they've looked bad on both sides of the ball when facing solid opposition.  On Sunday, Tennessee was on a short week after beating Buffalo, yet still managed to dominate the Chiefs, who were inexplicably laying points on the road.  Seriously, did anyone really lay points with the Chiefs in this game?  Wow – what could Kansas City bettors have possibly been thinking (or drinking)?

(10)  The strength of the Washington Football Team was supposed to be their defense.  However, they've allowed 210 points in seven games – averaging 30 PPG, which is the NFL's worst.  But the bigger takeaway this week is the name of the new Washington placekicker.  His last name is Chris Blewitt.  Yes, as in "blew it."  When the rookie kicker missed an easy field goal on Sunday in the loss to the Packers (okay, it was blocked), social media platforms had a field day.  It's not fair.  Kickers should not be named Blew-itt.

The Good:

(11)  Green Bay keeps rolling along.  Now, 6-1 let's just gift wrap the NFC Central and give the title to the Packers.  Sounds like a broken record, but Green Bay always does just enough to win.  And despite the Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears being mathematically alive in the race at 3-3 and 3-4 respectively, unless something really bad and serious happens to QB Aaron Rodgers, both of those teams are done.  Now, it's a race to lock up home field advantage.

(12)  Once again, the gutsy team of the week award clearly goes to the Las Vegas Raiders.  Just as they did last week, the Raiders shook off all the distractions of former head coach Jon Gruden getting fired and played a fabulous game against Philadelphia.  No one saw Las Vegas, now 4-2 and back tied for first, shaking off two dismal defeats the past two weeks plus the Gruden scandal and expected the Raiders to play so well on the mend.  Credit new (interim) coach Rich Bissacia for rallying his team when they needed new leadership the most.  Just wow.

(13)  The Cincinnati Bengals are 5-2 and probably enjoyed the best week of any team.  Wow, nobody saw this coming.  The Bengals were nearly a touchdown underdog and went into Baltimore and absolutely mauled the Ravens 41-17.  First place Cincinnati Bengals and we're nearly into November.  What am amazing turnaround for this long-suffering franchise and their fans.  I think everyone outside of Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Baltimore is cheering for the Bengals to win the AFC North.

(14)  The Minnesota Vikings will host Dallas next week.  It's hard to say there's a must-win game in the first half of the season, but this is a must-win for the Vikes if they are to be taken seriously as a playoff contender.  They have played several close games this season and now must start playing the league's best teams tough, especially at home.  Falling to 3-4 and possibly 3 games behind Green Bay basically eliminated the Vikings from the NFC North race.

(15)  After a horrible start to their season, credit the Indianapolis Colts for bringing back the fight and playing tough each of the last four weeks.  They beat Miami and Houston, lost a heartbreaker in OT to Baltimore (they would have won if the kicker was decent), and are winning at San Francisco on Sunday night (check the final, this is posted early).  The Colts are a feisty team and let's also credit QB Carson Wentz for surprising many of us who thought he was washed up as a starter.

The Great:

(16)  If there was any doubt the 7-0 Arizona Cardinals deserve the #1 ranking in the weekly Power Rankings, we simply have to say the Tampa Bucs are a better team right now.  On a neutral field, the Bucs would certainly be favoured, perhaps for no other reason than "the Brady factor."  But it's a close call.  Let's also make QB Kyler Murray the frontrunner for MVP, though the Bill's Josh Allen will likely be in the conversation as the season goes along.  We should also toss in Joe Burrow at Cincinnati if he keeps on playing at this level.  And, Dak Prescott is also enjoying a career season, so far.

(17)  The LA Rams also look like the total package.  But even with the identical 6-1 record, we can't quite list them above the defending Super Bowl champions at the moment.  Green Bay is also in this conversation but they've struggled versus some average teams and have played an easy schedule.

(18)  It's tough to figure out exactly where Baltimore and Dallas factor in the rankings. Both teams look unstoppable, at times.  We will see how the Ravens fare in the next two weeks against the Steelers and Browns.  Dallas has a much easier path ahead.  The rest of their schedule includes only three teams with winning records.

(19)  Monday Night Football features New Orleans playing at Seattle.  Both teams really need to win, especially Seattle which is going to be out of the race with another loss or two.  Good luck Seahawks, with QB Russell Wilson still on the sidelines with an injury.  New Orleans will have to step up its game if they are to be taken seriously alongside Tampa Bay in the NFC South.  With two weeks to prepare and facing a defense with all sorts of problems, New Orleans will have no excuse not to win this game.

(20)  Our Power Rankings:  Finally, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (now 9-1) win again.  Note to CFL fans:  Lock it up – Winnipeg Blue Bombers, 2021 Grey Cup champions!

POINTSPREADS.CA POWER TOP 10

  1. Tampa Bay
  2. Arizona
  3. Green Bay
  4. Dallas
  5. LA Rams
  6. Tennessee
  7. Buffalo
  8. Cincinnati
  9. Baltimore
  10. Winnipeg Blue Bombers (just for fun)

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