NFL Week 7 – Sunday Games Preview

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Sunday, October 20, 2019


Venue: Paul Brown Stadium | Start: 4:00am AEDT

With Jalen Ramsey officially no longer a Jacksonville Jaguar, the team will move on Sunday, looking to end a two-game losing streak at the Cincinnati Bengals. Ramsey was shipped to the Los Angeles Rams for two first-round picks and a fourth-rounder on Tuesday, ending a month-long period of uncertainty and rumors. Ramsey had not played since Week 4, with the Jaguars winning at Denver before back-to-back losses at Carolina and home vs. New Orleans. Rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew fell to 2-3 as a starter in the loss to the Saints, struggling to his worst game as a pro by going 14 of 29 for 163 yards and an interception. He had been riding a three-game streak with at least two passing touchdowns and no interceptions. Minshew will face a banged-up Bengals secondary missing starting cornerbacks William Jackson (shoulder) and Dre Kirkpatrick (knee). Cincinnati (0-6) remains one of two winless teams in the NFL after falling 23-17 at Baltimore last week. Behind a battered and inexperienced offensive line, Andy Dalton has already been sacked more times (22) than he was across 11 games last season (21). He has a quarterback rating of 82.8, which would be his lowest mark since his rookie season, but he’s averaging a career-best 274.5 passing yards per game. Four of the Bengals’ six losses have come by six points or fewer.

Win: Jacksonville
Margin: Jacksonville 1-13
Line: Cincinnati +3.5
Total Points: Under 43.5


Venue: Ford Field | Start: 4:00am AEDT

At 2-2-1, the Detroit Lions could be leading the league in missed opportunities. All five games this season were decided by four points or fewer, incluidng the knee-buckling last-second loss at Lambeau Field to the Packers on Monday Night. But there’s not time to sulk for Matthew Stafford and the Lions with the Minnesota Vikings putting together a complete and thorough domination of the Philadelphia Eagles last week. Quarterback Kirk Cousins threw four touchdowns and appeared to be off the leash for the first time in 2019 as head coach Mike Zimmer has made no secret about his desire to win with Dalvin Cook and the ground game. Cook could be back on the frontburner on Sunday. The Lions were gouged repeatedly in the run game by the Packers, unable to get off the field in critical situations, and allow a miserable 5.1 yards per carry. Cook is averaging 5.4 yards per carry in 2019. It will be a challenge for the Lions to keep pace if the offensive line doesn’t improve. The Lions don’t have an elite receiving corps and Stafford draws a Vikings’ pass rush with 17 sacks this season.

Win: Minnesota
Margin: Minnesota 1-13
Line: Minnesota +1.5
Total Points: Over 44.5


Venue: New Era Field | Start: 4:00am AEDT

The Miami Dolphins’ quarterback flip-flopping continued this week, as quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick will start Sunday against his former team, the Buffalo Bills, in Orchard Park, N.Y. Head coach Brian Flores said last week that Josh Rosen would start the remainder of the season, but pulled Rosen in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s loss to the Washington Redskins. After Fitzpatrick nearly rallied Miami (0-5) to its first victory, Flores again said Rosen would start, before instead announcing the change Wednesday. Both quarterbacks have played in four of the Dolphins’ five games. Fitzpatrick led two touchdown drives Sunday, the Dolphins’ first scores after halftime all season. He spent four years as the Bills’ starter from 2009-2012, going 20-33 with a passer rating of 79.8. Buffalo’s defense will pose a stiff challenge, as it ranks third in total defense (275 yards per game) and yards allowed per play (4.51) and fourth in scoring (14 points per game). The Bills (4-1), who have yet to allow more than 17 points this season, enter off their bye after beating the Tennessee Titans 14-7 in Week 5. Starting quarterback Josh Allen has yet to get loose as a runner this season, averaging 3.9 yards per carry after an eye-popping 7.1 mark as a rookie. He has seven interceptions, including at least one in four of five games.

Win: Buffalo
Margin: Buffalo 14+
Line: Miami +16.5
Total Points: Under 39.5


Venue: Lambeau Field | Start: 4:00am AEDT

It took every last second on Monday night but the Green Bay Packers held off the Detroit Lions and remain in control of the NFC North. The offense continues to show signs of life but in only fits and starts. Part of the issue is missing wide receiver Davante Adams among other injuries, but head coach Matt LaFleur and quarterback Aaron Rodgers are still operating without a supporting cast they fully trust to deliver. Oakland is coming back from a bye week and two weeks removed from taking down the Chicago Bears in London to sit at 3-2 and in line for a rarity in recent seasons in these parts — a three-game winning streak. The first quarter has been kind to the Raiders. Opponents have only 14 total points while first-drive efforts by quarterback Derek Carr have helped Oakland put up 31 points in the first quarter this season. The continuity of the Raiders’ offensive line will get a litmus test here as the Packers kept the heat on Matthew Stafford all night Monday. Adams (toe) is inching toward a return but not guaranteed to be fully available again this week. That places more of a burden on tight end Jimmy Graham as Rodgers searches for harmony with his supporting cast.

Win: Green Bay
Margin: Green Bay 1-13
Line: Green Bay -6.5
Total Points: Over 46.5


Venue: FedExField | Start: 4:00am AEDT

Interim head coach Bill Callahan accomplished in one game what Jay Gruden had been unable to do in the first five contests – get the Washington Redskins a win. The task gets much tougher this week. After beating the winless Miami Dolphins, the Redskins go against the undefeated San Francisco 49ers, fresh off of a 20-7 thumping of the reigning NFC champion LA Rams. While Redskins fans clamor for rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins to take over for journeyman veteran Case Keenum, it has been another first-year player from Ohio State – receiver Terry McLaurin – who has starred in Washington. His steady, veteran-like play has proven one of the only bright spots this year for the Redskins, who otherwise leaned heavily on the stunningly-still-spry Adrian Peterson (23 rushes for 118 yards) in the win over the Dolphins. The 49ers, on the other hand, have proven one of the league’s best stories, brandishing a ferocious defense which currently ranks second in the NFL in points allowed per game (12.8) and a rushing attack of their own that leads the league in attempts (39 per game) and third in both rushing yards (899) and rushing touchdowns (eight in just five games), providing quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo the support Keenum (and Haskins) can only dream of at this point in the season. The medical report is worth watching in this game with Washington’s Peterson (quad) and San Francisco’s star tight end George Kittle (groin) sitting out Wednesday practices.

Win: San Francisco
Margin: San Francisco 1-13
Line: San Francisco -9.5
Total Points: Over 42.5


Venue: Mercedes-Benz Stadium | Start: 4:00am AEDT

After generating just 157 total yards of offense in humbling loss to San Francisco, the Rams were in need of good news and made some, trading for star cornerback Jalen Ramsey and watching running back Todd Gurley return to practice. Gurley did not practice at all last week prior to sitting out against the 49ers with a thigh bruise, so any participation is obviously good news for the Rams. Even better news may be their opponent as the Falcons have surrendered a league-high 186 points through six games, including 15 touchdowns via the air (31st in the NFL) and seven on the ground. It remains to be seen what kind of immediate impact Ramsey, a two-time Pro Bowler for the Jaguars, may have for the Rams but he clearly fills a critical need. Shortly before adding Ramsey, the Rams sent fellow cornerback Marcus Peters to his third team in two seasons, trading the former Kansas City Chiefs Pro Bowler to Baltimore. The team also announced this week that two other starters in the secondary – cornerback Aqib Talib and safety John Johnson – were headed to the IR with rib and shoulder injuries, respectively. That sets up for a potential shootout between Jared Goff and Matt Ryan, assuming Julio Jones (hip) and Gurley make it to gameday without further aggravating their injuries.

Win: LA Rams
Margin: LA Rams 1-13
Line: Atlanta +3.5
Total Points: Over 53.5


Venue: Lucas Oil Stadium | Start: 4:00am AEDT

Each coming off an impressive road victory over the Kansas City Chiefs, the Houston Texans visit the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday for the first of two meetings over the next six weeks. The Colts shut down Patrick Mahomes & Co. with defense and a ball-control offense for a 19-13 victory in Week 5, then watched during their bye as the Texans possessed the ball for nearly 40 minutes in a 31-24 victory over the Chiefs on Sunday. These AFC South rivals met three times last year, with the road team winning all three contests. Houston triumphed 37-34 in overtime in Week 4, Indianapolis prevailed 24-21 in Week 14, and the Colts rolled to a 21-7 victory in the wild-card playoffs in January. Neither quarterback has been sacked in either of his last two games, with Jacoby Brissett going down just six times all season. Deshaun Watson was dropped six times in a single game on two occasions through the first four weeks before his protection stabilized, although rookie right tackle Tytus Howard (torn MCL) is out the next several weeks. Watson had just one interception all season before throwing two at Kansas City last week. The Colts’ defense will get some reinforcements back from injury, as linebacker Darius Leonard and safety Clayton Geathers both cleared concussion protocol and will play.

Win: Indianapolis
Margin: Indianapolis 1-13
Line: Houston +1.5
Total Points: Under 48.5


Venue: MetLife Stadium | Start: 4:00am AEDT

The Arizona Cardinals and No. 1 overall pick Kyler Murray are flying high with two-game winning streak but the healthy return of running back Saquon Barkley and tight end Evan Engram could help Daniel Jones and the New York Giants grow after consecutive losses. After getting sacked a league-high 20 times in his first four NFL games Murray has only gone down once in the past two games and he has accounted for nine touchdowns (seven passing) against four interceptions. It is worth noting, however, that the victories came against the lowly Bengals and Falcons, two teams with a combined record of 1-11. Murray’s hot play could continue on Broadway. In allowing 26.7 points per game, the Giants’ defense is statistically among the five worst in the NFL, one spot below winless Cincinnati (26.5) but not as bad as Atlanta (31). Jones predictably struggled in losses the past two weeks against much the much more formidable defenses from Minnesota and New England. He is completing passes at a lower rate (60.7%) than Murray (64.3) and has accounted for just seven touchdowns (five passing) with nine turnovers (seven interceptions). The Cardinals are allowing 28.5 points per game, themselves, but get All-Pro cornerback Patrick Peterson back from his six-game suspension this week.

Win: NY Giants
Margin: NY Giants 1-13
Line: Arizona +3.5
Total Points: Under 49.5


Venue: Nissan Stadium | Start: 7:05am AEDT

The Marcus Mariota era appears to be over in Tennessee, as the Titans will start Ryan Tannehill on Sunday when the Los Angeles Chargers visit Nashville for a battle of 2-4 teams. Mariota had thrown seven touchdowns and no interceptions on the season entering Week 6, but he was a woeful 7 of 18 for 63 yards and two picks before getting benched in a shutout loss at Denver on Sunday. Tannehill moved the ball better, going 13 of 16 for 144 yards, but also threw an interception. Tannehill has a career rating of 87.0 and a record of 42-46 as a starter, quite similar to Mariota’s 89.6 rating and 29-32 record. Both teams enter on two-game losing streaks that included losses to the previously 0-4 Broncos. The Chargers fell 20-13 at home to Denver in Week 5, then lost 24-17 on Sunday night at home against the Steelers, who were starting third-string quarterback Devlin Hodges. Philip Rivers threw two interceptions in both losses and had a third turnover against Pittsburgh. One bright spot for the Chargers is tight end Hunter Henry, who looked fully healthy in putting up eight catches for 100 yards and two touchdowns Sunday in his return from a tibial plateau fracture that kept him out the previous four games.

Win: Tennessee
Margin: Tennessee 1-13
Line: LA Chargers +2.5
Total Points: Under 39.5


Venue: Soldier Field | Start: 7:25am AEDT

Mitchell Trubisky will make an effort to get back in the lineup after missing time with a left shoulder injury. While not a shoo-in to start until he receives full medical clearance, Trubisky could be returning just in time to face one of the NFL’s hottest defenses. The Saints have allowed less than 14 points per game the past three weeks and now stand at 4-0 since Drew Brees was hurt against the Rams in Week 2 (Sept. 15). Teddy Bridgewater is playing a careful but effective quarterback in Brees’ stead. Bridgewater has a 69.4 completion percentage with seven touchdown passes. It helps to be surrounded by elite talent, and running back Alvin Kamara and wide receiver Michael Thomas certainly help Bridgewater settle back into a starting role. Perhaps the greatest untold element to the Saints’ trucking forward without Brees will be tested this week: the offensive line. New Orleans has surrendered 10 sacks since Bridgewater took over, but that’s more a product of Bridgewater playing it too safe to avoid mistakes. He’ll need a quick release this week to avoid unruly introductions to Bears linebackers Khalil Mack and Leonard Floyd.

Win: Chicago
Margin: Chicago 1-13
Line: New Orleans +3.5
Total Points: Over 39.5


Venue: CenturyLink Field | Start: 7:25am AEDT

The Baltimore Ravens and dual-threat MVP candidate Lamar Jackson travels to take on playmaking predecessor Russell Wilson, whose jaw-dropping start to the season has recently made him the oddsmakers’ favorite to take home the prestigious award. Strong running games led by hard-charging backs Mark Ingram and Chris Carson and opportunistic defenses stacked with Pro Bowlers add elements of intrigue to what could be a slugfest, and it’s a homecoming for new Ravens safety Earl Thomas. Each team also received huge additions this week with the Ravens acquiring two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Marcus Peters in a trade with the LA Rams and the Seahawks getting back defensive tackle Jarran Reed – who recorded 10.5 sacks a year ago – from suspension. Both teams also face important injury questions. Seattle’s oft-maligned offensive line continues to be without left tackle Duane Brown (bicep) and right guard DJ Fluker (hamstring), each of whom missed last week’s win in Cleveland. The Ravens current issues are on the perimeter, where first round wide receiver Marquise Brown (ankle) and veteran cornerback Jimmy Smith (knee) have injuries which could make the showdown between the quarterbacks that much more pivotal. Jackson has accounted for an NFL-best 1,967 all-purpose yards and 13 touchdowns. Wilson, meanwhile, is completing a career-high 72.5 percent of his passes and currently possesses a sparking 14-0 TD to INT ratio. He could be challenged by former Seahawks star Earl Thomas, who may play a hand (or at least a finger) in his return to Seattle.

Win: Seattle
Margin: Seattle 1-13
Line: Seattle -3.5
Total Points: Under 50.5


Venue: AT&T Stadium | Start: 11:20am AEDT

Both disappointed to be only 3-3, the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys will meet Sunday night in Arlington, Texas, with the NFC East lead at stake. Coach Doug Pederson showed confidence in his team by telling 94WIP radio on Monday that the Eagles would win, but he backtracked that statement slightly, perhaps hoping to avoid riling up the Cowboys. Dallas’ locker room still took note, making for a potentially heated atmosphere on Sunday. The Eagles’ two-game winning streak was snapped last week with a 38-20 defeat in Minnesota, as the defense allowed at least 24 points for the fifth time in six games. The Cowboys, meanwhile, dug themselves in a big hole for the second consecutive week, then came up short in a 24-22 loss to the previously 0-4 New York Jets. After a 3-0 start in which Dallas scored 97 points, the offense has mustered just 56 during a three-game losing streak. The Cowboys have won the last three meetings with the Eagles, prevailing 27-20 and 29-23 last year en route to the division title. The teams won’t meet again this season until Week 16 in Philadelphia. Sunday marks the Cowboys’ last game before their bye week, after which they’ll have four of the next six games on the road, including trips to New England and Chicago.

Win: Dallas
Margin: Dallas 1-13
Line: Philadelphia +3.5
Total Points: Under 49.5