34 thoughts on “2020-2021 NFL: Week 7

  1. Sun
    Steelers-Titans
    Cowboys-Washington
    Bills-Jets
    Panthers-Saints
    Packers-Texans
    Browns-Bengals
    Lions-Falcons
    Buccaneers-Raiders
    Jaguars-Chargers
    49ers-Patriots
    Chiefs-Broncos
    Seahawks-Cardinals

    Mon
    Bears-Rams

    Power Rankings

    1st Tier

    Chiefs
    Seahawks, Titans, Ravens, Packers, Buccaneers, Rams, Steelers
    Steelers, Patriots, Bills

    I have the Chiefs first, but the distance between the others is quite small. Among the second batch, I would say it’s almost impossible to rank them. Each team has some significant question marks, and therefore flawed. Ultimately, the nature of the match-ups might matter the most. For example, the Rams may have an advantage over the Seahawks because the Rams weakness might be their OL, but the Seahawk OL is also weak. Having said that, I guess I’m putting the Seahawks second because of Russ. If their defense improves, which is possible, they could be in the first tier. The Titans looks like the best team, overall, in terms of being the most well-rounded. (It’ll be interesting if they stick with Gostowski, who could cost them critical games.) The Buccaneers, particularly for their defense and underrated run game, Rams and I guess the Steelers should be mentioned in that group. (I don’t know why I’m reluctant about the Steelers.) Shoot, with Ngakoue, the Ravens could become the best team, too—whatever question marks exist about Lamar may not matter if that defense becomes dominant.

    Belichick is doing it with smoke and mirrors.

    2nd Tier

    Colts, Bears, Vikings
    Saints
    Raiders
    49ers

    The Colts, Bears, and possibly the Vikings could be with the last group in the first tier. The Vikings, if they have Cook, look like one of the better teams, although they just gave up Ngakoue.

    1. The Ravens should be in the top tier with the Chiefs, even though their run game doesn’t seem as good. Their lost to the Chiefs was because of the defensive style of play more than anything. They were blitzing and playing too much man coverage on Mahomes. If they adjust some of that, they are probably equals with the Chiefs. But I hesitate to call the Raven’s defense dominant. Best in the league maybe, but not dominant. They were dominating the Eagles and let them back in the game.

      I cannot believe you are sticking with the Vikings. Their chances of even making the playoffs at this point with the Bears and Packers in great shape isn’t good at all.

      Kornheiser pointed out that the Rams has only won games against the NFC Least. You could be closer to be on the right track when you said they haven’t beaten anybody so it’s hard to tell. Their offense looks better than last year though.

    2. To be clear, I’m not saying the Ravens defense has been dominant. I’m saying they could be dominant with the addition of Yannick Ngakoue. Without a dominant defense and/or run game, the question marks I have about Jackson would make me hesitant to put them on the same level as the Chiefs.

      As for the Vikings, their playoff prospects look grim, and they traded away Ngakoue, which lowers their chances, but I mentioned them because I thought they were playing some of the best football…well, with the exception of the turnovers, which is no small matter. I thought if they could get Cook and Hunter back, and didn’t trade Ngakoue, I would not have been surprised if they when on a big run. But that seems unlikely now, so I should probably drop them lower.

      The Rams offense, specifically their OL, looks a lot better. Their defense seems better, too, although their run defense didn’t look good against the Niners. But it’s still hard to tell given who they played so far. (I’m a little nervous for Tua this weekend.)

      1. Yeah I know you were saying with Ngakoue the Ravens could be dominant, and not now, but based on that Eagles game I find it hard to believe they can get to that level with one player. Again they can be the best in the league this year, but dominant seems a few steps up from best in the league this year.

        Tua is not playing this week? I think it’s the right move to go to Tua. There is no future in Fitzpatrick and from what I hear, this was the Dolphins’ plan all along.

        I didn’t mention it previously, but you said, “Titans… in terms of being the most well-rounded.” Were you talking about offensively or overall? I didn’t think their defense is all that great or seems very similar to last year. And last year you were killing their defense. But as we stated before, nobody has a great defense right now.

    3. …but dominant seems a few steps up from best in the league this year.

      Do you mean defenses or teams overall? I agree that none of the defenses are dominant. Consistency is also an issue. Some defenses flash, like the Bucs, maybe the Bears, and a few others. You have defenses that are consistently good, but not much beyond that.

      Having said that Ngakoue could be the missing piece. I’m not 100% sure, but the secondary is a strength (although they didn’t look that way against the Chiefs), and they have Judon and Campbell. It wouldn’t be surprising if that defense becomes close to dominant.

      The Dolphins have a bye, but my understanding is that Tua will be playing against the Rams next week. That’s a rough team to face in the first game, especially since their RT is their weakest lineman, or so I’ve heard. Hence, my comment about being nervous. But I agree that the chances of them going far with Fitz is really low. If Tua has a higher ceiling, or at least will reliably protect the ball, then the move makes sense, especially since you’d want him to get experience, if he’s ready to play now.

      I feel bad for Fitz, though. Did you see the article about how he felt about the move? I can’t recall a QB laying out his disappointment and pain in such detail. I just hope it doesn’t adversely affect Tua.

      For the Titans, I meant “well-rounded” and balanced as a team, although that could apply to the offense as well. It’s hard to get a good read on how good their defense is, but they seem good at least. Put that together with their offense and that would make them a well-rounded team. The thing is, I think you can say that about the Bucs, too; maybe a few other teams.

      1. I just mean even if the Ravens are the best defense in the league, they are still going to be far from dominant. The Ravens will find good match ups with QBs that cannot take their constant pressure and man-to-man coverage. But the Ravens may also struggle against better QBs for the same reasons as they shown with Mahomes.

        When you mentioned Bucs with the Titans, I feel like the Bucs are much better on defense than the Titans. However, I think at this point the Titans are a better team, because of the balance they have shown on offense and for the most part without their top two receivers playing at the same time. I could be wrong on the Titan defense, but I get the sense in most years (not including this one), they would be an average defense at best. Do you see the Titan defense being way better than the Raider defense for example? They are close to me from what I’ve seen.

    4. I just mean even if the Ravens are the best defense in the league, they are still going to be far from dominant.

      I’m not saying you’re wrong, but why are you so sure about that? It sounds like you’re saying that even with Ngakoue, they wouldn’t be able to give teams like the Chiefs a lot of problems. The Chargers gave the Chiefs problems, and I think that had a lot to do with the Charger pass rush. It’s conceivable that Ngakoue could make the Ravens one of the better pass rushing teams–not that he’s super dominant, but they already have good pieces. Again, I’m not saying the Ravens will be dominant–just that it wouldn’t surprise me.

      When you mentioned Bucs with the Titans, I feel like the Bucs are much better on defense than the Titans. However, I think at this point the Titans are a better team, because of the balance they have shown on offense…

      I basically agree with all of this. I’m pretty confident that the Bucs defense is better than the Titans, although I’m open to the possibility that the Titans are better than they seem and/or they can improve.

      Their defense under LeBeau was average at best, and maybe less than that (Their tackling was atrocious), but they’ve gotten better under Vrabel although no where near great. Last year, they weren’t bad, and I would say their ceiling was “good.” This year looks similar, maybe a little better. For example, they look impressive against the Bills.

      I would say the current Raiders defense was pretty close the Titans defenses prior Vrabel. Up to this point so far, I would say the Titans defense is clearly better than the Raiders defense. Hopefully, the Raiders can improve, but I’m not holding my breath.

      1. I guess depending on what you mean by dominant. I took it to mean, a defense that can carry a team ala the Ray Lewis type teams where they could average giving up less than 14 points a game. You think the Ravens can get to that point, where every game they just shut down the other team? I’m pretty far from thinking they can do that, but if you are close to that, that speaks volume of how good you think they can be.

        Yeah I was just comparing the Raiders and Titans this year, and I viewed them pretty similar. The Titans gave up over thirty to three teams already this year, with probably their best effort being against the Bills. The Raiders have similar performances I feel.

    5. By “dominant” I mean great, which I distinguish from all-time great–e.g., 2000 Ravens, 2013 Seahawks, 2015 Broncos, 1985 Bears, etc.) A great/dominant defense would be a notch or two below that. An example would be the best 49er defenses under Harbaugh. I actually think some of the Cardinals defenses or even the Panthers, in ’12-’13, were in that category, although my memory is hazy. Maybe the 2015 Panthers defense. The best Vikings defenses under Zimmer were getting to that point, but couldn’t quite get there. Maybe you could say the ’17 Jaguars, but I thought they gave up too many big plays. The ’06 Bears defense might be another.

      Maybe “dominant” is too strong a word. But “very good” seems inadequate, too. I guess we’re talking about a defense that can give really good offenses a hard time, and maybe destroy weaker defenses, including generating turnovers and scoring on them. But the defenses aren’t so dominant that the offense and QB are almost irrelevant.

      There aren’t any defenses like that now, Could the Ravens get to that level? I think there’s a possibility they could get there, or close to it. I think the Bucs had a chance as well. If Von Miller didn’t go down, I thought the Broncos also had a shot. Oh, the ’19 49ers were real close, if not in this category.

      1. But you made the reference to Lamar not having to be good if the defense is dominant, which is why I thought you meant a defense that can carry the team. The Cardinals and Panthers had very good defenses, but their offenses weren’t so bad that their defense had to carry those teams. I was thinking of teams like the Dilfer Bucs. The Niners with Kaep was close too, but the Niners was just short of being really dominant, which is why they lost the Super Bowl, imo.

    6. Yeah, I wasn’t clear,and I think that’s because my thinking was a muddle as well. Specifically, I’m thinking about some combination of a great defense and run game. For example, suppose the Ravens could run the ball like last year but their defense was on the same level as the 2013 49ers–that’s a team that I’d worry less about Lamar’s red flags–especially if they ran that well in the Super Bowl. On the other hand, look at the 2019 49ers–a really good defense and run game, but Jimmy G couldn’t deliver those handful of plays–and I think that’s the main reason they lost. So even with exceptional run game and defense, I should have reservations about the Ravens. I’d have far less, though, if the defense and run games were really, really good.

      2013 Cardinal and Panther defenses had decent offenses (although Palmer turned the ball over a lot), but I’m not sure why that matters. I’m only mentioning them to give you a sense of what I mean by “dominant/great.”

      As for the 2012 49ers, do you mean the defense had to be better because Kaep wasn’t good enough to win it for them?

      Again, I don’t think the Ravens need an all-time great defense to win the Super Bowl. Their offense is way better than Dilfer’s Ravens, Rex Grossman’s 2006 Bears, or Manning’s 2015 Broncos–but to significantly reduce the red flags I have, their defense and/or run game would need to be better.

  2. Giants-Eagles

    Both OLs seemed to struggle in this game, maybe a bit more in the run game as well. But then the run game, for both teams had some life near the end of the game.

    The game was marred by turnovers.

    Also, Evan Engram dropped a crucial third down pass with about 2:00 minutes in the game. The Eagles had two time outs, so there’s no guarantee the Giants would be able to seal the victory. Still, that was a crucial drop.

    1. I watched the ending and Wentz was great. I’m guessing by the fact the Eagles didn’t score much until the end, that Wentz wasn’t so great prior, although he had decent stats. At his best Wentz seems to be as good as anyone. He had a beautiful long pass on the second to last touchdown. He had a on the money pass on the run in the last touchdown. The guy was super open by the time Wentz got to the outside, but because the pass was so accurate, Rodgers gained more yards after the catch. Then the last TD pass was just ridiculous.

    2. Except for a careless INT, I thought Wentz did well, considering the OL was shaky, and his weapons are extremely limited at this point.

  3. Panthers-Saints

    1st half
    Beautiful, methodical ground-and-pound opening drive by the Saints, ending in a TD and chewing up about 9 minutes. The Saints DL seem to making running impossible for the Panthers, but the Panthers offensive is still doing quite well.

    If Bridgewater protects the football and plays to his ceiling, which is not super high, the Panthers have a good chance to win this. At the very least, he must protect the football (and the Panthers offense overall can’t turn it over).

    2nd half

    Panthers literally came up short, at least to tie the game. It was a good game by them, though. They are close to being a really good team–secure a QB and one or two more good pieces.

  4. Packers-Texans

    I feel like the Texans may have had one of the toughest schedules in the league. However, what’s more important than their poor record is the way they’ve played against the best teams. Basically, what seems clear is that they’re just not in the same class as the best teams. Their defense just isn’t good enough and their offense is too one-dimensional.

    In a way, you could sum up this specific game by saying the Packers had a better balanced offense than the Texans. That’s it.

    1. I was flipping between this game and the Pitt, Tennessee game and I only watched the first half, but I didn’t think Watson was as bad as the score. The Texan’s defense on the other hand, couldn’t do much. My other thought was, what if Green Bay drafted a Justin Jefferson or one of the other receivers that are playing pretty well. Their offense could be top five.

      1. I was impressed with Watson, I guess because I haven’t seen him play in so long. He reminded me that there’s a really good QB in there who can take over a game.

    2. Watson is not bad–it’s just the offense is too one-dimensional, and overall it’s not good enough to put them on the same level as the best teams.

      As for Green Bay, what’s interesting is that the WR position has been their lowest priority for many years in my view, even the new GM, seems to be sticking with that. My sense is that they’ve invested in the OL and defense, but their defense has had a lot of injuries over the years. As a blueprint I kinda like this–I’d prefer this to making the OL the lowest priority, which is kinda what the Seahawks have done. Did they draft good defensive players this year? To me, if they can have a strong run game and become a run-based offense, and they have a good defense, I think the pass catchers might be good enough.

    3. I enjoyed this game, but man: the announcing was kind of unusual. Kenny Albert was great, like noticeably great. I know he could never unseat Joe Buck as Fox’s number one, but he might be better. I guess I don’t see enough games he calls because I was like, has he always been this good? I looked him up on Wikipedia where I guess I was the last person on earth to realize he’s Marv Albert’s son. And of course then it seemed obvious.

      I also learned that he’s one of a very small handful of announcers who broadcasts play-by-play for all four major pro sports. He says hockey and basketball are his favorites.

      His partner in the booth was Jonathan Vilma, and I can’t remember what annoyed me so much, but I thought he was terrible. As much as I disliked his performance, I kinda want to see another game with Albert and Vilma so I can take notes.

      Man, Fox’s color commenters in general (for football) are just not great.

    4. I can’t really comment, as many of the games, I listen without sound or in condensed version. Besides missing out on injuries and some other details, I don’t really miss the commentary. On the other hand, I do think my understanding of the games is hurt by not getting some of the analysis.

  5. Steelers-Titans

    This is a game I looked forward to. It should give a good indication of how good both teams are. I’m curious to see the way the Titans offense functions, especially running the ball because my sense is that the running from a pro-style set is kinda hard to do against the Steelers.

    1st half

    Titans offense cannot get penalties or big negative yardage plays.

    That big return by the Steelers at the end of the half, leading to a TD, seems almost like a knock-out blow. 17-7 before that. Then the messed up punt by the Titans could have been huge, too. (I kinda don’t get the hail mary throw with 12 seconds by the Steelers. A quick throw to the sidelines would put them in field goal range. The false start before that might didn’t help.)

    2nd half.

    Steelers just need to play good defense, protect the football, and eat up the clock, and they should win this…Welp. That last INT by Roethlisberger could have cost them the game.

    The Titans patience with the run game was impressive, sticking with the run near the beginning of the 4th, when their run game wasn’t all that effective all game. The Steelers looked like the better team for most of the game, except for the turnovers, but the Titans showed resilience.

    Finally, I would think the Titans have to move on from Gostowski.

  6. Seahawks-Cardinals

    Russ lost the game. They’re passing too much–they’re too one-dimensional, man. It’s lame. He threw three bad INTs, which might be the worst I’ve seen since the 2014 NFCCG. They deserved to lose.

    I’d say it’s mostly his fault–especially if he’s the one calling a lot of the pass plays. Whoever is doing that deserves a lot blame as well. Coming out of the bye, I thought they would make an effort to make the running game more of a threat, but nope. I guess this is the team Carroll wants–but this is the close to the opposite of the team’s he normally strives for. (I wonder how many snaps the defense played, but I bet it was a lot again.)

    On another note, Tyler and Russ has incredible plays, but this one might be the best:

    What made really capped this play off was that the defense stopped the Cardinals from scoring on four downs.

    1. To be fair, even with the first two interceptions by Wilson, Seattle should have won. Without those two interceptions, Seattle wins handily, but even with those two they should have won. Seattle’s pass rush was so bad, Murray could do whatever he wanted at times, but Seattle’s offense dominated the game for the most part.

    2. All three were terrible interceptions–that’s front and center for me. And I’ve said in other similar contexts, (e.g., our discussions about Dak holding the ball too long), the big problem is the overall offense approach. The sense I’m getting is that Wilson has a tunnel vision. You remember in before 2014, Romo and the Cowboys offense would overpass, and it was obvious they were going to pass. You remember when they played they played the Redskins? Jim Haslett was the DC, and he’d have all these exotic blitzes and Romo would get sacked or throw INTs. At some point, I knew these things would happen, because it seemed obvious Romo and the offense was forcing throws. They were too predictable. Wilson and the Seahawks feel like that.

      And the Seahawks playing well overall doesn’t overcome this. Also, do you think they have a balanced attack–that the run game is involved enough; that it’s a factor? I don’t–and I think that’s really bad.

      As for the defense, if you looked at their roster coming into the season, it would not be a stretch to say they could have the worst DL/pass rush. Mayowa and Bruce Irvin were their two best edge rushers, and Irvin is not out for the season. What made it worse is that I believe they decided to contain Murray as much as possible, if if it meant giving him more time. I got the sense that Murray realized this and settled in, which helped him to throw. My point is that the strategy made the pass rush look worse in some ways, but it’s still not very good overall.

      The other thing about the offense–they’re playing in a way that is leading to their defense playing a lot. Before this game, they lead the league in snaps by a significant margin. I don’t know the snap count, but I bet it was high. This is another bad thing about the offense.

      1. Yes Wilson’s interceptions was awful and uncharacteristic. But if you had to guess, if Seattle offensive scheme continued to be pass-first, do you expect Wilson to have similar games in the future? I do not. This was a blip.

        I said this before as this topic comes up after each game. I don’t know what is right in terms of Seattle’s offensive balance, but I do believe this style is better than their run-heavy style of the past. Maybe last year was closer to where Seattle should be? I think Seattle should be throwing more than 50% of the time overall and more than 50% of the time on first down.

    3. I guess I wouldn’t expect the type of game he had to become the norm. But I would lean towards seeing turnovers by him in the playoffs–if and when they have to face a really good defense–and if they continue to play in this style.

      I think I could live with a pass-first offense, if the run game was more of a threat, in terms of causing damage and being woven into the sequence of plays, making the offense more unpredictable. I think the Patriots have been like this and Mike McCoy’s best offenses with the Chargers.

      To me, the issue isn’t just the total number of runs and passes, but whether you can run and pass out of the same formations and just doing a better job of mixing runs and passes. There are long stretches where it seems obvious they’re passing the ball, and the defense can just ignore the run. That’s really bad in my view.

  7. Bears-Rams

    I didn’t see the Bears defense score or block a kick–what happened? Anyway, prior to that, I thought the Rams offensive machine still functioned fairly well, even though Goff was kinda shaky. The Rams defense did well, though, although Foles and the Bears offense isn’t great.

    1. The Rams were inside their own 10-yard-line (I don’t know the exact spot). They ran a jet sweep with Woods (I think) and he dropped the ball on the exchange. Chicago picked it up and ran it in. It was really quick.

    2. I’m kinda glad I couldn’t watch this on TV. I listened on the radio, and the way Kurt Warner was talking about the Bears offense, they just sounded like they had no life in them. It’s too bad; I’m hoping they wake up a little because I kinda like these guys.

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