NFL Week 7: What we learned
Another week of great NFL action has come and gone, alarm bells are ringing for some playoff stalwarts while on the other side of things young quarterbacks like Kyler Murray and Joe Burrow continue to make a name for themselves in the league.
It was another exciting week with Seahawks vs Cardinals epic no doubt being the highlight we all expected it to be. But what did we learn from the latest round of games?
Kyler Murray can go toe-toe with the very best in the league:
Kyler Murray has all the attributes a modern day quarterback needs, full field awareness, a great arm and the ability to rush himself but Sunday was arguably the biggest test of his young career, going up against division rivals and previously unbeaten Seattle Seahawks, a test he passed with flying colours.
Russell Wilson has been the all-star of the season so far and few were expecting Murray and the Cardinals to be the first team to defeat the seemingly unstoppable Seahawks, but down 10 late in the first quarter Murray took the snap on the Seahawks 35 yard line and drops a pass perfectly into the arms of DeAndre Hopkins, the first touchdown in what would turn out to be an astonishing 37-34 OT win for the Cardinals.
In the end Murray threw for 360 yards, three touchdowns & one interception, he also rushed for 67 yards himself including and fourth and final touchdown. The former Heisman trophy winner looked the part on Sunday, up against one of the elite QB's in the NFL in Wilson.
The win moves Arizona to 5-2, just one game back on Seattle in the NFC West. Murray is ready to lead a team to success and with a great coach, capable of maximizing his gifts and elite receiver in DeAndre Hopkins, big things are starting to happen, Sunday's performance was all the proof needed.
The Cowboys are in big trouble:
We all knew the Cowboys were in trouble when Dak Prescott went down in week 5 but Sunday's defeat against Washington really highlighted just how big a hole this Dallas team is in without their star man.
The Cowboys travelled to Washington for Sunday's divisional battle with hope given the oppositions struggles but managed to score just a single first quarter field goal and blanked for the next three quarters, this against a Washington team that were beaten by the Giants last week. Final Score at FedExField, Washington 25-3 Dallas.
The Cowboys now have the same record as the Washington in the NFC East (2-5) but the big concern for them is the lack of productivity they are getting out of back up QB Andy Dalton and star RB Ezekiel Elliott. Dalton threw for just 75 yards and 1 interception before being forced out of the game after a helmet on helmet collision. This is an experienced NFL quarterback but the performances he has been delivering since assuming a starting role have been pathetic.
Usually the Cowboys would have Elliott to rely on when their QB was struggling but their running back is in a rut, the former pro-bowler had just 45 rushing yards for the game to go on from his double fumble two week ago and continued struggles since Prescott went down. There is issues on and off the field in Dallas, with players unhappy with the board and the management, they are minus their leader and it seems things are only going to get worse from here.
ACL injuries continue to plague the NFL:
A torn anterior cruciate ligament is one of the most gruesome injuries you can suffer in sport, so far this season it is an injury that has plagued the NFL. Odell Beckham Jr has become the latest star to suffer the knee injury through just seven weeks of action, once again showing the impact of no training camp due to COVID-19. Over 20 players in the league have now suffered ACL injuries included Saquon Barkley of the NY Giants.
This may hurt the Browns offence hard but luckily for them Baker Mayfield was on form to lead the team to an impressive 37-34 win over the Bengals after OBJ went down in the first quarter. The Browns eventually came out on top of the shootout with Cincinnati thanks to Mayfields fifth touchdown pass of the day with just 11 seconds remaining, right off the back of the Bengals scoring the go ahead TD.
In an epic matchup between two rivals, it was the quarterbacks that went toe-toe. Burrow threw for 400+ yards, three touchdowns and 1 interception while Mayfield went for 297 yards, five touchdowns and one interception. A great battle between a rising star (Burrow) and a question mark(Mayfield), in which the ? came out on top. They now must deal with the loss of an elite WR in OBJ but they will be riding high after the last gasp win, while also hoping Baker Mayfield has turned a corner.
Steelers are the only perfect team through seven weeks of action:
The Pittsburgh Steelers are officially the only perfect team left in the NFL through week 7 (6-0). The Black and Gold army maintained their perfect start by taking down another 5-0 team in the Tennessee Titans. Final Score in Tennessee, Titans 24-27 Steelers.
Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger had a mixed day throwing for 250+ yards, two td's and three interceptions, so it was once again down to the Pittsburgh defence to get the team over the line which they duly did with some big stops down the stretch.
The Super Bowl hype is very real around this Steelers outfit and after hammering the Browns and this impressive win over Tennessee it is absolutely justified. While there is a long way to go in this season, the Steelers have all the attributes needed in a Super Bowl challenging team.
NFC West is going to be a dog fight until the death:
The NFC West has emerged into the most exciting division in the NFL with all four teams now above .500 through week 7.
The Seahawks are still leading the way in the division (5-1) after suffering their first defeat of the season against the Cardinals on Sunday, who are now just one game back (5-2) along with the Rams, who took down the Bears on Monday Night Football. Last years Super Bowl runners up the San Francisco 49ers are playing catch up (4-3) after a stuttering start to the season but their huge 33-6 win over the Patriots on Sunday evening could act as a catalyst in turning around their season.
Seattle are still favourites to take the division but Cardinals are the major threat. They are unbeaten in their division and became the first team to beat the Seahawks on Sunday night. They are in a strong position but all teams in the division will expect to be playing playoff football and that is why I expect this division to remain tight right up until the final weeks of regular season action.
It's time to worry about the Patriots or celebrate:
The New England Patriots have been the dominant force in the NFL for the past 20 years so their struggles so far this season will probably be bringing up mixed feelings around the league. For Pats haters its time to celebrate because they really seem to be struggling for Pats fans, it's definitely time to start worrying.
The Patriots are now 2-4 to start the season and Sundays defeat to the 49ers brought all their problems right to their front door. Final Score at Gillette Stadium. Pats 6-33 49ers.
When the Patriots and Tom Brady decided to part ways, there was a sense around the league that Brady was done and the Pats had a plan and that plan seemed to come together when they brought in Cam Newton from the Carolina Panthers but so far things just haven't clicked and it certainly isn't helping the Tom Brady is still starring over in Tampa.
In Sundays defeat, Cam threw for just 98 yards, to go along with zero touchdowns and three interceptions and was eventually replaced by Jarrett Stidham, who didn't fair much better in the latter stages of the game. It has been seven weeks to forget for the Brady-less Patriots thanks to injuries, corona virus and just an all round negative atmosphere around the team. They still have Bill Belichick and a lot of quality but so far things are not looking good for 2020 in New England.