The Ravens are on the rise, the Browns barely get by and Bill Belichick banks another milestone in Week 7 of the 2023/24 NFL season.
Jaguars 31 - 24 Saints
Now, I hate to say that any loss is down to one single play, but in this case, it might be true.
Sure, the Saints had a missed field-goal and a pick six, but they battled back from a 15-point deficit and gave themselves a chance to take it to OT. Derrick Carr mounted a 70-yard drive to put New Orleans in the redzone. Then on 3rd down from the Jags 6, with just 30 seconds left, this happened…
You have to feel for Foster Moreau. This is his only drop of the whole season and it happened to be a potential game-tying touchdown late in the 4th quarter. Twitter trolls will still want their pound of flesh, but at least his teammates are cutting him some slack.
Regardless, all props to Trevor Lawrence. No.16 barely practised this week, played injured on the road against a solid secondary, and even when his defense stuttered, he retook the lead and walked away with a victory. But I guess it helps when your punter is saving you from three-and-outs.
So, the Jags hold onto their win-streak by the skin of their teeth and with Pittsburgh scheduled for next week, 6-1 is very likely. Meanwhile, the Saints have their third one-score loss of the year. Tough sledding for Dennis Allen.
Falcons 16 - 13 Buccaneers
Atlanta’s backfield may be hogging the headlines this season, but the defense deserves more attention. They haven’t allowed more than 24-points in a single game so far and this week, they held the Rachaad White to just 2.6 yards per carry, while forcing two fumbles and grabbing an interception.
At the same time, the Falcons still managed to double the Bucs rushing total, even with Bijan Robinson on the sideline. The only thing that kept this game close was the barrage of penalties that helped Tampa move the chains. In fact, they had three times the amount of first downs from penalties, than they did from running the ball.
Baker Mayfield is playing well enough to keep the Bucs in most games, but he needs a lot more help in the backfield. 36 yards from your RB1 is never going to cut it.
Meanwhile, Desmond Ridder may not have thrown any picks this week, but he still fumbled the ball three times. Atlanta leads the NFC South at 4-3, but that won’t last long with Ridder at the helm.
Raiders 12 - 30 Bears
The battle of the back ups ends in disappointment for Las Vegas.
The Raiders went into this game with a chance to gain a positive record, instead they were easily handled by the Bears’ rookie quarterback Tyson Bagent and a Chicago defense which ranks among the league’s worst. Of course, something can be said for Derrick Carr’s absence, but it doesn’t change the 3-4 record. Playoff hopes are slowly fading in Sin City.
On the other hand, Matt Eberflus is somehow holding this team together despite the loss of Justin Fields, who was quickly becoming the efficient passer that Chicago needed.
Bagent took over and played a very clean game, going 21-of-29 for 162 yards and a touchdown. And they may have finally figured out a run-game, with 6 different rushers combining for 173 yards and 2 scores.
It’s a great win for the Bears, but Bagent will have a real challenge vs the Bolts next week.
Browns 39 - 38 Colts
The Browns could be in big trouble. Deshaun Watson threw just 5 passes before being picked off and took a hit just a few minutes later that landed him in concussion protocol. PJ Walker wasn’t great in his place, but did lead a game-winning drive, capped off by a Kareem Hunt touchdown.
Cleveland also entered the week with the top-rated defense in the league, allowing an average of 200 yards per game - 60 yards less than the next best. But Indy lit them up for a total of 456 yards and 5 touchdowns, with their back-up QB at the helm.
Gardner Minshew just shook out everyone in Lucas Oil Stadium.— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) October 22, 2023
📺 CBS pic.twitter.com/P17wSrcJjN
In week 5 I touted Minshew as the best back-up in the NFL. I thought he’d immediately me proved wrong with a three-interception performance vs the Jags, but now I’m 100% back on the hype-train. No.10 had the upset of the week in the palm of his hands, but his defense couldn’t hold up for just one last drive.
Forget about Anthony Richardson this year and save him for next season. Minshew might actually take this team to the playoffs.
Commanders 7 - Giants 14
Someone needs to save Sam Howell. As we saw last week, he certainly has the talent to outplay a great defense, but he has zero chance if he spends half the game eating turf. Washington’s O-line currently leads the league with a mind-blowing 40 sacks, including six in this matchup.
Of course, that’s a horrible stat-line for any QB to face, but Howell was struggling even with time in the pocket. It’ll be a rollercoaster season for the Commanders.
Meanwhile, Tyrod Taylor is making a case to remain the starting QB in New York. Unfortunately, Big Blue have tied themselves up in a $160 million deal with Daniel Jones, but if I’m Brian Daboll, I’m biting the bullet and naming Taylor QB1 for the rest of the year. Or just give the ball to Saquon Barkley every play.
Lions 6 - 38 Ravens
Now, this is the Lamar Jackson we all wanted to see… 31-of-37, 357 yards and 3 touchdowns with zero picks. The Ravens are a top five team when Jackson gets in rhythm.
As for the Lions, Goff threw for 284 yards while Jamhry Gibbs averaged 6.2 yards per carry, and that’s a winning statline for most matchups. Sure, they had two turnovers, but that doesn’t explain a 32-point loss.
The real issue is the complete lack of redzone offense without David Montgomery. Dan Campbell will be praying for a swift recovery for his lead running back, but for now he’ll be very thankful the NFC East is so easy to win this season.
Bills 25 - 29 Patriots
Bill Belichik just became the 3rd head coach in NFL history to reach 300 wins, and he did it in style.
Mac Jones torched Buffalo for 272 yards and 2 touchdowns, while Ezekiel Elliot put up another score on the ground. Not to mention, New England held the Bills to just 10 points heading into the half. Sure, they nearly blew the lead with a fumble late in the 4th, but Jones battled back for a 75-yard game-winning drive, topped off by a classic Gesicke griddy.
Could this be the turning point the Pats desperately needed? Well, the real question is whether this was a one-off, or if Bill O’Brien has found something he can rely on.
Meanwhile, the Bills have serious problems. After losing to Jacksonville and surviving the Giants by the skin of their teeth, they’ve now been struggling for 3 weeks straight. The cracks are starting to show without Matt Milano and Tre’Davious White, and for some reason, Josh Allen can’t help but throw interceptions.
Cardinals 10 - 20 Seahawks
Joshua Dobbs has been an impressive backup for Arziona, but he’s definitely a backup. When Kyler Murray returns, this team could be quite competitive, but don’t get your hopes up for a postseason run.
As for Seattle, someone needed to step up with DK Metcalf on the sidelines, and that’s exactly what Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Jake Bobo did. This was the touchdown grab of the week.
JAKE BOBO HAS JUST MADE THE MOST INSANE TOUCHDOWN CATCH YOU'LL SEE TODAY!— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) October 22, 2023
📺 FOX pic.twitter.com/lZaGVNieAE
The Hawks should treasure this win while they can. They’re now 4-2 and trailing San Fran by just 1 win, but they have perhaps the toughest schedule in the league coming up. They’ll face the Browns and Ravens in the next two weeks, and have a late-season stretch that includes the Cowboys, the Eagles and the 9ers twice, with no break… Good luck to Pete Carroll is all I can say.
Steelers 24 - 17 Rams
Let's get to the point, the Rams were robbed of a chance to win.
Now, I’m not taking anything away from the fact that Kenny ‘two-gloves’ Pickett played some good football, and the Rams were far from great. But it’s mind-boggling that the NFL is still measuring yardage with sticks and a chain…
Anyone in their right mind can see that Pickett is short of the line to gain here. Simply awful officiating that took an exciting game to a boring end.
Controversial finish to the Steelers-Rams game.— The Comeback (@thecomeback) October 22, 2023
Pittsburgh goes for it on fourth-and-short. Kenny Pickett looks to be short on a QB sneak, but the officials give him the first down.
The Rams didn't have a time-out and could not challenge. So the spot stood, ending the game. pic.twitter.com/bkhKPjsIpe
Either way, Mike Tomlin's offense actually looked solid with George Picks making grabs all over the field and the rushing cohort finding 3 scores on the ground. Despite some embarrassing losses, Pittsburgh are now just 1 win behind the Ravens with a game in hand, and they can thank TJ Watt for that. The 6'4, 250lbs lineman looked like a DB on Sunday...
Chargers 17 - 31 Chiefs
Coach Brandon Staley was touted as a defensive mastermind when he signed to the Bolts in 2021, but the Chargers defense remains a mess. They’ve been exposed on the ground and through the air all season and this game was no different.
Every team knows that when you face KC, you have to stop Kelce before anything else. No.17 then went on to post 10 catches for 179 yards and a touchdown…
It certainly helps when the other team's QB throws two easy interceptions, but Andy Reid’s defense held up very well in the redzone. So, despite giving up a total of 398 yards, they kept Herbert & Co. to just two TDs and a field goal.
In any case, the AFC West is already over. The Chiefs are now 6-1, 3 wins ahead of the Raiders. Playoff Mahomes will return again.
Packers 17 - 19 Broncos
The Packers have many issues, but the biggest downfall is their run defense. They’ve allowed over 200 rushing yards in two games this season, and Denver hit them for 145 with 5.8 yards per carry. If they can’t stop the run, there’s little to no hope for Green Bay moving forward. Plus, they won’t get lucky like this again…
In other news, the Broncos defense is on the rise. Following the appointment of new DC Vance Joseph, Denver allowed just 19 points to the Chiefs and held Jordan Love to a mere 180 passing yards. If they can continue to run the ball well and keep teams below the 20-point mark, they won’t have to worry so much about Wilson throwing games away.
Dolphins 17 - 31 Eagles
Miami are yet to prove that they can compete with the league’s best. Sure, putting up 70-points on any team is impressive, but they’ve had things very easy this season.
They soared past the Panthers, Broncos and Giants, and in fairness, they beat the Chargers and Patriots. But both the Bills and Eagles have exposed the gap between the Fins and truly top-tier teams. That being said, it still looks like nobody can stop Tyreek Hill, except himself…
As for Philly, they needed a bounce back after the loss to New York and they got it thanks to A.J. Brown. The Eagles No.11 hasn’t had a single game below 127 yards this season and dominated the Dolphins secondary on Sunday.
Philly should easily top the NFC East, but we’re yet to see what happens when Brown has a bad game. Maybe we never will.
49ers 22 - 17 Vikings
Brock Purdy was clinical for most of the night, but he just couldn’t hold his nerve with the game on the line. The 9ers had two fourth-quarter drives with a chance to take the lead, and Purdy threw an interception on both.
And the mistakes didn’t stop there… Christian McCaffrey still had a day with 96 total yards and 2 touchdowns, but had a redzone fumble on San Fran’s opening drive, which was followed up by a missed FG from Jake Mooney, who also failed to convert a game-winning attempt last week.
With some tough matchups heading their way, it won’t be smooth sailing for Kyle Shanahan, but they should be safe atop the NFC West - unless the Hawks can pull off a streak of upset wins.
Meanwhile, Kirk Cousins had arguably the best Prime Time performance of his career, even without Justin Jefferson in the lineup. Jordan Addison became his favourite target of the night, with 7 receptions for 123 yards and two touchdowns. This rookie can play…
Are the Colts in business with Minshew at the helm? Who will snap the Jags win streak? And most importantly, when will the NFL stop measuring yardage with sticks?
Check back next Monday for yet another completely unbaised recap of Week 8's matchups.
(Header Image Credit: Tommy Gilligan - USA TODAY Sports)