A rocky Rodgers, a Lions letdown and a Brady bust all highlight week 7 of the 2022 season, but don't worry there's plenty more to talk about. Things are really starting to shape up as we near the halfway mark - let's take a look at what went down..
Browns 20 - 23 Ravens
This close-call win over the Browns secures the top spot for the Ravens in a competitive AFC North. If Lamar and the gang can shrug off a short week to capitalise on the Bucs current downfall, things could get interesting for Baltimore.
Now, all credit to the Ravens for getting it done, but with 254 total yards it's clear what the story is here - the Browns being the Browns once again.
The ground game was the deciding factor for the most part - with the Ravens out-rushing the Browns 160-113 and both had two touchdowns from their star RBs. But the big difference in the end, was kicking.
Justin Tucker was 'Mr. Automatic' yet again, while the Browns (in classic Cleveland style) got within field goal distance for the tie, but took a penalty to force Cade York out of range... Whether the ball would have got there or not, it was blocked by the Ravens to hold the lead.
Game over on yet another disappointing note for the Browns. What's new?
Bucs 3 - 21 Panthers
I know I've not shut up about the collapse of Aaron Rodgers (and we'll still get to that later) - but maybe Brady deserves more of the attention instead.
It looks like retirement was a good idea after all...
I know it’s not all on Brady … but wow pic.twitter.com/NRT4G4BBQW— Rob Woodfork (@RobWoodfork) October 24, 2022
The Buccaneers fell to 3-4 against a Panthers team that just lost their head coach and Christian McCaffrey in the space of one week. For a team that undoubtedly needs rebuilding, maybe they've got a better foundation than we all thought.
In any case, Woodfork is right - it's not all Brady. Todd Bowles couldn't rely on his defense at all, and his usual offensive weapons weren't much help either.
If there's one clip to sum up Brady's day in Carolina, this would be it:
Falcons 17 - 35 Bengals
Just in case you were still arguing that the Falcons are good. You can stop now.
Burrow outed the Falcons defense for the disaster that it really is. His first half performance was nothing short of ridiculous - 21/25 passing, 345 yards and 3 touchdowns. And it didn't stop there.
Ja'Marr Chase linked up with his old LSU teammate 8 times for 130 yards and 2 touchdowns, while Tyler Boyd led the air raid offense with 155 yards, including a 60-yard touchdown catch. In short, Burrow out-passed Mariota 459 yards to 107. It was all too easy for Cincy.
Lions 6 - 24 Cowboys
The Lions managed just one more point than turnovers in this Dallas matchup - as Goff threw 2 interceptions, fumbled twice and only managed to lead two field-goal drives...
For the highest scoring offense through the first four weeks, they have done all they can to prove it was a fluke, with 0 touchdowns in their last 8 quarters.
Dan Campbell is as good as gone...
Meanwhile, Dak Prescott gets a lucky break on his return to the turf - facing perhaps the worst team in the league right now. Anyone else feel sorry for Cooper Rush heading straight back to the bench?
Giants 23 - 17 Jags
The Giants could be the real deal now.
Not that beating the Jags (who have lost 19-straight cross-division matchups) is a huge deal, but seeing the Brian Daboll mount a comeback win on the road to mark their best start since 2008, solidifies his top spot for Coach of the Year in my eyes. I know it's early days, but what he's done with Dan Jones and the gang is nothing short of a miracle for a first time HC.
Jones led the offense with 309 yards, while Saquon Barkley was electric as ever. But the talking point of the night is this stop, just inches short of the goal line to prevent the Jags game-winning touchdown as time expired.
Nothing's slowing down in New York, but they're still one loss away from Philly... Will it be a wild card spot, or will Jalen Hurts break stride at some point?
Jacksonville are Jacksonville - no news there. Travis Ettienne Jr is good, the receiver core is good, Lawrence is good but somehow it still doesn't work. OC change on the way I reckon...
Packers 21 - 23 Commanders
Aaron Rodgers... What more can I say?
Washington walked away with a win after holding Green Bay to zero 3rd down conversions for the first time since Week 6 1999. To say Rodgers is struggling this year is an understatement. The Pack managed just 232 yards of total offense and were forced to punt 4 times on the day... With a pretty average receiver core and a running back like Aaron Jones, you'd think they'd rush for more than 38 yards, right?
Anyway, Taylor Heinicke makes his first NFL start and despite throwing a pick six, proves he has the arm to make things happen.
A huge win for Washington, and a bad loss for Green Bay - both 3-4 on the year.
Colts 10 - 19 Titans
Tennessee sweep Indy for the second straight year to regain control of a division they should be dominating anyway.
As you may have guessed, two of the most boring teams in the league had their usual highlights and lowlights, and not much else.
Derrick Henry dominated the ground game as always, with 128 yards. While Paris Campbell dominated the receiving game for the Colts, logging 70 yards and Indy's only touchdown of the night. Matt Ryan had his usual mishaps with 2 interceptions (one for a touchdown), despite clocking double the passing-yards of Ryan Tannehill.
I could reel off stats forever, but who actually cares. Here's the pick six.
Texans 20 - 38 Raiders
Josh Jacobs becomes the first Raider with three straight 100-yard rushing games since 1997. If Vegas aren't prepared to spend a bit to keep him around, he'll be a very nice pick up elsewhere. My money's on the Bills.
Jacobs racked up 143 yards and 3 touchdowns on the ground, leaving very little work for Derrick Carr, who still had a solid game through the air.
Josh Jacobs is good at football.— Las Vegas Raiders (@Raiders) October 23, 2022
MAKE THAT 3‼️
📺: CBS pic.twitter.com/ouvXpgxPO8
Meanwhile, Davis Mills wasn't awful - 302 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 INT. Could be worse, but as always - don't expect to see Houston anywhere near the playoffs.
Broncos 9 - 16 Jets
Russell Wilson decided to take a break from disappointing Denver this week, as Brett Rypien took the wheel against the Jets.
Despite few good throws and a pretty solid defense, one thing remains certain - no matter who's at the helm, this Broncos' offense is in shambles. Expect some more coaching turnover to come this year.
On the other hand, the Jets are somehow 5-2 and that's the second-best record in New York... Who'd have thought?
Rookie RB Breece Hall leads 'Gang Green' to their fourth straight win, putting them just one loss shy of Buffalo. A Jets-Bills showdown in Week 8 will likely tell us everything we need to know (that Zach Wilson & Co. are no match for Allen & Diggs). But we'll see...
Either way, Hall still looks like the strongest contender for Rookie of the Year.
Chiefs 44 - 23 49ers
If Kyle Shanahan didn't like watching film from Super Bowl LIV, he's really going to hate reviewing this one...
San Francisco put all their eggs in one basket trading for Christian McCaffrey - the type of all-or-nothing move McVay pulled for Stafford, except this one may not pay off. Sure, it's early days and McCaffrey barely knew the playbook, but so long as the 49ers defense keeps blowing leads, they'll sorely regret the price they paid for the star running back.
Mahomes threw an early interception to give San Francisco an early 10-0 lead - just to keep things interesting - but, from there on he was the gunslinger we all know him to be. Mecole Hardman shone as he bagged 2 rushing and 1 receiving touchdown on the night.
This run gave Kansas a lead they would not relinquish.
Seahawks 37 - 23 Chargers
The best example of two 4-3 teams not being equal.
While Seattle are a pleasant surprise this year - looking like sneaky challengers for a wide-open NFC West - the Chargers continue being the talented disappointment they have for some time.
Kenneth Walker is a welcome addition to the Hawks offense and may just give Breece Hall a run for his money for ROTY - literally... The Seattle rookie logged 168 yards and 2 touchdowns to be the deciding factor in this matchup as LA severely lacked in the ground game, clocking just 53 rushing yards.
Steelers 10 - 16 Dolphins
A dominant Dolphins D bails out a rusty Tua-led offense to secure the win in Miami and stay somewhat in the AFC East race.
The depleted Pittsburgh defense welcomed the return of Brian Flores and Minkah Fitzpatrick, but to no avail, as they were outshone by the three interceptions thrown by Kenny Pickett - 2 of which occurred in the fourth quarter as the win was within reach.
A scoreless second half made this game pretty much a snooze-fest - 10 punts and 2 INTs were all we saw in Q3 and 4, count yourself lucky if you went to bed early.
DOLPHINS INTERCEPTION TO WIN THE GAMEpic.twitter.com/SWA8GZKcsa— Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) October 24, 2022
So, there are four without-a-doubt good teams: Philadelphia, Buffalo, Kansas City and the Giants (yes, the Giants). A couple stragglers are still chasing the top dogs: Minnesota and Dallas. And then there's the Jets, who are at an intriguing 5-2. But because they're the Jets, we're waiting for the other shoe to drop. Below that, lies everyone else, mixed into a sea of downfalls and disappointment.
I'll be back tomorrow, probably talking about how the Bears threw another game down the drain. But, if you're as uninterested in that matchup as I am, join me on Friday where I'll be covering a Bucs-Ravens showdown which could all-but bury Brady's 2022 run.