NFL

NFL Instant Reactions: Week 7 Edition

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Now that week seven of the NFL is all but wrapped up, it’s time to take a look at which teams impressed, or flopped. Much like last week’s article, I have separated the teams into four different categories: True Contenders, Playoff Bound Material, Mediocre at Best, and Dead in the Water. We are starting to see some real clear-cut winners (and losers) at the near mid-point of the NFL season.

True Contenders: Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots, Los Angeles Rams, New Orleans Saints.

Philadelphia (5-1) have a key divisional match-up with the Washington Redskins (4-2), in a game that will likely decide who will end up in the driver’s seat for winning the NFC East. The Pittsburgh Steelers (5-2) appear to have gotten their act together, and are starting to resemble a team hungry for another championship. The New England Patriots (5-2) remain atop the AFC East as well, and their defense is steadily improving, which is taking pressure off of their offense.

The two new teams to this category: Los Angeles Rams (5-2) and New Orleans Saints (4-2), are deserving the credit coming their way after some early season losses. The Saints have won four games in a row, while the Rams look like a contender after a complete shutout of the Arizona Cardinals. Not enough credit is being given to first year coach, Sean McVay, on the job he has done with his squad.

Playoff Bound Material: Kansas City Chiefs, Washington Redskins, Seattle Seahawks, Jacksonville Jaguars, Houston Texans, Minnesota Vikings, Buffalo Bills, Tennessee Titans.

Kansas City (5-2) has now lost two games in a row, but maintain a game and a half lead in the AFC West. The Chiefs need to figure out their defensive shortcomings soon to get back on track. The Washington Redskins (4-2) will easily move up to contender status with a win tonight over the division leader, Eagles, while the Vikings (5-2) continue to ride their championship-caliber defense to their fifth overall win. Seattle (4-2) looks like a dangerous team once again, after winning their third consecutive game. The Bills (4-2) must be giving the Patriots fits by now, considering they don’t usually hang around the division lead for this long.

Mediocre at Best:  Chicago Bears, Carolina Panthers, Dallas Cowboys, Oakland Raiders, NY Jets, Miami Dolphins, Baltimore Ravens, Los Angeles Chargers, Detroit Lions, Cincinnati Bengals, Denver Broncos, Atlanta Falcons.

These squads have had some serious ups and downs this year, with very few bright spots being found in the mix. Chicago (3-4) found a way to beat the Carolina Panthers (4-3) and send them down the tunnel to mediocrity. Dallas (3-3) had the most dominant victory of the teams in this bunch, but the 49ers (0-7) are truly just awful. The Los Angeles Chargers (3-4) will be looking for their fourth straight win, and seem like they might not be as bad as we all originally thought they were. The most disappointing team of this bunch is the Atlanta Falcons (3-3), who had another unimpressive offensive performance on Sunday night against the Patriots.  Things are truly going poorly for this team, and they can’t shake the “Super Bowl hangover” that has plagued many recent runner-ups.

Dead in the Water: Cleveland Browns, NY Giants, Indianapolis Colts, San Francisco 49ers, Green Bay Packers, Arizona Cardinals, Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

There seem to be a lot of familiar faces down in the basement of the NFL, except for a few major additions. The Green Bay Packers (4-3) look lost without Aaron Rodgers, and I don’t see them recovering any time soon. The Cardinals (3-4) also lost their quarterback for the foreseeable future, as Carson Palmer broke his left arm and will be out for at least eight weeks. The Browns and 49ers are still winless, and it will be difficult to find a winnable game on their schedules coming up.

Be sure to check back next week to see the movement in these categories, which teams should start to be taken seriously, and the others we wish would just get off our TV screens for good.

Photo Credit: TheRams.com

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