Thursday Night Football
New Orleans Saints @ Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals lost Hollywood Brown to a knee injury last week in their loss to the Seahawks. The wide receiver suffered a broken foot and will apparently be sidelined for at least six weeks, but luckily for Arizona, Deandre Hopkins returned this week from his own six-week absence, in his case a suspension for violating the NFL’s PED policy. Hopkins didn’t skip a beat, putting up 103-yards on 10 catches in the game, more than doubling the production of any other Cardinals receiver.
Amazon has had an issue with the entertainment value of their Thursday Night Football games so far this year. But this game provided a quality viewing experience for their audience. The Saints started the game with a 53-yard touchdown to Rashid Shaheed. On the subsequent drive, Rodrigo Blankenship sent a 50-yard field goal through the uprights, making it 7-3 just five minutes into the game. Blankenship would add another field goal to make it 7-6, and the Saints would respond with a 54-yard pass and run by former Bears first round receiver, Kevin White, bringing New Orleans into the redzone. Taysom Hill would punch in a score to extend the lead to eight. The Cardinals then put together a great drive, capped off by a Keaontay Ingram rush touchdown and game tying two-point conversion by Eno Benjamin. The Cardinals defence then got in on the action, picking off Andy Dalton for two pick-sixes before the end of the half, one by Marco Wilson and the second by Isaiah Simmons. The Simmons touchdown was accompanied by another two-point conversion, this time a catch by tight end Zach Ertz, giving Arizona a 14-point lead going into halftime. The Saints were unable to recover from the offensive blunders at the end of the first half, despite a valiant effort from rookie receiver Chris Olave, in the form of 106-yards. The Cardinals move to 3-4 on the season and within striking distance of a suddenly very interesting NFC West divisional race.
Final Score: (3-4) Arizona Cardinals 43
(2-5) New Orleans Saints 34
Sunday 1 O’clock Games
Cleveland Browns @ Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens have had their issues in the second half this season. Despite this fact, they sit in good position in a competitive AFC North. Their division rival, the Cleveland Browns looked to gain on the Ravens with a win in their week seven matchup, and showed that determination with an opening drive Nick Chubb touchdown. After a Ravens field goal, the Browns matched after a 55-yard bomb to Amari Cooper put them in position. Justin Tucker would continue his perfect kicking game and make it 10-6 Browns to start the second quarter, and two drives later the Ravens would take their first lead of the game on the back of a Gus Edwards rushing touchdown. The beginning of the third quarter was highlighted by textbook defence from both sides, amounting in two 3 and outs and a Ravens strip sack and fumble recovery. Edwards would take advantage of their good field position and get his second score of the game, giving the Ravens a 20-10 lead. After trading field goals, the score was 23-13 for the Ravens with ten minutes remaining in the game. Having the lead in the fourth quarter has been a common occurrence for Baltimore, holding on to those leads however, has not been as common as they would like. Kareem Hunt would threaten another fourth quarter collapse, with a three-yard touchdown, but that would be the extent of the Browns late game push. The Ravens held on and are 4-3 on the season going into a week eight matchup with Tom Brady on Thursday Night Football. The Browns fall to 2-5 and with their season slipping through their fingers, look to get back on track in a home matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday Night Football.
Final Score: (4-3) Baltimore Ravens 23
(2-5) Cleveland Browns 20
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Carolina Panthers
Something is wrong in Tamp Bay. The defence entered the year as one of the most highly regarded in the NFL, but have struggled due to the offences inability to stay on the field. Tom Brady, who recently confirmed that he and his wife, Gisele Bundchen, have filed for divorce, may be feeling his age for the first time in his career. The week six loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers sent shockwaves throughout the league, and it was thought that the rebuilding Carolina Panthers would be the perfect bounce back game for the 2021 Super Bowl champions. The Panthers not only had one of the worst records in the league, but were forced to start third-string quarterback PJ Walker due to a Baker Mayfield injury.
These advantages proved negligible, as the Buccaneers were blanked throughout the first three quarters of the game. In fact, Tampa was only able to muster 3 points throughout the contest, a third quarter field goal by Ryan Succop. The Panthers offence wasn’t overly explosive either, but they did what they needed to do, scoring three touchdowns in the game, two through the air and one on the ground. D’Onta Foreman racked up 118 rush yards, filling the void that the Christian McCaffery trade left nicely. The Buccaneers play this Thursday night against the Ravens, so Tom Brady will have to figure out the offensive issues on a short week or risk losing three games straight for the first time since 2002. Carolina improves to 2-5 and play the Falcons in week eight.
Final Score: (2-5) Carolina Panthers 21
(3-4) Tampa Bay Buccaneers 3
Atlanta Falcons @ Cincinnati Bengals
Joe Burrow is back. We knew it was coming, this offence simply has too much talent to be held down for long. Before the Falcons could blink, they were down 14-0. Burrow hit Tyler Boyd for a 60-yard score only two-minutes into the game, then Joe Mixon ran in a touchdown seven minutes later. The onslaught didn’t stop there, Burrow found Ja’Marr Chase on the first play of the second half for a 32-yard touchdown, extending the Bengals lead to 21. A Tyler Allgeier rushing touchdown would cut that lead down, but a second Ja’Marr Chase touchdown, this one a 41-yarder that restored that lead back to three scores. It should’ve been the last action of the first half, but Marcus Mariota sent a prayer 75-yards down field and connected with Damiere Byrd for a last-minute touchdown. With all of their timeouts, the Falcons were able to force a three and out and take advantage of a 57-yard punt return by Avery Williams. Younghoe Koo then ended the half with a 43-yard field goal, suddenly the 21-point lead was down to just 11.
The Bengals made adjustments at halftime, and slowed the game down to a halt. The sudden shift in momentum at the end of the first half was stopped in its tracks, and the Cincinnati defence didn’t allow another point for the rest of the game. Joe Burrow would add another touchdown on a QB sneak from the one-yard line, to extent their lead back to three scores and seal the victory. Cincinnati is getting hot at the right time, now one game above .500 and almost half way through the season, they seemed poised to make another run in the playoffs, if they can stay healthy. The Browns await them for a week eight matchup on Monday Night Football in Cleveland. The Falcons play a depreciating Carolina Panthers team next week, and despite having a losing record are still in the hunt for the division title in a weak NFC South.
Final Score: (4-3) Cincinnati Bengals 35
(3-4) Atlanta Falcons 17
Detroit Lions @ Dallas Cowboys
Dak Prescott is back, ending the five-game run for backup quarterback Cooper Rush. The Cowboys more than survived the injury to their franchise quarterback, and entered the game with one of the best records in the NFC. The first half showed that Prescott still had some rust to shake off however, going the entire first half without a touchdown, seemingly unable to find a rhythm with his receivers. Luckily, the Cowboys defence held strong, and the score was only 6-3 in favour of the Lions at the start of the third.
I’m not sure what Mike McCarthy said to his team in the locker room, but whatever it was, it worked. Dak seemed to realize his limitations in the pass game, and leaned heavily on his running backs, getting 83-yards of production out of Tony Pollard and two touchdowns out of Ezekiel Elliott. The defence, led by MVP candidate Micah Parsons, picked up where they left off in the first half, keeping the Lions off the scoreboard for the rest of the game. Dak found his passing rhythm in the fourth quarter, and he connected with tight end Peyton Hendershot on his last drive of the game. The Cowboys will hope that second half success will carry over to week eight, when the stout Chicago Bears defence will meet them in Jerry World. The Lions also head back home to take on the Miami Dolphins.
Final Score: (5-2) Dallas Cowboys 24
(1-5) Detroit Lions 6
New York Giants @ Jacksonville Jaguars
This matchup had all the makings of a trap game for the New York Giants. They came into this one with a 5-1 record, riding high off back-to-back wins against Green Bay and Baltimore, a downgrade in competition might suggest they let their foot off the gas a bit. Brian Daboll didn’t get the memo, and opened the scoring on their first drive, with a 32-yard strike from Daniel Jones to Darius Slayton. However, Trevor Lawrence marched down the next drive and handed it off to his old college teammate, Travis Etienne for a seven-yard score. Etienne would then punch in the two-point conversion as well, giving the Jaguars an 8-7 lead at the end of the first quarter. Second quarter scoring consisted of three field goals, two by the Giants and one by the Jags, so to start the third the score stood at 13-11 New York. On the first play of the half, Etienne ripped off a 45-yard run, setting up an eventual rush touchdown by Trevor Lawrence on a QB sneak.
Down less than a touchdown, heading into the fourth quarter, it seemed the Giants might fall victim to the trap game after all, but great football teams are the ones that figure out how to get it done in these types of situations. Daniel Jones believes his team is great, and to prove it he ran in a touchdown with five minutes remaining to take the lead. The Giants would tack on another 3 points on the next drive to extend their lead to six. The defence had to make a game saving goal line stop on the final play of the game to seal it, but the Giants survived and improved to 6-1 on the season. Daboll will look for his seventh win of the year in week eight at Seattle. Jacksonville will go across the pond to play the Denver Broncos in London.
Final Score: (6-1) New York Giants 23
(2-5) Jacksonville Jaguars 17
Green Bay Packers @ Washington Commanders
The Green Bay Packers might be bad. For the first time in his illustrious career, Aaron Rodgers looks human. The offence is uninspiring, the defence gets consistently gashed in the run game, and Matt Lafleur’s in-game management leaves a lot to be desired. Despite their struggles, they travel to Washington for week seven with a .500 record and with a backup quarterback leading the team on the other sideline.
The Packers took advantage of their opportunities early. Aaron Jones opened the scoring on the second drive of the game with a five-yard touchdown run. Commanders quarterback Taylor Heinicke then marched down the field, falling short of the endzone, but getting within Joey Slye’s range for three points. Heinicke hadn’t started since last season and the rust began to oxidize in the second quarter when he threw a risky backfoot pass to Antonio Gibson that was intercepted by Packers’ linebacker DeVondre Campbell and returned 55-yards for a pick six. He made up for that error by putting together a six-minute drive, commencing with a nine-yard touchdown, fittingly, again to Antonio Gibson. 14-10 Packers. The third quarter saw the Commanders take their first lead, and the Commanders’ signal caller found his top receiver Terry McLaurin, for a 37-yard touchdown. Washington went on a 20-point run, taking on two more field goals to bring their total to 23, before Rodgers and his offence was able to muster any sort of response. By the time Aaron Jones scored to make it 23-21, Green Bay was out of timeouts and needed Rodgers to make magic happen like he’s done so many times before. But this time, the magician didn’t reveal his tricks, and the Packers fell short.
Final Score: (3-4) Washington Commanders 23
(3-4) Green Bay Packers 21
Indianapolis Colts @ Tennessee Titans
Offensively, this game started off offensive, and I mean insulting to the fans watching. The first half saw the Titans out-score Matt Ryan and his Colts 13-0 and it might have also seen the end to the former’s lengthy career as a starter. The final score may make the game look close, but Tennessee was never in danger of losing. Matt Ryan threw two interceptions in the first half, one resulting in a pick-six by Titans safety Andrew Adams. Ryan just hasn’t passed the eye-test this season, he’s always been able to put up stats, but he looks like a different man behind centre. He did throw a touchdown pass to Parris Campbell with four-minutes to go in the third quarter, but that may end up being the last of his career. In his post-game press conference, Indianapolis head coach Frank Reich stated they would be sitting Ryan down in favour of backup quarterback Sam Ehlinger next week. Cheers to a great career Matt, it was tough to watch you go out this way, but enjoy retirement, you’ve earned it.
The Titans did enough to surpass the Colts Sunday, but need to start converting drives for touchdowns, having to settle for four Randy Bullock field goals after the offence had driven them deep into Colts’ territory. Derrick Henry put up his usual dominant stat line, rushing 30 times for 128 yards. The Titans now travel to Houston for a divisional game against the Texans, and the Colts hope to catch lightning in a bottle in week eight with Sam Ehlinger at home against the Washington Commanders.
Final Score: (4-2) Tennessee Titans 19
(3-3-1) Indianapolis Colts 10
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