Before the week started, I looked at the slate of games and knew there was a good potential for some bad games. I think the pessimist in all of us did. Like many others though, I looked at it as a week for a lot of guys a chance to prove themselves. Unfortunately for them (and us as fans) little progress was made except for those elite few whose destinies are all but written in stone at this point. After Thursday night’s game, I should have known what type of week we were in store for us but optimistically pressed on.
The matchup was between Denver and Cleveland. Even with Baker Mayfield sidelined with a shoulder injury, the return of Jarvis Landry kept many thinking that this was a more than manageable win. Denver has been beaten up with injuries this season as well and Teddy Bridgewater has been slightly above adequate as a starter. Case Keenum looked good early in the game for the Browns but trailed off late recording 199 yards on 23 of 33 passes and threw one touchdown pass. D’Ernest Johnson led rushing with 22 carries for 146 yards, one touchdown and caught both of his targets for 22 yards. Austin Hooper also caught a pair for 42 yards but it would be Johnny Stanton with the lone touchdown reception. Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. both played in limited minutes, both coming back from recent injuries. The duo combined for seven receptions for 60 yards but Landry left the game early with a knee injury and Beckham is now questionable with a shoulder injury. For Denver, Teddy Bridgewater threw 23 of 33 passes for 187 yards, scored two touchdowns but missed one costly throw which was intercepted by John Johnson III. The Broncos had very little offensively to brag about. Javonte Williams led rushing with four carries for 20 yards but did score on one of his six receptions for 32 yards. Melvin Gordon also rushed for 20 yards and had two receptions, 14 yards and a touchdown catch but was still hampered by a lingering hip injury. The Browns would prove to be just slightly more healthy and won the game 17-14.
Washington traveled to Green Bay for a Sunday afternoon game. Aaron Rodgers was his typical self, scoring three times on 27 of 35 passing for 274 yards. The ground game was not much of a factor for Green Bay, the leading rusher was Aaron Jones who had six carries for 19 yards and caught five passes for 20 yards. With all the attention on shutting down the ground game, a lot of different options were left for Rodgers in the air. Davante Adams had six catches for 76 yards, Robert Tonyan had four catches for 63 yards and Allen Lazard caught five passes for 60 yards each scoring once. Washington was not ready to match the productivity of Green Bay. Taylor Heinicke threw 25 of 37 on 268 yards, scored once but threw an interception. Heinicke also led rushers with 10 carries for 95 yards and Antonio Gibson had 14 carries for 51 yards. Terry McLaurin caught seven passes for 122 yards and scored while Ricky Seals-Jones had six catches for 51 yards. The Packers took the home win in this one 24-10.
Tennessee hosted Kansas City and left us with more questions than answers regarding the near future of the AFC. Ryan Tannehill went 21 of 27 on 270 yards in the air, had one interception but scored once with his arm then again with his legs on a pair of short yardage opportunities. Derrick Henry rushed for 86 yards from 29 carries and also threw a touchdown pass on a trick play to Mycole Pruitt. A.J. Brown led receivers with eight catches for 133 yards and a score and Rashaan Evans was instrumental on defense, catching an interception. The game took an unexpected turn for Kansas City. Already struggling to show a decent defense or offensive line, more concerns arose after the game on the overall health and capabilities of the Chiefs as a whole. Patrick Mahomes went 20 of 35 on 206 yards and led rushers with six carries for 35 yards. Mahomes left the game early due to a possible concussion and though he has missed some practices this week, he is likely to be available in Week 8. Chad Henne took over the remainder of the game and threw 11/16 for 82 yards. The Chiefs had limited success passing with Byron Pringle catching five passes for 73 yards and Travis Kelce completing seven catches for 65 yards. Although this game was probably a one off and probably should not be taken too seriously, it still raises possibilities of implications for later in the season and even into the postseason. If Kansas City wants to remain relevant, they are going to have to come up with some big answers soon as they absolutely got annihilated here 27-3.
A more comparable game was between Atlanta and Miami. Tua Tagovailoa went 32 of 40 passing for 291 yards, scored four touchdowns, two interceptions and carried the ball 29 yards. Myles Gaskin led rushers with 15 carries for 67 yards and caught four passes for 10 yards and a touchdown. Jaylen Waddle had seven receptions for 83 yards and Mike Gesicki had another seven catches for 85 yards and a score. The other two touchdown passes were completed by Mack Hollins and Isaiah Ford who combined for 23 yards on three catches. Matt Ryan put up big numbers with 336 yards and two touchdowns but only came away with 25 of 40 completions and one interception. Like Miami, Atlanta struggled on the ground and Cordarrelle Patterson led rushers with 14 carries for 60 yards and a score. Kyle Pitts showed real promise and caught seven passes for 163 yards, Russell Gage had four catches for 67 yards and a touchdown and also scoring was Calvin Ridley on four receptions for 26 yards. The game changer for this matchup was the Falcon’s defense. Foyesade Oluokun had 13 tackles, eight of those solo and one interception with a 56-yard return. Jaylin Hawkins also had an interception and Deion Jones had 15 tackles, 11 of them solo, a sack and three tackles for loss of yards. Also greatly contributing was kicker Younhoe Koo who was perfect on the day with three field goals and three extra points. The Falcons would use all their weapons to take a slight edge over a desperate Dolphins team and won the day with a score of 30-28.
In what many people assumed would also be a somewhat close game, the Jets traveled to New England to take on the Patriots. Mac Jones looked absolutely phenomenal in this contest. The young quarterback had the best game of his career to date with 306 yards from 24 of 36 completions and scored twice through the air. Brian Hoyer took over on the last set of downs and completed three of his four passes for 79 yards. Also getting in on the quarterback action was Kendrick Bourne on a bit of trickery which scored on a 25-yard catch. Bourne also reeled in four of his own catches for 68 yards and Jonnu Smith averaged 26 yards per catch on a pair of receptions. Scoring for New England came early, often and generously. Damien Harris led rushers with 14 carries for 106 yards and two touchdowns while J.J. Taylor made a statement of his own with nine carries for 21 yards and also scoring twice. The rest of the game’s scoring came through the air with Brandon Bolden receiving six passes for 79 yards, Nelson Agholor catching two passes for 51 yards and Hunter Henry pulling in two catches for 23 yards, each finding the end zone once. New York had a much more turbulent day, riddled with injury and poor execution. Zach Wilson was hit hard early in the second quarter and had to come out of the game with a knee injury. Wilson would end his day throwing for 51 yards on six of his 10 passes. Mike White came in to replace the injured Wilson and went 20 of 32 passing for 202 yards, threw one touchdown pass but two interceptions. Michael Carter II led both rushers and receivers with 11 carries for 37 yards and eight receptions for 67 yards. Elijah Moore had an efficient showing, caught a pass for 13 yards and had a 19-yard touchdown run. Corey Davis tried to help with a score on four catches for 47 yards but it would not be nearly enough as the Patriots took this one in blowout fashion 54-13.
Daniel Jones showed his versatility when his Giants hosted the Panthers. Jones threw 23 of 33 for 203 yards with a touchdown, carried the ball 28 yards and even caught a pass for 16 yards. Dante Pettis threw the pass to Jones on the play and would catch five passes of his own for 39 yards and a touchdown. Devontae Booker had 14 carries for 51 yards and a touchdown while Darius Slayton caught five passes for 63 yards. The Panthers never quite got it together and Sam Darnold went 16 of 25 for 111 yards and after throwing an interception to James Bradberry in the fourth quarter, was benched for P.J. Walker. Walker threw 33 yards on three of his 14 tosses, so clearly is not the answer for Carolina going forward either. D.J. Moore caught six passes for 73 yards and Chubba Hubbard had 12 carries for 28 yards adding another 28 yards from four catches. The Giants simply outplayed the Panthers in this game and easily took this game 25-3.
Another one sided affair came from an AFC North battle for the top spot in the division when Cincinnati took on Baltimore. Lamar Jackson managed 257 yards and a touchdown throwing and led rushers with 12 carries for 88 yards but was sacked five times and only completed 15 of 31 passes. Jackson was taken out of the game in the middle of the fourth quarter for reliever Tyler Huntley who threw for 39 yards on five of his 11 passes. Devonta Freeman had four carries for 14 yards and a score on the ground while Marquise Brown scored through the air on five receptions for 80 yards. Rashod Bateman would not find the end zone but posted 80 yards on three catches. Joe Burrow played like a man on a mission, threw 23 of 38 for 416 yards, scored three times but did allow an interception. The Bengals attacked on multiple fronts that paid dividends. Joe Mixon had 12 carries for 59 yards and a touchdown. Samaje Perine had 11 carries for 52 yards and a score and also caught a 23-yard reception. C.J. Uzomah caught three passes for 91 yards and scored twice, Tee Higgins had seven catches for 62 yards but it was Ja’marr Chase’s eight catches for 201 yards and a touchdown that really had heads turned in the 41-17 rout of the Ravens.
The Eagles traveled out west to face off against the Raiders in Las Vegas. Derek Carr had one of his best performances of the season, throwing 31 of 34 passes for 323 yards two touchdowns but did allow one interception. Kenyan Drake led in rushing with 14 carries for 69 yards with Josh Jacobs contributing six carries for 29 yards both players with rushing touchdowns. Scoring through the air was Foster Moreau had six catches for 60 yards as well as Brian Edwards who accumulated 43 yards on three catches. Hunter Renfrow also notably caught seven passes for 58 yards. Philadelphia also used a wide assortment of weapons but found less success scoring. Jalen Hurts went 18 of 34 throwing 236 yards and scored twice. Hurts did not throw any interceptions in this game but did lose a costly fumble on one of his 13 carries for 61 yards. Kenneth Gainwell scored once gaining 41 yards on four catches and 20 yards on five carries but also lost a fumble. Jalen Reagor caught two passes for 25 yards and a touchdown, Devontae Smith had five catches for 61 yards and Dallas Goedert had three receptions for 70 yards. When push came to shove, Philadelphia couldn’t put enough points on the board to keep up and Las Vegas defended the home turf 33-22.
In the offseason, the Lions and the Rams agreed on a trade involving Jared Goff and Matt Stafford. Sunday afternoon’s matchup brought these two franchises together for the first time since that trade was finalized. Matthew Stafford faced his old team and went 28 of 41 on 334 yards and scored three touchdowns. Cooper Kupp was responsible for catching two of those passes and put up 156 yards on 10 carries. Robert Woods caught six passes for 70 yards and Van Jefferson had four catches for 43 yards and a touchdown. The ground game was managed mostly by Darrell Henderson who had 15 carries for 45 yards. Jared Goff had a slightly tougher reunion and threw two interceptions, he still managed 268 yards and a touchdown on 22 of his 26 passes. Kalif Raymond had six receptions for 115 yards but it was perhaps D’Andre Swift’s versatility that really kept the Lions in this game. Swift had a total of 13 carries for 48 yards and eight catches for 96 yards, one ending up in the end zone on the first series of the game. The rushers were led by Jamaal Williams on yardage with 12 carries for 57 yards. Too many mistakes in the second half of the game gave the Rams plenty of opportunities which they capitalized on time and again. The Lions stayed winless for another week and lost 19-28.
Sunday afternoon also brought us a few more blowouts, but few were surprised considering who was playing. The first we’ll go over was Houston at Arizona. The Cardinals came into this game white hot and remain the only undefeated team left in the league. Kyler Murray went 20 of 28 throwing 261 yards, three completions for scores and one interception. Carries for Arizona were split between Chase Edmonds with 15 carries for 81 yards and James Connor with 10 carries for 64 yards and a touchdown. The passing game was also spread pretty evenly across the unit. A.J. Green and Zach Ertz each caught three passes for 66 yards with Ertz scoring. DeAndre Hopkins had seven receptions for 53 yards and Christian Kirk had four catches for 50 yards, both of whom scored. Houston has had plenty of woes this season and still seems to be looking for answers. Davis Mills has shown flashes this season that might indicate serious talent but this was just not his night going 23 of 32 for 135 yards. A 44-yard punt started Arizona on the two yard line and Murray was sacked in the end zone for the first points of the game but the remainder of the game basically belonged to the Cardinals. David Johnson led on the ground with seven carries for 25 yards and Nico Collins led in the air with two completions for 28 yards. Houston was completely outmatched in this game and the Texans lost 5-31.
The other uneven matchup I was referring to came when Chicago traveled to Tampa Bay to face off against the reigning champs. Tom Brady went 20 of 36 for 211 yards and four touchdowns and set a new record for most career touchdown throws at 602 touchdowns. The game being well out of reach, Blaine Gabbert took over on the last set of downs and completed two of his three throws for 15 yards. Leonard Fournette scored once on his 15 carries for 81 total yards and Chris Godwin also caught one touchdown pass on one of his eight catches for 111 yards. Ronald Jones had 10 carries for 63 yards but also lost a fumble. Mike Evans had himself a day with three touchdown catches from his six catches for 76 yards and the defense had three interceptions from three different players. The Bears would have a much less jubilant day. Justin Fields threw 22/32 for 184 yards, carried eight times for 38 yards but fumbled three times, losing one and threw three interceptions. Cole Kmet led in receiving yards with 43 on five catches and perhaps the only bright point of Chicago’s offense was Khalil Herbert who had 18 carries for 100 yards and five catches for 33 yards. The Buccaneers had no problem handling the Bears from start to finish and took the win 38-3.
A game that was more evenly matched but no more exciting happened to be Sunday’s primetime matchup between Indianapolis and San Francisco. Jimmy Garoppolo went 16 of 27 for 181 yards, threw one touchdown, two interceptions and fumbled twice, losing one. Elijah Mitchell managed 107 yards on 18 carries and ran one in for a touchdown. The air game was focused on Deebo Samuel who had seven catches for 100 yards, a touchdown but also lost a fumble. While the Colts may have put up better numbers for the record books, this was not really a very good showing for them either. Carson Wentz threw 17 of 26 for 150 yards, two touchdown passes, a touchdown run on one of his four carries but also fumbled twice and lost one. Fumbles were the theme of the night, as Jonathan Taylor also lost one of his two drops. Taylor would actually go on to put up pretty respectable numbers in the end though, with 18 carries for 107 yards and a touchdown. Michael Pittman Jr. had four catches for 105 yards and a touchdown while Mo Allie Cox scored once from three catches for 25 yards. Xavier Rhodes and Khari Willis on defense each caught an interception and Indianapolis won this spectacle 30-18.
Finally, on Monday night, New Orleans visited Mile High Stadium to face the Seahawks. Geno Smith threw 12 of 22 for 167 yards and the team’s only touchdown to D.K. Metcalf. The 84 yard reception would be one of two catches Metcalf had combined for 96 total yards. Freddie Swain caught 4 passes for 39 yards while Alex Collins had 16 carries for 35 yards. The Saints had little more success but pulled together through the pouring rain to get the job done. Jameis Winston went 19 of 35 for 222 yards, threw a touchdown pass and rushed for 40 yards on eight carries. Alvin Kamara probably had the most complete game of anyone. He had 20 carries for 51 yards and scored once on one of his 10 catches totaling in 128 yards. Adam Trautman had three receptions for 36 yards but lost a fumble. Fortunately for New Orleans, Seattle would completely botch their last set of downs and give the Saints the ability to run the clock down for the 13-10 victory.
Jimmy Jones is a Contributor for Unwrapped Sports Network. Follow him on on Twitter @JimmyUnwrapped.