Week In Rewind – What We Learned From Week 7 In The NFL

The best team in the league is the ____? It’s not easy to answer that question. Seven weeks into the season, and I feel like it could be any one of a half dozen teams. KC looked great through five weeks, but has dropped two straight. New England dominated the Falcons on Sunday night, but their defense surely isn’t that good. Meanwhile, the Eagles sit atop the NFC, but they are no juggernaut. It’s a murky playoff picture thus far, meaning we will see a lot of movement over the next couple weeks. There’s definitely room for a 9-7 playoff team this year, with the two South divisions beating up on each other. But my favorite thing that happened this Sunday? Mitch Trubisky winning 17-3 while completing four out of seven passes and taking four sacks. What a time to be alive.

Biggest Winner – Los Angeles Rams

How could this be anyone but the 5-2 Los Angeles Rams?? I don’t care if the Cardinals are a hot, bubbling cesspool of trash and solid waste, 33-0 is 33-0. Gone are the days of three point halves and meager yardage totals. These Rams waste no time racking up points – 20 in the 2nd quarter on Sunday – and piling up yardage – 425 total yards. They’ve got a half-game lead on the Seahawks – who have Deshaun Watson and Houston coming to town – heading into their Week 8 bye. It’s not an easy schedule for the Rams the rest of the way out, but they are tracking nicely toward a playoff appearance. It’s truly amazing what Sean McVay has done with this team.

Biggest Loser – Denver Broncos

These guys were supposed to be competitive, right? I’m so confused. Denver is 3-3 but somehow it feels like they are winless. Week 7 was the height of ugliness, getting shut out by the Chargers. The Chargers are straight up lame. They haven’t been cool since LaDainian Tomlinson, and even then they still sucked. Losing to them proves the Broncos have big problems. They have a quarterback in Trevor Siemian who doesn’t seem to be progressing, and his back-up is Brock “Dirty Sock” Osweiler. It ain’t pretty. Now they go on a three game stretch against the Chiefs, Eagles, and Patriots. Smells like 3-6.

Rookie Watch – O.J. Howard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

O.J. is running free.., in the secondary. O.J. Howard that is. The youngster out of Alabama put up his best game to date, showing chemistry with QB Jameis Winston en route to a six catch, 98-yard, two touchdown day. His previous high had been two catches, so it was impressive to seem him break out like this. With Tampa playing from behind much of the afternoon, Winston was letting it fly to the tune of 44 pass attempts. He loves his other tight end Cameron Brate, who has stood in the way of Howard’s targets the whole season. Winston managed to target his two bruisers 15 times, which might not be replicable depending on game flow in future weeks. Still, this is an encouraging game from Howard, and he’s now a guy fantasy owners will need to keep on the radar.

Sleeper Awakens – Latavius Murray, Minnesota Vikings

Murray is far from an unknown, as he turned in a few productive seasons in Oakland for the Raiders. But he’s certainly not a household name either. He wasn’t exactly a stud in Oakland, as he routinely underwhelmed with his yards-per-carry averages and lack of versatility. Still, this is an offense that needs to run the ball, and if Murray can provide some stability in the wake of Dalvin Cook’s injury, he could be in line for some big fantasy days to come.

Dominating Performance – Amari Cooper, Oakland Raiders

11 catches for 210 yards and 2 TDs. Legendary stuff. Derek Carr and the Raiders have to be thrilled that their star wideout is finally getting on track. Cooper is a guy that has always seemed less than the sum of his parts – he combines size, athleticism, speed, and smarts, but hasn’t been able to dominate like it feels he should. Thursday was different, as Cooper cashed in multiple opportunities, showing his power running after the catch and his explosiveness. Oakland will need more 30+ point offensive performances if they want a shot at an AFC wild card, and that level of success starts with the Carr-Cooper connection.

Most Devastating Injury – Joe Thomas, Cleveland Browns

Sure, the Carson Palmer broken arm is big. And Trai Turner is a legit cog for the Carolina offensive line to be missing. But I want to shout out Thomas, the man who played 10,000+ consecutive snaps for Cleveland, protecting some of the worst QBs known to mankind. He basically had a new bozo back there every other week, making it a fun mental exercise to imagine how much more turnover (pun intended) there would have been at that position had Thomas not been protecting the blind side all these years.

Tank Watch

Cleveland and San Francisco are holding tough, each at 0-7. The Giants are sitting pretty for the third pick with a 1-6 record and no ODB in sight. The surprise contender here could be the Colts. While Indy already has two wins, they are a true mess, and Chuck Pagano seems able to blow any lead. It’s unclear whether Andrew Luck is actually on the way back.

Image Sources: Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports, Jake Roth/USA TODAY Sports, Timothy T. Ludwig/USA TODAY Sports, Brad Rempel/USA TODAY Sports, Cary Edmondson/USA TODAY Sports, Ken Blaze/USA TODAY Sports, Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports