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NFL Week 7 winners and losers: Carolina offense, Cincinnati Bengals on opposite sides

Best and worst of Week 7

Syndication: The Record Chris Pedota, NorthJersey.com / USA TODAY NETWORK

For the second week in a row, there weren’t many close games in the 1 p.m. ET window of games. But it was the New York Giants on the winning side of a blowout victory. The Patriots blew out the Jets, the Titans the Chiefs, the Packers the Football Team, and the Bengals took the Ravens to task as well. The Buccaneers reinvented the term blowout in the 4 p.m. window; they were up 35-3 at half-time.

Week 7 was filled with exciting trick plays, upset victories, and possibly former bad football teams ascending to respect. The Bengals going into Baltimore and defeating the Ravens 41-17 is a statement game in the AFC North. The Ravens, who just defeated the Chargers in an embarrassing fashion last week, are now second in the division behind the Bengals.

The Titans pulling off their second straight upset victory; last week over Buffalo, this week over the Chiefs. The Titans improved their record to 5-2 with two abysmal teams in their division and the Colts as a respectable team with a 2-4 record heading into Sunday Night Football against the 49ers.

The Giants also pulled off the upset, albeit was a home game against a bad Panthers team. It’s a game the Giants should have won, and had to win. I am pleased by the victory because they have lost a few games this season that they should have won, and had to win. Dallas was on its BYE this week, and the Washington Football Team and Philadelphia Eagles both lost on the road.

Week 7 also marked national tight ends day, so it was good to see so many tight ends have huge performances. Here’s a list of big performances from the tight ends:

  • Kyle Pitts: 7 rec, 163 yards
  • C.J. Uzomah: 3 rec, 91 yards, 2 TDs
  • Dallas Goedert: 3 rec, 70 yards, 2 pt conversion
  • Mike Gesicki: 7 rec, 85 yards, TD
  • Travis Kelce: 7 rec, 65 yards
  • Zach Ertz: 3 rec, 66 yards, TD
  • Robert Tonyan: 4 rec, 63 yards, TD
  • Foster Moreau: 6 rec, 60 yards, TD
  • T.J. Hockenson: 6 rec, 48 yards
  • MyCole Pruitt: 2 rec, 27 yards, TD

Let’s check out the winners and losers from the week.

Winners

Mike Vrabel

After upsetting the Buffalo Bills on Monday Night Football, the Titans had to host a hungry Kansas City Chiefs team. The Chiefs were favored heading into the game and they were absolutely dismantled by the Titans. Tennesse’s defense held Patrick Mahomes and company to three points as the Titans defeat the Chiefs 27-3. Mahomes was sacked four times, threw an interception, and fumbled the football twice.

This is an impressive win no matter what, but on a short week nonetheless. Tennessee deserves credit, and Vrabel hasn’t strayed from his team’s identity. The Titans scored 27 unanswered points and took their foot off the pedal a bit towards the middle parts of the second half. They had success running, used Tannehill’s athletic ability, and consistently found A.J. Brown through this Chiefs porous defense. However, there’s certainly something off with this Kansas City Chiefs team.

The Bengals

Zac Taylor and his coaching staff deserve praise after defeating their divisional rival in Baltimore, 41-17. The Bengals’ defense stopped Lamar Jackson and the Ravens’ injured, yet effective, rushing attack. Rookie Ja’Marr Chase continues to have a breakout season.

Chase finished with eight catches for 201 yards and a touchdown on 10 targets. Quarterback Joe Burrow had more than 400 passing yards. Both Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine had rushing touchdowns. The Bengals came away a statement win in the division, on the road. They now lead the AFC North with the same record as Baltimore - 5-2.

Trick Plays

Who doesn’t love a successful trick play? I do unless it’s the Philly Special in Super Bowl LII. Let’s start with Derrick Henry who had three touchdowns on Monday Night Football last week. Well, this week, in the 27-3 trouncing of the Kansas City Chiefs, Henry did his best Patrick Mahomes impression.

This is a great play call by Todd Downing. Of course, the Chiefs will sell out to stop Henry when they see him with the football in that area of the field. I love the deception by the Titans in this play. The Patriots also ran several trick plays in their 54-13 beatdown of the New York Jets.

Kendrick Bourne throws a touchdown to Nelson Agolohor for the Patriots’ first score of many on the day. That wasn’t the only trick play from New England. It seems like Bill Belichick and his coaching staff always have something up their sleeve when they take on the Jets. The Giants also added some trickery to their playcalling - something that isn’t new for the coaching staff.

This play was reportedly put into the playbook by quarterback coach Jerry Schuplinski. Jones was a big fan of the Panthers growing up; therefore, he was a huge fan of Steve Smith Sr. Well, he did his best impression of the former Panther.

Kyle Pitts

In England against the Jets in Week 5, Kyle Pitts had his first breakout game after a somewhat slow start. He had 119 receiving yards on seven catches with a touchdown in the 27-20 victory. Pitts, after the BYE, followed the performance up with a huge game against the Dolphins. The star tight end had seven catches for 169 yards on eight targets.

Pitts came up with huge plays like the one above. During the two-minute drill to win the game, Matt Ryan found Pitts for gains of 23 and 28 yards, similar to what he did against the Giants in week three (in terms of the end of the game success). The Dolphins didn’t have an answer for Pitts who has two consecutive games of elite performance from the tight end position. This also came on National Tight Ends Day for Pitts. The big final drive by Pitts helped set up the game-winning Younghoe Koo field goal. The Falcons are now 3-3, with their last two wins being heavily impacted by Pitts’ presence.

Dan Campbell

Win or lose, I have respect for this coach who was 0-6 heading into this game against the Rams. Look, your team is winless - be bold! Campbell was more than bold to start this game. He said he wanted to steal possessions away from the Rams - what exactly do the Lions have to lose? After the Lions scored an opening touchdown, they ran an onside kick that they recovered. After being stopped on the ensuing drive, they ran this fake punt which was also completed.

Campbell’s game day goal of stealing possessions worked early - they stole two in the first half. Campbell ran another fake punt down by a point in the third quarter that was converted via rushing. I love the aggression on the road. This Lions’ team is winless, but they certainly play hard and respect their head coach. They were able to keep Matt Stafford and the Rams’ impressive offense on the bench while they continued to add to their early lead. The Lions positioned themselves to possibly upset the Rams, but Jalen Ramsey intercepted Jared Goff towards the end of the fourth quarter where the Lions could have taken the lead. The Lions lost, 28-19.

Losers

The Chiefs

The 3-4 Chiefs were destroyed at Tennessee in Week 7. The Titans pass rush was all over Patrick Mahomes, and the creative offense of Andy Reid failed to sustain many drives. It was a day to forget for Kansas City. A 27-3 loss can be humbling for a team that many viewed as the crème de la crème of the league. The Chiefs were dropping passes, losing 1-on-1 matchups upfront, and were physically beat down by Tennessee.

Mahomes was hurt at the end of the fourth quarter as he was being sacked. He took a knee to the face mask and looked a bit woozy. He reportedly passed the concussion protocol. Kansas City plays on Monday Night Football against the New York Giants next week. It appears Mahomes will be fine for the game.

The Panthers’ offense

One of the most respected young offensive coordinators in football is the Panthers’ Joe Brady. The architect to the 2019 LSU National Championship team had the Panthers buzzing through the first three weeks, but the buzz has silenced over the last four weeks. Quarterback Sam Darnold has regressed, they can’t establish the rushing attack without Christian McCaffrey, and they were silenced by a struggling Giants’ defense.

New York forced a quarterback switch, had six sacks, and only allowed 173 yards of offense. Credit must be given to Patrick Graham and the Giants’ defense, but the downward spiral of this Carolina offense is troubling. Darnold was benched in favor of P.J. Walker at the end of the game.

Every offensive coordinator that faced Graham’s defense found ways to manipulate the match coverage while taking advantage of the Giants’ man coverage abilities with rub and pick routes. Brady and his unit seemed uncomfortable and overmatched against a Giants defense that was allowing more than 400 yards per game. Hopefully, this will spark something for the Giants’ defense, but the Panthers’ offense has a ton of questions going forward.

The Jets

Not only did the Jets get beat 54-13 which is obviously terrible, but their big loss happens to be an injury to rookie quarterback Zach Wilson. The No. 2 overall pick in the draft was hit by Matt Judon after releasing the football and stayed on the ground for an extended period of time.

Wilson exited with a knee injury and needs an MRI. This could be a devastating loss for the Jets who weren’t making a playoff push. However, the reps and growth of Wilson has to be the main focus for this Jets team. If injured, it could be a huge setback for his development. Hopefully, that will not be the case for the Jets and their rookie quarterback.

The Bears

No one expected the Bears to go to Tampa Bay and defeat Tom Brady and the Bucs. However, this offense under Matt Nagy with Justin Fields at quarterback is difficult to watch. The protection is poor, the play-calling doesn’t feature Fields’ elite athletic ability, and the entire offense seems out of rhythm. Matt Nagy is built a brilliant offensive mind, but where are the adjustments? Then there’s this:

The coaching has not maximized or put Fields in a great position. Justin Fields is a rookie and not everyone is Justin Herbert. As of now, he seems to be in over his head, and he also doesn’t have the best supporting cast with David Montgomery IR and a less than desirable offensive line. Coaching is paramount in these situations, but Fields hasn’t flashed brilliance either.

The Bears trailed the Buccaneers 35-3 at halftime, and Fields fumbled the football three times with an interception. If the Bears continue this abysmal display of football, then the Giants certainly become a winner. New York owns the Bears’ first-round pick after Dave Gettleman traded back in the draft to allow the Bears to select Justin Fields.

The QB “dive” rule

The Washington Football Team was down 21-3 at the beginning of the third quarter after fumbling the football on the previous drive which led to a Green Bay touchdown. Washington quarterback Taylor Heinecke rushed for what looked like an easy touchdown on third-and-goal, but Heineke dove at the 1-yard-line with no defenders in his immediate area.

The play was originally ruled a touchdown but was overturned due to a rule instituted this season. The rule states that a diving quarterback is essentially “giving himself up.” It’s a rule to deter defenders from contacting sliding quarterbacks to stop their momentum. However, there’s a big difference between sliding and diving.

We saw this same rule applied in Week 2 against Josh Allen. In both instances, it was obvious the quarterbacks were making physical plays going for the touchdown and not giving themselves up. I’ve also seen other quarterbacks this season make similar moves with no calls. It’s yet another inconsistent NFL rule that lacks context. Heinecke could have easily stood up and walked into the end zone on the play, but because he dove to cross the pylon, he was ruled down. I understand the rule, but there has to be a better way to mitigate the risk of sliding quarterbacks, while not removing the quarterback’s ability to finish plays.