Life in the National Football League is as unforgiving as it gets. Each year, we see dreams, jobs and livelihoods shattered on a moment’s notice. This past week in the league provided a perfect example of just how cutthroat it is.
Before the Philadelphia Eagles and Minnesota Vikings game last week, Eagles starting linebacker Zach Brown was asked about his thoughts on former teammate and current Vikings quarterback, Kirk Cousins.
“For me, that’s probably the weakest part of their offense is him. Everything else is good,” said Brown.
Cousins took the bulletin board material provided by Brown and turned it into a four-touchdown, 333-yard-passing performance in the 38-20 Vikings victory.
Less than 24 hours after Cousins’ big day, the Eagles released Brown from the team.
Eagles team captain Malcolm Jenkins summed things up perfectly.
“I’m not surprised. When you lose, things change. Players come and go all the time,” said Jenkins.
Since Cam Newton has been out with an injury, Kyle Allen and the Carolina Panthers scored 30.3 points a game, which is more than the 18.2 points they were scoring before Newton’s injury. A decision with heavy implications is looming over the Panthers once Newton is deemed healthy in the next couple of weeks.
Meanwhile, the Cleveland Browns were leading the Seattle Seahawks 20-6 during the first quarter, before Russell Wilson led the ‘Hawks comeback with 19 unanswered points. The 32-28 win improves Seattle to 5-1 while the misery for the Browns continues, dropping to 2-4.
In Kansas City, it is now back-to-back losses for the Chiefs after their 31-24 loss to the Houston Texans. What makes matters worse for Chiefs fans is that both losses were suffered at home.
Moving along to San Francisco, the 49ers are 5-0 for the first time since 1990. This team has quietly become one of the most polished teams on both sides of the ball. QB Jimmy Garoppolo is quietly thriving in Kyle Shanahan’s offensive system.
Lastly, how ‘bout them Cowboys? After starting the season 3-0, Dallas has now lost three straight games after last week’s lacklustre showing in New York against the Jets.
American Football Conference at a glance
In the AFC East, the 6-0 New England Patriots are beating teams by an average margin of 23.6 points. There are 18 teams in the league who are averaging less than 23.6 points in a game — let that sink in. Behind the Patriots are the 4-1 Buffalo Bills, 1-4 New York Jets and 0-5 Miami Dolphins.
Across the country on the west side of the AFC, the Chiefs are now 4-2 after their recent troubles on their home field. The 3-2 Oakland Raiders are keeping them honest as the winners of their last two games while the 2-4 Denver Broncos are tied with the Los Angeles Chargers for last in the division.
On the north side of the conference, the 4-2 Baltimore Ravens hold sole control of first place with the Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers tied for second at 2-4. The 0-6 Cincinnati Bengals are not even worth the time you spent reading this sentence.
Heading south, the 4-2 Houston Texans lead the division with the 3-2 Indianapolis Colts on their heels. Both the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans sit at 2-4.
National Football Conference at a glance
In week five, the Jets lost to Philadelphia on the road and came back home for week six to beat the Eagles’ division rival Dallas Cowboys. Both teams — Philadelphia and Dallas — sit atop the NFC East division at 3-3. The 2-4 New York Giants and 1-5 Washington Deadskins.
In the west, the undefeated 49ers are one of the more surprising teams in the league. Their emergence has made a competitive NFC West even more so with the 5-1 Seattle Seahawks and 3-3 Los Angeles Rams, losers of three straight games, in contention for first place in the division. The Arizona Cardinals are last at 2-3-1.
The Green Bay Packers lead the NFC North at 5-1, while the 4-2 Minnesota Vikings are a close second play with the 3-2 Chicago Bears not far behind. In last place sits the 2-2-1 Detroit Lions, who are actually better than their record suggests after being robbed of a win at Green Bay last week.
Finally in the NFC South, the 5-1 New Orleans Saints just keep on winning. For four straight games, Saints fans have been pleasantly surprised with their team’s performance since QB Teddy Bridgewater took over duties for the injured Drew Brees. The 4-2 Panthers, who are also winners of four straight games, are keeping the pressure on the Saints while the 2-4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers and 1-5 Atlanta Falcons are on the outside looking in.
Week 7 picks
Minnesota Vikings (-1) at Detroit Lions
This is a big divisional matchup in the NFC North. The Lions are desperate for a win here after their second loss in a row last week in Green Bay while Minnesota comes into this one as winners of two straight. This game is a toss up. If you are not a fan of either team, just stay away from it as it is too early to trust the Vikings, even after an impressive showing against Philadelphia last week.
Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts (-1)
Both teams are coming off huge road wins against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Colts, however, will be well-rested as they played the Chiefs in week five and had their bye week last week while the Texans played Kansas City. The winner of this game will take full control of first place in the AFC South. I like the Colts here with extra rest, but Texans QB Deshaun Watson is playing at a very high level right now. If you have a stake in this game, bet on it. Otherwise, stay away and enjoy the game.
Baltimore Ravens at Seattle Seahawks (-3.5)
This is an interesting non-conference matchup between two good teams. As we know, winning a road game in Seattle is a tough task and makes Seattle favourable here. The point spread suggests that oddsmakers believe these teams are pretty evenly matched. It could very well be decided by less than a field goal which is why I like Baltimore and all the talent they carry. Take the Ravens here to keep it close.
New Orleans Saints at Chicago Bears (-3.5)
Chicago enters this game with extra rest after their bye week last week, which helps their chances to take down the Saints, the winners of four straight games. On the road in an outdoor stadium, New Orleans is historically not the same team compared to at home inside their climate-controlled arena. Even given that disclaimer, bettors cannot come close to trusting Chicago. Take New Orleans and root for the Saints to keep on rolling.
Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys (-3)
On Sunday night football, the Eagles and Cowboys will battle it out in Dallas in front of a national audience. This is a classic NFC East matchup with first place on the line. The Cowboys are three-point home favourites, which tells bettors that these teams line up evenly against each other. The Eagles were run off the field last week in Minnesota and should be motivated to right the ship this week. This game will be decided by three points or less — take the Eagles.
Tanner Michalenko/ Sports & Health Editor
Graphic: Shawna Langer/ Graphics Editor