Tuesday Afternoon Football: Week Seven
Week Seven of the NFL season featured some incredible matchups, some broken records, bad quarterback play, dumb plays, it had it all. There is plenty to discuss, and with the trade deadline approaching rapidly, the NFL landscape has already begun to drastically shift. With that being said, let’s jump right into it.
Los Angeles Rams Remain Undefeated, Remain the Best Team in the NFL.
After seven weeks, there are several teams that look like they could be Super Bowl contenders, but only one of those teams is undefeated. That team is the Los Angeles Rams, who beat the San Francisco 49ers 39-10 on Sunday afternoon.
There are various reasons for this team being as good as it is, from its exorbitant spending over the summer to its stockpile of young franchise players, but over the weekend, something became crystal clear. Todd Gurley is the heart and soul of this team, he is the engine that makes this train go.
His ability to tear defenses apart limb-from-limb is unparalleled from the running back position this year in the NFL. Against a 49ers defense that ranks 13th in the league in terms of opponents rushing yards per game, Todd Gurley ran for a measly 63 yards...but he picked up two touchdowns while doing so. His ability to put constant pressure on the defense with his legs opens up the playbook for Head Coach Sean McVay and forces more favorable matchups on the outside for Jared Goff’s targets.
Gurley isn’t just deadly on the ground though, he is arguably just as dangerous through the air. He had a receiving touchdown against the 49ers as well, but so far this season he has scored 3 touchdowns through the air while putting up 270 yards. All that production as a receiver is just the icing on top of the cake due to his ability to run. Through seven games he has amassed 686 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground. When you combine his rushing and receiving numbers he has 956 yards and 14 touchdowns. He is having a season for the ages, and potentially could end up rivaling the legendary seasons of LaDainian Tomlinson, Shaun Alexander, and Priest Holmes if he keeps his production up.
Getting back to the game on Sunday though, I am not anointing the Rams the prized position of best team in the NFL because they beat the 49ers, that’s not too tough a task. I mean, the Cardinals did it two weeks ago. Their beatdown of the 49ers did give me a chance to witness their greatness first hand though.
The Los Angeles Rams have the best point differential (+107) in the NFL by a pretty decent margin (Chiefs are second at +78). Jared Goff has been playing like an MVP, regardless of whether or not you consider him to be a system quarterback. Through seven games he has thrown for 2130 yards, 14 touchdowns, and only five picks. He is on pace to smash his career-best season from last year in every statistical category.
The Rams have a ton of weapons around Goff which help make them so deadly. Brandin Cooks is explosive and a great vertical threat, Robert Woods is a stud, and Cooper Kupp is emerging as a great receiver. While the Chiefs may have the upper hand in terms of sheer numbers of weapons on offense, the Rams ultimately have the upper hand because of their defense.
That defense is terrifying. They have Aaron Donald lining up next to Ndamukong Suh, both of whom can terrorize any offensive line on their own, but together they are un-guardable. They have playmakers all over the secondary, and I think the only weak spot this team has on either side of the ball is with their linebacking core. The Rams are legit, and after beating the 49ers 39-10, I have no doubts that this team is the best team in the NFC, and their spotless record is proof of that.
The Rams play the Packers this week and I imagine that they will tear that defense to shreds. I don’t think the Rams will go 16-0 this season, but they’ll be damn close.
Amari Cooper Shipped from Oakland to Dallas:
Through seven weeks of the NFL season, the Dallas Cowboys record sits at 3-4, which is good enough for a second-place tie in the NFC East with the Philadelphia Eagles. Their team is mediocre, there is no way around it. They play incredibly poorly away from home, and play well enough to win at home. They are just an average NFL football team.
The Oakland Raiders sit at 1-5 through seven weeks. They traded their best player, Khalil Mack, before the season started and now are just a flat-out bad football team. They have no shot at their division with the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers existing in a whole different universe than the lowly Raiders.
At least the Cowboys have a chance at the postseason, while the Oakland Raiders have no shot. Knowing this, Jon Gruden and the Raiders decided to shop their top wide-receiver Amari Cooper on the trade market. The Dallas Cowboys offered a first-round pick in the draft while the Eagles offered a late-second round pick, and the Raiders pulled the trigger with the deal for the Cowboys.
The Dallas Cowboys have a bye week during Week Eight, so we won’t get to see Cooper don the White, Blue, and Silver until Week Nine, but this was an interesting deal to say the least. The Cowboys’ season is in flux, in limbo, they could go on a run and make the playoffs, they could fall off and end up with a top-10 pick. There is no sure-fire prediction for how this team finishes the year. Jerry Jones decided to push all his chips to the middle of the table with this deal though, they have no choice but to go for it and try to make a run at the NFC East.
They no longer control their first-round pick next year, which could have been a top-10 pick, and if Dak Prescott continued to struggle, that pick could have been the best QB in college football. Now the Cowboys are almost forced to ride with Dak, who has gotten worse with the passing of time. The good news for the Cowboys though, is this: Amari Cooper is hands-down the best wide receiver they have had since prime Dez Bryant. They now have a real weapon to open up the passing game, which should give Dak more room to run, and take pressure off of Ezekiel Elliott.
Now for the Raiders, they have three first-round picks in next year’s draft, so they are set up well now for the future after Oakland. Now, in the present, this is a big middle finger to the fans in Oakland. They have no one left on this team besides Derek Carr, who might be on the outs too, according to some reports. While this may be a big middle finger to the fans, you have to give credit where credit is due...getting a first round pick for Amari Cooper is great, especially from a team that could end up with a top-10 pick.
Do I think the Cowboys are better today than they were on Sunday? Yes. Do I think they have a better shot at making it to the playoffs and/or winning the NFC East? Yes. Are they going to make the playoffs this year? No.
While this trade is exciting for it being a trade with a big-name player, there won’t be much of an impact in term of wins/losses for either team involved in the deal. The Cowboys were average before, will be average after. The Raiders were bad before, they are bad after.
Carolina Panthers comeback versus Reigning Champion Philadelphia Eagles.
The Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl last season, that’s great, it should be celebrated, but at a certain point, a hangover has to wear off. That time has not come yet for the Eagles.
On Sunday they had a 17-0 lead against the Panthers heading into the fourth quarter, and they lost. They blew the game and ended up losing 21-17. I just can’t get a grip on this Eagles team. They act like they win the Super Bowl each week when they get a lead, they celebrate, talk shit, and then blow the lead. They are acting exactly like how I imagine the Washington Wizards or Portland Trail Blazers would if they somehow won the NBA championship.
They are tied with the Cowboys in the NFC East, not for the top spot, for the second spot. They are 1.5 games back of the Redskins, and their youngest player is about 45 years old. The Redskins are led by Alex Smith and Adrian Peterson, two veteran players. I just can’t understand how the Eagles, with all the weapons and talent that they have, are behind them.
During the game on Sunday the Eagles were dancing on the field when they were up 17-0, and then proceeded to let the Panthers score touchdowns, not field goals, on THREE CONSECUTIVE DRIVES. Now, the Panthers aren’t a bad team by any stretch of the imagination, but still.
The Eagles are somehow still in the Race thanks to the sheer incompetence of the teams in their division, but I don’t think they will be there for long if they keep playing like this. The only games they’ve won have been against non-playoff teams (injury-riddled Falcons, Indianapolis Colts, and the bad New York Giants).
Their upcoming stretch of games (Jaguars, Cowboys, Saints) should be the ultimate test of this team’s resolve. If they go 2-1 or 3-0, they will make the playoffs. If they lose more than one game, their season is over, especially if that loss is to Cowboys at home.
Major shout-out to Cam Newton though, who might be having the best season of his career. He’s completing 65.6% of his passes for 1,427 yards, 11 TDs and four INTs. He’s also ran for three touchdowns and is the best Red Zone threat in the NFL.
Update from the Jimmy G Hype Train:
The Good, The Bad, The Odd:
The Good: Adam Thielen had more than 100 receiving yards for the seventh-straight week, tying an NFL record. He also broke an NFL record for most receptions through a team’s first seven games with 67, breaking Keenan Allen’s record from 2015. He has become the best wide-receiver in the NFL.
The Bad: CJ Beathard continued to be a turnover machine for the 49ers this week. He threw two interceptions and fumbled twice. I miss Jimmy Garoppolo, I just want the 2019 season to get here as fast as humanly possible.
The Odd: Julio Jones has the second-most receiving yards in the NFL with 812 yards. He is dead-last in receiving touchdowns, with zero. Did he insult Matt Ryan to his face or something? He only had 3 touchdowns in the last two seasons despite gaining 2256 yards through the air. This is seriously odd.
CK Collustion QB of the Week: The Buffalo Bills just don’t seem to get it. They brought in Derek Anderson this week after Josh Allen got hurt, and he was fucking awful. He completed 20/31 passes for 175 yards and three interceptions. He didn’t throw a single touchdown, in fact, he’s only thrown two touchdowns since 2015. I mean I hate to see awful QB’s getting playing time like this, but at least he stands for the National Anthem...am I right?
Breakout Player of the Week: Kerryon Johnson ran for 158 yards on 19 carries against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. This was his second 100+ yard rushing game this season, and the second 100+ yard rushing game by a Lions running back since Reggie Bush.
Loser of the Week: The Arizona Cardinals, who lost to the Denver Broncos 45-10 while Josh Rosen got absolutely picked apart by the Broncos defense. This was an awful loss, but also an even worse transitive-property loss for the 49ers, who lost to the Cardinals two weeks ago.