Week 7 of the NFL season is in the books and it’s one we may look back on as when the Baltimore Ravens announced themselves as contenders.
Ravens Rip Through Lions
Those who read closely enough here may have seen this Week 7 performance coming.
Lamar Jackson has been playing at an MVP level despite the numbers not quite showing that right now. Injuries and drops have stopped him from dominating the stats pages like he should and the Baltimore Ravens from piling up wins.
“Lamar Jackson, in particular, isn’t seeing the return on his play in the numbers. That will change sooner rather than later.” – Red Zone Returns
However, it all came together for Jackson and company as Baltimore thrashed the Detroit Lions 38-6 to announce themselves as Super Bowl LVIII contenders at $13.
We’d heard about Baltimore changing things up with their offence. They wanted to add more of an aerial threat to Jackson’s dangerous running game. It’s taken a few weeks and the drops in Week 5 added another period of concern, but if this is just the start of the Ravens offence clicking, the rest of the NFL is in a little bit of trouble.
Screw it, here’s 2 minutes of Lamar Jackson cooking the Detroit Lions defense. pic.twitter.com/3LkJBCz2n4
— Zach Bollinger (@zachbollinger18) October 22, 2023
Jackson threw for 357 yards on just 27 attempts for 13.2 yards per attempt. He threw three touchdowns and rushed one in himself to absolutely dominate a Lions defence that certainly wasn’t considered bad heading into this one. In connecting on over 75% of his throws, this ended up as the seventh time he finished a game with four touchdowns and a 75+% completion rate – the most by any player before turning 30 in NFL history.
The Ravens are flying and Jackson is dominating. Their $13 to win Super Bowl LVIII won’t be around for much longer and the cat is out bag when it comes to Jackson’s MVP candidacy. When we look back at the NFL season that was and circle turning points, Week 7 could be where it all starts to come together in Baltimore.
As for Detroit, we will call this one a bad day at the office. It wasn’t entirely unexpected. They were slightly over-hyped following a promising start. But this team is better than what we saw in Week 7. So long as we see it against the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 8, we don’t need to be too worried about them.
It was billed as one of the biggest games of the NFL season so far and the Philadelphia Eagles and Miami Dolphins made sure it turned out as such.
While the Eagles looked the better team throughout, the Dolphins hung around for long enough that their high-powered offence was always within touching distance. But the Eagles defence and Jalen Hurts’ ability to overcome turnovers and produce touchdowns soon after saw them pick up a 31-17 win and move to 6-1 for the season.
The Eagles defense is starting to play well. They have 3 straight games of holding teams to 20 points or less and under 250 yards. And they've done that with a patchwork secondary. Great work by Sean Desai.
— Tommy Lawlor (@lawlornfl) October 23, 2023
As expected, the Eagles shut down the Dolphins running game. Miami finished the first half with -7 yards and just 45 yards for the game. The idea behind Philly’s -2.5 bet was they would put the ball in Tua Tagovailoa’s hands and force him to do it all for Miami. To be fair, he gave it a good shake and kept the Dolphins in the game longer than they perhaps should have been despite the pressure of the Eagles front four that translated into three sacks.
The Eagles’ defence is the most encouraging aspect of this one. They kept a hot Dolphins offence to only 10 points (the other touchdown came from a pick-six) and sacked Tagovailoa on 8.6% of his dropbacks.
Of concern for the Dolphins, it’s their second loss in as many games against teams with a winning record. ESPN’s Football Power Index indicates Miami played out the sixth-easiest schedule across the first six weeks of the NFL season. Their numbers are impressive, but we need to see them do it against top-tier opposition before reading too much into their $11 to win Super Bowl LVIII.
Cause for concern in Buffalo?
The Buffalo Bills have played out a roller-coaster NFL season already.
They lost to the New York Jets in Week 1 but responded well by reeling off three convincing wins on the bounce while averaging 41 points per game. However, Buffalo then proceeded to lose to the Jacksonville Jaguars (which isn’t such a bad loss now), barely beat a hapless New York Giants, and just dropped another game to a New England Patriots team that had won only one game all season before Week 7.
The defence is dealing with a few injuries. That has put more pressure on Josh Allen who is dealing with a shoulder injury himself. But every team in the NFL is banged up at the moment.
Slow starts are really hurting the Bills. Allen threw an interception on their first offensive drive and the Patriots all of a sudden built a 10-0 lead. They failed to score a point in the first quarter for the third consecutive game. With only three points in the first half, the Bills have scored a combined ten points before half time in their last three games.
Head coach Sean McDermott talks about the Bills “stubbing their toe” and “beating ourselves.” It’s all happening in the first half and is a problem they need to address for Week 8 when they take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as $1.23 and -8.5 favourites.
The Tweet Says It All
The Las Vegas Raiders barely threw a punch in their 30-12 loss to the Chicago Bears in Week 7.
The Las Vegas Raiders are the most unserious team in the NFL right now.
Throw out the records.
They started a 38-year-old QB who has thrown 1 TD pass in 4 years, their starting CB made a business decision in the 1st half, and they have a head coach whose worst losses in the…
— Moe Moton (@MoeMoton) October 22, 2023
The Nacua & Kupp Combination
Puka Nacua made a name for himself early into the NFL season.
The expectation was for Nacua’s targets to take a significant hit upon Cooper Kupp’s return. That hasn’t been the case, though.
Both have been targeted 28 times in the games played together for similar numbers: Kupp has 295 yards on 17 receptions with a touchdown to Nacua’s 251 yards on 19 receptions and a touchdown. Per Fantasy Points Data, Nacua’s first-read target share has only slightly dropped from 36.5% in his games with Kupp to 35.9% in those without him.
#Rams WR target shares since Cooper Kupp returned three games ago:
Puka Nacua: 33%
Cooper Kupp: 28%
Tutu Atwell: 9%
— Adam Levitan (@adamlevitan) October 23, 2023
Kupp, Nacua and the LA Rams couldn’t get it done in Week 7, going down to the Pittsburgh Steelers 24-17. Still, there is a lot to like about this team if they can develop some consistency in the coming weeks. It needs to come this week if they’re to get past the Dallas Cowboys as $3.25 and +6.5 underdogs.
Other NFL Week 7 Notes
– New England’s win over the Bills made it 300 for Bill Belichick. He joins Don Shula (328) and George Halas (318) as the only coaches to reach the milestone.
– The Kansas City Chiefs have quietly won six on the bounce.
– Puka Nakua is the second player in NFL history with 700+ receiving yards in his first seven games.
– The 49ers lost another one! That makes it back-to-back losses for a team we were calling the best in football only a few weeks ago.
TOP 6 SUPER BOWL LVIII ODDS
|TEAM||CURRENT PRICE||LAST WEEK’S PRICE|
|Kansas City Chiefs||$5||$6|
|San Francisco 49ers||$6||$5.50|