The Week Ahead: Week 7

With the Philadelphia Eagles defeating the New York Giants to wrap up Week 6, thoughts are already turning to Week 7 and a new slate of potential Picks with several key games. Week 6 didn’t deliver the same blow for injuries as the previous week and might have offered some clarity in a few spots, like the Miami Dolphins playing well under new coach Dan Campbell.

A few of the top teams in the league are taking Week 7 off as the undefeated Cincinnati Bengals and Denver Broncos are on the bye along with the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears.  Here are a few to watch:

The week gets an intriguing start as the San Francisco 49ers host the Seattle Seahawks. Perhaps no one thought these two teams would be tied through six games. They are at the bottom of the NFC West at 2-4. They also appear to be headed in opposite direction: and not the way many would expect. San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick has seemingly found his game just two weeks after many wondered if he would be benched. Kaepernick has thrown for 602 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions the past two games. Receiver Anquan Boldin has more than 100 yards receiving the past two games and Torrey Smith had 96 yards and a touchdown in Sunday’s 25-20 win against Baltimore.

Seattle’s pass defense hasn’t been its usual stout self, even with safety Kam Chancellor back in the lineup. Cincinnati passed for more than 300 yards two weeks ago and Carolina quarterback Cam Newton beat the Seahawks almost single-handedly. Seattle can take a bit of comfort in finally getting tight end Jimmy Graham (eight catches, 140 yards) involved. San Francisco is allowing a league-high 306.2 passing yards per game.

The NFL is giving us some early-morning football on Sunday with the Jacksonville Jaguars “hosting” the Buffalo Bills in London. Both teams have underwhelmed and are coming off losses, but it doesn’t mean there aren’t potential opportunities for Picks in this one. Buffalo, despite its reputation and defensive talent, are 22nd in the league against the pass, giving up 268.8 yards per game. Jacksonville quarterback Blake Bortles has been putting up numbers, even if it’s not winning quarterback play. Bortles has thrown for at least 298 yards in three straight games and receivers Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns have thrived.

LeSean McCoy had a strong return from injury this weekend (90 yards rushing and a touchdown) but Buffalo could again be without quarterback Tyrod Taylor and receivers Sammy Watkins and Percy Harvin. Harvin is already believed to be out with a hip injury and Watkins left Sunday’s game with a sprained ankle and could be out.

Always a much-hyped matchup is the New York Jets and New England Patriots. Off their Sunday night win against Indianapolis, the undefeated Patriots host the Jets. New York (4-1) is trying to prove it’s a challenge to New England in the NFC East. The Jets are streaking themselves with two straight impressive wins. The defense with Darrelle Revis leading the way is stopping opposing offense and the offense is an impressive mix of running with Chris Ivory (third in the NFL with 460 rushing yards in just four games) and receivers Brandon Marshall (37 catches, 511 yards, four touchdowns) and Eric Decker (four touchdowns). The true measurement will come against Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and company, who are laying waste to anyone they see.

The NFC East has the Giants hosting the Dallas Cowboys. One aspect to watch is Dallas coming off the bye with likely several new starters. The Cowboys have announced Matt Cassel will start at quarterback for Brandon Weeden as they wait for the return of Tony Romo. Receiver Dez Bryant hasn’t been declared out for Sunday’s game, yet, but is unlikely to play. Dallas is reportedly also looking to give running back Christine Michael more carries to see if he can solve their unproductive running game. The Cowboys have the offensive line to run the ball (and rookie La’El Collins is taking over at left guard) and Michael is an athletic player who could take advantage.

Following Monday night’s game, Philadelphia will travel to face the undefeated Carolina Panthers on Sunday night. Its stunning to see what Newton is doing with a less-than-impressive receiving corps. Tight end Greg Olsen is a standout and running back Jonathan Stewart had his best game of the season against Seattle.

The week ends with the Arizona Cardinals hosting the Baltimore Ravens. Despite a loss at Pittsburgh on Sunday, Arizona still looks to be one of the stronger teams in the NFC and has a high-octane passing game that had receiver John Brown haul in 10 receptions on Sunday, Michael Floyd finally get mixed in to go with Larry Fitzgerald. Baltimore is allowing 286.2 passing yards per game and has been a mess without top pass rusher Terrell Suggs. The Ravens have allowed eight passing touchdowns and Arizona’s Carson Palmer is tied for second in the league with 14 touchdowns.

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Written by Brian Hall
Hall has spent the past 13 years as a reporter in the Twin Cities, covering every professional team along with the University of Minnesota. For the past four years, he was a regular beat reporter covering the Minnesota Vikings and Minnesota Wild for FoxSportsNorth.com. He's been an avid fantasy sports player for years and has caught the daily fantasy sports bug like so many others.