By Vince Ferrara / @VinceSports
Each week I’ll bring you this week’s NFL schedule with my predictions followed by some great notes and stats directly from the National Football League Communications Department.
Our Sports Animal NFL programming for Week 7
(Sun) 10am – 12:30pm: The NFL Report with John Wilkerson and two rotating Sports Animal hosts
(Sun) 12:30pm – Dallas Cowboys at Washington Football Team
(Sun) 12:00pm – Pittsburgh Steelers at Tennessee Titans (News Talk 98.7)
WEEK 7 NFL SCHEDULE
THURSDAY, SUNDAY & MONDAY, OCTOBER 22, 25-26
(All times Eastern)
Thursday, October 22
New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles 8:20 PM FOX/NFLN/Amazon
Sunday, October 25
Detroit Lions at Atlanta Falcons 1:00 PM FOX
Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals 1:00 PM CBS
Green Bay Packers at Houston Texans 1:00 PM FOX
Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints 1:00 PM FOX
Buffalo Bills at New York Jets 1:00 PM CBS
Pittsburgh Steelers at Tennessee Titans 1:00 PM CBS
Dallas Cowboys at Washington Football Team 1:00 PM FOX
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Las Vegas Raiders 4:05 PM FOX
Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos 4:25 PM CBS
Jacksonville Jaguars at Los Angeles Chargers 4:25 PM CBS
San Francisco 49ers at New England Patriots 4:25 PM CBS
Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals 8:20 PM NBC
Monday, October 26
Chicago Bears at Los Angeles Rams 8:15 PM ESPN
Byes: Baltimore Ravens, Indianapolis Colts, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings
Vince’s View: The first thing is the schedule is normal in game times for the first time in a while. Next thing is the matchup of undefeated teams that were supposed to play a few weeks ago in that scenario, yet are still both without a loss, Steelers at Titans. They are two of only three undefeated teams remaining in the NFL. The Seahawks are the other. There are plenty of other quality matchups like Seahawks/Cardinals, Bucs/Raiders & Bears/Rams. The debut of Tua Tagovailoa as the Miami Dolphins starting quarterback will have to wait one week thanks to the bye week.
Week 6 Prediction Record: 10-4 (71%)
Season Record: 60-31 (66%)
WEEK 7 FEATURES INTRIGUING MATCHUPS,
SIGNIFICANT MILESTONES WITHIN REACH
The Week 7 NFL menu showcases a historic showdown in Music City, a two-decade-old rivalry renewing in Las Vegas and a pair of defensive headliners squaring off on Monday Night Football. Still hungry?
Don’t worry. With the high volume of close, competitive games and the number of exciting young players making significant contributions on a weekly basis, there’s certain to be something for every NFL palate this week.
CLASH OF NFL TITANS IN NASHVILLE SUNDAY: Two of the NFL’s three remaining undefeated teams square off Sunday when the PITTSBURGH STEELERS travel to meet the TENNESSEE TITANS (1:00 PM ET, CBS). It’s only the sixth contest in the Super Bowl era, and just the eighth overall NFL game, matching teams that have at least five wins and zero losses.
The games between teams with at least five wins and zero losses in NFL history:
|Oct. 25, 2020||Pittsburgh Steelers (5-0) at Tennessee Titans (5-0)||???|
|Nov. 1, 2015||Green Bay Packers (6-0) at *Denver Broncos (6-0)||Broncos, 29-10|
|Nov. 4, 2007||+New England Patriots (8-0) at Indianapolis Colts (7-0)||Patriots, 24-20|
|Oct. 14, 2007||+New England Patriots (5-0) at Dallas Cowboys (5-0)||Patriots, 48-27|
|Oct. 24, 2004||N.Y. Jets (5-0) at *New England Patriots (5-0)||Patriots, 13-7|
|Oct. 28, 1973||Los Angeles Rams (6-0) at +Minnesota Vikings (6-0)||Vikings, 10-9|
|Nov. 4, 1923||*Canton Bulldogs (5-0) at Chicago Cardinals (5-0)||Bulldogs, 7-3|
|Nov. 13, 1921||Akron Pros (7-0) at Buffalo All-Americans (6-0)||Tie, 0-0|
|*Won Super Bowl/league championship|
|+Advanced to Super Bowl|
Pittsburgh is off to its best start since opening 7-0 in 1978 en route to a Super Bowl XIII victory. Tennessee has authored the second-best start in franchise history, behind its 10-0 record to open the 2008 season.
- The Titans (422.0 yards per game) rank second in the NFL in total offense while the Steelers (285.2 yards allowed per game) rank second in the NFL in total defense.
- Tennessee quarterback RYAN TANNEHILL (364 passing yards) and running back DERRICK HENRY (212 rushing yards) combined last week to make Tennessee the first team in NFL history to have a player eclipse 350 passing yards and another rush for at least 200 yards in the same game.
- Henry, who also recorded 211 rushing yards in Week 17 of the 2019 season and 238 rushing yards in Week 14 of the 2018 season, is the first player to record a game with at least 200 rushing yards in three consecutive seasons in NFL history.
- The Steelers defense recorded four sacks and two interceptions in Week 6 and joined the 1985 NEW YORK GIANTS as the only teams in NFL history to record at least three sacks and an interception in each of their first five games of a season. Ten Steelers this season have at least one sack, led by BUD DUPREE (five) and T.J. WATT (4.5), tied for second and fourth, respectively, in the AFC. Seven Steelers have at least one interception, led by STEVEN NELSON (two), tied for third in the conference.
- Ball security has been a hallmark of each team’s early season success. The Titans rank second in the NFL with three giveaways, while the Steelers (four) rank tied for third. Including postseason, Tennessee running back DERRICK HENRY has gone 321 consecutive touches (304 carries, 17 receptions) without a fumble. Pittsburgh running back JAMES CONNER has gone 198 consecutive touches (157 carries, 41 receptions) without a fumble. Tennessee is tied for the league lead with a plus-six turnover ratio. Pittsburgh (plus-five) is tied for fourth.
- Tannehill (113.5) and Steelers quarterback BEN ROETHLISBERGER (109.1) rank second and fourth, respectively, in AFC passer rating. Roethlisberger has won 13 of his past 19 starts, while Tannehill has won 12 of his past 15, including playoffs.
OLD RIVALS MEET IN LAS VEGAS: Sunday Night Football rekindles a 19-year-old rivalry that started in the 2001 Divisional playoffs. When the LAS VEGAS RAIDERS host the TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (8:20 PM ET, NBC), Las Vegas head coach JON GRUDEN and Tampa Bay quarterback TOM BRADY will meet for the third time in their careers.
The most memorable meeting was the first, on Jan. 19, 2002, a snowy evening at Foxboro Stadium, where Brady rallied his Patriots to a 16-13 overtime win over the Raiders to earn his first career playoff win en route to victory in Super Bowl XXXVI over the St. Louis Rams. One year later, Gruden won his own Super Bowl after joining the Buccaneers in a unique trade, leading Tampa Bay to victory over the Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII.
Fast forward nearly two decades and Gruden is back guiding the Raiders and Brady is the field general of Gruden’s former team, the Buccaneers. And while those two may have changed teams, the Buccaneers defense as it was in the early 21st Century is again dominating the NFL.
Tampa Bay’s defense, guided by coordinator TODD BOWLES, leads the NFL in fewest total yards allowed per game (282.0), fewest total yards allowed per play (4.6), fewest rushing yards allowed per game (64.3) and fewest first downs allowed per game (16.8), while tying for second in the league with 11 total takeaways. Last week, the Buccaneers held the NFL’s highest-scoring offense, Green Bay, to 10 points.
Depending on the amount of touchdown passes thrown earlier in the day by all-time leader DREW BREES (556), Brady (555) on Sunday night could leave the field for the first time as the NFL’s career leader in that category.
Brady last week helped the Buccaneers overcome a 10-point deficit in their win over the Packers. In the NFL this season, there have been 19 games in which a team has overcome a deficit of at least 10 points to win this season, tied with the 2011 season (19 games) for the most such games through Week 6 in league history.
There have been six games that have featured a team overcoming a deficit of at least 17 points to win this season, the second-most such games through Week 6 in a single season in NFL history. Only the 2011 season (seven games) had more.
MONSTERS OF THE COMEBACK: The NFC North-leading CHICAGO BEARS (5-1) have registered two of their five wins by overcoming deficits of at least 16 points (a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit in Week 1 and a 16-point fourth-quarter deficit in Week 3). Thanks in part to Chicago, 2020 marks the first year in which at least one NFL team has overcome a deficit of 16-or-more points to win in each of the first six weeks of a season. The Bears also earned a tough road win at Carolina last week, one of eight NFL games in Week 6 within one score in the fourth quarter.
- The Bears travel from one coast to the other this week when they play at the LOS ANGELES RAMS on Monday Night Football (8:15 PM ET, ESPN). The matchup features stalwarts on each defense that have combined to account for three of the last four Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year awards, the Rams’ AARON DONALD (2017-18) and the Bears’ KHALIL MACK (2016 with the Raiders).
- Donald, Mack and Arizona’s CHANDLER JONES are the NFL’s only three players with at least 65 sacks and 17-or-more forced fumbles since 2014, when Donald and Mack entered the league eight selections apart in the first round of the NFL Draft. Donald leads the NFL with 7.5 sacks this year while Mack leads the Bears with 4.5.
- Chicago leads the NFL this season in red-zone defense, allowing touchdowns on just 36.4 percent of opponent drives inside the 20-yard line. And if the game is within one score in the fourth quarter – like 62 of 91 NFL games (68.1 percent) so far this season – that defense will be tested by Rams quarterback JARED GOFF, who leads the NFL in fourth-quarter passer rating (141.1).
MAHOMES MEETS LOCK IN DENVER: Last week, Kansas City quarterback PATRICK MAHOMES, appearing in his 37th career game, became the fastest player in NFL history to reach 90 career touchdown passes, surpassing the previous mark held by Pro Football Hall of Famer DAN MARINO (40 games). Mahomes returns on Sunday to Denver (4:25 PM ET, CBS), where he made his first NFL start at the end of the 2017 season. Denver quarterback DREW LOCK, who guided the Broncos to a win at New England last week, is 5-3 in his career as a starting quarterback.
- Kansas City tight end TRAVIS KELCE needs 65 receiving yards to become the third tight end in NFL history with at least 7,000 receiving yards in his first eight seasons, joining ROB GRONKOWSKI (7,179) and ANTONIO GATES (7,005). Kelce has 6,935 receiving yards in 102 career games.
CLUTCH ROOKIES: The JUSTIN HERBERT story adds another chapter this week when the LOS ANGELES CHARGERS host the JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS on Sunday (4:25 PM ET, CBS). The Chargers’ rookie quarterback leads qualified NFL passers in a key metric, third-down passer rating (150.9), significantly ahead of the next-best mark, PATRICK MAHOMES (136.0). Herbert also leads NFL rookies with an overall 107.1 passer rating.
- The other starter in the Chiefs’ backfield, rookie CLYDE EDWARDS-HELAIRE, leads all NFL players with 682 scrimmage yards (505 rushing, 177 receiving), and ranks second in the NFL with 505 rushing yards, trailing only DERRICK HENRY (588). Edwards-Helaire ran for a season-high 161 yards to help the Chiefs beat Buffalo in Week 6.
- Pittsburgh rookie wide receiver CHASE CLAYPOOL has six touchdowns (four receiving, two rushing) in his first five career games, tied with MARTAVIS BRYANT (2014), WILLIE GAULT (1983), CALVIN RIDLEY (2018) and Pro Football Hall of Famer RANDY MOSS (1998) for the most touchdowns by a rookie wide receiver in his first five career games since 1970.
- Rookie wide receiver CEEDEE LAMB, whose DALLAS COWBOYS travel to play the WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM Sunday (1:00 PM ET, FOX), is tied for the NFL lead in third-down receptions (12). Overall, Lamb leads NFL rookies with 36 receptions and looks to extend his NFL record this week by catching at least five passes in a seventh consecutive game to open a career.
SEAHAWKS, CARDINALS GO HEAD-TO-HEAD SUNDAY: The SEATTLE SEAHAWKS, 5-0 and off to their best start in franchise history, come off a bye with a stiff road test at the ARIZONA CARDINALS (4-2) on Sunday (4:05 PM ET, FOX).
- Seattle in games after its bye under head coach PETE CARROLL has an NFC best 7-3 record since he took the reins of the team in 2010. In the NFL, only Baltimore’s JOHN HARBAUGH (8-2) and Pittsburgh’s MIKE TOMLIN (8-3) have better records after the bye in that span.
- Quarterback RUSSELL WILSON in games after a bye has a 6-1 career record, the NFL’s best mark by a starting quarterback since he entered the league in 2013 (minimum four starts). Wilson, who leads the NFL this year with 19 touchdown passes, needs four on Sunday to become the third quarterback in NFL history with at least 250 touchdown passes in his first nine seasons. Wilson, who would join PEYTON MANNING (275) and Pro Football Hall of Famer DAN MARINO (266), has 246 touchdown passes in 133 career games.
- The Seahawks have a four-year winning streak in games after a bye. Their last loss was Week 10 of the 2015 season to the Cardinals, in Seattle, 39-32. In that contest, Cardinals wide receiver LARRY FITZGERALD had 10 receptions for 130 yards.
- Fitzgerald, who has 1,399 career receptions in 256 games, needs one reception on Sunday to join Pro Football Hall of Famer JERRY RICE (1,549) as the only players in NFL history with 1,400 career catches.
- Arizona wide receiver DEANDRE HOPKINS (100.2) and Seattle wide receiver DK METCALF (99.2) are the NFL’s top players, respectively, in receiving yards per game this season.
THE FUTURE IS NOW: Through the first six weeks of the 2020 NFL season, rookies are making immediate impacts around the league.
Entering Week 7, Kansas City running back CLYDE EDWARDS-HELAIRE leads the NFL in scrimmage yards (682) and ranks second in rushing yards (505). Pittsburgh wide receiver CHASE CLAYPOOL ties for fifth in the NFL with six touchdowns (four receiving, two rushing), while Minnesota wide receiver JUSTIN JEFFERSON ranks fifth in the league with 537 receiving yards.
Including Jefferson, four rookie wide receivers have at least 300 receiving yards this season [Dallas’ CEEDEE LAMB (497), Cincinnati’s TEE HIGGINS (339) and Claypool (335)], tied with the 2013 and 1986 seasons for the most though Week 6 since 1970.
Overall, rookies have combined for a total of 8,509 scrimmage yards in 2020. With at least 1,305 combined scrimmage yards in Week 7, 2020 will surpass the 2017 season (9,813) for the most combined scrimmage yards by rookies through Week 7 since 1970 (not including the 1987 season with replacement players).
The seasons with the most combined scrimmage yards by rookies through Week 7 since 1970 (not including 1987):
|*Through Week 6|
— NFL –
YOUNG SLINGERS: In addition to rookie backs and receivers taking the league by storm, rookie quarterbacks are also finding success early in their careers. Cincinnati quarterback JOE BURROW ranks second in the NFL in completions (160) and eighth in passing yards (1,617). Los Angeles Chargers quarterback JUSTIN HERBERT ranks ninth among qualified passers with a 107.1 passer rating through his first four career starts.
If Burrow reaches the 300-yard passing mark at Cleveland on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, CBS), he will become the fourth rookie quarterback with at least five 300-yard passing games in NFL history.
The rookies with the most 300-yard passing games in NFL history:
|Daniel Jones||New York Giants||2019||5|
|*Entering Week 7|
Herbert needs at least three touchdown passes on Sunday against Jacksonville (4:25 PM ET, CBS), to join DESHAUN WATSON (four consecutive games in 2017) as the only rookie quarterbacks in NFL history with at least three touchdown passes in three consecutive games. Herbert threw three touchdown passes in Week 4 and four touchdown passes in Week 5.
With at least 250 passing yards, Herbert can join PATRICK MAHOMES as the only players in NFL history with at least 250 passing yards in each of their first five career games. Mahomes had at least 250 passing yards in each of his first 10 games.
— NFL —
FEELING 100: Las Vegas quarterback DEREK CARR enters Week 7 leading all qualified passers in completion percentage (73.1), while ranking second in passer rating (115.9). In 99 career starts, Carr has 24,235 passing yards, 2,248 completions and 154 touchdown passes, all the most in Raiders franchise history.
With at least 15 completions against Tampa Bay on Sunday Night Football (8:20 PM ET, NBC), Carr will surpass TONY ROMO (2,262 completions) for the second-most career completions by a player through his first 100 starts in NFL history. Only MATTHEW STAFFORD (2,410) has more.
The players with the most career completions through their first 100 starts in NFL history:
|Derek Carr||Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders||2,248*|
|*Expected to make his 100th career start on Sunday night|
— NFL —
HISTORIC CONNECTION: Last week, Tampa Bay quarterback TOM BRADY and tight end ROB GRONKOWSKI connected for their first touchdown as members of the Buccaneers. It marked the 91st touchdown connection in their careers, including the postseason, surpassing PHILIP RIVERS and ANTONIO GATES (90 touchdowns) for the third-most touchdowns by a quarterback-receiver pairing in NFL history.
With another touchdown pass from Brady to Gronkowski at Las Vegas on Sunday Night Football (8:20 PM ET, NBC), the pair will tie the Pro Football Hall of Fame combination of STEVE YOUNG and JERRY RICE (92 touchdowns) for the second-most touchdowns by a quarterback-receiver pairing in NFL history, including the postseason. Only PEYTON MANNING and Pro Football Hall of Famer MARVIN HARRISON (114) have more.
The quarterback-receiver pairings with the most touchdowns in NFL history, including the postseason:
|Peyton Manning||Marvin HarrisonHOF||114|
|Steve YoungHOF||Jerry RiceHOF||92|
|Tom Brady||Rob Gronkowski||91|
— NFL —
SECOND-YEAR SURGE: Through five games, Seattle wide receiver DK METCALF is averaging 99.2 receiving yards per game, the second-highest mark in the league this season, and has recorded at least 90 receiving yards in each game.
With at least 90 receiving yards on Sunday at Arizona (4:05 PM ET, FOX), Metcalf will become the fifth player to record at least 90 receiving yards in each of his team’s first six games of a season in NFL history.
The players with at least 90 receiving yards in the most consecutive games to begin a season in NFL history:
|Dwight Clark||San Francisco||1982||8|
|Charley Hennigan||Houston Oilers||1961||7|
— NFL —
125 IN 35: Last week, Atlanta wide receiver JULIO JONES recorded eight receptions for 137 yards and his first two touchdowns of the season, his 34th-career game with at least 125 receiving yards.
With at least 125 receiving yards on Sunday against Detroit (1:00 PM, FOX), Jones will tie Pro Football Hall of Famer RANDY MOSS (35 games) for the second-most games with at least 125 receiving yards in NFL history. Only Pro Football Hall of Famer JERRY RICE (49) has more such games.
The players with the most career games with at least 125 receiving yards in NFL history:
|Jerry RiceHOF||San Francisco, Oakland, Seattle||49|
|Randy MossHOF||Minnesota, Oakland, New England||35|
— NFL —
A FANTASTIC FIRST 50: In four games this season, San Francisco tight end GEORGE KITTLE has totaled 30 receptions for 380 yards, ranking third and second among tight ends, respectively. In 49 career games, Kittle has 246 receptions for 3,325 receptions.
With at least 112 receiving yards on Sunday at New England (4:25 PM ET, CBS), Kittle will surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer MIKE DITKA (3,436 receiving yards) for the most receiving yards by a tight end through his first 50 career games in NFL history.
The tight ends with the most receiving yards in their first 50 career games in NFL history:
|Kellen Winslow Sr.HOF||San Diego Chargers||3,420|
|George Kittle||San Francisco||3,325*|
|*Appearing in 50th game on Sunday|
With at least three receptions on Sunday, Kittle will surpass KELLEN WINSLOW JR. (248 receptions) for the third-most receptions by a tight end through his first 50 career games in NFL history. Only JORDAN REED (266) and Pro Football Hall of Famer KELLEN WINSLOW SR. (262) have more.
The tight ends with the most receptions in their first 50 career games in NFL history:
|Kellen Winslow Sr.HOF||San Diego Chargers||262|
|Kellen Winslow Jr.||Cleveland, Tampa Bay||248|
|George Kittle||San Francisco||246*|
|*Appearing in 50th game on Sunday|
— NFL —