Thursday 17 August 2017 / 05:41 AM

Airing it Out: NFL Week 7

The NFL’s International Series resumed this week as Rex Ryan’s Bills traveled to London to stuff their faces with fish & chips before taking on the Jacksonville Jaguars.

And with England long since watching the Rugby World Cup tournament from the pub, Britons were out in full force to watch their silly little American cousins kick the pigskin around.

But all jest aside, the NFL’s quest to install a fan base in the United Kingdom finally seems to be paying off. In fact, the Jaguars have played at Wembley Stadium so many times now that there’s actually a supporter’s club in London called the Union Jax.

#UnionJax

The game turned out to be a proper doozy with Jacksonville jumping out to an early 27-3 advantage before slowly allowing Buffalo to climb back in and take the lead in the 4th quarter on an interception return.

But Bortles (182 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT) was able to shake off the pick-6 and lead his team down the field for the game winning touchdown. The Jaguars scored from 31 yards out on a pass to Allen Hurns to keep their season alive.

Believe it or not, the (2-5) Jaguars are far from out of it as the (3-4) Colts once again appear to be falling apart before our very eyes.

Andrew Luck, who was supposed to be on the verge of entering the realm of Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady, appears to have done nothing to fix his pattern of early interceptions and spastic 4th quarter rallies.

His final stat line (333 yards, 3 TD, 2 INT) doesn’t tell the whole story. Luck tallied just negative two passing yards in the open 15 minutes. The only player to catch a Luck pass in the first quarter was wearing a Saints uniform.

If he doesn’t get his act together soon he’s going to wind up being nothing more than a neck-bearded Matthew Stafford.

At this rate the AFC South could wind up as just the third division to send a team with a losing record to the playoffs, not counting the (4-5) Browns and (4-5) Lions, who advanced in the strike-shortened 1982 campaign.

It’s hard to believe the Colts are supposedly an “upgraded” club from the team that was one win away from last year’s Super Bowl.

Tasty Tidbits from Week 7

The Jets gave the Patriots all they could handle on Sunday in Foxborough, leading the World Champs into the 4th quarter 20-16 before Tom Brady took over the game.

Brady was nearly perfect at the end, completing 13 of 16 passes for 135 yards and two touchdowns over the final 15:00 to put the Pats up by 10.

The AFC East matchup ended on a wild note as the Jets kicked a field goal to pull within seven points and then recovered an onside kick with just 15 seconds to play.

But as New York lined up for a last second Hail Mary from just 37 yards out, Brandon Marshall was flagged for a bonehead false-start to end the game.

Marshall also dropped what would have been an easy touchdown pass earlier in the game.

Despite the loss, the Jets have proven they are a legitimate playoff contender in the AFC.

Watch here to see yet another MVP performance by Mr. Brady:

And speaking of undefeated teams, how about those Panthers?

While Cam Newton’s 3 picks certainly detract from his personal stat line, Carolina looked good once again as they held off a late Philadelphia rally on Sunday Night Football.

Johnathan Stewart pounded 125 tough yards on the ground to set up the Human Pinball Mike Tolbert in the red-zone.

The Panthers are (6-0) for the first time in franchise history despite having a Tight End as their top offensive target.

Offensive Player of the Week

Lamar Miller is a big reason why Miami is now (2-0) since firing their Head Coach.

The Dolphins running back piled up 236 total yards with 2 scores, including 175 yards on just 14 carries.

Of course it’s “easy” to pile up such a lofty total when you rip off 85 in just one run.

Miami is now just half a game back from the Steelers in the race for the second Wild Card spot – but to climb above .500 they’d need to be the first team to topple the Patriots. The Dolphins travel to Foxborough this Thursday for a challenging Prime Time matchup.

Defensive Player of the Week

Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril have quietly become one of the most effective defensive end duos in the NFL.

On Thursday Night Football Bennett single handedly introduced Colin Kaepernick to the Santa Clara turf with 3.5 sacks in the Hawks convincing 20-3 win.

After the game Bennett joked that he really should have been given credit for 4 full sacks as teammate Brandon Mebane just kind of “fell on” Kaepernick for one of those.

Team on the Rise

The Minnesota Vikings have won two straight games and now hold sole possession of the second NFC Wild Card. Teddy Bridgewater notched his first ever NFC North road win while throwing for a season-high 316 yards with 2 TDs.

Adrian Peterson, who suffered through a shellfish related illness, added 98 yards on the ground with the defense piling up a 2015-best 7 sacks.

It will be tough for the Vikes to catch the undefeated Packers, but all signs point to the Purple People Eaters returning to the postseason for the first time since 2012.

Team on the Decline

The wheels are coming off Rex Ryan’s inaugural season in Buffalo and it seems like eons ago that the Bills shocked the world with their opening week dismantling of the Indianapolis Colts.

And now that we know that everybody’s going to be throttling Indy, we have to wonder if the Rex Show is more “show” than anything.

With Marcell Dareus and Mario Williams openly criticizing their coach’s defensive game plan, it’s easy to see why Bills fans have got to be thinking to themselves, “Oh, no. Not again.”

Of course it’s too early to throw in the towel at (3-4) but when your divisional rivals include the Champion Patriots, red-hot Jets and surging Dolphins, you simply can’t be losing to (1-5) teams.

With luck the return of Tyrod Taylor will provide just enough juice to get the Bills’ season back on track.

 

Just in Case You Missed It

 

  • Kirk Cousins led the Redskins to an improbable 31-30 victory over the Bucs after Washington’s slow start led to a 24-to-zip disadvantage. The comeback victory was the biggest in team history, keeping the Skins alive in a wide-open NFC East.
  • Tom Brady’s touchdown to interception ratio is now an incredible 16:1. We have to wonder if the Pats are possibly en route to another 16 and 0 season.
  • After pummeling the Browns 24-6, St. Louis has quietly crawled within one game of the NFC West lead at (3-3). Todd Gurley is a beast. He’s now rushed for over 100 yards in every game he’s started in the NFL (his first appearance in Week 3 was limited to just 6 attempts). To go along with 128 yards on the ground versus Cleveland, Gurley found the endzone twice for his first 2 NFL scores.
  • Kansas City finally got off the snide with a convincing 23-13 win over the Roethlisberger-less Steelers. With Pittsburgh dropping to (4-3), the (6-0) Bengals now have a truly commanding lead in the AFC North.

Games to Look Forward to in Week 8

Dolphins at Patriots –Miami looks to build off their shellacking of the Texans. If only they had a giant 7-foot robot to cover Rob Gronkowski.

Bengals at Steelers –If Pittsburgh is going to have any shot at the division title, they’ll need to begin their run at home against undefeated Cincinnati.

Jets at Raiders –Who’d have thought this would be a “must-see” game halfway into the season. Both teams are right in the thick of the AFC playoff race – the times, they are a changin’.

Packers at Broncos –This Sunday Night brawl guarantees NFL fans will see at least one of the unbeatens head into the loss column.

*Colts at Panthers –I put an asterisk on this one because the Colts suck. But should they finally find their “A” game this one could turn out to be a battle. And hey, it’s Monday Night Football so you’ll be watching anyway.

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Michael Airhart

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