Week 6 was an overall L for the league so in comparison Week 7 was a much bounceback. There were no major injuries-unless you’re ready to deem Carson Palmer a major player in this league, which would be incorrect-this week thankfully and there were even some late game entertainment. The overarching theme of the week however was shutouts.
For the first time this season there were three shutouts in the same week. The shutouts ranged from unsurprising (Jags blanking Colts), to somewhat surprising (Rams shutting out Cardinals) to completely surprising (Chargers defense shackling the Broncos). At this point I don’t think it would be a stretch to say this is one of the darkest years for offenses. Fantasy football season has been affected by this and the overall viewership, or lack thereof, has reflected this.
To keep things in perspective bad football is better than no football. We slug on to Week 8 and for the love of God I hope there are no injuries and high scores.
Typically the first half of the season is gone in a blink of an eye. This season has slogged along that it feels like Week 16 already. Fortunately it’s not and we still have eight more weeks of regular season football and another month of real football.
So to put a time capsule on the first half who were the big overachievers? Who slacked off? Based off expectations heading into the season here are our midseason winners.
Biggest Surprise: AFC East
Expectations for the AFC East as a whole were not great. It was supposed to be the Patriots going undefeated into the postseason. Ah ah ahhh, no so fast. The Bills and Jets were supposed to be tanking after purging their rosters of dead fat. The purge has resulted in more of a cleanse than a purge.
The Bills currently sit atop the division alongside the Patriots and Dolphins at 4-2. The Jets are a feisty 3-4 following a pair of late game collapses to the Patriots and Dolphins. Speaking of the Dolphins they too are tied for first in the division after back to back fourth quarter comebacks. Jarvis Landry, the unofficial captain, summarized his squad’s grit perfectly. Stop doubting the Dolphins…Bills and lesser extent the Jets.
"Stop doubting us!"
Jarvis Landry with an epic postgame speech. 🔈⬆️ pic.twitter.com/Wu3uxXyk1J
— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) October 23, 2017
Stop doubting the Dolphins…Bills and lesser extent the Jets. The Patriots will still likely win the division but the AFC playoff picture might feature a lot of east coast teams.
Biggest Disappointment: New York Giants
Where did it all go wrong for Big Blue, I don’t know. What I do know is that this team stinks. Odell Beckham Jr., is gone for the season. The defense was supposed to be among the league’s elite but have been anything but. Ben McAdoo has lost his locker room and Eli Manning is not getting any younger.
The best ending to this season is a top draft pick to be used on Penn State’s Saquon Barkley. Otherwise it’s just been a nightmare season for New York’s alleged top dog in football.
MVP: Carson Wentz
Carson Wentz does not know what a sophomore slump is. Wentz has been on a sophomore surge. Through seven games he has totaled 1,852 yards, 17 touchdowns and four interceptions. He has already surpassed his touchdown total from last season and his play is a major reason the Eagles have the best record in the league. If the season ended today you will be hard pressed to find a more viable candidate.
Rookie of the Year
Defense: Jamal Adams
Jamal Adams has been one of the many bright spots for the Jets this season. He has navigated the middle of the field like a vulture. He has crashed the line of scrimmage like a battering ram. He has given Jets fans a taste of what it feels like to have a great player at safety. If middle linebackers are the brains of the defense, the safeties are the eyes. For years the Jets defense has been blind, not anymore.
Offense: Deshaun Watson
This is the best award race this season. I changed my answer three times before deciding on Deshaun Watson. The other names were obviously Kareem Hunt and Leonard Fournette. If those names weren’t obvious open your fucking eyes. Each is equally deserving of the award and I believe the winner will not be decided until the very last minute of the season.
My reason for choosing Fournette is quite simple. All three are vital to their team but remove Watson from the Texans and they might not win a game. Since Watson has been the starter the Houston offense feels like an offense. DeAndre Hopkins is relevant again. Lamar Miller and D’Onta Foreman have wider running lanes thanks to Watson’s speed and the Texans are simply fun to watch.
Coach of the Year: Sean McDermott
As mentioned above the Bills have been better than expected. When they traded away Sammy Watkins on the eve of the season the message looked clear. But clearly we were not getting the message McDermott was preaching to his team. Not only are the Bills 4-2 but they have beaten quality teams to get it. Right now there is no other coach I’d consider aside from Doug Pederson in Philly.
Defensive Player of the Year: Calais Campbell
This year the race for DPOY is muddled. There has been strong defensive play but no standout star. At least not a guy SportsCenter jerks off too 24/7 like J.J. Watt or Von Miller. This year is a quieter race but the rightful winner as of this writing should be Calais Campbell of the Jaguars.
He’s at the heart of the best defense in the league. He already has 10 sacks with nine more games to go. He has been worth every penny of the $60 million the team gave him this offseason. If Campbell can keep this pace he could take home the award and perhaps usher in playoff football in Jacksonville, which might be the rarer feat.
How does one bounce back from 0-4? By going 3-1 of course! If Cam Newton wasn’t such a disappointment we would’ve gone 4-0. But life humbles you and I am thankful to get back in the black. Let’s keep that momentum going in Week 8.
JETS (+5.5) over Falcons
Have you seen the Falcons offense? Falcons OC Steve Sarkisian somehow still has a job after an offense featuring Julio Jones, Matt Ryan and Devonta Freeman has scored seven points in their last six quarters. Even more brutal is that the opposing defenses during this drought are far from the league’s elite. The Jets are not an elite defense either but they certainly pose a bigger threat than the Dolphins or Patriots. The impotence of Josh McCown will prevent the Jets from winning this game but I’m willing to bet on the defense keeping this one close throughout.
Prediction: Falcons 21, Jets 17
Raiders (+2.5) over BILLS
The Raiders have a pulse! Last Thursday night’s game against the Chiefs was the best ending of the season. The Raiders scored with no time left after five untimed downs (that has to be a record) to win 31-30. That win saved their season from spiraling out of control but they cannot be hungover from the win because a trip east to Buffalo will not be fun.
Sean McDermott’s team is a lot like Rex Ryan’s team, only McDermott has a brain. The team philosophy is still punch your opponent in the face as much as possible. The Bills have done that and the results have been a first place record. With Marshawn Lynch likely out the Raiders will rely on their passing game, which could be a blessing in disguise. The Bills defense are seventh best against the run, surrendering just 84.5 yards per game but seventh worst against the pass, surrendering 258.7.
Derek Carr’s hot hand and Lynch’s absence could be the perfect storm for the Silver and Black.
Prediction: Raiders 26, Bills 24
PATRIOTS (-7) over Chargers
It took one dominant home performance to lure me back in. I’m back on the Patriots bandwagon (only when money is involved) and a VIP member of the Fuck Philip Rivers Club. The Chargers are somehow 3-4 after looking utterly lost through the first quarter of the season. Now they have won three straight but will not be in sunny California for this one.
Foxboro has been a death trap to AFC teams and the Chargers know that all too well. Rivers has had the misfortune of going up there for a playoff game but this will not be nearly as hostile. The Pats defense is not very good (last Sunday night was an outlier) so the Chargers will put up some points. I just think Tom Brady and company will put up even more. Brady’s core is as healthy as it will get this season and Brandin Cooks is starting to get on the same page with his QB. These are all things that scare the rest of the league and certainly scare the Chargers.
Prediction: Chargers 20, Patriots 31
SAINTS (-9) over Bears
We’ll close this week’s locks with a leap of faith. The Saints are the hottest team in football with four straight wins. Unlike the Chargers though, the Saints have beaten good teams. Okay, well decent teams if Newton and the Panthers turn out to be bums but you get my point. Since ridding themselves of a mistake signing (Adrian Peterson) it feels like Drew Brees and the offense got their mojo back.
The Bears never really had mojo but if they do it’s usually at home. This game is in New Orleans which tilts the scale heavily to the Saints, hence the spread. Ultimately I believe Brees has a field day through the air and the silent but deadly duo of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara is too much for the Bears. Even with rookie Mitchell Trubisky under center the weapons outside of Jordan Howard are weapons in the same way a fork can technically be called a weapon.
The Saints’ scoring likely suffocates a feisty Bears team here and narrowly covers the large spread.
Prediction: Bears 17, Saints 34
The Other Guys
Vikings (-9.5) over BROWNS
Colts (+10.5) over BENGALS
EAGLES (-12.5) over 49ers
BUCCANEERS (-2.5) over Panthers
SEAHAWKS (-5.5) over Texans
Cowboys (-2) over REDSKINS
Steelers (-3) over LIONS
Broncos (+7) over CHIEFS
Last Week: 11-4-1