5 Lessons Learned – NFL Week 7

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Seven weeks into the 2021 NFL season and it’s anyone’s guess in every game, except when Detroit are playing.

We had 13 games in Week 7 and no shortage of drama as well as plenty of blowouts with only five favourites managing to cover the line.

Having broken down the film, looked at the injury reports and examined the box scores, check out our recap of the weekend below.

1 – Always Have A Backup Plan

Injuries are an unfortunate part of any NFL season and seven weeks in, we are learning just how important roster depth can be.

Baker Mayfield was unable to go on Thursday Night Football against the Broncos and Case Keenum stepped up to the plate.

Admittedly he did not have to go out and be a hero, only throwing for 199 yards but most importantly, avoided a crucial mistake while handing the ball off to third string running back D’Ernest Johnson.

Keenum probably could be a low-end starter on a handful of teams but his presence as an insurance policy in the Browns is a great spot for him to be.

While no team would ever want to lose their starting quarterback to injury, having a backup that can take you through a couple of games without falling in a heap is a huge boost.

Should Mayfield be unable to go to against Pittsburgh next week, Keenum will need to step up to the plate once again.

Cleveland is not the only team that needed to upgrade their backup spot and admittedly he is not going to save their season, but there is a reason why the Jets opted to trade for Joe Flacco with Zach Wilson set to miss up to a month with a knee injury.

When Wilson does return, Flacco can provide a veteran sounding board for the young signal caller.

New coach Robert Salah can at least use this move to try and motivate his side to keep pushing for a few more weeks before officially turning the page to 2022.

2 – There Is No Clear Favourite

Through 107 games, it really is a wide open race for the Vince Lombardi Trophy this season.

No team has emerged from the pack and the leaders in the betting markets, game film and key statistical categories all come with big question marks.

Tampa Bay routed the hapless Bears as Tom Brady threw his 600th career touchdown pass to Mike Evans (and then two more just for good measure).

It explains why the Buccaneers are co-favourites in our Super Bowl LVI market but the NFL season is a gruelling time and Tampa won’t be able to keep up this pace all year.

Perhaps they will reset and catch fire like last season, but how confident can you be in them?

Then there’s the Bills who were off this weekend but one look at their history will remind you just why they are far from a sure thing in January.

The LA Rams had a hard time against the Detroit Lions, still coming away with a win but showing they are capable of a letdown from time to time.

Let’s not even start on the issues with preseason Super Bowl favourite Kansas City who suffered yet another mistake riddled defeat, this time in Tennessee and Patrick Mahomes left the game with an injury.

We will learn a lot about two NFC heavyweights this weekend when Arizona and Green Bay will face off in what promises to be one of the games of the season, as two long winning streaks are put on the line.

At the time of writing, the unbeaten Cardinals were a clear favourite but it is not advisable to count out Aaron Rodgers.

3 – But The Bengals Are Pretty Good

Cincinnati is probably a year or two away from winning the Super Bowl but the signs are all positive for Zac Taylor’s team in his third season in charge.

Joe Burrow came back from his major knee injury and is performing even better than expected while his supporting cast continues to grow in confidence every week.

Some criticised them for drafting Ja’Marr Chase in the first round instead of shoring up Burrow’s protection along the offensive line but when he does stuff like this, you have to hold your hands up and admit they may have been on to something.

With a stat line like this, you can see why the Bengals were so excited to add him to the roster.

In a division many expected to be a two horse race between Cleveland and Baltimore, Ohio’s “other” team is in the mix at this point.

4 – Play To The Conditions

Football, whatever code you are playing, is designed to take place outside and in the elements.

As the northern hemisphere approaches winter, weather will play a big role in some key games and rain was a big storyline in the final two primetime games of Week 7.

Something called a “bomb cyclone” hit California ahead of the Sunday Night Football clash at Levi’s Stadium.

Unsurprisingly, that amount of rain meant that the game was very sloppy with neither side really able to execute at all.

While not as wet, the Monday Night Football contest in Seattle was impacted by rain and wind… as well as two very limited offences.

The total fell as fans looked at the radar and was arguably a safer bet than Alvin Kamara to score a touchdown.

5 – Jimmy G May Not Take Another Snap For San Francisco

The writing has been on the wall for a while now but Jimmy Garoppolo’s mistake riddled performance in the rain might have washed away any hopes of him holding on to the starting job.

Kyle Shanahan has been looking to replace him for a while, and while the conditions were not conducive to good quarterback play, Garoppolo did himself no favours.

Their next game against the Bears could be the perfect confidence booster for rookie Trey Lance, although even if his knee injury is not fully healed, Shanahan may opt to hand Nate Sudfeld his first ever start.

Don’t believe for a second that Shanahan won’t change his mind as the week goes on after insisting that Garoppolo is the starter.

Perhaps there is a team out there that could use a player like Jimmy G, and given his wretched injury history, it may be in the 49ers best interests to shelve him and hope some GM comes calling with a draft pick.