NFL Week 7 Game Early Game Previews


Tennessee Titans (3-3) vs. Los Angeles Chargers (4-2) (London)

Preview

The NFL heads overseas once again this week as the Titans take on the Chargers in London. The Chargers are coming off a very impressive win over the Browns last week and are looking to keep gaining momentum as they chase down the Chiefs in the AFC West. On the opposite side, the Titans are coming off a humiliating 21-0 loss to the Ravens. If the Titans can’t get their offense going, they could very well be in for another blowout loss.


Players to watch

The key player for the Chargers in this one will be running back Melvin Gordon. Gordon is third in the league in rushing and is facing a Titans defense that has struggled against the run, ranking 30th in the league in rush defense. They need guys like linebacker Wesley Woodyard to step up and shut down Gordon if they want any chance of winning this one. On offense, the Titans will look to get Corey Davis going in the passing game, who will likely be matched up with cornerback Casey Hayward Jr. If they can get the Mariota-Davis connection going, that could make this a very interesting game.


Keys to the game

Tennessee Titans

  • Protect Mariota

  • Stop the run

  • Take advantage of big play opportunities

Los Angeles Chargers

  • Feed Gordon

  • Force them to throw the ball

  • Limit turnovers

Injury list

Tennessee Titans

  • Kenny Vaccaro, SS - Elbow (Questionable)

  • Derrick Morgan, LB - Shoulder (Out)

  • Will Compton, LB - Hamstring (Out)

  • Quinton Spain, G - Shoulder (Questionable)

Los Angeles Chargers

  • Joey Bosa, DE - Foot (Out)

  • Travis Benjamin, WR - Foot (Questionable)

  • Kyzir White, LB - Knee (Out)

  • Jatavis Brown, OLB - Groin (Questionable)

  • Caleb Sturgis, K - Quadriceps (Questionable)

Top 5 Fantasy Players

  • Melvin Gordon, RB (LAC)

  • Philip Rivers, QB (LAC)

  • Keenan Allen, WR (LAC)

  • Marcus Mariota, QB (TEN)

  • Corey Davis, WR (TEN)

Prediction

I believe that this game will be a close one for about a half. However, I don’t see the Titans having any answer for the Chargers offense. Melvin Gordon will have at least 200 yards in this one and a couple touchdowns. If Mariota doesn’t get going quickly, this could get ugly. I have the Chargers winning easily.


Final Score: Chargers 35, Titans 17


Written by: Ryan Lippert



Houston Texans (3-3) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-3)

Preview

A big AFC South matchup is going down in Duval County, and the winner could end up finding the path to winning the division. The Texans are riding a three-game winning streak and could put Jacksonville in a bad spot after a promising season. The Jaguars have looked sloppy over the past couple weeks and need to fix things fast before it all spirals out of control. A chance to get over .500 and gain control of the division should make both teams play at their best. It should be a good one on Sunday.


Players to watch

Lamar Miller and Alfred Blue will need to be leaned on because Jacksonville has been poor against the run over their last couple of games. Deshaun Watson will have to continue his great play and not force any turnovers. If the Jaguars want to win this, then Blake Bortles will need to go back to his early season performance. Jalen Ramsey needs to be a big leader for their defensive unit. He can help them get that swagger back and return to dominating offenses.


Keys to the game

Houston Texans

  • Protect Watson

  • Establish the run

  • No costly turnovers

Jacksonville Jaguars

  • Contain Watson

  • Get back to what was working on offense

  • Don’t allow explosive plays

Injury list

Houston Texans

  • Aaron Colvin, CB - Ankle (Out)

  • Ryan Griffin, TE - Illness (Out)

  • Brian Peters, ILB - Ankle (Out)

  • Shareece Wright, CB - Shoulder/Hand/Groin (Out)

  • Zach Fulton, C/OG - Ankle (Questionable)

Jacksonville Jaguars

  • Leonard Fournette, RB - Hamstring (Out)

  • D.J. Hayden, CB - Toe (Out)

  • James O’Shaughnessy, TE - Hip (Out)

  • Calais Campbell, DE - Ankle (Questionable)

  • Tre Herndon, CB - Hamstring (Questionable)

  • Will Richardson, OL - Knee (Questionable)

Top 5 Fantasy Players

  • DeAndre Hopkins, WR (HOU)

  • T.J. Yeldon, RB (JAX)

  • Lamar Miller, RB (HOU)

  • Keelan Cole, WR (JAX)

  • Will Fuller, WR (HOU)

Prediction

While division games are always unpredictable, it is hard for me to ignore how each team is playing. Even though Houston has some questions on both sides of the ball, Watson is playing great, J.J. Watt is back to his All-Pro self, and the Texans are simply finding ways to win games. Jacksonville has been putrid on offense and their defense seems lost. I believe it will be a close one because of the divisional implications, but I do see the Texans finding a way to win in the end.


Final Score: Texans 21, Jaguars 17

Written by: Cody Manning



Carolina Panthers (3-2) vs. Philadelphia Eagles (3-3)

Preview

With both the Panthers and the Eagles in the midst of up-and-down seasons, it’s going to be hard to predict the outcome of this matchup. The Carolina offense has shown mixed results, scoring 24 or more points three times but scoring 17 or under twice. Their defense has vastly underwhelmed, ranking 21st in pass and 17th in rush defense DVOA, per FootballOutsiders.com. Meanwhile, the Eagles started off slow but made a statement victory against the Giants last week. Carson Wentz is getting more comfortable, but the pass rush still has to get going. Both of these teams are trying to keep up and reclaim 1st place in their respective divisions.


Players to watch

This game will come down to defense. The Panthers secondary must blanket Alshon Jeffery and Zach Ertz to force other receivers to step up. Similarly, Eagles cornerbacks Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills have been inconsistent, ranking 1st and 6th in pass breakups but 72nd and 73rd in receptions allowed. If Cam Newton is smart with the ball, he can exploit their matchups with Devin Funchess and DJ Moore. Eagles running back Wendell Smallwood got 18 carries last week but averaged just 2.8 yards per carry, while fellow tailback Corey Clement was far more effective with 7 less carries. Perhaps he will see more work this week.


Keys to the game

Carolina Panthers

  • Get Wentz out of the pocket

  • Shut down Zach Ertz

  • Don’t abandon the run, even if behind early

  • Take advantage of the suspect secondary

Philadelphia Eagles

  • Generate a pass rush, take pressure off secondary

  • Keep Clement and Smallwood contained

  • Spread the ball around

Injury list

Carolina Panthers

  • Andre Smith, LB - Hamstring (Out)

Philadelphia Eagles

  • D.J. Alexander, LB - Quad (Out)

  • Nathan Gerry, LB - Ankle/Knee (Out)

  • Corey Graham, S - Hamstring (Out)

  • Sidney Jones, CB - Hamstring (Out)

  • Darren Sproles, RB - Knee (Out)

  • Haloti Ngata, DT - Calf (Questionable)

Top 5 Fantasy Players

  • Zach Ertz, TE (PHI)

  • Christian McCaffrey, RB (CAR)

  • Cam Newton, QB (CAR)

  • Carson Wentz, QB (PHI)

  • Alshon Jeffery, WR (PHI)

Prediction

While these teams both have virtually the same records (the Panthers have had a bye), the Eagles have just looked better. Even in their losses, they were an overtime drive away from beating the Titans, and were very close to beating an extremely talented Vikings team the following week. On the flipside, the Panthers allowed a dysfunctional Giants offense to put up 31 points and was just dominated by an average Redskins defense. This will be a higher scoring affair than expected, but the Eagles pull away in the 4th quarter.


Final Score: Eagles 31, Panthers 23


Written by: Alexander Amir


Minnesota Vikings (3-2-1) vs. New York Jets (3-3)


Preview

The Minnesota Vikings and New York Jets meet in Metlife for a battle between two teams that have been surprising for very different reasons. Early in the season, Minnesota was not able to meet the lofty expectations that were set after signing Kirk Cousins, but has hit its stride as of late. As for the Jets, they were pegged as one of the league’s worst teams coming into this season, but have managed a surprising 3-3 record. The Vikings should win this game handily, as they have the better offense and defense, but nothing is ever certain in the NFL. If the Jets can channel their strength of creating turnovers while giving their offense a short field, Gang Green might have a shot in this one.


Players to watch

They keys to a Vikings victory are Kirk Cousins and the formidable duo of Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen. Both will be tough matchups for a Jets defense allowing the 22nd most passing yards in the NFL. Sam Darnold, who has struggled under pressure, will have his work cut out for him against defensive end Danielle Hunter, who has 7 sacks on the season. If the offensive line can silence the pass rush, then Darnold might be able to find Robby Anderson and Jermaine Kearse against a defense allowing 8.9 passing yards per attempt, 4th worst in the league. The air seems to be his only option, due to the lack of space running back Isaiah Crowell will find against, Eric Kendricks, Harrison Smith and Minnesota’s 9th best run.


Keys to the game

Minnesota Vikings

  • Don’t turn the ball over

  • Put pressure on Darnold

  • Feed Thielen and Diggs

  • Try to establish to the run

New York Jets

  • Protect Darnold

  • Shut down the receivers

  • Capitalize on turnovers

  • Attempt to get Crowell going


Injury list

Minnesota Vikings

  • Dalvin Cook, RB - Hamstring (Out)

  • Linval Joseph, DT - Ankle (Questionable)

  • Everson Griffen, DE - Personal (Out)

  • Riley Reiff, T - Foot (Out)

  • Andrew Sendejo, SS - Groin (Out)

New York Jets

  • Isaiah Crowell, RB - Foot (Questionable)

  • Kevin Pierre-Louis, LB - Foot (Doubtful)

  • Marcus Maye, DB - Thumb (Out)

  • Quincy Enunwa, WR - Ankle (Out)

  • Buster Skrine, CB - Concussion (Out)

  • Trumaine Johnson, CB - Quadriceps (Doubtful)

  • Terrelle Pryor, WR- Groin (Doubtful)

Top 5 Fantasy Players

  • Adam Thielen, WR (MIN)

  • Kirk Cousins, QB (MIN)

  • Stefon Diggs, WR (MIN)

  • Sam Darnold, QB (NYJ)

  • Jermaine Kearse, WR (NYJ)


Prediction

This will be a cakewalk for the Vikings if they can protect Cousins. They have the better offense and defense, and the entire team is just finding their groove. While the Jets are also hitting their stride, they have not faced a team like the Vikings. They simply do not have enough on offense or defense to keep pace. The Jets should put up a decent fight in the beginning, but their offensive deficiencies will eventually surface. The result will be a pretty convincing win by the Purple People Eaters.


Final Score: Vikings 31, Jets 17


Written by: George Haraktsis



New England Patriots (4-2) vs. Chicago Bears (3-2)

Preview

This is a classic matchup of an elite pass rush against the great Tom Brady. Everyone knows that if a team can beat the Pats, it’s by getting after the quarterback, pressuring TB12, and at the very least slowing down the potent New England offense. Chicago is coming off of a heartbreaking loss in Miami last week in which they fumbled the ball on the 1-yard line and eventually blew an 11-point 3rd quarter lead. The Patriots, on the other hand, just dethroned the most electrifying team in the league, beating the Kansas City Chiefs in an all too familiar 4th quarter comeback. With the Patriots offense clicking on all cylinders and the Bears defense being somewhat banged up, this could get interesting.


Players to watch

With Khalil Mack expected to suit up, Rob Gronkowski will be utilized a lot more as a pass blocker against the Bears compared to other matchups. If the Patriots can’t protect Tom Brady it’ll be a rough day for the ageless one. Both teams have stellar running back duos, and whichever backfield outperforms the other will likely leave with the win. Sony Michel has been playing lights out as of late, and James White has been the teams biggest receiving threat through six weeks of action. If Chicago stands a chance, they’ll need to keep the ball out of Brady’s hands by establishing the run with Tarik Cohen and Jordan Howard. Last week, Tyler Gabriel gashed the Miami defense, while the Patriots were gashed by another speedster in Tyreek Hill in an offense nearly identical to the one Chicago runs.


Keys to the game

New England Patriots

  • Eliminate Khalil Mack with chips, double teams, and quick throws

  • Feed Sony Michel

  • Limit Chicago’s big play ability

Chicago Bears

  • Pressure Tom Brady

  • Establish the run & limit the Patriots’ time of possession

  • Take shots downfield

  • Win the turnover battle

Injury list

New England Patriots

  • Marcus Cannon, OT - Concussion (Out)

  • Julian Edelman, WR - Heel (Questionable)

  • Jacob Hollister, TE - Hamstring (Questionable)

  • Rob Gronkowski, TE - Ankle (Questionable)

  • Sony Michel, RB - Knee (Questionable)

  • Malcom Brown, DT - Knee (Questionable)

  • Josh Gordon, WR - Hamstring (Questionable)

  • Geneo Grissom, DE - Knee (Questionable)

  • Eric Rowe, CB - Groin (Questionable)

  • John Simon, DE - Shoulder (Questionable)

  • Deatrich Wise Jr., DE - Ankle/Knee (Questionable)

Chicago Bears

  • Marcus Cooper Sr., CB - Hamstring (Doubtful)

  • Khalil Mack, LB - Ankle (Questionable

  • Allen Robinson, WR - Groin (Questionable)

  • Bryce Callahan, CB - Ankle (Questionable)

Top 5 Fantasy Players

  • Sony Michel, RB (NE)

  • Tom Brady, QB (NE)

  • Tarik Cohen, RB (CHI)

  • Rob Gronkowski, TE (NE)

  • James White, RB (NE)

Prediction

As good as the Bears defense has played at home, particularly the pass rush, I don’t see how the Patriots lose this game. Mitchell Trubisky is just not good enough to keep pace with Tom Brady, regardless of how good the Bears defense is. Bill Belichick is too smart to allow nearly the exact same offense (with half the talent) to torch his defense two weeks in a row. The Patriots backfield, in addition to using Gronk to double team Mack, will limit the Bears ability to get to Tom Brady. If the Bears have any chance at winning this game, they’ll need to get interior pressure on TB12 and take advantage of Mack being double teamed. The Patriots are just too good at getting the ball out quickly; I expect Julian Edelman and James White to feast in the short passing game en route to a tough but solid victory over the Bears.


Final Score: Patriots 30, Bears 17


Written by: Jack Bourgeois


Buffalo Bills (2-4) vs. Indianapolis Colts (1-5)

Preview

It’s safe to say that this matchup won’t be on most TVs on Sunday. Buffalo’s defense has been keeping them in games, but will be leaning on 35-year old veteran Derek Anderson to run their offense after the injury Josh Allen suffered last week. Indianapolis can keep themselves in games too, but they need to cut down on the crucial mistakes so they don’t have to play catch up all the time. This game will come down to who can hold onto the ball and not give the opposing defense opportunities to force a turnover.


Players to watch

If Andrew Luck holds onto the ball, gets T.Y. Hilton back, and has some good protection, then this matchup is setting him up to have a great afternoon. Adam Vinatieri is 10 points away from becoming the NFL’s all-time leading scorer. Buffalo will be leaning upon LeSean McCoy to carry their offense on his back and keep them in the game. Tre’davious White will need to shut down Hilton and make Luck depend on his other receivers, who have proven to be unreliable in Hilton’s absence.


Keys to the game

Buffalo Bills

  • Force turnovers

  • Feed Shady

  • Control the clock

Indianapolis Colts

  • Catch the ball

  • Establish the run

  • Confuse Anderson

Injury list

Buffalo Bills

  • Josh Allen, QB - Elbow (Out)

  • Taiwan Jones, RB - Neck (Out)

Indianapolis Colts

  • Denico Autry, DL - Hamstring (Out)

  • Jack Doyle, TE - Hip (Out)

  • Clayton Geathers, S - Concussion/Neck (Out)

  • Ryan Grant, WR - Ankle (Out)

  • Robert Turbin, RB - Shoulder (Out)

  • Arthur Maulet, CB - Hip (Questionable)

  • Erik Swoope, TE - Knee (Questionable)

  • Chris Milton, CB - Hamstring (Questionable)

Top 5 Fantasy Players

  • T.Y. Hilton, WR (IND)

  • Andrew Luck, QB (IND)

  • LeSean McCoy, RB (BUF)

  • Eric Ebron, TE (IND)

  • Marlon Mack, RB (IND)

Prediction

This has a ‘get right’ game feeling all over it for Indianapolis. They are getting some players back from injuries and are facing an already bad offense that is lead by a quarterback who hasn’t started a game in several years. I expect Luck to dominate all afternoon and the young Colts defense to find ways to force turnovers. Indy should win this easily.


Final Score: Colts 31, Bills 3


Written by: Cody Manning



Cleveland Browns (2-3-1) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-3)

Preview

Following a tough divisional loss last week that came down to the wire, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers return home to welcome in the Cleveland Browns for an interconference matchup at Raymond James Stadium. This will be the Bucs’ first chance to see #1 overall pick Baker Mayfield in action, and will also be the debut of interim defensive coordinator Mark Duffner, who assumed responsibilities after Mike Smith was fired earlier this week. The Browns, meanwhile, are coming off arguably their worst performance this season, being thoroughly whacked by Philip Rivers and the Los Angeles Chargers in a 38-14 blowout. This is the first matchup between these two clubs since 2014, when Cleveland defeated Tampa with Brian Hoyer under center. Both teams are trying to stay alive in the playoff picture, and neither team will go down without a fight.


Players to watch

Quarterbacks are on the spot again, with Baker Mayfield trying to eliminate the sting of last week against the worst defense in the league. Jarvis Landry has been quiet recently, so look for him to exploit some man coverage early. For Tampa, Jameis Winston still can’t seem to get that deep ball connection to Desean Jackson, but they seem to have found a working plan in the short game. If they can exploit the linebackers in coverage, there will be some big plays. Also, look for Mike Evans to erase his quiet line against Atlanta with a 100+ yard game, and for tight end O.J. Howard to offer more support in the play-action game.


Keys to the game

Browns

  • Baker rebounds

  • Play-action is established

  • Early-season defense shows up

Buccaneers

  • Jameis eliminates turnovers

  • Running game breaks out

  • Defense clicks with new DC

Injury list

Cleveland Browns

  • EJ Gaines, CB - Concussion (Out)

  • Joe Schobert, LB - (Out)

  • Rashard Higgins, WR - Knee (Out)

  • JC Tretter, C - Ankle (Questionable)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • Jordan Whitehead, S - Hamstring (Questionable)

  • Vinny Curry, DE - Ankle (Out)

  • Carlton Davis, CB - Back (Questionable)

  • Gerald McCoy, DT - Calf (Out)

Top 5 Fantasy Players

  • Baker Mayfield, QB (CLE)

  • Jarvis Landry, WR (CLE)

  • Jameis Winston, QB (TB)

  • Mike Evans, WR (TB)

  • O.J. Howard, TE (TB)

Prediction

This current Browns team is not like the organization of years past where fans of their opponents would just circle a win on the calendar. It remains to be seen whether Baker can work the worst defense the way elite QBs have this year, and also if Jameis can duplicate last week’s statline. Look for Cleveland to mount a serious offensive challenge for this defense, but just not enough to leave Tampa with the win. Bucs prevail in a close contest.


Final Score: Tampa Bay 25, Cleveland 20


Written by: Joe Carlino


Detroit Lions (3-2-1) vs. Miami Dolphins (3-3)


Preview

Miami’s backup quarterback, Brock Osweiler, will get the nod again with Ryan Tannehill still ailing from a shoulder injury. The Fins are at home against a Lions team who has won two of their last three and are coming off a much-deserved bye. While AFC East opponents aren’t familiar to the Lions, they are to former Patriots defensive coordinator and new Detroit head coach Matt Patricia. Patricia looks to take advantage of Osweiler with a defense that has finally been clicking. The Dolphins are coming off an overtime thriller against the Bears, but their comeback and win had a lot more to do with Khalil Mack leaving with an ankle injury than their offense’s skill.


Players to watch

The big news of the game is that Brock Osweiler is starting. But the Dolphins are 3-1 this year when the team rushes for over 100 yards, so Gase will have to get Kenyan Drake and Frank Gore going. This could be a problem for Jarrad Davis and Glover Quinn, the team’s leading tacklers, because their unit is allowing an abysmal 145.8 rushing yards per game, third worst in the league. Osweiler can’t just rely on his running game though, and will need to get to Albert Wilson in space and Kenny Stills on the outside. Matthew Stafford is known as a gunslinger and has had issues with turnovers in his career, and that could be a problem against a Miami Defense propelled by Xavien Howard, whose three interceptions have helped the Dolphins lead the league in turnovers. But since throwing 4 INTs in the season opener, Stafford only one and has been able to spread the ball effectively to receivers Golden Tate, Kenny Golladay, and Marvin Jones. Running back Kerryon Johnson should also find success against Kiko Alonso and a defense that has allowed 118.2 rushing yards per game.


Keys to the game

Detroit Lions

  • Limit the turnovers

  • Stifle Gore and Drake on the ground

  • Spread the ball around to all three receivers

  • Get Kerryon Johnson 20+ carries

Miami Dolphins

  • Force Stafford into mistakes

  • Establish the run game and control the clock

  • Don’t ask too much of Osweiler

  • Stop the run


Injury list

Detroit Lions

  • Theo Riddick, RB - Knee (Out)

  • Ezekiel Ansah, DE - Shoulder (Questionable)

  • T.J. Lang, OG - Concussion (Questionable)

  • Michael Roberts, TE - Knee (Questionable)

Miami Dolphins

  • Cameron Wake, DE - Knee-Meniscus (Questionable)

  • Ryan Tannehill, QB - Shoulder-AC Joint (Out)

  • Bobby McCain, CB - Knee (Questionable)

  • Charles Harris, DE - Calf (Out)

  • Jonathan Woodard, DE- Concussion (Out)

  • A.J. Derby, TE - Foot (Questionable)

  • T.J. McDonald, S - Knee (Questionable)

  • DeVante Parker, WR - Quadricep (Questionable)


Top 5 Fantasy Players

  • Matt Stafford, QB (DET)

  • Kenyan Drake, RB (MIA)

  • Kenny Golladay, WR (DET)

  • Kerryon Johnson, QB (DET)

  • Golden Tate, WR (DET)


Prediction

This will be closer than some people think. Ultimately the Lions will come out on top due to their plethora of weapons on offense, and the fact that they’re playing against Brock Osweiler. Osweiler looked great on paper last week against a vaunted Bears defense, but further film review saw him making many similar mistakes that have plagued him in the past. Stafford is moving away from being a turnover prone QB and should dice up a defense that loves giving up yards through the air. The Dolphins will hang in there due to a trick play here and there, but the long-awaited emergence of Kerryon Johnson and the Lion run game will put it out of reach for Miami.


Final Score: Lions 28, Dolphins 20


Written by: George Haraktsis