Week 7 is here and we are already getting close to the midpoint of the regular season. It feels like we were just counting down the days till regular season kickoff and now we're in the thick of it. We've collectively complained about the caliber of play we've been forced to endure, but the truth is -- there's some football excellence happening. We've still got an undefeated team in Philly, all of New York's teams are playing well (yes, even the Jets), the battle for the AFC West is turning out to be a two team race (Chiefs and Chargers) and the Minnesota Vikings are channeling their inner mascot. All things considered, it has been a jam packed season where even the teams underperforming are giving us story lines - cough Tom Brady cough.
Here are some of the storylines giving me life Week 7 -- get ready for NFL Sunday Funday.
Super Bowl LIV Rematch: Chiefs Face a Strengthened 49ers Offense
The Kansas City Chiefs are coming off a frustrating loss to Buffalo last week and are traveling to San Francisco for Week 7. It's been a busy week in the bay, as the Carolina Panthers traded running back Christian McCaffrey to the 49ers. The former Panther has two touchdowns so far this season and is hoping to add to that number in San Francisco. So what does this mean for Sunday's meeting?
As I write this, it's still unclear if McCaffrey will play Sunday -- but if he does, the Chiefs defense will have a lot more to contend with. Coach Andy Reid is preparing the team as if the new San Francisco running back will be on the field. He told ESPN, "We know he's a talented guy. I'm sure they'll work him in," Reid said. "We're expecting that. You prepare for what he does well, and Kyle will use him in what he does well.''
Adding to the energy is the fact that the Chiefs and 49ers haven't faced each other, aside from a 2021 preseason game, since Super Bowl LIV. The Chiefs made history that year, winning their first Super Bowl since 1970, raising the Lombardi Trophy a perfect 30 years later.
The 49ers are working to pull away from the pack in the NFC West, where all four teams hold three wins a piece. Should McCaffrey start Sunday, he could be the critical piece to the puzzle. The Chiefs are fighting to stay at the top of the AFC pack by stealing a win on the road. This could end up being a defining game for both franchises as we speed towards the back half of the season.
And that's not all -- fun fact, this Sunday is National Tight Ends Day too. What a perfect way to celebrate by watching two of the league's leading tight ends, Travis Kelce and George Kittle, in action.
AFC South Face-off for First Place
Week 7 is blessing us with a divisional match-up that will determine the leader in the AFC South. The Tennessee Titans and Indianapolis Colts will collide for a face-off for first in their division. If that wasn't enough, this Sunday's game in Tennessee is the Titans/Oilers Homecoming game and over 130 former players will be in attendance celebrating the franchises all weekend long.
The Titans will be honoring the legacy of their inception and for those of you wondering, 'What in the world do the Titans and Oilers have in common?' -- maybe you are too young to remember the move. Let's rewind: way back in the magical 1990's, 1997 to be exact, the Houston Oilers relocated to the Volunteer state and became the first NFL team to call Tennessee home. Then after two years in Tennessee the franchise was renamed and the Tennessee Titans were born.
Imagining an NFL team adopting the addictive collegiate energy of a 'Homecoming' weekend fills me with joy. More teams should do this. Can you imagine if every team in the league picked a home game and went big, holding a weekend long homecoming extravaganza for fans and former players? That would be dope and the hottest ticket of the season.
I'm thinking the excitement of a homecoming celebration with over 130 former players may be the edge the Titans need this week to overtake the number one spot in the AFC South. If that doesn't give them the edge, there's still Derrick Henry to bulldoze through the Colts defense. Although, the Colts managed to beat the Chiefs in Week 3, so they are definitely not a team to discount, despite their bizarre 3-2-1 record.
This meeting will give a boost to one of these AFC South sleepers and could be the win they need to turn their season around and shake up the AFC -- so keep your ear to the grindstone for this one.
Dak is Back
The Dallas Cowboys are 4-2 heading into Week 7 play and quarterback, Dak Prescott, has been out with a fractured thumb since Week 1. The Cowboys face the Detroit Lions in Prescott's return and the Cowboys' quarterback is historically undefeated, 3-0 against Detroit. The Lions are coming off a bye week and could be feeling a wee sluggish, so this could be a triumphant comeback for the quarterback.
Cooper Rush has been leading the Cowboys since Dak was injured and has successfully garnered the team a 4-1 record. The return of Prescott should open up the offensive passing game as America's team hunts NFC East powerhouses, the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants.
Dak spoke to the press Friday about starting Sunday. "I feel like I put myself in a good spot. I had a good practice today. I'm just excited to get back out there." He jovially said he wasn't limited and was "full go" in practice, joking with reporters about how many balls he threw.
Tua is Jumping Back in the Water with the Dolphins
Who can forget the circumstances that sidelined Dolphins' Tua Tagovailoa? The quarterback's concussions stirred up endless dialogue over the NFL's concussion protocols and the added dangers of Thursday Night Football. Thankfully Tua is now healthy and will be returning for a Sunday Night Football matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Tua spoke to the press Wednesday, his first presser since the terrifying Week 4 hit that sidelined the athlete. The Dolphin shared a little about his experience during the Bengals game concussion, "I wouldn't say it was scary for me at the time because there was a point where I was unconscious, so I couldn't really tell what was going on," he said. "When I did come to and kind of realized what was going on and what was happening, I didn't think of anything long term or short term. I was just wondering what happened."
Miami was on a winning streak before Tua's concussion during Thursday Night Football and frankly, were looking dangerously good. Since Tagovailoa's Week 4 exit the Dolphins have yet to win a game, unable to pull out a win versus Cincinnati after Tua left the game, falling short 27-15. The team went on to lose big to the Jets 40-17 in Week 5 and then at home against a strong Minnesota Vikings team in Week 6, 24-16. I'm sure Miami is hoping Tua's return will reignite the Dolphins spark and get them back on track after the 3 game slide.
The Steelers are coming off a fulfilling win against Tom Brady's Buccaneers and are looking to add another win to their 2-4 start. Momentum could swing their way as Miami realigns their offense. It will be exciting to see how the Dolphins adjust with Tua back at the helm and how many minutes the returning quarterback may see. Can Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin snowball last week's spirited win and continue to push the Dolphins down the slide? Tune in Sunday night to see and check your local listings to catch all of NFL Sunday's thrilling storylines.
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