NFL: The madness continues |

NFL: The madness continues

Davey DeChant

And we thought Week 6 of the NFL season was bizarre?

How about Week 7?

It seems that with each passing day, the NFL becomes harder and harder to forecast.

Coming into the week, it appeared that San Diego had finally caught up to its label as an AFC powerhouse after dominating New England on Sunday night. Likewise, it seemed New England was showing the effects of losing its star player and was headed back towards mediocrity. The New York Jets looked primed to take advantage of New England’s struggles and catch up with Buffalo in the AFC East.

San Diego, keyed by three Philip Rivers turnovers, fell quietly to Buffalo to drop to 3-4, while New England dominated Denver, 41-7, and New York lost to lowly Oakland in overtime.

That was just a small portion of the week’s madness. Minnesota and Chicago, two teams that struggle to score touchdowns, put up a combined 89 points in a wild shootout in the Windy City.

Indianapolis, whose offense dominated a previously league-best Ravens defense in Week 6, put up just 14 points against Green Bay and Peyton Manning threw two interceptions for a combined 161 return yards and two touchdowns.

The Carolina defense, which allowed 27 points to a mediocre Tampa Bay offense in Week 6, managed to hold an explosive New Orleans offense to just seven points, despite the fact that the Saints welcomed Pro-Bowlers Jeremy Shockey and Marques Colston back into the starting lineup from injury.

And to top it all off, St. Louis, who just two weeks ago was easily the NFL’s worst team, beat its second consecutive NFC East opponent by rolling over Dallas 34-14.

Weekly Awards

Most Impressive Team: New England Patriots

The Pats appeared rejuvenated on Monday night, jumping out to a 34-0 lead over Denver, while forcing five turnovers and gaining 257 yards on the ground en route to a 41-7 victory.

Best Offensive Performance: Tennessee Titans

The NFL’s only remaining unbeaten team scored 34 points and ran for a total of 332 yards on the ground with two rushers gaining more than140 yards.

Best Defensive Performance: Pittsburgh Steelers

The 3-4 Steeler defense allowed just 10 total points and 212 total yards to Cincinnati while racking up seven sacks and allowing just four third-down conversions in 16 tries.

Fantasy Stud of the Week: Steven Jackson, St. Louis Rams; Mewelde Moore, Pittsburgh Steelers; LenDale White, Tennessee Titans (3-way tie)

Each of these three stud running backs exploded for huge days, putting up at least 134 total yards and three total touchdowns apiece.

Rookie of the Week: Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans

Johnson, who gives away carries at the goal line to backfield mate LenDale White, rushed for 168 yards, including a 66-yard touchdown, on just 18 carries.

Week 8

Arizona (4-2) at Carolina (5-2)

Carolina will look to shut down an explosive offense for the second-consecutive week, as the Cardinals are averaging just fewer than 30 points a game thus far this season. Both teams have surprised many this year, with just two losses apiece through seven weeks of the season. I expect Carolina’s defense to force turnover-prone Kurt Warner into quite a few mistakes and come out on top with the victory.

Winner: Carolina

San Diego (3-4) at New Orleans (3-4) (London)

The only game of the season to be played outside the U.S. will feature two very talented teams that have thus far looked very inconsistent. Both teams have seen stretches of bad luck, and neither is very pleased to have a 3-4 record. It should be a great game to watch, as both teams love to throw the deep ball and can put up points in a hurry. I expect San Diego to give a weak New Orleans defense heavy doses of LaDanian Tomlinson and to beat a Saints team that will be without star running back/returner Reggie Bush.

Winner: San Diego

New York (Giants) (5-1) at Pittsburgh (5-1)

This matchup sees two teams with Super Bowl aspirations clash in the Steel City. Each offense is built on a power running game that opens up big play passes downfield, while each is headed by a first round quarterback from the famed 2004 NFL Draft. Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger have each won a Super Bowl since entering the league four years ago, though each has had rough stretches this season. Pittsburgh may get Willie Parker back to help a depleted running back core, but will look to run the ball whether Parker returns or not. I expect the Steelers defense to limit the Giants’ offense and to prevail at home.

Winner: Pittsburgh

Indianapolis (3-3) at Tennessee (6-0)

The Titans, the league’s only undefeated team remaining, have outscored their opponents by 83 total points, while the Colts are minus-3 in net points. This game is critical for Indianapolis, as a loss would put them four games out of the division lead without the head-to-head tiebreaker, while a win would move them to just two games out. Tennessee’s defense is allowing a league best 11 points per game, while it has been almost impossible to predict how the Colts’ offense will play each week. expect Indianapolis to rise to the occasion in a make-or-break game and win a tight battle on an Adam Vinatieri field goal in the closing minutes.

Winner: Indianapolis

Last week’s predictions: 0-4

Season predictions record: 12-12

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