Photo via Jamie Squire/Getty
For the first time since Week 3 of the NFL season, there was not a major schedule change due to COVID-19 as the only was swapping the Sunday Night Football matchup between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Las Vegas Raiders to the Seattle Seahawks and the Arizona Cardinals. After a week filled with drama and late-second finishes, here are my takeaways from Week 7’s action.
- The Titans need to fix their third-down defense
13 of 18. That was the Pittsburgh Steelers’ third-down conversion rate in their 27-24 win at the previously undefeated Tennessee Titans. This allowed the Steelers to hold the ball for 13 more minutes than the Titans, jump out to a 27-7 lead and on their final drive, burn over seven minutes which forced the Titans into a late game-tying drive with less time.
Third-down conversions sting as it keeps the defense on the field while simultaneously frustrating the unit. One can only imagine how frustrated defenders were on Sunday as they allowed 13 conversions, keeping their explosive offense on the bench. The Titans are the worst third-down offense in the NFL as they allow opponents to convert 60.98% of their conversions. This is a troublesome trend as it forces the offense to keep up in shootouts with fewer possessions. They need to fix this trend or the Titans could lose in the postseason just due to a lack of chances on offense. I recommend more creative blitz packages as they have the second fewest quarterback-hurries percentage while blitzing the 14th most in the NFL.
2. The Buccaneers are the new team to beat in the NFC
The Seahawks have the worst passing and total defense in the NFL and the NFC East has been awful this season. As a result of this and the Buccaneers beating the Green Bay Packers 38-10, the Bucs have established themselves as the front-runners in the NFC. Against the Raiders, Tom Brady threw for 369 yards and four touchdowns, leading the Bucs to a 45-20 win.
Last season, they gave up the fourth-fewest points, had the third-worst pass defense and led the NFL in giveaways. This season, they are eighth in pass defense and point allowed and 14th in giveaways. This dramatic improvement, combined with the leadership of Brady, has made the Bucs a terrifying team in the NFC that every team should fear. Their secondary was their biggest question mark coming into this season and they have improved with huge contributions from rookie Antoine Winfield Jr. and Jamel Dean. Watch out for the Bucs this postseason as the GOAT tries to win ring number seven.
3. Bill Belichick’s legacy is taking a hit after blowout loss against the 49ers
Brady left the greatest coach of all-time, Bill Belichick, but has been better off this season than his former coach. The Patriots sit at 2-4, are losers of three-straight games and was just blown off 33-6 at home by the injury-riddled San Francisco 49ers. QB Cam Newton still looks off as he still recovers from having COVID-19 and his throwing shoulder still looks off.
But the bigger issue is the roster Belichick is trotting out on a game-by-game basis. The receiving corp lacks explosivity and playmaking, the defense is very ordinary outside of their secondary and the offensive line is inconsistent. It is amazing Brady led the Patriots to an 11-5 record with a similar roster last season, albeit without key players such as Sony Michel and Dont’a Hightower. Belichick is great but talent is needed more and more to succeed. He needs to start adding game-changers or the Patriots could be stuck in mediocrity for the foreseeable future.
4. Russell Wilson is still the MVP
The Seahawks have the worst total and pass defense in the NFL and just lost their first game of the season, losing 37-34 at Arizona in the game of the year so far in 2020. The Seahawks allowed Kyler Murray to gain over 400 yards of total offense and lead the Cardinals’ offense to scored 10 points in the final three minutes to force overtime.
However, Russell Wilson has taken some of the blame with three interceptions, including an interception by Isaiah Simmons in overtime to set up the game-winning field goal. While his mistakes were costly, he still kept them in the lead most of the game with 388 yards and three touchdowns. This game more showed that for the Seahawks to win, Wilson needs to be near perfect. They need Jamal Adams back badly just so Wilson doesn’t need to ball out every single game to win.