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NFL Week 7 Preview: Dolphins’ Offensive Machine Needs to Push By High-Flying Eagles Defense

There aren’t too many ways to rain on the Miami Dolphins’ party. The Dolphins are 5-1, and recent sports updates show they are in first place in the AFC East. However, Miami’s marvelous offense has yet to produce a victory against a team with a winning record. During the Dolphins’ only matchup with a team likely to make the playoffs, Miami took a 48-20 loss to the Buffalo Bills on Oct. 1 on the road.

The Dolphins’ offensive machine, however, has been impressive. Miami leads the league by averaging 37 points per game, but that is largely due to a 70-20 win over Denver earlier in the season. Even after removing that outlier, Miami still averages over 30 points per game in its other five games.

The team on the other side of a marquee Week 7 matchup with the Dolphins would like to be that dynamic on offense again. Not that the Philadelphia Eagles’ offense is woeful either. The Eagles average 25.3 points per game and are off to a fast start with a 5-1 record.

However, Philadelphia saw quarterback Jalen Hurts struggle last week and would like to see him cut down on the turnovers. The Eagles’ mistakes cost them in a loss to the Jets last Sunday. Following Philadelphia’s loss, there are no longer any undefeated teams in the NFL.

Of all the matchups in Week 7, this seems like the most compelling on paper. Here are some other ones that may produce memorable moments.


Defense Could Carry the Browns

Cleveland coach Kevin Stefanski rejected any notion that starting quarterback Deshaun Watson could be back against the Indianapolis Colts this Sunday. Watson has a torn rotator cuff he suffered in Week 3 that may take two to six weeks to recover from. But Cleveland is riding a big wave of momentum after knocking off the previously undefeated San Francisco 49ers last week.

Beating a team like San Francisco without Watson and star running back Nick Chubb, who is out for the season, was shocking for the Browns. Cleveland’s defense harassed 49ers quarterback Brock Prudy and limited him to a season-low 107 yards passing. The Browns also sacked him three times and recorded an interception.

Now, Cleveland will have a chance to take on the Indianapolis Colts, who said their rookie quarterback, Anthony Richardson, will likely be out with an injury for the rest of the season. While Indianapolis does have a capable backup in Gardner Minshew, cracking this Cleveland defense will be a challenge for anyone.


Battle of Backups


It isn’t clear whether Las Vegas quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo will be out of the lineup for a while after injuring his back against the Patriots last Sunday. The question for Las Vegas now is who will make the start under center if he can’t play Sunday against the Chicago Bears. Rookie Aidan O’Connell started for the Raiders during a 24-17 Oct. 1 road loss to the Chargers.

However, Las Vegas played veteran back Brian Hoyer during its win over the Patriots last week. Hoyer looked comfortable in the pocket and hit Davante Adams with a long pass. The Bears are hoping for good news surrounding injury issues regarding Justin Fields’ thumb. 

Fields is listed as doubtful. Chicago played rookie Tyson Bagent when Fields went out last week. This is a major step up in competition for Bagent, who played collegiately at Division II Shepherd (W.Va.) University. If Bagent starts this Sunday, he will be the 29th different player to start at quarterback for the Bears since 2000.


Falcons Need to Right the Ship


Atlanta must feel fortunate to be in the NFC South. In many other divisions, the Falcons wouldn’t have much prospect for a bright future this season. Atlanta’s second-year quarterback Desmond Ridder has struggled to adjust to the NFL and threw three interceptions in a loss to Washington last week.

There have been some calls for Ridder to be pulled in favor of veteran journeyman Taylor Heinicke. Heinicke has made 25 career starts, but the Falcons may be worried what making a change could do to Ridder’s confidence. This game against Tampa Bay on Sunday is vital for both sides.

Buccaneers quarterback Baker Mayfield struggled with ineffectiveness last week. Tampa Bay did run into a buzzsaw during a loss to Detroit, but the Buccaneers will need more out of Mayfield moving forward. Tampa is still sitting in first place, a half game in front of Atlanta and New Orleans.


Can Chargers Straighten Things Out?


Stop if you’ve heard this before. The Chargers have an immensely talented quarterback, but Los Angeles has found a way to finish games with victories. The Chargers dropped a tough game to the Cowboys Monday night.

Los Angeles’ first three trips inside the Cowboys’ 10-yard line only produced three points in the second half. When the Chargers did score a game-tying touchdown late in the game on a 1-yard pass by Justin Herbert, Los Angeles’ defense couldn’t prevent Dallas from driving for a game-winning field goal.

The Chargers are now 2-3 heading into a road matchup with Kansas City, which has won five consecutive games. The Chiefs haven’t been in the sharpest form as of late either. Kansas City has turned in three consecutive unimpressive wins over the New York Jets, Minnesota Vikings, and Denver Broncos.

The Chiefs’ offense doesn’t seem to have the same pop as in years past. While Kansas City has plenty of time to improve on that, this is a desperate spot for the Chargers. Brandon Staley is now 21-18 as head coach. If he can’t right the ship this year and get Los Angeles to the playoffs, he may find himself on the unemployment line.

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