NFL Sunday Preview, Week 7: Colts-Titans, Chiefs-49ers highlight another huge Sunday slate

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Darron Cummings/AP/Shutterstock (13435783cd) Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry right and Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor exchange jerseys following an NFL football game in Indianapolis, Fla., . The Titans defeated the Colts 24-17 Titans Colts Football, Indianapolis, United States – 02 Oct 2022

NFL Sunday Preview, Week 7: Colts-Titans, Chiefs-49ers highlight another huge Sunday slate

Atlanta Falcons (3-3) at Cincinnati Bengals (3-3)

Time/TV: 12:00 p.m. CT/FOX

The Atlanta Falcons and Cincinnati Bengals both enter Sunday’s Week 7 matchup at 3-3, but Atlanta is a lot happier to be there than their opponent. The Falcons entered the season with exceptionally low expectations but have been competitive in every game and pulled off an emphatic upset with last week’s 28-14 win over San Francisco. Atlanta’s offense has scored 23 or more points in all but one game this season, winning three of their last four as they head to Paycor Stadium Sunday. Atlanta’s path to another upset probably involves limiting possessions for the defending AFC Champions, leaning on the NFL’s third-ranked run game to control the clock and stay in the ballgame. Meanwhile, the Bengals hope they’re finally finding their offensive footing following Sunday’s 30-26 win at New Orleans. Cincinnati has now won three of their last four, scoring 27 or more in all three wins, while Joe Burrow has only thrown one interception. The Bengals’ offense should be at full strength Sunday afternoon and will look to take advantage of Atlanta’s 31st-ranked pass defense.

Indianapolis Colts (3-2-1) at Tennessee Titans (3-2)

Time/TV: 12:00 p.m. CT/CBS

The Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans have begun to form quite a rivalry at the top of the AFC South in recent years, and they’ll meet again Sunday in what should once again be a tight game down to the wire. Tennessee won in Indianapolis 24-17 in Week 4, but the Colts have seemingly turned a corner since with two straight wins. Indianapolis also enters Sunday’s game as healthy as they’ve been in quite a while, with Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines slated to return from injury. Colts’ quarterback Matt Ryan passed for a colossal 356 yards in the first matchup between these two, but Tennessee held Jonathan Taylor to just over two yards per carry. Titans’ running back Derrick Henry amassed 147 all-purpose yards in the first matchup, pacing the Titans as they led virtually the entire game. Tennessee has won four of the last five matchups dating back to the start of the 2020 season, a trend Indianapolis will be looking to buck if they want first place in the AFC South come Sunday evening. 

Green Bay Packers (3-3) at Washington Commanders (2-4)

Time/TV: 12:00 p.m. CT/FOX

Something’s gotta give Sunday afternoon at FedEx Field, where the struggling Green Bay Packers take on a Washington Commanders team floating in purgatory. Washington did win last Thursday night at Chicago, but the 12-7 final was less than convincing after the Bears’ 31st-ranked scoring offense outgained them 391-214. The win ended a four-game losing streak for Washington but didn’t come close to answering the many questions Ron Rivera is facing. The Commanders will be without quarterback Carson Wentz Sunday, but there’s an argument to be made that they’re in capable hands with veteran backup Taylor Heinicke. Green Bay, meanwhile, has fallen from grace on the offensive side of the ball of late. The Packers head to Washington Sunday off two consecutive losses to the Giants and Jets, the latter of which was a 17-point throttling at Lambeau Field. Green Bay’s already thin receiving corps isn’t getting any good news going into Sunday when they’ll be without Christian Watson, Sammy Watkins, and Randall Cobb. The Packers’ defense hasn’t been the strength they’d hoped for either, ranking 27th in the NFL against the run so far this season. One of these teams will pick up a much-needed win Sunday, while the loser can all but say goodbye to their hopes for a divisional crown.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-3) at Carolina Panthers (1-5)

Time/TV: 12:00 p.m. CT/FOX

The unraveling of the Carolina Panthers continued last Sunday at SoFi Stadium against the Rams, a 24-10 loss that saw wide receiver Robbie Anderson dismissed from the sideline and third-string quarterback PJ Walker exit with injury. PJ Walker is expected to make his second straight start Sunday against the Bucs, but wide receiver Robbie Anderson and star running back Christian McCaffrey have each been traded to teams in the NFC West. Tampa Bay heads to Carolina, likely looking to take out some frustration after Week 6’s 20-18 loss at Pittsburgh, and doesn’t appear likely to get much resistance from the Panthers’ offense. Tom Brady was visibly frustrated with his offensive line on the sideline, and it has almost certainly been a focused week of practice in Tampa. The Buccaneers swept the Panthers in their two matchups last season, outscoring Carolina 73-23 in two absolute blowout wins. I wouldn’t expect a significantly different outcome Sunday afternoon. 

New York Giants (5-1) at Jacksonville Jaguars (2-4)

Time/TV: 12:00 p.m. CT/FOX

Jacksonville and New York were two of the more exciting surprises through the first three weeks of the NFL season, each sitting at 2-1 despite low expectations. Things have since fallen apart a bit for the Jaguars, losers of three straight, including an ugly home loss to the 1-3-1 Houston Texans that saw them score just six points. Jacksonville looked a lot more competitive Sunday in Indianapolis, leading most of the afternoon before losing on a shocking last-second touchdown by the Colts. The 379 yards of offense gained by the Jaguars is certainly an encouraging sign, but they’re running into a bit of a buzzsaw of late in the New York Giants. Wink Martindale’s defense will undoubtedly blitz Trevor Lawrence aggressively, and Jacksonville will have to contend with a fully healthy Saquon Barkley. Barkley leads the NFL in yards from scrimmage this season but faces a Jacksonville defense ranking third in the NFL against the rush. New York will likely need to lean on quarterback Daniel Jones, who is in the midst of his best NFL season (1,021 yards, 5 touchdowns, 2 interceptions). A win for New York would give them their first 6-1 start since 2008 and push Jacksonville further behind the Colts and Titans in the AFC South.

Cleveland Browns (2-4) at Baltimore Ravens (3-3) 

Time/TV: 12:00 p.m. CT/CBS

Cleveland and Baltimore renew their divisional rivalry Sunday afternoon for the first time this season after splitting their two matchups in 2021. Given the Ravens’ injuries last season and the Browns’ change at quarterback, it’s hard to glean much from those two matchups – but nonetheless, there is plenty of familiarity on the sidelines between these two. In the one game Cleveland did face Lamar Jackson last season, they intercepted him four times but still lost 16-10. The Browns enter Sunday having lost three in a row, most recently in blowout fashion at home against the Patriots and Bailey Zappe. Baltimore is also off a loss last Sunday, the third in a trend that’s seen them repeatedly blow double-digit leads this season. Either team has a chance to sit atop the AFC North with a win, and Baltimore can find themselves alone if the Bengals falter against Atlanta. 

New York Jets (4-2) at Denver Broncos (2-4)

Time/TV: 3:05 p.m. CT/CBS

The big question for the Denver Broncos heading into Sunday’s matchup will be at the quarterback position, where it is unclear whether quarterback Russell Wilson or Brett Rypien will get the start against the New York Jets. Denver enters the game at a surprising 2-4, having lost three in a row behind the league’s lowest-scoring offense at 15.2 points per game. They’ll come face to face with a suddenly hot Jets team Sunday afternoon, fresh off three straight wins – two of them on the road. New York is led by their ninth-ranked overall defense, a unit that has been opportunistic of late. The Jets’ defense ranks fifth in the NFL with seven interceptions and will put a ton of pressure on whichever Broncos’ quarterback they encounter Sunday afternoon in Denver. Sunday’s winner will likely come down to which quarterback can avoid mistakes in what will likely be a low-scoring affair. 

Seattle Seahawks (3-3) at Los Angeles Chargers (4-2)

Time/TV: 3:25 p.m. CT/FOX

It’s been a season of mixed emotions to this point for Seahawks fans, as Geno Smith’s incredible comeback story has often been marred by a defense ranking 30th in the NFL in both points and yardage allowed. Last week’s win over the Arizona Cardinals was the best game of the season for the much-maligned Seattle defense, allowing just nine points and zero touchdowns to the Cardinals in a 19-9 win. A much stiffer challenge awaits at SoFi Stadium Sunday, where Seattle will have to deal with Justin Herbert and a Chargers’ passing attack that ranks third in the NFL through six weeks. Los Angeles enters the game off three consecutive wins, most recently toppling Denver in a defensive struggle Monday night. The Chargers hope the kicking game doesn’t do them in on Sunday after they called up practice squad kicker Taylor Bertolet to replace starter Dustin Hopkins. 

Kansas City Chiefs (4-2) at San Francisco 49ers (3-3)

Time/TV: 3:25 p.m. CT/FOX

The Kansas City Chiefs will head to Santa Clara to take on the San Francisco 49ers Sunday in arguably the day’s most anticipated matchup. Fans in the bay area are buzzing following San Francisco’s acquisition of Christian McCaffrey Thursday night from Carolina, bolstering an offense that has already surrounded Jimmy Garoppolo with a bevy of elite weapons. While McCaffrey’s involvement in Sunday’s game may be limited, the message sent by the front office is loud and clear: San Francisco wants to go for it all this season. Opposing them Sunday is a Kansas City Chiefs team licking their wounds after last Sunday’s loss to Buffalo, now tied atop the AFC West with the Los Angeles Chargers. The Chiefs responded to their only other loss this season with a 41-point offensive outburst on the road in Tampa Bay and now run into a San Francisco defense dealing with tons of injuries. San Francisco enters Sunday with four defensive starters out and more than eleven defenders in total with questionable or worse injury designations. 

Pittsburgh Steelers (2-4) at Miami Dolphins (3-3)

Time/TV: 7:20 p.m. CT/NBC

Sunday night’s matchup between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Miami Dolphins pits two starting quarterbacks returning from concussions against one another in prime time. Tua Tagovailoa had the Dolphins rolling early on, as Miami jumped out to a 3-0 start before stumbling over their next three games. Now 3-3, the Dolphins are hoping to begin a new win streak against a Pittsburgh team that’s lost four of five themselves. The Steelers have been generally encouraged by what they’ve seen from rookie Kenny Pickett since handing him the reins at halftime against the Jets, but it was Mitch Trubisky who led them to a win last Sunday against Tampa. Mike Tomlin has made it clear Pickett is the starting quarterback going forward, and he certainly would have an opportunity to open some eyes with a road in at Miami. The Dolphins are hoping that their offense enters Sunday as healthy as it’s been in weeks, but there are certainly question marks. Jaylen Waddle and Terron Armstead remain questionable for Miami, who may have to lean even harder on Tyreek Hill if Waddle is unable to suit up. Beating the Steelers is a necessity for a Dolphins’ team asking to be taken seriously and a requirement if they’re to remain within striking distance of the division-leading Buffalo Bills and 3-3 New England Patriots.

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