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Sports

Week 7 NFL Preview: Steelers v Titans Atop the AFC, Cards v Seahawks in NFC West Clash

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Week 7 NFL Preview: Steelers v Titans Atop the AFC, Cards v Seahawks in NFC West Clash

2020-10-24 17:30:26

 

-NFL release posted by Daniel Mogollon, Staff Writer; Image: Titans running back Derrick Henry takes the handoff from Ryan Tannehill. (Image Source: Frederick Breedon / Getty Images

The Week 7 NFL menu showcases a historic showdown in Music City, a two-decade-old rivalry renewing in Las Vegas and a pair of defensive headliners squaring off on Monday Night Football. Still hungry?

Don’t worry. With the high volume of close, competitive games and the number of exciting young players making significant contributions on a weekly basis, there’s certain to be something for every NFL palate this week.

CLASH OF NFL TITANS IN NASHVILLE SUNDAY: Two of the NFL’s three remaining undefeated teams square off Sunday when the PITTSBURGH STEELERS travel to meet the TENNESSEE TITANS (1:00 PM ET, CBS). It’s only the sixth contest in the Super Bowl era, and just the eighth overall NFL game, matching teams that have at least five wins and zero losses.

The games between teams with at least five wins and zero losses​ in NFL history:

DATE

MATCHUP

RESULT

Oct. 25, 2020

Pittsburgh Steelers (5-0) at Tennessee Titans (5-0)

???

Nov. 1, 2015

Green Bay Packers (6-0) at *Denver Broncos (6-0)

Broncos, 29-10

Nov. 4, 2007

+New England Patriots (8-0) at Indianapolis Colts (7-0)

Patriots, 24-20

Oct. 14, 2007

+New England Patriots (5-0) at Dallas Cowboys (5-0)

Patriots, 48-27

Oct. 24, 2004

N.Y. Jets (5-0) at *New England Patriots (5-0)

Patriots, 13-7

Oct. 28, 1973

Los Angeles Rams (6-0) at +Minnesota Vikings (6-0)

Vikings, 10-9

Nov. 4, 1923

*Canton Bulldogs (5-0) at Chicago Cardinals (5-0)

Bulldogs, 7-3

Nov. 13, 1921

Akron Pros (7-0) at Buffalo All-Americans (6-0)

Tie, 0-0

*Won Super Bowl/league championship

+Advanced to Super Bowl

Pittsburgh is off to its best start since opening 7-0 in 1978 en route to a Super Bowl XIII victory. Tennessee has authored the second-best start in franchise history, behind its 10-0 record to open the 2008 season.

  • The Titans (422.0 yards per game) rank second in the NFL in total offense while the Steelers (285.2 yards allowed per game) rank second in the NFL in total defense. 
  • Tennessee quarterback RYAN TANNEHILL (364 passing yards) and running back DERRICK HENRY (212 rushing yards) combined last week to make Tennessee the first team in NFL history to have a player eclipse 350 passing yards and another rush for at least 200 yards in the same game.
  • Henry, who also recorded 211 rushing yards in Week 17 of the 2019 season and 238 rushing yards in Week 14 of the 2018 season, is the first player to record a game with at least 200 rushing yards in three consecutive seasons in NFL history.
  • The Steelers defense recorded four sacks and two interceptions in Week 6 and joined the 1985 NEW YORK GIANTS as the only teams in NFL history to record at least three sacks and an interception in each of their first five games of a season. Ten Steelers this season have at least one sack, led by BUD DUPREE (five) and T.J. WATT (4.5), tied for second and fourth, respectively, in the AFC. Seven Steelers have at least one interception, led by STEVEN NELSON (two), tied for third in the conference.
  • Ball security has been a hallmark of each team’s early season success. The Titans rank second in the NFL with three giveaways, while the Steelers (four) rank tied for third. Including postseason, Tennessee running back DERRICK HENRY has gone 321 consecutive touches (304 carries, 17 receptions) without a fumble. Pittsburgh running back JAMES CONNER has gone 198 consecutive touches (157 carries, 41 receptions) without a fumble. Tennessee is tied for the league lead with a plus-six turnover ratio. Pittsburgh (plus-five) is tied for fourth. 
  • Tannehill (113.5) and Steelers quarterback BEN ROETHLISBERGER (109.1) rank second and fourth, respectively, in AFC passer rating. Roethlisberger has won 13 of his past 19 starts, while Tannehill has won 12 of his past 15, including playoffs.

OLD RIVALS MEET IN LAS VEGASSunday Night Football rekindles a 19-year-old rivalry that started in the 2001 Divisional playoffs. When the LAS VEGAS RAIDERS host the TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (8:20 PM ET, NBC), Las Vegas head coach JON GRUDEN and Tampa Bay quarterback TOM BRADY will meet for the third time in their careers.

The most memorable meeting was the first, on Jan. 19, 2002, a snowy evening at Foxboro Stadium, where Brady rallied his Patriots to a 16-13 overtime win over the Raiders to earn his first career playoff win en route to victory in Super Bowl XXXVI over the St. Louis Rams. One year later, Gruden won his own Super Bowl after joining the Buccaneers in a unique trade, leading Tampa Bay to victory over the Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII.

Fast forward nearly two decades and Gruden is back guiding the Raiders and Brady is the field general of Gruden’s former team, the Buccaneers. And while those two may have changed teams, the Buccaneers defense as it was in the early 21st Century is again dominating the NFL.

Tampa Bay’s defense, guided by coordinator TODD BOWLES, leads the NFL in fewest total yards allowed per game (282.0), fewest total yards allowed per play (4.6), fewest rushing yards allowed per game (64.3) and fewest first downs allowed per game (16.8), while tying for second in the league with 11 total takeaways. Last week, the Buccaneers held the NFL’s highest-scoring offense, Green Bay, to 10 points.

Depending on the amount of touchdown passes thrown earlier in the day by all-time leader DREW BREES (556), Brady (555) on Sunday night could leave the field for the first time as the NFL’s career leader in that category.

Brady last week helped the Buccaneers overcome a 10-point deficit in their win over the Packers. In the NFL this season, there have been 19 games in which a team has overcome a deficit of at least 10 points to win this season, tied with the 2011 season (19 games) for the most such games through Week 6 in league history.

There have been six games that have featured a team overcoming a deficit of at least 17 points to win this season, the second-most such games through Week 6 in a single season in NFL history. Only the 2011 season (seven games) had more.

MONSTERS OF THE COMEBACK: The NFC North-leading CHICAGO BEARS (5-1) have registered two of their five wins by overcoming deficits of at least 16 points (a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit in Week 1 and a 16-point fourth-quarter deficit in Week 3). Thanks in part to Chicago, 2020 marks the first year in which at least one NFL team has overcome a deficit of 16-or-more points to win in each of the first six weeks of a season. The Bears also earned a tough road win at Carolina last week, one of eight NFL games in Week 6 within one score in the fourth quarter.

  • The Bears travel from one coast to the other this week when they play at the LOS ANGELES RAMS on Monday Night Football (8:15 PM ET, ESPN). The matchup features stalwarts on each defense that have combined to account for three of the last four Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year awards, the Rams’ AARON DONALD (2017-18) and the Bears’ KHALIL MACK (2016 with the Raiders).
  • Donald, Mack and Arizona’s CHANDLER JONES are the NFL’s only three players with at least 65 sacks and 17-or-more forced fumbles since 2014, when Donald and Mack entered the league eight selections apart in the first round of the NFL Draft. Donald leads the NFL with 7.5 sacks this year while Mack leads the Bears with 4.5.
  • Chicago leads the NFL this season in red-zone defense, allowing touchdowns on just 36.4 percent of opponent drives inside the 20-yard line. And if the game is within one score in the fourth quarter – like 62 of 91 NFL games (68.1 percent) so far this season – that defense will be tested by Rams quarterback JARED GOFF, who leads the NFL in fourth-quarter passer rating (141.1).

MAHOMES MEETS LOCK IN DENVER: Last week, Kansas City quarterback PATRICK MAHOMES, appearing in his 37th career game, became the fastest player in NFL history to reach 90 career touchdown passes, surpassing the previous mark held by Pro Football Hall of Famer DAN MARINO (40 games). Mahomes returns on Sunday to Denver (4:25 PM ET, CBS), where he made his first NFL start at the end of the 2017 season. Denver quarterback DREW LOCK, who guided the Broncos to a win at New England last week, is 5-3 in his career as a starting quarterback.

  • Kansas City tight end TRAVIS KELCE needs 65 receiving yards to become the third tight end in NFL history with at least 7,000 receiving yards in his first eight seasons, joining ROB GRONKOWSKI (7,179) and ANTONIO GATES (7,005). Kelce has 6,935 receiving yards in 102 career games.​

CLUTCH ROOKIES: The JUSTIN HERBERT story adds another chapter this week when the LOS ANGELES CHARGERS host the JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS on Sunday (4:25 PM ET, CBS). The Chargers’ rookie quarterback leads qualified NFL passers in a key metric, third-down passer rating (150.9), significantly ahead of the next-best mark, PATRICK MAHOMES (136.0). Herbert also leads NFL rookies with an overall 107.1 passer rating.

  • The other starter in the Chiefs’ backfield, rookie CLYDE EDWARDS-HELAIRE, leads all NFL players with 682 scrimmage yards (505 rushing, 177 receiving), and ranks second in the NFL with 505 rushing yards, trailing only DERRICK HENRY (588). Edwards-Helaire ran for a season-high 161 yards to help the Chiefs beat Buffalo in Week 6.
  • Pittsburgh rookie wide receiver CHASE CLAYPOOL has six touchdowns (four receiving, two rushing) in his first five career games, tied with MARTAVIS BRYANT (2014), WILLIE GAULT (1983), CALVIN RIDLEY (2018) and Pro Football Hall of Famer RANDY MOSS (1998) for the most touchdowns by a rookie wide receiver in his first five career games since 1970.
  • Rookie wide receiver CEEDEE LAMB, whose DALLAS COWBOYS travel to play the WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM Sunday (1:00 PM ET, FOX), is tied for the NFL lead in third-down receptions (12). Overall, Lamb leads NFL rookies with 36 receptions and looks to extend his NFL record this week by catching at least five passes in a seventh consecutive game to open a career.

SEAHAWKS, CARDINALS GO HEAD-TO-HEAD SUNDAY: The SEATTLE SEAHAWKS, 5-0 and off to their best start in franchise history, come off a bye with a stiff road test at the ARIZONA CARDINALS (4-2) on Sunday (4:05 PM ET, FOX).

  • Seattle in games after its bye under head coach PETE CARROLL has an NFC best 7-3 record since he took the reins of the team in 2010. In the NFL, only Baltimore’s JOHN HARBAUGH (8-2) and Pittsburgh’s MIKE TOMLIN (8-3) have better records after the bye in that span.
  • Quarterback RUSSELL WILSON in games after a bye has a 6-1 career record, the NFL’s best mark by a starting quarterback since he entered the league in 2013 (minimum four starts). Wilson, who leads the NFL this year with 19 touchdown passes, needs four on Sunday to become the third quarterback in NFL history with at least 250 touchdown passes in his first nine seasons. Wilson, who would join PEYTON MANNING (275) and Pro Football Hall of Famer DAN MARINO (266), has 246 touchdown passes in 133 career games.
  • The Seahawks have a four-year winning streak in games after a bye. Their last loss was Week 10 of the 2015 season to the Cardinals, in Seattle, 39-32. In that contest, Cardinals wide receiver LARRY FITZGERALD had 10 receptions for 130 yards.
  • Fitzgerald, who has 1,399 career receptions in 256 games, needs one reception on Sunday to join Pro Football Hall of Famer JERRY RICE (1,549) as the only players in NFL history with 1,400 career catches.
  • Arizona wide receiver DEANDRE HOPKINS (100.2) and Seattle wide receiver DK METCALF (99.2) are the NFL’s top players, respectively, in receiving yards per game this season.
 
 

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