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Sunday, May 31, 2020

15 Key questions for NFL Week 7

Kirk Cousins

NFL Week 7 already gave us an injury to one of the best players in the league and led to some serious criticism of a weak offense. What other big developments will occur in Week 7? Who needs to step up to avoid the same fate from critics and fans? We take a look at some of the key questions to be answered in Week 7.

Here are 15 key questions for NFL Week 7.

1. Can the Lions rebound from a rough Monday night loss?

The Lions have to be absolutely crushed about their Week 6 loss on Monday night to the Packers. They had the game in hand but were screwed by the referees, who had three controversial fourth quarter calls go Green Bay’s way. Will Detroit still be hung up on those calls not going their way, or will they be prepared to bounce back at home against Minnesota? The Vikings’ passing offense has looked good the past two weeks and won’t be easy to stop. It will be even tougher if Detroit has not emotionally moved on yet.

2. Will Fitzmagic pick up where he left off?

The Miami Dolphins have gone back to Ryan Fitzpatrick for Week 7 after he was benched for Josh Rosen earlier in the season. Fitzmagic came in during the team’s loss to Washington last weekend and led two scoring drives, getting the team a 2-point conversion away from winning. However, this week he goes up against a Bills defense that is fourth in the league in scoring and third in yards. Miami’s offense will have a much tougher time moving the ball and putting up points in this situation.

3. Do the Bengals finally break into the win column?

Is this the week Cincinnati finally breaks into the win column? While the Dolphins and Redskins have received attention for being terrible this year, the Bengals are mostly in the same category. They are 0-6 and have allowed the second-most yards per game in the league. They have a winnable matchup at home against a Jacksonville team that is vulnerable. The Jags just traded away Jalen Ramsey, and while he hadn’t been playing for them in recent weeks, simply dealing him may have created locker room resentment and therefore an opportunity.

4. Who will catch passes for the Packers?

Green Bay is completely banged up entering Week 7. Davante Adams is out with a serious toe injury; Geronimo Allison has a concussion; and Marquez Valdes-Scantling is dealing with ankle and knee injuries. Jimmy Graham may be in line for a bigger role despite only having 14 catches this season. Jake Kumerow and Allen Lazard could also be in line for increased action despite only having six and five targets all season. Lazard seems up for the occasion.

5. Is Jalen Ramsey ready to shut it down for the Rams?

Ramsey has not played since Week 3 because of a back injury that may or may not have been real. He is now with the Los Angeles Rams and has not had much time to practice with his new team following the trade, and he will have his work cut out for him. He will be asked to face Julio Jones, who is 10th in the NFL with 467 receiving yards. The Rams’ secondary has been torched at times this season — think their 55-point game against Tampa Bay. Atlanta may be 1-5, but they are second in the league in passing yards. Ramsey better be ready to step it up.

6. Will the Texans keep it rolling in a big divisional game?

Houston has won two games in a row — putting up a 50-burger against the Falcons and following it up with a comeback win in Kansas City. Their offense has been playing well and will be challenged by a Colts defense that is among the better units in the league. Indy’s defense has allowed 10 passing touchdowns this season, which could be an area for Deshaun Watson to exploit. He’s had two games with no touchdowns this season, and three of at least three touchdowns. Houston is hoping this will be one of his big games.

7. Does Washington have a chance of pulling off a stunner?

Washington won its first game of the season last weekend, but that came against the hapless Miami Dolphins. Facing the unbeaten San Francisco 49ers is an entirely different story. The Niners have the No. 2 scoring defense in the league and a ferocious defensive line. They may not be “up” for this game after beating the Rams in a tough divisional game last weekend and having to travel across country, but Case Keenum will probably find it tough to put up points.

8. Will the extra time off help the Giants?

The Giants got smashed by the Patriots in Week 6, but that gave them some extra preparation time ahead of their Week 7 home game against the Cardinals. Arizona’s defense is leaky, and the Giants are getting Saquon Barkley back from his sprained ankle. The offense sure could use the boost as they’ve only scored 24 points in their last two games — both losses.

9. Can Ryan Tannehill get the Titans turned around?

The Chargers and Titans were both over .500 last year, with the Chargers going 12-4 and winning a playoff game. Both teams sit at a disappointing 2-4 this season, though Tennessee is making a change in hopes of a turnaround. They’ve benched Marcus Mariota, under whom their offense has been toothless, and replaced him with Ryan Tannehill. Based on how little Mariota has produced, it will be hard to imagine the offense being worse under Tannehill.

10. Will the Saints be able to extend their winning streak?

New Orleans has incredibly won four in a row since Drew Brees got injured. Their defense has been a strength, holding the Jags to six points in Week 6 and Dallas to 10 in Week 4. Against the Bears on the road, they will need their defense to step up once again. The offense will be without Alvin Kamara, and Teddy Bridgewater may be facing his toughest test. The defense will have to keep them in a game where points will be tough to come by.

11. Can Russell Wilson continue his MVP level play?

Russell Wilson may be a favorite in the MVP race at this point. He has Seattle 5-1, and unlike years past where the Legion of Boom was the focus of the team, Wilson has been the true star. He has passed for 14 touchdowns, has yet to throw an interception, and he has rushed for three scores. Baltimore’s pass defense has allowed just six touchdowns all season and has five interceptions. They won’t be easy to throw on, especially after adding Marcus Peters from the Rams.

12. Is Sam Darnold a huge difference-maker for the Jets?

The Jets looked like a completely different team with Darnold back in the lineup for a surprising Week 6 win over the Cowboys. Of course, going from a third-stringer like Luke Falk to a top-five draft pick will usually produce such a change. But how will Darnold handle the No. 1 defense in the league? The Patriots are allowing a league-best eight points per game and have allowed just one passing touchdown all season while intercepting 14 passes. If Darnold can score against them, he’ll leave many impressed.

13. Are the Cowboys healthy for Week 7?

Dallas faces its biggest game of the season on Sunday night. After an impressive 3-0 start, they’ve dropped three in a row and face the Eagles for a must-win game. The big question is whether they are healthy. Tyron Smith, La’el Collins, Randall Cobb, Amari Cooper, Zack Martin and Byron Jones are all set to play. Having Smith and Collins back will be huge for the protection Dak Prescott needs. If Cooper and Cobb are feeling better, this could be closer to the Dallas offense we saw the first few weeks of the season.

14. How will Carson Wentz respond to the criticism?

Wentz faced some anonymous criticism this week over his approach in the passing game. An anonymous teammate said Wentz should focus more on checkdowns rather than downfield passes, where he’s struggled. Will the Eagles quarterback be negatively influenced by such talk? He needs to be himself ahead of a huge NFC East matchup.

15. Can Kirk Cousins keep it up?

Who is this guy? After facing criticism following some slow play the first month of the season, Kirk Cousins has turned it around and looked great two games in a row. He has passed for six touchdowns and just one interception in consecutive wins over the Giants and Eagles. He’s passed his way out of the apology game, but he needs to continue that against a Lions defense that has allowed just six passing touchdowns all season. Good luck with that.

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