NFL Week 7 schedule: Brett Hundley gets first start, plus other things to watch
Pete Prisco shares 10 interesting things to watch in Week 7 of the NFL season
Here's the schedule for Sunday and Monday in Week 7, along with 10 things that intrigue me:
Cardinals at Rams, 1 p.m. ET on Fox (GameTracker)
Ravens at Vikings, 1 p.m. ET on CBS (GameTracker)
Panthers at Bears, 1 p.m. ET on CBS (GameTracker)
Jaguars at Colts, 1 p.m. ET on CBS (GameTracker)
Saints at Packers, 1 p.m. ET on Fox (GameTracker)
Jets at Dolphins, 1 p.m. ET on Fox (GameTracker)
Buccaneers at Bills, 1 p.m. ET on Fox (GameTracker)
Titans at Browns, 1 p.m. ET on CBS (GameTracker)
Cowboys at 49ers, 4:05 p.m. ET on Fox (GameTracker)
Bengals at Steelers, 4:25 p.m. ET on CBS (GameTracker)
Broncos at Chargers, 4:25 p.m. ET on CBS (GameTracker)
Seahawks at Giants, 4:25 p.m. ET on CBS (GameTracker)
Falcons at Patriots, 8:30 p.m. ET on NBC (GameTracker)
How will Packers quarterback Brett Hundley play in his first NFL start?
It's unfair to judge Hundley in a couple of ways. You can't compare him to Aaron Rodgers, the best quarterback in the league. And you can't use what he did last week in his relief role against the Vikings to gauge what he can and can't do. He didn't get work with the first team last week since that all went to Rodgers. Now that Rodgers is out likely for the season, Hundley got all the work this week, which will help against a revived Saints defense. There's also regular-season tape on him now, too. That could help the Saints.
Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict against the Steelers
The Bengals-Steelers rivalry is a good one, but Burfict's antics and play has only added to it. He always seems to be in the middle of something. It was his hit on Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell that tore the runner's MCL in 2015. Then in the 2016 playoffs, he hit Ben Roethlisberger and forced him out of the game for a bit with a shoulder injury and it was his hit on Antonio Brown that forced the receiver to miss the next week's game at Denver with a concussion. It also was flagged, which set up the game-winning field goal. Burfict is a heck of a player, but for some reason he always seems to be in the middle of the mayhem when it comes to the Steelers.
Can the Falcons put away the Super Bowl demons?
They have said all offseason that there would not be a Super Bowl hangover from blowing a 28-3 third-quarter lead last February in losing to the Patriots. But at 3-2, they haven't looked like the same team. This could be a game that gets them back on track and pushes any talk of a hangover to the side, while making them a legitimate Super contender again. But if they don't win here, all that talk will continue loudly. Word of advice to Falcons: If you lead late, try running the ball.
Can Falcons QB Matt Ryan get it going against a bad Pats' defense?
Ryan, last year's NFL MVP, has six touchdown passes and six interceptions. That's not good enough. The Atlanta offense is ranked 20th in scoring. That is way off expectations. But this week they get a New England defense that is ranked last in the NFL and has allowed a 300-yard passer in all six of games this season. This could be the week Ryan gets back to playing at an elite level.
Patriots corners against Falcons receiver Julio Jones
One of the reasons the Patriots paid Stephon Gilmore a big-money deal in free agency was to better handle star receivers like Jones, who had a big Super Bowl, despite being banged up. Gilmore missed last week's game against the Jets with a concussion and could miss this game as well. If he can't go, the Patriots will have major issues outside since Eric Rowe could miss the game as well. Butler will be in the spotlight, but so will some younger players. Jones has been banged up again this season, and hasn't put up gaudy numbers yet, but this could be a chance for him to do so. The Patriots bust a lot of coverages.
Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott against the 49ers
Elliott got a reprieve this week from his pending six-game suspension, which means he will be on the field against the 49ers. Could this be his last game for a while? Who knows? But he faces a 49ers defense that will be without Arik Armstead, one of their best down players. The 49ers are fifth in the league in rushing yards per attempt, which could make for tough going for Elliott, even without Armstead.
The Eagles pass rush against Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins
Philadelphia has 14 sacks on the season and all but one are from down players. That tells you they can get home with their front without being forced to blitz. The Eagles sacked Cousins four times when they beat the Redskins 30-27 on the road in Week One. Now back home, with a loud crowd, it could be more of a feeding frenzy for the Eagles front.
Will Cam Newton bounce back against the Bears?
Newton threw for 238 yards with one touchdown and three picks in his last game against the Eagles in a home loss. His passer rating was 48.5, his worst of the season. That followed two games where it appeared Newton had bounced back from a slow start. Now he heads out on the road again to play a Bears defense that is ranked sixth in the league. This will be a challenge for him to get it going again.
Can Cardinals running back Adrian Peterson duplicate last week's impressive performance?
After coming over in a trade from the Saints last week, Peterson ran for 134 yards and two touchdowns in a victory over the Bucs. He should have a chance to get over 100 again against the Rams in England as they are ranked 29th against the run. Los Angeles has improved some against the run, but they did give up a 75-yard touchdown run to Leonard Fournette last week.
What can the 49ers expect from rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard?
Beathard came off the bench last week in relief of Brian Hoyer and impressed against the Redskins. He threw for 245 yards and one touchdown. His only pick came on a desperation fourth-and-20 play late in the game. A full week to prepare will help. But it will also add some pressure in facing the Cowboys as they somewhat know what to expect from him.
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