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The Baker’s Dozen, Week 7: Ravens, Eagles, and Browns do Falcons no favors

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The Ravens, Eagles, and Browns all failed to defeat their NFC South opponents this week, and more takeaways from Week 7 of the 2018 NFL season in this week’s edition of The Baker’s Dozen.

Cincinnati Bengals v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images

Another week of NFL football is in the books, as the Falcons finished off Week 7’s action on Monday night against the Giants. Atlanta has begun their long climb back to relevance with a two-game winning streak, but they’ve got some much tougher games ahead if they want to compete for a playoff spot in 2018. Meanwhile, we watched some very interesting outcomes this week, including every team that played the NFC South rolling over for their respective opponent. Thanks, guys. At any rate, here are some of the biggest takeaways from Week 7 in the NFL.

The Broncos whupped the Cardinals on TNF

Denver (3-4) hasn’t been a very consistent team in 2018, but they put on a show against the lowly Cardinals (1-6) on Thursday Night Football. The defense piled up six sacks and three INTs, while the offense managed four TDs—two passing and two rushing. While the Broncos aren’t getting past the Chiefs for the division title, they could still be a wild card contender when the dust clears in the AFC.

Chargers hold on in London

The Chargers (5-2) made RB Melvin Gordon a surprise inactive for their early London game—making a lot of fantasy owners angry—but it didn’t end up mattering. Los Angeles held on against the Titans (3-4), who seem to have a knack for making games close. Rivers was as efficient as ever, but the running game clearly took a hit in Gordon’s absence. The Titans, meanwhile, continue to baffle: is Tennessee good or not?

Philadelphia threw the game against Carolina

The Eagles (3-4) went into the fourth quarter against the Panthers (4-2) up 17-0. A team like Philadelphia, with an elite defense and very capable offense, should have had no problem holding that lead...right? Wrong. The Eagles allowed 21 (!!) fourth quarter points to the Panthers after holding them scoreless all game, and some very untimely errors ultimately cost them a game that they had essentially locked up. This doesn’t look like the Super Bowl contending team of 2017 anymore.

The Panthers are lucky as hell

Whereas the Falcons continue to be hit with unlucky finish after unlucky finish, the Panthers have enjoyed incredible luck through both the 2017 and 2018 seasons. Their record in one-score games is completely ludicrous through the past two seasons. In 2018 alone, they’ve now won a game on the back of a 62-yard FG, beat the Bengals with A.J. Green exiting the game in the second half, and now scoring 21 points in a single quarter to beat the Eagles. Carolina has thrived off of these type of outcomes, but the law of averages is absolute—the Panthers will eventually begin losing these games, it’s just a matter of when.

Vikings continue to rise

After having a rather shaky start to the season, the Vikings (4-2-1) have started to look like their 2017 selves. Against the Jets (3-4) this week, Minnesota took a small lead into halftime before closing the door with a dominant second half. The defense has been playing better despite some injuries, and the offense is humming along with the addition of Kirk Cousins at QB. Adam Thielen looks like the best WR in the NFL, and the Vikings have been getting contributions from Latavius Murray and rookie Roc Thomas in RB Dalvin Cook’s absence.

Bills aren’t any better with QB Derek Anderson

Most of us thought the Bills (2-5) would almost certainly be better off starting veteran backup QB Derek Anderson than the mistake-prone Nathan Peterman in rookie Josh Allen’s absence. I’m not sure it’s entirely Anderson’s fault, but the Bills looked no better with him at the helm against the Colts (2-5), who dominated Buffalo on both sides of the ball on Sunday. That’s not something we’ve seen very often from this Colts team in recent years. With almost nothing in the WR corps and RB LeSean McCoy injured, the Bills have undoubtedly reclaimed the mantle of worst team in the NFL in 2018.

The Bears misused Khalil Mack against New England

The Patriots (5-2) were always going to be a tough matchup for a young Bears (3-3) team, and it played out about the way we expected. What I didn’t expect was for Chicago to completely hamstring their pass rush by using Khalil Mack in coverage on a ridiculous number of snaps. Without Mack rushing off the edge on a majority of plays, the Bears’ pass rush was invisible at times—and you simply can’t have that against this Patriots team. Chicago is still inexperienced, but as we saw in this game, they have the talent to hang with anyone—assuming it’s deployed properly.

Cleveland couldn’t put away the Bucs

Oh, Browns (2-4-1). You got so close to pulling off a road win over the Bucs (3-3), but it just didn’t happen. Fun fact, did you know the Browns have played in four (!!!) overtime games in 2018? That’s four out of their total of seven. They’ve played almost an entire extra game at this point. While Cleveland has been better on offense with Baker Mayfield at the helm, they’re still a middling team that isn’t particularly well-coached. The defense is still pretty good, and they have emerging players on offense like the aforementioned Mayfield, RB Nick Chubb, and TE David Njoku, but right now they’re still having a hard time winning games.

The Jaguars have descended into mediocrity—or worse

If you had told me the Jaguars (3-4) would go 1-3 after trouncing the Patriots in Week 2, I would have been shocked. But that is exactly what has happened, with the offense taking a nosedive of epic proportions. That slump continued with a measly 7-point outing against the rising Texans (4-3), who have now taken over the division lead. While Jacksonville has been without star RB Leonard Fournette for nearly the entire season, that isn’t the crux of their problems. Bortles has been as up-and-down as ever, and the entire offense is struggling because of it. Currently, the Jaguars are on a first-to-worst trajectory, and it’s sad to watch.

Kerryon Johnson is #good

It has been a ridiculously long time since the Lions (3-3) had a truly good starter at RB, but they appear to have finally found one in Kerryon Johnson. Johnson has now had two 100-yard games during the 2018 season, and doesn’t appear to be showing any signs of slowing down. Against the Dolphins (4-3), Johnson piled up a ridiculous 158 yards on 19 carries (8.3 average!), and led Detroit to a convincing win. The Lions also got two TDs from TE Michael Roberts, who has had a quiet start to his career in Detroit. This team is trending upwards on the back of a 2-game winning streak, and the offense looks as balanced as I’ve ever seen it.

Justin Tucker handed the Saints a W

Justin Tucker is considered, rightfully, the best kicker in the NFL by many. Well, he certainly wasn’t that on Sunday, as his missed XP handed the Saints (5-1) a 1-point victory over the Ravens (4-3)—who were the only team Brees had failed to beat during his NFL career. Baltimore mostly kept New Orleans’ offense in check, and Joe Flacco had an impressive game passing the ball. However, when it came down to crunch time, the Ravens committed a dumb mistake and gave the Saints yet another win. It’s becoming clear that the Falcons will get no help from anyone else in their quest to steal the division from New Orleans.

The Rams continue to look unstoppable

In a wholly unsurprising outcome, the Rams (7-0) handed the injury-riddled 49ers (1-6) a pretty lopsided defeat. Los Angeles was up 21-7 before halftime, and extended that lead to 31-10 heading into the fourth quarter. Goff didn’t need to do much, and Gurley was given some rest after the game was out of hand. The Rams continue to look like the class of the NFL, and I’m not sure any team out there can stop them right now.

Chiefs’ defense impresses against Bengals

The Chiefs (6-1) might be the second-most impressive team in the NFL behind the Rams, but they have an Achilles’ heel: their defense has been a major liability throughout the season. Well, that unit may be turning a corner, as they held the red hot Bengals’ (4-3) offense to only 10 points on Sunday. Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs’ incredible array of weapons is likely to score 30+ points every single game. If Kansas City’s defense can start stepping up and not being quite so vulnerable, we might have a tight competition for the best team in the NFL this year.

What did you think of everything that happened in Week 7? Are you salty at the Ravens for missing that XP? How about at the Eagles for throwing that game against Carolina?