As the NFL approaches the midway point of the season, teams expect to have an offensive identity they can carry into the second half of the season. Through week seven, however, many teams are left searching for answers, as Sunday produced some of the ugliest football in recent memory.
Over the last seven weeks, the NFL season has been nothing short of a seesaw. The first couple of weeks were defined by stellar defensive play as offenses across the league were lacking a sense of rhythm. As the season progressed, teams began to hit their stride offensively —
providing entertaining football to an audience that seems to becoming less and less interested in the sport.
The offensive production that has been on display in recent weeks took a step back in week seven.
Seven teams failed to score an offensive touchdown on Sunday: the Bears, Broncos, Browns, Cardinals, Colts, Panthers and Titans.
The Browns and Titans were opponents on Sunday, in one of the most underwhelming NFL games in the history of the sport. The game totaled seven field goals and zero touchdowns. The Titans won, seemingly by default. After all, they were playing the Browns.
On Sunday afternoon the Broncos, Colts and Cardinals were shut out completely, not scoring a single point through the entire duration of the 60-minute game, an unprecedented feature in the NFL.
To put that into perspective, there have only been two other teams shut out of an NFL game this entire season — the Bengals in week one and the Dolphins in week four. Week seven had three shutouts. It’s safe to say that week seven of the NFL season was not one to be remembered.
We did learn some things to guide you through the rest of the NFL season, however, in a ghastly week of the NFL.
1. Thursday Night Football has surpassed Monday Night Football
This week’s Thursday night football game was arguably the game of the year. Two division rivals, the Chiefs and Raiders, went head-to-head in a thrilling game that came down to the last play.
Actually, it came down to the last three plays, as the Raiders ran three plays with time expired — due to three straight penalties — they eventually won the game 31-30 on a Michael Crabtree touchdown.
The Raiders and Chiefs game was the culmination of an impressive lineup of Thursday night games this year.
In the seven games played on Thursday night in 2017, only two games have been decided by more than one score.
The Patriots and Chiefs in week one (42-27) and the Packers and Bears in week four (35-14). Every other game has been decided by five points or fewer. Thursday night football is finally watchable.
Did I mention that Tony Romo is a color analyst for Thursday night games now? Seriously, what is not to love about Thursday night football in 2017.
With the rise of Thursday night football, the fall of Monday Night Football has been devastating, to say the least.
There has only been two Monday night games decided by one score or fewer, the Broncos and Chargers week one (a 24-21 Chargers win) and the Bears and Vikings in week five (a 20-17 Vikings win).
The disparity in the quality of games between Thursday night and Monday night has been alarming.
Thursday night has featured games such as the Patriots vs. Chiefs, Eagles vs. Panthers and Patriots vs. Buccaneers. Monday night has left fans yawning with games such as the Chargers vs. Broncos and Colts vs. Titans. Seriously, who wants to watch a game between the Colts and Titans, in a primetime slot? I certainly do not.
2. The NFC is a wide open race
Philadelphia is home of the best team in football (based on wins and losses) for the first time since 2004. In 2004 the Eagles lost to the Patriots in the Super Bowl.
Can history repeat itself?
It can, but it is unlikely for a couple of reasons. One, Carson Wentz is still developing. Sure he leads the NFL in passing touchdowns with 17, but he is yet to taste the playoffs. Two, the Eagles just lost their starting left tackle, and more importantly Carson Wentz’s own personal bodyguard, Jason Peters, to a torn ACL.
Surgery will sideline Peters for the remainder of the season. Will we continue to see the same production from Wentz without his nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle? It os possible but it is unlikely.
This leaves the NFC wide open. With Aaron Rodgers hurt and the New York Giants imploding as the season started, there is no for sure answer in the NFC.
The Eagles, Saints, Vikings and Rams lead their divisions. None of those teams were favored to win their division at the start of the season.
One thing is for sure, this wide-open race will create drama the NFL needs in order to appeal to its viewers who continue to tune out week after week.