In the Box: NFL Week 7

I spent the past two weeks convincing myself the Pats were walking into a trap this past Sunday in Miami. I had all the logical and illogical reasoning (Tom Brady's 2-4 record in Miami, Sports Illustrated cover curse, Bill Simmons writing the "Can they go undefeated?" article on Friday). In "The Year of the Upset," this had all the makings of another bonanza. I was legitimately terrified.

Yeah. Never mind about that.

New England 49, Miami 28: And it was nowhere near that close.

The Pats did anything they wanted on Sunday. That was the most dominant offensive performance I've seen since the San Francisco 49ers embarrassed the San Diego Chargers 49-26 in Super Bowl XXIX. It was ridiculous. And it was easy. Brady's two touchdowns to Randy Moss weren't even great throws. He just chucked them up and there was Moss, straight out of a video game, leaping over everybody like Michael Jordan. ("Hey, look at me, guys! One hand!")

And Donte Stallworth spinning through the secondary. And Wes Welker everywhere at once. And the offensive line a stone wall. And the kick off return. And the strip sack. And the everything else that went perfectly.

The first half was like watching a kid torture a fly, tearing out wing by wing, leg by leg. It was just brutal.

(You have to feel for Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas. It has to be demoralizing to lose like that at home to your main rival. I'm sure this isn't how they saw their careers ending. And now they have to travel all the way to London to face the Giants in Week 8. That's going to be a long flight. And a longer flight back at 0-8.)

(Also, Ronnie Brown is out for the year, so that really sucks for them, too.)

Fantasy Impact: Predicted quote from the Dolphins radio guy during Week 10 at home against the Bills: "John Beck drops back, fakes the hand-off to Jesse Chatman, goes deep for Derek Hagan ... interception!"

Also, if you have Tom Brady (27 TD, 2 INT) and are not in first in your league, you should be deeply ashamed of yourself.

Seattle 33, St. Louis 6: At least Dolphins fans have the Rams as company in the hell of a winless season.

The remaining schedules of each team:

Miami: Giants (in London), Bye, Buffalo, @Philly, @Pittsburgh, Jets, @Buffalo, Baltimore, @New England, Cincinnati.

St. Louis: Cleveland, Bye, @New Orleans, @San Francisco, Seattle, Atlanta, @Cincinnati, Green Bay, Pittsburgh, @Arizona.

Here's betting they both remain winless until Week 13 (Dec. 2), when the Dolphins beat the Jets and the Rams beat the Falcons.

(Hey, at least Tony La Russa is coming back. Only four months until spring training.)

Fantasy Impact: Shaun Alexander is just collecting paychecks until he can retire to TV (19 carries for 47 yards, hasn't scored a TD since Week 2). If you're unfortunate enough to have him on your team, get what you can in a trade and walk away. What a disappointment.

New Orleans 22, Atlanta 16: Quote from last week: "Jerious Norwood should be getting a minimum of 20 touches per game — not counting kick returns."

Number of touches on offense for Norwood in this game: nine.

Another quote from last week: "[Bobby] Petrino is a smart guy. He'll figure it out."

Maybe not.

Fantasy Impact: It's so weird what's happened to this Saints offense. Last year, their WRs totaled 169 receptions for 2,965 yards (17.5 avg) and 21 TD. This year, they're actually on pace for more receptions as a group (183), but for a far lower average (12.8) and way fewer scores (8).

NY Giants 33, San Francisco 15: I haven't done the research to back this up, but I'm going to go ahead and call it an absolute anyway: Any time a team's combined total of sacks and takeaways breaks double digits, that team will win 100 out of 100 times. The Giants forced four turnovers and collected six sacks, masking the fact they really didn't move the ball on offense any better than did the 49ers.

Total yards: Giants 279, 49ers 267 (Giants had 37 more rushing yards, the 49ers 25 more passing yards)

First downs: Giants 21, 49ers 20

Time of possession: Giants 31:18, 49ers 28:42

The NFL is a league of big plays. Make them, you win. Don't, you stink.

Fantasy Impact: It won't get a lot of publicity, but there's an interesting matchup in San Francisco next week between the slagging (sluggish + flagging) Saints passing attack and a 49ers pass defense that has held opposing quarterbacks to a combined 60.6 passer rating. If you have another option to Drew Brees (I sadly don't), I'd recommend going away from him here.

Tennessee 38, Houston 36: Never in a million years should Kerry Collins be able to go into your stadium and come out with a clean shirt, let alone 280 yards passing and no interceptions. The Titans' offensive line is good (only given up 9 sacks all year), but Mario Williams and the boys should be embarrassed they couldn't get to Collins.

Fantasy Impact: The Titans' defense gave up 29 points in the fourth quarter, so you may see them hit the waiver wire. But with home games against Oakland and Carolina up next, they should be worth a fill-in start if you're desperate (Dallas, KC, and Baltimore are off in Week 8, the Giants and Bears in Week 9).

Washington 21, Arizona 19: I mentioned it last week, and it almost came to fruition again: The Redskins are a shaky fourth-quarter team. It cost them the Giants game in Week 3, the Packers game in Week 5, and it almost cost them this one, allowing the Cardinals to come back from 21-6 in the final 15 minutes. Neil Rackers missed the game winner from 55, but 'Skins fans can't possibly feel completely at ease knowing four of their next five are on the road, including New England next week and Dallas in Week 11.

Fantasy Impact: It's so strange seeing Santana Moss with a line of 2 catches for 8 yards, especially at home. On the season, Moss is still at just 14 catches for 207 yards and no TDs. I still think he can put up some numbers along the way, perhaps as soon as Week 9 against the Jets, but it's enough to make you wonder.

Denver 31, Pittsburgh 28: Tough to get a good feel for this game flipping almost play-by-play with the Red Sox-Indians Game 7. (Not only was I wrong about the eventual winner, the one player I've dogged the most over the past five years, J.D. Drew, had the series-defining hit with his granny in the first inning of Game 6. Bloody hell.)

With that said, there were five combined turnovers and six combined sacks. In other words, each team still has work to do to reach the Indy/NE plateau.

Fantasy Impact: In their first game without five-time Pro Bowl Center Tom Nalen, the Broncos run game was subpar (not counting Jay Cutler's 31-yard scramble, 23 rushes for 59 yards, a 2.56 average). They were playing the Steelers defense, which certainly doesn't help, but this team is going to need to be able to run the ball to win the division. And with another stingy run defense on the way in Week 8 (Green Bay), it's not going to get any easier.

Buffalo 19, Baltimore 14: You have to give Dick Jauron credit. His career record is filled with mediocre results (45-62, five of six full seasons sub-.500), but he has this team playing hard and, more importantly, playing smart (only 29 penalties, amazing considering the number of back-ups forced into major playing time). You also have to give credit to the great Marv Levy. His drafts over the past two years have been spectacular.

It's also wirth noting I'm one missed Joe Nedney game winner in San Francisco from being perfect on my game-by-game prediction for the 2007 Ravens. Next up, another loss on Monday (11/5) at Pittsburgh, followed by the first rumblings of Brian Billick being on the hot seat.

Fantasy Impact: Was that Lee Evans with 5 catches for 98 yards, including a 54-yarder? Holy cow. Somebody must have finally introduced him to the new guy.

Detroit 23, Tampa Bay 14: Simply put, there's no way in hell the Lions should have won this game. Look at the stat advantages Tampa put up:

Total yards: Tampa 422, Detroit 278

Third downs: Tampa 8-of-14, Detroit 3-of-8

Time of possession: Tampa 35:50, Detroit 24:10

So how did Tampa blow this? As was the theme this week, big plays. They had a punt blocked in the first quarter that set up Detroit for a FG, a lost fumble that set up Detroit's first TD, a missed 40-yard FG by Matt Bryant that gave Detroit field position to get their own FG in the final seconds of the first half, and, the final killer, a Jeff Garcia fumble on the Detroit one as the Bucs were about to get within one point in the fourth quarter.

You just can't win on the road doing that stuff.

(Odd note: There were only three punts in this game.)

Fantasy Impact: Tampa's defense will force an offense to go away from it's main strengths, which is why I think we saw Kevin Jones with more catches (6) than Roy Williams and Shaun McDonald combined (5). I wouldn't expect that trend to continue.

Also, it looks like Calvin Johnson is ready to start sitting at the big boys table.

Dallas 24, Minnesota 14: Tarvaris Jackson was playing with a broken finger on his throwing hand, but that doesn't get him off the hook for a miserable 6-of-19, 72-yard performance. You may be able to muddle through the NFC for a while like that, but eventually you're going to need a fourth-quarter scoring drive with time running out. And if you don't have a QB capable of making the tough throw under pressure, you're going home early (even if you do have WalterPaytonEricDickersonBarrySandersJimBrown as your running back).

Fantasy Impact: It looks like the Dallas coaching staff is finally capitulating to overwhelming common sense and giving Marion Barber the rock. Against one of the best rush defenses in the league, Barber had 19 carries for 96 yards and a TD, while Jones was where he should be, serving as the change-of-pace guy with 9 carries for 28 yards. You need both to win in the playoffs, but you also need to have a clear-cut workhorse. Barber is that guy.

Indianapolis 29, Jacksonville 7: So on Saturday night my wife and I went over to our friends' house. Me and a few of the guys were watching UFC 77. And it was one of those ground-and-pound fights. And my wife, who hates UFC, starts using words like "homoerotica" and "stupid." And I don't like it because it's annoying. But she won't stop. She just keeps on talking and talking and going on about how dumb it all is. And it drives me nuts.

Why do I bring this up now? Because Tony Kornheiser is my wife.

(For the love of God, SHUT UP!)

Also, I'm betting Dog House All-Star Matt Jones gets busted for pot in the next year. He just has the look about him.

Fantasy Impact: A note of tremendous importance to all Joseph Addai owners: Kenton Keith is now the short-yardage guy. Eleven times the Colts ran a play needing three or fewer yards for a first down. Keith got the ball six times, including a one-yard TD, Addai three times. (There was also an incomplete Peyton Manning pass and a Manning sneak for a TD.)

Kansas City 12, Oakland 10: The Chiefs stop the run better than the Raiders. The Chiefs win. That's pretty much all you need to say about this game.

Actually, one more: Jared Allen is the man (8 sacks in five games, including 2 in this one). We could have a second consecutive Defensive Player of the Year who missed a portion of the season to a disciplinary suspension.

Fantasy Impact: Priest Holmes had five touches, not bad for his first action in two years. But Larry Johnson is still far and away the man in KC. (Could it be that he's actually better since Holmes is now a very real threat?) The only way Holmes becomes a factor is if Johnson goes down long-term.

Cincinnati 38, New York Jets 31: Chad Pennington is one of those guys whose numbers look downright solid (20-of-31, 272 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT), but who constantly makes the killer mistake to kill his team (fourth-quarter fumble to give the Bengals a short field for a TD that pushed their lead from one to eight; late INT returned for the clinching score).

But do you bench the guy with a QB rating of almost 90 for a guy with one career touchdown pass?

Fantasy Impact: The remaining schedule is unkind to R-A-T-S Rats! Rats! Rats!: Buffalo, Washington, Bye, Pittsburgh, @Dallas, @Miami, Cleveland, @New England (the Pats' revenge game from the "unpleasantness"), @Tennessee, Kansas City. The Jets' fantasy stars (Laveranues Coles, Jerricho Cotchery, Thomas Jones) may not get this high again.

Chicago 19, Philadelphia 16: The Philly defense without Brian Dawkins is like the Philly offense without Brian Westbrook. It's just not the same.

Also, somebody take Donovan McNabb's pulse, make sure he's still alive.

Fantasy Impact: Since when does Muhsin Muhammad lead the Bears in receiving (5-for-79 and a TD)? Is it a one-week wonder or is he worth a start against the porous Lions in Week 8? Only if you're desperate.

Seth Doria is a freelance writer based out of St. Louis. For the only daily column that mixes sports, politics, and entertainment news in one, visit The Left Calf.

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