Included on the docket in Week 7 are the defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers aiming for a 7-0 start, a rematch of two recent Super Bowls – Indianapolis Colts-New Orleans Saints (Super Bowl XLIV) and Pittsburgh Steelers-Arizona Cardinals (Super Bowl XLIII) – and the fifth regular-season game in London, England in as many years.
“It’s great,” says Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach RAHEEM MORRIS, speaking about his game at Wembley Stadium in London against the Chicago Bears. “It’s big-game exposure and an opportunity to put our team out in the forefront of everything. To get our guys in the international game, people love the game in the UK. It’s a lot of fun for us to travel over there. It creates a little excitement, creates a nice little buzz. It’s a Super Bowl-like atmosphere, so it’s a bunch of fun for us.”
The Buccaneers and Bears both enter the game following impressive victories in Week 6 and aim to heat up as the second half of the season quickly approaches.
“Last year we were 4-3 after seven games,” says Chicago head coach LOVIE SMITH, whose club won the NFC North in 2010. “We have an opportunity to be 4-3 after seven games here, but headed in the right direction coming off of two wins. I’m pretty happy where we are. It’s not an ideal position starting the season, but where we are right now, coming off a big win, things look like they are headed in the right direction. I like the direction of where we are going.”
What else is on tap for Week 7? Close games and comebacks.
· There have been 19 games through Week 6 in which a team trailed by at least 10 points and came back to win – the most at this point in NFL history. Entering Week 7, 19 double-digit comebacks is already the second-most through the first seven weeks of a season all-time (23 in 1987).
· With 47 of 90 NFL games (52.2 percent) decided by seven points or fewer entering Week 7, the league is trending towards the highest percentage of seven-point games since 1970 (1994, 115 of 224, 51.3 percent).
A look at some of the key games in Week 7:
ATLANTA FALCONS (3-3) at DETROIT LIONS (5-1) (Sunday, FOX, 1:00 PM ET)
With a 31-17 win against the Carolina Panthers in Week 6, the Atlanta Falcons hope to add to the win column in Detroit this week.
“It’s something that you can build on, knowing that you can come up with plays when you have to,” says Falcons tight end TONY GONZALEZ (1,099), who needs four receptions to surpass CRIS CARTER (1,101) and MARVIN HARRISON(1,102) for the second-most all-time. “If we can keep this up, we’ll be a good team.”
Atlanta was sparked last week by running back MICHAEL TURNER, who rushed for 100 yards (139) for the 22nd time as a Falcon, surpassing WILLIAM ANDREWS (21) for the second-most 100-yard rush games in franchise history(GERALD RIGGS, 25).
“We are a run-first team,” says Turner. “I think everybody on the team would say that. We have to get in better situations and not play from behind.”
The Lions, who suffered their first loss of the season last week, hope to rebound and continue their turnaround season.
“We’ve got to go back to work this week and we’re at home again, which is nice,” says Detroit quarterback MATTHEW STAFFORD, who ranks third in the NFL with a career-best 15 touchdown passes. “We will get a chance to come out for the home fans and play a really good Atlanta team. It’s going to be another challenge for us.”
HOUSTON TEXANS (3-3) at TENNESSEE TITANS (3-2) (Sunday, CBS, 1:00 PM ET)
First place in the AFC South will be at stake on Sunday when the Houston Texans visit the Tennessee Titans.
The Titans, who have a 2-0 record at LP Field this season, begin a three-game stretch at home with Houston, Indianapolis and Cincinnati.
“At home, we won both our games,” says Pro Football Hall of Famer and Tennessee rookie head coach MIKE MUNCHAK, whose team returns fresh off a Week 6 bye. “We know how much of an advantage it is for us, and that’s something we’ll definitely be shooting for. We lost our first game of the second quarter of the season, and now we have to make up for it by winning all three, which are the next three at home.”
Meanwhile, Houston enters the game at 3-3 and aims to get back on the winning track after two consecutive losses.
“I think if we would have said when the season started, in Week 7, we’re going to be playing somewhere for a lead in our division, you’ve got to be excited about that,” says Texans head coach GARY KUBIAK. “We’re disappointed in the last two weeks, but we’re going to Tennessee to play in a huge football game for the division lead.”
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (2-3) at OAKLAND RAIDERS (4-2) (Sunday, CBS, 4:05 PM ET)
A matchup featuring longtime divisional foes will unfold in Oakland when the Raiders host the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Raiders look to extend their streak of eight consecutive wins against the AFC West, the longest current winning streak against divisional opponents in the NFL.
“I’m proud of this football team,” says Oakland rookie head coach HUE JACKSON. “The team is now believing in each other and fighting. And they’re winning football games. After six games, we’re 4-2.”
The Chiefs are back after a bye week and look to win their third consecutive game after starting the season 0-3. In Week 5 at Indianapolis, Kansas City engineered a 17-point (24-7) come-from-behind victory to defeat the Colts 28-24.
“This is big,” says Chiefs linebacker DERRICK JOHNSON on the upcoming game against the Raiders. “It’s a division opponent, it’s on the road and we’re in that range where we need to keep winning. We’re coming out of the hole, but we’re not there at all. We know that this game is going to be big for us.”
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (4-1) at NEW YORK JETS (3-3) (Sunday, CBS, 1:00 PM ET)
With a bye in Week 6, the Chargers return to action on Sunday, focused on winning their fourth consecutive game.
San Diego sits in first place in the AFC West, but feels that its best football is still ahead.
“We know we have to improve,” says Chargers quarterback PHILIP RIVERS. “We know we’re not where we need to be in order to accomplish the goals we set at the beginning of the year. But if we can improve while winning, then we can give ourselves a chance as we head toward the second half of the season.”
The Jets improved to 3-0 at MetLife Stadium with a 24-6 win over the Miami Dolphins on Monday Night Football.
“This was key for us,” says Jets cornerback DARRELLE REVIS, who registered a 100-yard interception-return touchdown against Miami.
This meeting will mark the first game for Jet running back LA DAINIAN TOMLINSON against his former team. Selected No. 5 overall by San Diego in the 2001 NFL Draft, Tomlinson garnered numerous accolades during his nine-year tenure (2001-09) in San Diego, including AP NFL MVP and Offensive Player of the Year honors in 2006. He is the Chargers’ all-time leader in career rushing yards (12,490) and total touchdowns (153).