NFL enters Week 7 off of unprecedented last-minute, overtime drama

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NFL football
(Photo by Stephen Lew)

NFL ENTERS WEEK 7 WITH UNPRECEDENTED AMOUNT OF LAST-MINUTE ENDINGS, SECOND-MOST OVERTIME GAMES

Week 7 is an important juncture in any NFL season.

Some teams are hitting their strides while others are developing new identities as adversity forces them to pivot and reframe. For younger players, the game is beginning to slow down. And, teams are reaching bye weekends that allow them to recharge mentally and physically.

Week 7 in this NFL season is important because several teams have an opportunity to reach or stay above the always-important .500 mark, keeping pace with division leaders.

Recent history proves that having a .500-or-better record after Week 7 is a key factor in earning a trip to the postseason. Over the past 10 years (2011-20), 122 teams made the playoffs and 107 of those (87.7 percent) were either .500 or above through the first seven weeks of the NFL season.

That’s why this week is key for several teams, beginning with the Thursday night matchup between 3-3 clubs, the DENVER BRONCOS and CLEVELAND BROWNS (8:20 PM ET, FOX/NFLN/Amazon). Elsewhere across the league:

• Two teams coming off their bye weeks, the SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (2-3) and the NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (3-2), will attempt – in primetime – to include themselves in that .500-or-better group. The 49ers host the INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (2-4) on Sunday Night Football (8:20 PM ET, NBC), while the Saints travel to play the SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (2-4) on Monday Night Football (8:15 PM ET, ESPN).
• A pair of NFC South teams, the CAROLINA PANTHERS (3-3) and ATLANTA FALCONS (2-3), can maintain pace with respective trips to play the NEW YORK GIANTS (1-5) and MIAMI DOLPHINS (1-5), both 1:00 PM ET kickoffs on FOX.
• The CHICAGO BEARS (3-3) have an opportunity to surprise the TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (5-1) on Sunday (4:25 PM ET, CBS).
• And, in one of the weekend’s marquee pairings, the KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (3-3) have a date in Nashville with the TENNESSEE TITANS (4-2) on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, CBS).
STREAKS ARE CHIC: Four teams currently own winning streaks of at least five games: ARIZONA (six), BALTIMORE (five), DALLAS (five) and GREEN BAY (five). It’s the first time since Week 13 of the 2018 season in which four-or-more teams have winning streaks of that length.
• Three of those clubs (Baltimore, Dallas and Green Bay) lost their 2021 openers. Last season, the Browns, Colts and Super Bowl champion Buccaneers, made the playoffs after losing their initial 2020 games.
SEESAW GAMES: Last week’s Monday night thriller in Nashville, where the Titans held off the Bills, 34-31, in the final seconds, marked the third NFL game this season with at least seven lead changes.
• Tennessee and Buffalo matched a Monday Night Football record with their seven lead changes. The only other time it happened in the 52-year history of the primetime series was Sept. 15, 2008, when Dallas emerged with a 41-37 victory over Philadelphia at Texas Stadium.
• Previously this season, two other games have involved seven lead changes: Arizona beat Minnesota, 34-33, in Week 2, and the Chargers defeated Cleveland, 47-42, in Week 5.
• Teetering games have been common so far this season. On average, better than one game per week has included at least five lead changes (seven such games in six weeks).
BONUS TIME: Already this season, 11 games have gone to overtime, the second-most through the first six weeks of a season all-time. Only the 1995 season (12 games) had more at this point. Dallas, Minnesota and Pittsburgh earned overtime victories in Week 6.
• At least one game has gone to overtime in each of the first six weeks of the 2021 season, marking the second time ever (2018) that a season has featured at least one overtime game in each of its first six weeks.
• The league needs just one overtime contest this weekend to tie the NFL record for the longest stretch of season-opening weeks with at least one overtime game (Weeks 1-7, 2018).
There have been 23 games with a game-winning score in the final minute of regulation or in overtime this season, the most such games through the first six weeks all-time.
TITANS HAVE ANOTHER TITANIC QUARTERBACK ON DOCKET: Fresh off an impressive Monday night win over Buffalo, the TENNESSEE TITANS (4-2) host the KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (3-3) on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, CBS).
• The game features the NFL leader in touchdown passes, Kansas City’s PATRICK MAHOMES (18) and his top target TYREEK HILL, who is tied for the NFL lead with 46 receptions. The matchup also includes Tennessee running back DERRICK HENRY, the league leader in both rushing yards (783) and rushing touchdowns (10).
• Last week, Mahomes passed for a season-high 397 yards with two touchdowns, while tight end TRAVIS KELCE had eight receptions for 99 yards in the Chiefs’ win at Washington.
• At Nissan Stadium on Sunday, Mahomes can record his 30th career 300-yard passing game and surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer KURT WARNER (29) for the most such games by a player in his first five seasons in NFL history.
• Also this week, Kelce can record his 79th career game with at least five receptions and surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer SHANNON SHARPE (78) for the fourth-most such games by a tight end in NFL history. Only Pro Football Hall of Famer TONY GONZALEZ (139 games), JASON WITTEN (130) and ANTONIO GATES (96) have more.
• Tennessee running back DERRICK HENRY averaged 7.2 yards per carry (20 attempts, 143 yards) and ran for three touchdowns in the Titans’ victory last week. Henry, who ran for 130 yards and three touchdowns in Week 5, is the first player in 15 years, since Pro Football Hall of Famer LADAINIAN TOMLINSON in 2006, with consecutive games of 100 yards rushing and three-or-more rushing touchdowns. Tomlinson reached those marks over a three-game stretch from Nov. 5-19, 2006.
• Henry’s 13-yard touchdown with 3:05 remaining, and the Titans’ dramatic goal-line stand in the final seconds, sealed Tennessee’s Monday night win last week. The Titans, who outscored the Bills 10-0 in the fourth quarter, have the league’s most come-from-behind wins (13) in the fourth quarter or overtime since head coach MIKE VRABEL took the reins in 2018.

The most wins after trailing in the fourth quarter or overtime, since the beginning of 2018:

TEAM WINS
Titans 13
Dolphins 10
Chargers 9
Eagles 9
Raiders 9
Saints 9
Seahawks 9

BENGALS, RAVENS BATTLE FOR DIVISION LEAD: Quarterbacks JOE BURROW and LAMAR JACKSON will square off for just the second time when the CINCINNATI BENGALS (4-2) travel to meet the BALTIMORE RAVENS (5-1) on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, CBS).

• Last week, Jackson earned his 35th career win as a starting quarterback and surpassed Pro Football Hall of Famer DAN MARINO (34 wins) for the most wins by a quarterback prior to his 25th birthday in NFL history. Jackson turns 25 in January.
• In the Bengals’ win last week, Burrow passed for 271 yards with three touchdowns and one interception for a 115.7 rating, while rookie wide receiver JA’MARR CHASE led the team with 97 receiving yards.
• Burrow, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, has at least two touchdown passes in each of the Bengals’ first six games this season. He joined Pro Football Hall of Famer DAN MARINO (first 10 games in 1984) as the only first- or second-year quarterbacks with at least two touchdown passes in each of their team’s first six games of a season in NFL history.
• Chase has 553 receiving yards this season, the second-most receiving yards by a rookie in his first six career games in the Super Bowl era. Only ANQUAN BOLDIN (592 receiving yards in 2003) had more.
• Bengals defensive end TREY HENDRICKSON has 19 sacks since the beginning of 2020. Only T.J. WATT (22) and MYLES GARRETT (20) have more in that span.

BUCS AIM FOR BEST START IN FRANCHISE HISTORY: The TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (5-1), who began play as an expansion franchise in 1976, have matched the best start in team history. They also began 5-1 in 2005, 2002, 1997 and 1979. Tampa Bay has never opened a season 6-1 and can reach that mark with a win over the CHICAGO BEARS (3-3) on Sunday (4:25 PM ET, CBS).
• Chicago’s defense enters the game tied for the league lead with 21 sacks, while Tampa Bay’s offense has allowed just nine sacks, tied for fifth-fewest in the NFL.
• Tampa Bay quarterback TOM BRADY has the second-most passing yards (2,064) and touchdown passes (17) of his career through six games, topped only by his 2,163 passing yards in 2011 and his 21 touchdown passes in his MVP season of 2007. His 2,064 passing yards this season rank No. 1 in the league.

SAINTS STRONG AFTER BYE WEEKS: The NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (3-2) are fresh off their bye week and play at the SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (2-4) on Monday Night Football (8:15 PM ET, ESPN). Over the last 10 seasons (2011-20), New Orleans is 7-3 in games after bye weeks, tied for the best record in the NFL. On the other sideline, the Seahawks are 4-2 over the previous five seasons (2016-20) against opponents coming off bye weeks.

GOFF, STAFFORD BATTLE AT SOFI STADIUM: In their first meeting after trading places as starting quarterbacks of their respective teams, JARED GOFF and the DETROIT LIONS (0-6) go on the road to play MATTHEW STAFFORD and the LOS ANGELES RAMS (5-1) on Sunday (4:05 PM ET, FOX). The trade this past offseason involved two former No. 1 overall selections in the NFL Draft.
• Since the beginning of 2018, when Goff led the Rams to a berth in Super Bowl LIII, he has 14,783 passing yards. Over that span, only PATRICK MAHOMES (15,755), MATT RYAN (15,303) and TOM BRADY (15,109) have more.
• Stafford, who this week plays his 172nd NFL game, has 298 career touchdown passes. With two more on Sunday, he would become the eighth player in NFL history to reach the 300-touchdown milestone in 175-or-fewer games.
• This season, Stafford has 16 touchdown passes, the most in NFL history for a player in his first six games with a new team.

The most passing touchdowns by a player over his first six games with a new team in NFL history:

PLAYER, TEAM, YEAR(S), TD PASSES
Matthew Stafford, Los Angeles Rams, 2021, 16
Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers, 2020 15
Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans, 2017, 15
Kurt Warner, St. Louis Rams, 1998-99, 15
Mark Rypien, Washington, 1988, 15

Rams wide receiver COOPER KUPP leads the NFL with seven touchdown catches, while his 46 receptions are tied for the league lead with DAVANTE ADAMS and TYREEK HILL. Last week, Kupp recorded nine catches for 130 yards and two touchdowns. Kupp, who also had two touchdown receptions in Week 2 and Week 3, is the first player since JULIUS THOMAS (2014) with at least two touchdown catches in three of his team’s first six games of a season.
• Kupp also has 46 receptions for 653 yards and seven touchdowns this season and has joined Pro Football Hall of Famer MARVIN HARRISON (45 catches for 709 yards and eight touchdown receptions in 1999) as the only players with at least 45 catches, 650 receiving yards and seven touchdown receptions in their team’s first six games of a season in NFL history.

MEMORIES OF POSTSEASON CLASSICS: This week’s schedule features six contests matching franchises that met previously in significant postseason games:

Packers 21, *Boston 6
1936 NFL Championship
Polo Grounds, New York
12/13/1936
Packers win fourth of 13 world championships

Lions 31, Rams 21
1952 Conference Playoff
Briggs Stadium, Detroit
12/21/1952
Lions advance en route to 1952 title

Raiders 27, Eagles 10
Super Bowl XV
Superdome, New Orleans
01/25/1981
Raiders become first Wild Card team to win SB

Broncos 23, Browns 20
1986 AFC Championship
Cleveland Municipal Stadium
01/11/1987
John Elway authors The Drive to force OT

Seahawks 41, Saints 36
2010 NFC Wild Card
Qwest Field, Seattle
01/08/2011
Marshawn Lynch authors the Beast Quake

Chiefs 35, Titans 24
2019 AFC Championship
Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City
01/19/2020
Chiefs advance to first Super Bowl in 50 years

*Washington franchise was located in Boston; game moved to New York due to poor home attendance

WEEK 7 NFL SCHEDULE
(All times Eastern)

Thursday, October 21
Denver at Cleveland FOX/NFLN/Amazon 8:20

Sunday, October 24
Cincinnati at Baltimore CBS 1:00
Washington at Green Bay FOX 1:00
Atlanta at Miami FOX 1:00
New York Jets at New England CBS 1:00
Carolina at New York Giants FOX 1:00
Kansas City at Tennessee CBS 1:00
Detroit at Los Angeles Rams FOX 4:05
Philadelphia at Las Vegas FOX 4:05
Houston at Arizona CBS 4:25
Chicago at Tampa Bay CBS 4:25
Indianapolis at San Francisco NBC 8:20

Monday, October 25
New Orleans at Seattle ESPN 8:15

Byes: Buffalo, Dallas, Jacksonville, Los Angeles Chargers, Minnesota, Pittsburgh

What To Look For – Week 7

THE BUC STOPS HERE: After leading the league in rushing defense (80.6 rushing yards allowed per game) during their Super Bowl season last year, the TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS again lead the league in the category through six weeks this season, limiting opponents to 54.8 rushing yards per game.
Since the beginning of last season, a span of 22 regular-season games, Tampa Bay has only had one opposing player eclipse the 100-yard rushing mark (Minnesota’s DALVIN COOK rushed for 102 yards in Week 14 of 2020).
If the Buccaneers continue this run-stopping pace, they can become the fifth team since 1950 to limit their opponents to fewer than 60 rushing yards per game through their first seven games of a season.

The teams to allow fewer than 60 rushing yards per game through their first seven games in a season since 1950:

TEAM SEASON OPPONENT — RUSHING YARDS PER GAME
San Francisco 1995 — 49.9
New Orleans 1991 — 52.1
Baltimore 2000 — 57.9
Pittsburgh 2010 — 58.9
Tampa Bay 2021 — 54.8*
*Through six games

Tampa Bay quarterback TOM BRADY enters Week 7 leading the league in passing yards (2,064) and completions (183) and ranks second in touchdown passes (17). He is also the only player this season with three games of at least four touchdown passes (Weeks 1-2, 5).
With 17 completions and three touchdown passes on Sunday against Chicago (4:25 PM ET, CBS), Brady will become the third player with at least 200 completions and 20 touchdown passes in his team’s first seven games of a season in NFL history, joining ANDREW LUCK (2018) and Pro Football Hall of Famer PEYTON MANNING (2013).
The players with at least 200 completions and 20 touchdown passes in their team’s first seven games of a season in NFL history:
PLAYER TEAM SEASON COMPLETIONS PASSING TOUCHDOWNS
Andrew Luck Indianapolis 2018 203 20
Peyton ManningHOF Denver 2013 207 25

Tom Brady Tampa Bay 2021 183* 17*
*Through first six games

Brady, the league’s all-time leader in both passing yards (81,268) and touchdown passes (598), can also become the first player in league history with 600 career touchdown passes.
— NFL —
REUNION IN L.A.: When the DETROIT LIONS visit the LOS ANGELES RAMS on Sunday (4:05 PM ET, FOX), both starting quarterbacks will be facing the teams that drafted them for the first time. Detroit’s JARED GOFF was selected No. 1 overall by the Rams in 2016 and passed for 18,171 yards and 107 touchdowns in 69 starts for the franchise and led them to a Super Bowl LIII appearance in 2018.
Los Angeles’ MATTHEW STAFFORD was selected No. 1 overall by the Lions in 2009 and is the franchise’s all-time leader in passing yards (45,109), touchdown passes (282) and passer rating (89.9). This season, Stafford ranks tied for third in the league with 16 touchdown passes and fourth with 1,838 passing yards.
In 171 career games, Stafford has 298 touchdown passes and on Sunday, can become the seventh-fastest player (172 games) to record 300 career touchdown passes in NFL history.
The players to reach 300 career touchdown passes in the fewest games in NFL history:
PLAYER TEAM(S) GAMES
Aaron Rodgers Green Bay 144
Peyton ManningHOF Indianapolis 157
Dan MarinoHOF Miami 157
Tom Brady New England 161
Drew Brees San Diego Chargers, New Orleans 161
Brett FavreHOF Atlanta, Green Bay 167

Matthew Stafford Detroit, L.A. Rams 171*
*Has 298 touchdown passes

— NFL —

KING’S COURT: Tennessee running back DERRICK HENRY enters this week leading the league with 783 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns. He is the third player ever with at least 750 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns in his team’s first six games of a season, joining Pro Football Hall of Famers JIM BROWN (1958) and ERIC DICKERSON (1983).
Henry has rushed for three touchdowns in each of the past two weeks and can join Pro Football Hall of Famer LADAINIAN TOMLINSON (three consecutive games in 2006) as the only players in NFL history with at least three rushing touchdowns in three consecutive games.
Additionally, Henry has recorded at least 125 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown in each of his past three games. If he accomplishes the feat again on Sunday against Kansas City (1:00 PM ET, CBS), he will become the fifth player with at least 125 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown in four consecutive games within a single season in the Super Bowl era.

The players with at least 125 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown in the most consecutive games within a single season in the Super Bowl era:

PLAYER TEAM SEASON GAMES
Larry Johnson, Kansas City 2005, 5
O.J. Simpson, Buffalo 1975, 5
Frank Gore, San Francisco 2011, 4
Terrell Davis, Denver 1998, 4
Derrick Henry, Tennessee 2021, 3*

*Active streak

— NFL —

KC’S STARS: Kansas City quarterback PATRICK MAHOMES leads the league with 18 touchdown passes this season and ranks third with 1,887 passing yards. Last week, he totaled a season-high 397 passing yards, his 29th career game with at least 300 passing yards.
With 300 passing yards on Sunday at Tennessee (1:00 PM ET, CBS), Mahomes will surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer KURT WARNER (29 games) for the most games with at least 300 passing yards by a player in his first five seasons in NFL history.
Mahomes’ top target this season has been wide receiver TYREEK HILL, who ties for the lead league with 46 receptions and ranks third with 592 receiving yards. He also has five touchdown receptions, tied for the fourth-most in the league.
With four receptions on Sunday, Hill will become the fifth player ever with at least 50 receptions, 500 receiving yards and five receiving touchdowns in each of his first six career seasons.

The players with at least 50 receptions, 500 receiving yards and five receiving touchdowns in the most seasons to begin their careers in NFL history:

PLAYER, TEAM SEASONS
Marvin Harrison, Indianapolis 11
Gary Clark, Washington 8
Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona 8
Randy Moss, Minnesota 6
Tyreek Hill Kansas City 5*
*Has 46 receptions, 592 receiving yards and five receiving touchdowns entering Week 7

Tight end TRAVIS KELCE enters Week 7 leading all tight ends with 38 receptions. He had a season-high eight catches last week and has recorded at least five receptions in five of six games this season. With another five-catch performance against Tennessee, Kelce will surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer SHANNON SHARPE (78 games) for the fourth-most such games by a tight end in NFL history.

The tight ends with the most games with at least five receptions in NFL history:

PLAYER TEAM(S) (GAMES_
Tony Gonzalez, Kansas City, Atlanta (139)
Jason Witten, Dallas (130)
Antonio Gates, San Diego/L.A. Chargers (96)
Travis Kelce, Kansas City (78)
Shannon Sharpe, Denver/Baltimore (78)

— NFL —

RIDICULOUS ROOKIE RECEIVERS: Cincinnati wide receiver JA’MARR CHASE, the No. 5 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, leads all rookies with 553 receiving yards and five touchdown receptions this season. He is also one of six players in the league with at least 50 receiving yards in each of the first six weeks.
With 50 receiving yards on Sunday at Baltimore (1:00 PM ET, CBS), Chase will join EARL MCCULLOUCH (1968) as the only players in NFL history with at least 50 receiving yards in each of their first seven career games.
Chase can also surpass ANQUAN BOLDIN (621 receiving yards) for the most receiving yards by a player through his first seven career games in the Super Bowl era. Only HARLON HILL (685) and BILLY HOWTON (667) have more all-time.
The players with the most receiving yards in their first seven career games in NFL history:

PLAYER, TEAM SEASON — RECEIVING YARDS
Harlon Hill, Chicago Bears 1954 — 685
Billy Howton, Green Bay 1952 — 667
Anquan Boldin, Arizona 2003 — 621
Ja’Marr Chase, Cincinnati 2021 — 553*
*Through first six games

Miami wide receiver JAYLEN WADDLE, the No. 6 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, leads all rookies with 37 receptions this season. He is also one of three players in the league with two games with at least 10 receptions (Weeks 3 and 6). With at least 10 receptions in another game this season, he will join ODELL BECKHAM JR. (four games in 2014) as the only rookies in NFL history with three games with at least 10 catches.
With five receptions on Sunday against Atlanta (1:00 PM ET, FOX), Waddle can tie Boldin (42 in 2003) and MICHAEL THOMAS (42 in 2016) for the second-most receptions by a wide receiver in his first seven career games in NFL history. Only EDDIE ROYAL (46 in 2008) had more.

The wide receivers with the most receptions in their first seven career games in NFL history:

PLAYER, TEAM SEASON — RECEPTIONS
Eddie Royal, Denver 2008 — 46
Anquan Boldin, Arizona 2003 — 42
Michael Thomas, New Orleans — 2016 42
Jaylen Waddle, Miami 2021 –37*
*Through first six games

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