Biggest Week 7 NFL questions, stats and predictions

Taking a spin around the NFL to get you ready for Week 7:

The big questions

Seriously, though, which teams are good?

Is parity at an all-time high in the NFL, or are the majority of the league's 32 teams a parody of good football teams? The first six weeks would indicate it might be the latter.

Sure, teams such as Kansas City and Philadelphia have earned the right to be considered legitimate contenders, but a look at the standings offers a glut of teams trying to prove they belong in the postseason discussion.

Six weeks in, there's not a division leader with a lead of more than one game in the loss column, and the NFC West, NFC South, AFC East and NFC North all have at least two teams tied in the loss column sitting atop the division. Of the league's 32 teams, a whopping 25 have three or fewer losses and 23 have two or three defeats to their name.

That apparent commitment to mediocrity is perhaps best seen in the lack of a home-field advantage that once offered security for top teams. Through the first six weeks, road teams were 46-45. According to Elias Sports Bureau research, the last time road teams were above .500 this late in the season was Week 6 of the 2000 season. Last year, road teams had a .422 winning percentage.

Was Adrian Peterson's big game a renaissance or a one-off?

Arizona running back Adrian Peterson has made a career of defying odds, most notably when he returned from a serious knee injury in just eight months and rushed for 2,097 yards in 2012.

Peterson struggled on the rare occasions he was healthy in 2016 and then again with New Orleans this season, so surely the undefeated Father Time was about to claim his latest victory against the 32-year-old running back, right?


Peterson rushed for 134 yards in his first game as a Cardinal last weekend, his most in a game since 2015 and more than he had in four games combined with the Saints. If Peterson rushes for 38 yards Sunday against the Rams, he will reach 12,000 career rushing yards in the fourth-fewest games in league history. He needs just one more touchdown to become the ninth player in NFL history to have 100 for his career.

Regardless of those milestones, Peterson is certain to make a little history as the first NFL player to appear in two games in London in the same season.

Whether he can duplicate his big Cardinals debut will depend on if he can take advantage of a Rams run defense that ranks 29th in the league in rushing yards per game allowed (139.5) and yards allowed per carry (4.81).

Can Brett Hundley overcome the Saints' pressure and capably replace Aaron Rodgers?

Aaron Rodgers' broken collarbone dramatically changed the NFC North and NFC playoff picture. According to ESPN's Football Power Index, the Packers had a 52 percent chance to win the division with Rodgers starting. If he's out for the season, those chances drop to 25 percent. The Packers' chances of making the playoffs fell from 80 percent with Rodgers to 49 percent if he doesn't play again in 2017.

Now, Green Bay will turn to third-year quarterback Brett Hundley to pick up the slack. That's a big ask considering that Green Bay was 2-4-1 in 2013 when Rodgers missed seven games because of another broken collarbone.

Hundley has thrown 44 passes in his NFL career (all in 2016 and this year) and hasn't done much with those, completing 48 percent for 3.95 yards per attempt, which is the worst among 57 quarterbacks with at least 40 attempts in that time.

Making matters more difficult is the fact that Hundley was pressured on 45 percent of his dropbacks last week and likely will be inundated with pressure from the Saints. New Orleans has enjoyed a recent defensive surge in part because of an increased commitment to the blitz. In the past three games, the Saints have blitzed 43 percent of the time, an increase of 16 percent over the first two weeks.

On those blitzes, the Saints have gotten home for seven sacks the past three games versus one in the first two games combined. And after opposing quarterbacks posted a 99.3 QBR against the New Orleans blitz the first two games, that number has dropped to 9.4 the past three weeks.

Looking for a silver lining for Hundley? The past two times the Drew Brees-led Saints faced quarterbacks making a first NFL start, they lost to Washington's Robert Griffin III and Arizona's Max Hall.

Numbers that matter

7: When Tampa Bay’s Ryan Fitzpatrick threw three touchdowns last week, he became the fourth quarterback in league history to throw a touchdown pass with seven different franchises. He joined Chris Chandler, Vinny Testaverde and Gus Frerotte in holding the distinction of most successful journeymen.

3: That's how many teams have started a season 0-7 in consecutive seasons. A loss Sunday against Tennessee would allow the Browns to "accomplish" that and put them in company with the 1976-77 Buccaneers, 1983-84 Oilers and 1993-94 Bengals.

61: The Dolphins have scored only that many points in their first five games, but they've managed to go 3-2. It's the third-fewest points by a team to start 3-2 or better in the Super Bowl era.

16, 23, 32: Other than Leonard Fournette, want to know why the Jaguars are in the mix in the AFC South? The answer is defense: The Jags are first in the NFL in takeaways (16), sacks (23) and opponent QBR (32). All that money spent on building the Teal Curtain is starting to pay dividends.

700: Pittsburgh receiver Antonio Brown and running back Le'Veon Bell have both reached 700 scrimmage yards through six games. That makes them the first set of teammates to do that since 1933, when individual stats were first recorded, presumably on some form of parchment.

What we'll be talking about after Week 7

Sequels are rarely as good as the original

For the eighth time in NFL history, the two previous Super Bowl teams will meet the following season when the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots play Sunday. It bodes well for the Patriots that the winner of the previous Super Bowl has won five of those seven meetings.

Though this Falcons-Patriots matchup could offer some drama, don't expect it to be the high-level contest we saw from these teams on the game's biggest stage. Both are dealing with myriad issues that have fans wondering if they'll even return to the postseason.

After losing offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, the Falcons' scoring average has dropped almost 10 points from last season and quarterback Matt Ryan's passing yards per game at this point in the season have dropped from 348 to 271.

The Patriots could be a cure for what ails Ryan and Atlanta's offense, however. New England is giving up 325 passing yards per game, the fourth-most through six games by any team in NFL history.

Don't be surprised to see plenty of offensive fireworks in a game that will leave many wondering what happened to the complete teams that fought tooth and nail in the last Super Bowl.

A statement game in the NFC East

With each passing week, the Eagles are making believers out of league observers. They'll get a chance to solidify their standing at the top of the NFC East against the Redskins on Monday Night Football.

FPI gives Philadelphia a 32.1 percent chance to win the division, but a win here would put them in prime position considering their remaining future opponents have a combined record of 22-33, the easiest schedule left for an NFC team.

Washington won't be a pushover, though, as quarterback Kirk Cousins has historically been better against division opponents the second time around. He's 4-2 with a QBR of 75 in the second meeting with NFC East teams and 3-8 with a 49.9 QBR in the first contest.

A win would push the Redskins' chances of making the playoffs from 22.6 percent to 38.3 percent and a loss would drop them to 16.3 percent.

One way or another, the direction of the NFC East should crystallize Monday night.

Road Cam over home Cam

The Bears are the only team in the NFC that Carolina hasn't beaten on the road, going 0-4 at Soldier Field in the regular season. Still, there's a whole lot of statistical evidence pointing to that changing this week.

Carolina is one of five teams to start the season 3-0 on the road and quarterback Cam Newton is a big reason for that. His total QBR on the road (77) is the best among all quarterbacks and easily eclipses his home mark (35). He's also completing 71.3 percent of his passes with eight touchdowns and two interceptions away from home.

Look for Newton and the Panthers to check the final box on their list of NFC road victims this week.