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2011 NFL Week 7 Primer

Denver Broncos reserve quarterback Tim Tebow celebrates his fourth quarter 12-yard touchdown run against the San Diego Chargers at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on October 9, 2011 in Denver. Despite a comeback effort from Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow, the Chargers held on for a 29-24 win. UPI/Gary C. Caskey

Broncos @ Dolphins, 1:00PM ET
Tim Tebow said that the Denver coaching staff didn’t change the team’s offensive scheme to fit the quarterback’s skill set during the bye week. That makes sense. I mean why would any coaching staff want to try and play to their quarterback’s strengths? Bill Belichick doesn’t do that with Tom Brady. Mike McCarthy doesn’t do that with Aaron Rodgers. Both of those teams largely keep the ball on the ground and let Brady and Rodgers be the game managers they are. (I hate that I even have to write this but I know some people will misconstrue things: I’m being sarcastic.) While I like Tebow’s chances of succeeding this weekend in Miami no matter what the scheme is, I think the Broncos should have styled their offense around what he does best (i.e. being creative in both the run and the pass). But what do I know? I’m a doctor, not an offensive coordinator.

Falcons @ Lions, 1:00PM ET
It’s all well and good that the Falcons want to get back to Michael Turner and their ball-control ways, but at some point OC Mike Mularkey better figure out how to beat teams through the air. Matt Ryan is the only quarterback in the NFC South who has yet to throw for over 300 yards in a game this season and he ranks 17th in the league in overall passing yards. With Julio Jones (hamstring) expected to miss another week, it would be wise for the Falcons to keep the ball on the ground against the Lions’ suspect run defense. But again, at some point Mularkey has to do his job and figure out a way to let Ryan soar. The most obvious solution is to put him in the no-huddle full-time, but Mularkey and Mike Smith’s conservative ways just won’t allow it.

Texans @ Titans, 1:00PM ET
Hey Matt Schaub, it’s go time buddy. The AFC South is yours for the taking and while I understand that you lost your best playmaker and your defense is now without its best weapon, it’s high time you raise your game. Arian Foster is seeing eight man fronts so there’s no reason for you not to exploit defenses with your arm – Andre Johnson or no Andre Johnson. Tennessee’s pass rush is one of the weakest in the league, so figure it out and get your team a win, Matt.

Chargers @ Jets, 1:00PM ET
“The more we get comfortable, we start playing pitch and catch and I’m doing my thing out there, the offense is going to go through the roof,” said Plaxico Burress in regards to Mark Sanchez and the Jet offense. Right, because naturally Plax is the key to whether or not New York’s offense is going to eventually get out of its funk. I think the Jets have it right in giving Shonn Greene an increased workload. The only way they’re going to really get their offense going is relying on the ground game to open things up for Sanchez. Burress is probably right when he suggests that he and Sanchez need to develop more chemistry, but the key to this offense is Greene and the ground attack.

Redskins @ Panthers, 1:00PM ET
Mike Shanahan is in a mess of his own making. Everyone knew going into the season that Rex Grossman is fine in small doses, but over the course of a season he’s going to hurt you. Thus, now that Shanahan has switched things up and is starting John Beck on Sunday, he better win. The Panthers are better than their 1-5 record would indicate but this is a game the Redskins have to win if they want to keep pace with the Giants in the NFC East.

Seahawks @ Browns, 1:00PM ET
Peyton Hillis has an injured hamstring and won’t practice on Thursday. His agent has advised him not to play in this game, or the next 12. If a case of the sniffles is equal to missing one game, then an injured hamstring must be equal to 13 missed games. Hillis and his agent just can’t be too careful when it comes to the King of Fumbles’ health.

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NFL Week 7 Primer

Peyton ManningSunday’s Best: Colts (3-2) at Packers (3-3), 4:15 PM CBS
There are some brutal matchups this week, so this one wins by default. The Colts will try to carry the momentum from last weeks blowout win against Baltimore into Green Bay this Sunday, but will be without running back Joseph Addai. Dominic Rhodes gets the start, but head coach Tony Dungy has said that Clifton Dawson and Chad Simpson will see some opportunities as well. Peyton Manning played his most complete game of the season last week and might get the opportunity to exploit a banged up Packers’ secondary if Al Harris (spleen) continues to be hobbled (although word is Harris might play). The Packers meanwhile, have not had much success running the ball this year with Ryan Grant, which is unfortunate given that Indy’s main defensive weakness is stopping the run. If Green Bay can’t get the running game going, they’ll again rely on QB Aaron Rodgers to make big plays to wideouts Greg Jennings and Donald Driver in the passing game. This is a huge game for both teams, especially for the Colts considering they’re currently looking up at the 5-0 Titans in the AFC South.

Upset Watch: Jets (3-2) at Raiders (1-4), 4:15 PM CBS
It’s incredibly hard to back the mess that is the Oakland Raiders right now, but they still have a ton of talent on their roster and the Jets have been awfully inconsistent this season. One week they look like playoff contenders and the next they’re getting drummed. Even though they walked away with a victory, New York didn’t play that well against Cincinnati and Brett Favre continues to turn the ball over. The Jets haven’t been able to run the ball successfully of late either, managing just 66 yards per game in the last three weeks. If Oakland is going to pull off a victory in Tom Cable’s home debut, they’ll need to run the ball effectively themselves. Because clearly QB JaMarcus Russell isn’t ready to lead this team on his own yet.

Tony RomoIntriguing Matchup: Cowboys (4-2) at Rams (1-4), 1:00 PM FOX
The biggest question on everyone’s minds (especially fantasy owners) is whether QB Tony Romo will play or not. Despite breaking his pinkie finger in the loss to the Cardinals last week, all indications are that Romo will in fact play. He’ll have a new weapon to throw to in Roy Williams, who the team recently acquired from Detroit at the trade deadline. But not only will it be interesting to see how effective Romo can be with a broken finger, it’ll also be intriguing to watch the many personalities the ‘Boys have on offense now that Williams and T.O. have to share looks in the passing game. Dallas has not played well since their Sunday night win against the Packers early in the year and the Rams proved last week in a win over the Redskins that they won’t be pushovers now that Jim Haslett is running things.

Other Notable Games:
Saints (3-3) at Panthers (4-2), 1:00 PM ET FOX
While everyone is focusing on the East being the best division in the NFC, the South doesn’t have any teams below .500 right now. Some still believe the Saints are the best team in the division and they’ll get the opportunity to prove it this week in Carolina.

Browns (2-3) at Redskins (4-2), 4:15 PM ET CBS
What was the bigger fluke from Week 6 – the Browns beating the Giants or the Redskins losing to the Rams?

Titans (5-0) at Chiefs (1-4), 1:00 PM ET CBS
The Titans get to put their undefeated record on the line this week in Kansas City and fortunately for them the Larry Johnson-less Chiefs shouldn’t provide much of a challenge.

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