NFL Week 7 capsules

Las Vegas Raiders (3-3) at Chicago Bears (1-5): Here come the backups. Tyson Bagent, a Division II product, went from undrafted underdog to backup to his first career start in a matter of months. Bagent’s cameo in the second half last week included two turnovers and a TD run. He draws a difficult matchup in the Raiders, who have won two in a row but still haven’t scored more than 21 points this season. That’s a credit to a defense with dynamic edge rushers, led by Maxx Crosby. With 25 sacks allowed in six games, protecting Bagent is a worry. The Raiders, too, send a backup to do the starting QB work on Sunday with Jimmy Garoppolo (back) out. Las Vegas leaned on Josh Jacobs last week, but he’s averaging just 2.9 yards per carry this season.

Cleveland Browns (3-2) at Indianapolis Colts (3-3): Gardner Minshew and the Colts were blasted at Jacksonville (37-20) last week and run into the NFL’s No. 1 defense in Week 7. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz has the Browns on a historic track: only two teams in NFL history have allowed fewer than the 1,002 yards Cleveland gave up through five games. The Browns enter with a last-second win over previously undefeated San Francisco behind backup PJ Walker last week, and could add reinforcements. The Browns could have Deshaun Watson (shoulder) back in the lineup while working through inconsistency prolonged by multiple offensive line injuries. The Browns have only eight offensive touchdowns (the Colts have 14).

Buffalo Bills (4-2) at New England Patriots (1-5): The Bills share the NFL lead with 24 sacks and have won the past three meetings by not allowing Mac Jones and New England time to get comfortable in the pocket. Bills QB Josh Allen thrives in this matchup, with 11 TDs and no INTs in four games at Gillette Stadium. He’ll be trying to get WR Stefon Diggs over 100 yards for the fifth consecutive game, but New England has held most No. 1 receivers in check. The Patriots are pressing offensively while averaging 12 points per game. Jones is averaging less than 200 passing yards per game. Bill Belichick could become the third coach in NFL history with 300 regular-season victories (Don Shula, 328; George Halas, 318).

Washington Commanders (3-3) at N.Y. Giants (1-5): Commanders QB Sam Howell hasn’t thrown an interception in three road games and Washington is in the midst of four division games in six weeks. Keeping him upright is the worry in Washington. The Commanders ended a three-game losing streak last week when Howell threw three touchdown passes in a 24-16 victory over the Atlanta Falcons. But Howell was sacked five times for the third straight game after the Bills tortured him with nine sacks on Sept. 24. The second-year pro has taken care of the ball in most games, but he’s taken 34 sacks in all, leading the league by six. Giants QB Daniel Jones is second in the NFL with 28 sacks over just five games. Jones injured his neck in Week 5 and missed last week’s 14-9 loss to the Bills. He’s expected to play Sunday.

Detroit Lions (5-1) at Baltimore Ravens (4-2): The Lions roll into a matchup of North division leaders on a four-game winning streak — all by double-digit margins. QB Jared Goff accounted for 13 touchdowns (11 TD passes) in the first six games, crashing the MVP conversation. Detroit may have to rely on its passing game again at Baltimore. RB David Montgomery departed in the first half last week with a rib injury and didn’t practice this week, opening the door for rookie first-round pick Jahmyr Gibbs to start after he missed the past two games with a hamstring strain. Baltimore leads the AFC North due to a stout defense that has allowed 260.8 yards per game, the second fewest in the league. The Ravens rank fourth in the league in points allowed at 15.2 per game, and they have recorded 24 sacks, tying them for the league lead with the Bills.

Atlanta Falcons (3-3) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-2): First place in the NFC South is on the line and Atlanta is vying to prove it can win on the road. The Falcons’ last division road win was in 2021. Tampa Bay has struggled to run the football consistently all season long, and the Falcons are 11th in the NFL in run defense (99.0 yards per game). That puts pressure on QB Baker Mayfield to make the offense go, but the Buccaneers’ stout defense is highly capable of turning a game. Falcons QB Desmond Ridder, coming off of a three-INT game in a loss to the Commanders, stares down a stout Bucs’ defense that ranks eighth in scoring defense (17.6 points per game), seventh in rush defense (83.8 yards per game) and 14th in total defense (330.8 yards per game).

Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2) at L.A. Rams (3-3): The Rams are a bit of an unknown without rookie RB Kyren Williams, who is out with an ankle injury suffered while posting a career-best 158 yards rushing last week. QB Matthew Stafford is now set to hand off to rookie Zach Evans, a sixth-round draft pick out of Ole Miss, and work to get the ball in the hands of WRs Cooper Kupp and Theanex testimonials standout rookie Puka Nacua. Evans should get a chance to prove his worth. Pittsburgh’s defense allows 143.8 rushing yards per game and the Steelers are scuffling offensively. Even with RB Najee Harris, the Steelers’ rushing attack is 28th in the NFL (80.4 yards per game) and the passing offense ranks 27th (187.8 yards).

Arizona Cardinals (1-5) at Seattle Seahawks (3-2): The wheels fell off for the Cardinals during a victory lap celebrating an upset of the Dallas Cowboys. Arizona has lost its past three games, outscored 51-12 in the second half, and injuries are making a major dent. The Cardinals allowed 20 unanswered points to the host Los Angeles Rams last Sunday in a 26-9 defeat. Seattle gets its first close-up with QB Joshua Dobbs, who is keeping the spot warm while Kyler Murray (knee) continues his recovery from a 2022 knee injury. The Seahawks suffered a 17-13 loss at Cincinnati last week that snapped their three-game winning streak. Geno Smith threw for 326 yards but the Seahawks failed to score on four of their trips to the red zone. RB Kenneth Walker III remains a stabilizer for the offense and has 15 TD runs in 20 career games.

Green Bay Packers (2-3) at Denver Broncos (1-5): The Broncos are minus-6 in turnover margin and allowing 33.3 points per game, the kind of stats that have visitors salivating to stroll into Colorado. Denver is 0-3 at home and off to its worst start since 1994. QB Russell Wilson passed for a season-low 95 yards, two interceptions and one touchdown in a 19-8 loss to the host Kansas City Chiefs on Oct. 12. It marked the second straight game and third of the season in which Wilson threw for less than 200 yards. Green Bay enters off of its bye week after a Monday night loss to the Raiders and needs a win to avoid a three-game losing streak with four of the Packers’ next six games at home. The Packers badly missed running back Aaron Jones, limited to just 14 carries in parts of two games due to a hamstring injury, and are optimistic the three-time 1,000-yard rusher will play this week.

L.A. Chargers (2-3) at Kansas City Chiefs (5-1): The Chiefs try to stretch their winning streak to six while the Chargers are eager to shake a three-game losing streak to Kansas City and shrug off their third loss by three or fewer points this season. The Chargers lost a 20-17 home game to the Cowboys last week in the return of RB Austin Ekeler, a key cog in the offense who has a strong resume against Kansas City that includes a TD in four of the past five meetings. The Chiefs are relying on an improved pass defense to limit opponents to 14.7 points per game. TE Travis Kelce had three TD catches in the last meeting with the Chargers.

Miami Dolphins (5-1) at Philadelphia Eagles (5-1): Brisk fall weather, at least for Florida folks, awaits the Dolphins on Sunday night with the forecast calling for temps in the 40s and plenty of wind. Mother Nature might be the only thing capable of slowing down the Miami offense at its current rate, averaging nearly 500 yards and 38 points per game. By far the best run defense the Dolphins have seen, the Eagles surrender 65.8 rushing yards per game while Miami has averaged 181.8 yards on the ground to date. QB Jalen Hurts gets his first NFL close-up with former Alabama teammate Tua Tagovailoa, who displaced Hurts with the Crimson Tide, and might show up angry after the Eagles’ first loss of the season last week. He has 24 total touchdowns in 10 career home starts. Injuries could be a detrimental factor for the Eagles, who hit midweek with an extensive list of contributors iffy for Sunday.

–Field Level Media