As the midpoint of the 2019 NFL season approaches, Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs will open Week 7 on Thursday Night Football. A few weeks ago, the Chiefs playing against the Denver Broncos would have been a laughable matchup. And while it still may prove to be, the Chiefs have lost back-to-back home games, and now head to Mile High to face a Broncos team that is on their first winning streak of the 2019 season.
While the Thursday Night Football matchup has backed it's way into being rather appealing, here's a look at the three most intriguing matchups of NFL Week 7:
1. Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions
The NFC North is the most competitive division in football, and both the Lions and Vikings find themselves in need of a crucial divisional victory in Week 7.
Whether the Lions were victimized by poor referring late in their 23-22 Monday Night Football loss in Green Bay or not, they still ultimately lost. It isn’t insignificant that they’ve lost to the Kansas City Chiefs and Packers by a combined total of five points. But after those consecutive losses, the upstart Lions are 2-2-1, which in the NFC North, is good for last place in a division where every other team has a winning record.
The Vikings, meanwhile, have temporarily put a narrative that their two star wide receivers - Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen - were growing discontent behind them. Thielen had seven catches for 130 yards and two touchdowns in the team’s 28-10 win over the New York Giants in Week 5. In Week 6, the Vikings returned home and won going away against the Philadelphia Eagles, with Diggs hauling in seven passes for 167 yards and three touchdowns. In the last two weeks, Kirk Cousins has completed 44 of 56 passing attempts for 639 yards and six touchdowns.
Still, while the Vikings seem to have built some momentum, they enter this matchup with an 0-2 record against teams in the NFC North. They’re a game behind the Green Bay Packers in the NFC North. The Packers defeated them in Week 2 and are 3-0 in divisional games in 2019. To have a realistic chance at winning their division - and likely to stay in the driver’s seat for one of the two Wild Card spots in the NFC - the Vikings need to start making hay within the NFC North.
2. Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts
If you haven’t been paying attention, Deshaun Watson and the Houston Texans offense have put up 84 points over the last two weeks, including a 31-24 win in Kansas City in Week 6. The Texans sky-rocketed to No. 5 in the latest RADIO.COM NFL Power Rankings, and Watson is pushing his way into the NFL MVP discussion.
First and foremost, the Texans goal is to win the AFC South. Sunday, they’ll travel to Indianapolis to face a 3-2 Colts team that is perhaps poses the biggest threat to the Texans winning their fourth AFC South title in five years.
For as impressive as the Texans win over the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium was, the Colts did the same thing two weeks ago on Sunday Night Football. Despite Andrew Luck’s sudden retirement late in the preseason, the Colts are a game above .500, and every game they’ve played in 2019 has been within eight points. Frank Reich, in his second year as Colts head coach, is a contender for NFL Coach of the Year, and he’ll become the favorite if the Colts are able to pull out a win against Watson and the Texans Sunday.
3. Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys
At the outset of the 2019 NFL season, it appeared that the NFC East featured two potential Super Bowl contenders and two teams likely to be competing for top-five picks in the 2020 NFL Draft. Well, the Washington Redskins and New York Giants have done their part, but neither of the two potential Super Bowl contenders in the division - the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys - has been especially inspiring.
Both enter a Sunday Night Football showdown at 3-3. The Eagles have an impressive road win in hand over the Green Bay Packers, but have been hit hard by the injury bug in 2019. The Cowboys have lost three consecutive games since a scorching-hot start against a softer schedule. The Eagles and Cowboys are tied atop the NFC East, but seem to be a ways away from potentially competing for the No. 1 seed in the NFC, something both - at least on-paper - looked capable of doing before the season.
Not that a Sunday Night Football tilt between the Eagles and Cowboys needed more juice, but Eagles head coach Doug Pederson added some in Monday when he guaranteed his team comes out victorious.
"I know the sky is falling outside. It's falling, and I get that and the fans are reeling just a little bit," Pederson said Monday morning to Angelo Cataldi on SportsRadio 94 WIP. "But we're going down to Dallas, and our guys are going to be ready to play. And we're going to win that football game. And when we do we'll be in first place in the NFC East and we'll control our own destiny and be right where we need to be."