by ANDREW HORN
Another week of football played, another 100-point week for my team. I am now 5-2 heading into Week 8. This is when things will start getting hard due to bye weeks for key players. Add in injuries and players rising above expectations, or falling well short of them and many teams may be in scramble mode to fix their team. Fix your team by picking up these Week 7 winners and drop the losers:
Winner: Peyton Manning (who else)
Congratulations are in order for Peyton Manning, who now holds the all-time record for touchdown passes with 510. The Broncos decimated the San Francisco defense, with Manning throwing for four touchdowns and Ronnie Hillman running for two more scores. And all of Manning’s stats came in only three quarters.
Peyton Manning has been one of the best quarterbacks since he came into the league in 1998. Just think if the Colts had taken Ryan Leaf instead of Manning. Peyton has thrown for 19 touchdowns in the Broncos’ first six games. Manning will look to continue his MVP season on November 2nd versus the Patriots (too late to pick him up this week after whooping the Chargers on Thursday night).
Loser: Kirk Cousins
Cousins had the chance to usurp Robert Griffin III from his starting job. Cousins had the chance to lead the Redskins to the playoffs after a 3-13 season. With his struggles Sunday, Cousins will probably finish the season wearing a headset instead of a helmet, holding a clipboard instead of a football. Kirk Cousins does not lack talent, and he certainly has produced some elite throws to his receivers. What Cousins lacks is good decision making ability. He has a TD:INT ratio of 10:9. Add in two lost fumbles and the third year quarterback has more turnovers than touchdowns, often costing the Redskins the chance at a win. Colt McCoy came on in relief of Cousins, stopping a four-game losing streak.
The revolving door of Washington quarterbacks is something those on Capitol Hill can’t believe. The futility of the offense and the porous nature of the secondary is a recipe for…well the 2013 Redskins. Coach Jay Gruden needs his offense to find the end zone. Haslett needs his defense to keep others out of the end zone. Otherwise both coaches will need to find new zip codes.
Winner: Shane Vereen
High scorer for Week 7 gets the nod as the winning running back. The Patriots running back did not run wild on the Jets defense (11 carries for 43 yards), but showed tremendous versatility by catching five passes for 71 yards and two touchdowns. The fourth year back put in a strong showing to be the Patriots number one back after Stevan Ridley went down with a season-ending knee injury.
Vereen’s game was more of a testament to how the Patriots seem to truly embrace the “next man up” philosophy. The rolling Patriots square off against the struggling Bears in Week 8. The Bears had a locker room explosion by Brandon Marshall, which could make for a very interesting game.
Loser: Zac Stacy
Stacy was a hot fantasy scoop last year when he emerged as one of the NFL’s best young runners. Now Stacy, like Cousins, will find himself on the bench for the foreseeable future. The Rams shockingly beat the Seahawks Sunday, relying on young running backs Benny Cunningham and Tre Mason. Cunningham was the pass catching back while Mason got the bulk of the carries. The unlikely duo left Stacy out of the running rotation. If Mason is available in your league, scoop him up and leave Stacy where the Rams left him Sunday.
Winner: Demaryius Thomas
Honestly, I am getting a little tired of writing about Thomas, but if he keeps putting up games like he did Sunday, it will be impossible to write about anyone else. Since the Broncos’ bye week in Week 4, Thomas has caught 26 passes for 521 yards (that is 20 yards per catch) and five touchdowns. No receiver in the NFL has been better over the last three weeks. The three game stretch Thomas has put up is one of the best stretches ever.
To cap off another great performance, Thomas caught Peyton Manning’s record breaking touchdown pass. Any problems from the first three games are gone and Thomas looks to continue his remarkable stretch against the San Diego Chargers.
Loser: Reggie Wayne
Just as Marvin Harrison was phased out of the Indianapolis offense, Wayne may be repeating history. In a blowout against the Cincinnati Bengals, Wayne caught four balls for only 15 yards. Many journalists, including myself, see Wayne in the twilight of his spectacular career. There is no shame in throwing up a dud as you get older in the NFL. Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt both tapered off toward the end. So did Jerry Rice and Michael Irvin.
The point is that all of the receivers mentioned are currently in the Hall of Fame or will be in the Hall of Fame. Reggie Wayne will get a bronze bust when the time is right. Until then, Wayne needs to continue to work hard on the field and try and rebound next week against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Winner: Gavin Escobar
Take a bow Mr. Escobar. The second year tight end had three catches for 65 yards and two touchdowns as the Cowboys beat the Giants. NFC East tight ends have had multiple good games this year. Larry Donnell’s three touchdown game against the Redskins and Escobar’s two touchdown game showed that the NFC East tight ends are ready to devour division opponents. The Cowboys have another divisional game in Week 8 against the Washington Redskins. Look for Escobar and starter Jason Witten to have large outputs, both in yards and touchdowns.
Loser: Jordan Cameron
The Browns did nothing right on Sunday. They couldn’t throw the ball, run the ball, catch the ball or play defense. Cameron got just one catch for five yards. The Browns didn’t just lose to the Jags 24-6, they were beat down by the NFL’s worst team.
The calls for Johnny Manziel still aren’t that loud, but a quarterback change will be something to keep in mind for Cameron’s production. He is still one of the top five tight ends in the league; he will produce as long as the Browns play up to their potential, not their competition.