San Diego Chargers (3-3, 1-2 away) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (0-6, 0-2 home)
Game Time: 1:00pm ET | High 75 deg, Low 62 deg, 30% chance of rain
The Chargers travel to Jacksonville to face the winless Jaguars in an effort to finally break the .500 mark for the first time in the 2013-14 season. The Chargers are coming off a big win over the Colts on Monday night and look to ride that high on Sunday afternoon.
The Jaguars come in a little beat up in their receiving corp, with both Cecil Shorts and Justin Blackmon both nicked up, Shorts much worse than Blackmon. Shorts has a possibility of playing this week, but it appears to be relatively slim. Even if he plays, his effectiveness may be very limited. Blackmon is just dealing with minor hamstring/groin strains and is expected to be ready to go.
The Chargers come into the game relatively healthy, with Ryan Mathews healthy and rookie Keenan Allen breaking out in front of our eyes. The Chargers held a fairly potent Colts offense to only 9 points on Monday night, constantly putting pressure on Andrew Luck and forcing him to make quick decisions while also holding the Colts rushing attack to only 74 yards on 17 carries.
Look for the Chargers improving defense to put pressure on Jaguars QB Chad Henne and force him to do something he’s never been good at: make a decision or flee the pocket. On the other side of the ball, the important thing for the Chargers will be to consistently move the ball down the field and come up with scores on each drive. Against the hapless Jaguars, that shouldn’t be much of a problem.
San Francisco 49ers (4-2, 1-1 away) @ Tennessee Titans (3-3, 2-1 home)
Game Time: 4:05pm ET | High 68 deg, Low 42 deg, 0% chance of rain
The key development in this game is the availability of Jake Locker, which went from not-a-chance to basically named-starter in just a few days. Replacing backup Ryan Fitzpatrick with Locker is a huge boost offensively for the Titans, who will need everything they can get in order to put pressure on the stout 49ers defense.
The 49ers enter the game on a 3 game winning streak and have played much better since their 1-2 start to the season. The 49ers have outscored their last three opponents by a spread of 101-34 in beating the Rams, Texans, and Cardinals. Although the passing game continues to be bogged down by a lack of weapons on the outside, the running game continues to dominate, averaging 181.7 yards per game during this winning streak.
Expect the Titans to try to get Chris Johnson going early in the game, but it may not be enough against a stout 49ers run defense. Quentin Patton will not play for the 49ers. Although he will not play, Mario Manningham practiced for the first time this week since suffering a knee injury last December.
Houston Texans (2-4, 1-2 away) @ Kansas City Chiefs (6-0, 3-0 home)
Game Time: 4:25pm ET | High 71 deg, Low 42 deg, 0% chance of rain
On paper, this game looks like it will be a route, with a first time QB in Case Keenum going up against one of the best defenses in football in the Kansas City Chiefs. Texans coach Gary Kubiak is in job-saving mode, trying to rally the troops by making a change at QB. It remains to be seen how effective that change will be, but it could be ugly early when you consider that no 1st time starting QB has ever made his debut at raucous Arrowhead Stadium.
The Texans come into this game reeling, putting up a -12 in the turnover battle on the season as they face the most opportunistic defense in the league. They’ve committed 12 turnovers alone during their four game losing streak and are ranked second to last in the NFL in turnover differential. On the bright side, the Texans’ defense only gives up 252.8 yards per game, best in football. Another matchup to keep an eye on will be Arian Foster against the KC run defense, as Foster is the AFC leader in rushing yards and could find tough sledding against a ferocious front seven.
The Chiefs, as much as we talk about them defensively, keep doing just enough on offense to get by. The Chiefs only amass 326.3 yards per game, which is 25th in the NFL. Despite the brilliance of tailback Jamaal Charles, Chiefs QB Alex Smith is 32nd in the NFL in yards per attempt at 6.16 ypa. The Chiefs will have to get their passing game going if they want to move the ball against a defense that gives up the least amount of yardage per game in the league.
Matt Schaub is out of the lineup with ankle and foot injuries for the Texans. The Chiefs will have their full complement of key players for this contest.
Denver Broncos (6-0, 2-0 away) @ Indianapolis Colts (4-2, 2-1 home)
Game Time: 8:30pm ET | 63 degrees, game played in dome
This will be by far the most anticipated game of the Week 7 slate, as Peyton Manning makes his triumphant return to Lucas Oil Stadium for the first time as an opponent. The Broncos bring in a 17 game regular season win streak to this game, as they would tie the 2003-04 New England Patriots with a win on Sunday night.
The Broncos offense just looks unstoppable right now. They put up 35 points in last week’s outing against the Jaguars, which serves as their lowest point total of the season. The Colts currently rank 5th in both pass defense and scoring defense, so this easily presents the biggest defensive challenge the Broncos have seen all season. WR Wes Welker has caught at least 1 TD catch in every game this season, but he’s not the only weapon on this Broncos offense. They boast 3 star WRs (Welker, Demaryius Thomas, and Eric Decker) in addition to an up-and-coming tight end in Julius Thomas. Arguably the biggest x-factor in the Broncos offense is Knowshon Moreno, who provides offensive balance to the Broncos when he has his game going. The Colts will have their hands full with this offense.
The Colts had their worst offensive performance of the season last week against the Chargers, putting up only 9 points. Newly-acquired Trent Richardson just hasn’t been able to get things going and continues to be taken out of obvious passing downs in favor of Donald Brown. The expectation is that the Colts will really push to establish the running game as a way of keeping Manning off the field, which would be accomplished by long, sustained drives. Colts QB Andrew Luck will be looking to prove owner Jim Irsay correct on Sunday night, hoping to help Colts fans forget all about the wonderous #18.