By Peter King
October 20, 2011

NFL Week 7
Last week: 7-6 (.538); Season: 65-25 (.722)
Sunday, Oct. 23
1 p.m. ET (CBS) San Diego Chargers (4-1) at New York Jets (3-3)
When I watch Mark Sanchez, I see a guy playing with about half the confidence he had a couple of years ago. My theory is he's trying to keep too many people happy, especially Santonio Holmes and Plaxico Burress, while the leaks in his offensive line don't allow him to get Holmes and Burress the ball. Maybe it's the case; maybe not. But if I were Sanchez, I'd take a few peeks at the swagger of Philip Rivers as he chucks it downfield in this game.
1 p.m. ET (FOX) Seattle Seahawks (2-3) at Cleveland Browns (2-3)
Scientists and mathematicians at MIT have teamed up over the last 10 days to investigate thoroughly the Seahawks' scoring of 36 points at the Giants in their last game. After studying cosines and tangents of the plays in the game and blood samples of the players and hiring Greg Cosell to explain what the film shows (and to explain who Doug Baldwin is), esteemed scientist Zorn Largent concluded: "I would have found water freezing at 76 degrees Fahreinheit more plausible."
1 p.m. ET (FOX) Atlanta Falcons (3-3) at Detroit Lions (5-1)
I'm beginning to think the Lions shouldn't give Ford Field fans a game ball, which they did symbolically after the Lions' Monday night win over the Bears. A contract, instead, is in order. It sounds impossible, but the noise at Ford field has been so imposing and so distracting to opposing offenses that the Bears and Niners false-started 13 times in eight quarters. The combination of the noise and the Lions' rush will deal my Super Bowl pick its fourth loss. Four losses before the end of the World Series. Not a good sign for a team trying to win it all.
1 p.m. ET (FOX) Chicago Bears (3-3) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-2)
Welcome to jolly old England, where the NFL is importing another game involving the only team in the league interested in playing there (the Tam U Glazers), and, in the midst of the rootin'-tootin'est offensive season in history, two defenses actually carry the day. I can imagine the fans in the Wembley Stadium end zone seats looking down on the field at the portly fellow with the FOX microphone, who gestures when he speaks and walks with a confident swagger. I'm sure at least one fan, unfamiliar with the American sportscasting personalties, will ask, "Is that Tony Soprano's son?" No, but that's close. It's Tony Siragusa. Cheerio!
1 p.m. ET (CBS) Denver Broncos (1-4) at Miami Dolphins (0-5)
We're going to have about 10 Andrew Luck Bowls before this season's over. This is the first one, a game matching the 1-4 Broncos and the 0-5 Dolphins, with so many of each team's fans hoping to lose out. I'm happy Denver's finally giving Tim Tebow a chance to play -- and the smart thing here would be for John Fox to give Tebow five or six more starts. Denver needs to know what Tebow is, and whether he should play any part of the long-term Bronco future. By the way, Denver is 0-7 lifetime at Miami. And Timmy shall show them the way.
1 p.m. ET (FOX) Washington Redskins (3-2) at Carolina Panthers (1-5)
Feels like Cam Newton's hitting the defensive coordinator wall, with mixed coverages and change-up pass-rushes forcing him into some poor throws the last couple of weeks. Jim Haslett's in the laboratory right now, trying to figure out more of the same for Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan.
1 p.m. ET (CBS) Houston Texans (3-3) at Tennessee Titans (3-2)
Gary Kubiak's 3-7 lifetime against the Titans, which has probably given owner Bob McNair enough pause over the last couple of years to wonder if he's the right man for the job. And falling to 3-4 on the season won't help Kubiak. He, McNair and the entire city of Houston know injuries aren't going to be an excuse this year. It's playoffs or bust for the Texans, with or without Mario Williams and Andre Johnson, and it won't help if they fall 1.5 games behind the division leaders here.
4:05 p.m. ET (CBS) Pittsburgh Steelers (4-2) at Arizona Cardinals (1-4)
First meeting since one of the greatest Super Bowls ever. Cards fans are longing for the halcyon days of Kurt Warner. Arizona's averaging 19.2 points per game. Fans are wondering if Kevin Kolb's the genuine item. Against the top-rated defense in football, I don't think it's a good day for Kolb to come out of his funk.
4:05 p.m. ET (CBS) Kansas City Chiefs (2-3) at Oakland Raiders (4-2)
Have to admit I'm rooting very hard for Carson Palmer to start, for the Just Win (Now), Baby Raiders. It seems a good bet he might. Imagine yourself as Hue Jackson. Even when you got this job and Jason Campbell was the quarterback, and Campbell was playing pretty well, you thought, "I'd really like Carson to be my quarterback." Then you trade the steep price of a first- and second-round pick for him (steep? Kilimanjaro-ish), and you begin to think whether you can teach Palmer enough of the offense for him to know 10 pass plays and how to hand off to Darren McFadden 31 times. I can imagine Jackson thinking, "I've just been handed the greatest Christmas present of my life, and told to not open it until New Year's Day. Uh, to blazes with that." Play him, Hue.
4:15 p.m. ET (FOX) Green Bay Packers (6-0) at Minnesota Vikings (1-5)
Sunday night, fans in Minneapolis will leave the Metrodome thinking about Christian Ponder's first game under center, "Well, it's a start." When you play the best team in football in your first NFL start, that's about the best you can say.
4:15 p.m. ET (FOX) St. Louis Rams (0-5) at Dallas Cowboys (2-3)
I'm not sure why. But I think the Cowboys will enter the last two weeks of the season -- Philly at home, then at the Giants -- with their playoff fate in their hands. They've looked too good too often this year to think they'll be 7-9.
8:20 p.m. ET (NBC) Indianapolis Colts (0-6) at New Orleans Saints (4-2)
In the last Colts-Saints game at the Superdome, Katrina was 23 months away, the Colts won by 34, and Peyton Manning threw for six touchdowns with a perfect passer rating. How sad. Manning, barring a trade to an NFC team, probably will never get to play the Saints in his backyard again.
Monday, Oct. 24
8:30 p.m. ET (ESPN) Baltimore Ravens (4-1) at Jacksonville Jaguars (1-5)
The Ravens are in the JV part of their schedule -- Houston (minus Mario Williams and Andre Johnson) last week, the Jags this week, feeble Arizona next Sunday -- but then, in 19 days, they're at Pittsburgh, then take a 2,550-mile jaunt out to Seattle, then have the suddenly formidable Bengals and 49ers in a five-day span at home. They can't afford a letdown in these next two if they want to win the AFC North and hope to get a playoff bye.

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