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Final NFL Week 7 Observations ... With Dolphins Angles

Former Dolphins coaches going in different directions, favorable QB matchups coming up, what might have been in Las Vegas

The big story in the NFL in Week 7 had to be the Cincinnati Bengals blowing out the Baltimore Ravens — in Baltimore no less — to stamp themselves as legitimate playoff contenders in 2021.

It was a huge test for the Bengals and they passed with flying colors — not that too many folks got to see it because the game was buried in the 1 p.m. slot because the NFL just can't get enough of Tom Brady and the Bucs just HAVE to be the doubleheader game every other week.

And there's of course a Dolphins connection there — and, no, we're not talking about Ja'Marr Chase; that's another story for another time — and that's head coach Zac Taylor.

It's been a pretty amazing turnaround not only for the Bengals but also for Taylor, who Dolphins fans might remember as an offensive coordinator under interim head coach Dan Campbell at the end of the 2015 season.

It's not a stretch to suggest that Taylor, who was hired by the Bengals after working under Sean McVay with the Rams, didn't necessarily have the greatest job security heading into the 2021 season.

Instead, he's now going to find himself among the leading candidates for NFL Coach of the Year honors.

CAMPBELL CONTINUES SEARCH FOR NUMBER 1

While Taylor has enjoyed success in 2021, Campbell is still seeking that elusive first win with the Detroit Lions, though it sure seems it's only a matter of time.

Despite being completely overmatched from a talent standpoint, Campbell's Lions gave the L.A. Rams all they could handle Sunday, thanks to some bold moves.

Detroit lost 28-19, but actually led 13-3 after Campbell called for an onside kick after an opening drive touchdown and he later called for two fake punts, both of which were successful.

The Lions play host to the Eagles in Week 8 and don't be surprised if win number 1 comes on this day.

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DARNOLD DIGRESSES

The Dolphins will have to face Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson in two of their next three games, but the final two quarterbacks they're likely to face in their final two games of November represent a major drop-off — no offense to Sam Darnold and Joe Flacco.

After helping Carolina, with a lot of help from the defense, get off to a 3-0 start, Darnold is back to his Jets form, which suggests that maybe the problem wasn't his supporting cast or former Dolphins head coach Adam Gase holding him back after all.

With Flacco, the Dolphins saw last year he's not the quarterback he was in Baltimore, but at least he represents an upgrade over Mike White, who came into the game when Zach Wilson was injured against the New England Patriots. It's not impossible Wilson could be back for the Nov. 21 game against the Dolphins at MetLife Stadium, but there's also a good chance it could be Flacco.

Last time they faced him, the Dolphins shut out the Jets 24-0 last October in a game remembered for Tua Tagovailoa's NFL debut and Emmanuel Ogbah's 28-yard sack.

RAIDERS ROLLING

It seems pretty crazy now how close the Dolphins came to defeating the Raiders in Las Vegas in Week 3, considering where the two teams stand right now.

The Raiders have dealt with the abrupt departure of Jon Gruden in the best possible way, defeating the Bears and Eagles to move to 5-2 on the season and take over first place in the AFC West.

Derek Carr continues to put up incredible numbers, going 31-for-34 against the Eagles.

And to think the Dolphins easily could have had they been more aggressive in overtime and gone for the first down on fourth-and-2 from the 32 instead of kicking a game-tying field goal or had the officials called a defensive pass interference on a pass to Will Fuller V in the end zone in that overtime.

And who knows how things might have gone from there for the Dolphins had they been able to win at Las Vegas.

QUICK HITTERS

-- Going back to Tampa Bay being so popular for TV, look, we get it. Tom Brady draws eyeballs. But please spare us the mismatches like the one Sunday against the Bears.

-- Not sure why Cleveland beating Denver on Thursday night came as such a surprise to many observers. The Browns are a really well constructed team and Case Keenum has proven time and time again he can be an efficient game manager for the short term. It still says here to look out for the Browns as Super Bowl contenders, though they had to get healthy and Baker Mayfield has to produce more than he has.

-- The Colts continue to turn their season around and it continues to be painful watching Jonathan Taylor rack up rushing yards because the Dolphins really should have drafted him in 2020.