After a thrilling Sunday night battle last week, both the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs have tough matchups facing them in Week 7. For the Patriots, they travel to Chicago to face a Bears defense that ranks first in Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric (that’s Defense-adjusted Value Over Average). A lot of the credit there will be given to Khalil Mack for the impact he has had rushing the passer, racking up five sacks, four forced fumbles and an interception returned for a touchdown through five games played.
But it hasn’t just been Mack that has made Vic Fangio’s defense rough to play against this season. The Bears rank seventh in the league in sacks with 18 and second in interceptions with 10. They have also yet to give up a rushing touchdown this season. That all said, Khalil Mack is hampered by an injury heading into the weekend, so his effectiveness is unknown. Meanwhile, the Patriots offense seems to be rounding into form with the return of Julian Edelman and a renewed focus on the run game (101 carries for 445 yards and 7 TDs in the last three weeks).
As for the Chiefs, they look to rebound from their first loss of the season as they welcome the Cincinnati Bengals to Arrowhead for another Sunday night affair. We know how good K.C.’s offense has been (second in offensive DVOA), but Cincy has been pretty good too. The Bengals check in at eighth in that metric thanks to a balanced attack with Andy Dalton in the passing game and Joe Mixon breaking out in the run game. Both of these contests should be fun to watch on Sunday, and to try and figure out who has the edge, we checked in with CBS 2 Chicago’s Ryan Baker for his thoughts. (All times Eastern.)
New England Patriots @ Chicago Bears, 1:00 p.m. (CBS)
“Tom Brady and the Patriots march into Soldier Field to take on the Bears, and the key question is how healthy is the Monster in the Midway? Khalil Mack hurt his ankle in last week’s overtime loss to Miami. With Mack hobbled, the Bears didn’t register a single sack against the Dolphins, when they had 18 in their first four games. The Pats put up 43 on K.C., but they gave up 40. It might be another shootout along the lake front. However, I think Brady improves to a perfect 5-0 in his career versus Chicago.” Patriots win.
Minnesota Vikings @ New York Jets, 1:00 p.m. (FOX)
“Both of these teams are coming off back-to-back wins. The Vikings seem to have righted their ship behind the explosive combination of Kirk Cousins and Adam Thielen. Thielen is on pace to become the first Vikes pass catcher to lead the league in receiving yards, something that Hall of Famers Cris Carter and Randy Moss never did. The Jets pass defense is porous having allowed five different 100-yard games to receivers this season. Rookie quarterback Sam Darnold will try to make the Jets fans forget that Cousins snubbed them in free agency, but I like the Vikings in this one. ”
Dallas Cowboys @ Washington Redskins, 4:25 p.m. (CBS)
“Dallas and Washington renew their rivalry with first place in the NFC East on the line on Sunday afternoon in D.C. The Cowboys looked impressive last week, demolishing Jacksonville 40-7 at home, but the Pokes are averaging just 12.6 points per game in their three losses away from Big D. Dallas’ run defense is second-best in the NFL, giving up just over 90 yards per game, but Washington is equally stingy. Dak Prescott will be the difference. He has never lost to the Redskins and he won’t this time.” Cowboys win.
Cincinnati Bengals @ Kansas City Chiefs, 8:25 p.m. (NBC)
Kansas City is going to be chomping at the bit after suffering their first loss in a scoreboard special with the Patriots. Cincy is also smarting after the Steelers stole one from them late. This game features two high-scoring offenses. The Bengals put up almost 30 per game, while K.C. averages almost 36 behind breakout quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes has 18 touchdowns but he’s thrown four picks in his last two games. If defense is your thing, this one ain’t for you. I’m taking the Chiefs in a wild one.”