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What We Learned: 33 Expert Takeaways From Week 7

There were a number of surprising performances and interesting developments on Sunday in the NFL. The 33rd Team’s experts weighed in with 33 takeaways from the day’s games:

Ravens 23, Browns 20

1. "Culture matters. The Baltimore Ravens certainly have their flaws, but they understand how to win. Their tight end can play quarterback, their quarterback can play running back and their kicker never misses after the third quarter.  The Browns had more first downs and more yards — but not more points." — T.J. McCreight

2. "Brissett played one of the best games of his career against a Ravens team who made a lot of mistakes. The Ravens continue to struggle defensively. We should not be fooled by their 4-3 record. They need to get more aggressive on defense to be able to shut down opponent passing attacks, both early and late in games. Baltimore allowed Brissett, who has been struggling, to complete 17 of 20 passes at one point in this game. In any case, the Browns are 2-5, Ravens are 4-3, and the Bengals are playing more similarly to the team we saw last year and are starting to take control of the AFC North." — Joe Banner

Panthers 21, Buccaneers 3

3. "Every NFL quarterback is on his own QB journey. Two years ago, P.J. Walker was quarterbacking an AAF Spring league team. Then he went to the XFL’s Houston Roughnecks, another spring league team, where he led Houston to a 5-0 record as the league’s leader in passing yards and touchdowns before the league shut down due to the pandemic. Walker just went head-to-head with football’s GOAT and won the day, completing 16 for 22 for 177 yards and two touchdowns." — Marc Trestman

4. "The Brady problem is what it is at this point. He doesn't look like himself, whether that's because he doesn't trust his offensive line or if he's got some other behind the scene issues going on. That to me is pretty apparent. What's really kind of questioning to me is are the coaches giving him the right plays, are they giving the team the right plays, are they preparing the same way as they have in the past? Because this team, as dominant as it has been over the past three years with Brady, not being able to score more than three points against a Carolina team that has one win, without three of its top defensive backs, and starting a third-string quarterback pretty much sums it up." — Ronde Barber

5. "What a win for the Carolina Panthers and Steve Wilks. Lots of distractions this week, but they buckled down and did what they needed to do to win the game. Just a few days ago the NFL world was talking about how their season was over — but now the Panthers are only one game out of first place and 2-0 in the NFC South." — T.J. McCreight

6. "It certainly has to be considered a big shock that Carolina (who has played so poorly all year) beat Tampa. That said, we need to be clear that this Tampa Bay team is not even close to the Tampa Bay teams of the past few seasons. This Leftwich run and designed offense is completely different from what they were doing under Arians. Todd Bowles has also not done the job many of us would have expected as HC so far." — Joe Banner

7. "I think this offense, it's been tough for them to hit on all cylinders. Julio Jones has been hurt all year long. There's been a lot of turnover at a lot of positions, and I think we're seeing the culmination of all that." — Sean O'Hara

Bengals 35, Falcons 17

8. "Joe Burrow has extreme talent, unusual talent, that only a few guys in the league have... He sees himself as the best player in the National Football League, and who's to say he isn't right now? I would say that his competitiveness combined with his ability, that kind of leadership and tenacity raises everybody's level." — Mike Martz

9. "They fumbled around a little bit like they were doing earlier in the year. Now it seems like they get a team like Atlanta who's struggling now, and they just gut them, and that's what you're supposed to do to be a good team. I think they're finding their stride again, and I think a lot of it has to do with the leadership of Joe Burrow." — Mike Martz

10. "The Bengals avoided the temptation to use Joe Mixon a lot and came out taking advantage of the weak Falcons' pass rush and secondary. Cincy had a 21-point lead before everyone was even comfortable in their seats. They also did a better job throwing the ball quickly to mitigate the weak offensive line play. The Falcons, who have been playing above their talent level this year, did not do that today. They will continue to play hard, but are at least a year away from having the talent to really compete against the better teams in the league." — Joe Banner

Cowboys 24, Lions 6

11. "I would give Dak an 'A' grade in this game. He had a couple balls that looked like they were missed, threw away, good decisions, he had a couple terrific throws, really tight throws that he made in the game. He really commanded the game at that position really well, wasn't asked to do a whole lot. I think they thought they were going to be in control probably more than they were. It was a lot closer of a game than it looked." — Mike Martz

12. "Overall I thought it was a really strong performance from Dak Prescott, under some really difficult circumstances. I mean the guy hadn't played since Week 1, he missed a lot of practice time, he's dealing with this thumb injury, just the grip of the football, I thought it was important that he didn't turn the ball over, I thought ball security from the pocket, the decision making, seeing out front in throws, I think you have to be really pleased with the play of Dak Prescott." — Rich Gannon

13. "Again it was kind of Dallas' formula for success. They're going to run the ball with Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard, they did that today, both backs combined for 140 yards, and they relied on the play of their defense. Five sacks, and for the first time in the history of that organization, five second-half takeaways. And that's really how the Cowboys are going to win football games, certainly in the near future." — Rich Gannon

14. "The Lions are proving the preseason Hard Knocks excitement was misguided. Other than his fourth down decision-making, Dan Campbell's offense is extremely conservative and schematically deficient. So far, they have one of the worst records in the league — which makes sense." — Joe Banner

15. "The [Cowboys] front just gets in the backfield and they are just causing all kinds of havoc. You're seeing other guys make big plays because everybody's so focused on number 11, Micah Parsons. 'We have to double him,' 'we have to chip him,' 'we're running screens on him,' yet its Dorian Armstrong who is coming up with big plays. We saw Sam Williams with a forced fumble, Trevon Diggs got an interceptions as well. Dan Quinn deserves a lot of credit, but they've got some horses up front." — Sean O'Hara

Giants 23, Jaguars 17

16. "Doug Pederson continues to be ultra-aggressive and is a believer in analytics. He decided to go for two after the Jaguars' first touchdown today and was successful doing so. Also, entering today’s game the Jags have gone for it on fourth down 13 times, which is tied for fifth in the league (5 of 13, 38.5%). In 2020, his last season in Philadelphia, Pederson and the Eagles went for it on fourth down 35 times, which was most in the NFL (42.9% success rate, which was 27th in the NFL)." — T.J. McCreight

17. "The Giants get to 6-1, and that coaching staff deserves as much credit as it's getting. Daniel Jones is making the future QB decision in New York more difficult than I would have thought. Despite the losses, Jacksonville is making some progress, as is Trevor Lawrence, but they are not playing as well as they need to based on the massive investment they made this offseason in the free agent market." — Joe Banner

18. "The way that Daniel Jones has played this year has been phenomenal. And look, he's not throwing for Patrick Mahomes or Josh Allen-like yards, but he's doing whatever's necessary week in and week out, and he showed up again today in Jacksonville with a couple rushes, over 100 yards rushing, and he's taking care of the football, too." — Sean O'Hara

Commanders 23, Packers 21

19. "It just seems like Aaron Rodgers isn't comfortable with the receiving corps, and I'm not surprised. You take away the best receiver in all of football Davante Adams, you don't have Randall Cobb today, and right now that position more than any other position is holding back the Green Bay offense." — Rich Gannon

20. "I really felt like Taylor Heinicke stole the show today from Aaron Rodgers. he looked like the better quarterback. And I think when you look at where the Washington Commanders are, without question he gives them a better chance of winning then does Carson Wentz. I said prior to the season that I'm not so sure it was an upgrade at the quarterback position when the Commanders went out and got Wentz. I was wrong. Not only wasn't it an upgrade, it was a downgrade. I think Heinicke is the better player. I think clearly when you watch his teammates respond to his play, his performance, his grittiness, his leadership, this team feels it can win with Taylor Heinicke." — Rich Gannon

21. "I hope that (after watching Heinicke play this week) the excuses people continue to make for Wentz's performance and outcomes will stop once and for all. Heinecke is a solid starter who has been unable to stay healthy. As long as he stays on the field, the Commanders are a much better team with him at the helm than Wentz. Even if Wentz is ready to play in four weeks, I will be surprised if Heinicke doesn't remain the starter — assuming he stays healthy, as well." — Joe Banner

22. "With Aaron there, they have a chance to right get right, they have a chance to continue to get better and make some strides, even though it's hard to look at today and say they've made some strides from where they were. but it was interesting to hear his comments after the game, he felt like this could be a good thing for them. And although I don't necessarily agree that this is a good thing, his sense of calm, his sense of we're going to make that improvement I really think is the right approach for them." — Eric Mangini

Titans 19, Colts 10

23. "At this point, this appears to be a game between two mediocre teams — although there is a good chance one of them wins that division. When Jim Irsay was asked about Matt Ryan this week, he mentioned how great his leadership was. Some thought that was a compliment, but I tend to believe that the fact that he didn't mention his play was indicative of Irsay emphasizing his lack of production." — Joe Banner

24. "I give Mike [Vrabel] a ton of credit, he's overachieved year in and year out with the group that he's had, and he consistently finds a way to win. You go into the season with who you want to be, and the really good coaches figure out who you have to be, and Mike does a great job figuring out who his team has to be as the season goes on." — Eric Mangini

25. "What you know is whatever happens in Tennessee, Mike will be able to move some pieces around, and look, if it's running the ball 35 times a game, he's happy to do that. If it's throwing the ball 35 times a game, he's happy to do that. He doesn't have the ego as a head coach to do something the same every week, he has the flexibility to do whatever it takes to win. He's going to do whatever is necessary to win... It's very easy to write them off, it's not like they're blowing you away with the playmakers they have offensively, and oftentimes they're overlooked until the end of the year where suddenly they're the number one seed or they're pushing for a one or two spot, and it really is a testament to Mike and his intelligence and his flexibility as a coach." — Eric Mangini

Raiders 38, Texans 20

26. "Josh Jacobs of the Raiders had a big day with 143 yards rushing and three touchdowns. He churned out yards and controlled the game — his longest run was only 15 yards. The Raiders had an extremely clean, balanced day on offense." — T.J. McCreight

Jets 16, Broncos 9

27. "The word that comes to mind about this game for me? Gutsy. No Russell Wilson at quarterback for Denver? Back up Brett Rypien played with fortitude, and the Broncos' defense played at a level (again) that gave Denver an excellent chance to win. The Jets battled, even as they lost offensive stars OT Alijah Vera-Tucker, WR Corey Davis, and rookie RB Breece Hall. Their defense matched the Broncos' stellar effort, and their offense simply found a way in the second half, and New York headed home with an expected, but earned victory." — Charles Davis

Chiefs 44, 49ers 23

28. "Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs took advantage of the San Francisco banged-up secondary today as JuJu Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Travis Kelce all had big days in the pass game. Jimmie Ward played but still looked a bit hobbled by a hamstring injury, and Charvarius Ward has been dealing with a groin injury. Groin and hamstring injuries are not easy to deal with for defensive backs that have to run in 20, 30 and 40-yard spurts." — T.J. McCreight

29. "You've got the greatest defense in the league right now and Kansas City comes into town, and the thing that was really remarkable was San Francisco stayed in one front, they had really good personnel throughout, all 11 guys, two outside rushers who are really excellent, but what Kansas City did to them was nobody can attack the edges better than Kansas City. They just completely confused and closed down the rushers... They just completely frustrated that team and attacked the edges so well, and did just about what they wanted after that. Their speed came alive at the receiver position." — Mike Martz

Seahawks 37, Chargers 23

30. "Very impressive that Seattle is 4-3. Geno Smith had another efficient day and Kenneth Walker had his third game in a row of over 80 yards rushing. The entire league passed on Tariq Woolen five times in the draft last spring. Woolen is a rare 6'4" corner who ran sub-4.3 at the combine and had an eye-popping 42-inch vertical leap. He has four interceptions in the first seven games of his rookie year." — T.J. McCreight

31. "You have to tip your hat to Geno Smith for maintaining his pause throughout the year, all the criticism he's taken. He's just an example of what can happen to a young quarterback when they're in the wrong situation or when they don't have the right personnel around them. That can be the stigma that just carries on with them the rest of their career. So fortunately he's been put in the right situation with a Super Bowl-winning coach like Pete Carroll that knows what he's doing. And most definitely his defense helped him out today." — Samari Rolle

Dolphins 16, Steelers 10

32. "It seemed like they cracked it wide open pretty early, and I've never seen a team have so many explosive plays but lack the points to show it. They get these plays with Tyreek and Waddle and Mostert, but they just did nothing with them." — Golden Tate

33. "Miami had all that momentum, but they scored that early touchdown and then they settled for field goals? If you want to be that team, if you want to be some dogs in the NFL, you have to be able to step on some team's throat at a time... When they just settled for field goals and let Pittsburgh hang in the game, and then you see Kenny Pickett with a chance to win at the end of the game, that tells me Miami may just not be ready yet." — Tank Williams