NFL Week 7 Winners, Losers: NFC Preseason Favorites Fall Flat on Road

It wasn't a good Sunday for the NFL's legacy quarterbacks as Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan all suffered road losses

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Week 7 winners, losers: Aaron Rodgers, Dan Campbell fall flat originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Welcome to the Season of Parity.

If Week 7 of the 2022 NFL season felt like it lacked star power, it’s because three of the four teams who entered Sunday with five or more wins -- the Buffalo Bills, Minnesota Vikings and Philadelphia Eagles -- were on bye.

Instead of watching Josh Allen throw bombs to Stefon Diggs, we witnessed two teams expected to be Super Bowl contenders with Hall of Fame quarterbacks, the Green Bay Packers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, lose to backup signal-callers on bad teams. Two other teams expected to be cellar dwellers in New York won again and, like The Alliance of Magicians, are demanding that we take them seriously.

It’s time to declare winners and losers from the past weekend of NFL football:

Winner: Tom Brady doubters

The word “decline” has been circling around Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady for the better part of a decade.

People doubted him after he threw just 25 touchdowns in 2014 at the age of 37, appearing to age like a normal human being before winning another championship ring that February. Then, there was that ugly stretch in 2018 regular season, erased by yet another title in Super Bowl LIII.

Are the people who wrote off the GOAT finally having their moment?

Brady threw 49 passes Sunday afternoon but failed to lead the Buccaneers to a touchdown in a stunning 21-3 loss to the tanking Carolina Panthers, who recently fired their coach and traded their star running back.

Here’s how Tampa Bay’s day on offense unfolded: Punt, punt, punt, punt, end of half, punt, turnover on downs, punt, field goal, turnover on downs, end of game. Woof.

At 45 years old, Brady is closer in age to qualifying for the senior discount at Applebee’s than his 23-year-old rookie season.

At some point, the Brady doubters will be right. He'll age out of the league. I'm not believing this is the end, but the Brady haters will always have Week 7 of the 2022 season.

Loser: Aaron Rodgers

Gone are the days of quarterback Aaron Rodgers dismissing the Green Bay Packers' early-season struggles by spelling out "R-E-L-A-X" in 2014 or promising to "run the table" in 2016.

Instead, we're getting new sad Rodgers memes every week.

The Packers had never lost consecutive games in Matt LaFleur's tenure as head coach until last week's 17-point loss to the New York Jets. Now, after a shocking 23-21 loss to the Washington Commanders, that number stands at three.

Washington was starting Taylor Heinicke under center, a man best known for almost winning a playoff game and getting injured while trying to kick down a door in order to help a locked-out friend get back into an apartment.

Rodgers logged a 99.0 passer rating Sunday, but if there was an advanced stat to assess body language, the Packers' quarterback would have scored a 0.0.

Winner: Joe Burrow

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow appears to have chugged enough Pedialyte to finally cure that Super Bowl hangover.

After the first play of the second quarter in the Bengals’ 35-17 victory over the Atlanta Falcons, Burrow had thrown for 228 yards and two scores on 14-of-16 passing. That’s more passing yards than 12 other starting quarterbacks in Week 7.

When all was said and done, Burrow had racked up 501 total yards (481 passing, 20 rushing) and four touchdowns (three passing, one rushing). He’s the first quarterback in NFL history to notch multiple games with at least 500 passing yards and four touchdowns, following up his memorable performance against the Baltimore Ravens last season in Week 16.

As the calendar approaches November, the weather is getting colder. Winter is coming. And so is Joe Brrr.

Loser: Dan Campbell

The Man Campbell Magic is wearing off.

His Detroit Lions lost again Sunday, this time 24-6 to the Dallas Cowboys to drop to 1-5 on the season.

Over the first four weeks, the Lions were losing but at least they were fun to watch. Detroit led the league in scoring with 35 points per game in that span, only to score a combined six points in their last two losses to Dallas and the New England Patriots.

Former Detroit head coach Jim Caldwell led the Lions to two playoff appearances and a 36-28 record in four seasons before getting fired in 2017. Since then, the Lions have slumped to 18-51-2 and haven’t won more than six games in a season.

Campbell is 4-18-1 as the Lions' head coach and has yet to win a road game. He’s entertaining off the field and an easy guy to root for, just not a Lions savior.

But then again, who is?

Loser: Freddie Falcon

Look, football is an emotional game.

Freddie Falcon, the Atlanta Falcons’ mascot, witnessed Burrow and the Bengals pour on 28 points and 347 total yards in the first half.

He decided to take his frustrations out on a Pee Wee football player.

Freddie Falcon wanted the smoke, and No. 22 didn’t back down. Shout-out to his teammates for breaking it up quickly before it turned into Round II of Andre Johnson vs. Cortland Finnegan.

Winner: San Francisco 49ers

OK, hear me out.

Yes, San Francisco lost 44-23 to the Kansas City Chiefs at home. Yes, the feared 49ers’ defense surrendered six touchdowns and 529 total yards. Yes, Jimmy Garoppolo made a few head-scratching mistakes in critical moments before the game got out of hand.

But keep your "fire Kyle Shanahan!" in your Twitter drafts and take a minute to look around the NFC.

The Eagles (6-0) look like the only powerhouse in the conference. Minnesota (5-1) can only be taken seriously when quarterback Kirk Cousins plays at home in the daylight. The Cowboys (5-2) have a great defense but are vulnerable. The Giants (6-1) are a cute story, but c'mon, it's Daniel Jones.

The Seattle Seahawks (4-3) -- yes, Geno Smith's Seahawks -- are the only team in the NFC West and NFC South above .500.

San Francisco has time to figure this out. The defense assuredly will bounce back from Sunday's disaster, and newcomer Christian McCaffrey looked dangerous in his limited touches.

If the 49ers rally for a win against the Los Angeles Rams next week to improve to 4-4, all is well in the Bay.

Loser: Christian McCaffrey

Last week, the 49ers sent four future draft picks to the Carolina Panthers for McCaffrey, one of the game’s best -- if not the best -- dual-threat running back.

McCaffrey’s talents had been wasting away in Carolina, which hasn’t won more than five games since 2018. Making his 49ers debut, McCaffrey played 22 offensive snaps and logged 62 yards on 10 touches, only to suffer another loss on the gridiron.

Meanwhile, his former team handily defeated Brady and the Buccaneers at home.

Noted Panthers fan Steph Curry took note.

“The Panthers won today. We sent Christian McCaffrey out here to the Niners, and then we win,” Curry said after the Warriors’ win over the Sacramento Kings on Sunday night. “So, I don’t know who won the trade so far. Keep pounding!”

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