Vince Lombardi

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THE CHALKBOARD

QC's Week 7 Thoughts

With the 2014 NFL season almost half over, it is gut-check time for these four teams, who probably did not expect it this early.

Seattle: The defending Super Bowl champs are just 3-3 after suffering a 28-26 upset in St. Louis. Reasons For Concern: The dominating pass defense is a thing of the past as the Seahawks .2184 D-QCYPA ranks just 6th in the NFC and their .230 pass pressure ranks 12th in the NFC. Takeaways have mostly dried up. Seattle is the most penalized team in the NFL and the locker room is uncertain in the wake of the trade of Percy Harvin. Reasons for Optimism: It took some wild special teams gambles by the Rams to eke out the win and the Seahawks offense, led by OC Darrell Bevell and QB Russell Wilson, still does not give the ball away. The brutal schedule eases over the next 3 weeks and if the takeaways return Seattle should be in good position to claim the NFC West over injury-ravaged Arizona and San Francisco.

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New Orleans. It is far from smooth on the bayou after Sean Payton's club snatched a 24-23 defeat from the jaws of victory in Detroit. Reasons for Concern: DC Rob Ryan's defense has gotten most of the heat, but QB Drew Brees has made some ghastly decisions that have become ghastly turnovers. Brees has got to stop that. The Saints are -8 turnovers and the +10 Packers and Aaron Rogers are guests in the Super Dome this week. Reason for Optimism: The NFC South is ghastly. New Orleans actually is the best designed team in the division, although that is a bit like being the skinniest chef in the kitchen. The Saints have already played half of their road games so they can only lose at most 4 more times on the road.

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Cincinnati. The Bengals could barely muster a pulse in a 27-0 loss in Indianapolis. Reason For Concern: In their first 3 games, Cincinnati was the best designed team in the NFL and had a road win in its pocket over its pocket over its strongest competitor, Baltimore. In the past 3 games, the Bengals have yielded 43, 37 and 27 points. Against the Colts, "Bad" Andy Dalton played his first game of 2014. If WR A.J. Green is out for a pro-longed period of time, defenses will jam the box and dare OC Hue Jackson and Dalton to bet them deep. The Ravens visit this Sunday at the most importune possible and a loss would negate the opening day road victory. Reason for Optimism: The Bengals O-line still provides Dalton great pass protection and running backs Gio Bernard and Jeremy Hill are a dynamic 1-2 punch on the ground. If the defense can right the ship, Cincinnati can hang in there with running and defense until Green and TE Tyler Eifert return.

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Chicago. Da Bears fell to 0-3 at home with a 27-13 loss to Miami, which would have been worse if Dolphins kicker Caleb Sturgis had not missed two field goals. Cause For Concern: The defense still cannot stop anyone so when it does not receive turnovers, Chicago is pretty much at the opponent's mercy. Now rookie DB Kyle Fuller is out with a broken hand. Too often Marc Trestman forgets about Matt Forte. The chemistry has been quetionable since pre-season camp when TE Martellus Bennett body slammed Fuller. After the loss to Miami, Brandon Marsall reportedly dressed down several teammates, including QB Jay Cutler, and G Kyle Long lobbed a shot at the home fans. Reason For Optimism: Just when it seems Chicago is about to go over the falls, coach Marc Trestman finds a vine and hauls the Bears out of the water. The offense can carry the team if Cutler can get the ball to Marshall, Alshon Jeffrey and Forte and avoid turnovers. The pass rush has been inconsisten, but not non-existent. Chicago is still usually capable of generating some takeaways.

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