In the Trenches | NFL Week 7

Matthew Malec

As we head towards the season’s midpoint, we are starting to see less movement on the Offensive Hog Index and Defensive Hog Index as teams begin to settle in. That said, that makes any large shifts we do see all the more important. Let’s dive in.

Offensive Lines: Three Up

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The Bucs climbed six spots following a dismantling of the Bears on Sunday and now rank tied for first in Negative Pass Play Percentage. If the line keeps Tom Brady upright, this team has enough talent on the outside to be a serious headache for any defense and could make another deep playoff run.

Washington Football Team: Despite another loss on Sunday, the Football Team jumped seven spots on the Index, making them the high movers of the week. It’s likely a lost season with the Cowboys jumping out so far ahead of the NFC East, but if Ryan Fitzpatrick gets healthy, this team could at least be interesting.

New England Patriots: The Patriots dropped 54 points on the hapless Jets and moved up five spots on the Index. Mac Jones has been the best rookie quarterback thus far (though the bar is low), but he could use a real difference-maker on the outside. The line doing their job every week would surely help as well.

Defensive Lines: Three Up

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The Bucs get a double shoutout this week and are now up to second on the defensive Index. This team has so much talent when they are healthy, and they have steamrolled through inferior opposition all year. This week’s trip to New Orleans will be an interesting test for both teams.

Seattle Seahawks: Like the Football Team, the Seahawks obtained high mover status without winning, ascending nine spots. It was a solid defensive effort, but Geno Smith and the offense simply could not close the deal. The Seahawks will need more efforts like it if they want to win games with Smith at the helm.

New York Giants: The Giants jumped five spots after a dominant showing that sent Sam Darnold to the bench. The defensive line had been a disappointment all year but may finally be playing to the level expected. A trip to Arrowhead Stadium will be an interesting litmus test.

Looks Can Be Deceiving: Three Down

Panthers Offense: Speaking of those Panthers, they are now in the cellar on the offensive Index and have a quarterback controversy. Darnold surely deserves some blame for their offensive collapse, and losing Christian McCaffrey cannot have helped, but the line will need to be better too, or this team’s epic meltdown will continue.

Broncos Defense: Like Carolina, Denver’s hot start has faded, climaxing in a loss to Case Keenum and the Browns, one in which D’Ernest Johnson ran wild with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt on the shelf. That 3-0 start feels like it was ages ago.

Chiefs Defense: The Chiefs are in shambles right now, particularly on defense. They need to get better, but it’s hard to see where they can make meaningful improvements given their lack of talent. Their place in the cellar on the Index may be permanent unless wholesale changes are made.