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NFL Week 7 game picks, schedule guide, fantasy football tips, odds, injuries and more



The Week 7 NFL schedule for the 2021 season is stacked with great matchups, and we’ve got you covered with what you need to know heading into the weekend. Our NFL Nation reporters bring us the biggest keys to every game, a bold prediction for each matchup and, of course, final score picks.

Additionally, ESPN Stats & Information provides a big stat to know for each contest, and our Football Power Index (FPI) goes inside the numbers with a matchup rating (on a scale of 1 to 100) and a game projection. ESPN researcher Kyle Soppe hands out helpful fantasy football and betting nuggets as well. Everything you want to know is here in one spot to help you get ready for a loaded weekend of NFL football.

Let’s get into the full Week 7 slate, including a meeting between Patrick Mahomes and Derrick Henry, an AFC North showdown between the red-hot Ravens and the up-and-coming Bengals, Jared Goff and Matthew Stafford facing off against their old teams and a rookie QB clash in New England. It all culminates with a Monday Night Football matchup between the Saints and the Seahawks on ESPN. (Game times are Sunday unless otherwise noted.)

Jump to a matchup:

Thursday: CLE 17, DEN 14

1 p.m. ET | CBS
Matchup rating:
70.3 | Spread: KC -4.5 (57.5)

What to watch for: Chiefs quarterback Mahomes is third in the NFL with five passing plays of 40 yards or more, and he’s leading the NFL with 18 passing touchdowns. The Titans, meanwhile, have allowed six passing plays of 40 yards, third-worst in the NFL. Tennessee’s banged-up secondary has to find a way to keep the Chiefs’ passing game from hitting the big play on Sunday. — Turron Davenport

Bold prediction: The Chiefs will hold Titans running back Henry to fewer than 100 rushing yards. Henry has had some big games against the Chiefs, he is off to a red-hot start with 783 yards and 10 scores on the ground, and the Chiefs are allowing 5.2 yards per carry (No. 30 in the NFL). But the Kansas City defense may have finally found its footing in last week’s game against Washington, and the expected return of defensive tackle Chris Jones (wrist) should help. — Adam Teicher

Stat to know: Since 2019, Titans receivers A.J. Brown and Julio Jones, Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce and Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill all rank in the top 10 in yards per route among 83 players with at least 150 targets in that span. Brown is sixth at 2.64, Jones is eighth at 2.56, Kelce is ninth at 2.50 and Hill is 10th at 2.48.

Injuries: Chiefs | Titans

What to know for fantasy: Kansas City running back Darrel Williams scored 23.9 fantasy points in his first start of the season in Week 6, a total normal starter Clyde Edwards-Helaire (knee) has yet to hit this season. With 21 carries, the feature role is clearly his right now, and he has caught multiple passes in four straight games. See Week 7 rankings.

Betting nugget: Kansas City is 4-13 against the spread (ATS) in its last 17 games, including the playoffs. It has not covered back-to-back games since Weeks 6-8 of last season, and it is 0-3 ATS against teams with winning records this season. Read more.

Teicher’s pick: Chiefs 31, Titans 24
Davenport’s pick: Titans 35, Chiefs 30
FPI prediction: KC, 59.1% (by an average of 3.2 points)

Matchup must-reads: Mahomes and the Chiefs have a turnover problemHenry’s fifth straight 100-yard game helps Titans to win over BillsChiefs running back Williams turned his mom’s tears into hollers of happinessFor the Titans, win over Bills just the start during rough stretch of their schedule

1 p.m. ET | CBS
Matchup rating:
62.6 | Spread: BAL -6.5 (46.5)

What to watch for: How will Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow navigate the Ravens’ defense? Burrow has thrown 14 touchdown passes, the second-most by a Bengals quarterback through the first six games of a season. But he faces a different challenge in the Ravens, who held him to the lowest Total QBR (4.2) of his career last season. Burrow was pressured on a career-high 48.7% of his dropbacks and sacked seven times in his only meeting against Baltimore. — Jamison Hensley

Bold prediction: The Bengals will be limited to fewer than 300 offensive yards. Cincinnati’s offense has gotten away with some inconsistency against lesser opponents, but there will be no room for error against Baltimore and defensive coordinator Don Martindale. — Ben Baby

Stat to know: Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson — the NFL’s only player with 1,500-plus passing yards and 300-plus rushing yards this season — is 5-0 in his career against the Bengals, with an average margin of victory of 20.8 points per game. The Ravens won the past three games against the Bengals by a combined score of 114-19.

Injuries: Bengals | Ravens



Matthew Berry explains why Rashod Bateman is a worthwhile stash in fantasy football.

What to know for fantasy: You know the rushing production is there for Bengals running back Joe Mixon (either a rushing touchdown or at least 5 yards per carry in each of his past four games), but the five catches last week in Detroit were noteworthy, too. He had four total catches in the four games prior. See Week 7 rankings.

Betting nugget: Cincinnati games are 5-1 to the under this season, and all three of its road games have gone under the total. Read more.

Baby’s pick: Ravens 24, Bengals 13
Hensley’s pick: Ravens 34, Bengals 24
FPI prediction: BAL, 68.3% (by an average of 6.5 points)

Matchup must-reads: Burrow still on voice rest ahead of Ravens gameWhy the improved Bengals are(n’t) ready to challenge the Ravens for AFC North superiorityAre Ravens the AFC’s best? Baltimore QB Jackson prefers flying under radar

1 p.m. ET | FOX
Matchup rating:
47.8 | Spread: GB -7.5 (48.5)

What to watch for: Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers and wide receiver Davante Adams are riding high. Rodgers has 12 touchdowns and one interception during the Packers’ current five-game winning streak, and Adams has an NFL-best 668 receiving yards this season. Washington has allowed 186 points this season, its most through six games since 1998. It seems like a recipe for Rodgers and the Packers to roll. — Rob Demovsky

Bold prediction: Washington receiver Terry McLaurin will have his third 100-yard game of the season and score one touchdown, but Washington will be the first team this season that fails to score a TD when it enters the red zone against Green Bay. Cincinnati’s Ja’Marr Chase is the only receiver to go over 100 against the Packers this season. — John Keim

Stat to know: The Packers are 16-2 at home in the regular season since Matt LaFleur became the coach in 2019 — the best home record in the NFL in that span.

Injuries: Washington | Packers

What to know for fantasy: McLaurin hasn’t finished better than WR45 in three of the past four weeks. See Week 7 rankings.

Betting nugget: Washington is 1-5 ATS this season — worst in the NFL — including 0-3 ATS as an underdog. And under coach Ron Rivera, it is 0-4-1 ATS as an underdog of at least seven points. Read more.

Keim’s pick: Packers 33, Washington 24
Demovsky’s pick: Packers 31, Washington 21
FPI prediction: GB, 72.0% (by an average of 8.0 points)

Matchup must-reads: Washington releases kicker Hopkins, opts for untested BlewittPackers’ problems on defense in the red zone reach historic lowsRivera’s goal for Washington: ‘Play two halves of football’Here an injury, there an injury, almost everywhere an injury for Packers

1 p.m. ET | FOX
Matchup rating:
28.9 | Spread: CAR -3 (43.5)

What to watch for: The Panthers bring two dangerous edge rushers to this game with Haason Reddick (6.5 sacks) and Brian Burns (3.0). It’s possible they wreck this game against Giants tackles Nate Solder and Matt Peart, who steps in after starting left tackle Andrew Thomas landed on IR earlier this week. Solder has a below-average pass block win rate of 82.8% while Peart is at 81.0%. These matchups should dictate whether the Giants can produce any offense. — Jordan Raanan

Bold prediction: Panthers rookie running back Chuba Hubbard will rush for 150 yards and two touchdowns. Carolina coach Matt Rhule promised a vastly different look on offense and more of a lean on the run, and the Giants’ defense is ranked 25th in the NFL (4.5 yards per carry allowed) against the run. — David Newton

Stat to know: Over the past three games (all losses), the Panthers have allowed 30.3 points per game, 27th in the NFL. They allowed 10.0 per game in their first three games, the second fewest league-wide.

Injuries: Panthers | Giants



Adam Schefter breaks down the pressure facing Joe Judge after the Giants’ 1-5 start.

What to know for fantasy: Hubbard is locked into a fantasy-friendly role with Christian McCaffrey on IR, but be careful. Here are Hubbard’s yards per carry over the past four weeks: 4.7, 4.4, 4.2 and 3.8. Last week, against the Vikings, none of his 16 carries gained more than nine yards. See Week 7 rankings.

Betting nugget: New York is 0-3 ATS at home this season, and quarterback Daniel Jones is 4-11 ATS at home in his career. Read more.

Newton’s pick: Panthers 24, Giants 21
Raanan’s pick: Giants 13, Panthers 9
FPI prediction: CAR, 56.6% (by an average of 2.3 points)

Matchup must-reads: Gilmore’s ‘homecoming’ gives Panthers and Football City USA a boostGiants left tackle Thomas put on IR, out at least 3 gamesGetting healthy will help Panthers, but coach Rhule says they still ‘have a long ways to go’

1 p.m. ET | CBS
Matchup rating:
25.2 | Spread: NE -7 (43)

What to watch for: The Patriots intercepted Jets quarterback Zach Wilson four times in the Week 2 meeting between these teams, and several of those were gift-wrapped by the No. 2 overall pick. Will history repeat itself? The Patriots have just two interceptions in their other five games and have a minus-3 turnover differential on the season. — Mike Reiss

Bold prediction: A first-quarter pick-six by safety Marcus Maye will kill two slumps with one stone, so to speak. It will be the Jets’ first interception in eight games, dating to last season, and their first score of the season in the opening quarter. The Jets have been outscored 30-0 in the first quarter and 75-13 in first half this season. But they’ll still find a way to lose the game. — Rich Cimini

Stat to know: New England receiver Jakobi Meyers has 121 career receptions but zero receiving touchdowns. No other wide receiver to debut in the past 40 seasons has ever had more than 100 receptions before his first career TD reception, per the Elias Sports Bureau.

Injuries: Jets | Patriots

What to know for fantasy: In Weeks 4-5, there were just five players to run for a score and see three targets in both weeks. Four of those names won’t surprise you: Jonathan Taylor, Kareem Hunt, Austin Ekeler and Najee Harris. Jets rookie running back Michael Carter is the fifth. See Week 7 rankings.

Betting nugget: New England is 0-4 outright and 1-3 ATS at home this season, including two outright losses as a favorite. Read more.

Cimini’s pick: Patriots 23, Jets 20
Reiss’ pick: Patriots 27, Jets 17
FPI prediction: NE, 70.9% (by an average of 7.6 points)

Matchup must-reads: Jets rookie Wilson battles the ‘Mahomes Effect’Patriots need clutch plays to prove they are good teamJets need playmakers, so why isn’t Moore getting the ball?

1 p.m. ET | FOX
Matchup rating:
21.1 | Spread: ATL -2.5 (47.5)

What to watch for: Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has never thrown for 300 yards in consecutive games in his NFL career and faces a Falcons defense that has yet to allow a 300-yard passer this season. Tagovailoa has also never thrown for three touchdowns in a single game, but Atlanta has allowed three of its five opponents to do this season. — Marcel Louis-Jacques

Bold prediction: Falcons receiver Calvin Ridley will have his first 100-yard game of the year and score two touchdowns to get his season back on track. During joint practices with the Dolphins in August, Ridley dominated on the field. On Sunday, he’ll do more of the same, no matter who is lined up against him. — Michael Rothstein

Stat to know: Atlanta tight end Kyle Pitts (308) and Miami receiver Jaylen Waddle (301) are Nos. 4 and 5 in receiving yards among rookies this season.

Injuries: Falcons | Dolphins

What to know for fantasy: After not finishing as a top-15 tight end in consecutive weeks, Pitts was the TE3 in Week 5 against the Jets. See Week 7 rankings.



Field Yates and Matthew Berry discuss the pros and cons of starting Jaylen Waddle.

Betting nugget: Miami is the fifth team to not have a bye following a London game. The previous four (two in 2016 and two in 2017) went 2-2 both straight up and ATS. Read more.

Rothstein’s pick: Falcons 31, Dolphins 21
Louis-Jacques’ pick: Falcons 30, Dolphins 24
FPI prediction: MIA, 50.5% (by an average of 0.2 points)

Matchup must-reads: Falcons WR Ridley returns to practiceIt’s time to adjust expectations for Dolphins as playoff hopes fade

4:05 p.m. ET | FOX
Matchup rating:
49.9 | Spread: LAR -15.5 (50.5)

What to watch for: Sunday’s matchup marks an intriguing pair of reunions. Rams coach Sean McVay will face off against Goff, his former quarterback of four seasons who admitted this week that he remains sour about how last January’s blockbuster trade that sent him to Detroit in exchange for Lions quarterback Stafford went down. And while McVay and Goff will face each other for the first time, Stafford will also for the first time face his former team, which he requested a trade from after 12 seasons. — Lindsey Thiry

Bold prediction: Goff will pass for 300-plus yards. Although he has had just one such game this season, he will bring his A-game against his old team while trying to be as accurate as possible. Going against his former teammates Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey is a tough task, but he knows their tendencies. — Eric Woodyard

Stat to know: Stafford’s 16 touchdown passes this season are the most in NFL history in a player’s first six games with a team.

Injuries: Lions | Rams

What to know for fantasy: The NFC has seen a QB throw over 25 passes and average 0.85 fantasy points per pass in a game five times this season, and Stafford is responsible for two of them (Weeks 1 and 6). See Week 7 rankings.

Betting nugget: Double-digit favorites are 8-0 outright and 6-2 ATS this season. Read more.

Woodyard’s pick: Rams 34, Lions 19
Thiry’s pick: Rams 38, Lions 14
FPI prediction: LAR, 86.3% (by an average of 15.0 points)

Matchup must-reads: Lions QB Goff ‘motivated’ to take on Rams in LAHow the Stafford-Goff trade landed in Detroit, LAWhy the McVay-Goff partnership fell apart for Rams

4:05 p.m. ET | FOX
Matchup rating:
39.3 | Spread: LV -3 (49)

What to watch for: How will the Raiders compartmentalize their emotions against an Eagles team that last played 10 days ago? Las Vegas ran the gamut in an emotional week that included the resignation of coach Jon Gruden after his email scandal and ended with its most impressive all-around game in recent memory. The Eagles are well-rested, and with another quarterback who can extend plays in Jalen Hurts, the Raiders defense will again be put to the test. — Paul Gutierrez

Bold prediction: Hurts will become the first QB to rush for two touchdowns in three straight games since 1950. The Raiders rank 26th against the run (4.6 yards per carry allowed), and Hurts will take advantage to help get the Eagles’ season back on track. He’s tied for most quarterback rushing TDs (five) entering Week 7 while leading his team in rushing yards (300). — Tim McManus

Stat to know: Las Vegas quarterback Derek Carr is 54 passing yards shy of 2,000. The most by a Raiders QB through seven games is 2,382 (Rich Gannon in 2002).



Field Yates and Matthew Berry agree that Derek Carr is a solid QB to pick up.

Injuries: Eagles | Raiders

What to know for fantasy: Hurts has thrown just five touchdown passes over the past five weeks, and yet he is the only quarterback in the NFL who has been a top-12 option at the position every week this season. See Week 7 rankings.

Betting nugget: Nine of Las Vegas’ 11 home games at Allegiant Stadium have gone over the total since it opened last season. Read more.

McManus’ pick: Eagles 31, Raiders 26
Gutierrez’s pick: Raiders 27, Eagles 23
FPI prediction: LV, 60.1% (by an average of 3.5 points)

Matchup must-reads: Eagles TE Goedert returns from COVID-19 listRaiders starting to figure out how to utilize Jacobs, Drake comboTriple threat: Eagles could make history in 2022 NFL draft

4:25 p.m. ET | CBS
Matchup rating:
56.7 | Spread: TB -12.5 (47)

What to watch for: The Bucs have survived a rash of injuries — particularly among their defensive backs — and penalties to get to 5-1. But if you look closely at those wins, only one has come against a top-10 defense — the Patriots — and that was by the skin of their teeth against a rookie quarterback. So this may be closer than expected, but look for the Bucs’ pass-rush to continue to be the difference-maker against Chicago QB Justin Fields and a Bears offensive line that has surrendered a league-high 22 sacks this year. — Jenna Laine

Bold prediction: Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady will commit three turnovers — and Tampa will still win easily. The Bears can get after it on defense, where they lead the NFL in sacks. Not having pass-rusher Robert Quinn (Reserve/COVID-19 list) hurts, but Chicago has enough playmakers on D to rattle Brady. The problem is the Bears cannot score points to capitalize on those takeaways. — Jeff Dickerson

Stat to know: Brady and Bucs receiver Antonio Brown have connected for 10 touchdowns since Week 15 of last season. That’s the most by any QB-receiver duo in the NFL over that span.

Injuries: Bears | Buccaneers

What to know for fantasy: A single player has accounted for 100% of his team’s backfield touches five times this season: Harris (Week 1), David Montgomery (Week 3), Alvin Kamara (Week 5), James Robinson (Week 6) and … Chicago’s Khalil Herbert (Week 6). See Week 7 rankings.

Betting nugget: Unders are 5-1 in Chicago games this season, tied for the best under mark this season (Bengals and Chargers). But all three Tampa Bay home games have gone over the total this season. Read more.

Dickerson’s pick: Buccaneers 28, Bears 10
Laine’s pick: Buccaneers 30, Bears 20
FPI prediction: TB, 81.1% (by an average of 12.1 points)

Matchup must-reads: Bears put pass-rusher Quinn on COVID-19 listSherman to be out a few weeks with pulled hamstring

4:25 p.m. ET | CBS
Matchup rating:
48.6 | Spread: ARI -17.5 (47.5)

What to watch for: It’s not a homecoming because it’s in Arizona, but it’ll be the first time that Cardinals receiver DeAndre Hopkins and defensive lineman J.J. Watt will face the only other team they played for in their careers. That means there’ll be plenty of emotion, regardless of what they say publicly. How they’ll handle it and whether the emotion affects their play will be the big question Sunday. — Josh Weinfuss

Bold prediction: Watt will score a touchdown. This game against the team he spent his first 10 seasons playing for is probably one Watt has had circled on the calendar since the schedule came out. Watt has six career touchdowns — including three on offense — and he’ll add to it on Sunday against the Texans. — Sarah Barshop

Stat to know: Hopkins has six receiving touchdowns so far and is seeking to join Anquan Boldin (seven, 2008) as the only Cardinals in the Super Bowl era with seven in their first seven games of a season. But Hopkins has also been held under 100 receiving yards in eight straight games, the third-longest such streak of his career and his longest since 13 straight in the 2016 season.



Marcus Spears explains why Kyler Murray and the Cardinals are his favorite team in the NFC.

Injuries: Texans | Cardinals

What to know for fantasy: Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray‘s yards per carry have been cut in half from last season, but he ranks second among qualifiers (minimum 150 pass attempts) in fantasy points per pass (0.60, behind only Stafford). See Week 7 rankings.

Betting nugget: Arizona is 5-1 ATS this season, tied for the second-best mark in the league. Arizona has covered four straight games — but it has not been a double-digit favorite since 2016. Read more.

Barshop’s pick: Cardinals 35, Texans 3
Weinfuss’ pick: Cardinals 41, Texans 17
FPI prediction: ARI, 89.1% (by an average of 16.8 points)

Matchup must-reads: Texans looking to overcome ‘bad football’ and ‘mental mistakes’ to end five-game losing streakHow Cardinals star Watt became an F1 superfanInside the Cardinals COVID-19 outbreak

8:20 p.m. ET | NBC
Matchup rating:
58.0 | Spread: SF -4 (44)

What to watch for: Storylines abound here, with the North Dakota State quarterbacks on opposite sidelines, Colts defensive tackle DeForest Buckner‘s return to San Francisco and more. But the thing that will decide this game is the thing that decides most games: turnovers. The 49ers are minus-5 in turnover differential, tied for third-worst in the NFL, while the Colts are plus-7, which is tied for third-best. Both teams badly need a win here, and the turnover battle should go a long way in determining who gets it. — Nick Wagoner

Bold prediction: Buckner will match his season total in sacks with two. He said it’s “a little personal” playing against the team that drafted him and where he spent the first four years of his NFL career before being traded to the Colts in March 2020. Buckner has had least two sacks in a game eight times in his career. — Mike Wells

Stat to know: The Colts have a 42.9% red zone efficiency, which is the second-worst in the NFL (nine of 21 red zone drives ended in a touchdown).

Injuries: Colts | 49ers

What to know for fantasy: Indianapolis running back Taylor was RB28 in the first three weeks of the season. Since then, he’s RB2. See Week 7 rankings.

Betting nugget: 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan is 8-19-2 ATS as a favorite. San Francisco is 2-7 outright in its last nine games as a favorite of at least three points, including 2-2 this year with back-to-back losses. Read more.

Wells’ pick: 49ers 27, Colts 24
Wagoner’s pick: 49ers 30, Colts 23
FPI prediction: SF, 65.2% (by an average of 5.4 points)

Matchup must-reads: Revisiting the Buckner trade between the 49ers and ColtsHow QB-passionate Fargo helped mold Colts’ Wentz and 49ers’ LanceWentz looks like the ‘big-play machine’ Colts envisioned

Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET | ESPN
Matchup rating:
55.7 | Spread: NO -4.5 (42.5)

What to watch for: Can Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith keep Seattle from falling into a probably-insurmountable 2-5 hole? This is pretty much a must-win game for the Seahawks, who are already four games back in the NFC West and will be without Russell Wilson for at least one more game after this one. Smith played well enough in the second half last week to give the Seahawks a chance to win before losing a fumble in overtime on a T.J. Watt strip sack. Against New Orleans, he won’t face as strong a pass-rush or as dominant a defender. — Brady Henderson

Bold prediction: After the Seahawks ran for a season-high 144 yards last week, they will run for a season-low total and fall short of 50 on Monday night. Not only is Seattle’s backfield banged up right now, but the Saints’ run defense has been among the NFL’s best over the past four years. And they will be extra motivated to shut down that element of Seattle’s game to force Smith to move the ball. — Mike Triplett

Stat to know: The Seahawks are allowing 433.2 yards per game this season, worst in the NFL. They have allowed 100 rushing yards in six straight games (tied for their longest streak since 2011).

Injuries: Saints | Seahawks



Matthew Berry tabs Marquez Callaway as an option for fantasy managers this week as the Saints face the Seahawks.

What to know for fantasy: During the first four weeks of the season, Saints running back Kamara was averaging an underwhelming 3.5 targets per game. Prior to going on bye in Week 6, the old Kamara reminded us of his potential as a pass-catcher, as he hauled in five of eight targets for 51 yards and a touchdown against Washington. See Week 7 rankings.

Betting nugget: New Orleans has covered nine of its last 12 games following a bye. Read more.

Triplett’s pick: Saints 26, Seahawks 22
Henderson’s pick: Seahawks 23, Saints 21
FPI prediction: NO, 58.7% (by an average of 3.1 points)

Matchup must-reads: Saints investment in CB Lattimore paying off as tricky stretch of elite WR corps loomsCould rookie Brown be solution for Seahawks’ cornerback issues?Seahawks’ rushing attack can help keep Smith from ‘coming up short’

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Do the New York Giants need an experienced head coach to pair with rookie GM? – New York Giants Blog



EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — During his first season leading the New York Giants in 1983, Bill Parcells said he was trying too hard to be a head coach.

He believes it almost cost him his job. In 1984 he decided to be himself. The new easygoing head coach was gone. The gruff taskmaster with that trademark mean streak that everybody came to know and ultimately appreciate took over. That suited him and the results followed. The Giants won nine games in his second season after winning three in his first, and hoisted a Super Bowl trophy two seasons later.

Even for the great ones (Parcells was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2013), there is a learning curve. The same applies to the general manager position, and the Giants hired first-time GM Joe Schoen on Friday.

That makes their upcoming coaching hire more intriguing, especially after what has transpired in New York for the better part of the past decade and particularly the past few years. Do the Giants really want to have a first-time GM and coach learning on the job? Or does one of the most conservative franchises in the NFL prefer a known quantity amidst the overhaul?

The Giants just watched up close and personal as first-time head coaches Ben McAdoo and Joe Judge had it fall apart in Year 2 after promising debut seasons. Co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch didn’t have the patience for them to learn from their mistakes. And that was with veteran general managers Jerry Reese and Dave Gettleman, respectively.

“For me, I’m going young. I’m going ascending on the GM front. But I’m getting some experience [at head coach], because I think in this market your best chance for success is to bring in somebody who has had success and has experience,” former NFL general manager and current ESPN analyst Mike Tannenbaum said recently on ESPN New York. “If I owned the Giants, given what has happened over the past six years, I’m getting a guy that has done it. Done it at a high level. I don’t need any guesswork or projections.”

The known coaching candidates for the Giants are Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, Bills assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, former Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores, Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo and Patrick Graham, who ran the Giants’ defense the past two seasons.

Frazier, Flores and Quinn have been NFL head coaches — Frazier with the Minnesota Vikings (2011-13), Flores for the past three seasons with the Dolphins and Quinn with the Atlanta Falcons (2015-20). Daboll, Graham and Anarumo have not.

Daboll, Frazier and Anarumo all had a first interview via videoconference with the Giants over the weekend. Quinn was interviewed Monday, Daboll gets a second interview Tuesday, and Flores and Graham are expected to interview this week.

While hiring a candidate with previous experience as a head coach has some obvious advantages, Schoen comes from Buffalo, where they hired a first-time head coach (Sean McDermott) and general manager (Brandon Beane) in 2017. They built the Bills rather quickly and effectively into a Super Bowl contender.

“Joe has seen how Sean and I work here,” Beane said. “And neither Sean nor I walk through the building [saying] that we got all the answers or that it’s my way or Sean’s way. It’s collaborative. We listen to our coaches, we listen to our doctors, our trainers, our scouts. Whatever the decision needs to be made, we listen and then try to make an informed decision.

“Joe will ultimately have to make some decisions, whether it’s a draft pick or that final decision of paying a player on that team or a free agent somewhere else, but he’s going to value everyone’s input.”

That will have to include the coach. It’s imperative they’re on the same page, which is why sources say Daboll is considered the favorite for the Giants. He and Schoen have worked together previously in Miami (2011) and for the past four seasons in Buffalo.

And if everything the Giants are saying is true, Schoen is driving this coaching search. Not ownership, as it had in the past.

The Bills aren’t the only recent example of a first-time coach/GM combination working. The San Francisco 49ers have also experienced success with Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch. They will be playing in the NFC Championship Game for the second time in three years on Sunday.

“It’s all people-dependent,” a veteran NFL general manager said about whether it can work with a first-time coach and GM. The belief is it can — as long as it’s the right individuals with a shared vision and philosophy.

It’s what Schoen needs to find with his new coach, whether it be a first-timer or someone with experience.

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Patriots’ 2022 plans could be impacted by Raiders’ searches for GM, coach – New England Patriots Blog



FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The way the New England Patriots‘ season ended made it clear what coach Bill Belichick’s No. 1 priority needs to be when he looks ahead to 2022.

It’s defense with a capital D.

That will surely come, but from a pure timing standpoint, there is something else that looms large: offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels’ future and his integral role in the development of second-year quarterback Mac Jones.

There are currently eight head-coaching vacancies in the NFL, and the Las Vegas Raiders‘ opening is the main one to watch if McDaniels, 45, ultimately departs. The “tell” will be whom the Raiders hire as their general manager.

If it’s Patriots director of player personnel Dave Ziegler, who interviewed in Las Vegas on Friday, the odds of a McDaniels departure likely increase. Sources have told ESPN that McDaniels has relayed to interested teams that aligning with someone he knows well on the personnel side is a top priority, and he brought Ziegler — a fellow alum of John Carroll University — into the NFL in 2010 with the Denver Broncos.

Belichick previously had paid McDaniels one of the highest compliments, comparing him to his longtime friend Nick Saban in terms of his understanding of what every player is doing on the field. And in his season-ending videoconference, Belichick noted the unpredictability of what’s ahead with his staff.

“We have a lot of good coaches. It’s not surprising that other teams would be interested in talking to them, or other staff members,” he said. “If there’s an opportunity for somebody that’s at a high level that we can’t provide here, I understand that they would have to consider that. So we’ll see what happens on that.”

At the same time, it’s not like McDaniels is aggressively pursuing an exit from New England.

He made it clear how much he enjoyed working with Jones and other newcomers when he said in December: “This year’s team has provided a lot of new energy. The ability to really pour into them and create a foundation for a lot of them in our offense and our culture here in New England — and then see them take to it, adapt to it, and really grow and learn, how they fit into the bigger piece of the puzzle — has been really a great experience for all of us.”

In November, Jones said: “Josh is a great coach, and he’s been close with me ever since I got here. He wants me to be the best player I can be … and he’s done a great job putting me in a position to lead the offense.”

Building on that foundation in 2022 — and possibly giving Jones a dynamic No. 1 receiving option like the Cincinnati Bengals did for Joe Burrow with Ja’Marr Chase this season — would be a coup for Belichick and help him dedicate attention to the defense while also restoring the special-teams units to their once-dominant standing.

Among the bright spots for the Patriots’ offense in 2021, with the rookie Jones at the helm, was scoring touchdowns on the opening drive more frequently than all but two teams in the NFL. They were also 11th in the red zone based on touchdown percentage (39 TDs in 63 trips), and fifth in explosive rushing plays (65 rushes of 10 yards or more).

A McDaniels departure could potentially stunt future growth, especially because there might not be a clear-cut successor on staff.

Tight ends coach Nick Caley and receivers coach Mick Lombardi are among those in the pipeline. Lombardi’s thoroughness and intelligence were highlighted by McDaniels this season, who said Lombardi “sees the game very similarly to myself in terms of the passing game.”

In a reflection of that, Lombardi was responsible for preparing the offense for the red zone as part of game plans this season, according to McDaniels.

Former Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien, set to enter his second season at Alabama, could be a target in the event McDaniels departs. But would that even be something O’Brien entertains?

It isn’t overstating things to say the next week, or however long it takes the Raiders to finalize their GM/head coach decisions, has an added level of significance for the Patriots.

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NFL free agency 2022 – Biggest signing decisions for all 32 teams, including Odell Beckham Jr., Davante Adams, Chandler Jones



The NFL playoffs are down to just four teams, which means the 28 others are giving a hard look at their rosters and planning to make some decisions regarding free agents in 2022.

It may seem like the regular season just finished, but we are a mere month and change away from March 16 — the opening of free-agency season.

Between now and then franchises have to decide how different, or similar, their rosters will look in 2022. Will Green Bay have a rebuild on its hands? How will the Dallas Cowboys sign all their free agents amid cap pressure? Will someone new be at quarterback for the New Orleans Saints and Denver Broncos?

To get an early look at the market, we asked our NFL Nation reporters for the biggest looming free-agent decision on every team. Will playmakers Odell Beckham Jr., Jadeveon Clowney and Mike Williams return to their respective teams? Can Chandler Jones, Davante Adams and Dalton Schultz find better offers on the market? Here is where each team stands as of today.

Let’s start by looking at the NFC East.

Jump to:
NE | NO | NYG | NYJ | PHI | PIT | SF


Free agent: TE Dalton Schultz

Schultz had 78 catches for 808 yards and 8 touchdowns in 2021 after putting up 63 for 615 and 4 in 2020. He has developed into a highly dependable option for Dak Prescott, but will he be out of the Cowboys’ price point? Look at the contracts Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith received from New England; Schultz could get that much on the open market. Would the Cowboys have the type of room to keep him? Maybe. The franchise tag could be an option as well but that might be earmarked for Randy Gregory. — Todd Archer

Free agent: OLB Lorenzo Carter

The Giants need to add pass-rushers this offseason, not lose any useful players at the position. Carter proved to be effective by finishing this season with five sacks in the last four weeks — after not getting to the quarterback the first 14 weeks. His fate likely lies in what system new general manager Joe Schoen and the next coach plan to run. If he fits, Carter could return on a one-year prove-it deal, unless another team is willing to take the risk on a long-term contract based on a handful of games. — Jordan Raanan

Free agent: S Rodney McLeod

McLeod returned from ACL rehab in Week 4 and finished the season on a high note, posting key interceptions in back-to-back games to help the Eagles secure a playoff berth. McLeod, a team leader, will be 32 next season and has dealt with his share of injuries of late. But with safety Anthony Harris and cornerback Steven Nelson also projected to be free agents, it’s worth trying to get McLeod back on a reasonable one-year deal in the name of back-end stability. — Tim McManus

Free agent: G Brandon Scherff

The five-time Pro Bowl guard has played on the franchise tag the past two seasons. Washington GM Martin Mayhew confirmed that last offseason the team offered him a deal that would have made him the NFL’s highest-paid guard. It’s uncertain how it was structured, but regardless it did not get the two sides closer to an agreement. Scherff is an elite guard, but the problem comes with health — he has not played more than 13 games in a season since 2017 and has missed a combined 24 games the past five seasons. — John Keim


Free agent: DT Akiem Hicks

The great run-stopper might be a luxury the Bears can’t afford. There’s no doubt their defense looks different when he is in the game, but the problem has been too much time missed because of injury over the past few seasons. Combined with the amount of money the Bears have committed to their front seven — among the most in the league — Hicks might end up with a new address in 2022. The team has to build around quarterback Justin Fields and the savings on Hicks could provide an avenue to help in that goal. — Jesse Rogers

Free agent: OLB Charles Harris

After a 3-13-1 finish, the Lions certainly don’t have many must-keep players on the roster, but Charles Harris is one of the guys they should re-sign. Under a new coaching staff, in a new situation, Harris enjoyed his best season as a pro with a career-best 65 tackles, 10 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks. Detroit needs as much depth as possible and he’s already comfortable in the position so it would make sense to bring him back. — Eric Woodyard

Free agent: WR Davante Adams

Adams wants to be the highest-paid receiver in the league, but he surely also would like to continue playing with Aaron Rodgers. There has to be a reason — beyond just the money — that Adams didn’t sign an extension during the season. That reason could be Rodgers. If Rodgers decides he wants to play elsewhere next season, then perhaps the Packers’ only option to retain Adams will be to use the franchise tag. — Rob Demovsky

Free agent: CB Patrick Peterson

The Vikings will again be tasked with retooling their secondary in the offseason. Peterson came to Minnesota as a free agent on a one-year deal and was the most experienced, put-together corner the Vikings fielded in 2021. Though he expressed a desire to remain in Minnesota, Peterson will soon be 32. The team cannot afford to pay him a contract that guarantees $8 million, nor should they for a cornerback nearing the final years of his career. If he’s willing to stay for less, the Vikings should consider re-signing him while also eyeing a cornerback with their first-round pick. His guidance paid dividends in helping young defensive backs develop last season and would be a benefit for a defense that’s about to undergo a major transition with a new coaching staff. — Courtney Cronin


Free agent: LB Foyesade Oluokun

Oluokun was a force for Atlanta this season. He led the NFL in tackles (192), had a career-high three interceptions and became a leader of Atlanta’s defense. Falcons coach Arthur Smith called Oluokun an “ascending player,” and general manager Terry Fontenot made it clear he would like to retain some of the Falcons’ free agents, even with salary-cap constraints. Oluokun, for his part, said he would like to return, but it’s possible a team covets him highly. It’s too soon to tell what will shake out here, but there appears to be interest from both Atlanta and Oluokun to continue working together. — Michael Rothstein

Free agent: Edge Haason Reddick

The team’s sack leader (11) signed a one-year prove-it deal because there were those that doubted the 12.5 sacks he had at Arizona in 2020 would be the norm. He’s proven on and off the field to be an asset. The question is: Do the Panthers invest in Reddick, better suited for a 3-4 scheme, or in getting bigger on the edge to play more 4-3? Defensive coordinator Phil Snow would like to get bigger up front, so that could decrease Reddick’s value. The market price likely will decide this one. — David Newton

Free agent: QB Jameis Winston

Quarterback is by far the Saints’ top priority when it comes to personnel decisions. All options should be on the table, including a blockbuster trade or the draft. But Winston might have the best combination of affordability and upside if the Saints feel good about his recovery from a torn ACL. He went 4-2 in the six games he completed in 2021 and finished with a TD-INT ratio of 14-3. — Mike Triplett

Free agent: G Alex Cappa

Since quarterback Tom Brady isn’t technically a free agent — and the decision to retire rests solely with him — we can’t choose him. But no doubt, he’s the glue that will keep this roster together. After Brady, the Bucs have 23 players set to become unrestricted free agents, and coach Bruce Arians said Monday that the team will prioritize its own free agents in March. I don’t think there’s any way they let wide receiver Chris Godwin out of the building, even coming off a torn ACL. Center Ryan Jensen also had arguably his best season, as did safety Jordan Whitehead. Carlton Davis remains their best cornerback. They also need to consider the returns of Rob Gronkowski and Leonard Fournette. So where does that leave the starting right guard, Cappa, when there’s only so much money to go around with their projected cap space currently below $15 million? — Jenna Laine


Free agent: OLB Chandler Jones

Jones continues to establish himself as one of the best pass-rushers in the NFL, but there’s a distinct possibility he plays for another team in 2022. He wanted an extension before this season and when he didn’t get that he asked for a trade and didn’t get that either. He played for $15.5 million in 2021 and turned in 10.5 sacks — the sixth time in the last seven seasons he recorded double-digit sacks. It’s likely he doesn’t get the type of contract he wants from the Cardinals and tests the free-agency waters before deciding whether to return or, more likely, sign elsewhere. — Josh Weinfuss

Free agent: WR Odell Beckham Jr.

The Rams signed receiver Beckham and traded for outside linebacker Von Miller in November as half-season rentals to make a Super Bowl run. Now both are pending unrestricted free agents and the Rams must determine if there’s space on the roster and in the budget for them to return. Beckham has revived his once-stellar career in L.A., catching 27 passes for 305 yards and 5 touchdowns in seven regular-season starts, while Miller has five sacks and a forced fumble in eight starts. Because of salary-cap restraints, it is unlikely both will be able to return but watch for the Rams to find a way to keep at least one of them around. — Lindsey Thiry

Free agent: G Laken Tomlinson

Tomlinson has quietly been one of the Niners’ most consistent and reliable players for a few seasons now and forms a dynamic combination with Trent Williams on the left side. Tomlinson is due to cash in on a deal that should exceed the $5.5 million average value of his last contract, probably by a lot. After the Niners gave Williams a record-setting deal last offseason and with right tackle Mike McGlinchey due for an extension soon, will the Niners want to make another significant investment on the line? That could depend on how far along 2021 second-round pick Aaron Banks is in his development. — Nick Wagoner



Ryan Clark looks ahead to the NFC title game matchup between the 49ers and Rams.

Free agent: S Quandre Diggs

The Seahawks did not want to extend Diggs last offseason, presumably in part because they gave a record-setting deal to their other main safety, Jamal Adams. But Diggs was arguably their team MVP in 2021. He led the Seahawks with five interceptions and was as big a reason as any why they were among the best defenses in the NFL in limiting explosive passing plays. The question is whether they’ll gamble and let him hit free agency, where his market could be tempered by his broken leg from Week 18, or lock him up beforehand. The franchise tag, at a projected cost of around $13 million, seems possible. — Brady Henderson


Free agent: CB Levi Wallace

After losing cornerback Tre’Davious White for the season with a torn ACL, the Bills needed Wallace to step up as their top corner. He played well in that role and the Bills would be wise to bring him back after his efforts. They lack depth at corner and could use a variety of solid defensive backs on the roster. Re-signing him, however, is not a guarantee given the team’s cap situation and his role on the roster. He may be on a path to getting more money for a bigger role elsewhere. — Alaina Getzenberg

Free agent: DE Emmanuel Ogbah

Miami will keep Ogbah, who has 18 sacks in his past two seasons and is a critical component of its pass rush. He signed a two-year, $15 million deal with Miami in 2020 and is likely to get a pay increase with his next deal — which Spotrac estimates will be around the three-year, $30 million range. With roughly $70 million in cap space, it’s a move the Dolphins can afford before focusing on the other side of the ball. — Marcel Louis-Jacques

Free agent: CB J.C. Jackson

A deal likely won’t be cheap, but Jackson seems to have an affinity for New England, so if it’s close to another offer, the tiebreaker seemingly goes to the team that initially gave him a chance as an undrafted free agent in 2018. But one factor to consider is how Jackson’s poor playoff performance against the Bills — as part of a complete defensive dud — alters the team’s evaluation of the fifth-year pro. — Mike Reiss

Free agent: WR/KR Braxton Berrios

The Jets really want to re-sign Berrios, a hardworking football devotee who had a strong finish (four touchdowns in the final three games) that endeared him to the fan base. Not only did he make first-team All-Pro as a kick returner, but Berrios proved to be a dependable slot receiver with the ability to run jet sweeps. The question is whether the Jets are willing to pay him as a full-time player on offense. If they see him as just as part-time gadget player, he probably will hit the open market. — Rich Cimini


Free agent: C Bradley Bozeman

Bozeman has been a dependable starter for the past three seasons, playing left guard before moving to center. The sides haven’t been close on a new deal, and Bozeman recently said he doesn’t know whether he has played his last game in Baltimore. The Ravens recently re-signed Patrick Mekari, who started at right tackle this season but could prove to be a fallback option at center if Bozeman doesn’t return. Baltimore also has Trystan Colon, who has filled in at center over the past two seasons. — Jamison Hensley

Free agent: S Jessie Bates III

Even before the start of the season, Bates was trending toward a franchise-tag designation for 2022. Cincinnati opted to not give Bates the long-term deal he was looking for before this season started. A franchise tag gives him one year of a strong salary. Then we’ll see how willing both sides will be to negotiate when 2023 rolls around. — Ben Baby



Ryan Clark looks back at the Bengals and Chiefs meeting earlier in the season and is eager to see their matchup in the playoffs.

Free agent: DE Jadeveon Clowney

Clowney proved to be a terrific complement to Myles Garrett rushing the pass from the other side. After a banner season, Clowney is likely going to ask for more than just a one-year deal this time around. But even if it costs them, the Browns would be wise to keep the Clowney/Garrett pairing together moving forward. — Jake Trotter

Free agent: WR JuJu Smith-Schuster

For the second season in a row Smith-Schuster will likely return to Pittsburgh, the team that drafted him in 2017. This seemed improbable even a year ago, but the Steelers found a way to bring him back on a one-year deal for 2021. And they have even more cap space in 2022. Once Smith-Schuster went down in Week 5 with a significant shoulder injury, it was obvious how much the Steelers missed his physicality and energy. Smith-Schuster will undoubtedly keep an eye on the quarterback situation, but don’t be surprised if he’s back in a Steelers uniform next season. — Brooke Pryor


Free agent: S Justin Reid

Reid, a third-round pick in the 2018 draft, is one of the best players on the Texans defense — but he is not expected to re-sign in Houston. Reid will command more than what the rebuilding Texans will want to play on the open market. He was suspended for one game this season for violating team rules after he challenged David Culley’s coaching in a team meeting. — Sarah Barshop

Free agent: WR T.Y. Hilton

Hilton is one of general manager Chris Ballard’s favorite players. But the receiver has made it no secret that he is thinking about retiring after 10 seasons in the NFL. Hilton, who has missed 16 games over the past four seasons, is coming off a down year statistically with 23 receptions for 331 yards. The issue the Colts face is they lack depth at receiver beyond Michael Pittman Jr. That’s why the possibility of re-signing Hilton is a priority. That’s if Hilton wants to play another season. — Mike Wells

Free agent: LT Cam Robinson

The Jaguars have many decisions to make along the offensive line and they start with Robinson, who played the 2021 season on the franchise tag. He played well enough for the Jaguars to consider signing him to a new contract, but they also could use the franchise tag again at roughly $17 million.

Rookie Walker Little was solid in the final two games of the season with Robinson out. But was that enough evidence that he could slide in and be the starter in 2022 and beyond? Probably not. Plus, the Jaguars have a major issue at right tackle with Jawaan Taylor, who has really struggled the last two seasons (17 penalties, tied for the NFL lead). Bringing Robinson back and moving Little to right tackle makes a lot of sense. — Michael DiRocco

Free agent: OLB Harold Landry III

Landry’s 12 sacks on the season marked the first time a Titans pass-rusher finished with a double-digit total since Brian Orakpo had 10.5 in 2016. Tennessee simply can’t allow a pass-rusher it developed to leave via free agency after the many swings and misses it has had in free agency and the draft. The Titans will find a way to re-sign Landry but it will come at a high cost because his position holds a four-year, $70 million market value. — Turron Davenport


Free agent: QB Teddy Bridgewater

The Broncos have several prominent players poised for free agency, guys like RB Melvin Gordon III, S Kareem Jackson, CB Bryce Callahan, LB Alexander Johnson and LB Josey Jewell. But Bridgewater is part of the team’s biggest offseason decision — what happens at quarterback. Drew Lock is under contract for the 2022 season, but once the Broncos’ new coaching staff is in place a decision needs to be made. With limited options in free agency and the draft, especially for an immediate upgrade, the Broncos need to try to make a blockbuster trade or they’ll have to decide whether Bridgewater is part of the stopgap strategy for at least one more season. — Jeff Legwold

Free agent: S Tyrann Mathieu

Kansas City wants to retain the nine-year veteran and he would like to finish his career with the team, so eventually the sides will reach an agreement. The Chiefs have no reasonable way of replacing all that Mathieu brings, both as a player on the field and a leader in the locker room. He is too valuable in both areas for the Chiefs to let him go. — Adam Teicher

Free agent: QB Marcus Mariota

Yes, an underused backup quarterback whose greatest skill set is in an area that’s an Achilles’ heel for the Raiders — red zone efficiency — is the biggest looming free-agent decision. Because with so many dominoes still to fall with the Raiders — from a new general manager to potentially a new coach — starter Derek Carr‘s status also bears watching. And if Las Vegas was to bring back Mariota, it would likely not be as a backup again. — Paul Gutierrez

Free agent: WR Mike Williams

Williams is coming off his most NFL productive season, as he put up a team-high 76 catches for 1,146 yards and 9 touchdowns. He has great chemistry with quarterback Justin Herbert. At age 27, Williams would be coveted in the offseason free-agent market, and it might be tough for the Chargers to keep him. If it comes down to it, a franchise tag could cost more than $18 million for one more year of the Herbert-to-Williams connection. — Shelley Smith

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