The Week 7 NFL afternoon slate was a bit... odd. A lot of backup QBs, a lot of strange cross-conference matchups, and a couple of "high-stakes" games that probably don't get half the football fandom out of bed in the morning.
"Dude, get up! Desmond Ridder and the Atlanta Falcons are playing Baker Mayfield and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for first place in the NFC South!"
How many folks got out of bed? That's what I thought.
The evening slate features a few heavy-hitters, but as always, we start the winners and losers columns with the afternoon slate. And, of course, it was quite an entertaining batch of games — the late sleepers missed out.
Atlanta-Tampa came down to the wire. The Patriots beat the Bills? The Bears blew out the Raiders? The Browns won at the buzzer (with a dash of controversy).
Let's dive into the week's winners and losers.
Winner: Desmond Ridder
If he's not careful, Desmond Ridder is going to put together just enough of these competent games to keep his job. The Falcons advanced to 4-3 with a narrow victory over the Bucs, claiming first place in the NFC South.
Despite a tepid offense, Atlanta continues to win in the trenches and slog its way to ugly victories. Ridder has also been pleasantly surprising in two of the last three weeks (let's not talk about Week 6). He completed 19-of-25 passes for 250 yards and, most importantly, zero interceptions.
When he's smartly balancing the simple pass with the occasional downfield hurl, Ridder starts to look like a competent NFL starter. He still relies on his receivers to clean up bad passes, but hey, Kyle Pitts, Drake London, and Bijan Robinson are there to do that... except for Sunday, when Robinson was not there to do that.
When Ridder gets sped up and tries to do too much, it generally leads to disaster. But, he operated with poise and relative precision on Sunday and the result was first place in the division. That's the recipe for the Falcons with Tampa and New Orleans both showing major flaws. The NFC South is there for the taking.