Aaron Rodgers against the Oakland Raiders at Lambeau Field on October 20. (Photo by Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire)

The midpoint of the 2019 NFL season is right around the corner. Here are five takeaways from Week 7’s action, and what to look forward to in the second half of the season.

Aaron Rodgers makes a case for MVP

With Patrick Mahomes sidelined for the foreseeable future and Deshaun Watson and Russell Wilson struggling in losses Sunday, Aaron Rodgers put MVP voters on notice with one of the best games of his career.

In Green Bay’s 42-24 win over Oakland, Rodgers completed 25 of his 31 passes for 429 yards and five touchdowns (he also ran for a score). It was the first time the two-time MVP—or any Packers quarterback—posted a perfect passer rating in a game.

Rodgers is now the ninth player to surpass 350 TDs and is 12 away from moving past Eli Manning for eighth on the all-time list. If Rodgers can keep up this level of play for the 6-1 packers, he’ll become the fifth player in NFL history to earn three MVP awards.

The Chiefs’ Super Bowl campaign goes down with Mahomes

Speaking of the MVP award, last year’s winner, Mahomes, suffered a knee injury in the second quarter of Thursday’s victory over the Broncos and sat out the remainder of the game. On Friday an MRI determined the Chiefs QB dislocated his knee and would likely miss three weeks.

The Chiefs’ Super Bowl odds immediately tumbled after the announcement, though Kansas City is still the third favorite to win. In Mahomes’ absence, Matt Moore will take over in Kansas City and must face a one-loss Green Bay team at home, the 5-2 Minnesota Vikings (who own a top-10 defense) and the Tennessee Titans (another top-10 defense).

Mahomes could be back by Week 11 against the Chargers. He’ll get a bye in Week 12, then take on three more top-10 defenses, including the Patriots, plus the Raiders and the Chargers once more.

Chances are, the Chiefs’ 5-2 record is about to take a major hit, even once Mahomes comes back to the starting lineup.

The Eagles will miss the playoffs

Another team many expected to contend for the Super Bowl is losing its grasp on a playoff spot with each passing week. The 3-4 Philadelphia Eagles dropped their second game in a row in a road loss to division rival Dallas, 37-10, and the upcoming schedule doesn’t lend Philly much help.

The Eagles’ mediocre offense will next visit Buffalo, the No. 4 pass defense in the league, then will host Chicago’s top-10 defensive unit. Their bye comes Week 10, then Philly will face New England and Seattle, plus Dallas again in December. The Eagles get Miami, the Giants twice and Washington, as well, so they should be able to count on three or four victories against lowly competition.

Realistically, Philadelphia will end up with an 8-8 record—maybe 9-7. Meanwhile, Dallas is finally getting healthy and should end up with the NFC East title and an automatic playoff bid.

Jalen Ramsey and Antonio Brown paved the way for manipulating trades

The latest athlete to throw a tantrum and get his way, Jalen Ramsey, found a home with the Los Angeles Rams after he insisted on a trade from his former team, Jacksonville. Ramsey made his debut on Sunday in L.A.’s 37-10 win at Atlanta and helped contain star Falcons wideout Julio Jones.

The Rams were in need of help on defense and handed Jacksonville two first-round picks and a fourth-round pick in return for the talented cornerback. L.A. seemingly isn’t worried Ramsey could cause issues in the Rams’ own locker room, despite his display of rebellion with his previous team.

Ramsey wanted out of Jacksonville following an argument on the sideline with head coach Doug Marrone during the Jaguars’ Week 2 matchup against Houston. Ramsey then sat out three games with a “back injury” and “illness” before Jacksonville conceded a trade.

Ramsey’s protest was rewarded with a new contract on a better team, just like Antonio Brown’s strategic social media outburst landed him a brief spot on New England’s roster.

Seeing how that behavior worked for them, it’ll be interesting to see how other disgruntled players maneuver trades in the future. The blueprint has been laid, and so far it’s working effectively.

Patriots become more lethal with addition of Sanu

The Brown trade ended in a bust for the Patriots, as the controversial wide receiver found himself wrapped up in legal issues and became too much of a liability in New England.

Since Brown’s departure the undefeated Patriots have gotten by with brilliant defense, but the offense has wavered, at least in part because of an abundance of injuries. In the Pats’ 33-0 shutout of the Jets, receiver Josh Gordon, running back Rex Burkhead and tight ends Ryan Izzo and Matt LaCosse were each placed on the inactive list, while Julian Edelman and Phillip Dorsett took the field despite practicing on a limited basis earlier in the week.

Tom Brady has made do with a rotation of receivers and a depleted offensive line, but Tuesday morning the Atlanta Falcons lent their Super Bowl LI nemesis a helping hand and traded receiver Mohamed Sanu to the Patriots.

Sanu saw his production slip on a 1-6 Falcons team focused around receivers Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley, plus tight end Austin Hooper. Last season, however, Sanu made 66 catches for 838 yards, second most behind Jones on the team.

He also played quarterback in high school, so the trick play the Pats like to run with Edelman tossing the ball might have another piece involved. The Patriots already look like a Super Bowl contender, but if Sanu can bring some consistency to the offense, New England will be nearly unstoppable.


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