It’s NFL Week 7, and for a large number of the league’s teams, things could really go either way. There are (count ’em) 10 teams sitting at 3-3 heading into the second-to-last weekend of October, a group composed of perceived 3-3 underachievers (Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Green Bay Packers, Los Angeles Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers), scrappy 3-3 overachievers (Atlanta Falcons, Seattle Seahawks) and a trio of 3-3s that feels just about right (Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, San Francisco 49ers).


This week’s around-the-league exercise from ESPN Insiders Dan Graziano and Jeremy Fowler sizes up those 3-3s, while Graz and Fowler also focus on what stands up as the worst transaction of the 2022 offseason, who will come out of the thus-far disappointing AFC North, what the New York Giants’ surprising 5-1 start might mean for their biggest stars and whom the Carolina Panthers might target as their coaching search gets underway. Also, for good measure are our dynamic duo’s top upset and fantasy picks and all the top buzz they’re hearing from around the league as Week 7 commences.

Which 3-3 team are you most sure about reaching the playoffs, and which are you most certain won’t reach the playoffs?

Graziano: I’ll take the Ravens as the most likely to reach the playoffs from this group. They’ve played a lot more good quarters than bad ones so far. The coaching staff has the experience to make me think they can iron out their problems with fourth-quarter defense. They have one of the easiest schedules the rest of the way, and they’ve already beaten the Bengals, so they have the tiebreaker edge on them. I have some confidence in Cincinnati, too, but I used that tiebreaker thing as, well … the tiebreaker.

The one I’m most concerned about on this list is the Patriots, largely because of a remaining schedule that includes both of their games against the Bills, both of their games against the Jets, road trips to Minnesota, Las Vegas and Arizona, and home games against the Bengals and Dolphins. Not a lot of easy outs. The Pats are playing better, for sure, but I think their personnel shortages on offense will catch up with them against their tough remaining schedule.

Fowler: Give me the Packers on surest playoff bet. Yes, the past two weeks have been ugly. But an Aaron Rodgers-led team is a near certainty for playoff positioning. Green Bay has made the playoffs in 11 of Rodgers’ past 12 healthy seasons (not counting 2017, when Rodgers missed much of the season with a broken collarbone). The defense is too talented not to perk up. Receivers will get healthier soon. And the Packers could acquire a new pass-catcher via trade.

Atlanta sneaking into the playoffs with a clearly transitional roster would be impressive, which is why I’ll place them in the least certain category. Save maybe Brian Daboll in New York, no coaching staff is doing more with less than Arthur Smith and the Falcons. And the schedule is manageable, hitting the Panthers twice, the Bears and the Commanders before Week 13. It’s doable. But the other rosters probably have more talent, so I’ll use that as a tiebreaker.

Through six weeks, what looks like the worst offseason transaction so far?


Fowler: Russell Wilson to the Broncos. A player of Wilson’s caliber deserves some level of grace that he’ll turn things around. But if we’re talking the worst transaction so far, then it’s hard to dispute the harsh reality: The Denver Broncos gave up five draft picks (including two firsts) and three key players for the right to pay a quarterback $50 million per year only to rank 25th in QBR (35.8). The six-game sample is not good, and Seattle is looking like the early winner in the trade.

Graziano: Wilson is the clear answer, but Jeremy got to go first on this question, so I’m stuck trying to come up with something that compares to that disaster. How about Baker Mayfield? Carolina didn’t pay anything close, in terms of dollars or draft picks, to what the Broncos paid for Wilson. But the extent to which the Mayfield trade didn’t work is stunning. The thinking was something like, “Well, he HAS to be better than Sam Darnold at least,” but he was not. The offense never got off the ground, Mayfield is now injured and head coach Matt Rhule has been fired. Obviously, some of that was in motion before Mayfield got there, but it’s tough to look at that acquisition and not consider it a complete flop.

Who’s going to win the AFC North?


Graziano: Ravens, but I think it’s really close between them and the Bengals. As I mentioned above, I think if I have to pick this one right now, I lean Baltimore because of the schedule edge and the fact it has the head-to-head win in its pocket. But I think they’re both playoff teams and would not be remotely surprised if Joe Burrow & Co. repeated as division champs.

Fowler: Bengals. Since I don’t quite trust the Ravens’ late-game play right now, we’re onto Cincinnati, which has the best collection of talent in the division. When healthy, the offense can hum. The offensive appears to be improving after a shaky start. And the defense ranks 10th in points allowed (19.2 per game) despite missing key players because of injury. Linebacker Logan Wilson and defensive tackle DJ Reader should be back eventually.