Each week, theScore looks at the teams, players, and units trending upward and those taking a step back.
? Matthew Stafford
The Detroit Lions are winners of three straight on the back of Stafford’s continued heroics. The eight-year veteran led the team on game-winning drives the previous two weeks, and engineered a comeback Sunday with 65 seconds left, throwing the go-ahead touchdown pass with 17 seconds to spare.
Expected to struggle without reliable target Calvin Johnson, Stafford has had his steadiest season yet, throwing for more than 1,900 yards and owning a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 15 to four. He has the second-best passer rating among eligible quarterbacks and has the Lions competing in the tough NFC North.
? Baltimore Ravens
After a sparkling start to the year, the Ravens have lost their last four games as the masters of one-possession games have found a way to come up short in all of them.
Baltimore hoped a change at offensive coordinator would kickstart their offense, but they remain among the NFL’s worst in total offense. The Ravens haven’t played themselves out of it just yet, four matchups with the Steelers and Bengals loom on the other side of their bye week, but they’ll need difference makers to emerge on offense and a largely unheralded defense to plug any leaks.
? Mike McCoy
Like fellow head coach Rex Ryan, McCoy was on thin ice. With the Chargers losing games in every conceivable fashion, it seemed he’d be handed a one-way ticket out of San Diego.
Then, with rumors swirling he’d be fired with another loss, the Bolts beat Denver on a short week. A week later, the Chargers recovered from a 17-point deficit to beat the Falcons. The players deserve the majority of the credit for their execution, and McCoy still might not survive the season, but things sure are looking better than they did two weeks ago.
There were two botched extra points and 13 missed field goals this week, the most egregious of which came off the feet of competing kickers Chandler Catanzaro and Stephen Hauschka with a divisional rivalry hanging in the balance in overtime. Add to that the fact rookie second-round draft pick Roberto Aguayo missed for the sixth time this season, it all adds up to a rough week for kickers.
Veteran Adam Vinatieri did his best to prop up his fellow kickers, though. The 43-year-old was 6-for-6 on all kicks and set an NFL record for most consecutive field goals made at 43. They can’t all be Vinatieri, though. Heck, even Stephen Gostkowski missed a kick Sunday.
? Oakland Raiders
In a battle of teams pundits expected to contend this season, the Raiders outclassed the Jaguars in a contest that was never in doubt. Through seven weeks, the Silver and Black have shown an ability to win in multiple facets.
Oakland ran its record to 5-2 and shares a lead in the competitive AFC West with the defending champion Broncos. Nearing the halfway point of the season, the Raiders are in prime position to shake up the conference and make even more believers in the process.
? NFC West
Not one team in the vaunted NFC West recorded a win in Week 7. Despite the tie between the Seahawks and Cardinals, Seattle still owns the third best record in the conference, but the other three teams are slotted 10th, 12th, and 16th in the NFC.
If the playoffs were to start today, only one team out of the division would make the postseason. Just over half a season remains, but the way things are trending, the west could be supplanted as the NFC’s division of power.