The 2020 NFL season has been as unpredictable as we could have expected. While a number of players have been consistently performing at a high level, there are some stars in need of a bounce-back week.
Here are three players that have the most to prove in Week 7:
Baker Mayfield, QB, Cleveland Browns
Last week, Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield completed 10 passes for 119 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions. In the 38-7 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, Mayfield finished with a 5.5 quarterback rating. He was playing so poorly, in part due to an ongoing rib injury that listed him as questionable leading up to the game, Cleveland brought in backup quarterback Case Keenum in the third quarter.
Mayfield’s struggles aren’t solely tied to injury. He has not been effective with the Browns this season—or since his rookie year. This week, however, will be a needed change of pace after a hot 4-1 start that was sullied by the Steelers. Instead of facing one of the best defenses in the NFL, the Browns will be going up against a struggling Cincinnati Bengals defense.
The Bengals have allowed the eighth-most yards per game (394.7) and haven’t won since Week 4. This gives Mayfield an opportunity to get his confidence back, and he’ll likely need to get his best wide receiver going. Odell Beckham Jr. is averaging career lows across the board and a large part of the Browns’ early success was due to their rushing attack. Cleveland has the best run game in the league, which could change with the extended absence of Nick Chubb, who will miss several weeks with an MCL injury. The Browns have a better chance of getting both the run and passing game working against the Bengals, but they’ll need a much better performance from Mayfield regardless.
Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo Bills
Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen has a give-me game in Week 7 when he faces the New York Jets. Allen, who has been a contentious talking point in MVP conversations, struggles with consistency and executing against better teams. According to ESPN, Allen is 1-6 against teams that entered the game at least three games above .500, which won’t be a problem with the Jets.
When Allen is on, he’s on and an exciting young passer to watch. Allen, however, shows his inexperience a little too often. He didn’t have the showing he would have liked in his second consecutive primetime game and took the brunt of the loss saying, “I got to do a better job, it's plain and simple.”
Allen can continue to work on his accuracy and making the correct reads, which were two big areas of concern in the 26-17 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 6. New York remains the only winless team in the league and most recently put up a goose egg in the 24-0 loss to the Miami Dolphins. Allen can make the most out of this matchup.
Le’Veon Bell, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
We’ve seen the rich get richer when the Chiefs signed running back Le’Veon Bell. He’ll make his Kansas City debut Sunday against the Denver Broncos with the hopes of carving out a significant role.
Bell will be eligible to play after missing Week 6 and joining rookie back Clyde Edwards-Helaire to give the Chiefs one thing they were never lacking: more talent. The scariest part of Bell’s addition is that he was never intended to replace anyone in the backfield, just add to it; after Edwards-Helaire’s breakout performance in Week 6, the thought of another talented rusher working alongside quarterback Patrick Mahomes is almost unfair. Bell might not see significant time with Edwards-Helaire as productive as he has been on early downs—he has an NFL-leading 682 yards from scrimmage through six weeks. But, as Mahomes said earlier this week, Bell can provide something special for the Chiefs, who continue to be one of the league’s most complete offensive teams.