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Week 7 winners and losers

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First impressions can stick around way too long during NFL seasons. What happened during Week 1 and much of September has very little to do with the league we see after seven weeks.

Remember when there was concern about the Green Bay Packers' offense? They've averaged 36 points over the last four games, winning games by an average of 19 points. Imagine if the Colts started the season 5-0, winning by an average of 18 points (their record since Week 2). We'd call them the best team in the league; they are playing that well.

Kansas City hasn't played a poor game since getting waxed by Tennessee in the opener. Cincinnati's defense, which was No. 1 after three weeks, has been steamrolled the last three games. It's time to admit they might not be very good.

For viewers, the first month of the season is often about letting go of preseason expectations. As we hit midseason, it's also about letting go of these misleading first impressions. Here's a look at the rest of our winners and losers from Week 7:

Going up

Colts' defensive frenzy: It's rare that a 27-0 game is fun to watch. But Indianapolis' crazed defensive performance against the Bengals for the first three quarters was something to behold. (The Bengals had 62 yards before the final frame.) The Colts' tackling, especially their knifing through the Bengals' line on run plays, was contagious. Chuck Pagano is having his best season as the Colts' coach.

Justin Forsett: The 5-foot-8 running back is on his fifth team in his seventh season and his fourth squad in as many years. Jacksonville cut him in March rather than pay him $1.1 million. When he signed in Baltimore, he was expected to take on Cierre Wood for No. 3 duties. And then they drafted Lorenzo Taliaferro, which made Forsett look like he was on the roster bubble.

After starting the offseason fourth on the depth chart, Forsett is now fourth in the NFL in rushing yards and first in yards per carry. All hail Gary Kubiak's ability to create a running game wherever he goes -- and give a ton of credit to Forsett. If you didn't know the name on the back of the jersey, he looks like a Pro Bowl player.

Buffalo's last-second magic: They have won three games on the final snap, including the touchdown to the emerging Sammy Watkins against Minnesota. A missed field goal in Detroit led to a win. They won in Chicago in overtime. In short: All that bad luck Bills fans have suffered through over the years has boomeranged in 2014.

Kansas City's playoff hopes: The AFC playoff picture already looks crowded with five teams at 5-2 or better. The Chiefs couldn't afford to fall three losses behind two teams in the division, so their win in San Diego was massive. And well-earned. Since Kansas City's meltdown against the Titans in Week 1, this squad has looked like a playoff team. They narrowly lost games in Denver and San Francisco in which they played well and have looked terrific in their wins. The schedule coming up is favorable: Six of their final 10 games are at home, with St. Louis and the Jets coming to Arrowhead next.

Bill O'Brien's post-game press conferences: He's becoming appointment viewing after a loss. It's when the caustic, Boston side of the personality shines.

Moving down


The Legion of Boom: Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas are the same guys they always have been, minus a few big plays. But this is not a great Seahawks secondary. Kam Chancellor is clearly not 100 percent and is a liability in coverage. With Byron Maxwell and Jeremy Lane hurt, guys like Marcus Burley and Tharold Simon are struggling to step up. The entire group has given up 12 touchdowns with only two interceptions on the season.

The Saints' closing ability: The Lions got the ball at their 10-yard line with just over five minutes remaining Sunday, trailing 24-13. At the time, the Lions had 241 total yards and two scoring drives in nine chances. Play that scenario 20 times, and the Lions probably only win it once. Sunday was that one time. That's the Saints' season in a nutshell.

The NFC South on the road: The division has won two games in 15 tries on the road! One of those shouldn't even count, because it was Carolina's division victory in Tampa. If not for the Buccaneers' miraculous finish in Pittsburgh in Week 4, the NFC South wouldn't have a single win out of the division on the road. Note: It's Week 8 now.

Chicago's consistency: Bears fans can be forgiven for losing their collective minds. This is the most infuriating team in the league. One week, their deep passing game looks back. The next week, Alshon Jeffery winds up with nine yards. Chicago's offensive line was a key to the team's success last year, but its tackles are not playing well this time around. It's also safe to say we've seen the end of Jay Cutler for MVP preseason articles.

Mike Smith's job security: He's coaching a five-win team. The Falcons' defense is a bottom-five unit again. It's hard to imagine general manager Thomas Dimitroff moving on, but it's also hard to imagine Smith rallying out of this mess.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast recaps every Week 7 game, and breaks down Peyton Manning's record-breaking night. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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