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Houston Texans, Kansas City Chiefs among the needy in Week 7

We are getting set for Week 7 in the NFL. Yes, Week 7 -- it's not that early in the season anymore.

Big games aplenty this weekend. Stars need to shine. Desperation is setting in with certain teams and players. Some guys must start living up to their reputations before 2014 is labeled a waste.

Many need it this weekend. But who needs it more?

I'm glad you asked ...

1) Who needs a win more: Houston or Pittsburgh?

The Pittsburgh Steelers are a mess. They're 3-3, but it feels much worse than that, fresh off a 31-10 pasting at the hands of the Cleveland Browns. Their lack of talent has been exposed. The coaching has been poor, with the same mistakes being repeated. And a home game isn't the guaranteed remedy. Remember when the immortal Mike Glennon marched Tampa Bay down the field for a Buccaneers win in Pittsburgh a few weeks ago? To stress the point, yes, I'm referring to the one-winBuccaneers.

All that said, I think Houston needs it more, because this is a game the Texans absolutely should win.

I think Houston is the superior team, despite having Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback. This is a group that has a legit chance to win eight games and compete (or faux-compete) for a wild-card slot.

Pittsburgh, as I predicted throughout the offseason, is a last-place team in the AFC North.

Bill O'Brien's group has been more fundamentally sound than Mike Tomlin's bunch. And Houston is just better than Pittsburgh, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. J.J. Watt must be licking his chops eyeing the Steelers' offensive line, which has given up the fourth-most sacks in the NFL.

On the road, at home or on the moon, Houston is better. Last week, the Texans forged a fantastic comeback against Indianapolis that fell just short. That won't fly this week. Houston needs a win.

2) Who needs a breakout game more: Eddie Lacy or Alfred Morris?

I don't sweat Lacy. I'm pretty sure I don't care if he's hurting your fantasy team. The Green Bay Packers are 4-2 and Lacy is too talented to not eventually get into a groove. With Aaron Rodgers slinging it and continuing to be the best quarterback in the game, the worry meter isn't off the charts.

Meanwhile, when it comes to Morris, we just haven't seen the dominant back that he was as a rookie two years ago. You know, the guy who finished second in the NFL with 1,613 yards rushing. And he was more consistent last fall, piling up a respectable yardage total of 1,275. Right now, he's on pace to barely crack 1,000 yards, averaging a career-low 3.98 yards per carry.

With Kirk Cousins crashing back down to Earth, the 1-5 Redskins desperately need Morris to be elite. They need him to take over games again. And there's no better time than the present: On Sunday, the 'Skins host the Tennessee Titans, who just happen to rank 24th in rushing defense.

3) Who needs a road win more: Atlanta or New Orleans?

The Atlanta Falcons are 2-4. The New Orleans Saints are 2-3. Obviously, a disappointing start for each NFC South team.

Atlanta, however, is beyond repair. The Falcons are injury-riddled, the offensive line is a mess and the defense just plain lacks talent. I can't imagine how this team travels to Baltimore and beats the well-rounded Ravenson Sunday. Head coach Mike Smith has to be on the hot seat.

New Orleans, though, still has hope. As I wrote a couple of Mondays ago, I still anticipate that the flawed Saints will win the division. And whether Jimmy Graham is able to play or not, New Orleans will take the field Sunday against the 4-2 Lions as the better team. Or, at least, they should be. But time is running out. The first team to nine wins could take the NFC South. This game, which could get New Orleans back to .500, looms incredibly large for Drew Brees and Co. The Saints need to get rolling heading into this five-game stretch:

Week 8:vs. Green Bay Packers (Sunday Night Football)
Week 9:at Carolina Panthers (Thursday Night Football)
Week 10:vs. San Francisco 49ers
Week 11:vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Week 12:vs. Baltimore Ravens (Monday Night Football)

4) Who needs more help from above: Chicago or Seattle?

It's Week 7, and the Seattle Seahawks are in third place in the very tough NFC West. The Seahawks' O-line hasn't been stellar by any stretch of the imagination. Percy Harvin's been a non-factor on offense (see: six touches for negative-1 yard last week). Dallas just shoved around Seattle's vaunted defense.

I still believe the defending Super Bowl champs are a playoff team, but being fair, San Francisco and Arizona have both looked better and more consistent this season. Seattle needs the help. And the Seahawks might just get it this week.

Seattle is visiting the Rams in St. Louis, which means Seattle will beat the Rams in St. Louis. The Seahawks' defense will eat Austin Davis for lunch. Now, on the surface, Arizona's trip to Oakland looks like a game in which the Cardinals will beat up on the Raiders. But Derek Carr and Co. nearly knocked off the Chargers last week. And San Francisco must go on the road to Denver for a possible Super Bowl preview Sunday night. I think Colin Kaepernick and his weapons match up very well with the Broncos, but this is obviously a tough assignment.

If everything falls right for the Seahawks, they'll be back in first place by Monday.

Now, I had Chicago as a playoff team in the preseason. Thus far, the Bears have been as up-and-down as their 3-3 record suggests. But I believe they will eventually leapfrog Detroit in the standings. Green Bay? That's another story.

5) Who needs elite play from their QB in S.D. more: Chargers or Chiefs?

Philip Rivers is a top-tier candidate for league MVP right now. But the way Branden Oliver is running and the defense is swarming, San Diego can win on Sunday even if Rivers doesn't dazzle. (For the record, I actually think Phil will shine and San Diego will win.)

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On the other hand, even with Jamaal Charles' tantalizing, game-breaking ability and K.C.'s imposing pass rush, the Chiefs need Smith to be a model of efficiency and exploit favorable matchups with emerging weapon Travis Kelce.

I think Kansas City is destined to finish with seven or eight wins. If they are going to prove me wrong, they need Smith to take over a game like this.

Follow Adam Schein on Twitter @AdamSchein.

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