NFL week seven preview: Five key talking points as the action returns to Wembley

The NFL returns to London for the second time this season with a clash between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Buffalo Bills at Wembley. Week 7 also features a potential first start for a quarterback drafted two years ago, an unlikely battle atop the AFC East and a rematch of the game that delivered last season’s catch of the year

Scott Wilson
Friday 23 October 2015 10:42
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Landry Jones led the Pittsburgh Steelers to a 23-13 win over the Arizona Cardinals
Landry Jones led the Pittsburgh Steelers to a 23-13 win over the Arizona Cardinals

Jones set to start under centre for the Steelers

Landry Jones started the season as the Pittsburgh Steelers’ third-string quarterback, yet is likely to start in Sunday’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Michael Vick is nursing a hamstring injury sustained in last week’s win against the Arizona Cardinals and would likely sit in place of Jones, who threw two touchdowns in the game, even if he was healthy.

Ben Roethlisberger is close to returning from a knee injury but his status remains unclear. He took snaps at Thursday’s practice but coach Mike Tomlin may wish to give the first-choice another week to recover.

If that is the case then Jones, a fourth-round pick in 2013, will make his first start in the NFL and an opportunity to show he can one day be a starting quarterback.

The Jaguars return to London

The NFL returns to London for the second time in the 2015 season as the Jacksonville Jaguars and Buffalo Bills meet at Wembley.

It marks the Bills’ first game in London, while the Jaguars will compete in their third game at Wembley in three seasons.

The NFL announced on Thursday a deal to play at least two games at Wembley until 2020, with the Jaguars committed to playing a game at the stadium until the contract expires. Jaguars owner Shahid Khan signed a four-year deal to play at Wembley in 2013 and said on the extension: "Our interest in extending our agreement to play a home game each season in London is nothing new.

"This is great news for the Jaguars and the stability of the team in Jacksonville, which has come to embrace London as our home away from home."

Unlikely battle atop the AFC East

Before the season began few would have thought the New York Jets would be the New England Patriots’ closest competitors in the AFC East heading into Week 7.

It’s not simply through the Bills’ or Miami Dolphins’ struggles that the Jets are second in the division. Todd Bowles’ team boast a 4-1 record and their defence, led by former Patriot Darrelle Revis, will provide a stern test for the Patriots on Sunday.

The Jets defence ranks number one in yards conceded per game (269.2), points conceded per game (15) and touchdowns allowed (9). Revis, who won a Super Bowl ring with New England before re-signing with the Jets on a five-year, $70 million contract in March, has made a remarkable start to his second stint in New York, recording three interceptions and three forced fumbles in five games.

Against Tom Brady, Revis faces a quarterback in equally supreme form. The four-time Super Bowl champion has thrown 14 touchdowns to one interception and the 183 points the Patriots have scored through five games is a franchise record.

Four of the last five meetings between the Jets and Patriots have been decided by three points or fewer. These one should be special.

NFC West rivalry reignited

Entering Week 7 the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks have little to shout about. Both are 2-4 and sit beneath the Arizona Cardinals and St. Louis Rams in the NFC West standings.

They meet at Levi’s Stadium on Thursday night and fans can only hope the Seahawks and 49ers deliver a performance akin to games gone by.

In the 2012 and 2013 seasons, the pair endured a fierce clash for supremacy in the NFC. The 49ers went to the Super Bowl in 2012, the Seahawks a year later. Who can forget Richard Sherman’s post-game rant after the 2013 conference title game against the 49ers, which the Seahawks won thanks to Malcolm Smith’s game-winning interception?

Two years ago it was a matchup that decided which team would represent the NFC in the Super Bowl; on Thursday the victor will still have less wins than the Cardinals. Hopefully their battles of 2012 and 2013 can inspire this one.

Beckham Jr returns to the scene of the 2014’s catch of the year

Odell Beckham Jr became an overnight celebrity after his one-handed catch against the Dallas Cowboys last season.

During the off-season he appeared at New York Fashion Week and threw a pitch at a celebrity softball game, and is featured on the front cover of this year’s Madden video game.

This Sunday he faces the team against which he made the catch, in the same stadium.

Basketball star LeBrom James tweeted after the play: “Man I just witnessed the greatest catch ever possibly by Odell Beckham Jr! WOW!!!!”

The New York Giants would surrender an 11-point lead to lose 31-28, but, thanks to Beckham Jr., nobody remembers the game for their collapse.

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