5 key individual matchups to watch in Week 7

by
Brad Penner / USA TODAY Sports

theScore's Jack Browne breaks down five of the most important in-game matchups ahead of Week 7.

Evan Engram vs. Bobby Wagner/Kam Chancellor

After losing most of their receiving corps to injury, the Giants needed a big performance from rookie tight end Evan Engram to stand a chance to beat the Denver Broncos. He delivered, catching five passes for 82 yards and one touchdown in the win for New York.

It doesn't get any easier for the Giants and Eli Manning this week against the Seattle Seahawks' Legion of Boom. It's safe to say Richard Sherman and Co. will be able to shut down the Giants' wideouts, so Engram will again be tasked with being the main man.

Star linebacker Bobby Wagner and safety Kam Chancellor will likely both take turns against Engram, who boasts otherworldly athleticism and speed. Chancellor will test his physicality, while Wagner has the agility and experience to lock him down underneath.

Le'Veon Bell vs. Vontaze Burfict

The Pittsburgh Steelers wisened up and rode Le'Veon Bell for 179 yards on 31 carries in Week 6's win over the Kanas City Chiefs. The star rusher looks to have shaken off any early-season rust and employed his signature patience to devastating effect.

However, he's not unstoppable - at least not this season. Bell has been held under 3.2 yards per carry in three of six games, and faces an improving Cincinnati Bengals defense that has been buoyed by the return of linebacker Vontaze Burfict.

The Bengals are 2-0 since his return from suspension, and Burfict looks as good as ever, with 19 total tackles. The veteran linebacker will look to hit Bell early and often and make him second-guess his read. The Steelers need Bell to come out on top of this matchup to ease the pressure off the passing game, which is facing the league's second-ranked secondary.

Chandler Jones vs. Andrew Whitworth

Shocking stat: Chandler Jones' 31.5 sacks in the league since the start of the 2015 season, according to Kent Somers of azcentral sports, are more than superstars Khalil Mack and Von Miller.

Many don't put Jones in that top tier of edge players, but he's shown why the Arizona Cardinals were right to hand him a huge extension this offseason. He is, however, facing maybe his stiffest test so far in Los Angeles Rams left tackle Andrew Whitworth.

The veteran blocker has been key to the Rams' revival this season, locking down Jared Goff's blindside, busting open holes in the running game, and allowing just two sacks. Jones will need to use every move in his arsenal and then some to get the best of the wily Whitworth.

Davante Adams vs. Marshon Lattimore

In the Green Bay Packers' Week 6 loss to Minnesota, it was Davante Adams, not Jordy Nelson, who was shadowed by standout Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes for most of the game.

With Aaron Rodgers out of the game - and likely the season - Adams will again be the top concern of the opposing defense. Rodgers and Nelson have unbelievable chemistry, and it's likely that the New Orleans Saints fear Adams' raw athleticism instead of what Nelson can do without his best bud.

Rookie Marshon Lattimore should be tasked with taking on Adams, and he's proven himself more than capable of holding his own one-on-one with offenses' top weapons. Adams isn't the route runner Nelson is, so this matchup better suits the inexperienced Lattimore.

Joey Bosa/Melvin Ingram vs. Injury-hit Broncos offensive line

There's never a good time to lose three right tackles to injury, but it's especially concerning when you do so the week before facing arguably the best pass-rushing duo in the league.

Bosa and Ingram, with their blend of speed, power, and deep repertoires of moves, have already combined for 13 sacks during the Los Angeles Chargers' first six games. They'd be a nightmare for a fully healthy Denver Broncos offensive line.

The Broncos lost starting right tackle Menelik Watson (calf) and his backup Billy Turner (hand) during Week 6, and the next man up, veteran Donald Stephenson, tore his calf during practice this week. Longtime guard Allen Barbre will now be forced to slide over to right tackle and take on an elite pass-rusher. The Broncos will have to give him a ton of help if they want Trevor Siemian to survive.