The 32 things we learned from Week 7 of the 2021 NFL season:
1. Another valiant effort by the Detroit Lions, who hung tough against the Los Angeles Rams and ex-Lions QB Matthew Stafford before succumbing 28-19. Detroit led after three quarters, recovering an onside kick and successfully executing a pair of fake punts. But it was all for naught, Stafford (334 yards, 3 TDs passing) continuing to resemble an MVP in his new threads, while former Rams QB Jared Goff threw a killer interception to former teammate Jalen Ramsey in the end.
2. Goff (2 INTs, sacked twice Sunday) still hasn’t won a game when not wearing a Rams uniform – he’s also winless in his past 10 starts – nor without Sean McVay as his head coach.
2a. The Lions still haven’t won a game sans Stafford since 2010.
3. Detroit, the first team to go 0-16 – a 2008 “effort” that led to the drafting of Stafford No. 1 overall in 2009 – is 0-7 for the fourth time in franchise history and the only team still in danger of going 0-17 this season.
4. The league’s only undefeated team remains the Arizona Cardinals, now 7-0 for the second time in franchise history – the other instance occurring in 1974, when the franchise was based in St. Louis. The Cards knocked off the Houston Texans on Sunday in the first NFL game ever to end in a 31-5 score.
5. And there was another eventful reunion in the desert, ex-Texans superstars J.J. Watt and DeAndre Hopkins sticking it to their former franchise for the first time since their departures.
6. If the NFL playoffs started tomorrow – they don’t – the Cincinnati Bengals, who are 5-2 for the first time since 2013, would be the AFC’s No. 1 seed. If anyone predicted such a start, who dey?
6a. Since 1990, Cincinnati has started 5-2 six times, the other five all ending with a playoff berth.
7. More reasonable to have foreseen Bengals WR Ja’Marr Chase as a potential offensive rookie of the year, despite his brutal preseason. Chase caught eight passes for 201 yards – most by an AFC player this year – in Sunday’s shocking 41-17 blowout of the Baltimore Ravens, who fell out of first place in the AFC North. Chase is the first player since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger with at least 50 receiving yards in his first seven NFL games. His 754 yards are the most ever by a rookie through seven games.
7a. Chase is on pace for 1,831 receiving yards this season, which would obliterate the Super Bowl era (since 1966) record of 1,400 set just last year by Justin Jefferson … who was formerly the No. 2 receiver (to Chase) at LSU.
8. Ravens QB Lamar Jackson lost to the Bengals for the first time (previously 5-0) and for the first time as a starter in October (previously 9-0).
9. Baltimore has allowed more than 500 yards twice in the past three weeks.
10. Atlanta Falcons rookie Kyle Pitts (7 catches for 163 yards) and Cincinnati’s C.J. Uzomah (3 catches, 91 yards, 2 TDs) were the headliners on “National Tight End Day.” Shoutout, too, to Zach Ertz, who played well (3 catches for 66 yards and a TD) in his Cardinals debut.
11. Bummer not to see the San Francisco 49ers’ George Kittle (calf) on a “holiday” he created.
TB12. Meanwhile, in “Tompa Bay,” Tom Brady became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw 600 regular-season TD passes in a 38-3 rout of the Chicago Bears. No big deal.
ME13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Mike Evans caught Brady’s milestone TD strike but absentmindedly tossed it into the stands. The Bucs equipment staff eventually recovered the keepsake pigskin.
14. However Brady’s most important completion Sunday occurred when he gifted a Bucs hat to a young fan in the stands who had a sign signaling the quarterback helped him beat brain cancer. GOAT indeed. Pretty cool.
15. Nice day, too, for the Tampa Bay defense, which had five takeaways, four sacks and surrendered just the three points to Chicago. Worthy of being celebratory.
16. The top five teams in the NFC (Cardinals, Bucs, Packers, Cowboys, Rams) have a combined four losses, none with two. Gonna be a dogfight to get that No. 1 playoff seed.
17. QB Derek Carr completed 31 of 34 passes Sunday (323 yards, 2 TDs, INT), a career-best 91.2%. Only Drew Brees (96.7% in 2019) has connected at a better clip in game where the quarterback threw at least 30 passes.
18. More impressive, Carr’s Las Vegas Raiders are now 2-0 post-Gruden and sit alone atop the AFC West at 5-2.
18a. Interim boss Rich Bisaccia is the first Raiders coach since 2002 (Bill Callahan) to start 2-0. Callahan’s Raiders reached Super Bowl 37.
COVID-19: Coach Kliff Kingsbury returned to the Cardinals after the virus sidelined him in Week 6, but Arizona was still without defenders Zach Allen, Chandler Jones and Corey Peters.
20. The Kansas City Chiefs are 3-4 for the ninth time during the Super Bowl era. They didn’t recover to reach postseason in any of the other instances and hard to see how this edition overcomes a defense that’s allowed at least 27 points in six of seven games this season.
21.Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes has to be wondering which way is up, especially after he got folded like a lawn chair while getting knocked out of Sunday’s 27-3 loss to the Tennessee Titans. The 2018 MVP has now thrown an interception in six straight games for the first time in his career and also experienced his first 27-point deficit in the NFL.
21a. Mahomes, who entered Week 7 with an NFL-high 18 TD passes, was shut out through the air for the fourth time in his career and first in the past 32 regular-season games.
22. Meanwhile, the Titans look legit, proving they can win convincingly even when MVP candidate Derrick Henry (86 rushing yards) has a relatively quiet day – though King Henry did throw his first NFL TD pass Sunday.
23. Finally, the Green Bay Packers have a legit alternate/throwback uniform.
24. Second-year Miami Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa now has seven INTs in his last five starts – he had two in his first nine NFL appearances – including two Sunday as his team continued its death spiral to 1-6. Tagovailoa did have a career-best four TD passes in Sunday’s loss to the Falcons, but don’t expect those Deshaun Watson rumors to dissipate until the Nov. 2 trade deadline has passed.
25. The latest fun fact regarding Atlanta RB/WR/KR Cordarrelle Patterson? He’s the first guy since the merger with double-digit rushing and receiving TDs and another five on kickoffs. Truly a unique player and a major reason Atlanta has quietly rebounded to .500 and into NFC wild-card relevance.
26. Congrats to former Orlando Apollos “star” D’Ernest Johnson. Despite being listed as RB4 on Cleveland’s official depth chart, his first NFL start was one he’ll never forget after Johnson racked up 168 yards from scrimmage and a TD in the Browns’ 17-14 victory over the Denver Broncos. Despite injuries to Cleveland QB Baker Mayfield and top RBs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, the Browns’ loaded roster is still perfectly capable of keeping them afloat until reinforcements arrive.
26a. Cleveland is the only team this season that has had three different running backs exceed 100 yards from scrimmage in a game.
27. Should the New York Jets have kept QB Sam Darnold, benched Sunday by the Carolina Panthers? Should the NYJ have drafted QB Zach Wilson, predictably injured Sunday against the New England Patriots? No and no. Gang Green should obviously be running Navy’s triple option – that would be sticking it to Bill Belichick.
28. The Jets have lost six straight games coming off their bye week. Remarkable.
29. Meanwhile, the Pats have defeated the NYJ 12 in a row – the longest such streak in a series that dates to 1960. The Jets have now dropped 11 straight at Gillette Stadium.
29a. The Patriots and Jets are the first teams this season to complete their intra-divisional couplet.
30. Probably shouldn’t be a surprise Darnold struggled again at MetLife Stadium, his personal house of horrors … though no reports that he saw ghosts Sunday. But pretty amazing how quickly the Panthers (3-4), even without injured RB Christian McCaffrey, have parlayed a 3-0 start into a last-place residence in the NFC South. Watson whispers in Charlotte, too.
31. Glass half empty? The reigning NFC East champion Washington Football Team dropped to 2-5. Glass half full? Washington’s league-worst scoring defense permitted 24 points to Green Bay, its fewest since the Los Angeles Chargers scored 20 on opening day.
32. Overall, uncharacteristically putrid weekend of NFL football – blowouts abounding, and the first this season without an overtime game. Hey, they can’t all be prom queens, and Week 8 should provide an instant chaser with the Packers visiting the Cardinals on Thursday night.
Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis.