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Nantz On The NFL's Week 7

Kurt Warner and the St. Louis Rams are still piling up yardage and wins - while the Minnesota Vikings are surprising everyone at the bottom of the NFC Central. Steve Young still can't help the desperate San Francisco 49ers - and the Dallas Cowboys' offense is grounded without Michael Irvin. What surprises will Week 7 uncover?

To help you out will be sitting down with CBS Sports announcers all season to give you their previews and opinions about current NFL news and each week's schedule.

CBS Sports analyst Jim Nantz is hear to kickoff the seventh week of the season. With the exception of a few organizations - the NFL hasn't had an abundance of premier teams or even premier players in recent years - other than money - how does the league justify another expansion team, and when will it end?

Jim Nantz: In a way it is good, I think Larry. Because, what had happened was Jacksonville and Carolina coming into the league, and by their second year both playing for the conference championship. It was, to me; it was all out of proportion. I don't mean that it has to take ten years before you can field a respectable team, but I thought that was a little quick.

And I think Cleveland will rebound, or rebuild, or build a lot faster than we are given them credit for - because of free agency in this league.

And I think that once Houston gets in.. we are not talking next year, we are talking 2002. I don't think there is going be any kind of difference that anybody can detect. As far as it, really hurting the quality of football in the league. Before the start of the season, a lot of people picked the Minnesota Vikings to walk away with the NFC Central title and maybe even the Super Bowl. It's now Week 7 and the Vikings are at the bottom of their division. They still have the talent and they still have the coaches - so what do you think is the reason for their poor play this season?

Jim Nantz: I think, first off, they took some hits on their defense. And I think that is a lot harder to rebound from than anybody really tok into account when the season started. And I think it is a team that clearly lost a lot of its confidence too. Seems to be a lot of turmoil on this team inside the locker room. And, you know, the another thing - the loss of Brian Billick as the offensive coordinator.

Ray Sherman, I don't want to trash Ray Sherman right now. He comes over from Pittsburgh, where last year things did not go all that well. And, that offensive is sputtering, unlike anytime last year, when it was a well oiled machine... racking up five and six touchdowns a game. We have not seen the Minnesota Vikings of 1998 appear this year.

Jim Nantz What are the key match-ups to look for in Week 7?

Jim Nantz: Well Denver and New England is a huge game on both sides. You have got Denver, that has finally got a little momentum going with two straight wins, after four opening losses. And boy, if Denver could somehow pull out this road win... 3-4, and it doesn't look all that desperate.

And then you look at New England, that just has to feel like right now, gave away the game away last week to Miami - up 14-0 at home - you can't lose those games. That is just a nightmare. And, New England's now lost two games this month, to Kansas City and Miami, they really need a win. You can't afford to lose to sub .500 teams when you are in the AFC East - and you're playing non-divisional games. You have got to win. If the NFL season were to end today - what players do you think would be the leading contenders for the league's MVP award?

Jim Nantz: Well, clearly the most valuable football player in the National Football League through six weeks is Kurt Warner.

And, it is one of the great stories we've ever seen in the NFL. It is just unheard of... unthinkable for a player to come out of the arena football league - play one year of college football at Northen Iowa University - to be completely past over by the Cleveland Browns in the expansion draft. A Cleveland team that decided to take Scott Malinvich in the expansion draft. The quarterback who was on Tampa's roster, and pass on Kurt Warner.

And now this guy is leading the league in passing - and by the way he is not just leading the league in passing, he is blowing out the stats right now. No one even close to his quarterback rating. So, Kurt Warner is, at this point the National Football League's most valuable player.

Produced by James Hutton and Larry Roth

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