Hello fellow Sharks!
From now until Week 17, we’ll be giving our insight as to which games are the games to watch each week. This is a heavy burden, as we know a lot of you have Sunday Ticket, too much free time, and an addiction to premium brews like Natty Lite or Yuengling. A lot of you know us from our other articles, the Betbot, or the Last Row, or our myriad posts in the Tank. We’re just like you, though. We love a good football game, no matter who’s playing.
Last week we noticed some interesting RB subplots, our Week 4 Trifecta of games to watch all have interesting subplots in the tight end position. All times Eastern:
Dallas @ Oakland – Sunday 10/2, 4:15 – McAfee Coliseum, Oakland, CA
Two proud franchises with a more recent history of mediocrity clash in this late afternoon showdown. It’s not surprising that the Raiders have a top 10 offense, it’s not surprising that the Raiders have a bottom 10 defense. What is surprising is that the Cowboys have a top 5 offense and a bottom 10 defense. Drew Bledsoe seems to have found some of the old magic he had when he teamed up with Bill Parcells and Terry Glenn in the 90s. As a matter of fact, he’s doing what everyone thought Kerry Collins would do this year. The thing is, Kerry Collins looks pretty much like what everyone predicted about him too. Collins is slinging the ball around too, sometimes even finding receivers not named Moss.
Speaking of Collins and Bledsoe, look for the announcers to use the phrase, “Throws a great/beautiful long/deep ball” when talking about either QB. That phrase was used quite a bit when describing Collins’ fantasy potential with Moss in the off season, and quite frankly, Bledsoe’s looked pretty good chucking the ball downfield. Can Bledsoe find talented TE Jason Witten, however? Witten is plenty talented, but has caught about as many balls from Bledsoe as Ben Coates this year. The Raiders LBs are big and slow, this could be a week for Witten to shine – if Bledsoe decides to not go with his primary target every once in awhile.
Through three weeks of play, the Raiders have 15 more penalties than the Dallas Cowboys. The Raiders have 36 penalties, the Cowboys have 21 so far. If the Raiders have five more penalties than the Cowboys this game, I’m pretty sure the Raiders lose. That being said, the Raiders desperately need a win, and while desperation is not the best way to inspire disciplined play, it may inspire the Raiders to punch the ball into the end zone.
I expect this game to come down to one unit, the Cowboys defense. They have looked very unimpressive this year, letting the likes of the Niners score a bunch of points against them. If the Cowboys can step up and apply pressure on Collins, he should cough up the ball. If the defense keeps leaving holes for passing lanes or Lamont Jordan, this game is going to be a shoot out.
Philadelphia @ Kansas City – Sunday 10/2, 4:15 – Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, MO
Kansas City got trashed the Monday Night before by a Denver team that always seems to perform well against them. As we all know match-ups are everything in the NFL and the challenges presented by the Eagles are different challenges than the Broncos present.
Yes, KC features a vaunted rushing offense, but they are balancing that out a bit with a middling pass offense. You put those together and the Chiefs resent a challenge for any team. The Eagles sport the top offense in the NFL, but if you are reading this you know it’s not because of a bruising rush attack. Donovan McNabb is at it again this year, and while he has turned the ball over more than Andy Reid would like (especially against the Falcons in week one), he’s producing yards and scores.
The Chiefs will look to test the Eagles rush defense and challenge the Eagles safeties and linebackers with Tony Gonzalez. The Eagles may choose to clamp down on Gonzalez by covering him with a cornerback, as the Broncos did with Champ Bailey. Either Eagles CB should be up to the task most downs if called upon, so Eddie Kennison and Samie Parker will have to play big.
McNabb, while prolific, is hurt. He looked merely human against the Raiders last week. His ‘sports hernia’ injury is going to be a sub-plot for all Eagles games going forward (unless he gets hurt more than he is now), the Eagles may begin looking at other ways to move the ball, including the radical method known as rushing the ball. Like most successful coaches, Andy Reid is a bit stubborn, so only time will tell if he changes his methods up. Eagles fans aren’t holding their collective breath.
This is a trap game for the Eagles. After playing another AFC West team the week before, they are in real danger of being caught looking ahead to Dallas next week. This game will be tough for the Eagles to win, but it should be very entertaining.
San Diego @ New England – Sunday 10/2, 1:00 – Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, MA
San Diego brings their road show to lovely Massachusetts against the Pats. This is a lovely time of year up there, leaves are changing colors, the Red Sox are fading and the Pats have a bit of controversy. This year, the controversy is a rash of injuries – Rodney Harrison and Matt Light are out for the year, and Kevin Faulk is out for this game at least. Don’t overlook the Faulk injury, he played quite a bit in the Pats win over the Steelers. Dillon looks to have lost a step in the games so far this season, Faulk is an important component against above average defenses.
The Chargers go back on track with a win last week. Strangely enough there was a whole lot of Tomlinson in that win, is that a coincidence? LT even threw a TD pass. The Chargers may also begin getting Antonio Gates back on track with Harrison out. Who the Pats match up against him is another TE subplot for this week. If the Chargers are smart (and this involves Schottenheimer being smart) they’ll stick with the formula LT^2=W .
These teams are rock solid up and down both lines, so look for a bunch of good hitting, and some good old fashioned cheap shots. The Pats feature a very solid WR corps, and this should be the difference. With Dillon possibly slowed (again, I can only go off what I have seen so far) I think the Pats may go back to 4 or 5 WR sets presenting savvy QB Tom Brady with plenty of options. This may be hard to do however given OG Light’s injury.
The Pats should win this one, the Chargers would have a chance if this game were on the Left Coast, but it isn’t. How the Pats deal with their injuries will be a nice study in football tactics – because you know Bill B. has something up his sleeve.