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 weekly podcast on this site (the Week in Review podcast), our new “Sine Lines” sport-toon (every Mon, Wed, Fri), or maybe one of our posts in the Tank. We’re just like you, though. We love a good football game, no matter who’s playing.
All times Eastern:
– Sunday 11/18,
Every year it’s the same ol’ thing at the ‘Games to Watch’ offices… We try to put together the “FantasySharks.com Holiday Extravaganza” and the same thing always happens; no matter how early we send out the invites and wait for RSVPs, we just never know who is going to show up. Some years, like the year we included the 8 flavor chicken wing bar, we had 142 people show up – including Sonya “The Black Widow” Thomas (she almost single handedly broke the food budget). The following year, we decided that maybe we all should back off flirting with coronaries, and get a giant veggie tray. Long story short: no one showed up, not even long time attendee Don Rickles, and we were still eating brown celery 3 weeks later. You never know just who is going to show up to something like a holiday party, or in this week’s case, a football game.
Who do we see from
this week? Do we see QB
Phillip Rivers from week 8 (143.9 passer rating) or the week 10 Phillip Rivers (2 INT and 2 Fumbles and a 30.6 rating). Do we see David Garrard at all (this *should* be his first trip back from injury against the Colts… is he 100%)? Does RB
LaDainian Tomlinson show up with one of his monster games, or do we see one of his early 2007 disappointments? Does RB
Maurice Jones-Drew have a 40+ yard break out for a score or is he held in check?
Look, we could go on and on… but we aren’t going to lie to you — we don’t know what we’re really going to see in this game. But it IS a situation where two desperate teams still within reach of their division wins are in need of a final push – and THAT is good football.
The 2007 Chargers are more inconsistent than small-town gas prices. One week they beat one of the NFL’s best and pick off a future hall of fame QB six times, and another week they fall flat to
Phillip Rivers is not having a good season – and that hurts the Chargers. A lowly #21 in the QB ratings, Rivers needs to do better than the middle-of-the road passing yardage and TDs he’s shown this season (16th in both).
LaDainian Tomlinson shows flashes of brilliance and still is game planned against weekly (733 yards and 8 TDs), but even he’s had his share of bad games this year. TE
Antonio Gates is not only their best, but among the league’s best – but even he’s been effected by the poor play of Rivers, especially over the past two weeks. Their D is middle of the pack, allowing just under 21 points a game, but they give up more yardage than most before tightening up around the goal line. But through all of that, this team is still leading the AFC West.
The Jaguars are currently holding a wildcard spot in the AFC, but with another Colt loss and
win, they can match records with the Colts who are in 1st place in the AFC south. The return of QB
David Garrard (1141 yards and 6 TDs, and the 4th best passer rating in the NFL) should help the Jags, and their #3 ranked rushing offense will force the Chargers to come up big like they did against Indy. The Jaguars favor the two-headed running attack of RBs
Fred Taylor (519 yards) and
Maurice Jones-Drew (536 yards), who form a tandem that can keep the clock running, yet still find the end zone and are able break one for a long TD trot. The Jags D is one of the league’s most solid clubs in keeping people out of the end zone, 8th best in scoring D, but they too have been giving up more than their fare share of yardage in the process this year.
So back to the question, who will show up? We think everyone – making this a shoe-in for a ‘Game to Watch’, and one which could very well define one of these team’s season. (We’re paid to be dramatic like that, but in this case it’s actually true.)
– Sunday 11/18,
If there’s one thing that’s always entertaining in
, it’s a good revenge film. You know what we’re talking about… something like that entertainment spectacle where we see someone beat down and left for dead, only to watch them rise up and stick it to ‘the man’. You know the film we’re talking about – the one where the guy is in the arena and fights the tigers one week and then some raiders the next week for everyone’s enjoyment… Oh yeah, I got it… “The
Oh, you thought we were talking about Gladiator with Russell Crowe? Well, forget about that – we have no respect for Russell Crowe since he turned down the role of Wolverine for the X-Men. (Honestly, who would turn down that role?!?) But, believe it or not, the Cleveland Browns have more in common with
Maximus Decimus Meridias than just a good offense – their story, like his, revolves around ‘revenge’, this year.
The Cleveland Browns are in the process of exacting revenge on an NFL that has treated them like the Alpha-Beta’s treated the Lambda Lambda Lambda nerds – as their own personal whipping boys. But just like the nerds struck back, so are the 2007 Cleveland Browns. The Browns are sitting at 5-4, and with 2 more wins in their last 7 games, they can post their best record in a decade. And they’ve been taking all the bullies who’ve been beating them up over the past few years and showing them a thing or two. They beat Cincy handily early on this year, they doubled up
in week 4, and came within three points of overcoming a long, long series of setbacks to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Browns are led by QB
Derek Anderson, who is top 10 in passing yardage and #4 in passing TDs. But when the Browns play the Ravens,
has even more reason to play well – that’s right – revenge. The Ravens were the team that released
to the waiver-wire two years ago, and didn’t think he was good enough except for possibly their practice squad. We bet they are sorry now. But
isn’t the only star on offense that is playing with a chip on his shoulder this game. What about RB
Jamal Lewis? Lewis is another former Raven looking to exact his pound of flesh, after the Raven chose to not resign Lewis, letting him go to a division rival. While Lewis’ numbers haven’t been stellar, his 4.0 yard per carry average and his 6 TDs makes sure that team can’t solely concentrate on
Braylon Edwards doesn’t have any personal revenge to take out on
, he’ll assist the Browns in trying to go 2-0 against a division rival – his 6th best 752 receiving yards and 2nd best 10 receiving TDs will certainly see to that. Too bad their defense is one of the worst in the league (last in scoring D, giving up almost 30 points a contest) or they’d be downright dominant this year.
Going into this season the Ravens never expected to be trailing
by a game at this point in the season. And certainly never expected
to beat them even once, let alone be in position to shut them out with a win this weekend. They’ll need their offensive guys to step it up and do better than their 13 point effort earlier in the season. QB
Kyle Boller isn’t faring much better than
Steve McNair did, currently 24th in the league in passer rating. And while RB
Willis McGahee’s 6th best rushing total of 749 yards gives them some punch (along with 4 rushing TDs), they need someone else to step it up. And since only WR
Derek Mason even cracks the top 25 in the receiving game, it better be him against a soft Cleveland D. But really,
’s D is what makes this game interesting. They rank 5th in overall defense, but are the 2nd best in the league against the run (not even allowing 74 yards a game) – and that will make it tough for Jamal Lewis to get his revenge. If they can hold down Anderson and his aerial attack, they could spoil the show for the revenge story that we’d all like to see… well, all of us except Baltimore fans and possibly some Pittsburgh fans that would welcome the extra breathing room.
So check to see if the little missus is looking, kick your feet up on the coffee table, and settle into that depression you’ve worn into the right side of the couch and lose yourself in this spectacle of revenge. No matter which way it comes out, both teams will know they’ve been in a heck of a fight…
– Sunday 11/18,
OK – last of our ‘Games to Watch’ this week, and we could draw you another Venn Diagram like we did earlier in the season, or draw inferences to great films, or even drag out another O.J. / Brittany / pop culture reference to kick this game off, but we won’t. Let’s just keep it simple. This is the game we’re most looking forward to watching this weekend.
Both the Giants and the Lions are coming off of VERY disappointing losses, and both have slipped to two games behind their division leader. What makes this game extra fun is that since the square-off against each other, only one of them is going to win this game and get back on track, while the other team drops back in the Wildcard race, falls even farther behind in the division, and really starts heading in the absolute wrong direction for any team looking to make a playoff run.
has had a nice resurgence this year and is making QB
Jon Kitna’s promise at the beginning of the season to win 10 games closer and closer to reality. Kitna’s 2296 passing yards (8th best) and 12 TDs (12th best) are certainly helping the Lions to reach his vision. But it’s not just Kitna, their Lions entire offense has been the strength of their wins, and with guys like semi-sleeper WR
Shaun McDonald (519 yards and 4 TDs) teaming up with not-so-sleeperish WR
Roy Williams (613 yards and 5 TDs) to put up solid numbers. They are part of the reason
is ranked 7th in average points and 9th in passing yard averages per game. On the defensive side,
does lack a dominant pass defense, but their rushing D is holding opponents to under 100 yards a game – and that’s a step in the right direction for their defense for sure.
Those who had visions of the Giants destroying
last week, obviously you were disappointed. Keep this in mind, though – the Giants three losses have come against 2 tough contests against
and a stumble against
– the two best teams in the NFC right now. After a rough defensive start to the season, the Giants are now respectable on both sides of the ball. Starting with the defensive side, they currently are the team sack leaders (and should send Christmas cards to Eagles backup lineman Winston Justice for his help in that); and are in the top 10 in averages of pass and rushing yards against. DEs
Michael Strahan and
Osi Umenyiora may be the most popular players on that defense, but as a unit they have held teams to 15 points or less in the four weeks leading up to the most recent game versus Dallas. On the flip side of the ball, QB
Eli Manning has fallen back to his more typical middle-of-the-road passer stats (as we keep trying to tell people that he just isn’t as good as ESPN and Madison Avenue seem to be desperate for us to believe). Lil’ Manning’s 14 TDs are better than average though, tying him for 9th, and he has recently rediscovered his TE
Jeremy Shockey (who ended up being his favorite target in the recent game versus the Cowboys catching 12 of the 14 balls that came his way). Manning’s biggest help is WR
Plaxico Burress (588 yards and 8 TDs) who apparently proves that you play better when you DON’T practice.
Looking at the records alone… this should be a great match-up, and a fantastic game to watch. In week 11, with the season fast drawing to a close, you can’t afford to you’re your momentum going in the wrong direction – and both of these teams know it. Whoever wins this battle, entrenches themselves (at least temporarily) as the frontrunner in the NFC Wildcard race. Whoever loses, mires themselves in a pack of 5 teams all looking to knock them down even more. But no matter which of the teams wins, we guarantee you will – if you tune in.