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Games to Watch – Week 11

Hello fellow Sharks! From now right up through 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 Fantasy PRE-Wind podcast), and our “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:

Green Bay @
Minnesota
– Sunday 11/21,
1:00pm

FOX

We used to be addicted to the show Survivor on CBS – and not just because of some athletic-looking ladies running around in “tankinis”. We really appreciated the premise of the show; in a nutshell, a game where two teams of people compete in challenges and someone from the losing team gets booted off if others feel they don’t play the game correctly or are considered a weak link. Although it is on FOX this week, that same scenario is being played out in Minnesota, where certain players/coaches might indeed get the boot if they don’t play THAT game correctly.

Of course no one is really going to get a vote, except maybe Vikes owner
Zygi Wilf, but if the underperforming Vikings lose this home game then head coach
Brad Childress and/or
Brett Favre (2066yd/10TD/16int) might find themselves “voted off”. Childress getting the heave-ho wouldn’t be a shock to many, after a team with this much talent has failed to live up to expectations. But a Favre benching might be the more newsworthy of the two, since it would shatter his record of consecutive games started at the position and might seriously injure one of the biggest egos in the game. That being said, we should be fair and state that this team’s losses cannot be laid solely at the feet of Favre or Childress (although 16 interceptions is a pretty good start, Mr. Favre). The most positive aspect of the Vikes’ offense is the rushing game which is ranked in the top ten in the NFL and has
Adrian Peterson (908yd/7TD) as its backbone. Unfortunately, that’s right about where the good news ends. Quite frankly, a receiving corps that was expected to excel, has done anything but – plagued by injuries and inconsistencies.
Percy Harvin (583yd/44rec/4TD), the invisible
Sidney Rice coming back from injury, and TE
Visanthe Shiancoe (360yd/2TD) are clearly underachieving at this point of the season and putting pressure on a defense who’s stats have been statistically solid.
Jarred Allen (31tkl/5.5sack/1int) and his squad are allowing just over 300 total yards a game to opponents, ranking them #7 in the league.

In Green Bay, no one is getting voted off any time soon, but last week’s bye couldn’t have come soon enough. The injury bug started nipping at the heels of key people like
Clay Matthews (31tkl/10.5sack/1int/1fum) and
Donald Driver (307yd/28rec/3TD), among other notable names, and the team did what it had to do to win and not get “voted” out of first place by other teams.
Aaron Rogers (2300yd/15TD/9int) is having another quality year, and RB
Brandon Jackson (460yd/3TD) has proven to be a serviceable backup since
Ryan Grant went down in the first game of the season. WR
James Jones (407yd/27rec/2TD) has some explosiveness, but need to protect the ball better after the catch – his three fumbles are a source of concern. Of course,
Greg Jennings (551yd/39rec/6TD) is the leading candidate at receiver, but the real shining star of the team is the 11 defensive members on the field. They currently allow the fewest points in the entire NFL (less than 16), although they will likely slip to second best in points allowed after the Chicago shutout of Miami on Thursday night.

”Survivor” is basically being played everywhere this week in the NFL with 25 of the 32 teams within two games of the division leader. But for this game, not only is it a team involved in the game, but individuals just might be playing for their jobs. If Favre has to go out, he might as well go out with a bang. Facing his former team might be motivation to shake off some of his issues with scandals, his difference with his head coach, and his own insufferable ego and come up with a big win. And while we might grow tired of the incessant Favre chat, that’s not an issue this weekend, because a Favre / Rodger match-up is always worth talking about. So tune in to this game and see which team, and which
players, will “outwit, outplay, and outlast” their competition.

Indianapolis
@
New England
– Sunday 11/21,
4:15pm
CBS

The Wild West was a breeding ground for tall tales of the world’s best gunslingers. Stories abound about the shooting prowess of legendary names like Jesse James, Billy the Kid, Wild Bill Hickok, and Buffalo Bill Cody. While some of their abilities have undoubtedly been exaggerated, their abilities and reputations were remarkable enough for people around the United States to sit up and take notice. Those same gunslingers have had countless movies and television shows depicting them dispatching opponents and making some amazing shots. But, since none of those legendary gunfighters ever faced each other in a blaze of gunfire (either in real life or on a Sunday afternoon western), we can’t ever really *know* which one was the best of the best. In the end, we are always left with one question, “who was really the best gunslinger?” Well, our heroes are no longer Wild West gunfighters, but the NFL has its own brand of heroic gunslingers. And unlike those westerns, the NFL has no problem pitting two of the best gunslingers in the league against each other, seemingly every year, just to give us the satisfaction of seeing who really is the “best of the best”.

Payton Manning (2663yd/16TD/4int) leads the Indianapolis Colts into a high-noon… err… a 4:15pm shootout with the New England Patriots in Foxborough this Sunday. Unfortunately for him, his Colt revolver is missing a few bullets, with the likes of
Dallas Clark and
Anthony Gonzalez lost for the season due to injury. The return of
Austin Collie (502yd/45rec/6TD) and
Joseph Addai (406yd/3TD), both expected to play this weekend, certainly help add to Manning’s ammunition. Along with his silver bullet,
Reggie Wayne (758yd/63rec/3TD), Manning makes every receiver on his team look like an all-pro due to his ability to fire bullets down-field with rifle-like consistency, just ask guys like replacement TE
Jacob Tamme (245yd/24rec/2TD). The Colts defense, lead by
Dwight Freeney (16tkl/6sack/4ffum) and
Robert Mathis (35tkl/7.5sack/1ffum), is a weapon in its own right, *IF* they can get after the opposition’s QB. When left to defend against the run, Indy is one of the worst in the league in stopping rushing yardage – something the Patriots will undoubtedly try to exploit.

If Payton Manning is the “trick shooter” with the gaudy stats, then New England’s
Tom Brady (2176yd/17TD/4int) is the “gunfighter” with more titles to his legacy than some of the NFL’s all-time greats, and with the drive to get a few more before he’s done. Brady’s gun may have lost it’s long-range ammunition with
Randy Moss traded to the Vikes, who cut him a few weeks later to the delight of the Titans, but he still has his own silver bullet,
Wes Welker (444yd/52rec/3TD), who is every bit the threat he was prior to his season-ending injury last year. Brady is no stranger making “unknowns” look like all-pros either, as TEs
Aaron Hernandez (436yd/34rec/2TD) and
Rob Gronkowski (220yd/19rec/6TD) can attest. Brady also has an important weapon that Manning’s arsenal lacks – a solid rushing attack. The Pats rushing duo of
BenJarvus Green-Ellis (472yd/6TD) and
Danny Woodhead (243/2TD) force opposing defenses to remain honest, and keeps the pressure off of Brady on every play. New England’s
Jerod Mayo (105tkl/1sack/1recfum) is having an outstanding year on a defense that much like Indy’s D is a bit one-dimensional. While the Pats are adequate at stopping the run, their pass defense is currently giving up more yards than 29 other teams, leaving a lot to be desired.

So while another Sunday afternoon brings us a Wild West style shootout, the gunslingers won’t be guys with handlebar mustaches or quick-draw holsters. Instead we are treated to two of the NFL’s all-time great gunslingers in a show down to see who really is the best, something the old westerns never let us see. Who wins this showdown? Will it be the technically proficient, trick shooting Payton Manning, or the ruthless efficiency of professional gunfighter Tom Brady? Sunday afternoon we get to see the answer to that question, for once and for all… or at least until the AFC playoffs this year.

New York
Giants @
Philadelphia
– Sunday 11/21,
8:20pm
NBC

As kids, both of us hated the circus. It wasn’t that we didn’t find many of the acts exciting or thrilling; we loved the acrobats, the animals, and even the “freaks” like the bearded lady. But our interest in those things was superceded by one giant fear – a fear of small men dressed in weird clothes and piling in cars while trying to make you laugh, when in reality they terrified us and gave us nightmares. Yea, we are not, were not, and never will be “clown people”. The circus theme is perfect for this game, even beyond the normal media-circus of a New York/Philly match-up. We love the acrobats (Mike Vick), the animals (The Giants D) and of course the freaks (take your pick of colorful personalities on these two teams) – but the clowns are just bringing down the game. The clowns in this instance are the 10,000 media members dissecting this game, engaging in wild speculation about media-contrived issues. What these clowns sometimes forget is that, in its simplest form, it comes down to two extremely talented teams going head-to-head in a tiger cage. Do yourself a favor and avoid the media circus; don’t read another thing about this game so you can enjoy it for what it is – the best game of the week.*

*[Editor’s Note: Actually, read this column first, and THEN don’t read another thing. –Sigh– We really need to send Chris and Tom to another marketing seminar.]

It was just one game, keep that in mind people. Of course, we are referring to the Giants home loss to the Cowboys. Granted, the offensive line looks vulnerable, but
Eli Manning (2448yd/19TD/13int) is the ringmaster of an offense that averages over 400 yards per game, 2nd in the NFL. The trio of
Hakeem Nicks (735yd/56rec/9TD),
Steve Smith (517yd/47rec/3TD), and
Mario Manningham (476yd/35rec/4TD) AND the tandem of
Ahmad Bradshaw (838yd/5TD) and
Brandon Jacobs (377yd/5TD) are all playing parts in a balancing act that is wowing the crowd. Defensively, they allow a mere 270 yards a game, the BEST in the NFL.
Osi Umenyiora (26tkl/9sack/7ffum) is one of many of the Giants front seven that controls the line of scrimmage and gets after quarterbacks like a stampede on the savannah. With an offense and a defense both ranked in the top 5 in the NFL, critics everywhere are raving about the Giants being the Greatest Show on Earth… or at least New Meadowlands Field. (Or at least they
were saying that, right up until Michael Vick’s Monday Night Football beat-down of the ‘Skins.)

The hopping around the backfield by
Michael Vick (1350yd/11TD/0int – 341rushyd/4TD) is certainly something to watch, and the show in Washington last week on national television caused a variety of reactions from the New York Giants. “I think the officials can let us use a twelfth defender based on last week, maybe,”
Tom Coughlin said. And certainly, it is entertaining watching arguably the MVP for the Eagles. Aside from Vick’s acrobatic feats though, the defense will also have to keep an eye on
DeSean Jackson (602yd/28rec/5TD),
Jeremy Maclin (585yd/38rec/7TD), and 2nd year standout
LeSean McCoy (615yd/5TD), as the rest of the Eagles troupe is just as fast and agile. Strongman
Trent Cole (43tkl/5sack/1ffum) and trapeze artist
Asante Samuel (21tkl/5int) lead the pack of wild horses the Eagles put out on defense, who will try to contain a Giants offense can move the ball by land or by air.

PT Barnum once said, “There is a sucker born every minute.” First off, Barnum would have loved Fantasy Football – especially trading players to that one guy in your league who
still doesn’t use “FantasySharks.com”. Secondly, he’s right on so many levels, but definitely with the media-circus we are being treated to with this game. Don’t get caught up in all the extraneous nonsense. You know exactly why this is a great “Game to Watch”; simply because it pits two of the NFL’s best in a battle for the NFC East lead. So skip the media-circus and don’t jam the clown car of your mind full of the conjectures of the nightmarish media clowns. Just find your seat, grab some popcorn, and get ready for one heck of a show when the NFL’s ringleader,
Roger Goodell, puts together two of the best in the NFC for a Sunday night match-up in the center ring.

About Fantasy Sharks

FantasySharks.com began in 2003, disseminating fantasy football content on the web for free. It is, or has been, home to some of the most talented and best known fantasy writers on the planet. Owned and operated by Tony Holm (5 time Fantasy Sports Writer Association Hall-of-Fame nominee,) Tony started writing fantasy content in 1993 for the only three fantasy football web sites in existence at the time.