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), or our column (Brain and Braun), 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:
Well, getting back late from the holidays didn’t allow us to get you the write-up of the first game of the week, the Baltimore Ravens at the Cincinnati Bengals. Hopefully, you enjoyed that game last night even without our amazing insight. 😉
On to your 2 remaining games of the week for week 13:
Dallas @ New York Giants – Sunday 12/3, 4:15pm
Giants Stadium, Meadowlands, NJ
Believe it or not, we happen to be good friends with Jeanne Phillips, who writes a newspaper column under the pen name of Abigail Van Buren aka Dear Abby. We often ask her advice in matters of etiquette or squabbles with our neighbors, while she seeks our aid in sports matters or when she’s desperate to lose some money in our bi-monthly poker tournament.
Anyway, Jeanne… err Abby… sent us an interesting letter she received, and asked for our help in answering. So we thought rather than writing about the Cowboys / Giants game this week, we’d let her anonymous letter-writer do most of our job for us this week. Enjoy.
This weekend my friend, let’s call him “Tony Roma”, is visiting a very hostile environment in the swamplands of New Jersey and he’ll be meeting some tough characters that may try and hurt him, and I’m worried about his safety.
To give you some background on him, he really is excellent at his job. I don’t want to say exactly where he works, for fear of someone recognizing him, but I can tell you something about his accomplishments. To start with, he’s incredibly efficient, something that you can easily see by looking at his 110.8 NFL leading QB rating. He has almost thrown for triple the touchdowns (13) as he has for interceptions (5) during his tenure as… umm… field manager of his fellow employees. He’s just come off of his best performance of the year, scoring 5 touchdowns on Thanksgiving Day, and looks like he could be the future of our business’ franchise.
Don’t get me wrong, he hasn’t done it alone. I for one have supported him throughout his promotion to… umm… field manager. I’m widely considered one of the best performers at my position, if I do say so myself. (And I do – I really am that great.) I’ve already amassed 831 yards receiving through the first 12 weeks of our season… umm… I mean fiscal year for my organization. I’ve also scored 8 touchdowns of my own. And I’m not the only one helping, another friend (I’ll call him “Juliun Jones”) and he is the 13th ranked player at his position in the entire NFL. You can even say he does most of our organization’s running around. But his 853 yards of rushing on the ground have really help keep the pressure off of Tony, too.
My fear is that this environment he is going to this weekend will be a very big test for him. You see, the people he is going to run into are looking to hurt him, and indeed they are angrier than ever. You see, their last three business dealings with opponents ended in bitter defeat for them, dropping their success record to 6 and 5 this year. They also managed to blow one of the biggest leads in NFL history to one of the worst organizations in our entire league – something which has even had their star performers (I’ll call one of them “Tiki Barberer”) openly criticizing the organization’s coach… err… I mean, upper management. Another member of their organization (I’ll call him “Michael Straham”) has been critical of their team’s best receiver (I’ll call him “Plaxico Burrest”). Heck, their field manager (I’ll call him “Eliss Manning”), has been terrible over his last six competitions, and doesn’t look like the dominant performer he was earlier in the season.
And while their organization is struggling lately, they are right behind us in the race for our post-season events. And their building anger not only towards themselves, but to a rival, worries me that my friend Tony might run into trouble this weekend.
Please Abby…what can I do to help my friend in this situation? I have a lot on my mind.
Ochu Uno in Dallas
As you said, your friend isn’t going in alone on this – he has many other talented individuals helping him, and you didn’t even mention your organizations 4th ranked defense. They are only giving up a paltry 279 yards a contest, and even though they are 11th best at stopping aerial threats, that should be more than enough to contain the other team’s struggling field manager, “Eliss”.
Of course, it is a tough contest for possession of the division lead in your league, and will likely decide who will finally triumph to make it to your post-season festivities. Playing on the road is always tough for a young… field manager, like your friend Tony, but he certainly could succeed in exposing the weaknesses in your opponent’s middle of the road defense – especially considering the members that have been injured over the course of the year.
The best thing you can do is accompany your friend and make sure that when he looks to you, he can depend on you to catch the things he throws your way. You can’t keep “dropping the ball”, so to speak. Also, you might try thinking of others more than yourself, but I can see that you are starting to do that – as evidenced by this letter.
P.S. Don’t worry about your kicker friend, either. He’ll land on his feet somewhere – and you can take that to the bank.
Well, there ya’ have it folks, truth is stranger than fiction. I mean, we could hardly make up something like the above letter, let alone attribute it to our dear friend Jeanne Phillips if it just wasn’t true. And it’s THAT kind of upstanding journalism on our part that let’s you know that you just can’t miss this key divisional match-up this Sunday, with the winner likely being crowned NFC East champs by season’s end.
Seattle @ Denver – Sunday 12/3, 8:15pm
Invesco Field, Denver, CO
Let’s play a little Fact vs. Fiction with our final game to watch for this week.
Fact or Fiction
- Denver is the best divisional #3 in the NFL.
- If Denver was in the NFC instead of the AFC, they would likely be leading their division right now.
- This game is one of only three this week in which both teams sport a winning record.
- Jay Cutler will be the starting QB for the Broncos this weekend.
- Shaun Alexander is healthy and putting up good numbers for Seattle.
- Both teams have a better run defense than pass defense.
- Both teams have a better run offense than pass offense.
- Brittany Spears filing for divorce from Kevin Federline was a shocker.
Okay, got all your answers in? Good. Now let’s see how you did, and (in the process) pass along some reasons why you just can’t miss this game this week.
- FACT – Denver is the best divisional #3 in the NFL.
No other team that is currently #3 in their division even has a winning record, let alone Denver’s solid 7-4 record that has them definitely thinking wildcard this year. The only reason why a team like Denver is only #3 is because they play in the toughest division in football right now, the AFC West. And with San Diego seemly having a stranglehold on the division lead, the Broncos are forced to battle for the #2 spot with 7-4 Kansas City.
- FACT – If Denver was in the NFC instead of the AFC, they would likely be leading their division right now.
Except for Chicago at 9-2, all the other division leaders in the NFC are 7-4. It’s a shame that the AFC is so much better than the NFC this year (again), but we’re getting used to it. And how frustrating must it be for Denver players and fans alike, to know that their team could be leading their division and headed for a sure playoff berth if they were in the NFC, instead of struggling in the AFC West and trying to keep on track for a wildcard spot.
- FACT – This game is one of only three this week in which both teams sport a winning record.
Besides the Baltimore / Cincinnati game on Thursday night, and the Dallas / New York Giants game we talked about above, there isn’t a single game which features two teams with winning records. That alone makes this an easy choice for one of the games you can’t miss this weekend.
- FACT – Jay Cutler will be the starting QB for the Broncos this weekend.
It’s true – Denver has finally given up on Jake Plummer. They figured out what fans, fantasy football owners, and any non-institutionalized adults figured out years ago… you cannot count of Jake Plummer. One game he looks good, the next he could throw 4 picks and cost your team the game. One week he seems to settle down and play in the system, the next week he’s ‘improvising’ on the run, and opposing cornerbacks are licking their chops. We don’t know what we’re going to see from Jay Cutler this weekend. He’s a rookie QB, so no one is expecting too much from him. No one, that is, except the Broncos coaching staff, players, fans, and ownership. They expect this kid to rescue them from slipping below San Diego and Kansas City in the AFC West. A tall order on a guy who has exactly ZERO passes as a pro. That’s another great reason to watch – to see if Cutler can come up big for a team who is putting a lot of pressure on his shoulders.
- FACT – Shaun Alexander is healthy and putting up good numbers for Seattle.
Shaun Alexander frustrated many fantasy owners (and Seahawk fans alike) with his slow-healing fracture. But if there were any questions about his health, he answered them this past weekend against the Green Bay Packers. Alexander carried the ball a whopping FORTY times – and that’s something you don’t do to your RB unless you are 10000% certain he’s healthy. It didn’t hurt fantasy owners that those 40 carries resulted in 201 yards rushing either. Sure, it woulda been nice to see him get into the end zone, but we’ll take a 200+ yard game from one of our running backs any day. This weekend gives us a chance to see if he can continue that momentum against a tough Denver D.
- FACT – Both teams have a better run defense than pass defense.
Denver’s run D has been solid so far this season (except for a slip-up against LT2, but no one has been able to contain him this year). Their 11th ranked rush D is allowing just over 100 yards a game on the ground, and they’ll need that tough D to stop a healthy Shaun Alexander. The Denver pass D is another story. Ranked a disappointing 23rd against the pass, the Broncos are scarcely better than the likes of Tennessee’s or San Francisco’s secondary… YUK! And who would have thought that considering the Broncos have a guy like Champ Bailey leading their secondary?
Seattle’s run D isn’t much lower than Denver. Sure they’re ranked 15, which puts them middle-of-the-road in the NFL, but they only give up 10 yards more a game on the ground than does Denver. And just like Denver, they slide into the 20’s in passing defense, ranked 21st in the NFL right now. Thankfully for Seattle, their pass offense will be forcing a guy who has never thrown a pass in a pro game – so they *should* be able to rattle him if they can get any pressure on the youngster. And their run D will still need to be solid as Tatum Bell looks healthy for Denver this weekend, and Denver has the most success when Bell is running well.
- FACT – Both teams have a better run offense than pass offense.
Absolutely. Denver’s pass offense is so bad right now that they would rather start a rookie QB, even though they are in the running for the wildcard in the AFC. But can you blame them? Plummer has guided Denver to the 26th ranked passing offense in the league, and that’s an embarrassment. On the flip side, Denver ranks 8th in the league behind their tandem of Bell and Bell – with Tatum getting the yardage and Mike getting the TDs.
Seattle is no different, ranking 13th in rushing offense – which is a heck of a feat considering your stud RB (Alexander) was sidelined for 6 weeks, and your starting QB was out during some of those games as well, putting a lot of pressure on the backups to perform. With a healthy Alexander back, this team’s run O will rise in the rankings, that’s for sure. As for their passing offense, Seattle manages no better than 20th, which is understandable considering starter Matt Hasselbeck was out for 4 games and the better part of a 5th. Hasslebeck is back healthy as well, and Seattle is a LOT more formidable on offense with both he and Alexander in the starting lineup, instead of modeling their street duds from the sidelines.
- FICTION – Britney Spears filing for divorce from Kevin Federline was a shocker.
Okay – if you answered all the questions FACT, you got 7 of 8, which is pretty darn good. It proves you know your football, and it also proves you are either a hopeless romantic (doubtful since you’re a fantasy football junkie) or hopelessly clueless about women (likely, also since you’re a fantasy football junkie).
If you answered this one FICTION and the rest FACT, you scored a 100 – good for you! J Honestly though, why would a pop star with a booming career kill her marketability by marrying a no-talent clown like K-Fed in the first place?!? Note to all aspiring young starlets (and women in general): If the guy you are thinking is Prince Charming is a white rapper and/or has another woman pregnant at the time you are thinking about getting married – run very far away. If he’s both, get 14 of your closest friends to slap you silly, and then go date a Hollywood power-player or something.
If you got them all wrong BUT this question, then you need very serious help – possibly an intervention by friends, family, councilors, and an exorcist.