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:
We’re getting into the final stretch of the season, and we haven’t steered you wrong yet this season (well, not very often anyway). This week promises more division rivals, coaches under the microscope, and teams imploding left and right. We hope you got your 42” Plasma on Black Friday, the cable company on their way to install the HD box, and fired up the electric blanket… because this week things start to get chilly – outside and in the losers’ futures.
– Thursday 11/29,
Remember when we had the ‘Clash of the Titans’ earlier this year between the undefeated Patriots and the (then) undefeated Colts? Well, this match-up is like ‘Clash of the Titans Lite’ – the same great taste of a conference final, but with only 2/3 the hype!
Mmmm – that goes down smooth, even if the media is billing it as a watered-down imitation of the full-flavored action we saw in Indy earlier this year.
Yep, instead of the teams being undefeated, they both have one loss… but heck, that’s still pretty damn good any way you look at it in week 13! And both these teams are just as talented on the offensive side of the football as New England or Indy… their defense are solid, even if they aren’t quite at the NE/Indy level. And, although the NFC looks to have gained ground in the respect department over the past few weeks, the conference is still considered not quite as tough as their AFC counterparts. Like the Colts, the Packers come into their biggest game of the year banged up, but
really is a lot fewer calories… err, players. And while both
were filled with full-bodied experience, the same certainly can’t be said about the young Packers squad, or
’ Tony Romo who doesn’t have the depth of experience in big games that his AFC counterparts had. But guys who have been there for that thick, rich experience like Favre and T.O. are sure to make sure that this brew-ha-ha isn’t too inexperienced a contest. OK, enough of telling you about the ‘less filling’ part of this game. Let’s look at the ‘tastes great!’ positives on both squads.
The Cowboys QB
Tony Romo signed a nice fat contract in the middle of this season, and he looks like he’s worth every penny of it. 4th in passing yardage, 2nd in passing TDs, top ten in completion percentage, and 3rd in efficiency rating… wait a second, maybe we aren’t losing very much in this game at the QB position at all! WR
Terrell Owens adds some character to the mix, but he has kept his cool this year – and when he can do that he is one of the best WRs to ever play the game. His 1093 yards and 13 TDs to date, easily bear out that fact. TE
Jason Witten is better than most of the NFL’s wide-outs in racking up receptions and yardage; top twenty in receptions, yardage, and TDs?!? Trust us, that’s a hat-trick any receiver in the league aspires to reach. Oh yeah, it doesn’t hurt that the ‘Boys sport the 11th best rushing attack in the league behind RBs
Marion Barber III and
Julius Jones, either. (Quick side note: Is there anyone who doesn’t see the marketing possibilities of Julius Jones for the Orange Julius franchise?
Ave. – you guys are blowing it on this one…) Anyway, you get the picture – plenty of excitement with that brew… err, crew. And don’t discount the power of this NFC defense, either. They are 11th best in overall yardage allowed, tied for 10th in scoring D, and only have three teams that allow less rushing yards than their lowly 82.1 ypg average. Too bad, their pass defense is mediocre at best – and that doesn’t bode well for a team that has to face one of the NFL’s all-time greats this weekend.
Brett Favre is not only playing with his normal intensity and ability – but incredible consistency this year as well (5th best in QB efficiency ratings). Favre’s 3356 yards so far through the air are only bettered by Tom Brady this year, and ensure that his string of SIXTEEN 3000+ yard seasons remain unbroken. His 22 TDs (4th best among QBs), don’t hurt his Hall-of-Fame totals, either. Rookie RB
Ryan Grant has (finally!) added some life to the
running attack, but let’s face facts – Favre and his receivers run the show here. WR
Donald Driver is the guy who racks up the most yards and catches for Favre (his 832 yards and 63 grabs rank him 13th in both spots the NFL), while WR
Greg Jennings is the man he seems to find for his TDs this year (his 9 receiving TDs put him in a tie for 5th best in the world). And the improved play of the Packers’ D is a pretty good reason why they are 10-1 this year instead of maybe 8-3 or 7-4 at this point. They are the 5th best scoring D in the league, allowing a slim 16.8 points per game. They mirror the Cowboys in that they are a better run D than a passing D, and just like the Cowboys D will struggle against Favre, you can be sure that Romo is giving more than a few of the Green Bay defenders heartburn as they prep for this game.
Well, one thing is for sure; win or lose we’ll see BOTH these teams come playoff time, so enjoy this best-of-the-best NFC preview. So, let your favorite brew and this game hit the spot tonight when see this ‘Clash of the Titans Lite’ – in which the only thing that really appears to be ‘Lite’ is the respect these NFC squads get in comparison to their AFC counterparts. In the final analysis, we find that our first taste of week 13 football will be robust, with a hint of character(s), and a strong finish. Ahhhh!
– Sunday 12/2,
*Ding Ding!* Round 2!
We picked this game earlier in the year… and to be honest, it was a little disappointing. David Garrard left the game in the 1st half which certainly didn’t help the Jags play their best, and at the time it was a ‘tune-up’ game for
in which they were bringing their undefeated record up against the Patriots the following week in a Super Bowl XLI and ½. Fast forward a few weeks and we now have an Indy team which is banged up, David Garrard is back and very efficient, and
is pushing Indy for the top spot in the AFC South. Wow, what a difference a few weeks can make.
We’ve said this before, but
may be the best team that no one is talking about. They’ve done it with one decent defense, which was at one point 2nd in the league in points allowed per game, but has since dropped to 7th. However, as the team used to rely solely on its defense to win games, as of late the offense has shown signs that it can put ‘W’s in the standings as well. In fact since week 6, the Jaguars have scored nothing less than 24 points a game. QB
David Garrard in his first year as starter for the Jags has shown playmaking ability (1626 yards and 9 TD). In the rushing department, RB
Fred Taylor (708 yards this season) had a season high 104 rushing yards and a TD – looking anything but fragile, and showing he is still a force to be reckoned with; and RB Maurice Jones-Drew (579 yards and 7 TD), the second half of this Jacksonville tandem, shows how the future of the Jacksonville rushing game looks bright, indeed.
Indy comes into the game after a long break since their Thanksgiving Day scare in which
jumped out to a 10-0 lead. QB
Payton Manning (2821 yards and 19 TD) is still a top notch quarterback in the NFL, and he’s doing it without WR
Marvin Harrison, who continues to be listed as O-U-T. The offense does have some shining stars as expected. Contributions from Manning as well as WR
Reggie Wayne (1011 yards and 7 TDs), TE
Dallas Clark (467 yards and 7 TDs) and RB
Joseph Addai (876 yards and 9 TDs) have shown why the Colts have the 4th ranked team in average points and yards per game. That not surprising though – since we’ve come to expect play like that from Coach
Tony Dungy’s squad. What is surprising is that the defense has really stepped up and is allowing only 15 points a game and ranked 2nd in total yards against. Balance like that makes this team one of the NFL’s best.
Take all the info we just listed; take the fact that this is a division rivalry; take a battle between two good defenses; and before you sit down… ‘Take out’ some General Tso’s chicken – and THEN you have one heck of a ‘Game to Watch’.
– Sunday 12/2,
Ok… we’ll let the cat out of the bag; we were supposed to be pitching a soap opera idea to FOX this Friday. We hadn’t figured out a name just yet, but we have the outline for the show. It’s the story of a football player past his prime, making a comeback with his third team. Meanwhile, during his phoenix-like rise from the ashes of his past, he gets to face a team that stood in his way almost exactly one year ago to obtain the coveted Lombardi Trophy. Fox called us back and said that they don’t do soap operas outside of the show ‘24’, and more importantly, they already have a soap opera remarkably similar to our idea on this Sunday afternoon in a three hour special – they’re calling it Tampa Bay v New Orleans. (They also told us to stop contacting them or they’d seek legal action – but we’re used to threats like that.) We told FOX it was ok… we’d just pitch our show to the UPN… they’ll put
anything on television.
All joking aside, Jeff Garcia’s life does seem a bit like a soap opera and the Saints… well, this year you just never know what Saints team you’re going to see. Maybe you see the Saints that score 31 points against
, or maybe you see the Saints that lose to the (then) winless Rams in the Superdome.
’s strength lies in its defense which is 2nd in average points against, and 6th in average yards against. That being said, the offense has had a resurgence to prosperity which hasn’t been seen since the early
Jon Gruden days, even with the losses at the running back position. QB
Jeff Garcia (2135 yards and 11 TD) has quietly put together a solid season, while WR
Joey Galloway (732 yards and 6 TD) has shown at age 35 he still can produce – even if ‘he’ is a ‘she’ according to Bill Parcells. With the loss of Cadillac Williams, RB
Earnest Graham (631 yards and 6 TD) has been the main back who’s picked up the slack.
As far as the Saints go, one can hope after their most recent win last week, the team is back on the upswing. QB
Drew Brees is on the verge of breaking the 3000 yard mark for the season (2997 yards and 18 TD) and is currently 5th in the NFL for yardage. After the loss of
Duce McAllister for the season, RB
Reggie Bush (517 yards and 5 TD) has had a few injury problems of his own and is questionable for this game – that certainly doesn’t help the Saints this weekend. And don’t forget about fantasy football’s sleeper of the year in 2006, WR
Marques Colston (847 yards and 6 TD in 2007) has had a quieter season this year, but still is on pace to crack the thousand-yard mark.
has held on to the top spot in the NFC South almost the entire season; a spot that many had New
penciled in at when predictions where made this past August. Listen – we’re not much into operas (large German women in armor?), or even soap for that matter (sure honey… I’ll shower up right after the game…), but this is one ‘soap opera’ we just can’t wait to see – even if FOX did steal our idea. (Hey! We could call our soap ‘Games to Watch’. Ah, wait… it’s already copywrited by two jerks on some fantasy footba… whoops, never mind.)