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 or our myriad posts in the Tank. We’re just like you, though. We love a good football game, no matter who’s playing. All times Eastern:
New York Giants @ Philadelphia – Sunday 9/17, 1:00pm
Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA
I can already hear the cat-calls accusing us of being homers for picking this as one of the games of the week, but honestly, this is one that promises to be a good one.
You have the Eagles coming off a solid week-one victory against the mediocre Texans, but with stellar performances by QB Donovan McNabb and the anti-T.O., number 18, Donte` Stallworth. McNabb put up great numbers (24 of 35, 314 yards, 3 TDs, 1 int, all which add up to a fat 113 passer rating) and the biggest recipient of that was Stallworth (6 catches for 141 yards and a TD).
The Giants come off a tough Sunday night loss to the Colts (21 to 26), where we were treated to seeing one Manning’s face on every play… I speak of course of their mother – who apparently has the hardest job in professional football, i.e. having two incredibly rich and successful sons. Eli looked respectable on offense (20 of 34, 247 yards, 2 TD, 1 int), but Tiki Barber was the real Giants offensive workhorse (110 yards on 18 carries, a fat 6.1 ypc average, and another 5 catches for 61 yards).
Look for a real test for Donovan and Donte` this week, as they face a Giants D ranked 28th against the pass, but only because they played week 1 against the tough Colts passing game. The Eagles running game is likely to struggle at times, as they did against Houston, so the birds really need Westbrook to improve on his 71-yard rushing performance, to eat up clock time, and get them better field position.
Tiki Barber faces the Eagles 6th ranked run D, one that looks better than last year’s squad, so he has to continue to perform for the Giants to stay in this one. The key in this game is likely to be Eli Manning. The Eagles pass defense looked poor at times in Houston, and if Manning can take advantage of that, it could be a long day for Philly fans. It certainly doesn’t hurt Manning that the Eagles cornerback Sheldon Brown looks to be a scratch for this game, either.
Two teams that hate each other, in a division match-up that may be a preview of the NFC East winner, all starting off your Sunday as the 1:00pm game – it’s gonna be a good day, my friends.
St. Louis @ San Francisco – Sunday 9/17, 4:05pm
Monster Park, San Francisco, CA
If you’re looking for a game with two tough defenses battling it out to see who can stop the other team cold, you’re going to want to stay far, far away from this game. If, however, your idea of a good time is watching teams score early and often, it doesn’t get much better than these two. Neither St. Louis nor San Francisco can play a lick of defense, which should mean good things for both offenses.
Look for improvements across the board on the Rams, as Marc Bulger should be able to actually put a couple TDs on the board to go along with his passing yards this week. His 217 yards will improve, too. Tory Holt had 7 catches for 80 yards against a solid Denver defense, so imagine what he can do to the 9er’s secondary. And Steven Jackson had 121 yards last week on 22 carries – against San Fran he could do even better, but certainly not much worse.
San Francisco’s offense looked surprisingly good in week 1, even if they were playing the Cardinals. Alex Smith put up 288 yards passing (23 of 40) along with a TD. More importantly he didn’t throw a pick. Frank Gore even managed to look like a serviceable starting running back, he did gain 87 yards on 16 carries, a respectable 5.4 a carry, and 2 TDs and another 83 yards on 6 catches. Gore owners liked what they saw in week 1, and while he might not equal those lofty totals in week 2, he should still give them plenty to smile about.
You really can’t go too wrong starting almost any of your fantasy players who might be in this game, but if you’re just looking for a game where there is a lot of ball movement, brother, you came to the right place with this game.
Pittsburgh @ Jacksonville – Monday 9/18, 8:30pm
ALLTEL Stadium, Jacksonville, FL
This game promises to be the best of the weekend, in our humble opinion. And one that should answer a ton of questions, one way or another.
Will Ben Roethlisberger start? Heck, I’m sure the Jags wouldn’t mind if he took another week off, but even if he does Charlie Batch looked capable in the Steelers system in week 1. It’s not a system that asks the QB to make a huge amount of plays, but one that demands the QB NOT turn the ball over. Batch didn’t toss any picks, and he even managed to throw 3 TDs – more than what the Steelers typically need to win. So no matter who lines up at QB for the Steel City, be it Big Ben or Little Charlie, they gotta feel confident that they can avoid costly turnovers and be effective when called upon.
Is the Jacksonville Defense one of the better squads in the NFL? Jacksonville made some improvements to an already good defense, and they promised to be even better in 2006. Injuries on the defense have hampered them slightly, but we gotta tell you they looked pretty good against a Dallas team determined to get T.O. the ball. Mr. Owens did manage a late TD, but it didn’t come until the outcome of the game was all-but-certain. The Jags secondary limited him to 6 catches for 80 yards, and nabbed 3 interceptions off Dallas QB Drew Bledsoe. Jacksonville looks like they are the real deal on defense, and we know the Steelers can play solid D, so this one might come down to a real defensive slugfest.
Is Byron Leftwich the real deal? Leftwich looked very solid in week one, 23 of 34 for 237 yards and 1 TD (he even ran for another TD). He did a better job of not forcing the ball than he has in the past, but he still couldn’t help himself from throwing one pick. ‘Fragile’ Fred Taylor looked solid in the opening game as well, but it’s early yet… and it’s a long season for Fred to try and stay healthy through. But since it’s only week 2, the Jags run game should still be alive and well to help keep pressure off Leftwich.
Who will win? This game is likely to come down to Byron Leftwich, plain and simple. If he can avoid any turnovers, then Jacksonville really has a serious shot at this game. If he turns it over a couple of times, the Steelers will make the Jags pay – no matter who Pittsburgh starts at QB. We’re leaning towards the Steelers in this game, but it should be a heck of a game to watch – that much we know for sure.