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Games to Watch – Week 2

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:

 

 

They say three is a magic number – heck, they even had a Schoolhouse Rock cartoon about it.*

  Christians believe in the holy trinity, your daughter or niece believes in the Jonas Brothers trinity, and for all of us on FantasySharks.com we believe in the ‘Games to Watch’ trinity of games that you simply can’t miss this week.

  Before you ease back into your Barcalounger and crack open a frosty beverage to enjoy this weekend’s contests, make sure you know exactly what games to cast your eyes over.

  Would we ever steer you wrong?

 

*If you don’t know what Schoolhouse Rock is – your IQ is at least 30 points lower than anyone that ever watched it.

  A quick test to see if you ever watched Schoolhouse Rock is to try and recite the preamble to the

U.S.

Constitution.

  If you can’t do it, you never watched SHR.

  If you can do it *without* singing it, then you also never watched SHR and you were the type of child who got rolled for his lunch money in the playground at least 3 times a week.

 

 

Indianapolis

@

Minnesota

– Sunday 9/14,

1:00pm

 

We admit it – we love the classics.

  We love a perfectly grilled steak, an American style lager, and a classic Passing v. Running contest.

  Minnesota is a classic running squad, relying on their powerful, young RB Adrian Peterson to churn out gobs of yardage on the ground, all while relying on a stout defense to keep the other team off the scoreboard.

 

Indianapolis

is a classic passing team, lead by one of the NFL’s best signal callers in QB Payton Manning throwing to two of the most talented WRs in the game today.

  And both teams have a bad attitude coming off of week 1 losses, against teams they both figured to beat.

  Indy’s offense and Payton Manning looked uncharacteristicly befuddled against a tough Bears D; while Adrian Peterson lived up to his billing as fantasy stud, but Minnesota’s D didn’t wasn’t able to shut down Green Bay’s new starting arm, Aaron Rodgers, as they had expected to do.

  Tough losses that make winning this week of added importance to avoid falling into an 0-2 hole to start the season.

 

Even when Payton Manning isn’t playing well, he plays well.

  He struggled at times against the Bears, but still managed to toss over 250 yards and a TD, with 30 completions on the night. WR Reggie Wayne continues his dominance as a stud fantasy player with double-digit grabs and a touchdown, with 86 yards to boot.

  Marvin Harrison had a few drops against

Chicago

, but he still managed 8 catches for 76 yards himself. Joe Addai only managed 44 yards on 12 carries, but the Bears D isn’t exactly easy on the run.

  Coach Tony Dungy has made improving the Indy D a priority under his tenure, and they have definitely improved during his leadership.

  Sure, they didn’t look great against the Bears, but there is reason to believe they will improve – if for no other reason than the fact that LB Freddy Keiaho is healthy this year.

  He was a stud last year with 81 tackles in just 11 games due to injury, and he already logged 10 tackles in week 1.

  The Colts offense is simply too good to struggle like they did last week, but they may not have a choice against another solid D in

Minnesota

.

  And the defense simply has to shut down Peterson for the Colts to avoid start out winless through two.

 

Minnesota

doesn’t count on their QB like Indy does.

  No one figures that Tavaris Jackson (16 of 35 in week 1, with just 178 yards passing) will do much more than keep opposing defenses honest.

  But that’s ok when you have a running back like Adrian Peterson.

  Peterson piled up impressive stats in his rookie year, with 1,341 yards and 12 TDs in his inaugural NFL season.

  He didn’t slow down in week 1 this year either, racking up another 103 yards and a TD to start the season right.

  WRs Bernard Berrian and Sidney Rice have some talent (although we wouldn’t bet on a Vikings 1,000-yard receiver anytime soon); it’s a matter of them getting on the same page as

Jackson

and taking some pressure off Peterson.

  The Vikings D was a fantasy favorite in many drafts this year, and with good reason.

  A mix of younger talent, like LB Chad Greenway (105 tackles and 2 ints in 2007) and crafty vets like SS Darren Sharper (8 straight seasons with at least 4 interceptions) make the Minnesota D one that can even make a guy like Peyton Manning sit up and take notice.

  And with backups at center (a rookie no less) and right guard for

Indy

,

Minnesota

’s D can be the difference maker in this one.

 

There you have it – a classic passing v. running game, featuring some of the NFL’s (and fantasy’s) biggest names.

  So toss that t-bone on a plate with a baked potato, pop open a Papst Blue Ribbon (and do it pretty darn quick), and settle in for an AFC/NFC match-up which is an early ‘must-win’ game for both of these teams and a ‘must-watch’ for all football fans.

 

 

 

New England

@ New York Jets – Sunday 9/14,

4:15pm

 

Are you sick? We are… sick of all kinds of things. We’re sick of hearing how the AFC East “power shift” has begun because Tom Brady is out for the year; sick of hearing how the NFC is now suddenly better than the AFC because the Bears and Panthers beat out of conference opponents last week; and sick of hearing how Brett Favre will fall in love with New Jersey because of the great hunting close by.

 (Trust us…we don’t live too far away from NJ, and the only “good” hunting is in the Paramus Mall looking for cheap Yankee jerseys.)

 But before you avoid this game because you think hearing one more comment about Brett Favre will make you hurl faster than a toddler on a Tilt-a-Whirl, look at the simple facts about this game.

  We have a division rivalry game where two teams who were extremely far apart on paper last year now look like they are closer than they have been in a loooong time.

  And with the Bills playing well and

Miami

looking improved from last year, this game will be one of the big indicators of the real power in the AFC East.

 

Let’s get one thing out of the way right now…

New England

is a VERY good team, coached by one of the best, Bill Belichick.

  Obviously, the team will miss all-world Tom Brady, but let us give you a little food for thought before you figure it’s time to flush the Pats down the drain.

  Matt Cassel actually was the one who drove

New England

on 3 scoring drives last Sunday.

  Not bad for a guy that didn’t even start on his college squad because he was buried behind the likes of Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart for his career at USC.

 

 And

Cassel

isn’t going into this knife fight without a gun – namely the weapons like WRs Randy Moss (116yds and 1TD last week) and Wes Welker (51yds on 6 catches) at receiver. Even the

New England

rushing game is looking decent, even if it is a fantasy poison ‘running back by committee’ situation in the making with RBs Lawrence Moroney, Lamont Jordan, Sammy Morris and Kevin Faulk.

Moroney

,

Jordan

, and Morris combined for 110 yards and a TD in week one. (Faulk returns to the lineup this week after serving a one game suspension.)

  The New England D looked better in the opening week than they did all pre-season, but that’s not overly surprising.

  When you have a defense loaded with talent like S Rodney Harrison (14 total tackles), LB Tedy Bruschi (12 total tackles), and LB Mike Vrabel (2 sacks in week 1), you know you are going to be in the thick of almost every game – even if the other team’s QB is named Favre.

 

Four months ago, Jets coach Eric Mangeni might have thought he was still trying to build his team into an AFC East contender, but they currently find themselves facing the reality that winning the division is a distinct possibility this season. With the addition of QB Brett Favre (194 yds and 2 TD in week 1), the Jets instantly upgraded one of the most unstable areas of their team.

  RB Thomas Jones (101 yds and 1TD) should find more room to run with Favre keeping the defense honest, and WR Jerricho Cotchery (80 yds and 1 TD) is the current focus of Brett’s passes and Eric Mangini’s game plan.

  While WR Laveranues Coles had a terrible outing last week (1 catch for 5 yards), he has too much talent not to become a factor in this offense as soon as he and Favre get on the same page. The Jets D came up huge is stopping the run last week, allowing only 49 yards on the ground – which allows the Jets to try and force Cassel to beat them through the air.

  If second year man CB Darrelle Revis and rookie CB Dwight Lowery can step up their pass defense, that just might be enough to earn the Jets the win this week.

 

So don’t get sick from all of the media attention surrounding this game – not for the QB who won’t be there, or the one who will be there, or anything else the mainstream media dreams up.

  Just grab some couch time and watch two very good coaches test just how well each of their teams handles the change in field leadership this season.

  This game will be bad medicine for one squad, while the other gets a cure for what ails them – AFC East pennant fever.

 

 

Philadelphia

@

Dallas

– Monday 9/15,

8:30pm

 

We normally try not to pick a same team on the GTW column in back-to-back weeks. But come on, it doesn’t take a deck of Tarot Cards to tell you that this is one you can’t miss this week.

  (Side note: Never play Texas Hold ‘Em with a deck of tarot cards… we once knew a guy that tried it and he ended up with a full house – but 4 people died.)

 

Philly pretty much phoned

St. Louis

’ Scott Linehan and gave him a wake up call last Sunday. There wasn’t one phase of the game where the Eagles didn’t dominate the Rams.

  The major surprise though was the dominance of the

Philadelphia

offense without its number 1 and number 2 receivers. Led by a healthy Donovan McNabb (a league best 361 yards and 3 TD in week 1), the Eagles are showing flashes of the dominating offense of 2004 when they went to the Super Bowl.

  Last Sunday, it seemed like they almost could have scored at will, and everyone on the offense got a few looks. The Birds had three WRs top the 100-yard mark, which is even more amazing when you consider that these guys are the Eagles #3, #4, and #5 receivers – DeSean Jackson (6 catches for 106yds), Greg Lewis (5 catches for 104yds) and Hank Baskett (102yds and a TD).

  With 3 wide-outs doing that much damage, Philly didn’t even need to involve RB Brian Westbrook (91 yds rushing and a rushing TD) in the passing offense, as is his usual M.O.

 Defensively,

Philadelphia

showed an improvement to a defense that struggled at times last season. New free agent CB Asante Samuel broke up three passes in week 1, one which could have easily been his first return for a TD; while the defense as a whole allowed the once potent Rams’ offense to 3 points on the day, with only 130 passing yards.

  The only negative on the Eagles D last weekend was that they are *still* not forcing turnovers on D – something that really hurt them last year.

  That’s an area that will have to improve this week in

Dallas

if they hope to come out of the Lone Star state with a win.

 

If you’ve watched Hard Knocks on HBO, you’ve gotten personal with members of the Dallas Cowboys. Maybe you’ve gotten to like Tony Romo, or respect Terrel Owens, or even see just how much Jerry Jones ‘loves them Cowboys’. (Well, you’ve gotten to see the Cowboys as truthfully as you can when the team controls all editing rights to the final product.)

  But whether you love or hate them, you have to except the simple fact that this is a team with a lot more answers at positions, where many other teams have only questions.

  QB Tony Romo (320yds and 1 TD in week 1) took the Cowboy show on the road into the ‘Dog Pound’, and came out making kibble of the Browns defense. On the ground, RB Marion Barber (80yds and 2 TD) tried to show the

Ohio

fan base on hand, and all of us watching at home, that he can be the every-down back.

  No surprise that the

Dallas

aerial attack was firing on all cylinders, with guys like TE Jason Witten (6 for 96yds), WR Patrick Crayton (6 for 82yds) and WR Terrell Owens (5 catches for 87yds and a TD).

 

Dallas

spread the ball around equally allowing them to make the best use of Crayton, who many critics panned as not being an integral part of the passing game. Defensively, you have a unit ranked 4th in the league in yards against…and even though it is just one week into the season, it was against an offense in

Cleveland

that was projected to be at the top of their division in the AFC on the strength of their offense.

 

You have a Monday night contest between NFC East division rivals.

  You have two teams whose passing attacks looked near unstoppable, but both played lackluster secondaries (at best).

  You have

Dallas

looking for revenge against the Eagles, who have won the last two meetings in

Dallas

. You have the Cowboys beginning their final season at Texas Stadium and beginning a new era in ‘Boys history. Oh – one more thing… you have two teams who have absolutely NO love lost between them.

  It’s game time, guys! This Monday night make sure you tune into what promises to be an entertaining, hard-hitting game; just make sure you don’t get confused and turn on Larry King Live* instead… this is the ‘Game to Watch’!

 

*Larry King will be an elderly man behind a fake microphone whose age can only be estimated using carbon-dating.

  The Monday Night Football game will be the show with the two teams beating the snot out of each other.

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