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Games to Watch – Week 3

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:



Wow… we’re still shaking from that game on Monday night – what a ‘Game to Watch’! To be fair, the shaking might be salmonella from those undercooked lobster rolls from the Tung Hing Chinese restaurant near Dolfi’s house.

  Doesn’t deep-frying things kill germs?

  We’ve based most of the dinner choices of our adult lives on that supposition!

  [Science Editor’s Note: Deep frying items will certainly kill surface germs, but unless the internal temperature of the item exceeds 220° F, the item could contain harmful bacteria.]



Don’t think we aren’t being original this week because we picked some familiar names in the ‘Games to Watch’ this week.

  We just call them like the NFL schedules them. So let’s get down to business and pick you three games that will give you that feeling you get when you ride the roller coaster, right after 3 helpings of boardwalk fries, and you are juuuuust cresting the top of that first hill… just like this past Monday night. Heck, we even made sure you have a game to watch in every time slot this Sunday.

  No need to thank us… just tell Tony Holm how great we are – we’re angling for a mid-season raise. 😉






– Sunday 9/21,



We open up our selections this week with a bit of an unlikely pick, but trust us, this diamond in the rough is guaranteed to dazzle.

  If this were early August, most football fans polled would have thought the records for these two teams would be flip-flopped, with Carolina sporting the lackluster 0-2 record while the strong legs of Adrian Peterson and the strong D of the Vikings would have Minnesota sitting pretty at 2-0.

  But this is the NFL, boys and girls, and we all know that what is supposed to happen rarely does.



finds itself as the unlikely jewel of the NFC South, not just because of where football folk had them picked – but with their play that has put them where they are.

  They have the smallest margin of victory for a 2-0 team in the NFL this year, with their two wins totaling only 5 points higher than their opponents.

  And don’t even get us started on their 19th ranked offense.

  No one really expected their defense to be able to handle the

San Diego

offense in week one, nor could anyone have foreseen their offense succeeding against


in week 2, when Manning and the Colts couldn’t. Oh, one more thing… they did it all without their biggest weapon, Steve Smith who was suspended for the first 2 weeks of the season.

  QB Jake Delhomme (23rd among NFL efficiency ratings) comes into the season after missing most of last season with an elbow injury.

  Delhomme has 2 wins under his belt, but he simply *must* play better if


hopes to win their division.

  His numbers will certainly be helped by the return of WR Steve Smith (three straight 1,000+ yard seasons) and a Vikings D that gives up most of its yards through the air (237ypg). He’ll also get help from WR Muhsin Muhammad (115 yards) and TE Donte Rosario (102yds/1TD). And don’t forget the glittering success of the Panther’s ground game, with rookie RB Jonathan Stewart (130yds/2TDs) and RB DeAngelo Williams (117yds) looking very solid so far. The Panthers D will need to improve upon their 19th ranked run defense when they face one of the NFL’s best rushers this weekend.


That brings us to a team that some predicted would be a diamond this year, but after 2 losses is looking more like cubic-zirconia. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t individual pearls of talent on this roster.

  Like stud RB Adrian Peterson (263yds/1TD); he is one of the NFL’s top rushers and is licking his chops at the thought of facing a


run D that isn’t scaring anyone, let alone a guy who shreads opposing defenses like Peterson does.

  QB Tavaris Jackson (308yds/1TD) wasn’t helping to keep the pressure off Peterson though, with his 26th ranked QB rating.

  The primary receivers for the Vikes at this point were Jackson’s outlet valves, TEs Garrett Mills (49yds) and Visanthe Shiancoe (44yds), but that should change when veteran QB Gus Ferrotte takes over behind center – which could (finally) make use of Bernard Barrien (a pitiful 38yds so far this season) as a weapon in the offense. On the other side of the ball,


has become one of the NFL’s more feared defenses, including a 4th ranked defense against the run – which may help take pressure off the


offense to score through the air, and allow them to remain ‘grounded’ where Peterson looks to shine.


An unlikely match-up for ‘games to Watch’?




has been involved in a couple of nail-biters already, and we don’t think this weekend will be any different.

  If the Panthers pull out win #3, it’ll be a first for them since their Super Bowl appearance in the 2003 season.


looks to turn their fortunes around and prove to the home crowd that they are contenders and not pretenders. And you don’t have to be a geologist to realize that this game is sure to be a gem.






– Sunday 9/21,



Our next game isn’t just a battle between cross-state rivals, it’s a battle of the city where the most unattractive people live (according to, Philadelphia holds this dubious distinction) and

  the city where you can barely breathe (according to Men’s Health magazine in 2006, Pittsburgh ranked

  98 out of 100 cities in air quality).

  Ahhh –


. But it isn’t all bad, PA is also the home of great cheesesteaks on one side of the state, and one heck of a sandwich by the Primanti Brothers on the other. Let the battle for the great





Things are looking surprisingly good on a


offense that hasn’t had it’s top two WRs for either game this year.

  A big part of that is the resurgence of a healthy Donovan McNabb (642yds/4TDs), who leads an offense that is #1 in passing yards in the league. Balancing out the pass is McNabb’s right hand man, RB Brian Westbrook (195 total yards and 5TDs) – who is a threat as a receiving option or a rusher.

  And even with the loss of WRs Kevin Curtis and Reggie Brown, the Eagles have become the #1 passing offense so far this year with a host of backup receivers who’ve shown they can contribute to Andy Reid’s pass happy O. WRs DeSean Jackson (216yds – and *almost* one TD – try waiting until you are in the end zone to celebrate, DeSean) and Greg Lewis (140yds) doing most of the damage so far. On the other side of the ball, the Eagles gave up 41 points to “Them Cowboys”, but somehow they still managed to emerge as the #1 ranked rushing defense in the league (allowing a paltry 52ypg).



’s offense is clearly a team to be reckoned with, but they face their biggest test of this young season in



  Not to mention a Steelers offense that ranks in the top 10 in rushing, and which promises to give the Eagles everything they can handle when they make the short 250 miles trip across the state this weekend.


The Steelers squeaked out a win in the rain at


last week, but hope to get back to their dominating ways of week 1 when they hardly even had to breathe heavy to beat


38-17. A sore arm by Ben Roethlisberger (323yds/3TDs) is something to watch for this weekend, but


doesn’t have to win through the air when you couple their tough D with a top 10 rushing offense. RB Willie Parker (243yds/3TDs) is not only keeping opposing defenses in check, but the critics as well – proving he’s still the man in



  WR Hines Ward (135yds/3TDs) looks to be in for a big season as he already has almost half the amount of touchdowns as he had in the entire 2007 season.

  WR Santonio Holmes is no slouch so far (113yds), but fantasy pundits are holding their breath for more scoring from Holmes.

  Defensively, the Steelers have held opponents to an average of 12 points, are in the top 9 of every major defensive category, and look to deflate


’s passing attack with the 4th ranked passing defense.


You don’t have to be a


native to enjoy this one.

  Apparently, you just have to be ugly and asthmatic… just kidding!

  The only thing you need is an appreciation for two great teams who both look to be playoff bound.

  So skip the trip to the pharmacy, no inhaler needed – except maybe to control the gasps at the action in this match-up.

  And don’t you dare take a nap and miss this game, no beauty sleep needed to enjoy how good both of these squads look. Just sink into that well worn spot on the couch, grab yourself a cheesesteak or a sandwich with fries and coleslaw piled right inside the bun, and get set for a Turnpike rivalry that will be a feast for the eyes.





Green Bay

– Sunday 9/21,



Remember all those Wrigley’s Doublemint Gum television commercials?

  They always had two identical twins walking around some fabulous location with saccharin-sweet music playing in the background.

  Well, that’s exactly what this game reminds us of – except for the saccharin-sweet music, anyway.

  We have the legendary backdrop of Lambeau Field, and more mirror images between these two teams than can be considered coincidental – identical twins separated at birth?

  You be the judge…


Let’s start with 2 identically powerful offensive squads.



sports the NFL’s #2 overall offense, while

Green Bay

isn’t far behind at #6.


Green Bay

’s 36ppg average just tops


’ 34.5ppg average, putting them at #3 and #4 in the NFL respectively.

  Both teams have solid rushers, but are relying on their passing attacks to blow the opposition away.

  Both team’s defenses are middle-of-the-road squads at the two-game mark, especially in the points allowed category.

  Both the Packers and the Cowboys have shown that their weakest spot is their pass defense, both of which have an early-season propensity give up chunks of yardage when the opposition keeps the pressure off.

  But don’t think the similarities between these teams are only apparent when looking at them from far away; they are just as similar close up.


Both teams sport one of the NFL’s best QBs at this point of the season,


Tony Romo and

Green Bay

’s Aaron Rodgers.

  Let’s drill even deeper down into individual stats to see just how similar these two are.

  Pass attempts 60 for Rodgers, 62 for Romo.

  Pass completions 42 for Rodgers, 45 for Romo.

  Both have the exact same TD total, 4 each.

  And don’t forget a QB rating of 117.8 for Rodgers, 113.1 for Romo.

  But why stop at the QBs, when the similarities continue throughout the offenses?

  RB Marion Barber from Dallas has slightly more yardage than Green Bay’s Ryan Grant (143yds vs. 112yds), but he also runs the ball slightly more – if you look at their average per carry, you see Barber gets 4.2ypc, with Ryan Grant a near-identical 4.1ypc.

  They both have a couple of great receivers anchoring their aerial attacks; the Cowboys have WR Terrell Owens and his 22 yards per catch, while the Pack has WR Greg Jennings and his 23.5 ypc average.


Green Bay

has WR Donald Driver and his 5.5 catches per game, while


has TE Jason Witten and his 6.5 catches per game.

  Heck, even the kickers have mirror image numbers, both are 9 for 9 in PATs and

Green Bay

’s Mason Crosby only edges out Dalls’ Nick Folk by 1.5 points a game.


Look, we can go on showing you the similarities between these two teams all day, but it’s not like you can’t see it even without looking at the numbers.

  Two teams, both struggling for dominance in the NFC, both sporting explosive offenses, both having gambling secondaries that can be scored upon (but will come up with the occasional big play), both teams are 2-0, both teams have one of the NFL’s top signal callers right now.

  Aaron Rodgers is one of the NFL’s exciting new faces, and it wasn’t long ago that Tony Romo was the exciting new QB on the block.

  Two playoff contenders that should be competing in a track meet this Sunday.

  You really can’t ask for more than that.

  And since this is the third ‘Game to Watch’ for this week, you won’t even be ‘doubling your pleasure, doubling your fun’, as the gum jingle goes… you’ll be tripling them.

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