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:
This week is like a buffet of tasty match-ups, and not enough room on your plate – or at least not enough picture-in-picture windows on your television. You have Matt Schaub going back to Atlanta (where they’re kicking themselves they should have kept him)… you have Brett Favre about to break the record for all time TD’s… and you have Tom Brady and company heading off to Cincinnati to basically score as many points as they can – against a defense that has more holes in it than a slice of store brand Swiss.
With so many fine choices, it wasn’t easy to make our menu selection this week, but settle back in your easy chair and let us serve you up a heapin’ helpin’ of some hostility, football-style that is.
– Sunday 9/30,
Ok, let’s be honest, we all thought
would be the frontrunner of the NFC South.
But stop living in the past, that was four weeks ago.
Instead we’re here looking at Carolina and Tampa….both 1-0 in the division, both looking to take the lead in the division with a win Sunday, and both teams led by quarterbacks that you probably took as a second QB (at best) in your fantasy draft.
We feel that this is going to be such a close game (heck, we hear tell that some sports books won’t even take any action on this game), that we feel inclined to simply list why each team will win.
has its noteworthy defense, a strong running game, and
Steve Smith (whether you love him or hate him – he’s got skills).
Although they are in the middle of the pack in many statistical rankings (12th in total yards, 22nd in points against)
seems a team to be reckoned with.
DeShaun Foster is coming off his best game yet – a 100 yard rushing game with a score.
He’s also looking like he has clearly entrenched himself as the starter, even with
DeAngelo Williams playing fairly well when he does get to chance to run.
Steve Smith seemed to thrive in the first two games of the season (271 yards and 4 TD’s)…and even though he was a bust against
from a Fantasy standpoint, he managed to still have a big impact in the game.
Jake Delhomme is nursing some injuries (a fad for QB’s this year), he doesn’t need surgery at last report. And while many didn’t figure him to be a top flight fantasy QB, even with Steven Smith as his main weapon, he has put up great fantasy numbers so far with 8TDs and only 1 interception. The big question is whether Delhomme will actually play, or if
will be forced to start
David Carr in his place.
If it’s Delhomme, that’s a huge plus for the Panthers for sure.
Put all of this together and you got yourself a good argument why the Panthers will win this game.
But don’t be so hasty, we haven’t given you the flip side of this coin.
has surprised everyone except themselves.
Jeff Garcia is doing exactly what coach
Jon Gruden needs him to do – play smart, and don’t turn the ball over. Garcia is in the top five QBS in the NFL in efficiency rating (a very respectable 105.6 through the first three weeks) and is one of only three QBs in the NFL to NOT throw a single interception yet.
So while not putting up huge numbers, Garcia is doing what he needs to in order to make sure TB is in position to win games.
Aside from Garcia,
Carnell Williams has been finding the endzone (3 TDs in three games) even if his ypc are a disappointing 3.5 right now.
Williams should supposedly be good to go this weekend in spite of his injured ribs.
And don’t forget the Bucs D which has been doing great at keeping opponents out of the endzone (5th in points allowed, just 12.3ppg).
While some will say they padded their stats against two sputtering offenses in the Rams and the Saints (both of those squads are 0-3), you have to wonder how much of that ‘sputtering’ was actually due to a solid Tampa D.
It certainly doesn’t hurt that the game is in
, either – one final variable in their favor.
Overall though… this is looking like it could be a nice smash mouth game much like the NFC East teams of the 80’s. And while we don’t think the play by either team will be flawless, we do think this will be a close game with the winner becoming the one to beat in the NFC South.
– Sunday 9/30,
Next up, we take a look at a battle for the lead in the NFC West.
Oddly enough, this is just one of a handful of games this week in which both teams still have starting quarterbacks or running backs not seriously banged up (well – even that isn’t true with the ‘Hawks
Shawn Alexander nursing a broken wrist, but he’s a tough guy and he’ll be ready to go this weekend.
(Lord knows we’d probably skip sitting in the stands of an NFL game with a broken wrist, let alone playing in one – but that’s why he gets paid the big money and why
FantasySharks pays us in bags of slightly stale popcorn.)
*sarcasm alert* What a novel way for a NFL fantasy season to start where many of the fantasy draft’s top picks are out, injured, or having sub-par seasons. *end sarcasm*
In this game though, not only will your top fantasy picks be part of it – but they’ll feature prominently in the outcome this weekend.
And don’t forget that dash of divisional rivalry anger in the mix as well.
San Fran comes in with a 2-1 record. High expectations, a well dressed coach, but a very quiet passing game.
And let’s be honest, that’s putting it nicely for
461 yards, 1 TD with an interception to match, and a 67.4 passer rating through three games is about as special as a slab of scrapple on toast. Their strengths obviously lie in their rushing game, where
Frank Gore has 3 TDs on the season with a 175 rushing yards to match.
comes in with a 2-1 record as well. A team who’s star running back,
Shawn Alexander, has a broken wrist – but has put up a sizable 275 yards through the first three contests, with 2 TDs thrown in for good measure.
Not to mention a quarterback in
Matt Hasselbeck who rallied back to win last week (a 22 yard pass for a TD with about 1 minute to go v Cincy), and has put up solid numbers including 5 TDs.
Toss in a coach who vows he will not be swept by the 49rs this season, and we got ourselves a game.
You know what we’re talking about here – the things that have very little to do with statistics, but makes some color announcer seem smart because they can spew some non-statistic related info to try and make it sound like they spend Sunday brunches with the players at the local IHOP.
And while these things make for good stories, they have almost nothing to do with the outcome of this game.
Emotions will be running high for
Darrel Jackson, who will have his first game against his former team.
In order to wear the snazzy suits that
Mike Nolan does, he had to petition the league to change a rule in order to do so.
played at the same time with
Reggie Bush in high school (Helix High near
The 49ers just recently signed
Michael Lewis to return punts.
You might remember Lewis as the return man that the Saints plucked, not off a waiver wire, but off of a beer truck route.
Lewis also gets to be reunited with his long-time special teams coach,
Al Everest, now with the 49ers as well.
Again – the difference that any of this will make in the outcome of the game is dubious at best, but they are fun side stories for sure.
We just thought we’d throw out those tidbits to you so that you can tell your friends between 3rd and 4th down, and then act all smug – just like the majority of the mass media mouthpieces out there today.
Bottom line is that you have two good teams squaring off in a divisional rivalry, you have two great running backs who their teams depend on, which is gonna’ result in one great game.
– Sunday 9/30,
In any good spaghetti western, there are some horses, some gun-slingers, and a couple showdowns between the best of the best.
And in a match-up that would make Sergio Leone green with envy – this weekend’s tussle between
and Indy has all of those and more.
Obviously there are plenty of horses, with a team of Broncos thundering into
to face off against a posse of Colts.
But lets take a look at each teams’ main workhorse and see how they match up.
The Broncos’ ride on the back of
Travis Henry, who is averaging more than 100 yards a game through the start of this season. Even if Henry has only found the endzone once, you gotta’ like a rusher who is averaging just over 5 yards a carry.
But the Colts are no slouches either, with their young stud,
Joseph Addai. Addai has racked up almost as many yards, with 271 so far (a 4.2 ypc average), but 4 times as many visits to the scoring column.
And since Addai gets to face one of the NFL’s worst run defenses right now in the Broncos (tied for 29th and giving up a whopping 166 yards a game on the ground), this game could easily come down to just how badly Addai is able to exploit that glaring weakness.
Watching these two top work-horses starts this feature off on the right foot (hoof?) for sure.
Then we get to look at a couple of gun-slingers.
The Broncos young gun,
Jay Cutler, strolls into Indy as the 9th best passer in terms of yardage (795 yards) and the 7th best in yards per attempt (8.37ypa).
He has 3 TDs showing he can hit the mark when he focuses, but like many youngsters he can be a bit wild, as his 4 interceptions show.
But he has to face the marshal of Indy,
Payton Manning – arguably one of the best gun-slingers in NFL history.
And while Manning isn’t playing at the scorching pace of his record-breaking season, he’s still among the NFL’s top guns this year.
4th in passing yards (873 yards), 4th in yards per attempt (8.64ypa), and tied for 10th in TDs (5 TDs through three games) certainly proves Manning is *still* at the top of his game.
We think the crafty veteran has more than enough bullets left in the chamber to take care of the young upstart this weekend.
And don’t forget our good old fashioned showdown, where some of the best-of-the-best square off on opposite sides of
The Colts have two of the NFL’s top wide-outs in
Marvin Harrison and
Harrison and Wayne both have 16 catches so far, and although there are a few duos that can compete with these two (
Williams/McDonald to name a few), you can’t argue that these two are still some of the best WRs in the league and often give their opponent’s secondary more than a few fits.
But they don’t face just any ordinary secondary, either.
Ready to test their stuff in a quick draw contest with the Colts receivers are two of the NFL’s finest defensive backs,
Champ Bailey and
Both of these guys already have one pick each this year, and you can bet they’ll each get a few more before it’s all said and done.
And these four competing this weekend should be a great offense/defense showdown between some of the NFL’s best at their respective positions.
Like we said before – this match-up is the stuff legendary Westerns (and NFL games) are made of. And even if we think the Colts are clearly the better team of these two, we don’t doubt for a second that there are enough side-plots, thundering hooves, gun-slinging, and showdowns to please the most difficult aficionado of Westerns AND the NFL.