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Games to Watch – Week 5

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), or our column (Brain and Braun), 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:


Dallas @ Philadelphia – Sunday 10/8, 4:15pm


Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA


We aren’t sure if this is a football game or the Sunday Afternoon Movie.


The program will star a slightly insane leading man, who loves to make great catches, but not as much as he loves himself.  It guest stars his laid-back ex-partner, who still carries a chip on his shoulder about his draft day ‘diss-ing’ at the hands of the city that now cheers him.  Other supporting cast members include the overweight, play-calling guru who loves to out-think himself just as much as the opposing team; the stern, but loveable old disciplinarian, who is in danger of having a stroke every time his star kicker takes the field; and a cast of defensive standouts on both sides of the field.


Unfortunately, the actual game is overshadowed by all of the off-the-field nonsense that seems to envelope T.O. like Pig Pen’s cloud of dust.  Now if the announcers can just stop talking about it for a few minutes, they’re likely to see a good football game.


T.O. loves games against his old teams, and wants to show the Eagles just how much they should be missing him.  And he has a good shot against an Eagles’ pass D that has looked anything but solid.  28th in the league against the pass, and it should be a nice day for Mr. Owens.  It all comes down to Dallas’ o-line, though.  Keep the Eagles and their tough pressure off Bledsoe, and he and T.O. will light it up.  Let Trent Cole and company get through, and the immobile Bledsoe is likely to need more than aspirin once the day is done.  (We’d say he could have borrowed a few pills from T.O., but he already finished the bottle.) 😉


McNabb and the Eagles O has looked very solid, even with Owens’ departure – averaging an eye-popping 426 yards of offense a game.  The Birds face their toughest defense yet, though, with Dallas allowing a stingy 260 yards a game.  This game will show us just how good McNabb and the Eagles really are on O, or prove to the league that Dallas’ D is a force to be reckoned with each and every week.



We can’t promise you a great football game (especially the way the Eagles struggled last Monday against the hapless Packers), but we can promise you some great television drama – probably even better than the Law & Order rerun that your wife or girlfriend will be watching on the other TV.



Pittsburgh @ San Diego – Sunday 10/8, 8:15pm

Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA


What’s not to like?  A match-up of 2 solid defensive clubs, which each sport an offense that features a strong running attack; that certainly sounds like a great game to us.  Oh – you aren’t a fan of jutting chins?  Yikes, this one may not be for you then.


This is almost a must win for the boys from Steel City, as they have started out the season a disappointing 1-2 so far.  Should they drop to 1-3 in a division that pits them against the still undefeated Ravens, and the now tough Bengals, things will look bleak indeed. 


The Steelers have uncharacteristically struggled on defense through their first 3 games, #11 in overall D, and #1 in scoring D.  Now, that’s certainly not awful, but to not have the Steelers in the top 5 or 6 is certainly a change for them – in the wrong direction.  Their offense hasn’t fared much better, with Ben Roethlisberger not the same so far after his motorcycle accident in the off-season.  Willie Parker has been a bright spot for the fans from Steeltown, but he runs smack-dab into a Chargers D surrendering only 66 yards on the ground a game.  Ouch.


The Chargers D is ranked #1 overall, #2 in scoring defense, and they are a big part of way people are scared to death of the Chargers.  The other part of that fear belongs to Ladanian Tomlinson.  LT is one of the NL elite rushers, and this season is no exception.  Averaging 100 yards a game and a TD through his first three games is something that gives opposing teams, and opposing fantasy owners, heartburn before he ever touches the ball.  Good thing too, because Phillip Rivers needs more time to work himself into a solid starting QB before they can afford to rest any games on his shoulders.


By the numbers, you just gotta’ like the Bolts in this one, but with the Steelers backs to the wall, we think this could be closer than people expect.



Baltimore @ Denver – Monday 10/9, 8:30pm


Invesco Field, Denver, CO


There are those who are shocked that Baltimore is 4-0 and there are those that are shocked that Denver isn’t.


If you asked people at the beginning of the season who would be the “better” team (based solely on record), many would say Denver, mainly because they were a very potent team last season, and Baltimore wasn’t.


Baltimore tried to go out and do all the right things this past off-season, including filling their biggest need at QB.  Enter Steve McNair; and the Ravens felt they were turning the corner on offense.  Surround him with talented WRs; check.  Get Jamal Lewis healthy after a down year in 2005 coming off an injury; check.  Finally get coach Brian Billick to show why he was hired the better part of a decade ago, to whip the Ravens offense into a scoring machine; hmm still no check here.  Mix it all together and we get… whoops, same old Baltimore offense.  Sure, we’re only through four weeks of the season, but being ranked 28th in the league on offense just ain’t gonna’ cut it.


Good thing it’s the same old Baltimore D, too.  They are saving Billick’s butt again.  Ranked #2 in total yardage, and #3 in scoring defense, they are very much a force to be reckoned with, at least if Ray Lewis and company have anything to say about it.  And trust us – they do.


The Broncos seemed almost destined to make it to the Super Bowl last year, only to have the Steelers come into their house and play nay-sayers to that notion in the AFC Championship game. It seems that rough luck has stuck with this team, and specifically Jake Plummer, since that devastating loss. Let’s be honest, for the first two weeks, all that we heard about was “Is the Jay Cutler era going to begin?”  Plummer may have finally silenced that 2 weeks ago with his performance against the Patriots at Gillette Stadium (256 yards passing and 2 TDs).


So…in a nutshell, you have two teams, one wasn’t expected to be undefeated and is, and another who seems to be fighting to get the respect back it earned last year, and coming off of its big win in New England and a bye week, they are ready to take on anything.


This has the potential to be a defensive struggle all the way, and not be decided until the 4th quarter. Put the kids to bed, order up some “sweet and sweaty” wings from your favorite haunt (a personal favorite; think General Tso’s sauce on the wings and you get the idea) and get ready to watch what could amount to be one of the better Monday night football games of the year.

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