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Games to Watch – Week 5

Hello fellow Sharks! From now right up through 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 Fantasy PRE-Wind podcast), and our “Side Lines” sport-toon (every Monday, Wednesday and Friday), 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:

With a full month of the NFL season in the books, we take a look at the best that Week 5 has to offer for our viewing pleasure. We’ve seen more surprises this season than a M. Night Shyamalan movie ending, not the least of them being the Kansas City Chiefs remaining as the only undefeated team in the NFL. We have several preseason Super Bowl favorites sitting at .500 or worse, and more than a few stud fantasy players disappointing their owners on a weekly basis. But one thing stands the test of time, like a Monet painting or an Evil Dead film – each and every week we get treated to the best the NFL has to offer. And you can always count on Chris and Tom to pick out the three best gems on the schedule to plan your weekend around.

Kansas City
– Sunday 10/10,
1 p.m.,

This game is like a blind date – it could be great, it could be a disaster. But, without doing it, you’d simply never know if you are going to hit it off or not. There is one unbeaten team in this game (heck, the whole league), and it is not the Colts. If we would have predicted that at the beginning of the season, Tony Holm would have forced us to take “a rest,” like Mariah Carey. But at 1 p.m. this Sunday, Kansas City gets its toughest test to date and tries to go 4-0. Indianapolis doesn’t lose two in a row very often – but as is the case in the NFL this year, anything is possible.

There is a rumor in Kansas City that the “Chiefs” might be changed to the “No Names,” mainly because the
Romeo Crennel-led unit hasn’t given up more than 14 points in a game yet this year – and they’ve done it with players who, outside the Kansas City area or their hometowns, are virtual unknowns. Offensively, outside of a couple guys fantasy owners are familiar with – things aren’t much different. The duo of
Jamaal Charles (238 yards, 1 TD) and
Thomas Jones (217 yards, 1 TD) have been paving the way to victory, and allowing
Matt Cassel (494 yards, 4 TD, 3 INT) time to find wide receiver
Dwayne Bowe (7 receptions, 119 yards, 1 TD) tight end
Tony Moeaki (12 receptions, 123 yards, 2 TD). While none of these names are necessarily muttered around many water coolers, you can’t argue the amazing turnaround this team has put together after last year’s dismal performance. This time last year, the Chiefs were 0-4; 365 days later, they are attempting the complete opposite.

The word “Colts” and 2-2 aren’t really synonymous. With the No. 2 ranked scoring offense in the league, they don’t necessarily need a spectacular performance each week from players like
Dwight Freeney (8 tackles, 3 sacks, 2 forced fumbles) and the rest of the defense. (And it’s a good thing, too – if the Colts get an early lead, the defense can put nice pressure on the quarterback, but in close games they stop the run about as well as the “War on Drugs” stopped the cocaine flow out of Columbia.) Names like
Peyton Manning (1,365 yards, 11 TD, 1 INT),
Reggie Wayne (33 receptions, 456 yards, 2 TD) and
Dallas Clark (28 receptions, 275 yards, 3 TD) are expected to be amazing every week, as they head up what has been an offensive machine in Indianapolis for the last decade. Outstanding role players like
Austin Collie (32 receptions, 398 yards, 5 TD) and
Joseph Addai (228 rushing yards, 2 TD) are also helping fantasy owners shoot to the top of their leagues, even though in their own division the Colts are a disappointing third, having already lost two divisional matchups.

Vegas doesn’t give odds on blind dates – but if they did, they would be considered ultra-long shots. At the same time, we all seem to know a couple who met on a blind date and lived happily ever after. When it happens, it’s pure bliss. That’s the same reason to watch this game – you just might be treated to the Cinderella story of 2010. On the other hand, as hard as 2-2 is to imagine for a Colts team, 2-3 is nearly impossible to envision. Something has to happen in this game; a story has to play out. Just like a blind date, you simply have to go along with it and see what’s going to happen.

– Sunday 10/10,
4:15 p.m.,

Friedrich Nietzsche said, “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” And while we don’t usually quote philosophy, there is no denying the truth of that statement when it comes to the NFL. (Of course Nietzsche also said, “Woman was God’s second mistake,” which makes us think he didn’t date much. But we digress …) In the NFL, teams are presented with several “difference making” games every season. Players rise to the occasion, weather the storm and become stronger, or they wither away with the promise of post-season glory dying in their hearts as quickly as their fans. This is one of those games for both of these teams; the Cowboys can’t afford to start 1-3 in a season in which they were all but planning on a home-field Super Bowl appearance and the Titans need to come up big against a big team if they have any hope of post-season dreams.

Tennessee’s backs are against the wall here in Week 5. Oh, it’s early in the season, but this is a statement game for a team that can’t seem to play consistently well against quality competition. The Titans need to get stronger as this season progresses, because they face the Colts and Texans in four of their last six games – a daunting task even for a team that sports (arguably – especially this year) the NFL’s best rusher,
Chris Johnson (354 rushing yards, 4 TD, 2 fumbles).
Vince Young (511 yards, 4 TD, 2 INT) has the lowest passing attempts of any quarterback who has started four games this year (just 71), but
Nate Washington (14 receptions, 194 yards, 2 TD) and
Kenny Britt (10 receptions, 90 yards, 2 TD) make the most of their limited touches. The Top 10 ranked run defense in the league is bolstered by the likes of
Stephen Tulloch (38 tackles), who is averaging just less than 10 tackles a game and
Will Witherspoon (21 tackles, 3 sacks, 1 forced fumble). If the Titans can play solid defrense and Johnson can hang onto the rock, Tennessee just might be able to make it 11-0 vs. NFC opponents in their last 11.

The Dallas Cowboys began the 2010 season with owner
Jerry Jones smiling about the possibility of playing a Super Bowl on his home field. (Of course, he would be smiling no matter what, because his latest facelift doesn’t allow him to do much else.) Two disappointing losses to start the season put a bit of a damper on that plan, but the Cowboys came up big against a Texans team that boasts one of the NFL’s best offenses. The Cowboys will need to build on that momentum and rely on their eighth-ranked run defense to stonewall the Titans.
Keith Brooking (21 tackles, 1 sack) will look to keep Johnson in check, while
DeMarcus Ware (15 tackles, 4 sacks) will do everything he can to keep Vince Young from taking advantage of an average Dallas pass defense.
Tony Romo (940yards, 4 TD, 2 INT) has had no problem moving the chains with the help of
Miles Austin (29 receptions, 308 yards, 1 TD) and the improved play of
Roy Williams (12 receptions, 191 yards, 2 TD) has been a pleasant surprise. The running game is leaving a lot to be desired, however. With three talented running backs in
Marion Barber,
Felix Jones and
Tashard Choice (together 234 yards, 1 TD), the Cowboys should rank higher than an embarrassing 26th in rushing offense. “America’s Team” will need to improve its running game and continue their solid defensive play if they want to continue their turn-around from the start of this season and improve to 2-2.

There you have it. You don’t need any fancy Ivy League education, or a Masters Degree in philosophy to know that what Nietzsche said was true. One of these teams will become stronger with a victory this weekend. Not just in the standings, but in their confidence which will carry them through the middle of this season. The other team won’t be dead, but with three losses and little momentum to build upon, their future is bleak. In the end, this game will tell us a lot about both teams, and to quote another great philosopher, Yogi Berra, “You can see a lot just by looking.” So just sit back and have fun watching!

New York
Jets – Monday 10/11,
8:30 p.m.,

Back in 1990, Braun and Dolfi were in college (which one is irrelevant – just know that it was a Big 10 school, they’ve had the same football coach for over 40 years, and fun times weren’t hard to come by). There were social events, girlfriends, and all the havoc that comes along with students wanting to blow off steam from the rigors of the week. Friday, March 2 was typical of many previous weekends, except one thing. Chris was trying his best to avoid a particularly annoying coed, Tom took a break from indulging in his Buffalo wing-eating, and a few other friends did the same, in order to be at the premier for the (modern day) classic, “The Hunt for Red October.” The Cold War at its finest. Sean Connery stealing a nuclear submarine, trying to defect to the United States, while the world (not knowing his intentions) looks to torpedo him. Many people don’t even remember those days; the Soviet Union would add something to their arsenal, the United States would counter – the arms race was on! Twenty years later, we live in different times. Cyber-terrorism brings more fear than thoughts of the Cold War (heck, the Russians are allies compared to two decades ago). In fact, the closest thing the Cold War can come to this Monday, is watching two teams that engaged in their own off-season arms race in their quest for a Super Bowl win this season.

The New York Jets are streaking right now.
Mark Sanchez (711 yards, 8 TD, 0 INT) has not fallen into a sophomore slump, avoiding turnovers and feasting on defenses with
Dustin Keller (19 receptions, 254 yards, 5 TD) and
Braylon Edwards (12 receptions, 227 yards, 3 TD) and soon-to-be
Santonio Holmes, who returns from a four-game suspension this week. If anything, Sanchez is playing better than expected, not having an interception in his last 16 quarters, to go along with eight touchdowns. It certainly helps Sanchez that the running tandem of
LaDanian Tomlinson (341 rushing yards, 3 TD) and
Shonn Greene (223 rushing yards, 1 fumble) has had a great deal of success. Defensively, the Jets allow only 15 points per game on average – something
Shaun Ellis (14 tackles, 3 sacks, 1 forced fumble) and company continue to push for this Monday night, especially lacking the abilities of play-maker
Darrelle Revis, even if their offseason addition of
Antonio Cromartie (13 tackles, 2 INT) does soften the blow.

Last year’s powerhouse in the NFC North is off to a sputtering start, but coming off of a bye week, they are hoping for a rebirth. One way the offense is hoping to recharge itself is by adding to the arms race and reacquiring
Randy Moss (9 receptions, 139 yards, 3 TD) this week to give
Brett Favre (597 yards, 2 TD, 6 INT) a fresh weapon to complement
Percy Harvin (11 receptions, 106 yards, 1 TD) and
Visanthe Shiancoe (12 receptions, 169 yards, 1 TD). The ground attack remains one of the best in the NFL, with
Adrian Peterson (392 rushing yards, 3 TD) keeping the pressure off the receiving corps, and seemingly banishing his fumbling problems this year. Even with the 1-2 record the Vikings have, they allow no more than 13 points per game on average, courtesy of defensive end
Jared Allen (10 tackles, 1 sack),
Antoine Winfield (22 tackles, 1 INT) and one of the NFL’s most solid defensive units.

Typically, out of conference teams don’t have much hate for one another. However, with Revis smack talking Moss, Favre facing a team for whom he turned in one completely lackluster season, and both teams still out to prove this is their year, this game is shaping up to be one of the best out-of-conference games of the year. It’s not March 2, 1990. It’s Oct. 11 2010, but tell your girlfriend you’re busy, your wife that you have to help a buddy move furniture, or the boss that you are sick – this is a modern day Cold War, and you don’t want to miss who will dominate the world (well, at least the Monday Night football world for this week).

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