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:
– Sunday 10/14,
You’ve heard the saying time and time again, “Things are not always what they seem”. You know what we’re talking about – it’s when your “friend” tells you about the best General Tso’s chicken ever, but when you swing by the joint he recommended, you wonder what all the hubbub was about (and wonder why you got a free cat collar with your order).
Things are not what they seemed. It’s the girl who looked like Bijou Phillips at the bar last night, and looks like Bea Arthur when you get together for coffee the next day.
Things were not what they seemed. It’s two teams who were not picked to amount to much the season, in their own divisions – let alone in the NFC as a whole, but somehow are looking pretty good right now.
Things just aren’t always as they seem – at least until we break it down for ya’
The Redskins came off of a lockdown of the Lions in which their defense spoke volumes. They held offensive-minded
to just 3 points and less than 150 yards TOTAL. And it’s not just a strong showing against
that has this D looking good – they have only allowed 4 touchdowns this season so far. And play like that has teams (and some fantasy owners) taking a second look at a defense that has had several holes he past few seasons.
Clinton Portis, once thought to be an injury question, has quietly put together a season where he is on pace for a 1,200 yard season and 12 touchdowns. Don’t discount the solid play of QB
Jason Campbell, either. While not super exciting fantasy numbers,
’s 23 of 29 passes for 248 yards and 2 TDs without any interceptions (which resulted in his career best 125.3 passer rating) was enough to garner him NFC offensive player of the week honors.
has at least 1 TD pass in 10 of his last 11 contests, and
will need that to continue against a Green Bay D ranked #12 in scoring defense.
The Packers have been a real “Cinderella” story thus far this season. Very few (aside from die-hard Pack fans) expected them to be at the top of the division, let alone be one of the top offenses in the NFL (#1 in passing, #8 in scoring). Looking as if he’s far from retirement, QB
Brett Favre is leading the NFL in passing yardage (over 1500 yards already this season, and top 10 in TDs as well. With the lackluster running game in
, Favre has had to come up big. Without a real stud at RB, the Pack has been forced to rely on the arm of Favre and the receiving abilities of WRs
James Jones, and
Greg Jennings. These three have combined for a very respectable 875 yards and 6 TDs to date – even more impressive when you consider that
has battle injury problems all year and hasn’t seen that much of the field so far.
Yep – things aren’t always what they seem – and what you’re looking at in this game, is two teams that were not very attractive as the season began, but have emerged to be contenders for not only their divisions, but the NFC title as well.
– Sunday 10/14,
We’ve written this column for several years now, and while our memories might be addled a bit by copious amounts of red meat, Buffalo wings, and home brew… we can honestly say we have NEVER put these two together as a “Game to Watch”. Hear us out, though. Occasionally, we know what we’re talking about – just like when we told one of our co-workers that the Netherlands is ranked 16th in gross national product, or when we explained that “A Fistful of Dollars” was a western adaptation of Kurosawa’s “Yojimbo”. And we know what we’re talking about in this case, too.
First off, you gotta’ love those divisional rivalry games. And yes it really is a rivalry – starting right when
foiled any kind of shot
had last year of making playoff run. (We bet you forgot
was 0-2 vs. the Texans last year.) And while neither of these defenses is loaded with household names, they are both in the top 12 in total defense – proving that it’s the TEAM and not the IDPs that make a solid D. Oh yea, one more thing, even with
currently in the cellar of the AFC South – both of these squads are part of the only division in the NFL where NONE of the teams has a losing record.
hasn’t proven to be the biggest offensive threat in the league. In fact, their receivers are people the average fan doesn’t know a lot about. Sure, WR
Dennis Northcutt will show up on the occasional roster, but we’re pretty sure TE
Marcedes Lewis isn’t a fixture on many teams in your league. A so-so
pass D should give both of those guys a chance to see some receptions this weekend, as well as give QB David Garrard a decent opportunity to continue his streak of 1 TD every game this season, and zero interceptions so far. Neither of the Jags RB has become the fantasy stud many hoped one or the other would be this season, but the Jags RB tandem of
Fred Taylor and
Maurice Jones-Drew have put up a respectable 389 yards so far this season. They simply need to find the endzone more, as 1 TD between them isn’t going to get the job done.
’s strength is obviously their defense. Case in point – they held
Larry Johnson to 12 yards rushing on the day. We should also mention that they are ranked second in points allowed (a very low 10.3 points a game). Don’t forget about being ranked #7 in both overall D and passing D – giving up only 178.3 yards a game through the air.
Houston impressed everyone early with its successful passing game (currently ranked 7th in passing), and even without an effective running game,
Matt Schaub (#6 in passing in the NFL) has run an offense that has used his arm to break at least one Houston record. Ok, the record of having a winning season after 5 games for the first time EVER might not be a big deal to you – but it is a big deal to the Texans. For
to continue their success, they will need more production out of their running game – especially since that’s the best way to attack the Jags D. But when
Ron Dayne is your top rusher, you know you have an uphill climb.
Houston’s defense, although not statistically as good as the Jaguar’s, still has a unit that puts them in the top 10 in the league on rushing yards allowed, and 11th against the pass. Their 15th ranked pass D needs to improve though, if they hope to continue their winning ways.
Listen, this won’t be the glitziest game of the season – but you can bet it’s gonna’ be a dogfight. If you’re looking for big scores, you aren’t likely to find them in this game – but you’re going to see two tough defensive units square-off, fueled by division-rivalry hatred. Yes,
@ Jacksonville really IS a “Game to Watch” this week.
– Sunday 10/14,
Sometimes questions we ask are some of the great mysteries of life, like “Why do women require 40 times more shoes than the average man?” or “Why do hot dogs come in packs of 10, but the buns come in packs of 8?”. There are no easy answers to questions like that, and even attempting to answer something like that will make your job incredibly difficult. Then there are easy questions, like “Would my girlfriend leave me for Brad Pitt?” (Trust us – she would.) or “How many of these wings shuld I eat?” (All of them, of course.). Questions like that are easy to answer – just like our question this week… “What is the absolute lock, can’t miss, sure fire ‘Game of the Week’?” It just doesn’t get any easier than that. The hardest part about writing about New England vs Dallas isn’t figuring out what to say, it’s how to fit it all in without subjecting you all to a Tolstoy novel.
This match-up is one we’ve been salivating over for a few weeks now, and now that it’s hard, we aren’t disappointed. We get to see two undefeated 5-0 squads lock horns – and better yet, one is from the AFC and one from the NFC. It’s a little early obviously, but this sure looks like it could be a Superbowl preview based on how
have looked so far this season.
is obviously the class of the NFC right now. They are the only undefeated NFC squad, and they even manage to win games when their QB turns the ball over an embarrassing SIX times. But don’t let that uncharacteristically bad
Tony Romo game fool you, he’s having a great year so far. Even with that atrocious Monday night contest against
, he is still ranked in the top 10 for QB efficiency. He’s #2 in passing yards (1508), #2 in passing TDs (13), and a big reason why
is where they are right now. But he’s not doing it alone – he has plenty of targets to throw to. WR
Terrell Owens is still one of the NFL’s top receivers and his #10 ranking, 387 yards, and 3 TDs are a testament to that. But he’s not even the top
receiver right now… TE
Jason Witten is #9 in the NFL so far with 407 yards on 29 receptions and 4 TDs to go along with them. Heck even
Patrick Crayton (335 yards, 3 TDs) is getting a piece of the action.
isn’t limited to their aerial attack – not by a long shot. Neither
Marion Barber III nor
Julius Jones is ranked very high individually this year, but it’s because they split carries. Together they make a formidable RB duo, combining for 551 yards (that’s 110.2 yards a game) and 5 TDs. Even the Cowboy D has been solid this year (except for an opening game lapse against the Giants). They are #8 in overall D (giving up just over 285 yards a game), #7 in run defense (allowing just 80 yards a contest), and #12 in passing D. They are even #13 in scoring D, allowing 19.2 points a game – but again they actually play better than that if you consider how their opening game skews their average.
is certainly packed with talent this year, but if anyone is their better, it just might be their opponents this weekend. The Patriots are just rolling over teams this season, with QB
Tom Brady leading the charge. What can we say about Brady this year? We picked him as the #1 NFL and fantasy QB in 2007, and were met with more than a few raised eyebrows – but through 5 weeks he’s proven us right. The #1 guy in efficiency (with a fat 128.7 rating), Brady has thrown for 1383 yards (#3 overall), has a league-leading 16 TDs (throwing an AMAZING 3 TDs or more in his first five games – tying an NFL record), and has only thrown 2 picks. But, like Romo, Brady certainly has the weapons around him to be successful. WR
Randy Moss has seen a resurgence in his career by heading to
. Right now he sits atop the receiving leaders with 551 yards (that’s just over 110 yards a game) and tied for first in TDs with 7 so far. WR
Wes Welker looked great early on, but has cooled a bit in recent weeks – but he still has a respectable 262 yards and a TD this season. WR
Dante’ Stallworth has finally started to see some better games, and TE
Ben Watson has been a touchdown magnet the past few weeks, amassing 5 so far and no signs of slowing.
When New England RB
went down to injury early in the season, we were all curious to see how they would fare with a less productive running game. We never got to see that, though, as RB
Sammy Morris has admirably filled Maroney’s shoes so far. In Morris’ two games as the starter so far, he has two 100+ yard games and two 2 TD games – even better numbers than Maroney was posting. Oh yeah, we don’t want to forget to mention the always dominating Pats D. They are #2 in overall D, #5 in rushing defense, #6 in passing D, and tied for 3rd in scoring defense… it simply doesn’t get much better than that boys and girls.
Ok, if we don’t stop now we’ll still be writing about the game and it’ll be over. We’re going to end by asking ourselves another easy question… “Why should people watch this game?” So simple to answer… you get to see a possible Superbowl preview, you get to see two of the league’s three undefeated teams go head-to-head, you get to see the NFL’s top 2 offenses go head-to-head (Dallas #1, New England #2 in yardage, and New England #1, Dallas #2 in scoring), two of the top NFL QBs in Brady and Romo, two future Hall of Fame WRs opposite each other in Moss and Owens, two of the NFL’s top TEs this year in Witten and Watson, and one HELL of a football game.