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Games to Watch – Week 6

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:

Talk about a strange week… there are only three games on the schedule where both teams playing have a winning record. Are those three the “Games to Watch”? Not necessarily – we dig just a little deeper this weekend to find you a couple diamonds in the rough to make this Sunday just a little more enjoyable in-between those chores your wife has planned for you. And if your blushing bride really won’t let you near a TV until you are done with her “Honey Do” list, we have the perfect solution for you.

Let’s say your favorite team is the Denver Broncos. Right about 3:35pm (30 min before game time), you’re going to want to stagger to the front door and complain to your wife about chest pains and shortness of breath. Don’t be afraid to tell her you are feeling a little lightheaded and/or nauseous, as well. (If you really want to sell it, grab your left arm a little bit.) Tell her that you don’t want her to call the ambulance, she should just drive you to the emergency room. Yep – you got it – you’re faking a heart-attack. Ok, ok – so it’s not exactly honest or ethical, but you want to catch the game right? Why a heart-attack? Well, the symptoms are fairly non-specific, so you don’t actually have to injure yourself, and you can easily feel better and sheepishly admit that it must have just been heartburn once the game is over. How can you be sure you’ll get to see the entire game though? Well, the waiting room TV is sure to be showing the game, and hospital emergency rooms are *packed* on weekends. The way we figure it, you’ll have at least 3-4 hours of tube time in the waiting room. And if you play your sympathy cards just right, maybe your wife will even tell you to take it easy for a couple days to make sure you’re alright. You can thank us later. 😉

[Editor’s Note: FantasySharks.com does not condone the purposeful misrepresenting of any medical condition that might in any way stress our already over-burdened medical system. You do have to hand it to these two guys, though; they always have an angle.]

Carolina

@

Tampa

Bay

– Sunday 10/12,

1:00pm

All of the sports media outlets can’t seem to tell us all enough about how great a division the NFC East is. And, don’t get us wrong – it’s one heck of a division. But let’s turn our attention to the “Rodney Dangerfield” division of the NFL these days – the NFC South. The “Southies” are the only other division in the entire league that has three teams out of four with a winning record. And the team in the basement of the NFC South is the 4th best offensive team in the NFL! Trust us – this division is every bit as competitive as their eastern counterparts, they just don’t get the respect the NFC East is getting this year. A win for Carolina means more breathing room at the top, a win for Tampa means sharing the #1 spot and making an already tough division even more volatile at the top.

Carolina is an enigma to many. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone 20 miles outside of Bank of America Stadium who picked them to get to the Super Bowl, but here we find a team quietly matching the top wins in the NFC. (Only the Giants have a better record at 4-0, since they already had their bye week.) The Panthers, led by QB Jake Delhomme (1096yd / 5TD / 2int), has had a few critics complaining that the team has had a pretty cushy schedule to date, but now they face their first trial against a division rival. The offense has had success on the ground with RBs DeAngelo Williams (324 yards and 2 TD) and Jonathan Stewart (269 yards and 4TD) punishing opponents to the tune of 123 yards a game. In the air, Delhomme shows no signs of elbow surgery fatigue and has been using WRs Muhsin Muhammad (358 yards and 2 TD) and Steve Smith (262 yards and 1TD) to solid effect. The real shining star of this team might be the defense, though, which hasn’t allowed a team to score more than ten points against them since week 2. Toss in the fact that they are the 4th best overall defense in terms of yardage allowed and 3rd best in scoring defense and you see what we mean. To spotlight just a couple of the guys on this impressive squad, LBs Jon Beason (39 tackles / 33 solo) and Thomas Davis (33 total tackles / 5 for losses) have torn through the opposition like Rosie O’Donnell at a Golden Corral buffet.

Tampa Bay may be behind Carolina a game in the standings, but the Bucs are in the top seven in total offense and could be a better team than their current 3-2 record might indicate. With questions at who will start at quarterback for the team this week, you might think their offense could suffer a small setback. But no matter whether Brian Griese (804yd / 4 TD / 6int) or Jeff Garcia (314yd / 2TD / 2int) leads the offense, it doesn’t seem to affect the Buc’s overall numbers much. The offense has established itself as a dominant force racking up an average of 350 yards every game. On the ground it’s a two-headed monster approach using RBs Earnest Graham (393yd / 2TD) and Warrick Dunn (271yd / 1TD). WR Antonio Bryant (24rec / 278yd) has gotten the yards when the team goes to the air, while veteran WR Ike Hilliard (193yd / 3 TD) seems to find the end zone. Don’t count the Tampa Bay D out of the equation though, just because their numbers have slid a little year. LB Barrett Ruud (36tkl / 1sack / 2int) has been a great IDP performer so far, and even if aging CB Ronde Barber has lost a step or two, he is still a force to be reckoned with.

So give these two teams, and the entire NFC South for that matter, a little respect. They might lack the media attention of their conference foes in the East, but this game is big one to watch for the entire league – no matter how much some of our fellow writers might not want to admit it. This game is gonna’ be as good as a “Triple Lindey” – trust us.

Jacksonville

@

Denver

– Sunday 10/12,

4:05pm

Remember that movie “

28 Days After”? No, not “

28 Days” which was that Sandra Bullock movie your girlfriend dragged you to, and seemed like it was just about that long. “

28 Days After” was where a virus that sends people into a murderous rage (lasting even beyond death) gets released on an unsuspecting populace and twenty-eight days after its release Great Britain is a wasteland – with the few survivors looking to make their way to somewhere safe while they try to avoid the relentless attack of the murderous zombies. Well, that’s exactly what the Jacksonville Jaguars are feeling like.

The Jags entered the season with high hopes, and the talent to back them up. But five games in, they are sitting at 2-3 (1-2 in their division and just 2-3 in the AFC), 3rd in their own division, and wondering just what the heck happened. Well, it wasn’t a killer virus, but a killer schedule, that Jacksonville fell prey to. Their three loses come at the hands of three of the best AFC squads so far this season: Tennessee (the only undefeated AFC team), the somewhat-surprising Buffalo Bills, and very tough Pittsburgh team – none of them worse than 4-1 and all of them leading their division. QB David Garrard (983yd / 3TD / 4int) hasn’t started out strong, but that almost had to be expected against three Top 10 defenses so far. He’ll look to bounce back against the suspect Denver secondary with help from WR Matt Jones (23rec / 269yd / 1TD) and his pass catching RB Maurice Jones-Drew (19rec / 161yds rec). Jones-Drew isn’t just one of Garrard’s main passing targets, though – he’s been the best part of the Jags ground game, too. His 176 yards rushing puts him second on the team, but his 3 TDs on the ground make him their best all-around performer. RB Fred Taylor (232yd / 0TD) gets the workman’s share of the carries with QB Garrard chipping in with near 100 yards of his own on the ground. Their 21st ranked defense needs to start playing better, too – but don’t look for it to start this weekend against the NFL’s second best offense.

Denver has been laying waste to the majority of their competition with a virulent airborne attack that is averaging near 300 yards a game. QB Jay Cutler (1502yd / 10TD / 4int) leads the NFL’s #2 overall offense (3rd in scoring). WRs Brandon Marshall (34rec / 423yd / 3TD) and Eddie Royal (30rec / 321yd / 2TD) are both ranked in the Top 15 in receiving in the league, and certainly help Cutler tear apart the opposition. But this team’s rampage through opposing NFL defenses isn’t limited to the air. They hit unsuspecting defenders with a Running-Back-By-Committee approach, with several different ‘strains’ of RB: Selvin Young, Andre Hall, and Michael Pittman have combined for 629 yards and 5 TDs. Wow – with firepower like that, you can’t imagine how Jacksonville can hope to bounce back against the AFC West leaders. But, just like the murderous zombies in “28 Days Later”, the Broncos are all rage with a relentless attack – but little to no defense. Their 29th overall ranked defense is giving up a ridiculous 388.4 yards per game, and the 26 points they give up on average every week isn’t much better, placing them 26th out of 32 teams.

So there you have it. The Jags have seen 35 days of the NFL season go by, and they are wondering how they can survive in the hostile AFC landscape. But if they can make one final push against an offense bent on their destruction, they get treated to a bye week followed by Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Detroit. So in what (we think) is a must-win game for the Jags, Jacksonville could rise from the desolation of their 2-3 start, to reach .500 and possibly 6-3 a scant 28 days later. And all they have to do is get by one of the deadliest offenses we’ve seen in the NFL this, and maybe any, year. Whether this one ends in rebirth for the Jags, or the horror-show of their demise, it’s gonna’ be rated GTW (a ‘Game to Watch’).

New England

@

San Diego

– Sunday 10/12,

8:15pm

Sometimes when we are picking ‘Games to Watch’ we go by the stats. We see what each team has done, how they match-up against their opponent for that week, compare strengths and weaknesses, and past performances to help us prognosticate on what is going to be a game that you just can’t miss. But every once in a while, we throw common sense to the wind, pull out our Ouija board, read our tea leaves, and go with our gut. This is one of those games.

Coach Bill Belichick, one of the NFL’s ‘love him or hate him’ faces, leads the now Brady-less Patriots to the West Coast to do battle with one of their bitter rivals in the past few years, the San Diego Chargers. Replacement QB Matt Cassel (707yd / 3TD / 3int) is having a more-than-tough time filling Tom Brady’s cleats, even with the Patriots amazingly talented WR corps. WR Randy Moss (17rec / 274yd / 2TD) is ranked a dismal 26th among the receiving yardage leaders, and WR We Welker (27rec / 251yd / 0TD) is an even-more disappointing 35th among NFL receivers. The Pats running game isn’t faring much better. They sport possibly the most crowded Running-Back-By-Committee system ever seen by fantasy pundits, with RBs Sammy Morris, Lamont Jordan, Lawrence Maroney, and Kevin Faulk all chipping in here and there, and still only managing 396 yards combined (yoiks!). Well, at least they managed 4 rushing TDs, which is still better than the 3 receiving TDs they have. At least the Patriots defense, which started out shaky, seems to have gotten back to playing like did before this adversity-filled season. They are now ranked in the top 12 in both scoring and overall defense. Most of the names you’re familiar with are still the ones to watch on this defense, especially SS Rodney Harrison (36tkl / 1int), LB Tedy Bruschi (27tkl / 3 for losses), and LB Adalius Thomas (just 17tkl, but 3 sacks already). LB Mike Vrabel hasn’t looked the same since coming back off the PUP list in August, and has been a non-factor for the most part this season.

Coach Norv Turner’s boys have had a chip on their shoulder for the past few years about always coming up a little short to the Patriots, especially come playoff time. QB Phillip Rivers (1183yd / 11TD / 4int) improved play this season has the Chargers ranked 9th in passing offense in the NFL, as well as ranking him second among NFL-signal-callers in passing efficiency. Good thing, too, as stud RB LaDanian Tomlinson (331yd / 4TD) hasn’t been living up to his consensus top-two pick in fantasy leagues across the country. He’s still one of the NFL’s best as far as talent goes, but he’s only ranked 13th best in rushing yardage so far this year. What’s even more amazing about Phillip River’s play this year, is that he isn’t getting the same level of run support from LT this year, and he has only one WR in the top FORTY for receiving yards, WR Vincent Jackson (17rec / 302yd / 1TD – ranking him 21st for receiving yards). WR Chris Chambers (5TD) has been the main scoring threat, but will likely miss this week’s action against the Pats. TE Antonio Gates (16rec / 273yd / 3TD) is still a major red-zone target for Rivers and the Chargers. The 2-3 Chargers aren’t where they are today because of their offense, or even a blown call in a tough loss to the Broncos. Their defense is not getting the job done. Ranked a dismal 28th in overall defense, they are giving up 379 yards a game – with the majority of that coming against the leagues worst secondary right now. San Diego is allowing a whopping 265.6 yards a game through the air, and their 24th ranked scoring D (25.8ppg) shows they are a bend AND break defense.

Ok – these two teams have seen better days. New England is at 3-1, but only because the AFC East is still one of the weaker divisions in the NFL. The Chargers are 2-3, and although they have had a few bad breaks in the officiating department this year, that doesn’t excuse the atrocious play of their defensive secondary. We just have a feeling that the old bad-blood between these squads, coupled with their team’s individual setbacks this season and the fact that San Diego’s collective backs are really to the wall starting out as poorly as they have, ensure that this one is going to be a ‘Game to Watch’. We can’t promise it’ll be pretty, but it’ll be entertaining. Bank on it. Now if you’ll excuse us, we’re consulting our Tarot Cards and the I-Ching to see if we bet the Chargers -5, or take the Pats and the points.

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FantasySharks.com began in 2003, disseminating fantasy football content on the web for free. It is, or has been, home to some of the most talented and best known fantasy writers on the planet. Owned and operated by Tony Holm (5 time Fantasy Sports Writer Association Hall-of-Fame nominee,) Tony started writing fantasy content in 1993 for the only three fantasy football web sites in existence at the time.