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Games to Watch – Week 6

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:

Every once in a while, you get an NFL week like we have this week … one that has about as many real gems as a cubic zirconium factory. But just because something isn’t necessarily valuable, doesn’t mean it won’t glitter just as brightly. So while there weren’t a great bunch of games to pick from, we managed to polish a few of the better matchups into a dazzling display of football prowess sure to interest your eyes and keep you chatting around the water cooler on Monday morning.

@ New England
– Sunday 10/17, 1 p.m.,

We love watching games on Sunday, it might be our favorite day of the week … but to be honest, we don’t really watch a whole lot of television regularly. Typically, Chris is rebuilding/tinkering/wasting time on a 1966 Corvette he won in a poker game. Usually, Tom can be found reading
Blood, Sweat, and Chalk (his current favorite book) or trying to track where the closest restaurant is to him that was on Man vs. Food. Typically, we save the TV for Sunday – with the exception of one show, “The Office”. The Dunder Mifflin Paper Company (a division of SABRE) has been around for several seasons now and, for a sitcom, we have to admit one thing – it truly is a bit unpredictable. You absolutely never know what is going to happen with Michael Scott and his cronies from week to week. What is going to happen with Jim and Pam next? Dwight and Angela? Andy and the cast from Sweeny Todd? Which is why we can say this game holds such appeal for us this weekend. The Ravens are not necessarily known for their offensive production. The Patriots’ defense had a good game (note that is written in singular, not plural), but count on their offense to simply outscore opponents. In short, what actually is going to happen this Sunday when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?

Let’s get this out of the way first. Yes,
Randy Moss is no longer a Patriot and everyone wants to know how this will affect
Tom Brady (911 yards, 9 TD, 2 INT) and the potent air attack in New England. Well, Moss’ explosiveness will be missed, but it’s not like the Patriots have suddenly become as impotent as Jimmy Johnson without his Viagra. There is still life left in this offense yet, just look at
Wes Welker (26 receptions, 217 yards, 3 TD) and
Aaron Hernandez (18 receptions, 240 yards) who are currently the two top receivers on the team, and were even ahead of Moss on the production list. And the Patriots’ front office even threw Brady a bone by going out and trading for
Deion Branch (13 receptions, 112 yards, 1 TD). We also know thus far in the season,
BenJarvus Green-Ellis (215 yards, 2 TD) has handled the ground game well when given the chance. Defensively, inconsistency is the best term for the team.

The troop, led by
Jerod Mayo (43 tackles, 1 sack), gives up 30 points one week (against Buffalo?!?) and 14 the next (against Miami). Fans and critics agree, when you combine an offense that the entire NFL can be envious of with a defense that’s ranked No. 26 in scoring defense, you are bound to see some scoring – one way or another.

is another enigma. Their strength is a defense that ranks third in the NFL, only giving up 257 total yards a game.
Terrell Suggs (23 tackles, 2.5 sack, 1 forced fumble) and
Ray Lewis (36 tackles, 1 sack, 1 INT) are keeping the Baltimore defense relevant despite the aging squad; yet from a fantasy perspective, they are a flop – a complete lack of forced turnovers has fantasy owners scrambling for “lesser” defenses like Seattle.

The offense is no less quirky. Quarterback
Joe Flacco (1,116 yards, 5 TD, 6 INT) can have great weeks throwing multiple touchdowns to
Anquan Boldin (28 receptions, 363 yards, 3 TD), or poor ones throwing for only 154 yards and four interceptions (against a Cincinnati defense that isn’t scaring anyone). In hopes of stabilizing the offense, the coaching staff counts on
Ray Rice (363 yards, 2 TD) to offset the hot-and-cold passing attack. Much like their opponent, fans and critics both agree: when you combine an inconsistent offense with a bend, but never break defense, you are bound to watch a low scoring contest – one way or another.

So the real question is “what will we see?” Will we be treated to a low-scoring defensive struggle or a glut of scoring opportunities for both teams? And are both teams as good as their records? (that is a “Dwight-ism” for you true die hard Office fans out there – we had to throw one your way). Sunday will be a “yea” or “nay” declaration for each of these teams. With only one loss each, this could be one of the best games of the week. Hey, if you are like us, you clearly pick and choose which shows you decide to watch. We have no clue what is going to happen in this game, but what we can guarantee* is that this is a “Game to Watch.”

*[Editor’s Note: Not a guarantee]

@ Minnesota
– Sunday 10/17, 4:15 p.m., FOX

It’s bowl season, everyone. True, the Super Bowl isn’t until February, the college bowl season doesn’t get into full swing until a few days before New Year’s Day and many high schools across the nation have their Turkey Bowl where they face cross city/town/county rivals on Thanksgiving Day. But, this NFL matchup starts the bowl season much, much earlier. Week 6 of the NFL hosts the ‘Desperation Bowl.’ One of these two NFL playoff teams from last year is going to go into Week 7 with one win, the other is going to be touted as “getting back on track,” even if they have only managed two wins on the season. It’s do or die for both of these franchises – coaches on the bubble, fan-bases (and owners) left speechless and players who wonder if they can still get their teams back into playoff contention. This game is a heavy dose of reality for two teams that most critics had battling for the NFC crown.

The Dallas Cowboys are scratching their heads harder than a Psoriasis patient at the dermatologist. How can a team with a 1-3 record average 422 yards a game (second in the NFL)? How can the arsenal of
Tony Romo (1,346 yards, 7 TD, 5 INT),
Miles Austin (31 receptions, 474 yards, 2 TD), along with the rushing tandem of
Marion Barber (144 yards, 1 TD) and
Felix Jones (197 yards), be at the bottom of the NFC East? Some might say it’s the interceptions, some might contend it is the play of the offensive line, others point to special teams as the problem child. Certainly, the defense – led by
DeMarcus Ware (19 tackles, 6 sacks) and
Keith Brooking (21 tackles, 1 sack) – is trying to do its part.

Without question, the team has put together good numbers, but frankly, numbers don’t mean much without a better number in the win column. For a team that many predicted would be in the thick of the race for the best record in the NFC, the beginning of this season has been a sobering slap in the face. And if owner
Jerry Jones keeps frowning like this, he’ll have to go under the knife again and get an even tighter face-lift.

When the Vikings play this Sunday, about nine months will have passed since these two teams met in the playoffs. Their record since then has been an embarrassing 2-7.
Brett Favre (861 yards, 5 TD, 7 INT) came back to lead a team that was a play or two away from the Super Bowl last season, but age (and sex scandal allegations) may have finally done what NFL defenders haven’t been able to do – sideline Favre for a game.

With returning talent like
Adrian Peterson (480 yards, 3 TD) and
Percy Harvin (17 receptions, 203 yards, 3 TD) it looked like this team could be frontrunners in the NFC, even without Favre’s go-to-guy in 2009,
Sidney Rice. But, with a 1-3 record and three games behind the division leader, the Vikings need
to have a positive result this week in order to begin making up ground in the NFC North. Another “need” would be to keep the ball out of opposing defense’s hands – Favre has seven interceptions so far this season, equaling his total for the entire 2009 season. Another welcome sight for Vikings fans would be more pressure from last year’s stellar defense. Currently, the defense has only six sacks on the year.
Jarred Allen (16 tackles, 1 sack) and company expect to that to change this weekend, but whether it actually happens will be another story.

Sure, if you want to get technical, the team that loses this game isn’t mathematically eliminated from postseason play. However, the season promises to be an uphill battle for the winner of this contest – imagine just how difficult it will be for the loser to become a contender. It doesn’t matter if you end up calling it a conference matchup, a battle between last year’s playoff teams, the Desperation Bowl or even the Dejection Bowl (for one team) – after the game, one of these teams is going to show signs of life and the other will have to realize they are closer to the Toilet Bowl than the Super Bowl.

@ Washington
– Sunday 10/17, 8:20 p.m.,

Do you remember that time the cute girl you had a huge crush on in high school invited you out for pizza, and you dressed in your best “lady killer” shirt and your perfectly worn jeans, only to find out when you got to Nino’s Pizza Parlor and Pasta Palace that she invited you out as a date for her best friend rather than her? You ended up having a good time (you even took her friend to the prom later that year), but it certainly wasn’t what you expected. Or how about the time you had your heart set on your favorite Chinese take-out, General Tso’s Chicken, but when you opened the bag you found they mixed up the order and you had to eat Kung Pao Chicken or risk missing the start of the big college bowl game? You ended up liking it just as much, even though when you first opened up the bag your face couldn’t help but show your disappointment.

Well, that’s exactly what we’re facing with the Colts against the Redskins this weekend. Something we didn’t expect, and might even be a bit disappointed with on the surface, but something that turns out to be well worth the experience.

The Indianapolis Colts (and NFL viewers) are used to the team starting out near-perfect, dropping a couple meaningless late-season games, and then being one of the “teams to beat” in the playoffs. But at 3-2 this year and sitting third in their own division, the Colts don’t look as tough as they have in the past.
Peyton Manning (1,609 yards, 11 TD, 2 INT) certainly looks as good as he always has, and you can’t fault the play of guys like
Reggie Wayne (39 receptions, 531 yards, 2 TD) and
Dallas Clark (31 receptions, 295 yards, 3 TD), who look as good as they ever have. Heck, even guys who haven’t been in the limelight have come up huge, like
Austin Collie (37 receptions, 446 yards, 5 TD). Even the running game with
Joseph Addai (278 yards, 2 TD, 1 fumble) has been adequate. So why aren’t we getting what we expected from the Colts? Blame
Dwight Freeney (9 tackles, 3 sacks),
Robert Mathis (19 tackles, 4 sacks) and the Colts’ defense. They can’t seem to generate any defensive pressure unless their opponent has already been outscored 21-0 by the Colts’ offense and forced to pass on every down.

Donovan McNabb
(1,315 yards, 4 TD, 3 INT) and the Washington Redskins aren’t exactly what we expected this season either. Perennial cellar-dwellers in the NFC East, the Redskins sit atop their division and have already beaten two divisional opponents in the first five weeks. McNabb has thrown almost as many interceptions as touchdowns, which is unlike his play for Philadelphia, but he’s been more dangerous as a running threat than in years past.
Portis (195 yards, 2 TD) is out for several weeks, but youngster
Ryan Torain (156 yards, 1 TD) has been solid in backup.
Santana Moss (29 receptions, 408 yards, 1 TD) is playing well and
Chris Cooley (23 receptions, 303 yards, 2 TD) is having a spike in production now that he has a quarterback who knows how to look for his tight end.

The Washington defense isn’t what we expected, either – it’s not even what common sense would predict. The Redskins rank dead last in the league in yardage giving up a horrific 410.2 yards per game, but yet they are in the Top 10 in scoring defense, holding teams to a paltry 18.4 points per contest. When your top tacklers are safety
Landry (52 tackles, 1 sack, 1 INT) and cornerback
DeAngelo Hall (46 tackles, 1 INT), you would expect the defense to be a huge problem. But, surprisingly, the   Redskins defense has been one of their saving graces this year – even if they are a fantasy defensive yardage-league nightmare.

Well, we didn’t expect either of these teams to be 3-2 at this point in the season, and we didn’t expect the Colts to be near the bottom of the AFC South while the Redskins lead the always competitive NFC East. We didn’t think the play of the Indianapolis defense would be totally dependent on their offense’s performance, and we didn’t think Washington could allow people to gain yardage in alarming numbers, but somehow, turn into one of the NFL’s best squads around the goal line. And, no one would have expected this matchup to be one of the one’s we can’t miss this weekend, but there you have it. While this game might not be the hot matchup with your high school crush you wanted, the end result will be a fun, entertaining, and exciting evening – exactly what we look for in a “Game to Watch.”

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