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:
Wow, what a great week of football games.
Well, at the high school level in
, De anyway. As far as the NFL, this is a bit of a let down from some of the great games we’ve seen this season already. Never fear though, we did find three worth watching…
or at least worth watching over all the items on your ‘Honey Do’ list.
And if you want to make *sure* your better half stays out of your hair this weekend, point them to the ‘Rich Bride, Poor Bride’ and ‘Platinum Weddings’ mini-marathons on the WE network.
Just be aware that after doing so, you might find yourself renewing your wedding vows at a local chapel sometime soon. (**shudder**)
– Sunday 10/21,
Ok, we realize we make more than a few references to Westerns in our column… but what’s not to like about a film genre that not only sports gun-slinging, cattle-rustling, and bush-whacking, but let’s us secretly wish we were Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, or Eli Wallach?
Not to mention that even the mere *hint* of a Western is likely to make your wife head for the hills for fear of being roped into watching it with you.
Well, our first ‘Game to Watch’ is definitely a western classic in the making –
Oh sure, the Titans aren’t exactly in western country anymore, but don’t forget that they used to be the Houston Oilers.
And an old Houston / new Houston show-down is exactly the thing we are looking forward to seeing this weekend.
The Titans may have been out of
for a long time now, but they’ll be looking for a fight when they ride into town this weekend.
Vince Young is banged up, but we think you’ll see him in action this weekend.
His stats have been a big disappointment to many fantasy owners this season (26th in passing yardage with only 3 TDs to go along with it – and his 129 running yards are not as prolific as they were last year when he was healthy and running wild), but he’s still one of those players you feel could do something amazing at any given moment.
(Don’t forget that
passed on Young in the 2006 NFL Draft, another interesting sub-plot in this gun fight we have brewing.)
It’s not all on Young’s shoulders, though.
The Titans need continued production from their work-horses’, the RB duo of
Chris Brown and
LenDale White (a combined 507 yards between them and 4 TDs isn’t too shabby at all).
And, let’s face it –
isn’t winning games with offense this year as much as they are with their outstanding defensive play.
The Titans rank 6th in total yardage against (giving up a low 281yds a week to the opposition) and 4th in scoring D – only giving up a hair over 2 TDs a game on the average.
Their passing D is middle of the pack, but their run D is tops in the NFL right now, not even giving up 64 yards a game.
The Texans, like any good Western mainstay, aren’t without their fair share of weapons themselves.
They have three guys in the top 50 in the NFL in receiving, due to the solid play of both WR
(27 catches for 338yds) and TE
Owen Daniels (we *loved* this guy as a ‘sleeper’ TE pick this year, and his 29 catches for 372 yards certainly bears that out.
That’s 5th among TEs for those counting at home.).
Andre Davis even squeaks into the top 50, and he didn’t even play the first two weeks of the season.
And who would have thought QB
Matt Shaub would be in the top ten for passer rating, let alone 4th best in the NFL in yardage right now (1558yds passing so far) and 3rd best in yards per attempt (a very nice 8.29)?
Not us – and we aren’t ashamed to admit it.
have their share of ‘Deadwood’ on this squad.
(See how we can work all kinds of Western references into an article?
Don’t try this at home – we’re professionals.)
Their running game isn’t pretty right now with none of their rushers gaining even 200 yards yet this season – a big reason why
is ranked 29th in the NFL in rushing.
And for a team not bursting with offense, their defense needs to do better than ranking between 15 and 19 in every major defensive category.
The only reason why they’re doing as well as they are, is that in giveaway/takeaway they actually crack the top 10, even if it is still a not-so-impressive minus-1.
We expect this showdown at the Reliant Stadium corral to be one of the better match-ups this weekend.
Ok, these teams are ‘Duke’-ing it out (stretched it for the John Wayne reference there) for the cellar of the AFC South, but with Indy and a hot Jacksonville squad in their division it’s not surprising – and with the Colts and the Jags squaring off this weekend as well, the winner of this game is back in the middle of the hunt for their division.
So, sit back, turn the channel to this Western shootout, and have fun seeing which team can ‘marshal’ enough points for the win, and which team ends up on Boot Hill.
– Sunday 10/21,
This game is like one of those Venn Diagrams that your kid gets for homework and forces you to go running for the dictionary so you can figure out just what they need to do so that you can help them.
You know – it’s one of those things that look like two circles intersecting. In the middle, where the circles overlap, you’d write things that they have in common. While in the non-overlapping parts of the circles, you’d list the differences.
We’ll give you a quick example of one:
Get the idea?
In our case let’s look the Broncos and Steelers.
Ways These Teams Are the Same:
Both are in the thick of their division race.
Both are coming off of a ‘Bye’ week.
Both play in tough AFC divisions.
Both base their offense around a strong running game and a tough defense.
Both have one of the top fantasy backs (so far) this season.
Ways These Teams Are Different:
One team has a rookie coach, one has a veteran coach.
One team hopes to continue where they left off before the ‘Bye’, one looks to bounce back from their worst home loss in 40 years. (Ouch!)
One team is leading their division; the other team is currently in the cellar.
One team has the fewest points and yards allowed per game, the other is tied for 27th in points allowed and are at 18th in yards allowed per game.
One team’s RB might be in for a great year, the other team’s RB might be headed for a suspension year.
Ok, ok – enough of our fun with differences and similarities.
Let’s just give you the short and sweet low-down on this match-up.
Looking at this contest from a pure momentum standpoint, you have to think the Steelers have the edge here – and that certainly could turn out to be the case. After all, QB
Ben Roethlisberger is playing solid (6th in QB rating this season and top 10 in yards per pass attempt) and RB
Willie Parker ranks just about the same amongst his peers (6th in rushing yardage with 507yds – not bad for having a week off.
And 4th overall in rushing per game, with a very nice 101+yard average.).
Najeh Davenport is doing well, too, and as of late looks to be the Steelers choice to carry the rock near the goal line. Don’t forget about Steel-town’s Defense, either.
They only hold opponents to under 10 points a game on the average, lead the NFL in total defense, don’t even give up 73 yards on the ground a game, and sport the #2 passing D in the league.
Face it kids, with a D like that, you are *always* going to be in games right to the final whistle.
On the flip side –
certainly doesn’t have momentum on its side, but that’s not to say they don’t have anything in their favor this weekend.
The fabled ‘Mile-High Air’ has left more than one team out of gas playing at a tough
Jay Cutler is having a rougher time than many thought he would, but he’s just out of the top 10 in yards per passing attempt – and he has the talent to put up a big game on occasion.
Travis Henry is every bit as effective as
’s Parker (Henry sits just behind Parker on the rushing yardage charts at 498yds and yards per game at 99.6).
Henry’s recent failed drug-screening must certainly be weighing heavily on his mind, but the Broncos will need him to focus on this game and let his appeal to the NFL play itself out.
The passing game isn’t without its bright spot, WR
Brandon Marshall is having a solid year – especially considering the sub-par performances to date by Cutler.
Sure, being ranked 31st in the league in receiving yards isn’t great – but it’s a heck of lot better than any of the Steeler WRs are doing so far; none of them manage to crack the top FIFTY.
And while Denver’s D hasn’t been nearly as effective as Pittsburgh’s, they still do sport one of the more feared secondaries in the NFL with CBs
Champ Bailey and
Dre Bly, and Safety
John Lynch, while not the same physically as he was in his prime at Tampa Bay, is still a force.
At the beginning of the season, one might have seen these teams having more similarities than now, 6 games in.
While the Steelers are the favorite in this one,
’s a tough opponent at home at they (and Travis Henry) are looking to prove something to their naysayers.
Both teams did have 2 weeks to prepare for this game. Everyone is healed up. It’s time to put up or shut up.
And we think you’ll see a solid game in which both teams show up.
– Monday 10/22,
Picking games to list in the ‘Games to Watch’ column has many factors. We often get together and slave over the game selection. We take into account division rivalries, former coaches coaching new teams, smack talk between players, and even if we think one team’s player is shacking up with an opposing player’s wife.
And sometimes it can be hard to choose.
Then there are games like this one… this one came down to simple math; just one loss between the two teams.
Indy comes into this game with a 5-0 record. That in itself is not big news because they were also 5-0 to start the last two seasons. The big news coming into this game is they’ve done it with some injuries. RB
Joseph Addai and
Marvin Harrison both missed last week’s game, but we expect the week off did both of them some good and they’ll be in the lineup this weekend.
Addai’s 101.8 yards per game rushing average puts him 3rd in the NFL and his 5 TDs has him only trailing
’s LaDainian Tomlinson among RBs.
hasn’t looked like himself this season, but WR
Reggie Wayne and TE
Dallas Clark are chipping in to make sure that QB
Payton Manning doesn’t fall too far behind the NFL’s top passers.
And while Manning is a fantasy-disappointing 10th in yardage, he’s been as effective as ever, ranking 3rd in efficiency with a sweet 108.6 rating.
Toss in the fact that the speedy Colt’s D is 5th in total yards against, and an impressive 3rd ranked passing defense, and the Colts are showing why they are still among the NFL’s top teams.
When you add up all those factors, it seems hard to think the Colts could lose this game.
may very well be the best team that no one is talking about.
Maybe that’s because the Jags aren’t in the style of the flashy NFL squads that make the quippy SportsCenter highlight reels.
They’ve done it on the back of their defense, which is 2nd in the league in points allowed per game (a paltry 11.6 a contest).
It doesn’t hurt that they are 5th in giveaway/takeaway so far, either.
But don’t think that the Jags can’t muster some offense of their own – they rank 4th in the NFL in team rushing with 154 yards a game on the ground.
The Jacksonville RB duo of
Maurice Jones-Drew and
Fred Taylor have combined for over 600 yards and 3 TDs (all MJD’s by the way).
And don’t forget that the last time
tangled with Indy, the Jags rushed for an eye-popping 375 yards! Now granted, it was a December game…and we all know that the Colts went on to do bigger and better things (like win the Superbowl).
David Garrard even rushed for 134 yards so far.
loves those added rushing yards, it’s not as if that is all that Garrard brings to the table.
His 4th best QB passer rating helped by his ZERO interceptions has certainly helped
get to where they are right now.
Ok, ok – we’ve chalked up all kinds of stats and numbers on out blackboard, but it all adds up to this –
a win puts Jacksonville as the #1 team in the AFC South, something that Indy has owned (seemingly) since before apes began to walk upright and paint on cave walls.
You can see that it doesn’t take a game-theory mathematician to figure out that this is the NFL’s ‘Game of the Week’.
A victory this weekend lets Indy show everyone why they aren’t ready to turn over the AFC to the Patriots just yet, and why the Colts are still one of the leading contenders for the Super Bowl. An upset by
can show everyone why they should be considered contenders for the AFC crown, and maybe gets people to finally sit up and take notice.
And we all won’t know how this one plays out until we see two final numbers, the numbers on the ALLTEL Stadium scoreboard late Monday night.