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Games to Watch – Week 8

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:

Here at FantasySharks.com, there isn’t a water cooler, but there is a Rubbermaid cooler that staff members here take turns loading up with ice. Some items within include: Monster Energy Drink, Sam Adams Oktoberfest, and even some leftover gravy from a pork loin that someone brought in last Friday to celebrate the Titans undefeated season (so far). Anyway, as you imagine lots of conversations take place at the cooler – and this past Monday, the conversation was a bit drab after a weekend of not-so-exciting games. This week though, we know will be a different story. We’re so excited that we have problems picking ONLY three games. So we used the magic 8 ball (it said ‘, the tarot cards, and brewed up a 30 quart pot of Oolong tea to figure out what would be the BEST games to watch this week. (Although, we still don’t know why the heck we did the last one… we’re not so sure what that did for us besides make the staff here mad with the smell it left behind.)

San Diego

@

New Orleans

(not really… more like @ Wembly Stadium)

– Sunday 10/26,

1:00pm

Cheerio, pip-pip and all that. You knew we were going to pick this game, because it gives us a chance to use all those ‘other side of the pond’ references that have been burning a hole in our mental pocket since last year. Yep, it’s that time for another NFL opportunity to broaden their already considerable market, by trying to get the Limeys overseas to at least augment their cricket and football (soccer) viewing with our very own American brand of hard-hitting action.

Neither of these two teams expected to be less than .500 after seven games in, but missed opportunities have written them into this point in their stories. If he were alive, the immortal bard (Shakespeare) himself would have written a classic tale of two teams, who’s passion and scheming could determine a course of events in the future of themselves and others (division foes). Don’t ignore the subtle side-stories woven within the fabric of this tale, including; a quarterback who faces his old comrades who now mass against him; a playing field that had many complaining at least year’s meeting that the site was more appropriate for a rematch of the English and William Wallace rather than American football; and even the absence of the Saint’s human ‘Sword of Damocles’ (the injured Reggie Bush) dangling over the Chargers heads.

San Diego finds itself in two positions it never thought it would be in week 8; a losing record, and second in their division. To their credit, they are scoring at better than a 27-point clip… so finding the end zone isn’t the problem. QB Phillip Rivers (1697yd / 16TD / 5int) not only leads the league in TDs, but is the NFL’s most efficient QB right now with a fat 108.5 QB Rating. On the other end of those thrown balls are WR Vincent Jackson (26rec / 478yd / 3TD) as well as TE Antonio Gates (24rec / 307yd / 4TD), who incidentally leads all tight ends in the latter category. It hasn’t been the best season for many Ladainian Tomlinson (446yd / 4TD) owners, but other fantasy home-run threats have emerged such as WRs Chris Chambers (11rec / 226yd / 5TD) and Malcom Floyd (7rec / 140yd / 2TD). With offensive numbers, and talent, like that you might wonder how these guys could be 3-4… but we all know the answer. The Charger defense is one of the worst in the NFL right now. Ranked 28th in overall yardage allowed, and the NFL’s worst pass defense (currently allowing a whopping 250+ yards a game through the air), this defense is in more disarray than a Sex Pistols hotel room after a four-day bender.

Throughout history, the French haven’t always been the most welcome group in Great Britain, and a symbol of France, the Saints’ Fleur-de-Lys probably isn’t going to be the most popular symbol in London. All of that aside, the New Orleans Saints find themselves in a similar dilemma that the Chargers are in; two games behind in a division where they were hoping to be leading at this point. And much like the Chargers, you can hardly fault the offense for the problem, as they lead the entire league in average yards per game. QB Drew Brees (2224yd / 12TD / 7int) has had five 300+ yard games so far, and that was without his big play WR Marques Colston (who looks to regain his place among the fantasy elite after a disappointing first outing back against Carolina). The object of Brees’ attention as of late had been WR Devery Henderson (15rec / 465yd / 2TD), but his production will likely wane and Colston’s waxes. RB Reggie Bush (294 yd ru, 366yd rec, 8TD between runs/recs/returns) has been an all around weapon to the team, but now that he is out with injury, veteran RB Duece McAllister (208yd / 1TD) will carry the team’s load on the ground. Like the boys in (sometimes-powder) blue, the Saints defense is not good – even if they are performing above the level of San Diego right now.

The storylines go deep on this one. The Saints AND the Chargers both need a win to keep their eye on playoff hopes. So order up some steak & kidney pie, fish and chips, or even a pastie and grab a Samuel Smith or John Courage… London’s Calling… and so is one potentially great ‘Game to Watch’.

Tampa

Bay

@

Dallas

– Sunday 10/26,

1:00pm

As a public service announcement to all of our FantasySharks.com readers*, we want to throw out some quick health facts to help everyone understand the dangers of stress. Stress not only can lead to killers like heart disease, high blood pressure, and strokes, but can cause many other wellness issues in people like depression or anxiety. Now, we don’t tell you this to make you feel guilty about ordering the Capicolla foot-long with L-T-O and double bacon… we tell you this because at this game on Sunday, you will see a *lot* of it on the sidelines (the stress that is – not the foot-long… well, maybe both). The stress both teams will be feeling in this game will be so thick you could cut it with a knife (which they might then use to cut any of that sandwich we’ve been talking about).

*[Editor’s Note: This public service announcement constitutes a portion of the community service guidelines as set forth by the greater 6th district court for Chris Dolfi and Tom Braun. Hopefully, they’ve learned their lesson about urging readers to ‘fight the power’ by staging sports-bar sit-ins around town.]

Dallas is under pressure from an owner, expectations, the media, and themselves since showing lackluster performances three times this year, and since they were deemed by many the team to beat in the NFC. Under QB Brad Johnson, this team has struggled by losing to the Rams last week, and it has been said that Tony Romo (1689yd / 14TD) will not be back until mid November. With the acquisition of WR Roy E Williams from Detroit, Dallas hoped to re-spark an offense that averages almost 400 yards a game, but has looked shaky in recent losses. The air attack, consisting of TE Jason Whitten (541yd / 2TD) and WR Terrell Owens (398yd / 5TD), can be formidable – especially with the added threat of Roy Williams. However, with Brad Johnson in the lineup, we have to imagine Big D will rely on RB Marion Barber (540yds / 5TD) would lead the more balanced attack on Tampa. The bad news for Dallas is that they’ve already matched the amount of losses from last season… and their schedule doesn’t seem to get much easier between now and their bye, since they face the NY Giants next week. This game is a *must* win to keep pace in a very competitive NFC East, and to save Dallas from a total collapse (in our opinion).

Dallas isn’t the only one feeling some stress, though. Tampa finds itself in a dogfight for the NFC South with Atlanta and Carolina… not to mention New Orleans who refuses to be counted out just yet. Since getting the starting QB job back two weeks ago, Jeff Garcia (797yd / 4TD / 2int) has been white hot dismantling Carolina and suppressing Seattle last week, all while handling the pressure of running a no-huddle offense. The one two punch of RBs Earnest Graham and Warrick Dunn (both with 400 + yards on the season) has kept pressure off of Garcia by keeping opposing defenses honest. The leading receivers on the team include WR Antonio Bryant (31rec / 406yd / 1TD) and Ike Hilliard (24rec / 203yd / 3TD). And the Bucs D is firing on all cylinders… not only in the top 10 in run defense and top 15 in pass defense, but allowing just a scant 15.3 points per contest – making them the 4th hardest team to score upon in the NFL. (A special shout out to Bucs LB Barrett Ruud who is leading Tampa in almost every defensive statistical category – he has been a one-man wrecking-crew this year.) Overall, the team is on an upswing, and is making a case to be the repeat holders of the NFC South title. In the mean time, they have to keep pace with 3 other teams knocking at the door – and avoid crumbling under the pressure to win this game as a ‘statement’.

We all hear the term “must win” and with that of course comes stress. And while too much stress can kill you, the right amount makes you perform better than you thought possible – so these two teams’ stress should make for one heck of a ‘Game to Watch’ for the rest of us.

New York

Giants @

Pittsburgh

– Sunday 10/26,

4:15pm

If any of you ever took a logical theory course, or even a philosophy class, either at your alma mater or just the local learning annex, you have probably heard of or discussed a classic paradox: “What happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object?” Oh, in classic philosophy there are all kinds of interesting theories as to what would happen, but in this game we have much the same paradox… we have two of the NFL’s best defenses, both irresistible in their pursuit of the ball, and immovable as evidenced by their #1 and #4 overall defenses in terms of yardage allowed (PIT and NYG, respectively) – and neither D allowing 17 points a contest by opposing offenses on average. With both squads at 5-1 and atop their respective divisions, this really is a meeting of the irresistible and the immovable. But unlike classic philosophy, this paradox has an answer – one of these two will win and the other will lose.

The Giants have looked like the defending Super Bowl champions that they are this season, with the possible exception of their slip up against a Browns squad that surprised not only the G-Men, but the NFL as a whole. Regardless of that one small misstep, the Giants are still an irresistible force on their way to the NFC playoffs. The G-Men are tied for #2 in the NFL in sacks, with 21 in just 6 games so far. DT Fred Robbins has stepped up in the vacuum left by the loss of personal to injury and retirement, and leads the team in both sacks (5.5) and tackles for loss (4), while DE Justin Tuck does a little bit of everything (5 sacks / 25 tackles / 3 tackles for loss / 2 forced fumbles / 1 int). And the offense isn’t exactly holding this squad back, either. QB Eli Manning has almost 1400 yards to go with his 8 TDs so far, but his 89.1 QB Rating shows he isn’t quite the quarterback the NFL and media seem so desperate for everyone to love. RB Brandon Jacobs has quietly amassed 516 yards to go with his 6 TDs. WR Plaxico Burress (25rec / 341yd / 3TD) leads the receiving corps when he isn’t getting himself suspended.

The Steelers have traditionally been known as a defensive powerhouse, and this year is hardly the exception. Ranked #1 in overall D, #1 against the pass (157.8ypg), and #2 in scoring D (14.8ppg), this squad is clearly one of the premier defenses in the league. Don’t forget about their 25 sacks as a team – that ranks them #1 on that list, too. LB Troy Polamalu grabs the headlines in Pittsburgh, but he draws so much attention from opposing coordinators that his fellow LBs James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley have 16 sacks between them, not to mention 5 forced fumbles. QB Ben Roethlisberger leads the ‘Black and Gold’ offense (1163yd / 9TD / 3int), but has been banged around this season. RB Willie Parker (263yd / 3TD) has been banged up enough to miss last week’s game, but should be ready to go this weekend. WR Hines Ward (28rec / 376yd / 3TD) is clearly Big Ben’s favorite target, but Santonio Holmes (22rec / 360yd / 1TD) adds some depth to the receiving corps. Let’s face it, besides a poor outing against a Philadelphia team whose offense came out of the gate fast, this defense is easily the one of the NFL’s best right now. We respect this hard-hitting defense, no matter how sick we are of hearing ESPN’s Merrill Hoge fawning with man-love for them (and Big Ben) on a weekly basis.

The biggest difference between these teams is that the Giants offense is performing far better than Pittsburgh’s at this time, but don’t forget this game is in Pittsburgh, giving the Steelers not only the home-field advantage, but the experience to avoid eating a Primanti Brother’s sandwich the day before game-day… a lesson some of the younger Giants players will have to learn for themselves. So while we can’t be sure who will win when the irresistible force meets the immovable object, we do know it’s gonna’ result in one heck of an impact – and a ‘Game to Watch’.

This week Dolfi and Braun pick three games you won’t want to miss, whether it’s a defensive battle, a stress-inducing ‘must win’, or a game across the pond. Let them tell you why the three games they picked are can’t-miss winners for this weekend, while they manage to talk about a meal of classical paradoxes, steak & kidney pie, and Merrill Hoge man-love, washed down with Oolong tea. Heck, the guys even manage to work off some of their community service time with a PSA.

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