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Games to Watch – Week 8

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 Natural 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:

Week 8 of the NFL season looks like a big trick – having six teams on a bye week, five of which are better than .500 and half of which (the New York Giants, Atlanta Falcons and Chicago Bears) are their division leaders. With friends like the NFL schedule makers, who needs enemies? But don’t fret, we sift through the Halloween candy bag of this week’s schedule, bypass the tasteless Necco wafers, toss out the razorblade-filled-apples, avoid the candy corn (seriously, has anyone actually ever eaten candy corn?) and pick out these three treats that should keep you from resorting to mischief to keep yourself entertained this weekend. We even avoided the Minnesota against New England game so you won’t be subjected to any more Brett Favre talk, which is enough to upset anyone’s stomach like they’ve had too much chocolate and marshmallow.

Green Bay at New York
Jets – Sunday 10/31, 1 p.m., FOX

Everyone celebrates the holidays differently. For example, some treat the Fourth of July as a day just to go out to have a picnic, others hop in the family truckster and make the annual trip to some state where it is legal to sell fireworks to out-of-staters and purchase an arsenal that is bigger than that of most countries in Central America, just to light up the night sky. Halloween is no exception to this rule. Some might stay home to pass out candy and watch a scary movie, while others hire a professional makeup artist to “do them up” for the day and make the rounds of a dozen or so Halloween parties. And some strange people, one of whom is a friend of Chris and Tom’s, decide to celebrate the day doing the scariest thing most men could ever imagine – getting married. This weekend, our friend, Lee, decided to get married on none other than Halloween itself. Lee and his fiancee Carrie (yes, like the name of the horror movie that launched Sissy Spacek’s career) utterly love Halloween. In fact, the wedding is taking place at a restaurant known to be haunted, and guests must come in costume. The bride and groom are dressing as Frankenstein and “The Bride of,” but we sure as heck don’t know how the old tradition of “Something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue” is going to hold up. It did, however, get us thinking … there is one NFL game that fits this old poem to a “T” as we celebrate the wedding/Halloween/Week 8 in the NFL: the Green Bay Packers against the New York Jets. Follow our train of thought on this one:

Something Old: How about a running back, considered over the hill by many, schooling the league this season and showing age knows no boundaries.
LaDanian Tomlinson (490 yards, 5 TD) has been a wonderfully big surprise to Gang Green. Want more “old?” How about the defensive impact of
Charles Woodson on the Pack? He’s 34 years old and look at his stats: 45 tackles, two forced fumbles and top it off with an interception for a touchdown? These two players aren’t just collecting a check; they’re impacting their team’s success.

Something New: New, as in two of the newest (and youngest) successful quarterbacks in the game –
Mark Sanchez (1,100 yards, 9 TD, 2 INT) and
Aaron Rodgers (1,841 yards, 12 TD, 9 INT). Both of these guys have each managed to find a favorite receiving target as well, in
Dustin Keller (24 receptions, 343 yards, 5 TD) and
Greg Jennings (26 receptions, 390 yards, 5 TD), respectively … each of whom are only aged 27 and 26 themselves.

Something Borrowed:
Santonio Holmes (7 receptions, 88 yards) was “borrowed” from the Pittsburgh Steelers and is back in action after his early-season suspension. His impact to the team hasn’t necessarily been noticeable on paper, but the former MVP has returned to a team where he doesn’t have to do it all, and many predict a stellar second half of the season for one of the biggest adrenaline injections to the Jets receiver corps in years.

Something (black and) Blue: Defensively, both teams allow less than 20 points a game on average. They have men in the trenches that limit yards on the ground and that also dish out the sacks like
Clay Matthews (22 tackles, 8.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles) for the Packers and
Shaun Ellis (18 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble) for the Jets. Yet both also control air traffic, with some of the best in the business – like
Darrelle Revis (7 tackles, 2 recovered fumbles) who claims to be completely back from a hamstring that hampered him earlier in the season.

Sure, we’ve been to weddings before – but never a Halloween one. It’s a situation where we don’t know what to expect, but it plans to be an event worth remembering. A lot like this 1 p.m. game on Sunday – it’s going to be a fright to the finish between these two, resulting in a Halloween treat.

Seattle
at Oakland
– Sunday 10/31, 4:15 p.m., FOX

No – picking this game was no trick. We promise it’s all treat. Ghouls and boys, Frankenstein monsters and Lynch mobs; they all are looking for the next good fright … err … fight. OK, we’re going to stop right now – putting Halloween cliches in an entire article can be much harder than it seems (but working in the word “Lynch,” as in the new Seattle running back, into a Halloween article was at least worthy of a smirk). Anyway, at the beginning of the NFL season, this one looked like a “yawner” on the schedule … but now, midway through the season, we’re looking at two teams contending to actually win their divisions. It’s more shocking than the fact that
Nightmare on Elm Street actually had seven sequels!

Fresh off putting up 59 points last week, Oakland finds itself the talk of the NFL. And for once, about something positive rather than their historically high penalties or owner Al Davis’ continued insanity with drafting players based solely on their 40-yard dash times. This season started with more than a few questions about key positions on this team, but to give Tom Cable credit, just seven games in and we at least have the answers to a few of those questions. A healthy
Darren McFadden (557 yards, 4 TD) is one, demonstrating that when he has no injuries, he can be one of the NFL’s most dynamic rushers. Another has been the play of a defense that allows, on average, less than 200 yards a game through the air. This defensive improvement, mostly with players you’ve never heard of outside of the Bay Area like
Matt Shaughnessy (21 tackles, 4 sacks, 1 forced fumble) and
Kamerion Wimbley (25 tackles, 3 sacks, 1 forced fumble), has propelled the Oakland Raiders from NFL cellar-dwellers to a 3-4 contender over fan-favorite teams like San Diego and Denver. Of course, the jury is still out on some of the other personnel questions. Certainly,
Jason Campbell (713 yards, 4 TD, 4 INT), the backup for the injured
Bruce Gradkowski (709 yards, 4 TD, 4 INT), is suspect – as he was during his tenure in Washington. As is also a receiving corps who’s only consistent receiver is tight end
Zach Miller (33 receptions, 453 yards, 4 TD). Maybe the biggest question is still an enigma to football fans everywhere; is this team for real? This weekend, part of that question should be answered in how Oakland responds to Seattle.

OK, raise your hand if you thought
Pete Carroll would have the same mediocre go around in the NFL with Seattle that he did the first time. We imagine there are a fair amount of hands up – but around the city of Seattle, there probably aren’t all that many. With the Seahawks unbeaten since trading for
Marshawn Lynch (297 yards, 1 TD), they are already just one game shy of besting their total wins from last year. Carroll’s coaching seems to have made a major impact – and, coupled with a solid running game, as well as the reemergence of
Matt Hasselbeck (1,248 yards, 6 TD, 6 INT) finding some of his old form – and the Seahawks are primed to start pulling away in the NFC West. Defensively, rookies like safety
Earl Thomas (30 tackles, 4 INT) as well as veterans
Chris Clemons (21 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble) are contributing to a unit that is keeping opponents to less than 18 points a game, fifth best in the NFL. And with Carroll’s players actually allowed to talk to agents in the NFL, it doesn’t look like the Seahawks will suffer any sanctions from the NFL in their quest to bring home a title.

Do yourself a favor and skip that rerun of whatever movie with Jason, Freddie or Jon Gruden look-alike, Chuckie, happens to be on the tube Sunday afternoon. Sit back and tune into a game that shouldn’t frighten you as a good “Game to Watch.” Just make sure you have the DVR rolling … you won’t want to miss any of this one when the tricker-treaters start ringing the doorbell.

Houston
at Indianapolis
– Monday 11/1, 8:30 p.m., ESPN

Think of any of the great Halloween movies, and they always have at least one thing in common. No, not necking teenagers who get hacked to bits … not monsters, vampires, werewolves or homicidal maniacs … no, not even blood (or even it’s corn syrup special effects version). It’s sequels. No matter how many times the evil entity gets burned, stabbed, chopped up, beheaded, drowned, electrocuted or exorcized, they always manage to rise from the grave to terrify you at least once more in a sequel. Why should “Games to Watch” be any different, especially on this Halloween weekend? So we bring you a sequel to a matchup that already thrilled Texans’ fans and terrified Colts’ fans in Week 1. First a quick recap of the original, then we’ll tell you why this sequel is so compelling. We proudly present … “Houston v. Indianapolis, The Second Coming.”

“Indianapolis v Houston, First Blood”: Years of frustration had the Houston Texans seeking revenge against the bully of the AFC South, the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts’
Peyton Manning looked to once again throttle the upstart Texans, but
Matt Schaub hoped this time would be different.
Neil Rackers drew first blood for the Texans, but the two field goals were hardly a scratch to the vaunted Colts. The Colts attacked the Texans with their lethal offense that had crushed them so many times before, and their big names didn’t disappoint, with both
Reggie Wayne and
Dallas Clark grabbing touchdowns, and
Austin Collie even getting into the action with a late score. But the Texans were not to be denied. The shocking plot twist was that it wasn’t on the strength of Schaub’s arm, or the hands of
Andre Johnson … the overlooked
Arian Foster (especially by fantasy owners who could have grabbed him up as mid-draft steal) used his fleet feet to decimate the Colts to the tune of 231 yards and three touchdowns. And once the blood bath was over, the Texans stood atop the AFC South, the Colts got the shock of their lives, and Foster became a fixture in Colts defender’s nightmares.

“Houston v Indianapolis, The Second Coming”: The Colts and the Texans have a challenger in upstart Tennessee, who currently leads the division, but both teams know how critical this rematch is. The road to the AFC South leads through Indianapolis, and the Texans now have to face the Colts on the road, far from the confines of their friendly home.
Manning (1,916yards, 13 TD, 2 INT) is still frighteningly good, and
Schaub (1,538 yards, 9TD, 5 INT) is still one of the NFL’s up-and-coming superstars.
Reggie Wayne (45 receptions, 602 yards, 2 TD) is still one of the NFL’s deadliest weapons, but Houston can counter with a receiver equally as dangerous in
Johnson (32 receptions, 488 yards, 2 TD). The Colts have lost
Clark (37 receptions, 347 yards, 3 TD) for the season, and
Collie (44 receptions, 503 yards, 6 TD) is banged up and won’t be available this weekend – even
Pierre Garcon (14 receptions, 214 yards, 1 TD), who was supposed to be ready to go this week didn’t practice on Thursday. Bad news for the Colts, but welcome news for the Texas defensive backfield who are currently ranked worst in the league, giving up an astounding 306.2 yards per game. Usually, Manning facing such an awful passing defense would mean a blood-bath, but don’t forget that the Colts are themselves the 26th-worst run defense, and they still have to face the man that gave them fits last time in
Foster (635 yards, 6 TD).

With both teams offensive strong suit being the other team’s weak spot, this one should feature more than enough players knifing through the opposing defense, and plenty of blood drawn in the form of touchdowns. If the Colts win, they rise from an early death and are back on the prowl for more victims this year. If the Texans win, they just might put the final divisional nail in the Colts coffin for 2010 and prove they are one of the AFC’s scariest offenses. But with both of these squads being so solid on offense, they just might meet for one more sequel – in the playoffs this year. If so, consider this game the second movie in the trilogy and get ready for “Indianapolis v. Houston, Offensive Encounters of the Third Kind”. 😉

HAPPY HALLOWEEN, SHARKS!!

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