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Games to Watch – Week 9

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:

 

Okay, let’s face facts… there are 14 games this weekend, but only ONE that anyone seems to be talking about.

  (That’s right – contrary to the amount of news coverage most teams are getting this weekend, there is a full slate of fourteen games – not 1 game and 13 scrimmages.)

  We won’t leave you hanging, though – you’ll get your ‘battle of the undefeated’ fix.

  But before we do that, we thought we’d try something a little different this week, so instead of giving you an in-depth look at the top three games you should be watching, we’re going to run down ALL THIRTEEN other games and give then all a couple sentences to plug them.

  After all, there ARE games besides

New England

v

Indianapolis

. (At least that’s what the schedule says…)

 

Let’s run down the ‘other’ thirteen games and then we’ll leave ya’ with our thoughts on the most anticipated NFL game in years…

 

Denver

@

Detroit

– Sunday 11/4,

1:00pm

 

Both teams are only one game behind in their respective divisions, but this seems like a game that will be vital to both squads.

 

Denver

would love to bounce back from a tough OT loss to

Green Bay

last Monday night;

Detroit

is trying to prove that not only are they worthy of their 5-2 record so far, but that they are going to give

Green Bay

a battle to the end for the division. So why watch these two?

  Easy – Detroit is the 7th best passing team in the NFL right now, with some of the NFL’s best young WRs and and Denver is 6th in the league in pass defense, with their pair of ‘shut down’ corners. Can

Denver

’s secondary avoid giving up the big play like they did to

Green Bay

? Can

Detroit

become one of the NFC teams to beat?

  Finally, will Detroit QB

Jon Kitna wear his uniform or another clever Halloween costume? (If you missed Kitna in his ‘naked coach at the fast food joint’ costume, you just weren’t paying attention.)

 

San Francisco

@

Atlanta

– Sunday 11/4,

1:00pm

 

The Good: With only three wins between the two teams (and neither one of them having a win in the month of October), one of these teams will

finally get a much needed tally in the W column.

The Bad: The worst ranked offense in the NFL versus the 25th ranked offense isn’t going to thrill anyone.

  (Thankfully, their defenses are just as poor, 22nd and 23rd ranked respectively, so it should all balance out, right?)

  

The Ugly: This might be a game you

can’t watch. For the first time in 56 home games,

Atlanta

media reports that it will be a local blackout if 3,000 tickets are not sold.

 

Cincinnati

@

Buffalo

– Sunday 11/4,

1:00pm

 

Cincy and

Buffalo

are more alike than you might think.

  Let’s check it out… They both play in a division with (at least) one powerhouse. Both team’s most recent win is over the hapless Jets. They are each three games or more out of the division lead and looking like they’ll be watching re-runs of Lavern & Shirley come January.

  But it’s not all bad. They both have great units on one side of the ball; the Bengals’ offense (complete with a returning Rudi Johnson) and the Bills’ defense… no wait… the Bills offense… umm, no… well, there are always the Sabers to root for, eh?

 

Think of it this way…1/2 of the game should let you see some good offense. The other half will give you an excuse to catch up on that fall yard work, right?

  Take that leaves!

 

 

Carolina

@

Tennessee

– Sunday 11/4,

1:00pm

 

Both teams bring winning records into the contest – and both are still in the playoff hunt in their respective divisions and conferences.

  And while we can look at stats and make some educated guesses that this will be solid game, we can’t rely on history; they’ve only faced one another twice before. Both offenses are struggling a bit (in the bottom third of the league right now), but both have some exciting players (

Vince Young and

Steve Smith jump immediately to mind). This one will likely come down to a Tennessee defense that has quietly become the #5 ranked defense in the NFL, on the strength of their tough run defense (ranked #1 and allowing a scant 64 rushing yards a game). And while both have playoff aspirations, this game will see if they are still heading in that direction.

 

Green Bay

@

Kansas City

– Sunday 11/4,

1:00pm

 

People love to crow about how tough a venue Lambeau Field is to play in… but Arrowhead Stadium ain’t exactly a week in the park, either. This promises to be a great match-up – both the Packers and Chiefs are division leaders and both are playing better than what many analysts predicted.

  The real question is if

Kansas City

can keep QB

Brett Favre in check; only Tom Brady is better this year in terms of yardage. KC’s pass defense is no slouch, though – they rank just outside the top ten in both pass defense and total defense.

  The Chief’s main strength is that they are keeping people out of the end zone these days – allowing just 16.1 points a game.

  Can

Green Bay

continue as the class of the NFC?

  Is

Kansas City

for real in the AFC picture and can they hang on to their division lead?

  Its questions like that which makes this one of the better games to watch this weekend.

  Heck, the only downside we can see is that you have to turn the contrast down on your TV due to both teams sporting mustard yellow as one of their colors.

 

 

San Diego

@

Minnesota

– Sunday 11/4,

1:00pm

 

Ok – let’s face facts.

  The Vikings aren’t that good.

  The Chargers aren’t as bad as their early record makes them seem.

  Great, now that we got that out of the way, we can be honest about why you want to catch at least a couple minutes of this contest.

  You aren’t watching to see two good teams squaring off – you’re watching because you get to see two of the best RBs in the NFL square off.

 

LaDainian Tomlinson and

Adrian Peterson make this one worth the price of admission.

  Too bad

Minnesota

’s pass defense is so bad that the Chargers will likely spend more time throwing instead of letting Tomlinson run.

  No worries, though – Tomlinson is a solid receiver as well.

  A win by

San Diego

could really show folks that they really ARE back on track (if their 100 points over the past three games didn’t clue you in).

  A win by

Minnesota

solely on the back on Adrian Peterson means that Tomlinson might finally have some competition for top fantasy draft pick.

 

 

Jacksonville

@

New Orleans

– Sunday 11/4,

1:00pm

 

We’ve said it before (even before QB

Quinn Gray took over); Jacksonville is a defensive powerhouse and can win games by keeping the opponent in check (flashback to last week and intercepting Jeff Garcia 3 times), regardless of what their offense does. And in one of the best Halloween stories so far, the New Orleans Saints, pronounced dead by media and fans alike, have apparently risen from the grave and are showing signs of life.

 

New Orleans

is just a game back of their division lead all of a sudden, but

Drew Brees and company face a tough challenge in the NFL’s 4th best scoring defense. So there ya’ have it – classic offense versus defense match up.

  And while

Jacksonville

could bounce back even from a loss here,

New Orleans

needs this one.

  So, will the Saints come marching in to the thick of the NFC playoff hunt? (Ouch – that was bad even by our low, low standards.)

  If they do, it won’t be easy against this defense.

 

 

Washington

@ New York Jets – Sunday 11/4,

1:00pm

 

The Washington Redskins got slapped with their worst loss in 46 years, when

New England

embarrassed them last weekend.

  Sure, the Patriots offense is playing at record levels right now, but you would have thought the NFL’s 5th ranked defense could have put up a little better showing (they dropped all the way to 12th after that game).

  For the Jets part, their season is over and they know it – hence, the start of the

Kellen Clemens era.

  You aren’t watching this one to see if the Jets can muster a win; there is little chance of that.

  This game is so we can see what the Redskins are really made of this season.

  Can their defense shut down a Jets team that they should easily dominate?

  Are they one of the NFC’s playoff teams, especially in the tough NFC East?

  You can bet we’ll keep an eye on this one, and you just might want to as well.

 

 

Arizona

@

Tampa

Bay

– Sunday 11/4,

1:00pm

 

In their primes, a match up of Jeff Garcia and Kurt Warner would have translated to “shootout”.

  We’re a long way from those days, but both teams are in weak divisions, where anything can happen.

 

Tampa

had a great start and has cooled off as of late – no small part in thanks to injuries, most notably RB

“Cadillac” Williams.

Arizona

is no stranger to major injuries this year either – with QB

Matt Leinart out of the season,

Kurt Warner stepped in to take his place, only to tear his elbow ligaments almost as soon as he got in the game.

  He’s bounced back quickly though, and the Cards hope he can help keep them in the thick of things.

  Both teams want a win badly this week to keep them in the hunt for their own divisions.

  One will get closer to a division lead; the other frustration.

 

Seattle

@

Cleveland

– Sunday 11/4,

4:05pm

 

Ok, quick survey.

  At the beginning of the season, who thought coming into this game that

Derek Anderson would have more yards passing than

Matt Hasselbeck?

  That’s it – raise your hands.

  Okay, anyone who raised your hand, you are lying or a member of the Dog Pound.

   Seriously,

Cleveland

is better than anyone but the most die-hard Browns fan could have imagined (they are 6th ranked in terms of overall yardage and 4th in scoring).

  It’s kept the Browns in the hunt for the division crown with their long-time nemesis,

Pittsburgh

.

  Now if only the Browns could muster some sort of defense.

 

Seattle

isn’t a bunch of slackers, though.

  They sit atop the NFC West right now, even with middle of the road offense numbers – and they hope that the return of

Deion Branch will help spark them to greater offensive heights (although playing the Browns defense seems to have a way of doing that for every team).

  As with every Browns game, this one will be fun to see just how high the total score can go.

  (Our advice – bet the over.)

 

Houston

@

Oakland

– Sunday 11/4,

4:15pm

 

Ok – things don’t look great for either of these teams right now.

  They are both bringing up the rear in their respective divisions, not to mention both being on three game losing streaks.

  But if you compare where these two teams were a year ago, things suddenly don’t seem so bad.

  

Houston

looked inept and

Oakland

was a favorite to go winless for the year.

  If you tune in to this game, you won’t see two of the NFL’s best… but both are improving and playing better ball than many expected. The good thing for one of these teams is that a win, while not really putting them in contention for a playoff spot, keeps them moving in the right direction for next year.

  A loss means a lot more hard work to gain NFL respectability.

  Either team could win this one.

  That alone should make this one a good dogfight. (Apologies to PETA, the SPCA, and any Michael Vick fans we might have offended with that choice of phrase.)

 

 

Dallas

@

Philadelphia

– Sunday 11/4,

8:15pm

 

On the surface, this looks like an easy

Dallas

win, but we think this one will be closer than a lot of people think.

  Ok, Dallas has been the superior team this season, they lead the NFC East and are one of the playoff favorites from the NFC in general, and

Tony Romo (#3 in passing yards) and the Cowboys offense (#2 in total offense) are looking great, and the Eagles secondary has been suspect at times – all signs pointing to a Cowboys win.

  But believe it or not, there are a

LOT

of reasons to think the Eagles can win this one.

 

 

Philadelphia

’s backs are to the wall – another loss would make it near impossible to make the playoffs, especially with a 0-4 division record, so they are going to be playing hard.

 

Donovan McNabb is playing better, and the Eagles coaches must be happy with his rehab as they even called a designed QB run last week.

  Pro-Bowler Safety Brian Dawkins is slated to return to an Eagles secondary that is a whole different animal with him in the lineup.

  The Cowboys have dropped 6 of the last 7 in

Philadelphia

.

  Don’t forget that

Dallas

has a tough match against the

New York

Giants for the division lead next week – a classic “look ahead” game scenario.

  And while Tony Romo is probably more than happy with his 6 year, 67.5 million dollar contract signing this week, such signings often prompt a QB to force a pass or two, trying to prove they are worth all that cash.

  (Romo seems like a grounded guy, so he may be able to escape that.)

  In any case, we think this could come down to an Akers or Folk FG, and the Vegas odds-makers agree with us.

 

 

 

Baltimore

@

Pittsburgh

– Sunday 11/5,

8:30pm

 

Going into this season, a lot of things have turned out differently than many of us thought.

  But some things never change.

  We all thought

Pittsburgh

and

Baltimore

would have two of the best defenses in the NFL, and it doesn’t get much better than #1 (Pitt.) and #2 (Balt.) overall.

 

Pittsburgh

’s #1 scoring defense is amazing this year, giving up a miniscule 13 points a contest.

  Even the Ravens aren’t that good, but their 17 points against average ain’t too shabby, either.

  The Ravens offense is about where many of us figured, middle of the pack, but the Steelers offense has been a pleasant surprise in Steeltown, ranked #4 in overall offense and #5 in scoring.

 

 

That offensive difference, more than any other, is why

Pittsburgh

sits atop the division with

Baltimore

on the outside looking in.

  But at just one game back, a Ravens victory could unseat

Pittsburgh

and make things VERY interesting in the AFC North.

  Look, this one is a no-brainer – a Monday night showdown between the two favorites for the NFC North crown, two smash-mouth defenses who love to show off just how hard they can hit in these prime-time games, and a surprisingly entertaining Steelers offense.

  Now you just have to decide what local watering hole has the best wings and the bigger TV, and then sit back and enjoy.

 

 

THE BIG ONE:

 

New England

@

Indianapolis

– Sunday 11/4,

4:15pm

 

We’re going to keep this fairly short and sweet because sooooo many media outlets are hyping this game, you’ve either already read 15 articles about it, or at least a few by writers with better pedigrees than we have.

  (Note: That does NOT include that no-talent hack, Peter King.

  But that’s not saying much, because it’s hard not to write better than a guy who spends half a column chatting up his daughter’s high school field hockey team.

  But we digress…)

 

This is the one you’ve been waiting for all season, and for the past few years.

  The undefeated New England Patriots (8-0) roll into

Indianapolis

to take on the undefeated Colts (7-0) in a game that many feel is a preview to the AFC championship game this season.

  Both teams have stellar offenses, with

New England

being #1 in total offense, scoring, and passing, while

Indianapolis

isn’t far behind at #3 overall and #3 in scoring, not to mention #5 in rushing and #6 in passing.

  But don’t think that this game is going to be all defense.

  The Colts sport the #1 ranked passing defense, not to mention the # 2 scoring defense and #4 overall D.

  For their part,

New England

isn’t far behind them as #5 against the pass, #5 in scoring defense, and even topping the Colts as #3 in overall D.

 

QB

Tom Brady is having a simply amazing year, with THIRTY touchdowns already, not to mention his 2431 yards, 198 completions, and only 2 interceptions – numbers that all add up to an absolutely gaudy 136.2 QB rating – more than 30 points better than any other QB in the league.

  (158.3 is perfect, by the way.)

  It’s not like Brady doesn’t have help, though.

  WRs

Randy Moss (11 TDs!) and

Wes Welker (6 TDs) are #1 and #8 in the NFL in receiving yards, and even their #3 WR

Donte’ Stallworth cracks the top 35.

  RB

Laurence Maroney is keeping defenses honest with a 4,8 yard per carry average, 11th best in the league.

  The Pats D has its share of studs, too.

  DE

Mike Vrabel is 5th in the NFL with 7.5 sacks, and #1 in forced fumbles (5 so far).

  Don’t forget about CB

Asante Samuel and 4 interceptions, which puts him in a tie for 2nd best in the league.

 

QB

Payton Manning is probably feeling snubbed with so many paying attention to Brady’s numbers – but you know this guy has just as much talent.

  This “off year” for Manning still has him at #5 in passing yards, and as the #3 QB in terms of QB rating (102.9) – one of only 4 QBs in the league with a rating of over 100.

   Injuries to perennial Pro-Bowler

Marvin Harrison have his numbers low (part of Manning’s down year), but WR

Reggie Wayne has stepped up admirably and has the 4th best yardage amongst receivers with a solid 5 TDs to match.

  TE

Dallas Clark has figured into their game-plan more this year as well – his top 40 receiver ranking shows that, but not as much as his 6 TDs to date.

  The Colts aren’t without running power, either.

  RB

Joseph Addai is 7th in rushing yards, but tops in rushing TDs with 7.

  The Colts D doesn’t have a ton of guys on the individual stat charts, but their balance approach has them even ahead of the Pat’s tough defense.

  There are still standouts however, like DE

Dwight Freeney and his 4 forced fumbles, second only behind the previously mentioned Vrabel.

  Freeney’s 3.5 sacks aren’t bad, either.

 

Ok – you should get the picture by now.

  Both teams are loaded on both sides of the ball.

  They are coached by two of the best coaches in the NFL right now,

Tony Dungy in Indy and

Bill Belichick for NE.

  These two have already had some epic contests, but this might just be the best.

  These two are so damn good right now that they simply cannot disappoint – kinda’ like a Beatles album.

  So send the wife or girlfriend out for the 3-foot sub, because you don’t want to miss even a second of this one.

  It just

feels historic for god’s sake.

 

When it’s all over, one team will have one loss on their record, but still be well on their way to securing a playoff berth with the knowledge that the worst is behind them.

  The other team will be undefeated, be crowned the favorite to win not only the AFC championship, but the Superbowl as well – and force the crotchety old ’72 Dolphins to keep their champagne corked for at least one more week.

About Fantasy Sharks

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.