The NFL’s first full schedule since week two promises little drama. There are some interesting divisional matchups, like Washington going into Lincoln Financial to play the high-flying Eagles, but too much attention will be on Terrell Owens and his exotic MNF pre-game skit than the game itself. The Redskins defense could make it interesting, but I have a tough time believing they’ll take the Eagles this week.
Pittsburgh heads into Cincinatti for another game of the haves and the have nots. The Steelers dusted off the Bus and have been riding Jerome while Duce Staley takes a break and mends. The way they are playing the Steelers could suit up Jim Brown and run over opponents, especially with the nasty play of their defense. This weeks games to watch have a similar vein. It ain’t what they got, but what they’s lacking that makes the Indianapolis Colts versus the Chicago Bears the
Great White Shark Game of the Week – Indianapolis @ Chicago
Sunday November 21st @ 1:00 pm ET on CBS
As little as two weeks ago we’d be writing this game off as an easy win for the Colt’s offensive juggernaut. The defense has shown signs of life, albeit with help from a defibralator, and Peyton Manning is having a hall of fame season. But wait! What was that sound? Thump. Thump. Thump. Sounded like butts hitting the pine, as in the interior line of the Indianapolis Colts. Indy faces the prospect of having both starting offensive guards Tupe Peko and Rick DeMulling on the bench nursing injuries while backup guard Makoa Freitas is nursing a bad back he injured in the weight room. That leaves rookies Jake Scott and Ryan Lilja with the task of holding back a ferocious Chicago defensive rush.
The Bears are suddenly in the hunt with last weeks surprise win over Tennessee capping a three game win streak that included an improbable comeback victory over then 5-2 New York Giants in week nine. Chicago is one game behind the Packers and Vikings in the NFC North, which is beginning to look like the Black and Blue division of old.
Although Indy is guard challenged, the Bears did lose stud middle linebacker Brian Urlacher. The addition of Adewale Ogunleye has been a boost, and the return of Jerry Azumah and the emergence of young defenders like Tommy Harris and corner Nathan Vasher are making significant contributions. Soldier field and Lake Michigan aren’t going anywhere and both add formidable challenges to high powered offenses that arrive in the Windy City when the mercury starts dropping.
Shark Sighting – Will it be the A-Train or Thomas Jones this weekend? Whoever it is will need to play a solid game to take the pressure of a non-existent passing game and the extreme harassment of quarterback Craig Krenzel, who has been sacked five times in each of the Bears last three games.
Whale of a Game – Green Bay @ Houston
Sunday November 21st @ 8:30pm on ESPN
Two weeks ago this looked like another one of those “Future meets the Past” matchups between an emerging David Carr and Brett Favre, who might as well have his bust cast and set in Canton Ohio with the career he’s had. The Packers continue to improve behind a Green Bay offensive steamroller of Favre, Ahman Green and Javon Walker, while the defense has stepped up big since the return of meat in the middle Grady Jackson. Along the way the Texans got torched twice, first by Denver and then by Indianapolis in consecutive weeks. Now they face the prolific Green Bay defense and are in jeopardy being declared insignificant in the AFC South playoff race. Both Indianapolis and Jacksonville are threatening to pull away with identical 6-3 records. Needless to say, this is a must win game for the Texans and they need to reclaim the early season magic that had Carr and fellow greenhorn Andre Johnson as the new darlings of the NFL.
Favre and the pack might have a thing or two to say about it though. Brett has the Pack believing they can make a run at the Super Bowl, and Favre knows he is running out of time. He’d like to end his storied career on a high note, and nothing could be finer than going out on a Super Bowl victory.
Shark Sighting – Domanick Davis needs to have another big game to counter Ahman Green and the Houston defense needs to put pressure on Favre if the Texans are going to keep their slim playoff hopes alive.
Chumming the Waters – San Francisco @ Tampa Bay in the Game of the Weak
Sunday November 21st @ 1pm ET on FOX
The 49’er have replaced the awakening Arizona Cardinals as the who cares game of the weak as they travel to Raymond James Stadium to take on a beat up Buccaneers team. The season of pain continues for the Buccaneers with the loss of Booger McFarland, Jermaine Phillips and Dwight Smith forcing the Bucs to reach back into the past and dredge up former team mates Chidi Ahanotu and Derrick Jackson to try and plug the holes. The 49’ers still haven’t recovered from the loss of several key players, most notably Terrell Owens and Jeff Garcia. At 1-8 you have to believe the San Francisco front office is already ramping up the scouting department for next years NFL draft. The Bucs may also be without recent offensive sparkplug Brian Griese, which makes this pointless game even worse.
Shark Sighting – Chris Simms may be handed the rudder to the Bucs ship for the second time this season. If so, he’ll start by trying to out-duel 49’er QB Tim Rattay and his favorite target, TE Eric Johnson. The Bucs will be hard pressed to cover Johnson with all the secondary personnel out, but the speedy linebackers can cover.