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 other articles, the Betbot, or the Last Row, or our myriad posts in the Tank. We’re just like you, though. We love a good football game, no matter who’s playing.
All times Eastern:
Miami @ Tampa Bay – Sunday 10/16, 1:00
Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL
“We are going to start both guys. I don’t care how we will do it. We are going to start both guys, so you can’t ask me which one is starting, because I am telling you that we are starting both.”
- Dolphins Coach Nick Saban
He’s talking about Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. That name alone, no – not Ronnie Brown, makes this a game to watch.
Sporting a 2-2 record, the Dolphins are doing much better than most thought they would. Not to be outdone, the surprising 4-1 Bucs suffered their first loss in an ugly fashion versus the Jets in the swamps of New Jersey. The Dolphins should be rested and ready, and I think Risky Williams will get a respectable number of carries, about 10 maybe. Don’t expect much from Williams or Brown against the stingy Tampa Bay defense, they’re number one in the league versus the run, allowing 61.6 yards per game.
Michael Clayton is banged up and has been a non-factor in the Bucs games this year. Cadillac Williams, “the other Williams” running back, and “the other Auburn rookie” running back may or may not play. Whether Caddy rolls or not should determine the Bucs game plan. If Cadillac plays, look for a fierce run attack. If Cadillac does not play, look for a lot of passing from the Bucs, featuring Joey Galloway and Michael Pittman. Despite an awful game last week, I think the Bucs will rebound in the confines of their ship…er, stadium.
New England @ Denver – Sunday 10/16, 4:15
Invesco Field, Denver, CO
The big story to watch in this game is the Denver backfield situation. I know it’s become a regular topic here but I’m just fascinated that Mike Shanahan keeps tinkering with his backfield. Tatum Bell single-handedly provided the entire offense for the Broncos last week against Washington – and if you don’t believe me check the stellar passing totals for Denver – and Shanahan still won’t commit to Bell as his starter. Bell has now run 120 times in his career for a 5.6 ypc average. I know he’s had trouble in the past with blitz pickup but this kind of talent just doesn’t stay on the bench for that long. And yet there was Mike Anderson getting his 11 carries for 34 yards last week. One thing we know is that the Patriots run defense isn’t what it used to be, so Shanahan will get plenty of opportunities to test Bell and Anderson and maybe even Ron Dayne on Sunday.
Other things to watch? How about Tom Brady, who completed 22 of his 27 passes last week for 350 yards and 3 TDs. Can we dispense with the “game manager” label for this guy and acknowledge his development into one of the top QBs in the league? Denver has a good defense, especially against the run. This surprises me since the Broncos imported the Browns’ defensive line this season, but they’re making it work in Denver. I don’t expect much from Corey Dillon this week, which puts this game right back onto Brady’s shoulders. We know that Denver is a tough place to win on the road – and consider that if the Broncos win this week they’ll be 5-1 and in the catbird seat in the AFC West. Not bad for a team we predicted to go 8-8 this year. Of course, that may just mean that we’re out of our minds, but don’t let that stop you from listening to 950 AM out of Philadelphia on Friday nights between 9-10 PM! Yes, I have no shame.
St. Louis @ Indianapolis – Monday 10/17, 9:00
RCA Dome, Indianapolis, IA
Speaking of no shame, how about the people feeling guilty for making fun of Mike Martz now that the poor guy is probably out for the season with a heart infection? Martz is one of the must underrated coaches in the league, but since he’s goofy looking and erratic with his red flag people like to poke fun at him. Yeah, he squanders time outs and passes the ball too much, but the Rams are solid on offense and perennial playoff contenders. Guys like Steve Mariucci and Dom Capers can’t say that but I don’t hear anyone breaking their shoes on a weekly basis.
This should be a great game because St. Louis has some nice weapons on offense but almost no defense, so it could be a shootout. A lot of noise has been made about Indy’s defense, about how it doesn’t matter how good their opponents are because they are dominating anyway. That’s a load of bull. If they were playing high school kids we wouldn’t be that impressed with the defense, right? The best bet for St. Louis is to pound Steven Jackson and/or Marshall Faulk for most of the night to take advantage of the soft underbelly of Indy’s rush defense. Of course, that will be tough to do after Peyton Manning and friends put a couple TDs up on the woeful Rams defense, one of the worst units in the league. I don’t care what Indy’s defense has done so far, I’m betting the over on this game and loving it.
One interesting sub-plot here will be the “win one for the gipper” story line surrounding Martz’s injury. I’m sure ABC has Sam Ryan lined up with a nice puff piece about Mike Martz and I wouldn’t be surprised if they put Martz on camera just to boost the drama a little bit. Oh, and don’t forget that Michelle Tafoya is on maternity leave! Why does Al Michaels feel the need to remind us of this fact every week? It’s not like I care who they have trolling the sidelines on Monday Night. Now, if Eric Dickerson was the regular MNF sideline guy and he got pregnant I’d be interested, but as far as I’m concerned Ryan can take over for Tafoya for the rest of the season. Either way, the sideline reporting on Monday Night Football is 10 times less annoying than Chris Myers’ reporting from the first row of baseball games during the playoffs. It’s just ridiculous, he has nothing important to add to the game and the producers at FOX somehow screw up his audio feed at least once a weekend. At least the baseball playoffs have pulled Joe Buck away from football for a while; maybe his replacement will just be quiet while the game happens.
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