Not going to lie, there are just a handful of interesting games this week. However, a majority of them are the after the 4 o'clock hour on Sunday. Le sigh. But the good news is that this week we get to see a rematch of last year's NFC Championship game as well as two very entertaining divisional rivalry games.
The Interesting Picks:
Sunday 1:00 p.m.
Cinncinati Bengals @ Cleveland Browns
I bet people are asking how the 0-5 Browns and the 2-3 Bengals be an interesting game. Historically, the Browns always play the Bengals tough. Sometimes we get impressive shootouts between the two teams like in 2004 with a 58-48 win for the Bengals, a 51-45 win for the Browns in 2007, and just recently a 34-27 win for the Bengals back in Week 2 this season. But when you get down to it, the Browns are still young and inexperience while the Bengals have been playoff tested.
St. Louis Rams @ Miami Dolphins
This will be a battle of the unheralded defenses. Both of them are tied for 5th overall in sacks with 15.0 apiece, Miami is 1st overall in rushing defense (61.4 ypg) while St. Louis is 9th overall in scoring defense (18.0 ppg), and both are in the top 15 of overall defense with St. Louis at 14th (335.4 ypg) and Miami at 15th (343.2 ypg). But the Rams are coming off a big win over their divisional rival, Arizona Cardinals, and get above .500 for the first time since 2006.
Detroit Lions @ Philadelphia Eagles
Lions are getting a much needed bolster in defense with S Louis Delmas and DE Cliff Avril coming back from injury. Combined with the fact that the Lions are 10th versus the pass on defense (allowing 213.0 ypg) and tied for 5th with passing TDs allowed (allowing 5 so far), it's not going to be pretty for Michael Vick, who currently leads the NFC in turnovers with 11 (6 INTs and 5 Fumbles).
Bonus: Calvin Johnson will score 2TDs and then the Madden Curse will strike like *BOOM* Tough Actin' Tinactin.
Sunday 4:05 & 4:25 p.m.
New England Patriots @ Seattle Seahawks
For Patriots fans, the news of TE Aaron Hernadez practicing with the team is very encouraging after mising time with an ankle injury. They're coming off 2 consecutive games where they had over 200+ yards rushing, something they haven't done since 1978. However it'll be foolish to underestimate the Seattle Seahawks defense. They're 3rd overall in rushing (66.6 ypg), 5th overall in passing (192.0), 2nd overall in total defense (258.6 ypg), 2nd in scoring defense (14.0 ppg), and have been notorious in the pass rush (5th in sacks with 16.0). If this was Gillette, I would pick the Patriots. But they're playing in CenturyLink Field in Seattle where the '12th Man' resides and where the crowd noises can easily affect the tempo of a hurry-up offense and disrupt the communication between the quarterback and his receivers. In his 13 years in the NFL, this will be Brady's first time playing in Seattle and it'll be his first time experiencing what has frustrated so many QBs and Coaches alike.
*New York Giants @ San Francisco 49ers*
This is the match up of the week where we will see who is for real in the NFC. Already revenge is on the mindset of the 49ers, who lost to the Giants in the NFC Championship Game last year and the 49ers have two former Giants: RB Brandon Jacobs and WR Mario Mannigham. This is like a reminiscent of the 49ers-Giants match ups during the Walsh & Seifert/Parcells years. However things are different. The Giants resemble the 80s 49ers in terms of offense, 2nd in overall yards (429.2 ypg), 3rd in passing (309.0 ypg), 2nd in overall scoring (30.4 ppg), plus Eli Manning has the arm and explosiveness like a Joe Montana. On the opposite side, the 49ers resemble the 80s Giants in terms of defense, 2nd in overall defense (262.6 ypg), 2nd in passing defense (181.2 ypg), and 1st in points allowed (13.6 ppg), plus they have Alex Smith who can manage the game almost flawlessly like a Phil Simms. As long as the Giants defense can hold Frank Gore, you can bet that Big Blue will beat Big Red.
Monday 8:30 p.m.
Denver Broncos @ San Diego Chargers
Two charter AFL teams that have been going at it since 1960 and have always been fun to watch. Broncos lead the overall series 55-48-1. Both teams are coming off disappointing losses last week with the Broncos losing 31-21 against the Pats and Chargers collapsed in the 4th quarter in a 31-24 loss against the Saints. Interestingly enough Peyton Manning has historically struggled against the Chargers. He's 4-3 against them 191 completions out of 314 attempts (60.8 % completion) for 2,128 yards and throwing only 12 TDs but 16 INTs for a QB rating of 72.5, which is the lowest QB rating for Manning against one team. However the Chargers this year are 20th against the pass, allowing 260 yards per game, as well as been inconsistent on both sides of the football. Though Peyton has struggled against the Chargers before, don't expect him to this time around.
Bonus: John Gruden will finally be able to let out his big man crush of Peyton Manning in this one
The 'Best of the Rest'
Thursday Night 8:20p.m.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Tennessee Titans
Steelers got back Troy Polamalu last week only to lose him again for the season. Plus they are without LB Lamaar Woodley as well. Still this is the Titans we're talking about. The Steelers 1st string defense can take the night off and Chris Johnson still find a way to shit the bed.
Sunday 1:00 p.m.
Atlant Falcons @ Oakland Raiders
Name me a good Raiders player on the team that can stop Rodney White or Julio Jones. Didn't think so.
Indianapolis Colts @ New York Jets
I know where Rex Ryan's fat went to: his head. Seriously, Mark Sanchez is dead last in completion percentage (48.5) and his QB rating is unholy (66.6). To bad the Jets didn't suck for Luck cause it's paying off for the Colts big time.
Kansas City Chiefs @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Both teams suck but Kansas City will suck less in this one
Dallas Cowboys @ Baltimore Ravens
Sunday 4:05 & 4:25 p.m.
Buffalo Bills @ Arizona Cardinals
Good news for the Bills is that the Cardinals defense is a few tier levels below the 49ers defense. The bad news is that the Cardinals defense is still many tiers above everybody else.
Minnesota Vikings @ Washington Redskins
Eh...I guess I'll make my pick even though I could give a rat's ass.
Sunday 8:20 p.m.
Green Bay Packers @ Houston Texans
This would have been an interesting pick but the fact remains that the Packers have no running attack, a pourous offensive line that has allow their QB to be sacked 21 times (2nd overall in the NFL), and their defense gave up 27 second-half points to a rookie QB. The Texans on the other hand are 3rd in scoring offense (29.8 ppg), 4th in points allowed on defense (14.6 ppg), and they boast perhaps one of the more dominating defensive players in DE J.J. Watt. It's not going to be a good day in Mr. Rodger's neighborhood I can tell you that much.
Teams on Bye: New Orleans Saints, Chicago Bears, Carolina Panthers, Jacksonville Jaguars
Last Week's Record: 9-5
Season Record: 41-36
-Ryan L. Fox
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