We've got to hold on ready or not
You live for the fight when that's all that you've got
Whooaaaaaa! We're half way there
Whooooaaaa! Livin' on a prayer
Take my hand and we'll make it - I swear
Whooaaaa! Livin' on a prayer
Ryan L. Fox
I bet you $5 the Hoodie hums this on his way to work around this time of the football season. Yes folks, we are halfway through the 2016 NFL regular season. It just seemed like yesterday teams were starting out in Week 1 (the Browns would still be 0-7 at that point). Now that we’ve hit the midpoint, soon it’ll be time for teams to gear up and begin the second half of the season, which includes preparing for that race to the playoffs.
LAST WEEK’S RECORD: 3-1
Not bad, not bad. Another week of 3-1. I would have gone a perfect 4-0 if it wasn’t for those rotten Eagles and their pesky 5th ranked overall defense.
OVERALL RECORD: 13-11
We’re moving on up to that sweet spot on the right side of .500. Hopefully I will get some piece of that pie…..mmmmmmmm…..pie.
Washington Redskins vs. Cincinnati Bengals at Wembley Stadium in London, England
Sunday @ 9:30 a.m.
By joe, looky whut we got ‘ere! It’s another one o’ dem American football games in England for the second week enarow! God bless the queen! We shall turn on the telly for a showdown between the Indians and the Tigers. But first, something completely different.
New England Patriots @ Buffalo Bills
Sunday @ 1:00 p.m. ET
Revenge games are by far the most interesting games to watch, especially when it involves two divisional rivals. Last time these two teams met in Week 4, the Pats were sporting Jacoby Brissett under center, a Gronk at half-speed, and a Rob Ninkovich-less defense. Not to mention that the Bills were without DT star Marcell Dareus. Now this week, the two teams
What’s going to be different this time around isn’t just the two teams getting back those players (or in the Pats’ case, allowing Rob Gronkowski to do more than block). It’s the fact that the Bills are more likely to be without star running back LeSean McCoy. This is a huge blow for the Bills since they are the 2nd best rushing attack in the NFL (1,006 yards for an average of 152.3 ypg) and McCoy has contributed over half of that with his 598 yards rushing (59.4 % of the Bills rushing yards).
And even though there are reports that Pats TE Martellus Bennet is battling some sort of injury, more than not he is going to be playing on Sunday which will draw off any sort of coverage off of Rob Gronkowski, who is pretty much nearly impossible to cover to begin with. Also Pats RB LeGarette Blount has been a huge surprise with his rushing attack (566 yards & 6 TDs in & games), adding another offensive weapon for the Bills to worry about.
Green Bay Packers @ Atlanta Falcons
Sunday @ 4:25 p.m. ET
This has the makings of an aerial shootout between these two teams. On one side, you have one of the NFL’s top passing attack in the Atlanta Falcons (319.0 ypg for second overall and 16 TDs thrown for 3rds overall). You have QB Matt Ryan having an MVP-caliber year with a league high 2,348 yards thrown, completing 67.6 % of his passes, owning an impressive 16 to 4 TD-Interception ratio and having a league high 113.6 QB rating. Falcons WR Julio Jones has also been playing out of his mind this season as well, accumulating a league high 830 yards receiving (averaging a league high 118.6 ypg receiving) on a mere 40 catches.
On the Packers’ side, you still have the old, reliable veteran in Aaron Rodgers, whose numbers are starting to increase even more as the season has gone on. In the first 3 games, Rodgers averaged a paltry 206.6 ypg throwing the ball. After the bye week, his numbers started to improve greatly:
Week 5 vs. NYG: 23-for-45, 259 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT
Week 6 @ DAL: 31-for-42, 294 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
Week 7 vs. CHI: 39-for-56 326 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT
So he went from averaging 206.6 ypg in the first 3 games to averaging 293 ypg. Not to mention that he has all those receiving threats (i.e. Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Davante Adams, and Ty Montgomery) that are always a threat to breakout. Also the Falcons own the 2nd worse passing defense in the NFL, giving up an average of 294.3 ypg to the opposition.
This will be a close game no doubt. But what will be the key factor is how long each team will be able to keep the opposition off the field. For the Falcons, they have two running backs in Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman that can churn out yards while the Packers are essentially bare in the cupboard at running back. Since this game is also being played indoors in a dome, you know who also will get the advantage.
Philadelphia Eagles @ Dallas Cowboys
Sunday @ 8:30 p.m. ET
As a Giants fan, this is by far the most agonizing game I have to make a pick on since I hate both teams. But as a football fan dying for a Primetime game to watch, this might be the first one that will be worth tuning into.
On one side, you have the Eagles who are coming off a dominant 21-10 win in Week 7 against the Minnesota Vikings. The scoreboard didn’t show it but the Eagles were clearly the better team, especially on defense as they forced 4 turnovers (including 3 fumbles), and sacked Sam Bradford a whopping 6 times. The Eagles’ defense are also currently in the top 5 defenses in the NFL, allowing 307.0 ypg (5th overall), including allowing 204.3 ypg against the pass (5th overall) and allowing 102.7 ypg on the ground (15th overall).
However there is no team hotter in the NFL right now than the Dallas Cowboys. The team has railed off 5 straight victories in a row, including an impressive 30-16 W over the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field in Week 6 before their bye week. Cowboys rookie QB Dak Prescott has played at a very efficient level (125-for-182, 68.7 % Comp, 1,486 yards, 7 TD, 1 Int) and barely has made any costly mistake. Not to mention that rookie RB Ezkiel Elliot leads all NFL rookies in rushing with 703 yards (which is also currently second best in the NFL). Here’s some more food for thought: Elliot’s 703 rushing yards are more than 15 other teams in the NFL with 8 of those teams playing in one more game than Elliot.
This is all part of that stout Cowboys’ O-line, which has given up the second lowest amount of sacks this season (9) and has allowed the Cowboys offense keep the ball out of the opposition’s hands effectively (averaging 33 min. & 9 sec per game for 2nd best time of possession in NFL).
This could be the big test that the Cowboys need to justify their impressive start, show that they are ready to become one of the NFL’s teams, and reassume their dominance in the NFC East. But if I were a beating man, I would put my money on the hot team right now.