If you haven’t heard, last week’s slate of football was full of bone-crunching, back breaking and mind numbing hits. $175,000 worth of them to be exact. Now that we have that out of the way, last weekend was a good one for football fans.
In the NFL, eight of the fourteen games were won by four-points or less, there are log jams at the top of almost every division and there were more carts on the field than at the U.S. Open. At the college level, you got to see a decisive Pitt win, a top-seed fall and what appeared to be a basketball score on a football field.
Hopefully this week’s games are just as good. So if you are going to miss kids’ soccer game or your 20th anniversary to watch football… here are the games you shouldn’t miss.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Miami Dolphins, 1:00pm Sun., Oct. 24
Assuming James Harrison doesn’t quit football, and maybe even if he does, this has the makings of a Steelers victory. The Steelers have yet to allow a team to score 20-points and if not for a last minute touchdown in the their loss to Baltimore that number would be below 15-points. Having Ben Roethlisberger back in the line-up is great for the passing game, sure, but more importantly it can free up the run. Without Big Ben, Mendenhall’s game avg. was 102.75 yards-per-game. When you account for the fact that Ben creates a passing game that demands respect with Miami allowing 109.4 yards-per-game on the ground, it seems easy to say that the Steelers’ ground game should have little trouble moving the ball.
On the flip side, Miami has some things that the Steeler’s haven’t had to deal with this season. 1. A serious two-headed ground game. Sure, the Steeler defense has shut down Chris Johnson, Michael Turner and Ray Rice (none eclipsed 50-yards rushing). None of those teams have a legit back-up to spell the starter , however, leaving the feature back to take all of the punishment the Steelers deal to running backs. Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams provide the Dolphins with the benefit of always having a fresh back on the field. Unless this happens. 2. A freak-show receiver. Love him or hate him, Brandon Marshall is for real. Roddy White and Anquan Boldin are great, don’t get me wrong, but these guys are not Brandon Marshall. That said, White and Boldin both have the benefit of a legitimate QB, Marshall does not. Even with Chad Henne under center, this guy is on pace for another 100-reception season, which would be his fourth in a row.
Rutgers Scarlet Nights @ Pittsburgh Panthers, 12:00pm Sat., Oct. 23
Since taking over under center, Rutgers’ true-freshman Chas Dodd has performed admirably. Dodd has completed almost 55% of his passes for five-touchdowns to just two-interceptions. The kid has looked good, that’s for sure. Of course, he has looked good against Tulane, UConn and Army. Getting too excited about having good games against these teams is like waking up next to Snooki and deciding your parents just have to meet her. Did I just drop a Jersey Shore reference on you? Sorry about that.
Thus far, the Scarlet Knights have been in every game they have played and are coming off an emotional over-time win against Army. But, this is a team that lost to Tulane and only narrowly beat Florida International, UConn and Army. Pitt has neither won nor lost two games in a row, and this week falls on the negative side of that trend for the Panthers. No matter. Rutgers kind of stinks. Insightful enough for you?
Desperation usually either brings huge plays or huge mistakes, just ask Brett Favre. Right now there is no team more desperate for wins than the Dallas Cowboys. Sitting at 1-4, the Cowboys are in a position that every loss is a bigger nail in their post-season coffin. With a Giants win, Dallas would be four games back for the division and on the outside looking in for a playoff berth. Luckily for Dallas, Tony Romo has always handled pressure well.
Despite the woeful record of the Cowboys, this is a heavyweight match-up in a primetime setting, so expect excitement. Tony Romo, who is on pace for over 5,000-yards and is completing almost 70% of his passes, has to continue to thrive against a Giants team that has only allowed 20-points once this season. On the flip side, the Giants one-two punch of Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs has lead to the G-Men owning time of possession in all but one of their games (their loss to the Colts). It will be key for Dallas to slow down the New York running game if they want to get a victory and stay in the playoff hunt.
If you happened to miss last week’s Arkansas-Auburn match-up, don’t worry, you didn’t miss much. Only 17 scores for a combined 108-points between the two. The game was tight all the way through the fourth quarter when Auburn scored four-touchdowns in just over five minutes. While some of Auburn’s statistics and point totals seem staggering (40.7-points-per-game, 6.0-yards-per-carry), you have to keep in mind that their schedule, with the exception of Arkansas (who hasn’t beat anyone great), Auburn has not had much in the way of real competition.
LSU gives Auburn their biggest test yet. Statistically, nothing about LSU really sticks out beside the fact that Les Miles uses two quarterbacks. They keep winning, however, and against a better brand of competition than Auburn has had to face. I wouldn’t expect a Pitt basketball-type score in this one. This game is going to be close.
So Brett Favre is going back to Lambeau! Wow! The drama of it all! Shut up. He already went back last year and we are two and a half years removed from Favre as a Packer. Time to move on… but the texts he sent to that girl! How does his wife feel about… enough already. Sorry, my wife got hold of the keyboard. What were we talking about? Oh yeah…
The Vikings are in a similar situation as the Dallas Cowboys. They are a team loaded with talent that has put themselves in a bad spot because of injuries and poor early-season play. At 2-3, the Vikings are two games back from the division lead with Green Bay at one back. A Green Bay win widens that margin and in the wide open NFC there are going to be going to be tons of teams vying for a wild-card berth, so not losing a grasp on your division by midseason is in the minds of both teams. There will be glitz, glamour, intrigue and Brett Favre throwing game-changing interceptions near the end of the game, as he did here and here and here (and 321 other times in his career).