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Friday, 17 October 2014

The Three Best Must See NFL Matchups In Week 7

This weekly article will highlight, preview, and predict, three key player matchups and must see NFL games.

The NFL is known by many coaches, players, and fans, as “The Not For Long league.” The NFL is the most unpredictable and exciting sport in the world.  Fans and media will often make snap judgments on players and teams each week. As a fan of the NFL for 20 years, I want to give some insight on the best matchups each week of the NFL season, as well as fantasy football.

Matchup No. 3 - Cincinnati Bengals’ Giovanni Bernard vs. the Indianapolis Colts defense.

The Bengals are coming off a disappointing tie against the Carolina Panthers. The Bengals wasted golden opportunities in regulation and overtime to clinch the victory. Currently, the Bengals still lead the AFC North division. Meanwhile, division rivals Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns are coming on strong. The Indianapolis Colts have weathered the storm of starting the season 0-2. They have won four straight and now lead their division. The Colts are winning games based on their explosive offense. Andrew Luck is leading the NFL in passing attempts and completions, passing yards and touchdowns. It’s no wonder the Colts are now the #1 scoring offense in the NFL.

The Bengals want no part of a shootout with the Colts this week. Bengals’ stud receiver A.J. Green is likely going to miss the game with a toe injury. Receiver Mohamed Sanu is quietly having a very productive season for Cincinnati. He leads the team in receptions, yards and touchdowns. With that being said, the #1 playmaker on this Bengals offense is running back Giovani Bernard. He is top 10 among running backs in rushing yards and touchdowns. This is very impressive, especially since he already had a bye week.  Therefore, Bernard had has one less game than many other top running backs. He is also one of the best receiving backs in the game. He already has 18 receptions and is averaging 9.9 yards a reception. Bernard showed his big play ability last week against the Carolina Panthers. He broke through for an 89 yard rushing touchdown, the longest in the NFL this season. Bernard at only 5’ 9” is very small by NFL standards. Often times he uses his size to his advantage. On his long touchdown run he got lost among the lineman, bounces off a defender and is off to the races. Bernard is extremely quick and elusive. He is very difficult to tackle in the open field. The Bengals best chance is to let Bernard carry them to the victory.

Last week against the Houston Texans, the Colts allowed their first 100 yard rusher of the season. Arian Foster had little trouble gashing the Colts Defense for 109 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns. Any Colts opponent has had little resistance when they commit to the running game. The Colts are allowing nearly five yards per attempt and are 2nd worst in rushing tds allowed. The Colts defense is undersized but they hustle and have good overall speed. With this in mind Bernard is actually a good test for their run defense. Bernard strength is his quickness and speed. The Colts will need all eleven players stay in their gaps wrap up Bernard. I expect the Colts to make the necessary adjustments and effort plays to defeat the Bengals. 

Matchup No. 2 - Dallas Cowboys’ Dez Bryant vs. the New York Giants pass defense:

The Cowboys are playing their best football of the season. They are currently on a five game winning streak. They dethroned the Super Bowl Champs in their house! They just dropped 30 on the vaunted Seahawks defense and the Legion of Boom. Even with all of their success, the Cowboys are tied with the Philadelphia Eagles for the division lead. The Cowboys now have a great opportunity to take the division lead, and quiet all the haters out there. Last week the Giants got embarrassed 27-0 by the Philadelphia Eagles. The Giants are now two games out of 1st place and need this game in the worst way. The Giants need a victory against their arch rival to stay in the division race.

My favorite thing about the NFL is that no two weeks are alike! Last week the Giants allowed over 200 rushing yards. This week I believe the Giants will sellout to stop the run. The Giants know that DeMarco Murray is the top running back and the engine to the Cowboys offense. New York will do everything they can to make the Cowboys one dimensional on offense. Cowboys stud receiver Dez Bryant is having a nice season. He is the team leader in receptions and yards. Bryant is a physical freak in the prime of his career. Surprisingly, he is currently averaging a career low in yards per reception. He has made as many big plays as any receiver the last few seasons. This season the Cowboys have become much more balanced on offense. They rely much more on the run and generally are more conservative on offense. With the Giants likely stacking the box, Romo will have opportunities for big plays down the field. Expect to see a steady diet of runs and play action throws. Bryant’s playmaking will be crucial in this divisional contest. If Bryant can have a breakout performance the Cowboys will roll over the Giants. If Bryant is held in check the Cowboys winning streak will be in major jeopardy.  

The Giants are a tough team to figure out right now. They started 0-2 and were overmatched from the start. During their three game winning streaks the defense was dominating and forcing turnovers in bunches. Last week the Giants decided to take a bye week against the Eagles and got blown out 27-0.  The Giants rank 24th in passing yards allowed. The secondary is allowing a ton of big plays. The Giants defense is 27th in yards per completion allowed. If the secondary can cut down on big plays they can be pretty good. The Giants defense ranks in the top 10 in completion % and passing touchdowns allowed. The Giants have also forced the most interceptions in the NFL. Keep your eye on cornerback Prince Amukamara. He is long and athletic. He has enough size and speed to keep Bryant in check. Amukamara is an up and coming player but he needs a primetime performance against Bryant. This game could have major implications on the NFC East division race and NFC home field advantage. This will be an exciting game filled with touchdowns, big plays and turnovers so sit back and enjoy this game.

Matchup No. 1 - Denver Broncos’ Peyton Manning vs San Francisco 49ers defense.

This is a fantastic matchup between Super Bowl contenders. Last week the 49ers overcame an early 11 point deficit to defeat the St. Louis Rams 31-17. This season the 49ers have a 4-1 record. They have managed to overcome 2nd half deficits in the last three weeks. Shockingly, even with the comebacks the 49ers have zero offensive touchdowns in the 4th quarter. That will not get it done against the Broncos. The Denver Broncos are 4-1 and the offense is starting to come together. Demaryius Thomas has been dominating defenses the last two weeks. Julius Thomas is leading all receivers in receiving touchdowns with nine.

The one constant on this offense is Peyton Manning. He is a tremendous competitor and always gives his team a chance to win each week. This could be a very special week for Manning. With three passing touchdowns he will break the NFL record for passing touchdowns in a career. Julius Thomas is Manning’s go to guy in the red zone. Julius Thomas is on pace to break Randy Moss’ record for receiving touchdowns in a season. Manning and Julius Thomas have a special connection which make this offense very difficult to stop. Manning also has pro bowl receiver Demaryius Thomas at his disposal. Demaryius Thomas has the size, speed and hands to dominate opposing cornerbacks. Manning dominates defenses with tremendous accuracy and football knowledge. He uses his knowledge to call his own plays and when necessary, audibles into favorable matchups. Manning has a very quick release and throws the ball where his playmakers can continue to rack up even more yards after the catch. So far this season, Manning has thrown at least 3 touchdowns in all but one game so far. If he can do that against the 49ers, we will be witnessing NFL history!

Manning is going to have his hands full with the 49ers. The 49ers rank 2nd in pass defense and total yards allowed. They are in the top 10 in scoring defense allowing less than 21 points a game. This defense has the talent and scheme to make Manning uncomfortable. As good as Manning is, he can struggle when pressured and a 3-4 defense has historically had some success against him. The 49ers run a 3-4 defense and have players who can really get after the quarterback. Defensive end Justin Smith is defensive force. His tremendous strength and motor makes him very difficult to block. Linebacker Ahmad Brooks is rarely noticed by casual fans but is one of the better linebackers in the NFL. He won’t score touchdowns like J.J. Watt but Brooks plays the game at a high level. This season he is tied for the team lead in sacks with three. He is coming off his best game of the season, where he had a season high five tackles and two sacks. Normally, I don’t make predictions on the score. I like to leave it up the reader’s imagination. This matchup is too good not to predict the final outcome. Manning ties up the score in the last minute of regulation. Denver gets the ball first in overtime and Manning breaks the NFL record on a short touchdown to Julius Thomas! Denver wins 30-24.


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