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Three Games to Watch, Week 7

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Three Games to Watch, Week 7

The Seattle Seahawks are alive! They’re back! They’re….pounding the hell out of a terrible San Francisco 49ers team. I don’t know how many people read this a week, but I’d be curious if you guys could tell me in the comments which bit of schadenfreude you enjoy more? The 49ers implosion or the Seahawks implosion.

A brief Twitter straw poll gives me a little indication.

The Seahawks won the game Thursday night but if you, like me, was stuck watching it—in my case because people pay me to and you because everyone will slow down for a car crash.

I’ve got three games which aren’t car crashes for you to watch this week though, because what else are you going to do on a Sunday when the Packers aren’t playing? Spend time with family?

Here are my three games you should track this weekend.

 

New York Jets at New England Patriots

This is a fascinating one on several levels.

With Rex Ryan in Buffalo, the Jets have taken a different approach—one which is for the most part more low-key than Ryan’s sturm und drang. But also from the standpoint that unlike the Ryan Jets, who blitzed the hell out of Tom Brady, we don’t know exactly what new head coach Todd Bowles will do.

With Sheldon Richardson returning to the fold last week, the Jets faced the problem of how to fit all the defensive linemen they have—including Mo Wilkerson, Damon Harrison and Leonard Williams—on the line.

Bowles just cut that Gordian Knot by playing more 4-3 instead of the 3-4 they had used. Will he do that again this week? Will he try to gain some pass rush from the d-line as opposed to produce it with blitzing linebackers? How will he contain Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman?

Nobody has quite figured it all out just yet, so there’s no obvious answer.

Meanwhile, we know Bill Belichick always knows where to find a team’s weak point. This is a new Jets team though, so does he have something new?

On top of the chess match in front of us, the macro look involves the entire AFC. The Jets winning would change the nature of the AFC race, one which seems like it’s all Patriots. A Pats loss means the Colts, Bengals and Broncos have a shot at home field.

A Jets loss, however, means the Wild Cards are wide open. Right now the Jets are the early leaders in the clubhouse, but a loss puts those spots in play.

 

Oakland Raiders at San Diego Chargers

Now at first blush this might not seem all that exciting, and I get that. However the Raiders are not as bad as you think and while they aren’t quite ‘ready for prime time’ at this point, they have a solid defense and a nice passing offense on the shoulders of Derek Carr and Amari Cooper.

The Denver Broncos are close to running away from the rest of the division and Kansas City is busy imploding, which means the second place spot—which often vies for a Wild Card—is down to San Diego and (surprise!) the Raiders.

It’s easy to just assume the Raiders lose this game and the Chargers keep ahead of them, but the Chargers are pretty banged up and again, the Raiders are more talented than we think.

Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers won’t have to top 500 yards again (as he did in a losing effort last week) but he will have to carry the offense. Melvin Gordon has struggled lately and Brandon Oliver and Danny Woodhead are better in space. And with the offensive line issues, running is going to be tough.

Of course, with Khalil Mack bearing down on him, passing might not be an option either. Rivers will lean heavily on Antonio Gates and Keenan Allen (if he plays). Gates, along with Woodhead, could be a huge help by being short-yardage passing targets when the pressure gets too much.

The AFC Wild Card race is pretty wide open, and usually one of the WFC West teams is in the thick of it. With Kansas City looking terrible, the Raiders and Chargers will duke it out for second (behind Denver) and potentially a postseason appearance.

 

Philadelphia Eagles at Carolina Panthers

On the surface, this game seems to be one which should feature the Panthers continuing their undefeated season, but there’s more going on.

On paper, the Panthers look very good, but aside from the win over Seattle last week, they have beaten up on weak teams – Jacksonville, Houston, New Orleans (waxing of Atlanta aside) and Tampa Bay – and have yet to beat a team with a record over .500. including the Seattle Seahawks.

While it’s true that you can only play the teams put on your schedule, the wins they have do leave some question as to how good this team really is. A comeback win over Seattle is definitely a good sign. A win over the 3-3 Eagles – themselves on a two-game win streak – would be another.

Keep careful eye on Cam Newton, a guy who is starting to get (rightfully so) some press in regards to being in the NFL MVP. While that remains largely a conversation of Aaron Rodgers-Tom Brady, Newton is doing really good things with a largely poor supporting cast.

On the other sideline, Chip Kelly is still getting his team to play consistent football. The defense has become very good, but offensively this is a team that still looks out of sorts. The offensive line is one issue, and Sam Bradford (or as a fellow dad at a high school football game put it, Sam Badford) is a turnover waiting to happen.

It’s clear Bradford doesn’t get the offense and at some point his egregious turnovers will cost the team a game. Will this be that game?

And how long before Kelly has to make a switch?

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (6) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

davy jones's picture

If these are the 3 best games this week, it's a damn tough week in the NFL. I think i'll watch figure skating.

LeagueObsrvr's picture

I was looking over tomorrows schedule on NFL.com and that Raiders/Chargers game looked to me like one to watch too. With Rivers going up against the young QB Carr, that should be a fun game.

egbertsouse's picture

I enjoy Seattle's implosion more. It's just not as much fun watching SF implode without Harbaugh there, going nuts and having his head explode.

MarkinMadison's picture

Ditto.

Dan Stodola's picture

Don't count your eggs before they're hatched. Unfortunately, they are very much in it yet. AZ loses Mon nite to a desperate Balt team and Sea is only a game behind.

SF isn't coming back, but Seattle is still very much in it.

croatpackfan's picture

You, obviously forget Rams... There is more than SF to beat if they want wild card spot. And, still, they have to play with Cardinals and Rams again!

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