|Demaryius Thomas in action|
Last week in the seventh week of the 2014 NFL Season, we saw some great football action as it was a week that had some blowouts, tight games and upsets. In Thursday Night game we saw the New England Patriots barely hold off their divisional rivals the New York Jets in what was a tight 27-25 game. We also saw the Miami Dolphins march into Chicago and manhandle the Monsters of the Midway; the Bears as they went on to win the game by a score of 27-14 and improve their record to 3-3 on the season. The Detroit Lions were able to mount a late 4th quarter comeback against the New Orleans Saints and win the game by a score of 24-23 on their way to improving their record to 5-2 on the season. In week 7, The Jacksonville Jaguars managed to earn their first victory of the season as they beat the Cleveland Browns by a score of 24-6. Another big surprise in week 7 was the St. Louis Rams beating the defending Super Bowl Champions, the Seattle Seahawks at home by a score of 28-26 as they improved to 2-4 on the season.
Week 8 of the 2014 NFL season has some very big games with a lot of implications on the line for some teams that can’t afford to lose anymore, if they want to make it to the playoffs this season, so it will be very interesting to see how this week of NFL football plays out.
That being said, here are some games to watch out for in this week of the NFL season.
San Diego Chargers vs. Denver Broncos
Last week the San Diego Chargers played host to their divisional rivals, the Kansas City Chiefs and were upset at home by a score of 23-20, which saw their record fall to 5-2. The Chargers are led by none other than veteran QB Philip Rivers who has thrown for over 1,900 yards, 17 touchdowns and only three interceptions so far this season, simply fantastic numbers and a sure MVP candidate, if Chargers continue to keep it rolling. The Chargers have been without their ace running back, Ryan Mathews who has been sidelined with an injury, so they have had to put their faith in rookie RB Branden Oliver to deliver. Rivers had plenty of help on offence due to the plethora of amazing WR’s such as Malcolm Floyd, Keenan Allen, Eddie Royal and TE Antonio Gates. The Chargers offence ranks 11th in the league in overall offensive production, however, their passing game ranks 6th in the league, but the running game, a mere 29th in the league in terms of production, which tells us two things; one, they really miss Ryan Mathews in the backfield and two, they pass the ball very, very often. Last week the Denver Broncos played host to the San Francisco 49ers, in a Sunday Night game, which the Broncos win by a score of 42-17 as they improved their record to 5-1 on the season. The Broncos are led by the all-pro QB Peyton Manning who has thrown for over 1,800 yards, 19 touchdowns and only three interceptions so far this season. The Broncos are playing at a very high level right now with their offence and defence both clicking and making big plays. The Denver offence is ranked 4th in the league in terms of overall offensive production. However, they share the same problem that San Diego does, they don’t have a major playmaker at running back which is why their running game ranks 25th in the league in terms of production. Like the Chargers, the Broncos passing attack is their bread and butter, they have an abundance of talented receivers on their team that all have big play potential like WR Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Wes Welker and TE Julius Thomas. Though Denver is a favourite to win this game, I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if the Chargers pull off the upset in this one. However, if that’s going to happen, QB Philip Rivers will need to do what he does best, take control of that offence and spread the ball often and equally to his best receivers and have them make big plays down field. They cannot leave anything to chance; they will need to play very aggressively on offence in order to keep up with the Broncos. If the Chargers can set up a solid run game to complement their fantastic passing game, they have a great shot at winning. It’s not going to be easy for Manning and company either though, the Chargers are not slouch, their secondary has played extremely well this year and have been able to shut down opposing star receivers.
Game details: Kickoff on Thursday, October 23rd at 8:25pm from Sports Authority Field in Denver, Colorado.
Indianapolis Colts vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Last week the Indianapolis Colts played host to the Cincinnati Bengals and were able to dominate their AFC foes by winning 27-0 and improved their record to 5-2 on the season. The Colts have won 5 straight games and will look to add to that streak with a win on the road in Pittsburgh. The Colts are led by the cool-blooded QB Andrew Luck who thrown for over 2,300 yards, 19 touchdowns and seven interceptions thus far and he is on his way to making the Colts the top ranked passing offence in the league. Andrew Luck is very lucky to have a fantastic RB duo in the backfield with Trent Richardson and Ahmad Bradshaw taking care of the running duties. The Colts have a few big play receivers in T.Y. Hilton and Reggie Wayne whom wreak havoc opposing DB’s. However, the duo that may often go unnoticed for the Colts in their TE tandem of Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener. The Colts have looked very good on both sides of the ball this year, especially on defence, where they rank 3rd overall in total defensive production, a stat which may surprise a lot of people. The Colts are a team that may not have the biggest names; however, they play as a great unit and execute to near perfection in all aspects of the game. Last week the Pittsburgh Steelers played host to the Houston Texans and were able to hold off their AFC foes for a 30-23 win as they improved their record to 4-3 on the season. The Steelers have looked very inconsistent so far this year, which I’m sure has been frustrating to not only them but their base of die-hard Steeler fans. They’ve been a team that loses one week and wins the next, a team that hasn’t been able to follow up a win with another win. Pittsburgh is led by QB “Big” Ben Roethlisberger, who has thrown for over 1,800 yards, 10 touchdowns and only three interceptions so far this season. He and the Steelers are thankful that they have the 1-2 punch of RB’s Le’Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount coming out of the backfield. The Steelers offence is ranked 8th in the league in terms of overall production and have found a nice balance between rushing the ball and passing the ball. The Steelers tend to rely heavily on WR’s Antonio Brown and Markus Wheaton when they throw the ball down field. Though the Colts are favoured in this game, the Steelers have a good shot at winning this game and pulling closer to the division leading Ravens however, they must execute on offence first and foremost. Roethlisberger and Brown have a great rapport with one and other and have the ability to understand each other. However, the Steelers have the fortune of having WR’s such as Martavis Bryant, Lance Moore and Darrius Heyward-Bey, who have been way underutilized so far this season that they can utilize throughout the game in order to avoid the Colts DB’s from doubling up their coverage on Antonio Brown. If the Steelers can spread the ball evenly to these WR’s that have big-play potential and mix in a solid running attack from their RB’s, they can beat the Colts. However, they will need their defence to step up and play that tough, physical and punishing style of vintage Pittsburgh defence if they want to be successful.
Game details: Kickoff on Sunday, October 26th at 4:25pm from Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Green Bay Packers vs. New Orleans Saints
Last week the Green Bay Packers played host to the Carolina Panthers and were able to defeat their NFC foes by a score of 38-17 as their record improved to 5-2 on the season. The Packers are led by QB Aaron Rodgers who has thrown for over 1,600 yards, 18 touchdowns and only ONE interception so far this season. The Packers rank 25th in the league in terms of overall offence, a stat which is somewhat surprising when we take into consideration the big names that they have on offence. They’ve managed to find a good balance between rushing the ball and passing the ball and the likes of RB Eddie Lacy, WR’s Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson are clearly the main playmakers for the Pack-attack on offence. The Green Bay defence ranks 31st in the league in stopping the run and 6th in the league in defending the pass, those are some seriously contrasting numbers, which I’m sure is frustrating for the players and coaches of the team. Last weekend the New Orleans Saints marching into Detroit to battle the Lions where they were handed their 4th loss of the season in a game which saw the Lions overcome a late-game deficit and defeat the Saints by a score of 24-23. The Saints are led by none other than QB Drew Brees who has thrown for over 1,900 yards, 11 touchdowns and seven interceptions so far this season. The Saints seem to be struggling so far this season, they come into this game with a 2-4 record and are currently in second place in their division worrying about the possibility of missing the playoffs this season, if they can’t get it turned around. Their offence ranks second in the league in terms of total production but it’s their defence that is struggling badly, they seem to be able to stop the run from time to time as they rank 11th overall in run defence, however, they rank 27th in the league in pass defence and it shows. The have allowed their opposition to easily take away wins from them. They have had some injury trouble at the running back position and are looking for more consistency. If they can get RB Mark Ingram going early and often, it would be a huge help. The Saints are filled with players at the receiver position with guys like Jimmy Graham, Marques Colston, Kenny Stills and Brandin Cooks capable of burning a defence at any time. This game has the potential to go either way, though the Packers seem to be favoured; however, we have to remember, this game is being played in New Orleans, a place where the Saints are very tough to beat, especially when that loud crowd kicks in. Both of these teams struggle in pass defence, so this game has the potential to turn into a track meet and if that happens, Drew Brees and the Saints better make the Packers pay because they have way more offensive weapons. Last week Drew Brees and Jimmy Graham seemed to have struggled, if they can get going and start to click, it could be a nightmare for the Packers. It’s not going to be easy for the Saints to pull this one off, but I’m going to classify this as a must win for them if they want to keep pace in the NFC South. Whichever team can figure out how to make the most defensive stops, should come out the winner in this all NFC tilt.
Game details: Kickoff on Sunday, October 26th at 8:30pm from the Mercedes Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana.