Thursday, October 23, 2014

NFL Week 8: Can the Saints turn it around?

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.


Matt Kassabian
Twitter: @PassDaKassabian

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Filip Kostic Case: Montenegro or Serbia?

Filip Kostic
A few days ago, Serbian media reported that Serbian U-21 and Stuttgart winger, Filip Kostic could be suiting up for Montenegro instead of the Serbian national team.  People within the Serbian football have stated that there is no way Kostic will play for Montenegro, as opposed to Serbia.

Filip Kostic started his career with FK Radnicki Kragujevac 1923.  In three seasons with the Serbian club, Kostic played a total of 61 matches and scored five goals.  In 2011, he started gaining interest from both Serbian powerhouse teams-Red Star Belgrade and Partizan Belgrade, instead Filip opted to leave Serbian football at a young age, something a lot of young players do, but then regret a few years down the road.

In 2012, Dutch side, Groningen bought the young Serbian winger for 1.25 million euros (Transfermarkt.com).  The first season Kostic had some adjusting to do, since it was a new league, with better, stronger and faster players.  In his second season (2013/2014), Kostic managed to score 11 goals in 38 matches played and was one of Groningen’s top players.

This past summer, Kostic was sold to German side, Stuttgart for a fee of 6 million euros (transfermarkt.com).  Kostic has featured in nine games thus far (eight league matches, one cup match), as Stuttgart management is being extra careful with the development of the 21 year old Serb.  Kostic has become one of the focal points for Serbia’s U-21 team, especially after scoring an injury time winner to seal Serbia’s win over heavy favourite Spain a week ago.

What should Filip Kostic do?
I am not familiar at all with how deep Kostic’s Montenegrin roots are, but I assume that a family member (mother or father) has a Montenegrin background, maybe even a grandparent.

Nonetheless, if Filip wants to play for a team, where he will be getting a good chunk of playing time, I would choose Montenegro.  Montenegro does not have the quality on the wings that a Serbian side has with the likes of Markovic, Tosic and Tadic etc., so playing for Montenegro could be a serious option.  If Kostic does not mind playing behind a couple of very good players and seeing minimal playing time, then the choice to pick Serbia would be the right one for him.

Filip Kostic will need to make up his mind fairly quickly because Montenegro plans on calling him up for their next qualifying match, which will take place on November 15th vs Sweden.  People from Kostic’s camp have stated that he will make a choice in the coming days.


Ogi B.

147th Derby Recap

disappointment on the faces of Red Star players
In the 147th Belgrade derby between Red Star and Partizan, the team from Humska (Partizan) took all three points with a 1-0 victory, thanks to a goal from free kick specialist, Drincic. 

Red Star came out in the following line up (4-1-4-1):
Rajkovic; Pecnik, Pavicevic, Lazic, Mijailovic; Kovacevic; Lazovic, Ristic, Bosancic, Gavric; Jovic
Used subs: Katai-Ristic, Avramovski-Bosancic, Rakic-Jovic

Red Star youngster got the start in this very important match for Red Star, thus making him the youngest player to ever feature in the Belgrade derby at 16 years of age.

In the first minute, Skuletic had a go on the net, but the shot sailed just wide with minimal reaction from Red Star keeper, Rajkovic.

In the 17th minute, Cirkovic was given plenty of room from about 35 yards.  He had a go on net, which was stopped by Rajkovic, the ball then came to another Partizan player, but he could not give the team from Humska the lead.

In the 25th minute, Red Star had their first real chance of the match.  Bosancic sent in a ball from the right side of midfield, Jovic ended up getting a touch on it, but it sailed just over Lukac’s net.  It looked much harder to miss than score.

In the first 25 minutes, or so, Partizan were the better team, creating more chances than Red Star.

In the 35th minute, another great assist from Bosancic to Jovic, but the youngster, once again, could not score.  This time he totally missed the ball.  You can tell the kid was very nervous in his first derby.

In the 40th minute, Lazovic sent in a great ball from the wing, but both Gavric and Jovic were late to react on it.  Another missed opportunity.

A minute prior to the end of the first half, Mijailovic crossed the ball for Pecnik, but his shot is saved by Lukac and pushed over the bar.

In the final 20 minutes or so, Red Star looked much better than Partizan.

In the 47th minute, Pecnik looked like he was going to let the ball go out of touch for a throw in, but Skuletic was quicker, kept the ball in play, cut from the left side of midfield to the middle, but his ball back to Lazovic was a bit off.

A minute later, B. Ilic sailed a ball over the net from about 5-10 yards away.  It was practically impossible to miss.

In the 53rd minute, Partizan kept up the pressure.  Lazovic crossed a ball to the ever dangerous Skuletic, but his shot goes over the net.  Red Star catches yet another break.

In the 71st minute, Skuletic had yet another chance, but Rajkovic made an outstanding reflex save to stop the Skuletic shot.

The first breakthrough in this match came in the 77th minute, when Drincic scored a breathtaking free-kick goal.  Rajkovic could have maybe done a better job stopping the ball, but it was fairly powerful.

The final 13 minutes of the match were fairly uneventful.

Game notes:
-even though Pecnik did a good job filling in for the injured Petkovic at right-back, Red Star will sorely miss him.

-Lazovic was fairly uninvolved in this match; all credit goes to Volkov for keeping him under wraps.


-Red Star will face FK Donji Srem in their next match, which will be a must win, no doubt.

Ogi B.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Analysis Alan's Week Seven Picks


Away vs Home Pick
Jets vs Pats Jets
10 -10
Falcons vs Ravens Ravens
7 -7
Titans vs Redskins Redskins
5.5 -5.5
Seahawks vs Rams Seahawks
-7.5 7.5
Browns vs Jaguars Jaguars
-6.5 6.5
Bengals vs Colts Colts
3.5 -3.5
Vikings vs Bills Vikings
6 -6
Dolphins vs Bears Bears
3.5 -3.5
Saints vs Lions Lions
3 -3
Panthers vs Packers Panthers
7 -7
Chiefs vs Chargers Chiefs
4.5 -4.5
Cardinals vs Raiders Cardinals
-4 4
Giants vs Cowboys Giants
7 -7
49ers vs Broncos Broncos
6.5 -6.5
Texans vs Steelers Texans
3 -3
Last week 10-2
Overall 45-43
Alan M
@AlanGotJKZ

Friday, October 17, 2014

NFL Week 7: Can Luck, Rivers and Manning continue their MVP run?

Luck scrambles against Watt

Week 6 of the 2014 NFL season had a lot of action packed games on, which made for a great weekend of football action. Week 6 started off with a fantastic Thursday night game between the Houston Texans and the Indianapolis Colts which saw Indy hold off their division rivals and take the victory by a score of 33-28. Week 6 also had the Cleveland Browns beat down their division rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers by a score of 31-10. The San Diego Chargers were able to hold off the winless Oakland Raiders as they won their divisional tilt by a score of 31-28 and were able to improve their record to 5-1 on the season. The Cincinnati Bengals played host to the Carolina Panthers in week 6 in a game that ended in a 37-37 tie after the Bengals kicker missed a game-winning field goal at the end of overtime. The biggest surprise of week 6 would have to be the Dallas Cowboys marching into the very hostile CenturyLink Field in Seattle and beating the Seahawks by a score of 30-23 as they improved their record to 5-1 on the season.

Week 6 of the 2014 NFL season was filled with terrific football action; one can only hope that the games on this week’s schedule are just as exciting.

Here are some great games to look out for in week 7.

Cincinnati Bengals vs. Indianapolis Colts
Last week the Cincinnati Bengals played host to the Carolina Panthers in a game which ended up in a 37-37 tie, the first one of the season and a rarity in the NFL, after kicker Mike Nugent missed the game-winning field goal in overtime. The tie pushed Cincy’s record to 3-1-1 on the season. The Bengals are led by QB Andy Dalton, a man who is often criticized for his lack of execution in big games, especially in the playoffs. It’s no question that Andy can play in the NFL because he is indeed a solid QB, however, when the game is on the line and the Bengals need him to shine, he often crumbles. The Bengals are also led by dual-threat RB Gio Bernard and WR Mohamed Sanu, who has played a great role in filling the void left by WR A.J. Green who has been sidelined with a toe injury. Their offence is ranked 5th overall in the league, however, that is not their biggest issue, it’s their defensive production. The Bengals pride themselves on having a great defence, one that stops the run and can defend against the deep ball, but that hasn’t been the case so far this season as their defence ranks 28th in the league, something that has to change if the Bengals want to end up in the playoffs again. Last week the Indianapolis Colts marched down to Houston to battle their AFC South Rivals, the Texans, and they were able to earn a tough 31-28 win and improve their record to 4-2 on the season. The Colts are led by none other than QB Andrew Luck, who seems to look more and more impressive with each passing week. The Colts offensive line has looked a tad shaky at times, however, they seem to be clicking and have helped the Colts secure the #1 offence in the league in terms of production with their passing offence, averaging 328 yards a game in the air alone. RB’s Ahmad Bradshaw and Trent Richardson have become quite the 1-2 punch for the Colts and have been able to run the ball well, as well as act as reliable receivers in the Colts’ screen pass game. The Indy defence could be the key to this game, they rank 13th in the league in overall defence and if they can contain Bengals QB Andy Dalton and that Cincy offence, they have a great shot at winning. Andrew Luck has to be careful though, just because the Bengals defence hasn’t had the numbers they usually do, they can turn it around at any moment and make life a living hell on opposing defences.
Game details: Kickoff on Sunday, October 19th at 1:00pm from Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Kansas City Chiefs vs. San Diego Chargers
The Kansas City Chiefs are coming off of a much needed bye week after their heartbreaking week 5 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, where they fell by a score of 22-17. The Chiefs are led by QB Alex Smith who has looked fairly consistent this season, having thrown for nearly 1,100 yards and eight touchdowns so far. RB’s Knile Davis and Jamaal Charles have helped the Chiefs become the league’s 4th best rushing offence, however, their passing game ranks 27th overall in terms of production. The Chiefs must look to improve their passing offence, if they want to be competitive in this division when they play the Broncos and Chargers. Last week the Chargers went upstate to do battle with their AFC West rivals, the Oakland Raiders, where they were able to hold off the Raiders for a 31-28 win, which improved their record to 5-1 on the season. MVP candidate, QB Philip Rivers leads the San Diego offence that has looked fairly solid so far this season having thrown for nearly 1,800 yards, 15 touchdowns and only two interceptions. The Chargers’ passing game has looked healthy, it’s their rushing attack that has left them with the league’s 21st overall ranking since RB Ryan Mathews has been sidelined. Perhaps the biggest surprise for the Chargers is their defence, which ranks 3rd overall in the league, a number that most people have been surprised to see. This matchup is a good one for the viewers because it has one of the league’s best passing offences that being the Chargers, going up against one of the league’s best pass defences, the Chiefs, who rank 7th overall in pass defence. If the Chiefs can keep Rivers and company off the field and limit the number of big plays they give up, the Chiefs have a solid chance at winning this game. However, they will also need to get their passing game going. WR Dwayne Bowe hasn’t been a major factor for the Chiefs this year and if he gets hot against the Chargers, it could be a long day. This game could go either way, however, it will come down to which defence can make more stops against the opposing team’s big play guys.
Game details: Kickoff on Sunday, October 19th at 4:05pm from Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California.

San Francisco 49ers vs. Denver Broncos
Last week the 49ers marched into St. Louis to do battle with their NFC West rivals, the Rams where they were able to come from behind and beat their divisional foes by a score of 31-17 and extend their record to 4-2 on the season. Dual threat QB Colin Kaepernick leads the 49ers offence and he has looked very good so far this season having thrown for nearly 1,500 yards, 10 touchdowns and only four interceptions in the first six games. RB’s Frank Gore and Carlos Hyde have been a solid 1-2 punch out of the backfield and have helped the 49ers earn the league’s 7th best rushing offence. WR’s Anquan Boldin, Michael Crabtree, Stevie Johnson and Brandon Lloyd have all looked good this season and Kaepernick has done a great job of evenly distributing the ball to them. Last week the Denver Broncos flew cross-country to do battle with the New York Jets and were able to hold off the late charging Jets and earn a 31-17 win as their record improved to 4-1 on the season. QB Peyton Manning leads the high-powered Denver offence and has looked as good as ever so far, having thrown for nearly 1,600 yards, 15 touchdowns and only three interceptions. The Broncos seem to be rather one-sided on offence as their passing game has taken the spotlight and their running game has suffered since they lost RB Knowshown Moreno in the off season. RB’s Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman have been called upon this season and neither has seemed to make a massive impact just yet and it shows because the Denver rushing attack ranks 26st overall in terms of production. The Denver defence has looked impressive this year, after adding some great players in the offseason. They rank 4th in the league in terms of overall defence and this week they're going to have to play harder than ever as they will look to try and contain QB Colin Keapernick, who is ever so elusive on offence. Though Denver is the favourite in this heavyweight clash, the 49ers have a great shot at winning this game and that's because of their defence. It ranked 2nd in the league in terms of overall defence and if they want a chance at winning, they will need their defence to come up big and try to contain that Denver offence. If Denver gets TE Julius Thomas and WR Demaryius Thomas involved early in this game, it could be tough for the 49ers.
Game details: Kickoff on Sunday, October 19th at 8:30pm from Sports Authority Field in Denver Colorado.

Matt Kassabian
Twitter: @PassDaKassabian

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Analysis Alan's Week Six Picks


Away vs Home Pick
Colts vs Texans Colts
-3 3
Steelers vs Browns Browns
1.5 -1.5
Patriots vs Bills Patriots
-3.5 3.5
Panthers vs Bengals Panthers
7 -7
Packers vs Dolphins Packers
-4.5 4.5
Broncos vs Jets Broncos
-10 10
Ravens vs Bucs Ravens
-3.5 3.5
Chargers vs Raiders Chargers
-8 8
Bears vs Falcons Bears
3.5 -3.5
Cowboys vs Seahawks Cowboys
8.5 -8.5
Giants vs Eagles Eagles
3 -3
49ers vs Rams 49ers
-4 4
Last week 6-9
Overall 35-41
Upset: Dallas to win
Alan M
@AlanGotJKZ

Friday, October 10, 2014

NFL Week 6: Can the Giants and Cowboys keep it rolling?

Seahawks QB, Wilson looked outstanding vs Redskins on the Monday night game
Last week, in week 5 of the 2014 NFL season, we saw some pretty good action with a few upsets to top off a great weekend of football action in both the NFL and NCAA ranks. Last week we saw Carolina play host to the Chicago Bears and were able to overcome a major deficit and beat the Bears by a score of 31-24. We saw the Texans and the Cowboys battle it out for state supremacy in a game that Dallas edged out their opponents by a score of 20-17 in overtime.  Week 5 also had the New Orleans Saints hosting their division rivals from Tampa Bay in an NFC South Battle that saw the Saints barely hold on to win by a score of 37-31 in overtime. The Cleveland Browns were able to pull off the come from behind win against the Tennessee Titans as they improved their record to 2-2 on the season. Week 5 also saw the New England Patriots play host to the Cincinnati Bengals, who entered that game as the league’s only undefeated team, and were able to dominate the Bengals on their way to a 43-17 victory, which helped silence all of the critics who had been attacking Tom Brady and company all week after their week 4 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Week 6 will see a handful of really good divisional match-ups along with some other inter-divisional and inter-conference games, which should make for some great football action this week.

Here are some of the top games to look out for in week 6 of the 2014 NFL season.

Chicago Bears vs. Atlanta Falcons
Last week the Chicago Bears headed south to do battle with the Carolina Panthers in an all NFC match-up. The Bears looked good early, but faltered near the end of the game and allowed the Panthers to march right back into the game. The Bears are led by QB Jay Cutler who has thrown for over 1,200 yards and 12 touchdowns this season, however, he has thrown six interceptions in only five games, he must improve if the Bears want to win games and remain competitive in their division. WR’s Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery didn’t have the greatest of game last week; one might wonder if they are still dealing with lingering injuries. Last week the Atlanta Falcons travelled north to battle with the New York Giants in another all NFC battle where they were handed their third loss of the season. The Falcons, like their week 6 opponents, the Bears, faltered late in the game and allowed the Giants to jump right back into the game, take the lead and eventually hand Atlanta the loss. Falcons QB Matt Ryan has thrown for over 1,500 yards and 11 touchdowns; however, he also has six interceptions to his name and must improve on that going forward if the Falcons want to compete in the NFC South. This game is as evenly matched as they come; both teams come into this game with a 2-3 record, both teams are coming off of tough losses and both teams have defences that have shown some serious signs of vulnerability at times. If the Bears want to be successful in this game, they need to get their play makers involved, let RB Matt Forte pound the ball against a Falcons defence that ranks 28th in the league against the run. The Bears have some very big, fast and highly skilled wide receivers and if Cutler is given enough time to throw, he will find the open man and the Bears will gash your secondary. The secret weapon for the Bears is WR Santonio Holmes, if they can get him open by dragging coverage to Marshall and Jeffery, the Bears could have a hay-day on offence. If the Falcons want to be successful in this game, they will need to make their 3rd ranked offence go to town on the Bears’ 17th ranked defence. The Falcons wide outs can get open down field; they will torch this very young and inexperienced Bears secondary with the speed and skill they possess. The Falcons need to get their running backs more involved with the game to help get the opposing defence to cheat up and leave their secondary open for big bombs down the field to WR Julio Jones. This game could go either way but it sure will not disappoint.

Game details: Kickoff on Sunday, October 12th at 4:25pm from the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia.

Dallas Cowboys vs. Seattle Seahawks
Last week the Dallas Cowboys played host to their state rivals, the Houston Texans, and were able to pull off the overtime win by a score of 20-17 and improved their record to 4-1 on the season. QB Tony Romo has thrown for over 1,200 yards so far this season and has thrown for nine touchdowns and five interceptions. Romo and that offence are clicking; they looked very good a couple of weeks ago when they took on the New Orleans Saints at home, however, they stuttered a little bit last week against the Texans. Last week the Seattle Seahawks flew east to do battle with the Washington Redskins and were able to go home with the victory having beaten the ‘Skins by a score of 27-17 and improving their record to 3-1. QB Russell Wilson has looked very consistent this season both passing the ball and rushing the ball; he makes great decisions and has a knack for getting himself out of any trouble he may be in. It’s never easy to play against the Seahawks, let alone having to play them on their home field, which has proven to be a hostile environment for opposing teams for a few years now, however, if Dallas wants to see any success in this game, they will have to be near flawless in terms of their execution on both sides of the ball. QB Tony Romo and company will be going up against Seattle’s top ranked rush defence and one of the best secondary’s in the game this week. RB DeMarco Murray has had a fantastic season so far and has helped the Cowboys climb up the rankings into the second spot in terms of overall rushing production, second to only Seattle. However, Murray will have his work cut out for him this week against a tenacious Seattle front seven that know how to punish QB’s and RB’s. The Dallas WR’s will have a tough time matching up against that tough Seattle secondary, nevertheless, they do have play markers like Dez Bryant and Terrence Williams that know how to get open. If Dallas can effectively pick apart the Seattle defence by playing with tempo and executing smart plays, like short screen passes to DeMarco Murray, they have a chance at taking down the Seahawks, who hardly ever substitute on defence. Seattle will be going up against a defence that ranks 22nd in the league in stopping the run and 18th in the league in preventing the passing game so if they can give RB’s Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin a healthy dose of snaps, they can breakdown the Cowboys D-line and have success. Look for the Seattle’s Russell Wilson to make smart passes down field and attack the backup corners that will be taking snaps instead of injured started, Morris Claiborne.

Game details: Kickoff on Sunday, October 12th at 4:25pmfrom CenturyLink Field in Seattle, Washington.

New York Giants vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Last week the New York Giants played host to the Atlanta Falcons and were able to earn a come from behind victory over their NFC foes by the score of 30-20. That win helped improve their record to 3-2 on season after starting off the season with a 0-2 record. QB Eli Manning has thrown for over 1,100 yards, 11 touchdowns and five interceptions so far this season and the new look Giants offence seems to be clicking of late as they have scored at least 30 points in their last three games. Last week the Philadelphia Eagles played host to the St. Louis Rams and were able to hold on for the 34-28 win as they held off the late charging Rams. QB Nick Foles has thrown for over 1,300 yards eight touchdowns and five interceptions so far this season as he spear heads the Eagles offensive attack. The Eagles have looked a bit shaky in the past couple weeks on defence, they’re showing their inexperience in the secondary and have tried their best on offence despite having some injuries on the offensive line. The Giants are a fairly balanced team on both sides of the ball, they have proven they can run the ball and pass the ball effectively as their offence is ranked 19th overall in terms of production. Their defence is looking slightly better than they did last season as they rank 10th in the league in stopping the run. If the Eagles want to be successful and win the crucial NFC East tilt, they will undoubtedly need their defence to step up in a big way, especially their secondary. The Eagles defence ranks 28th in the league in overall defence, a number which isn’t ideal if Philly is hoping to remain in first place in the division and clinch a playoff spot. The Eagles must look to get RB LeSean McCoy going, he has only rushed for 273 yards and one touchdown this season, which isn’t like the Pro Bowl running back. If the Eagles can get a solid ground game going and help set up their play action passes, they could be very effective against the Giants. If the Giants want to be successful, they will need to get their big play wide receivers going against a lacklustre Eagles secondary. The Giants have mixed the running and the passing nicely so far and if they can stick to that formula, they have a great shot at beating the Eagles. This game could be a high scoring one, if both defences cannot execute so both defences will need to play a very disciplined game, limit the number of mistakes and penalties during the game.

Game details: Kickoff on Sunday, October 12th at 8:30pm from Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


Matt Kassabian
Twitter: @PassDaKassabian