Topping Week 15’s Top 3 Match-Ups was the showdown between the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants, which may been the best game we’ve seen all season. In addition to the Eagles erasing a 28-point deficit, the Ravens, Colts and Jets all won games that came down to the final tick. With 4 ‘on the money’ picks, Week 15 might have been our most successful of the season. With that said, let’s see if we can raise the bar this week. Setting the tone will be a NFC South game between two of the best teams in the NFL.
New Orleans Saints vs. Atlanta Falcons
For weeks, we’ve been waiting for the Atlanta Falcons to slow down and the Saints to take control of the division. Newsflash: Atlanta is for real, and has a chance to unseat the defending South Champions on Monday. What stands out about the Falcons heading into this game are two things; the Falcons are undefeated at home and within the division. Are these trends that are due to come to an end, or will the Falcons continue to prove their dominance and wrap up a first round Playoff bye?
The X-Factor in this game may be Falcons running back Michael Turner, who has returned to the 1,000 yard rushing club and recorded 10+ touchdowns for the third straight season. While both teams have electric passing games, Turner has been a consistent threat all season long, while the Saints continue to try and fit Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush back into the mix with an ailing Chris Ivory. With the Saints’ run defense being ranked in the bottom half of the league, Turner may be in store for a big day. Remember, he ran for 114 yards and a touchdown when these teams played in Week 3.
New York Jets vs. Chicago Bears
Congratulations! You just went on the road and beat the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field in a nailbiter. Your reward? A trip to Soldier Field to play the NFC North leading Chicago Bears. The Jets can clinch a postseason berth in a variety of ways on Sunday, but the easiest (so to speak) would be to win their game in Chicago. On the line for Chicago is a potential Bye week in the playoffs. Home field throughout is still a possibility as well, but Atlanta controls that and Philadelphia is in the mix.
Both teams have done a good job rebounding from punishing games against the New England Patriots and are looking to finish the season strong. The Jets have some injury concerns, especially surrounding the status of starting quarterback Mark Sanchez. Sanchez suffered a cartilage tear in his throwing arm, leaving him questionable for Sunday’s game. If he’s out, backup Mark Brunell (yes, that Mark Brunell) will take the reigns. If the Jets fail to score a victory Sunday, they’d need either the Jaguars or Colts to suffer a loss, and both teams are playing in winnable games.
New York Giants vs. Green Bay Packers
The ultimate Playoff positioning game. After suffering a heartbreaking loss to the Philadelphia Eagles last week, New York can put some good vibes back in the locker room with a win. Claiming victory over the Green Bay Packers would clinch a spot in the postseason for the Giants. However, if the Packers manage to win, they’ll control their own destiny heading into the final week.
Outside of last week’s collapse, the biggest headline heading into this game is the return of Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Matt Flynn did a nice job filling in for Rodgers against the Patriots on Sunday, but you want your leader taking snaps in must-win situations, particularly when you’re facing the league’s #2 ranked pass defense. The Pack aren’t too shabby on D either, currently sitting in the NFC’s top spot. They’ll make life hard on Eli Manning, a lot harder than he expected it to be when the Giants were up four scores with 8 minutes to play last week.
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