With some teams taking their foot off the gas toward the end of the season, it’s not always easy to find must-see match-ups toward the end of the NFL season. However, I fared pretty well last week, with two of the three selections turning out to be pretty good games. The Chicago Bears outlasted the New York Jets in an offensive shootout. New Orleans was able to come up with big plays late to even the season series with Atlanta. Unfortunately, the New York Giants weren’t so competitive in a blowout loss to Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.
This week, there are still playoff implications on the line in Seattle and New Orleans. We’ll also say farewell (we think!) to a legend. Take a look at this week’s Top 3 NFL Match-Ups.
St. Louis Rams vs. Seattle Seahawks
This game may not sound too appealing on paper, but it could be considered the first true playoff game of the season. The scenario for both teams is simple – win and you’re in. The Rams of course have the option of tying due to their win against the Seahawks earlier this year, but how likely is that? Not only does the winner advance to the postseason, but they win the NFC West and will HOST a playoff game with a .500 record at best.
No matter how poorly Seattle is playing, making the trip to Qwest Field is always tough. Rams rookie quarterback Sam Bradford, who has played stellar football this year, will have to deal with perhaps the most hostile crowd he’s seen in his young career. He’ll need Steven Jackson to come up with some big runs and alleviate some of the pressure. St. Louis’ defense has also come up big all season, and will be a huge factor in this game.
On the Seattle side of things, you have a team who has struggled to get the run going. Additionally, some uncertainty at the quarterback position heading into the final week. Veteran Matt Hasselbeck is questionable at this point, and Charlie Whitehurst has played awful football in limited appearances. Seattle’s chances may come down to whether or not Hasselbeck can suit up. This playoff-like game is scheduled for Sunday night, so both teams will get center stage to prove they belong in the postseason.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New Orleans Saints
Another Week 17 game where both teams have something to play for. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have the most to gain in this game. If they win, they can still get a playoff spot with a lot of help. It’s only a slim chance, but a chance nonetheless. One the line for New Orleans, who clinched a playoff berth with their win over the Falcons on Monday, is a chance at a division title, home field advantage and a First Round Bye. In order to obtain all of that, the Saints need to pair a win over the Buccaneers with an unlikely Atlanta loss to the Carolina Panthers.
The Bucs have struggled to beat elite teams all season long. When they clashed with the Saints in a Week 6 games, they were humiliated 31-6 in their own stadium. However, quarterback Josh Freeman and rookie running back LeGarrette Blount are playing their best football of the season and could spearhead a surprising effort against the defending champions. Worth paying attention to is the fact that this game will be played roughly at the same time as the Falcons/Panthers game, so New Orleans may have some kind of indication of how good their chances are to make a move by halftime.
Minnesota Vikings vs. Detroit Lions
Love him or hate him, Brett Lorenzo Favre is one of the best football players to ever don pads on NFL Sunday. While he’s certainly changed his mind about leaving the game in the past, I tend to believe him this year, simply because his body cannot physically withstand another 16 games of pro football. As a matter of fact, Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh may put him out of commission early this Sunday when the Minnesota Vikings squares off with Detroit.
Favre hasn’t finished career on the note he hoped, but if there’s a player capable of one more brilliant game at age 97, it’s Brett. That’s why this match-up against a career-long division rival is a must-see. He hasn’t even passed his neurological exam yet, but does anybody believe he’s finishing his career in street clothes?
images via Yahoo
Week 1 of the NFL season kicks off tonight with a rematch of the NFL Championship game last year. In one corner you have the defending Champion the New Orleans Saints, and in the other you have the Brett Favre-led Minnesota Vikings. Both teams are coming off of great seasons last year, and both are hungrier than ever. This much-anticipated, hyped match-up is the game of the week and led me to pick the Top 3 Match-Ups of Week 1.
Minnesota Vikings at New Orleans Saints
For the first match-up, we’ll look at tonight’s game between the Vikes and Saints. It features two of the top QBs in the league facing off, with 2010 Super Bowl MVP Drew Brees against living legend and future Hall of Famer Brett Favre, who are pretty evenly matched. Then you have Adrian Peterson of the Vikings and Reggie Bush/Pierre Thomas of the Saints in opposing backfields. The Vikes get the edge there, but don’t count the Saints’ rushing attack out; they are dangerous with Bush catching a lot of balls out of the backfield. With Vikes WR Sidney Rice out, and Saints’ top wideout Marques Colston banged up, the receiving side of things is pretty even. The Vikes D is very strong, but the Saints play extremely good team defense, so once again it’s a wash. The Saints are the defending Champs, Coach Sean Payton always has his team prepared, and they are playing at home, so I give a slight edge to New Orleans.
Cincinnati Bengals at New England Patriots
The second intriguing match-up this week is the Cincinnati Bengals traveling to New England to take on the Patriots. The Bengals picked up celebrity WR Terrell Owens in free agency to go along with their other high-profile WR Chad Ocho Cinco. They are hoping to be a lethal duo on the field this season. The Pats have stud WRs Randy Moss and Wes Welker to counter Cinci’s passing attack. QBs Carson Palmer and Tom Brady are both super talented, but since Brady knows what it takes to win big games, I’ll give the Pats the nod here. The defensive side of the ball is pretty evenly matched, and Bill Belichick has those three Super Bowl rings, so I got the Pats in this game.
Baltimore Ravens at New York Jets
The third matchup of Week 1 features two exciting teams that should both play an extremely physical game Monday Night at the New Meadowlands Stadium. Both teams made some great off-season moves with the Ravens, acquiring excellent WRs Anquan Boldin and T.J. Houshmandzadeh, while the Jets picked up Super Bowl XLIII MVP Santonio Holmes and star RB LaDainian Tomlinson. Third-year QB Joe Flacco goes up against second-year guy Mark Sanchez in a match-up of youngsters. Both defenses are very talented and should give viewers a great show for the first Monday Night Football game of the year. It’s hard to bet against either one of these teams as Rex Ryan is one of the best coaches in the league, and young head coach John Harbaugh seems to always have his squad playing at a high level. I give a slight edge to the Ravens because Flacco has so many weapons in RBs Ray Rice and Willis McGahee, the aforementioned WRs and TE Todd Heap. I’m picking the Ravens, but if the Jets can make some big plays on D and get good play from their special teams, they can win this game.
For more NFL content, check out the Week 1 2010 NFL Power Rankings or a more in-depth look at the Vikes/Saints Season Opener.
Tonight at 8:30 EST, the dog days of summer officially come to an end for NFL football fans as the Minnesota Vikings take on the New Orleans Saints at the Superdome in Louisiana. Tonight’s game between two of the top five teams in the NFL Power Rankings could be one of the best matchups ever for an opening game. Tonight’s rematch of last year’s NFC Championship game, which could arguably have been the best football game of the entire 2009 season, is a perfect way to open the 2010 season.
The stakes may not be as high as a trip to the Super Bowl, however both teams have a lot on the line when it comes to starting off the 2010-2011 season.
For the Vikings, and more specifically Brett Favre (as it has been for the last five seasons), this could be it. Favre’s 2009 season was one of the best in his career. Even down to the NFC Championship loss against the Saints, where he threw for 310 yards. Like it has his entire career, though, it was interceptions that plagued Favre in that game and ultimately prevented him from a shot at finally getting his ring. This season could be the season for Favre, though. If you look at last season as a stepping stone to this one, then the next step is the big game. The first step is tonight, and it will be interesting to see if Favre and the Vikings can overcome the road blocks they seem to have encountered in the preseason.
Tonight they’ll have to go at the defending champion Saints without one of their top offensive options, Sidney Rice, who is on the injured list for the next six weeks or so. Another concern that has been a nagging issue during the preseason is Percy Harvin’s plaguing migraines. The Vikings offense will have to rely on Favre and Adrian Peterson not only to keep up with the Saints tonight, but to give them a shot at even getting to Super Bowl XLV in Dallas’ Cowboys Stadium.
In New Orleans, the fans are still celebrating last season’s Super Bowl Championship. Rightfully so, as the city has dealt with so many disasters in recent years that the “Who Dat Nation” is looking for a reason to keep celebrating their team all the way to back-to-back Super Bowl victories.
Only seven teams have won back-to-back Super Bowl titles, most recently the Patriots in 2005. For the Saints, it is different, though. The fans outside of the city, outside of the state, and even outside of the country seem to have a soft spot for their success (even if it is a very minimal microscopic soft spot for fans of fellow NFC South teams, it is there). That soft spot has the potential to open up to one of the most powerful legacies that the sport has seen in a long time.
The Saints have no prominent weaknesses. There defense is not the greatest, but it only needs to be good enough to keep the offense on top, and their offensive attack behind Super Bowl MVP Drew Brees is relentless. With Pierre Thomas, Mike Bell and Reggie Bush as options coming out of the backfield, their offense is potent even without a mention of the wideouts. For the Saints it doesn’t stop in the back field; it continues on to one of the most diversely capable set of wide receivers in the league. Devery Henderson and Robert Meachem both put up career highs in yards received last season. In addition, they’ve brought back the teams top receiver Marques Colston and the energy of tight end Jeremy Shockey, which could very well mean last season was just a warm-up for them.
Tonight’s game is more than just a season kickoff. It could be the kickoff to the resolve of the Who Dat Nation legacy, or it could be the kickoff to placing the final touches on Brett Favre’s storied career.
Either way, it’s a kickoff we’ve all been waiting for.
As much as it may seem like the new standard operating procedure for Brett Favre to stroll into his team’s pre-season practice at his leisure, and as much as it may be the most over-talked-about gossip that the league has ever seen, it is still impossible to avoid talking about Brett Favre returning to the NFL for another season of football.
Even though most of us are exhausted from the annual “Favre Watch” that has become the beginning of the pre-season, as a football fan it’s hard to deny the passion and excitement for the game that Brett Favre will bring to the Minnesota Vikings for the 2010 NFL Season.
It’s hard to argue with last season’s statistics – a quarterback rating of 107.2, a completion percentage of 68.4 percent and an interception percentage of just 1.3 percent – which were all career bests for the 40-year-old. For someone that owns a handful of the NFL’s most sought-after passing records in the history books, it’s hard to argue that he is getting too old.
Aside from having more interceptions over his career than any other quarterback in history, Favre holds the highest career numbers in a number of impressive categories as well, including completions, attempts, passing yards and touchdowns thrown. Last year he was sacked 34 times, giving Favre 503 for his career and currently only John Elway has been sacked more times at 516. Favre will undoubtedly add that record to his name before the upcoming season ends.
Although he might not have the mobility he once had, he has become more precise with his passing, which has offset those slightly slower moving legs. Furthermore, Favre has never been afraid to take a hit – last season’s sack total proves that. What separates him from other QB’s is his love for the game; he has fun doing it, even getting sacked it seems. Most of us can recall at least one moment throughout his career where he was taken down only to hop up and give a congratulatory pat on the helmet to the defender that laid him out.
The man’s sportsmanship and desire to play the game has never been the question. Unfortunately for Favre and the previous 19 seasons in the league, the real question remains to be the same.
Does Brett Favre have what it takes to lead his team to a Super Bowl victory?
image via yahoo
Penny Hardaway recently announced that he would like to come back and play for the Miami Heat, and a couple days later turned 39 years old. Brett Favre has made it an annual tradition to teeter between retirement and just one more NFL season seemingly until the opening day.
Earlier today two more people in sports made the tough decision to say enough is enough. Softball icon Jennie Finch decided that this would be her last season pitching, and Chicago Cubs manager Lou Piniella decided that he was not returning for next season.
All of these recent retirements and the possibility of retirees returning to the game begs the question, when should a player or coach move on from the sport he or she loves?
As much as I am the first to complain that the decision making process of Brett Favre bores me so far beyond tears that I need Visine, when the man picks up a football and suits up, he plays with a competitiveness that makes even the most salty of Green Bay fans remember the good old days. Favre may be the most highly exposed of the athletes that seem to struggle with letting go of the game when they near the end of their career, but he is definitely not the only one that has the joyous struggle of deciding when enough is enough.
Every sport has them, yet some of them seem to come and go, dealing time and again with the decision. Some, like former San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds, simply avoid making the decision altogether, choosing to simply avoid an official announcement.
As much as it may seem that it might be easy decision, to give up the game that has provided you with your well being is obviously not easy at any level. From an athlete’s perspective, the line between contributing on the field or from on the sidelines with your experience is a blurred one.
As a fan, it’s easy to overlook when a favorite player should have called it quits too. There is however, one thing that will never get old to see as a sports fan, whether it is from an athlete or a coach.
If Penny comes back and contributes, so be it, however with a lineup as star-studded as the Heat, it seems that Hardaway might be better off in a coaching role. If Favre can go another year, fans will put up with “the decision process” and all that it entails if he comes out and plays with the passion that he did last year, not to mention it was almost enough to get the Vikings to the Super Bowl.
I think it’s fair to say, if you are playing with heart and not for the paycheck, most fans want to see you out there. That is what got them through their careers in the first place isn’t it?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.