Three Big Story Lines for Week 9 in the NFL

I told you. The Dallas Cowboys are a joke. I told you they were two weeks ago when every one was on their junk as the best team in football, and I told you last week when they didn’t even crack my Top 5 teams in the NFL. They are a good team. But a good team led by Tony Romo would eventually crumble, as they did Monday night losing to the Colt McCoy-led Redskins. Please refrain from the injury excuse as well, because you know what? Brandon Weeden looked sharp in his fill-in time.

There are a ton of teams on bye this week. The Falcons and Lions get to rest after their trip across the pond. The upstart Bills are off, as are the Bears, Packers and Titans. That leaves 13 games on the slate for this week’s NFL action. Four of the five teams in the Wayniac Nation Power 5 (in order the Broncos, Cardinals, Patriots, Lions and Colts) will see action this week. So what should you pay closest attention to this week? Come on now, you know I got that answer for you!

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3. The Battle for the NFC South

Not one team in the dismal NFC South has played very good football yet this season on a consistent basis. Somehow, this Thursday Night’s game is huge and for first place. It will also give one team a .500 record in the division. That’s right, folks. No team in this division is above .500.

That doesn’t mean the Saints and the Panthers aren’t going to be an exciting game. The Panthers’ pass defense is in the lower half of the NFL and in case you are unaware, Drew Brees likes to throw the ball. He especially likes to throw to his newest toy, Brandin Cooks. Cooks is coming off of his breakout game of the season, scoring two touchdowns as the Saints annihilated a far superior Packers’ team 44-27.

The Saints’ defense is atrocious all around and Cam Newton gets DeAngelo Williams back this week. Now, I know D-Will isn’t like the Vikings getting AP back, but it will certainly be someone that which  a defense has to pay some attention. That will let him open up through the air, and Newton, Greg Olsen and Rookie of the Year candidate Kelvin Benjamin are cruising. This is going to be an exciting game between two bad teams looking to separate themselves from the pack.

2. What will Big Ben do for an encore?

Here’s a little known fact. The Ravens hate the Steelers and the Steelers despise the Ravens. Here’s another little known fact. I think sarcasm is over rated.

522 yards on 82 percent passing for six touchdowns. Believe it or not, those weren’t Peyton Manning‘s numbers last week, they were Ben Roethlisberger‘s. I think being dismantled in Cleveland three weeks ago was a wake up call to the Steelers. This is a good team. They aren’t a great team, but the good news is no one in the AFC North is. They have a balanced passing attack with one of the best wide receivers in football in Antonio Brown to match up with a sound running attack led by one of the best running backs in the NFL in Le’Veon Bell.

The Ravens are one of the most inconsistent teams in football. One week Joe Flacco goes out and proves he was worth that huge contract and the next week he craps the bed. They have no running game as Justin Forsett has played above and beyond expectations, but a good defensive plan can take their running attack right out of the game. Luckily for the Ravens, the Steelers struggle against the run. It should set up a typical Kubiak offense of run, run, pass and as long as the Smiths are on, Flacco could light up the skies.

Whenever these two matchup, it is going to be a good game. Sunday night in prime time with first place on the line in the North makes this must-watch TV. Well, that and the fact that it’s either this game, hockey or the NBA, so you have no choice!

3. Can the Cowboys bounce back?

The Cowboys had a chance to prove they were for real in front of the entire nation of Monday Night Football and they bombed. That game shouldn’t have been close. The way people hyped up the Cowboys, they should have trampled a team led by their third string quarterback. Instead McCoy went for almost 300 yards passing (299 to be accurate) on 25 of 30 passing. How you do not disrupt McCoy’s tempo and prevent him from getting comfortable is a major failure. The Cowboys couldn’t make a stop, surrendering six first downs on third downs and one on fourth. DeMarco Murray was a one-man highlight reel and aside from that, the Boys played like crap.

It doesn’t get any easier. The Cardinals are not only the second best team in football, they are getting better. Carson Palmer is getting Larry Fitzgerald more and more involved and the passing game is beginning to come together. Andre Ellington is a stud running back and their defense, especially in the desert is unreal. They have already beaten the 49ers, the Chargers and the Eagles. Even against the Broncos, their one loss, the game was 24-20 until Drew Stanton, their back-up QB, was hurt and they needed to turn to their third string QB Logan Thomas.

The Cardinals should win this game, but it will be interesting to see if the Cowboys have any fight in them. If they drop two in a row, they are done.

(Photo credit: New York Post)
(Photo credit: New York Post)

Game of the Week: Brady Manning Bowl XVI

It’s the greatest personal rivalry in sports. This game isn’t the Denver Broncos versus the New England Patriots. This is Peyton Manning versus Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. Brady is 8-3 in the regular season against Manning, but 2-2 in the post season. Their last two match-ups were doozies as well.

Last year the Pats and Broncos met twice. Once, on Sunday Night Football, Brady led a comeback after trailing 24-0 in the first half with an amazing 21-point third quarter. The second time it was the Broncos turn, and it came in the AFC Championship game and sent Manning to his third Super Bowl.

This year, it looks like once again, although only one game is scheduled between the two, that they will probably meet up down the road. The Patriots are the hottest team in football right now and the Broncos are simply the best. Brady is in one of his legendary grooves and Peyton is simply adding to his legend every game he plays. Does it come as any surprise that the victor of this matchup will have the best record in the AFC? Well played schedule makers, well played.

Survivor Pool pick of the week:

I’m out, folks. My chance for the big money went out the window with the Cowgirls so no one is to blame but myself. Still, I went pretty far, so I am still here to help. This is a good week to take the Chiefs (against the Jets) and the Seahawks (against the Raiders) as both teams are home and need a big win to stay in their respective divisional hunts. If you like that gamble and want to live on the edge, take the Texans. They have played big in their would-be statement games thus far this season, but have fallen just short in all of them. This week they are at home against a very inconsistent Eagles team. If Fitzpatrick doesn’t make mistakes against the Eagles defense that takes big-time advantage of mistakes, the Texans have a chance for the upset. That is a tremendously, large, gigantically, huge IF. Who would you pick this week? Do you think I am wrong? Let me know (I can take it!)

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