What a crazy game we saw on Sunday, where the Patriots, overturned a 24 point half time deficit to beat the Broncos, and Tom Brady gets another notch above Peyton with this performance.
The Redskins never really showed up against the 49ers who gained a very important playoff altering win, and the Jets could only muster a FG in a loss against the Ravens, which further shakes things up in the AFC playoff race.
With no teams on a bye week, the standings will only be affected on the field, and at this point of the season, I cannot recall a closer, tighter point by point playoff altering race.
First up this week, the Arizona Cardinals vs Philadelphia Eagles as both of these teams could still make the playoffs.
If the Eagles win this week (coming off a bye week, they’ll be desperate to win) they will have the same record as the Cardinals, as it would see both teams on 7-5. If the 49ers also lose as they host the Rams, then it gets even more congested! Anyway, this is the game to look out for.
As always, the Eagles are a threat on Offense, as all three offensive lines, (the O line itself, Passing and Rushing all rank within the top 10) but their Defensive line is ranked 31st. On the other side, ranked 16th, 13th, 24th & eighth respectively is the Cardinals unit. Solid, if unspectacular, but it is easy to see why the Cards are 7-4. Now to look at the individuals which could prove the difference between the two teams.
Having been announced this week as the starter, Nick Foles and with stats of 103 completions off 162 attempts, for 1,554 yards and 16 touchdowns (with zero INTs) they certainly justify the announcement , although, if you take away his 7TD game, he ranks a little ahead of Vick, who is a also a threat to run for a first down, although as a QB, Foles is the better choice, and also the more popular. Talking of rushing, LeSean McCoy has rushed for over 1,000 yards this season for five TDs. For receivers, top of the pick has to be an improved effort from Riley Cooper who has seven TDs off just 31 receptions (592 yards), although the main receiver appears to be DeSean Jackson with seven TDs off 58 receptions for 985 yards.
The Cardinals counter this threat with a QB in Carson Palmer, with 250 completions off 395 attempts for 16 TDs on 2,887 yards. The most effective rusher is Andre Ellington with numbers of two TDs from 73 carries totalling 441 yards, although the most used running back is Rashad Mendenhall with numbers of 391 off 130 carries for five TDs. For the receivers, Larry Fitzgerald leads the way with 606 yards off 50 receptions for a team leading eight TDs.
Secondly this week, Denver Broncos vs Kansas City Chiefs.
Yes, this matchup will provide us with a clear leader in the AFC West as both teams come in to this one with a record of 9-2. The loser of this one will be heading up the Wild Card race.
These two teams met two weeks ago and on that occasion the Broncos rolled out a ten-point win. Just like last week, the Broncos have the best passing and offence in the league but as we saw against New England, the defence is what can let them down. The Chiefs will need them to have a bad defensive outing, as they haven’t won any of the last three meetings but with home field advantage that could be what is needed for them to end a two-game losing streak.
After last week, Peyton now has 36 TDs on the season, and it seems inevitable that he will set a new record for a single season. The entire Broncos team, out rank the Chiefs, by 125 total yards per game , of which is a passing game totalling 124 yards of difference between the two teams, and one-yard difference on the running game. Denver’s receivers with the last name Thomas have 20 TDs (ten a piece) of Peyton’s 36, with Julius getting the ball 45 times for 590 yards in addition to his TDs, while Demaryius has 64 tries for 955 yards. The Chiefs’ counter threat comes through the arm of QB Alex Smith with numbers of 14 TDs from 398 attempts with 235 completions for 2,443 yards. The delivery service to Donnie Avery for two TDs off 32 receptions for 507 yards and Dwayne Bowe for four TDs to the tune of 477 yards and 42 catches. The Chiefs’ rushing game is Jamaal Charles with 200 carries eight TDs for 918 yards.
Finally we have New Orleans Saints Vs Seattle Seahawks.
Both these teams lead their respective divisions in the NFC, and with just one game between them overall, both teams looked locked in for a post-season slot, although with the news that Thurmond has been suspended from the club, this is a massive hole in their defensive line. Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin are the Seahawks main catch threats with seven TDs and nearly 1,200 yards between them; Russell Wilson (176-275 for 2,362 yards with 19 TD) has the tools at his disposal to make it difficult for the Saints defence, although the Seahawks main weapon in this match up should be on the ground. Their main weapon for this is Marshawn Lynch with nine TDs off 208 attempts to a tune of 925 yards.
To counter, Drew Brees (300-439 with 3,647 yards and 28 TDs) has the cornerstone of his receivers in Jimmy Graham with his numbers of 11 TDs from 65 catches and 946 yards which is the Saints main route to the points on the board. Their rushing game isn’t as impressive as the Seahawks but they do have the tools in Pierre Thomas and Mark Ingram who can cause an upset and scramble for the elusive, important first downs.
As you can see, very tight races, and these games could all be decided by a score here or there, although it’s likely that the only blowout will be the Eagles over the Cardinals. The Broncos should go 2-0 over the Chiefs, and the Saints will likely squeeze out the W over the Seahawks this week, and that would shake things up even further in the playoff races.