NFL Ones to Watch: Crunch Time

And so, the week’s regular season penultimate week is here, and for some this moment couldn’t come soon enough, as they look to start next year already, while others will simply have to wait one more week to see if they will be playing in, or watching the playoffs on televisions.

Last week was unprecedented as most division leaders lost and those included the Patriots, the Eagles and the Broncos.

Also last week, a sensational 61-yard kick won the game for the Ravens.

Back to this week, the three games to keep an eye on are: Cowboys vs. Redskins, Raiders vs. Chargers and Steelers vs. Packers.

Firstly, Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins.

It doesn’t take the most astute football follower or reader to know that both teams will be disappointed with their seasons this year, and know much hard work is needed after next week to get back to where they need to be, certainly more so from Washington. Dallas still has a shot at making the playoffs, although they have lost more games in their last 5 then won and perennial
Last week, the skins benched RGIII for the rest of the season, but it didn’t change their luck as they lost to Atlanta but their fortunes didn’t change.

Kirk Cousins numbers for Washington read like this: 41/70 488 yards and 3 TDs. Catching the balls through the air for the skins this year has been mainly Pierre Garcon with a line of 96 catches, 1,146 total yards, 11.9 Yards per carry and 4 TDs, and Jordan Reed with a line of 45 receptions, 499 yards, 11.1 YPC & 3 TD.

Taking care of things along the ground they have Alfred Morris with 236 rushes totalling 1,125 yards at an average of 4.8 yards per carry and scoring half a dozen times. For what it’s worth, RGIII took the ball himself 86 times for 489 yards averaging 5.7.

Opposing the skins is Tony Romo with a line of 325 completions off 508 attempts for a total of 3,602 yards and 29 TDs. A WR Duo of Dez Bryant and Jason Witten have 81, 1061, 13.1, and 11 & 59, 703, 11.9, and 8 respectively. Running the football for the Cowboys is Demarco Murray who has ran 178 times covering 977 yards, averaging five and a half yards per carry and has scored eight times. I think that this game is Tony Romo’s to lose and given that it takes place in December, he will probably find a way to do so. Poor guy.

Oakland Raiders vs. San Diego Chargers.

This is the second time this season these two teams have matched up, and back in October, it was the Raiders who emerged victorious 27-17. This time however, the Chargers will be buoyed of their defeat of Denver last week and still have a chance of playoff football.

Coming into this one, the splits for Offense, Defence , Passing and Rushing look like this [Oakland] 15th, 18th, 25th & 6th compared to {San Diego] 6th, 25th, 4th & 15th. It’s a little more difficult to analyse this week’s matchup then it might appear, as the Raiders are another team with a less than sure approach to the QB, although it might appear that the guy that will get the start will be Matt McGloin.

If this is the case, the numbers read: 98/175 1,341 yards, 7.7 yards per completion and seven touchdowns. Regardless of who throws the ball, the players that catch it are led by Rod Steater’s 54 catches 846 yards , 15.7 yards per catch and three touchdowns, although Denarius Moore has less receptions (39) yards [615] his yards per catch is slightly higher at 15.8 and he also has more Touchdowns with five. Running the ball for Oakland is mainly Rashad Jennings with 149 runs for 679 total yards averaging 4.6 yards per carry and scoring 6 touchdowns.

Opposing is Phillip Rivers and his 337/482 totalling 4048 yards and 28 TDs. Making the first downs through the air are Keenan Allen, Antonio Gates, Danny Woodhead and Eddie Royal. The most receptions go towards Antonio Gates with 70, the most yardages go to Keenan Allen with 931 and the most Touchdowns go to both Keenan Allen and Eddie Royal with 7. The chargers have a very different game to the Raiders, and this will be one as unpredictable as last week, but the Chargers should have that extra momentum to glide by the Raiders and continue to make their assault onto the playoffs.

Finally, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Green Bay Packers

The last time these teams faced off was in Super Bowl XLV and on that occasion, the Packers led by Aaron Rogers emerged with the Lombardi trophy. Today though, both teams are very different, and Aaron Rogers might not even play as he is still recovering from his broken collarbone. Again, lining up with the Steelers lines first, 18th, 11th, 11th & 31st with the Packers at 4th, 26th, 7th & 7th. A lot of close numbers in this one to start with.

Ben Roethlisberger 340/525 with 3915 yards and 25 touchdowns. Antonio Brown has been targeted the most with 95 receptions, 1307 total yards, averaging 13.8 yards per carry and 8 Touchdowns. Jerricho Cotchery who is almost like a forgotten man these days leads the team with nine end zone scores with an average of 13.5 yards per reception with 568 yards coming off 42 catches. The Steelers don’t really have a rush game, and that is reflected by their 31st ranking. They rush just 79 yards per game and of these yards, Le’veon Bell for half a dozen scores, with 198 runs totalling 646 yards at an average of 3.3 yards per game.

To counter, the Packers have either Aaron Rodgers or Matt Flynn starting, and an announcement will come later on Friday. Signs point to it being Flynn though so here’s his numbers in the usual format.
81/127 914 yards and 6 touchdowns [in limited games].

Receiving the ball for the Packers is Jordy Nelson with a line that reads 72 completions, for 1107 yards at a rate of 15.4 yards per catch and eight Touchdowns. Jermichael Finley can also be a weapon with just 25 catches for 300 yards with 12.0 yards per catch, and three scoring catches. Running the ball is Eddie Lacy with 248 rush attempts for 1028 yards at 4.1 yards per carry and eight scores.

All in all it looks to be a very exciting week in the NFL, and although these three games aren’t set to be classics from the beginning, the circumstances regarding the Holy Grail, could throw up some interesting results. Next week, is the finale of the regular season, and it is still possible at this moment that we won’t have the full playoff jigsaw puzzle until then.

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