There’s some interesting stories developing in the NFL this week, but before that, I wanted to look at the possible letdown game. We’re just five weeks into this season, but already there are no undefeated teams, and several times a team facing an opportunity to secure their position among the league’s elite has failed to come through. The Giants have handed out back-to-back losses in such situations. With the league where it is, I think this is going to be an every week occurrence. So, who is going to fail to step up this week? Here’s my top-5 candidates.
- Baltimore. The Ravens are at New England. A win sets them up as an AFC co-favorite with the Steelers.
- Atlanta. If the Falcons beat the Eagles and get to 5-1, they will clearly be the class of the NFC.
- New York Jets. The Jets have been among the league’s most consistent teams. Does it end in Denver?
- Indianapolis. The Colts are the highest rated 3-2 team ever. A loss to Washington and more reality sets in.
- Kansas City. Defense earned some respect in Indy, but a loss to Houston makes everyone forget 3-0 start.
So, if those are five teams with a lot to lose on Sunday, what else should we be looking at this weekend?
Will Vick Get his Chance Against the Falcons?
A little lost in the revolving door of injuries and QB swaps in Philly is Michael Vick’s old team coming to town. I think Falcons fans have fully moved on from Vick, and Eagles fans are more concerned with winning the game than Vick’s shot at revenge, but I know Vick wants this game. His prognosis for this week sounds more optimistic than anyone else’s for just that reason. If Vick does play the pressure will be back on after Kolb’s serviceable effort in San Francisco. If Kolb plays, and happens to win again, could Andy Reid be tempted to change his mind again? Would he bench Kolb after 2 straight wins heading into a bye-week?
Unseasoned QB Play
I am going to rank/preview some DA quarterbacks sometime Thursday, but forgetting about DA Fantasy for a while there is a chance some very green quarterbacks could be thrown into tough spots this week. The Browns are threatening to start Colt McCoy. Against the Steelers. That can’t be an ideal debut for the 3rd round pick who was supposed to be brought along slowly. Elsewhere, the Packers could be forced to start Matt Flynn if Aaron Rodgers can’t go with concussion symptoms. Flynn, the former LSU star, would be asked to beat Miami in a game the Packers, suddenly 3-2, need to win. With so many teams struggling to find quarterbacks, I suppose it is no real surprise that the back-ups some teams have are pretty shockingly unprepared. I just can’t believe the Packers don’t have a veteran back-up. Hard to believe.
The Unexpected Stink Bomb of the Week:
When the schedule came out, I’m sure many people were pointing to this week’s Minnesota/Dallas game as a contest that would help determine NFC supremacy. Hell, it could have even ended up being for home field in the playoffs. But, both Dallas and Minnesota have stumbled badly out of the gate. What hasn’t changed is that they both need this game desperately. The loser could likely seal their fate of missing the playoffs. For the Vikings, they have the added Favre factor. Is he in danger of getting suspended at some point this season? Is his elbow something that could actually keep him out of the game Sunday? Is Favre pulling an Al Czervik and just trying to get this thing over with?
Worst Game Between Winning Teams: New Orleans vs. Tampa Bay
Kansas City fans should love Tampa Bay, because if it wasn’t for them, they’d be stuck as the worst 3-1 team in recent memory. Oh, there was the Bears of this season as well…but, here will be New Orleans’ fifth straight chance to get the momentum back. They’re favored, by a pretty healthy margin, but there’s no real reason to believe they won’t put up another lifeless showing.
The Ultimate Stink Bomb of the Week: Oakland vs. San Francisco.
Loser is banished to Alcatraz? I thought for a second how to explain exactly how bad this game is, but then it came to me. Last week, the Niners were 0-4, yet were still favored over the visiting Eagles by 3.5 points. An odd occurrence to be sure. They lost that game, obviously didn’t cover and yet this week they host the Raiders and are 6.5 point favorites. That’s a team that has not won a game this year giving up almost a TD. Only in the NFL, folks.