Yep, incredibly, we are now slightly over half way through the regular season. This is a game that toys with one's emotions. Not a huge amount of page-turners this week, but it's a big week for fantasy, or something. Also America's clocks successfully went back an hour last night, so normal service resumes times wise. Week 9 started with the Chargers threatening to get Norv Turner finally fired, until their defence showed up in a big way (on my bench on one of my teams with 18 points) and made it the blow-out it was supposed to be.
Byes - New England Patriots, New York Jets, St. Louis Rams, San Francisco 49ers
SKY SPORTS, 6PM
CAROLINA PANTHERS (1-6) @ WASHINGTON REDSKINS (3-5)
Unlucky Game Passers, Sky have easily picked the two best games of the day. Here we have a great story line between last year's star rookie QB against this years. SuperCam has been frustrated and frustrating alike this season so far, but he's always kept his team in contention, and it is fairly normal to experience the sophomore slump. Now that we are half-way through the season it is reasonable to start considering teams' play-off hopes, so it would be fair to argue that the Panthers are effectively done for the year, but given the hopes they poured into this year, that doesn't mean they're going to go down easily. That said, the Redskins, when they get it together, have been fantastic to watch, and on more than one occasion, fairly unlucky not to get a notch in their win column. So this could be a wild one, or it will just be an easy Skins' win. But judging these teams and in-particular their enthralling Quarterbacks this could go just about anywhere. (Skins by 3)
9:25PM, SKY SPORTS
PITTSBURGH STEELERS (4-3) @ NEW YORK GIANTS (6-2)
This should be a really excellent one. Pittsburgh returned to looking their old dominant selves last couple weeks, and will need that momentum going up against the defending champion Giants, who have really turned up the heat in the past couple weeks. Giants have returned to looking like champions recently, over-coming some tricky opposition (though a certain division rivals' implosion certainly doesn't hurt) and will make things very difficult for the Steel Curtain. You can expect some excellent play on both sides of the ball, so this could be one of the games of the season. (Giants by 3)
1:20AM, CHANNEL 4
DALLAS COWBOYS (3-4) @ ATLANTA FALCONS (7-0)
Fun as it is to laugh at the Cowboys (very), they have actually been quite unlucky in these past weeks, largely down to Dez Bryant's fingers failing on their primary objective. So this is a pretty awful time for them to face the one remaining undefeated and consistently good team. Particularly at the Georgia Dome. Romo has a particularly bad habit at flapping about during prime time national games, and the Falcons' D have been particularly dominant recently, so this could get ugly. (by 7)
1:30AM BBC RED BUTTON
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (3-4) @ NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (2-5)
Thank god for the Giants and Redskins huh? Without them, the NFC East would be easily retain the title of most ridiculous division (a title they're always in contention for given how hilariously underachieving it is while also being easily the biggest in terms of fans) a title safely held by their main rivals, the AFC West. It's difficult to really say anything about the Eagles these days without bursting into fits of giggles. They are supposed to win it all EVERY YEAR and yet they always find new and entertaining ways to implode, giving even the Dallas Lolboys a run for their money. Bets are off about Eagles' turnovers, the question that remains is how many? (Saints by 7+)
Denver (4-3) @ Cincinnati (3-4) - Cincy seem to be imploding somewhat, whereas Denver have totally figured out how to get it together. This could get nasty (Denver by 7)
Baltimore (5-2) @ Cleveland (2-6) - I think the complete massacre in Houston is just about behind us, that bye week literally couldn't have come at a better time. That said, Cleveland have improved exponentially recently, and will want to make life horrible for the Flacco and Ravens who are back to being awful on the road. Will be close (Bmore by 3)
Arizona (4-4) @ Green Bay (5-3) - two teams going in very different directions. (GB by 7+)
Buffalo (3-4) @ Houston (6-1) - things aren't gonna get much better for Buffalo, bye week or none. (Hou by 7+)
Miami (4-3) @ Indianapolis (4-3) - This is a fairly interesting one, the Colts marginally over came the Titans last week, and now face a similar test on a rested Dolphins squad. These two have had relative successes so far and could still squeeze into a wild-card spot, imagine! (Fins by 3)
Detroit (3-4) @ Jacksonville (1-6) - I would like to confidentially say this will be comfortable for Detroit, they have improved exponentially the past couple weeks, but this is exactly the kind of game they madly throw away, so expectations tempered (only by 3)
Chicago (6-1) @ Tennessee (3-5) - Part of Chicago's success (bit like Atlanta) is that no one particularly difficult has really challenged them yet. This isn't likely to change today, but Tennessee have been a lot better in recent weeks under a resurgent Hesselbeck and CY2K, so it will be a bit closer at least (Da Bears by 4-5)
Tampa Bay (3-4) @ Oakland (3-4) - Two bald men fighting over a comb.
Minnesota (5-3) @ Seattle (4-4) - This is the other exciting prospect this week as two very real playoff teams go at it. This game could make the difference as far as tie-breakers are concerned later on, so is tinged with some genuine excitement. There shouldn't be a lot separating these two, they both have some fantastic, hard-hitting D's and young QBs who are acclimatising much faster than anyone expected, so could be a thriller. Going to give it to SEA however just on the basis of NOISE!!!!!!! (SEA by 3)
So that's the weekend sorted, YOU?!