Game of the Week - KC at DEN: The Bowl of Reckoning
This is it. The moment of reckoning. The duel of the ages. The Big Kahuna. Rocky vs Drago. Cage vs Travolta. Hendrix vs Marley. Peyton Manning vs Alex Smith
Treasure this moment, the final moment of incertitude before once and for all the questions are answered
- Are Kansas City legit?
- How many working ankles does Peyton Manning need to win a game?
- Will Bob Sutton’s defense all simultaneously burst into flames when they finally see a real quarterback?
- Does defense really win championships?
- How many wide receiver screens can the Broncos run in one game?
- Who will cover Wes Welker/Julius Thomas/Demaryius Thomas/Eric Decker (delete as applicable)
- Who will cover Dwayne Bowe (delete as applicable)?
- Is Andy Reid taking part in Movember?
- Is Jamal Charles 2012 Adrian Peterson in disguise?
I’ll take Denver by 3. They’ll run the ball to shut down that pass rush, but the receivers will struggle against Kansas’ coverage. It will likely be a remarkably restrained affair defined by a few critical moments that swing the balance, and Kansas’ offensive frailties will be fully exposed as Denver shuts down the run, with Smith and his receivers unable to exploit Denver’s coverage woes. The Chiefs will come back and beat them in two weeks.
49ers at NO: The Rob Ryan Needs A Bigger Bowl Bowl
Rob Ryan put his defense on autopilot last week and watched the Cowboys auto-asphyxiate themselves (Jerry Jones forgot to put a lemon in Tony Romo’s mouthguard). Sean Payton remembered that his playcard has two sides, and that one of them is marked ‘Running Game’.
The 49ers watched Riverboat Ron sail into the Bay and lay down a barrage of suppressing fire to stymie their run game, including one of the gutsiest punt calls I’ve ever seen. Kaepernick looks uncertain when you take away his first read and set the edge, and their vaunted defense struggled to play with the physicality for which it was once renowned. Shut your eyes and listen to that defense pinning their ears back and you could have sworn that the Panthers’ had stolen the Harbaugh mojo, with Luke Kuechly looking like a 12 year old manchild pretending to be Patrick Willis and doing a better job of it.
This week immovable object meets unstoppable force as Harbaugh will run the ball straight into the soft, smushy underbelly of the Saints Run D, while Brees will attack the 49ers iffy looking secondary and test the ability of a great defense to cover Biggie (Jimmy Graham) and Smalls (Darren Sproles) over the middle. This is a statement game for both teams. Can the Niners hang tough with Payton’s gunslinging offense? Can Rob Ryan give his defense some abs and get them to meet a smash mouth physical team head on?
I think the 49ers, especially away from home, will struggle to keep up.
Saints by 7.
NYJ at BUF: The Can’t Get No Respect Bowl
The Jets won the byweek as everyone else in the wildcard race lost. So they should lose this week too, as it stands. If they win, however, they stamp their authority on a wild wild wildcard race and get the jump on their division rivals. And end their WLWLWLWLW record.
And huzzah, this could be a trap game. The Bills secondary on paper is a better unit than the one Geno bombed to pieces in Week 3, with Stephon Gilmore and Jairus Byrd back. Byrd remains the best coverage free safety who you never heard of ™ but Gilmore has struggled mightily. Thankfully, the Jets aren’t terrifying through the air, unless you’re a Jets fan. Santonio Holmes is back; but he’s as likely to take one to the house as he is to have a temper tantrum on any given Sunday, and Stephen Hill only looks like he went to the same school as Megatron and DMT (Demaryius Thomas) when he plays against the Bills… ah, wait. Jeremy Third Down Kerley, the Jets shiftiest and most consistent weapon out the slot, is hurt, but former Bill David Nelson is a gritty receiver who plays tough and gets yards after the catch over the middle. With the TEs back to full strength with the return of Kellen Winslow and Jeff Cumberland to challenge the Bills down the seam, this could be the healthiest Jets offense we’ve seen this year. So they’ll probably lose.
Gang Green by 3
PIT at DET: The Todd Haley Is Insane Bowl
Detroit has refused to be Dallas this year. As soon as Matty S. plunged over the goalline in search of a game winning TD against Big D a few weeks ago, it was clear that they had given up on trying to keep up with the Joneses. Suh has harnessed his anger, or decided to use it to bully rookies instead of stamping on people and kicking them in the gonads. Megatron is still megatron. Reggie Bush looks like Heismann Winning Running Back, Reggie Bush. All Joseph Fauria does is catch touchdowns.
On the other side of midfield, Big Ben has denied rumours he wants to be traded. He has not, however, denied rumours that he wants everyone around him to be traded. Telling.
Todd Haley, after taking Mike Tomlin on a Fear & Loathing style midweek getaway as a ‘relaxing break’, is not only foaming at the mouth again, but also planning to line up 350pound tackle Mike Adams at TE, and may decide to pass it to him. Probably on an option route involving six laterals and a wobbly pass from Heath Miller.
Detroit by 7
BAL at CHI: The Who We Thought They Weren’t Bowl
Josh McCown is the unexpectedly invigorating salad dressing in this drab leftover from last year: the lettuce is limp (Bears D), the principle ingredient is disappointingly lacking in texture (Joe Flacco) and the only consistency is the bowl its served in (the Ravens D)
Alshon Jeffrey is Brandon Marshall without the brief moments of off the field insanity. Daryl Smith is a better version of Ray Lewis and Dannell Ellerbe. I can’t even name most of the Bears linebackers. Ray Rice is disappointing; Joe Flacco is what we thought he was
Chicago by 3
MIN at SEA: ‘Cause He Ain’t No Ponderback Girl Bowl
Adrian Peterson will attempt to carry Christian Ponder and the rest of the Vikings on his back. He has already proven he can do this, but the problem is that he will now be asked to put Ponder on his back after taking the handoff and then carry all of Seattle’s defense with him to the goal line while everyone else on the Vikings offense runs around in circles.
Marshawn Lynch will be asked to run through some very big holes and score touchdowns. Russell Wilson will only need to keep his head on a swivel fifty percent as opposed to one hundred and twenty percent of the time as starting LT Russell Okung is back for the ‘hawks. Percy Harvin may start; if he does, he will do something Percy Harvin like and all the Vikings fans will simultaneously burst into tears.
Seattle by, heck, 10-14.
GB at NYG: The Gumming Each Other To Death Bowl
Scott Tolzien versus The World. It’s sad that such a storied matchup of high quality teams has come to this. Both sides look rudderless, Tolzien is a shadow of Rodgers and Eli is a shadow of himself who may be suffering from colour blindness, based on the number of interceptions he’s throwing.
But there lies hope in the running game. Green Bay, and the incredible club of Clay Matthews, got gashed on the ground by the Eagles and couldn’t get off the field. Andre Brown for the Giants looks like a viable running back and handing it off to him 30 times removes thirty possibilities for Eli to throw a pick six. Both teams still have a tonne of talent at WR, but this is going to be an old style nasty. And I’ll take Tom Coughlin over Mike McCarthy any time in a bare knuckle backstreet brawl.
Giants by 3
ARI at JAC: The Denard Robinson and Andre Ellington Memorial Bowl
As both these players are clearly dead to their coaches. Where is Darnell Dockett’s monkey, by the way?
Arizona by 7
PHI at WASH: The RGIII I Wish I Was An Eagle Bowl or the Gone In Sixty Seconds Bowl
Chip Kelly signed Brad Smith to compete at QB! I’m joking, he probably isn’t. Mike Shanahan hit the reset button on his in office solarium, and RGIII looks like he did last year. Unfortunately, so does the defense. And the less said about the special teams, the better. My grandmother could probably break off a big one against their coverage units
Philadelphia by 7, and three underthrown Nick Foles deep balls that his receivers make him look good on
CLE at CIN: The Brief Skirmish of Ohio Bowl
The Browns have got Marvin Lewis’ number this year. Gio Bernard has been stuck in of reverse since his incredibly impressive minus-11 yard carry in overtime last week
Cleveland by 3
OAK at HOU: The Anybody Can Play Quarterback Bowl
Matt McGloin sounds like one of the dwarves from Lord of The Rings. I hope he’s a little bit taller then them. Case Keenum is a swashbuckling, no nonsense gunslinger.
Houston by 7
ATL at TB: The WHO CARES? Bowl
Anyone else remember that TB signed Revis in the offseason? Maybe he’ll play RB this week.
Tampa by 3
SD at MIA: The I’m Running Out of Inspiration Bowl
MIA’s offensive line has been just that in the final quarter. The San Diego Super Chargers pass rush has been anything but super. Philip Rivers is money. Ryan Tannehill is bruised.
San Diego by 7