By Guest Writer Hamish Girvan
A look at some of the key round 6 match ups
Tennessee Titans vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
A short turnaround for both teams who had different results last week. The Steelers ground out a last second win against the Eagles and are one of these teams that are specialists in wearing teams down. The Titans were routinely thrashed by the Vikings and their season is going nowhere. Star Running Back Chris Johnson claims they need a spark to get their season going. His stats this season are down from his usual high standards so perhaps he should set the scene. The Steelers are possibly one of the more physical teams in the NFL however a couple of key injuries sustained last week to star safety Troy Polamalu and LaMarr Woodley will have an effect on their defence. Unless the Titans start a fire from a spark it could be a long night.
Atlanta Falcons v Oakland Raiders
Unbeaten so far the Falcons are on a roll and although not blowing out teams they still look like they are always in control. At home in the Georgia Dome they are even tougher to beat and although the Raiders will be fresh coming off a bye this could be a struggle. The Raiders are still trying to define themselves under a new coaching regime and although their last game provided a win over the Steelers the odds may be stacked against them here. The Falcons have two of the form receivers in the NFL at present in Roddy White and veteran tight end Tony Gonzalez and both have been reliable targets for Quarterback Matt Ryan. The Falcons have also been able sustain no major injuries which always leads to better consistency throughout a season.
New York Jets v Indianapolis Colts
The Jets are in a rut. They have lost their last two games; have a stack of injuries, and a quarterback controversy with the calling to start Tim Tebow. Although competitive against the high flying Texans last week they still lost and were exposed in their lack of offence. Meanwhile the upstart Indianapolis Colts and their rookie Quarterback, Andrew Luck, provided one of the upset of last round by beating Green Back after being behind by 18 points at half time. This could go either way. The Jets are traditionally a home favourite however from a Colts point of view momentum may be everything.
Seattle Seahawks v New England Patriots
The Seattle Seahawks are 3 wins from 5 which is probably better then both themselves and their fans expected. Based around a smothering defence they are composed and are building nicely around rookie Quarterback Russell Wilson. Their away win at Carolina last week was a sign as to how good they can be. Meanwhile the Patriots are possibly playing a different speed and level to the rest. Playing a college type style they are amassing points per game at an astonishing rate. The Patriots system is built around a varied range of run and pass plays and they seem to have different players who can stand out each week. Travelling coast to coast for this game they have the potential to run the Seahawks ragged however they will have to get past both the rabid home crowd and their team defence first.
San Francisco 49ers v New York Giants
Game of the round. Both teams played each other in the NFC Final to go to the Superbowl last season and there is no reason why this match up will not determine that again. The 49ers have the ability to physically overwhelm any team at the moment and the only loss to the Vikings earlier this season should be seen as a minor aberration. They play a physical run type game with a non flashy quarterback in Alex Smith who revels in the system. The New York Giants are just as potent and having a Quarterback, who is still not seen as elite despite two Superbowl titles, in Eli Manning they can click into gear quickly and bust a game open. Last week the Cleveland Browns went 14-0 quickly before the Giants scored 41 points to win comfortably. Home ground advantage means nothing to a great travelling team so this one could go either way.
Houston Texans v Green Bay Packers (Live on ESPN Monday afternoon)
The Texans are only one of two teams unbeaten. Talked about as being one of the most complete teams in the NFL at present they had no problems overcoming the New York Jets in their last game and their defensive tackle JJ Watt is a beasty in terms of tackles and having an ability to busty up opposing plays. The Packers do not look the team they were last season or the Superbowl winning season before. Last year they went 14 games unbeaten before only losing once before the playoffs. Since that loss in the regular season last year they have now lost 4 from 8 games and their offence does not look as slick as it once was. The Texans will want to kick their season on here and unless the Green Bay defence is up to stopping Texans Running Back Arian Foster any play off hope may diminish.
San Diego Chargers v Denver Broncos (Live on ESPN Tuesday afternoon)
The AFC West was predicted to be one of the more competitive this season. Unfortunately the Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs have not lived up to pre season predictions so the other two divisional teams slug it out here. The Chargers looked like they were in control against the Saints last weekend’s until some slick play from Saints Quarterback Drew Brees undid them along with some suspect referee calls that did not help. Quarterbacks are only as good as what is around them and the Chargers weapons are currently at a level below what Rivers requires. Peyton Manning and the Broncos are competitive however they left their run too late against the Patriots last week. The Broncos are still learning how Manning runs a game however they still look like they are the team to beat in this division. Whatever team gets the better of each other along with the return match in Denver later in season will probably take the best in the West title.
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