Divisional derby’s are the order of the day this week in a number of the NFL fixtures
Baltimore vs. Cleveland – Playing 12.30pm NZ time
Baltimore have a tough turnaround here having played Sunday night and now playing this on Thursday night USA time. The last second victory against the New England Patriots was as key as it was emotional with their wide receiver, Torrey Smith, tragically losing his brother the evening beforehand. He played with a purpose scoring twice. This should not be too tough considering the Browns have lost all 3 games this season. Browns Quarterback Brandon Weeden is finding it tougher in the NFL compared to his college days at Oklahoma State. Although not a given the only thing that may be a factor is fatigue at the Ravens end and perhaps some of the officiating from the replacement referees.
Atlanta vs. Carolina
Unbeaten Atlanta are on a roll and have an offence now that is paying off dividends. A healthy win against San Diego means they are only one of three teams that are unbeaten. The Carolina Panthers went in as surprise favourites last week against the New York Giants however were well beaten 36-7. Quarterback Cam Newton, last season’s rookie of the year, is feeling the pressure and is publically criticising his team mates. Playing inside the noisy Georgia Dome is a struggle for most visiting teams so the Panthers will have to be at their very best in this one.
New England v Buffalo
The Patriots have only one win thus season and have not been in this position since the start of the 2003 season. Their Coach, Bill Belichick ,was furious at the officiating against the Ravens last week however their defence is not what is was and some players are not at the top of their game. The Bills although roundly beaten last week should have no fear,however it could be a game whereby the Patriots finally click. Bills star running back C J Spiller was injured last week and will be probably out for this match up. The Bills will have to contain the Patriots offence though to be competitive in this one
Chiefs vs. San Diego
The Chiefs caused possibly the upset of the round last week sending the New Orleans Saints to an unimaginable 0 – 3. To beat them at home considering their form going into it will give them a massive boost. They scored 21 unanswered points, and the Saints possibly lost the game rather than the Chiefs winning it. This AFC rivalry always has a bit of spice to it and the Chargers will want some revenge over last season’s loss here. The Chiefs at Arrowhead are traditionally tough so expect a tight game
Philadelphia vs. Giants – Live on ESPN Monday 12.30pm
The Eagles were a let down last week against the Cardinals and now questions are being asked about mercurial Eagles Quarterback Michael Vick. The Giants looked to some of their back up players last week and easily accounted for the Panthers after a short turnaround and they now have had a longer break and will be up for this divisional clash in Philly. The Eagles look again like they may fail to deceive this season again and Coach Andy Reid may also start to feel the heat considering the players he has at his disposal. This match usually creates some drama so expect no surprises again this season.
Dallas v Chicago – Live ESPN Tuesday 12.30pm
This could be a grind. Both teams are very much defence focused and neither have blown out anyone with their offensive game. The Cowboys come into each season with high expectations however although only having lost once they have played a very tight gameplan. The Chicago Bears were blown out at Green Bay in week two however have since bounced back with a solid win against St Louis last week. Much maligned Quarterback Jay Cutler can be a both a match winner or match loser and was so frustrated in the Green Bay loss he pushed some of his own players during the game indicating they were lacking effort. Playing the Cowboys at their home is always tough however the Bears will be in the mix in this one if it all goes to plan.