A number of divisional clashes this week and also a number of teams having a bye.
San Francisco 49ers v Seattle Seahawks – Live ESPN 1pm Friday
Not only a NFC West rivalry but also a West Coast derby with the winner of this going to the top of the division. Both these teams had contrasting fortunes last week. The 49ers were soundly beaten by the New York Giants. After putting up a combined 79 points in their previous two games they scored a measly 3 points against a Giants team who put 26 on them at their home stadium. The Seahawks meanwhile overran the New England Patriots giving them no time to run their potent offense and gained a valuable win. This could be a defensive slugfest with the Seahawks hoping to carry on the form of their last game.
Houston Texans v Baltimore Ravens
The previously unbeaten Texans were undone by a Green Bay team who succeeded in putting some pride and class back into their season, The Texans lost star defensive back Brian Cushing in the lead up to the game so their defensive depth was tested. An even harder task may be found in this match with the Ravens coming to town after a solid win against the Dallas Cowboys. Legendary Ravens defensive back Ray Lewis was injured in that game and is out for the season and maybe his career after 17 years in the league – a huge loss for them. This will be a defining game for the Texans – lose here and it could start a slump after their season started with such a bang.
New York Giants v Washington Redskins
A tale of two Quarterbacks – the master and apprentice. Giants Quarterback Eli Manning has two Superbowl rings however is still not seen as one of the elite. Last week against the 49ers he ran the game with class and poise in his team’s victory.. The Redskins have a new hero in rookie Quarterback Robert Griffin III. Last week he ran in two long touchdowns which is unusual in the NFL. Still playing in a college style from his last season pre NFL, RG3 never panics and looks composed at this level. He will need to be a notch higher though against the current Superbowl Champions in this match up.
New England Patriots v New York Jets
This game always provides headlines pre and post game. A division rivalry both coaches have both mutual differences and feelings between them. Ryan from the Jets is brash and outspoken, the Patriots Bellichick is quiet and calculating. The big difference is the Patriots have won three Superbowls under him whilst Ryan has never had his Jets in the big dance. The Jets form has been terrible this season however confidence will be up after a thrashing of the Colts last week. The Patriots lost in Seattle however losing two in a row is rare in their vocabulary. The Jets will need to bring that confidence into the Patriots stadium to be competitive here.
Cincinnati Bengals v Pittsburgh Steelers – Live ESPN Monday at 1.30pm
Another derby this time in the AFC North slugfest division. Cinncinati were beaten by neighbours Cleveland last week giving them their first win of the season. Always a competitive fixture here the Steelers are coming off a surprise loss to the Titans so both teams will be motivated here, The Steelers have a number of injuries and their depth is being tested. The Bengals don’t look like the playoff team they were last season and may struggle against a well rested Steelers team who played the Thursday night game the week before last.
Chicago Bears v Detroit Lions – Live ESPN Tuesday at 1..30pm
A NFC North clash here – Chicago are coming off a bye week and will be ready for a Detroit team who beat the Eagles last week in overtime. The Bears can be menacing at home and look like favourites for the divisional title.Lions Quarterback Matthew Stafford had a poor first half last week however clicked in the second half and led his team to an away win, Chicago have always had a menacing defence and built their gameplan around it. This year is no difference and the Lions may be coming into a den that’s not going to be easy in this match up.
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