Week 7’s Top Match-Ups!
By Matt DeLucia
It’s time for my weekly installment of top games. Welcome to Week 7’s top match-ups for the NFL.
5 – Baltimore (2-3) vs Miami (2-3)
I know people are like “what the heck this game” but just wait a second. If you look closely both the Baltimore Ravens and the Miami Dolphins are in the playoff race as of now. At 2-3 the winner of this game puts themselves right into the thick of things in their respective division. It’s a showdown of the feisty old Ravens defense vs the never knowing what they will hit you with Dolphins offense. If the Dolphins run the “Wildcat Formation” about 12-18 times they’ll win this game, no matter what defensive changes or preparation the Ravens use to try and stop them. I’m actually looking forward to this game, love the look of young quarterback Joe Flacco a rookie of the year candidate. Flacco gives their offense a fresh new look that’s been missing for years. What’s that it’s a quarterback that can move the offense down the field consistently. On the Dolphins side of the ball the big question is which team will show up. The one that knocked off both of last year’s AFC Championship teams in back to back weeks, or the sloppy play team that allowed the Houston Texans to walk away with a victory last week. We’ll have the answer on Sunday afternoon to that question. Miami 20 – 17
4 – San Diego (3-3) vs Buffalo (4-1)
For the first time since the Jim Kelly era the Buffalo Bills are alive and fighting in the AFC East. The fresh and revamped Bills have an offensive pulse thanks to Trent Edwards and the likes of Lee Evans and Marshawn Lynch and company. Offensively the Bills can challenge the San Diego Chargers defense who up until last week’s game with the New England Patriots were missing in action so far this season. We know the Chargers defense won’t and is not the same without their star Shawn Merriman on the field. But it’s giving the chance for a new star to rise up and lead their defense. Ladainian Tomlinson is not his usual self on the field being hampered by a toe injury that is taking away the explosiveness and cut making ability in his running game. If the Bills can shut LT down it’ll place more pressure on Philip Rivers and the passing game. With Chris Chambers likely to return to action this week and young Vincent Jackson coming into his own, it places more pressure on the Bills defense. A Buffalo win keeps them in first place in the AFC East and would prove the Bills are for real this year. Buffalo 27-26
3 – Minnesota (3-3) vs Chicago (3-3)
Are the Chicago Bears able to help their hometown Chicago Cubs fans forget the devastating boot for the playoffs in baseball. An NFC North showdown is on the horizon this weekend. It’s the Bears offense against an overloaded high priced Minnesota Vikings defense that so far this year hasn’t paid off for owner Zygi Wilf and company. The Vikings front line needs to pressure quarterback Kyle Orton of the Bears and force him into making mistakes in the passing game. Also stopping the likes of young star Matt Forte and the gritty veteran Kevin Jones is the key to crippling the Bears offense. Forcing their defense and it’s veteran leaders Brian Urlacher and Tommie Harris (who’s availability is unknown due to a knee injury) into not only stop the offense and Gus Frerotte and the speedy Adrian Peterson but coming away with some points also. So the battles are on with Jared Allen, Pat and Kevin Williams vs Orton, Forte and the remarkable Devin Hester on one side. The other has Urlacher, Harris and a beat up Bears secondary trying to contain AP and pressure Frerotte by taking away his deep threats Bernard Berrian and Bobby Wade. Sit back, relax and enjoy this game and all it’s thrills it has to offer. In the end sorry Cubs fans no relief this week as the Vikes edge it out. Minnesota 20-17
2 – New Orleans (3-3) vs Carolina (4-2)
A key match up in the NFC South this weekend features the New Orleans Saints and the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America stadium in Charlotte. I’m going to enjoy watching this game as Drew Brees and Saints high scoring offense comes to town. Even with the losses of receiver Marques Colston and Jeremy Shockey to injuries early this year the Saints have shown their fans they will and can still play the high flying offensive game. With it looking like at least Colston being able to return it not only boosts the offense but gives Brees high deep weapon back. The Panthers defense was just absolutely shredded last week by the the Tampa Bay Buccaneers giving up 27 points. The defense needs to play much improved this week if they want to give Jake Delhomme, Steve Smith and another rookie of the year contender Jonathan Stewart a shot here. Good news for Carolina the Saints defense is one of the worse in the league so a nice running combo of Stewart and DeAngelo Williams would allow Delhomme the time needed to air it out. Look for a high scoring game from both teams this weekend but in the end I like Saints to edge this contest out. New Orleans 34-28
1 – Indianapolis (3-2) vs Green Bay (3-3)
What’s not to love with this game, two teams the Indianapolis Colts and the Green Bay Packers are both in unusual situations. The Colts are struggling this year, have looked just down right horrible on offense at times and the Packers are still adjusting to life after the Brett Favre reign. Peyton Manning hasn’t looked his stellar self this year, Marvin Harrison finally showed some life in last week’s game catching two touchdown passes. Their running game coming into this week has a huge question mark surrounding it with Joseph Addai not playing leaving Dominic Rhodes and rookie Mike Hart to move the ball on the ground. The Packers defense for the most part aren’t pushovers and should have a field day stopping the run and forcing Manning to use his weapons in Reggie Wayne, Harrison and Dallas Clark much more this week. Aaron Rodgers playing despite not being a full strength thanks to the injured right shoulder he suffered a few weeks back, will look to expose the Colts secondary with his favorite targets Donald Driver and Greg Jennings and the newly found Jordy Nelson. In doing so it opens up the hopes of Ryan Grant to pound it out on the ground against a very weak but slightly improved line of the Colts. I love seeing the Colts and Manning lose any week of the season especially this year, since our Patriots are struggling and can use any and all help in trying to get into the playoffs. I’m thinking some help is coming as I like the well rounded and more balanced Packers in this contest. Green Bay 41-37