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NFL Match-Up Mania: Week 5

I don’t know if Hall of Fame Coach Bill Parcells actually coined the phrase, “you are what your record says you are”, but he’s certainly credited with it.  Although, when he said that, I’m certain he didn’t see a world that had the 2013 Tennessee Titans go from a laughing stock to having more wins than the Niners and Texans.  That’s why you aren’t limited to only the undefeated in the Week 5 volume of The Student of the Game’s Match-Up Mania.  Some teams are just better than their records on the football field.

Bengals v. Patriots

After facing the Falcons, the Pats find themselves once again in the possibly precarious place of facing another top level team without their top level talent.  Even TE Rob “Gronk” Gronkowski and WR Danny Amendola are on the field, the question is how much impact they will have in their respective states of recovery.  Against other less than elite members of the AFC East, like the Bills or the Jets, a little bit from either player would be a huge asset to virtually assure victory for QB Tom Brady and the Pats.  But against DT Geno Atkins and the Cincinnati defense?  They may need Gronk and Amendola at their best.

There appears to be room for doubt since the Bengals’ prowess is still a mystery after a disappointing performance against the Browns.  But with Foxboro’s favorite fat man, DT Vince Wilfork out for the year with an ACL tear, Cincni rookie sensation RB Giovanni Bernard will be tougher to stop.  That, and CB Aqib Talib will have the tall task of containing WR AJ Green.  If this game is to acquire the stripe hype a victory, TEs Tyler Eiffert and Jermaine Gresham will need to get involved.

Despite the win against Atlanta and regardless of Brady at QB developing a solid threat in rookie WR Kendrell Thompkins, I proceed with pontificating profuse panic plaguing the Patriots.  But that can all go away if New England’s best weapons return and blast the Bengals.  As current realities go, I just don’t see that happening against the Bengal defense.  Along with the Pats struggling on “D” themselves, I think QB Andy Dalton (aka the Ginja Ninja) will send strikes sealing Cinci’s victory.

Saints v. Bears

These teams have both rocketed to the top of their respective divisions winning at least their first 3 games.  In Week 4 however, the Bears were asked to do something they hadn’t yet in 2013 — beat a balanced offense in the Detroit Lions.  Not only did the “Warriors of the Windy City” blow it, the Chicago offense was a tempest of turnovers that dug a hole they couldn’t climb out of this time.

While the Saints may not have WR Calvin Johnson and RB Reggie Bush on their roster as the Lions do, when it comes to defensive assignments, New Orleans is far from “The Big Easy”.  Also, Chicago QB Jay Cutler has posted multiple INTs in multiple appearances this season.  In light of that fact, the weak defense fielded by the followers of the “Fleur de Lea” doesn’t necessarily guarantee an easy day for WR Brandon Marshall or RB Matt Forte.

Even if Cutler curtails catastrophe, does his squad have the ability to outlast QB Drew Brees and the Saints in a shootout?  I say no.  That is why the Bears will hibernate in the “L” column for the second straight week.

Texans v. Niners

This game is the “Contest for the Comeback”.  Whether it’s the supposedly struggling San Francisco offense led by QB Colin Kaepernick or the hapless Houston Texans headed up by QB Matt Schaub, referring to these teams as disappointing is an understatement.  The levels of letdown levied here rivals the release of the news that Ben Affleck will be the next Batman in the new Justice League movie (as comic nerds would have you believe, anyway).

While both offenses face flak from under performance in their signal callers and RB committees alike, both rosters suffer from injury induced impotence.  The Texans top target receiving, WR Andre Johnson, missed time with a concussion and has been limited by leg injury.  In that same ilk, the foremost 49er WR option, Michael Crabtree, is also expected out of the line-up past week 10.  Both squads have defensive talent that has been asked to pick up the pieces, but even players like Houston’s JJ (S)Watt and San Francisco’s LB Patrick Willis have too much mess to manage in mitigating mediocrity from their offenses.

The TE spot in this game will be a more deciding factor than most contests witnessed. Both Owen Daniels and Vernon Davis must provide that extra weapon to open up opportunity.  If they aren’t allotted attention in coverage, they will put points on the board personally.  If either draws too much attention,  the weapons either side has remaining can lead to a game changing play.

At the end of the day, I’m more impressed by San Francisco beating one talented NFC team than any of the AFC afterthoughts that the Texans toppled this season.  I believe in Kap and the Niners crushing LB Brian Cushing and company more than I do that Schaub will show off against the “Golden Gate’s Gridiron Gang”.

Honorable Mention

Lions v. Packers

I’m calling this pairing “The Playoff of the Paid Off”.  QBs Matt Stafford and Aaron Rodgers both received ridiculous contracts this past offseason as the centers to both their teams’ success.  Whether you are reliant on a single superstar WR like Calvin Johnson to create opportunities for others or a receiving corps that has a higher average caliber of talent to keep defenses guessing, it starts with the field general facilitating the football.

I talk about the offenses here because these defenses are most of the reasoning behind why the Bears are ahead of them in the NFC North.  Moreover, this game is a divisional contest that represents a risk to get blown back further behind the Windy City.

Considering the lack of impact from these defenses, the offense that’s more complete will be better to compete.  Despite RB Reggie Bush returning from injury, the Packers will still see more ground gained regardless of who they put out there.  I see the Pack pulling out the win as they wield more reliable weapons as a squad.


Written By:

Kyle Nash — @TheSoTG on Twitter

Founder and host of The Student of the Game show

VP of Operations and Editor for The National Gridiron Network

NFL Contributor for The Sports Chronicles

Special Contributor for Pro Player Insiders.

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Kyle NashThe Student of the Game
Host of the Student of The Game Podcast Monday @ 7:30pm EST
Writer for NGSC Sports
Narrator of Sport Symposium on NGSC Sports YouTube Channel.

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