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NFL Match-Up Mania: Week 6

There were contests I was looking at featuring for the Week 6 rendition of the Student of the Game’s NFL Match-Up Mania, but then I looked at the injury report.  Tennessee’s QB Jake Locker is hurt and Cleveland’s QB Brian Hoyer is out for the year joining the ranks of the ACL afflicted.  It proves while the football gods don’t outright prevent a franchise’s resurrection, they can make it an extremely difficult and depressing undertaking.  None the less, revival seems to be the theme in these contests in the “Mania” this week.

Patriots v. Saints

This marks the 3rd consecutive squad New England is playing with realistic playoff aspirations in as many weeks.  Difference is this opponent, the New Orleans Saints, has QB Drew Brees.  Last time Patriot QB Tom Brady faced Brees, the lop-sided shootout that ensued in 2009 ended with the would-be Super Bowl Champion Saints claiming a 33-17 victory.  Considering the weapons involved on the Pats’ side included WRs Randy Moss and Wes Welker, who have since departed from Foxboro’s football franchise, the Saints’ offense only significant  difference in their passing core is WR Devery Henderson leaving.  Additionally, they currently have just as stout a RB corps in support as they did 4 years ago.  New England seems to now have less talent while the Saints stayed sharp.

Considering all that, even with the upcoming return of TE Rob “Gronk” Gronkowski, this marks the bar high for the number of points New England would need to win.

What’s different for football by the Fleur de Lis is that the defense isn’t the same as it was in 2009.  Once featuring names as fearsome as DB Darren Sharper, LB Scott Fujita and LB Jonathan Vilma, this was a crew that with or without the bounty scandal would have been superior to their 2013 counterpart.  Not to say the Patriots are any better on “D” with their DT and the fastest immovable object known to man Vince Wilfork out for the season.

Bottom line, yet another shootout faces the Saints and we see yet another week where receivers for the Patriots must step up in a pairing where points will be posted aplenty.  If Gronk’s performance neutralizes the Saints’ Jimmy Graham from the TE position, rookie WR Kendrell Thompkins must do the same to offset New Orleans WR Marques Colston to keep the game competitive.


And the final factor in the face off?  The greater ground group garnered by the “Big Easy’s” ballers when compared to an injury plagued running crew for New England.  Because of their QB, the Patriots will keep it close, but I see Brees besting Brady and Head Coach Bill Bellichik with the roster revival of Head Coach Sean Payton playing a powerful role in the Saints’ ascension.


Chargers v. Colts

When I looked at this game during the preseason, I chalked it up as an easy win for Denver thanks to their mix of offense and defense.  A clerical error, suspension, injuries, and an acquisition later, the Broncos lose LB Elvis Dummervil and LB Von Miller, while gaining an elite offensive asset in WR Wes “The Weapon” Welker.


In light of these facts and giving up 48 points to the Cowboys in the Week 5 Denver win, the “D” is less effective.  Yet, QB Peyton Manning is leading the Mile High offense at a record pace with limited opposition in sight as far as defenses go.  It could be argued the last big threat on their schedule to stop the Broncos with defense is Kansas City.


However, the Chargers have surprised me and many football followers in 2013.  While San Diego is presently 4th in the division by losing to the Raiders in Week 5, it isn’t due entirely to shortcomings of QB Philip Rivers.


I have oft been critical of Rivers due to his inconsistent play and ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory at various points throughout his 10 seasons in the league.

This year is an exception.  Even as a Philip Rivers critic, I cannot deny the scoreboard surging stats he’s brought in the first 5 games.  The only catalyst I can think of for a QB of Rivers’ caliber to revive as he has despite the weakened O-line, a mid level run game, and an injured WR corps is the scheme of new Head Coach Mike McCoy and new Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt.


At the end of the day, this will be yet another longball lightshow with both field generals firing rockets that explode into points and make us all as gridiron goers mutter “OHs” and “AHs”.  The one to launch a dud will likely be the one whose team loses.  When I think of a dud, I’m less inclined to think of Peyton Manning than I am Philip Rivers.  The Broncos stay undefeated in a game that will break 60 total points.


Honorable Mention


Bengals v. Bills

I didn’t expect to put the Bills into Match-Up Mania against a non-AFC East opponent in 2013, but after the Bengals limped past the Patriots squad,13-6, I smell a trap.

The complication for the Bills is that QB EJ Manuel won’t be back in commission after suffering a knee injury against the Browns.  That means practice squad QB Thad Lewis will be named to his first start facing off against DT Geno Atkins and a defense that held New England’s NFL elite QB Tom Brady to 2 field goals.


I’m not saying I’m calling upset, but the Brown’s pulled off the same in Week 3 against QB Andy Dalton and his stripe hype after the 4-point win over the Packers.


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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