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NFL Match-Up Mania: Week 7

With 6 weeks written into the 2013 standings, a few different teams have cemented that they are unlikely to appear in the 10 upcoming samplings of the “Mania” since the sport 0-6 records.  So in fond memory, we bid fair well to the Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Giants, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers from this season’s campaign.  Should any of you win 9 straight games and threaten a 10 week streak for playoff propulsion, I’ll resurrect you.  Now that this depressing news is handled, off to this Week 7’s allotment of the Student of the Game’s NFL Match-Up Mania.


Broncos v. Colts

If you didn’t have plans to watch this game, consider this a public service announcement saving you from the rising epidemic of “fan ridicule”.  I don’t care what has been or will be said, QB Peyton Manning will be looking to prove to Colts Owner Jim Irsay that he still has the fuel to fry the Colts’ franchise.  Heck, I got traded in my flag football league and I was burning to beat my former team.  When you are cut by a team in the highest level of football where millions of dollars are at stake, I can only imagine what Manning has in mind to humiliate Indy.


But with QB Andrew Luck’s leadership in his 2nd year, the Colts reception of a cold dish of revenge isn’t a foregone conclusion.  WR T.Y. Hilton has be become a top target for the team and is solidly supported by future Hall of Fame WR Reggie Wayne and TE Coby Fleener as well as RB Trent Richardson in ground support.


But let’s not think I’ve forgotten Denver’s spectacular skill player syndicate in WR Wes “the Weapon” Welker, WR Demaryius Thomas, WR Eric Decker, TE Julius Thomas, and RB Knowshon Moreno.  In light of these offenses facing one another, this is a pretty even match up as it would seem.  With this in mind, it will fall to these teams’ defenses to the decide the outcome.


For me, it falls on the Colts’ LB Robert Mathis or the Broncos’ LB Von Miler, back fresh from his 6 game suspension.  Whichever player does more to disrupt the opponent’s backfield will secure success for the his team.  However, seeing how fast Manning releases the football, defensive fronts are deemed quickly useless leaving me thinking Denver delivers delicious retribution for their QB.


Niners v. Titans


The 49ers have battled the numbers game all season long.  Seeing statistics stating the  Super Bowl losers slink sadly short of post season play probably provides motivation to prove that numbers can, in fact, lie.  Considering they’ve missed key players such as DE Aldon Smith, LB Patrick Willis, WR Michael Crabtree, DT Ray McDonald, and TE Vernon Davis through various points in the year, San Francisco still survives in the NFC West standings.


While most preseason prognostication predicted the Gold Gate Gridiron Gang going to the playoffs, few found a future for the Tennessee Titans in such contention as a possibility.  Yet the Titans have terrified teams on many fronts including a solid start scaring the 6-0 Seahawks into an near upset while starting backup QB Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Regardless of whether Fitzpatrick starts again or the starter Jake Locker returns, I think the offense with more yards on the ground will when this game.  The team that achieves this will have successfully controlled the of time possession and  prevented giving the ball away to allow the other side to score easy points.


At the end of the day, I see Titans’ turnovers trashing their hopes in a close game where the Niners use Frank Gore to frustrate the defense.


Pats v. Jets


I’m not on the Geno Smith bandwagon, but the Jets rookie QB starter has shown me he can overcome those opponents who crumble in the clutch.  This was best exhibited by the win over the Atlanta Falcons who have gotten less flak from the failure than I would have thought.  While they did lose to Pittsburgh in the latest outing, I see that adding to the motivation wrought in facing the AFC East’s top team.


Before you question my football acumen referring to New England’s QB Tom Brady as a “clutch crumbler”, I’m not.  His receiver corps, however, has done plenty to silence scoring late in games.  After all, they needed a second opportunity to go down the field to squeak by the Saints in yet another 3 point Patriots win.  And I won’t insult Foxboro fans by citing a 6 point showing 2 weeks ago.


If the Jets can get past injury issues they’ve suffered on their defense and WR crew while taking advantage of the same on the New England roster, Brady and his boys will need to score more than 13 points to win this divisional rematch.  That being said, I see the Pats winning their second in a row.


Honorable Mention


Bills v. Phins


We discounted QB Thad Lewis and his corps of WRs as just a 3rd stringer and some unknowns doomed to fail against the AFC North’s 1st place Bengals.  But after barely losing said contest in overtime, perhaps Lewis is still far enough under the radar to quietly confuse the Dolphin defense and pick some ground back up within the division.


The Miami “D” is certainly a solid squad, but it’s not like the Bengals the Bills closely competed with are a bungling bunch to begin with.  Conversely , QB Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins WRs have done well to swim up the field despite a questionable O-line and lacking run support. I’m not brave enough to call upset here, but those who do are safe from ridicule from me.



Steelers v. Ravens


Even though the AFC North is among the weakest divisions in the league now record-wise, this contest is still one that’s worth the time for every football fan.  Whether it’s Steeler QB “Big” Ben Roethlisberger fighting for his life dodging the Ravens’ punishing pass rusher LB Terrell Suggs or the fearsome flow of Pittsburgh S Troy Polamalu’s long hair flying around the field to stop Baltimore’s QB Joe Flacco and RB Ray Rice, these stars surge with hatred for one another.


I believe that this round of this raging rivalry will be close as most of them tend to be, but I believe that the Steelers’ injuries in the trenches and run game, specifically C Maurkice Pouncey, give the Ravens an edge to impose their defense’s mantra, “Quote the Ravens: Never Score”.  If you are betting, I’d consider taking the under on this one.


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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