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NFL Match-Up Mania: Week 12

So we had an undefeated team losing, a game delayed due to tornadoes, and the Bucs winning a second game in a row . . .  Week 11 was filled with catastrophic events all over the league, it seems.  But worry not gridiron goers, the tome of knowledge that is The Student of the Game’s NFL Match-Up Mania brings you the Week 12 features to watch.

Broncos v. Pats

Fresh from exercising the 2013 NFL season of undefeated teams, Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning will go from facing a fresh new threat from the west in Week 11’s KC game to challenging an old rival in QB Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.  While I’m not pretentious enough to call the Pats a “trap game” for Denver, I can see why people might make the leap.

New England seems to be universally maligned as regressing entering into and up through a lot of this season.  New England had preseason departures, injuries to stars and even lost to the Jets — perhaps the single transgression a Patriot player can commit against their very vocal fan base.  If it weren’t for veteran QB Tom Brady reminding the football world he’s capable of leading lesser known talents to victory through adversity, his team wouldn’t even be in the Wild Card race.

However, I’m not here to say the Denver Broncos aren’t ripe for a letdown.  Beating KC in a game that’s been hyped for weeks pitting the league’s top defense and offense against each is a mentally exhausting affair.  Multiply that by when the Broncos go to Arrowhead just 2 weeks later for a heaping helping of the same inside the NFL’s loudest venue and suddenly, the “regressing” Patriots are easier to accidentally overlook.

And if we observe only the New England defense and their injuries, perhaps regression is accurate.  But Brady has TE Rob Gronkowski, WR Danny Amendola, and RB Shane Vereen all back to share a field on offense.  I would have also cited that Former Patriot WR Wes Welker would likely have the game of his life to demonstrate why owner Bob Kraft erred in shipping him to the Mile High City.  But after suffering a concussion in his most recent game, Welker may miss this crucial contest and make the Broncos slightly less a stampede.

While Manning will urge his teammates to pay the Pats full attention, I think Brady and company edge out a shootout win in what may be his final regular season game against Peyton.

Jets v. Ravens

The Cincinnati Bengals have underperformed on offense and suffered injuries to weaken their stout defense.  This keeps the Baltimore Ravens a dark horse in the AFC North race while still competing for a Wild Card spot with the rest of that division.   Should the Bengals manage to scrape by and win the aforementioned North, this game will have a direct impact on Baltimore and the New York Jets who are in direct competition for a 6th seed.  These points alone should make this game huge . . . But there is no denying that the fan inside all of us as gridiron goers are curious to see Ed Reed possibly engage his old team with whom he won a Super Bowl last year.  After his release from Houston, it seems that this likely an end to Reed’s Hall of Fame caliber career.

In this game, the Ravens will need stop their RB Ray Rice from being a David Copperfield act that disappears on the football field.  While some analysts have admired Rice’s ability to vanish in the trenches enabling him to confuse defenders and find space, if he’s not reappearing in the end zone, the offense is forced to depend on over-priced QB Joe Flacco.  The prospect of this occurrence hasn’t rendered  success of late.

But then again, even the once mighty Raven defense may be the benefactor of turnovers from the rookie QB Geno Smith whose hopes for Offensive Rookie of the Year were damaged in last week’s beat down via Buffalo Bill rookie rival, QB EJ Manuel.

With Rice coming off of “Have You Seen Me?” status against the Bears in the previous Ravens contest, it’ll fall to the Gangrene defense to chant Abracadabra and make the Baltimore running attack vanish once more.  Unfortunately, it may be 1 trick too many for the Jet ju-ju to jinx the Ravens into the ‘L’ column.

Honorable Mention

Colts v. Cards

When it comes to the Indianapolis Colts, it’s pretty much common football dogma that they will win the AFC South in 2013.  That being said, it’s not that the Colts are beyond reproach.  Andrew Luck as a QB is certain to be a folk hero within Lucas Oil Stadium much like his predecessor, Peyton Manning.  Problem is he’s done it leading comebacks over his squad’s slow starts.

The Arizona Cardinals have a chance to steal a game and advance in the intense NFC Wild Card race.  Tied with 3 other teams going into this Sunday’s battery of games, they have a lot more to be hungry for while Indianapolis has the daunting spector of facing off against the Chiefs the following week.  If the Cardinals leverage this psychology into a huge start, it could make the resulting lead an insurmountable pit that even a Comeback Commander like Luck can’t climb out of. . . Or it may just be comeback win #11.

Chargers v. Chiefs

“It’s a trap!!”. . . That was my first reaction when I saw this one the schedule.  After the most difficult game on their schedule this season, the Kansas City Chiefs will be emotionally exhausted going into this contest.

On top of all that, the San Diego Chargers represent the “poor man’s” version of the Denver Broncos.  Limited by a weak defense, they have an offense that can put up points and challenge the Chiefs defense.  All they need to do is produce enough points to outscore the “King of the Checkdown”, KC’s QB Alex Smith.  I’m not saying it’ll happen, but the blue print is there.


Kyle Nash — @TheSoTG on Twitter

Founder and host of The Student of the Game show

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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
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