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NFL Match-Up Mania: Week 7

Written by @TheSoTG

As we begin the Week 7 edition of The Student of the Game’s Match-Up Mania, it strikes me that that it is far easier to predict failure correctly than it is success. For example, the 2 remaining winless teams, Jacksonville Jaguars and Oakland Raiders, are crews that I predicted on September 1st were without hope. But the teams remaining with only one loss and no ties are the Arizona Cardinals, Dallas Cowboys, San Diego Chargers, Philadelphia Eagles, and Denver Broncos. The Broncos or Eagles may not be a shock, but Dallas was supposed to be a tale of woe losing coaches on defense and stars on both sides of the ball in the offseason. The Chargers were supposed to be pounded by teams at this point, but it is possible that if they weren’t forced to face the Cardinals back on Week 1, their single point loss may have been replaced by a still undefeated record. The Cards themselves only lost to a Bronco squad in a contest where they we reduced to their 3rd string QB after being carried by a defense with more injuries than a MASH unit and quarterback “greats” like Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton. Anyone who predicted any of these outcomes deserves congratulations . . . and commitment to a mental hospital for conceiving such insanity.¬† Now onto Week 7.

Bengals v Colts

Without their top offensive weapon, wide receiver AJ Green, Cincinnati still had a shot to beat a scrappy Carolina team in overtime until kicker Mike Nugent shanked a 36 yard kick closing out 75 minutes of timed football.

[airesizeimg src=”http://ngscsports.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/AJ_Green$-300×266$.jpg” alt=”AJ_Green” class=”alignnone size-medium wp-image-7368″ ]

While it could be argued that neither team deserved to win that game, the loss represents ground given up to the Denver Broncos, New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts in the quest for the AFC’s top seed. If there is a best way for the Bengals to recover from that, a head-to-head win over the Colts is certainly among them.

So if the ‘Who Dey’ nation goes to Lucas Oils Stadium in Indy and beats out quarterback Andrew Luck, the dominant MVP candidate in the season so far, they can make easier their quest towards a playoff bye. Because that’s simple . . . Or not.

Luck and TY Hilton are doing so well on offense that Ahmad Bradshaw and Trent Richardson and still able to gain occasional yards because their opponents are often sitting back to defend against the air attack. Lump that in with improved defensive play, and the Colts are more than just an above average team in a weak division.

It’s not that the Bengals are without hope. In the previous 2 weeks, they’ve struggled in coverage against Pro Bowl caliber threats at the tight end position, something that Indianapolis does not possess in their lineup. Also, while they are missing Green at the receiver spot, Giovanni Bernard has run the ball well and Muhammad Sanu has evolved as a receiving option that at least warrants attention.

Of course Cincy is better with linebacker Vontaze Burfict and Green on the field and not the bench, but it’s not a lock that the Colts post yet another upset escape — I just think they will.

Niners v Broncos

A game that represents a Super Bowl that was one batted pass turned interception by linebacker Malcolm Smith away from happening, most people look at this pairing and just assume that Peyton Manning and the Broncos will take the easy W and continue to dominate their way to a division championship. . . But many said in similar fashion that Denver would topple the Seahawks in similar fashion before Seattle ground the Broncos into horse meat in the last Super Bowl.

[airesizeimg src=”http://ngscsports.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Frank-Gore-stiffarm$-300×253$.jpg” alt=”Frank Gore, Kelly Jennings” class=”alignnone size-medium wp-image-1987″ ]

Whether people believe it or not, the Niners are a team similar built to the Seattle Seahawks, so the potential to compete against Manning and company is there.

Strong linebackers, D-line, and former Manning teammate in Indianapolis, Antwan Bethea at safety will be key for San Francisco to slow Peyton (because I’m not brave enough to say and NFL team can outright stop him).

It’s not to say that Colin Kaepernick, Frank Gore and the Niners don’t have their work cut out for them. But strategy, “X”s and “O”s, and game plans won’t manner unless the 49ers play disciplined flag-free football while scoring touchdowns instead of relying on Future Hall of Fame kicker Phil Dawson to kick four or five field goals to get points on the board.

Honorable Mention

 Chiefs v Chargers

On paper, I’ve no reason to believe that Kansas City can do enough to topple the Chargers. Philip Rivers and his offense would seem to easily out score Alex Smith, Jamal Charles and company regardless of the injury status of the Chiefs defense. Couple that with the vastly improved San Diego defense, and we’ve the makings of a blow out.

[airesizeimg src=”http://ngscsports.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/DeAnthony-Thomas$-300×212$.jpg” alt=”DeAnthony Thomas” class=”alignnone size-medium wp-image-7369″ ]

But within this division, especially when it comes to the Bolts, you might as well shred the paper. They have been known to over or underperform to the level of their opposition when it comes to AFC West games. If the Chiefs find a way to slow Brandon Oliver, the Chargers’ 3rd string runner, and force them the be one-dimensional moving the ball while causing Rivers to make mistakes, that’ll open the door for the Arrowhead offense if they are balanced mixing in some Dwayne Bowe and DeAnthony Thomas to assist Charles. Not saying I think this will happen, but considering the way this season’s gone for surprise endings, it’s certainly not impossible.

Author Profile

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. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLSMS502kM7IMxFj7jf5ih5mTbFS_-9HJL

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