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NFL Match-Up Mania: Week 13

The ultimate NFL holiday short of the Super Bowl itself happens this week. . . Thanksgiving. While the Super Bowl gives you a single game to determine the year’s World Champion, Thanksgiving gives you 3 contests from noon to night. And now that these games of late aren’t just traditional but relevant, it only adds to the Week 13 edition of The Student of the Game’s Match-Up Mania.

Eagles v Cowboys

With all the competition in the NFC for playoff positioning, either of these teams need this Thanksgiving afternoon showdown to win the East division and better control their destiny come January.

It’s the revitalized Cowboys with an improved roster of O-Line beef in protection vs. Philly Head Coach Chip Kelly and the offense of a hundred plays. (No, seriously, they’ve run that many plays in a game before).

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Normally, I’m not one to simplify games in this manner (save maybe with Joe Flacco) but it comes down to Romo vs. Sanchez. Even with Tony Romo’s reputation as a “choke artist” quarterback, undeserved as it may be, the Eagles’ Mark Sanchez (who is filling in for starter, Nick Foles) is one of few field generals starting games in the NFL whose more publicly ridiculed. Losing to the Packers 53 – 20 last week couldn’t have made matters any bit better for the kid known as the “Sanchize”.

Bottom line is this — the Cowboys are better on offense and defense right now. The Eagles electric special teams squad may make a difference to keep it close, but I think that Dallas wins to keep their lead in the NFC East.

Seahawks v. Niners

A warning to anyone who follows the Niners closely. Having to watch this game on Thanksgiving night after stuffing your face may be risky. I know on a normal NFL night, watching San Francisco in the red zone makes me sick. Sure, their kicker, Phil Dawson, might be thankful for it one day if he’s inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but that won’t help the 49er Faithful during that evening when they are drinking antacid like eggnog to cope.

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The Seahawks fans will have their own anxiety issues as they will be too nervous to eat. Thanksgiving may be a holiday to commemorate what it is we are thankful for, but I can assure you that a schedule featuring five divisional face-offs in the season’s final six showings is not inspiring members of Seattle’s “12th man” to be thankful.

Already down a game to the Rams within the NFC West, a loss is a crushing blow to Seattle against attempting to reclaim the top of the division to repeat as its champion.

The key to this game is which team better overcomes its weakness. If the Niners remember that 7 points is more than 3 points and actually convert in the red zone, San Francisco will be golden. However, if the Seahawks offense avoids being locked into one dimension on offense, Seattle fans may be drinking coffee and staying up late eating the holiday dinner they were too nervous to eat earlier in the day as a celebration.

For those who aren’t fans of either team, count on these people not being in attendance for “Gray Thursday” shopping.

Pats v. Packers

It wasn’t until this moment writing this that I realized how similar these teams are. Both have top flight signal callers, reliable running support, a few key players in the air attack that actually deserve attention with defenses that rely on certain elite players to keep the opponents’ score low enough for their explosive offenses to win games.

The Patriots defensive stars in corners Brandon Browner and Darelle Revis will have their hands full covering Packer quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ favorite targets in Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb while the world’s fastest immovable object in Vince Wilfork faces the challenge of Jacob Lacey and the cheesehead running game.

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Tough as all that sounds, Green Bay’s Pro Bowl linebacker, Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers are going to be spread even thinner trying to answer for future Hall of Fame New England passer Tom Brady hitting the NFL’s most complete tight end, Rob Gronkowski. Should they manage that, I don’t think they’ll be able to control the ground game as well. It starts out close, but the Pats win the battle of attrition.

Broncos v. Chiefs

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With all the silliness facing these franchises in 2014 there’s an element of familiarity here in the hype around the 2013 meetings. Despite losing to the Rams as the Broncos did and the national media’s apparent shock that a 38 year old stone-footed field general struggles throwing on the run, this Denver team is still the gate keeper for the AFC West. And even though the Chiefs are the “1” in Oakland’s 1-10 win/loss record and have yet to throw a TD pass to a wide receiver, they still have the defense to amplify the cliche of football analysis that is pressuring the opposing the quarterback into making mistakes. Peyton Manning still has too many weapons and will simply score too much for Alex Smith, the king of the checkdown, to keep up. The bright side is that I think Smith will complete a TD pass to someone not a running back or tight end for the first time this season.

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.

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