The NFL is known by many coaches, players, and fans, as “The Not For Long league”. The NFL is the most unpredictable and exciting sport in the world. Fans and media will often make snap judgments on players and teams each week. As a fan of the NFL for 20 years, I want to give fans some insight on the best matchups each week of the NFL season. This article will highlight, preview, and predict, key player matchups and must see NFL games. Fans who read this article will gain insight on the big games and matchups that affect the NFL, as well as fantasy football.
Matchup No. 5 – Detroit Lions’ Calvin (Megatron) Johnson vs. the Green Bay secondary: The Green Bay defense has been a major letdown to say the least in the Packers first three games. Their defense has given up 88 points, 8 passing TDs, 933 passing yards, and a 113.7 Quarterback rating. Currently their defense is in the bottom five in several passing categories. The categories are completion percentage, yards allowed per attempt, Quarterback rating allowed, and passing yards allowed per game.
Green Bay has dominated the Lions recently, sweeping the season series the last two years. Even so, Johnson has been awesome in those matchups. He has averaged over 138 yards per game and had at least 100 yards or a touchdown in each of the teams’ last four meetings. In the Packers favor is that they are coming off a bye which gives them extra time to prepare for this explosive offense. The Packers are coming into this week desperate for a victory because a loss drops them to 1-3. A win for the Lions brings them to 4-1. I’m sure Green Bay defensive coordinator Dom Capers will come with some creative blitzes and disguise his coverages. Even so, I’m very interested to see if the secondary can stop Megatron.
Matchup No. 4 - New England Patriots vs. Cincinnati Bengals’ Rookie Giovani Bernard: Bernard brings a much needed big play element to the Cincinnati Bengals backfield. Through four games running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis has 52 carries for 142 yards, averaging 2.7 yards per carry, 2 TD’s and 1 fumble. In addition, Green-Ellis has caught two passes for nine yards and no TDs. Through four games Bernard has 32 carries for 147 yards, averaging 4.6 yards per carry, 2 TDs, and no fumbles. Bernard has also caught 12 passes for 122 yards and 1 TD and no fumbles. Bernard is more dynamic and a better playmaker than Green-Ellis.
A.J. Green, the Cincinnati Bengals star wide receiver is quarterback Andy Dalton’s primary option in the passing game. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick likes to take away the opponents primary offensive weapon and make the other guys beat them. Green will have some success but he can’t dominate and carry the Bengals to a win over the Patriots. Bernard needs to be heavily involved in the Bengals game plan this week and make several big plays to put the Bengals in the best position to win.
Matchup No. 3 - New Orleans Saints’ Jimmy Graham vs. Chicago Bears linebackers: The Bears have had a storied history when it comes to linebackers; Dick Butkus, Mike Singeletary, and Brian Urlacher to name a few. Unfortunately for Chicago, those linebackers are not walking through that door. The Bears may wish they had one of these guys when they play The New Orleans Saints. The Saints come into this matchup undefeated, partly because of the play of Graham.
Graham has elevated his game into rarified air not seen by mere mortals. In the last three games he has caught 23 passes for 413 yards and 5 TDs! He is simply a matchup nightmare for any defense right now. What makes Graham so difficult to defend is his size, he is 6’7” and 265 lbs. Graham also possesses excellent speed, agility, leaping ability and a great pair of hands. I have great respect for the Bears defensive scheme and Lance Briggs, but containing Graham will be a major challenge for the Bears this week.
Matchup No. 2 - Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin vs. Denver Broncos’ Peyton Manning: Peyton Manning is rolling so good right now that allowing him only 300 passing yards and 3 touchdowns is progress. Denver is averaging over 44 points per game! Kiffin is going to have to devise an inspired, creative game plan that gives the Cowboys a chance to stop the Broncos passing attack.
DeMarcus Ware is the Cowboys best defensive player. Kiffin needs to get Ware involved in the backfield early and often. This penetration will allow the Cowboys to disrupt the Broncos no-huddle offense. Coach Kiffin can create an outstanding game plan, Ware can have a great game and the Broncos will still likely drop 30 points on Dallas.
Turnovers are the great equalizer and with that in mind Dallas may be able to exploit Denver in this area. Through four games Tony Romo is playing well completing over 72% of his passes with 8 TDs while only having 1 interception, and 1 fumble so far. Dallas is actually +3 in turnover differential while Denver is only at a +1 differential. Disruptive defense + the Cowboys winning the turnover battle is the formula that Dallas needs to win.
Matchup No. 1 - Seattle Seahawks’ Marshawn (Beast Mode) Lynch vs. Indianapolis Colts run defense: In recent years the Colts defense has been notoriously bad at stopping the run. In fact the last time they were better than average in rushing yards allowed was in 2007. Marshawn Lynch is a battering ram disguised as a running back. Lynch seeks out the defenders and punishes them with devastating power and determination. Lynch also has good speed, agility and quick feet that allow him to avoid tackles in the open field.
The Colts game plan has got to be stopping Lynch. If Lynch gets going then he opens up the play action passing, quarterback roll outs and read option which would make Seattle very difficult to stop. If the Colts can contain Lynch, it forces Wilson to air it out. Wilson is very talented but he has been a little hot and cold passing the football. If the Colts can make the Seahawks one dimensional and force Wilson to beat them passing, they have a much better chance of winning.