2015 NFL Match-Up Mania: Week Seven

With the Week Seven edition of the NFL Match-Up Mania, we see 5 teams that are still undefeated at this time. In the eyes of many, at this early mark, these teams have achieved the following roles in the eyes of many:

The Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots are the wily vets that haven’t been featured much on the MuM because of how dominant they seem on paper compared to their schedule opponents.  They are  awarded assumptions of victory and playoff participation.

The Bengals have surprised many as Andy Dalton is playing like a top 10 NFL starter at the quarterback position.  Like the young upstarts that seem to have luck (or the force) on their side, they too have medalled in the eyes of many as the apparent NFC North Champions.  Lastly, the Panthers and Broncos are the ones in the room growling as the beasts in the room that have no earned no honor or cheers from the crowds of NFL fans in what they’ve achieved so far.

Could this be a cheap ploy just to get Stars Wars fans to pay attention to a football blog?  Maybe. . . but if ESPN can play the trailer to Star Wars: The Force Awakens at halftime of Monday Night Football, I say that I am fine to play a classic from a film which is essentially “required reading” in pop culture.  Especially if I am using the first movie made in the cannon as a metaphor stating that it’s fair too early to reward anybody any title or accolades yet because the saga (or season) is far from over at this point.

Cowboys v. Giants

 Life in the NFC East. It was just last week that I said that the Giants were the most stable force in this dysfunctional division. Then Monday night happened. The Eagles laid a smack down that exposed an O-line in pure turmoil despite being pretty bad moving the ball themselves. No exotic blitzes from sneaky secondary players or smash mouth linebackers. Just a basic front four pressure that had Eli Manning on his back. One could say that Philly’s D-lineman treated Eli something like this:

And to think just a week ago the vibe from the Big Blue was that they were a pair of self-inflicted metatarsal gunshot wounds away from 5-0. We in the football analyst community should thank New York for checking our optimistic outlook.

Then there’s the Cowboys. Branden Wheedon may not have been the main reason for the recent losing streak, but replacing him with quarterback Matt Cassel is proof of Dallas’ desperation to claw back as they are officially in “looking for a spark” mode.

I’m not sure who is the safe pick here. The Cowboys who are decimated with injuries and feature backups making a valiant effort, or the Giants whose veterans vacillate between great and grotesque on the gridiron. The Giants offensive line and their ability to protect Eli is the X-factor in this contest. I’m inclined to pick the Giants, but the whole reason this pairing makes the MuM this week is because there is no way to really know what will happen here.

Eagles v. Panthers

The Eagles have made a solid turnaround in the past couple of weeks, but in beating the Saints and Giants, I believe this would be an accurate dramatization of those matches:

Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers won’t be forced to purr and whine so easily. Throughout his history at the University of Oregon and in the NFL, the kryptonite to the offensive scheme of Eagles Head Coach Chip Kelly is a physical defense. As a team, you don’t get much more physical than Carolina at this point in 2015.

This game is a solid test for both the enigmatic Eagles, and the Panthers who still face doubts in their prowess despite an undefeated status. Though the pressure for bragging rights is entirely on the Cats, Philadelphia has plenty to lose here needing every single win they can pilfer in the pedestrian yet highly competitive NFC East as they proceed into the tough part of their schedule.

Jets v. Patriots

Really, Patriots? This piddly Sunday night game where you squeaked by the Colts who performed an epic fake punt fail that stands among the top 10 worst play calls I’ve seen in my life? The spread was 10.5 and this “broken promise” seven-point squeak-by victory robbed numerous players in the gaming public of some coin. Stuff like this is why I’ve never bet on football.

Colts Fake Punt Fail

This disappointment aside, New England is still among the top teams in the NFL without debate. A win is a win, after all, and they’ll be traveling to East Rutherford to face the division Rival New York Jets to attempt to extend their undefeated streak.

While logic dictates that the Pats extend to 7-0, the Jets are equipped to upset them if they play as they did against Indianapolis in Week 6. he Gangrene’s defensive front is among the best you’ll see in 2015 and they are reunited with top level corners in Antonio Cromartie and Darelle Revis.

Offensively, Ryan Fitzpatrick is obviously not elite, but if he game manages the Jets offense into a balanced attack featuring an unleashed Chris Ivory, this game will be close. A close game is a dangerous concept for a team that hasn’t been forced to play a tough fourth quarter and is prone to giving up late touchdowns. Even still. . . I have the Patriots pulling away again in this one. . . Because GRONK!


Honorable Mention

Seahawks v. Niners

With all the trash spoken about the season starts for Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning, and Eli Manning, among the list of struggling quarterbacks in 2015 is San Francisco 49er Colin Kaepernick. However, in the past two weeks, perhaps he is proving that his four interceptions against Arizona in Week Three (with a pair of them going back to the house) was more fluke than fact. In Week Five, Kap set up a chance for his defense to beat the Giants (who dropped an opportunity for a game-winning pick in the final New York drive) and led a campaign thwarting the Baltimore Ravens in Week Six.

Kaepernick's slump continues

I’m not implying that Kaepernick is now absolved of all bad play in 2015, nor that he is better than the overrated Russell Wilson in Seattle. But the fact that the Seahawks are a questionable officiating call and miracle defensive play away from being a 1-win team likely haunts them.

The safe pick is still Seattle as three of their losses come from the current unbeaten teams.  But considering the intensity of this rivalry as one of the top five in the NFL and the psyche of teams, there’s a trap element to this game. There’s the currently rebounding San Francisco as compared to the ‘Hawks who are trying to quench the dumpster fire start they’ve had before it gets out of control.

If Colin Kaepernick is actually properly protected, this game boils down to Russell Wilson’s ability to react to blitzes from the outside that have haunted him throughout the first six games of the season.



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