by James Turnage:
If the NFL season continues to be as competitive as the first four weeks have been, this may be called the “year of the fan”. It’s been a nightmare for sports bettors. The situation with the replacement referees contributed to an interesting start, but were not entirely to blame for some early losses. Week 5 has some interesting match-ups and, although it’s early, some important games are nearly ‘must wins’ for certain Superbowl hopefuls.
The Atlanta Falcons are at the Washington Redskins. Atlanta needs to win. Although they lead their division and are expected to win it, they face a similar challenge as they did in week four when they played the Carolina Panthers. They struggled to win against quarterback Cam Newton, and this week they face Robert Griffin the third, a rookie sensation who, like Newton, and beat you in many ways. Atlanta needs to show it has the ability to dominate their division and are at the top of the class in the NFC.
The Philadelphia Eagles come into Heinz Field to play the 1 and 2 Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers once great defense looked ordinary in their first three games. Last week was their bye week, and they needed it to get James Harrison, Troy Polamalu, and running back Darren McFadden healthy. Michael Vick and the Eagles are in first place in their division, but their wins have been too close to feel secure in that position. Both defense and offense need to play one good game at the same time.
The most interesting game may be the Denver Broncos at the New England Patriots. Once again it’s Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady. This will be a test for both teams. Denver’s offense has to get on the same page and match the effort of a good defense. New England’s still questionable defense will have to prove itself against the games smartest quarterback. He may just pick the secondary apart and accomplish one of the most difficult tasks in football, to win against the Patriots on their home field.
Sunday night the Chargers face the Saints in New Orleans. New Orleans is hungry for a win and San Diego would like to begin to separate itself from the rest of the AFC West.
What should be the best game of the week has been saved as the last game. Monday night the Texans are at the New York Jets. The Jets need to put a good game together, as they did in week one, just to stay in contention. Having the Patriots in their division, this is a must game to prevent their season from slipping away. But they face the Texans, who may be the best team in football. Their defense is as good as any other team in the league, and they have the number 1 or number 2 running back in the league in Arian Foster. (Foster and Adrian Peterson are first picks for anyone’s fantasy card.)
The term, “on any given Sunday”, has been applicable this year from the first week. There have been many surprises, both good and bad. Now, with the regular referees back on the field, no one will be able to blame the replacements for a win or a loss. The players and coaches will have to answer to what happens or doesn’t happen on the field.