Week 11 Viewer's Guide: What to watch in Colts-Ravens; mail
Without Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata, the Ravens could have trouble with Peyton
The only thing in the Broncos' favor: the Chargers' lagging running game
The Bears need to get off to a fast start if they hope to contain the Eagles
My weekly look at key matchups and storylines to watch in one game at each time slot. (All times Eastern).
Sunday 1 p.m.
So much hype and effort went into Indy's come-from-behind win over the Patriots that some observers may think the Colts are primed for a let-down. But this team seems to be immune to such things. Even after it was brutalized by the Dolphins in a Week 2 Monday nighter, it hit the road the following Sunday and made quick work of the Arizona Cardinals. Don't expect anything less than the Colts' best.
The formula for slowing down the Peyton Manning-led offense is to get pressure from the front four and have a solid secondary that can keep pace with the receivers. The Ravens don't appear to have either. With Ravens DE/OLB Terrell Suggs set to miss a game for the first time in his seven-year career, and Haloti Ngata still nursing an ankle injury, the Ravens likely won't generate pressure from their front four. That means they'll have to blitz, and Manning typically shreds blitz-heavy teams. It also means more man-coverage for a secondary that has struggled most of the season.
Sunday 4:15 p.m.
I don't think many people foresaw the Chargers going on a roll that would include taking down two of the supposed beasts of the NFC East in the Giants and Eagles. Nor did many believe the surprising Broncos could go on a three-game slide that would include a loss to the lowly Redskins.
One thing the Broncos have going for them in this battle for the AFC West lead is that the Chargers' running game has been woeful at times. That could play into the strength of the Broncos defense, which is their veteran secondary and linebacker Elvis Dumervil's ability to rush the passer. The bigger issues is whether the Broncos can move the football, especially if quarterback Kyle Orton is hindered or sidelined with an injured ankle.
Sunday 8:20 p.m.
Will the real preseason Super Bowl contender please stand up? Both teams have been disappointing after coming into the year riding a wave of expectations. The Bears need to get off to a fast start in this prime-time matchup or things could get ugly at Soldier Field. For starters, it'd be nice if Jay Cutler could get through a half without throwing an interception. At 4-5 and on a two-game losing streak, the Bears could use a confidence-boosting win.
The Eagles have dropped two in a row also, even though Donovan McNabb has a fleet of young playmakers who can put up huge yardage at times. But this league is about points and a team's ability to score touchdowns when in the red zone. On the other side of the ball, the Eagles need to consistently get pressure on Cutler to force him into his trademark mistakes, especially considering their newfound lack of depth at cornerback due to the losses of Ellis Hobbs and Joselio Hanson.
Monday 8:30 p.m.
The Tennessee Titans sure like to talk a lot of trash for a team that only has three wins this season. This week, linebacker Keith Bulluck made note that the Texans have never even "sniffed" the playoffs. That bravado just adds intrigue to a matchup that features Titans owner Bud Adams bringing a refurbished Vince Young back to their hometown.
The Titans are 3-0 with Young back as the starter, and part of the reason is a pared-down game plan that takes the pressure off Young thinking he needs to win the game by himself. Truth be told, he doesn't. All he really needs to do is find a way to get the football in the hands of the most explosive player in the NFL, Chris Johnson, as often as possible. But Houston is ready for that scenario, especially since it has had two weeks to prepare for this AFC South showdown.
Let's see what's in the old mailbag ...
They should seriously consider a second bye week. More recovery time for injured players, more time to correct team problems, and an extra week of football without adding a single game.
As I have said before, I am in favor of a 17-game schedule with an additional bye week. This would provide the league and its broadcasting partners with 19 weeks of regular season inventory. Each team would play one neutral-site game -- either domestically or abroad -- which would enable every team to maintain its eight home dates.
Ross, I am a big fan of your column, but I find your arguments for a longer regular season difficult to stomach and inconsistent. The first three reasons you give involve, or are dependent on, more players getting injured. That seems to be pretty cold-hearted and not very compelling.
Also, in your fourth point, you state that you don't think there will be the increase in injuries that many others believe. If you believe this, then this lessens the strength of your first three points, which highlight the potential benefits of an increase in injuries. Your fourth point is not consistent with your first three points.
Please clarify if I have misread or misinterpreted your points.
I think this is a fair critique and many others wrote in with the same opinion. If anything, I probably should have listed my points in reverse order. In general, I am not convinced that adding an additional game, or maybe even two, would be quite as catastrophic as many make it out to be, so I think the injury quotient for that has been a bit blown out of proportion, though obviously there would be an increase in that category.
However, even if there are additional injuries, I wanted to highlight the fact that there are indeed some positives that can, and do, come as a result of the misfortune of others. If that is cold-hearted, so be it. That is simply how the NFL works, whether the season is 14 games or 18. Any time a player goes down, an opportunity is created for someone else. I both benefitted from and was hurt by that reality during my playing career, as the herniated discs in both my neck and back can attest.
Perry Fewell? I was wondering what happened to the guy after Jane's Addiction broke up. Did Dick Jauron deserve the axe?
I don't own an iPod and the last CD I bought was the Rocky IV soundtrack in ninth grade, if you can believe that. So I don't get your musical reference, unfortunately.
I do get why the Bills fired Jauron, even though I thought he did a fairly solid job during his tenure. The talent level he had at the beginning of every season was never better than 8-8 in my opinion. For him to field competitive teams that fought their way to 7-9 after the mediocre roster was decimated by injury each year is impressive. They had guys starting who wouldn't even be on some good teams' rosters.
How much do players and coaches look forward to and utilize TV timeouts? Are they a critical part of gameplay?
Nobody really looks forward to them. They're actually kind of awkward when you first get into the league and experience it, but after a while you get used to it and realize it is just part of the deal.
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