Green Bay (7-4) was most certainly not able to eke out the upset win last week in New York, getting embarrassed by the Giants, 38-10 – the Packers’ worst loss in five years.
The Giants had a superior game plan in place. Largely ignoring the Packers’ running game, they keyed in on stopping quarterback, Aaron Rodgers with great success. It resulted in five sacks, a forced fumble and pressure that led to an interception.
Meanwhile a balanced offense showed that Green Bay still has trouble getting off the field when defending. Several quick scores put the Packers into too deep a hole and the game was over by halftime.
Both of these factors will have serious implications for this week’s game against the Minnesota Vikings (6-5).
The Houston Texans (10-1) have struggled mightily the last two weeks, becoming the first team to go through two overtime games in the span of five days. However, they were able to come out with the win both times, although in fairly controversial circumstances against the Detroit Lions.
In both wins the Texans demonstrated that they are a well-rounded team capable of winning games in a number of different ways. However, a porous secondary and numerous injuries (which have contributed to the porous secondary) have raised red flags.
Revenge is one of those clichés that’s dusted off whenever two playoff opponents from the previous year meet in the regular season. The Green Bay Packers (7-3) heading into New York (well okay, New Jersey) to take on the Giants (6-4) is such a case.
Unfortunately for Green Bay fans, revenge as a motivation for winning has been a bit overrated. But that’s not to say the Packers will not be able to leave MetLife Stadium with a win, it is just likely that if they do, it will be for other reasons.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns Preview: Abnormally Old Rookie Brandon Weeden Takes On Abnormally Old Backup Charlie Batch
For the 6-4 Pittsburgh Steelers, the season is quickly unravelling. Injuries in an OT victory over the Kansas City Chiefs and a close loss to the Baltimore Ravens has forced them to turn to their third-string quarterback, the soon-to-be 38 year-old Charlie Batch.
Not only that, the loss to the Ravens has put Baltimore in pole position to win the division, leaving Pittsburgh to battle it out with the likes of the Indianapolis Colts and Cincinnati Bengals for one of the two wildcard spots. Fortunately for the Steelers, outside of those two teams, there does not appear to be too much competition for the two spots.
But that makes this week’s game against division rivals, the Cleveland Browns (2-8) an essential game, especially with a trip away to Baltimore looming next week. But taking care of business this week is likely to come down to two key factors: on offense, the play of Batch and on defence, the Steelers’ ability to stop Browns’ running back, Trent Richardson.
It is interesting to see how teams evolve in the NFL. A few years ago, the AFC North was a smash-mouth division, home to solid running games and fearsome defences. This year, however, it is the stomping ground of two of the league’s premier aerial attacks.
And when the Baltimore Ravens (7-2), head to Pittsburgh to face the Steelers (6-3) these two attacks will meet. Of course, with the potentially life-threatening injury to Steelers quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, one of the aerial attacks has been almost extinguished. Backup, Byron Leftwich is a capable starter but is immobile and has a long release motion that makes him more vulnerable to the pass rush. Fortunately for him, the Baltimore defence has been running on reputation for a couple years now and it has started to show. Linebacker Ray Lewis past his prime quite a few seasons ago and was more a liability than an asset against the run and the pass. However, his analytical mind has clearly been missed by the Ravens since his season ending injury.