The Houston Texans (11-2) were not able to overcome their underdog status last week, falling in a fairly horrible fashion to the New England Patriots. While the game certainly did not go the way they would have wanted, do not read too much into the defeat.
The Texans would have preferred winning but knew that a loss to the Patriots in this situation had little effect. Meanwhile the chances of seeing them again in the post-season were high. As a result, they played a fairly straightforward game, adding few wrinkles or surprises into their play-calling.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Dallas Cowboys Preview and Where To Watch Online: America's Team vs. "The World's Team"
One of the most back-handed compliments a Chargers fan ever gave their quarterback, Philip Rivers was to call him ‘the Tony Romo of the AFC’. Romo, the Dallas Cowboys (7-6) quarterback has been frustratingly inconsistent throughout his career, combining spectacular plays with boneheaded decisions and late-season collapses.
When the Pittsburgh Steelers (7-6) come to town, the Cowboys will need ‘spectacular play Romo’ to take the field. Both teams are neck deep in the playoff hunt but could be said to be sinking fast. In both divisions, it is still a three team race, with the possibility that anyone could take the divisional crown, secure a wildcard spot or miss the playoffs completely.
A victory by the Cincinnati Bengals over the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday night puts added pressure on the Steelers who are still within breathing distance of AFC North leaders, the Baltimore Ravens. In the NFC East, current division leaders, the New York Giants take on likely NFC first-seed, the Atlanta Falcons giving the Cowboys and Redskins a chance to catch-up if New York slips.
After being hammered by the New England Patriots last Monday night, the Houston Texans suddenly find themselves in a tough race in the AFC South.
That's because the upstart Indianapolis Colts have surprised many by winning nine games. They have done it behind the brilliance of rookie quarterback Andrew Luck and veteran wideout Reggie Wayne.
Here are the best matchups in this Sunday's critical divisional tilt.
Reggie Wayne vs. Jonathan Joseph
Undoubtedly the marquee matchup will involve receiver Reggie Wayne and cornerback Jonathan Joseph.
Wayne has been magnificent this season. The 34-year-old has played a key role in helping Luck's development.
He has hauled in 94 of the rookie's passes, many of them astonishing, highlight-reel catches. That's helped Wayne accumulate 1,220 yards and score four touchdowns.
As much as he has helped Luck, Wayne has also managed to create space for his youthful supporting cast. The likes of Donnie Avery, T.Y. Hilton and Dwayne Allen have all benefited from the attention paid to Wayne.
The highlight of the Washington Redskins trip to the Cleveland Browns, won't be the quarterback duel between Robert Griffin III and Brandon Weeden.
No, it will be the matchup between rookie running backs Alfred Morris and Trent Richardson. They were selected at opposite ends of the draft, but they have both impressed in the pros.
The Browns traded up to take Richardson with the third overall pick. The ex-Alabama star was considered the most complete running back in 2012's draft.
Morris meanwhile, had to wait until the sixth round to hear his name called. The Redskins were probably a dream destination.
That's because head coach Mike Shanahan specialises in producing 1,000-yard runners in the pros. Morris has emerged from obscurity to become Shanahan's latest late-round find at the position.
He is dominating the more high-profile Richardson statistically. Morris has rushed for 1,235 yards in 13 starts. He is averaging 4.9 yards a carry and has seven rushing touchdowns to his credit.
One short week after manhandling their AFC rivals the Houston Texans, the New England Patriots have another potential playoff team in their sights.
Not having won a Super Bowl for seven long seasons has been a constant thorn in Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichicks side. His studious view on the game has won him many plaudits, and at times angered others. No doubting though the relationship and understanding he has with his quarterback Tom Brady is nothing short of a winning one. They are arguably the best Head Coach/QB tandem the game has seen.
In that seven year span, New England have of course come close. Twice being out=though and out=played by the pair of Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning of the New York Giants. These losses do nothing more than spur the Patriots duo on.
They’ve hit a tremendous roll at present, dominating teams by scoring big. Over 50 points twice, and 40+ on four other occasions. Some say they have to score huge as they are a little suspect on defense, but when called upon that part of their game has stood up well in close games.
One pretender to their AFC crown this season is the Texans.