A poor week from both 2nd City Fanatics and TomTom Sports has seen them fall away from the race and give themselves extra work to do. Do they take some risks to try and make up ground?
In week 13, with must-win games for several teams from Pittsburgh against their bitter rivals Baltimore to Seattle's road trip to Chicago, everything is on the line. You won't win the Super Bowl (or Prediction League) this week, but you could definitely lose it!!
Toby's Game of the Week: New Orleans (5-6) @ Atlanta Falcons (10-1), Thursday 8.20pm ET
Why is no one taking Atlanta seriously? At 10-1 they can wrap up the NFC South with win today and a Tampa loss on sunday. And yet they're the least talked of contender. Even teams who have been flat-out horrific at times this year, like Green Bay and Baltimore, get more compliments than the Falcons.
I know the narrative: We've seen them breeze through a regular season before, come back in January and let's see if they can win a playoff game. But that's no excuse not be lauding what they're doing right now. Only the Giants, Bucs and Redskins have scored more points than them in the NFC, and only Chicago, San Fran and Seattle have conceded fewer. So why all the negativity and doubt?
Part of it comes from the continued decline of Michael Turner. The years of 300+ carries have caught up with him. Gone are the days of "The Burner" and 4.5+ yards a carry. In 2012 Turner has looked slow, real slow, and that's shown up in his production: 168 carries for 592 yards, that's a horrible 3.5 yards a carry. He's still finding the end zone, with 7 total touchdowns, and can still be very tough to bring down once he get's a head of steam, the problem is that he needs a 20 yard run up for that to happen. Not all of it is on Turner of course, the Atlanta offensive line hasn't been great by any means, our OLR has them neck and neck with Green Bay and we don't need to tell you that they've been horrific at times this year.
The offense then, more than ever, is revolving around Matt Ryan and his Cerberus of receivers; Roddy White, Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez. And it's this part of the Falcons that is excelling. Matt Ryan is 2nd in passing yards, just 4 behind Matthew Stafford, and he's averaging a fantastic 7.98 yards per attempt. Ryan is completing 68% of his passes to his 3 main targets, with 2598 yards and 16 of his 21 touchdowns going to them. It's a fearsome combination that no team has really looked like containing this season when they've all been healthy.
On defense the Falcons have proved able to get stops when needed and have 19 total takeaways this year, good for joint 11th in the NFL. They were able to bottle up an on-form Doug Martin last week and held Arizona to just 19 points despite 5 Matt Ryan interceptions. Atlanta have conceded over 30 points just once, and that was to? New Orleans.
The Saints popped the Atlanta bubble 3 weeks ago in the Super Dome, handing the Falcons their first loss by a score of 31-27 and have now won 4 in a row against them. Despite New Orleans' already slim playoff hopes taking a pounding last week with a loss to San Francisco, they'll come into the Georgia Dome feeling good about their chances, and if they can hand the Falcons a second loss then maybe any talk about their being among the NFL elite could dry up all together.
Guest Game of the Week: New York Giants (7-4) @ Washington Redskins (5-6), Monday 8.30pm ET
By Jamie MacLachlan, V2Journal (@JTMac92, @V2Journal)
Both of these teams are coming of high scoring performances over Thanksgiving weekend, with Washington holding off a late revival to win 38-31, while New York halted one of the NFL’s top offenses in an impressive 38-10 win.
Although Nicks and Cruz have had pretty good seasons it would be difficult to say they haven’t been slightly disappointing with Nicks missing time through injuries, while Cruz seems to have had trouble with drops. Behind their top two receivers New York have a hole left by Manningham’s departure, 4 other receivers have seen playing time as the Giants search for their #3 receiver. Though Randle’s performance against Green Bay may not have been amazing I think it will have been enough to earn him more playing time and if he seizes his chance he could easily see a big role in the future. With Andre Brown on IR (designated for return) the Giants have lost their current end zone back, to counter this the Giants have brought in two new backs, Lumpkin and Torain, I can still see Bradshaw’s share of the carries increasing despite these new arrivals. 2012 1st round pick Wilson may get to see the field more often with Brown out of the picture, but I feel that the addition of two new backs suggests a lack of trust from the coaches and he will have to make the most of this opportunity if he wants to see a larger role next season. Washington on average yards are the third best run defence in the league allowing less than 90 yards a game, this means we may have to wait at least another week before we see what Wilson can do. Maybe the reason they’re one of the top run defences is the fact they’re the second worst pass defence, so teams simply opt to pass against them. It is hard to see a defence which gives up over 300 passing yards a game providing Manning with much of a challenge and if they do face a few issues running the ball I’m sure they won’t mind beating Washington through the air.
Rookies RGIII and Morris have helped to turn the Redskins offense around, of course as the quarterback and #2 pick in the 2012 draft RGIII has been the main focus of attention but Morris a 6th round pick shouldn’t be forgotten (though his position may be overshadowed by higher picks Richardson and Martin). Morris is just 18 yards short of 1,000 and will probably break that mark in this game, with a 4.7 yard average, 6 touchdowns and only 2 fumbles he has definitely continued to deliver after he burst into the league in week 1. With Garcon fit enough to play the Redskins have back what is probably their most dangerous receiving weapon, his two touchdowns this season show how explosive he can be with them being catches of 88 and 59 yards. However Garcon isn’t the Redskins only weapon, Moss has had a fairly good season though not one of his best but then it is his 12th season and his age sees him playing a side part as he has only started 1 game and has a season high of 4 catches. Despite this Moss can still be a good receiving option with touchdowns of 61 and 77 yards, he is also a threat in the red zone with a number of touchdowns of less than 20 yards. The Giants rush defence is ranked 16th in the league giving up 114 yards a game, however last time these two met they gave up 248 yards and while I don’t see them racking up that many yards on the ground this time I can see them topping 150. When these two met earlier in the season Tuck, Umenyiora, and Pierre-Paul all got a sack and after the team sacked Rodgers 5 times it’s clear they don’t have issues bringing down the leagues mobile quarterbacks and RGIII could be in for a difficult day, as it’s hard to see a defence which managed to neutralise the Green Bay WR corps being unable to repeat the feat against Washington.
Prediction: With the Giants winning 27-23 when these two teams met earlier this season at MetLife Stadium, and their impressive defensive display against the Packers I see New York winning again with over 7 points separating the two teams. It won’t be all bad for Washington though as Alfred Morris should break the 1,000 yard mark just 12 games into his rookie season.
|JAX @ BUF||BUF||JAX||JAX||JAX||BUF||BUF|
|SEA @ CHI||CHI||CHI||CHI||CHI|
|NE @ MIA||NE||NE||NE||NE|
|ARI @ NYJ||NYJ||NYJ||NYJ||NYJ|
|IND @ DET||DET||DET||DET||DET|
|MIN @ GB||GB||GB||GB||GB|
|HOU @ TEN||HOU||HOU||HOU||HOU||HOU|
|CAR @ KC||CAR||CAR||CAR||CAR|
|TB @ DEN||TB||DEN||DEN||DEN||DEN|
|CLE @ OAK||CLE||CLE||CLE||OAK|
|CIN @ SD||CIN||CIN||CIN||CIN||CIN|
|PIT @ BAL||BAL||BAL||BAL||BAL|
|PHI @ DAL||DAL||DAL||DAL||DAL||DAL||DAL||DAL|