The fire sale is officially over going into NFL Week Nine installment of the Match-Up Mania as the league’s trade deadline has expired. I don’t know that we’ve witness a team get so much better in one single transaction at such a low price tag as we did when the San Francisco 49ers traded former first round draft pick and physical specimen Vernon Davis to the Denver Broncos. The Niners got sixth round picks for 2016 and 2017 in exchange for Davis and a 2016 seventh round pick. In short, the Niners traded Davis and half a Snickers bar in exchange for a bag of Skittles and a Fun Size Twix.
OK, so all the left over Halloween candy may have had an effect on my analysis, but even in his 10th year in the league Vernon Davis as a tight end represents a better treat for Peyton Manning and the Broncos than any of these kids got.
Moreover, said treat was given to an undefeated team. Looks like the Broncos weren’t scared of Halloween as much as they are scared of the concept of Manning’s pending retirement, unofficially.
Packers v. Panthers
Last week, Rodgers and the Packers were in the Mile High of Denver battling the Broncos in a bout between 6-0 squads. Playing against an elite level defense, Green Bay found themselves struggling in the thin air as their air game was pretty thin with only 77 yards passing. Leading to a 29-10 loss, the Pack find themselves facing yet another undefeated outfit with a tough defense.
There is a slight difference between Denver and Carolina. With Peyton Manning previously struggling, the Bronco offense may been perceived as a headless horseman. The head may be all over the place and thrown around like a burning pumpkin, but there’s enough legs provided by receivers like Demaryus Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, and now, Vernon Davis, to keep it running. However, Cam Newton and the Panthers, with the injury to Kelvin Benjamin depriving him of his sophomore year as a pro, more represent the horse-less headsman.
Sure, he has Greg Olsen to make things better like the Snickers bar does in the clip, but Newton brings a lot more sweetness to this offense than a fun-sized candy bar brings a trick-or-treater.
The X-factor in this game comes down to linebacker play. Whichever of the two between Green Bay’s Clay Matthews and Carolina’s Luke Kuchely makes a bigger impact on the game will lead their team to victory in the form of control of the run game as well as quarterback pressure on a mobile field general. If Matthews and company force the Panthers into a shootout, the Pack will stay on track returning to their winning ways.
Rams v. Vikings
We’ve not featured Minnesota much this season which may get people to wonder if this is a slow schedule this week. Well, it is, but this game would still have stood as a candidate for the MuM this week anyway. Having picked the Vikings to clear the sixth seed in 2015 back in September to make it into the playoffs, their current ability to plea the fifth in the NFC standings has their chances looking good to meet that expectation.
Conversely, the Rams will find this win helpful in their battle for the Wild Card and their efforts to stay competitive with the Arizona Cardinals for the NFC West. St. Louis looks similar to the some of the Tennessee teams Rams’ Coach Jeff Fisher found success with earlier in his career minus a solid quarterback that could distribute the ball as Steve McNair did back in the days when he was Co-MVP with a much younger Peyton Manning.
In light of the fact the rookie sensation Todd Gurley is making his presence felt bouncing back from injury running for four straight 120+ yard games, this contest is shaping up to be battle of backs with Adrian Peterson carrying the Vikings success. Whichever back does more to balance his team’s offense will likely lead to victory. That being said, I see Nick Foles as a liability that makes it more likely for Minnesota to continue to plead the FiF.
Eagles v. Cowboys
The battle for the NFC (L)East rages on. The last time these two teams faced one another was Week Two. Both sides were motivated with high hopes for the future as potential champions of their division. . . and then it all went straight to Hades by way of a hand basket shortly after that. Sure, the game was a one-sided beat down based allegedly on inside information from a Cowboys’ practice squad player on the offensive system of Eagle Head Coach Chip Kelly. But on the stat sheet, Dallas did it by way of smashing the run game of their former back, DeMarco Murray and a short term heroism of Brandon Weeden who filled in for the rest of the game when starting quarterback was knocked out with a broken collar bone.
Fast forward to Week Nine where these two opponents head into their annual rematch. Philadelphia continues to suffer from an identity crisis with Sam Bradford attempting to manage a team concept which he may not perfectly fit while Matt Cassel proves he’s far from the bastion of success he was with the 2010 Kansas City Chiefs. The fate of this division was in the hands of two football juggernauts, it seemed, back in early September. Now, the candidates for division champion look more like this.
Frankly, defense will decide this outcome and the squad that forces more turnovers will win. And it’s not a stretch to think that Cassel will have more turnovers than Bradford no matter how unsettled he may be in Coach Kelly’s system.
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