This week's free to air games include some outstanding offenses such as the Patriots and Packers as well as a nice NFC divisional game between the rival Giants and Cowboys on Sunday Night Football. The Sunday night game will be especially interesting as it will undoubtedly have playoff ramifications for either team. Here's a breakdown of this week's free to air games!
Washington Redskins vs New England Patriots TV Time: Monday 5am EDT (Eastern Daylight Time) The Redskins face off against the Patriots in the battle of the Albert Haynesworth ex's. [caption id="" align="alignright" width="175" caption="Expect Brady to continue crafting his art of exploiting matchups between little Wes & big Gronk"][/caption] Things keep going from bad to worse for the Redskins. After losing to the Jets 34-19 last week and slipping to 4-8, starting TE Fred Davis and tackle Trent Williams received a four-game season ending suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy. This further depletes the protection and weapons availabe for Rex Grossman who continues to struggle with interceptions. Despite the Pats' poor pass defence, the 'Skins will be leaning heavily on the run with Roy Helu impressing recently and seemingly taking ownership of the running back position after posting back to back 100 yard games. Although with Mike Shanahan in charge, you can never really be sure what the hell is going to happen back there. The Patriots (9-3) currently sit atop the AFC East, two games clear of the New York Jets. The Patriots ended last week's game aginst the lacklustre Indianapolis Colts terribly by giving up 21 points in the final quarter, which is a real concern considering how awful the Colts offence has been this year. Bill Belichick would not have been impressed with the effort of his defence considering they are rapidly approaching the business end of the season.He will be aware that even with the 'Skins offensive struggles, they could catch the Patriots with their pants down if they turn in another poor defensive performance. Expect big days from Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski with the two looming as a matchup nightmare for the Redskins. Gronkowski will be looking to break the league record for receiving touchdowns by a TE in a season (13). Ultimately the Redskins offence will not be able to keep pace with the Patriots in this one, with a blowout possible if the Patriots' defence can get its act together. My tip: Patriots by 13.
Green Bay Packers vs Oakland Raiders TV Time: Monday 8.15am EDT (Eastern Daylight Time) Carson Palmer and the Raiders offence will be looking to improve on their outing against Miami where they were totally ineffective. Palmer should have an easier day against a Packers defence that has been poor against the pass for the majority of the season, even with the absence of wideouts Denarius Moore and Jacoby Ford. [caption id="" align="alignleft" width="209" caption="Rodgers vs an Oakland defence that gave up 34 points to Miami? Yes please!"][/caption] The Raiders' main focus will be on getting the ground game going after ending up with only 46 total yards for the day against the Dolphins. Unfortunately it won’t get any easier for them with star back Darren McFadden looking likely to miss another week. Can anyone stop the Packs pursuit of perfection? The Giants provided the Packers with easily their toughest test of the year last week and they still managed to come out on top and in doing so, clinched the NFC North title. A win at home this week will see the Packers earn a week one bye in the playoffs. This week could be highlight reel week for Aaron Rodgers & co. as they are facing an Oakland defence that gave up 34 points to a 3-8 Miami last week. The Packers do have a few injury concerns as they will more than likely be without leading rusher James Starks who suffered an ankle injury and Charles Woodson may not be active this week after suffering a concussion in last weeks win. Even with these injury concerns, the Packers should come away with a victory here and clinch a round one bye in front of their fellow cheese heads. My tip: Green Bay by 10.
Dallas Cowboys vs New York Giants (Sunday Night Football) TV Time: Monday 12.20pm EDT (Eastern Daylight Time) [caption id="" align="alignright" width="187" caption="NFC East rivals Dallas & New York always play each other tough"][/caption] The Cowboys are looking to establish a two-game lead over their NFC East rivals after their four-game winning streak was unexpectedly broken by the under performing Arizona Cardinals last week. The Cowboys will be buoyed by the return of number one receiver Miles Austin and, perhaps more importantly, fullback Tony Fiammetta, whose absence has led to a drop in effectiveness of the Dallas running game. The Cowboys secondary looks to have its hands full facing one of the best wide receiver groups in the NFL in Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz and Mario Manningham who are all looking good to start this week. After going close to toppling the undefeated Packers, Big Blue roll into Texas looking for a share of first place in the NFC East. A win will draw them level with the Cowboys at 7-6 and perhaps more importantly give them a psychological edge before their January 1st rematch next year. The Giants offence looked explosive last week, particularly 2011 sensation Victor Cruz, but they will face a much stiffer test in the Rob Ryan-led Cowboys defence. If the Giants offensive line can keep DeMarcus Ware in check and give Eli Manning enough time to make his throws, their offence should prove too strong for the Cowboys.
That's it for my first article on NFL Down Under! Enjoy the games everybody!