Chan??.....is that you?!
Ok, ok, so maybe I’m being a little hyperbolic. Even condescending. But the point is, as nice as it might be to see and know your head is getting’ after guys who aren’t performing, that’s not what wins games. What wins games is preparation, good players, and execution. That other stuff works great in Hollywood when there are scripts and actors who know they’re supposed to let the good guys win in the end. But, who knows? After last week’s performance by the Bills I’ll try anything and accept anything that will help this team get back on track and upset the 49ers Sunday. Even some “Go get em!” speeches from, yes, sports movies. Someone find Chan. Sit him in a chair. Make him watch this. Give him ideas. I want the Al Pacino speech before the team hits the field at Candlestick! I mean, it has to work, right? It did for pretty much all the other teams in this video………
OK, after watching that I want to put on a helmet and take on Frank Gore myself. Will it help the Bills? More on that in a bit. But first……..
3 other “Must-See” NFL Games of Week 5:
--Eagles at Steelers: “The Battle For the Keystone State!” Hmmmmm…….doesn’t exactly sound as cool as it should, I guess. But this is a big game for two teams who have high expectations, and are both in tough divisions that will be tight all season. The Steelers (1-2) are already a game and half back of both Baltimore and Cincy (3-1 each). They can’t afford to drop further back right now. The Eagles took a big step last week with their win over the Giants. But with those Giants, the Redskins, and Cowboys all 2-2 and only a game behind, a loss here puts them right back in the middle of a big division pack. Interestingly, both QBs are excellent against the opposite conference. Michael Vick is 14-3 in his last 17 starts against the AFC, including 7-1 in the past 8. Ben Roethlisberger is 13-1 in home games against the NFC.
--Falcons at Redskins: Could be a lot of big plays made in this one. RG3 has 17 passes of 20 yards or more already this season. Matt Ryan has 3 passes of 40 yards or more. Ryan has exciting and dynamic playmakers all around him. RG3 is an exciting and dynamic playmaker himself. The Falcons are one of two unbeaten teams left in the NFL. The Redskins are 2-2 and need to keep pace in the tough NFC East.
--Broncos at Patriots: Another Brady vs. Manning game. We’ve seen a lot of them and a lot of great ones. And not just Tom vs. Peyton. Tom vs. Eli has been pretty darn good, too. Sure, one guy is 35 (Tom) and the other is 36 (Peyton), but both are still two of the best in the game and playing at a high level, once again near the top of most major passing categories though four games this season. And let’s not forget the loser of this game drops to 2-3 overall.
Tom and Peyton. Back to the future!
NFL Fact Hopefully Not Only I Find Interesting:
Since the current playoff system (12 teams) was instituted in 1990, 23 teams have rebounded from a losing record after four weeks to make the playoffs. Four of those clubs advanced to their Conference Championship Games, including the 2001 New England Patriots (1-3) who won Super Bowl XXXVI. The Bills did it once when they started 1-3 in 1998.
Another Good Week, I Hope You're Making Coin:
Each week when I host on Sports Talk Saturday on WGR (11am-2pm), I give three underdog NFL teams I like to cover the spread in a segment called, "3 Dog Saturday!" The rules are I can only pick underdogs, which really limits my three selections. However, I've gone 8-1 the past three weeks for a yearly record so far of 9-3. You can hear the picks every Saturday, including this weekend, during the 1pm hour of the show. I hope you've been listening and cashing in.
3 College Games Worth Your Time:
--Miami at Notre Dame: When I was growing up, this matchup was dubbed, “Catholics vs. Convicts.” And both sides embraced their roles. There were brawls and one-point thrilling games. There were games that helped determine national championships and Heisman Trophy winners. And there was Lou Holtz and Jimmy Johnson. But don't take my word for it. Let Brent Musberger tel you......
....None of that is close to the same anymore. But the Irish are 4-0 and back in the top-10. And Miami is playing much better than most realize because so many people focus on that 52-13 loss at Kansas State. But the ‘Canes are 4-1 and have the 15th ranked passing offense in the nation. As usual, they have some really good athletes on that side of the ball. Notre Dame is 19th in the nation defending the pass.
--LSU at Florida: SEC West vs. SEC East. 5-0 vs. 4-0. Two teams that have struggled against teams they shouldn’t yet found ways to win and are still unbeaten. The Tigers have won the last two seasons, but the two teams have split the last six against each other.
--Georgia at South Carolina: Another battle of unbeaten teams in the most powerful conference. But this one will also determine first place (currently) in the SEC East and has a strong chance of being the difference between who plays in the SEC title game in a couple months and who watches from home. Georgia won the SEC East last season, but has lost two straight in the series. The Bulldogs have never dropped three in a row to the Gamecocks.
--BONUS! West Virginia at Texas: I had to throw a 4th game in here simply because it’s Geno Smith playing QB and after last week’s performance (which I wrote was going to be exciting to watch and had big-plays written all over it), how can you not want to see this kid again, especially against the real challenge of a Texas team that’s only allowing 210 yards a game through the air?! And don’t sleep on the Longhorns offense, either. We could be in for another wild one between (again) two undefeated teams). They have the 23rd ranked offense in the nation, including the 19th ranked run game.
Geno Smith: 20 TD, 0 INT. I think that's good.
NFL Fact Hopefully Not Only I Find Interesting Part II:
There have been seven punt-return touchdowns through Week 4. That’s the 2nd most through four weeks since 1970 (there were eight in 1998). Leodis McKelvin of the Bills has one – and it’s the longest so far this season – 88 yards. That brings me back to……
Buffalo Bills at San Francisco 49ers:
The Bills are now the biggest underdog on the board in week 5. Odds makers have them listed as a 9-½ point dog. And with good reason. This is a classic matchup of a team reeling and their opponent looking to pounce. The Bills couldn’t stop the run last week against the Pats. Granted, they played nickel most of the game, but there are still eleven players on the field expected to bring the ball carrier down. And the Patriots aren’t known as a physical, running team. The 49ers are.
San Francisco is 5th in the league running the football (167.0). They’re 2nd in run yards per play (5.43). They ran for a whopping 245 at the New York Jets last week. The Bills last week decided to focus on stopping Tom Brady and the passing game. That’s why Kelvin Sheppard and Arthur Moats weren’t on the field very much, and part of the reason New England was able to run the way they did as the game went on. That will certainly change this week. Sheppard and Moats will be on the field assuming their normal linebacker roles and Dave Wannstedt will focus on Frank Gore and the run game and try to make Alex Smith beat them with his arm. Smith is a good game-manager. He does a great job of taking care of the football (only one interception so far). If the Bills defense can do that, then it’s up to the front four to be much, much better than they were last week and get to the QB and force mistakes.
The problem is doing the first part. Stopping the Niners run game for a few series is one thing. Stopping them through a full four quarters is quite another. San Fran also has a stud tight end in Vernon Davis. He’s a tough matchup for anyone, but especially a team that has demonstrated time after time they have trouble defending that position. Smith is very good at play-action and getting Davis involved, especially once they establish that run game. So, this game plays right into what the 49ers want to do against Buffalo. Throw in the fact the game is on the road and this being the start of a long trip out west, and, well, you get the point ..49ers 24 Bills 17.
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