This week features the largest amount of competitive games of any week so far in the young 2013 season, but they all couldn’t make the list. Here are the top five games to watch this weekend:
5. Houston Texans at San Francisco 49ers
Both of these teams were Super Bowl contenders coming into the 2013 season, but now they are both disappointingly sitting at 2-2. The 49ers should be feeling better about themselves after crushing the Rams last week. Colin Kaepernick and Frank Gore were at their best, and the defense caused headaches for Sam Bradford all game. The Texans, on the other hand, might have hit rock bottom last Sunday. They had a 20-3 lead against the Seahawks at home going into halftime, but they eventually lost in overtime. Matt Schaub threw an awful game-changing pick-six, and now questions have arisen as to if he is the answer at quarterback for the Texans. He needs to step it up in this game for the Texans to have any chance at winning.
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The Seahawks defense may have been tough on the Texans last Sunday, but the 49ers won’t be any easier for them. They will pressure Matt Schaub all game and will keep Arian Foster in check. The Texans have a good defense themselves, but Kaepernick will find ways to put points on the board. Look for the 49ers to take this one relatively easily.
4. Denver Broncos at Dallas Cowboys
This game matches up one of the NFL’s most inconsistent teams against the league’s most consistently dominant team. The Cowboys have struggled to find their rhythm, while the Broncos have yet to lose their rhythm. Dallas is 2-2 and has shown flashes of greatness, but they have also shown flashes of mediocrity. Their pass defense has been one of the worst in the league, as evidenced by Philip Rivers throwing for over 400 yards against them last Sunday. Unfortunately, things will only get worse for that unit now that they’re going up against Peyton Manning. Manning has had a historic start to this season and has shown no glimpses of decline in his production. The Cowboys secondary needs to have the games of their lives if they want to win this one.
Peyton Manning is just too good. He leads the league in passing yards and touchdowns, and he has yet to throw an interception. If he keeps up the pace, he will have the greatest single season in NFL history. Dallas might put up some points on their own, but there is no way they’re going to outscore Peyton and the Broncos offense in this one.
3. New England Patriots at Cincinnati Bengals
Both the Patriots and the Bengals came into the season as favorites to win the AFC, and the Patriots have played like it while the Bengals haven’t. New England hasn’t dominated in any of their four wins, but they are still undefeated and still seem to be improving. Tom Brady is finally developing chemistry with his young receivers. Cincinnati had an emotional win over Green Bay two weeks ago, but they followed it up with a dud against Cleveland. If the Bengals want to return to the playoffs for the third straight year, they have to be more consistent. Their defense is still on point, but Andy Dalton is hit-or-miss. This game is at home for the Bengals, but Dalton still needs to have a big game for them to win.
This is an unconventional pick, but I think the Bengals will win in a close game. They are a significantly better team at home, and they will do whatever it takes to stay above .500. The Patriots are also overdue for a loss after a few close calls. Tom Brady will keep the Pats in this game, but the Bengals will have their day in the end.
This game matches up two of the NFC’s best teams, the Saints and the Bears. Both teams were undefeated after three weeks, but the Bears got crushed last Sunday against the Lions. Jay Cutler played terribly and the defense could not slow down Matthew Stafford or Reggie Bush. The Saints, however, were awesome in their win last Monday night over the Dolphins. If it weren’t for Peyton Manning, both Drew Brees and Jimmy Graham would have legitimate claims for MVP. Their chemistry is second to none in the entire league. The Bears defense will have to return to its roots of forcing turnovers if they want to win this one.
Even in the tough environment of Soldier Field, I’m going with the Saints. The Bears defense has struggled against tight ends so far this year, and now they’re about to go against the best one in the entire league. Even if they change their gameplan to bottle Graham up, that will leave Darren Sproles open all day. Jay Cutler should rebound at home and put up some points, but they won’t score as many as the Saints. New Orleans rolls in this one.
1. Seattle Seahawks at Indianapolis Colts
For the second week in a row, the Seahawks are featured in the game of the week. They will are the visiting team once again, but this time they are going to Indianapolis to take on the Colts. The Seahawks were lucky to escape Houston with a win last week, but they can’t rely on luck if they won’t to topple Andrew Luck and the Colts. The Colts look like legitimate Super Bowl contenders, especially since the addition of Trent Richardson. This game matches up the league’s two best second-year quarterbacks, and the winner will take home some serious bragging rights. This one could honestly go either way, so make sure you don’t miss it.
After this one, the Seahawks will no longer be undefeated. They are not the dominant team they are at home when they play on the road, as everyone saw last Sunday. Matt Schaub’s late interception bailed them out, but Andrew Luck won’t make the same mistake. Luck is one of the league’s best fourth quarter quarterbacks, so if this one is close in the end then Luck should win it for the Colts. Add in the homefield advantage, and I’m picking Indy.