Games to Watch: Week Three
The NFL and Roger Goodell are usually good at scheduling. Every week there are always multiple games that have the potential to be great games. Parity is at an all-time high in the league. There have been 22 games in the first two weeks that have been decided by one score (less than 7 points), easily the most ever through this part of the schedule. Teams are (mostly) learning how to use their salary cap and are realizing the importance of draft picks. Almost every team in the league has a good, reliable quarterback (emphasis on the almost). The NFL has never been more fun to watch. This column will highlight (what I think) will be the best game of the week and the most underrated game of the week.
Best Game of the Week - Packers at Bengals
The Bengals…as part of the best game of the week?! As little as three years ago, this would have been impossible, but the Bengals are one of the better teams in the AFC. The Bengals defense is the most underrated unit in the league. Geno Atkins is an actual man-child that enjoys destroying opponent’s offensive lines. His game is much more than just stats. Atkins has to be doubled every single play of the game, or he is guaranteed to ruin a quarterbacks night. This then frees up the Bengals more than capable linebackers to make one-on-one tackles. Just try and watch Atkins for a single series this weekend and enjoy this monster attempt to end Aaron Rodgers.
Cincinnati also relies on players in the secondary; ones that no other team wanted. Both Adam Jones and Terrance Newman are now starting for the Bengals. Prior to last year, who knew they were still in the league? Both are very talented and have been coached up by defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, whose impact on this team and defense cannot be overstated. This defense is legit and hopefully they will be up to the task of defending Aaron Rodgers.
The Packers are entering week three after simply, an evisceration of the Redskins. In the words of Steven A Smith, that baaad, baaad man Aaron Rodgers threw for 480 yards in week two, with 345 coming in the first half. He completed passes all over the field while gracefully moving in the pocket. Rodgers proved why he is the best quarterback in the league, while also being one of the most enjoyable to watch. Just watching the Packer’s offense against the Bengals’ defense would make anyone happy; getting an entire game is just a bonus. This should be a great game to watch and hopefully will stay close into the fourth quarter.
Most Underrated Game of the Week - Atlanta at Miami
Most people would look at this game and just chalk it up as a road win for the Falcons. Not so fast! The smarter NFL fans (notably Vegas) have this as a potentially great game. Miami is giving two points at home and while this is not a full three points, Miami is still being favored over a team that made it to the NFC Championship game last year.
The Dophins are coming off a great road win over Andrew Luck and the Colts, and are riding a 2-0 record, under second year head coach Joe Philbin. Penn State’s own Cameron Wake has been an absolute terror against opposing quarterbacks. Ryan Tannehill has spread the ball around and has shown his impressive arm strength, while living up to his draft day billing. The offense still has a way to go with the running game, but once they stop giving the ball to Daniel Thomas, the offensive production will shoot up in the hands of Lamar Miller. Let it be known that the Miami Dolphins are 2-0 and still have not reached their full potential.
Meanwhile the vaunted Atlanta Falcons are limping into this showdown. Steven Jackson injured his thigh against his old team and will not likely play in this game. Even with Jackson playing, the Falcons are 26th in the league in rushing yards. Roddy White has not been healthy this year, so who really knows if this will be the game he breaks out. Atlanta’s offense (and season) is once again on Matt Ryan’s shoulders. The Falcons defense is always overrated and their head coach, Mike Smith, does not instill much confidence. It remains to be seen if Ryan can return the Falcons to the playoffs, but it just does not seem promising with these first two performances. This game should be an interesting contest against a team trying to stay on top, and a rising team looking to get there.
Tim Alvarez is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.