By: Hunter Wright
Cincinnati Bengals (3-4) vs. Washington Redskins (4-3) *In London
The Cincinnati Bengals have won each of the past three meetings between these two teams, and each time the Redskins have had a different starting quarterback, but perhaps Kirk Cousins can succeed where Patrick Ramsey, Jason Campbell, and Robert Griffin III have failed. It is bewildering how mediocre the Bengals have been. After finishing 12-4, 7th in the league in points scored, and 2nd in points allowed last year, the Bengals are currently 3-4, 23rd in points scored, and 18th in points allowed, as they stagger into the midpoint of the season. Despite his team’s struggles, A.J. Green has been a pass-catching marvel. Win or lose, it is worth the price of admission just to see Green, who already has 50 catches not even halfway through the season. Green is averaging 110.7 yards per game and has scored three touchdowns. The Redskins saw their 4-game win streak come to an end last week at the hands of the Detroit Lions. At 4-3, the Redskins are tied for last in their division and will need a victory in order to remain in the playoff hunt in the ultra-competitive NFC East. The Redskins have been hindered by too many injuries to list but will be playing with all of the aggression and lack of preservation one would find in a wild animal as they try to make big plays happen. Kirk Cousins has proven he is a bona fide starter, but he will need to outperform Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton, who is a bona fide franchise quarterback. Both teams need to realize how close they are to being knocked out of title contention early and go at each other like junkyard dogs.
New Orleans Saints (2-4) vs. Seattle Seahawks (4-1-1)
What do you get when you take the third highest scoring offense in the league and pit it against the number one defense in the league? A great game. Over the years the Saints and Seahawks have strung together a series of games that have been fun to watch, but less so for NOLA natives. The Saints are averaging 29.3 points per game whereas the Seahawks are only allowing 14 points per game. As a matter of fact, the Seahawks held the Arizona Cardinals to only 6 points in their Sunday Night game, which extraordinarily ended in a tie. Saints quarterback Drew Brees and Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson have a lot in common. They are men of similar size, Brees stands at a solid 6’ tall and 209 lbs; Wilson is 5’11” weighing in at 203 lbs. They were both steals in the draft as Brees was a second round draft pick in 2001, and Wilson was a third rounder in 2012. Despite Wilson being much younger, they both boast impressive career statistics and have both won a Super Bowl. So far this year Brees is leading the league in touchdown passes, with 17, while throwing 5 interceptions. Wilson, operating in a different offensive scheme, has thrown 5 touchdowns and 1 interception.
Atlanta Falcons (4-3) vs. Green Bay Packers (4-2)
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is playing the best football of his life. He leads the league in passing yards (2,348), yards per completion (14.2), and quarterback rating (85.2), and his 16 touchdown passes are second only to divisional rival Drew Brees. Ryan’s go-to guy, Julio Jones, is leading the league with 830 receiving yards. Should Julio’s production continue like this, he could possibly be the first receiver in NFL history to crack 2,000 receiving yards for the season. While the Falcons have the number one scoring offense in the league, their defense ranks 27th, whereas the Packers are a more even team. The Packers offense ranks 14th while the defense ranks 11th. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been heavily criticized at the beginning of the season for playing “average” as opposed to the sensational performances we are accustomed to. Rodgers is still one of the best quarterbacks in the league with 13 touchdown passes and 4 interceptions. Last week Rodgers eclipsed 300 passing yards in a single game for the first time this season, in a victory over the Chicago Bears. This is being called America’s game of the week.
*Side Note: Congratulations on the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians on making it to the World Series. The Cubs haven’t won the championship in 108 years while the Indians haven’t won it in 68 years. It will be a blessing to either city to have their team win, seeing as how their football counter parts, The Chicago Bears and Cleveland Browns, won’t be contending for a Super Bowl any time soon.