After an exceptional week 12 which included two divisional rivalries, each team once again features in a fixture this week. With that in mind, week 13 could be monumental in the outcome of the NFC divisional crown, but just who will come out on top?
MetLife Madness in NYC
The Bears will travel to New York to face the Giants, and I have no doubt they’ll snag a win.
Mitchell Trubisky has returned to light practice but his return remains questionable. That said, Chase Daniels is a reliable backup as he evidenced that last week by throwing for 230 yards and 2 touchdowns, whilst garnering the win for his team over the Detroit Lions.
More importantly, defensively the Bears possess arguably the best defence in the league. They rest fourth in the league in yards allowed per game (316.1), as well as leading in interceptions (20) and total turnovers (29).
Can the Giants Win?
The Giants are in desperate need of a win to keep their playoff hopes alive. And that makes them dangerous. In addition, Eli Manning is playing for his career in a sense, as many fear his longevity in NY is coming to an end. If the Giants are to win, it all comes down to protection from the O-line. When Manning is protected he can be spectacular, just look at the matchup with the Buccaneers for evidence.
OBJ has had a quiet season thus far, but has voiced his discomfort with the team’s form this season. In spite of that, when addressing the media this past week he emphasised the drive to win amongst the team. “The mindset is (to) keep winning games. That’s it. I wanted to win all eight, but there’s no quit or giving up from me or anyone in this locker room.”
Green Bay Packers Resurgence
The Packers host the Arizona Cardinals at Lambeau Field in the early game this Sunday, and it’s make or break time. For Head Coach Mike McCarthy a loss could mark the end for his managerial career in Green Bay.
Furthermore, Aaron Rodgers must improve his game from last week, especially after losing to the Minnesota Vikings. A comeback from A-Rod is inevitable however, as we all know the competitor that he truly is. Randall Cobb mirrored this sentiment in his latest participation in the media. “I know with all the noise that’s been said over the past week about him, he’s getting ready to light everybody up this week. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Although, the key for this game rests on Aaron Jones. Despite McCarthy’s seeming reluctance to utilise Jones to great effect, he must be used excessively in order to win. Jones, when given ample carries, is an absolute game-changer.
Cardinals to Crush the Packers’ Hopes?
Admittedly, the Cardinals have little chance of escaping Wisconsin with a victory. Their offensive line hasn’t been all that great and coupled with Josh Rosen’s forcing of the ball downfield, things look bleak.
If they are to sneak a win, then excellent defence is paramount. Pressure at the line of scrimmage will be absolutely key, so look for multiple blitz packages and four-man rushes. Robert Nkemdiche can be domineering in the trenches, evidenced with 2.5 sacks and 7 tackles last week.
With a lot on the line, the Packers and Cardinals game is a storied conference rivalry. This matchup will no doubt enhance its legacy.
The 10-1 Rams Come to Town
Ford Field plays host to the best team in football right now, as the Los Angeles Rams take on the Detroit Lions.
The matchup will come down to the battle between Matthew Stafford and Jared Goff. The former is coming off a torrid performance against the Bears where he threw 2 interceptions. Moreover, he is also fairly unaided by poor weapons on offence. Especially the O-line which has allowed 32 sacks on Matthew Stafford already this season. That ranks 9th in the NFL.
Oppositely, Jared Goff is returning from a 413 passing yard, 4 touchdown game in arguably the greatest regular season game ever. He is also benefitted by having a fantastic defence which is bolstered by DPOTY Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh at the line of scrimmage. This defensive setup will be one of the best the Lions have contested all season, thus I feel they’ve little to no chance of capturing a W.
The NFC North Game of the Week
The undisputed game of the week for week 13 features the Vikings travelling to Gillette Stadium to face the Patriots.
Tom Brady enters this encounter on a 283 yard, 2 TD game over the Jets in week 12 and he’ll be dangerous as ever in this one. As well as that, he is rejoined by tight end, Rob Gronkowski. Speaking of which, Gronk had 3 receptions for 56 yards and a touchdown last week, and will look to improve on that too. Another threat that the Patriots behold is Sony Michel, who has captured the running back spot. Last week he rushed for 133 yards and 1 touchdown on 22 carries. That averages 6.2 yards gained per rush.
On the flip side, Kirk Cousins is full of confidence after leading his team to a victory over the Packers. He amassed 342 yards and 3 touchdowns in that game in what was one of his best performances to date.
The key to a win for the Vikings remains on defence however. On average they allow the third lowest total yards per game (314.7) and are excellent against the run. They rank fifth in the league with 93.6 rushing yards per game allowed.
Danielle Hunter, in particular, will be crucial once more. He has compiled 11.5 sacks and 15 TFL, already thus far. As will safety Harrison Smith who has 3 INT’s, 3 sacks, 6 TFL, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
The win would be pivotal in aiding he Minnesota Vikings to pip the Bears for top spot. But, as ever, Tom Brady will have something to say about that.
Image Rights – https://calvinayre.com/2014/08/11/sports/nfl-nfc-north-preview/