By Lawrence Vos and Tim Monk
Sunday night football
Massive game for those chasing the division titles in the NFC and NFC North as the Dallas Cowboys host the Minnesota Vikings.
With Philadelphia on a bye, the Cowboys need to win to keep their heads just in front of Philadelphia and it’s looking fairly likely that the 2nd placed team in the East could miss out on the playoffs.
Minnesota at 6-3 still sit one game behind Green Bay over in the North and whilst, this one is possibly less important for the #SKOL army, they don’t want to run the risk of running in to the cowboys for the wildcard and losing on the head to head tie breaker.
It may be a tight, cagey affair on Sunday Night Football, and that’s just Kirk Cousins we are talking about. Whilst Kirk most recently won vs the Redskins on Primetime television on TNF, it is more than well documented that Cousins can have the tendency to be a rabbit in the floodlights when push comes to shove.
Can Captain Kirk pull his socks up and lead his Minnesota team to a victory this week? His current record of 6-13 in primetime games suggests not.
Life after Cam
It’s going to be interesting watching how Kyle Allen performs down the stretch now that he is going to be starting from here on out.
Cam Newton has recently landed on Injured reserve, leaving us to wonder whether Cam Newton will ever be seen in a Carolina jersey again (look out for an article on that coming your way) but now you have to debate whether the pressure is now more on Kyle Allen to perform as he is “the guy” or whether there is less pressure on him as he no longer has to look over his shoulder or live in Cam’s shadow.
Kyle Allen does have the pressure of getting the Panthers to the playoffs though as they are right there in the thick of the wildcard race and that adventure makes it’s next stop at Lambeau Field.
Lights, Kamara, Action!
Some of the NFL’s biggest superstars should be returning to the field this week with Kansas City QB Patrick Mahomes and New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara should be available to suit up for their respective teams.
It’s fair to say though that the rest of the roster and the Head coaches has performed admirably in their absences over the past few weeks.
It says a lot about the adaptability of these teams to be able to read off a different script and still pull out the level of performances that they have. Unfortunately now for the rest of the league, two of th most potent and high octane offences get arguably, their main cogs back.
Will Wilson win in the West?
MVP frontrunner Russell Wilson and the Seahawks travel to Levi’s stadium to face the last undefeated remaining team in the 49ers.
A win for the Seahawks here and the NFC West is all to play for. A win for the 49ers, and the NFC West is pretty much all wrapped up. Russell Wilson is coming off a 5TD performance vs the Buccaneers last week so confidence couldn’t be much higher, and Josh Gordon has just walked through the door.
However, he will need to be at the peak of his powers once again as he faces one of the best defences in the league away from home to stand any chance of picking up the win on Monday Night Football.
Nowhere for haters to Hyde any more
We are just over the half-way point of the season and the general trend for feeding a lead back seems to be on the rise from twelve months ago, or maybe there has simply been less injuries at the RB position.
Standing at number eight in the 2019 rushing charts is a back that has bounced around the league and is now on his fifth team. This season, based on current projections, Carlos Hyde will break all of his own personal rushing records, and easily have his first 1,000+ season.
Hyde had two monster runs at Wembley last week, even if the longest resulted in a fumble on the goal line. His opening carry was as important as it was a tone-setter for the Texans – a 9 yard dart. That drive ended with Houston taking a 3-0 lead. Hyde ended the game with 160 yards rushing and the respect of over 80,000 fans.
For someone who never settled in Cleveland or Jacksonville, and didn’t even make it to the regular season in KC, this is a genuine comeback player of the year candidate. No need to Hyde in the shadows any more Carlos.
We’re all going on a Chubb-Hunt
Two seasons ago Kareem Hunt led the league in rushing with 1,327 yards, outpacing Todd Gurley and Le’Veon Bell as a rookie.
Fast forward to Week 10 2019 and Hunt finally makes his season debut for the Cleveland Browns. His last NFL action was over a season ago in the game of the season as the Rams beat the Chiefs 54-51. Hunt was cut by the Chiefs for lying, when questioned, about an incident of domestic abuse that was recorded and went on to be shared on TMZ.
Many people are still divided as to Hunt’s ability to pick up his career after a half-season suspension, and the majority of teams would have stayed away from signing him because of what they saw. It does seem that in the U.S.A. and especially the NFL that players in the main get a second chance despite committing acts that are completely unacceptable.
Hunt has been out a year and starting Browns tailback Nick Chubb is no slouch, but Cleveland do need to snap out of their nightmare stretch and Hunt could offer that spark in the red zone.
Steelers storming back?
With Big Ben Roethlisberger out for the season it was always going to be an uphill battle for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Following an abysmal 0-3 start Steelers are on a three game win streak and beyond the Rams face the Browns twice, Bengals and Cardinals weeks 11 to 14. Mason Rudolph has been streaky but is hanging in there. The Steelers run game has been a bit under par and James Connor is ruled out of this weekend’s contest. Another big dose of Swiss army knife Jaylen Samuels is expected. WR JuJu Smith-Schuster has been underwhelming 33-459 and 3 touchdowns and the #2 and #3 WRs Dionate Johnson and James Washington have been uninspiring.
Despite all this adversity the Steelers are on a three-game win streak and have only lost once, in an epic tussle against the Ravens, since the start of October. 1-4 to a genuinely possible 9-4 record will save Mike Tomlin his job and put the Steelers in an improbable playoff position. Enjoy Sunday’s game it will be a barnstormer.
Godwin and Evans epic season wasted
What a shame that easily the best wide receiver combination in the NFL at the half-way point, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, are on a 2-6 Tampa Bay Buccaneers team.
The Godwin/Evans combo has 104 catches, 1,608 yards and 13 touchdowns. Outside of this pairing any other WR combined have 14 catches for 145 yards and one score. Evans and Godwin have moved the chains 82 times between them to date and together are averaging 100 yards in the air each per game.
Under normal circumstances this pairing would equate to wins, but they are getting thrown the ball from an erratic Jameis Winston who goes from a 5 interception game (at Tottenham v Panthers) to a zero pick impressive display on the road at Seattle.
The Buccs offensive line is part of the problem, with Winston already on the receiving end of 30 sacks. It will be fun to watch this combo battle it out for the most impressive stat line. Who said both are going to the Pro-Bowl – I did right here!
Doggedly avoiding a cat-astrophe
In a sports league filled with bears, lions, Bengal tigers, jaguars, broncos, rams, panthers, and colts it took a four-legged friend to stroll across an NFL field last week to create a media furore akin to a niptastic Super Bowl reveal.
Some of the best social media and digital activity includes a mocked up Madden 21 cover featuring the black cat along with the Panini Huddle digital trading card app that issued a special cat card with a paw-print autograph. There has been previous animal hijinx on NFL fields before, a simple YouTube search will reveal squirrels and pigeons causing chaos in recent years.
Reality is that there are canines that make it into the seating areas of every NFL stadium every week, even when teams play in London, after all where would we be without a delightful half-time hot dog !!!!