We have made it to the ninth week of the regular season and it is starting to become clear who we should keep our eyes on. However, between now and the playoffs things can change. Take last week for example, the number of injuries that occurred have the potential to derail a team’s season. This week in the NFL, the slate is filled with eye-popping matchups. Here are three that caught my eye:
Pittsburgh vs. Oakland
The Pittsburgh Steelers fans must be thinking “if it isn’t one thing then it’s another.” After getting Ben Roethlisberger back under center, they lost their starting running back, Le’Veon Bell to a MCL injury. They shouldn’t be too worried because Deangelo Williams is a solid back up and he’s proved this earlier in the season. After seeing Roethlisberger on Sunday struggling to find his rhythm, he will have to put up some impressive stats to help his offense. The Oakland Raiders on the other hand are healthy and are having a surprisingly good season. Their strength is their ability to move the ball via air or ground, they rank ninth in the NFL for total offensive yards. This game is promising, expect the Oakland defense to come out aggressive and in turn for the Steelers to rely heavily on their backup running back.
St. Louis @ Minnesota
These two teams are serious contenders in their respective divisions, but there’s more to this matchup. Both teams feel they have the top rushers in the league in Todd Gurley and Adrian Peterson. Both of which have shared the same story in overcoming injuries in route to spectacular seasons and their teams have definitely benefitted. The running game for both teams are notably good, so this contest will come down to the defenses. The St. Louis Rams defense is coming off a great performance last week holding their opponent to 38 total rushing yards. Just wait, don’t count out the Minnesota Vikings defense, they rank seventh in total defense behind St. Louis. We couldn’t of have asked for a better matchup, these teams look great on paper, but even better on the field.
Green Bay vs. Carolina
Just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, the Green Bay Packers take on the Carolina Panthers. Here are two teams at the top of their divisions, but both have been looking precarious lately. Let’s start with the Packers, who lost to the Denver Broncos last week in what could be considered one of Aaron Rodgers worst performances. In this game he accumulated a quarterback rating of 69.7, his lowest since 2013. The Panthers are undefeated, but some are still questioning their ability to dominate throughout the entire game. This question arises again after their narrow victory against the Indianapolis Colts, who cut the Panther’s 17 point lead down to three. Taking the field on Sunday, these teams will look to prove the critics wrong and prove that they are legit contenders. This will make the game interesting.