Week 8 sees the second 2013 game visit Wembley, as the 49ers take on the 0-7 Jags. Michael Donnelly gives his insight on the results of all this weekend’s match ups.
DALLAS COWBOYS (4-3-0) @ DETROIT LIONS (4-3-0)
A meeting of equals
Regardless of just how either side fared to this stage, they both top their respective divisions. Whatsmore, both can boast one of the top receivers in the modern NFL, and are lead quarterbacks who may not win the kind of praise of Peyton or Brady, but have shown their skills in abundance so far in 2013. These teams are, at this stage, the most similar to each other by virtue of their aims and potential. Yet for Dallas, there is just that little bit more edge, with the wily Jason Witten still bailing out Tony Romo on the scarcer occasions he is in trouble, plus the addition of emerging star Terrance Williams. Despite an anticipated burst of energy the week after his three touchdown haul, Lions tight-end Joe Fauria was not so illustrious against the Bengals. This should be an interesting game, with the mirror-image argument also in play. The Cowboys should utilise their experience to see out a win. PREDICTION: Cowboys 24-20 Lions
SAN FRANCISCO (5-2-0) @ JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (0-7-0)
Wembley awaits the media spotlight of the #2 team of 2012 against the pet-project of 2013
Fundamentally, this game was not booked, at the time, to be between the SuperBowl runners-up and the winless Jaguars. Nevertheless, it has the feeling now of a scenario where the fans will turn up to show faith in the Jaguars, with the reassurance that the ever-popular 49ers who earned their legacy in the UK over many years will also do their bit. The Niners are surely happy to be avoiding the quick turnaround of a Thursday-Sunday week, and the decision to acclimatise directly after a road game was a smart one. Colin Kaepernick’s offensive line and Frank Gore’s irresistible running strategy are in full swing by now, so the Jags defence, arguably their best element, will be given a good work-out in front of the 80,000 fanatical NFL spectators. To their credit, the ‘Union Jax’ have given their last two opponents a challenge but have not quite been able to go the distance. Though they are likely to go winless for the first half of the season, they should progress rather than regress in this game. After all, playing a better standard of opponent, by logic, makes you better as well?
PREDICTION: 49ers 35-17 Jaguars
NEW YORK GIANTS (1-6-0) @ PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (3-4-0)
A test of resilience in the NFC East
The biggest factor in this game will be the effectiveness of the rapid style of attack the Eagles use against the Giants defence, which seemed to finally pick up the slack against the Vikings. The win for the Gmen at home was just the tonic they needed, but they are still stunted by an erratic receiving core and a basic run-game, though Peyton Hillis is no slouch in that regard. The Eagles will be relieved they can call upon starter Michael Vick after injury lay-off, but this might breed contempt as well. The Giants know Vick well from previous encounters, and this might be extra incentive to hit the Eagles hard to shock them into submission. However, LeSean McCoy is an explosive player in his own right, and could quite reasonably tear this Giants side low on confidence to shreds. It will not be a classic by any means, but this rivalry will be just as heated as ever.
PREDICTION: Giants 10-17 Eagles
NEW YORK JETS (4-3-0) @ CINCINNATI BENGALS (5-2-0)
Far from the routine billing of old
Ordinarily this would have been a game to snigger at, but this is far from the ‘Jests’ against the ‘Bungals.’ For one thing, both have managed to see out wins against the Patriots, and pulled off wins against opponents from the NFC who were notable post-season participants in 2012. The Bengals continue to grow into their billing as likely AFC North winners and outside SuperBowl shouts, with Marvin Jones the latest young player to hit a hot streak and tight-end Tyler Eifert garnering his first touchdown to cap his early progress in the offensive line. As for Geno Smith and his ‘Gang Green’ it’s been a steep learning curve, but one which has brought out the best in both Smith himself and his head coach Rex Ryan. The key factor in both camps has been professionalism, hard-work and the knack of winning when they should while opponents are on the back-foot. Yet the defeats on their records show that nothing is perfect, and the Bengals may need to rely on a third field-goal dependent win. The Bengals defence will relish the chance to face the rookie Smith, but he might be gutsier than they expect. One to keep an eye on.
PREDICTION: Jets 21-30 Bengals
- Panthers (3-3-0) @ Buccaneers (0-6-0) Panthers win 37-6
- Browns (3-4-0) @ Chiefs (7-0-0) Chiefs win 17-13
- Dolphins (3-3-0) @ Patriots (5-2-0) Patriots win 21-17
- Bills (3-4-0) @ Saints (5-1-0) Saints win 35-20
- Steelers (2-4-0) @ Raiders (2-4-0) Raiders win 28-21 (overtime)
- Cardinals (3-4-0) @ Falcons (2-4-0) Cardinals win 24-17 (overtime)
- Washington (2-5-0) @ Broncos (6-1-0) Broncos win 33-10
- Packers (4-2-0) @ Vikings (1-5-0) Packers win 17-6
- Seahawks (6-1-0) @ Rams (3-4-0) Seahawks win 24-7
A fan on fitba, NFL and ruggerby league in that order. Dundee exile, based in Perth. A journalist as well apparently.