NFL : Fighting Irish Week 16 Preview & Results

    The Christmas round of games kicked off last night with the Arizona Cardinals trying their best to throw away a huge lead at home to the dismal Cowboys.

    For much of this game the Cowboys looked like they did at the start of the season under Wade Philips namely uninterested and unable to execute with any regularity. The word is that Jason Garrett is in line to get the head coaching job and I suspect it may not be for the right reason. While they have always held him in high regard it appears that Jerry Jones, the flamboyant and publicity hungry owner and general manager of the Cowboys feels he can work well with Garrett despite the lure of having a big name coach America’s Team. The problem is this can be interpreted as Garrett being willing to give Jones plenty of say in how the team is run, who is drafted, how they play etc. Jones obviously loves his team and his enthusiasm for football is undoubted but he is not a football man, not a respected coach and any time he has had input into how the team is run over the years has been a disaster. We could see a return to the Barry Swisher era where Jones hired his friend as head coach and the two men conspired to tear down the dynasty that Jimmy Johnson had built (albeit with Jerry’s absolute financial support). The hype and hollywood factor that goes hand in hand with Dallas football demands a strong head coach and one who is able to restrict Jones’ inbfluence on team affairs. Whether Garrett has the self confidence and job certainty to keep Jerry in the front office and out of the dressing room remains to be seen.

    St. Stephens Day sees the Jets travel to Chicago to take on the Bears. Both teams are having great seasons with them both assured of playoff berths already. The similarities dont end there as both teams have flakey if talented QBs, a savage defence and a very impressive running game. With both having little to play for other than momentum I will go for home field advantage to be the deciding factor and fancy the bears to sugar coat their already impressive record.

    The next game on Sky Sports sees Eli Manning lead the Giants to Green Bay to take on the under preesure Packers. The mirror image theme continues in this one as both teams have been ravaged by injuries and have been relying on their star QBs to lead them through a sticky season. New York looked to have things figured out but must be short on confidence this week after blowing a huge lead at home against the Eagles and the phenomenal Michael Vick last week. Green Bay have been struggling recently also especially in the absence of Arron Rogers who has been out and struggling with a heavy concussion. They put up a brave fight last week against the high flying Patriots and if Rogers is back and healthy then he can lead them to a victory in a game they simply cannot loose if they want to reach the post season.

    The late game on Channel 4 The Vikings travel to Philadelphia to take on Vick and the Eagles. The Vikings have turned into the Brett Farve side show with the cracks from their dismal season being papered over with the Farve saga. His phenomenal run came to an end and everyone though that was the last we would see of Farve in the NFL. Then Monday night football last week against the Bears he decided 5 mins before the game he is fit to start only to be knocked out in the first half by another heavy hit that he probably didnt need to take. All this stuff aside these are two teams going in the opposite direction and in a hurry! The Vikings are a team in decline and an organisation in need of leadership while the Eagles are getting better week by week and along with the Patriots look the class of the NFL. The Eagles should blow them away in what should be a one sided romp with hopefully some exhibition stuff from Philadelphia in front of their home fans.

    Monday night football this week should be a real good one. The 12-2 Atlanta Falcons boast the best record in the NFL and host the defending superbowl champions in what could be one of the games of the season. Both teams have a lot to play for in this one which should bring out the best in them. A New Orleans win will secure them a playoff spot and this is hugely significant. They have been cruising underneath the radar this season and have been somewhat overlooked by both the media and the bookmakers in favour of the Brady led Patriots and the Vick led Eagles. They have had a lot of injuries to cope with and have done so pretty well. This is a serious team, with a serious coach and a serious QB with weapons all over the field and a significantly improved defence. The Falcons on the other have surprised people with how well they have done this year. This game is of huge importance to them also beacuse a win would guarantee them top seed and home field advantage throughout the playoffs until the Superbowl if they get that far. The stats dont lie and quite simply the Falcons when led by the hugely impressive Matt Ryan do not loose at home. Records though are made to be broken and I fancy New Orleans to step it up on offence now they have Bush and Shockey back playing a somewhere near peak fitness. If Drew Brees can get his offence firing and the defence can perform to the same level as it had been doing I fancy them to end Matt Ryans impressive run of home wins and secure themselves a playoff spot thereby taking another step closer to retaining the Lombardi trophy.

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