CINCINATTI BENGALS at HOUSTON TEXANS
SKY SPORT 2 Saturday 9.30pm
It's hard to hate a team with blonde twins as cheerleaders, but Michelle & Rachel Lewis (above) can't make the Houston Texans interesting. Arian Foster, one of the real beasts of 2011 (Pro Bowler,1200+ yards rushing this season) can't make them interesting. That's some powerful boring they got going on down there. Houston are the Aston Villa of the NFL - competently run,well funded, and resolutely mid-table dull. This year is by far their most successful season since the franchise was resurrected in 2002 (the beloved underachievers the Houston Oilers having upped and left for Tennessee in 96) and it could all end against the men in the ginger helmets, led by the only true ginger in the NFL. Andy Dalton is good, even if he does look like Beaker's very athletic brother. Is it better to be 8-8 dull every year and bore your fans to death, or be completely cover-your-children's-eyes terrible for a decade then suddenly very very good?
WATCHABILITY RATING: Meh.
RESULT: BENGALS by a late field goal.
DETROIT LIONS at NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
SKY SPORT 2 Sunday 1am
Now we're talking. Both these teams are terrific to watch, with the Lions back in the postseason for the first time in well, forever. How can you not love a team that had the worst season in NFL history only a few seasons ago becoming playoff relevant after drafting only three new stars,one of which doesn't even touch the football for a living?
Ndamukong Suh lives up to the Kong in his name. 6ft 4, 300 pounds, Suh is flagged and fined for over-aggression in a sport built on over-aggression. He's a larger Mike Tyson with a degree in Construction Management. He is as fast as a rugby winger with the build of several props. His job is filling up the holes to stop the run, and he does his job very well. Only problem is that the Saints don't need to run. Drew Brees just broke the great Dan Marino's passing record,
which had stood for 27 years. So Mr Suh is going to spend a lot of early Sunday looking over his head at balls zipping into the arms of Saints receivers rapidly disappearing away from him. He may as well line up backwards and save
himself the neck cramp.
WATCHABILITY RATING: Make extra nachos, buy extra beer
RESULT: SAINTS by an entertaining lot
ATLANTA FALCONS at NEW YORK GIANTS
SKY SPORT 2 Sunday 6PM
I hate Eli Manning. It's an irrational thing I'll admit. He's above competent, seems pleasant, and it must be hell on
earth when your older brother (and to a degree, your father) has overshadowed you your entire life despite you winning a Super Bowl and playing in New York. But his dopey look and maddeningly inconsistent play irritate the hell out of me. In fact the Giants, a preening sack-celebrating bunch of lunks trying to live up to the legend of Lawrence Taylor irritate me in general. Was I delirious that they knocked out the Cowboys last week, to the point where Jerry Jones probably had a small stroke? Hell yes. Would I like them to lose this week so that their hyper-tense coach Tom Coughlin joins him? Hell even more yes.
WATCHABILITY RATING: Sleep late
RESULT: FALCONS, but only just
PITTSBURGH STEELERS at DENVER BRONCOS
SKY SPORTS 2 Sunday 9.30PM
As much as I hate Eli Manning, I love Tim Tebow. The NFL hierarchy in general hate him, and that's a good start for me. Mr smug himself John Elway - the ultimate poacher turned gamekeeper - had to eat his anti-Tebow words after his awful QB started winning games; a LOT of games. Tim can barely throw a football, and when he does it often looks like it's being operated by Thunderbirds puppeteers. A tight spiral it ain't. This incenses the ex-QB talking heads such as Steve Young and Ron Jaworski (and his boss Mr Elway) to a degree that spittle forms in the corners of their mouths when they talk about him and as the flecks fly across the glossy surfaces of an ESPN set, I raise another glass to the Tebow effect. There's no arguing that he is a hell of a motivator and a powerful runner. But he is an absolutely awful QB in the classic sense, which has forced 1st year Denver coach John Fox to run the 2011/12 Broncos like an SEC college team (limited running based offense, awesome defense), which plays to Tebow's strengths and has for most of the season confused opposing NFL defences. They are used to facing complicated offensive schemes and terrifyingly competent technicians (we're talking about you Aaron Rodgers).
Instead they get the meat and potatoes Broncs. The Broncos are a long-ball-over-the-top-team facing Barcelona, and you can imagine the confusion it caused that somehow this approach still worked. Or did for about eight weeks in the middle of the season where the Broncos went 7-1. The last three weeks the Broncos have been beaten, and it took Oakland being Oakland (utterly, totally disappointing) for them to win their division and end up here, at home to the raging Steelers.
The Steelers are a terrific, competent, modern NFL team, that will tear the arms off the Broncos and stomp them into the middle of next season. That is, unless there is a true Tebow miracle. Stranger things have (possibly) happened.
And if you REALLY want to know how strong Tebow's will is, this is his current girlfriend, skier Lindsey Vonn:
Tim Tebow is still a virgin.
WATCHABILITY RATING: Tune in for the 4th Quarter that's Tebow Time!
RESULT: STEELERS. Cue Wiz Khalifa's Black and Yellow. Fist Bump.
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