2012-13 NFL Foxtel ESPN Preview: Week 13
Another great week of divisional matchups on ESPN, especially if you’re an NFC East fan!
New Orleans Saints @ Atlanta Falcons
When and where: 30th November, Georgia Dome, Atlanta.
Coverage: ESPN LIVE 12 PM AEDT.
The New Orleans Saints’ (5-6) playoff hopes suffered a major setback in Week 12 after going down to the San Francisco 49ers. If they want to remain a chance to make the playoffs they need to beat their divisional rivals.
The Atlanta Falcons (10-1) are sitting atop the NFL after coming away with a close win against a surprisingly competitive Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They know how dangerous the Saints can be and will aim to put them out of playoff contention.
While the Falcons have a dominant record their recent games have all been close, hard-fought matches. Matt Ryan has had some hiccups too after a hot start to the season and will need to return to the elite form he had in Weeks 1-6 if they want to have a chance in January.
Watch out for: The rise of Jaquizz Rodgers. The Falcons found production from the change-of-pace back against the Buccaneers, totalling 49 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries. Expect him to get at least as many touches against a poor — but improving — Saints run defence.
Keep an eye on the Saints’ now healthy Darren Sproles. After being sidelined for three weeks with a hand injury Sproles seemed to be back in form against the 49ers tough run defence. He should have a much easier time against the 23rd ranked Atlanta.
Final word and prediction: It would be an amazing story if the Saints managed a playoff appearance after such a horrible start to the season. I expect a motivated Drew Brees to bounce back and beat the shaky Atlanta Falcons 34-29.
Philadelphia Eagles @ Dallas Cowboys
When and where: 3rd December, Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, TX.
Coverage: ESPN LIVE 12.15 PM AEDT
The Philadelphia Eagles (3-8) are clearly in full rebuilding mode after their loss to the Carolina Panters on Monday Night Football. They have already released defensive end Jason Babin, citing that they’d like to see who else they have at that position and we can expect more changes to come in the following weeks.
The Dallas Cowboys (5-6) are also coming off a tough loss last week against the Washington Redskins and will be looking to keep themselves in the playoff hunt.
The Cowboys defence should feast on a banged-up Eagles offensive line and rookie QB Nick Foles. Expect Tony Romo to put up some big numbers against what has become one of the worst defences in the league.
Watch out for: Eagles Rookie RB Bryce Brown. Brown put up some great numbers last week playing for an injured LeSean McCoy. Should McCoy remain sidelined it will be a very interesting matchup for the young back.
The Cowboys’ Dez Bryant is finally coming into his own after putting some some big numbers in recent weeks. Expect him to see a lot of targets against a poor Eagles secondary and more than likely a touchdown or two as well.
Final word and prediction: The Eagles’ season is over and they are now looking to develop their talent for next year. The Cowboys however are still in the hunt and will win 38-17.
New York Giants @ Washington Redskins
When and where: 4rd November, FedEx Field, Landover, MD.
Coverage: ESPN LIVE 12.30 PM AEDT.
The New York Giants (7-4) broke out of their November slump last week with a big win over the Green Bay Packers, putting them two games ahead in the NFC East and clear favourites for the division.
The Washington Redskins (5-6) also enjoyed a win last week with an upset against Dallas on Thanksgiving day, putting them — although it’s a long shot — in the playoff hunt.
The Giants’ game relies on both the arm of Eli Manning and that fearsome passrush. The Giants’ defensive line should give the Redskins’ rookie QB Robert Griffin III plenty of reasons to move out of the pocket and make plays with his legs. The rookie QB will be looking for wideout Pierre Garcon frequently on short passes, hoping he can make some yards after the catch.
Watch out for: Eli Manning’s play against the Redskins. Eli has had considerable — and frankly, hard to explain — trouble with the Redskins defence in recent years. While he stepped up in a big way against the Packers how Eli performs against his divisional rivals will go a long way towards defining his season.
Robert Griffin III should also provide some exciting plays and seems to flourish in the spotlight. He has thrown eight touchdowns in the last two games including some spectacular bombs to his now healthy receiving corp.
Final word and prediction: The Giants know the importance of getting hot in the month of December and will look to cement their position at the top of the NFC East, they’ll win 34-28.