There are three matchups this week between teams that are legitimate playoff contenders, so naturally I will not explore any of them in this post. However, I don't want to go without mentioning these contests between the Falcons and Chargers, Ravens and Patriots, and Broncos and Texans, with the latter two games containing, in my opinion, the only four teams that will legitimately compete for the AFC title this year. But who wants to hear about that?
WHAT? Philadelphia Eagles at Arizona Cardinals
WHY? Um, hello, Kevin Kolb versus Michael Vick? Who will produce the turnover that loses the game for his team? But seriously, the Cardinals are a surprising 2-0 after dispensing of a hyped Seahawks team and, well, destroying 40% of Eliminator pools by taking down the Patriots. Their defense is very legitimate, allowing just 17 points per game through two weeks. And they face an Eagles team that has done exactly what killed them last year offensively -- turning the ball over, and over, and over -- but has managed to squeak out two victories. Should be another tough one for the Iggles.
WHO? I'll be keeping an eye on Mr. $100 million, Larry Fitzgerald. While he's been targeted the most of any Cardinals player, he has fewer receptions than Todd Heap, Andre Roberts, and Early Doucet, and for a player that was generally drafted second among receivers in fantasy, 67 yards and no touchdowns in two games is, well, not good. He had 146 yards and 2 touchdowns last year against Philly, so it's not like Nnamdi and Co. have his number, but the Eagles do have the league's second-best pass defense right now.
HOW? I'm feeling generous, so I'll give you two choices: watch while noshing on some Chunky Soup with Donovan McNabb and his mom, or while eating some Ramen with Mike Kafka in his mom's basement. Either way, you get the entire Eagles' QB depth chart from 2009 or 2010.
WHAT? San Francisco 49ers at Minnesota Vikings
WHY? Maybe the best team in the league (I'll still take the Texans though) takes its show on the road against a team that's looked much better than last year (albeit in close games against two other bad teams). The Niners' pass defense isn't as good as its run defense, which is good for them since the Vikes' pass offense isn't as good as its rush offense (Yo Adrian! What happened to that Week 1 performance?). Jim Harbaugh must be throwing some crazy voodoo on Alex Smith, because the dude hasn't thrown an interception since last November and has just 5 in his last 500 attempts, after throwing 22 in his previous 700.
WHO? I've been very impressed with Christian Ponder thus far this season (yes I mentioned him last week, but it's my blog, dammit!). He's completing over 75% of his passes (best in the league) with 8.3 YPA (yards per attempt -- 5th best in the league), and how could you not when you have a beast like Percy Harvin to throw to. We all know how much I love me some Perce this season, and he hasn't disappointed from a usage standpoint, ranking 9th in targets, 2nd in receptions, 10th in yards, and 4th in first downs among pass-catchers for a team that is only 13th in the league in passing.
HOW? Go to a football field. Find a goalpost. Stand next to it. Turn and face the middle of the field. Bend over. Pretend to moon the stands. Randy Moss returns to Minnesota.
WHAT? Kansas City Chiefs at New Orleans Saints
WHY? This here is a battle of two teams with postseason expectations who have fallen on tough times in the early going. I've already written all about how terrible the Chiefs not named Shaun Draughn have been, but I'll admit I'm surprised at how punchless the Saints have looked without their first or second string head coach. The offense is 6th in scoring, but the defense is last in the league in yards and points allowed.
WHO? It's gotta be Drew Brees, right? The guy destroyed the NFL passing record last year while completing over 70% of his passes and throwing 46 touchdowns against 14 interceptions. Thus far this season, he is on pace for "only" 5300 yards, but with 32 touchdowns, 32 interceptions, and just 55% completions. And this is against two defenses that were 12th and 24th against the pass (and 20th and 22nd in interceptions) in 2011. If not now, at home against a reeling Chiefs team that has allowed 5 TD and 0 INT thus far, then when?
HOW? Take a break from the hustle and bustle and head down to Bourbon Street. Don't do anything crazy, just stand around and people-watch. You probably won't have to watch a single second of the game to know what's happening.