As many of you who follow the National Football League know, the Most Valuable Player talk grows as the season winds down. One player that is garnering attention in that regard is San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers. As it stands, he has 2,944 passing yards, 19 touchdowns, eight interceptions and a quarterback rating of 102.9, warranting him the top spot among league quarterbacks. He’s doing this all while having a backfield still in transition since the departure of LaDanien Tomlinson and a receiver corps stacked with reserves, thanks to injuries and the uncertainty of its top threat, Vincent Jackson.
Here’s where the catch-22 comes into play! The Chargers are 4-5. If the season were to end today, I would not vote in his favor because in addition to posting commendable individual stats, your production must be vital in your team’s success. He can’t be held accountable for what he’s surrounded with, as he is making the best of his situation, but that is a blemish that could hinder his chances at the league’s top individual award. Now, if San Diego can right the ship, run the remaining seven-game table and win the AFC West, then there is no better choice than Rivers.
Dolphins over Bears- Tyler Thigpen gets his first start as a quarterback since 2008 as a Kansas City Chief. That proved to be the best season of his career and if he is careful with the ball, he should prove to be the less reckless of the two quarterbacks in Thursday night’s matchup.
Ravens over Panthers- Baltimore almost pulled out a tough one in Atlanta last Thursday night. The journey to victory should be easier against a Carolina team that lost DeAngelo Williams for the season, and has other uncertainties in the health department.
Bills over Bengals- Dare I give Buffalo a second straight win? Give I dare! Who says Ivy League quarterbacks can’t play in the pros? Ryan Fitzpatrick is averaging a little under 222 passing yards and two touchdowns per game in his seven starts. Fred Jackson brings a burst to the running game that should add to Buffalo’s morale. Now can we call them the Bungals?
Lions over Cowboys- As big of a win as Dallas earned over what some perceived as the best team in the NFC (New York Giants), Detroit has the grit to stifle Dallas’ momentum.
Browns over Jaguars- If Houston cornerback Glover Quin would’ve caught the Hail Mary pass instead of batting it down, Jacksonville would have lost. Taking out the “woulda-shoulda-couldas”, it’s time to end the celebration and prepare for a Cleveland team that will win the physicality battle in this matchup, thus earning the win which counts most.
Chiefs over Cardinals- Todd Haley will welcome the team whose offense he once coordinated to Arrowhead Stadium. Given its two game losing streak, Kansas City will be coached out of an extended slump and get back to its winning ways.
Packers over Vikings- As Green Bay progresses, Minnesota regresses. Brett Favre’s hostile takeover sends the Vikes deeper into the abyss.
Jets over Texans- Until Houston can correct its woes with defending the passing game, it will continue to come apart at the seams.
Raiders over Steelers- I need an upset and this is where I’m going with. Oakland has the second best pass defense in the league. On the flip side, Pittsburgh is tops in defending the run. I like the Silver and Black’s chances in testing that aspect of Steel Town’s defense.
Titans over Redskins- When you look at the egg Washington laid on center stage/National TV, is it impossible to think that Randy Moss will remind us of who he is?
Saints over Seahawks- In case you didn’t hear, Reggie Bush will make his return this week. Coming off an injury, I’m not saying he’ll light it up, but he will garner the kind of attention that will create opportunities for his fellow skilled players.
49ers over Buccaneers- The Troy Smith/Josh Freeman quarterback battle will be a compelling one to say the least. Both have shown they can deliver and run the ball effectively. The difference maker in this game will be the stability that San Fran’s backfield provides the offense.
Falcons over Rams- Yet, another game featuring the league’s future at the quarterback position. Atlanta’s front seven will prove to be more formidable than St. Louis’.
Patriots over Colts- It is always a treat to watch these future Hall of Famers in a shootout. Indianapolis’ backfield is in search of identity, while New England’s versatility and depth will prove once again that anyone can be vital in its success.
Giants over Eagles- Recently I’ve learned that Big Blue operates in spurts. They can start out the season hot and fizzle out, or they can do what they did in their recent Super Bowl campaign and pick up steam in the latter part of the season. Michael Vick vs. New York’s front seven. Can that group stifle the league’s “Redemption In Motion”? I’ll go on a limb and say it will.
Chargers over Broncos- Could San Diego be creeping back into its winning ways? I’m not sold on Denver’s 49 point output from last week. If you want to see an insane amount of yards put in the air, this is the game for you.
As always, enjoy the games and we’ll get into it again next week.
By Antoine Hoffman