|Can Andy Reid lead the Chiefs to 4-0?|
Week four of the NFL season began on Thursday when the San Fransisco 49ers destroyed their division rivals St. Louis on the road 35-11, and continues this afternoon with another 13 games. Here I break down five things to watch when you settle down in front of your television sets as the season reaches the quarter mark.
Will Kansas City and the Giants recent form hold true?
The unbeaten Chiefs welcome the winless Giants to Arrowhead Stadium this afternoon in a must win game for New York if they are to salvage their season. However Chiefs head coach Andy Reid, who of course coached against the Giants multiple times while in Philadelphia, has turned the Kansas City franchise around and has led the team to more wins already in 2013 than they managed in 2012 when they finished 2-14. Eli Manning was sacked seven times last week and Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston leads the league in sacks with 7.5, so the G-Men will have to contain Houston and the rest of the Kansas City pass rush if they are to be successful offensively this week and get into the win column.
Can Ahmed Bradshaw continue to outshine Trent Richardson for Indy?
After giving up a first round pick in next years draft to acquire Richardson, Colts head honcho Chuck Pagano predominantly gave the ball to incumbent running back Bradshaw who broke out for 95 yards on 19 carries as Indianapolis upset the 49ers 27-7. In comparison Richardson could only muster 35 yards on 13 carries in his Colts debut. Because the Colts face the hapless Jaguars today they should, in theory, be in a position to run the clock down in the second half and both RBs could see plenty of reps. It’ll be interesting to see if last week was an aberration in terms of the split of carries and whether or not Richardson can make the most of his opportunities as he tries to justify his hefty price tag.
Which team will kick-start their season with a win in London: Pittsburgh or Minnesota?
Both the Steelers and the Vikings are yet record a win this season, unfortunately diluting the quality on show in London this evening. However the game should be tight which is more than can be said for some of the other International Series games in the past. The London game (or games this year, the first where two will place) throws up a different set of challenges than usual for NFL teams as they adjust to a different time zone, different practise facilities and a different environment in general. Neither team is loaded with talent but the Vikings do have Adrian Peterson, a genuine superstar who they’ll look to as they attempt to grab a W in front of a sold out Wembley Stadium.
Can Peyton Manning keep up his historic start to the season?
Through three games Peyton has 12 TDs and no interceptions, on pace for a 64/0 ratio over the course of the entire season. Obviously the odds of that actually happening are long, but he does has a real chance to beat Tom Brady’s record of 50 TD passes in a season set back in 2007 if he maintains his current form. The Philadelphia Eagles secondary has been awful so far this year so Manning could enjoy another stellar day as he picks on the likes of Nate Allen, Cary Williams and rookie safety Earl Wolff in the Eagles secondary. Additionally, thanks to the up tempo Philly offense Manning should get plenty of opportunities to get his hands on the ball and things could get really ugly in the thin Colorado air. As an Eagles fan this match-up is the type that gives you nightmares before a game.
Are Seattle for real? Can anyone stop them?
The Seahawks (3-0) have been mightily impressive so far this season, while the Texans haven’t been too shoddy themselves on their way to a 2-1 record. With just one loss between them this game might just turn out to feature the highest quality on show this evening, so make sure when 6 o’clock (GMT) comes around you’ve got it on your screens. New England versus Atlanta should also be a humdinger in the night game, but while both of those teams are strong with top tier QBs I think both Seattle and Houston are more rounded and the Seahawks D could be the best in the league. Keep an eye on Texans receiver Andre Johnson and his battle with Seattle corner Richard Sherman, where two of the premier players in the league at their respective positions go head to head. The player who wins that individual battle for their team could go a long way to securing the overall victory in this contest.
So those are the five things I’ll be keeping an eye out for as the action gets underway in an hour or two. Let me know what you’re watching by leaving a comment or tweeting me @fredjstanley. Here’s to a top day of football, both stateside and in London.