Page 19 - aruba-today-20171202
P. 19

                                                                                                       SPORTS Saturday 2 december 2017
            Looking for the best NFL matchups this week? Look South.

            By BARRY WILNER                                                                        These  teams  went  at  it  in   Pittsburgh  (9-2)  at  Cincin-
             AP Pro Football Writer                                                                London in October, a 33-0    nati (5-6), Monday night
            The place to focus on this                                                             Rams  win  that  was  Ari-   The  Bengals  haven't  been
            week is Down South, as in                                                              zona's  worst  performance   bungling  much  lately,  but
            NFC South.                                                                             and  cost  it  QB  Carson    this isn't a matchup in their
            All three contenders in the                                                            Palmer  (broken  left  arm).   favor.  Pittsburgh's  all-time
            NFL's best division have dif-                                                          Los Angeles has displayed    edge in this series is 61-35,
            ficult  matchups  Sunday,                                                              balance  on  both  sides  of   including  two  playoff  wins
            two  of  them  facing  off                                                             the ball and was especially   at  Paul  Brown  Stadium.
            when  top  dogs  Carolina                                                              hard  on  Adrian  Peterson,   The Steelers have won five
            and  New  Orleans  go  at                                                              who rushed for 21 yards on   straight  and  eight  of  nine
            it  in  the  Big  Easy.  Atlanta,                                                      11 carries in London.        in the rivalry. They also are
            meanwhile,     hosts   NFC                                                             An LA win would even the     6-3  on  Monday  night  vs.
            North leader Minnesota.                                                                series, which now is 38-37-2   Cincinnati  and  have  won
            The  Panthers  and  Saints                                                             for the Cardinals.           10 straight prime-time
            are  8-3,  and  New  Orleans                                                                                        games. q
            has  a  win  in  Charlotte.  So
            a season's sweep by Drew
            Brees and company would
            make for a tidy tiebreaker.
            "The  fact  is  we  play  in  a
            really  tough  division  and
            there are a lot tough teams
            sitting  at  the  top  fighting
            for  that  spot,  and  we  are
            all within a game of each
            other," Brees says. "This is a
            tough stretch, the toughest
            stretch  as  we  could  possi-
            bly have, but it is good for
            us. We need this. Hopefully
            it brings out our best foot-
            Maybe      a    comforting
            thought for the three teams   In this Sept. 28, 2014, file photo, Minnesota Vikings cornerback
            involved  is  they  all  could   Xavier Rhodes, left, breaks up a pass intended for Atlanta Fal-
            be playing in January.       cons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) during the second half of
            "It's really crazy. You look at   an NFL football game, in Minneapolis.
            the NFC South, and there's                                            Associated Press
            a chance that three teams    of  having  confidence  go-  The  Seahawks  uncharac-
            actually make the playoffs,   ing against him."           teristically need to win with
            which  is  absolutely  crazy   The  week's  action  began   offense  as  the  Legion  of
            to  me,"  Panthers  veteran   Thursday  night  with  Dallas'   Boom  has  been  ravaged
            linebacker  Thomas  Davis    38-14  home  victory  over   by  injuries  and  penalties
            says. "I think it's just the NFC   Washington.            keep mounting.
            South  and  the  way  we've   Dak  Prescott  threw  two   Yet they can win that way
            been playing this year."     touchdown passes, includ-    thanks  to  Russell  Wilson,
            At 7-4, the Falcons trail by a   ing  a  franchise  record-  who  deserves  consider-
            game in the NFL's toughest   breaker to Dez Bryant, and   ation in the MVP race, and
            division. They go outside of   Dallas (66) finally won with-  re-emerging tight end Jim-
            it Sunday, but hardly get a   out suspended star running   my Graham.
            relief: Minnesota (9-2) can   back Ezekiel Elliott.       "I have to find ways to get
            beat you every which way     Prescot  shook  off  a  hand   him the football. It's not just
            and  has  won  seven  in  a   injury and found Bryant on   him,  it's  everybody,  but  I
            row.                         a  13-yard  leaping  grab  in   think  that  he  really  stands
            The  matchup  of  the  Vi-   the end zone for the 2014    out. He can do some spe-
            kings'  powerful  defense    All-Pro's  first  score  in  six   cial things," Wilson says.
            and  the  Falcons'  revital-  games and 72nd of his ca-   Philly has won nine in a row,
            ized offense is a spicy one.   reer, one more than Hall of   four straight by at least 20
            Nowhere is that more true    Famer  Bob  Hayes.  Wash-    points.  Only  the  1999  St.
            than  Atlanta's  brilliant  re-  ington dropped to 5-7.   Louis Rams did it five times.
            ceiver  Julio  Jones  against   Philadelphia  (10-1)  at  Se-  They won the Super Bowl.
            Minnesota's shutdown cor-    attle (7-4)                  Los  Angeles  Rams  (8-3)  at
            nerback Xavier Rhodes.       With the Eagles soaring to-  Arizona (5-6)
            "Don't believe in the hype,   ward  the  postseason  be-  A  nice  bounce  back  by
            don't  be  afraid  of  the   hind  the  sensational  work   the Rams with a 26-20 win
            name,  just  believe  in  the   of  second-year  quarter-  over New Orleans that fol-
            game,"  Rhodes  says.  "I    back Carson Wentz and a      lowed a loss at Minnesota.
            know he's one of the best    dynamic  defense  that  no   This  one  can  be  tricky  —
            receivers  in  the  league,   one can run on, much at-    witness  what  the  under-
            and I've just got to go out   tention will be centered on   manned  Cardinals  did  to
            and play with the mindset    the hosts.                   Jacksonville last Sunday.
   14   15   16   17   18   19   20   21   22   23   24