Posts by Will Davies

2012

September

Indianapolis Colts at the Chicago Bears - This is the first Sunday of the new NFL season and our first chance to judge which teams will contest Superbowl 47 in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans in February. The Colts started last season as one of the top teams but an injury to star quarterback Peyton Manning turned their season into a disaster. The one benefit of this is that they got first pick in the NFL draft of new players and chose Andrew Luck who is a young QB with a big reputation and becomes Manning's replacement. The Bears have not made the playoffs in the last two seasons and have shuffled some of their management and signed Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall from the Miami Dolphins. It will be interesting to see if either of these teams are serious contenders or face a longer recovery process.

NFL Week 1 - Monday night / Tuesday morning sees the final two matches of the opening weekend of the 2012 NFL season. Both matches of this double-header are big inter-divisional rivalries in the AFC. First up is a matchup from the AFC North: Baltimore Ravens host the Cincinnati Bengals. The Ravens will want to make up for not making the Superbowl last season, after missing out so cruelly in the AFC Championship game last season. Our second matchup sees the AFC West’s San Diego Chargers travelling up the west coast of California to face the Oakland Raiders. The scheduling has picked us two great games for the first Monday Night Football, and the BBC are kindly showing them for us online / on the red-button.

NFL Week 2 - After an action-packed first weekend, we should expect nothing less from the second. First up we see the Carolina Panthers hosting the New Orleans Saints (1800 – Sky Sports) – can the interim to the interim head-coach of the Saints get a handle on nuances of running an offence? Then (2105 – Sky Sports) Washington Redskins at the St Louis Rams – will rookie QB RG3 start 2-0? Finally for the Sunday, we have the San Francisco 49ers playing the Detroit Lions (0120 – C4) – can Calvin Johnson overcome the ‘Madden-Curse’? Our last game of the weekend is on Monday night / Tuesday morning, and sees Atlanta Falcons against the Denver Broncos (0130 BBC (red-button / online) – if you want to watch Peyton Manning to turn gridiron into a game of chess, then this is the game for you.

NFL Week 3 - Another NFL-weekend is upon us – one that should be full of action. First up on Sunday we have the New York Jets at the Miami Dolphins (1800 – Sky Sports). Next the Houston Texans travel to play the Denver Broncos in the thin air at Mile-High (2115 – Sky Sports). Peyton Manning will need to start the game better, rather than gifting turnovers in the first quarter, if he wants a win. Later still we have the Baltimore Ravens hosting the New England Patriots (0120 – C4). Our last matchup of the weekend is on Monday night (Tuesday morning); the Green Bay Packers play at the Seattle Seahawks (0130 – BBC red button / online) – which could look ‘easy’ for the Packers, but as one NFL-pundit put it, is a ‘tough game in disguise’.

NFL Week 4 - First up on the NFL-Sunday we have the New England Patriots travelling the short distance to play the Buffalo Bills (1800 – Sky Sports). Pats will want a win – this is the first time in years they’ve had more losses that wins – currently at 1-2. The second kickoff will see Drew Brees try to prevent his New Orleans Saints going 0-4 when playing at the Green Bay Packers (2115 – Sky Sports). Sunday’s late kickoff sees the Philadelphia Eagles hosting the New York Giants (0055 Monday am – C4)– where Eagles QB Vick has something to prove. The ‘Monday night’ game has the Chicago Bears at the Dallas Cowboys (0130 Tuesday am – BBC) – should be a matchup worth ruining your Tuesday for.

October

NFL Week 5 - With the first quarter of the regular season in the books, teams should be all-warmed-up by now. First up on Sunday, the Battle of Pennsylvania enters another chapter, with the Philadelphia Eagles playing at the Pittsburgh Steelers (ko 1800 – Sky Sports); watch out for the Steelers, they should be fresh after their bye-week. Next is a quarterback-battle for the ages; Tom Brady faces his old nemesis Peyton Manning as the Denver Broncos travel to the New England Patriots (2125 – Sky Sports). The late kick-off sees the New Orleans Saints host the San Diego Chargers (0120 Mon am – C4); finally, with the Bolts on TV, I won’t be watching a different game to everyone else! Our late game on Monday has the Houston Texans at the NY Jets (0130 Tues am – BBC); key injuries to the Jet’s defence, and the standard of their QB play, suggests they are in for a hiding.

NFL Week 6 - This is the week where teams start to pull away and seasons start to be defined. The ‘early’ game features the Detroit Lions, who need to start playing to their potential, at the Philadelphia Eagles, with their ‘fumble-y QB’ Mike Vick (1800 – Sky Sports). Up second are 2 NFC-Championship contenders when then New York Giants play the San Francisco 49ers (2115 – Sky Sports). The late-ko has the Houston Texans hosting the Green Bay Packers (0120 Mon am – C4); where Aaron Rogers will probably be looking to abandon the run in an attempt to overturn the yet-undefeated Texans. Monday night sees an all-AFC West showdown with the San Diego Chargers travelling to the Denver Broncos (0130 Tues am – BBC), and should be an offensive slug-fest, regardless of the strengths of either defence.

NFL Week 7 - Even though a chunk of decent teams are on a Bye, it doesn’t mean that quality of this weekend’s match-ups are diminished in the slightest. The first match sees 2 teams that are streaking away from the rest of the AFC as the Baltimore Ravens play at the Houston Texans (1800 – Sky Sports) – the injury-plagued Ravens might just be the underdogs this time. The must-not-miss game this weeks is where the NY Jets take the short trip to the New England Patriots (2115 – Sky Sports) – the Pats should beat a freewheeling Jets team, but stranger things have happened. Another interdivisional game finds the AFC North’s Cincinnati Bengals hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers (0120 Mon am – C4). Our Monday night game is an encounter that any zoo would draw huge crowds for as the Lions take on the Bears (0130 Tues am – BBC) – Grrrrrrrr!!

NFL Week 8 - This season’s Wembley-Game has arrived, and it promises to be a corker! The New England Patriots are being hosted by the St Louis Rams (1800 – Sky Sports). Ok, so St Louis isn’t hosting the match in its truest sense, but they are the ‘home team’. The Rams are coming off a tough game against the Packers – their defence took a pounding, and the challenge this week will be similar. The Patriots have had by their standards a bumpy start to the season – on the way to being 4-&-3 they dipped below .500 for the first time in a regular season since 2002. London games always have a great atmosphere – ohh, and next year there are 2! Also this weekend: Giants @ Cowboys (2115 – Sky Sports), Saints @ Broncos (0120 Mon am – C4), and 49ers @ Cardinals (0130 Tues am – BBC).

November

NFL Week 9 - After this weekend, every team will be at least halfway through their schedules, and situations are starting to get serious. The first game is the Carolina Panthers taking on the Washington Redskins (1700 – Sky Sports) – last year’s all-action multiple-threat rookie QB Cam Newton faces off against this year’s (possibly better version) in RGIII. Another top-level QB-battle is on the cards when the Pittsburgh Steelers play the NY Giants (2015 – Sky Sports) – both have also have strong defences meaning this game will be a top-level matchup all round. The late-night game sees ‘America’s Team’ the Dallas Cowboys travel to the still undefeated Atlanta Falcons (0020 Mon am – C4) – will this be the weekend that the Falcons meet their match? Our Monday game is the New Orleans Saints hosting the Philly Eagles (0030 Tues am – BBC) – Eagles’ QB Mick Vick is close to losing his starting job, so will be looking to play up against a tough Saints’ D.

NFL Week 10 - After (me) getting confused by two lots of changing time-zones over the last two weeks, hopefully everything’s correct this time... The still unbeaten Atlanta Falcons are hosted by divisional rivals New Orleans Saints in our first match on Sunday (1800 – Sky Sports) – what makes this game even more of a must-watch; it’s a must-win for the Saints. Next up two teams who are having a tough time of it (QBs especially) as the Philadelphia Eagles play the Dallas Cowboys (2125 – Sky Sports). Finally on Sunday, two teams with 7-1 records do battle when the Houston Texans take on the Chicago Bears (0120 Mon am – C4) – expect strong offensive and defensive performances from both sides. On Monday night, a fast rising team host another who are at the forefront of the race for the First Pick in the 2013 Draft; the Kansas City Chiefs play at the Pittsburgh Steelers (0130 Tues am – BBC).

NFL Week 11 - With the F1 circus rolling into town, the first round of this weekend’s fixtures will have the USGP competing for our attention – the Green Bay Packers play the Detroit Lions (1800 – Sky Sports). The must-watch (if F1 permits) game of the week is the Indianapolis Colts facing the New England Patriots (2125 – Sky Sports). The last 2 games should come under the heading of QB-Injury-Report: Ben Roethlisberger (out), as the Pittsburgh Steelers host the Baltimore Ravens (0120 Mon am – C4); Big-Ben has a dislocated rib, and his replacement (Byron Leftwich) will be in for a fight against a toughening Ravens team. Then on Monday, with Jay Cutler (out) & Alex Smith (out), the Chicago Bears take on the San Francisco 49ers (0130 Tues am – BBC; now with added studio!!). These two high-flying NFC teams will be without their starting QBs, so expect a tough, ground-and-pound game, in the ‘battle of the back-ups’ – Campbell vs Kaepernick.

NFL Week 12 - It’s Thanksgiving! And the NFL holiday-schedule means we get 2 big bites at the week-11 cherry, resulting in a veritable glut of games. We have 3 games on Thursday: Houston Texans at Detroit Lions (1730 – Sky Sports); an iconic game for Thanksgiving, Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys (2115 – Sky Sports); and an AFC East rivalry for the ages, New England Patriots at New York Jets (0120 Fri am – Sky Sports). Then on Sunday watch out for RB Adrian Peterson busting through the Chicago Bears’ D as they play the Minnesota Vikings (1800 – Sky Sports). Up second, will new ‘superstar’ QB Kaepernick get a bigger role (if not the starting gig) for the 49ers when they travel to play the New Orleans Saints (2125 – Sky Sports)? The late-KO sees two teams both top of their respective NFC divisions, New York Giants host the Green Bay Packers (0120 Mon am – C4). Finally on Monday night expect a tight game when the Carolina Panthers play the Philadelphia Eagles (0130 Tues am – BBC).

December

NFL Week 13 - We’ve now reached the sharp end of the season – where certain key results will start to seal teams’ playoff places. The Chicago Bears are looking for a healthy again Jay Cutler to keep them in pole-position in their division as they travel to the Seattle Seahawks (1800 – Sky Sports). A win for the Baltimore Ravens and they will clinch a playoff berth (together with a loss for the Bengals and they’ll take the AFC North title); they are hosted by the Pittsburgh Steelers (2125 – Sky Sports). The final 2 matches of come straight out of the NFC East: Late on Sunday, the slumping Philadelphia Eagles will give recovering Mike Vick 2 flack-jackets so that he can try to play at the Dallas Cowboys (0120 Mon am – C4). On Monday night the New York Giants, who have recently been mediocre by their standards, take on the Washington Redskins, who are starting to make their own late bid for the post-season (0130 Tues am – BBC).

NFL Week 14 - As you might be aware from Steven Roy’s post, this week is Sky Sports’ rookie-week; so if you’ve not got into NFL, either so far this season or not at all, then this is as good a time and an even better place to start. The Sky show should explain a lot of different aspects of the game and the rules, but anything they don’t quite cover can be posed to our ‘NFL-regulars’. The games they have chosen for this showcase are the Baltimore Ravens hosting the Washington Redskins (1800 – Sky Sports) and the New Orleans Saints playing at the NY Giants (2125 – Sky Sports). The late KO will see the Detroit Lions, who are currently on a 4-game losing streak taking on the somewhat resurgent Green Bay Packers (0130 Mon am – C4). Monday night plays host to a huge matchup between the current top two AFC seeds when the Houston Texans play in New England against the Patriots (0120 Tues am – BBC); a Houston win all-but assures them the #1 spot.

NFL Week 15 - One step closer to the end of the season means teams are one step closer to having their playoff futures finalised. The Green Bay Packers will win the NFC North if they beat the Chicago Bears, who will (at best) have a less-than-100% Jay Cutler, on Sunday evening (1800 – Sky Sports). Next up are 2 teams, both at 7-6, scrabbling around trying to secure one of the 2 wild-card spots in their respective conferences, as the Pittsburgh Steelers take on the Dallas Cowboys (2125 – Sky Sports). With the New England Patriots having already won their division, the San Francisco 49ers will be eying a win to secure themselves a berth, and with a Seahawks loss, their division as well (0120 Mon am – C4) – could this be a Superbowl preview? The NY Jets have managed to claw themselves to 6-7, and with one of the easiest run-ins, are lining themselves up to sneak a wild-card spot; they take on the Tennessee Titans on Monday night (0130 Tues am – BBC).

NFL Week 16 - With the festive season well and truly upon us, it’s out with Thursday & Monday Night Football, and in with a late-Saturday game. The Atlanta Falcons are the current NFC #1 seed, and can secure home-field advantage for the playoffs with a win against the 4-10 Detroit Lions (0130 Sun am – BBC). The Pittsburgh Steelers are still alive in the race for the playoffs, but it will only stay that way if they beat the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday (1800 – Sky Sports). A Bengals win will give them the final AFC spot, a Steelers win gives them the upper hand going into the final week. The defending Superbowl Champs the NY Giants are in a tough spot, tied at 8-6 with 4 other teams, so desperately need a win against the out-of-form Baltimore Ravens (2125 – Sky Sports). Finally we’ve the San Diego Chargers playing at the NY Jets (0120 – C4); these two teams have nothing left to play for this season, and will be already looking to 2013.

NFL Week 17 - The end of the regular season is here, and the NFC is still alive with playoff scenarios, with 5 teams in the mix for the 2 remaining unconfirmed berths. The first game features the Chicago Bears taking on the now 4-11 Detroit Lions (1800 – Sky Sports). The Bears need a win as well as a loss for the Vikings if they are to keep their post-season ambitions alive. Next, the Green Bay Packers, who have already qualified, can clinch a first-round bye with a win against the Minnesota Vikings (2115 – Sky Sports); who themselves will be sure of a spot if they were to win. And finally a game that the NFL have flexed to the late-slot so that it’s primetime for US TV-audiences; the Dallas Cowboys play at the Washington Redskins (0120 – C4). The Cowboys will win the NFC East with a victory, and the same it true for the Redskins, who can, with a loss, still make it in if the Bears and Vikings both lose. All in all, complicated? Not half.

2013

January

NFL - The 2012 Post-Season preview - After what feels like a long regular season is in the books and ahead of the Playoffs starting on the 5th / 6th of January, this is how the playoff-picture has shaped up, the 12 teams who made the cut, and how they might vie to play in and win Super Bowl XLVII.

NFL Playoffs - Divisional round - On the road the Super Bowl XLVII; the next step is the Divisional Round. Many say this is the best weekend for American Football: 2 days of double-headers involving the best 8 teams in the league. First up we have many people’s pick for the title, Peyton Manning’s Broncos hosting the Joe Flacco’s Ravens (2130 – Sky Sports). In the late-night KO, the Packers will pit the experience of Aaron Rodgers and the strength of his passing-game, against the 49ers’ fast-footedness and ball-on-a-rope skills of Colin Kaepernick (0100 Sun am – Sky Sports). First on Sunday a game that some a dubbing ‘the battle of the birds’ as the high-flying Seahawks take on the top-billed Falcons (1800 – Sky Sports). If the Patriots beat the Texans, in the final game of the weekend (2130 – Sky Sports), then Tom Brady will become the sole owner of record for most postseason victories for a QB. My recommendation, watch as many as you can – I can’t even begin to decide which match-up will be the best!

NFL Playoffs - Conference Championships - After an epic 4 games last weekend we are left with 2 huge games on Championship Sunday. Now that the Matt Ryan has overcome his playoff-jinx, Atlanta look like they could be the real deal. However, they will only want to replicate their first half performance against Seattle, or risk being bowled over by the O/D phases of ‘9er-football. San Francisco’s defence is solid and we’ve now all seen how truly lethal the offense is when being run by Colin Kaepernick – watch out, he’s dangerous! NFC: 49ers @ Falcons (2000 – Sky Sports). Just as New England’s luck all but gifted them the bye-week, the Broncos loss means they’ve lucked-into hosting the Championship Game as well. Unfortunately for the Pats (& Gronk), they are only adding to their list injuries to key players, but even this is unlikely to harm the Pats’ offense. Their weakness lies in their defence, especially against a Baltimore offense with a now elite-looking Joe Flacco at the helm. AFC: Ravens @ Pats (2330 – Sky Sports).

NFL - Pro Bowl - This weekend Hawaii plays host to the annual all-star-game, where the best players (expect those who are Super Bowl bound) from each conference face off (2330 – Sky Sports). The AFC have Peyton Manning starting at QB (with Andrew Luck and Matt Schaub waiting in the wings); on the ground, Arian Foster, Jamaal Charles and C.J. Spiller; through the air, A.J. Green, Andre Johnson, Reggie Wayne and Demaryius Thomas. On defence J.J. Watt and Elvis Dumervil will be vital in the pass-rush; Champ Bailey and Antonio Cromartie will be in coverage on the outside. Looking at how much talent the NFC possess, it’s hard to not favour them slightly, they have Drew Brees, Eli Manning, and Russell Wilson to choose from at quarterback. At running back, Adrian Peterson, Marshawn Lynch and Doug Martin; at receiver, some of the best in the business, Julio Jones, Victor Cruz, Larry Fitzgerald and Vincent Jackson. On defence Jason Pierre-Paul and Julius Peppers will be propping up the ends of the line of scrimmage.

February

Super Bowl Baby, yeah! - What can I say, most if not all of my post-season predictions, (not to mention fantasy team) have bombed, but does that matter? No! – because we have been left with a superb Super Bowl matchup: Representing the AFC, the Baltimore Ravens, and they’ll be facing off against the NFC’s San Francisco 49ers; all taking place in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. Possibly the biggest headline in the run-up is the Head-Coaching matchup between 2 brothers. The Harbaughs are the first to face-off as leaders of opposing teams, in what some are dubbing the Harbowl, the Bro Bowl, or my favourite, Harbaugh-mageddon.

NFL Super Bowl XLVII - It’s here! We’ve invested 5 months in the regular season, all building up to tonight, and it’s the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans playing host to the greatest show on turf, the Super Bowl!! The Baltimore Ravens are facing off against the San Francisco 49ers (2330 – Sky Sports / BBC2, 1830 – CBS in the US). All the pertinent info about the teams, their seasons and the matchups can be found in the preview posts, but this sporting-showcase isn’t just about the football; it’s a whole bigger spectacle than that. Before the big game the American National Anthem will be sung by Alicia Keys and this year’s Halftime Show will be a performance by Beyonce – so there’ll be something to watch for those not-quite-so obsessed with the game itself. If you are going to watch only one game of NFL per season, the Super Bowl should be that game. Line up some drinks, open up some snacks, sit back (in a comfortable chair) and enjoy.

August

NFL 2013 - A fantastic invite - It is currently over 200 days between the Superbowl and the first competitive game of the next NFL season, and it appears that time is all-but elapsed already. What will happen in the season to come?

September

NFL Week 1 - It’s back! The season kicks off on Thursday Night Football with the Denver Broncos hosting the reigning Superbowl Champion Baltimore Ravens (01:30 Fri - Sky Sports). On Sunday an NFC South divisional game sees the Atlanta Falcons, with their high-powered offence, face off against the New Orleans Saints, led by sure-fire Hall of Fame QB Drew Brees (18:00 - Sky Sports). Later, perennial contender Green Bay Packers host February’s runners-up San Francisco 49ers (21:25 - Sky Sports). The late game features an all-NFC East matchup as the New York Giants play ‘America’s team’, the Dallas Cowboys (01:30 - C4). Monday Night Football sees Chip Kelly’s up-tempo Philadelphia Eagles play the Washington Redskins, now with a healthy RG3 back under centre (12:10 Tues - channel TBC). Finally the ever-competitive Houston Texans travel to the San Diego Chargers, who hope their fortunes are revitalised under new management (03:20 Tues TBC).

NFL Week 2 - Divisional rivalries are out in force for week two, with matchups from the AFC East, NFC North, NFC West and AFC North. The TNF game pits New York Jets’ rookie QB Geno Smith against New England Patriots’ sure-fire HoF QB Tom Brady (0125 Fri – Sky Sports). On SNF, the smash-mouth Minnesota Vikings take on the multi faceted Chicago Bears (1800 Sun – Sky Sports). Next up our only non-divisional game, but that doesn’t make it any less special; it’s the Manning-bowl. Peyton’s fast starting Denver Broncos are hosted by brother Eli’s New York Giants (2125 Sun – Sky Sports). The late game sees favourites to become Champions, when the San Francisco 49ers face the Seattle Seahawks (01:30 Mon – Channel 4). The Monday night game is a hard fought rivalry, as the aging and regressing Pittsburgh Steelers play the young and talented Cincinnati Bengals (12:10 Tues – Eurosport). Difficult to say which game is more of a must-watch than any of the others... so just watch them all!

NFL Week 3 - Week 3 is when the 2013-form guide starts to take shape. The TNF game sees the return to Philadelphia of long-time Eagles Head Coach Andy Reid, as he brings his Kansas City Chiefs to face off against Chip Kelly and that up-tempo offence of his (01:25 Fri – Sky Sports). Sunday night begins with the aerial prowess of the Detroit Lions taking on the Washington Redskins, who are so far stuttering on both sides of the ball (18:00 Sun – Sky Sports). Next up the Indianapolis Colts travel to the San Francisco 49ers, where both teams are looking to come back after painful losses last week (21:25 Sun – Sky Sports). In the late game the disappointing 0-2 Pittsburgh Steelers are hosted by the in-form 2-0 Chicago Bears (01:30 Mon – C4). MNF features a candidate for the 1st pick in next year’s draft, the Oakland Raiders, who are hosted by divisional heavyweights the Denver Broncos (01:40 Tues – Eurosport).

NFL Week 4 - It’s Wembley-week, or at least the first of this season’s two, featuring the Pittsburgh Steelers taking on the Minnesotta Vikings (18:00 Sun – C4 / Sky Sports). Both teams are winless and will hope that the trip across the Atlantic will play its part in turning their fortunes around. Watch out for the Vikes’ RB Adrian Peterson making plays with his legs, and Big Ben (no not that one) making plays with his arm for the Steelers. Before all that, on Thursday night the San Francisco 49ers are hosted by the St Louis Rams (01:25 Fri – Sky Sports). Also on the slate for Sunday we have the Dallas Cowboys taking on the San Diego Chargers (21:25 Sun – Sky Sports) and the New England Patriots playing the Atlanta Falcons (01:30 Mon – C4).The Monday Night Football matchup is between two 3-0 teams as the Miami Dolphins play the New Orleans Saints (01:40 Tues – Eurosport).

October

NFL Week 5 - Kicking off week 5 are the Cleveland Browns; one of this season’s big surprises, as they look like legitimate contenders in the AFC North, well, for the moment at least; they host the Buffalo Bills. This promises to be a close game (01:25 Fri – Sky Sports). Sunday Night Football begins with the Baltimore Ravens, hoping they can jump start their anaemic-looking offence, taking on the big-spending Miami Dolphins (18:00 Sun – Sky Sports). Up second are the seemingly unstoppable Denver Broncos playing at the Dallas Cowboys (21:25 Sun – Sky Sports). Later the Houston Texans travel to the San Francisco 49ers (01:30 Mon – C4), where the winners are most likely to be whichever team’s QB steps up to the challenge. The final game of the weekend sees the New York Jets at the Atlanta Falcons (01:40 Tues – Eurosport) – the Falcons are desperate to make up for a slow 1-3 start, whereas some might say that the Jets are punching above their weight at 2-2.

NFL Week 6 - Some great match-ups on the slate for week 6, beginning on Thursday Night with the so far winless New York Giants hosted by the Chicago Bears (01:25 Fri – Sky Sports); unfortunately this doesn’t look like it’s the week the Giant’s luck will change, by the end of this one they’ll most likely be 0-6. SNF kicks off with many people’s pick for 2013 NFC Champions, the Green Bay Packers, taking on last year’s Superbowl Champions, the Baltimore Ravens (18:00 Sun – Sky Sports). Next up the undefeated New Orleans Saints travel to the New England Patriots, who themselves will want to come back strongly after a tough, low scoring loss last weekend (21:25 Sun – Sky Sports). The late slot plays host to the Washington Redskins and the Dallas Cowboys; both in NFC East, both with 3 losses, both in the hunt of a playoff place (01:30 Mon – C4). On Monday Night Football the formidable Indianapolis Colts play out on the West Coast at the San Diego Chargers (01:40 Tues – Eurosport).

NFL Week 7 - The NFL has given us a schedule of brilliant ‘rivalries’ this week. First up, on TNF, we have a battle of the birds: The Seattle Seahawks make the short flight to the Arizona Cardinals in this all NFC West matchup (01:25 Fri – Sky Sports). On Sunday evening the battle of the big cats sees the Cincinnati Bengals hosted by the Detroit Lions (18:00 Sun – Sky Sports). Next the freefalling Houston Texans tackle the Kansas City Chiefs (21:25 Sun – Sky Sports). The Chiefs are undefeated and sit atop of the standings totem pole. The last game on SNF is not just a battle of the horses, but its Peyton Manning’s return to his old team – the Denver Broncos play the Indianapolis Colts (01:30 Mon – C4). Finally, on MNF, Giants face off against Vikings when New York hosts Minnesotta (01:40 Tues – Eurosport). The Purples and the Big Blue are a combined 1-10 to start their season – ouch! That’s not comfortable reading for either set of fans.

NFL Week 8 - It’s Wembley week part 2, featuring the San Francisco 49ers and the Jacksonville Jaguars (17:00 Sun – Sky Sports). After a tough start, the 49ers are on a 4-game winning streak, where as the Jags have conceded 222 points on their way being 0-7. This should be a ‘9ers win, but then you never know what can happen on any given Sunday. In the other games: on TNF the 3-3 Carolina Panthers at the 0-7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (01:25 Fri – Sky Sports); in an NFC South divisional matchup. Also on Sunday night the 6-1 Denver Broncos play host to the 2-4 Washington Redskins (20:25 Sun – Sky Sports). Later on in the NFC North the 4-2 Green Bay Packers are at the 1-5 Minnesota Vikings (00:30 Mon – C4). On MNF there is an all-NFC Westaffair when the 6-1 Seattle Seahawks take on the 3-4 St. Louis Rams (00:40 Tues – Eurosport). Most importantly note the change to kickoff times, for UK viewers at least.

November

NFL Week 9 - We’re passing the halfway post and soon enough playoff ambitions will be realised or those dreams will be shattered. This week’s action begins with the Bengals, class of a mediocre AFC North, taking on the middle-of-the-road Dolphins on TNF – Cincinnati play Miami (01:25 Fri – Sky Sports). On Sunday the Saints who are second across the NFC travel up to the New York Jets (18:00 Sun – Sky Sports). Next up the Philadelphia Eagles take their QB issues way out West to take on one of next year’s home teams at Wembley, the Oakland Raiders (21:25 Sun – Sky Sports). Then the Indianapolis Colts will try to put distance between them and the rest of the AFC Southwhen they play the ailing Houston Texans (01:30 Mon – C4). Then on Monday Night, some say that this is the oldest rivalry in the NFL; the Chicago Bears are at the Green Bay Packers (01:40 Tues – Eurosport). NB: we’re back to regular times this week, folks.

NFL Week 10 - We’re now entering the “down the stretch” portion of the season. On TNF the Washington Redskins are playing at the Minnesota Vikings (01:25 Fri – Sky Sports). Sunday sports 3 brilliant matchups; first up, two of the three teams tied for first in the NFC North – the Detroit Lions are at the Chicago Bears (18:00 Sun – Sky Sports). Sparks will fly when this season’s offensive juggernauts, the Denver Broncos, take on the San Diego Super Chargers, in this all AFC West matchup (21:25 Sun – Sky Sports). In the late game the Dallas Cowboys are hosted by the New Orleans Saints (01:30 Mon – C4) – the Saints will be a tough opponent after a bad loss to the Jets last week. Florida is currently the home of 3 of the NFL’s most disasterous franchises, and two play each other on MNF. The Miami Dolphins will hope to ignore their off-the-field issues and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will look to get past their on-the-field issues (01:40 Tues – Eurosport).

NFL Week 11 - Jumping straight into the action this week, the Colts are at the Titans on TNF (01:25 Fri – Sky Sports). Indianapolis are without their top WR Reggie Wayne with season ending injury and similarly the Tennessee have just lost their starting QB Jake Locker. First up on SNF, for all those not watching the F1, an all AFC North affair, as the Cleveland Browns play the Cincinnati Bengals (18:00 Sun – Sky Sports). Next up two teams firmly in the NFC playoff picture, the San Francisco 49ers play the New Orleans Saints (21:25 Sun – Sky Sports). In the first flexed game of the season Andy Ried’s still undefeated Kansas City Chiefs travel to Mile High to face off against a tough division rival Denver Broncos (01:30 Mon – C4). Finally for the week, on MNF, the New England Patriots are hosted by the Carolina Panthers (01:40 Tues – Eurosport). Both teams are rediscovering their stride which makes this one to stay up for (or watch the highlights at least).

NFL Week 12 - This week sees the last of the byes, so it’s the only remaining week without a full 16-game schedule. On TNF two teams from the NFC South on opposite trajectories, the 8-2 New Orleans Saints are hosted by the 2-8 Atlanta Falcons (01:25 Fri – Sky Sports). The New Jets and the Baltimore Ravens are both in the mix for the AFC’s 6th playoff spot – they face off first on SNF (18:00 Sun – Sky Sports). After an appalling start to the season, the next game could see the Giants pull themselves into playoff contention in the NFC when they play the, division rival, Dallas Cowboys (21:25 Sun– Sky Sports). The late game is crucial in the race for a bye-week in the AFC – the Denver Broncos play that the New England Patriots (01:30 Mon – C4). On MNF thesurprisingly average San Francisco 49ers are taking on the surprisingly languishing Washington Redskins (01:40 Tues – Eurosport).

NFL Week 13 - Thanksgiving doesn’t just mean excesses of food; there is also a veritable glut of NFL fixtures as an accompaniment – 7 in total. First up the injury ravaged Green Bay Packers take on their division rival Detroit Lions (17:30 Thu – Sky Sports). Next the Oakland Raiders play at the Cowboys (21:30 Thu – Sky Sports). The late TNF game will likely see the AFC’s eventual 6th seed – the Pittsburgh Steelers play the Baltimore Ravens (01:30 Fri – Sky Sports). On SNF the Broncos and Chiefs do battle again, likely for the #1 seed in the AFC (18:00 Sun – Sky Sports). Later the Arizona Cardinals play the Philadelphia Eagles, in another battle of the birds (21:25 Sun – SkySports). It’s an all NFC East affair when the New York Giants are hosted by the Washington Redskins (01:30 Mon – C4). The final game of the weekend is for the top spot in the NFC – the New Orleans Saints travel to take on the Seattle Seahawks, andtheir Twelfth Man (01:40 Tues – Eurosport).

December

NFL Week 14 - As we enter the final quarter of the season playoff scenarios are starting to evolve. There’s a game on TNF (01:25 Fri – Sky Sports), but the less said about that the better. SNF begins with the 7-5 Detroit Lions playing the 7-5 Philadelphia Eagles(18:00 Sun – Sky Sports). Nick Foles, Eagles’ 2nd year QB, has played so well recently that if his next 50 passes were intercepted he’d still have a better rating than the Jet’s hapless rookie QB Geno Smith. Next up the Seahawks are aiming to sweep the 49ers and fully claim bragging rights in the NFC North – Seattle are playing in San Francisco (21:25 Sun – Sky Sports). If the Panthers beat the Saints they will join them atop the NFC South, and overtake them in the race for the #2 seed – Carolina are at New Orleans (01:30 Mon – C4). This week’s MNF game is make or break for both teams, the Dallas Cowboys travel to Soldier Field to take on the Chicago Bears (01:40 Tues – Eurosport).

NFL Week 15 - The final TNF game of the season features the San Diego Chargers, who must win to keep any playoff hopes alive, against their divisional foe the Denver Broncos – expect a shootout in the West (01:25 Fri – Sky Sports). Win and the New England Patriots clinch their division, although they are now without another key player. They travel south to fellow AFC East-ers, the Miami Dolphins, who are still in the playoff mix (18:00 Sun – Sky Sports). Next up are two teams vying for a wildcard spot (or possible division title) in the NFC, the Dallas Cowboys are hosting the Green Bay Packers (21:25 Sun – Sky Sports). The Cincinnati Bengals look to extend their lead in the AFC North when they play the Pittsburgh Steelers (01:30 Mon – C4). Another pair of possible post-season contenders face off on Monday night – the Baltimore Ravens are at the Detroit Lions (01:40 Tues – Eurosport). Some great games, but I somehow doubt there will quite as much weather-related carnage as last week.

NFL Week 16 - The penultimate weekend of regular season football – the playoffs are within touching distance for some, while slipping out of reach for others. With no TNF game this week our first action comes on Sunday when the New Orleans Saints play the Carolina Panthers (18:00 Sun – Sky Sports) – they are currently tied for first in the NFC South and this matchup will likely decide the division, with the loser picking up a wildcard spot. Baltimore need to win to put themselves in the driving seat for a wildcard berth when they take on New England – who are still in the #2 seed (just); the Patriots are at the Ravens (21:25 Sun – Sky Sports). Two teams at 8-6, both atop their respective divisions need a result here to avoid being caught by the swarming masses behind them – the Chicago Bears are hosted by the Philadelphia Eagles (01:30 Mon – C4). Finally on MNF the Atlanta Falcons, who are without playoff ambitions, travel across the country to the currently playoff bound San Francisco 49ers (01:40Tues – Eurosport).

NFL Week 17 - If last week was the penultimate, then this is the ultimate weekend of regular season football, and what a Sunday of games we have. Thirteen out of sixteen games have playoff implications and in the NFC no division is decided, yet. First up the Green Bay Packers are hosted at the Chicago Bears (18:00 Sun – Sky Sports). The Pack have their superstar QB Aaron Rodgers back after an injury in this winner-takes-all NFC North matchup. Next the Baltimore Ravens need a W to keep playoff chances alive, and the Cincinnati Bengals have the chance to move up to the #2 seed when these two face off in this all AFC North affair (21:25 Sun – Sky Sports). And finally, it’s win-and-in in the NFC East when the Philadelphia Eagles travel to the Dallas Cowboys, who will in all likelihood be without their starting QB, Tony Romo (01:30 Mon – C4).

2014

January

NFL Playoffs - Wild card weekend - With the regular season over, let the playoffs begin; we’re now on the final stretch of the road to Super Bowl XLVIII. This weekend the third and forth seeds in each conference host the sixth and fifth, respectively. On Saturday the Kansas City Chiefs (last season’s worst team) are at the Indianapolis Colts, lead by last season’s #1 Draft pick QB Andrew Luck (21:35 Sat – Sky Sports). Later the wildcard New Orleans Saints play the strengthening Philadelphia Eagles (01:10 Sun – Sky Sports). On Sunday the San Diego Chargers face the Cincinnati Bengals (18:05 Sun – SkySports). These two have already faced each other this season; the Bengals were narrow victors first time around. Finally, last year’s Super Bowl losers, the San Francisco 49ers are at the Green Bay Packers, who are getting healthy on offence at just the right time (21:40 Sun – Sky Sports). Winners in the AFC will face the Broncos or Patriots, and in the NFC, next up are the Seahawks or the Panthers.

NFL Playoffs - Divisional round - With 4 excellent games over 2 days, this is possibly the best NFL-weekend of the year (excluding the Super Bowl of course). First the Seattle Seahawks play host to the New Orleans Saints – Seattle are many peoples’ tip for the title, and expect a closely fought battle (21:35 Sat – Sky Sports). Later the “come-back king” Andrew Luck will hope to lead his Indianapolis Colts to another victory against the favoured New England Patriots (01:15 Sun – Sky Sports). Sunday, two ‘mirror images’ face off; the San Francisco 49ers play at the Carolina Panthers. Both have a strong ground attack, young fleet of foot QBs, hard hitting defences, the difference being that the ‘9ers have an edge in offensive weapons (18:05 Sun – Sky Sports). Final game of the weekend is an all AFC West showdown when the Chargers are hosted by the Broncos in Mile High Stadium. San Diego’s QB Phil Rivers has had Denver’s Peyton Manning’s number over the years, so the result is not cut-and-dry (21:40 Sun – Sky Sports).

NFL Playoffs - Conference Championships - The last stop before the big finale; we’re about to find out the best team in each conference. Majority consensus tells us that we’ve matchups between the top four teams in the League. Two of the NFL’s old guard of QBs face off again; it’s Brady-verses-Manning XV. The New England Patriots’ Tom Brady has now been to two thirds of the AFC Championship games that he has had available to him, and a win means similarly he’d have visited half of the Super Bowls (20:00 Sun – SkySports). Whereas the Denver Broncos’ Peyton Manning commands an offensive juggernaut that recently claimed the majority of the NFL’s passing and scoring records. The second of the two games pits two teams from the NFC West against each other, and with it two of the new school of QBs; Russell Wilson’s Seattle Seahawks host Colin Kaepernick’s San Francisco 49ers (23:30 Sun – Sky Sports). It’s not just an on-field rivalry field; Head Coaches Pete Carroll and John Harbaugh despise each other. Expect fireworks!

February

Super Bowl XLVIII - Super Bowl Baby, yeah! And it’s New York’s Giants & Jets and New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium's chance to host. I don’t know whether you’ve heard, it’s going to be cold, maybe even experiencing snow. The Seattle Seahawks vs Denver Broncos (UK 23:30 – C4 + Sky Sports / US 18:30 – Fox) is only the second time since 1993 that the top seed from each Conference have played each other in the Super Bowl, and the first time since 2003 that the top ranked offence is playing the top ranked defence. None of the Seattle players have got this far before, compared to only four of the Broncos. A Denver win and Peyton Manning will bring him level with Eli’s two rings, a Seahawks victory and Richard Sherman will never shut up about it. And if the football is not enough, Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers team up for the Halftime Show. Line up your drinks, open up some snacks, sit back (in a comfortable chair) and enjoy.

September

NFL Week 1 - It's back! There were over 200 days between the Super Bowl and Thursday night's kick-off spectacular, and the Seattle Seahawks started the season as they'd finished the previous one as they took care of the Green Bay Packers. Tonight our games kick off with a pair of AFC East rivals; perennial contenders the New England Patriots travel down the coast to the Miami Dolphins (18:00 Sun - Sky Sports) - the Pats are favourites but this matchup does have a strong sense of an upset about it. Up next, the San Francisco 49ers, with their depleted defence, are hosted by the Dallas Cowboys, who may just have the worst defence in the NFL this season (21:25 Sun - Sky Sports) - this one screams shootout! The late game pitches the Denver Broncos' Peyton Manning against his former team the Indianapolis Colts (01:30 Mon - C4) which could also be a high scoring track meet!

NFL Week 2 - There were a lot of surprise results in week 1 as teams find their feet and battle to set the form guide in their favour, and we can expect more of the same in week 2. The Ravens blew past the Steelers on TNF, which although the result wasn’t a surprise, the 26-6 scoreline sure was! First up the Atlanta Falcons are hosted by the Cincinnati Bengals (18:00 Sun – Sky Sports) – both teams have stacked offences, but it’s the Bengals’ D that might be the difference maker. Next the Kansas City Chiefs travel to the Denver Broncos (21:25 Sun – Sky Sports) – speaking frankly, there shouldn’t be much in Peyton’s way in this one. Last up the San Francisco 49ers play the Chicago Bears (01:30 Mon – C4) – the Bears could well be without their top 2 Wide Receivers, so is game is shaping up to be the ‘9ers to lose!

NFL Week 3 - The NFL has a stellar line up of games across the board for us in week 3. The Sunday matchups come off the back of TNF where the Atlanta Falcons taking the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the cleaners, and then some! First up we’ve got an all NFC North affair as the Green Bay Packers play the Detroit Lions (18:00 Sun – Sky Sports) in what should be a high scoring encounter. Up next we have the Super Bowl rematch: Denver Broncos play the Seattle Seahawks (21:25 Sun – Sky Sports) – Peyton will look to exact his revenge after having it handed to him back in February. Lastly the Pittsburgh Steelers are hosted by the Carolina Panthers (01:30 Mon – C4). Before the season it looked unlikely that going into week 3 the Panthers would be 2-0 and favourites to win this one, but that’s where we are. We’ll find out whether they can prove their doubters wrong and remain undefeated!

NFL Week 4 - Welcome to the first International Series game of the year! Thursday Night Football saw the NY Giants take down Washington, but enough of that, back to the main event. Live from Wembley the Miami Dolphins will take on the Oakland Raiders (18:00 Sun – C4 / Sky Sports). The Fins are coming off a week with uncertainty surrounding Ryan Tannehill and his ability to fill the role of a franchise QB, which might just be the key that the Raiders will use to unlock their first victory of the season. Later the Philadelphia Eagles travel to the West Coast to play the San Francisco 49ers (21:25 Sun – Sky Sports) – the faltering ‘9ers need to get their season back on track but will find it hard against the undefeated Eagles. Last on the slate the New Orleans Saints are hosted by the Dallas Cowboys (01:30 Mon – C4) – should be an offensive showdown in big-D and the Saints should be strong enough to come away with the W... ‘should’.

October

NFL Week 5 - By the end of the weekend all teams will have passed the quarter-mark of the regular season. Thursday night saw another blow out, this time it was the Packers who dispatched the Vikings with ease. Today we start in Carolina where the Chicago Bears are hosted by the Panthers (18:00 Sun – Sky Sports) – these two teams are looking to distinguish themselves in their respective tight divisions. Up next the struggling New York Jets when they travel to play the on form San Diego Chargers (21:25 Sun – Sky Sports) – Chargers’ QB Phil Rivers is widely thought of as the league MVP through 4 weeks, so we can expect another master-class against a poor Jets pass defence. Up last the unbeaten Cincinnati Bengals take on the faltering New England Patriots (01:30 Mon – C4) – a tough matchup could be just what the Tom Brady’s Pats need to kick start their season!

NFL Week 6 - Surely it can’t be week 6 already!? Finally we’ve been treated to a competitive Thursday Night Football game, which the Indianapolis Colts came through to beat the Houston Texans. On to today, and we have an all-NFC slate ahead of us: Up first the Detroit Lions play in-division at the Minnesota Vikings (18:00 Sun – Sky Sports) – I’ve got no read on this one; it could be a high scoring spectacular, a defensive grind or a blow-out either way. Next up the Dallas Cowboys travel to the team with the Seattle Seahawks (21:25 Sun – Sky Sports). Last up on Sunday Night Football the strengthening New York Giants play their division rival Philadelphia Eagles (01:30 Mon – C4). Phily are currently sat jointly atop the NFL, but their offence is faltering in comparison to last year, so could well be ripe for the picking.

NFL Week 7 - Week 7 started on TNF with the New England Patriots overcoming the strong challenge put up by the New York Jets - the Pats have wrestled their season back on track and have control of their division once again. SNF kicks off with the Cincinnati Bengals playing the Indianapolis Colts (18:00 Sun - Sky Sports) - the Bengals will look to regain some ground and some pride after their tie last week. Up next the inconsistent New York Giants travel to big D to take on the Cowboys (21:25 Sun - Sky Sports). The late night game pits 2 powerhouses from their respective West divisions when the San Francisco 49ers take a trip up to Mile High to face the Denver Broncos (01:30 Mon - C4). Peyton Manning is very close to breaking the all time touchdown record, as he is currently 2 back from equalling Brett Favre's high watermark, so is just 3 short of taking it all for himself.

NFL Week 8 - Week 8 presents us with a quadruple-header of NFL action. The TNF game saw the Broncos powering through to beat the Chargers. In the early slot the Detroit Lions are playing the Falcons from Wembley (13:30 Sun – C4). This will kick off at 0930 of the East Coast of the States, and 0630 on the West – one for the die-hards on that side of the pond. Next an AFC North divisional matchup when the Baltimore Ravens play at the Cincinnati Bengals (17:00 Sun – Sky Sports). After that we have a battle of the 5-1 birdies; the Philadelphia Eagles play the Arizona Cardinals (20:25 Sun – Sky Sports) – a win will keep that team atop of the NFC. The late night offering pitches the Green Bay Packers against the New Orleans Saints (00:30 Mon – C4). The Saints have been slumping despite the talent on their roster, whereas the Packers are getting stronger with every game – likely ‘shootout o’clock’! Beware the time changes and the early start… lunchtime NFL everybody!!

November

NFL Week 9 - We’re at week 9 which means we’ve reached the halfway point in the regular season. Thursday Night Football presented us with an NFC South matchup in which the New Orleans Saints dispatched the Carolina Panthers. Sunday night begins with two 6-win teams as the in-form Arizona Cardinals travel to the Dallas Cowboys (18:00 Sun – Sky Sports). The fitness of Cowboys’ QB Tony Romo has been marginal all week; if he does play his back may well cause him problems down the stretch. Up next it’s Manning-Brady 16 when the New England Patriots host the Denver Broncos (21:25 Sun – Sky Sports). Last up the Baltimore Ravens play the Pittsburgh Steelers (01:30 Mon – C4) in what might not shape up as an AFC North ground-and-pound slobber-knocker, but this season it could well be a display of aerial prowess.

NFL Week 10 - It’s the final time the NFL will grace our shores this season as London game number 3 is upon us. This week began with the Cleveland Browns handing it to the Cincinnati Bengals, their contemporaries in the AFC North. First up on the hallowed Wembley turf, the Dallas Cowboys take on the ‘home’ team, Jacksonville Jaguars (18:00 Sun – C4 / Sky Sports) – Tony Romo’s back may still cause him problems so if he plays watch for the Jags’ D-Line targeting him. Next the New York Giants play the Seattle Seahawks (21:25 Sun – Sky Sports) – the Hawks will have a chip on their shoulder after a couple of weeks of below par performances, although they are now without much of a passing game. The late kickoff pits the Chicago Bears against the Green Bay Packers (01:30 Mon – C4) – the Bears need a win to stay in the playoff race, but it’s the Pack who are the in-form side coming into this matchup.