Kevin Kugler on Ravens-Patriots, Chiefs-Saints, Falcons-Chargers

09/22/2012

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Hopefully, you’ve gotten into your football groove by now… you’ve got your wings from Buffalo Wild Wings… you have your favorite beverage, and you’ve got your day planned for a full NFL Sunday. Not that you’re looking for any more incentive to enjoy the games, but here’s three things I’m looking forward to this weekend:

1. Patriots at Ravens. Again, this will be a noticeable theme in the blog. The game I’m doing, I’ll likely have strong interest in for the weekend. That’s helpful, as you might imagine, to be broadcasting a game that you have interest in each week. But there are lots of reasons to like the rematch of the AFC title game on Sunday night. The biggest, of course, is the rivalry. It’s probably not the Patriots-Jets or the Ravens-Steelers for these teams, but this has really developed into a very nice and somewhat tense rivalry. For Baltimore, it’s becoming a rivalry of disappointment. The tough loss in the AFC title game last year is still fresh in everyone’s minds, and add to that the fact that the Ravens have NEVER beaten the Patriots in the regular season, and are 1-7 against the Pats overall.

Both teams are coming in off giant disappointments, with the Ravens close loss to the Eagles last week and the Patriots shocking loss to the Cardinals. Third down may be the biggest down for both teams in this game. Last week, New England was 5-for-15 on third down, the first time that they’ve converted less than 40% on 3rd since last November 21st against the Chiefs. Not any better for the Ravens, who were 4-for-14 on third down last week, and are converting at just a 30.4% clip on the year. Not to mention, it’s been short yardage 3rd down that’s been a HUGE problem. Last week, the Ravens were 0-for-6 on 3rd and 2 yards or less. Whoever wins on 3rd down likely wins this football game

2. Chiefs at Saints. Probably not the most attractive matchup by record, as two 0-2 teams meet in New Orleans, but there are a ton of very interesting subplots surrounding this game. Of course, the Saints have been a subplot all season and all offseason. The 0-2 start, though, is surprising. With a bevy of talent offensively, you’d think that even with the bounty suspensions, the Saints would be able to muster a better start than 0-2. But sloppy play and shaky defense has doomed New Orleans to start this season, tied for 30th in the league in turnover differential, and dead last in total defense and tied for last in scoring defense.

The team they are tied with in scoring defense? The Kansas City Chiefs, who are allowing, along with the Saints, 37.5 points per game in the first two games of the season. It’s been an ugly start to the season in Kansas City as well, as already the vultures are circling around everyone from the general manager, to the head coach, to the starting quarterback. However, the Chiefs do lead the AFC in yards per game in the early part of the season, and while a lot of those yards last week came when the game against the Bills was well decided, the Chiefs have shown an ability to move the football. One more note: the loser of this game falls to 0-3. Only 3 teams since 1990 have recovered from a 0-3 start to make the playoffs. With that bit of history in mind, it’s an early must-win for the Chiefs and the Saints.

3. Atlanta at San Diego. Two teams that have gotten off to fast starts are the third highlight of the weekend for me. Atlanta is one of those rare East Coast teams that do well on the left coast. Head Coach Mike Smith has taken a page out of his former mentor Brian Billick’s playbook and traveled out a day early in his five years as Falcons head coach. The result? His teams are 5-0 against West Coast teams on the road. This trip to the AFC West, though, matches up two of the top six scoring offenses in the National Football League, as Matt Ryan and the Falcons try to keep up their hot start against a Chargers defense that gave Tennessee fits last weekend. The Chargers limited Tennessee to 1-for-9 on 3rd down last weekend in the 38-10 win, and notched six three-and-outs as a result.  The offense also held onto the ball for nearly ¾ of the game, notching a time of possession of nearly 44 minutes.

Matt Ryan and the Falcons, though, figure to be a tougher test on both sides of the ball.  The Falcons defense caused Peyton Manning to throw three interceptions Monday night early, and then was able to hang on for their second win despite a furious Denver comeback.

The best defense for the Chargers is that offense. If they can establish a time of possession advantage even close to what they enjoyed last week over Tennessee, the Chargers will keep Matt Ryan basking in the California sun, and take a big step closer to a 3-0 start.

Whatever game has your interest, grab the best teammate for your football Sunday… wings from Buffalo Wild Wings. They go great with a full day of football action. Enjoy the games!

– Kevin Kugler

Westwood One NFL play-by-play announcer Kevin Kugler tackles subjects that are interesting to him each week in his blog. The Football Insider Report is brought to you by Buffalo Wild Wings. Protect the Football. This weekend, Kevin will be alongside James Lofton as the Ravens host the Patriots on Sunday Night Football. Coverage begins at 7:30 PM Eastern Sunday.

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