Kevin Kugler on Cardinals-Packers and Giants-Steelers

11/02/2012

0

Spicy garlic. That’s the sauce that I recommend this week on your Buffalo Wild Wings food. With November here, it seems like a good time to go the spicy garlic route. Now, what does this have to do with football? Everything! You can’t have your football weekend without great food, and nothing goes with football like Buffalo Wild Wings. And beer. Beer’s good, too. Now that we’ve got the menu taken care of, let’s get to the rest of the main course, and that’s this weekend’s games I’m watching.

First off, I’ll start where I’ll finish my weekend, in Green Bay. I started on Thursday night in San Diego, and one thing I know, it’s going to be colder in Wisconsin than it was in Southern California on Thursday night. But this Packers-Cardinals matchup is really a tale of two teams living up to the Dennis Green statement… they are who we thought they were. Arizona is struggling and Green Bay is finding a stride (sort of) in the midseason.

The Cardinals have lost 4 straight coming in, spoiling their red hot blast out of the gates this year. There’s been a multitude of problems, but one of the biggest seems to be the Cardinals offensive line. Arizona can’t run the ball, nor can they protect the quarterback. John Skelton is back as the starter, after Kevin Kolb injured his ribs on a scramble against the Bills. Cardinals quarterbacks have been sacked 35 times this year, so you’d hope that a run game might take some pressure off that pass rush. No dice. On Monday night, in the 24-3 loss to the 49ers, Arizona rushed for 7 yards. As a team. 7 yards. That would get a profane response from Harry Doyle (of Major League fame), were he broadcasting the game. This weekend is the next chance to stop the bleeding.

Speaking of bleeding, that’s what the Packers have had plenty of this year. Bleeding. Sprains. Injuries. That’s been the story for Green Bay. Who’s healthy enough to play? The injury list this week features Jordy Nelson, Greg Jennings, Cedric Benson, Charles Woodson, Jerel Worthy and Mike Neal. In other words, players that the Packers were really counting on to make a difference this year. Despite those injuries, Green Bay has won 3 straight, and no surprise, Aaron Rodgers is leading the way. During the winning streak, Rodgers has 11 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. The Packers get a bye after this one, so if they can get the win at Lambeau on Sunday, they’ll feel pretty good at 6-3 with a much needed chance to heal.

Also this weekend, we’ve got an interesting matchup in New York between the Steelers and the Giants. Hurricane Sandy did her best to try and spoil this one, but as our friends and neighbors rebuild from the devastation wrought by this week’s storm, a little football will serve as a welcome distraction at the Meadowlands.

The Steelers are hoping that it provides a much-needed win. Pittsburgh looked very ordinary early, but has started to show signs of being the Steelers team that we’ve all become accustomed to over the years. They’ve won two straight, and did an impressive job of limiting RG3 and the Redskins in a 27-12 victory last Sunday. The matchup this weekend seems to be in the air: Eli Manning against the top pass defense in the National Football League in the Steelers. An impressive feat for Pittsburgh, considering they’ve gotten there without the services of Troy Polamalu, who’s likely out for the fourth straight week with that calf injury. They’ve done the job defensively as well without the benefit of an overwhelming pass rush, either. 12 sacks this year from the Steelers D, but coverage has been extremely solid, and will pose a great challenge to Manning to solve that Steelers puzzle.

On the other side of the ball, when Pittsburgh has the football, they’ve not given it up without a fight. Time of possession is on their side in the Steel City, ranking 2nd in the league in T.O.P., holding it for over 34 minutes per game. The key to that time of possession advantage? Third downs. Simply put, nobody is better in the NFL than Pittsburgh on third down, converting over 50% of the time this year. The Steelers have done a good job in keeping those third downs to third-and-manageable for the bulk of the season, and Jonathan Dwyer and company will be leaned on again in the run game to make sure that they can continue that success.

They’ll need to be careful because they’ll face a Giants defense that is a ball hawking unit to be sure. 24 times this year, the Giants have taken the ball away from opponents, and they have relied on that solid turnover margin to propel the defending world champs to a 6-2 start this season. But it was an unusual week in New York, and the Giants have to hope that the altered schedule, and the distraction of Hurricane Sandy doesn’t provide too much to overcome on Sunday against the Steelers.

It’s November… the games really start to matter from here on out, so enjoy them and the wings from Buffalo Wild Wings. Trust me, it’s a spicy garlic kind of weekend!

— 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 is in Green Bay as the Packers host the Arizona Cardinals. Coverage begins at 12:30 PM Eastern Sunday on Westwood One Sports.

Comments Closed

Comments are closed.

Most Recent NFL Posts

Carson Wentz 800

2016 NFL Draft: First-round Interviews

29 April 2016 Comments are off for this post.
As a reminder, Westwood One is once again your home for every primetime and playoff game on the way to Super Bowl LI in Houston next February. CLICK HERE for the complete broadcast schedule. Coverage begins at…
Read More »
1
NFLLogoDraft16_800x497

2016 Draft begins this Thursday!

26 April 2016 Comments are off for this post.
Westwood One Sports will be on hand for Thursday’s opening round of the NFL Draft at the Auditorium Theater in Chicago as 25 top prospects wait to find out where they’ll be playing professional football. Our own voice of Sunday Night Football, Kevin Kugler, will have a chance to sit…
Read More »
Tom Brady

Full Interview: Tom Brady’s Super Bowl 50 Interview

11 February 2016 Comments are off for this post.
Tom Brady would much rather have been playing in Super Bowl 50 instead of participating in the pregame ceremony honoring the living Super Bowl MVPs. But after a loss to the Broncos in the AFC Championship, Brady is in the Bay Area anyway. Ahead of the game, he spoke with…
Read More »
2
Denver BroncosÕ Peyton Manning holds the Lombardi Trophy after the NFL Super Bowl 50 football game against the Carolina Panthers, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016, in Santa Clara, Calif. The Broncos defeated the Panthers 24-10. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Super Bowl 50 Highlights: Broncos defeat Panthers 24-10

07 February 2016 Comments are off for this post.
SANTA CLARA, CA – If Peyton Manning does indeed retire after this season, he’ll go out a winner after the Denver defense carried the Broncos to a 24-10 win over the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50. The Broncos defense forced four turnovers and tied a Super Bowl record with seven…
Read More »
4
Analyst Picks 2015 800

Analyst Picks: Super Bowl 50 Selections

07 February 2016 Comments are off for this post.
Super Bowl 50 is upon us and it’s a clean sweep for Carolina in our weekly picks. That means that no matter the outcome, newcomer Tim Ryan is a champion in his first year. As for the game itself, fear not Denver fans: 37 times this season our panel has…
Read More »
Loft with Favre

Hall of Fame Interview: Brett Favre and Tony Dungy with James Lofton

07 February 2016 Comments are off for this post.
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – A new class of Pro Football Hall of Famers was announced on Saturday night, with Green Bay Packers great Brett Favre headlining a class that also includes owner Edward DeBartolo, Jr., coach Tony Dungy, linebacker Kevin Greene, wide receiver Marvin Harrison, tackle Orlando Pace, quarterback Ken…
Read More »
1DayTS

1 Day to Sunday: Road to Super Bowl 50

06 February 2016 Comments are off for this post.
SAN FRANCISCO – On the eve of historic Super Bowl 50, Pro Football Hall of Famer Rod Woodson co-hosts the show. Guests include Broncos running back C.J. Anderson and Panthers corner Josh Norman. We also relive 49 years of Super Bowl history with a highlight from every game and introduce you…
Read More »
5
Load more posts