Hours from kickoff of the 1pm games, here are some quick hits as we get ready for a big week 7.
* The two big games of the 1pm slate are the two games between AFC North and NFC South teams. The struggling Bengals play host to the red hot Panthers in Cincy. The Bengals are going to have to get some big plays in order to win this one, and lately have not been giving Carson Palmer enough time to throw the football. This does not bode well today with Julius Peppers and Mike Rucker coming to town. Also don’t forget that Levi Jones is out for the Bengals. If Carson can’t get some time to throw, its going to be a long day in the Queen City. The Bengals are also awful on third-downs on offense right now, hitting at just 32.3 percent. That number has to be better if they want to grab a win today.
* The other game there is the Steelers traviling to Atlanta for the first time since 1996 to take on the Falcons. Pittsburgh got on track last week, and their running game and Ben Roethlisberger will need another big effort today to grab a win at the Georgia Dome. All week the word has been that the Falcons can’t get the job done, but let’s not forget they can still run the ball, and the Steelers, while good against the run, can sometimes fall victim to their own hype. They can and have allowed big days on the ground, they just don’t do it that often. Also look for Michael Vick to get some more chances to throw today, as it will be put-up or shut up time for he and the Falcons offense. The Falcons have only 17 trips in the red zone this year, scoring 3 TD’s.
* It will be interesting to see the Chiefs can get back on track at all at home vs the west rival Chargers. The Chiefs have been getting beat up this past week, and rightfully so, after their awful showing in Pittsburgh vs the Steelers. Herm Edwards promised the Chiefs fans a more intense defense, and they will need that today against the high scoring Chargers. I think that the Chiefs will step it up and make this interesting. The Chiefs will take some chances against the top ranked defense in the leauge, and get back to getting some holes opened for Larry Johnson.
* A loss today and the heat will really be on Nick Saban and his coaching staff in Miami. Saban made a huge error in the offseason in declaring that quarterback Daunte Culpepper was ready to go in September, and it has cost him and the team a shot at challenging for an AFC East title. At 1-5, the blame is not all on Daunte, but remember in week one they had the Steelers on the ropes in the 4th quarter, and after the defense gave up a long TD, then Dautne blew up and threw two interceptions to cost them the game. A loss at home today vs the lowly Packers, and the orgainzation is going to have to question the direction they are headed in – big time.