Belfast American Football Writing

I write a column on American Football for a local paper - here you can read the reports a couple of days before they go in print; and my confused waffles...

Friday, November 18, 2005

Colts streak to end?

THE Indianapolis Colts winning streak faces its biggest challenge to date, when they face the Cincinnati Bengals in Ohio.

The Colts are looking to go 10-0 for the season, but the last team with a nine game winning record in the season, the Kansas City Chiefs, saw their streak end when they visited Cincinnati two years ago.

A year ago, Cincinnati QB Carson Palmer and wide receiver Chad Johnson drove to Indianapolis on a Monday night to sit in the stands and learn from the magic of Colts QB Peyton Manning and receiver Marvin Harrison.

Now they get to see them up close. And although Manning is in his eighth year and Palmer only in his second as a starter, the two share an NFL record. Palmer’s nine 100.0 passer-rating games in a row dating back to last season tie the NFL record of Manning in 2004.

Offensively, the teams are matched well. Indy is ranked second in the NFL, the Bengals, fifth. The key components of each sides quarterbacking, running and rushing games are all ranked in the top 10 in the league.

Defensively, the Colts (No. 4 in the NFL) would seem to have the edge, especially with sack kings Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeny.

But the Bengals lead the league in interceptions (20) and total takeaways (29) for an NFL-high take/give margin of + 20.

Cincinnati is not interested in just playing the spoiler. They’re only interested in building upon their record.

“We’re playing for ourselves,” said linebacker Brian Simmons. “We don’t have to play the spoiler. We don’t have to worry about what anybody else is doing. We just got to play for ourselves.”

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Bears win!

Strange but true but another Bears win! Doesn't matter that we struggled against a weak Saints, a win is a win, and it looks (he says hopefully!) that we might be heading for play-off football!

Now how can I persuade her indoors that I need to watch the game on Christmas night!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Colts go for revenge

THE Indianapolis Colts, with seven wins under their belts look set to move comfortably into the play-offs, but the team that stands in their way on Monday night is the New England Patriots.

The Patriots have beaten the Colts in each of their last six meetings - but that was before Indy had a defence.

In the last two play-off contests the Colts had a defence that was barely above the worst in the league - this year their D is ranked number four and have two defensive ends in Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis that are notching up sacks.

But before Monday's titanic clash there are plenty of intriguing match-ups in tomorrow night's fixtures.

For instance the Carolina Panthers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers both have 5-2 records in the NFC South. They face off tomorrow in Florida, and something has got to give.

And if Tampa are to stand any chance of keeping in the chase they will have to stop the league's leading receiver in the shape of the Panthers' Steve Smith - who is proving his worth as the main target man for QB Jake Delhomme.

It is an old adage that November is when the NFL realty starts - when the battle for play-off spots takes shape.

Take for example the Oakland Raiders. Their season started off with three losses. Since then four straight wins. If they can overcome the Kansas City Chiefs tomorrow night - one of the teams that ruined their opening - they are looking to be serious contenders.

And who would have credited that the Chicago Bears would go into November as NFC North leaders? A win against the New Orleans Saints tomorrow will not only reinforce their place as divisional leaders, but also puts them in prime spot for play-off position.

But, November is also the month many teams will be finally concluding that it is going to be a losing season!