In a NFL year peppered with parity more than many in recent memory, we live in a world where Tom Brady winning a game against Geno Smith is surprising. While it’s probably old news by now that football in 2022 has rendered shock and confusion, certain statements like that must still be written and acknowledged so we all know that this year isn’t just a notion of “Any Given Sunday.” Reminders like that are meant to note that 2022 is definitely extraordinary regarding what we are witnessing. It is that notion of proof of the extraordinary that fuels this week’s edition of The Student of the Game’s Matchup Mania.
New York Jets vs. New England Patriots
If the Jets had beaten the Patriots in their previous game this season at East Rutherford, they would be atop the AFC East, half a game up on Tua Tagovailoa and the Miami Dolphins.
Instead, New York’s 2022 Midseason Coach of the Year Robert Saleh must prevail in his rematch with Bill Belichick in order to keep pace with fellow Coach of the Year Candidate Mike McDaniel in Miami, who heads into the bye this week.
Meanwhile, the Patriots look to seize an opportunity to gain a win on all three AFC East teams should the Buffalo Bills falter to Cleveland. While that likely won’t happen, it would be interesting to see the Browns, who have a troubled past with Belichick, become instrumental in a possible push toward the playoffs.
Dallas Cowboys vs. Minnesota Vikings
There have been concerns stated on The Student of the Game Podcast and many other places surrounding how Dallas head coach Mike McCarthy will handle the return of Dak Prescott into his lineup in a game that counts. The Cowboys made quick work of the first part of their tour of the NFC North beating the hapless Bears and Lions. Recently, the reliance on the passing attack instead of maintaining a balance on offense as done when Cooper Rush was still in for Prescott fell short in battling Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.
That being said, the Vikings are coming off of an emotional win, upsetting the Bills on Sunday. Maybe if McCarthy rights the ship, the Cowboys can keep themselves in the NFC East race with the undefeated Philadelphia Eagles.