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It’s been a long time since the problem of surplus has come up for The Student of the Game‘s Matchup Mania. But there are a lot of important games and amazing storylines in the coming week.
With that being said, I will give an honorable mention to the 49ers hosting the Dolphins, the Bills charging into Foxboro to take on the Patriots, and the Jets flying to Minnesota to take on the Vikings.
Also, the Saints marching into Tampa to try and sink the Buccaneers further into mediocrity isn’t the worst way to spend a Monday night – maybe schedule a laundry night with that in the background while you’re folding clothes? At any rate…here are the Week 13 candidates for the MuM.
Washington Commanders vs. New York Giants
We aren’t typically fond of discriminating against teams and fanbases in the NFL when building the MuM each week. However, as significant weeks go for a single division, the NFC East as a group with four playoff-worthy teams currently has the most riding on the playoff implications for this slate of games. Ironically, the Cowboys are in the nationally-featured Sunday night game and could be the least significant, playing the disappointing Colts. This game though is clearly the one where the destiny of the division will be severely impacted.
Either Student of the Game’s Midseason MVP Saquon Barkley keeps the Giants in the race to win the division, or backup quarterback sensation Taylor Heinicke takes command of Washington’s postseason destiny. Both defenses will be challenged thoroughly and one fanbase will be shouting at the screen lamenting the omen of a potential missed playoff berth.
Tennessee Titans vs. Philadelphia Eagles
You thought the NFC could only impact their own conference? BEHOLD! – the Eagles have entered the chat. If the Titans fall to Philly, it’s a game that could haunt them in battling for home field beyond the first round of postseason play. By now, most people know that Tennessee’s offense runs through Derrick Henry running the ball. But the Eagles up front with Fletcher Cox and a newly acquired Ndamukong Suh may be able to counter well against that.
With that in mind, the Eagles with Jalen Hurts at quarterback will be facing a Titans’ defensive front that is solid in its own right. The defense that better keeps their opposition one-dimensional will be the winner, but it should make for some quality smashmouth football.
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Cincinnati Bengals
There’s something to be said for the Bengals battling against the Chiefs as a team that they faced in the playoffs last year just as they did Tennessee last week. Give credit to Cincinnati winning games without Ja’Marr Chase four out of the past five weeks and missing significant time from Joe Mixon for the past two games as well.
That being said, missing weapons in a game that points to a shootout between quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes and Joe Burrow isn’t a way to assure victory. This could be a fantastic preview of an epic postseason rematch that could determine how many games either team hosts in the playoffs.
Cleveland Browns vs. Houston Texans
I’m not here to say there’s any good football to watch here. As football goes, it would be about as nonsensical as a Desperate Housewives ad as an intro for a Monday Night Football game.
This game marks the return of Deshaun Watson after his suspension. It could also possibly provide a shot in the arm for Cleveland to be a force in the AFC North, as well as the conference’s playoff picture. Not saying it’s going to happen, but it would be a heck of a note if this was a first step in the franchise making a mark after breaking the mold in controversial fashion on how player personnel and contract structure are handled in the offseason…regardless of ethical concerns.