Some NFL fan bases have certainly had a fun ride so far, haven’t they? The Seattle Seahawks with Geno Smith at quarterback have exceeded expectations and the Dallas Cowboys despite playing backup Cooper Rush under center has their fans and others fancying them a playoff contender.
Additionally, the Atlanta Falcons with Marcus Mariota have people believing that despite all the years of false hope with early season success in the past, this will be the first year that they make noise in the postseason since the 28-3 Super Bowl meltdown against Tom Brady and the Patriots.
This week’s theme for the Student of the Game‘s Matchup Mania is for all those who love witnessing the dreams of other fanbases get crushed. The truth with early success in the NFL is that the season on the whole is a marathon and not a sprint and that the approaching games could see some fan bases fall back to earth.
San Francisco 49ers vs. Atlanta Falcons
The 49ers’ defense is a force to be reckoned with beyond any other in the NFL right now. Despite injuries, their depth has kept them as a dominant force that has helped San Francisco see some success despite their issues dealing with Trey Lance’s injury and starting Jimmy Garoppolo. And that same force will have its sights set on Marcus Mariota. While Atlanta’s protection on offense seems to be better than it’s been in the past, the truth is that offers little comfort for the Dirty Bird’s chances to have a clean game on offense.
If Atlanta fans are expecting any respite with Nick Bosa’s groin injury, they may want to think twice. That being said, with K.C. as the Niners’ Week 7 game, the Falcons may just fly under the radar to close the trap on them at home.
Arizona Cardinals vs. Seattle Seahawks
There’s no denying regardless of how one feels about the Seahawks and their transition from Russell Wilson to Geno Smith at quarterback, they are performing ahead of schedule. The only problem they have is that they are around 1/3 into the season and they have yet to chalk up a win in the NFC West. After getting dominated by the 49ers in week 2, they have a chance to right the ship by hosting quarterback Kyler Murray and the Cardinals.
Both defenses aren’t a fraction of what they used to be as these two teams and QBs operate in two very different styles. Nonetheless, this team will be decided by who will make the fewest mistakes, although one has to think that Murray misses his top receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who returns from suspension the following week.
Dallas Cowboys vs. Philadelphia Eagles
After what happened in the game against the Rams that was featured previously in the MuM, Dallas could still find themselves relevant in the NFC East, and a big step would be heading on the road to battle their division rivals in Philadelphia and coming away with a win. The Cowboys have a strong defense and their offense doesn’t typically turn the ball over, which are two elementary elements essential for victory in any football game.
However, Cooper “Riptide” Rush has to help his squad flow into the endzone even if Micah Parsons and his defense keep the Eagles from flying on offense. Ironically, the way Philly flies is to perform well on the ground. Quarterback Jalen Hurts has seen his team stay undefeated longer than any other in the NFL because he’s not asked to do a lot, thanks to the balance of their offense. That being said, for the pundits who call that the Cowboys continue playing come January, they’ll need this game badly to do it.
Buffalo Bills vs. Kansas City Chiefs
This one has been circled on calendars across America since this year’s schedule was announced. Patrick Mahomes and company vs. Josh Allen and his crew. One can’t find enough corn to satisfy the size of the crowd anticipating this pairing and the way they pop on offense. While both teams have defenses that are relatively strong, the storyline that will come to mind first is a rematch of last year’s divisional playoff game where Mahomes marshaled a miracle in overtime. But the question might be asked, whose dreams are in danger of being shattered here?
Well considering how much hype Buffalo has commanded this season, a loss here could severely impact the Bills’ hopes of a top seed in the AFC. Falling short of that achievement would be quite a disappointment to the Bills Mafia. Though it would be a relief to those in the folding table industry, because the celebrations for Buffalo fans would be reduced.