Weekend football preview

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It looks like we’ve got a good weekend of football in front of us. Plenty of solid college action, including three matchups featuring top 25 teams, and the senior circuit (NFL) is offering a solid slate of games as well, which will all conclude when Houston tangles with the Bears in Chicago on Sunday Night Football. In honor of the action, here’s a quick look at some of the best action (complete with predictions from yours truly!).

The top draw on the college gridiron has got to be Texas A&M at Alabama. This one features the best team in the land (Bama) hosting the No. 15 Aggies, who come in riding the hot hand of freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel. The Aggies are an offensive juggernaut, the Crimson Tide are a team built on defense coming off a win over LSU that they managed to pull out in the final minute of the game at Death Valley. I used to watch Manziel play in high school, so I feel like I know something about the kid, but the more I watch him play, the more I think I don’t know him at all. You see, he’s a lot better in college than I ever thought he’d be, so I have to assume his skills have improved in College Station. That said, ‘Bama is the defending national champions, and they are going home after a lackluster victory. Thus, I’m taking Alabama is this one, but it won’t be easy. I say they win 35-31.

The next best college game on Saturday has got to be Oregon State (11) at Stanford (14). Both teams come into the game with just one loss in the Pac-12, so the loser is probably out of the hunt for the north division’s title. Interestingly enough, I used to watch Beaver running back Storm Woods play a lot when he was in high school too, but I doubt he’s going to be a huge factor in this one, so we’ll just file that one in the “things that make you say hmm” file. (Arsenio Hall humor! How about that?) The game is in Palo Alto, so you have to figure the Cardinal have the advantage. I, however, don’t think that’s the case. I believe Oregon State to be the real deal, and I think they will go home to Corvalis with a 28-17 victory.

The NFL has its fair share of good games this weekend too, although by good I mostly mean a lot of teams with .500 records squaring off. However, if you look at the records of most NFL teams, this should not be a surprise. There are, in fact, 27 NFL teams with at least 3 wins and of those 17 have at least a .500 record. Can you say parity? If nothing else, this will make for a lot of meaningful games in November.

However, the NFL does have a few teams sporting elite records thus far, and two of the best three will meet on the possibly frozen tundra of Soldier Field in Chicago. Houston and Chicago come into the game with identical 7-1 marks, and both of them suffered their one loss to Green Bay. Jay Cutler is having a solid campaign for Chicago, finding a go-to receiver in Brandon Marshall. Matt Forte, meanwhile, is busy doing what he does (539 rushing yards/179 receiving yards) which is being one of the best running backs in the league. The defense is solid as well, limiting opponents to 15 points per game. Houston has a similar set up: solid quarterback (Matt Schaub), great running back, (Arian Foster) and a top-notch receiver (Andre Johnson). They also have a similarly dominant defense, giving up around 16 points per game. So, who has the edge? Honestly I think this one’s a coin toss. I want the Texans to win, but beating the Bears at Soldier Field is a tough task. In the end I think Cutler will do what he does best in big games, disappear. So, I’m calling this one for Houston 24-13.