Last week saw Kentucky keep their train rolling with a thrilling win over Missouri. They jumped into the top ten with their performance. This week has some even bigger matchups that will have a tremendous effect on the playoff rankings.
Player to Watch
I usually don’t highlight defensive players, but this former Auburn player has enormous upside. Dee Ford (Auburn) was selected in the first round of the 2014 draft by Kansas City. He still plays for the Chiefs. Ford has yet to reach his full potential, but he’s on a great pace during his fifth season. He suffered a season-ending injury last season and only played in six games after tallying ten sacks in 2016. Ford has continued that momentum from 2016 this season.
Through eight games he already has eight sacks. If he keeps his progression, then he will hit the potential that got him drafted 23rd overall. The Chiefs are being raved about because of their offense, but it’s their defense that will ultimately get them deep into the playoffs. They’ll need Dee to keep the pressure up.
Games of The Week
Steelers vs. Ravens
This is one of the best rivalries in all of football. It always seems like the season is on the line when these two teams play each other, and this year is no different.
The Steelers are coming into their own after struggling in the early part of the season. They have figured out how to win without star running back Leveon Bell who is in the middle of a contract holdout. James Connor stepped in and took the reigns and has been one of the best backs in the NFL. They’ll need Connor to have a big game against a stout Raven’s defense. The Steelers, on the flip side, will need strong games from guys like Mike Hilton (Ole Miss) and Cam Sutton (Tennessee). Both of whom play in the secondary. The Ravens have a resurgent passing game, so the Steelers will need their cornerbacks to be lockdown.
The Ravens have been one of the surprise front-runners after adding some weapons on the outside for Flacco. Their team goes as Joe Flacco goes. The front office realized this in the offseason and promptly gave him weapons on the outside. They also drafted a quarterback by the name of Lamar Jackson to add some pressure. The writing was on the wall, but Flacco has shaken off all the noise from critics and is having a good season now that he has actual receivers. The Ravens will lean heavily on their offense, but it’s their defense that shines brightly. They have a core of Alabama players on their defense, and they all make plays. Guys like Tim Williams, Marlon Humphrey, CJ Mosley, and Anthony Averett are all contributors on their side of the ball. Mosley is the clear leader of that pack though.
This game could go either way, but I think the Steelers have been too up and down this season and have shown some tendencies of a team torn by the Bell drama. The Ravens look legit and will be raring to go in this one.
Sun 11/4 1:00 ET- CBS
Final Score: 35-24 Ravens
#6 Georgia vs. #9 Kentucky
The SEC East is on the line this weekend in a top 10 matchup. Georgia has dipped in the rankings after starting the season in the top four. Kentucky has been the biggest surprise of the season so far as they have finally climbed inside the top 10 at number nine.
Georgia has looked like one of the weakest playoff contenders this season. They’ve done their job and won their big games except for their matchup against LSU, but that was a game Georgia could stand to lose. They haven’t looked dominate though. And to add to their woes, they’ve hardly had any defensive presence from their pass rush. That won’t matter as much this week against Kentucky since they have the worst passing offense in the SEC. But that defensive line is going to have their hands full trying to slow down star running back Benny Snell Jr.
Kentucky has made it this far on defense and running the football. Their defense is one of the best in the country. They don’t give up points. It just doesn’t happen. I’ve mentioned how bad their passing game is but with an elite defense all you need is an excellent running game, so you can chew up clock and drive the field. Even if you walk away with field goals, you’re happy because you know you can stop the other team from scoring. But they will need their superstar Benny Snell to have a monster game if they want to keep up with Georgia.
This is one of the more exciting games of the season in my opinion. A win by Kentucky sets in motion a chain of events that could potentially see them in the playoffs. A win by Georgia and they inch closer to jumping back into the top four.
I’m very high on Kentucky. They’ve managed to win games when it has mattered most, and I think their brand of football is a bad matchup for Georgia. I think Kentucky will pull away late in the game in a low scoring contest.
Sat 11/3 3:30 ET- CBS
Final Score: 17-13 Kentucky
#1 Alabama vs. #4 LSU
What other conferences can you think of that can boast two top 10 matchups on the same day? The answer is none. It seems like LSU has played 8 top 10 teams this season. They may not be the most talented in the country, but you can’t deny their resume, ahem UCF fans.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but Alabama is the best team in the country this year and possibly ever. They look unstoppable on offense. Tua scores on almost every drive. Their defense is ridiculous, and they score more points than some offenses out there. LSU doesn’t have the firepower to compete with Alabama’s offense. They do however have the defensive presence to go toe to toe with Alabama.
The biggest question in this game is what happens after? Say Alabama loses, does that mean they are out of the top four? And say LSU loses does that mean that they miss the playoff bubble? They’ll be in a bottleneck with either Kentucky or Georgia for those 5-7 spots. Regardless of the outcomes, this weekend is going to be a cluster for the rankings.
I will never bet against Alabama but if you were going to do it then now is the time. Their biggest test of the season will be against LSU. It still won’t matter though. Alabama will cruise to a win in the second half after a back and forth first half.
Sat 11/3 8:00 ET- CBS
Final Score: 38-27 Alabama
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(Photo courtesy of ChatSports)