Last weekend we finally got the answer we’ve been waiting on all season; can anyone beat Alabama? They clapped back with a resounding no in their dominant win over LSU. Let’s take a look at this week’s key players and matchups.
Player to Watch
Former Alabama standout and superstar wide receiver Julio Jones is someone I want to highlight this week. The guy is a freak of nature. There is no one in the league who can cover this guy. He demands a double team on every single play. In the red zone, entire defenses are shaped around what he can do. Jones has been a top tier receiver since his rookie season.
He finally broke his mind-boggling touch down drought last week. I expect him to keep finding the end zone as the season progresses. He’s on pace for a career year in yards and catches so it should follow that his touchdown total will even out by the end of the season. For fantasy owners, his production can be maddening. His lack of touchdowns severely hurts his potential. He may put up elite stats, but that doesn’t translate well to fantasy production unless he’s scoring touchdowns. I think the dog days are over though. He’s too good to keep bottled up for very long.
Games of the Week
Auburn vs. #5 Georgia
Georgia is inching back closer to a playoff spot after a signature win against ninth-ranked Kentucky. They’ve been clinging to their top 10 ranking while looking mediocre all season long. But wins don’t lie. They keep giving themselves opportunities to survive and advance. They face a stiff test this weekend though as Auburn is looking like they’ve gained new life following an upset win against Texas A&M.
Auburn is unranked at the moment, but they are one of the first teams outside the AP Top 25. If they keep battling and winning games, they can creep back up the rankings and possibly secure a premier bowl game. They’ve got two incredibly tough tests in front of them though. The one being Alabama in the Iron Bowl. And the other is, of course, fifth-ranked Georgia. Gus Malzahn has taken a lot of flack for some uninspiring games, but if he can win this weekend, everyone will be singing praises.
I made the mistake of betting against Georgia last week. I won’t make the same mistake twice. They’ll win this game easily if they can control the ground game. Auburn happens to have one of the best defensive lines in the SEC so that will be the critical matchup to watch.
Sat 11/10 7:00 ET- ESPN
Final Score: 35-28 Georgia
#18 Mississippi State vs. #1 Alabama
Alabama is unstoppable. They have won every single game they’ve played by at least 22 points or more. For all of those who say they haven’t played anyone all year long that clearly didn’t matter last weekend as they handily beat then third-ranked LSU by a score of 29-0. With that being said the SEC is still a minefield that doesn’t end until the last game is played. Mississippi State is a top 25 matchup and not a team to take lightly. Alabama can still lose, but it would be a massive surprise if they do.
Mississippi State has somehow hung around all year long despite having one of the worst passing games in the SEC. Nick Fitzgerald is a terrific runner. But he is a terrible passer. He’s coming off a four-touchdown performance, but he’ll be hard-pressed to match that production against Alabama’s talented defense. Alabama will be blitzing and forcing pressure on Fitzgerald all night long. He may wiggle out of some jams and break a couple of big runs, but that’ll be the extent of their offense. Fans will be screaming for backup Keytaon Thompson to be in the game by the end of the first quarter.
Sat 11/10 3:30 ET- CBS
Final Score: 38-10 Alabama
Patriots vs. Titans
The Patriots are rolling now that they have all their offensive weapons back. The Rams may have the best roster in football, but as long as Tom Brady is behind center, then the Patriots will be king of the castle. I’ve covered the Patriots a bunch this season so that I won’t go into too much depth, but I think their biggest X-factor Cordaralle Patterson (Tennessee). He’s their gadget player who can do a little bit of everything. He’s an electric returner, a serviceable receiver, and a dynamic running back. Being a Tennessee guy, I think he’ll have a big game being back in the Volunteer state.
The Titans have scrapped and clawed their way through all their games and are cruising after a Monday Night victory over the Cowboys. The Titans have been called the Patriots South and for a good reason. Their brain trust is manned by Jon Robinson a former Patriots front office man. He quickly brought in a core of talented Patriots players starting with cornerback Logan Ryan. They’ve modeled their approach after arguably the best team of all time so kudos to them.
One of the most significant flaws of this team though is their lack of offense. Granted they’ve got a young group of guys on offense, but they struggle mightily to move the ball. It all starts with former Heisman winner, quarterback Marcus Mariota. He’s shown flashes of brilliance, but he has yet to consistently produce week in and week out. The Titans have another Heisman winner on the roster, running back Derrick Henry (Alabama). This was supposed to be his big breakout year after an impressive playoff performance against the Chiefs. He’s struggled all season but so has the whole offense. They looked good against the Cowboys after a string of horrible plays in the 1st quarter. They can’t expect to make a recovery like that against the Patriots though.
Much like Alabama, you’re crazy if you bet against the Patriots. The Titans may have one of the best defenses in football, but I think Belichick will crush his protégé team.
Sun 11/11 1:00 ET- CBS
Final Score: 24-13 Patriots
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