Team vs. team is the typical draw for every NFL season, but once in awhile there are more personal battles to watch. What are some big ones for 2014?
Chip Kelly vs. Dan Quinn
One of the lesser joys fans have during an NFL season is watching two prominent coaches go head to head for bragging rights. In this case it is a classic paradigm: an offensive wizard against a defensive mastermind. Chip Kelly helped turn the Philadelphia Eagles into an offensive powerhouse in 2013, while Dan Quinn guided the Seattle Seahawks defense into the very best in pro football. Their meeting in Week 14 will not only have playoff implications, but also reveal which of them has the edge in play calling.
Andrew Luck vs. J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney
The Houston Texans took a very big gamble in the draft by electing not to take a quarterback in the first round. The reason for that was it offered them the chance to pair athletic freak Jadeveon Clowney with superstar J.J. Watt in hopes of forming a dominant pass rushing tandem. Why? It’s simple: because the AFC South goes through quarterback Andrew Luck. The Indianapolis Colts quarterback has made his team a regular contender for the division title. It will be up to Watt and Clowney to make life miserable for him and hopefully give the Texans the edge they need.
Jamaal Charles vs. Ryan Shazier
The Pittsburgh Steelers knew they wanted to get younger and faster on defense when they entered the NFL draft. That is why they made linebacker Ryan Shazier their 1st round pick. For sheer speed, there was nobody better in the 2014 class and his presence should help the Steelers corral the tougher offensive weapons they’ll face. Nobody will put him to the test more than when All-Pro running back Jamaal Charles pays a visit with his Kansas City Chiefs in Week 16. The last time he was in town, Charles posted 100 yards and a touchdown. Shazier will be needed to keep him contained.
Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery vs. Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner
The best games always feature the best talent going against each other. Who knew a Chicago Bears-New England Patriots tilt would be ground zero for that. Indeed the Bears will bring their dynamic receiving corps headlined by Pro Bowlers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery to Foxborough. There waiting for them will be a retooled Patriots secondary led by Pro Bowler Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner. Not only is that a lot of skill on the field at one time, but a lot of size too. If fans want to see the growing trend of bigger receivers and bigger defensive backs collide, watch this game.
Detroit Lions defensive line vs. Miami Dolphins offensive line
Anybody who had a half working television set saw first hand how abysmal the Miami Dolphins offensive line was in 2013, allowing 58 sacks on the season. It was a primary reason they didn’t reach the playoffs, which is why the team set about rebuilding it in the off-season. They signed Branden Albert to play left tackle, Dallas Thomas to play guard and drafted Ja’Wuan James in the 1st round to play right tackle. There really is no telling how well this new unit can play in 2014. One thing is for though. Questions will be answered when the Detroit Lions, with their stacked defensive line of Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley and Ezekiel Ansah come knocking in Week 10.