Every week the top match-ups in the NFL get tons of attention. I’m sure you’re well aware that the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears are playing each other on Monday Night Football this week—which will ultimately be an amazing game. But there are some games that you don’t really notice; some games that just hang out on the small TV in the corner of the bar that’s only on because the bar claims they show “every NFL game every Sunday.”
Then all of a sudden, the poor folks who couldn’t find marquee seats at the bar start going nuts because this minor football game just got exciting. It just snuck up on them, like a ninja. From out of nowhere, that small TV says, “Whatcha watchin’? Oh yeah? Well, take a look at this!” And bam! You get sucked into that game because you’re tired of seeing the Steelers get destroyed and Aaron Rodgers is picking apart his opponent by throwing for 400 yards again.
That, my friends, is a Ninja game, an unsuspecting game that sneaks up on you and becomes worth watching.
And so I present to you the Ninja Game of the Week for Week 5:
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. San Francisco 49ers
Unless you’re a fan of the Bucs or the 49ers, I don’t think you’ll be watching any of this unless you want to see how your fantasy players are doing. But here’s why you should get a bar stool close to this TV and watch:
- Both teams are 3-1 and have come back to win some close games, but are they really that good? Last week, the 49ers pulled an amazing comeback to beat the Philadelphia Eagles, and Josh Freeman rallied his team to beat the Colts on MNF. But are their records lucky? I think both of these teams are trying to prove that they deserve to have a 4-1 record, so expect to see some tough defense and strong performances by players you might not be used to.
- Raheem Morris and Jim Harbaugh. Period. I fell in love with Raheem Morris the day he was hired as the Bucs head coach. I didn’t know much about him except that he had a certain spark and certain persona that was different than other head coaches. But since he was the Bucs defensive backs coach before becoming HC, he already had a certain connection with the players. In an interview he did for us after he got the job he said, “I’m still going to be Raheem.” Loved it. He’s still Raheem, but the Bucs aren’t the same Bucs. On the other side, Jim Harbaugh is a firecracker. If you’ve seen his wire on Showtime’s Inside the NFL and NFL Network’s SoundFX, then you know how he can motivate his players. These two guys don’t like to lose and have too much respect in their players to see them lose. I wouldn’t mind just watching these guys on the sidelines the whole time.
- Neither offense has been extremely stellar so far, but Sunday the big boys should come out to play. Josh Freeman has thrown for 969 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions so far. Alex Smith’s numbers aren’t that exciting either: 795 yards, 4 touchdowns and 1 interception. Tampa Bay’s former rookie stud, Mike Williams has only caught 15 passes for 155 yards and a touchdown. And it took until last week for Frank Gore to rush for over 100 yards for the first time since Week 8 of last year. But both of these teams are 3-1. Knowing how equally matched they are, I’m excited to see an array of plays both in the air and on the ground. What’s going to get the W? I have no idea, but it should be a battle either way.
So Sunday, when you cozy up on your comfy couch or at your favorite bar, make sure you pay attention to this game. The other 4 o’clock games might be marquee or divisional matchups (Jets/Patriots, Packers/Falcons, Chargers/Broncos), but I think you’ll eventually want to watch this one…
Click here to see a more in-depth pregame preview for Tampa Bay vs. San Francisco.