A.J. Green vs. Dez Bryant is underrated NFL storyline
- By Kareem Copeland
- Around the League Writer
- Updated: Dec. 8, 2012 at 12:31 p.m.
The Houston Texans look for respect in New England on Monday. The New York Giants try to hold onto the NFC East lead against the New Orleans Saints. The Carolina Panthers want revenge against the Atlanta Falcons. Ho-hum...
A.J. Green vs. Dez Bryant
Green is everything that Dallas Cowboys fans hoped Bryant would be -- a young, dynamic receiver that is a physical mismatch every week. Green has 76 receptions for 1,107 yards and an NFL-high 10 touchdowns in his second season with the Bengals. He has 141 catches, 2,164 yards and 17 touchdowns in 27 NFL games. Green is already mentioned with the Megatrons, Larry Fitzgeralds and Andre Johnsons of the world. Oh, and there's no off-field drama when it comes to Green.
Bryant has put together the best season of his three-year career, with 71 receptions, 978 yards and eight touchdowns. Mental lapses, however, continue to haunt his game. He is young, dynamic and physical, but the little things hold him back from being truly dominant. Green doesn't need a curfew and security detail.
Green and Bryant obviously won't go head-to-head, but the meeting features two receivers expected to be the future of the position. Sunday offers a glimpse of two budding players in a pressure setting, considering the playoff implications. The two will be compared throughout their careers.
Rex Ryan vs. Tebow Nation
The New York Jets coach has already made his feelings clear in reference to Tim Tebow. Mark Sanchez has been one of the worst starting quarterbacks in the NFL this season and Tebow still hasn't gotten a chance. Chants of "Tebow, Tebow!" have rained down from the MetLife Stadium stands and Ryan hasn't budged.
This week is different, though. Ryan is entering the belly of the beast. The Jets travel to Jacksonville Sunday, where Tebow grew up and could be elected mayor. Ryan is already considering having three quarterbacks active if Tebow is healthy.
Ryan will be pressured to give Tebow meaningful snaps. Will he relent considering the Jets are all but officially eliminated from the playoffs anyway?
Packers offensive line vs. Lions defensive line
The Green Bay Packers are known for their rivalries with the Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings, but the actual dislike lies with the Detroit Lions. That starts with the Lions' defensive line. Ndamukong Suh leads a group that has gotten a reputation for borderline dirty play. The Packers have a personal experience from when Suh stomped on guard Evan Dietrich-Smith on Thanksgiving Day in 2011.
The dislike only adds to the most important matchup of the field. Suh might be coming off his best game of the year and Nick Fairley is in the midst of his best stretch as a professional. Cliff Avril has 8.5 sacks, including four in the last three weeks. The Lions defense goes as the line goes. That puts the onus on a banged up Packers line that is playing without Bryan Bulaga and possibly T.J. Lang. The No. 1 rule in Green Bay is to keep Aaron Rodgers healthy.
The Lions have lost four in a row and have self-imploded. The Packers will win, but the fight in the trenches should be worth the price of admission.
Bonus: City of Baltimore vs. the District of Columbia
Baltimore has had bragging rights in the area since the Ravens moved from Cleveland. The Ravens have been to the playoffs eight times since 2000, won a Super Bowl and played in two more conference championships. The Washington Redskins have had two playoff appearances and one victory in that span.
Trust that Baltimore stole some Washington fans in the last decade.
The Redskins are back to being in the national conversation with quarterback Robert Griffin III. He's on the verge of replacing Ray Lewis as the most popular player in the greater D.C./Baltimore area. The hearts of many young fans could be on the line Sunday.
The Ravens might want to make a statement: You come at the King, you best not miss.