By Danny Cox
When it comes to the world of the NFL, Ian Eagle of CBS Sports knows virtually every single thing that takes place with any and every team in the league. Eagle took some time to speak on three big games coming up this week including a huge NFC match-up on Thursday Night Football between two desperate teams, and he touches on who wants it more.
Seattle Seahawks vs. San Francisco 49ers, CBS Oct. 22 at 8:25p ET
With matching 2-4 records, which team is more desperate and needs the win in a bigger way?
Ian Eagle: “Seattle is more desperate. Expectations were, and still are, very high and with the curiosity after the fallout from the Super Bowl, this is a team that is expected to play for championships. San Francisco is going through a rebuilding phase. Seattle? They’re built to win right now.”
Is Jim Harbaugh’s departure the biggest reason for the 49ers’ slow start to this season?
IE: “It was developing last season when Harbaugh was still there. The team had clearly taken a step back and things simply weren’t working. Jim is an excellent coach and he’s won everywhere he has been, but sometimes a marriage just comes to an end. The ownership of the 49ers felt they needed to go in a different direction and that’s what they did.
Harbaugh’s absence, combined with the personnel just not being at the same level we saw in the Super Bowl a few years ago, that’s a combo that has led to the team trying to reinvent itself.”
The ‘Legion of Boom’ has struggled this season, can Colin Kaepernick take advantage of that?
IE: “Seattle clearly misses Dan Quinn, who is now the head coach in Atlanta. You just can’t underestimate how big an impact a coordinator has on a unit. Pete Carroll is a defensive-minded guy with a great scheme, but Quinn pushed the right buttons with that defense.
As my colleague Dan Fouts has said, Colin Kaepernick throws all fast balls and there is not a lot of touch. To be consistent year in and year out, you’ve got to show defenses a lot of different looks. Kaepernick has yet to prove he can be a traditional drop-back quarterback and that’s okay, but defenses have figured out the style that brought him so much success early in his career. He’s at a critical stage of his career right now and trying to decide which direction to go in.”
New York Jets vs. New England Patriots, CBS Oct. 25 at 1p ET
Even with other undefeated teams like the Broncos and Bengals, are the New England Patriots still the AFC favorite?
IE: “The Patriots are still the favorite considering the body of work and experience. Cincinnati has closed the gap though, and they have as talented a roster in the NFL as there is. Questions will remain, though, and there is one big one that won’t go away: Can Andy Dalton win in the playoffs? New England doesn’t have to deal with those kinds of questions.”
What has been the difference in the New York Jets this season that has gotten them to 4-1?
IE: “The biggest difference is the head coach. There is a discipline, toughness and business-like approach that Todd Bowles has brought to the team. Perhaps the biggest thing is the lack of drama, which is what Rex Ryan invited and thrived in for a number of years. This team is worried about the task at hand and not the storylines surrounding it.”
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Kansas City Chiefs, CBS Oct. 25 at 1p ET
Do you think there will be a point this season where the Chiefs sit Alex Smith and turn to Chase Daniel?
IE: “The Chiefs still have a lot of money invested in Alex Smith, so it’s not an easy decision to just pull the plug; there are long-time ramifications with the salary cap. It’s one of those decisions that is hard to go back if you turn onto that road if you’re Andy Reid.
Smith will get a number of opportunities to prove he is still the clear-cut number one quarterback for the Chiefs; but if there is a chance that Chase Daniel can give them a little boost because he is a different kind of player, there could come a point where Andy Reid doesn’t have a choice.”
For the Steelers, do you start a 75-percent Ben Roethlisberger or Landry Jones at quarterback?
IE: “Great question (laughs). If the doctors clear him and if he feels physically able to go, Ben Roethlisberger is playing. If the Steelers want to give him another week to feel ready, then Landry is ready. Jones showed enough in the second half last week to earn the start this week. He was impressive. There was clear chemistry. Sometimes, you just catch lightning in a bottle. Pittsburgh would be comfortable starting Jones and waiting on Ben for one more week.”
Was the injury to Jamaal Charles essentially the nail in the coffin for the Chiefs’ season?
IE: “The Charles’ injury was a big hit for this team and whatever faint playoff hopes they had were completely dashed. This team needs a jolt and big decisions need to be made. I think it could end up coming at quarterback if they get desperate enough.”
Danny Cox knows a little something about the NFL, whether it means letting you know what penalty will come from the flag just thrown on the field or quickly spouting off who the Chicago Bears drafted in the first round of the 1987 draft (Jim Harbaugh). He plans on bringing you the best news, previews, recaps, and anything else that may come along with the exciting world of the National Football League. Danny is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.