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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, November 23, 2011 at 9:47 AM

It's Wednesday, which means it's time to crunch some numbers from last week's NFL action here in the NOTEBOOK. We have a much bigger than normal Thursday football schedule this week because of Thanksgiving. Be sure you're back with us bright and early on the holiday for stat previews of Green Bay-Detroit, Miami-Dallas, San Francisco-Baltimore, and Texas-Texas A&M.

Here are some little nuggets you might have missed this past week in pro football. Games are presented in rotation order...

  • Neither the Jets nor the Broncos could convert many third downs, as the teams combined to go 6 of 27 on that critical play. That's a tribute to the defense and a slam against the offenses. Tim Tebow has very little margin for error...but it's fun watching him flirt with it. Mark Sanchez continues to make too many critical mistakes at bad times. He also has little margin for error, but in a completely different way. It was a pick six off the arm of Sanchez that put Denver in position to steal the win.

  • Atlanta was more in command of this game than the 23-17 final score made it sound. They relaxed with a big lead...and Jake Locker was able to come in off the Titans bench and get some points on the board against that relaxed defense. He looked much more like an NFL quarterback than you might have expected given his erratic passing form at Washington. Note that Atlanta won total yardage 432-298 (bigger before garbage time) and yards-per-play 6.4 to 5.1 (same story here). Matt Ryan passed for more than 300 yards without any interceptions.

  • Miami over Buffalo featured one of the most misleading scores of the day. This was a field position rout rather than true dominance. Miami was actually outgained 247-242, and only won yards-per-play 4.3 to 3.8. They did a great job of cashing in cheap credit must be given for that. But, in terms of driving the field and creating production, Miami's offense was just as sluggish as ever. Buffalo's really fallen off the map the past few weeks...suggesting Chan Gailey's bandwagon has turned back into a pumpkin. (Just in time for Thanksgiving!)

  • Cincinnati/Baltimore was a wild one. You probably saw the highlights. Cincinnati miscues set up some easy points for Baltimore...but then the Bengals rallied and came very close to covering the spread or forcing overtime in the final minutes. Cincinnati won total yardage 483-273, but lost turnovers 3-1. They won scoring on drives of 60 yards or more by a 24-10 margin, but lost yards-per-play 6.7 to 6.2. These teams are very close to being even. Cincy's upside is amazing considering how quickly Andy Dalton is developing. Baltimore has to be disappointed that Joe Flacco isn't doing much more than hitting the occasional bomb these days. You just can't count on that in the playoffs.

  • Why was the Jacksonville-Cleveland total 34 points in Las Vegas? That might take this combination 5.5 quarters rather than just four. No surprises in the data...other than Cleveland had two long scoring drives rather than zero or one. Defensive, run-based struggle that came down to the final series. Jacksonville just missed cashing in because their rookie quarterback didn't have a sense of what to do in crunch time red zone situations.

  • Oakland/Minnesota had some very weird numbers...but that's become standard for Oakland football. They seem to do some great things and some horrible things every week. The great stuff this week was rusing for 162 yards, forcing FIVE turnovers, and...of course...winning the game. But, the offense only averaged 4.4 yards-per-play, and didn't have a single long-distance drive all day. Third downs were a problem too with a 35% conversion rate. If you were scoreboard watching, Oakland wasn't as good as it's mid-game big lead was suggesting. They sure keep finding ways to win though. It's funny how many rookie quarterbacks are starting out surprisingly well...THEN looking like a rookie once the league has seen them for a little bit. Chistian Ponder is now on that list, along with Cam Newton.

  • How's that for a transition! Newton threw FOUR interceptions and could only convert 30% of third downs in Carolina's loss to Detroit. He did lead a couple of long drives...and he piled up the passing yardage. But, his mistakes are starting to become a problem. NFL defenses DO adjust. Newton needs to make some tweaks of his own. Detroit popped very big numbers on offense, with 495 total yards, 7.4 yards-per-play, and an astonishing 35 points on drives of 60 yards or more. Half that is considered a good day. The Lions are starting to drift away from the profile that does well in the playoffs though. A "shootout" team can't thrive in January weather...and the Lions are very likely to be a Wildcard team should they qualify.

  • Green Bay went back to cruise control after playing their message game on Monday Night Football. Maybe we'll see another message game Thursday in Detroit. Versus Tampa Bay, the defense went back to coasting...and the offense did just enough to get the job done. Stat handicapping methodology can get really messed up when a team plays this style. Green Bay's defense is better than they've shown. But, maybe there are some problems that will bit them in the butt come January (or come Thursday!). Tampa Bay gained 455 yards on 7.6 yards-per-play, yet still lost by more than one score.

  • Washington gets sky high for Dallas, but can't seem to much of anything versus anyone else. Maybe that's a sign that the Dallas defense isn't as good as the media keeps suggesting. Total yardage was basically a wash in this overtime game. Washington won yards-per-play 5.2 to 4.8, but Dallas made the big plays when they needed to win a pair of long distance TD drives and then a huge play in overtime to set up the winning field goal. You want to think that the whole NFC East is better than their current records...but the contenders keep providing evidence that it's not really true. Dallas is 6-4, but may have a couple lemons left in their basket.

  • San Francisco would have squashed Arizona even worse than 23-7 if they hadn't blown three early field goal opportunities in drizzly weather (though the drizzle didn't seem to affect the footing of Arizona's field goal blockers!). Biggest edges in key areas were a 1-5 edge in turnovers for the 49ers, and a 38-11% edge on third down conversions. They basically grinded out a field position win because they've built a roster ideal for that style. With an inexperienced quarterback in the pocket for Arizona, the Cards had little hopes to be competitive in that kind of game.

  • St. Louis continues to flounder as Sam Bradford stays stuck in neutral. The media didn't report honestly on him last year because a very weak schedule hid his deficiencies. This year, they're ignoring him completely because so many rookies are playing well. Is Bradford destined to be a flop? He's not exactly surrounded by a juggernaut...but neither was Andy Dalton before the season started. Seattle won yardage 289-185, yards-per-play 4.2 to 3.0, and rushing yardage 126-42 in this NFC West non-battle. Pay attention to the Seahawks. They continue to be better than Vegas realizes.

  • Horrible luck for Chicago that Jay Cutler broke a thumb just when the team was playing some of its best ball in years. There's a little margin for error with a 7-3 record and an AFC West heavy schedule for the time being. Let's see how this next game goes in Oakland. Big edges for Chicago over San Diego in the areas of total yardage (379-332), third downs (57-45%), turnovers (1-3), and rushing yardage (93-52). The Chargers once again are miles behind early season Vegas expectations. It's become a tradition.

  • Vince Young said all the right things in his post-game interviews...and he does deserve credit for leading the Eagles to victory. Just remember that he threw THREE interceptions...and the only TD drive for the bulk of the game came on a 14-yard scoring opportunity after a long punt return. It was a nice win...but wins in three-interception games are relatively rare. He's going to have to play better for the Eagles to get back in the race. They trail by only two games now instead of this was a nice start. The Giants now have home losses to Philly and Seattle, and a very close home win over Miami. So much for home field advantage.

  • The stats in Kansas City/New England sure didn't suggest a 34-3 blowout. The Patriots only won total yardage 380-334, and Tom Brady only outpassed Tyler Palko 223-215. But, New England knows how to finish drives once they're on the Pats won Drive Points 21-0 in very dominant fashion. They also enjoyed a 1-3 turnover edge, and threw in a punt return TD to boot. Things are looking even bleaker in Kansas City, while New England may coast to a bye even with less than ideal form given their very soft schedule the rest of the way.

That's wraps up the stat run-through. Back with you tomorrow for stat previews of the four Thanksgiving games. Then, we'll be up early Friday with a look at Arkansas-LSU. Don't forget that JIM HURLEY'S ANNUAL TURKEY SHOOT can be purchased for just $100 here at the website. Take care of business TODAY if you know you're going to be busy Thursday. Get the paperwork done Wednesday, then it's just a matter of getting the releases once they're made official through the weekend. If you have any questions, call the office at 1-800-323-4453.

Happy Thanksgiving from everyone here at JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK!

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