Vegas Sports Masters Blog
Back to Blog Home…

Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, October 26, 2011 at 10:13 AM

Remember when this was "The Year of the Quarterback?" Remember when none of the TV pundits could shut up about how easy it was to pass in the NFL these days? How the game had become a joke because offenses were unstoppable? How outdoor football had turned into arena football?

That came to a screeching halt this week with some of the ugliest football anyone had seen in ages. It was fitting that Baltimore and Jacksonville played a 12-7 yawner with limited passing Monday Night to cap off the week. UGLY!

There were several reasons for the loss of scoring mojo:

  • Byes took the explosive offenses of New England, Philadelphia, Buffalo, and the NY Giants off the schedule. Those guys have been playing shootouts all year. They will probably go back to doing so this coming weekend.

  • Several teams were trying out new starting quarterbacks who proved to be far from ready for the big time. On that list: John Beck for Washington, Wally Whitehurst for Seattle, Tim Tebow for Denver, Kyle Boller and rusty Carson Palmer for Cincinnati, A.J. Feeley for St. Louis, and Christian Ponder for Minnesota. Man, talk about a perfect storm!

  • Injuries has already put backups on the field for Miami and Indianapolis, and those teams continued to flounder.

It was about the worst possible week imaginable for NFL quarterbacking. Since you know that already, we'll try to find some stat keys from outside that theme to discuss as we run through this past Sunday's game notes in rotation order.

  • Chicago was more dominant against Tampa Bay than the final score of 24-18 made it sound. The Bears won rushing yardage 177-30, long distance scoring (drives of 60 yards or more) 17-3, and yards-per-play 5.9 to 4.4. Given their 4-2 win in takeaways, it's a bit of a mystery why this wasn't a slaughter. A good sign for Chicago that they were this dominant...but a bad sign that they couldn't make it show up on the scoreboard.

  • Cam Newton had a very sharp day for Carolina, going 18-23-0-232 in the air while leading his team to 407 total yards, 6.4 yards-per-play, and 20 points on long drives. Only five incomplete passes against a decent defense for a rookie. Not a good day for John Beck of Washington outside of the big yardage total playing catch up against a prevent. Washington is going to be who most experts thought they were going to be. The Skins are 3-3, with two of the wins over Arizona and St. Louis. The networks went a bit too crazy after the win over NYG.

  • It's still a mystery as to what the Wise Guys were smoking when they loaded up last week on Norv Turner, Philip Rivers, and the mistake-prone Chargers on the road in an early kickoff against a good defense. The Chargers offense only scored 14 points, and Rivers threw two interceptions. Sluggish year for San Diego despite the 4-2 start. Big road game coming up this Monday Night at Kansas City.

  • We could list about 100 embarrassing stats for the Cleveland and Seattle offenses. We'll save you the trouble of reading them. Assume the worst. Worth remembering that both of these teams are playing some defense. Seattle will offer value as ugly underdogs if they keep that up. Colt McCoy of Cleveland is getting less out of a high passing volume than any other QB in recent memory.

  • Statement performance for Houston in a huge divisional game. It now looks like they were holding something back against non-divisional Baltimore the week before. If you win your division, you go to the playoffs regardless of your record. Houston established its class in the AFC South with a stunning yardage edge of 518-148, a rushing edge of 222-53, and a ypp edge of 7.4 to 3.1. Tennessee already has two divisional losses in the tie-breaker too since they dropped the season opener at Jacksonville.

  • Tough to know for sure how to evaluate Tim Tebow's performance. The best case scenario is that he rallied late to force a regulation tie against a winless team. The worst case scenario is that Miami was laying down late to stay in the race for Andrew Luck. Either way, Tebow can't pass, has trouble converting third downs, and has yet to face a decent team that was playing a meaningful game against him.

  • Detroit's been losing luster with each passing week, while Atlanta has been re-establishing themselves as potential Wildcard material. That Atlanta defense really rose to the occasion by holding Detroit to 263 total yards and 1 of 12 on third down conversions. And, this came on the heels of a good outing vs. Cam Newton and Carolina's potent offense. The Lions just dropped back-to-back home games as favorites...making that 5-2 straight up record seem a bit soft. Will be fun to see the Lions defense against Tebow this week in Denver.

  • With Kansas City blowing out Oakland 28-0, it's easy to lose site of the fact that KC's offense didn't play very well. Remember, two touchdowns came on pick-sixes. The Chiefs may be 3-3 and back in the AFC West race. The offense is still floundering fairly badly. Matt Cassell's 15-30-2-161 passing line would have seemed pretty ugly if the Raiders weren't busy throwing six interceptions. The AFC West race is going to be fun because San Diego can't be trusted on the road, Kansas City is still dealing with a killer schedule and inconsistent talent, and Oakland must now win with Carson Palmer, who hasn't looked great since before a serious injury.

  • Kevin Kolb may be just good enough to break everyone's hearts. He's not obviously bad like so many others. But, he does most of his damage versus soft defenses or prevents. He's not yet sharp on third downs or in "must perform" situations versus quality. If you focus on some stats, he looks pretty good. Be sure you're focusing on the RIGHT stats when handicapping.

  • Tough to draw any conclusions from Dallas-St. Louis. The Rams have lost their spirit, and their quarterback. You have to be going through the motions to let an opposing backup running back set a franchise rushing record. Be careful giving too much credit to Dallas here for finding "balance." The Rams have now lost by 18, 12, 30, 7, 21, and 27 during their 0-6 start.

  • Green Bay's tendency to relax with leads of more than one score could bite them in the butt very soon. They almost blew Sunday's game in Minnesota...holding on for a 33-27 victory against a quarterback who was just 13-32-2-207 for the game. Don't give Christian Ponder credit for what Adrian Peterson was doing on the ground. Green Bay is 7-0 and still feels like they're going at three-quarter speed. Good work if you can get it.

  • Have you seen a bigger laydown in the NFL than Indy's 62-7 loss at New Orleans? With Miami and St. Louis throwing their hats into the 0-16 was clearly time for Indy to start thinking about tie-breakers. Will we see a reverse of the BCS college system...with horrible teams in the NFL trying to lose by really big margins to give themselves a shot at Andrew Luck?

  • The NOTEBOOK may be the only media entity on the planet that keeps telling you how poorly Joe Flacco of Baltimore plays in challenge situations. He's typically awful against good defenses. Jacksonville brought defensive intensity for a rare Monday Night appearance...and they made Flacco look awful outside of one drive. His passing line was 21-38-1-146 for the night, in good weather. Baltimore gained just 2.8 yards-per-play, and was a woeful 2 of 12 on third down tries. Hopefully some of those "analytic" websites will finally drop Baltimore below Green Bay this week in their Power Ratings.

That wraps up this week's look at NFL math. We hope what you read today will help you pick some winners this weekend. JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK will be building its bankroll for the weekend with weeknight college football and World Series Baseball. Purchase game day releases here at the website with your credit card...or call our office to sign up at 1-800-323-4453.

Game day releases are always available for credit card purchase right here at the website. Don't forget that we have games every night this week!

Back tomorrow to run through the ACC picture this season to get you ready for Virginia at Miami of Florida on ESPN. We'll provide expanded coverage this week of potential BCS party crashers Clemson and Stanford as they get ready for big TV games against Georgia Tech and USC respectively. Then, we'll finally have a great Sunday Night game to preview in the NOTEBOOK when Dallas visits Philadelphia.

Be sure you're with us EVERY DAY so you know what's REALLY going on in the world of sports handicapping!

Join the discussion


Forgot password

Keep me logged in