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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, October 19, 2011 at 10:04 AM

We're not seeing quite the same frantic level of high octane passing yardage that so defined the first month of the NFL season. No team passed for more than 400 yards last week. The only team to pass for more than 310 was New Orleans...who was playing from behind the whole second half using an offense that's pass-heavy anyway. More than a third of the league passed for 220 yards or less.

That led to a weekend that was defined more by UNDERS than anything else. If you consider SF/Detroit a push at its Vegas total of 44, then we're looking at 3-9-1 to the Under on Sunday and Monday Night.

Now that things are starting to calm down, it's easier to define teams in terms of true strengths and weaknesses. Cam Newton isn't quite the next big thing any more. New England's defense isn't quite as helpless as it seemed. Let's run through this past weekend's schedule with some stat keys from every game. We hope these will help you make quality selections this Sunday and Monday when the NFL resumes.

Notes are presented in rotation order...

  • The stats in the St. Louis/Green Bay game were a bit misleading because the Packers were playing rope-a-dope through the whole second half. They led 24-3 at the break. Sam Bradford piled up a bunch of meaningless passing yardage while not getting anything more on the board. The key to remember here is that Bradford isn't anywhere near the level the media was hyping last year when he got to face the easiest schedule in the league. Green Bay is on cruise control. Any set of Power Ratings that doesn't have them #1 in the league need to be question. Amazingly, that's A LOT of incorrectly respected Power Ratings.

  • Pittsburgh was more dominant against Jacksonville than the 17-13 final score made it sound. They won total yardage 370-209, rushing yardage 185-133, long distance scoring 17-7 (points scored on drives of 60 yards or more), and yards-per-play 6.4 to 3.4. So, the Vegas spread was probably right here...but the Steelers stumbled on a couple of drives and failed to turn their on-field edges into scoreboard edges. Don't fall in love with the Jags as defensive dogs just yet. They were badly outplayed here and the final score was an illusion.

  • Philadelphia really stepped up its play against Washington. A lot of the post-game coverage was about Rex Grossman's four interceptions. Don't let that deceive you into thinking this was a turnover-based win for the Eagles. They won total yardage 422-287, rushing yardage by an astonishing 192-42, long distance scoring 17-7, and third downs 38-10%. There should be some concern that they could only get 20 points on the board with all of those perks. And, that's legitimate. But...there was a lot here for Eagles fans to be optimistic about. And, Redskins fans have to be concerned that the team is 0-2 in the division.

  • San Francisco at Detroit was a defensive struggle that ultimately showed you why rushing yardage is more valuable than passing yardage in this league. The game was a dead heat in many areas. Total yardage was 314 to 310 for the Niners. Third downs were a ridiculous 14-13% for SF (that's a combined 4 of 29 from the two offenses!) Long distance scoring was 10-7. Thanks to Frank Gore, San Francisco won rushing yardage 203-66, which put them over the top in a 6-point upset win. Both teams were 5-1 after this result. Both are probably 11-5 type teams who aren't quite as good as their current records based on those faulty third down performances on offense.

  • Carolina finally hit a wall in terms of pointspread results. That was due more to turnovers than anything else. Carolina lost that category 3-0...while pretty much holding their own in all other stats. Well, Atlanta had the stats of a 3-point win if you take out the turnovers, which is close to the spread. Cam Newton is still doing very well for a rookie...but bettors will have to be careful with him this year as defenses continue to adjust. Remember, Atlanta had a very poor defense coming in. They held him to 226 passing yards and forced three interceptions.

  • Indy continues to find new ways to lose games as they continue their possible trek to 0-16 and a #1 draft pick. A late fumble here was returned for a TD...ruining a drive that could have tied or won the game...and giving the win to the Bengals. Tight game otherwise, with the key stats being split out between the two teams. Cincinnati is nowhere near as good as their 4-2 record would suggest. They've gotten very smart about taking what's being given to them though. Andy Dalton was sharp with a 25-32-0-264 passing line.

  • You can count on Buffalo and the NY Giants to play exciting games. Both offenses can move the ball. Neither defense is particularly impressive. In fact, both defenses have been pretty disappointing in the big picture. Very tight game in the numbers, with a 2-0 turnover edge for the Giants being the difference-maker. It's still hard to say where these teams fit in the big picture. You get the sense that they're Wildcard caliber at the moment. But some eventual divisional winners aren't exactly setting the world on the standards may have adjusted this year in a way that makes the Bills and Giants borderline elite. It will take more games vs. top competition to pin things down.

  • Baltimore has a lot to be proud of after its win over Houston. Yards-per-play was 6.2 to 4.4. Long distance scoring was 17-7. Joe Flacco passed for 289 yards against a quality opponent. The problem is...the Ravens may be relying too much on deep passing to get the job done. That's the hardest thing to do on purpose in this league, particularly in the playoffs. You're going to have big numbers when the bombs connect. When they don't, you suddenly look very mortal (which the Ravens did in their loss at Tennessee and their misleadingly high scoring win over the Jets). Houston was dealing with injuries, and will at least live to fight another day.

  • The big news in Cleveland/Oakland was the injury to Jason Campbell. A broken collarbone will keep him out at least six weeks...and possibly for the year. The Raiders have reportedly acquired Carson Palmer to take over the position. It's worth noting that Oakland scored a TD on a kickoff return and a fake field goal this wasn't a particularly impressive win in terms of offense vs. defense. Colt McCoy of Cleveland continues to struggle with what's supposed to be a high percentage passing schematic. He threw 24 incomplete passes and totaled just 203 yards on 45 attempts.

  • Many were disappointed by the lack of a shootout in Dallas/New England. The Dallas defense is better than people the "Ryan influence" is clearly taking hold. But, Tony Romo isn't as great as ESPN wants you to believe the Cowboys didn't put as many points on the board against New England's defense as many expected.  Key numbers to us were the 61-33% edge on third downs for the Patriots, and the 101-77 rushing advantage. New England is most dangerous in terms of winning championships when they're balanced. They're having some turnover issues this year though that Belichick and Brady can't be happy about.

  • New Orleans and Tampa Bay played the kind of wide open game that EVERYONE seemed to be playing in the first few weeks. Both teams gained more than 400 yards. Both passing attacks topped 300. It felt like both defenses were a few steps behind all day. Tampa Bay won turnovers 4-0...which means that a 26-20 margin isn't all that impressive. This was a third straight road game for the Saints, which may have been an influence in that turnover differential.

  • Minnesota's defense and running game disappeared just at the time that many had decided those were the strengths that would keep them competitive. The defense didn't put up much resistance in the first half as the game got out of hand. The running game was never a factor because the Vikes had to play from way behind most of the night. Chicago looks like a playoff team some weeks, and a 6-10 straggler in others. Get in synch with the reasons and you'll make some good money this year.

  • Miami's anemic and shorthanded offense was no match for the Jets defense. The Dolphins converted just 2 of 13 third down tries (15%) and lost the ball three times. They also had several additional fumbles that they were lucky didn't end up in Jets hands. Mark Sanchez wasn't particularly dynamic. But, he got the job done with field position and a lead. That may be his ultimate limit. He's not developing beyond the guy who can help you hold onto a second half lead if your defense has created cheap points.

This weekend's NFL schedules is going to be interesting to handicap, even if it's devoid of truly blockbuster matchups. You may have heard the ESPN announcers Monday Night mentioning that there are NO games matching two teams with winning records this week. That may be true. But, San Diego at the NY Jets will certainly have a playoff feel to it, as will Houston at Tennessee (one of those teams is going to win the AFC South remember). Denver-Miami brings the return of Tim Tebow. Kansas City-Oakland is a blood rivalry. Chicago-Tampa Bay in London will match teams who need to start stringing together some wins. Get all the best plays with the Midseason Madness Program here online.

JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK will be all over the college and pro cards this week. And, we're also looking forward to the Wednesday Night start of baseball's World Series. You can purchase game day winners right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about our service, call the office at 1-800-323-4453.

We'll crunch all the numbers...YOU MAKE THE MONEY!

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