Thursday, November 7, 2013

NFL Week 10 Primer - Quarterbacks Drop Like Flies

Jay Cutler is out, but the Bears are still winning games.
By Jeremy Conlin (@jeremy_conlin) and Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

By the time Week 10 is over, 12 of the 32 teams will have had at least two quarterbacks start games for them this season. Four of those teams (Buffalo, Cleveland, Houston, and Minnesota) will have had three different starting quarterbacks. Another team (Philadelphia) has used three different quarterbacks, with one of them coming on in relief of two different starters. Only 13 teams have seen the same quarterback under center for every pass attempt this season. And the season is barely half over.

I'm not an expert, but that seems like a lot of injuries to quarterbacks. I don't have any scientific research to back myself up. And, if you've been reading these picks columns all season, you should know that we don't really do anything scientifically in this space - we're just making this stuff up as we go along. Further evidence of this: our records. But the fact remains, it seems like a lot to me, and it's starting to swing a few of the lines. We'll see how much that changes our success.

Game(s) of The Week:

Cincinnati @ Baltimore (1 p.m. Sunday, CBS)

If the Ravens want any hope of turning their season around and making the playoffs, they need to pick up these division wins at home. On the other side of the coin, if Cincinnati wants to truly establish itself as a major player in the AFC, they need to take care of business against mediocre teams on the road. If nothing else, it's an interesting game based on the juxtaposition of the recent history and current performance of the two teams.

Detroit @ Chicago (1 p.m. Sunday, FOX)

With Aaron Rodgers out for at least three weeks (and probably more), the NFC North is suddenly wide open. The Bears have had a surprising amount of success on offense even without Jay Cutler, but the Lions are coming off a bye and won the first meeting between the two teams in Week 4.

Carolina @ San Francisco (4:05 p.m. Sunday, FOX)

The Panthers have the best scoring margin in the NFC, a fact I will continue to repeat ad naseum until it is no longer true. The 49ers have the third-best scoring margin in the NFC. Yes, Carolina has played a concernedly easy schedule, leading to most of their blowout wins, but so has San Francisco - their biggest blowouts this season came over St. Louis, Houston, and Jacksonville.

Denver @ San Diego (4:25 p.m. Sunday, CBS)

Neither of these teams can play defense and both teams can throw the hell out of the ball. This could be a shootout to end all shootouts. 

Dallas @ New Orleans (8:30 p.m. Sunday, NBC)

Definitely the best game of the week - and continues with the enigmatic theme of the week: we don't know if Baltimore will get back on track or if Cincinnati will separate from the pack. We don't know how Chicago will stack up against a great offense with all their injuries on defense (we wanted to see it last week but Rodgers' injury spoiled it). We don't know if Carolina is for real or just a product of an easy schedule. We don't know how Denver will perform without their head coach. And we DEFINITELY don't know how Dallas is going to perform on a week-to-week basis. They've beaten up on division rivals and struggled outside the NFC East. They've been an elite team at home and a poor team on the road. That would suggest they'll struggle in New Orleans, but we'll see.

Here Are The Picks We Agree On (Home Teams in CAPS)

Washington (-2.5) over MINNESOTA

JC: Woof.

JP: Sure.

Philadelphia (+1) over GREEN BAY

JC: Am I missing something? Philadelphia scored 49 points and gained 540 yards of offense last week. The Packers surrendered 442 yards and are going to start Seneca Wallace at quarterback. And they're GIVING points?

JP: Hey, Seneca Wallace was really good at Iowa State.

Buffalo (+3) over PITTSBURGH

JC: Woof, Part II

JP: I've given up on trying to figure these teams out, so I'll take the points.

Oakland (+7.5) over NEW YORK GIANTS

JC: They've gotten rid of the "Jaguars North" moniker, but they still shouldn't be giving a touchdown.

JP: This is a crazy line. The Giants are playing better, sure, but I'm still not ready to bet on them and give a TD.

Seattle (-6.5) over ATLANTA

JC: Atlanta is bad. Like, really bad. Even with Roddy White and Julio Jones, they're bad. I think they have three healthy players on defense and everyone else is strewn about like the end of a game of Murderball. It's ugly.

JP: Stupid Falcons.

ARIZONA (-2.5) over Houston

JC: Houston is down to their third string quarterback, their top two running backs are injured, and their head coach suffered some type of medical emergency and will miss the game. Their interim coach is Wade Phillips. Do I really need to continue?

JP: I hate the fact that I have to pick the freaking Cardinals and give points. WHY DO YOU MAKE ME HATE MYSELF, HOUSTON?!?!

Denver (-7) over SAN DIEGO

JC: So, John Fox will miss this game after his near-heart attack last weekend. John Fox normally coaches the defense, and, no offense to John Fox, but it'd be pretty hard for the defense to play any worse than it has. Their offensive coordinator is effectively Peyton Manning, so there shouldn't be any regression there. Denver is still Denver.

JP: Don't see a way San Diego stays within a TD of Manning, but I am really bad at this...

Dallas (+7) over NEW ORLEANS

JC: Romo? Romo. The Cowboys have struggled on the road this season (1-3), but a silver lining to take away is that one of those losses was at Detroit, where they held a six-point lead in the final minute. The Cowboys seems to play better indoors, so playing at the Superdome is a positive for them.

JP: Romo.

Miami (-3) over TAMPA BAY

JC: Woof, Part III

JP: Tampa's spirits should be broken after giving away a game at Seattle last week, and Miami is back in the playoff hunt. If the Phins are even a playoff contender, they win this thing going away.

Here Are The Picks We Don't (Home Teams Still in CAPS)

JC: TENNESSEE (-11.5) over Jacksonville

If I can't even take a team getting double-digits against a .500 team, I don't think I can take them against anyone.

JP: Jacksonville (+11.5) over TENNESSEE

Last week I picked the Bucs, so this week I'll go with the Jags. No idea why.

JC: Carolina (+6.5) over SAN FRANCISCO

I'm fully prepared to ride the Carolina bandwagon off a cliff if I have to. I'm taking it wherever it goes. They're the best team in the NFC and I don't care if you laugh at me. The only team with a better average scoring margin is Denver.

JP: SAN FRANCISCO (-6.5) over Carolina

I'm on that bandwagon, to a certain extent, but I just feel like the Niners are pretty much a TD better than anybody when they play in San Fran. If this line were a point higher, I'd be right there with ya.

JC: CHICAGO (+2) over Detroit

There's a real dilemma for me here - is the last two weeks of Josh McCown success a sign that Marc Trestman knows how to get the most out of his quarterback, or is it a huge mirage that's going to fall apart at the seams any second now. I really can't decide which, so when in doubt, take the points (especially at home).

JP: Detroit (-2) over CHICAGO

Well, Detroit beat the Bears with Jay Cutler and a mostly healthy defense by eight, so I'll take them here to cover.

JC: BALTIMORE (+2) over Cincinnati

With Geno Atkins out for the season, all of a sudden Cincinnati's defense could stumble, the same way New England's did for their first few weeks without Vince Wilfork, or San Francisco's did last season without Justin Smith. Baltimore hasn't been able to run the ball against ANYONE this season, but with a gaping hole in the middle of the Cincinnati defense, they could find success, if only accidentally.

JP: Cincinnati (-2) over Baltimore

Nope. I have just lost all faith in the Ravens, and I still think the Bengals are sorta good. The loss of Atkins is big for the defense, but I still don't think Baltimore can run it.

JC: INDIANAPOLIS (-9.5) over St. Louis

The Rams have been able to keep their last two games barely respectable because they were playing at home. They're still on turf in Indianapolis (so their speed on defense will still be an asset), but they won't be able to keep up with Indy's offense.

JP: St. Louis (+9.5) over INDIANAPOLIS

If the Rams just remember that Kellen Clemons is Kellen Clemons (And thus, don't put the ball in his hands in big moments), this one should stay within 10.

Jeremy's Three Team Tease of The Week

Tennessee (to -1.5), Indianapolis (to +0.5), Carolina (to +16.5)


Oklahoma (+15.5) over BAYLOR
STANFORD (+11) over Oregon

JC: I'm already bad at picking NFL games. I'm probably even worse at picking college games. But both of these lines seem way too high, especially Stanford getting that many points at home. I like both favorites to win but both underdogs to cover.

JP: Agreed. It's tough to bet against the two best offenses in the country, but at the end of the day, Oklahoma is hitting its stride, and Stanford's defense and ground game are simply too good for the Cardinal to get blown out.

Jeremy's Record:
Last Week: 7-5-1
Season: 60-68-6
Last Week's Disagreements: 2-2
Season's Disagreements: 20-18-1
Teases: 5-4

Joe's Record:
Last Week: 7-5-1
Season: 58-70-6

Last Week's Disagreements: 2-2
Season's Disagreements: 18-20-1

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