How many quarterbacks are injured at the moment? It seems like in the last month half the league has lost their starting quarterbacks and or a backup. Looking at the number it paints a pretty poor picture for the overall health of the signal callers around the league. There was a strange connection in the last game of the weekend between the Patriots and Chiefs, last time these two teams played back in week 1 of 2008, Tom Brady started for the Patriots. 7 minutes into the game he went out with the now famous hit by Bernard Pollard and was replaced by Matt Cassel, who started the rest of the season and got traded to the Chiefs. 3 years later back at Gillette Stadium, Cassel was set up to come and play against his old team before hurting his hand and needing to be replaced by Tyler Palko. Around the league these teams either played a backup quarterback in week 11 or are going to be forced to start their backup in week 12 due to injury: Miami (Matt Moore replacing Chad Henne), Arizona (John Skelton replacing Kevin Kolb), Tennessee (Jake Locker likely to replace Matt Hasslebeck if he is injured), Indianapolis (Dan Orlovsky replacing Curtis Painter who replaced Kerry Collins who replaced Peyton Manning), Chicago (Caleb Hanie replacing Jay Cutler), Oakland (Carson Palmer replacing Jason Campbell), Philadelphia (Vince Young replacing Michael Vick), Kansas City (Tyler Palko replacing Matt Cassel). That’s 8 teams, a quarter of the league who have had to turn to backups because of injury alone at this point in the season, add into that Sam Bradford in St Louis and Travaris Jackson in Seattle, that’s 10 teams who have lost their quarterback to injury at some point this year. Let’s not start on the number who have been benched for sucking. Who says a backup never gets a chance? This week coming up we have the Thanksgiving slate of games which are always fun and as someone who watches from a very different timezone, the late kickoff is always helpful to have. Dallas at Miami is probably the least appealing of all the games and even that has intrigue to it as
Detroit (49) -d- Carolina (35)
You sort of feel bad for Cam Newton, the Panthers lead 24-7 after the Lions turned the ball over early including 2 interceptions by Matthew Stafford. It was at this point the Lions kicked into gear and ran over the sucky Panthers defense that Newton has had to cover up so far this year. Detroit finally found an answer to getting production out of the running game while Jahvid Best is out through former wonder kid Kevin Smith who looked back to his best after two years of knee problems. Smith had a great day running for 140 yards and two touchdowns and catching one of Stafford’s 5 touchdown passes. The Panthers defense had a good idea to try and stop the Lions offense, harass Calvin Johnson to limit his production (as best as you can) and force someone else on the Lions to beat them, unfortunately someone else did.
Pick: Lions, Panthers just killed themselves with mistakes.
Dallas (27) -d- Washington (24) [OT]
The good Tony Romo showed up in this game for the third week in a row after being embarrassed at Philadelphia back in week 8. Romo’s stats really tell a good story throwing for almost 300 yards and 3 TD’s but most importantly no interceptions. The running game was shut down and provided no support meaning Romo had to carry the team on his back, if only he was that competent every week he would probably be in the conversation with Rodgers and Brees in terms of skill level. The Cowboys deployed a great 3 pronged receiver attack with Jason Witten and Dez Bryant providing over the big plays while Laurant Robinson continues to be a reliable underneath receiver. Washington meanwhile have fallen off so much after their surprising 3-1 start thanks to a rather large injury list, one positive to take from this game is it was a week when Rex Grossman looked like an NFL quarterback.
Pick: Cowboys, they did enough to put themselves back into playoff contention
Green Bay (35) -d- Tampa Bay (26)
It’s great seeing these two old division rivals going at it again in the battle of the Bays. The Tampa offense showed signs of life here after struggling recently, Legarette Blount had some bruising runs as the Packers defense struggled to make a tackle but they did force turnovers to cover up the large chunks of yards conceded. The Buccaneers defense had the same issues every team that plays the Packers did, in that they couldn’t stop Aaron Rodgers, who had a 300 yard passing game until his final throw to John Kuhn lost yardage and put him on 299. Rodgers was another quarterback to get no support from his running game here but when you are in the form he is in, it doesn’t matter as much as you would think.
Pick: Packers, can’t wait for Thanksgiving game at Detroit
Atlanta (23) -d- Tennessee (17)
Well it was good to see the Falcons comeback after that tough loss to New Orleans last week. Michael Turner had 100 yards exactly and scored a touchdown to build a 23-3 lead late in the 3rd quarter. Matt Ryan did his job as well throwing for 316 yards and a score but the stories coming from this game are about the Titans offense. Chris Johnson is back to sucking after a good game last week getting 12 carries and turning them into 13 yards. Matt Hasselbeck had an ugly elbow injury and had to turn the reins over to rookie Jake Locker while down by 20, Locker came up big though leading the Titans to two scores and making things interesting late in the game before his comeback bid ultimately fell short. Gave the Titans some hope if he needs to cover for the next couple of weeks.
Pick: Falcons, staying in the playoff race.
Philadelphia (17) -d- New York (10)
I’ll say this right off the bat, Vince Young is not a great quarterback by any stretch. Ok not exactly a statement worth stopping the presses over but the fact remains about Vince Young is, if you let him hang around and don’t get ruthless enough, he will win games. The Giants must really hate him right now after his comeback in 2006 with the Titans and now this win, despite throwing 3 interceptions. Eli Manning was far from great in this game but the blame for the loss can’t go all on his shoulders. The Eagles did play very well on defense and forced the key stops when needed on the final drive.
Pick: Giants, who would have thought Vince Young would be able to pull the game out.
Rapid Picks Recap:
Thursday Night Football
Denver (17) -d- New York (13)
Something is wrong with the Jets, Tim Tebow meanwhile continues to prove he is a great fullback.
Miami (35) -d- Buffalo (8)
Miami had the high rolling offense while the wheels continue to fall off for the Bills
Cleveland (14) -d- Jacksonville (10)
Cleveland did their best to lose this but managed to win somehow
Baltimore (31) -d- Cincinnati (24)
Surprising amount of points here, great game though.
Oakland (27) -d- Minnesota (21)
Raiders made the most of a mistake filled Vikings performance and an Adrian Peterson injury.
San Francisco (23) -d- Arizona (7)
This one was over very quickly with the only Cardinals points coming late on in the game, the fight was kind of amusing too.
Seattle (24) -d- Rams (7)
Rams had a good start but couldn’t hold up as the Seahawks got a big win.
Chicago (31) -d- San Diego (20)
Chicago will need to rely on their running game more than ever now with Cutler out, somewhere Matt Forte’s agent is laughing.
Monday Night Football
New England (34) -d- Kansas City (3)
Slow start by the Patriots but they made plenty of big plays.
Picks Record: 10-4 (106-56 on the season)
Week 12 Preview
Green Bay Packers vs Detroit Lions
12:30pm Thursday, Ford Field.
Line: Packers -6
Storyline: The Lions are relevant at Thanksgiving and in the playoff race for the first time in over a decade
For the Lions to Win: If Jahvid Best is healthy and able to play (which quite frankly is anyone’s guess at this point), the Lions have an added dimension to an already explosive offense. There is enough talent and speed on this defense to be able to hang around with the potent Green Bay offense in a shootout and potentially even top it. Even if Best can’t play, Kevin Smith looks like he may finally be back after two years of knee problems having a great game last week. Green Bay’s defense continues to give up yards thanks to questionable tackling technique so the backs and receivers may be able to break some big runs if they aren’t wrapped up. On defense, the Packers will have to throw the ball a lot given the form he is in, the Lions will have to hope Suh and co can plant Rodgers on the ground, hard.
For the Packers to Win: A win for the Packers would deal a massive blow to the playoff hopes of their divisional rival so you know they will be up for this one. Athletically, the Lions offense probably have the edge on the Packers defense but you can always count on Dom Capers to come up with some sort of crazy coverage scheme to confuse Matthew Stafford. Capers used some great baiting in his coverages two weeks ago against San Diego and you know he will come up with some more of that for this national game. If the Packers can force early interceptions by Stafford and build a lead, you know they will get frustrated and make more silly decisions.
Pick: Packers, I so badly want to take the Lions but Green Bay just keeps winning.
San Francisco 49ers vs Baltimore Ravens
8:20pm Thursday, M&T Bank Stadium
Line: Ravens -3.5
Storyline: Apparently the two head coaches are brothers, haven’t heard NFL Network or ESPN mention that at all.
For the Ravens to Win: The way the Ravens are playing at the moment, their offense is a real crap shoot as to whether or not they will be effective. I really don’t like the way they match up against the 49ers defense, especially when they try to throw the ball. Baltimore has shown they do sometimes go pass-crazy and ignore the run which will play into the hands of the 49ers defense. So that’s where everything can go wrong for the Ravens, but this section is meant to be about how they will win, maybe I should address that. To win they will need to do it the old-fashioned Ravens way, with their very, very good defense. The 49ers strength is to run through their opponents, if Baltimore sells out to stop the run they will make Alex Smith throw to win and he is just as much a toss up as always.
For the 49ers to Win: This has already been covered a bit in the previous section, the 49ers best chance is if the Ravens think they have Peyton Manning, Drew Brees or Tom Brady playing quarterback for them and drop back to pass a lot. The most complex part of the Ravens passing game is which side Torrey Smith will line up on to run his go route and if the Ravens try that a lot, then that plays into the 49ers hands as they will be able to pin their ears back and go after Flacco. On offense if Frank Gore is healthy, the 49ers will rely on him to pound the ball through the defense and keep the chains moving.
Pick: 49ers, everything is against them & they love it that way.
New England Patriots vs Philadelphia Eagles
4:15pm, Lincoln Financial Field
Line: N/A (my guess is Pats -6.5 which is way too high if so)
Storyline: Two teams that were preseason favourites in their conferences are now looking to right the ship and make a playoff run, the Pats are looking to get a top 2 seed while the Eagles are looking to just get into the playoffs.
For the Eagles to Win: The Patriots have shown plenty of vulnerability defending the pass this year with their barely patchwork secondary and DeSean Jackson looks likely to have a field day against this defense. His speed and explosiveness presents several match up issues and he will find holes in zone coverage as well. That’s not to say the Eagles should go pass happy (especially if Vince Young is playing) since their other main weapon is the running back LeSean McCoy. One thing Patriots opponents have struggled with the last couple of weeks is taking advantage of the early struggles of the Pats offense, if Philadelphia can get an early lead and force the Patriots to chase, that will go a long way to getting a win they desperately need.
For the Patriots to Win: The defensive line needs to make sure they contain the running threat from whoever is playing quarterback for the Eagles and for the first time, they have the athleticism on the line to do so with Andre Carter and Mark Anderson. Forcing them to be a pocket passer will go a long way to helping out the secondary since their accuracy can fail them at times. When the Patriots have the ball they will look to throw the ball (funnily enough) but the Eagles corners could actually match up with the outside guys of Welker, Branch and Ocho (for his 15 plays a game). To solve this issue look for Brady to go to Gronkowski, Hernandez and even Danny Woodhead when they are matched up against the Eagles linebacking corps.
Pick: Patriots, Eagles fade away with a lead & the Pats come on strong.
That’s it for the breakdowns this week, would have loved to do Oakland-Chicago and the Monday Night game between the Saints and Giants but time has eluded me.
Miami @ Dallas (-7)
Pick: Cowboys, Miami’s run ends here on the short week.
Cleveland @ Cincinnati (-9)
Buffalo @ New York (-9)
Pick: Jets, I was on the fence until I heard Fred Jackson is reportedly out for the season.
Houston (-3.5) @ Jacksonville
Pick: Texans, I still think the Texans running backs will carry them to more wins than losses
Carolina (-3.5) @ Indianapolis
Pick: Panthers, look for a close game but I think the Panthers have enough offense here to get over the line
Tampa Bay @ Tennessee (-3.5)
Pick: Buccaneers, they played Green Bay close last week and get over the line here.
Minnesota @ Atlanta (-9.5)
Pick: Falcons, they should do just enough to get by here.
Chicago @ Oakland (-4)
Pick: Raiders, this is going to be a really good game to watch, Carson Palmer will be the difference here.
Washington @ Seattle (-3.5)
Pick: Seahawks, they’re always a tough out at home
Denver @ San Diego (-6)
Pick: Broncos, I’m buying Tebow’s ability to win even if he sucks as a QB, so now watch as he loses when I start to give him some credit.
Pittsburgh (-10.5) @ Kansas City
Pick: Steelers, look for a similar score to last week against the Patriots & I don’t see Orton making an impact
Monday Night Football
New York @ New Orleans (-7)
Pick: Saints, Brees outguns Manning
That’s it for this week, hope the US-based readers have a good Thanksgiving.