Matter of Facts: Week 11 Statistical Onslaught

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Nov 14, 2013

by Russell Baxter
Cold Hard Football Facts Resident Factologist (@BaxFootballGuru)

You can’t dispute the words of Dr. Hannibal Lechter, who sees the end of the current NFL season getting…well, you know the rest.

You also can’t dispute the big game of the week in the Mile High City, where a clash of styles between longtime AFC West rivals may give us the conference favorite to reach Super Bowl XLVIII…or perhaps not.

As everyone knows, the team with the best record in the league has not won the Super Bowl nine seasons in a row. So it will be interesting to see what we truly learn from Sunday night’s result in Denver.

Speaking of learning…

Thursday Night, Nov. 14

Indianapolis (6-3) at Tennessee (4-5): Talk about running out of Luck? The Colts’ quarterback turned over the ball four times in last week’s 38-8 home loss to the St. Louis Rams. That equaled the second-year signal-caller’s turnover total in his first eight games this season. The up and down Tennessee Titans were bitten by the upset bug at home last week as 0-8 Jacksonville turned into 1-8 Jacksonville. The Indianapolis’ defense apparently still has some issues despite a stellar season from outside linebacker Robert Mathis and his league-high 13.5 sacks…

Sunday, Nov. 17

Arizona (5-4) at Jacksonville (1-8): This looks like the ultimate trap game if you are the improving Cardinals, who have already equaled their win total from a year ago and are apparently headed in the right direction in terms of a possible playoff appearance. There will be no postseason plays for the Jaguars, but Gus Bradley’s team does come off its first win of 2013 and you know what they say about momentum. Bruce Arians’ team certainly can taketh in forcing 20 turnovers this season. But the Cards giveth far too often as well, as in 21 turnovers in nine games…

Atlanta (2-7) at Tampa Bay (1-8): Mike Smith’s disappointing team hits the road this week, a place they haven’t won all season. Then again, the Falcons haven’t done much winning anywhere these days and a setback here would guarantee the first non-winning season under the Smith/Matt Ryan regime. Tampa comes off its first victory of 2013 but the Buccaneers are still just a 2-13 in the team’s last 15 outings. Meanwhile, Ryan has committed 11 turnovers in nine games this season, including 10 interceptions, this after being picked off just 14 times last year…

Baltimore (4-5) at Chicago (5-4): It’s back to Josh McCown for the Bears as Jay Cutler continues to try and get healthy, something he apparently wasn’t when facing the Lions last Sunday at Soldier Field. Chicago’s defense has been a major disappointment and can be had on the ground (31st in NFL in rushing defense) but only two teams in the league are averaging fewer yards per game rushing than Baltimore. And Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has thrown 11 interceptions, one more than all of last seasons (10), a total of 20 games including the playoffs…

Cleveland (4-5) at Cincinnati (6-4): The Browns have had an extra week to mull over the opportunity to get back to .500 and really put the squeeze on the first-place Bengals, who Cleveland beat earlier this season. Marvin Lewis’ club has got the Noah’s Ark thing going in terms of pairs; two straight overtime losses and two straight outings in which quarterback Andy Dalton has thrown three interceptions. Still, the Cincinnati defense remains solid even minus Geno Atkins and should help put an end to the team’s brief two-game losing streak…

Detroit (6-3) at Pittsburgh (3-6): The truth can now be told. The real red letter date for Dr. Emmett Brown was indeed November 5, 1955. Not only was it the day he invented time travel, it was the day he purchased tickets for a Lions/Steelers game eight days later in Pittsburgh (November 13). Detroit would come up with a 31-28 win, which marks the last time the Lions won a game in the Steel City. Are the NFC North leaders ready to end their streak of futility in Pittsburgh like they have in numerous other instances this season? Hello, McFly. Think…

Green Bay (5-4) at N.Y. Giants (3-6): In recent seasons, the Packers have had trouble keeping running backs healthy while Aaron Rodgers has made his mark. Now Mike McCarthy’s team has found a ground game but Green Bay will start its third different quarterback in as many games this week. Suddenly, the once 0-6 Giants have put together three straight wins despite some miserable play on special teams. And the turnovers (28) continue to come for Tom Coughlin’s team. But the Packers have totaled only eight takeaways in nine games this season…

Minnesota (2-7) at Seattle (9-1): Fact: The Vikings are 2-0 this year when they win games 34-27. Okay, it means nothing but coincidentally, the Purple Gang’s lone two victories have come by identical scores. Now back to more significant numbers, as in Minnesota being winless on the road this season and allowing at least 23 points in all nine games this year. Leslie Frazier’s defensive end combo of Jared Allen and Brian Robison could make a mark here. But the ‘Hawks have won 12 straight at home and only one “Frazier” has even enjoyed success in Seattle…

N.Y. Jets (5-4) at Buffalo (3-7): Rex Ryan’s team had an extra week to savor that victory over the New Orleans Saints, a win made even more impressive considering that Drew Brees and company just did to the Cowboys in prime time. Rookie quarterback EJ Manuel returned to the Bills lineup last week at Pittsburgh but he and his team couldn’t find the end zone until the closing seconds. So can Buffalo’s ground attack, ranked seventh in the NFL this season, have any kind of success against Muhammad Wilkerson and the number-one rushing defense?

Oakland (3-6) at Houston (2-7): A mere 41 years ago, there was a Monday night game at the Astrodome in which the Raiders dusting the then-struggling Houston Oilers. And thanks to a close-up camera shot while panning the stadium, the country got to see how one fan in particular felt about the game (middle finger extended). Fast forward to today as Houston is having a problem winning following a 2-0 start, their seven-game losing streak a franchise record for a single season. But will hurting Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor be available this Sunday?

San Diego (4-5) at Miami (4-5): Some may find this hard to believe and let’s keep in mind that the Chargers don’t make a lot of trips to South Florida. But the last time the Bolts won in Miami, they were led by Hall of Famer Dan Fouts, Hall of Fame tight end Kellen Winslow and wound up surviving arguably the greatest play in NFL postseason history. That would be the 1981 AFC Divisional Playoffs at the Orange Bowl. These days, both the Chargers and Dolphins are just hoping to just stay in postseason contention and the team that can run the ball should prevail…

San Francisco (6-3) at New Orleans (7-2): It’s been a pretty simple formula for Jim Harbaugh’s team this season; score at least 31 points and the Niners are assured of a win. Unfortunately, San Francisco also scored a combined 19 points in their three losses of 2013. Speaking of 49ers, that’s what the Saints put on the board last Sunday night against the disheveled Cowboys as productive quarterback Drew Brees has suddenly thrown 25 touchdown passes this season. This is a huge game for Harbaugh’s Niners, who are in danger of falling too far behind the Seahawks…

Washington (3-6) at Philadelphia (5-5): What’s the big deal? Mike Shanahan’s team was 3-6 at this time last season and all they had to do was win seven straight games and claim a division title. And they are in the right place to get a streak started considering these baffling Birds have lost 10 straight games at home. But Chip Kelly’s team did hand the Redskins a 33-27 loss on a Monday night in Week 1. And how many people had Eagles’ quarterback Nick Foles in the “16 touchdown passes/zero interceptions” pool that’s been sweeping the nation?

Sunday Night

Kansas City (9-0) at Denver (8-1): When you consider that Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning has thrown 33 touchdown passes this season and the Chiefs offense has scored only 16 touchdowns, this doesn’t look like much of a matchup. But consider that Kansas City has held all nine opponents to 17 points or less while Denver is coming off a season-low 28-point performance in a win over the Chargers, this does make for an intriguing encounter. And by the way, does it really matter who these teams have played and beaten this season? This ain’t the BCS, gang…

Monday Night, Nov. 18

New England (7-2) at Carolina (6-3):  The last time we saw Bill Belichick’s team, they were busy scoring 55 points via seven touchdowns in a pasting of the Steelers. Last Sunday, we saw the Panthers hold the San Francisco 49ers out of the end zone, meaning Ron Rivera’s team has now given up just nine touchdowns in as many games this season. Only the Texans have given up fewer total yards per game and only the Jets have been harder to run against. And will DeAngelo Williams, Cam Newton and friends exploit New England’s undermanned run defense?

Off this week: Dallas Cowboys and St. Louis Rams

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