NFL Week 7 Predictions: Island Game Gold

Making an NFL schedule months in advance isn’t easy, but things really lucked out for the schedule makers this week. TNF was a great choice between the Raiders and Chiefs, and SNF (ATL-NE) and MNF (WAS-PHI) are really the other highlight matches of Week 7. Will the games actually be worth a damn to watch? We’ll see, but it’s a perfect prime-time lineup.

Cardinals vs. Rams

I thought this might have also been an island game (London), but it’s actually being played at 1 p.m. EST. Figures, they finally get a somewhat decent London game and it’s lumped together with the other early-afternoon slate. The fact that this is a division game is pretty wild, and definitely not fair to the Rams who will have to go to Arizona for the rematch in Week 13. Maybe that game should have been scheduled for Mexico City just to make things even and not rob one team (Rams) of a true home game.

Adrian Peterson balled out last week in his Arizona debut, but I think the defenses will stiffen in this one and he won’t have nearly the same success. Ditto for Carson Palmer through the air. Aaron Donald should feast on that line. I think some of the shine has come off Jared Goff again, but he did play the Seattle and Jacksonville pass defenses. Still, throwing a lot of off-target passes and relying on superior field position and YAC this year. Not a long-term formula for success. Still, I cautiously side with the Rams to pull this one out due to protecting the QB better than I expect Arizona will. Rams have also been playing well on special teams while Arizona remains one of the worst.

Saints at Packers

Very interesting one after the Aaron Rodgers injury. Yes, Saints defense has played better after the first two weeks, but still not a good unit by any means. I want to give Brett Hundley and Mike McCarthy a good shot here at home before I bury the Packers for 2017. Back in 2010, Rodgers left a game in Detroit with a concussion and Matt Flynn came off the bench in a 7-3 loss. With a week to prepare as a first-time starter, Flynn came out in New England and tossed three touchdowns in a competitive 31-27 loss. Hundley was a better college prospect than Flynn, and he’s had a few years in the system and got a lot of preseason experience (similar to Tony Romo in 2006). I like to think McCarthy can prepare Hundley to play well in an offense that still has good receiving talent. I think I’m actually going to back the Packers in this one, because the Saints haven’t been as explosive on offense this season as usual, and I think they’ll rally behind Hundley to play a strong team game without Rodgers.

Falcons at Patriots

Ah yes, the Super Bowl LI rematch. I wasn’t fooling around when I said the other day that these could easily be 1-win teams right now.

Falcons beat GB comfortably, but the Bears were inches away from a game-winning touchdown pass in the final seconds in Week 1. The Lions were inches away from a touchdown (Golden Tate) on the final play in Week 3 that would have won the game. Atlanta just blew two home games to the Bills and Dolphins, including another 17+ point lead. So there’s your inches away from a 1-4 start.

As for the Patriots, their only comfortable win was in New Orleans. They really should have been 1-3 after Tom Brady had a fumble and dropped interception on what became the game-winning drive against Houston. Stop and think about that one for a second. Deshaun Watson might be the MVP front-runner right now if his safety held onto a Brady pick and the Texans would be 4-2. Something not even in his control. Ugh. But that’s 1-3, then we’ve seen the Patriots skate by the Buccaneers (two Nick Folk missed FGs and Jameis Winston’s last pass was terrible to win the game) and Jets (blew a 14-0 lead, awful calls went against NY, and yes the ASJ fumble was weak).

The point is these teams aren’t playing very good football this season, records be damned. They were both on hot runs going into SB LI, but I’m not impressed with what we’ve seen this year. The Patriots give up a 300-yard passer every week, but have still kept the points down on defense in the four wins (20, 26, 14 and 17). Yards don’t really matter if you’re not turning them into points, and with Atlanta, we see the offense No. 1 in yards per drive, but third in points. Last year it was 1 and 1 for the Falcons. Matt Ryan’s had some pretty awful luck with tipped INTs (4 of his 6 picks hit his receiver). Julio Jones has been very quiet, but I think he’ll come alive in this one. Still, I can’t possibly trust the Falcons to go on the road and win this one even if the Patriots look vulnerable enough to drop several home games this season. The Atlanta defense still isn’t good enough at getting stops, and the Patriots are still doing a fine job offensively this season.

Redskins at Eagles

In a season without any real great teams, these two are quietly in the top 6 in DVOA right now. This is a rematch from Week 1, won 30-17 by the Eagles, but that final score is a bit misleading. There was a late fumble-six that really should have been ruled an incomplete pass with Washington still having time to win the game with a touchdown. Earlier in that quarter, Kirk Cousins threw one of the worst interceptions of anyone this season when he panicked against a blitz and missed a wide-open receiver in the red zone in a 2-point game. Cousins has only tossed one INT since then, and that was a bomb on third-and-long that served as a punt. He’s played well, but he has to be sharper against the Eagles. I think the injuries on defense (Josh Norman and Jonathan Allen) leave the Redskins too short handed to deal with all of Philadelphia’s weapons, and the Eagles also are one of the best special teams this year. I’ll take Philadelphia at home.

2017 Week 7 Predictions

I actually had the Chiefs by 6 points on TNF, so I would have been fuming if I went through with that bet after the 31-30 loss on the final play(s).

Winners in bold.

  • Panthers at Bears
  • Jaguars at Colts
  • Jets at Dolphins
  • Cardinals vs. Rams
  • Buccaneers vs. Bills
  • Titans at Browns
  • Saints at Packers
  • Ravens at Vikings
  • Cowboys at 49ers
  • Seahawks at Giants
  • Bengals at Steelers
  • Broncos at Chargers
  • Falcons at Patriots
  • Redskins at Eagles

I think you could put Seattle and Pittsburgh on upset alerts. Long travel for the Seahawks against a good secondary when the passing offense hasn’t been too hot yet. Bengals play the Steelers tougher in Pittsburgh than they do at home. Also point out how close the 49ers have been to a win, and they gave Dallas about all it could handle last year too. Not a lot of games I feel confident in here, but it’s just been that kind of season. I mean, look at this awful track record I’m putting up in 2017:

  • Week 1: 8-7
  • Week 2: 11-5
  • Week 3: 9-7
  • Week 4: 8-8
  • Week 5: 6-8
  • Week 6: 6-8
  • Season: 48-43
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NFL Week 7 Predictions: And All That Could Have Been

 

In writing about the Steelers, Cardinals and Seahawks for FOA 2016 this past summer, I had a lot of expectations for Week 7 as a crucial day in determining home-field advantage for several of the top Super Bowl favorites. Now that the time has come, we are left with two games that are nowhere near the level of interest that I thought we’d get. In fact, Sunday evening has me looking more forward to which character bites the dust on The Walking Dead (and it better not be Glenn after all this lame buildup).

Patriots at Steelers

So much for that AFC Game of the Year, right? The Steelers host the Patriots in a battle of Super Bowl favorites, but unfortunately there is no Ben Roethlisberger in this one. Instead of perhaps the top quarterback duel of the season, we get to watch Landry Jones, who threw four interceptions in limited action in a preseason game this year. This is a huge disappointment. Roethlisberger always seems to miss some time each season, but it is possible this is the only game he misses. ESPN did report a potential 4-6 week absence, but I would guess that Roethlisberger misses Sunday and the Baltimore game in Week 9 (obligatory missed Ravens game) at worst.

But go figure, it’s the biggest game of the year for the Steelers and Roethlisberger cannot go. I spent a large chunk of my FOA essay talking about how the Steelers’ season was going to be determined by how well they play the Patriots, and now we get an expected blowout. Oh, the Patriots should be 10-point favorites if we’re being honest here. We already know that Tom Brady shreds this defense, and this is a unit that recorded the lowest pressure rate on Ryan Tannehill in his 70-game career last week. When you take Cameron Heyward, the best overall player on this defense, out of the game, there are going to be issues. While LeGarrette Blount could have a solid game, we know this is going to be about Brady throwing at will and throwing quickly to Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, James White and Martellus Bennett. Chris Hogan might even get a 50-plus yard play before this one’s over. Pittsburgh’s only real hope was for Roethlisberger to lead his own offensive charge at home, which was certainly possible against the 25th-ranked pass defense.

Now with Jones at quarterback, the Steelers are very limited in preparing a winning game plan. It basically consists of the Patriots crapping their pants with turnovers (at least a minus-two differential), which is unlikely to happen against a defense that is struggling to do anything destructive right now. On the other side, yes, Jones has Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown at his disposal. He has a solid offensive line. But he is also a mistake prone quarterback, or exactly the kind that Bill Belichick loves to exploit.

I’m not sure if the Steelers can impose their will with a ground-heavy attack that features Bell (DeAngelo Williams is out). There are plenty of plays to be had against this New England defense, but as always, it tightens up in the red zone and keeps the points down. Jones will have to make some big plays on crucial downs, and Mike Tomlin needs to understand that a surprise onside kick or going for it repeatedly on fourth down can be helpful in this game. Remember when Matt Flynn nearly led an upset of the Patriots in 2010? Mike McCarthy had a brilliant surprise onside kick in the first half. Tricks like that may have to be used here. Because I just don’t see how they defend this Brady offense with the weakest defense they have yet to put on the field against it.

Frankly, I don’t expect the Steelers to put up much of a fight, but maybe that’s not a terrible thing. While I dread the thought of this team trying to win in Foxboro in January, it would certainly be a much different game when your best player on both sides of the ball returns. Don’t show the Patriots a whole lot in this one, and learn from what they show you for next time.  We know every Belichick playoff loss has been a rematch from the regular season.

Final: Patriots 36, Steelers 21

Seahawks at Cardinals

Seattle is starting to shape into the team we have come to expect, thanks to some improved health along the offensive side of the ball. The defense hasn’t blown a fourth-quarter lead yet, and actually broke some major tendencies by aggressively blitzing Matt Ryan on four straight plays last week in the 26-24 win. Meanwhile, Arizona is hard to figure out so far. The Cardinals have already blown two fourth-quarter leads, but still have the No. 1 pass defense. David Johnson has been very consistent, but Carson Palmer has not been. He’s not hitting the vertical passes at anywhere near the MVP-caliber rate he was last season, and we’re not seeing as much production from John Brown and Michael Floyd.

The Seahawks have actually blown the doors off Arizona in the three years that Bruce Arians has been the head coach, so there is no fear of performing in this building. Russell Wilson has eight touchdowns to zero interceptions since 2013 in three Arizona starts. I think both defenses are solid, but right now, there are more ways for the Seahawks to attack the Cardinals with Wilson’s mobility, the emergence of Christine Michael, the versatility of the wide receivers and better play from Jimmy Graham. The Seattle defense has been shutting down running backs cold, and while Johnson has broken 100 yards from scrimmage in each game this season, I think that stops in this one. Palmer will have to be pinpoint and great, and I just don’t see that happening in this one.

Final: Seahawks 27, Cardinals 19

2016 Week 7 Predictions

I finally had a strong week last week (12-3), and kept it going with the Packers winning on Thursday night against a putrid Chicago team that just will not kindly piss off from these prime-time games.

Winners in bold:

  • Giants at Rams
  • Redskins at Lions
  • Browns at Bengals
  • Bills at Dolphins
  • Ravens at Jets
  • Vikings at Eagles
  • Colts at Titans
  • Saints at Chiefs
  • Raiders at Jaguars
  • Chargers at Falcons
  • Buccaneers at 49ers
  • Patriots at Steelers
  • Seahawks at Cardinals
  • Texans at Broncos

I fully expect the Denver defense to make Brock Osweiler look silly on Monday night. In a similar fashion, I think Minnesota’s defense will travel well to Philadelphia, and even if Sam Bradford doesn’t do a whole lot, he’ll have a better day than Carson Wentz as the Vikings continue their undefeated season. Finally, even though I think DeMarco Murray should go nuts and the Titans should beat Indy at home, we are talking about the Titans here. Somehow (say a GWD), some way (Andrew Luck to T.Y. Hilton), the Colts get a win in this one.

  • Week 1: 7-9
  • Week 2: 10-6
  • Week 3: 8-8
  • Week 4: 8-7
  • Week 5: 7-7
  • Week 6: 12-3
  • Season: 52-40

NFL Week 7 Predictions

No main theme this week. I’m just going to share a few thoughts straight from the gut on some of the Week 7 games.

Jaguars-Bills in London, Streamed by Yahoo

Even on a Sunday morning, I’d rather stream from xhamster than get up for this game.

Saints at Colts

Well, a repeat of 62-7 would at least get Chuck Pagano fired on Monday instead of after the season. I still think it’s going to happen, but this is a winnable game here. You can’t trust either defense at this point, but the Saints are a bit more trustworthy on offense in 2015. Interesting to see if a Rob Ryan defense is the cure for Andrew Luck’s 2015 ills. This could be the only time Luck and Drew Brees square off in what definitely could be a high-scoring game. I wouldn’t mind watching it live, but I have the next game at 1 p.m.

Steelers at Chiefs

Tell me this doesn’t sound like classic NFL as a Sunday night sentence:

The Steelers got past San Diego and Arizona with backup quarterbacks, yet couldn’t beat the lowly Chiefs, losers of five straight.

The weekly excitement of the NFL lives on twists and turns just like that one. What do you mean Landry Jones bombed in his first start? He was so good off the bench last week.

Yeah, but we’ve seen the hot backup off the bench before. It’s different when teams prepare for you. It’s different when you’re making your first start, have no real track record of being good — Jones was god awful in the preseason again — have a new left tackle, playing on the road against a defense that has talent despite its struggles. This is also exactly the kind of road game where the Steelers tend to struggle offensively. Think the Rams in Week 3. Think the Titans/Jags/Browns/Jets last year. Think about any trip to Oakland recently. If Ben Roethlisberger was playing, I think it’d be a blowout, but don’t expect to see him for another week. Jones got two great efforts from Martavis Bryant on touchdowns last week. He hit Antonio Brown on a back-shoulder throw. He showed confidence in making plays, but he is very dependent on the talent around him making plays. If the Steelers’ skill guys don’t show up big, I think the Chiefs can still this one. Regardless, I see a low-scoring, ugly game. Don’t forget the 2011 Tyler Palko game. Don’t forget the 2012 game where the Chiefs never had a lead all season and went up 10-0 on Pittsburgh. The Steelers never seem to handle their business well against this team.

Final score: Steelers 16, Chiefs 13

Jets at Patriots

It still frustrates me that the lowly 2014 Jets almost beat the Patriots twice last season, while the Patriots had no real problem in beating the Broncos and Colts in three games. The Jets have closed the gap this season and I think this is the game of the week to watch. It’s going to come down to turnovers. If the Jets can win that battle with their defense making some plays, then they have a great shot at the win. If they lose the turnover battle, they’re almost guaranteed to lose in Foxboro. Ryan Fitzpatrick hasn’t really been asked to win a game for the Jets this year. You could argue the Philadelphia game played out that way, and the results were miserable. Fitzpatrick is surrounded by pretty good talent with Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. The offensive line is playing very well. Chris Ivory is running great. Fitzpatrick just has to manage the talent around him and not make big mistakes. He’s doing that, but it’s also helped by defenses not cashing in his bad throws for takeaways. The Patriots do tend to capitalize on your mistakes, and that’s what worries me about the Jets in this game. I just expect Fitzpatrick to throw a bone-headed pick at the worst time, just as he did several times with the Buffalo Bills in games that were winnable against the Patriots.

Texans at Dolphins

Read another stat this week that helps summarize the worthlessness of the post-Dan Marino Dolphins. The Texans are 7-0 against the Dolphins. Miami has scored more than 20 points in just one of those games.

Well at least I think that streak ends tomorrow. Maybe it took the firing of Joe Philbin to remind this team that Lamar Miller is an asset in this offense. Either way, I’m just here for the DeAndre Hopkins fantasy points.

Cowboys at Giants

Can this be the most important game of the season for Dallas? I see maybe one win (at TB) without Tony Romo on this schedule. Getting a sweep of the Giants would be huge, but I don’t see it happening. The Giants and Eil Manning will atone for Week 1’s letdown and Monday night’s clusterfvck to beat Matt Cassel and Christine Michael at home. And yes, I refuse to board the Michael hype train until it actually leaves the damn station. Prove something first.

I feel like my Dallas chapter for Football Outsiders Almanac 2014 was written one year too early. It would have been perfect for this year’s team, because with the lack of depth behind the skill players, the results are exactly what was expected. That was the problem in just letting DeMarco go and going with the archaic setup of one standout wide receiver. Dez Bryant is great, but you can’t muster much offense with a corps of Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley and Devin Street. Those are role players that work better with Bryant on the field. Cassel is an upgrade over Brandon Weeden, but it’s not going to be enough this week.

2015 Week 7 Predictions

I had the Seahawks on TNF, and it was your typical SF-SEA matchup, which means the 49ers couldn’t score. It was the worst thing I watched on Thursday night that wasn’t named Heroes Reborn.

Winners in bold

  • Bills at Jaguars
  • Browns at Rams
  • Saints at Colts
  • Steelers at Chiefs
  • Jets at Patriots
  • Buccaneers at Redskins
  • Falcons at Titans
  • Vikings at Lions
  • Texans at Dolphins
  • Raiders at Chargers
  • Cowboys at Giants
  • Eagles at Panthers
  • Ravens at Cardinals

Season Results

  • Week 1: 10-6
  • Week 2: 6-10
  • Week 3: 14-2
  • Week 4: 11-4
  • Week 5: 9-5
  • Week 6: 8-6
  • Season: 58-33 (.637)

NFL Week 7 Predictions: Peyton Manning and the TD Record

If you’ve been following along on Twitter this week, you probably know I’ve had a major PC problem. I had some files backed up, but fortunately I was able to back everything up yesterday. So I haven’t lost any of the data I spend much of my time working on as a career and hobby. I’ll have a better PC this week, but for now I’m going to be brief on this week’s preview.

The Passing TD Record

Week 7 has a real solid schedule, but obviously the highlight game is SNF: 49ers at Broncos. Out of the 64 AFC-NFC matchups this year, this is one of the most likely to be a rematch in February. These teams have been among the best the past few years and this should be a competitive one, prime-time blowouts be damned.

There’s also some major NFL history at stake with Peyton Manning needing three touchdown passes to surpass Brett Favre (508).

Why is it major? There aren’t many more satisfying plays for a quarterback than to throw a touchdown pass. Throw a bunch of them and you’re going to have plenty of highlights and wins.

It’s also a record that rarely changes in NFL history. Here’s a chronology of the TD pass record since the start of the modern era in the NFL (1950):

  • 1950 (start of season) – Sammy Baugh, the first quarterback to ever throw 100 TDs, had 168 (retired with 187)
  • 12/10/1961 – Bobby Layne tied Baugh with his 187th TD pass
  • 9/23/1962 – Layne set record with 188th TD pass (finished with 196)
  • 12/1/1963 – Y.A. Tittle (we have to exclude his 1948-49 AAFC stats) tied Layne with his 196th TD pass and surpassed him with his 197th (finished with 212)
  • 9/18/1966 – Johnny Unitas tied and surpassed Tittle with four touchdowns against the Vikings (finished with 290)
  • 12/20/1975 – Fran Tarkenton tied and surpassed Unitas with two touchdowns against the Bills (finished with 342)
  • 11/20/1995 – Dan Marino tied Tarkenton at 242.
  • 11/26/1995 – Marino surpassed Tarkenton with four touchdowns against the Colts (finished with 420)
  • 9/23/2007 – Brett Favre tied Marino at 420.
  • 9/30/2007 – Favre surpassed Marino with two touchdowns against the Vikings (finished with 508)

Manning will be only the 8th quarterback in the post-WWII era to hold the record. With his finish to be determined, Drew Brees and Andrew Luck may be the only active players with a realistic shot to catch Manning some day.

Updating a table (click to enlarge) I first compiled months ago, here’s a look at the most TD passes in NFL history based on minimum distance (yards gained):

minTDdist

The table is easy to read and only includes regular-season touchdown passes. Peyton has thrown 111 touchdowns that gained at least 30 yards, the most of any quarterback ever.

If Manning’s next TD pass is at least 34 yards, he’ll break seven ties in the 2-34 range. He has a good shot to retire with his name in first on 1-40 yards. He also needs one 70+ TD pass to break that tie with Favre, but those are very rare.

Manning has 24 games with Denver with 3+ TD passes, so I think he’ll get it over with on Sunday night.

Final prediction: 49ers 20, Broncos 27

NFL Week 7 Predictions

Of course I had the Patriots on TNF, but that was much closer than expected.

Winners in bold:

  • Panthers at Packers
  • Falcons at Ravens
  • Vikings at Bills
  • Browns at Jaguars
  • Bengals at Colts
  • Dolphins at Bears
  • Saints at Lions
  • Titans at Redskins
  • Seahawks at Rams
  • Chiefs at Chargers
  • Giants at Cowboys
  • Cardinals at Raiders
  • 49ers at Broncos
  • Texans at Steelers

Road teams ruled last week, but I like many of the home teams this week (but not the homers that come with them).

Season Results

  • Week 1: 8-8
  • Week 2: 9-7
  • Week 3: 11-5
  • Week 4: 8-5
  • Week 5: 11-4
  • Week 6: 9-5-1
  • Total: 56-34-1

NFL Week 7 Predictions

As much as anyone thinks they have an understanding of the NFL, the game always produces some wild results few ever would have expected. That’s a big part of the league’s popularity.

When I look at Week 7, I see a few possibilities of “Any Given Sunday” taking place.

It would be so San Diego for the Chargers, after getting back to 3-3, to lose on the road to the worst team in football.

It would be so Jets/Patriots for Rob Gronkowski to make his long-awaited return and score a couple of touchdowns.

It would be so Ron Rivera to blow another fourth-quarter lead just when the Panthers have a schedule favorable enough to get to 4-3 by Thursday night.

It would be so Mike Munchak/bizarro Titans to stifle Colin Kaepernick, after the long travel from San Francisco, and get an upset win.

It would be so NFL if Case Keenum leads the Texans to an upset win over undefeated Kansas City, and with Alex Smith being the one who throws the pick six this week.

It would be so NFL if with everyone picking the Broncos to win, the game ends with an Adam Vinatieri field goal with 0:00 left as Andrew Luck leads his 10th game-winning drive to end Denver’s perfect season and Peyton Manning’s return. 

On paper very little of this should make sense, but that’s why they play the games, and that’s why we watch no matter how awful the matchup looks.

I’ll be watching Ravens/Steelers in the late afternoon slot. While I would love to say the Steelers get the win to get back into things this year, I see a significant mismatch in the trenches. Having watched a lot of Baltimore this year, I just feel like Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil are going to eat Pittsburgh’s tackles alive and Le’Veon Bell will have few holes to run through. There are big passing plays to be had on both sides, but I expect Joe Flacco to have more time to get to them and for Pittsburgh’s secondary to make more mistakes in covering them. Still, a low-scoring game is likely.

I’ll enjoy the night game, Judgment Day, but I really only see two possible outcomes:

  1. Peyton Manning dominates his former team (think 4-5 TD passes) and Von Miller has a nice return as the Broncos win easily (41-21).
  2. The Colts sustain long drives (rank No. 2 in plays per drive) to limit Manning’s possessions and are able to pull the game out late as Luck gets the ball last (31-28 Colts win).

I’ll try to enjoy the game either way, because the next two doses of football include Vikings at Giants and Panthers at Buccaneers. And yet we watch…

2013 NFL Week 7 Predictions

Moved to 7-0 on TNF with a pick of Seattle. However, there are many more challenging games this week.

Winners in bold:

  • Bills at Dolphins
  • Chargers at Jaguars
  • Bears at Redskins
  • Bengals at Lions
  • Patriots at Jets
  • Rams at Panthers
  • Cowboys at Eagles
  • Buccaneers at Falcons
  • 49ers at Titans
  • Browns at Packers
  • Ravens at Steelers
  • Texans at Chiefs
  • Broncos at Colts
  • Vikings at Giants

Season results:

  • Week 1: 11-5
  • Week 2: 12-4
  • Week 3: 8-8
  • Week 4: 9-6
  • Week 5: 9-5
  • Week 6: 11-4
  • Season: 60-32

NFL Week 7 Predictions, Dick LeBeau and Writing Recap

That was a historic week. Peyton Manning set the new mark for fourth quarter comebacks, which only changed record holders for the third time since 1963, and I wrote eight articles totalling over 24,000 words.

Think I need a bye week.

This Week’s Articles

Captain Comeback Week 6: Matt Ryan Passes Tom Brady For Best Record in the Clutch – Cold, Hard Football Facts

While Manning and the Denver Broncos had the Drive of the Week, there was a rare (or at least they used to be) blown lead of two scores in the fourth quarter by the Patriots. With Tom Brady unable to answer, he was surpassed by Matt Ryan (19-11) for the best record in NFL history at 4Q/OT drives to win games.

Peyton Manning is the NFL’s All-Time Leader in Fourth Quarter Comeback Wins – Cold, Hard Football Facts

With 37 4th quarter comeback wins, Peyton Manning now has the NFL record. Of course in classic comeback semantics style, he was asked in the post-game conference the following question: “Did you know you passed, or tied Marino for the most fourth quarter comebacks?” You can’t make this stuff up, just as the Broncos can no longer claim Elway had 47 comebacks. The comeback king lives in Denver, and this time it’s valid.

NFL Rookie QBs Off to Unprecedented Start – NBC Sports

The 2012 season is the first time five rookie quarterbacks started in Week 1, and Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill, Brandon Weeden and Russell Wilson continue to hold onto their jobs. They are off to one of the most productive starts in NFL history for a rookie class. I understand the table is not displaying properly in this article, so here is a picture of it.

2012 NFL Season is the Year of the Kicker – Bleacher Report

Did you know through 91 games kickers were on pace for the greatest kicking season ever? They have made 326 of 372 field goals (87.63 percent), which would be a new NFL record. A crazy fact: the top nine seasons in NFL history for FG percentage are the last nine seasons (2004-12). Find out what could be causing this.

Following a Legend: Andrew Luck Week 6 at New York Jets – Colts Authority

The second career road game, much like the first, for Andrew Luck did not go so well. A look at every drop back.

The Thinking Man’s Guide: NFL Week 7 Predictions – Bleacher Report

This week we take a look at Seahawks/49ers, and already a correct prediction on the 49ers holding up at home in a low-scoring game. Also: Joe Flacco is a much different QB on the road, Eli’s revenge on Washington, and the Steelers’ recent struggles in prime time.

Captain’s Challenge: Your Answers to the Top 5 Quarterbacks in NFL History – Cold, Hard Football Facts

Here are some of your answers and feedback on the challenge of using one stat to reflect the best top 5 group of QBs in NFL history. I still think 4QC wins does the best job, but some interesting choices also came up.

Don’t Believe Hype with Steelers’ Defense – NBC Sports

Steelers’ CB Ike Taylor asked us to look at the facts, so I did. Not only has the defense been blowing leads in the fourth quarter with regularity since 2007, but this was a big problem in Dick LeBeau’s first run as defensive coordinator in Cincinnati (1984-91). They allowed 27 game-winning drives in that span, tied for most in the NFL. Since 2007 the Steelers have allowed 20 (tied-2nd), and a whopping nine of them came with less than 0:40 left in the game. It’s a career trend, as is the constant failure against the elite QBs in the game.

This is one that can get at least two follow-up articles, so I’m not done yet.

One thing I’ll point out right now is why I didn’t include LeBeau’s 2004-2006 tenure into the stats.

For one, I do have a space limit, and already went over more than I should have on this piece. Two, I feel the problem has grown since Mike Tomlin became the head coach (2007), and I also know the game has statistically changed since that season in terms of passing efficiency.

LeBeau’s defense works great…if you want to win the AFC Central in 1995. But against today’s pass-heavy offenses with multiple receiver sets and little care to the running game, it is a lot easier to pick up his blitzes and throw against his CB cushions. If the scheme was still really that signficantly great, then why is it so dependent on one player (Troy Polamalu) to be there? Without Polamalu this defense is one of the worst in NFL history at creating takeaways.

As for the 2004-2006 seasons, let’s do a quick review for notable games.

2004

Week 1 vs. Oakland – in his first game back, LeBeau’s defense squandered a 21-10 lead in the fourth quarter, with Rich Gannong throwing a 38-yard TD pass on 4th and 12. Ouch. Fortunately, the offense put together a game-winning drive, using up 4:30 of the final 4:36 on the clock in a 24-21 win.

Week 4 vs. Cincinnati – Down 21-17, Carson Palmer threw a pick six late to Troy Polamalu, in what may have been the first big impact play of Troy’s career.

Week 6 at Dallas – Down 24-20, Vinny Testaverde only had 0:25 left at his own 35, but was able to get the ball to the PIT 30 for one final play. The Hail Mary was broken up in the end zone.

Week 11 at Cincinnati – Up 17-14, the Steelers made four stops in the fourth quarter, including forcing a late safety when Palmer was called for intentional grounding in the end zone.

Week 13 at Jacksonville – The Jaguars went 62 yards for a field goal to take a 16-14 lead with 1:55 left. Roethlisberger led the game-winning drive, and Byron Leftwich only had 0:11 left. He would complete a 19-yard pass to Jimmy Smith, but Josh Scobee was wide right on the 60-yard FG.

Week 15 at NY Giants – After the offense took a 26-24 lead, the Steelers allowed a 52-yard TD drive by the young Eli Manning. Giants led 30-26, but Ben led another go-ahead drive. With 3:31 left Manning’s deep ball was intercepted, and the offense converted two third downs to run out the clock.

Week 17 at Buffalo – Playing their backups, the Steelers forced a fumble of Drew Bledsoe, and a young James Harrison returned it for a touchdown to take a 26-17 lead.

AFC Divisional vs. NY Jets – After the offense tied the game 17-17, the defense allowed the Jets to drive, but Doug Brien missed a 47-yard FG with 1:58 left. Roethlisberger threw a big pick, but Brien missed it again. The Jets converted a 3rd & 13 in OT, but a holding penalty stalled their drive. The Steelers drove for the GW FG.

2005

Week 3 vs. New England – Down 13-10 in the 4th, Tom Brady led the Patriots on a 86-yard TD drive. They went 59 yards to add a FG (20-13). Roethlisberger led a game-tying TD drive. With 1:14 left Brady found two quick, easy completions to running backs, and Adam Vinatieri made the 43-yard GW FG with 0:01 left. It was a 37-yard drive.

Week 5 at San Diego – Down 14-13, Drew Brees led the Chargers 62 yards for a FG to take a 16-14 lead. Roethlisberger got the lead back with a 3-play TD drive. The defense allowed an 11-play, 62-yard TD drive to give up the lead again. Fortunately they stopped the 2pt conversion. More fortunately, the Steelers drove for the game-winning FG with only 0:06 left, so Brees didn’t have a third chance.

Week 6 vs. Jacksonville – Defense made a few stops in a tied game, but Tommy Maddox threw a game-ending pick six in OT.

Week 8 vs. Baltimore – Anthony “Radio” Wright led three straight FG drives in the 4th quarter to turn a 17-10 deficit into a 19-17 lead for Baltimore. Roethlisberger led the go-ahead FG drive, and the defense finally stopped Wright on a 4th and 6.

Week 9 at Green Bay – Up 13-10, the Steelers forced a 3 and out and a pick of Brett Favre.

Week 11 at Baltimore – With Maddox struggling at QB again, the Ravens went on a 30-yard drive in OT that ended with Matt Stover’s 44-yd GW FG.

AFC Divisional at Indianapolis – Despite leading 21-3, the Colts went on TD drives of 72 and 80 yards in the 4th QT, plus a 2-point conversion to make it 21-18. Getting the ball back, the Colts went 4 and out after two sacks of Manning. Jerome Bettis shockingly coughed the ball up, and Roethlisberger tackled Nick Harper. Manning completed two passes for 30 yards before rookie Bryant McFadden prevented a Reggie Wayne TD. Mike Vanderjagt missed a 46-yard FG.

Super Bowl XL vs. Seattle – Down 14-10, Seattle drove from their own 2-yard line to complete a pass to the 1-yard line, but Sean Locklear was called for holding. Three plays later Matt Hasselbeck threw an interception and the Steelers all but put the game away on Randle El’s touchdown to Hines Ward.

2006

Week 1 vs. Miami – Up 21-17, this one was a good hold to start the season. The defense intercepted Daunte Culpepper twice, including a pick six by Joey Porter to ice the game.

Week 3 vs. Cincinnati – Two fumbles led to two Carson Palmer touchdown passes on short fields in a comeback win for the Bengals. While the fumbles were bad, there’s no reason to give up one-play TD drives of 9 and 30 yards. Hold them to a field goal at least once. This was the season-long problem with the 2006 Steelers. The offense would turn it over, and the defense would compound it by allowing instant points. A perfect example here.

Week 7 at Atlanta – An unexpected shootout, the Steelers tied the game late 38-38. Michael Vick drove the Falcons, but Morten Andersen was short on a 52-yard FG. In OT Andersen made the GW FG from 32 yards out on the only drive of OT. Key play was Vick converting a 3rd and 9 for 26 yards to Alge Crumpler.

Week 10 vs. New Orleans – Another shootout with Brees, the Steelers took a 38-24 lead. The Saints went 64 yards, scoring on a “fumblerooski” play. Brees was driving late for the tie, but Terrance Copper fumbled at the PIT 25 after a huge hit from Tyrone Carter. Steelers won 38-31.

Week 11 at Cleveland – One of Roethlisberger’s best comebacks. Down 13-3, he led the offense 87 yards for a TD. Josh Cribbs returned the kickoff for a TD (20-10). Ben led another TD drive, then another with 0:32 left. Charlie Frye only had 0:27 left, but moved the ball to the PIT 22. On his last chance, Braylon Edwards could not complete the catch in the end zone.

Week 17 at Cincinnati – This turned into a 4th QT shootout. Down 7-3, Palmer went 80 yards, completing a 66-yard TD to the late Chris Henry. The Steelers went 63 yards for a TD (14-10). The Bengals came right back with a 73-yard TD drive (17-14). Steelers tied with a FG (17-17). With 0:55 left at his own 33, Palmer would find Henry deep for 47 yards. Shayne Graham was wide right on a 39-yard FG with 0:08 left, or else the Bengals would have won, made the playoffs, and another GWD against this defense. Instead the Steelers get the ball in OT and Santonio Holmes goes 67 yards for the TD to give a disappointing season a nice finish.

What do we see? Some good, some bad, and more of the offense bailing out the defense at the end. Things were better then than they have been in recent years, but it’s not the lockdown defense the stats show in terms of how many points and yards they allow. No one cares how many yards you gave up if you blow it at the end of the game.

2012 NFL Week 7 Predictions

I had the 49ers, so I’m already four wins away from matching last week’s awful total.

Winners in bold:

  • Titans at Bills
  • Cowboys at Panthers
  • Ravens at Texans
  • Browns at Colts
  • Cardinals at Vikings
  • Redskins at Giants
  • Packers at Rams
  • Saints at Buccaneers
  • Jets at Patriots
  • Jaguars at Raiders
  • Steelers at Bengals
  • Lions at Bears

Season results:

  • Week 1: 12-4
  • Week 2: 11-5
  • Week 3: 4-12
  • Week 4: 10-5
  • Week 5: 10-4
  • Week 6: 5-9
  • Season: 52-39