First round QBs in the NFL Draft may disappear.

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Not that long ago most NFL teams gave a rookie QB 2 or 3 years to mature and learn the game. However, that has changed in recent years and it may be changing again.

First round QBs are expected to start quickly and some of them are able to do that. The recent success of Roethlisberger (PT), Sanchez (NJ), and Ryan (AT) make us forget the list of those that have crashed and burned in recent years.

We start with 2007 because it is too soon to evaluate players being a bust from the 08 or 09 drafts.

2007-1st pick JaMarcus Russell Oakland Russell has thrown a total of 18 TDs and 23 picks since joining the league. He has a career passer rating of 65.2. In the 2010 draft the team traded for Campbell to replace him.

2007-22nd pick Brady Quinn Cleveland He didn’t get thrown into the game immediately but that still didn’t help him. In 3 years he had a rating of 66.8. He was traded to Denver this year for a bucket of water. They were so impressed with Quinn that they used a 1st round pick on QB Tim Tebow.

2006-3rd pick Vince Young Tennessee His first 2 years he was the starter and had passer ratings of 66.7 and 71.1. He got benched in 08 and the first part of 09 but came back after learning a little more about the game and had some success.

2006-10 Matt Leinart Arizona He started in game 5 of 06 and threw 11 TDs but 12 picks. He ended that year with a QBR of 74. He was named the starter in 07 but was done after 5 games with a QBR of 61.9. He has started 1 game since. He will have to fight for the job this year because the Cards traded for Anderson after Kurt Warner retired.

2006-11th Jay Cutler Denver Cutler was quite successful in his first 3 years with QBRs of 88.5, 88.1 and 86.0 before wearing out his welcome forcing a trade to Chicago. There he threw 27 TDs but 26 picks and a QBR of a mediocre 76.8.

2005-1st overall Alex Smith San Francisco Smith started the last 5 games of 05 and all of 06. But 7 games into 07 he was pulled for an undrafted FA. Even with a QBR in 09 of 81.5 his career number is 69.2. In his first 3 seasons he threw 19 TDs but 31 picks.

2005-25th Jason Campbell Washington Campbell sat out 05 but started 7 games in 06, 13 games in 07 and every game since. Despite improving his stats each year, he was traded to the Raiders this season for a 4th round pick in 2012. That is the equivalent of a 6th round pick this draft.

So in the 3 seasons we looked at, there were 7 first round QBs picked and only Cutler has been successful enough to be named a replacement pro bowler after a couple of others backed out. Young may be on the upswing after sitting for a year and a half. The rest were pretty much busts. Those busts set their teams back several seasons except the Cards that had future Hall of Fame QB Warner in reserve.

So what is the problem? There are several factors that are making the drafting of a QB in the first round less likely now and perhaps prohibitive in the near future.

The first cause is cost. The price of a QB as the 1st pick in 2010 will be 50 million in cash guarantees. Bradford will get that even if he never plays a down for the Rams. The Rams were willing to take offers to trade down but even in an uncapped year there were no serious bids for the pick.

The more pressing issue is the spread offense of the College game. More and more college teams are using a version of the spread and QBs that play 3 or 4 years in that system are not at all prepared to come to the NFL.

The pass patterns that the spread runs are very limited. The most frequent pattern is the bubble screen. There are very few teams that use the route tree like that of the NFL. The favorite pattern in the NFL is the skinny post. Very few college QBs even know what that is.

WRs are wide open in college but are not open at all in the NFL. As a result, QBs are not forced to make the throw to the back shoulder of a WR. There is accuracy in college but that does not relate to accuracy in the NFL.

The average QB is in the shotgun 90+ percent of the time. They never have to worry about the 3, 5, and 7 step drop back. Footwork is critical to accuracy and almost none of the QBs coming into the league have consistent footwork.

The CBs that an NFL QB faces every week are better than any that a college QB in his career. The college kid has seldom seen a rotating zone or combination man/zone D. Those are used every week in the NFL.

The worst part of the spread is that QBs never have to make more than 2 reads of the defense. Bradford was not even looking at the D prior to the snap. He was always looking for the coach’s call from the sideline. It takes time to learn to do pre-snap reads. An NFL QB has to know where the pressure is likely to originate and has to adjust to it.

The more the rookie 1st round QBs cost the more pressure there is to put them under center Day 1. But given the complexities of the NFL defenses and the lack of NFL offenses in college, the more expensive QB is less prepared to come into the league.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He is a regular contributor on Cleveland Sports Radio http://www.sportstalkcleveland.com/ Monday afternoons at 1 Eastern. He has also published several novels on

and edits .

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What to look for in the Sunday Divisional round games.

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Cowboys @ Vikings

Cowboys

Prior to this season the Boys folded in December. When JJ issued his threat to blow up the team and the coaching staff this season unless the Boys got into the playoffs and did well, the team got the message. This team has played a lot better than they did in previous seasons but I am not on the Boy bandwagon yet.

The O has been solid but the last two games were played against an Eagle D that seemed to give up after being in a position to win the NFC East. In the upset win over the Saints, QB Romo had a QB rating of 104. In the two games against the Eagles he had ratings of 86.1 and 106. That is a great improvement over last year when he finished the year with ratings of 44.9, 66.2 and 55.8 in the 3 losses. The improved Romo is the key to difference in this years team. The Boys will need as much passing as he can generate because they will not be able to get much on the ground against the Vikes.

RB Jones ran for 148 yards but that is misleading. Take out the two long runs and he had a 4 yard average. That is VERY average. Starter Barber is probable but is coming off a knee and won’t be close to 100%.

The other key to the turnaround is the play of the O line. The line had been living on an undeserved rep. In the latter part of the season they started to play up to that rep. They will have to against an outstanding D line of the Vikes.

The Cowboy D has also had the habit of playing up or down to the competition. The key will be pressure on QB Favre. If they can pressure him, they will have a chance. The pass D ranked 20th giving up over 200 yards per game. Balanced offenses give them problems. The Vikes can be very balanced when they chose to be.

Vikings

The Vikes tend to throw too much on O. That habit tends to get them in trouble. QB Favre can light up the scoreboard but can also throw enough picks to kill the team’s playoff hopes. The Vikes ended the season just 2-3 in December including an embarrassing loss to the Panthers. Favre had a passer rating of 73.7 in that loss. The team ranked 8th in passing.

The running game is solid with the leagues best back Peterson. But he has 1 100 yard game in the last half of the season. The O line had not been opening holes for the running game and Peterson has gotten beaten up. Peterson has to get over 100 yards for the Vikes to win. That is going to require the O line to play at a higher level. G Hutchinson is probable for the game. He would help the O line a great deal.

The Viking D is solid as well. It ranks 2nd against the run but 19th against the pass. The key to the Vikes winning the game is shutting down the Boys running game and forcing Romo into mistakes. Given enough pressure, he will make errors.

This is a very hard game to call but I think the Vikes have just enough to beat the Boys. The Cowboys will not be able to run and will not be able to keep up with Favre and the Vikes.

Jets @ Chargers

Jets

The Jets beat a Bengals team that was inexperienced in the playoffs. That is not the case with the Chargers. The game will depend on how hot Jet QB Sanchez can get. The Jets took advantage of an easy schedule and even then needed gifts from both the Bengals and the Colts to get into the playoffs. The O has the top ranked running game. That is a good thing because in the last 3 weeks of the season, Sanchez had passer ratings of 49.7, 78, and 60.2 and threw just 1 TD with 9 picks. That is not going to scare experienced playoff teams. RB Thomas is their top guy but he had only 3 100 yard games in the last half of the season. He is 31 and they hope it is not an indication that he is showing his age.

The Jets are going to have to be able to throw better than that to win.

The Jet D ranked 1st in scoring D, passing D and yards. They are 8th against the run. They have been playing very well under Coach Ryan. However, they have not beaten an O like they will against the Chargers.

Chargers

QB Rivers has had an outstanding season. He has a passer rating of 104. The running game is ranked 31st which caused Rivers to throw a lot. The passing game is ranked 5th. He has a solid group of receivers WRs Jackson and Floyd and TE Gates. The running game has Tomlinson but he is a shadow of what he was a few years ago. Neither he nor RB Sproles has gotten the running going. The Chargers used the franchise tag on Sproles. That was a mistake because he will never be able to be a starting RB. The O line came together after recovering from early season injuries. It still can not run block.

The Charger D is middle of the road in terms of yards but ranks 11th in scoring D. NT Scott is their 3rd guy in that spot but has come on nicely. The loss of All Pro NT Williams has reduced the ability to stop the run and the team ranks 20th in that department. They are 11th against the pass and have a pair of pro bowl LB in Merriman and Phillips. They have not played up to their rep this season. The D backfield is led by CB Cromartie. The D can play at a very high level but is inconsistent.

Given all that, the Chargers should be able to score on the Jets through the air. I am not sure that QB Sanchez can keep up with Rivers. The Chargers win.

Your fantasy football doesn’t have to be over. Run a pro football franchise all year long for free at . Tell them Coach Smith sent you.

26-7.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

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What to look for Saturday in the Wild Card round.

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The Coaching Carousel

Seahawks—Mora is out and rumors are flying that USC Coach Carroll will be his replacement. I believe that will happen. However, in compliance with the NFL policy of requiring an interview of at least one minority candidate, the team has asked to interview others. The Hawks were 10-6 and in the playoffs in 07 but stumbled to 4-12 last year under then lame duck coach Holmgren. Mora had been named “HC in waiting” in the 08 pre season and took over to begin the 09 season. He went 5-11.

Raiders—The Cable will be cut. HC Tom Cable is hanging on by a thread. And worse yet, Owner Davis is standing above him with a pair of scissors. Cable doesn’t have much respect in the locker room or in the bosses office. He asked for a meeting with benched former 1st pick over all QB Russell but the later blew his coach off and left town. Cable will be gone soon.

Jets @ Bengals

The Jets beat Cincy 37-0 in week 17. That will not be the case in the Wild Card round. There is no chance that Bengal QB Palmer will cooperate like he did in that game completing just 1 out of 11 attempts. Also, Cincy RB Benson was held out of that game. He will play Saturday.

Jets

The Jets will rely on the running game because they don’t trust their rookie QB Sanchez. He has not thrown a TD in the last 2 games. Since week 8 he has thrown 4 TDs and 10 picks. The running game is built around 2 pro-bowl players (C Mangold and G Faneca) on the line and RB Jones carrying the rock. He has scored 14 TDs (because they didn’t trust Sanchez throwing in the red zone) but has only averaged 4.2 per attempt. The Bengals held Jones to 2.9 per carry in the game last week. That was similar to his production against the Falcons where he was held to 2.7 per attempt. If he can not reach 4 per carry, the Jets will lose. The danger is that they will fall behind without passing and be forced to throw the ball. That will cost them a win as well.

The Jet D has played well over their heads. HC Ryan has inspired the D to become the #1 D in the league. However that ranking is a bit misleading. They had a schedule where the teams against whom they played were not up to their 08 level. In their division neither the Bills nor the Dolphins were healthy enough to reach their 08 performance. Their non-division opponents like the Panthers were down as well. CB Revis is a pro-bowl player and is the classic shut down corner. He will be on WR OchoCinco. But there are 2 big questions. 1 Can the Jets get pressure on Palmer and 2 can they stop the running of Benson and company? To win they will have to do both.

Bengals

This team has to have a short memory because they stunk the place up last week. But they were resting a number of their top players. The motivation will be significantly greater this week. Palmer has to be more accurate. But more than that, the receivers have to catch the ball. Out of his 10 incompletions last week he had 5 drops.

Benson will be the key to the game. If the O line can give him just a little room, the Jets will be chasing Benson all day long. That is the key to keeping the D honest and giving Palmer time to throw.

Defensively, they need to force the Jets into 3rd and long. That means shutting down the run on 1st and 2nd down.

Even though the Jets won easily last week, I am picking the Bengals to win. I don’t think Sanchez is up to the challenge of the playoffs.

Eagles @ Cowboys

Eagles

The Birds laid an egg last week in Dallas or this game would have been in Philly. The biggest question of all is the health of RB Westbrook. If he is healthy or even 90%, the Birds have a good chance to win. If not the Boys will get to the divisional round. Philly needs him in the passing game as much as they need him to run the ball. He takes a lot of heat off of WR Jackson and opens up the passing game. He is also the relief valve for QB McNabb. The Birds allowed 4 sacks in each of their last 2 games and that has to stop if they are going to win. Westbrook had 20 catches in last weeks game.

Pass protection is critical against a revitalized Boys D.

The Eagle D has played well but rested several of their key player last week. They have to get in Romo’s face and stop the run to win. DTs Patterson and Bunkley have to keep the blockers off MLB Trotter to be successful.

Cowboys

The O has been playing much better down the stretch than they did in the past few seasons. Romo has not thrown the picks he has in the past after Dec. 1. After following their previous script losing the first 2 games, they won the last 3 including last week 24-0 over the Eagles. Romo has thrown 9 TDs with just 2 picks since 12/1. That is significantly better than he has done in the last 3 years when he was the starter. The running game has gotten better in the second half of the season as well. From week 11 on RB Barber has carried at least 14 times a game. He is averaging 4.4 per attempt. Romo needs the running game to work in order to be effective.

The Boys D has been different in the last few weeks also. HC Phillips took over the D and made a great difference. The Boys blitz more and have been more effective at getting to the QB. The D shut out both the Redskins and Eagles in the last 2 weeks. CBs Jenkins and Newman have to keep WR Jackson in their sights. When the Boys blitz, they will have to cover Jackson man to man. That can burn them.

The D won’t have to worry too much about the run because the Eagles won’t run much.

I have believed that the Boys would fall on their face in December 09 and they fooled me. But I no longer believe in the Eagles. The Boys will win.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

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  • Author:
  • Published: Dec 12th, 2009
  • Category: NFL Football
  • Comments: Comments Off on What to look for in the NFL for week 14.

What to look for in the NFL for week 14.

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Saints @ Falcons The Saints are undefeated and were rolling until they had a lucky win over the Redskins. If the Saints play the same way they did last week, the winning streak could end. Otherwise if QB Ryan is not playing for the Falcons, this game will be over quickly.

Packers @ Bears Both teams are struggling to overcome injuries. The Pack will be missing NT Pickett and might be without DE Jolly and LB Barnett. The Bears lost MLB Urlacher early in the season. In addition they may be without WR Hester, OT Pace, LB Briggs and DL Harris.

The Bears have not gotten the production out of QB Cutler that they expected. Part of that is his fault but part is due to a lack of a running game, below average protection, and drops by a lesser group of receivers that he had at Denver.

The Pack has playoff hopes and must win this game to keep their wild card chances alive. The D has been playing well particularly in their win last Monday against the Ravens. They still have to play at Pittsburgh and Arizona. They need this game in case they lose one or both of those games. Packers will win but it could be ugly.

Broncos @ Colts The Colts looked good against Tennessee last week after struggling to pull out a win over the Texans the week before. The Colts seem to play up or down to the competition but are still perfect. They have clinched their division and have only home field to worry about now. They have an easy schedule the rest of the way.

The Broncos are a game behind the Chargers in the division. Their 6-0 start is a distant memory since they have lost 4 out of the last 5. The win last week against a very weak Chiefs team was little help. The Broncos have an easy schedule after this game but need to stay close to top of the division but at 8-4 they are in good shape for a wild card. The big question for them is will QB Orton be playing? If not, it will get ugly for them quickly. Either way, the Colts should win at home.

Chargers @ Cowboys Both teams need this game to stay on top of their division. It should be a very fun game to watch. The Chargers are up by 1 game and the Boys are tied with the Eagles. Both have injuries. The key for the Boys will be containing the passing game of the Chargers. The visitors must pressure Boy QB Romo to slow down a good O. The Chargers should win if LB Merriman is healthy enough to play. Otherwise it’s a tossup.

Eagles @ Giants The Birds need a win to keep pace with the Boys. The Giants are a game behind both and need to win out to insure a shot at the post season. Giant QB Manning is limping on a bad foot but the O seems to play better at home.

The Eagles won 40-17 in their earlier meeting. But they had Westbrook then and he is sidelined with a concussion. After a disaster in week 10 against the Chargers, the Birds have won 3 straight. They looked very good last week against the Falcons.

While the Birds need this game but the Giants need it more. But the O fails the Giants who are struggling to run the ball this year and the Eagles win on the road.

GAME OF THE WEEK: Bengals @ Vikings This is a key game for Cincy. It is a chance to prove that they are a contender not a pretender. A win over the NFC North leader will clinch the AFC North for Cincy. But even more important is the ability to prove that they are among the very best in the league. The key for Cincy will be run blocking. If they can manage to run the ball against the Vikes, it will slow down the pass rush and allow the Bengals to balance their O.

The Vikes have looked solid except for a bad game last week at the Cards. The last 4 game are critical for the Vikes if they want to get the 2nd seed and a bye week in the post season. The game should be close but I can’t see the Bengals pulling it out. The Vikes win by a field goal.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

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  • Author:
  • Published: Nov 18th, 2009
  • Category: NFL Football
  • Comments: Comments Off on What did we learn this weekend?

What did we learn this weekend?

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College football:

TCU is REALLY good.

#4 TCU played #16 Utah and blew them out 55-28. Everybody expected the TCU O to be outstanding but their speed on D is as good as any team in the country. They have everything they need to beat Texas and probably Florida as well. Alabama is the one team above them that could give them real trouble. The power running game of Bama combined with the very big O line might be able to win the game.

TCU goes to Wyoming (5-5) then gets winless New Mexico at home. Neither will provide much competition.

#1 Florida and #2 Alabama set the date.

The stage is set for the top 2 teams in the BcS to play for the right to go to the big game. The winner of the SEC Championship game on Dec. 5th will get the bid. The loser will likely be named an at large BcS bowl game team. Both come in a little banged up from nice wins last week.

Florida won a tough game at South Carolina 24-14. They will take on Florida State after an easier game this weekend against Florida International.

Bama beat Mississippi St. last week 31-3. It has a date at Auburn on 11/27. Auburn has lost 4 games but only 1 at home.

BcS’s worst nightmare

If either SEC team loses their rivalry game then win the SEC Championship it would open the door for TCU who hangs like an unwelcome buzzard over a wounded animal.

Texas looks good for a ticket to the BcS big game.

The Horns beat a badly over matched Baylor team 47-14. They have to play Kansas at home before traveling to Texas A&M next weekend. Kansas was 5-0 after winning their Big12 opener against Iowa St. but then have lost 5 games in a row. They still can be dangerous for any team that over looks them.

TAM is 4-1 at home and can also be dangerous in the season ending rivalry game.

Ohio State wins a ticket to the Rose Bowl.

The Bucks are playing as well as they have any time in the last 2 years. QB Pryor seems to be more comfortable in the offense that is more aligned to his abilities that it was earlier in the year. The D seems to have found its pass rush which was missing in action at Purdue.

Around the NFL:

Indy is the lone AFC Undefeated

The Colts came back after a major gaff by Belichick to win by a single point over New England. Indy is not a perfect team. Given the injuries on D, they will be at risk of upset by a passing team with some running game like Cincy, the Pats or San Diego. But they now have the inside track to home field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs which is critical to their success. They are not a team that is built to play in the cold winds of the North East in January.

The Bengals take 1 giant step toward the playoffs.

By sweeping the Steelers and Ravens the Bengals need only another win over 1-8 Browns to be perfect in the AFC North. They will make the playoffs and should have a home game in round 1.

The Bills fire coach Jauron.

Dick Jauron is one of the great D Coordinators in the history of the league. He just has not been able to equal that success at the head coach level. The Bills are going after the usual suspects including Shanahan and Holmgren.

The Cleveland Tans formerly known as the Browns are REALLY BAD!!!!

Will the person that stole Mangenous’ crystal ball please return it—no questions asked. Several sources are predicting that if Mangini loses to the lowly Lions this week, he is history. That would be a good think. Owner Lerner wants to bring in a “football guy” to oversee the operation and has leaked Holmgren as his top pick for that spot. He had better hurry if that is the guy he wants.

What the Browns should do about a coach.

Personally, I don’t get Holmgren as the GM/VP Operations. Mike was stripped of his GM duties in Seattle after a less than stellar series of drafts. I would fire Mangini now and have him take OC Daboll with him. They should name DC Ryan as interim head coach and grab Jauron as the DC. Then QB coach Smith would become OC and former QB now consultant Kosar should work with the QBs.

That would give the team time to find a permanent coach if Ryan doesn’t work out. I do believe that the locker room would get a lot better with Ryan as the HC. The D has played hard for him even with the miserable work of the O.

Al Davis FINALLY benches QB Russell.

The Raiders announced that Gradkowski will start over Russell. It’s about time!!!

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

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  • Author:
  • Published: Oct 24th, 2009
  • Category: NFL Football
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Around the NFL for 10/24/09

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There are some critical games this weekend that will define the leaders at the half way post of the season.

Vikes @ Steelers

The Steelers are behind the Bengals by virtue of their loss to Cincy a couple of weeks ago. They need to keep winning not only to insure they win the AFC North but because they don’t want to go to either Indy or New England in the playoffs. This will be a real test for them. They have not been dominate on the ground for a couple of years and it won’t do much against one of the best D lines in the league. The Steelers will rely on the arm of Roethlisberger. On D they will have to balance their efforts to both control the running of Peterson and the passing of Favre.

The Vikes will be at a disadvantage against the pass as all pro DB Winfield is out for the game. Look for them to rely more on the run with AP and keep the Steeler O off the field. The O line of the Vikes has not produced up to their billing blocking for the run. AP is averaging only 5.1 which is below his lofty standards. The line will have to get to the linebackers if AP is going to be successful.

The Vikes passing game has not produced the yards per game that Favre is used to but he has no complaints. The best WR is Rice who averages over 17 yards per catch. Harvin is expected to play and he is outstanding as well. The Vikes should win this game on the road and keep their record perfect.

Falcons @ Cowboys

The Falcons come off an exciting win over the Bears and will face the division leading Saints next week. That is a classic sandwich game. The Birds will have to be focused on this game because the Boys are dangerous particularly at home. The Bird O is only average because the running game has not been up to what it produced last year. RB Turner was outstanding last year but is only averaging 3.5 per carry this season. Part of that is due to a chest injury that has limited his practice. Another aspect is that teams are game planning to stop him after his first big year as a starter. The result is that they are getting less than 100 yards per game on the ground. That puts a lot more pressure on the passing game of QB Ryan.

The Falcons D has played well at times but tends to struggle against really good teams that can run the ball. To make matters worse, they have lost both starting S. The front 7 will have to keep the Boys ground game under control and put pressure on the QB.

The Boys have been as inconsistent as any team in the league. QB Romo is struggling but the team passes almost twice as often as they run despite both backs averaging more than 5 yards per attempt. Romo will have to stop throwing picks and get more accurate in the 4th quarter. He has not come through in close games and that is preventing him from getting into the top 10 of NFL QBs.

The D has been playing OK but not great. The team is 3-2 and needs to keep winning to stay competitive in the NFC East. The Falcons will win when Romo throws another pick late in the game.

Bears @ Bengals

Both teams come in needing a win. The Bears are in 3rd behind both the Pack and the Vikes at 3-2 2.5 games behind the latter. They suffered a tough loss last week at Atlanta. While the passing game has been fine with QB Cutler, the running game has struggled. RB Forte is averaging a poor 3.4 per carry. That has resulted in the Bears averaging less than 90 yards per game rushing. They have to do better.

The Bear D has had a lot of injuries losing MLB Urlacker to the IR and star DT Harris is doubtful for the game. Because of the injuries the Bears will struggle to stop the running game of the Bengals averaging 113 yards per game.

The Bengals were playing very well but looked more like the Bungles in a loss last week to the Texans. That cost them sole possession of 1st place in the AFC North. The Steelers are just a half game behind in the tie breaker because they lost to Cincy. The O is going to have to give Palmer better protection than they did last week. RB Benson has been a jewel. He has given the team the first real rushing threat in several years.

This game will tell us which Bengals team is likely to play the rest of the season. Is it the team that beat the Steelers and Ravens or the one that blew the game to the Texans? I think it is the former and the Bengals win at home.

Saints @ Dolphins

The Dolphin D won’t be able to handle the O of New Orleans and the Saints win.

Cards @ Giants

I love QB Warner. He is one of the best in the league. But the Arizona D is so inconsistent that I can’t bet on the Cards getting the win on the east coast. The Giants win in a shoot out.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

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