Friday, October 5, 2012
Final Word: AFC South
By Paul Kuharsky
Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 5:
Favorable matchup: Per ESPN Stats and Info, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is not connecting on mid- to long-range throws. On balls in the air 15 yards or more, he’s at just 28.6 percent and has not completed more than two such passes in a single game. But the Colts could help cure that. The Colts' secondary talent is an issue even when they are fully stocked. Now they may be without starter Vontae Davis and nickel back Justin King. That would mean big roles for Cassius Vaughn and newcomer Darius Butler. Provided the Packers can hold Robert Mathis, and maybe a limited Dwight Freeney, Rodgers could have favorable matchups to exploit.
Houston's defense could provide more headaches for struggling Jets QB Mark Sanchez.
Can the Jets score enough? Based on the Texans' play so far, we have to wonder. The Texans lead the NFL in point differential at plus-70 through four games. It's the highest point differential through a team's first quarter of games since the Saints were plus-78 in 2009, when they won the Super Bowl. The challenge for a Jets offense now without injured receiver Santonio Holmes will be to break through. The Texans are allowing a league-low 14.0 points per game. The Jets just endured the third-worst home shutout loss in team history, a 34-0 defeat to the 49ers. They gained just 145 yards, their fewest since 1997.
Third down is difficult: The Bears have been very stingy defending third-down this season, allowing a conversion rate of only 26.1 percent. When opponents pass on third down, that rate drops to 21.6. That’s not good news for Jacksonville, as quarterback Blaine Gabbert is the league’s 28th- rated passer on third down, connecting on only 48.6 percent of his throws for an average of 3.59 yards per attempt.
Not allowing plays: The Titans have just one interception and six sacks this season. Vikings second-year quarterback Christian Ponder has not been intercepted yet this season. But he’s playing largely risk-free. His average pass is travelling 5.4 yards downfield, more than a yard shorter than the next lowest quarterback. Since the start of 2008, only five qualified quarterbacks finished a season with an average throw distance below 6.0 yards, with none making the playoffs. The Titans have played a passive defense concerned with big pass plays. Here’s a great chance for them to be far more aggressive.
Also: The Packers have never won at Indianapolis, losing all three meetings since the Colts relocated from Baltimore. The Packers' last road win against the Colts came in 1974 at Baltimore. … The Jaguars have just two sacks in four games, last in the NFL. … Bears quarterback Jay Cutler has played far better with his team ahead than behind this season. … Matt Hasselbeck is 1-3 in his career against the Vikings with the last meeting coming in Week 11 of the 2009 season as a member of the Seahawks. Seattle lost 35-9.