Friday, October 19, 2012
Final Word: AFC South
By Paul Kuharsky
Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 7:
Best versus best: Houston and Baltimore are the only two AFC teams currently over .500. While those two teams are a combined 10-2, the rest of the AFC is only 31-49. According to Elias, this is the furthest into any season that either conference had as few as two teams with winning records. In fact, neither conference had ever made it past two weeks like that. Counting last season’s playoff win, the Ravens are 6-0 all time against the Texans. Houston gave up six passing touchdowns in its first five games, then six more last week in a blowout loss to the Packers.
Better start: As the Jaguars head to Oakland, they need a plan that will help them get out to a lead, or at least score more early. The Jaguars have scored only two first-quarter touchdowns in their past 16 games. Their record in those games is 5-11. Since Week 6 of last season, only the Cardinals (in 17 games) and the Colts (in 16 games) have scored as few offensive touchdowns in the first 15 minutes of games.
It will be a rare battle of rookie quarterbacks when the Colts' Andrew Luck and Cleveland's Brandon Weeden meet on Sunday.
Young quarterbacks: With Andrew Luck and Brandon Weeden set to square off, this is the first matchup between two of the five rookie quarterbacks to start a game this season. (Since 1950, no more than three rookie quarterbacks started in Week 1 in a season before this year.) Luck is fifth in the league in passing yards per game (297.6), and his 1,488 passing yards are the second-most ever by a rookie through his team’s first five games (Cam Newton had 1,610 last season). Luck needs to be conscious and wary of Browns cornerback Joe Haden. Though a suspension kept him out of four games, he’s gotten his hands on a bunch of passes already.
Roving threat: Last week the Titans felt fortunate to avoid free-lancing Pittsburgh safety Troy Polamalu. This week they run into Buffalo’s Jairus Byrd, who’s similar in his freedom to judge passes and go make plays. He had two interceptions last week in the Bills’ win over the Cardinals, including the takeaway from John Skelton in overtime that set up the game-winning field goal. Matt Hasselbeck needs to be aware of where Byrd is, and conscious of the safety’s ability to close on a play.
Also: Over the past five seasons, when Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis has been out, the team has actually allowed the same yards per rush (3.6), and its average yards per play and yards per pass play have been lower. … Look for Houston QB Matt Schaub to test the middle of the Ravens' defense. Among quarterbacks with significant snaps, only Hasselbeck (54.5) has thrown more of his passes within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage and inside the numbers than Schaub (48.6). … Texans WR Andre Johnson has dropped a pass once every five targets this season on throws more than 10 yards downfield. The previous three seasons Johnson dropped a pass once every 31 targets on such throws. … The Browns have lost 10 straight road games, one shy of the franchise record (from 1974-76). Cleveland’s 10-game road losing streak is tied with the Colts' for the longest active streak in the NFL. The Colts, meanwhile, have won four of their past five at home. … Weeden leads the NFL with 10 interceptions, but the Colts have only two picks this season. … Since Week 8 of the 2010 season, the Titans have 12 road losses, tied for the second-most among AFC teams.