Friday, November 2, 2012
Final Word: AFC West
By Bill Williamson
Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 9:
Peyton Manning’s arm strength is fine: This makes you wonder how much pain Manning, who leads the Broncos to Cincinnati this week, was in during the 2010 season. He missed all of 2011 with a neck injury that led to four surgeries. In 2010, his final season with the Colts, Manning completed 27.6 percent of his throws longer than 20 yards, according to ESPN Stats & Information. In his first seven games this season, Manning is completing 51.9 percent of such throws. His accuracy is clearly better on deep throws post-surgery.
Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski hasn't missed from inside 40 yards in more than two years.
Scoring when it counts: Oakland has been terrific in the final two minutes of the first half. The Raiders -- who host Tampa Bay on Sunday -- have scored in the final two minutes of the first half in every game this season, notching three touchdowns and four field goals. Even more impressive, five of the scores have come with 49 or fewer seconds remaining.
Automatic from 40: If kicker Sebastian Janikowski lines up for a field goal attempt from 40 yards or shorter Sunday, just book three points for Oakland. Seabass is going to make it. He has made 43 consecutive field goals from inside 40 yards dating back to September 2010. Janikowski is 18-of-19 on field goal attempts this season. His only miss was a 64-yarder at the end of regulation against Jacksonville, a game Oakland won in overtime on a Janikowski field goal.
Denver goes tight end heavy: The Broncos had great success using multiple-tight end sets against New Orleans. I’d imagine they will try the same at Cincinnati on Sunday. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Manning was 16-of-20 for 252 yards and two touchdowns with two or more tight ends against the Saints. It was the most he'd played using multiple tight ends since 2008.
Broncos’ schedule easing: Going in the season, the Broncos had the second-toughest schedule in the NFL. Now, the meat of the schedule is behind Denver, which leads the AFC West at 4-3. The Broncos’ remaining opponents have a combined record of 22-42 -- giving Denver the easiest remaining schedule in the league.