The NFL is approaching its halfway point of the season, and this is when things get chippy. People are starting to get fired, players are starting to get frustrated…. It’s all going down.
Take Carolina and Washington, for instance.
“This isn’t an indictment on any player but I think leadership in the locker rooms are probably one of the most underrated parts of this league because the talent level is so even,” said former Panthers’ GM Marty Hurney, taking an obvious swipe at Cam Newton and the rest of the roster. “You look at the winning teams and there are leaders in those locker rooms….”
“I don’t feel like he made that play,” Redskins’ corner DeAngelo Hall said of Eli Manning’s winning TD pass to Victor Cruz. “I feel we gave him that play. I could have thrown that ball and he would have scored. It wasn’t something where he was a rocket scientist and he figured something out.”
Things could get increasingly heated in Week 8 with divisional games between the Giants and Cowboys, 49ers and Seahawks, and Dolphins and Jets, plus a showdown between Michael Vick and his former Atlanta team.
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What could be in store for us this time around? Let’s take a look at the numbers to find out (all odds provided by Sportsbook.ag)
7.6 – Yards per pass attempt being averaged by Manning and the New York Giants this season, best in the NFL. They have allowed a mere six sacks, the fewest number in the league. Cruz ranks first among receivers in touchdowns, third in catches, and fourth in yards. The Giants are -2.5 favorites in an NFC East clash at Dallas on Sunday.
13 – Wins for Andy Reid, compared to zero losses, as head coach of the Eagles following a bye week. Philly is coming off one as it heads into a Sunday home date with the Falcons, who also enjoyed a bye in Week 7. The Eagles are expected to hand Atlanta its first loss of the season, favored by two points.
21 – Offensive touchdowns allowed by San Francisco in its past 16 games dating back to last season, the fewest of any team in that span. Interestingly, Arizona is second best with 22 offensive TDs given up in its last 16. Those two stout defenses test their metal against one another in a crucial NFC West collision on Monday night. The 49ers are seven-point road favorites and the “over/under” is set at a mere 37.5, by far the lowest of any game this week.
32 – Number of teams that passed on Maurice Jones-Drew in the 2006 NFL Draft, which is the reason why he chose that uniform number in Jacksonville. The Jaguars have not regretted their decision to eventually snag MJD in the second round at 60th overall, but he won’t be on the field for them Sunday at Green Bay. The star running back is out with a foot injury and he could miss “multiple games” according to ESPN insider Adam Shefter. Jacksonville is by far the biggest underdog of the week, getting 15.5 points.
34 – Percent of 180 polled NFL players who voted Tim Tebow as the most overrated player in the league. Second place in the most overrated poll is fellow Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez, tied with Tony Romo at eight percent of the vote. New York, which extended the Patriots to overtime last week, is a -2.5 home favorite against Miami in Week 8.
47 – Game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime engineered by Peyton Manning. One more (perhaps against the Saints on Sunday night) would pass Dan Marino and put Manning alone atop the all-time list in that category. “He is a football genius,” said New Orleans interim coach Joe Vitt, who will be at the helm of his team for the first time following suspension. The Broncos are favored by six points at home.
52 – Players on the Carolina Panthers roster, other than center Ryan Kalil, who probably don’t think they are going to win the Super Bowl this season. “If the other 52 guys don’t think that way, something is wrong,” head coach Ron Rivera said of Kalil’s pre-season guarantee that Carolina would win it all. “Not enough guys have stepped up,” added Rivera, whose team is 1-5. “There’s the inability that some people have to do that, but those that have it need to step up and put it on the line.” The Panthers are 7.5-point underdogs on Sunday at Chicago, making them the second biggest underdogs of the week behind Jacksonville.
6,500,000 – Estimated cost in dollars of the Justin Timberlake-Jessica Biel wedding that took place last Friday in southern Italy. Think that’s expensive? Well, it’s $68,500,000 less than the $75M impact Jim Harbaugh’s decision to decline a safety in last Thursday’s Niners-Seahawks game had on gamblers. Approximately 65 percent of the action was on San Francisco, which failed to cover the spread in a 13-6 victory after Harbaugh’s move with 43 seconds remaining. A 15-6 win would have allowed most bettors to cash in on a 49ers’ cover. The Seahawks, who have played more than their fair share of close ones this season, are two-point underdogs at Detroit in Week 8.
0 – Wins for the Colts in their last 10 road games dating back to last season. They are +3.5 underdogs at Tennessee.
6 – Completions of 20 yards or more allowed by New England against the Jets. The Pats are seven-point favorites against the Rams on Sunday in London.
13 – Turnovers by the Chargers in their last four contests. They are three-point favorites at Cleveland, which leads the AFC with 10 interceptions.
14-1 – Ben Roethlisberger’s home record against NFC opponents. Pittsburgh is a 4.5-point favorite against visiting Washington.