There are of course 32 teams in the NFL. Do you realize there are only 11 with winning records entering Week 11? That's the fewest number of winning teams this late in the season in 25 years. Two divisions, the AFC South and NFC East, don't have any clubs in that category. The 2-7 Dallas Cowboys are still in the NFC East race, and the 4-6 Jacksonville Jaguars (after Thursday's win over the Titans) could be tied for first in the AFC South by Sunday evening.
The NFL loves itself some parity, and that's really happening this year. There are 23 teams with a 4-5 record or better but none with zero or one win. Last Sunday saw six Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks lose a game: Eli Manning, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Joe Flacco and Russell Wilson. That's the most in one week in NFL history.
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This week could be even more unpredictable in some ways because it appears six backup quarterbacks will be starting in Denver's Brock Osweiler, Houston's T.J. Yates, San Francisco's Blaine Gabbert (his second straight start), Indianapolis' Matt Hasselbeck (third start of season), Philadelphia's Mark Sanchez and St. Louis' Case Keenum. Entering this week, it is expected that 11 teams will have had to use backup quarterbacks because of injuries to their starters this year (Rams aren't making their change due to injury). The Steelers and Cowboys have had to use two different backups. The backups are 6-17 so far with 19 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. In the 2014 season, only nine teams had to start backups because of injuries to their regular starting quarterback. In 2013, it was 10 teams.
Very disappointing batch of Bovada Week 11 specials, but there are props offered on how Osweiler and Keenum fare Sunday. Here are some line moves or potential game-changing injury notes for Week 11. I looked at Broncos-Bears in my Opening Line Report so won't here but that has had the biggest line move, from Broncos -2 to Bears -1. I predicted that.
Jets at Texans (+2.5, 44.5): I found one book that had this spread up early in the week when Brian Hoyer's status was still up in the air due to a concussion he suffered in Monday's surprising win over unbeaten Cincinnati. The Texans were listed as -1 then, but he's not playing and you see the movement with Yates making his first start since a divisional-round playoff loss to Baltimore following the 2011 regular season. That's how bad quarterback play is in the NFL these days in that the Texans signed Yates basically off his couch in late October after the team released Ryan Mallett. Yates was released by the Falcons in the final cuts just before this season began. He did play fairly well after replacing Hoyer in the third quarter on Monday, including hitting DeAndre Hopkins on the winning TD pass early in the fourth quarter. But now the Jets have a full week to prepare for him. Jets QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, who started several games for Houston last year before being traded this offseason (think Texans regret that now?), had thumb surgery last Friday to repair ligament damage but will play. On June 27, a New York team won at Houston 9-6. That was the Yankees over the Astros. Wouldn't shock me to see the same final score here (and same winning city).
Cowboys at Dolphins (+1, 46.5): This opened as a pick'em at most books. The big news here is the return of Tony Romo, although it's probably too late for him to save the Cowboys' season as they have dropped seven in a row. Will Romo have top running back Darren McFadden? He's dealing with a groin injury and didn't practice on Thursday but did some drills Friday. Expect McFadden to be listed as questionable but play because a loss here and the season is over, even in the mediocre NFC East. We could see history in this game from Cowboys tight end Jason Witten, a future Hall of Famer. He has 992 receptions, and thus eight would get him to 1,000. The only other tight end to reach that mark is Tony Gonzalez, who has 1,325. Witten also could tie for No. 5 all-time in TD catches by a tight end if he gets one. Witten has 59, one behind former Redskin Jerry Smith. Gonzalez holds that record with 111.
Bengals at Cardinals (-5, 48.5): This line has jumped two points at some books from its opening. Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer has admitted that he isn't approaching this game like any other. It's personal for Palmer, who was the No. 1 overall pick by Cincinnati in 2003 -- Coach Marvin Lewis' first draft pick -- and forced his way out in 2011 when he requested a trade, which was granted to Oakland. That lopsided deal actually worked out very well for Cincy. Palmer leads the NFC with 23 touchdown passes and a 108.0 passer rating, and the Cardinals lead the NFL in total offense (421.1 ypg) and are second in scoring (33.6, one point behind New England). Cincinnati leads the NFL in points allowed per game (16.9 ppg) and is No. 3 in red-zone defense. But it's short week for the Bengals and Andy Dalton looked like playoff Andy Dalton in Monday's home loss to Houston. A loss here and suddenly the AFC North race isn't over as the Steelers would be only two games back. I suppose this could be a Super Bowl preview if Tom Brady gets injured.
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