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Joe Nelson - Blogs

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BETWEEN THE LINES - OCT. 25

By Joe Nelson
Posted 10/26/2010 at 01:24 PM

With the extra emphasis on hits to the head the NFL has commended the players on a clean week. There were a few noticeable plays where players seemed to hold up or go for the ball rather than a hit but overall the controversy over the hits to the head could blow over, at least until the next major head injury occurs, which of course in the NFL is inevitable.

                There were certainly still other major injuries however as now 1-6 San Francisco could be without starting QB Alex Smith and even Brett Favre may face one of the toughest injury situations of his long starting streak with fractures in his ankle. Several back-ups and non-original starters performed well at the QB position last week however.

                The value of an elite QB can not be understated but often the replacement value of the many average to good players in the league is not a significant drop-off. Colt McCoy picked up his first win as a starter last week and while he did not have a huge hand in making the scoring plays he avoided the common rookie mistakes. Veteran Todd Bouman took the loss filling in for the Jaguars but he did not look too out of place as an NFL QB despite very limited action in recent years. Jason Campbell did not have big numbers last week but a 59-14 win can do a lot to help entrench you as a starter for weeks to come.

                Ryan Fitzpatrick delivered a monster game for Buffalo last week and although the Bills will likely end up with the #1 pick in the draft next year it is hard to believe Fitzpatrick is not a better option for the next year or two. Sam Bradford’s success in St. Louis may help the cause for QB prospects but there have been just as many first round failures. One former first pick that did not play well last week was David Carr who was forced into action last week for the 49ers.

                While underdogs have continued to take in big profits in the NFL with a 60 percent success rate, favorites earned a big haul last week in the college game, going 32-18-1 last week. Road favorites had amazing success last week with a 12-3-1 record and favorites in conference games also delivered an overwhelming edge last week. ‘Over’ plays have also had a decided edge in NFL games in the early going this season so while the public may be losing with side plays, totals players are likely making out fine.

                The national emphasis has been on underdog wins knocking off the top ranked teams with three straight weeks of a huge upset at the top, all wins by home underdogs with South Carolina beating Alabama, Wisconsin beating Ohio State, and Missouri beating Oklahoma. Oregon heads to USC this week, Auburn heads to Mississippi, Missouri heads to Nebraska, Michigan State heads to Iowa, and Utah heads to Air Force this week. Don’t be surprised if there is another major shake-up at the top of the rankings this week as it would be surprising for all five of those undefeated teams to survive major challenges on the road with Michigan State and Missouri certainly playing as underdogs this week. 

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