Player You Need To Know This Weekend
Zane Beadles, left guard, Denver (No. 68). Strange days in Denver. This is one of the biggest weekends of football this season, and one of the most important players playing is Beadles, the fairly nondescript guard who is having a terrible season for the Broncos. As Pro Football Focus notes, Beadles has allowed a scary 30 quarterbacks hits or significant pressures in 10 games; for comparison, right guard Louis Vasquez has allowed four. With Manning nursing the proverbial lower body injuries (read: high and regular ankle sprains), keep an eagle eye on Beadles’ play at left guard. This weekend, a guard could materially affect the outcome of a very big game, particularly with an impact player like Kansas City tackle Dontari Poe over him at least part of the game.
Sound Bite of the Week
“They’re not going to Wednesday games already, are they?”
—Denver quarterback Peyton Manning, asked on Wednesday if he could play were the Chiefs-Broncos game set for Wednesday instead of Sunday.
Ten Things I’ll Be Watching For This Weekend
1. The Jet seesaw. New York’s 5-4. Won in games 1, 3, 5, 7, 9. Lost in games 2, 4, 6, 8. This is game 10. Uh-oh. Ed Reed, can you adjust some attitudes? (Rex Ryan’s 7-2 against the Bills, by the way.)
2. The battle of the punters. What, you thought Denver-Kansas City was big because of, well, the game? No way. It’s the punting brothers show. Denver’s Britton Colquitt, 11th in the league in net punting, versus KC’s Dustin Colquitt, first in inside-the-20 punts. “The Colquitt-Colquitt thing can be a big distraction in the locker room,” Britton said this week. He was smiling, people.
3. Be careful with that Andy Reid bye stat. Yes, the Chiefs are coming off the bye, and yes, Reid is 13-1 as a head coach in games after the bye. But last year, the Eagles came off their bye a very competitive 3-3, and they went to Atlanta and got crushed 30-17. Went 1-9 after the bye. So go easy on the miracle-worker-after-the-bye angle this week, everybody..
4. Percy Harvin’s debut. Perfect timing for his first game of the season after summer hip surgery. It’s against his former team, the Vikings. It’s at home, CenturyLink Field. It’s a perfect time for the Seahawks to ease him back into form with, say, 20 snaps against a suspect secondary, Minnesota’s. And the Seahawks have a bye next week—the well-loved late-season bye, so Harvin can then be fresh for the five-game December stretch run to home-field for the NFC playoffs.
5. Welcome back, Kubiak. The Raiders come to Houston, and if the combination of playing for a wounded coach (Gary Kubiak suffered a small stroke on the sidelines 12 days ago) and the Oakland welcome-mat isn’t enough for the Texans to end a seven-game losing streak, well, I don’t know what would be.
6. Florida plays out the string—before Thanksgiving. Good news—or is it?—for fans of the three Florida teams: All are home Sunday afternoon: Arizona at Jacksonville, Atlanta at Tampa Bay, San Diego at Miami. Combined Jags-Bucs-Dolphins record: 6-21.
7. The cozy NFC East. If the Giants can beat Scott Tolzien (is that a serious question?) and RG3 can best Nick Foles (a dubious proposition), this division will be two things: ridiculously mediocre and anyone’s playoff berth. One team (Dallas) would be 5-5, one (Philly) would be 5-6, and the other two would be 4-6. Checking the slate down the stretch, I like Philly to win it and be the NFC’s fourth playoff seed, win or lose against Washington.
8. The first Brady-Cam meeting. And maybe the last, seeing that the next one would have to be in a Super Bowl or in 2017, when the AFC East and NFC South play again. Brady will be 40 then. The game is in Charlotte Monday night, and Brady needs to have excellent peripheral vision. Defensive ends Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy are on pace to combine for 24 sacks this year.
9. Let’s not get too excited about Josh McCown. Anyone who, in three games with playoff implications, can put up a 103.2 rating with four touchdowns and no picks must be taken very seriously, and the Ravens will do that when facing McCown Sunday at a rain-soaked Soldier Field. And he may resuscitate his career to the point where a team wants him to be a starter in 2014. But let’s stop, for the time being, with the advocacy of a 34-year-old career backup (or unemployed) to replace Jay Cutler.
10. And let’s not call Cleveland over Cincinnati an upset. The Browns and Bengals play in Cincinnati Sunday afternoon. Their last three meetings: Cleveland 2, Cincinnati 1. Combined score in last three meetings: Cleveland 78, Cincinnati 64. That’s 12 quarters, people, not two. The Bengals have been favored two games in a row in this series and lost by 11 and 10. The key here will be Cincinnati getting Gio Bernard in space, because he’s quick enough to evade any good defense.