‘History is bunk!’ Henry Ford famously said. Anyone who has watched the past couple of weeks of NFL action would probably come to the same snap judgement.
Buffalo, New England’s preferred whipping boys, snapped a 15-game losing streak against their AFC East nemesis, coming from a 21-0 half-time deficit to win 34-31 at Orchard Park in Week 3.
Having become the first team in history to overcome deficits of 18 points or more to win in consecutive weeks, the Bills then took their 10-game winning streak over Cincinnati to Paul Brown Stadium and promptly lost their unbeaten record.
They also saw the Detroit Lions consign their most recent record to history, as they became the first team to overcome two 20-point deficits in two weeks when downing Dallas.
If Ford was still around, he would doubtless be looking at Sunday’s upcoming games and spinning the same line, thinking that Cincinnati could snap a losing streak at Jacksonville, where they have not won in seven previous attempts.
Or he might look at the merits of San Diego Chargers, who travel to Denver, where they have never won three consecutive games, a streak that dates back to 1960.
Cincinnati and Jacksonville have rookie quarterbacks and so far it’s the Bengals’ Andy Dalton who has performed the better, possessing a quarterback rating of 76.9 to Blaine Gabbert’s 62.9 rating.
While the Bengals could perhaps suffer a let-down after a terrific comeback win over the Bills, the statistical challenges that Gabbert has to overcome are wider.
It’s incredible that the 2,906 points scored in the first four weeks of the NFL season have been the most scored in any four weeks of any one season in history.
Jacksonville have managed just 39 of them over four games.
Whether it is by design – and by design we’re talking chalk drawing on caves by head coach Jack Del Rio, whose stone-age running game philosophy has seen the Jaguars average just 4.71 yards per attempt (ranking a lowly 21st of the 32 NFL teams) – or whether Gabbert is being nursed along, is open to argument.
Either way, running back Maurice Jones-Drew, Gabbert and Del Rio’s ponderous attack will struggle to move the ball against a surprisingly good Cincinnati defence that ranks first against the run (3.1 yards per attempt).
Take a chance that Ford is right – history means nothing – and go with the Bengals to cover the handicap.
Unless, of course, you think that our muse Shirley Bassey has it right, and it will be just another case of history repeating…
There have been eight 400-yard passing performances in the first four weeks of the 2011 NFL season: This already ties for fourth place in the list of most 400-yard passing games in any season in history (there were 13 such instances in 1986 and 2004, and 11 in 2010).
And the 321 total touchdowns so far in 2011 are the most in the first four weeks on any season in history (previous high was 316 in 2002).
Don’t expect Kansas City and Indianapolis to contribute to those extraordinary stats when the square off at Lucas Oil Stadium, the venue for the Super Bowl.
This game reminds us of the time when we had Mr Patel’s dodgy curry, washed down with one too many bottles (ten for those counting) of Old Peculiar. For it is more Toilet Bowl than Super Bowl.
The Chiefs have not fared well against Indy, losing 10 of their last 11 games against the Colts, their sole success a 45-35 win at Arrowhead Stadium in 2004.
Chiefs’ games in Indianapolis have been relatively turgid affairs, with the last five (all Colts victories) generating points totals of 28, 23, 31, 42 and 43.
With Cutis Painter likely to continue at quarterback in place of injured Peyton Manning and concussed Kerry Collins, the Colts may well find that lighting up the scoreboard will remain difficult.
The Chiefs have their own problems, a shouting match on the sideline last week between quarterback Matt Cassel and head coach Todd Haley perhaps symbolic of their futility.
Both teams are exasperating, undermanned through injuries and unpredictable. After gutless showings in their first two outings, the Colts at least showed some fight against Pittsburgh and Tampa, but they are still looking for their first win.
With the Chiefs awful on the road so far, take the Colts to get off the mark in a low-scoring squeaker.
If you’ve checked out the NFLUK.com Fantasy Football game – an excellent and easy way for anyone to get into American Football – you will know that the first players on your list each week will be any running back facing the Oakland Raiders.
The Raiders simply can’t stop the run. How bad, you ask? They are giving up a whopping 5.8 yards per attempt on the ground. No team in the modern era has had a worse run defence.
Houston should be able to run the ball with ease on Sunday. They only have to follow the New England blueprint. The Patriots, a passing team like Houston, ran for over 180 yards against the Raiders last week.
Houston quarterback Matt Schaub should not have too much trouble overcoming Oakland’s vanilla secondary, even without his top target Andre Johnson, who is injured.
Oakland’s ground attack, led by Darren McFadden (468 rushing yards as 6.2 yards per attempt), will cause a shaky Houston rearguard problems of their own, but the key is the play of both quarterbacks and it is easier to trust Schaub more so than counterpart Jason Campbell, who has a maddening habit of throwing drive-killing interceptions. There should be a lot of points in this one, too.
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