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Tuesday Morning Handicapper
by Hollywood Sports - 11/12/2013
TUESDAY MORNING HANDICAPPER: 11/12/13
Football tips and observations from over the weekend that may inform my decision-making for making NFL picks and College Football picks this week.
STANFORD DEMONSTRATES THE FORMULA TO BEAT THE OREGON OFFENSE.
With the Ducks' previous head coach Chip Kelly now in the NFL with the Eagles, his up-tempo spread offense has faced the scrutiny of the very best defensive minds in the world this season. The emerging conventional wisdom regarding how to slow down the Kelly/Oregon offense includes the following. Control both sides of the line of scrimmage with tough, physical play. Make sure the cornerbacks play closer to the line of scrimmage to defend screen passes. Make sure you have safeties that can make solo tackles. And control the time of possession to tire out their defense that is already challenged with the fast pace the offense engages in. The Kansas City Chiefs have this makeup this season -- and that helps explain why they were able to defeat the Eagles in Philly back in September by a 26-16 score in a contest where they held the ball for over 39 minutes. The Cardinal were able to execute this strategy last season in handing Kelly's Ducks their only loss of the season -- and David Shaw's team was able to do it again last Thursday. Stanford rushed for 274 yards which helped them hold the ball for 42:34 minutes in that game en route to their 26-20 victory. The Cardinal outgained Oregon by a 377-312 margin and held a 26-0 lead in this game before the Ducks managed a too-little too-late comeback. Look for physical teams stout on both lines of scrimmage that can run the football to continue to wreak havoc against Kelly's Eagles as well as the Oregon Ducks.
INJURIES REMAIN THE WILDCARD IN HANDICAPPING THE NFL
At the halfway point of the season, there were a whopping 214 NFL players that were already placed on Injured Reserve. Fifty-five quarterbacks have already seen playing time this season. Two weeks ago, seven backup quarterbacks were starting in the thirteen games on the docket. Adapting to this rash of injuries will likely remain the "new normal" in a league that has limited full-contact proactive time in the offseason. Last week, an injured Jay Cutler was ineffective -- and perhaps stayed in the game to long against the Lions -- before backup Josh McCown relieved him last and led the Bears on a touchdown drive. If McCown had played earlier in that game, perhaps Chicago covers this game against their divisional rival. Another NFC North quarterback in backup Seneca Wallace also suffered a quick injury in his game last week -- and that meant that the Packers had to rely on former Wisconsin signal caller Scott Tolzien for the rest of their game in their 27-13 loss at home to Philadelphia. The Packers now have to resort to Tolzien and Matt Flynn at quarterback who are two players who did not even have the benefit of training camp at the position. Ryan Fitzpatrick will now attempt to finish the season at quarterback for the Titans after Jake Locker suffered a season-ending injury in their 29-27 loss to the previously winless Jaguars. With nine quarterbacks who have lost their jobs to injury or ineffectiveness from the start of the season, this position is becoming as fluid as bullpen closers in Major League Baseball!