Thu 25 Oct 2012
By Anthony Bertacchi
This idea that the NFL had of having a game on every Thursday night was something that sounded great on paper. We, as NFL fans, need our football fix and what better way of giving it to us than to have games on Sunday, Monday and now Thursday? The problem is that the quality of play has become inferior to that being played on Sunday and Monday.
Think of a routine that you have. It doesn’t matter what it is. It could be anything from waking up at a certain time to grabbing that cup of coffee in the morning before work. The point is that both you and your body have gotten used to doing it at a certain time. Now, imagine your boss (Roger Goodell) tells you that the schedule you have has to change. It’s going to mess with your body right? Everybody has a friend or family member who doesn’t function right without their latte at 8:00 A.M. Not only that, but imagine that specific routine was getting your body beaten on by 300+ pound super athletes who get paid to make you feel awful the next day. Now, all of a sudden, that week you had to recover (which probably isn’t even enough time to begin with) is cut in half. It makes total sense that you wouldn’t perform the same with such little time to recover, right?
With that in mind, here are five different things to keep an eye on this Thursday.
1) Expect to see at least one interception thrown by each quarterback on Thursday. Since week two every quarterback except for Kevin Kolb and Eli Manning has thrown at least one interception on Thursday night. For whatever reason the lack of time in between games leads to quarterbacks donating passes to needy defensive players. To be fair, Kolb had a lost fumble in the zero interception game so, technically, Manning is the only one to get away without a scar.
2) Even though Adrian Peterson continues to prove he’s superhuman, don’t expect him to put up the same numbers he did last week against the Cardinals. Excluding last week’s game between the Seahawks and the 49ers, only Andre Brown and Demarco Murray have rushed for over 100 yards. Odds are Peterson will still impress people; just don’t expect him to do what he did a week ago, rushing for 153 yards and a touchdown.
3) Expect somebody to have a big receiving day for the Vikings. It may be from Percy Harvin, but don’t underestimate somebody else getting it. Since week two, only Isaac Redman, Ramses Barden and Torrey Smith have had over 100 yards receiving on Thursday night. None of those guys are the team’s number one receiver, yet they all found a way to break out. Not only that, but when Redman, Smith and Barden produced, it was all against passing defenses that ranked no better than 19th in the league (27th, 26th and 19th respectively). As of right now the Buccaneers rank 31st against the pass so expect somebody to get behind the secondary early and often.
4) Expect a bounce back game from Christian Ponder as well as another strong game from Josh Freeman. Six of the last nine quarterbacks that started on Thursday’s have passed for at least 288 yards and three of them have thrown for at least 320. Yes, Ponder looked awful last week, (only four yards passing in the second half) but, in fairness, Tampa Bay’s pass defense has its own brand of terrible this year. (Ranked 31st in the league out of 32) The Bucs have allowed 300+ yards passing in four of their last six games including a 510 yard symphony from Eli Manning in week two. Simply put, outside of last week’s game between the Seahawks and 49ers, where passing seemed to be illegal, quarterbacks more often than not produce on Thursday.
5) The Buccaneers (road team) aren’t going to score very many points on Thursday. Five of the last six road teams have scored less on Thursday night than their average point total any other day. The away team on Thursdays, on average, scores 11.23 points less than they usually do. Last week, the Seahawks, who averaged a little over 18 points per game, scored a measly 6. Two week before that, the Cardinals, who average a little over 20 points a game, scored just 3 points and even the Browns, who score nearly 22 points a game, scored 16. Every road team has dipped in points except for the Giants in week three. Look for the Buccaneers to keep the trend going.
So, in conclusion we’ve learned that the play on Thursday isn’t the same as it is on Sunday or Monday. The game will still be entertaining but the product will be a little watered down. Still, the home team has won five of the last six games excluding the Panthers getting beat down by the Giants in week three. Not only that, but the Buccaneers pass defense is terrible and it’s nearly impossible for Ponder to do worse than he did last week against the Cardinals. The Vikings are hot right now, winners of four of their last five, and with the advantage of playing at home, look for the Vikings to keep it up against the Buccaneers. The Buccaneers gave it their all last week against the Saints so don’t be surprised if they have a letdown this week traveling to Minnesota.
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