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Nuggetpalooza’s Around the NFL – Week Six

10.16.10 at 9:14 am ET
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Here’s a slew of statistical observations from around the league as we head into Week 6:

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NFL:

* – There has not been a shutout yet in the NFL this season, making this just the third season since 1990 without a shutout in the first five weeks. The first shutout in 1997 and 2005 came in Week 8.

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Seahawks at Bears

* – Seattle rushers have lost yardage on 15.1 percent of their attempts this season, the highest percentage in the NFL.

* – Why do Bears’ fans want Cutler back quickly? Last Sunday, Todd Collins threw just 47.4 percent catchable balls, the worst mark in the league last week.

* – The Panthers blitzed the Bears on ten pass plays last Sunday. The results? 18 yards passing and 22 yards lost on sacks, for a net of minus four yards.

* – The Bears have just five passing first downs over the last two weeks, tied for the fewest in the NFL over two consecutive games since San Francisco managed just three over two games in 2005.

* – Since converting 6-of-11 third downs in Week 1, Chicago has converted only 7-of-48 opportunities (15 percent) over their last four games. No other team has converted less than 27 percent in that span.

* – Seattle leads the NFL in kickoff return average (37.8) while the Bears are fifth (28.7). Last week, all three returns by the Bears went for 30 yards or more.

* – The Bears are averaging just 3.3 points per red zone drive this year (second worst) while the Seahawks are allowing 3.3 such points (third best).

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Jets at Broncos

* – So far in 2010, Denver has completed 54 percent of their passes against opponent blitzes this season (ranked 24th) and 72 percent when there is no blitz (first). So why wouldn’t opponents blitz the Broncos more than 32 percent of the time (21st)?  Well, that shouldn’t be an issue on Sunday as the Jets blitz FAR more than any team in the league.

* – Denver has been excellent this season at utilizing their wide receivers for catches behind the line of scrimmage. They have 16 such completions (league high) and are averaging 11.3 YAC yards on those plays (league high; minimum four such completions).

* – Jets’ opponents are 3-for-11 on pass attempts of 30 or more air yards this season (27 percent). They went just 3-for-38 on those passes for the 2008 and 2009 seasons combined (8 percent). Note that the Broncos went 2-for-2 on those throws last week against Baltimore.

* – Denver’s defense has allowed “success” on first down (gains of four or more yards) just 38 percent of the time this season, the best percentage in the league.

* – The Jets have allowed 11 conversions on third-and-very long (ten yards or more) already this season (the most in the league) equating to a 40.7 percent conversion rate (second worst). Denver’s offense has converted just 2-of-22 (9 percent) of those chances.

* – The Jets lead the league in net starting field position (+9.3 yards). They rank second in starting field position (34.8) and first in opponent starting field position (25.5).

* – The Broncos managed only one rushing first down last week, making this the third consecutive season where Denver has had at least one game with one or no rushing first downs. Prior to the start of the 2008 season, they went 113 straight games with two or more such first downs.

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Dolphins at Packers

* – The Dolphins and Packers are the only NFL teams that have yet to take an offsides penalty this season.

* – Packers’ receivers had a league high six drops last week. They had just three over the season’s first four weeks.

* – Only 24 percent of Miami’s passing yards have come on pass plays of 20 or more yards, the lowest percentage in the league.

* – Green Bay allowed five first downs last week via penalty, the fourth time in their last 16 games that they’ve done so. Compare that to the longest current streaks without allowing five or more penalty first downs in a game:

143 – Seattle
121 – Denver
114 – Buffalo

* – Miami ranks last in the league in net starting field position (-7.3 yards), thanks mainly to their dismal average offensive starting position (24.4 yard line). It hasn’t helped that the Dolphins are last in average kickoff return allowed (35.8) as 40 percent of opponent returns have gone for 30 or more yards.

* – Green Bay attempted only six rushing plays in the first half last Sunday, the fewest in the league. Boy, they appear to really be missing Ryan Grant.

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Ravens Friday injury report

10.15.10 at 4:36 pm ET
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The 4-1 Baltimore Ravens will be without three players for Sunday’s game against the 3-1 Patriots at Gillette Stadium and could be without a key fourth player.

Linebacker Paul Kruger was against limited at practice on Friday and is listed as doubtful for the game.

Running back and Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata is questionable with a knee injury while running back Ray Rice is probable and should be a go for the game with a knee issue.

Ravens Injury Report for Friday:

OUT
T Jared Gaither (back)
LB Tavares Gooden (shoulder)
WR Donte Stallworth (foot)

Limited Participation
LB Paul Kruger (knee) Doubtful
CB Josh Wilson (thigh) Questionable
DT Haloti Ngata (knee) Questionable
S Ken Hamlin (ankle) Probable
TE Edgar Jones (thigh) Probable
RB Le’Ron McClain (shoulder/knee) Probable
RB Ray Rice (knee) Probable
LB Jameel McClain (knee) Probable

Read More: Baltimore Ravens, Haloti Ngata, injury report, New England Patriots

Taylor out against Ravens

10.15.10 at 4:27 pm ET
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FOXBORO — As expected, running back Fred Taylor was ruled out for Sunday’s game against Baltimore with a toe injury while safety James Sanders is questionable with an ailing hamstring. Taylor did not practice this week while Sanders was again limited on Friday as the team continued its preparations for the Ravens this Sunday at Gillette Stadium. This will be the second game Taylor has missed since his last action against the Bills on Sept. 26. The team practiced in brisk winds inside Gillette Stadium, on the main field.

Patriots Injury Report for Friday:

Did Not Practice

RB Fred Taylor (toe)  OUT

Limited Participation

S James Sanders (hamstring) Questionable

Full Participation

QB Tom Brady (right shoulder) Probable

CB Terrence Wheatley (foot) Probable

Read More: Baltimore Ravens, Fred Taylor, injury report, James Sanders

‘Happy’ Welker not worried about a new deal

10.15.10 at 2:28 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Randy Moss may have been concerned about getting a new contract as a star wide receiver. And Deion Branch went so far as to restructure his base salary to return to a place where he won a Super Bowl MVP.

But Wes Welker said Friday he is concerned about the here and now. And not the money.

With all of the uncertainty revolving around the NFL labor situation and the move by Branch to restructure his contract, Welker was asked Friday if he would like to see the Patriots come forward and re-work his current, five-year, $18 million deal, signed in March, 2007.

“Not really at all,’€ Welker said. ‘€œAll I know is, I’€™m under contract and I’€™m just happy to be here, happy to be a Patriot and just look forward to winning some ballgames.’€

On Friday, the NFL Players Association officially adjusted Branch’s 2011 salary. He will be paid $2.2 million, a savings to the Patriots of $3.75 million in base salary.

Welker is considered one of the most underpaid receivers in the NFL and with the trade of Moss to Minnesota, he becomes the active team leader in receptions and touchdowns since his arrival in 2007. This season, Welker leads the Patriots with 26 catches, 217 yards and three touchdown catches.

Read More: Deion Branch, New England Patriots, nfl, Randy Moss

Peter King on D&H: Brandon Tate will be a revelation

10.15.10 at 1:32 pm ET
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Peter King from Sports Illustrated and NBC joined Dale & Holley for his weekly conversation about the Patriots and the NFL. Among the topics discussed by the crew: Brett Favre’s status, the return of Ben Roethlisberger and how the Patriots offense will perform without Randy Moss.

Click here to hear the whole interview on the Dale & Holley audio on demand page

Even without Moss, King thinks the Pats will still have a high-scoring offense and he is high on Brandon Tate and Aaron Hernandez.

“I sort of think Brandon Tate is going to be a revelation to a lot of people who don’t know him very much,” King said. “I think Aaron Hernandez has shown the ability to be not just a tight end. You saw against the Jets in Week 2, cornerbacks were lining up against him and there was one completion from [Tom] Brady where he beat [Antonio] Cromartie on a play. I think he’s going to be really different kind of player.

“As far as [Deion] Branch goes, who knows? It’s hard to think that, even though he played with Brady, it’s hard to think he can come in right away and have the impact that Hernandez and Tate could have right away against Baltimore this Sunday.”

As to whether Favre would sit out this week after missing practice with elbow tendinitis, King thinks Favre will play. “I don’t think it’s going to happen this week,” King said. “I don’t see Favre missing a game unless the tendinitis [has] really worsened or he had significant swelling in the elbow. I’ve just seen him play with much worse. I think if he misses a game this year, unless it gets worse, I think it will be because of the commissioner, not his elbow.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Aaron Hernandez, Brandon Tate, Brett Favre, Peter King

Belichick, Woodhead and Mel Kiper

10.15.10 at 1:27 pm ET
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FOXBORO — In case you’re wondering, Bill Belichick didn’t need to watch “Hard Knocks” this summer to know who Danny Woodhead was.

Turns out, as a football guy, Belichick had his eye and his scouts on the all-purpose back long before Woodhead became a star on the small screen. The show focused on Woodhead as he battled for a spot on the New York Jets, one season after making it as a undrafted player out of Division II Chadron State in Nebraska.

“Yeah, how do you think he got here? Just parachuted in? Yeah, we scouted him,” Belichick said in his best “Hard Knocks” tone.

Belichick was asked if the HBO show helped Woodhead get exposure for his talents this summer, entering his second season in the NFL.

“What exposure? I’ll take your word for it,” Belichick said. “I don’t know anything about that.”

The Patriots had their eyes on Woodhead just in the event circumstances arose that would require an additional running back. They watched every Jets game because they would play them in Week 2 at the Meadowlands. The Ravens beat the Jets in an ugly 10-9 game on the season’s first Monday night.

“We saw a lot of him in preseason,” Belichick said. “We saw in him all the Jets preseason games, which we spent a lot of time on those. Their first game was the night game against Baltimore.

“All the information we had to go on until that game came in was really the preseason and last year.”

At the beginning of September it hardly seemed like the Patriots needed another running back, with five healthy backs already in their stable.

But if there’s one coach in the NFL who takes after the Boy Scouts motto, it’s Belichick. He spends countless hours preparing for just about every possibility that could arise on a roster. This is where Mel Kiper comes in. Let the coach explain. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Chadron State, Danny Woodhead, Hard Knocks, HBO

Stephen Neal on D&H: ‘I don’t even know who Justin Bieber is’

10.15.10 at 1:17 pm ET
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Offensive lineman Stephen Neal made his weekly Patriots Friday appearance on the Dale & Holley show Friday afternoon, as the Pats prepare to host the Ravens on Sunday.

Neal was asked how he felt about watching game film from last season’s playoff game in which the Ravens routed the Patriots, 33-14. “I really don’t like to think back about how it felt that day and the next couple of months that followed, but it’s important to go back and watch to see what could have been a lot better and what was pretty good,” he said. “It definitely gives you a little bit of extra motivation. It was not something I wanted to do, but it’s something that’s necessary.”

Neal spent some talking talking about the strategy of the dominating Baltimore defense. “On early downs, they line up with you and they’ll slug it out with you,” he said. “Then you get into their sub personnel, the smaller groupings, and they’ve got a little flavor there to their blitzes, a little bit of tricky stuff. For the most part, they just like to line up and bang, and hopefully that will be a good matchup for us.”

Asked what newly reacquired receiver Deion Branch brings to the Patriots locker room, Neal said: “A lot of smiles. It’s good to see an old friend come back here. He’s a great guy in the locker room and a great guy off the field and on the field. It’s good to have a guy like back in the locker room.”

Commenting on the Tom Brady-Justin Bieber haircut controversy Neal said, “I’ve got to be honest with you. I don’t even know who Justin Bieber is.” Added Neal, “I know who Hannah Montana is. I know that one. But I don’t know this other guy.”

Read More: Deion Branch, Justin Bieber, Stephen Neal, Tom Brady
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