Notes from the North

Now that Norv Turner's job is safe for at least another week, we can turn to the slate of NFL games set for this weekend.

One of the most intriguing quarterback matchups this year takes place in Washington on Sunday when last year's rookie phenom, Cam Newton, takes on this year's freshman phenom, Robert Griffin III.

Newton is enduring a sophmore slump of epic proportions, with this Panthers struggling along at 1-6. The Auburn grad's production is down in almost every category so far this year: from completion percentage (60 - 57%), to passing yards per game (253 to 243 yards) to quarterback rating (84.5 to 75.2). Most alarming is his passing TD production, which has dipped from 21 in 16 games last year to just five in seven so far this season.

Only his rushing stats have improved and that's not a good sign for a quarterback.

Griffin, whose Redskins currently sport a 3-5 record, is out performing Newton in just about every category this year,. His 97.3 qb rating is excellent, his TD to INT ratio impressive (8-3) and his completion percentage as good as just about any in the league: Griffin is hitting on 66.8% of his throws.

All of that being said, this is indeed a marquee matchup between two of the most exciting young quarterbacks in the game. It should be an interesting game to watch, even if it appears clear that the Redskins are the clear favourites to win.

My question: what will the two young phenoms say to each other before or after the game?

Other football questions I'm looking to have answered this weekend:

1. Which of the AFC's two biggest surprises can keep the momentum this weekend?

Miami and Indianapolis enjoy identical (and surprising) 4-3 records heading into their clash on Sunday but, barring an unlikely tie, someone's got to emerge victorious. The Dolphins appear to be without rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill who hurt his knee last week, leaving experienced and capable back up Matt Moore to carry the load. Meanwhile, Andrew Luck is having an excellent year in keeping Colts fans from bemoaning the impressive revitalisation of Peyton Manning's career in Denver.

I've picked Miami in this one but I wouldn't put it past the Colts to pull out a victory. The winner continues to build toward a possible wildcard spot in the playoffs.

2. Are the Falcons over the hump or will the Cowboys crash their party?

Atlanta is the league's only undefeated team, carrying a 7-0 record into their game against the unpredictable Cowboys. Will The Falcs respond to the challenge like they did against Philly last week or will they finally have that down game we've all been expecting, allowing Dallas to escape with the win?

3. Will Ben Roethlisberger survive the Giants?

I'm worried. Very worried. Big Ben is known for his ability to move in the pocket and avoid a pass rusher. But the Giants don't just come one at a time. That pass rush is ferocious and Ben just won't throw the ball away. Oiy. It surprised me, on the other hand, when I learned that New York doesn't lead the league in sacks. They're only averaging about 2.5 per game. Still... ouch.


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