Ahead of the Curve
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"Best of Friends" / Philippe Rousseau / 1887

A Little Help

Wondering why some of NFL's best QBs are struggling this 2013?

The answer used to win championships ('64 CLE): a consistent run game.

We all know the line: NFL's a quarterback league.  Without a poised, savvy signal-caller under center, your team is, at best, just another playoff pretender, super-backs like DeMarco Murray or Alfred Morris, notwithstanding.

That's not to say he can do it all by his lonesome.  Even the best quarterback will only "get by with a little help from (his) friends (Starr)."  Some semblance of a defense, a stout O-line, dependable hands, competent special teams and a coach who, at very least, can recognize talent, are all essentials to the prof'l, matriculatory offensive scheme.

But there's one co-worker whom he values above all others: the reliable running back.

He needn't be of Adrian Peterson's caliber, if fact, better if not. And while the yardage he churns out won't assure team success (GB: Starks), absent a complimentary run game even your best field general will routinely go three n' out when his attack turns one-dimensional (pass-happy) and the defense is keen.

Happy Campers:

P. Manning: Moreno (238 / 5.2), Ball (123 / 3.2), Hillman (120 /3.8); Luck: Bradshaw (out) (186 / 4.5); Smith: Charles (289 / 4.1), Smith (151 / 5.0), Brown (120 / 9.2); Stafford: Bush (254 / 5.3), Bell (131 / 3.2); Cutler: Forte (320 / 4.6); Brees (Cmte): Thomas (101 / 3.5), Sproles (95 / 4.2), Robinson (75 / 4.7); Brady (Cmte): Ridley (174 / 3.7), Blount (155 / 4.6), Vereen (101 / 7.2); Locker (out): Johnson (277 / 3.3); Wilson: Lynch (308 / 3.9).

Lonesome & Loathsome:

Roethlisberger: Jones (74 / 3.9), Bell (57 / 3.6), Dwyer (48 / 3.2); E. Manning: Wilson (130 / 3.4), Scott (56 / 3.5); Flacco: Pierce (151 / 2.7), Rice (89 / 3.0); and M. Ryan: Fill-ins Rodgers (134 / 3.5) and Snelling (98 / 4.7) (Jackson) have done A-OK (0-Fmb), but need Smith's binder and more carries (15 (NE)) for their talents to fully vest.

Kiffin Listing on "Primrose Lane"

Until pink-slipped recently by USC cufflinks, Lane Kiffin was living on "Primrose Lane (Wallace)," bounding from one sweet spot to the next, never leaving a forwarding address and never wanting for opportunities.  Who ever said HR robots were tuned in?

Just ten years removed from Fresno State ('96 / QB) and no head coach time logged, LK landed Raiders' job ('07), gets booted by Al after just one woeful season, lands on his feet in TN ('09) and then quickly flies the coop for poshest post in all of college (USC).

Sympathy-meter reads pretty low for ol' Laner.  His bank account is fat.  But the man never threw a temper-tantrum on the sideline and getting fired in-season is always rough.  It's an accepted practice today but bush league all the way, Mr. Haden.

Lane's best friend, Dad (Monte), and America's  push to youtheniztion will have Kiffin the Younger back in the saddle soon enough.  His next residence won't be on "Primrose Lane" but it'll be a nice neighborhood, for sure.  Best advice, LK: go rental first few.

Cherry Picks Week 5: Testing Mettle

Detroit Lions (3-1) @ Green Bay Packers (1-2): Fox 1:00 EST

Mettle tests abound this NFL slate.  Maybe none bigger than Lambeau tussle.  Lions on the growl but a bad place to prowl.  Pack's rested, ticked, still bossy (NFCN) and win.

New England Patriots (4-0) @ Cincinnati Bengals (2-2): 1:00 CBS

Seattle & Denver get most the ink but Pats have shown great perseverance and may be NFL's topper.  Like Lions, Tigers are learning how but need more lessons.  NE wins. 

New Orleans Saints (4-0) @ Chicago Bears (3-1): 1:00 Fox 

Not so much mettle testing in "toddling town" this Sunday (both got it), as it is a trial & error of game-plans & personnel.  Saints still in recovery, biggest test yet.  Bears win.

Kansas City Chiefs (4-0) @ Tennessee Titans (3-1): 1:00 CBS 

Turnarounds are nice, especially team driven.  Both balance but depth (?), flags flyin' (29 / 30), CJ eking (3.3) and Chiefs fumbly (9/7L).  Jake or Fitz, Titans' D carries 'em to victory.

Seattle Seahawks (4-0) @ Indianapolis Colts (3-1): 1:00 Fox

A 7.5 on watchability scale, up n' comers seek next level.  Hawk (-): Russ ratio (6/3) & runs up (27) while D-Tks (142) & 3d% (34) ebb.  Colts 3d% hot (48) but Trent's 2.9 (ypc), injuries and Seattle style say 'Hawks prevail. 

Denver Broncos (4-0) @ Dallas Cowboys (2-2): 4:25 CBS (GOTW

Provisional America's Team v. original.  Elway gleeful.  Denver O so able (3d% 55 / Pey-Dirt (16-0)) that TOP lags.  Bronco bangs tabs 'Boys but 2H v SD vexes.  Denver wins. 

Houston Texans (2-2) @ San Francisco 49ers (2-2): 8:35 NBC

Two contenders wobbled in '13.  Houston MASH unit, key spots; Niners an iffy 2-2, flag-fest (39) and defense can't carry.  HOU talent (+), TOP, TY/r and salt w/ IR.  Texans win. 

Steven Keys

NFL Hunch Line

Photo Credit: "Best of Friends" / Philippe Rousseau / 1887 / wc.cca 

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