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Week of the backup QB

Injuries to four stars bring in second-stringers

November 15, 2012
By STEVE BROWNLEE - Journal Sports Staff ( , The Mining Journal

This time in mid-November in the NFL should be dubbed "The Week of the Quarterback" or more precisely, "The Week of the Backup Quarterback."

Four starting QBs by my count all went down with injuries and are likely not coming back this week - and maybe not for awhile.

They are Jay Cutler of Chicago, Alex Smith of San Francisco, Ben Roethlisberger of Pittsburgh and Michael Vick of Philadelphia.

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The first three may impact playoff races for contending teams, while Vick's absence simply showed how those calling for his benching in Philly should be careful what they ask for, since Dallas really pounded the Eagles offense with backup Nick Foles in there.

Closer to home, the Detroit Lions might not have won their game at Minnesota on Sunday, but at least Matthew Stafford is still standing upright.

And the Green Bay Packers might've picked the perfect week for a bye, keeping Aaron Rodgers out of harm's way - as long as he didn't trip and fall doing another one of those "Discount Double Check" TV commercials he's rapidly becoming famous for.

Here's the Week 11 slate, the last weekend before Turkey Day:

Today, 8:20 p.m.

Miami at Buffalo - I'd be worried about upstate New York weather for a downstate Florida team just about now, except Miami should be angry after getting pounded on Sunday. And the Bills are so weak they can't do anything about it. Dolphins, 19-13.

Sunday, 1 p.m.

Green Bay at Detroit - While Green Bay keeps humming along, what do you make of the Jekyll-and-Hyde Lions? This week, I'll make kitty-cat stew. Packers, 31-21.

Arizona at Atlanta - Am I allowed to call this a "trap game" for Arizona? As in, "The Cardinals look like they're trapped at the bottom of a deep well" because Atlanta has something to prove after their debacle in New Orleans. Falcons, 34-10.

Tampa Bay at Carolina - Tampa seems to win games it's supposed to, which should include this game. But if Cam Newton decides to impose his will upon all present on a particular Sunday, I don't see the Bucs being able to do anything about it. Panthers, 26-20.

Cleveland at Dallas - Believe it or not, the mediocre 4-5 Cowboys could run the table and finish 11-5. That's because Dallas has nothing but losing teams left to play with the exception of one game against the possibly Roethlisberger-less Steelers. Cowboys, 24-20.

Jacksonville at Houston - So what if winning on Monday night is a bad setup for the following Sunday? This is the biggest mismatch so far this season in the AFC. Texans, 40-16.

Cincinnati at Kansas City - Monday's game in Pittsburgh was the first time all season the Chiefs had a lead at ANY point during a game, since their only win came after playing catch-up all day and beating New Orleans in overtime. Bengals, 17-9.

Indianapolis at New England - Peyton Manning needed something like six or seven tries before he could beat Bill Belichick once. Even a fast-track Andrew Luck should need three of four attempts. Patriots, 27-17.

N.Y. Jets at St. Louis - Going off how Rams' coach Jeff Fisher wreaked havoc on the Lions' passing game in Week 1, what do you think he'll do against the messed-up Jets? Rams, 13-6.

Philadelphia at Washington - It may not be Robert Griffin III's birthday this weekend, but it'll feel like it with the Eagles coming to town. Redskins, 24-13.

Sunday, 4 p.m.

New Orleans at Oakland - One team is on a roll, the other just keeps getting rolled - except when they get to pick on one-win teams. Saints, 38-30.

San Diego at Denver - Peyton Manning is like butter, since he's also on a roll. Broncos, 31-17.

Sunday, 8:20 p.m.

Baltimore at Pittsburgh - Steelers backup QB Byron Leftwich may score a few points, but not enough to keep up with suddenly offensive-oriented Baltimore. Ravens, 24-19.

Monday, 8:30 p.m.

Chicago at San Francisco - I like Bears' veteran Jason Campbell more than 49ers near-rookie Colin Kaepernick at QB. But Campbell is probably a bigger downgrade from Cutler than Kaepernick is from Smith. That plus San Fran is at home. So in this twisted form of logic, 49ers, 20-13.

Last week - 9-4-1, 68 percent. Season - 91-54-1, 63 percent.

Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 246.



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