Tumult at the most important position! That’s probably wordy for a movie title, but it works to describe the NFL entering Week 11 as seven teams — by injury or by choice — have made quarterback changes.
Find the most intriguing situation in Denver, where the combination of Peyton Manning’s foot injury and his stunningly rapid decline have Brock Osweiler making his first career start Sunday on his 25th birthday. But is it automatic that Manning, 39, will get his job back when he’s healthy enough for it? That’s a question now up in the air as precariously as some of Manning’s 17 intercepted passes have been.
Dallas, in town to face Miami on Sunday, has removed itself from the QB upheaval list with the long-awaited return of Tony Romo, but plenty of percolating situations remains.
Other QB hotspots: St. Louis, where Case Keenum replaces benched Nick Foles. Indianapolis, where dinosaur Matt Hasselback fills in for injured Andrew Luck. Philadelphia, where Matt Sanchez subs for injured Sam Bradford. San Francisco, where Blaine Gabbert has replaced the at-least-temporarily benched Colin Kaepernick. And Houston, where T.J. Yates figures to make his first start in four years in place of injured Brian Hoyer.
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Other cities with potential upheaval: Detroit, where trade speculation has found Matthew Stafford. Washington, where Kirk Cousins may be closer to stopgap than solution. Cleveland, where they can’t seem to decide if Johnny Manziel is the answer or not. And the New York Jets, where “Ryan Fitzpatrick, Geno Smith or somebody else?” remains a question.
Cities of quarterback stability include Miami. In his fourth season Ryan Tannehill has yet to make a Pro Bowl or a playoffs, but Sunday will mark his 58th career start in 58 games. Only nine other teams, of 32, can boast “perfect attendance” with the same QB starter in every game since 2012.
▪ Carolina and New England make this only fourth season with multiple 9-0 teams, following 1934, 1990 and 2009. Of 19 9-0 teams in Super Bowl era, 11 have reached the big game and seven have won. Still, mediocrity is rampant with 14 of 32 teams at or within one game of .500.
▪ Patriots remain Super Bowl betting favorites at 12-5 odds (via Bovada), but Arizona at 11-2 has unseated Green Bay for first time all season as NFC fave.
▪ Old Cane Andre Johnson of the Colts is 48 yards shy of moving into 10th place all-time in receiving yards. Don’t think he has the Hall of Fame clinched yet, but he’s building a case.
▪ Since 1990, 21 teams with losing records after nine games have made the playoffs, but only five — an average of one every five years — has been worse than 4-5 and still made it.
▪ Cowboys TE Jason Witten is eight catches shy of 1,000 for his career, meaning a Dolphins linebacker didn’t so his job if Witten hits the milestone Sunday.
▪ Texans’ J.J. Watt has 66 ½ sacks in his fifth season, second-most ever in one’s first five years, trailing only Reggie White’s 81.
▪ Close games rule. Average margin of 10.33 points entering Week 11 is below the full-season record of 10.42 in 1994. Driving that: 76 games decided by seven points or fewer, most ever at this point.
▪ Adrian Peterson’s sixth career 200-yard rushing game tied the all-time record held by (gulp) O.J. Simpson.
Read Greg’s Random Evidence blog daily at MiamiHerald.com and follow on Twitter @gregcote.