Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thursday night pick and some links

The Thursday night games on NFL Network begin this week (Week 10), so here's my pick for that game followed with some various links that have caught my attention so far this week.

49ERS (-3) over Bears

After starting the season with an impressive 3-1 mark, the 49ers (3-5) haven't been able to win a game since, dropping four games in a row against the Falcons, Texans, Colts, and Titans. The loss to the Falcons was a blowout, by 35 points, but the other three games have been decided by 14 combined points. The Bears (4-4), meanwhile, have been almost as bad after beginning the season 3-1. They've lost three of four, with the win coming against the Browns.

The 49ers are a little bit better on defense, allowing 21.8 points per game while the Bears give up 23.9. It's also easier to run on the Bears -- 119.5 yards per game vs. 93.3 yards per game for the 49ers.

If the Bears are going to win this game, then Matt Forte is going to need one of his better performances this season. After rushing for 1,238 yards (3.9 yards per carry) and scoring eight touchdowns on the ground last year, Forte has only 441 yards on the ground and has scored just three touchdowns. His yards-per-carry average is down to 3.6, and he's just not getting the ball as much as he did last year. Part of that can certainly be attributed to poor run blocking, but Jay Cutler's presence may also be taking the ball out of Forte's hands. To be blunt, Cutler has been pretty average so far this season. He's averaging 256 passing yards per game, but his touchdown-to-interception ratio is only 14-12, which isn't that good. Plus, his 12 interceptions are tied for the 2nd-most among all quarterbacks. Cutler's quarterback rating of 83.8 is also comparable to 49ers quarterback Alex Smith's (83.3), though Smith did just start take over for Shaun Hill a couple weeks ago.

I'll give San Francisco the edge. They're at home, and they should be able to run the ball more effectively. Besides, the Crabtree curse has to end at some point, right?

  • According to Carson Cistulli, the Orioles are in a pretty good position right now -- lots of talent for not a lot of money. [FanGraphs]

  • Ben Reiter ranks the top 50 free agents and list the Orioles as the "Best Fit" for Adrian Beltre (No. 9) and Billy Wagner (No. 16). [Sports Illustrated]

  • Brian Orakpo hates losing, and he wants to catch Andre Carter for the team sack lead. He also may be my new favorite defensive player. [Redskins Blog]

  • According to Jason Reid, Jim Zorn actually got on his players at halftime during the Falcons game:

    "He hasn't done that before, not like that, anyway," said one veteran player who requested anonymity because what occurs in the locker room is supposed to stay in the locker room.

    "It was just different. Maybe that's what we needed all along."

    That, or, you know, to play better. [Redskins Insider]

  • Chris Horton's season is over after being placed on injured reserve with an injured toe. Running back Quinton Ganther fills his roster spot. [Pro Football Talk]

  • Aaron Harang could be an interesting buy-low candidate for the Orioles, who need another veteran starter or two. [Camden Crazies]

  • With injuries to guards Randy Foye, Mike James, and Javaris Crittenton, the Wizards have signed veteran guard Earl Boykins. Let the height jokes begin. [Bullets Forever]

  • Gilbert Arenas turned the ball over 12 times against the Heat, and a whopping seven of them came in the third quarter. Here's what they looked like. [Truth About It]
Also, congratulations to Adam Jones for winning his first Gold Glove, whether it was truly deserved or not. It's still a great honor for a rising young star.

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