Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - You have to admit there is a problem
before you can go about fixing it.
Eagles quarterback Michael Vick has yet to be convinced he has a dilemma. This
despite the fact he has turned the ball over 11 times in five games this
season, including two key fumbles in Sunday's loss 16-14 loss at Pittsburgh.
Vick actually lost the football three times in the Steel City, first coughing
it up at the end of a 9-yard run to the Steelers' 42 in the first quarter.
Eagles coach Andy Reid challenged that call and it was overturned because his
quarterback was ruled down by contact.
Later on the same drive, however, Vick gave up the football inside the 1-yard
line as he was approaching the end zone, a miscue which turned out to be more
than pivotal in what ended up being a two-point setback.
Vick's final fumble of the day came at the end of the first quarter on a run
to the Eagles' 34 but didn't cost Philadelphia as the defense stiffened.
Vick now has six interceptions and five lost fumbles in 2012. To make
matters worse, four of his mistakes have come at the absolute worst time, in
the red zone, and two have been inside the 3-yard line. In total, Vick has
fumbled the ball eight times this year, and has lost more fumbles than six NFL
teams have total turnovers.
"I wish I could tell you, but I don't have any explanation," Vick said after
being asked about his issues. "I've never had a problem with fumbling before.
It was one of those things. Everything happens for a reason, and if it was
meant to be, I wouldn't have fumbled at the goal line."
As you can imagine, that explanation didn't go over too well with the Philly
faithful and had Reid scrambling to add damage control to his to-do list.
"Obviously, you can't have the turnovers that we had in the first half,"
Reid said after the Steelers loss. "It's hindering our ability to score. It's
keeping us down.
"(We're) the second-lowest scoring team in the National Football League right
now." Reid continued. "We've got to make sure that we fix that. Turnovers are
something that you have to focus in on at practice. You have to make sure that
you are aware of that during the game, that your ball security is right."
As for Vick, everyone is entitled to their own opinions but not their own
facts, and reality is in stark contrast to his warped view of the situation.
He is currently the NFL's active leader in fumbles for a quarterback with 84
(losing 39) over 116 games, and once fumbled 27 times over 30 games while with
Atlanta in 2004-05. And remember, Vick missed two full seasons while in
prison and most of a third while he was working his way back with the Eagles.
Others stars have struggled with fumbling and corrected the issue, most
recently Tiki Barber and Adrian Peterson, running backs who embraced the high-
and-tight philosophy once it became obvious that NFL defenders are pretty
adept at stripping the football these days.
Vick's refusal to acknowledge the problem has to be the most worrisome aspect
of the issue to Reid and the Eagles.
If Vick truly thinks it's all up to some all-encompassing football deity,
what's the point in changing anything about his game?
"You wish you could have some things back and there are plenty of things I
wish I could have back through the course of the season, but you can't get
them," the former Pro Bowler said.
Reid, who many think is coaching for his job this season, still has faith in
his quarterback, at least outwardly.
"Listen, there's nobody more competitive than this guy and he knows that he
can't fumble. Understand that," Reid said when talking about Vick on Monday.
"He knows that he can't have turnovers and he can't fumble. Nobody knows it
better than the player. But we've got to go back and we've got to work on ball
"He understands that and we'll do that and we'll get that right. He's going to
continue to carry the football and he's just got to secure it away, keep it
high-and-tight and, when he's in traffic, get that thing covered up with the
To be fair, all of Vick's issues aren't due to carelessness. He's already lost
two of his best offensive lineman for the season, All-Pro left tackle Jason
Peters and ascending center Jason Kelce. And if just about any NFL linebacker
puts his helmet square on the football, it's coming loose.
But that's not the kind of thing Vick is getting heat over. It's abundantly
clear on film that the Eagles' signal-caller doesn't secure the ball at times,
especially when he is making the transition from thrower to runner.
Despite the mounting turnovers and setback in the Steel City, the Eagles are
deadlocked atop the NFC East with the New York Giants and have already beaten
"Big Blue" once.
The problem can be fixed, but only if Vick recognizes what it is and takes the
Otherwise those football gods who made him fumble at the one in Pittsburgh
will point directly at Nick Foles.
After all, everything happens for a reason.
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THE GAMES (All Times Eastern)
Pittsburgh (2-2) at Tennessee (1-4), Thursday, 8:20 p.m.
LINE: Steelers by 5 1/2
THE SKINNY: A banged-up Pittsburgh team reached the .500 mark with a 16-14
Keystone State win over Philadelphia last week when Shaun Suisham booted a
34-yard field goal as time expired to give the Steelers the victory. The
Steelers got a big boost from the return of running back Rashard Mendenhall,
who rushed for 81 yards and a TD in his season debut. With Mendenhall back,
the Steelers gained 136 yards on the ground after amassing a total of 195
yards in their three previous games.
"It felt great to be back," Mendenhall said. "But there is a lot more work to
That work continues in Music City against the Titans, who are off to a dismal
1-4 start and are coming off a 30-7 rout at the hands of Minnesota. Veteran
Matt Hasselbeck will be under center for another week, replacing promising
second-year starter Jake Locker (shoulder).
"We have a game on Thursday night against a very good football team," said
Titans head coach Mike Munchak. "Playing in four days against a good team
might be the best thing for us. We can play much, much better. This is the
group we have and with this group, we have to play much better, and we have to
do it quickly."
PREDICTION: Steelers 20, Titans 10
Oakland (1-3) at Atlanta (5-0), Sunday, 1 p.m.
LINE: Falcons by 8 1/2
THE SKINNY: The Falcons are 5-0 for the first time in franchise history and
Matt Ryan is flying high. The Boston College product threw for 345 yards and
two touchdowns in the Falcons' 24-17 win over Washington last week and led them
to 17 fourth-quarter points. That's Ryan's 18th career game-winning drive in
the fourth quarter or overtime, the most by any quarterback during his first
five NFL seasons in the Super Bowl era. The Raiders look like they're behind
the eight-ball in this one but can hang their hat on the fact that Darren
McFadden has had three consecutive games of 100 rushing yards or more against
PREDICTION: Falcons 34, Raiders 20
Dallas (2-2) at Baltimore (4-1), Sunday, 1 p.m.
LINE: Ravens by 3 1/2
THE SKINNY: The Ravens have never lost in three meetings with the Cowboys and
have won 13 consecutive regular-season home games, the longest active streak in
the NFL. Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco is 8-0 at home versus NFC teams and
is an imposing 30-5 overall as a starter in the Charm City. Dallas returns from
a bye hoping to forget an embarrassing performance in North Texas against
Chicago back on Oct. 1, a game in which Tony Romo threw five interceptions.
PREDICTION: Ravens 24, Cowboys 13
Cincinnati (3-2) at Cleveland (0-5), Sunday, 1 p.m.
LINE: Bengals by 2 1/2
THE SKINNY: The Bengals are coming off a disappointing performance at home
resulting in a 17-13 loss to Miami, while the winless Browns will get one of
the best cover corners in football back when Joe Haden returns from a four-
game suspension for taking the prescription drug Adderall. Cincinnati has won
three of its past four in Cleveland and is at its best when Andy Dalton and
A.J. Green are on the same page. The Bengals have averaged 33 points a game in
their three wins in 2012 and just 13 in their two setbacks.
PREDICTION: Bengals 30, Browns 17
St. Louis (3-2) at Miami (2-3), Sunday, 1 p.m.
LINE: Dolphins by 3 1/2
THE SKINNY: Dolphins rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill has passed for 1,269
yards, and is the first rookie in NFL history to pass for 1,250-plus yards and
record two or more wins in his team's first five games. Things could continue
to go well this week for the freshman since Miami is 4-1 all-time against the
Rams in South Florida and St. Louis will be without the services of star
receiver Danny Amendola, who is sidelined with a sternoclavicular joint
PREDICTION: Dolphins 24, Rams 17
Indianapolis (2-2) at New York Jets (2-3), Sunday, 1 p.m.
LINE: Jets by 3
THE SKINNY: Team Chuckstrong presses on without its head coach and while it may
be too soon to compare Luck to Wayne versus Manning to Wayne, the Stanford
rookie is the first rookie in NFL history to pass for 1,200-plus yards
(1,208) and win two of his first four starts, and his affinity for Wayne is a
big part of that success. Wayne is averaging a league-best 126.5 receiving
yards per game in 2012 and posted a career-high 212 yards in last week's
thrilling upset over Green Bay. The Jets, meanwhile, typically aren't about
moral victories, but Monday's setback to Houston certainly felt like one since
New York played the undefeated Texans tough despite being without Darrelle
Revis and Santonio Holmes.
PREDICTION: Colts 20, Jets 17
Detroit (1-3) at Philadelphia (3-2), Sunday, 1 p.m.
LINE: Eagles by 4 1/2
THE SKINNY: Vick's inability to hold onto the football has cost the Eagles
mightily this season (see above). The Lions come off a bye hoping to have
solved their running and special teams woes.
PREDICTION: Eagles 24, Lions 21
Kansas City (1-4) at Tampa Bay (1-3), Sunday, 1 p.m.
LINE: Buccaneers by 3 1/2
THE SKINNY: Kansas City fans will likely get their wish on Sunday. It's
looking like quarterback Matt Cassel will not play after sustaining a
concussion in a Week 5 loss to Baltimore. Next up for the Chiefs is former
Notre Dame signal-caller Brady Quinn, who made his first NFL appearance since
Dec. 20, 2009 in relief of Cassel last week. Expect a heavy dose of running
back Jamaal Charles for Kansas City. Charles is averaging an NFL-best 133.8
yards from scrimmage this season. The Bucs are hoping the once-ascending Josh
Freeman gets it going after a bye. Freeman is completing just 54.6 percent of
his passes and has amassed a pedestrian 75.3 passer rating.
PREDICTION: Buccaneers 17, Chiefs 14
Buffalo (2-3) at Arizona (4-1), Sunday, 4:05 p.m.
LINE: Cardinals by 4 1/2
THE SKINNY: The Bills have fallen off a cliff over their last six quarters,
getting outscored 90-17 over that span. The Cardinals, meanwhile, have a lot
of holes all of a sudden after a 4-0 start. Quarterback Kevin Kolb has been
sacked 17 times over the past two games and the team, which was already
without Beanie Wells, lost running back Ryan Williams with a fractured
PREDICTION: Cardinals 24, Bills 21
New England (3-2) at Seattle (3-2), Sunday, 4:05 p.m.
LINE: Patriots by 3 1/2
THE SKINNY: Pete Carroll coaches against the franchise he once mentored from
1997 to '99 in a game that will see the NFL's No. 1 offense (New England) and
defense (Seattle) hook up. For the Seahawks, the biggest question remains how
long they will stick with uneven rookie quarterback Russell Wilson since
prized free agent acquisition Matt Flynn is waiting in the wings. Flynn, who
spent four seasons backing up Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay, made his first
career start against the Patriots when Rodgers was recuperating from a
concussion back in 2010 and was impressive, albeit in a 31-27 defeat. New
England is averaging an NFL-best 33 points per game and the franchise is 38-11
against NFC teams under head coach Bill Belichick.
PREDICTION: Patriots 24, Seahawks 23
New York Giants (3-2) at San Francisco (4-1), Sunday, 4:25 p.m.
LINE: 49ers by 5
THE SKINNY: The Giants will return to San Francisco for a rematch of last
season's NFC Championship Game, which was won by New York, 20-17, in overtime
en route to a victory in Super Bowl XLVI.
Last week, the Giants defeated Cleveland, 41-27, as running back Ahmad Bradshaw
rushed for 200 yards and wide receiver Victor Cruz had three touchdown
catches. It marked the first time since 1960 that a team had a 200-yard rusher
and a player with at least three TD catches in a game. New York's offense
currently ranks second in the NFL and leads the NFC, averaging 429.2 yards per
game and the Giants have gained 1,877 yards in their past four games, the
highest total over any four-game span in franchise history.
"The Giants are an outstanding team," said Niners coach Jim Harbaugh. "They've
got an explosive offense. They're very balanced. They're just an all-around
top team in the league."
The 49ers, meanwhile, recorded a franchise-record 621 yards last week in a
45-3 win over Buffalo. In the victory, San Francisco became the first team in
NFL history to gain at least 300 yards rushing (311) and 300 yards passing
(310) in a game. The 49ers have won each of their past two games by 30-plus
points, the first time the team has accomplished that since 1961.
"San Francisco is a very good team," said Giants head coach Tom Coughlin.
"We'll have to be at our best."
PREDICTION: 49ers 31, Giants 21
Minnesota (4-1) at Washington (2-3), Sunday, 4:25 p.m.
THE SKINNY: All eyes will be on Robert Griffin III this weekend. The dynamic
rookie quarterback was knocked out in the third quarter against undefeated
Atlanta this past Sunday with what was called a mild concussion. Whether the
Baylor product can go will be imperative against a much-improved Vikings
defense which features a strong front four backed up by playmakers like Chad
Greenway, Harrison Smith and Antoine Winfield. If RG3 can't play the 'Skins
could go with fellow rookie Kirk Cousins, who replaced him last week, or
veteran Rex Grossman. For the Vikings, Christian Ponder is second in the league
with a 69.0 completion percentage (behind Griffin) and will be shooting for his
fourth consecutive win as a starter.
PREDICTION: Vikings 23, Redskins 20
Green Bay (2-3) at Houston (5-0), Sunday, 8:25 p.m.
LINE: Texans by 3 1/2
THE SKINNY: Houston, one of the two remaining undefeated teams in 2012, will
host the Packers, last year's final unbeaten team which has fallen on hard
times this season.
Two of the premier defensive players in the NFL will be in the spotlight on
Sunday night: Green Bay's Clay Matthews and Houston's J.J. Watt. Watt leads
the NFL with 8 1/2 sacks and Matthews is on his heels with eight. Who is
missing might be the bigger story, however. The Texans improved to 5-0 with a
23-17 win at the New York Jets on Monday night but lost leading tackler Brian
Cushing, who suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.
"It's what we thought. He tore his ACL and we lost him for the year," said
Texans head coach Gary Kubiak. "He's going to have surgery, probably in about
two or three weeks, when the swelling goes down. It's a big blow to our team.
You feel bad for Brian because he works so hard. He's going to be missed."
The Packers, meanwhile, are aiming to get back to .500 after dropping to 2-3
with a 30-27 loss at Indianapolis.
"We're not quite where we need to be," said Green Bay head coach Mike
McCarthy. "We're 2-3 and that was a tough loss. I'm focused on the specifics
of our football team and that we're not where we need to be."
PREDICTION: Texans 27, Packers 21
Denver (2-3) at San Diego (3-2), Monday, 8:35 p.m.
LINE: Chargers by 2
THE SKINNY: San Diego will host Denver on Monday night as the top two teams in
the AFC West clash in prime time. The Chargers enter Week 6 in first place in
the division, one game ahead of the Broncos. Both teams are looking to bounce
back from a loss in Week 5.
In his career, Denver quarterback Peyton Manning has won 11 of his 15 Monday
starts and has a 96.3 passer rating in those contests. Last week, Manning
registered his 66th 300-yard passing game of his career, the most in NFL
"It's important that we improve throughout the season in some areas," Manning
said. "We're not quite where we want to be. Obviously, we'd like to be 5-0
and have a winning record. We're 2-3 and have a pivotal division game, so the
key is that we keep making progress."
San Diego's Philip Rivers also has been solid on Monday night, compiling a 7-3
mark with 17 touchdowns and a gaudy 105.2 passer rating in those games.
Rivers' teams are 40-8 when he cracks that century mark.
"This team is close, believe me," said Rivers after losing to New Orleans in
Week 5. "I hate losing, but the way we fought (against the Saints), that's
PREDICTION: Chargers 27, Broncos 24
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