How the Mighty Have Fallen

A certain Hall of Fame quarterback is in a downward spiral—as is his once-dominant team

Photo by Keith Allison

Photo by Keith Allison


Bengals PK at Patriots
Bears +2.5 at Panthers
Jets +6.5 at Chargers
Saints -10.5 vs. Buccaneers
Tennessee -2.5 vs. Florida
Utah +13 at UCLA
Rutgers -3 vs. Michigan

I could take this occasion to thump my chest after producing yet another winning week, this one a 6-1 effort. I could also choose to risk separating my shoulder by excessively patting myself on the back after ending September at 18-10 (that’s more than 64 percent winners, kids!). But you know me: I’ve never been the type to crow about my own successes—at least not when there are opportunities to revel in the failures of others. And, boy, has one such golden opportunity presented itself this week!

So without further delay, let’s play the Mystery Quarterback game. Out of 34 qualifying passers, this future Hall of Famer ranks:

33rd in yards per pass attempt at 5.77 (by comparison, the Bengals’ Andy Dalton is first at 8.60);

30th in passing yards per game at 197.8 (or nearly 33 yards per game fewer than the Jets’ Geno Smith);

29th in QB rating (79.1), right behind two guys (the Bills’ EJ Manuel and the Jaguars’ Chad Henne) who just got benched, and one spot ahead of a rookie (the Raiders’ Derek Carr) whose coach just got axed; and

27th in completion percentage at 59.1 (one of just eight QBs in this passer-friendly era not completing at least 60 percent of his throws—and none of the others are bound for Canton, Ohio).

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you … Tom Brady!

Why am I wasting time kicking Brady when he’s down? Two reasons: 1) Nobody else in the excuse-making media has the guts to speak the truth (and that truth is Brady has been downright dreadful); and 2) Brady’s rapid downfall mirrors that of his team … only the Vegas oddsmakers appear reluctant to accept it. Because of that, we’ve got ourselves a tremendous moneymaking opportunity this week.

See, the Patriots—fresh off that 41-14 Monday night meltdown in Kansas City—host the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday night. These would be the 3-0 Cincinnati Bengals, who have outscored the opposition 80-33 (the biggest point differential in the NFL); who are coming off a bye (while the Patriots are playing on a short week); who rank seventh in total offense (the Pats rank 29th); who rank sixth in scoring offense (the Pats rank 20th); and who rank first in scoring defense (the Pats just allowed 41 points to Alex Smith and the Chiefs!).

Shall we compare Brady to Dalton? Yes, we shall: Dalton is completing 65.5 percent of his passes for 240.7 yards per game, and he sports a 95.4 rating. To repeat, Brady is completing 59.1 percent of his passes for 197.8 yards per game, and he has a 79.1 rating.

Given all these details, of course Cincinnati is a sizeable favorite in this matchup, right? Uh, nope. Depending on your sportsbook of choice, the line is pick-em or Bengals minus-1. This despite the fact that, the week prior to the Chiefs debacle, New England needed a late red-zone, tipped-ball interception to beat the Raiders … at home!

By any and every measure, the Bengals are the superior team, which is why this point spread is more ludicrous than the notion that Tom Brady is still an elite quarterback. (Hey, look on the bright side, Tom: You’ve still got an elite wife!)

Last Week: 6-1 (3-1 NFL; 3-0 college; 1-0 Best Bet).

Season Record: 18-10 (9-6 NFL; 9-4 college; 2-2 Best Bets).

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Matt Jacob appears at 10 a.m. Fridays on’s First Preview on ESPN Radio 1100-AM and 98.9-FM.