Ryan Fitzpatrick Plays Well for Winless Bills

Fitzpatrick replaced Trent Edwards as the starter in Week 3 and has put up a traditional passer rating of 102 (second best in the N.F.L.). In a rating that focuses on net yards per passing attempt, he is seventh, moving up 15 spots after an impressive performance against the Ravens.

If Fitzpatrick can keep it up, his numbers will translate to the best season since Jim Kelly led the team.

If he cannot keep it up, the Bills may wind up selecting Andrew Luck — listed as the No. 1 player on many 2011 draft boards — and Buffalo would go from a starter who attended Stanford (Edwards) to one who attended Harvard (Fitzpatrick) and back to Stanford (Luck).

Do the Bills pick their quarterbacks by SAT score?

The Futility of Favre

Everything seemed to go Brett Favre’s way last season. He accumulated a plus-3.08 Win Probability Added for the season, good for fifth in the league and impressive for an athlete of any age. W.P.A. measures each play in terms of how much it increases or decreases a team’s chances of winning the game, taking into account score, time, down, distance and field position, and 10 years of N.F.L. data.

This season, he has a total W.P.A. of minus-1.89, nearly three times worse than the next-worst passer. That is minus-0.32 W.P.A. per game. He is behind Trent Edwards, Jay Cutler, Matt Moore, Jimmy Clausen, Max Hall — everyone.

Most fans can tell Favre is not doing well; we do not need fancy statistics to tell us that. But when we actually quantify just how bad his play has been, it is eye-popping. If he were anyone else, he would have been benched. BRIAN BURKE

Bears’ Blunder

In a tight game on Sunday, Bears Coach Lovie Smith decided not to challenge Jay Cutler’s fumble on first-and-goal from the Redskins’ 1. The replay appeared to show that the ball crossed the plane of the goal line before the fumble. Had the play been a touchdown, the Bears would have been leading by 11 points early in the third quarter, giving them an 89 percent chance of winning, according to a win probability model.

Instead, the fumble put the Bears’ chances at 70 percent, and the Redskins went on to win.

To put that in perspective, only two of the game’s plays were more significant, and they were the two interception returns for touchdowns. There are not going to be many reviewable plays all year as big as that — it was either a touchdown or a turnover.

Smith had lost a challenge on the previous play, losing a timeout.

“Yes, I should have, looking at it of course in hindsight,” Smith said of whether he should have made the challenge, according to The Chicago Tribune. “Normally if there is a critical situation, I throw it whether I have a good look or not on it. Didn’t have a great look on it. I understand the reason why, but that was a critical play in the game.

“I need to be able to make that call.” BRIAN BURKE

McFadden Excels

It would be easy to discount Oakland’s 59-14 victory at Denver on Sunday. After all, these are the Raiders, the team that opened the season with a 38-13 loss to Tennessee, and that recently lost to the 49ers (1-6).

The Raiders are 32-87 (.269) since the 2002 season, when they lost in the Super Bowl to Tampa Bay.

But Darren McFadden is a reason to take notice. He has rushed for 557 yards, averaging 111.4 a game. His combination of power and speed is matched by few. Adrian Peterson is the only running back with a higher rushing average (114) this season.

After gaining 328 yards rushing against the Broncos, the Raiders have the league’s third-ranked rushing offense (158.4), behind Kansas City (176.5) and the Jets (159.2). Their five rushing touchdowns Sunday — three by McFadden, one each by Michael Bush and Marcel Reece — tied a team record.

Staying on the field has been the big problem for McFadden. He has not played in more than 13 games in a season in his three years in the N.F.L.

But McFadden has already surpassed his previous season high of 499 yards rushing in 2008. And his emergence gives Raiders fans something they have lacked for seven seasons: hope. GEORGE BRETHERTON

Quick Hits

Eric Mangini’s Browns beat the Saints on Sunday despite throwing for just 85 yards. Since Mangini joined the team in 2009, Cleveland has won five games in which it has gained fewer than 90 passing yards. That is the most in the league by far: the other 31 teams have won 13 such games in that span.

¶On Monday night, Dez Bryant of the Cowboys became the fifth player in the last 50 years to catch two touchdown passes and score on a punt return in the same game.

¶The Titans’ Kenny Britt, who is 22, is the youngest player in 30 years to gain 200 receiving yards in a game. Britt was benched for the first quarter against the Eagles because of his suspected role in a bar fight. He had four receptions for 159 yards and 2 scores in the fourth quarter alone.

¶Oakland’s 59 points through three quarters Sunday set a league record for a road team.

¶Since the teams merged into the N.F.L. in 1970, the Raiders and the Broncos have played 82 games. Through the first 81, Denver had outscored Oakland by 25 points. After 82, the Raiders have outscored the Broncos by 20 points. After starting 6-0 last season, the Broncos have won 4 of their last 17 games. CHASE STUART

Comeback Cut Short

Adam Jones’s comeback season with the Cincinnati Bengals has been cut short by a neck injury.

The Bengals said Tuesday that they put Jones on the injured reserve list because of a herniated disk in his neck sustained in Sunday’s 39-32 loss at Atlanta. Jones, known as Pacman, had one of the game’s highlights, ripping the ball away from receiver Roddy White and returning it for a touchdown.

Jones, the Tennessee Titans’ first-round draft pick in 2005, was out of football last season after a long streak of off-field problems. He played in five games with the Bengals this season and had 13 tackles, an interception and two fumble recoveries.

The Bengals signed the free-agent tight end J. P. Foschi, who had 10 starts for them last season, and waived tight end Daniel Coats. (AP)

Times staff members and contributors blog about the N.F.L. and fantasy football.
nytimes.com/fifthdown


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