Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Tryptophan must have provided a wake-up call for once, because other than the three Thanksgiving games, Thursday matchups have been a fantasy snooze this season for passing offenses.
Superstar quarterbacks Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints and Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons were the latest signal-callers to fall victim to the sluggish nature of Thursday night games.
Not only did Brees fail to throw a touchdown for the first time in 55 games, he had five passes intercepted by Atlanta. Ryan protected the football but only completed 54.5 percent of his passes for 165 yards and one score. Ryan and the Falcons won 23-13 despite converting just 1-of-11 on third down.
Aside from the fantasy smorgasbord on Thanksgiving Day, when Matt Schaub, Matthew Stafford, Robert Griffin III, Tony Romo, Tom Brady and Mark Sanchez combined to throw for 2,125 yards, 14 touchdowns and five interceptions, Thursday night has produced just two other QBs with multiple touchdown passes.
Those came by Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman in Week 8 at Minnesota (19-36, 262, 3-0) and San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers in Week 9 versus Kansas City (18-20, 251, 2-1).
Otherwise, 20 NFL passers have combined to throw for 11 passing touchdowns and 26 interceptions on Thursday night games. Those 20 quarterbacks only combined for an average of 229 passing yards in those games.
Here is the complete list of quarterbacks who have played in non-Thanksgiving Thursday games this season and their stats in those games. Notice the list isn't just populated with lower-tier guys such as Ryan Tannehill, Blaine Gabbert and Matt Hasselbeck, it also includes every-week starters like Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning, Cam Newton, Brees and Ryan.
Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears - 11-of-27, 126 yards, 1 TD, 4 INTs
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers - 22-of-32, 219 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
Eli Manning, New York Giants - 27-of-35, 288 yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs
Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons - 18-of-33, 165 yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs
It's unclear if it's fatigue or a lack of practice time to implement the game plan, but the numbers (and the eye test) suggest that the short week causes major disconnect between a quarterback and his receivers. In 11 non- Thanksgiving Thursday games, starting QBs have combined to complete 424-of-738 passes, just 57.5 percent. Only five of 32 NFL teams have a completion percentage lower than that on the season.
The 22 NFL teams who have played non-Thanksgiving Thursday night games have averaged 22.1 points per game on the season but just 18.5 on Thursday night.
The offensive explosion on Thanksgiving gives some hope to owners of Peyton Manning, Carson Palmer and Andy Dalton, three of the four starting quarterbacks who will play in the final two Thursday night games (Nick Foles or Michael Vick will be the fourth).
Peyton has as good a shot as anyone to buck the trend as he takes on an Oakland defense that has allowed an average of 42.3 ppg over its last four games while being shredded by opposing quarterbacks for 11 passing touchdowns (1 INT) in the process. Manning has thrown for multiple touchdown passes in nine of 11 games this season.
Manning is a must-start, he's earned the trust, but we'd start looking for other options besides Palmer for Week 15 or Dalton for Week 15. There's too much evidence in place that suggests QBs are not going to light it up on "Thursday Night Football."
And if Manning struggles against Oakland, well, at least you'll know not to blame the Mayans.
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