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It's time to quarantine the NFC South

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SB Nation's Department of Football Epidemiology has issued several travel alerts this week, starting with the NFL's worst division.

Rob Carr

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TRAVEL ALERT NO. 1

The Saints, Falcons, and Panthers all suffered road losses this week (the Buccaneers successfully made it through their bye week), running the NFC South's away record to 2-12-1 this season -- and one of those wins came in Tampa, when Carolina beat the Bucs in Week 1. Though the Saints and Falcons are both 0-4 on the road this year, we believe Atlanta was where this disease originated; no team has suffered more double-digit losses away from home than Atlanta's 11. We at the Department of Football Epidemiology continue to monitor the situation and will quarantine the Falcons in the Georgia Dome if necessary.

TRAVEL ALERT NO. 2

We are also considering an unusual travel restriction forcing the Bears to play the remainder of their games away from Soldier Field. Something in the Illinois water supply seems to render the Chicago defense weak and unstable. Consider the comparative statistics: in three home games, the Bears have allowed 6.46 yards per play and 10 touchdowns while only forcing one turnover and accumulating six sacks. In four road games, they have allowed a full yard less per play, given up just seven touchdowns, sacked the opposition 13 times, and collected 10 takeaways.

For their own well-being, we hereby designate the Bears as America's Couch Surfing Football Team and prohibit them from playing in Chicago this season.

TRAVEL ALERT NO. 3

Both Ohio franchises traveled outside of the state, and each suffered one half of offensive malaise that proved to be fatal. For the Browns, that was the second half in Jacksonville, in which they ran the ball 11 times and gained one yard or less on eight of those attempts. That, however, was nothing compared to the first half the Bengals had against the Colts. Cincinnati averaged 0.96 yards per play in the first two quarters for a total of 27 yards.

This is a chart of first half rushing yardage for individual players in Week 7.

The entire Bengal offense - passing AND running - falls just above Peyton Hillis and just behind Chris Johnson, and is far outpaced by Trent Richardson.

THIS WEEK'S UNUSUAL CASE STUDY

Losing to a good quarterback is not only normal, it's, in some ways, quite beneficial. This helps your defense work on improving itself and reinforces the internal notion that a good quarterback is necessary for long-term football health. Our two mystery patients this week have lost to some good quarterbacks ... but they have also lost to some bad ones.

Patient A has lost 34 regular season games since the start of the 2011 season. Some of those losses included meaningful playing time from the following players at opposing quarterback: Tim Tebow, Josh Freeman, and Matt Cassel.

Though Patient B has only lost 31 times in that same span of time, they have faced Luke McCown, Dan Orlovsky, and Chad Henne and walked away defeated.

Both patients were beaten on game-winning drives by quarterbacks who were not starters in Week 1. Who are they?

Patient A is the Minnesota Vikings, who lost to Kyle Orton. And Patient B is the Tennessee Titans, beaten by Colt McCoy.

A PROGNOSIS FOR THE HYPEREXTENDED TAILBACK

Since the NFL expanded its regular season schedule to 16 games, no player has more rushing attempts through his team's seventh game than DeMarco Murray, who has 187 carries. That puts Murray on track to break the all-time record (416 carries, set by Larry Johnson in 2006) by eleven attempts. Murray's also third all-time through seven games in rushing yards and is on pace to become the eighth player in NFL history to break the 2000 yard barrier in a season.

But there is plenty of cause to think that will not happen. First, the five other players who have carried the ball at least 400 times in one season aren't on the 2000 yard list; none of them even got within 100 yards of doing so, and only two of them hit 1800. More importantly, every 2000 yard runner has finished the year averaging at least five yards per carry (Terrell Davis has the lowest average, with 5.12). Murray's only averaging 4.88 yards per rushing attempt.

A SALUTE TO HEALTH

We would be remiss if we failed to note Peyton Manning breaking the career record for passing touchdowns, which now stands at 510. Manning does not, however, hold the record for career touchdowns thrown in a loss; that still belongs to Dan Marino, who threw 142 touchdowns that did not result in victory, while Manning is stuck on 120.

GET WELL SOON

  • Oakland had two red zone possessions against the Cardinals, one of which resulted in a touchdown and the other in a field goal. The Raiders aren't bad in terms of red zone scoring percentage (89 percent, 14th overall). The problem is the absence of those possessions altogether -- Oakland only has nine, by far worst in the league.
  • San Diego held the ball for 21 minutes in their loss to Kansas City, a possession deficit that doesn't happen often to the Chargers. Since 2012, they're tied with the Steelers for the fewest games with less than thirty minutes of possession, and San Diego has gone 2-8 in those games, well below the league average winning percentage of .341.
  • Most of the big plays were made on special teams, but the Rams were also the first opponent to complete at least 80 percent of their passes against the Seahawks since 2010, and only the fifth to do so since 2000. Please remember to recycle the Austin Davis MVP brochures you will soon be flooded with.