Week 13’s significant storylines

Football got underway early this week with three Thanksgiving Day games, but there’s plenty more ahead Sunday.

Here is a look at some of the significant storylines going in:

*San Francisco has gone from journeyman QB J.T. O’Sullivan to journeyman QB Shaun Hill. Yet the 49ers offense has continued to thrive.

Call it the Mike Martz effect.

Even with pedestrian quarterbacks, San Francisco still leads the league in plays of 20 or more yards.

NFL, this Season

1 San Francisco 44 8 52
2 New Orleans 45 5 50
3t Houston 38 8 46
3t San Diego 38 8 46
5t. New York Giants 26 18 44
5t Philadelphia 36 8 44

*And as pedestrian as Hill might be, he still has been very effective. In five of his seven starts, Hill has a quarterback rating of better than 100 — another Martz effect.

*San Diego needs to withstand Atlanta early to have a chance to win the game. Few teams have been as dominant early on as the Falcons, who have led at the end of the first quarter in all of their victories. But check out the margins they have led by. They were up against Detroit 21-0, Kansas City 14-0, Green Bay 10-0, Chicago 6-0, Oakland 14-0, New Orleans 6-0, and Carolina 10-0.

*The flip side of that is the Pittsburgh Steelers, who have been tougher in the third quarter than anybody. Pittsburgh has allowed only nine points in the third quarter all season, which is the fewest in the NFL in any quarter. In the third quarter this season, the Steelers have outscored their opponents 54-9.

*If Chicago is going to beat the Vikings on Sunday night, it is going to have to slow down Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson. No back has done more damage to the Bears recently than Peterson. In three games against the Bears, Peterson has carried the football 62 times for 423 yards (a 6.8 yard per carry average) to go along with seven touchdowns.

*No secret here, but Browns wide receiver Braylon Edwards needs to do a better job of holding on to the football. Most counts have him at 18 drops this season. But whether it’s 14, 16 or 18, it’s still too many for one of the most talented receivers in the game.

*Something is amiss with the Panthers’ defense. It is not as effective as it was early in the season. Just take a look at the numbers.

Panthers Defense
This Season
1st 6 games Last 5 games
Total YPG 264.5 347.0
Rush YPG 105.7 115.0
Pass YPG 158.8 232.0
Turnovers 7 12

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