NFL 2018 Season - Week 16
 

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Quarterback Calls
by Dennis Ranahan

The weather for this final day of September offers no concerns at any of the outdoor National Football League venues staging games today and tomorrow night. Some rain may fall at Lambeau Field where the Green Bay Packers host the Buffalo Bills, the chance of thunderstorms exist in Chicago where the Bears host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Soldier Field. But no weather conditions appear severe enough to affect play on the field.

Three weeks ago, the NFL opened the regular campaign with one rookie quarterback starting for his team. Today, four rookies will start behind center as Josh Rosen for the Arizona Cardinals, Baker Mayfield of the Cleveland Browns and Buffalo's Josh Allen join opening day starter for the New York Jets, Sam Darnold.

Rosen has been called on to make his first start after three horrible performances by Sam Bradford. His four turnovers last week, including a game clinching fumble in scoring position prompted first-year head coach Steve Wilks to throw the rookie into the fray. In Cleveland, a week ago Thursday, Mayfield replaced an injured Tyrod Taylor, and took full advantage while leading the Browns back from a 14-0 deficit to a 21-17 victory. The Browns first win since the 2016 season.

Josh Allen got his chance to start after replacing a totally ineffective Nathan Peterman. His first game and a half appeared to show only flashes of his brilliance, but a win last Sunday in Minnesota cemented his role as the Bills starter.

Darnold started on opening night, a road win for the Jets over the Detroit Lions, 48-17. Losses against the Miami Dolphins and Browns have followed, but Darnold’s development has done nothing to dim the bright future for the USC Alum.

Another young quarterback, Deshaun Watson, had his rookie season cut short last year when a Week Eight hit sidelined him for rest of the season. Before his injury, Watson had guided the Texans to five straight games in which they scored more than 30 points. No rookie had ever done that, so even the injury last year couldn’t douse the lofty expectations for the Texans this year.

Their defense enjoys a scattering of stars, and if they can avoid the injuries that derailed them last season, the Texans were expected to be among the best this year. In fact, the Texans sit with the worst, one of only three teams in the league without a win this season. The Arizona Cardinals and Oakland Raiders are the other two.

Competitive in Foxboro on opening Sunday, the Patriots nevertheless came away with the seven point win over the Texans. Houston was in Tennessee for second week action, and even without their starting quarterback, Marcus Mariota, Tennessee was able to outscore the road favored Texans, 20-17.

Last week, at home, the Texans thought that a win was just 60 minutes of game clock away, and that overconfidence paved the way for the Giants to get their first win of the season, 27-22. Now the confidence is gone from the Texans, and they head back out on the road still in search of their first win of the season. Fortunately, they may just have come to the right place when they visit the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium.

The public has checked in with their favorite Week Four plays, and they are, as determined by the volume of action on their game, the New Orleans Saints (-3) over New York Giants, Seattle Seahawks (-3½) over the Arizona Cardinals and Philadelphia Eagles (-3½) over Tennessee Titans.

As for our selections, those games are now posted on this site with their money management number. If a Bullet Play develops in the final hour before the first kickoff of the day, that selection will be added to the list of recommendations at 9:45 a.m. Pacific Time.