Wednesday, October 9, 2013
Big dropoff from Manuel to Lewis?
By Nic Reiner
Buffalo Bills quarterback E.J. Manuel still does not have an official timetable on the knee injury he suffered in last Thursday's game against the Cleveland Browns. Fellow rookie Jeff Tuel finished the game after Manuel went out but did not play particularly well in his first NFL action. The Bills brought up Thad Lewis from the practice squad earlier this week and now he'll make his second career start this Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals. How big is the dropoff from Manuel to Lewis?
Manuel has checked out in the bottom third of starting quarterbacks in most relevant QB statistical categories in his first year. His 42.2 QBR was 23rd among QBs, and both his 6.57 yards per attempt and 3.3 touchdown percentage registered 24th overall. He was about average in the interception category, recording a 2.0 interception percentage, good for 14th league-wide. Manuel's first year has been about what we'd expect from a rookie QB: not great but also not atrocious.
Lewis, for his part, has started only one game in his four-year career: Cleveland's finale last year when he completed 22 of 32 passes for 204 yards, one touchdown, and one interception in a loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. He's been on and off active rosters and practice squads before and since then.
Betting insider Evan Abrams weighed in on how the injury plays among the betting public, noting that Cincinnati opened on 10/2 as 3.5-4 point favorites before the injury but now stand as 7-8 point favorites heading into the end of the week.
"Do I think a rookie QB is worth 3-4 points for Buffalo?" Abrams said. "No, but I do believe with Lewis as his backup, Manuel does have value towards the spread. It's probably closer to 1-2 points, though, especially against a very talented Bengals defense."
Wacky things happen in the NFL so Lewis could come out and surprise the Bengals. He'll presumably have a healthy Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller tandem in support and, as ESPN Bills reporter Mike Rodak noted, the Bengals won't have any film on him. (Of course, the counterpart is that Lewis won't have many reps with the first team.)