Game of the Week: Giants vs. Redskins plus the rest of the Week 13 Preview

Redskins_Giants_Football_047fdAfter the thrilling game RGIII and Eli put on back in New Jersey in Week 7, I think we all kind of expected the Giants-Redskins rivalry to return to national prominence in short order. But this quickly? The Giants own a two-game lead over the Redskins heading into their Monday night matchup in Maryland and a win there would virtually eliminate any chance the Redskins have of winning the NFC East. But did you know that the Redskins have an exciting young player who might have something to say about that? In case you haven’t heard of him, Game of the Week will bring him to your attention shortly…

Who: New York Giants vs. Washington Redskins

Where: FedEx Field, Landover, MD

When: 7:30 P.M., Monday, December 3rd

Network: ESPN (Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden, Lisa Salters)

Key Storylines:

  1. His name is Robert Lee Griffin III. And he’s really freaking good. Jimmy Johnson is probably going overboard when he states on Fox’s pregame show that RGIII is his league MVP so far this year – the two frontrunners for the award right now probably have to be Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, in some order (what year is it?) – but he’s not going overboard by much. Take a look at the Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt leaders for this season. Brady and Manning have separated themselves somewhat from the pack, but RGIII is nipping at Josh Freeman’s heels for third place in those rankings. Not bad! His interception rate of 1.3% is obviously unsustainable, but even disregarding that all of his passing stats seem to indicate he’s one of the best passers in the league right now. As a rookie. And that’s before we include his 642 rushing yards and (outside) shot at a 1,000 yard season on the ground. Do you think such a player could be considered the Offensive Rookie of the Year?
  2. Alas, the Redskins pass defense. You probably assume that the Redskins are among the most efficient teams in the league on offense – and you would be correct. They rank fourth in both net yards per pass attempt and yards per carry. Defensively, they’re also above average against the run, ranking fourteenth in yards per carry allowed. The Achilles’ heel of their defense – and, by extension, their team – has been their pass defense, however, which ranks 24th in net yards per pass attempt. What’s exacerbated this issue is that the Redskins have faced more pass attempts and less rushing attempts than any other team in the league this season. And worst of all, injured star pass rusher Brian Orakpo’s terrible Geico commercials are still in circulation on game days, so the Redskins are getting all of the annoyance but none of the sacks from their top linebacker. Shouldn’t have let his pecs get Orakpoed.
  3. The Giants are also participating in this game. And if Eli Manning is on, they’ll likely win because of the Redskins’ aforementioned difficulties in pass defense. What Sunday night’s thoroughly impressive blowout win over the Packers most illustrated, however, was how important safety Kenny Phillips is to Big Blue’s defense. With a healthy Phillips back at strong safety (granted, this is kind of like saying “With a healthy Mark Prior back in the starting rotation), the Giants can use their nickel defense with Antrel Rolle acting as a third linebacker against the run and slot corner against the pass and Stevie Brown focused solely on patrolling center field. It was a defense that no one really figured out in their Super Bowl run last postseason and certainly a defense that the Packers had trouble with last week. Naturally, Phillips re-injured his knee late in the game Sunday and is questionable for Monday night. Would the Giants like him to be on the field at the same time the most exciting young player in the league is lined up across from them? PERHAPS.

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Steve Stone’s Said in Stone Cold Lock of the Game: “As it turned out, I had runners at second and third with no play made by anyone. I handed him back his sponge and tried to pitch my way out of it.”

Projected Final Score: Redskins 33, Giants 31

Team To Bet On If Gambling Were Legal: Redskins (+2.5)

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Before we get into the rest of our Week 13 preview, let’s post a quick recap on last night’s Saints-Falcons game…

Atlanta 23, New Orleans 13
Adjusted Yards per Play: 4.79 – Atlanta, 3.12 – New Orleans
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Atlanta 19.50, New Orleans 16.49

Quick Thought: First of all, let’s congratulate Drew Brees on his 54-game passing touchdown streak; the fact that it took a five-interception day to end it probably tells you…well, I’m don’t actually know what it tells you other than he had a crap game. Now that the streak is over, however, I’m sure we’ll hear a bunch of old-timers come out of the woodwork and say that Johnny Unitas’s 47-game streak is still more impressive because he played in a much tougher era for quarterbacks. And that’s undoubtedly true. The thing is, though, while it’s unquestionably easier to gain yards through the air now, the average number of touchdowns thrown in a game hasn’t changed that much since Unitas played. When Unitas was on his streak from 1956 to 1960, the average NFL team threw for 1.1 (1956), 1.2 (1957), 1.5 (1958), 1.4 (1959), and 1.4 (1960) touchdowns per game 1.32. During Brees’s streak, the average NFL team threw for 1.4 (2009), 1.5 (2010), 1.5 (2011), and 1.5 (2012) touchdowns per game. So, on average, quarterbacks in Brees’s era could be expected to throw for .15 more touchdowns per game than quarterbacks in Unitas’s era – a decent advantage, but not an overpowering one. Ultimately, I’m not sure which streak is more impressive; I am, however, sure that both were fairly impressive. I guess.

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Below are SSLYAR’s Week 13 NFL Projections, ranked by the author’s subjective interest in watching each game. Home teams are italicized; projected winners against the spread are underlined. To see which games are being shown in your area, check out the506′s TV distribution maps. Our guest analyst this week is the former emperor of the Mongol Empire, Genghis Khan.

  1. Washington Redskins 33, New York Giants 31 (in-depth preview above): “It is not sufficient that I suceed – all others must fail.”
  2. Baltimore Ravens 20, Pittsburgh Steelers 14: “With Heaven’s aid I have conquered for you a huge empire. But my life was too short to achieve the conquest of the world. That task is left for you.”
  3. Green Bay Packers 26, Minnesota Vikings 21: “I am the punishment of God…If you had not committed great sins, God would not have sent a punishment like me upon you.”
  4. Denver Broncos 28, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20: “The greatest happiness is to scatter your enemy, to drive him before you, to see his cities reduced to ashes, to see those who love him shrouded in tears, and to gather into your bosom his wives and daughters.”
  5. Seattle Seahawks 17, Chicago Bears 16: “If my body dies, let my body die, but do not let my country die.”
  6. Detroit Lions 35, Indianapolis Colts 24: “The Root of Wild Madder.”
  7. San Francisco 49ers 24, St. Louis Rams 19: “If unable to abstain from drinking, a man may get drunk three times a month; if he does it more than three times he is culpable; if he gets drunk twice a month it is better; if once a month, this is still more laudable; and if one does not drink at all what can be better? But where can I find such a man? If such a man were found he would be worthy of the highest esteem.”
  8. New England Patriots 24, Miami Dolphins 20: “Perhaps my children will live in stone houses and walled towns – Not I.”
  9. Cincinnati Bengals 23, San Diego Chargers 21: ““Those who were adept and brave fellows I have made military commanders. Those who were quick and nimble I have made herders of horses. Those who were not adept I have given a small whip and sent to be shepherds.”
  10. Dallas Cowboys 28, Philadelphia Eagles 20: ““Heaven grew weary of the excessive pride and luxury of China… I am from the Barbaric North. I wear the same clothing and eat the same food as the cowherds and horse-herders. We make the same sacrifices and we share.. our riches. I look upon the nation as a new-born child and I care for my soldiers as though they were my brothers.”
  11. Houston Texans 27, Tennessee Titans 24: ““As my calling is high, the obligations incumbent upon me are also heavy; and I fear that in my ruling there may be something wanting.”
  12. Buffalo Bills 28, Jacksonville Jaguars 23: “One arrow alone can be easily broken but many arrows are indestructible.”
  13. New York Jets 14, Arizona Cardinals 10: “Be of one mind and one faith, that you may conquer your enemies and lead long and happy lives.”
  14. Carolina Panthers 26, Kansas City Chiefs 17: ““Say ye unto the Khwarezmians that I am the sovereign of the sunrise, and [he is] the sovereign of the sunset. Let there be between us a firm treaty of friendship, amity, and peace, and let traders and caravans on both sides come and go.”
  15. Oakland Raiders 21, Cleveland Browns 20: “Despite all expectations, the time of my last campaign and of my passing is near. I wish to die at home. Let not my end disarm you, and on no account weep for me, lest the enemy be warned of my death.”

2012 Record Thus Far: 113-63-1 (10-6 last week)

2012 Record Against the Spread Thus Far: 85-92 (8-8 last week)

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COAS / SSLYAR Pigskin Pick ‘Em: Week 13

The Confessions of a Sportscaster / Someone Still Loves You Alberto Riveron blog coalition is proud to announce their joint Week 13 picks; you can find those over at COAS. We’re getting psyched up for the home stretch of the season with pleas for a new NFL Network series entitled The Greatest Ties of All Time, public service announcements from Matt Schaub that may or may not regard injured genitalia, and, of course, a Mark Sanchez butt-fumble GIF. I made up a little ground on Lucas last week, but his lead is still seven games with five weeks to go. To make matters worse, we’re only disagreeing on five games this week. WHERE WILL MY LATE SURGE COME FROM? And to answer your question, Lucas, it’s always fair to blame Britton Colquitt. For anything. I’ll go sob in the corner now.

Lucas’ 2012 Record Thus Far: 92-84 (7-9 last week)

Nathaniel’s 2012 Record Thus Far: 85-91 (8-8 last week)

Fun With The ESPN Playoff Machine

I don’t know about all of you out there, but one of my favorite parts of the stretch run of the NFL season is the reintroduction of the Playoff Machine on ESPN.com. It’s here that I’m able to pretend that I’m actually in control of the NFL universe and my picks against the spread are never wrong. Since I waste so much time on this little gadget anyway, I thought I would waste all of your time by posting some of the scenarios (realistic or not) I came up with through fiddling with the machine.

The first scenario I’ll share with you guys is the closest facsimile I could come up with for the SSLYAR projections the rest of the way. Note that if Green Bay and Chicago both end up with the same record, Green Bay will apparently own the tiebreaker even if the Bears win their head-to-head matchup on Dec. 16. Otherwise, there’s not too much to report there. It’s a relatively sane prognostication for the remainder of the season. But what happens if we run the Playoff Machine as if we were a mentally unhinged psychopath who just escaped from an institution and can’t stop referring to himself in the plural sense?

Here’s one of the craziest scenarios I was able to come up with. I’ll let you all admire it first before describing:

With an unusual amount of teams having top-heavy records this year, it’s a little harder than normal to really screw up the playoff picture. Still, I’m pretty happy with this one. First of all, in the NFC we have Philadelphia winning out and getting a bunch of Giants losses (and ties) along the way to win the NFC East. ANDY KNEW WHAT HE WAS DOING ALL ALONG, GUYS. On top of that, Minnesota beats out both Chicago and Green Bay for the NFC North and gets a first-round bye. And your wild-card teams? St. Louis and Arizona, both going on wild year-end winning sprees to sneak in and, in the case of Arizona, finding a new franchise quarterback in Ryan Lindley. But I must say I’m particularly proud of the AFC. No New England! No Denver! No Pittsburgh! No Indianapolis! Instead, we have San Diego and Buffalo as the AFC West and AFC East winners, respectively. Tennessee wins out to get the first wild-card spot, just ahead of…that’s right…CLEVELAND!!! As ESPN.com commenter espnrules222 explains:

It may sound ridiculous, but if the Browns win out, the Ravens and Cowboys beat the Steelers and Bengals, and the Steelers beat the Bengals, The Browns are in the playoffs. Sounds realistic…other than the Browns winning out

It sure does, espnrules222! It sure does. Here’s another crazy one, this one putting particular emphasis on mucking up the NFC:

You have no idea how hard it was to come up with a scenario in which neither Atlanta or San Francisco makes the playoffs. Suffice it to say, it requires New Orleans to win out (and get the #1 seed), Tampa Bay to also get to 10 wins and a wild-card berth, and Washington winning the NFC East with 8 wins just for giggles. Would Saints fans be laughing mirthfully in the face of Roger Goodell with both middle fingers extended in such a scenario? I think they would. Here’s one last one for you guys. Will I be able to screw the AFC up even more?

 As it turns out, not so much. However, I was able to find a way to sneak Jacksonville and Oakland in as wild-cards. So I say that counts for something. All you have to do, guys, is win out and have a variety of teams all lose or tie out. SO SIMPLE. I love having you back in my life, Playoff Machine. DON’T EVER LEAVE ME AGAIN.

Week 12 Power Rankings: Wilford Brimley Sandwich, Snowmobile of Franklin…

Welcome to the Week 12 edition of Someone Still Loves You Alberto Riveron’s weekly NFL power rankings. To help us make sense of what happened during this last batch of NFL action, we’ve asked legendary actor Wilford Brimley to share his thoughts with us below. Please enjoy.

Ahhhhh…another crisp, clear, beautiful day here in Greybull, Wyoming. There’s not a lot of noise out here, not a lot of opportunities for distraction – just wide open ranches and mountain ranges as far as the eye can see. It’s a place for enjoying the quiet moments in life. Like watching the sun rise from your front porch with a diabetic cookie in hand. Or driving up the Rocky Mountains a ways and admiring the scenic overlook down below with a diabetic brownie in tow. Or organizing the largest cockfighting ring in Big Horn County and watching the action unfold in your back yard while enjoying some meaty diabetic lasagna. I would invite the lot of you to come down here and see the wonders of Greybull for yourself. But then our population would be liable to rise above 2,000. And I don’t like crowds.

See, Greybull is the place for getting away from it all. Los Angeles County as currently constituted is too enamored with glitz and glamour for a simple mountain man from Salt Lake City, Utah such as myself. I recently took up late night television host Craig Ferguson’s offer to appear on his Really, Really Late Show and, in doing so, made my first visit to Southern California in close to five years. Now Craig is a very nice young man and I wish him the best in all his studies, but all the same I’ve questioned my decision to go back to Hollywood ever since I stepped foot in that glorified parking lot they call a city. Take, for example, the simple task of urinating. In Greybull, vast snowfall abounds throughout the early fall through the early spring and provides an enticing target to take care of my business. Sometimes when I get particularly wild and crazy, I attempt to spell out my name or pretend I’m injecting a deadly acid into the eyes of that lout Michael Gallagher from my 1981 movie Absence of Malice. In Hollywood, however, no such wide open spaces exist. You’re allowed only a small foot, foot-and-a-half opening in which to relieve your distress and the other gentlemen using the same room often frown upon you when you shout, “YOU CAN GO ROT IN HELL, MICHAEL GALLAGHER, WE ALL KNOW YOU WERE THE ONE WHO SET UP QUINN.” The whole process becomes an exercise in confining and emasculating futility.

So as soon as I accomplished what I had set out to California to do – namely, tape an eight-minute segment for a television show that airs at 12:30 in the morning on the East Coast – I returned at once to the beloved place I call home. I don’t often seek out the company of other people while I’m on my ranch in Greybull – the wonderful spectacle that is cockfighting is more than enough to light any man’s soul on fire – but occasionally I do run into some old friends who have done exciting things out in the world of sport and politic. I eat steak and play poker once a month with Jim Crawford, former running back for the Boston Patriots back in the 1960s. I sometimes visit with former Vice President Dick Cheney and watch from afar as he shoots his own men on hunting expeditions. And I’ve also struck up a bit of friendship with current Pittsburgh Steeler defensive end Brett Keisel, who obviously owns quite an impressive bit of facial hair. You may not know this, but Brett was actually convinced to grow his beard out to its current homeless-man length during a conversation with yours truly over some diabetic candy. He was running his mouth about all manner of things and I sat back and let the young man have his fun for a time. But when he started poking fun at my mustache and claimed that he could grow better facial hair in his sleep, I threw my Sugar-Free Werther’s Original Hard Candy in his face and told him, “YOUNG MAN THIS IS A MUSTACHE THAT HAS CAUSED NO ONE LESS THAN ROBERT REDFORD TO TREMBLE WITH FEAR AND URINATE HIS PANTS ON COMMAND. UNTIL YOU GROW SOMETHING MORE IMPRESSIVE THAN THIS, I SUGGEST YOU KEEP YOUR THOUGHTS TO YOURSELF.” Then, lo and behold, he did end up growing something more impressive. Nice young man.

Now, as I finish sharing my thoughts and turn my attention back toward diabetic chocolate cake and the ever-growing cockfighting ring in my back yard, I look out my kitchen window and see all the glory and wonder that God has gracefully bestowed upon Greybull. The snow-capped mountaintops, the winding river canyons, the bloody decapitated head of a male chicken – everything a liberty-loving seventy-eight year-old man could possibly want or need lies within these town limits. And to anyone who has read my glowing descriptions of Greybull and is feeling an urge from deep within to move to this wonderful town, I offer the following words: for the love of all that is holy, stay the heck away. I’m too old to start sharing my urinating field with others now.

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A quick thought on Monday Night’s game…

Carolina 30, Philadelphia 22
Adjusted Yards per Play: 7.35 – Carolina, 5.23 – Philadelphia
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Carolina 34.13, Philadelphia 17.93

Quick Thought: I don’t have much interest in bashing Andy Reid or Ron Rivera this week, so I’d instead like to talk about Cam Newton’s fantastic new Play60 ad that you likely saw approximately 738 times over this past weekend. Even though it was repeated ad nauseum, it was still the third-biggest star of the holiday for me, coming just behind Robert Griffin III and Al Michaels’ tongue-in-cheek over/under references. The little kid is obviously the scene-stealer here, but Cam also shows impressive straight-man skills; perhaps he’s auditioning for a Detlef Schrempf-esque cameo on Parks and Recreation? Maybe Tom Haverford and Jean Ralphio start up an NFL-related entertainment agency and Cam has to be the voice of reason? There’s laughs here, Michael Schur!

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Here’s SSLYAR’s Week 12 rankings by Adjusted Yards per Play Differential, which is a descriptive metric that is designed to give an accurate representation of how each team has played thus far. San Francisco enjoys another week at the top of these rankings after their win against the Saints; their newest challenger is New England, who records their highest ranking of the season after their embarassment of the Jets. Cleveland uses the eight turnovers they forced (or received as an early Christmas present, depending on your perspective) against the Steelers to jump five spots from #22 to #17; Green Bay has the biggest fall this week after their blowout loss to the Giants, falling from #7 to #12.

Adjusted Yards per Play Differential (league average: 0.00)

  1. San Francisco: 2.43 (last week: 1, high–>low: 1–>11)
  2. New England: 1.89 (last week: 2, high–>low: 2–>8)
  3. Houston: 1.40 (last week: 3, high–>low: 1–>5)
  4. Denver: 1.39 (last week: 4, high–>low: 4–>19)
  5. Baltimore: 1.19 (last week: 5, high–>low: 1–>9)
  6. Chicago: 1.01 (last week: 6, high–>low: 1–>14)
  7. NY Giants: 1.01 (last week: 10, high–>low: 4–>26)
  8. Washington: 0.99 (last week: 9, high–>low: 5–>15)
  9. Tampa Bay: 0.79 (last week: 8, high–>low: 7–>29)
  10. Cincinnati: 0.73 (last week: 14, high–>low: 10–>32)
  11. Atlanta: 0.60 (last week: 12, high–>low: 1–>12)
  12. Green Bay: 0.52 (last week: 7, high–>low: 7–>22)
  13. Seattle: 0.46 (last week: 11, high–>low: 11–>19)
  14. Carolina: 0.30 (last week: 16, high–>low: 9–>23)
  15. Pittsburgh: 0.12 (last week: 13, high–>low: 8–>24)
  16. Detroit: 0.06 (last week: 15, high–>low: 11–>22)
  17. Cleveland: -0.03 (last week: 22, high–>low: 17–>27)
  18. Minnesota: -0.18 (last week: 17, high–>low: 7–>18)
  19. New Orleans: -0.27 (last week: 18, high–>low: 18–>29)
  20. St. Louis: -0.35 (last week: 24, high–>low: 16–>28)
  21. San Diego: -0.44 (last week: 21, high–>low: 7–>25)
  22. Arizona: -0.54 (last week: 19, high–>low: 10–>22)
  23. Dallas: -0.63 (last week: 20, high–>low: 7–>23)
  24. Miami: -0.73 (last week: 25, high–>low: 18–>31)
  25. Buffalo: -0.89 (last week: 27, high–>low: 5–>30)
  26. NY Jets: -0.97 (last week: 23, high–>low: 12–>30)
  27. Tennessee: -1.05 (last week: 26, high–>low: 26–>31)
  28. Jacksonville: -1.30 (last week: 30, high–>low: 23–>31)
  29. Oakland: -1.50 (last week: 28, high–>low: 16–>30)
  30. Indianapolis: -1.57 (last week: 31, high–>low: 27–>31)
  31. Philadelphia: -1.66 (last week: 29, high–>low: 8–>31)
  32. Kansas City: -2.78 (last week: 32, high–>low: 30–>32)

Offensive Adjusted Yards per Play (league average: 4.99)

  1. New England: 6.50 (last week: 1, high–>low: 1–>12)
  2. Washington: 6.34 (last week: 5, high–>low: 1–>6)
  3. Tampa Bay: 6.27 (last week: 4, high–>low: 1–>29)
  4. San Francisco: 6.20 (last week: 3, high–>low: 1–>12)
  5. New Orleans: 6.09 (last week: 2, high–>low: 2–>22)
  6. Houston: 5.76 (last week: 7, high–>low: 6–>11)
  7. Atlanta: 5.70 (last week: 8, high–>low: 2–>9)
  8. NY Giants: 5.63 (last week: 11, high–>low: 1–>17)
  9. Baltimore: 5.62 (last week: 6, high–>low: 1–>9)
  10. Denver: 5.48 (last week: 10, high–>low: 10–>23)
  11. Green Bay: 5.47 (last week: 9, high–>low: 6–>24)
  12. Cincinnati: 5.40 (last week: 13, high–>low: 7–>25)
  13. Detroit: 5.33 (last week: 12, high–>low: 9–>18)
  14. Carolina: 5.06 (last week: 20, high–>low: 4–>22)
  15. Seattle: 4.87 (last week: 21, high–>low: 15–>30)
  16. Buffalo: 4.86 (last week: 17, high–>low: 5–>20)
  17. St. Louis: 4.81 (last week: 23, high–>low: 13–>28)
  18. Tennessee: 4.78 (last week: 18, high–>low: 14–>27)
  19. Dallas: 4.75 (last week: 22, high–>low: 3–>25)
  20. Indianapolis: 4.70 (last week: 19, high–>low: 16–>28)
  21. Oakland: 4.70 (last week: 15, high–>low: 10–>23)
  22. Minnesota: 4.61 (last week: 16, high–>low: 9–>24)
  23. Pittsburgh: 4.50 (last week: 14, high–>low: 9–>24)
  24. Miami: 4.36 (last week: 29, high–>low: 19–>31)
  25. San Diego: 4.29 (last week: 25, high–>low: 9–>28)
  26. Cleveland: 4.29 (last week: 24, high–>low: 23–>32)
  27. Jacksonville: 4.21 (last week: 27, high–>low: 16–>31)
  28. Chicago: 4.07 (last week: 26, high–>low: 6–>30)
  29. Philadelphia: 3.99 (last week: 30, high–>low: 26–>32)
  30. NY Jets: 3.93 (last week: 28, high–>low: 8–>32)
  31. Arizona: 3.65 (last week: 31, high–>low: 26–>32)
  32. Kansas City: 3.29 (last week: 32, high–>low: 20–>32)

Defensive Adjusted Yards per Play (league average: 4.99)

  1. Chicago: 3.06 (last week: 1, high–>low: 1–>5)
  2. San Francisco: 3.77 (last week: 2, high–>low: 2–>20)
  3. Denver: 4.09 (last week: 6, high–>low: 3–>20)
  4. Arizona: 4.18 (last week: 3, high–>low: 2–>6)
  5. Cleveland: 4.32 (last week: 15, high–>low: 4–>21)
  6. Houston: 4.37 (last week: 5, high–>low: 1–>6)
  7. Pittsburgh: 4.38 (last week: 8, high–>low: 7–>23)
  8. Seattle: 4.41 (last week: 4, high–>low: 4–>8)
  9. Baltimore: 4.44 (last week: 7, high–>low: 7–>16)
  10. New England: 4.61 (last week: 13, high–>low: 3–>14)
  11. NY Giants: 4.62 (last week: 10, high–>low: 8–>30)
  12. Cincinnati: 4.67 (last week: 16, high–>low: 12–>32)
  13. San Diego: 4.72 (last week: 11, high–>low: 6–>17)
  14. Carolina: 4.76 (last week: 14, high–>low: 12–>26)
  15. Minnesota: 4.79 (last week: 17, high–>low: 6–>17)
  16. NY Jets: 4.90 (last week: 9, high–>low: 9–>21)
  17. Green Bay: 4.95 (last week: 12, high–>low: 7–>28)
  18. Miami: 5.09 (last week: 19, high–>low: 8–>23)
  19. Atlanta: 5.10 (last week: 18, high–>low: 3–>21)
  20. St. Louis: 5.17 (last week: 24, high–>low: 8–>24)
  21. Detroit: 5.27 (last week: 20, high–>low: 12–>23)
  22. Washington: 5.36 (last week: 23, high–>low: 11–>27)
  23. Dallas: 5.39 (last week: 21, high–>low: 7–>23)
  24. Tampa Bay: 5.48 (last week: 22, high–>low: 15–>26)
  25. Jacksonville: 5.52 (last week: 26, high–>low: 24–>27)
  26. Philadelphia: 5.65 (last week: 25, high–>low: 1–>26)
  27. Buffalo: 5.76 (last week: 28, high–>low: 12–>32)
  28. Tennessee: 5.83 (last week: 27, Week 1: 26–>30)
  29. Kansas City: 6.07 (last week: 30, Week 1: 27–>32)
  30. Oakland: 6.20 (last week: 29, Week 1: 19–>31)
  31. Indianapolis: 6.27 (last week: 31, high–>low: 24–>31)
  32. New Orleans: 6.36 (last week: 32, Week 1: 28–>32)

SSLYAR also ranks teams according to Predictive Yards per Play Differential, a metric which doesn’t give as large a penalty or bonus to turnovers or touchdowns, will also take into account strength of schedule and will (theoretically) better able to predict future performance. This metric uses probabilities drawn from research Brian Burke did back in 2008 in trying to determine which stats best correlated with future play. For example, because offensive performance is much more consistent from week-to-week than defensive performance, offensive play is more highly prioritized in these rankings.

For the second week in a row, the 49ers boast the #1 rating in both offense and defense. Naturally, they are ranked fourteenth overall. JUST KIDDING. The 49ers and Broncos remain well ahead of new #3 Carolina and everybody else; the distance between the second-place Broncos and third-place Panthers is roughly the same as the distance between the Panthers and the fourteenth-ranked Buccaneers. Cincinnati’s recent revival has boosted their rating back above average, once again giving the AFC a whopping FIVE teams that rate above average. Cleveland is the biggest riser in these rankings as well, going from #28 to a season-high #23; Seattle’s puzzling trouble with the previously 31st-ranked Dolphins offense causes them to fall from #3 to #9.

Predictive Yards per Play Differential (league average: 0.996923)

  1. San Francisco: 1.975411 (last week: 1, high–>low: 1–>3)
  2. Denver: 1.689746 (last week: 2, high–>low: 1–>6)
  3. Carolina: 1.409913 (last week: 5, high–>low: 3–>18)
  4. New England: 1.386041 (last week: 6, high–>low: 4–>13)
  5. Green Bay: 1.385073 (last week: 4, high–>low: 3–>20)
  6. NY Giants: 1.354459 (last week: 9, high–>low: 3–>12)
  7. Washington: 1.346467 (last week: 10, high–>low: 7–>18)
  8. Detroit: 1.330027 (last week: 7, high–>low: 5–>10)
  9. Seattle: 1.305742 (last week: 3, high–>low: 3–>16)
  10. Houston: 1.236438 (last week: 8, high–>low: 2–>12)
  11. Dallas: 1.215448 (last week: 11, high–>low: 2–>17)
  12. St. Louis: 1.137526 (last week: 12, high–>low: 11–>28)
  13. Baltimore: 1.136199 (last week: 13, high–>low: 1–>13)
  14. Tampa Bay: 1.118827 (last week: 15, high–>low: 13–>30)
  15. Cincinnati: 1.074693 (last week: 18, high–>low: 8–>24)
  16. Minnesota: 1.068989 (last week: 14, high–>low: 9–>18)
  17. Atlanta: 1.026891 (last week: 19, high–>low: 4–>20)
  18. New Orleans: 1.019905 (last week: 17, high–>low: 15–>23)
  19. Chicago: 1.0002489 (last week: 16, high–>low: 2–>19)
  20. Buffalo: 0.911182 (last week: 20, high–>low: 14–>27)
  21. NY Jets: 0.763497 (last week: 23, high–>low: 19–>32)
  22. Pittsburgh: 0.762231 (last week: 21, high–>low: 14–>24)
  23. Cleveland: 0.671759 (last week: 28, high–>low: 23–>30)
  24. Tennessee: 0.668931 (last week: 22, high–>low: 21–>26)
  25. Philadelphia: 0.631468 (last week: 25, high–>low: 10–>25)
  26. Arizona: 0.626741 (last week: 24, high–>low: 23–>26)
  27. Miami: 0.615503 (last week: 30, high–>low: 11–>30)
  28. San Diego: 0.567678 (last week: 29, high–>low: 22–>30)
  29. Oakland: 0.518476 (last week: 26, high–>low: 19–>29)
  30. Indianapolis: 0.41062 (last week: 27, high–>low: 17–>30)
  31. Jacksonville: 0.382778 (last week: 31, high–>low: 31–>32)
  32. Kansas City: 0.144542 (last week: 32, high–>low: 27–>32)

Offensive Predictive Yards per Play (league average: 2.855593)

  1. San Francisco: 3.382112 (last week: 1, high–>low: 1–>13)
  2. Washington: 3.380325 (last week: 4, high–>low: 2–>8)
  3. New England: 3.343653 (last week: 3, high–>low: 3–>9)
  4. New Orleans: 3.328475 (last week: 2, high–>: 2–>11)
  5. NY Giants: 3.251633 (last week: 5, high–>low: 1–>5)
  6. Tampa Bay: 3.249874 (last week: 9, high–>low: 6–>26)
  7. Detroit: 3.240366 (last week: 8, high–>low: 3–>11)
  8. Denver: 3.166212 (last week: 6, high–>low: 3–>12)
  9. Green Bay: 3.145635 (last week: 7, high–>low: 1–>22)
  10. Dallas: 3.081116 (last week: 11, high–>low: 5–>20)
  11. Atlanta: 3.070694 (last week: 12, high–>low: 4–>16)
  12. Carolina: 3.047109 (last week: 14, high–>low: 7–>17)
  13. Houston: 3.009187 (last week: 15, high–>low: 10–>19)
  14. Cincinnati: 2.964013 (last week: 18, high–>low: 6–>20)
  15. St. Louis: 2.953407 (last week: 16, high–>low: 14–>28)
  16. Baltimore: 2.947817 (last week: 13, high–>low: 1–>16)
  17. Buffalo: 2.942973 (last week: 10, high–>low: 9–>17)
  18. Seattle: 2.940527 (last week: 17, high–>low: 15–>25)
  19. Minnesota: 2.789502 (last week: 20, high–>low: 19–>25)
  20. Tennessee: 2.779434 (last week: 19, high–>low: 14–>24)
  21. Oakland: 2.764083 (last week: 21, high–>low: 12–>21)
  22. Indianapolis: 2.620429 (last week: 22, high–>low: 11–>24)
  23. NY Jets: 2.553516 (last week: 23, high–>low: 23–>31)
  24. Philadelphia: 2.50711 (last week: 25, high–>low: 19–>27)
  25. Miami: 2.469016 (last week: 31, high–>low: 16–>31)
  26. Chicago: 2.460116 (last week: 24, high–>low: 10–>26)
  27. Cleveland: 2.404373 (last week: 29, high–>low: 27–>30)
  28. San Diego: 2.338634 (last week: 30, high–>low: 27–>31)
  29. Pittsburgh: 2.336365 (last week: 26, high–>low: 17–>29)
  30. Arizona: 2.335971 (last week: 27, high–>low: 27–>32)
  31. Jacksonville: 2.327883 (last week: 28, high–>low: 28–>32)
  32. Kansas City: 2.206443 (last week: 32, high–>low: 24–>32)

Defensive Predictive Yards per Play (league average: 1.85867)

  1. San Francisco: 1.406701 (last week: 1, high–>low: 1–>5)
  2. Chicago: 1.457627 (last week: 4, high–>low: 1–>5)
  3. Denver: 1.476466 (last week: 2, high–>low: 2–>11)
  4. Pittsburgh: 1.574134 (last week: 5, high–>low: 4–>20)
  5. Seattle: 1.634785 (last week: 3, high–>low: 2–>6)
  6. Carolina: 1.637196 (last week: 6, high–>low: 6–>25)
  7. Arizona: 1.70923 (last week: 7, high–>low: 6–>10)
  8. Minnesota: 1.720514 (last week: 9, high–>low: 3–>13)
  9. Cleveland: 1.732614 (last week: 14, high–>low: 9–>22)
  10. Green Bay: 1.760562 (last week: 10, high–>low: 10–>17)
  11. San Diego: 1.770956 (last week: 11, high–>low: 10–>17)
  12. Houston: 1.772749 (last week: 8, high–>low: 2–>12)
  13. NY Jets: 1.790018 (last week: 15, high–>low: 11–>21)
  14. Baltimore: 1.811618 (last week: 18, high–>low: 12–>20)
  15. St. Louis: 1.815881 (last week: 13, high–>low: 8–>18)
  16. Miami: 1.853514 (last week: 12, high–>low: 8–>16)
  17. Dallas: 1.865668 (last week: 17, high–>low: 6–>17)
  18. Philadelphia: 1.875642 (last week: 16, high–>low: 5–>18)
  19. Cincinnati: 1.88932 (last week: 22, high–>low: 19–>28)
  20. NY Giants: 1.897174 (last week: 23, high–>low: 20–>32)
  21. Detroit: 1.910338 (last week: 19, high–>low: 10–>21)
  22. Jacksonville: 1.945105 (last week: 21. high–>low: 16–>24)
  23. New England: 1.957612 (last week: 20, high–>low: 16–>23)
  24. Buffalo: 2.031791 (last week: 28, high–>low: 23–>32)
  25. Washington: 2.033858 (last week: 24, high–>low: 24–>32)
  26. Atlanta: 2.043803 (last week: 27, high–>low: 14–>27)
  27. Kansas City: 2.061901 (last week: 26, high–>low: 22–>30)
  28. Tennessee: 2.110503 (last week: 25, high–>low: 25–>28)
  29. Tampa Bay: 2.131047 (last week: 29, high–>low: 19–>29)
  30. Indianapolis: 2.209809 (last week: 30, high–>low: 24–>31)
  31. Oakland: 2.245607 (last week: 31, high–>low: 23–>31)
  32. New Orleans: 2.30857 (last week: 32, high–>low: 30–>32)

Week 12 Quick Thoughts

Scattered stats and thoughts regarding Week 12 of the 2012 NFL Season…

NY Giants 38, Green Bay 10
Adjusted Yards per Play: 7.90 – NY Giants, 4.17 – Green Bay
AY/P Projected Point Totals: NY Giants 34.99, Green Bay 17.28
Quick Thoughts:
1. The “issue” with the Packers’ passing game this season – and I put “issue” in quotation marks because even with their relative struggles, they’ve still been one of the five or ten best passing teams in the league – is that they have two mediocre-at-best tackles. This was true even when Bryan Bulaga was healthy, but the problem is worse now that he’s out for the season with a hip injury and T.J. Lang has had to slide over from guard to right tackle. If neither of your team’s tackles can handle pass rushers one-on-one, then you’re forced to spend more time than you’d like trying to slow the opposition’s pass rush down. Often, this means running the football. And since none of the Packers’ running backs this season have averaged more than 3.5 yards per carry, running the football tends to just put Green Bay back in those predictable passing situations, where the Jason Pierre-Pauls and Osi Umenyioras of the world can pin their ears back and pretend they’re Mel Gibson in Braveheart (only less anti-Semitic) leading the Scots against the cruel tyranny of King Edward I. Truly ’tis a vicious cycle.
2. That’s the main reason for the Packers’ loss last night if you’re looking for analysis relevant to the actual game. If you’re looking for a more spurious scapegoat, look no further than the terrible mustaches sported by Aaron Rodgers and Mike McCarthy. This Movember nonsense has gotten a little too big for its britches, if you were to ask me. Take it from someone who can grow a pretty luxurious Amish beard but only ten long, stringy hairs for a mustache: unless you can grow that sucker full and bushy and devote the proper amount of time and care into grooming that nose neighbor, YOU SHOULD NEVER, EVER ATTEMPT A MUSTACHE UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES. Rodgers and McCarthy were just reaping the consequences of their actions. The only problem with this theory is that Eli was growing out some equally wretched facial hair of his own last night and things turned out pretty well for him. Of course, as Lucas pointed out to me last night, “It makes sense. Whatever conventional wisdom says about the Giants, the opposite is true.” That it is, my friend. That it is.

3. Finally, Reason #1,137 Why Al Michaels Is Awesome: no one loves sneaking around the NFL’s no-talking-about-gambling-on-air policy more than Alan Richard. When the Giants lined up to go for it on 4th-and-Goal up 38-10 (in a game where the over/under was 50), Al noted before the play, “It’s not over yet,” sending Cris Collinsworth into a giggling fit. Then when the Giants failed on the fourth-down play, in the deadest-of-pan deliveries, Al sent the game off to a commercial with the words, “Underwhelming, to say the least.” Inarguably, this was the greatest moment of the NFL season thus far. I can only assume Al was high-fiving Cris during the commercial break with a satisfied smirk on his face while telling Cris about the time he indirectly mentioned the point spread during Super Bowl XXIX. And Cris probably just sat back and said, “Heheheheh, pass the corn chips, Al.” Best broadcasting duo in sports, folks.

Chicago 28, Minnesota 10
Adjusted Yards per Play: 3.68 – Chicago, 2.05 – Minnesota
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Chicago 18.66, Minnesota 9.52

Quick Thought: On the one hand, the Bears broke their two-game losing streak, which is good. On the other hand, half the team died during the game, which is bad. On the third hand, Jay Cutler is still alive, so it’s all good! Yesterday was one of those Cutler games where his final stat line is pretty mediocre on its own but semi-miraculous when you take into account how many throws into six-inch windows and triple coverage he had to make. The Bears would have scored six points yesterday if Jason Campbell started. Remind me of this high point when Cutler’s throwing five interceptions to the Packers in a few weeks.

Atlanta 24, Tampa Bay 23
Adjusted Yards per Play: 6.83 – Atlanta, 6.78 – Tampa Bay
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Atlanta 27.81, Tampa Bay 26.15

Quick Thought: What do you know?! Atlanta pulls out another close one! THIS HAS NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE IN THE HISTORY OF MANKIND. Can’t even really get mad about it anymore – it’s like that weird zit on your back that keeps coming back even after you actually starting cleaning that area with soap and harassing it with J.J. Redick jokes. Or is that just a personal problem? Either way, congratulations on becoming the zit that inhabits the NFL’s back, Atlanta!

San Francisco 31, New Orleans 21
Adjusted Yards per Play: 6.61 – San Francisco, 3.88 – New Orleans
AY/P Projected Point Totals: San Francisco 26.44, New Orleans 18.57

Quick Thought: The biggest difference between Colin Kaepernick and Alex Smith thus far? In his two starts, Kaepernick has been sacked twice in 50 dropbacks for a sack rate of 4.0%. Smith has been sacked 24 times in 241 dropbacks for a sack rate of 10.0%. The 49ers offensive line is nothing short of phenomenal in run blocking, but honestly they look pretty bad against a pass rush. Kaepernick repeatedly dodged and scrambled his way out of pressure against a below-average Saints front four; Smith likely would have been sacked at least three or four times. I think that’s the biggest reason Kaepernick’s taken over the job; Smith can make and has made 95% of the throws Kaepernick’s completed over the past two games. Kaepernick just gives himself more chances for completions.

Baltimore 16, San Diego 13 (OT)
Adjusted Yards per Play: 5.09 – Baltimore, 4.62 – San Diego
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Baltimore 33.09, San Diego 21.45

Quick Thought: RAY RICE!!! First of all, what on earth was Flacco thinking throwing a three-yard dumpoff on 4th-and-29? More importantly, what was going through Ray’s head at that point? “Oh, don’t you throw that ball to me, you know what crap I’m gonna have to pull to get that first down? Aw crap, Joe, you ARE going to stick me with this, aren’t you? Well, you’re not going to make me the scapegoat, you big Frankenstein. I’m gonna get this first down and then the pressure’ll be back on you, Flaccid Face.” You heard it here first: Ray Rice converted that 4th-and-29 out of pure spite.

Indianapolis 20, Buffalo 13
Adjusted Yards per Play: 4.10 – Indianapolis, 4.81 – Buffalo
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Indianapolis 20.50, Buffalo 19.93

Quick Thought: Should’ve known better than to pick against the Colts at home, where there’s a 75% chance Chuck Pagano will appear in person and render any chance the opposing team has moot. Or was the Colts’ victory perhaps due to the two cheerleaders who shaved their heads in between the third and fourth quarters? Strange but true: no NFL team has ever lost when some of their cheerleaders have had their heads shaved during the game. CAN’T ARGUE WITH FACTS.

Miami 24, Seattle 21
Adjusted Yards per Play: 8.18 – Miami, 6.29 – Seattle
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Miami 32.14, Seattle 25.16

Quick Thought: Just as we all expected: a week after averaging 3.3 yards per play against the terrible Bills defense, the Dolphins went up against one of the top five defenses in the league…and averaged 7.9 yards per play. And all this even with the sprinklers going off in the third quarter, which you would assume could only help the Seahawks – they of all teams should be more accustomed to playing in wet conditions, right? In any event, I nominate that the Chiefs-Browns game in Week 14 be played with the sprinklers running non-stop; that way, there would at least be a chance I would watch some of that crap they’re marketing as football.

Cleveland 20, Pittsburgh 14
Adjusted Yards per Play: 3.64 – Cleveland, -2.24 – Pittsburgh
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Cleveland 16.64, Pittsburgh -8.80

Quick Thought: Ladies and gentlemen, the new Worst Offensive Performance of the Year! You can breathe easier, Mark Sanchez: your team’s putrid performance against the 49ers in Week 4 has just been surpassed in ineptitude. The Steelers didn’t even have notably bad fumble luck; when you put the ball on the ground eight times, you really shouldn’t be blaming luck for all your turnovers, anyway. Quite literally, if they had just punted the ball on every play, they would have been better off by eight or nine points. And Cleveland STILL only won by six! The things you have to do to let the Browns beat you…

St. Louis 31, Arizona 17
Adjusted Yards per Play: 6.70 – St. Louis, 3.05 – Arizona
AY/P Projected Point Totals: St. Louis 25.84, Arizona 16.78

Quick Thought: Is it a bad thing for your long-term prospects when you throw four interceptions (two of them pick-sixes) and no touchdowns and I still think, “Huh, that was better than I expected?” Congratulations on setting a ridiculously low bar, Ryan Lindley!

Jacksonville 24, Tennessee 19
Adjusted Yards per Play: 5.60 – Jacksonville, 4.14 – Tennessee
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Jacksonville 24.00, Tennessee 20.70

Quick Thought: I’m just going to point out that during his two full years starting in Miami, Chad Henne ranked 17th both years in Football Outsiders’ DYAR rankings. Is he the bright, shining beacon of hope that your franchise can ride to a playoff berth year after year? Of course not. On the other hand, HE’S NOT BLAINE GABBERT. So there’s that.

Cincinnati 34, Oakland 10
Adjusted Yards per Play: 7.50 – Cincinnati, 2.34 – Oakland
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Cincinnati 35.36, Oakland 10.20

Quick Thought: In my mind, Cincinnati is now the favorite for the final wild-card slot in the AFC. They’ll have to beat Pittsburgh in Week 16 to get there in all likelihood, but given the way Pittsburgh’s played offensively this year even with Roethlisberger that seems eminently doable. Only quibble I have with them so far: GET MOHAMED SANU MORE PASS ATTEMPTS. Did you know that he is currently averaging 73 Yards per Attempt? If he kept that up over a full season of, let’s say, 500 pass attempts, he would throw for 36,500 yards. WHY AREN’T YOU MORE EAGER TO EXPLORE THIS, MARVIN LEWIS?

Denver 17, Kansas City 9
Adjusted Yards per Play: 5.76 – Denver, 3.71 – Kansas City
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Denver 25.92, Kansas City 15.64

Quick Thought: All of you angry over Denver’s shocking non-cover against the Chiefs yesterday should feel free to direct your anger to Matt Prater. Missing a 47-yard field goal in the first quarter? Hey, no one’s perfect, man! But doinking a 33-yarder off the left upright in the third quarter? THERE’S BLOOD ON YOUR HANDS, MATTHEW.

Game of the Week: Packers vs. Giants plus the rest of the Week 12 Preview

You’re probably aware that this Sunday night’s matchup between the Packers and Giants pits the last two Super Bowl champions against each other. What you may not remember is each team has also been directly responsible for the other’s postseason ouster the last two years. The Packers throttled the Giants in a key Week 16 matchup in 2010 that gave them the tiebreaker for the final wild-card slot over Big Blue. Then, of course, the Giants avenged both that loss and a 2011 regular season loss in a lopsided win over the Packers in last year’s divisional playoffs. All of this to say…THERE’S NO LOVE LOST BETWEEN THESE TWO TEAMS. Is that a good enough cliche to go out on? All right, let’s get into Game of the Week…

Who: Green Bay Packers vs. New York Giants

Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ

When: 7:30 P.M., Sunday, November 25th

Network: NBC (Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya)

Key Storylines:

  1. Why do the Giants always fade in the second half? Football Outsiders and Grantland’s Bill Barnwell have noted in the past that the Giants’ second-half struggles are usually due to a combination of a brutal schedule and a pass defense that tends to run out of gas late in the season. Currently, however, the biggest reason for the Giant’s two-game losing streak is the play of Eli Manning, who has gone from serious MVP contender to slightly above-average quarterback over the course of three games. To be fair, his receivers haven’t given him too much help; Victor Cruz’s production has fallen back down to league-average efficiency and it’s fair to wonder how healthy Hakeem Nicks has been all season, given the drop from his normal level of play. But if you even saw just a few highlights from the Giants’ games against the Steelers or Bengals, you know that the little Manning brother has brought a lot of these struggles upon himself, making late throws into traffic and making remarkably careless decisions under pressure. The Giants need Eli to snap out of his funk immediately in order to hang on to the NFC East title that looked to be theirs a month ago.
  2. Are the Packers peaking at the right time again? Actually, based on the way they played in back-to-back games against Houston and St. Louis earlier this year, you could make a strong argument that they can play quite a bit better themselves than what they’ve shown over their past three games. Which, considering they went 3-0 in that stretch, is something of a terrifying thought. Take Aaron Rodgers, for example. Currently, he actually has a below average Net Yards per Attempt figure of 6.31 (league average is 6.35); if he finished the season at that rate, it would be the worst NY/A figure of his career. Now a large reason for that is the brutal slate of defenses the Packers have faced so far this year. And Rodgers’ TD-to-INT ratio of 27-6 is in line with the A-Rod we all know and fear, so ultimately his Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt figure ranks him seventh overall in the NFL. Still, there’s obvious room for improvement for the Packers’ passing game in the last six games of the season.
  3. What’s the likelihood the loser of this game gets knocked out of the playoffs because of it? Not particularly high, if we’re being honest. The NFC East is almost certainly only going to send one team to the playoffs, so that would make any wild-card tiebreakers between these two teams a moot point. Make no mistake, however, this is a vitally important game for both teams in their respective divisional races. The Giants’ biggest concern may no longer be the wildly inconsistent Cowboys, but the suddenly high-flying Redskins who have a Monday night date with New York next week. A Giants’ loss to the Packers would leave the door open for the Redskins to tie the division lead in that game. The Packers, meanwhile, have fought back into a tie with the Bears for first place in the NFC North and still have two games left against the Vikings, who are only one game back of them. Whoever loses this game will still be in solid position to make the playoffs, but they will have also left the door open for divisional foes to overtake them.

Steve Stone’s Said in Stone Cold Lock of the Game: “Larry Andersen pitched for at least parts of 17 seasons, and he threw 98 percent sliders.”

Projected Final Score: Giants 28, Packers 27

Team To Bet On If Gambling Were Legal: Packers (+2.5)

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Before we get into the rest of our Week 12 preview, let’s post some quick recaps on yesterday’s Thanksgiving games…

Houston 34, Detroit 31 (OT)
Adjusted Yards per Play: 6.87 – Houston, 6.38 – Detroit
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Houston 38.28, Detroit 39.65

Quick Thought: Allow me to be the 400th person you’ve heard in the past 24 hours say that the no-replay-on-an-illegal-challenge rule is the dumbest piece of crap I’ve ever encountered in the past three days. Why is Walt Coleman ALWAYS at the center of these things? He’s surpassed Jerome Boger as my most disliked referee in the league. At least Jerome is just incompetent and doesn’t have any idea what he’s doing. There’s an aura of malevolence with Walt – you can’t often hear it through his thick Southern drawl, but it’s definitely there and it’s definitely undermining the integrity of the NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE (I’m hoping if I write that in caps enough, ESPN will make me one of their NFL analysts).

Washington 38, Dallas 31
Adjusted Yards per Play: 7.94 – Washington, 5.04 – Dallas
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Washington 35.16, Dallas 27.00

Quick Thought: DON’T DO ‘EM LIKE THAT, RGIII!!! That was so reminiscent of Randy Moss’s three-catch, three-touchdown Thanksgiving performance during his rookie season in 1998 in which even Pat Summerall was speaking in hyperbolic tones by the end of it. What made both Randy and RGIII’s performances so special was the added sense that this was just the tip of the iceberg for these guys; we could conceivably see those guys play at that level for 15 years. Now if RGIII ever fake-moons the Lambeau crowd while Joe Buck is in the booth, then the analogy will be complete.

New England 49, NY Jets 19
Adjusted Yards per Play: 7.84 – New England, 3.73 – NY Jets
AY/P Projected Point Totals: New England 37.52, NY Jets 17.85

Quick Thought: I haven’t laughed so hard at a single play this season as I did at Mark Sanchez’s HERP-A-DERP fumble into the backside of his own offensive lineman (with some nice push thrown in by Vince Wilfork, of course). There’s comedy, there’s high comedy, there’s transcendent comedy, and then there’s Mark Sanchez running into his own offensive lineman, falling on his backside and losing the ball for a fumble return touchdown. WHAT DOES HE HAVE TO DO GET PULLED AT THIS POINT? He’s begging to taken out back ‘Ol-Yeller-style, Rex!

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Below are SSLYAR’s Week 12 NFL Projections, ranked by the author’s subjective interest in watching each game. Home teams are italicized; projected winners against the spread are underlined. To see which games are being shown in your area, check out the506′s TV distribution maps. Our guest analyst this week is fifteen-year NBA veteran Rasheed Wallace.

  1. New York Giants 28, Green Bay Packers 27 (in-depth preview above): “We don’t see ourselves as four All-Stars. We see ourselves as one unit. It’s like five fingers on a hand. You can do more damage together as a fist than spread out flat.”
  2. Chicago Bears 14, Minnesota Vikings 12: “Keep us on the back-burner. We won’t lose our swagger at all, because when you put that food on the back-burner, it’s just simmering and it tastes better. When you got that food on the front burner, that’s the one you’re paying attention to the most, and that’s the one that might burn. We’re on that back-burner.”
  3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31, Atlanta Falcons 27: “Go for it, Darko!”
  4. San Francisco 49ers 31, New Orleans Saints 24: “That’s our main food that feeds this team.”
  5. Baltimore Ravens 20, San Diego Chargers 16: “I’m not going to start the game by cracking a cat in the skull if I don’t get elbowed first.”
  6. Buffalo Bills 28, Indianapolis Colts 27: “I guess that was his wannabe retaliation. I started laughing and got a (technical foul) for that.”
  7. Seattle Seahawks 17, Miami Dolphins 10: “That’s when guys get to trash-talk. And it’s pretty much stroll down Memory Lane. You know, when cats say, ‘Oh, back when I was playing, when we went to the tournament and this and that.’ It’s just a stroll down Memory Lane more than anything.”
  8. Cleveland Browns 13, Pittsburgh Steelers 10: “I don’t care about that number 16. Y’all should know that coming from me. It ain’t going to change nothing about us and what we doing. Y’all should know that.”
  9. St. Louis Rams 17, Arizona Cardinals 16: “I just pick them game-by-game, not that bracket thing. It’s more profitable that way.”
  10. Tennessee Titans 23, Jacksonville Jaguars 21: “It wasn’t no statement. It was just another game. Statements aren’t to be made until playoff time.”
  11. Cincinnati Bengals 30, Oakland Raiders 24: “Don’t tread on D.”
  12. Carolina Panthers 24, Philadelphia Eagles 16: “I can’t speak for other teams, but for us, we’re definitely trying to voice our objection. I don’t have a problem with that dress code if a man is injured and has to be on the bench during games. But it’s kind of crazy to sit up there and try to tell us how to dress on the way to work. We’re not in that head office in New York. To me, that’s crazy.”
  13. Denver Broncos 27, Kansas City Chiefs 14: “Ball don’t lie.”

2012 Record Thus Far: 103-59-1 (11-3 last week)

2012 Record against the Spread Thus Far: 79-84 (8-6 last week)

And Now We Present Tony Siragusa Composing a Love Poem to a Thanksgiving Dinner

Though November may bring a time so gloomy and dreary

That we’re left with nothing but sadness and eyes so teary

There’s at least one day that takes all the pain away,

A joyous day where no one asks how much I weigh.

Thanksgiving, of course! I’m sure that you’ve heard

Of all the feasting I’ll do on this bird

I wear my stretchy sweatpants to ensure I can give it my all

There’s a reason I earned the moniker, “Bane of the Butterball.”

Because of this feast, I tolerate the presence of my in-laws

Aunt Ethel can hardly be heard whilst eating a turkey leg raw

Yes, yes, I’m sure your knitting circle has done some wonderful deeds

But you’d best stand clear of the stuffing, lest you die from my stampede

Depart from my sight, insufferable Weight Watchers plan!

This domination of the yams has only just began

Soon the mashed taters and gravy will follow

Down the great path to my stomach to wallow

But, aghast and alas! What foul force has now come upon me?

I cannot find the willpower to even rise up and pee

 How wonderful, how glorious were the intentions of my plan!

All laid to waste by the dastardly devil known as tryptophan

Still with joy I sit back, content with all that I have eaten

And proud I abstained from calling Cousin Vin a cretin

But wait! Am I gaining a second wind to break this long impasse?

Sadly, I’ve misread my body; it’s only more passing of gas.

Happy Thanksgiving.

COAS / SSLYAR Pigskin Pick ‘Em: Week 12

If there’s one thing the Confessions of a Sportscaster / Someone Still Loves You Alberto Riveron blog coalition knows about America, it’s that this great country will remain enraptured by FOOTBAW even in the midst of accidental cranberry sauce/mashed potato combinations and awkward conversations with Uncle Fred. Thus, we present our Week 12 picks to you, the people, a day early as our way of giving thanks for all the reading you guys may or may not have been doing all season long. Lucas is still eight games up after we both went 8-6 last week; now with every team playing in the same week for the first time since September, we’re disagreeing on a whopping eight games this week. Somehow we’ll probably both end up with the same record anyway. Onto the picks!

Houston Texans at Detroit Lions (+3.5)
Lucas: Texans. I think Matt Schaub won’t even throw for half his yards from against Jacksonville (that was something otherworldly or based out of Nathaniel’s Madden team on a bad day), but if Matthew Stafford is overthrowing Megatron again, Detroit is done.

Nathaniel: Lions. Probably the worst part of Thanksgiving is being stuck spending three hours of it with Phil Simms. He’s the crazy extended family member you just can’t seem to get rid of. “Well Jeem, the Houston Texeens have become very proficieeent at putteeeng themselves in winneeeng positieeens. But the Lieeens have a lot of weapeens and if they can stay in fighting treem, gosh, they could certainly pull out a weeen.” MAKE IT STOP PLEASE.

Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys (-3.5)
Lucas: Cowboys. Don’t bet against Tony Romo in November. I think he can get a last minute cover here. Then again, maybe that’s the long-ass North Dakota drive talking.

Nathaniel: Redskins. Bold prediction: RGIII will throw more than one incompletion this week. I still like Washington’s chances, though, if only because Rob Ryan will likely be sidetracked by thoughts of turkey. GET IN MY BELLY, YOU F—ING BIRD.

New England Patriots at New York Jets (+6.5)
Lucas: Patriots. “Men, here’s the plan. Let’s raise the hopes of the people in East Rutherford. Knock Sanchez out of the game and force Tebow in. Then we do to him what we did to him last year. Because there’s nothing like putting up 120 points in a 2 week span against inspirational stories.”

Nathaniel: Jets. The Patriots have literally been getting ten yards every time they’ve thrown to Gronk this year and he may be an even better blocker than a receiver. I’m almost positive they may miss him. Also, since Rex has progressed further in his weight loss goals, he doesn’t carry quite the same risk for turkey distraction that his brother does.

Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears (-5.5)
Lucas: Vikings. I think we could have an argument for Jay Cutler for MVP. He puts up, overall, pretty good numbers considering his line. Now, look at the Bears’ record with him versus without him. With the exception of the semiannual drubbings at the hands of the Packers, a healthy Cutler usually translates to Bears wins. Also, Jared Allen is hoping to tie Aldon Smith’s sack total on Sunday… from each side.

Nathaniel: Vikings. Offensive football will likely be set back approximately 100 years in this game. Sources say I may or may not be curled up in the fetal position for the lion’s share of the contest.

Oakland Raiders at Cincinnati Bengals (-7.5)
Lucas: Bengals. Carson Palmer puts up yards… and some picks… and not enough points. Cincy is starting to look like a sexy wild card pick out of the AFC. And by sexy, I definitely don’t mean a sexy skunk costume.

Nathaniel: Raiders. Hey, the homecoming game that no one is interested in! Carson Palmer comes back to his old stomping grounds to remind all 25,000 fans in attendance what could have been if Kimo Von Oelhoffen hadn’t blown up his knee seven years ago. SWEET, SWEET MEMORIES.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns (+3.5)
Lucas: Browns. New corollary: Making fun of Brandon Weeden when picking against the Browns leads to them covering. He will now proceed to complete more passes to Steelers than to Browns.

Nathaniel: Browns. Charlie Batch now makes a spot start in relief of Roethlisberger for the 137th year in a row. Legend has it he originated in the Carpathian Mountains with a strong penchant for staying up all night and disliking wooden stakes and silver bullets. We’ll see if he’ll draw blood against the Browns.

Buffalo Bills at Indianapolis Colts (-3.5)
Lucas: Colts. There must be something about all the horseshoes in Indy. This Colts team is a different animal at Lucas Oil than they are away from it.
Nathaniel: Bills. If the NFL ever decided to put on its very own play about the first Thanksgiving, starring actual NFL players, Andrew Luck would have to be the obvious choice to play one of the Pilgrims, right? Just look at that great neckbeard and tell me otherwise!
Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs (+10.5)
Lucas: Broncos. Really the only way I’d take a double digit favorite is if it’s an elite quarterback (I’d still put Manning in this category) against a catastrophically bad team. Sorry, KC. Go back to booing everyone.

Nathaniel: Broncos. I was going to say something mean about the Broncos being able to cover this line with Peyton playing left-handed, but that would ensure that the Chiefs would get a backdoor cover touchdown with three seconds left because that’s the way this year’s gone for my picks. So, no, Kansas City is going to make a game out of this! You hear me? This will be competitive! Don’t take this team lightly, Denver!

Seattle Seahawks at Miami Dolphins (+2.5)
Lucas: Seahawks. I’m going to ride this defense, even on the road. I just don’t think Miami is quite ready yet.

Nathaniel: Seahawks. If the Dolphins couldn’t get to 200 yards offensively against a TERRIBLE Bills defense last week, what does that augur for their matchup this week against one of the five best defenses in the league? Will they get negative yards? Will Ryan Tannehill throw seven interceptions? It’s all on the table now.

Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+0.5)
Lucas: Buccaneers. JAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAASSSSSSSSSSSSSH FREEMAN! With a healthy side of Doug Martin.

Nathaniel: Buccaneers. All right, Atlanta, let’s see you squirm your way out of a tough game against a division opponent whose offense has been shooting fireballs out of its butt for the past month and a half. I’m dying to see how you’re going to win by one score this time.

Tennessee Titans at Jacksonville Jaguars (+2.5)
Lucas: Titans. I’m thinking don’t take the Jags at home considering their owner is trying to kill them with their all black unis. Unless the spread is astronomical. 2.5 is definitely doable.

Nathaniel: Jaguars. I have very few rules in life, but one of them is “Always take Chad Henne’s team a week after he improbably throws for 350 yards and 4 touchdowns against a quality opponent.” First time I’ve ever had to enforce this one!

Baltimore Ravens at San Diego Chargers (+0.5)
Lucas: Chargers. San Diego is due one “Norv Turner’s job is safe!” game a month or so. This is probably it. And if Ed Reed’s suspension is upheld, I feel better about this pick. (Nathaniel note: Uh-oh…)

Nathaniel: Ravens. “Arise, my twenty-one children! You all must be my supporting cast now since that turncoat V-Jax went to Tampa, LTD got old and all the good parts of my offensive line got concussed out of football. Beware, however: if you don’t have a thirty-five inch vertical, I WILL cut you. I don’t care if you’re my kid or not.”

San Francisco 49ers at New Orleans Saints (+1.5)
Lucas: 49ers. Holy crap Colin Kaepernick. If he was able to do what he did against the Bears defense, imagine what he could wreak on New Orleans…
Nathaniel: 49ers. San Francisco already filled their “Don’t care about this game” quota for the month against the Rams. You know what that means…
St. Louis Rams at Arizona Cardinals (-2.5)
Lucas: Cardinals. One of these days they’re bound to break the losing streak. Maybe Nathaniel or I should go try out to be the new 3rd stringer in case something happens. I wouldn’t be able to throw it deep, but I could probably toss it up to Larry Fitzgerald and he could do the rest, right?

Nathaniel: Rams. We all love to pile on Andy Reid and Norv Turner (and deservedly so, I might add), but another coach who also most definitely deserves to be fired is Ken Whisenhunt. His response to Kurt Warner retiring has basically been DURR LET’S TRY SOME UNDRAFTED FREE AGENTS DURR MAYBE KEVIN KOLBCUSSION WILL STAY HEALTHY AND NOT SUCK DURR WE DON’T NEED TO TRY TO SIGN PEYTON MANNING DURRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR. Time to get that ‘ol resume back out of storage, Kenneth.

Green Bay Packers at New York Giants (-2.5)
Lucas: Packers. The Giants aren’t backed up into nearly enough of a corner yet. It’s still November, Eli is struggling a bit right now, and Aaron Rodgers is doing Aaron Rodgers things.

Nathaniel: Packers. I’m sorry, but why are the Giants favored in this game? You’re telling me that if they played this game in Green Bay, the Packers would only be favored by three and a half? Nope, not buying it. The Packers are better and deserve a little more credit than they’re getting here. In fact, I’d go so far as to say they’ve probably got the best chance out of anybody in the NFC of unseating San Francisco as conference Super Bowl favorite. This is a scary, scary team. (Is this enough of a reverse jinx yet?)

Carolina Panthers at Philadelphia Eagles (-2.5)
Lucas: Panthers. I hate this matchup. I hate this line. I hate both team’s chances of winning, but there probably won’t be a tie. Take the points. If nothing else, wouldn’t a Ron Rivera/Andy Reid Battleship game be more fun to watch than this game?

Nathaniel: Panthers. I look forward to the Panthers blowing a twenty-one point lead with two minutes left and eventually losing by three in overtime. WHY MUST YOU BETRAY MY TRUST SO OFTEN, CAROLINA? This relationship is beyond repair.

Lucas’ 2012 Record So Far: 85-75 (8-6 last week)

Nathaniel’s 2012 Record So Far: 77-83 (8-6 last week)

Week 11 Power Rankings: It’s a Chicken Stuffed Inside a Duck Stuffed Inside a Turkey! Boom!

Welcome to the Week 11 edition of Someone Still Loves You Alberto Riveron’s weekly NFL power rankings. To help us make sense of what happened during this last batch of NFL action, we’ve asked the turducken that will be served at Hall of Fame coach John Madden’s home for Thanksgiving to share its thoughts with us below. Please enjoy.

Well…it’s that time of year again, right? The time where my feathered brethren brace themselves for the inevitable reign of terror that will separate fathers from sons and caruncles from secondary coverts. Did you know the average turkey’s lifespan is ten years? I find that remarkable, particularly when you consider how many of us get MURDERED EVERY NOVEMBER SO YOU HUMANS CAN GET YOUR JOLLIES FROM US AND MAKE UNBELIEVABLY FOUL-SMELLING FARTS. Sorry, I’m just a little on edge right now. You would be, too, if you had less than forty-eight hours to live. Now I know what death row inmates feel like. I watched The Green Mile a couple of years ago to try and prepare, but it was no help at all. That Michael Clarke Duncan was full of crap (may he rest in peace, obviously).

I suppose I’m supposed to feel some sort of honor for being chosen for John Madden’s meal this Thursday. Back at the farm, the perceived pecking order of honor amongst all my birds was the White House, then Betty White, then Madden. He’s obviously done a lot to, uh, “popularize” our species, shall we say. Growing up, I never really worried about being chosen for anybody’s Thanksgiving feast. I was a little runt who was always getting picked on by the other strutting toms, but that was okay. Unless a dirt poor family from the inner-city was willing to take a chance on me, I was scott-free; at worst, I would turn into sandwich meat and there’s at least a quiet dignity about being the linchpin of a solid BLT. But then it happened. A growth spurt struck. I just couldn’t stop growing, man. I wanted to starve myself so bad, but then I’d see more corn and oats being placed in front of me and then I’d frolick around for a few minutes because I was SO HAPPY and then I’d stuff my face some more. Never once did I recognize the predicament I was putting myself in.

So I grew. And grew. And grew and grew and grew until I was well over 30 pounds and unable to peck at other turkey’s snoods. The writing was on the wall at that point. I was just hoping whoever bought me would have the decency to avoid shoving the turkey thermometer into my bones. But things turned out much worse than I could even imagine. When I first saw Pauline and Jebediah – the duck and chicken who are now wedged firmly up my gastric passageway – I thought to myself, “Outstanding! Friends I can spend my final hours with!” Of course, I didn’t exactly expect to get this close to them. Imagine Verne Troyer getting stuffed into Kerri Strug getting stuffed into John Goodman. Would doing so make John Goodman approximately 40% plumper and delectable? OF COURSE BUT WHAT’S THE POINT WHEN JOHN GOODMAN IS ALREADY BIG ENOUGH FOR TWENTY PEOPLE TO GET THEIR FILL OFF OF HIM? Sorry, sorry. I’m going through some stuff right now.

So now I sit here in John Madden’s freezer, awaiting my cursed fate. And you don’t even know what the worst part is yet. Every night, Madden pulls me out of the freezer, sets me on the kitchen table, and starts lovingly caressing me and making random grunting moments at very inopportune times. He’ll talk to me about “you know who would have really had a lot of fun eating you, Mr. Turducken? BRETT FAVRE. When you’re talking about guys who were always there and available and willing to eat their fair share of turducken, BRETT FAVRE’S right at the top of the list. BRETT FAVRE was always there to help me do BRETT FAVRE things. BRETT FAVRE…Brett Favre…brett favre…” And then he’ll fall asleep cradling me in his arms. It’s the creepiest thing I’ve ever seen. This is what I have to look forward to for the next two days. Happy Thanksgiving, you monsters.

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A quick thought on Monday Night’s game…

San Francisco 32, Chicago 7
Adjusted Yards per Play: 7.69 – San Francisco, 1.30 – Chicago
AY/P Projected Point Totals: San Francisco 29.66, Chicago 5.20

Quick Thought: That was…fun. I’m sure all of you are aware of this already after watching him play last night and hearing Jon Gruden hyperventilate over him, but holy crap was Colin Kaepernick impressive. He was showing touch on deep throws, great arm strength on stick throws, the great athleticism we already knew he had…I mean, the Bears pass defense in the first nine games of this season was virtually inpenetrable and he went over ten Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt against it. Just phenomenal. Other than the one game a month they seem to take off, the 49ers have looked like the clear best team in the league and if Kaepernick can approximate that level of performance for the rest of the season…oh crap. As for the Bears, my personal hope as a fan is that they can reach double-digits in points against Minnesota. SUCH LOFTY ASPIRATIONS.

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Here’s SSLYAR’s Week 11 rankings by Adjusted Yards per Play Differential, which is a descriptive metric that is designed to give an accurate representation of how each team has played thus far. As you might expect, San Francisco is still #1 after last night’s pummeling of the Bears. New England hits their high point of the season at #2 after thrashing the Colts; Indianapolis is now ranked 31st in this metric, even with their 6-4 overall record. Washington is the biggest riser of the week, going from #14 to #9; despite gutting out a victory against the Cardinals, Atlanta takes the biggest tumble, going from #8 to #12.

Adjusted Yards per Play Differential (league average: 0.00)

  1. San Francisco: 2.49 (last week: 1, high–>low: 1–>11)
  2. New England: 1.60 (last week: 5, high–>low: 2–>8)
  3. Houston: 1.55 (last week: 2, high–>low: 1–>5)
  4. Denver: 1.33 (last week: 6, high–>low: 4–>19)
  5. Baltimore: 1.28 (last week: 4, high–>low: 1–>9)
  6. Chicago: 0.95 (last week: 3, high–>low: 1–>14)
  7. Green Bay: 0.91 (last week: 9, high–>low: 7–>22)
  8. Tampa Bay: 0.87 (last week: 7, high–>low: 7–>29)
  9. Washington: 0.79 (last week: 14, high–>low: 5–>15)
  10. NY Giants: 0.75 (last week: 11, high–>low: 4–>26)
  11. Seattle: 0.67 (last week: 12, high–>low: 11–>19)
  12. Atlanta: 0.65 (last week: 8, high–>low: 1–>12)
  13. Pittsburgh: 0.59 (last week: 10, high–>low: 8–>24)
  14. Cincinnati: 0.29 (last week: 16, high–>low: 14–>32)
  15. Detroit: 0.14 (last week: 13, high–>low: 11–>22)
  16. Carolina: 0.01 (last week: 17, high–>low: 9–>23)
  17. Minnesota: -0.03 (last week: 15, high–>low: 7–>17)
  18. New Orleans: -0.09 (last week: 20, high–>low: 18–>29)
  19. Arizona: -0.26 (last week: 21, high–>low: 10–>21)
  20. Dallas: -0.40 (last week: 19, high–>low: 7–>23)
  21. San Diego: -0.41 (last week: 18, high–>low: 7–>25)
  22. Cleveland: -0.47 (last week: 23, high–>low: 20–>27)
  23. NY Jets: -0.58 (last week: 25, high–>low: 12–>30)
  24. St. Louis: -0.77 (last week: 22, high–>low: 16–>28)
  25. Miami: -0.97 (last week: 24, high–>low: 18–>31)
  26. Tennessee: -0.99 (last week: 28, high–>low: 26–>31)
  27. Buffalo: -1.14 (last week: 30, high–>low: 5–>30)
  28. Oakland: -1.15 (last week: 27, high–>low: 16–>28)
  29. Philadelphia: -1.50 (last week: 26, high–>low: 8–>29)
  30. Jacksonville: -1.56 (last week: 31, high–>low: 23–>31)
  31. Indianapolis: -1.58 (last week: 29, high–>low: 27–>31)
  32. Kansas City: -2.85 (last week: 32, high–>low: 30–>32)

Offensive Adjusted Yards per Play (league average: 4.98)

  1. New England: 6.38 (last week: 2, high–>low: 1–>12)
  2. New Orleans: 6.32 (last week: 3, high–>low: 2–>22)
  3. San Francisco: 6.25 (last week: 4, high–>low: 1–>12)
  4. Tampa Bay: 6.22 (last week: 1, high–>low: 1–>29)
  5. Washington: 6.19 (last week: 6, high–>low: 1–>6)
  6. Baltimore: 5.70 (last week: 7, high–>low: 1–>9)
  7. Houston: 5.62 (last week: 10, high–>low: 6–>11)
  8. Atlanta: 5.60 (last week: 5, high–>low: 2–>9)
  9. Green Bay: 5.58 (last week: 8, high–>low: 6–>24)
  10. Denver: 5.45 (last week: 9, high–>low: 10–>23)
  11. NY Giants: 5.40 (last week: 12, high–>low: 1–>17)
  12. Detroit: 5.20 (last week: 11, high–>low: 9–>18)
  13. Cincinnati: 5.19 (last week: 14, high–>low: 7–>25)
  14. Pittsburgh: 5.06 (last week: 13, high–>low: 9–>24)
  15. Oakland: 4.92 (last week: 17, high–>low: 10–>23)
  16. Minnesota: 4.88 (last week: 18, high–>low: 9–>24)
  17. Buffalo: 4.87 (last week: 15, high–>low: 5–>20)
  18. Tennessee: 4.86 (last week: 20, high–>low: 14–>27)
  19. Indianapolis: 4.83 (last week: 16, high–>low: 16–>28)
  20. Carolina: 4.81 (last week: 22, high–>low: 4–>22)
  21. Seattle: 4.74 (last week: 23, high–>low: 21–>30)
  22. Dallas: 4.72 (last week: 21, high–>low: 3–>25)
  23. St. Louis: 4.65 (last week: 19, high–>low: 13–>28)
  24. Cleveland: 4.35 (last week: 26, high–>low: 23–>32)
  25. San Diego: 4.25 (last week: 24, high–>low: 9–>28)
  26. Chicago: 4.12 (last week: 25, high–>low: 6–>30)
  27. Jacksonville: 4.07 (last week: 31, high–>low: 16–>31)
  28. NY Jets: 4.03 (last week: 29, high–>low: 8–>32)
  29. Miami: 4.02 (last week: 27, high–>low: 19–>31)
  30. Philadelphia: 3.97 (last week: 28, high–>low: 26–>32)
  31. Arizona: 3.72 (last week: 30, high–>low: 26–>32)
  32. Kansas City: 3.25 (last week: 32, high–>low: 20–>32)

Defensive Adjusted Yards per Play (league average: 4.98)

  1. Chicago: 3.17 (last week: 1, high–>low: 1–>5)
  2. San Francisco: 3.76 (last week: 3, high–>low: 2–>20)
  3. Arizona: 3.97 (last week: 6, high–>low: 2–>6)
  4. Seattle: 4.07 (last week: 4, high–>low: 4–>7)
  5. Houston: 4.08 (last week: 2, high–>low: 1–>5)
  6. Denver: 4.13 (last week: 5, high–>low: 5–>20)
  7. Baltimore: 4.42 (last week: 8, high–>low: 7–>16)
  8. Pittsburgh: 4.47 (last week: 7, high–>low: 7–>23)
  9. NY Jets: 4.61 (last week: 11, high–>low: 9–>21)
  10. NY Giants: 4.66 (last week: 10, high–>low: 8–>30)
  11. San Diego: 4.66 (last week: 9, high–>low: 6–>17)
  12. Green Bay: 4.68 (last week: 13, high–>low: 7–>28)
  13. New England: 4.78 (last week: 12, high–>low: 3–>14)
  14. Carolina: 4.80 (last week: 14, high–>low: 12–>26)
  15. Cleveland: 4.82 (last week: 16, high–>low: 4–>21)
  16. Cincinnati: 4.89 (last week: 17, high–>low: 16–>32)
  17. Minnesota: 4.91 (last week: 15, high–>low: 6–>17)
  18. Atlanta: 4.95 (last week: 21, high–>low: 3–>21)
  19. Miami: 4.99 (last week: 18, high–>low: 8–>23)
  20. Detroit: 5.07 (last week: 19, high–>low: 12–>23)
  21. Dallas: 5.12 (last week: 22, high–>low: 7–>22)
  22. Tampa Bay: 5.36 (last week: 23, high–>low: 15–>26)
  23. Washington: 5.39 (last week: 27, high–>low: 11–>27)
  24. St. Louis: 5.42 (last week: 24, high–>low: 8–>24)
  25. Philadelphia: 5.47 (last week: 20, high–>low: 1–>25)
  26. Jacksonville: 5.63 (last week: 25, high–>low: 24–>27)
  27. Tennessee: 5.85 (last week: 26, Week 1: 26–>30)
  28. Buffalo: 6.01 (last week: 31, high–>low: 12–>32)
  29. Oakland: 6.07 (last week: 28, Week 1: 19–>31)
  30. Kansas City: 6.10 (last week: 29, Week 1: 27–>32)
  31. Indianapolis: 6.41 (last week: 30, high–>low: 24–>31)
  32. New Orleans: 6.41 (last week: 32, Week 1: 28–>32)

SSLYAR also ranks teams according to Predictive Yards per Play Differential, a metric which doesn’t give as large a penalty or bonus to turnovers or touchdowns, will also take into account strength of schedule and will (theoretically) better able to predict future performance. This metric uses probabilities drawn from research Brian Burke did back in 2008 in trying to determine which stats best correlated with future play. For example, because offensive performance is much more consistent from week-to-week than defensive performance, offensive play is more highly prioritized in these rankings.

Denver’s stay at the top of the list was short-lived; San Francisco is back at #1 with their highest rating since Week 5. They’re pretty good. Finding the biggest risers and fallers this week is pretty simple; Chicago and Washington swap the #10 and #16 slots in the rankings as a result of those two teams’ offenses moving in completely opposite directions. And, yes, that is 2-8 Carolina making their highest appearance of the season at #5. They’ve accrued 5.6 yards per play on offense and only given up 5.3 on defense and, more importantly, have faced just an absolutely brutal schedule so far. The lowest ranked team they’ve played so far is Atlanta and they happen to 9-1 – a supremely lucky 9-1, but 9-1 nonetheless. The Panthers’ schedule gets considerably easier the rest of the way, so expect them to continue to shoot themselves in the foot and kill a high draft position by actually winning a few games.

Predictive Yards per Play Differential (league average: 0.993514)

  1. San Francisco: 2.062202 (last week: 2, high–>low: 1–>3)
  2. Denver: 1.774129 (last week: 1, high–>low: 1–>6)
  3. Seattle: 1.472313 (last week: 4, high–>low: 3–>16)
  4. Green Bay: 1.422153 (last week: 3, high–>low: 3–>20)
  5. Carolina: 1.386601 (last week: 6, high–>low: 5–>18)
  6. New England: 1.366331 (last week: 9, high–>low: 5–>13)
  7. Detroit: 1.303104 (last week: 8, high–>low: 5–>10)
  8. Houston: 1.285282 (last week: 5, high–>low: 2–>12)
  9. NY Giants: 1.251091 (last week: 12, high–>low: 3–>12)
  10. Washington: 1.192994 (last week: 16, high–>low: 10–>18)
  11. Dallas: 1.191229 (last week: 7, high–>low: 2–>17)
  12. St. Louis: 1.160336 (last week: 11, high–>low: 11–>28)
  13. Baltimore: 1.120054 (last week: 13, high–>low: 1–>13)
  14. Minnesota: 1.071496 (last week: 17, high–>low: 9–>18)
  15. Tampa Bay: 1.045433 (last week: 14, high–>low: 13–>30)
  16. Chicago: 1.044369 (last week: 10, high–>low: 2–>16)
  17. New Orleans: 0.978153 (last week: 15, high–>low: 15–>23)
  18. Cincinnati: 0.966672 (last week: 19, high–>low: 8–>24)
  19. Atlanta: 0.933458 (last week: 18, high–>low: 4–>20)
  20. Buffalo: 0.914478 (last week: 20, high–>low: 14–>27)
  21. Pittsburgh: 0.89261 (last week: 23, high–>low: 14–>24)
  22. Tennessee: 0.823587 (last week: 22, high–>low: 21–>26)
  23. NY Jets: 0.784685 (last week: 24, high–>low: 19–>32)
  24. Arizona: 0.75249 (last week: 25, high–>low: 23–>26)
  25. Philadelphia: 0.656491 (last week: 21, high–>low: 10–>25)
  26. Oakland: 0.587583 (last week: 26, high–>low: 19–>26)
  27. Indianapolis: 0.533318 (last week: 28, high–>low: 17–>28)
  28. Cleveland: 0.492446 (last week: 30, high–>low: 28–>30)
  29. San Diego: 0.456371 (last week: 29, high–>low: 22–>30)
  30. Miami: 0.417673 (last week: 27, high–>low: 11–>30)
  31. Jacksonville: 0.385457 (last week: 31, high–>low: 31–>32)
  32. Kansas City: 0.048333 (last week: 32, high–>low: 27–>32)

Offensive Predictive Yards per Play (league average: 2.845043)

  1. San Francisco: 3.451714 (last week: 6, high–>low: 1–>13)
  2. New Orleans: 3.295895 (last week: 2, high–>: 2–>11)
  3. New England: 3.285108 (last week: 9, high–>low: 3–>9)
  4. Washington: 3.243992 (last week: 8, high–>low: 2–>8)
  5. NY Giants: 3.233673 (last week: 5, high–>low: 1–>5)
  6. Denver: 3.19756 (last week: 4, high–>low: 3–>12)
  7. Green Bay: 3.184719 (last week: 1, high–>low: 1–>22)
  8. Detroit: 3.184353 (last week: 3, high–>low: 3–>11)
  9. Tampa Bay: 3.175174 (last week: 7, high–>low: 7–>26)
  10. Buffalo: 3.026949 (last week: 11, high–>low: 9–>15)
  11. Dallas: 3.019975 (last week: 12, high–>low: 5–>20)
  12. Atlanta: 2.998792 (last week: 13, high–>low: 4–>16)
  13. Baltimore: 2.977293 (last week: 10, high–>low: 1–>13)
  14. Carolina: 2.972747 (last week: 15, high–>low: 7–>17)
  15. Houston: 2.961446 (last week: 19, high–>low: 10–>19)
  16. St. Louis: 2.957134 (last week: 14, high–>low: 14–>28)
  17. Seattle: 2.950527 (last week: 16, high–>low: 15–>25)
  18. Cincinnati: 2.940827 (last week: 17, high–>low: 6–>20)
  19. Tennessee: 2.877564 (last week: 18, high–>low: 14–>24)
  20. Minnesota: 2.832001 (last week: 21, high–>low: 20–>25)
  21. Oakland: 2.822446 (last week: 20, high–>low: 12–>21)
  22. Indianapolis: 2.761728 (last week: 22, high–>low: 11–>24)
  23. NY Jets: 2.595679 (last week: 25, high–>low: 23–>31)
  24. Chicago: 2.532286 (last week: 23, high–>low: 10–>24)
  25. Philadelphia: 2.478494 (last week: 24, high–>low: 19–>27)
  26. Pittsburgh: 2.447404 (last week: 26, high–>low: 17–>26)
  27. Arizona: 2.3799 (last week: 28, high–>low: 27–>32)
  28. Jacksonville: 2.330883 (last week: 31, high–>low: 28–>32)
  29. Cleveland: 2.301705 (last week: 30, high–>low: 27–>30)
  30. San Diego: 2.235204 (last week: 29, high–>low: 27–>31)
  31. Miami: 2.207207 (last week: 27, high–>low: 16–>31)
  32. Kansas City: 2.111793 (last week: 32, high–>low: 24–>32)

Defensive Predictive Yards per Play (league average: 1.85153)

  1. San Francisco: 1.389512 (last week: 5, high–>low: 1–>5)
  2. Denver: 1.423431 (last week: 3, high–>low: 2–>11)
  3. Seattle: 1.478214 (last week: 4, high–>low: 2–>6)
  4. Chicago: 1.487917 (last week: 1, high–>low: 1–>5)
  5. Pittsburgh: 1.554793 (last week: 7, high–>low: 4–>20)
  6. Carolina: 1.586146 (last week: 6, high–>low: 6–>25)
  7. Arizona: 1.62741 (last week: 8, high–>low: 6–>10)
  8. Houston: 1.676164 (last week: 2, high–>low: 2–>11)
  9. Minnesota: 1.760505 (last week: 11, high–>low: 3–>13)
  10. Green Bay: 1.762566 (last week: 16, high–>low: 10–>17)
  11. San Diego: 1.778833 (last week: 12, high–>low: 10–>17)
  12. Miami: 1.789534 (last week: 15, high–>low: 8–>15)
  13. St. Louis: 1.796798 (last week: 14, high–>low: 8–>18)
  14. Cleveland: 1.809259 (last week: 13, high–>low: 13–>22)
  15. NY Jets: 1.810994 (last week: 18, high–>low: 11–>21)
  16. Philadelphia: 1.822003 (last week: 9, high–>low: 5–>16)
  17. Dallas: 1.828746 (last week: 10, high–>low: 6–>17)
  18. Baltimore: 1.857239 (last week: 20, high–>low: 12–>20)
  19. Detroit: 1.881249 (last week: 21, high–>low: 10–>21)
  20. New England: 1.918777 (last week: 17, high–>low: 16–>21)
  21. Jacksonville: 1.945426 (last week: 19. high–>low: 16–>24)
  22. Cincinnati: 1.974156 (last week: 22, high–>low: 21–>28)
  23. NY Giants: 1.982581 (last week: 23, high–>low: 23–>32)
  24. Washington: 2.050997 (last week: 28, high–>low: 24–>32)
  25. Tennessee: 2.053977 (last week: 25, high–>low: 25–>27)
  26. Kansas City: 2.06346 (last week: 24, high–>low: 22–>30)
  27. Atlanta: 2.065334 (last week: 26, high–>low: 14–>27)
  28. Buffalo: 2.112472 (last week: 30, high–>low: 23–>32)
  29. Tampa Bay: 2.129741 (last week: 27, high–>low: 19–>29)
  30. Indianapolis: 2.22841 (last week: 31, high–>low: 24–>31)
  31. Oakland: 2.234863 (last week: 29, high–>low: 23–>31)
  32. New Orleans: 2.317742 (last week: 32, high–>low: 30–>32)

Week 11 Quick Thoughts

Scattered stats and thoughts regarding Week 11 of the 2012 NFL Season…

Baltimore 13, Pittsburgh 10
Adjusted Yards per Play: 3.51 – Baltimore, 2.70 – Pittsburgh
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Baltimore 14.29, Pittsburgh 13.31
Quick Thoughts:
1. First of all, I’d like to start out today’s post by asking the Steelers WHY IN GOD’S NAME DID YOU BREAK OUT THE BUMBLEBEE UNIFORMS AGAIN????? Jeez, I thought we were done with those forever after the game against the Redskins, but apparently you good Pittsburgh folk can’t get enough of jaundiced prison garb from America’s happiest time period – the Great Depression. I wrote about some of the worst uniforms of all time in my Seahawks preview back in August. Obviously, these Steelers throwbacks qualify for inclusion in that list; the only question is, how high do they rank in the Ugly Jersey Pantheon? Surprisingly, after looking over some of those other duds a second time, I’m gonna say the Worst Jersey of All Time (WJOAT) title is still safe. The Broncos and Eagles throwbacks from a few years ago are equally abominable, if not more so, and lest we forget, the Seahawks did actually wear these jerseys once upon a time. Unless a team decides to show up for a game wearing only leopard print thongs and Renaissance Fair capes, nothing’s topping that. Dishonorable mention to the Steelers for trying, however.
2. Byron Leftwich’s chug-a-lugging 31-yard touchdown run on the opening drive of the game was one of the highlights of the season so far, even for a Steelers hater such as myself. Leftwich showed “remarkable agility for a man his size” (copyright Mark Murphy 2010) – a development that so shocked the Ravens, they decided to just part the Red Sea for him and (in Bernard Pollard’s case, literally)regroup on the sidelines for the next possession. And regroup they did. The run took so much out of Leftwich that he was unable to fire any fastballs the rest of the game even with that thirty-second windup of his and the Steelers only got one more field goal the rest of the game. But you’ll always have that run, Byron. You’ll always have that run…

3. Meanwhile, Baltimore proved that scoring offensive touchdowns is highly overrated, as they rode Jacoby Jones’ punt return touchdown and two Justin Tucker field goals to victory. It was Jones’ third kick return touchdown of the season, an achievement that will make his eventual two muffed punts in the playoffs all the more painful. Is it possible that Baltimore may eventually have to find a way to score points offensively on the road in order to win in the playoffs? Perhaps. Is it more possible that they’ll poison Houston’s pre-game meal in the divisional round so that the Texans will be too, ahem, “occupied” to focus on their actual opponent and the Ravens will never have to leave M&T Bank Stadium? I SAY YES.

New England 59, Indianapolis 24
Adjusted Yards per Play: 9.10 – New England, 4.31 – Indianapolis
AY/P Projected Point Totals: New England 39.00, Indianapolis 23.09

Quick Thought: A Pyrrhic victory for the Patriots, who lost Gronk to a broken forearm on the last extra point try of the game. Even worse: Gronk probably doesn’t quite understand what a Pyrrhic victory is. GRONK HEARKEN BACK TO LEARNING DAYS WHERE GRONK LEARN THAT VICTORY MEAN THAT GRONK WINNER AND PRETTY LADIES WANT PARTY WITH GRONK. THIS MEAN GRONK OUCHIE BOO-BOO ALL BETTER! YAY FOR GRONK! *raises arm in the air in celebration* AHHHH! AHHHH! THIS NOT CASE AT ALL! GRONK PAIN IMMENSE! AHHHHHHHHH!

Green Bay 24, Detroit 20
Adjusted Yards per Play: 5.24 – Green Bay, 3.12 – Detroit
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Green Bay 22.08, Detroit 15.15

Quick Thought: Matthew Stafford couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn yesterday. He made Rick Ankiel circa 2000 look like Greg Maddux circa 1994. Even his touchdown throw to Megatron should have been picked by Morgan Burnett, only the ghost of Charlie Peprah momentarily possessed Burnett and he hilariously mistimed his jump. Other than that, if you’re consistently overthrowing Megatron by five feet, you may have some issues.

Denver 30, San Diego 23
Adjusted Yards per Play: 5.01 – Denver, 2.64 – San Diego
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Denver 25.05, San Diego 12.63

Quick Thought: One of many devastating late covers that victimized my Pigskin Pick ‘Em record yesterday. Tampa Bay’s crazy comeback against Carolina had me threatening physical violence against all those around me, but Phil Rivers’ garbage-time touchdown to Danario Alexander wasn’t much better. CAN’T YOU SEE? THE BALL HIT THE GROUND AND WAS MOVING IN HIS HAND!! THAT’S AN INCOMPLETION IF I EVER SAW ONE!!! UNLESS I HAD PICKED THE CHARGERS!!!! IN WHICH CASE, IT WOULD HAVE DEFINITELY BEEN A TOUCHDOWN!!!!!

Tampa Bay 27, Carolina 21 (OT)
Adjusted Yards per Play: 4.20 – Tampa Bay, 5.71 – Carolina
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Tampa Bay 23.10, Carolina 26.51

Quick Thought: No team is better at consistently outplaying their opponent and still finding a way to lose than Carolina. Really, their tireless dedication to grasping defeat from the jaws of victory is inspiring, in a way. And in another way, it makes me want to PUNCH RON RIVERA IN THE GROIN AND ASK JERRY RICHARDSON IF HE KNOWS HOW TO READ A FREAKING REVENUE CHART, YOU OLD POMPOUS WINDBAG. I’ve really got to stop picking the Panthers.

Atlanta 23, Arizona 19
Adjusted Yards per Play: 1.39 – Atlanta, 2.64 – Arizona
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Atlanta 7.05, Arizona 10.56

Quick Thought: It’s not often that you throw five interceptions in a game and yet are still CLEARLY the best quarterback on the field that day. But then again, Matt Ryan always has a huge horseshoe shoved up his sphincter, so we probably should have seen this coming. Ryan Lindley and John Skelton combined for 41 passing yards on 30 dropbacks yesterday for a robust 1.37 Net Yards per Attempt. Even the ’77 Bucs are snickering at that. Ken Whisenhunt sure knows how to pick quarterbacks not named Kurt Warner, doesn’t he?

New Orleans 38, Oakland 17
Adjusted Yards per Play: 8.25 – New Orleans, 5.13 – Oakland
AY/P Projected Point Totals: New Orleans 33.00, Oakland 25.28

Quick Thought: Empty Raider Yards Alert: Oakland got 404 yards of offense yesterday – 312 of that coming through the air, courtesy of Carson Palmer – and figured out how to score only 17 points. How amazing would it be if Palmer hit the 5,000 yard mark this season and Oakland ended up scoring less than 300 points? WHERE THERE’S A WILL THERE’S A WAY.

Dallas 23, Cleveland 20 (OT)
Adjusted Yards per Play: 3.97 – Dallas, 4.30 – Cleveland
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Dallas 22.12, Cleveland 21.50

Quick Thought: Dallas has played thoroughly uninspiring ball the past two weeks and yet somehow come out with victories in both games. Maybe this should be their blueprint going forward? Make terrible, green quarterbacks like Nick Foles and Brandon Weeden look like NFL-quality starters, leave Tony Romo to run around like a chicken with its head and one of its legs cut off, and commit at least six penalties of the brain-dead variety a game. THIS IS HOW YOU WIN GAMES IN THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE.

NY Jets 27, St. Louis 13
Adjusted Yards per Play: 5.37 – NY Jets, 2.71 – St. Louis
AY/P Projected Point Totals: NY Jets 24.93, St. Louis 12.58

Quick Thought: Obviously the tie with San Francisco last week took so much out of the Rams that they really had to reevaluate things and figure out what was important in life. And after much soul-searching and reflection, Jeff Fisher and his staff decided that they would only stand for absolute outcomes the rest of the season. None of this “doesn’t feel like a loss, but definitely doesn’t feel like win” wishy-washy tripe. Either go all out for a win or just suck it up and take the loss. This week apparently, they thought a loss would be easier.

Washington 31, Philadelphia 6
Adjusted Yards per Play: 8.65 – Washington, 1.65 – Philadelphia
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Washington 31.51, Philadelphia 8.37

Quick Thought: The Thanksgiving Day slate of games this year is a little underwhelming. Texans-Lions is okay, but the Lions’ inability to win a game against the NFC North has basically rendered them playoff spoilers at this point. And Patriots-Jets is always entertaining if only for the Mark Sanchez schadenfreude, but we would need nothing short of a Tebow fourth-quarter comeback for that thing to be a potential classic. Thank goodness, then, that RGIII is making an appearance in the middle game of the day. The rest of Turkey Day may be filled with lopsided gorging and grotesque feats of girth – and possibly some football on top of that – but at least there’s one shining star who’s got the potential to turn his game into a classic.

Houston 43, Jacksonville 37 (OT)
Adjusted Yards per Play: 6.52 – Houston, 7.39 – Jacksonville
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Houston 42.85, Jacksonville 34.84

Quick Thought: Before he finished the game 2-for-12 for 23 yards, Chad Henne started his day in relief of Blaine Gabbert going 14-of-21 for 331 yards and 4 touchdowns against one of the best defenses in the league. HOLY CRAP. Do you think he’s got a shot at the starting job in Jacksonville?

Cincinnati 28, Kansas City 6
Adjusted Yards per Play: 7.09 – Cincinnati, 3.90 – Kansas City
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Cincinnati 34.94, Kansas City 16.71

Quick Thought: On the bright side, Kansas City, you only turned the ball over once yesterday. That’s just two turnovers the past two weeks! Baby steps! In other news: A.J. Green is pretty good.