Week 17 Quick Thoughts

Scattered stats and thoughts regarding Week 17 of the 2012 NFL Season…

Washington 28, Dallas 18
Adjusted Yards per Play: 6.57 – Washington, 3.30 – Dallas
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Washington 28.63, Dallas 14.38
Quick Thoughts:
1. This sucker had a weird feel to it for the first three quarters. These two explosive offenses played tight against opposing defenses that have had trouble lately stopping Ryan Seacrest from moving around network to network willy-nilly. Or is that ABC and FOX’s fault? I can’t remember. Anyway, Washington’s slow start was understandable: RGIII is somewhere between 40-60% physically right now and is perpetually stuck in second gear. Dallas’s slow start on the other hand…actually, that was understandable, too, it was Tony Romo in an elimination game. No more explanation needed. Even the refs seemed to be feeling the pressure, not calling any penalties through three quarters and letting Dallas score touchdowns when the play clock had been at zero for longer than Britney Spears’ first marriage and letting DeAngelo Hall molest Dez Bryant on the outside. It felt funky, is what it did.
2. Then the fourth quarter hit and things finally opened up. Alfred Morris did his best to save all of his Offensive Rookie of the Year campaign advertising for one game and drew a standing ovation from that noted master of eloquence Clinton Portis. Dwayne Harris woke the Cowboys up a little with a nifty punt return that gave Romo needed field position in the wake of Dallas’ wide receivers unit turning into a hospital ward. It was even a three-point game with three minutes left and Dallas with a chance for an exceedingly improbable NFC East-clinching drive. Of course, as it had to happen, Romo threw one of those devastating, backbreaking interceptions he’s unfortunately become synonymous with and the Redskins get to see if they can stretch their seven-game winning streak into eight in the playoffs.

3. We’ll talk a lot about Washington later in the week, so let’s get some final thoughts on Dallas’ season down here. The problems facing Botox Jerry’s roster right now are perhaps at their most numerous than in any time in the past decade. Contrary to what you saw last night, the one thing the Cowboys were generally good at this year was throwing the ball: Romo’s the acknowledged master of terrible interceptions but even in possibly his worst season as a starter he’s been an excellent quarterback. The issues are everywhere else: the offensive line has descended into a black hole of crap, DeMarco Murray and Sean Lee are potential superstars when they’re not hurt (this is only an issue because they’re always hurt), their safeties still take horrible routes to the ball, and you’ll find more depth in a Rick Reilly column than at any position other than quarterback on the Dallas roster. Will they be good enough to once again challenge for the NFC East title in 2013? Probably. Is this team close to being a true Super Bowl contender? Not really.

Minnesota 37, Green Bay 34
Adjusted Yards per Play: 7.94 – Minnesota, 7.13 – Green Bay
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Minnesota 37.43, Green Bay 31.07
Quick Thoughts: 
1. Since this game turned out to be one of the best of the year, allow me to expound just a little further on this game at this expense of some of the non-playoff-related contests later on. I know. You’re devastated there won’t be a full column on Oakland-San Diego. I’m with you, buddy.
2. With that out of the way, HOLY CRAP WAS THIS A GOOD GAME. The Packers and Vikings are unnaturally worthy foils for each other because of the Packers’ perennially poor run defense. Even during their Super Bowl run, Green Bay has always had issues stopping the run even when they’ve been great against the pass. Is that a potential issue against Minnesota, a team that somehow averages more yards per play on the ground than through the air? I would say probably so. Hence, if Adrian Peterson looks like Superman against normal defenses, he becomes…Superduperman against the Pack? Give me a break, it’s early. Perhaps even more noteworthy was Christian Ponder’s sudden transformation into a competent NFL quarterback – without that, the Vikings still would have been sunk because the Packers’ passing game finally regained the spirit of ’11 and unleashed a reign of terror on Vikings’ fans psyches over the last three quarters. That last back shoulder throw from Rodgers to Nelson to (briefly) tie the game at 34? OH MY GOODNESS.

3. We would also be remiss if we didn’t note the unintentional comedy duo of Jordy Nelson and Mike McCarthy, who JUST NOW learned that he’s allowed to challenge plays and decided to throw the red flag after a turnover – which, as Jim Schwartz would tell you, ain’t always the best course of action. Nelson’s stealthy pickup of the flag and even-handed explanation of the situation to McCarthy was priceless, as was their hearty chuckle after the problem resolved itself in a manner most agreeable to their interests. Good times! However, as a Bears fan I must point out that I EFFING. HATE. THE PACKERS. Go beat Green Bay by 40 in the first round, Minnesota.

Chicago 26, Detroit 24
Adjusted Yards per Play: 6.31 – Chicago, 3.84 – Detroit
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Chicago 30.65, Detroit 17.28

Quick Thought: My buddy Mark Murphy tends to get WAY DOWN on the Bears whenever something bad happens to them, such as a loss or blowing a 7-1 start and failing to make the playoffs. So his adamant claims that the Bears won’t contend for another five years aren’t particularly surprising. I must admit, however, that I agree with him on wanting Lovie Smith’s ouster. One playoff trip in six seasons ain’t too good.

Indianapolis 28, Houston 16
Adjusted Yards per Play: 5.24 – Indianapolis, 4.70 – Houston
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Indianapolis 23.21, Houston 20.14

Quick Thought: Good for Chuck Pagano. The standing ovation he received from the Lucas Oil Stadium crowd before the opening kickoff was a genuinely inspirational moment, as has been just about everything he’s said over the past three months.

NY Giants 42, Philadelphia 7
Adjusted Yards per Play: 8.91 – NY Giants, 4.49 – Philadelphia
AY/P Projected Point Totals: NY Giants 36.91, Philadelphia 20.85

Quick Thought: If the Giants were in the AFC, where would you rank them? Below Denver and New England, for sure, but after that they’d probably be the scariest team to face in the playoffs. You could make the same argument for the Bears, Cowboys and maybe even the Rams, Panthers and Saints. Tough time to be a good-but-not-great team in the NFC.

Denver 38, Kansas City 3
Adjusted Yards per Play: 7.08 – Denver, 2.48 – Kansas City
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Denver 38.43, Kansas City 8.50

Quick Thought: Adrian Peterson’s freaking amazing, but Peyton Manning’s your 2012 Most Valuable Player. Somehow. 4659 yards, 68.6% completion percentage (the highest of his career), 37 touchdowns against 11 interceptions, a league-leading 7.89 Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt – all in all, his best season since 2006. Absolutely incredible.

New England 28, Miami 0
Adjusted Yards per Play: 6.97 – New England, 2.83 – Miami
AY/P Projected Point Totals: New England 37.34, Miami 11.52

Quick Thought: Everybody and their grandmother is now penciling a Pats-Broncos AFC Championship Game, which of course means we’re going to get Bengals-Ravens for the Super Bowl instead. “Dalton! Flacco! It’s the AFC Championship on CBS! PLEASE DON’T CHANGE THE CHANNEL.”

San Francisco 27, Arizona 13
Adjusted Yards per Play: 6.97 – San Francisco, 3.53 – Arizona
AY/P Projected Point Totals: San Francisco 33.36, Arizona 13.36

Quick Thought: Colin Kaepernick ended up finishing second in the league in Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt. He threw 500 fewer passes than Tom Brady, but still! NOT BAD.

Seattle 20, St. Louis 13
Adjusted Yards per Play: 7.31 – Seattle, 5.02 – St. Louis
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Seattle 28.72, St. Louis 21.87

Quick Thought: Didn’t take long for Jeff Fisher to turn the Rams into Tennessee Slightly Northwest. Play ugly, be a pain in the keester, keep it close, maybe win the game. Nobody’s better at keeping a team perpetually around .500. Enjoy the next 17 years, St. Louis!

Cincinnati 23, Baltimore 17
Adjusted Yards per Play: 4.27 – Cincinnati, 4.18 – Baltimore
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Cincinnati 14.95, Baltimore 24.78

Quick Thought: I ended up losing the Pigskin Pick ‘Em group to Lucas by two games – partly because Tony Romo enjoys screwing with people who bet on the Cowboys, but also because Tyrod Taylor threw a late pick-six to Carlos Dunlap and gave Cincinnati a late cover in a game they were getting thoroughly outplayed in. NO I’M NOT BITTER WHY DO YOU ASK?

Carolina 44, New Orleans 38
Adjusted Yards per Play: 7.91 – Carolina, 7.56 – New Orleans
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Carolina 41.81, New Orleans 34.02

Quick Thought: The two likeliest 2013 NFC South winners, in my opinion. The Panthers will likely rebound from their terrible close-game performance this year (as long as they keep Ron Rivera far, far away from the Late Game Decision button) and the Saints will go from having a couple of guys who had no idea what they were doing to one of the five best coaches in the league. That counts as an upgrade, in my opinion.

Tampa Bay 22, Atlanta 17
Adjusted Yards per Play: 5.55 – Tampa Bay, 5.13 – Atlanta
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Tampa Bay 25.77, Atlanta 22.72

Quick Thought: Because Atlanta looked so good the two previous weeks against the Giants and Lions, I won’t give them crap this week for losing to Tampa Bay at home in a game they were MOST DEFINITELY TRYING TO WIN. I’m a nice guy like that.

Pittsburgh 24, Cleveland 10
Adjusted Yards per Play: 5.13 – Pittsburgh, 2.34 – Cleveland
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Pittsburgh 19.42, Cleveland 10.36

Quick Thought: It’s entirely possible that the following is because of my nonexistent expectations for him, but I was actually pleasantly surprised by Thad Lewis. He seemed remotely competent! Of course, maybe that’s just the magic of Pat Shurmur: any quarterback he coaches plays at a remotely competent level and no further. Maybe that’s why he’s getting fired?

San Diego 24, Oakland 21
Adjusted Yards per Play: 5.00 – San Diego, 4.91 – Oakland
AY/P Projected Point Totals: San Diego 17.86, Oakland 20.00

Quick Thought: SSLYAR received four visits yesterday from Google hits for the term “Jon Gruden poop.” All I can say is: I’m glad I’ve found a kindred spirit out there.

Buffalo 28, NY Jets 9
Adjusted Yards per Play: 6.04 – Buffalo, 3.29 – NY Jets
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Buffalo 24.59, NY Jets 16.92

Quick Thought: Here’s hoping for a better 2013 for you, Timmy.

Tennessee 38, Jacksonville 20
Adjusted Yards per Play: 4.73 – Tennessee, 3.94 – Jacksonville
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Tennessee 17.23, Jacksonville 19.98

Quick Thought: What a crazy game. Tennessee had four return touchdowns in a five minute span and then also gave up a punt block touchdown late in the game, too. Maybe if you two had been doing these things all season, people would be more likely to watch your games, guys! Keep that in mind for 2013.


Game of the Week: Cowboys vs. Redskins plus the rest of the Week 17 Preview

Doesn’t it always seem like it comes down to the last game of the season for the Cowboys? Four out of the last five years, Dallas has played Week 17 games that have determined a playoff spot and/or the NFC East title. They grabbed destiny by the balls in 2009, blowing out Philadelphia to take the NFC East. In 2008 and 2011, however: things didn’t work out so well for them: they got humiliated by the Eagles (2008) and trounced by the Giants (2011). Now they travel to Washington in an attempt to even up their record in these high-stakes Week 17 matchups. Does Cowboys-Redskins for the NFC East championship sound like an agreeable Game of the Week choice to all of you? Good, because that’s what we’re going with…

Who: Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins

Where: FedEx Field, Landover, MD

When: 7:30 P.M., Sunday, December 30th

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

Key Storylines:

  1. What will Dallas do differently against RGIII this time? You may remember Robert Griffin III playing so well against the Cowboys in their Thanksgiving Day matchup that he literally set anyone who touched ablaze immediately. To paraphrase Sir Rasheed Wallace: stat don’t lie. RGIII went 19 of 27 for 304 yards, 4 touchdowns and 1 interception and made several OH MY SWEET LORD THAT’S BEAUTIFUL throws in the Redskins’ 38-31victory. What different strategies does Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan have in mind for this go-around? It’s tough to pinpoint an easy solution for Dallas, defensively. If they sit everyone back in coverage, Mike and Kyle Shanahan will be more than willing to just run the zone read with RGIII and Alfred Morris and pick six or seven yards a pop on the ground all day. If they crowd the line of scrimmage trying to take the run away, then the deep play-action pass to Washington’s many inconsistent yet speedy wide receivers will put an inordinate amount of stress on safety Gerald Sensabaugh, who sucks to begin with. Time to dig deep into that Ryan family playbook and come up with something crazy, Rob.
  2. Will Tony Romo consider playing BOTH halves of this game? Tony was on fire in the second half of the Thanksgiving game, throwing for 334 yards and three touchdowns as he led the Cowboys to 28 points. In one half! That’s pretty good and would have been even better if Dallas hadn’t fallen behind 28-3 at halftime. Romo’s had virtually no help from the running game this year – the Cowboys are ranked 31st in yards per carry – so he, along with Dez Bryant and Jason Witten, have had to carry the Dallas offense on his back through the passing game to the point where he’s only 315 yards away from 5,000 for the season. If he plays as efficiently as he has the past two weeks against Pittsburgh and New Orleans, then Dallas will have no troubles offensively Sunday night. And that would be good because, as we said above, it’s extremely questionable as to whether the Cowboys can slow down the Redskins’ offense.
  3. For all (or a significant portion of) the marbles. The Redskins can actually get into the playoffs even if they lose Sunday night: losses by Minnesota and Chicago would assure them at least a wild-card entry and a fall-back option should the doo-doo hit the proverbial fan against the Cowboys. On the other hand, fall-back options are for sissies and Frenchmen. If you have a chance to win your division, secure a home game in the first round of the playoffs AND send the Cowboys home for the season…well, that’s quite a haul right there. And as for Dallas, they’ve got all their eggs tied up in this NFC East basket, so they might as well try and win this one, too. What a loss would mean for the job security of Jason Garrett and Tony Romo is a question better suited for after they lose. For now, let’s just sit back and get psyched for the last game of the 2012 regular season – chances are it’ll be entertaining.


Steve Stone’s Said in Stone Cold Lock of the Game: “Rader just went right down the line through six or seven guys and slapped them right on the side of the face, then ran back laughing to his third base position.”

Projected Final Score: Redskins 30, Cowboys 28

Team To Bet On If Gambling Were Legal: Cowboys (+3.5)


Below are SSLYAR’s Week 17 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 legendary former coach of the Green Bay Packers (and Washington Redskins): Vince Lombardi. 

  1. Washington Redskins 30, Dallas Cowboys28: “Winners never quit and quitters never win.”
  2. Green Bay Packers 21, Minnesota Vikings 20: “Winning is not a sometime thing; it’s an all time thing. You don’t win once in a while, you don’t do things right once in a while, you do them right all the time. Winning is habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.”
  3. Detroit Lions 24, Chicago Bears 20: “Football is like life – it requires perseverance, self-denial, hard work, sacrifice, dedication and respect for authority.”
  4. Houston Texans27, Indianapolis Colts 21: “Dictionary is the only place that success comes before work. Hard work is the price we must pay for success. I think you can accomplish anything if you’re willing to pay the price.”
  5. New York Giants 28, Philadelphia Eagles23: “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.”
  6. Denver Broncos 28, Kansas City Chiefs14: “If winning isn’t everything, why do they keep score?”
  7. New England Patriots 30, Miami Dolphins 20: “People who work together will win, whether it be against complex football defenses, or the problems of modern society.”
  8. San Francisco 49ers 24, Arizona Cardinals 7: “Confidence is contagious. So is lack of confidence.”
  9. Seattle Seahawks 30, St. Louis Rams21: “Show me a good loser, and I’ll show you a loser.”
  10. Cincinnati Bengals 24, Baltimore Ravens 23: “Leaders aren’t born they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work. And that’s the price we’ll have to pay to achieve that goal, or any goal.”
  11. Carolina Panthers31, New Orleans Saints 30: “The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor.”
  12. Atlanta Falcons 31, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 26: “Coaches who can outline plays on a black board are a dime a dozen. The ones who win get inside their player and motivate.”
  13. Pittsburgh Steelers 20, Cleveland Browns 13: “Once you agree upon the price you and your family must pay for success, it enables you to ignore the minor hurts, the opponent’s pressure, and the temporary failures.”
  14. San Diego Chargers 21, Oakland Raiders 14: “The measure of who we are is what we do with what we have.”
  15. Buffalo Bills 23, New York Jets 16: “A school without football is in danger of deteriorating into a medieval study hall.”
  16. Tennessee Titans 24, Jacksonville Jaguars 19: “I don’t think there’s a punch-line scheduled, is there?”

2012 Record Thus Far: 158-81-1 (11-5 last week)

2012 Record Against the Spread Thus Far: 125-115 (9-7 last week)

COAS / SSLYAR Pigskin Pick ‘Em: Week 17


Welp. This is it. Only sixteen of the NFL’s 256 regular season games still need to be played and they’ll all come this Sunday, bringing the Confessions of a Sportscaster/Someone Still Loves You Alberto Riveron joint NFL game-picking blog coalition to an end. But I’d like to think we’ve learned a lot along the way. Never pick the Lions for anything other than “Team Most Likely To Achieve Excruciating, Excruciating Defeat.” Load up your blog with pictures of the Steelers’ terrible throwback jerseys and Andy Reid memes if you want lots of page views. And if you’re ever hitting a bad case of writer’s block and just don’t know what to write…a Mark Sanchez GIF is never a bad option. Thanks for doing this with me, buddy. I’ve enjoyed myself greatly.

Lucas has a three-game lead heading into the final week; should he hang on to win, you’ll see his guest column around these parts in the near future. Meanwhile, you can find our Week 17 picks over at COAS. Enjoy!

Lucas’ 2012 Record Thus Far: 128-112 (8-8 last week)

Nathaniel’s 2012 Record Thus Far: 125-115 (9-7 last week)

NFL 2012: An Exploration in Photojournalism

As usual, it’s been a crazy, crazy NFL season with enough activity and shenanigans to justify the approximate one hundred trillion words that are written about it every second (NOTE: statistic may not be correct). But what happens if we take a step back and let the pictures do the talking? We are often told that a picture is worth a thousand words. If that’s the case, then this will be the longest blog post SSLYAR has ever written. Below are fifteen photos that capture the essence of what transpired this season and stare deep into the very soul of the NFL itself. Either that or they’re just mildly amusing. One or the other.

Week 16 Power Rankings: Merry Christmas Everyone

Below are the SSLYAR NFL Power Rankings for Week 16 as measured by both Adjusted Yards per Play Differential and Predictive Yards per Play Differential. Normally, I would write a tongue-in-cheek essay in the guise of a (relatively) well-known personality to accompany these rankings. But, on account of it being Christmas and all, I was hoping I could maybe take it easy this time and spend time with my family instead. Thanks, guys! I knew you would understand. So, without (much) further comment, I present to you the above image of Tony Siragusa and Moose Johnston wearing holiday sweaters and wish you all a Merry Christmas (and a very late Happy Hanukkah and slightly early Happy Kwanzaa as well).


Here’s SSLYAR’s Week 16 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, Seattle, and New England remain the top three teams again this week.

Adjusted Yards per Play Differential (league average: 0.00)

  1. San Francisco1.92 (last week: 1, high–>low: 1–>11)
  2. Seattle1.72 (last week: 2, high–>low: 2–>19)
  3. New England1.39 (last week: 3, high–>low: 2–>8)
  4. Denver1.39 (last week: 5, high–>low: 4–>19)
  5. Houston1.18 (last week: 4, high–>low: 1–>5)
  6. Washington: 0.98 (last week: 6, high–>low: 5–>15)
  7. Green Bay0.97 (last week: 13, high–>low: 7–>22)
  8. Chicago0.94 (last week: 10, high–>low: 1–>14)
  9. Baltimore0.91 (last week: 9, high–>low: 1–>9)
  10. Atlanta0.87 (last week: 8, high–>low: 1–>14)
  11. Carolina0.75 (last week: 11, high–>low: 9–>23)
  12. Cincinnati0.71 (last week: 7, high–>low: 7–>32)
  13. NY Giants0.43 (last week: 12, high–>low: 4–>26)
  14. Pittsburgh0.09 (last week: 15, high–>low: 8–>24)
  15. Minnesota-0.01 (last week: 18, high–>low: 7–>18)
  16. Tampa Bay-0.08 (last week: 14, high–>low: 7–>29)
  17. New Orleans-0.09 (last week: 16, high–>low: 16–>29)
  18. St. Louis-0.12 (last week: 20, high–>low: 16–>28)
  19. Cleveland0.28 (last week: 17, high–>low: 16–>27)
  20. Detroit-0.32 (last week: 19, high–>low: 11–>22)
  21. San Diego-0.44 (last week: 22, high–>low: 7–>25)
  22. Dallas-0.45 (last week: 21, high–>low: 7–>23)
  23. Miami-0.52 (last week: 24, high–>low: 18–>31)
  24. Tennessee-1.07 (last week: 23, high–>low: 23–>31)
  25. Oakland-1.08 (last week: 27, high–>low: 16–>30)
  26. Buffalo-1.12 (last week: 25, high–>low: 5–>30)
  27. Jacksonville-1.19 (last week: 29, high–>low: 23–>31)
  28. Arizona-1.20 (last week: 26, high–>low: 10–>28)
  29. NY Jets-1.21 (last week: 28, high–>low: 12–>30)
  30. Indianapolis-1.48 (last week: 30, high–>low: 27–>31)
  31. Philadelphia-1.50 (last week: 31, high–>low: 8–>31)
  32. Kansas City-2.26 (last week: 32, high–>low: 30–>32)

Offensive Adjusted Yards per Play (league average: 4.94)

  1. Washington: 6.38 (last week: 1, high–>low: 1–>6)
  2. New England6.05 (last week: 2, high–>low: 1–>12)
  3. New Orleans6.03 (last week: 4, high–>low: 2–>22)
  4. San Francisco5.95 (last week: 3, high–>low: 1–>12)
  5. Atlanta5.88 (last week: 6, high–>low: 2–>9)
  6. Seattle5.68 (last week: 8, high–>low: 6–>30)
  7. Green Bay5.64 (last week: 11, high–>low: 6–>24)
  8. NY Giants5.58 (last week: 9, high–>low: 1–>17)
  9. Baltimore5.56 (last week: 13, high–>low: 1–>13)
  10. Houston5.54 (last week: 7, high–>low: 6–>11)
  11. Denver5.54 (last week: 12, high–>low: 10–>23)
  12. Tampa Bay5.51 (last week: 5, high–>low: 1–>29)
  13. Carolina5.41 (last week: 10, high–>low: 4–>22)
  14. Dallas5.24 (last week: 15, high–>low: 3–>25)
  15. Detroit5.07 (last week: 14, high–>low: 9–>18)
  16. Cincinnati4.83 (last week: 16, high–>low: 7–>25)
  17. Minnesota4.76 (last week: 18, high–>low: 9–>24)
  18. St. Louis4.75 (last week: 19, high–>low: 13–>28)
  19. Oakland4.68 (last week: 17, high–>low: 10–>23)
  20. Indianapolis4.67 (last week: 21, high–>low: 16–>28)
  21. Buffalo4.59 (last week: 20, high–>low: 5–>21)
  22. Cleveland4.52 (last week: 22, high–>low: 22–>32)
  23. Miami4.49 (last week: 25, high–>low: 19–>31)
  24. Pittsburgh4.46 (last week: 23, high–>low: 9–>24)
  25. Tennessee4.40 (last week: 24, high–>low: 14–>27)
  26. Chicago4.36 (last week: 26, high–>low: 6–>30)
  27. San Diego4.14 (last week: 27, high–>low: 9–>28)
  28. Jacksonville4.11 (last week: 28, high–>low: 16–>31)
  29. Philadelphia4.10 (last week: 29, high–>low: 26–>32)
  30. Kansas City3.70 (last week: 30, high–>low: 20–>32)
  31. NY Jets3.45 (last week: 31, high–>low: 8–>32)
  32. Arizona2.95 (last week: 32, high–>low: 26–>32)

Defensive Adjusted Yards per Play (league average: 4.94)

  1. Chicago3.42 (last week: 1, high–>low: 1–>5)
  2. Seattle3.96 (last week: 3, high–>low: 2–>12)
  3. San Francisco4.03 (last week: 2, high–>low: 2–>20)
  4. Cincinnati4.12 (last week: 6, high–>low: 4–>32)
  5. Arizona4.15 (last week: 4, high–>low: 2–>6)
  6. Denver4.15 (last week: 5, high–>low: 3–>20)
  7. Houston4.36 (last week: 7, high–>low: 1–>7)
  8. Pittsburgh4.36 (last week: 8, high–>low: 6–>23)
  9. San Diego4.58 (last week: 13, high–>low: 6–>17)
  10. Baltimore4.65 (last week: 9, high–>low: 7–>16)
  11. NY Jets4.65 (last week: 10, high–>low: 9–>21)
  12. New England4.65 (last week: 12, high–>low: 3–>14)
  13. Carolina4.67 (last week: 14, high–>low: 12–>26)
  14. Green Bay4.68 (last week: 15, high–>low: 7–>28)
  15. Minnesota4.77 (last week: 16, high–>low: 6–>17)
  16. Cleveland4.80 (last week: 11, high–>low: 4–>21)
  17. St. Louis4.86 (last week: 19, high–>low: 8–>24)
  18. Miami5.01 (last week: 20, high–>low: 8–>23)
  19. Atlanta5.01 (last week: 18, high–>low: 3–>21)
  20. NY Giants5.15 (last week: 17, high–>low: 8–>30)
  21. Jacksonville5.30 (last week: 23, high–>low: 21–>27)
  22. Detroit5.39 (last week: 21, high–>low: 12–>23)
  23. Washington5.40 (last week: 24, high–>low: 11–>27)
  24. Tennessee5.47 (last week: 22, high–>low: 22–>30)
  25. Tampa Bay5.58 (last week: 27, high–>low: 15–>27)
  26. Philadelphia5.60 (last week: 26, high–>low: 1–>28)
  27. Dallas5.69 (last week: 25, high–>low: 7–>27)
  28. Buffalo5.71 (last week: 28, high–>low: 12–>32)
  29. Oakland5.76 (last week: 29, high–>low: 19–>31)
  30. Kansas City5.97 (last week: 31, high–>low: 27–>32)
  31. New Orleans6.12 (last week: 30, high–>low: 28–>32)
  32. Indianapolis6.16 (last week: 32, high–>low: 24–>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.

San Francisco and Seattle are #1 and #2 in this metric again this week; Denver and Green Bay both climb over New England, who falls to #5 after their too-close-for-comfort victory over Jacksonville. And, yes, that is Indianapolis coming in last place – PY/P admittedly does not adequately account for  #Chuckstrong prowess. Please factor this component into the below ratings as you see fit.

Predictive Yards per Play Differential (league average: 0.987141)

  1. San Francisco1.929077 (last week: 1, high–>low: 1–>3)
  2. Seattle1.804982 (last week: 2, high–>low: 2–>16)
  3. Denver1.500384 (last week: 4, high–>low: 1–>6)
  4. Green Bay1.417656 (last week: 6, high–>low: 3–>20)
  5. New England1.369316 (last week: 3, high–>low: 3–>13)
  6. Carolina1.3534 (last week: 5, high–>low: 3–>18)
  7. Washington1.296005 (last week: 7, high–>low: 5–>18)
  8. Detroit1.272935 (last week: 10, high–>low: 5–>10)
  9. NY Giants1.272707 (last week: 8, high–>low: 3–>12)
  10. Baltimore1.218689 (last week: 15, high–>low: 1–>15)
  11. New Orleans1.19722 (last week: 9, high–>low: 9–>23)
  12. Dallas1.189591 (last week: 13, high–>low: 2–>17)
  13. St. Louis1.168037 (last week: 12, high–>low: 9–>28)
  14. Chicago1.152433 (last week: 16, high–>low: 2–>19)
  15. Houston1.122418 (last week: 11, high–>low: 2–>15)
  16. Minnesota1.121566 (last week: 17, high–>low: 9–>18)
  17. Atlanta1.120274 (last week: 14, high–>low: 4–>20)
  18. Tampa Bay0.947476 (last week: 18, high–>low: 12–>30)
  19. Cincinnati0.938946 (last week: 19, high–>low: 8–>24)
  20. Buffalo0.824997 (last week: 20, high–>low: 14–>27)
  21. Pittsburgh0.812273 (last week: 21, high–>low: 14–>24)
  22. Philadelphia0.723319 (last week: 24, high–>low: 10–>25)
  23. Tennessee0.651463 (last week: 23, high–>low: 21–>26)
  24. Miami0.647128 (last week: 22, high–>low: 11–>30)
  25. Cleveland0.564061 (last week: 26, high–>low: 23–>30)
  26. Oakland0.556927 (last week: 25, high–>low: 19–>29)
  27. San Diego0.533035 (last week: 28, high–>low: 22–>30)
  28. Arizona0.492031 (last week: 29, high–>low: 23–>29)
  29. NY Jets0.459764 (last week: 27, high–>low: 19–>32)
  30. Jacksonville0.340492 (last week: 31, high–>low: 30–>32)
  31. Kansas City0.242092 (last week: 32, high–>low: 27–>32)
  32. Indianapolis0.236541 (last week: 30, high–>low: 17–>32)

Offensive Predictive Yards per Play (league average: 2.829517)

  1. New Orleans: 3.407143 (last week: 1, high–>: 1–>11)
  2. Washington: 3.353992 (last week: 3, high–>low: 1–>8)
  3. Seattle: 3.350251 (last week: 5, high–>low: 3–>25)
  4. San Francisco: 3.348822 (last week: 4, high–>low: 1–>13)
  5. New England: 3.262923 (last week: 2, high–>low: 2–>9)
  6. NY Giants: 3.192604 (last week: 6, high–>low: 1–>6)
  7. Detroit: 3.189199 (last week: 9, high–>low: 3–>11)
  8. Dallas: 3.145272 (last week: 12, high–>low: 5–>20)
  9. Green Bay: 3.119916 (last week: 8, high–>low: 1–>22)
  10. Atlanta: 3.116989 (last week: 10, high–>low: 4–>16)
  11. Denver: 3.054247 (last week: 13, high–>low: 3–>13)
  12. Carolina: 3.046117 (last week: 7, high–>low: 7–>17)
  13. Tampa Bay: 3.035013 (last week: 11, high–>low: 6–>26)
  14. Baltimore: 2.988946 (last week: 17, high–>low: 1–>17)
  15. Buffalo: 2.887497 (last week: 15, high–>low: 9–>17)
  16. St. Louis: 2.86058 (last week: 16, high–>low: 13–>28)
  17. Houston: 2.858789 (last week: 14, high–>low: 10–>19)
  18. Minnesota: 2.814022 (last week: 18, high–>low: 18–>25)
  19. Oakland: 2.746139 (last week: 19, high–>low: 12–>21)
  20. Cincinnati: 2.724178 (last week: 20, high–>low: 6–>20)
  21. Tennessee: 2.647646 (last week: 21, high–>low: 14–>24)
  22. Chicago: 2.620307 (last week: 22, high–>low: 10–>26)
  23. Indianapolis: 2.525106 (last week: 23, high–>low: 11–>24)
  24. Philadelphia: 2.512955 (last week: 26, high–>low: 19–>27)
  25. Miami: 2.466438 (last week: 24, high–>low: 16–>31)
  26. Pittsburgh: 2.453079 (last week: 25, high–>low: 17–>29)
  27. Cleveland: 2.406503 (last week: 27, high–>low: 27–>30)
  28. San Diego: 2.323824 (last week: 28, high–>low: 27–>31)
  29. Kansas City: 2.31422 (last week: 31, high–>low: 24–>32)
  30. Jacksonville: 2.290465 (last week: 30, high–>low: 28–>32)
  31. NY Jets: 2.236032 (last week: 29, high–>low: 23–>31)
  32. Arizona: 2.125864 (last week: 32, high–>low: 27–>32)

Defensive Predictive Yards per Play (league average: 1.842376)

  1. San Francisco1.419745 (last week: 1, high–>low: 1–>5)
  2. Chicago1.467874 (last week: 2, high–>low: 1–>5)
  3. Seattle1.54527 (last week: 4, high–>low: 2–>6)
  4. Denver1.553863 (last week: 3, high–>low: 2–>11)
  5. Arizona1.633834 (last week: 5, high–>low: 5–>10)
  6. Pittsburgh1.640806 (last week: 6, high–>low: 4–>20)
  7. Minnesota1.692456 (last week: 13, high–>low: 3–>13)
  8. St. Louis1.692543 (last week: 8, high–>low: 8–>18)
  9. Carolina1.692716 (last week: 7, high–>low: 6–>25)
  10. Green Bay1.702259 (last week: 9, high–>low: 9–>17)
  11. Houston1.736371 (last week: 11, high–>low: 2–>12)
  12. Baltimore1.770257 (last week: 12, high–>low: 12–>20)
  13. NY Jets1.776268 (last week: 10, high–>low: 7–>21)
  14. Cincinnati1.785231 (last week: 17, high–>low: 14–>28)
  15. Philadelphia1.789636 (last week: 14, high–>low: 5–>20)
  16. San Diego1.79079 (last week: 15, high–>low: 7–>17)
  17. Miami1.819309 (last week: 16, high–>low: 8–>17)
  18. Cleveland1.842442 (last week: 19, high–>low: 9–>22)
  19. New England1.893606 (last week: 18, high–>low: 16–>23)
  20. Detroit1.916264 (last week: 21, high–>low: 10–>23)
  21. NY Giants1.919897 (last week: 20, high–>low: 18–>32)
  22. Jacksonville1.949973 (last week: 25, high–>low: 16–>25)
  23. Dallas1.955861 (last week: 23, high–>low: 6–>23)
  24. Tennessee1.996183 (last week: 22, high–>low: 22–>28)
  25. Atlanta1.996715 (last week: 24, high–>low: 14–>27)
  26. Washington2.057987 (last week: 26, high–>low: 24–>32)
  27. Buffalo2.0625 (last week: 27, high–>low: 23–>32)
  28. Kansas City2.072128 (last week: 29, high–>low: 22–>30)
  29. Tampa Bay2.087538 (last week: 28, high–>low: 19–>29)
  30. Oakland2.189212 (last week: 32, high–>low: 23–>32)
  31. New Orleans2.209923 (last week: 30, high–>low: 30–>32)
  32. Indianapolis2.288564 (last week: 31, high–>low: 24–>32)

Week 16 Quick Thoughts

Scattered stats and thoughts regarding Week 16 of the 2012 NFL Season…

Seattle 42, San Francisco 13
Adjusted Yards per Play: 6.47 – Seattle, 4.25 – San Francisco
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Seattle 28.65, San Francisco 17.00
Quick Thoughts:
1. My goodness are the Seahawks entertaining. This was basically a blowout from the get-go and it was still possibly the most entertaining Sunday Night game we’ve had all year. As Jon Gruden might explain it: “These Seahawks, I call ’em Warren Sapp because they’re tough to run on and have a BIG PERSONALITY. I see Marshawn Lynch Beast Mode-ing all over the place, putting a hat on a hat, Gruden-grinding, and doling out punishment for these defensive suckers who think they can bring him down with just three people. I look at Richard Sherman jawing with Michael Crabtree, sarcastically clapping after they complete a pass on him, and virtually molesting these 49er receivers all the way down the field – but you can’t call DPI every play, so it’s a smart move by a smart guy. I see Doug Baldwin turning easy catches into circus catches unnecessarily – but they still count the same, so why not turn every catch into a 10 difficulty rating? And I watch Russell Wilson and get FLASHBACKS to another guy who used to run around like a chicken with his noggin cut off. That’s right – I’m thinking of BRETT FAVRE. After all, everybody can be compared to Brett Favre at the end of the day. I tell ya, I get a kick out of watching these Seahawks every time I put on their film at 2:30 in the morning – they’re the late night caffeine boost this football junkie SORELY NEEDS. *right hand gesture*
2. With that said…the 49ers and Seahawks both ended up averaging 5.6 yards per play last night and Seattle only netted thirty-three more yards total than San Francisco – if you didn’t know what the final score was before looking at those stats, you would have assumed that this was a very tight game. The biggest reason why the Seahawks turned this into a rain-soaked blowout? Absurdly good production on third down. Seattle only failed to pick up a first down TWICE on thirteen third down plays; San Francisco, on the other hand, was 3-for-11. Much like it seemed EVERYTHING bounced the 49ers’ way during the first 35 minutes of last week’s game at New England, virtually everything seemed to go against them last night, most notably on David Akers’ blocked field goal that bounced RIGHT TO Richard Sherman streaking in the opposite direction. In summary: let’s neither exalt the Seahawks too highly or bury the 49ers too emphatically in the next week or so, okay?

3. Finally, your Al Michaels Golden Blowout Call of the Night: after referee Bill Vinovich picked up a flag on the final kickoff of the game with two minutes left, Michaels exhaled, “Thank God.” If there’s anyone out there who hates killing air time during blowouts more than Al, I’d like to meet that person!

Cincinnati 13, Pittsburgh 10
Adjusted Yards per Play: 2.02 – Cincinnati, 2.54 – Pittsburgh
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Cincinnati 9.09, Pittsburgh 11.43

Quick Thought: Tough to say Todd Haley’s first season in Pittsburgh has been anything other than a disaster. After a rough start, the Steeler defense once again turned out to be one of the five best in the league this year – it’s Pittsburgh’s offensive woes that are keeping them out of the postseason and in danger of falling below .500 for the first time in nine years. Mike Wallace has been MIA for most of the season, failing to hit the home run plays he seemed to have in plentiful supply the last two years. And the running game has been ugly – Rashard Mendenhall’s been either hurt or ineffective and Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman have been most proficient at running into the arms of defenders. Say, where’s Bruce Arians when you need him?

Baltimore 33, NY Giants 14
Adjusted Yards per Play: 7.32 – Baltimore, 5.02 – NY Giants
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Baltimore 42.35, NY Giants 16.14

Quick Thought: The Ravens illustrated a truth about the Giants defense that has been apparent all season but rarely seen in practice: if you don’t turn the ball over against the Giants, you’ll be able to move the ball at will. Still surprising to see the Giants essentially destroy their playoff hopes by playing so poorly in back-to-back road games. Did you know that if the Giants, as anticipated, do not come up with a miracle Sunday and sneak in as a wild-card, it will be the third time in four years they failed to make the playoffs? FIRE TOM COUGHLIN!

Minnesota 23, Houston 6
Adjusted Yards per Play: 4.59 – Minnesota, 1.64 – Houston
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Minnesota 23.93, Houston 6.21

Quick Thought: As a Bears fan, I would just like to extend a hearty SCREW YOU to Houston for not showing up offensively yesterday. It warmed the cockles of my heart, it truly did.

New Orleans 34, Dallas 31 (OT)
Adjusted Yards per Play: 7.06 – New Orleans, 8.50 – Dallas
AY/P Projected Point Totals: New Orleans 45.89, Dallas 34.00

Quick Thought: Holy crap that fumble scrum after the Marques Colston catch in overtime was exciting. Is there a way we could ensure that would happen in every overtime? Like, if the game is tied at the end of overtime during the regular season, just toss the ball at the fifty-yard line and have every player and coach from both sidelines dive for the ball. Whoever comes up with it wins. Seems more exciting than just shaking hands and calling it a tie, right?

Washington 27, Philadelphia 20
Adjusted Yards per Play: 6.19 – Washington, 4.75 – Philadelphia
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Washington 23.43, Philadelphia 25.45

Quick Thought: I really don’t think Washington will go particularly far in the postseason if they get there – primarily because they’d likely have to face Seattle in the first round – but I’m definitely rooting for them to get there. Partly because, you know, screw the Cowboys and partly because, you know, RGIII. An RGIII-Russell Wilson matchup in the Wild Card round would NOT be unexciting.

St. Louis 28, Tampa Bay 13
Adjusted Yards per Play: 4.63 – St. Louis, 2.70 – Tampa Bay
AY/P Projected Point Totals: St. Louis 17.86, Tampa Bay 15.62

Quick Thought: Jaaaaaaaaaaaassshhhhhhh Freeman just throws interceptions, apparently. Great day for Janoris Jenkins – he scored his fourth defensive touchdown of the season AND he gets to play in Seattle next week, where, as you may know, marijuana was recently decriminalized. Everything’s coming up Janoris!

Chicago 28, Arizona 13
Adjusted Yards per Play: 5.62 – Chicago, 1.50 – Arizona
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Chicago 24.09, Arizona 7.71

Quick Thought: Speaking as a fan of a team playing against the Cardinals, I can’t tell you how much relief you feel whenever you score a touchdown against Arizona. If no lead is safe against Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, then any lead is safe against the Cardinals. My heart rate was nice and low after Zack Bowman scored the Bears’ first defensive touchdown Sunday. Thank you again for playing Ryan Lindley, Coach Whisenhunt!

Green Bay 55, Tennessee 7
Adjusted Yards per Play: 7.90 – Green Bay, 1.86 – Tennessee
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Green Bay 42.89, Tennessee 7.84

Quick Thought: I don’t know how this went in other parts of the country, but here in the Chicago area yesterday we were stuck with the Packers-Titans rout until the bitter end while the Bengals and Steelers were only locked in a fiercely contested contest that would essentially decide a playoff spot.  Obviously, since the Titans scored a touchdown at the end, the game WAS in fact still competitive. Maybe I should start shelling out the dough for NFL Sunday Ticket? …*thinking*…Nah, still too cheap.

New England 23, Jacksonville 16
Adjusted Yards per Play: 4.21 – New England, 4.28 – Jacksonville
AY/P Projected Point Totals: New England 21.35, Jacksonville 22.93

Quick Thought: Uhhhhhhhhhhhhh….you feelin’ all right there, New England? Much more worrisome performance than in their loss to San Francisco last week. Chad Henne was more efficient than Tom Brady? Maybe the Mayans weren’t so wrong after all. Oh wait… 

Denver 34, Cleveland 12
Adjusted Yards per Play: 6.56 – Denver, 4.22 – Cleveland
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Denver 35.14, Cleveland 18.09

Quick Thought: You don’t think Peyton Manning’s going to be pulling for his old team next week, do you? Heck, I’m pretty sure Peyton would cut off the big toe on his left foot if it meant he didn’t have to face the Patriots in the second round.

Indianapolis 20, Kansas City 13
Adjusted Yards per Play: 4.74 – Indianapolis, 5.78 – Kansas City
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Indianapolis 22.01, Kansas City 27.66

Quick Thought: What in the ho-ho heck do the Colts have to do to lose a football game? They got outgained 507-288, averaged 4.4 yards per play to Kansas City’s 7.6 (KANSAS CITY!), and gave up 352 yards ON THE GROUND. Peyton Hillis ran for over 100 yards, for crying out loud. I…I’m at a loss.   Unlike the Colts, who APPARENTLY CAN’T LOSE EVEN WHEN THEY’RE ACTIVELY TRYING TO.

Atlanta 31, Detroit 18
Adjusted Yards per Play: 7.71 – Atlanta, 5.09 – Detroit
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Atlanta 30.29, Detroit 28.36

Quick Thought: It utterly boggles my mind that Detroit is 4-11. Just utterly boggles the mind. How a team that has THAT talented an offense and THAT proficient of a pass rush can have two fewer wins than the Chargers is freaking crazy. Football doesn’t make sense sometimes, you guys.

Carolina 17, Oakland 6
Adjusted Yards per Play: 4.51 – Carolina, 2.44 – Oakland
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Carolina 19.01, Oakland 10.28

Quick Thought: What happened to the plan of giving Terrelle Pryor a shot, Oakland? We all know what Matt Leinart is at this point – a whole lot of three-yard dumpoffs via a noodly left arm. Why put him in after Carson Palmer got hurt in a meaningless game? Time to see how bad Terrelle sucks so you can move on to the next blown draft choice!

Miami 24, Buffalo 10
Adjusted Yards per Play: 5.82 – Miami, 3.17 – Buffalo
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Miami 25.77, Buffalo 14.72

Quick Thought: Not even Mark Murphy can muster enthusiasm for the Bills anymore. That’s a bad sign, folks.

San Diego 27, NY Jets 17
Adjusted Yards per Play: 4.70 – San Diego, 2.88 – NY Jets
AY/P Projected Point Totals: San Diego 18.80, NY Jets 12.14

Quick Thought: Uh, Rex, if you wanted someone to get sacked eleven times, Timmy Tebow would have MORE THAN OBLIGED, my good friend. In fact, he would have found a way to lose twenty-eight yards on one sack if only you would have let him. THE PEOPLE DEMAND TEBOW START AGAINST BUFFALO AND THEY DEMAND IT NOW.

Game of the Week: 49ers vs. Seahawks plus the rest of the Week 16 Preview

Since the NFL realigned into eight divisions in 2002, the NFC West has been the laughingstock of the division world for most of that time. Four times, its division champion has finished with less than ten wins and who can forget the epic Charlie Whitehurst-Sam Bradford Sunday Night battle from two years ago to decide which 7-9 NFC West team would make the playoffs? But this year, the laughingstock has become the…chuckler? Is that the right term? Anyway, the 49ers and Seahawks are both on fire right now and major threats to win the Super Bowl, so let’s exercise our Game of the Week privileges here and see what happens…

Who: San Francisco 49ers vs. Seattle Seahawks

Where: CenturyLink Field, Seattle, WA

When: 7:30 P.M., Sunday, December 23rd

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

Key Storylines:

  1. CAN’T HARDLY RECOGNIZE THESE TWO. San Francisco and Seattle have already played once this season. They met on a Thursday night back in October and the home 49ers took that one 13-6. There’s a few things that have changed with these teams – most recognizably, at the quarterback position. Alex Smith was not yet concussed and still the 49ers starter at that point and while some news outlets have tossed out the half-baked idea that Jim Harbaugh could throw Smith into some action late in the season to get enough pass attempts to break Drew Brees’ completion percentage record, it will likely be Colin Kaepernick who will need to fulfill the Thrower of an Awful Red Zone Interception role if Sunday’s game is to go the same as October’s. Kaepernick’s been awfully impressive since Wally Pipp-ing Smith, but one guy who’s arguably been better is his Seahawks counterpart, Russell Wilson. Wilson was overwhelmed by the 49ers’ stifling defense back in October, but he’s been scorching hot in the second half of the season. He’s now up to 11th in Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt – a pretty remarkable feat, considering how slow he started the season – and has added 400 rushing yards and 3 rushing touchdowns, all of which came during last week’s slaughter of the Bills. The quarterbacks you saw play in this game back in October may have been underwhelming, but they probably won’t be Sunday night.
  2. BREAK UP THE SEAHAWKS. Seriously. Seattle has scored 50+ points in back-to-back games, a feat that has only previously been done by the 1950 Rams and Giants – and both those teams had one of those whippings come against a team that would go defunct at the end of the season (the prehistoric Baltimore Colts, if anybody’s interested). Seattle put up 58 against a Cardinals defense that has ranked among the top quarter of NFL defenses all year and then hit 50 against a Bills defense that had only given up 16.75 points per game in their previous four contests (out of respect, we won’t mention their first nine games). So Darrell Bevell’s offense is humming right now and they’re mainly doing it on the ground – no team has passed less this year than the Seahawks. Marshawn Lynch has gone Beast Mode for the entire season, Wilson has become a dangerous threat in the zone read and when teams get too focused on the running game, Wilson goes over the top to Golden Tate or Sidney Rice. Coincidentally, the last time they were held under 300 yards was that October matchup with the 49ers. Chances are they’ll do a bit better on Sunday.
  3. Pete Carroll might actually be a good NFL coach? Huh? We talked about Harbaugh in depth in last week’s spiel, so let’s take a moment to recognize the job Pete Carroll’s done since taking over before the 2010 season and all say together: WHERE DID THIS COME FROM? This is the same guy who ran Bill Parcells’ Patriots into the ground in the late ’90s and left Bill Belichick a big, quivery, slobbering mess of a team to fix up? This is the same guy who apparently coached the Jets for one season, making an enticing filling of a coaching crap sandwich (Bruce Coslet and Rich Kotite being the buns, of course)? This is the same guy who only won at USC because of major recruiting violations (of course, it’s merely a coincidence he left for the NFL JUUUUUSSSSSTTTT before the Trojans got hit with some major sanctions)? Really? The Seahawks are this good because of HIM? Whatever, man. I’ll embrace this weird future that we’re living and raise a glass to all the hard work Pete Carroll’s done in the Great Northwest. You’re all right, Pete!


Steve Stone’s Said in Stone Cold Lock of the Game: “As an example of that, I give you Bert Blyleven and his 60 career shutouts.”

Projected Final Score: Seahawks 21, 49ers 19

Team To Bet On If Gambling Were Legal: Seahawks (+1.5)


Below are SSLYAR’s Week 16 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 a doctor at Sacred Heart Hospital in Southern California: Dr. Bob Kelso.

  1. Seattle Seahawks 21, San Francisco 49ers 19: “Every mother wanted me to marry their daughter cause I was a doctor. And I used that to sleep with all those mothers. That’s what ‘house call’ used to mean.”
  2. Pittsburgh Steelers 21Cincinnati Bengals 20: “You are going to shut your damn yapper and listen for a change, because I got you pegged, sweetheart. You want to take the easy way out with the surgery because you’re scared. You’re scared because if you try and fail, there’s only you to blame. Well, Missy, let me break this down for you, Bobbo-style. Life is scary. Get used to it.”
  3. Baltimore Ravens 24, New York Giants 23: “Listen up, bozos. That gentleman over there is basically a cash piñata waiting to be whacked open. So how about someone diagnoses him so I can get my candy?”
  4. Houston Texans 24, Minnesota Vikings 16: “A joke? You think it’s funny they already gave away my parking spot? You think it’s funny that one of the surgeons paid his dwarf cousin, Lance, two hundred dollars to show up at rounds and sing, ‘Ding-dong, Kelso’s dead!’?”
  5. Dallas Cowboys 31, New Orleans Saints 26: “Now, our old hospital psychiatrist used to write my wife, Enid, a prescription for crazy pills. He was a dear, dear friend, but he died or moved or something and now I need you to do the honors.”
  6. Washington Redskins 23, Philadelphia Eagles 21: “Ah, back when I was a resident I remember blah, blah, blah, nostalgic story now get the hell out of my office!”
  7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 28, St. Louis Rams 27: “Ketchup is for winners, Ted!”
  8. Chicago Bears 16, Arizona Cardinals 9: “Well, of course you’ll beat her, son, she’s having half her brain removed.”
  9. Green Bay Packers 27, Tennessee Titans 14: “Dr. Dorian, I’ve kept my mouth shut about the recent sexual harrassment complaints because I don’t think it’s fair to punish a man for making small talk. Or say, asking his secretary for just once, to dress up as a geisha girl and call him ‘Kelso San.'”
  10. New England Patriots 48, Jacksonville Jaguars 14: “OK, but in this little fantasy of yours, can I not have prostate problems?”
  11. Denver Broncos 27, Cleveland Browns 10: “Of course you had to break up with him. No one you love should ever sell your car without asking and then blow the money on meth.”
  12. Indianapolis Colts 24, Kansas City Chiefs 23: “Let’s cut to the chase, freak show. If you’re a forty-four-year-old man wearing a jumpsuit and you are not climbing into the cockpit of a rocket ship, chances are you’ve made a lot of wrong turns along the way. Good talk.”
  13. Detroit Lions 30, Atlanta Falcons 24: “That’s a great anecdote, you should write that down in your journal so your kids can read it when you’re dead.”
  14. Carolina Panthers 31, Oakland Raiders 21: “I’m gonna tell you the same thing I told my new gardener; no way, Jose. His name is actually Jose, that’s why I hired him.”
  15. Miami Dolphins 27, Buffalo Bills24: “Tough Titties Turkleton!”
  16. San Diego Chargers 14, New York Jets 13: “Hey, champ! What has two thumbs and doesn’t give a crap? Bob Kelso! How ya doin’?”

2012 Record Thus Far: 147-76-1 (11-5 last week)

2012 Record Against the Spread Thus Far: 116-108 (9-7 last week)

COAS / SSLYAR Pigskin Pick ‘Em: Week 16


Only two weeks left in the regular season, gang! Get that Christmas shopping done on Saturday (or postpone it ’til Monday) and make sure to carve out some room for FOOTBAW on Sunday because we’re quickly running out of opportunities to watch the Jets embarrass themselves. With that in mind, the Confessions of a Sportscaster/Someone Still Loves You Alberto Riveron blog coalition rolls forward with their Week 16 picks. Lucas followed my strong showing in Week 14 with a clutch week of his own in Week 15, going 11-5 and boosting his lead back up to four games. This week, however, we are disagreeing on ELEVEN games. HOLY CRAP. What’s going on here? If anything, you would think our disagreements would lessen and lessen over the course of the season thanks to your friend and mine, Mr. Groupthink. Huh. In this week’s picks, we honor hilarious family Christmas photos, that awesome kid from the Cam Newton Play60 ad, and digging for gold. Enjoy!

Atlanta Falcons at Detroit Lions (+3.5)
Lucas: Falcons. With the talent in place on this team around Matthew Stafford and Megatron, how much blame does Jim Schwartz deserve for this team’s underachieving? Especially when they get blown out Arizona. ARIZONA! I mean, Nathaniel or I might be better quarterbacks than everyone on the Cardinals’ roster!

Nathaniel: Lions. With each passing loss that brings more and more excruciating pain to Detroit fans, I tend to derive more and more enjoyment from calling the Lions the Loins. Not sure why. Feel free to start calling your team by that moniker, though, Detroit fans; it’ll make the rest of the season much more enjoyable, I’m sure!

New Orleans Saints at Dallas Cowboys (-3.5)
Lucas: Cowboys. Am I really picking a Tony Romo-led team in December? The Saints could sneak back to .500 for the year, but Dallas has too much to play for right now, plus we need to set up a Week 17 game where RGIII comes back from injury and throws for 350 yards and runs for 150 more to lead Washington back to the playoffs.

Nathaniel: Cowboys. There’s still an outside shot for the Saints to give up 7000 yards defensively this season; they’d basically have to give up 500 yards each of the last two weeks for it to happen, but it’s on the table! Let’s hope Buddy Ryan never watches any of their games – I can only imagine the number of TV screens he’s destroyed by now if he has.

Tennessee Titans at Green Bay Packers (-12.5)
Lucas: Titans. I don’t think Green Bay deserves to be a double digit favorite at this stage even though they seem to be getting healthy and better at the right time and finding ways to win every week. Also I think I could keep a damper down on my family better than Green Bay likely will on Chris Johnson, who’s bound to break at least 1 big run.

Nathaniel: Packers. Let’s all give Mark Sanchez a big round of applause for making the Titans defense seem decent last week. Lord knows they’ll need the self-esteem boost before the slight uptick in quarterback performance they’ll see this week.

Indianapolis Colts at Kansas City Chiefs (+6.5)
Lucas: Colts. I don’t think we’re going to need #Chuckstrong for this one.

Nathaniel: Chiefs. Look, it’s what the numbers said, OK? I don’t have any idea how they’re going to cover, either.

Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins (-4.5)
Lucas: Dolphins. Guest picking this game for me is the coach of the Moose Jaw Lightning: “Now remember, the goal of the game is to get the ball into the end zone, and to prevent your opponent from doing the same.” Seems fitting then that in Canada, Buffalo couldn’t do the latter very well.

Nathaniel: Bills. Isn’t there about a 90% chance there will be a greater home field advantage for the Bills this week than when they were the “home team” in Toronto? There’s got to be thousands upon thousands of upstate New Yorkers in South Florida and it’s not like the Dolphins are hot commodities down there, either. Mark my words: the crowd will have at least a 30% Bills fan makeup Sunday.

San Diego Chargers at New York Jets (+2.5)
Lucas: Jets. I mean, there’s no way Greg McElroy will pull a Mark Sanchez, right?

Nathaniel: Chargers. I’ve supported Rex Ryan through quite a lot this season, but leapfrogging Greg McElroy over Tebow on the depth chart is the last straw. YOU CAN GO BACK TO COACHING LINEBACKERS AT EAST NOSEPICK STATE FOR ALL I CARE, REX. The damage has been done.

Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles (+4.5)
Lucas: Redskins. We need Part 2 of the Battle for the NFC East next week to go the way it’s supposed to. And it’s against Philly. Come on. All we’re missing is having a couple crazed Eagle fans tying up Andy Reid at midfield for the crowd to throw snowballs at him like they did against Santa. The lesson, as always: Stay classy, Philly.

Nathaniel: Eagles. Never underestimate the power of the Redskins defense to make bad quarterbacks seem competent. This is your time to shine, Nick Foles! Make us all proud, you floppy-haired hippy.

Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers (-4.5)
Lucas: Bengals. At this point I think the Steelers are starting to fall off a bit and I think Cincy has another playoff trip written all over them.

Nathaniel: Bengals. The Steeler wideouts the past few weeks have each taken turns sabotaging Pittsburgh’s playoff hopes. Emmanuel Sanders got the ball knocked out of his hands by air in the Ravens game a few weeks ago and last week the normally reliable Antonio Brown fumbled a punt return, allowing the Cowboys to make a rousing comeback (WHAT’S THIS WORLD COMING TO???). For this week, my guess is Mike Wallace has an identity crisis mid-play where he starts believe he is the late 60 Minutes anchor, not the fast-as-crap wide receiver he really is, and Roethlisberger throws an interception because Wallace tries to interview Terrence Newman. Terrence don’t give interviews mid-play.

St. Louis Rams at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3.5)
Lucas: Rams. Unfortunately for Greg Schiano’s team, the defense hasn’t really kept up with the offense and they’re coming back down to earth, and I think the Rams might be a tad underrated.

Nathaniel: Rams. The Bucs’ offense is whack. They either look like the ’99 Rams (with Josh Freeman expertly impersonating Kurt Warner) or the ’09 Rams (with Freeman expertly impersonating Kyle Boller) with no in-between. Weren’t those fun days, Rams fans? I mean the ’99 team, obviously – that ’09 offense made this year’s Cardinals offense look like Air Coryell.

Oakland Raiders at Carolina Panthers (-8.5)
Lucas: Raiders. I get that Oakland’s defense is terrible, but why is Carolina favored by this much? I mean, the only way I could see it work is if I’m playing tight end for the kid that will replace Cam Newton.

Nathaniel: Panthers. Does Mike Tolbert have inside tips on the Raiders’ offensive terminology like he did last week with the Chargers? If he doesn’t, here’s my tip to the Panther defense: don’t drop the ball when Carson throws it to you. Otherwise, all those yards they just put up on this drive might actually lead to points!

New England Patriots at Jacksonville Jaguars (+14.5)
Lucas: Patriots. This is the biggest line of the year. And it scares me. But based on what we saw Sunday night, if any team could beat this big a spread, it would be Tom Brady and the Patriots.

Nathaniel: Patriots. What a terrible time to be a patsy going up against an angry Pats team that will have only a full week’s frustration built up from that disappoint loss to San Francisco. At least let them wear white, Shahid Khan! That way, they won’t get heat stroke while giving up 59.

Minnesota Vikings at Houston Texans (-7.5)
Lucas: Vikings. Houston has struggled a bit lately, especially on defense it seems. How do they plan on stopping Adrian Peterson? How does anyone plan on stopping Adrian Peterson?
Nathaniel: Texans. I don’t have anything interesting to add here, so here’s a screenshot of Colts center A.Q. Shipley picking his nose in the waning seconds of last week’s Colts-Texans game:


Cleveland Browns at Denver Broncos (-13.5)
Lucas: Browns. Cleveland’s defense is better than that. Yeah, they have Brandon Weeden, but 13 ½ points is a ton to be giving any team.

Nathaniel: Broncos. If there’s one guy you can trust to take care of business against an inferior opponent, it’s Peyton Manning. It’s how he’s won 77 straight games of Ping-Pong against Eli in their parent’s basement (a streak dating back to 1988) and it’s how he’s going to beat the Browns this Sunday.

Chicago Bears at Arizona Cardinals (+5.5)
Lucas: Cardinals. This is more an indication of how bad the Bears offense is as opposed to the level of play in Arizona. Not to say the Bears can’t win, but they can’t ever seem to get more than one offensive touchdown in a given week.

Nathaniel: Bears. “We’re here in the third quarter of the fourth quarter of our season…We like our team…Jay is our quarterback…We gotta a lot of football left to – Oh, who am I kidding, we are screwed, my friends. WE ARE SCREWED!!!!!!”

New York Giants at Baltimore Ravens (+2.5)
Lucas: Giants. The Giants are cold and in that 3-way tie for first. This is usually where they flip a switch and become terrifying. Also Joe Flacco… you are not elite. Stop it.

Nathaniel: Ravens. There’s a couple different schools of thought on the second-to-last game of the season for the Giants. The first is that they’ll win and gain momentum for a Super Bowl run (like in 2007 and 2011). The second is that they’ll crash and burn spectacularly and gain momentum for early golfing vacations (like in 2009 and 2010). So, as always, stay away from betting actual money on this game. I MEAN IT GUYS. THE GIANTS LOVE SEEING YOU SUFFER.

San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks (+1.5)
Lucas: Seahawks. After what San Francisco did to New England on Sunday, this is a harder decision than it looks. But we’re probably looking at a bloodbath here, and it’s in Seattle. I’m not betting against that home field advantage, with or without BS officiating.

Nathaniel: Seahawks. Remember when no team in the NFC West could get to .500 just two years ago and now these two whippersnappers here are arguably the two best teams in the league? Should be a phenomenal game.

Lucas’ 2012 Record So Far: 120-104 (11-5 last week)

Nathaniel’s 2012 Record So Far: 116-108 (9-7 last week)

SSLYAR 2012 Pro Bowl Ballot


Voting for everybody’s favorite game ended on Monday, so if you were procrastinating on voting Paul Posluszny into the Pro Bowl IT’S TOO LATE MAN. You missed your chance. Now Paul will be forced to spend the week before the Super Bowl vacationing in another tropical locale…USING HIS OWN MONEY. That’s right. You blew it. SSLYAR, on the other hand, did not. I got my ballot in with DAYS TO SPARE and since this is an NFL blog and all, I thought I’d share my choices with you below. Don’t worry! I’m not going to go through my thought process for selecting every player (“Uh, I picked Peyton Manning because I think he’s pretty good!”), just the more controversial selections. To get yourself psyched up and in the right mood, just stare at the above photo of Peyton Manning and Jake Delhomme and transport yourself to a time where Jake Delhomme was considered a Pro Bowl-level quarterback. THEREIN LIES THE MAGIC OF THE PRO BOWL.



  • Tom Brady
  • Peyton Manning
  • Matt Schaub


  • Robert Griffin III
  • Aaron Rodgers
  • Matt Ryan

The AFC is pretty straightforward this year – if Roethlisberger didn’t miss three games, maybe he’d have a case over Schaub but chances are I wouldn’t have voted for him anyway since, you know, HE MIGHT BE A RAPIST. The NFC, on the other hand, is chock full of quality choices – Josh Freeman’s thrown 25 touchdown passes and he might be the eighth-best quarterback in the conference. I DESPERATELY wanted to put Cam on the ballot but didn’t out of fear that you would all laugh at me for putting the quarterback of a 5-9 team in the Pro Bowl. I can hear your derisive laughter on occasion and it’s very hurtful. Thus, I took the easy way out and picked Matt Ryan. AHHHH I CAN’T LIVE WITH MYSELF.

Toughest cuts: Cam Newton, Ben Roethlisberger, Drew Brees

Easiest cut: Ryan Lindley

Running Backs


  • Jamaal Charles
  • Ray Rice
  • C.J. Spiller


  • Adrian Peterson
  • Marshawn Lynch
  • Doug Martin

I like to prioritize all-around backs who make healthy contributions in the passing game over guys who catch passes about as often as Jimmer Fredette plays defense, so that explains the choices of Spiller over Arian Foster and Martin over Alfred Morris. In the HOLY CRAP IS THAT GUY GOOD stat file: did you know that AP is currently averaging 6.3 yards per carry? HOLY CRAP IS THAT GUY GOOD.

Toughest Cuts: Alfred Morris, Arian Foster, Chris Johnson, Frank Gore

Easiest Cut: Rashad Jennings

Wide Receivers


  • Andre Johnson
  • Demaryius Thomas
  • A.J. Green
  • Wes Welker


  • Calvin Johnson
  • Vincent Jackson
  • Roddy White
  • Brandon Marshall

I originally had Reggie Wayne in the final AFC slot but changed my mind to WELKAHHH at the last minute. Did I make the change because Welker has a higher yards per target this year and hasn’t faced an incredibly easy schedule? Or did I make the change because I adore plucky, short, white guys? WHO’S TO SAY? There are so many good choices at receiver in the NFC that I am truly, dreadfully sorry that I couldn’t fit all of them in. In particular, I really, REALLY wanted to put Julio Jones as the last pick, but if you take Brandon Marshall away from Jay Cutler the Bears’ passing game basically becomes the Cardinals. Sooooooo……

Toughest cuts: Julio Jones, Dez Bryant, Steve Smith, Reggie Wayne, Cecil Shorts (for real)

Easiest cut: Dane Sanzenbacher



  • Marcel Reese


  • Mike Tolbert

Couldn’t we just choose a fourth running back?

Toughest cuts: Vonta Leach, Lawrence Vickers

Easiest cut: John Kuhn

Tight Ends


  • Rob Gronkowski
  • Heath Miller


  • Greg Olsen
  • Tony Gonzalez

Tony Gonzalez is probably looking at his 13th Pro Bowl appearance this season. That’s nuts. Bruce Matthews would be the only offensive player with more than that and Bruce played until he was 96. If Tony actually makes good on his retirement threat after the season, how much worse is the Falcons’ passing game going to look without him?

Toughest cuts: Vernon Davis, Jermaine Gresham, Brandon Myers

Easiest cut: Kellen Davis



  • Duane Brown
  • Ryan Clady
  • Michael Roos


  • Trent Williams
  • Donald Penn
  • Joe Staley

Look. I won’t pretend that I study hours of game film just to break down offensive line play – normally, I take most notice of offensive linemen when a defensive player is kicking their junk. Based on the efficacy of their overall lines and the nice things people much more knowledgeable than I have said, I chose the above players. If Anthony Munoz walks up to you on the street, though, and tells you that these picks are full of crap, I suggest you listen to him and not just because he’s enormous.

Toughest cuts: Russell Okung, Andrew Whitworth, Sebastian Vollmer

Easiest cut: Bobby Massie



  • Logan Mankins
  • Andy Levitre
  • Kevin Zeitler


  • Mike Iupati
  • Jahri Evans
  • Kevin Boothe

Same as above, only I had A LOT of trouble trying to pick a third guard for the NFC. I heard a lot of good things about Josh Sitton, but dang it all to heck if I’m going to vote for a member of an offensive line that’s not gotten any push in the run game and has actively tried to kill Aaron Rodgers. I CAN’T GET BEHIND THAT TYPE OF CANDIDACY.

Toughest cuts: Marshal Yanda, Ben Grubbs

Easiest cut: Mackenzy Bernadeau



  • Nick Mangold
  • Chris Myers


  • John Sullivan
  • Max Unger

Apparently this is a very strong year for NFC centers, as Jonathan Goodwin and Will Montgomery are also having outstanding seasons, I’m told. Considering Goodwin Olin Kreutz-ed his way to four aborted snaps last Sunday night, I’m not so sure that’s entirely accurate, but I trust your opinion, offensive line experts!

Toughest cuts: Jonathan Goodwin, Will Montgomery, Mike Pouncey

Easiest cut: Dominic Raiola

Defensive Ends


  • J.J. Watt
  • Cameron Wake
  • Elvis Dumervil


  • Greg Hardy
  • Jared Allen
  • Calais Campbell

J.J. Watt is absurd. He has THIRTY-THREE tackles for a loss this year, thirty-nine quarterback hits, fifteen pass deflections, and twenty-one sacks ON A FREAKING 3-4 DEFENSE. Holy crap. I tried to pick one 3-4 end for each conference, which was pretty easy on the AFC side and helps explain the choice of Campbell over a litany of 4-3 defensive ends who are having very strong years. Campbell deserves some sort of reward for having to watch John Skelton and Ryan Lindley all year, right?

Toughest cuts: John Abraham, Charles Johnson, Chris Clemons, Julius Peppers, Michael Bennett, Mario Williams

Easiest cut: Jason Babin (because he was! HAHA)

Defensive Tackles


  • Geno Atkins
  • Vince Wilfork
  • Haloti Ngata


  • Justin Smith
  • Ndamukong Suh
  • Brandon Mebane

I don’t know if you all are aware of this, but Geno Atkins is a beast. Eleven sacks, sixteen tackles for a loss – not bad for a defensive tackle! I would have thought about voting for Kyle Williams if the Bills defense hadn’t so accurately portrayed what it would look like if an ACTUAL bulldozer plowed through the interior of the line.

Toughest cuts: Jonathan Babineaux, Darnell Dockett, Kyle Williams

Easiest cut: Dontari Poe

Inside Linebackers


  • Jerrod Mayo
  • Lawrence Timmons


  • Navorro Bowman
  • Daryl Washington

You have no idea how much it hurts to omit Patrick Willis from this list. But Daryl Washington has freaking ten sacks as an inside linebacker and is tackling everything in sight; I can’t in good conscience send two inside linebackers from the same team to the Pro Bowl, can I? PLEASE DON’T HURT ME PATRICK.

Toughest cuts: Patrick Willis, Luke Kuechly, Derrick Johnson

Easiest cut: Ernie Sims

Outside Linebackers


  • Von Miller
  • Wesley Woodyard
  • Justin Houston


  • Aldon Smith
  • Clay Matthews
  • Jo-Lonn Dunbar

Really weak year for the AFC in this category – so weak, I had to choose both Broncos outside linebackers and a member of the Chiefs on my ballot. THE CHIEFS. Also, I swear to you, Jo-Lonn Dunbar is not a joke. He supplants Lance Briggs as this year’s Token 4-3 Outside Linebacker We Kinda Have To Vote For in the NFC. Congratulations, Jo-Lonn!

Toughest cuts: DeMarcus Ware, Lance Briggs, Anthony Spencer

Easiest cut: Tim Shaw



  • Antonio Cromartie
  • Chris Harris
  • Johnathan Joseph


  • Charles Tillman
  • Tim Jennings
  • Patrick Peterson

Apologies to Richard Sherman, who deserves a spot solely for his masterful trolling of Tom Brady back in October. If anyone’s capable of starting a post-game handshake fistfight, it’s this guy! And not just because of all the Adderall…

Toughest cuts: Richard Sherman, Champ Bailey, Casey Hayward

Easiest cut: Cedric Griffin



  • LaRon Landry
  • Jairus Byrd


  • William Moore
  • Ronde Barber

Ronde Barber is the defensive version of Tony Gonzalez. You know who was drafted five spots behind Ronde Barber in the 1997 draft? DUCE STALEY. Holy crap. It feels like eons since Duce Staley’s been relevant and Ronde Barber’s still kicking tail at 37. Take that, Tiki.

Toughest cuts: Stevie Brown, Dashon Goldson, Eric Weddle, Ed Reed

Easiest cut: Gerald Sensabaugh

Special Teams


  • Justin Tucker
  • Bryan Anger
  • Jacoby Jones
  • Tim Tebow (just kidding! It’s actually Matthew Slater)


  • Blair Walsh
  • Thomas Morstead
  • David Wilson
  • Kassim Osgood

Let’s give it up for a couple rookie kickers who are both currently adept at making field goals AND getting touchbacks on kick returns. Also, I won’t lie: I’ve always wanted to vote for a player whose last name is Anger. Thank you for making that dream a reality, Bryan.

Toughest cuts: Phil Dawson, Dan Bailey, Andy Lee, Pat McAfee

Easiest cut: Brandon Banks

Week 15 Power Rankings: ISSUE ONE


Welcome to the Week 15 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 panelists of the syndicated PBS program The McLaughlin Group to share their thoughts with us below. Please enjoy. 

Announcer voiceover: From Washington, “The McLaughlin Group,” the American original.  For over two decades, the sharpest minds, best sources, hardest talk.





(back on screen)



Pat Buchanan: John, there’s a fine line between expressing natural disappointment and going over the edge into outright slander and I think Urlacher’s got a point on this. These people who are calling into these talk radio shows have no idea what’s going on in the inner workings of the Bears headquarters, of Lovie Smith’s team. Whenever I hear stories like this, I hearken back to my time in the Nixon White House, when we were accomplishing so much good for the country but were eventually overrun by a bunch of naysayers who didn’t have national interests in mind – only interest in exposing remarkable fraud and illicit activity. When I think of poor Lovie Smith, John, I think of Richard Nixon. I really do.




Eleanor Clift: Well, obviously fans have a constitutional right to express themselves in any capacity they so choose and their anger over the Bears’ performance is understandable and, in a way, endearing – it shows they really care about this team. But I think what this whole silly, overblown saga really shows is that Obama really does have everything in control and is above suspicion or rebuke in any form and anyone who raises slight suggestions to the contrary is really committing high treason against our fearless leader.




Clift: IT DOES NOT!!!





(back on screen)



Monica Crawley: Look, John. Rex has had his chance. He’s had FOUR YEARS to turn this team into a Super Bowl champion and it hasn’t happened. Frankly, I think the time has more than come for –




Buchanan: I thought it was a point worth raising, the Jets HAVE been wildly underperforming their talent level the past couple of years. However, I don’t believe we have a right to interfere with their organizational decisions. In fact, just talking about it now on-air indirectly affects the choice they’re going to make in a way I’m not comfortable with. The safest thing to do here, as in all situations and scenarios we face in life, is to SIMPLY DO NOTHING.



Clarence Page: Uhhhh….

McLaughlin - Christmas



A quick thought on Monday Night’s game…

Tennessee 14, NY Jets 10
Adjusted Yards per Play: 5.96 – Tennessee, 0.68 – NY Jets
AY/P Projected Point Totals: Tennessee 23.84, NY Jets 3.06

Quick Thought: Is this not the quintessential Chris Johnson line or what? 122 yards on 21 carries – 94 of which came on one run. To paraphrase the Associated Press’s sympathy for the Rams yesterday, if there’s any consolation for the Jets, Johnson only had 28 yards on 20 carries if you take away that long one. Did you know that Chris Johnson is currently at 1159 yards with a 4.8 YPC this season? Every time I see something written about CJ2K these days, it’s about how he’s a lazy sack of crap who loves destroying people’s fantasy teams. That’s not fair at all. He’s just going to get 75% of his year’s rushing total off of five big runs and average a yard per carry the rest of the time. Big difference!


Here’s SSLYAR’s Week 15 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 remains #1 for the umpteenth week in a row; interestingly, for the second week in a row they will be playing the #2 team in this metric. Seattle continues its torrid stretch by leaping up to #2 and supplanting New England, who lead an AFC triumvirate in the 3-4-5 slots with Houston and Denver. Your biggest movers of the week come out of the Falcons-Giants game; Atlanta uses the blowout win to rise to #8 from #14 and the Giants drop to #12 from #6.

Adjusted Yards per Play Differential (league average: 0.00)

  1. San Francisco2.19 (last week: 1, high–>low: 1–>11)
  2. Seattle1.68 (last week: 4, high–>low: 2–>19)
  3. New England1.49 (last week: 2, high–>low: 2–>8)
  4. Houston1.42 (last week: 3, high–>low: 1–>5)
  5. Denver1.25 (last week: 5, high–>low: 4–>19)
  6. Washington: 0.94 (last week: 9, high–>low: 5–>15)
  7. Cincinnati0.80 (last week: 10, high–>low: 7–>32)
  8. Atlanta0.77 (last week: 14, high–>low: 1–>14)
  9. Baltimore0.76 (last week: 7, high–>low: 1–>9)
  10. Chicago0.75 (last week: 8, high–>low: 1–>14)
  11. Carolina0.72 (last week: 12, high–>low: 9–>23)
  12. NY Giants0.66 (last week: 6, high–>low: 4–>26)
  13. Green Bay0.59 (last week: 13, high–>low: 7–>22)
  14. Tampa Bay0.13 (last week: 11, high–>low: 7–>29)
  15. Pittsburgh0.05 (last week: 15, high–>low: 8–>24)
  16. New Orleans-0.06 (last week: 21, high–>low: 16–>29)
  17. Cleveland0.07 (last week: 16, high–>low: 16–>27)
  18. Minnesota-0.17 (last week: 18, high–>low: 7–>18)
  19. Detroit-0.18 (last week: 17, high–>low: 11–>22)
  20. St. Louis-0.30 (last week: 19, high–>low: 16–>28)
  21. Dallas-0.49 (last week: 22, high–>low: 7–>23)
  22. San Diego-0.59 (last week: 20, high–>low: 7–>25)
  23. Tennessee: -0.70 (last week: 26, high–>low: 23–>31)
  24. Miami-0.74 (last week: 24, high–>low: 18–>31)
  25. Buffalo-1.01 (last week: 23, high–>low: 5–>30)
  26. Arizona-1.04 (last week: 28, high–>low: 10–>28)
  27. Oakland-1.08 (last week: 27, high–>low: 16–>30)
  28. NY Jets: -1.17 (last week: 25, high–>low: 12–>30)
  29. Jacksonville-1.28 (last week: 29, high–>low: 23–>31)
  30. Indianapolis-1.52 (last week: 30, high–>low: 27–>31)
  31. Philadelphia-1.52 (last week: 31, high–>low: 8–>31)
  32. Kansas City-2.52 (last week: 32, high–>low: 30–>32)

Offensive Adjusted Yards per Play (league average: 4.97)

  1. Washington: 6.39 (last week: 1, high–>low: 1–>6)
  2. New England6.17 (last week: 2, high–>low: 1–>12)
  3. San Francisco6.05 (last week: 4, high–>low: 1–>12)
  4. New Orleans5.93 (last week: 6, high–>low: 2–>22)
  5. Tampa Bay5.77 (last week: 3, high–>low: 1–>29)
  6. Atlanta5.77 (last week: 8, high–>low: 2–>9)
  7. Houston5.75 (last week: 7, high–>low: 6–>11)
  8. Seattle5.62 (last week: 13, high–>low: 8–>30)
  9. NY Giants5.61 (last week: 5, high–>low: 1–>17)
  10. Carolina5.53 (last week: 9, high–>low: 4–>22)
  11. Green Bay5.45 (last week: 11, high–>low: 6–>24)
  12. Denver5.45 (last week: 12, high–>low: 10–>23)
  13. Baltimore5.39 (last week: 10, high–>low: 1–>13)
  14. Detroit5.07 (last week: 14, high–>low: 9–>18)
  15. Dallas5.05 (last week: 16, high–>low: 3–>25)
  16. Cincinnati5.03 (last week: 15, high–>low: 7–>25)
  17. Oakland4.83 (last week: 17, high–>low: 10–>23)
  18. Minnesota4.78 (last week: 20, high–>low: 9–>24)
  19. St. Louis4.76 (last week: 19, high–>low: 13–>28)
  20. Buffalo4.69 (last week: 18, high–>low: 5–>20)
  21. Indianapolis4.67 (last week: 21, high–>low: 16–>28)
  22. Cleveland4.60 (last week: 22, high–>low: 22–>32)
  23. Pittsburgh4.59 (last week: 23, high–>low: 9–>24)
  24. Tennessee4.58 (last week: 24, high–>low: 14–>27)
  25. Miami4.39 (last week: 27, high–>low: 19–>31)
  26. Chicago4.33 (last week: 25, high–>low: 6–>30)
  27. San Diego4.10 (last week: 28, high–>low: 9–>28)
  28. Jacksonville4.09 (last week: 29, high–>low: 16–>31)
  29. Philadelphia4.05 (last week: 26, high–>low: 26–>32)
  30. Kansas City3.55 (last week: 31, high–>low: 20–>32)
  31. NY Jets: 3.48 (last week: 30, high–>low: 8–>32)
  32. Arizona3.07 (last week: 32, high–>low: 26–>32)

Defensive Adjusted Yards per Play (league average: 4.97)

  1. Chicago3.58 (last week: 1, high–>low: 1–>5)
  2. San Francisco3.86 (last week: 2, high–>low: 2–>20)
  3. Seattle3.94 (last week: 3, high–>low: 3–>12)
  4. Arizona4.10 (last week: 5, high–>low: 2–>6)
  5. Denver4.20 (last week: 4, high–>low: 3–>20)
  6. Cincinnati4.23 (last week: 8, high–>low: 6–>32)
  7. Houston4.34 (last week: 6, high–>low: 1–>7)
  8. Pittsburgh4.54 (last week: 7, high–>low: 6–>23)
  9. Baltimore4.63 (last week: 10, high–>low: 7–>16)
  10. NY Jets: 4.65 (last week: 11, high–>low: 9–>21)
  11. Cleveland4.67 (last week: 9, high–>low: 4–>21)
  12. New England4.68 (last week: 12, high–>low: 3–>14)
  13. San Diego4.69 (last week: 13, high–>low: 6–>17)
  14. Carolina4.81 (last week: 17, high–>low: 12–>26)
  15. Green Bay4.86 (last week: 16, high–>low: 7–>28)
  16. Minnesota4.94 (last week: 15, high–>low: 6–>17)
  17. NY Giants4.95 (last week: 14, high–>low: 8–>30)
  18. Atlanta5.00 (last week: 20, high–>low: 3–>21)
  19. St. Louis5.06 (last week: 18, high–>low: 8–>24)
  20. Miami5.13 (last week: 19, high–>low: 8–>23)
  21. Detroit5.25 (last week: 21, high–>low: 12–>23)
  22. Tennessee: 5.28 (last week: 27, high–>low: 22–>30)
  23. Jacksonville5.38 (last week: 22, high–>low: 22–>27)
  24. Washington5.45 (last week: 25, high–>low: 11–>27)
  25. Dallas5.54 (last week: 26, high–>low: 7–>26)
  26. Philadelphia5.57 (last week: 28, high–>low: 1–>28)
  27. Tampa Bay5.64 (last week: 24, high–>low: 15–>27)
  28. Buffalo5.70 (last week: 23, high–>low: 12–>32)
  29. Oakland5.90 (last week: 29, high–>low: 19–>31)
  30. New Orleans5.98 (last week: 32, high–>low: 28–>32)
  31. Kansas City6.06 (last week: 31, high–>low: 27–>32)
  32. Indianapolis6.19 (last week: 30, high–>low: 24–>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.

San Francisco and Seattle are the top two teams in this metric for the second straight week, making their upcoming Sunday night showdown at CenturyLink Field even more attractive. New England and Denver come in at #3 and #4, but there are no other AFC teams in the top ten and only four total that rate above-average (Houston and Baltimore being the other two). One of the likely two AFC wild-card teams, Indianapolis, comes in #30! Their defense is in a virtual tie for last place with Oakland and the easy schedule their offense has faced merits a rating well below average as well. Another AFC wild-card hopeful, Cincinnati, experienced a severe drop in the ratings this week; the Bengals’ ugly win over the Eagles Thursday night dropped them from the above-average ranks and sent them falling from #13 to #19. New Orleans uses their 41-0 blowout over Tampa Bay to jump eight spots to #9.

Predictive Yards per Play Differential (league average: 0.989371)

  1. San Francisco: 1.897866 (last week: 1, high–>low: 1–>3)
  2. Seattle: 1.731994 (last week: 2, high–>low: 2–>16)
  3. New England: 1.551631 (last week: 3, high–>low: 3–>13)
  4. Denver: 1.47189 (last week: 4, high–>low: 1–>6)
  5. Carolina: 1.468313 (last week: 5, high–>low: 3–>18)
  6. Green Bay: 1.37573 (last week: 8, high–>low: 3–>20)
  7. Washington: 1.355724 (last week: 6, high–>low: 5–>18)
  8. NY Giants: 1.335121 (last week: 7, high–>low: 3–>12)
  9. New Orleans: 1.220264 (last week: 17, high–>low: 9–>23)
  10. Detroit: 1.178797 (last week: 9, high–>low: 5–>10)
  11. Houston: 1.175172 (last week: 10, high–>low: 2–>12)
  12. St. Louis: 1.162539 (last week: 14, high–>low: 9–>28)
  13. Dallas: 1.119301 (last week: 12, high–>low: 2–>17)
  14. Atlanta: 1.113746 (last week: 19, high–>low: 4–>20)
  15. Baltimore: 1.102786 (last week: 11, high–>low: 1–>15)
  16. Chicago: 1.07173 (last week: 15, high–>low: 2–>19)
  17. Minnesota: 1.022079 (last week: 18, high–>low: 9–>18)
  18. Tampa Bay: 1.017989 (last week: 16, high–>low: 12–>30)
  19. Cincinnati: 0.954953 (last week: 13, high–>low: 8–>24)
  20. Buffalo: 0.850746 (last week: 20, high–>low: 14–>27)
  21. Pittsburgh: 0.83781 (last week: 21, high–>low: 14–>24)
  22. Miami: 0.743459 (last week: 22, high–>low: 11–>30)
  23. Tennessee: 0.719024 (last week: 23, high–>low: 21–>26)
  24. Philadelphia: 0.718847 (last week: 24, high–>low: 10–>25)
  25. Oakland: 0.585621 (last week: 26, high–>low: 19–>29)
  26. Cleveland: 0.553743 (last week: 27, high–>low: 23–>30)
  27. NY Jets: 0.522444 (last week: 25, high–>low: 19–>32)
  28. San Diego: 0.522229 (last week: 28, high–>low: 22–>30)
  29. Arizona: 0.477874 (last week: 29, high–>low: 23–>29)
  30. Indianapolis: 0.345962 (last week: 30, high–>low: 17–>30)
  31. Jacksonville: 0.2253 (last week: 31, high–>low: 31–>32)
  32. Kansas City: 0.127693 (last week: 32, high–>low: 27–>32)

Offensive Predictive Yards per Play (league average: 2.835901)

  1. New Orleans: 3.4102 (last week: 4, high–>: 1–>11)
  2. New England: 3.387825 (last week: 3, high–>low: 2–>9)
  3. Washington: 3.386177 (last week: 1, high–>low: 1–>8)
  4. San Francisco: 3.303187 (last week: 2, high–>low: 1–>13)
  5. Seattle: 3.289295 (last week: 6, high–>low: 5–>25)
  6. NY Giants: 3.218282 (last week: 5, high–>low: 1–>6)
  7. Carolina: 3.181846 (last week: 8, high–>low: 7–>17)
  8. Green Bay: 3.114666 (last week: 10, high–>low: 1–>22)
  9. Detroit: 3.10479 (last week: 7, high–>low: 3–>11)
  10. Atlanta: 3.103723 (last week: 13, high–>low: 4–>16)
  11. Tampa Bay: 3.09425 (last week: 9, high–>low: 6–>26)
  12. Dallas: 3.085861 (last week: 11, high–>low: 5–>20)
  13. Denver: 3.005377 (last week: 12, high–>low: 3–>13)
  14. Houston: 2.931068 (last week: 16, high–>low: 10–>19)
  15. Buffalo: 2.902279 (last week: 17, high–>low: 9–>17)
  16. St. Louis: 2.892785 (last week: 18, high–>low: 13–>28)
  17. Baltimore: 2.875275 (last week: 14, high–>low: 1–>17)
  18. Minnesota: 2.811373 (last week: 20, high–>low: 18–>25)
  19. Oakland: 2.807262 (last week: 19, high–>low: 12–>21)
  20. Cincinnati: 2.76474 (last week: 15, high–>low: 6–>20)
  21. Tennessee: 2.675341 (last week: 21, high–>low: 14–>24)
  22. Chicago: 2.584486 (last week: 22, high–>low: 10–>26)
  23. Indianapolis: 2.566436 (last week: 24, high–>low: 11–>24)
  24. Miami: 2.546216 (last week: 25, high–>low: 16–>31)
  25. Pittsburgh: 2.515854 (last week: 26, high–>low: 17–>29)
  26. Philadelphia: 2.512859 (last week: 23, high–>low: 19–>27)
  27. Cleveland: 2.391454 (last week: 28, high–>low: 27–>30)
  28. San Diego: 2.320013 (last week: 30, high–>low: 27–>31)
  29. NY Jets: 2.269307 (last week: 27, high–>low: 23–>31)
  30. Jacksonville: 2.240596 (last week: 32, high–>low: 28–>32)
  31. Kansas City: 2.217063 (last week: 29, high–>low: 24–>32)
  32. Arizona: 2.138109 (last week: 31, high–>low: 27–>32)

Defensive Predictive Yards per Play (league average: 1.84653)

  1. San Francisco: 1.405321 (last week: 1, high–>low: 1–>5)
  2. Chicago: 1.512757 (last week: 2, high–>low: 1–>5)
  3. Denver: 1.533487 (last week: 3, high–>low: 2–>11)
  4. Seattle: 1.557301 (last week: 4, high–>low: 2–>6)
  5. Arizona: 1.660235 (last week: 8, high–>low: 5–>10)
  6. Pittsburgh: 1.678044 (last week: 5, high–>low: 4–>20)
  7. Carolina: 1.713533 (last week: 9, high–>low: 6–>25)
  8. St. Louis: 1.730246 (last week: 11, high–>low: 8–>18)
  9. Green Bay: 1.738936 (last week: 13, high–>low: 9–>17)
  10. NY Jets: 1.746863 (last week: 7, high–>low: 7–>21)
  11. Houston: 1.755896 (last week: 6, high–>low: 2–>12)
  12. Baltimore: 1.772489 (last week: 15, high–>low: 12–>20)
  13. Minnesota: 1.789294 (last week: 10, high–>low: 3–>13)
  14. Philadelphia: 1.794012 (last week: 18, high–>low: 5–>20)
  15. San Diego: 1.797784 (last week: 14, high–>low: 7–>17)
  16. Miami: 1.802757 (last week: 12, high–>low: 8–>16)
  17. Cincinnati: 1.809787 (last week: 16, high–>low: 16–>28)
  18. New England: 1.836194 (last week: 19, high–>low: 16–>23)
  19. Cleveland: 1.837711 (last week: 17, high–>low: 9–>22)
  20. NY Giants: 1.883161 (last week: 20, high–>low: 18–>32)
  21. Detroit: 1.925993 (last week: 22, high–>low: 10–>23)
  22. Tennessee: 1.956317 (last week: 25, high–>low: 22–>28)
  23. Dallas: 1.966559 (last week: 21, high–>low: 6–>23)
  24. Atlanta: 1.989978 (last week: 27, high–>low: 14–>27)
  25. Jacksonville: 2.015297 (last week: 23, high–>low: 16–>25)
  26. Washington: 2.030453 (last week: 26, high–>low: 24–>32)
  27. Buffalo: 2.051534 (last week: 24, high–>low: 23–>32)
  28. Tampa Bay: 2.076261 (last week: 28, high–>low: 19–>29)
  29. Kansas City: 2.089369 (last week: 29, high–>low: 22–>30)
  30. New Orleans: 2.189936 (last week: 32, high–>low: 30–>32)
  31. Indianapolis: 2.220473 (last week: 30, high–>low: 24–>31)
  32. Oakland: 2.221641 (last week: 31, high–>low: 23–>32)