Alberto Riveron Fun Fact of the Day: April 29, 2013

Someone Still Loves You Alberto Riveron is taking a bit of siesta over the next couple of days; so if you’re looking for hasty post-draft grades handed out supremely prematurely, I’m sorry. You’ll have to look elsewhere. On the other hand, if you’ve been dying for an Alberto Riveron Fun Fact of the Day, you’re in luck!

Did you know that…

Now you do!

WhatIfSports Duel to the Death Season: Week 12 (Part 2)

Yesterday’s results can accessed from clicking this link. If you’re all up to speed on that, then let’s quit dilly-dallying around because we’ve got eight more to get to today. Starting with…

1999 Jacksonville Jaguars (7-4) 24, 1981 Cincinnati Bengals (5-6) 16

James Stewart ran for two touchdowns, but it was Fred Taylor’s 115 rushing yards on only ten attempts and Mark Brunell’s 213 passing yards on 25 attempts that fueled the Jaguars’ road victory in Cincinnati. Jimmy Smith had six catches for 122 yards, including a 13-yard touchdown catch from Brunell early in the fourth quarter that put the Jaguars ahead by eight. Cincinnati’s best chance to tie came on a six-minute, 57-yard drive that started with a little under 7:40 remaining and ended at the Jaguar 18 when Ken Anderson couldn’t convert a 4th-and-3 throw to Cris Collinsworth. Pete Johnson gained 96 yards on the ground for Cincinnati in a losing cause.

1999 St. Louis Rams (9-2) 30, 1989 San Francisco 49ers (3-7-1) 10

Kurt Warner threw for 205 yards and a touchdown on 25 attempts and the Rams forced four Joe Montana interceptions, including a pick-six by Todd Lyght, to move to 9-2 and essentially ring a death knell to the 49ers’ playoff hopes. Montana racked up a bunch of yards when he wasn’t throwing interceptions, gaining 303 of them on 32 attempts including a 80-yard touchdown pass to Jerry Rice. But Taje Allen, Devin Bush, Billy Jenkins and Lyght all jumped in front of Montana passes at one point or another during the game, with Lyght taking his interception back 12 yards for a touchdown to put the Rams up 27-10 in the third quarter. Marshall Faulk gained 88 yards on 16 carries for St. Louis.

1958 Baltimore Colts (5-6) 24, 2006 Indianapolis Colts (2-9) 23

Steve Myhra was actually the hero (sort of – more on that later) for once, kicking a 22-yard field goal with under two minutes left to give the Old Colts bragging rights over their Indianapolis brethren. Alan Ameche added 132 yards and two touchdowns on just 14 carries for the ’58 Colts. The 2006 version of the team was down 21-3 in the second quarter but came back on the strength of Peyton Manning’s arm (17-of-26 for 230 yards and a touchdown), Joseph Addai’s legs (85 yards on 13 carries) and Adam Vinatieri’s leg (three field goals, including one with 5:39 remaining to put Indy up by two). After Johnny Unitas hit Raymond Berry with a 43-yard pass play, however, Myhra avenged his previous field goal misses from 32 and 30 yards to sneak one in from 22 yards away to retake the lead for Baltimore. Manning led Indianapolis on one final drive, but Vinatieri’s last-ditch 57-yard attempt was wide right.

2005 Carolina Panthers (6-5) 38, 1960 Philadelphia Eagles (1-10) 0

Jake Delhomme went 13-of-18 for 173 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions and the Panthers rung up 245 yards on the ground to move to 6-5 and into a tie for the final wild-card spot in the NFC. DeShaun Foster picked up 112 of those rushing yards on just 14 attempts and added two touchdowns, one rushing and one receiving. The Eagles gained 325 yards of offense, but three Chris Draft sacks and three missed Bobby Walston field goals kept them from putting points on the scoreboard.

2005 Seattle Seahawks (4-6-1) 31, 2008 Arizona Cardinals (5-6) 24

Matt Hasselbeck’s 14-yard touchdown pass to Joe Jurevicius with 5:14 remaining gave the Seahawks their second win in a row and moved the Cardinals below .500 for the first time all season. Hasselbeck finished with 156 yards and two touchdowns on just 18 attempts; the reason he threw so infrequently was because Shaun Alexander was gashing the Cardinals on the ground, picking up 183 yards and a 56-yard touchdown run on only 19 carries. Kurt Warner played well for Arizona, throwing for 299 yards and two touchdowns on 32 attempts and the Cardinals had a 4th-and-goal try for the tie with under two minutes remaining but Edgerrin James was stuffed on the last-ditch effort.

1975 Pittsburgh Steelers (8-3) 41, 1976 Oakland Raiders (2-9) 24

Franco Harris rushed for 151 yards on 24 attempts and scored four touchdowns (three on the ground, one through the air) as the Steelers dispatched their fiercest rival from the ’70s with relative ease. Pittsburgh also benefited from a 76-yard punt return by [UNKNOWN PLAYER] in the second quarter, as well as two Ken Stabler interceptions and sacks from Jack Ham and Jack Lambert. Mark Van Eeghen scored two touchdowns on the ground for Oakland in a losing effort.

1972 Miami Dolphins (6-5) 22, 1991 Washington Redskins (7-4) 7

Mercury Morris and Larry Csonka combined for 214 rushing yards on 37 attempts and the Dolphins won their fifth game in a row by virtue of beating the Redskins at the Orange Bowl. Bob Griese wasn’t impressive throwing the ball, gaining only 95 yards on 23 attempts but he and Paul Warfield did connect on both Dolphin touchdown passes. On the other side, Mark Rypien had his worst outing of the season, going only 13-of-28 for 98 yards and an interception. Ricky Ervins scored on a 25-yard touchdown run for Washington’s only points.

1968 New York Jets (4-7) 20, 1964 Cleveland Browns (1-10) 17

Don Maynard had 124 receiving yards on five catches and the Jets picked up fifteen more first downs than the Browns en route to victory at Cleveland Stadium. Had Joe Namath not thrown three interceptions, the score might have been more lopsided; as it was, Namath’s third interception set up Jim Brown’s 48-yard touchdown run with 6:23 remaining in the fourth quarter and the Browns were back within one score for the first time since the second quarter. But they never saw the ball again as the Jets converted four third downs and moved all the way from their own 25 to the Cleveland 6 before taking a couple knees to run out the clock. Jim Brown finished with 90 yards on 16 carries; Frank Ryan was horrendous, going 5-of-14 for 59 yards and two interceptions.

Next week: The ’62 Packers and ’92 Cowboys meet in a hugely important game in the NFC home-field advantage race; the ’99 Rams try to pick up their 10th win of the year when they visit the ’91 Redskins; the suddenly red-hot ’86 Giants try to move into a tie for the last wild-card slot in the NFC against the suddenly ice-cold ’85 Bears; and the ’72 Dolphins try to make it six in a row when they head into Pittsburgh to play the ’75 Steelers.

AFC East

  1. ’07 New England: 9-2
  2. ’72 Miami: 6-5
  3. ’90 Buffalo: 5-6
  4. ’68 NY Jets: 4-7

AFC North

  1. ’75 Pittsburgh: 8-3
  2. ’58 Baltimore: 5-6
  3. ’81 Cincinnati: 5-6
  4. ’64 Cleveland: 1-10

AFC South

  1. ’00 Tennessee: 10-1
  2. ’99 Jacksonville: 7-4
  3. ’91 Houston: 6-5
  4. ’06 Indianapolis: 2-9

AFC West

  1. ’79 San Diego: 10-1
  2. ’69 Kansas City: 7-4
  3. ’98 Denver: 5-6
  4. ’76 Oakland: 2-9

NFC East

  1. ’92 Dallas: 8-3
  2. ’91 Washington: 7-4
  3. ’86 NY Giants: 5-6
  4. ’60 Philadelphia: 1-10

NFC North

  1. ’62 Green Bay: 9-2
  2. ’85 Chicago: 6-5
  3. ’73 Minnesota: 3-8
  4. ’52 Detroit: 2-9

NFC South

  1. ’02 Tampa Bay: 7-4
  2. ’05 Carolina: 6-5
  3. ’09 New Orleans: 4-7
  4. ’12 Atlanta: 4-7

NFC West

  1. ’99 St. Louis: 9-2
  2. ’08 Arizona: 5-6
  3. ’05 Seattle: 4-6-1
  4. ’89 San Francisco: 3-7-1


WhatIfSports Duel to the Death Season: Week 12 (Part 1)

Now basically two-thirds of the way through the simulated Greatest of All Time Season, we’re hitting the point where, if this were a real life thing, we’d be hitting Thanksgiving and the ’62 Packers and ’52 Lions would get the day started and then the ’92 Cowboys would keep the ball rolling by hosting the ’07 Patriots and we’d all be gleefully jamming as much turkey down our throats as we could without choking ourselves. Of course, this isn’t real life and we’re stuck in late April (not that I’m complaining, weather-wise!). But while you’re reading these game recaps, feel free to make yourself a nice Thanksgiving dinner with all the fixings. After all, you deserve it. TO THE SIM ENGINE…

1962 Green Bay Packers (9-2) 24, 1952 Detroit Lions (2-9) 7

Jim Taylor rushed for 164 yards and had a 20-yard touchdown run included in his 20 carries as the Packers moved to 9-2. The Lions actually scored first on a 47-yard punt return by [UNKNOWN PLAYER] in the second quarter, but from there the Packers dominated. Bobby Layne was sacked five times and Detroit managed a total of only 183 yards on offense. Meanwhile, Bart Starr’s 17-yard touchdown pass to Ron Kramer late in the fourth quarter essentially cinched the game.

1992 Dallas Cowboys (8-3) 31, 2007 New England Patriots (9-2) 9

Showing once again how they can be essentially unstoppable when they’re running on all cylinders, the Cowboys held the Patriots offense to 170 total yards and enjoyed a big day from their Triplets en route to a lopsided win at Texas Stadium. Emmitt Smith ran for 124 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries and added a receiving touchdown as well, Michael Irvin picked up 113 receiving yards on five catches and Troy Aikman threw two touchdown passes for Dallas. The Cowboys’ most impressive feat, however, was clearly holding Tom Brady to 14-of-26 for 111 yards and an interception. The only bright spots for New England were Stephen Gostkowski’s three field goals and Junior Seau’s two interceptions.

1991 Houston Oilers (6-5) 38, 2012 Atlanta Falcons (4-7) 24

Warren Moon shook off an early pick-six to torch the Falcons for 236 yards and four touchdowns on 23 attempts and the Oilers moved back above .500 with a win at the Georgia Dome. Haywood Jeffires had 101 receiving yards and two touchdowns on six catches; Ernest Givins and Drew Hill caught Moon’s remaining touchdown throws. Lorenzo White also added 101 yards and a touchdown on the ground on only 13 attempts. Matt Ryan threw two touchdown passes for the Falcons but also two interceptions.

1969 Kansas City Chiefs (7-4) 10, 1985 Chicago Bears (6-5)

Len Dawson’s two-yard touchdown pass to Otis Taylor late in the first half proved to be the only touchdown of the game, as the red-hot Chiefs went into Soldier Field and handed the Bears their third loss in a row. Dawson overall wasn’t anything special, going just 12-of-25 for 106 yards but the Chiefs’ ground game was able to churn out 154 yards on 36 carries. On the other side, the Bears’ two-headed quarterback monster of Jim McMahon and Mike Tomczak could only combine for 146 yards on 39 dropbacks and Walter Payton was largely held in check, picking up a modest 78 yards on 19 carries.

2000 Tennessee Titans (10-1) 16, 1990 Buffalo Bills (5-6) 10

Tennessee only scrounged up 191 yards of total offense on the day and didn’t score an offensive touchdown, but three Al Del Greco field goals and (more importantly) a 53-yard interception return for a touchdown by Randall Godfrey moved the Titans to 10-1 on the season. Godfrey’s pick-six came when the Bills had the ball up 10-0 late in the first half; after that, Jim Kelly and Co. were continually thwarted by the likes of Jevon Kearse, who had two sacks on the day. Thurman Thomas only rushed for 37 yards on 17 carries.

2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-4) 27, 2009 New Orleans Saints (4-7) 6

Brad Johnson threw two touchdown passes and Simeon Rice sacked Drew Brees four times as the Buccaneers broke their two-game losing streak with a home throttling of the Saints. Shelton Quarles and John Lynch added interceptions for the Buccaneers, who also benefited from 67 receiving yards from Keyshawn Johnson. The Saints, meanwhile, were kept out of the end zone as Brees piled up an inefficient 245 yards on 51 pass attempts.

1979 San Diego Chargers (10-1) 40, 1998 Denver Broncos (5-6) 15

The unstoppable Charger machine kept on chugging, as Dan Fouts was a remarkable 15-of-17 for 222 yards and a touchdown and San Diego scored 20 points in the last ten minutes of the game to turn a close game at Mile High Stadium into another blowout win for the Chargers. San Diego’s rushing attack led by Clarence Williams and Mike Thomas was also potent, netting 191 yards and three touchdowns on 43 attempts. Terrell Davis had 124 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries for Denver in a losing effort.

1986 New York Giants (5-6) 17, 1973 Minnesota Vikings (3-8) 14

Raul Allegre’s 53-yard field goal as time expired capped a 14-point flurry for the Giants in the last six minutes of the game and gave Big Blue their fourth consecutive win. Fran Tarkenton’s 47-yard touchdown throw to Chuck Foreman early in the fourth quarter gave the Vikings a 14-3 lead and the Giants’ chances seemed particularly poor since Phil Simms had already thrown three interceptions up to that point. But Fred Cox’s three missed field goals for the Vikings would turn out to cost them the game, as Simms led the Giants on drives capped by an Allegre 33-yard field goal and a 54-yard Joe Morris touchdown run, followed by a successful pass to Mark Bavaro for the tying two-point conversion with 1:04 remaining in the game. After Minnesota went three-and-out, Simms hit Phil McConkey with a 28-yard pass with a second remaining, setting up Allegre’s game winner. Morris ended up with 181 yards on the ground for the Giants.

Tomorrow: The ’72 Dolphins try to get above .500 for the first time all season against the ’91 Redskins; the ’99 Jaguars take on the ’81 Bengals in an important game in the AFC wild-card picture; and the ’89 49ers try to avoid a complete ouster from the playoffs when they take on the ’99 Rams.

Consensus NFL Draft Big Board: Defense

Continuing the exercise started yesterday, today we turn our attention to how five draft websites grade the best defensive players available in this weekend’s draft. Unlike their offensive brethren, who are generally considered to be members of a weak crop (especially at the skill positions), there are scores of highly regarded defensive players available for teams to snatch up. Again, the five authors/websites I used were:

Charlie Campbell (CC),

Rob Rang (RR),

Scott Wright (SW),

Mike Mayock (MM),

Authors unknown, (DT)

And now the consensus best 32 available defensive players in this year’s draft…

Consensus Top-Five Prospect:

1. Sharrif Floyd, defensive tackle, Florida.

  • Average big board rank: 5.0
  • High: (MM)
  • Low: 12 (SW)

Consensus Top-Ten Prospects:

2. Star Lotulelei, defensive tackle, Utah.

  • Average big board rank: 6.0
  • High: (CC)
  • Low: 11 (MM)

3. Dee Milliner, cornerback, Alabama.

  • Average big board rank: 7.2
  • High: (RR, SW, DT)
  • Low: 16 (MM)

4. Dion Jordan, linebacker, Oregon.

  • Average big board rank: 8.6
  • High: (DT)
  • Low: 20 (RR)

5. Ezekial Ansah, defensive end, Brigham Young.

  • Average big board rank: 9.2
  • High: (RR)
  • Low: 13 (CC)

6. Sheldon Richardson, defensive tackle, Missouri.

  • Average big board rank: 9.2
  • High: (CC, MM)
  • Low: 13 (DT)

Consensus First-Round-Worthy Prospects

7. Jarvis Jones, linebacker, Georgia.

  • Average big board rank: 11.6
  • High: (CC)
  • Low: 19 (MM)

8. Barkevious Mingo, defensive end/outside linebacker, Louisana State.

  • Average big board rank: 14.8
  • High: 10 (MM)
  • Low: 22 (RR)

9. Bjoern Werner, defensive end, Florida State.

  • Average big board rank: 17.0
  • High: (DT)
  • Low: 26 (MM)

10. Kenny Vaccaro, safety, Texas.

  • Average big board rank: 17.6
  • High: 15 (SW, DT)
  • Low: 24 (RR)

11. Xavier Rhodes, cornerback, Florida State. 

  • Average big board rank: 19.6
  • High: 16 (RR, DT)
  • Low: 23 (CC, SW)

12. Desmond Trufant, cornerback, Washington.

  • Average big board rank: 24.4
  • High: 14 (DT)
  • Low: 35 (MM)

Consensus Late First Round/Early Second Round Prospects:

13. Datone Jones, defensive end, UCLA.

  • Average big board rank: 27.8
  • High: 21 (DT)
  • Low: 31 (CC, RR)

14. Damontre Moore, defensive end, Texas A&M.

  • Average big board rank: 28.2
  • High: 18 (CC)
  • Low: 33 (MM)

15. Sylvester Williams, defensive tackle, North Carolina.

  • Average big board rank: 28.8
  • High: 19 (SW)
  • Low: 47 (RR)

16. Manti Te’o, inside linebacker, Notre Dame.

  • Average big board rank: 29.6
  • High: 18 (SW)
  • Low: 36 (RR, DT)

17. Arthur Brown, inside linebacker, Kansas State.

  • Average big board rank: 31.2
  • High: 19 (DT)
  • Low: 47 (CC)

18. Matt Elam, safety, Florida.

  • Average big board rank: 33.0
  • High: 20 (CC)
  • Low: 50 (SW)

19. Alec Ogletree, inside linebacker, Georgia.

  • Average big board rank: 35.0
  • High: 12 (CC)
  • Low: 70 (RR)

20. Kawann Short, defensive tackle, Purdue.

  • Average big board rank: 37.0
  • High: 21 (CC)
  • Low: 44 (SW)

21. Kevin Minter, inside linebacker, Louisiana State.

  • Average big board rank: 37.2
  • High: 27 (CC)
  • Low: 49 (RR)

22. Eric Reid, safety, Louisiana State.

  • Average big board rank: 37.8
  • High: 27 (SW)
  • Low: 59 (CC)

23. Jamar Taylor, cornerback, Boise State.

  • Average big board rank: 38.4
  • High: 27 (RR)
  • Low: 51 (MM)

24. Jonathan Cyprien, safety, Florida International.

  • Average big board rank: 38.6
  • High: 28 (DT)
  • Low: 46 (RR)

Consensus Second-Round-Worthy Prospects:

25. Johnthan Banks, cornerback, Mississippi State.

  • Average big board rank: 42.6
  • High: 37 (CC)
  • Low: 50 (RR)

26. Margus Hunt, defensive end, Southern Methodist.

  • Average big board rank: 45.2
  • High: 32 (RR)
  • Low: 72 (DT)

27. Johnathan Hankins, defensive tackle, Ohio State.

  • Average big board rank: 45.6
  • High: 33 (SW)
  • Low: 64 (RR)

28. D.J. Hayden, cornerback, Houston.

  • Average big board rank: 47.2
  • High: 14 (MM)
  • Low: 112 (DT)

29. Cornellius Carradine, defensive end, Florida State.

  • Average big board rank: 47.6
  • High: 22 (DT)
  • Low: Unlisted (MM)

30. Alex Okafor, defensive end, Texas.

  • Average big board rank: 49.4
  • High: 25 (CC)
  • Low: 79 (MM)

31. Jonathan Jenkins, defensive tackle, Georgia.

  • Average big board rank: 54.4
  • High: 38 (CC)
  • Low: 71 (MM)

Consensus Late Second Round/Early Third Round Prospect:

32. Jesse Williams, defensive tackle, Alabama.

  • Average big board rank: 57.4
  • High: 26 (DT)
  • Low: 97 (MM)

Consensus NFL Draft Big Board: Offense

I haven’t posted very much about the upcoming NFL Draft for a couple reasons. First, I’m no talent scout and won’t pretend that I have any special insight into which college players will blossom into stars in the NFL. Second, as Bill Barnwell and Chase Stuart have noted in the past couple days, it’s not entirely clear that even the best NFL general managers have that sort of insight, either. As much as we’d all like to think otherwise, the draft is a crapshoot in a lot of ways and just because Ted Thompson and John Schneider have had some great drafts in the past few years doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to keep hitting home runs this year. Same logic applies in reverse to  Jeff Ireland and Buddy Nix.

However, I think there is some value in gleaning the wisdom of crowds – that is, paying particular note to players who are rated consistently high across the board by a wide range of draft observers. So over the next couple of days, I’ll be looking at the draft big boards of five different websites and taking a look at each player’s average ranking, then posting the consensus top 32 players on both offense and defense. The five authors/websites I used for this exercise were:

Charlie Campbell (CC),

Rob Rang (RR),

Scott Wright (SW),

Mike Mayock (MM),

Authors unknown, (DT)

Today, we start with offense. And as you’re about to see, the draftniks clearly find this year’s crop to be below-average, particularly once you get past the run of highly-regarded offensive linemen…

Consensus Top-Five Prospects:

1. Luke Joeckel, tackle, Texas A&M. 

  • Average big board rank: 1.6.
  • High: (CC, RR, DT).
  • Low: (MM)

2. Eric Fisher, tackle, Central Michigan.

  • Average big board rank: 2.2
  • High: (SW, MM)
  • Low: (CC)

Consensus Top-Ten Prospects:

3. Jonathan Cooper, guard, North Carolina.

  • Average big board rank: 7.4
  • High: (SW)
  • Low: (CC)

4. Lane Johnson, tackle, Oklahoma.

  • Average big board rank: 7.8
  • High: (MM)
  • Low: 10 (CC)

5. Chance Warmack, guard, Alabama.

  • Average big board rank: 8.6
  • High: (MM)
  • Low: 14 (DT)

Consensus First-Round-Worthy Prospects:

6. Tavon Austin, wide receiver, West Virginia.

  • Average big board rank: 17.4
  • High: 12 (MM)
  • Low: 30 (SW)

7. Tyler Eifert, tight end, Notre Dame.

  • Average big board rank: 20.4
  • High: 13 (MM)
  • Low: 29 (CC)

8. Geno Smith, quarterback, West Virginia.

  • Average big board rank: 21.8
  • High: 17 (RR, DT)
  • Low: 30 (CC)

9. Cordarrelle Patterson, wide receiver, Tennessee.

  • Average big board rank: 22.0
  • High: 11 (RR)
  • Low: 30 (MM)

10. D.J. Fluker, tackle, Alabama.

  • Average big board rank: 24.2
  • High: 13 (SW)
  • Low: 48 (CC)

Consensus Late First Round/Early Second Round Prospects:

11. Justin Hunter, wide receiver, Tennessee.

  • Average big board rank: 32.6
  • High: 19 (CC)
  • Low: 45 (DT)

12. Keenan Allen, wide receiver, California.

  • Average big board rank: 32.6
  • High: 23 (RR)
  • Low: 47 (SW)

13. Eddie Lacy, running back, Alabama.

  • Average big board rank: 33.4
  • High: 18 (MM)
  • Low: 42 (CC)

14. DeAndre Hopkins, wide receiver, Clemson.

  • Average big board rank: 38.4
  • High: 28 (RR)
  • Low: 48 (DT)

15. Matt Barkley, quarterback, Southern California.

  • Average big board rank: 39.8
  • High: 18 (RR)
  • Low: 61 (DT)

Consensus Second-Round-Worthy Prospects:

16. Zach Ertz, tight end, Stanford.

  • Average big board rank: 42.2
  • High: 38 (RR, DT)
  • Low: 49 (CC)

17. Robert Woods, wide receiver, Southern California.

  • Average big board rank: 42.6
  • High: 25 (RR)
  • Low: 58 (CC)

18. Larry Warford, guard, Kentucky.

  • Average big board rank: 46.6
  • High: 26 (CC)
  • Low: 65 (SW)

Consensus Late Second Round/Early Third Round Prospects:

19. Giovani Bernard, running back, North Carolina.

  • Average big board rank: 57.2
  • High: 41 (CC)
  • Low: 74 (RR)

20. E.J. Manuel, quarterback, Florida State.

  • Average big board rank: 57.2
  • High: 41 (MM)
  • Low: 85 (CC)

21. Terrance Williams, wide receiver, Baylor.

  • Average big board rank: 58.8
  • High: 50 (CC)
  • Low: 71 (RR)

22. Ryan Nassib, quarterback, Syracuse.

  • Average big board rank: 60.6
  • High: 47 (DT)
  • Low: 98 (CC)

23. Menelik Watson, tackle, Florida State.

  • Average big board rank: 63.0
  • High: 31 (MM)
  • Low: Unlisted (CC)

24. Kyle Long, guard, Oregon.

  • Average big board rank: 64.4
  • High: 29 (MM)
  • Low: 122 (DT)

25. Justin Pugh, tackle, Syracuse.

  • Average big board rank: 64.6
  • High: 24 (MM)
  • Low: Unlisted (CC)

26. Montee Ball, running back, Wisconsin.

  • Average big board rank: 65.2
  • High: 37 (SW)
  • Low: 87 (DT)

27. Quinton Patton, wide receiver, Louisiana Tech.

  • Average big board rank: 65.8
  • High: 51 (RR)
  • Low: 78 (MM)

Consensus Third-Round-Worthy Prospects:

28. Tyler Wilson, quarterback, Arkansas.

  • Average big board rank: 71.0
  • High: 45 (RR)
  • Low: Unlisted (MM)

29. Johnathan Franklin, running back, UCLA.

  • Average big board rank: 73.0
  • High: 55 (RR)
  • Low: 100 (MM)

30. Tyler Bray, quarterback, Tennessee.

  • Average big board rank: 73.4
  • High: 40 (DT)
  • Low: Unlisted (RR)

31. Barrett Jones, center, Alabama.

  • Average big board rank: 74.2
  • High: 43 (CC)
  • Low: 94 (RR)

32. Terron Armstead, tackle, Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

  • Average big board rank: 75.0
  • High: 60 (RR)
  • Low: Unlisted (CC)

What Impact Will Darrelle Revis Have On Tampa Bay’s Pass Defense?

The answer to the post’s question, of course, is “a positive one” (assuming he’s at all healthy next season). The Buccaneers have ranked second-to-last in Net Yards per Attempt Allowed the past two years to begin with and adding a cornerback who was almost unanimously perceived as the best in the game in the three years prior to his ACL injury in the third game of last season should help further an expected regression towards the mean for Tampa Bay’s pass defense. The bigger question is the degree to which the soon-to-be 28-year-old Revis improves the Buccaneers’ secondary. Does his presence, along with the signing of Dashon Goldson and the expected improvement from highly regarded second-year safety Mark Barron, push the Buccaneers’ defense into the “good” or even “great” category? Or will the sum of the parts not equal the whole and leave Tampa Bay once again lingering as a below-average defensive unit?

We’re five months away from beginning to answer those questions, but here’s a list of other All-Pro cornerbacks since the merger who switched teams in their primes and an account of the impact their presence had on their new team the year after (as measured by Net Yards per Attempt and Predictive Yards per Play).

Aeneas Williams, 2001, St. Louis Rams, age 33:
Net Yards per Attempt Difference: +1.20 (2000: 6.5, 2001: 5.3)
Predictive Yards per Play Difference: +1.40 (2000: 5.32, 2001: 3.92)

There’s a variety of reasons why the Rams’ defense bounced back from being one of the worst in the league in 2000 to one of the best in 2001, including Lovie Smith’s ascendance to the defensive coordinator position and simple regression towards the mean, but Williams’ third All-Pro selection (and first since coming over from Arizona) has to be one of the biggest.

Champ Bailey, 2004, Denver Broncos, age 26:
Net Yards per Attempt Difference: -0.30 (2003: 5.3, 2004: 5.6)
Predictive Yards per Play Difference: +0.04 (2003: 3.75, 2004: 3.71)

The Broncos shaved offer four tenths of a yard off their rushing average defensively, which explains the improvement in Predictive Yards per Play but the decline in Net Yards per Attempt with Champ’s arrival in Denver. Still, this is probably Tampa Bay’s best-case scenario for the Revis deal: Bailey was first-team All-Pro his first three years in Denver and has made the Pro Bowl every season he’s played more than nine games in a Broncos uniform.

Deion Sanders, 1994, San Francisco 49ers, age 27: 
Net Yards per Attempt Difference: -0.30 (1993: 5.3, 1994: 5.6)
Predictive Yards per Play Difference: +0.30 (1993: 4.34, 1994: 4.04)

San Francisco’s Net Yards per Pass Attempt figure dropped from 3rd to 6th in ’94, but they allowed eight fewer touchdown passes and intercepted four more passes (Deion picked off six passes himself, taking three of them back to the house).

Deion Sanders, 1995, Dallas Cowboys, age 28:
Net Yards per Attempt Difference: -1.10 (1994: 4.8, 1995: 5.9)
Predictive Yards per Play Difference: -0.66 (1994: 3.76, 1995: 4.42)

For the second year in a row, Deion hopped on the Super Bowl-winning team’s bandwagon, but Dallas’s defense strangely fell back to the middle of the pack – partly because Deion only played in nine games and partly because their pass rush recorded eleven fewer sacks than 1994.

Mark Haynes, 1986, Denver Broncos, age 28:

Net Yards per Attempt Difference: -0.1 (1985: 5.4, 1986: 5.5)
Predictive Yards per Play Difference: +0.25 (1985: 3.76, 1986: 3.51)

Haynes made three Pro Bowls in a row with the Giants from 1982-84, picking up two All-Pro selections along the way before suffering an injury in 1985 and getting shipped off to Denver before 1986. The Broncos’ defense improved from the year before, but it was hardly due to anything Haynes did: he only played in eleven games all season and wasn’t even in the lineup by the time the Broncos were facing off against his old team in the Super Bowl. 

Mike Haynes, 1983, Los Angeles Raiders, age 30:
Net Yards per Attempt Difference: +0.10 (1982: 5.5, 1983: 5.4)
Predictive Yards per Play Difference: +0.33 (1982: 3.75, 1983: 3.42)

Haynes only played in five games in his first season after coming over from New England, so the Raiders’ defensive improvement in 1983 can’t really be attributed to him, although he did record an interception in the Super Bowl against Washington.

Nnamdi Asomugha, 2011, Philadelphia Eagles, age 30:
Net Yards per Attempt Difference: (2010: 6.0, 2011: 6.0)
Predictive Yards per Play Difference: -0.12 (2010: 4.70, 2011: 4.82)

I think we all remember how this went down, right?

Rod Woodson, 1997, San Francisco 49ers, age 32:
Net Yards per Attempt Difference: +0.50 (1996: 5.2, 1997: 4.7)
Predictive Yards per Play Difference: -0.03 (1996: 3.69, 1997: 3.72)

San Francisco’s defense superficially looked better with the five-time All-Pro Woodson in its secondary, but that was mainly due to an easy schedule; in reality, they were very good in both ’96 and ’97 with little to distinguish between the quality of the two.

Ty Law, 2005, New York Jets, age 31:
Net Yards per Attempt Difference: +0.6 (2004: 6.2, 2005: 5.6)
Predictive Yards per Play Difference: -0.16 (2004: 4.00, 2005: 4.16)

The Jets went 4-12 in Law’s first season away from New England, but it was hardly his fault: he led the league in interceptions with ten and the Jets’ pass defense improved from 2004 (the PY/P drop was due to the run defense’s decline from 3.6 yards per carry in 2004 to 3.9 in 2005).

So, on average, these All-Pro cornerbacks improved their new teams’ Net Yards per Attempt average by .07 yards per attempt and their Predictive Yards per Play figure by .15 yards per play. Of course, some of the players on this list didn’t have much of an impact at all on their new teams while others played at peak performance but didn’t noticeably improve their team’s overall defense. Perhaps the biggest thing to note from this entire exercise is that Revis, while undeniably great when he’s healthy, accounts for just 9% of the total defense on the field when he’s in the lineup. If Tampa Bay really wants to turn into a top-flight defense, they should try to improve a pass rush that’s only put the quarterback on the ground fifty times combined over the past two years.

The Complete 2013 NFL Schedule Breakdown

Before last night at 8:00 P.M. Eastern time, every team in the NFL knew who they were playing next season but didn’t know when. Now the when has been provided and, along with it, the networks that will be carrying those games. The most interesting part of the schedule reveal, to me, is seeing which teams snag the high-profile Sunday Night, Monday Night and late Sunday afternoon time slots. The number of nationally televised games a team gets in a season is usually a pretty good litmus test for their current popularity and national appeal. Hence, I’m going to analyze this year’s schedule from the prime-time angle, ranking each network’s games according to how much pee got lodged in my pants just thinking about it. Let us begin.

NBC Sunday Night Football

  1. Broncos at Colts (Week 7 – October 20th)
  2. Broncos at Patriots (Week 12 – November 24th)
  3. Ravens at Broncos (Week 1 – September 5th)
  4. Patriots at Falcons (Week 4 – September 29th)
  5. 49ers at Seahawks (Week 2 – September 15th)
  6. Redskins at Cowboys (Week 6 – October 13th)
  7. Giants at Redskins (Week 13 – December 1st)
  8. Patriots at Ravens (Week 16 – December 22nd)
  9. Giants at Cowboys (Week 1 – September 8th)
  10. Packers at Giants (Week 11 – November 17th)
  11. Steelers at Ravens (Week 13 – November 28th)
  12. Falcons at Packers (Week 14 – December 8th)
  13. Cowboys at Saints (Week 10 – November 10th)
  14. Bears at Steelers (Week 3 – September 22nd)
  15. Packers at Vikings (Week 8 – October 27th)
  16. Texans at 49ers (Week 5 – October 6th)
  17. Colts at Texans (Week 9 – November 3rd)
  18. Bengals at Steelers (Week 15 – December 15th)

First of all, I’d just like to get a WHAT-WHAT for getting exceedingly lucky and actually correctly projecting 12 of these games. Does this mean I have an extreme and sick obsession with the NFL schedule that goes well behind healthy fascination? Yes. Yes, it does. Anyway, NBC has to be ecstatic with the three Broncos games they got handed by the NFL: they get the rematch of the classic Ravens-Broncos double overtime game from last year as the season opener, they get Manning vs. Brady for the first time since 2009, and (most importantly) they get Peyton Manning’s return to Indianapolis. Which is only going to be the single biggest game of the 2013 regular season. No biggie. As you’ll see below, this season’s overall SNF slate technically appears worse on paper than the last two years if we’re framing the question according to previous seasons’ win percentage. On the other hand, though, there’s no weak link game I’m seeing in that schedule this year that’s shown up in years past (Ex.: 2010 – Chargers/Bengals, 2012 – Chargers/Jets, etc.). Cincinnati vs. Pittsburgh in Week 15 is probably the game I’m least excited for and even that could be a hugely important game in terms of the AFC playoff picture. In summary: Al Michaels is probably doing backflips right now. At least I hope he is, for comedy’s sake.

Combined Previous Season Win Percentage:

  1. 2008 (344-168, .6719)
  2. 2012 (378-198, .6563)
  3. 2011 (356-188, .6544)
  4. 2013 (375-199-2, .6528)
  5. 2009 (332-177-3, .6514)
  6. 2006 (207-113, .6469)
  7. 2010 (346-198, .6360)
  8. 2007 (335-209, .6158)

FOX National Doubleheaders

  1. Packers at 49ers (Week 1 – September 8th)
  2. Redskins at Broncos (Week 8 – October 27th)
  3. Saints at Patriots (Week 6 – October 13th)
  4. Cowboys at Giants (Week 12 – November 24th)
  5. Seahawks at 49ers (Week 14 – December 8th)
  6. Packers at Cowboys (Week 15 – December 15th)
  7. Packers at Lions (Week 13 – November 28th)
  8. 49ers at Saints (Week 11 – November 17th)
  9. Eagles at Broncos/Cowboys at Chargers (Week 4 – September 29th)

My guess is Philadelphia at Denver is going to be the featured doubleheader game in Week 4 for FOX, but Dallas has the highest national appeal of any team in the league, so I’m listing those two games as co-headliners for September 29th. Frankly, I’m a bit disappointed that Packers/49ers is coming in Week 1 again – imagine that game coming in late November or December and potentially deciding home field advantage in the NFC. Oh well. Kudos to the NFL, though, for putting the Drew Brees vs. Tom Brady matchup in a high-profile time slot in Week 6.

CBS National Doubleheaders

  1. Broncos at Giants (Week 2 – September 15th)
  2. Steelers at Packers (Week 16 – December 22nd)
  3. Patriots at Texans (Week 13 – December 1st)
  4. Broncos at Cowboys (Week 5 – October 6th)
  5. Colts at 49ers (Week 3 – September 22nd)
  6. Steelers at Patriots (Week 9 – November 3rd)
  7. Ravens at Steelers (Week 7 – October 20th)
  8. Broncos at Chargers (Week 10 – November 10th)
  9. Raiders at Cowboys (Week 13 – November 28th)

The biggest shocker of the whole schedule is that Oakland, and not Denver, will be the Cowboys’ Thanksgiving Day opponent. OAKLAND. As in, the team that went 4-12 last year and may actually be getting worse as the offseason progresses. Aside from that and possibly Broncos/Chargers, though, this slate of games is pretty bulletproof. CBS is the first network other than NBC to get the Peyton/Eli matchup and they also get the Andrew Luck-Jim Harbaugh Reunion Special in Week 3 and the first Steelers-Packers game since Super Bowl XLV the second-to-last week of the season. Overall, you’d have to say they got a better lineup than FOX – which, given FOX’s TV rights to the huge market teams of the NFC, is a pretty big deal.

ESPN Monday Night Football

  1. Falcons at 49ers (Week 16 – December 23rd)
  2. 49ers at Redskins (Week 12 – November 25th)
  3. Bears at Packers (Week 9 – November 4th)
  4. Saints at Seahawks (Week 13 – December 2nd)
  5. Eagles at Redskins (Week 1 – September 9th)
  6. Steelers at Bengals (Week 2 – September 16th)
  7. Cowboys at Bears (Week 14 – December 9th)
  8. Patriots at Panthers (Week 11 – November 18th)
  9. Vikings at Giants (Week 7 – October 21st)
  10. Seahawks at Rams (Week 8 – October 28th)
  11. Texans at Chargers (Week 1 – September 9th)
  12. Raiders at Broncos (Week 3 – September 23rd)
  13. Dolphins at Saints (Week 4 – September 30th)
  14. Ravens at Lions (Week 15 – December 16th)
  15. Colts at Chargers (Week 6 – October 14th)
  16. Dolphins at Buccaneers (Week 10 – November 11th)
  17. Jets at Falcons (Week 5 – October 7th)

Tough to find a much more hit-or-miss lineup than this. On the one hand, you’ve got a host of weird AFC East-at-NFC South matchups that don’t really have any rivalry factor built in and the potential for complete unmitigated disasters when the Jets play at Atlanta and the Raiders go to Denver. On the other hand, scoring the NFC Championship Game rematch (which could double up as the last game ever played at Candlestick Park) is one of the biggest coups ESPN’s ever scored in its NFL package and 49ers-Redskins and Bears-Packers are big wins for the network, too. In other words: get ready for long swaths of time where you’re not going to care about Monday Night Football this fall with occasional interruptions for great games.

Combined Previous Season Win Percentage:

  1. 2010 (320-224, .5882)
  2. 2012 (315-229, .5790)
  3. 2011 (311-233, .5717)
  4. 2009 (310-233-1, .5708)
  5. 2013 (305-236-3, .5634)
  6. 2007 (306-238, .5625)
  7. 2008 (306-238, .5625)
  8. 2006 (301-243, .5533)

NFL Network Thursday Night Football

  1. Chiefs at Eagles (Week 3 – September 19th)
  2. Giants at Bears (Week 6 – October 10th)
  3. Saints at Falcons (Week 12 – November 21st)
  4. Redskins at Vikings (Week 10 – November 7th)
  5. Panthers at Buccaneers (Week 8 – October 24th)
  6. Jets at Patriots (Week 2 – September 12th)
  7. 49ers at Rams (Week 4 – September 26th)
  8. Chargers at Broncos (Week 15 – December 12th)
  9. Bengals at Dolphins (Week 9 – October 31st)
  10. Seahawks at Cardinals (Week 7 – October 17th)
  11. Colts at Titans (Week 11 – November 14th)
  12. Texans at Jaguars (Week 14 – December 5th)
  13. Bills at Browns (Week 5 – October 3rd)

The NFL’s requirement that every team has to play a Thursday night game obviously drags down the lineup’s quality somewhat (try to find a less appealing game anywhere on the schedule than Bills at Browns), but there are some winners on here – foremost among them, Andy Reid’s return to Philadelphia, which is the perfect type of game for the NFL Network. It’s a high-profile storyline that demands a national stage…but at the same time, you’d feel pretty weird about having two teams that combined for six wins the year before playing on Sunday or Monday night. Overall, the bottom five games on this slate are pretty iffy, but I can get behind any of the top eight.

Team-by-Team Breakdown of Nationally Televised Games

9.5*: Dallas, Denver
9: Green Bay, San Francisco
8: New England, Pittsburgh
7: NY Giants
6: New Orleans, Washington
5: Atlanta, Baltimore, Houston, Indianapolis, Seattle
4: Chicago
3.5*: San Diego
3: Cincinnati, Miami, Minnesota
2.5*: Philadelphia
2: Carolina, Detroit, NY Jets, Oakland, St. Louis, Tampa Bay
1: Arizona, Buffalo, Cleveland, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Tennessee

* – asterisk denotes the uncertainty of FOX’s Week 4 doubleheader matchup

The biggest thing to note from this breakdown, I think, is the relatively low number of nationally televised games the Super Bowl champion Ravens are playing. They haven’t been given the max of five prime-time games and their Week 7 rivalry game against the Steelers is the only national doubleheader game they’re currently scheduled for. WHERE’S THE RESPECT? Other than that, the breakdown kind of goes how you’d expect – the Cowboys, Giants and Steelers will always get a huge number of high-profile games as long as they’re in the vicinity of being decent. The only other weird things standing out to me: Miami and San Diego both getting two Monday Night games and the Saints having more nationally televised games than seven playoff teams from last season.

Best Games That Won’t Be Nationally Televised

  1. Seahawks at Falcons (Week 10 – November 10th)
  2. Packers at Ravens (Week 6 – October 13th)
  3. Cowboys at Redskins (Week 16 – December 22nd)*
  4. Falcons at Saints (Week 1 – September 8th)
  5. Broncos at Texans (Week 16 – December 22nd)*
  6. Redskins at Falcons (Week 15 – December 15th)*
  7. Redskins at Packers (Week 2 – September 15th)
  8. Texans at Ravens (Week 3 – September 22nd)
  9. Seahawks at Texans (Week 4 – September 29th)
  10. Seahawks at Giants (Week 15 – December 15th)*

* – asterisk denotes game falls during the league’s flexible schedule procedures and could get moved to a higher-profile time slot

The Ravens-Broncos divisional playoff game last year WAS great, but to me the Seahawks-Falcons game that followed the next day may have been even better. Unfortunately, the rematch of that game falls alongside seven other games in the early afternoon window of Week 10 – if you don’t the Sunday Ticket package, you’re probably S.O.L., buddy. In general, the Seahawks, Falcons, and Redskins were all among the most exciting teams to watch last season and…well, let’s just say I wouldn’t have minded a few more quality hours to spend with them this fall.

WhatIfSports Duel to the Death Season: Week 11 (Part 2)

The results from the first eight games of Week 11 can be found here. If you’re all caught up with that, then let’s get cracking on the second half of Week 11’s action…

2007 New England Patriots (9-1) 34, 1964 Cleveland Browns (1-9) 13

Tom Brady threw for 228 yards and a touchdown on 24 attempts and added a rushing touchdown on a quarterback sneak as the Patriots took care of business at home against the lowly Browns. Laurence Maroney added 100 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 16 attempts for the Patriots and Wes Welker and Randy Moss both had 74 receiving yards as well. Jim Brown was the lone bright spot for Cleveland, rushing for 117 yards and a garbage-time touchdown on 23 attempts.

1992 Dallas Cowboys (7-3) 34, 1960 Philadelphia Eagles (1-9) 7

In what somehow wasn’t even the most impressive rushing performance against the Eagles defense all season, Emmitt Smith rushed for 216 yards and four touchdowns on 24 attempts and the Cowboys bounced back from their road loss at the Giants last week to trounce Philadelphia. All four of Smith’s touchdown runs (from 13, 12, 3 and 62 yards away) came in the first half, staking the Cowboys to a 28-7 halftime advantage and effectively rendering the second half’s action moot. Norm Van Brocklin threw for 219 yards on just 24 attempts but Bobby Walston missed a couple of field goals for the Eagles and, let’s face it, even if he had made those, it’s not like that would have magically turned the Eagles’ run defense into a substance made out of something other than paper mache.

2005 Carolina Panthers (5-5) 31, 2012 Atlanta Falcons (4-6) 28

John Kasay kicked an 18-yard field goal as time expired, capping a ten-point flurry by the Panthers in the last two minutes of the game and handing a tough home loss to the Falcons in the process. Carolina had to overcome three Jake Delhomme interceptions, the last of which set up a game-tying touchdown run by Jacquizz Rodgers with a little over ten minutes remaining. Atlanta then took the lead a few minutes later on a 37-yard Michael Turner touchdown run, but Carolina answered back on Delhomme’s third touchdown pass of the day – a seven-yard strike to Drew Carter that tied the game at 28 with 1:56 remaining. After Atlanta could only pick up one first down before punting, the Panthers then marched 66 yards in seven plays to set up Kasay’s chip shot field goal for the win.

1958 Baltimore Colts (4-6) 21, 2008 Arizona Cardinals (5-5) 16

Alan Ameche caught a five-yard touchdown pass from Johnny Unitas with 1:42 remaining in the game and the Colts came from behind to beat the Cardinals at Memorial Stadium. The game-winning score was set up by Lenny Moore’s 65-yard run two plays before; Moore had been held to 31 yards on nine attempts before that play. Ameche ended up with 76 yards and a rushing touchdown on 16 attempts and Unitas was a solid if unspectacular 12-of-21 for 152 yards and two touchdowns. Kurt Warner was limited to 173 passing yards on 29 attempts and was also sacked four times and picked off once.

1986 New York Giants (4-6) 13, 1952 Detroit Lions (2-8) 6

Joe Morris’s four-yard touchdown run on the opening possession of the game turned out to be all the points the Giants would need, as they held the Lions to 189 yards of offense and won their third game in a row in the process. The Giants didn’t muster much offense of their own – they only managed 204 total yards of offense and appeared to commit their fourth turnover of the game with under two minutes remaining when Morris fumbled at his own 42-yard line and the Lions recovered.  An unnecessary roughness penalty against Detroit nullified the fumble, however, and the Giants were able to run the clock down to 13 seconds before kicking an insurance field goal with Raul Allegre.

2005 Seattle Seahawks (3-6-1) 24, 1989 San Francisco 49ers (3-6-1) 10

Shaun Alexander rushed for 143 yards on 24 carries, including a 61-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter and the Seahawks dealt a crushing blow to the 49ers’ fading playoff hopes with a home win at Qwest Field. Andre Dyson got the scoring started with a 31-yard interception return for a touchdown off of Joe Montana, who was a miserable 15-of-31 for 130 yards. Roger Craig ended up with 104 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries for the Niners, but Jerry Rice was held without a catch. Matt Hasselbeck picked up 147 yards and a touchdown on 22 attempts for Seattle.

1999 St. Louis Rams (8-2) 16, 1985 Chicago Bears (6-4) 13

Jeff Wilkins kicked his third field goal of the game as time expired and the Rams overcame two Kurt Warner interceptions to beat the Bears at the TransWorld Dome. The Bears tied the game with 1:03 to play on a 33-yard Kevin Butler field goal, but the Rams went 52 yards in five plays on the ensuing possession, including a huge 24-yard completion from Warner to Isaac Bruce to get Wilkins into position to win the game. Walter Payton rushed for 122 yards on only 17 carries for Chicago, but Jim McMahon was a miserable 4-of-18 for 67 yards and Butler’s two field goal misses from 49 and 39 yards would turn out to be very costly.

1969 Kansas City Chiefs (6-4) 31, 2006 Indianapolis Colts (2-8) 20

Broken record alert: the Colts’ run defense was gashed again, this time by the Chiefs to the tune of 269 rushing yards and Kansas City moved into the lead for the AFC wild-card picture with a home victory against Indianapolis. Mike Garrett gained 145 yards on just 13 carries for the Chiefs and Robert Holmes, Warren McVea and Frank Pitts all punched the ball in on the ground, with Pitts also adding a receiving touchdown from Len Dawson. Peyton Manning’s ho-hum season continued, gaining 211 yards through the air on 32 attempts and throwing one touchdown and one interception in the process.

Next week: The ’07 Patriots travel to Texas Stadium to play the ’92 Cowboys (not a bad matchup, I daresay); the ’85 Bears try to halt their two-game skid against the suddenly red-hot ’69 Chiefs; the ’99 Jaguars visit the ’81 Bengals in a key game in the AFC wild-card picture; and the ’72 Dolphins try to win their fifth game in a row when they host the ’91 Redskins.

AFC East

  1. ’07 New England: 9-1
  2. ’90 Buffalo: 5-5
  3. ’72 Miami: 5-5
  4. ’68 NY Jets: 3-7

AFC North

  1. ’75 Pittsburgh: 7-3
  2. ’81 Cincinnati: 5-5
  3. ’58 Baltimore: 4-6
  4. ’64 Cleveland: 1-9

AFC South

  1. ’00 Tennessee: 9-1
  2. ’99 Jacksonville: 6-4
  3. ’91 Houston: 5-5
  4. ’06 Indianapolis: 2-8

AFC West

  1. ’79 San Diego: 9-1
  2. ’69 Kansas City: 6-4
  3. ’98 Denver: 5-5
  4. ’76 Oakland: 2-8

NFC East

  1. ’92 Dallas: 7-3
  2. ’91 Washington: 7-3
  3. ’86 NY Giants: 4-6
  4. ’60 Philadelphia: 1-9

NFC North

  1. ’62 Green Bay: 8-2
  2. ’85 Chicago: 6-4
  3. ’73 Minnesota: 3-7
  4. ’52 Detroit: 2-8

NFC South

  1. ’02 Tampa Bay: 6-4
  2. ’05 Carolina: 5-5
  3. ’09 New Orleans: 4-6
  4. ’12 Atlanta: 4-6

NFC West

  1. ’99 St. Louis: 8-2
  2. ’08 Arizona: 5-5
  3. ’05 Seattle: 3-6-1
  4. ’89 San Francisco: 3-6-1

WhatIfSports Duel to the Death Season: Week 11 (Part 1)

Alright, so here’s what’s going on: since my favorite day of the offseason is now TOMORROW and I’ll be giddily breaking down the entire 2013 NFL schedule on Friday, we’re moving the Greatest of All Time season simulations to today and tomorrow and postponing the next installment of Paup Fiction until next week. If any of you are the crying type, now’s as good a time as any to let those tears out. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to Week 11 of the season we’re running through WhatIfSports in which the 2000 Titans and 1979 Chargers are the best teams in the league and the 1989 49ers and 1958 Colts are among the worst. SO REALISTIC. There aren’t any bye teams this week, so everybody’s gotta play every week from here on out. YIPPEE. Let’s light this candle…

1991 Washington Redskins (7-3) 33, 1968 New York Jets (3-7) 14

Ricky Ervins rushed for 138 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries and the Redskins used 466 yards of offense to fuel a lead that grew as large as 27 points and improve their record to 7-3. Mark Rypien threw two interceptions but also picked up 291 yards on 31 attempts and Art Monk, Ricky Sanders and Gary Clark all gained at least 66 receiving yards for Washington. Joe Namath threw for 229 yards, one garbage-time touchdown and an interception on 31 attempts.

1979 San Diego Chargers (9-1) 29, 1973 Minnesota Vikings (3-7) 10

Dan Fouts went 21-of-29 for 277 yards and a touchdown and the Chargers scored the first twenty-six points of the game en route to a dominant road victory in Bloomington. Clarence Williams and Mike Thomas each added a rushing touchdown for San Diego and the Charger defense even netted a safety in the third quarter when Woodrow Lowe sacked Fran Tarkenton in the end zone. Tarkenton could only manage 96 passing yards on 14 attempts and the Vikings barely had the ball for more than twenty minutes of game time.

2000 Tennessee Titans (9-1) 22, 1976 Oakland Raiders (2-8) 16 (OT)

Eddie George’s three-yard touchdown run with fifty seconds remaining in the extra period lifted the Titans to 9-1, keeping pace with the Chargers in the process. The Raiders had taken a 13-3 lead in the third quarter and jumped back ahead 16-13 on a 25-yard Fred Steinfort field goal with 1:25 remaining in the fourth quarter. But Steve McNair engineered a seven-play, 33-yard drive that was capped by a 52-yard Al Del Greco field goal with ten seconds remaining and the game went to overtime. From there, both teams wasted scoring opportunities: Tennessee via an interception from the Raider 38 and Oakland via a missed 49-yard field goal attempt by Steinfort. Finally, the Titans drove 61 yards in eleven plays to punch the ball into the end zone and secure the victory.

1962 Green Bay Packers (8-2) 17, 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-4) 14

Tom Moore scored two rushing touchdowns, including one on a 20-yard run with 1:53 remaining in the game to give Green Bay victory in a sloppy game at Lambeau Field. The Buccaneers took a 14-7 lead into the fourth quarter on the strength of two Brad Johnson touchdown passes in the second quarter but turned the ball over three times and had a punt blocked in the disastrous final frame. Overall, Tampa Bay had five turnovers – four of them being Johnson interceptions. The Packers committed three turnovers of their own, though, and came away with no points out of two possessions deep in Tampa Bay territory in the fourth quarter. Jim Taylor was the major offensive star in the game, rushing for 125 yards on 20 carries.

1972 Miami Dolphins (5-5) 31, 1990 Buffalo Bills (5-5) 13

Larry Csonka rushed for 121 yards, scoring on runs of 54 and 35 yards in the process and the Dolphins won their fourth game in a row to get to .500 for the first time all year. Bob Griese was brilliant as well, going 14-for-20 for 226 yards and a touchdown and the Dolphins outgained the Bills 433-216 in total offense. Jim Kelly could only manage 11 completions and 123 yards on 30 attempts and Buffalo found their fortunes to be the reverse of the Dolphins, plummeting down to .500 after a 4-1 start to the season.

1998 Denver Broncos (5-5) 26, 1991 Houston Oilers (5-5) 21

Terrell Davis rushed for 140 yards on 26 carries, one of those going for a 46-yard touchdown and the Broncos, further aided by four Jason Elam field goals, defeated the Oilers at the Astrodome to move both teams to .500. John Elway went 15-of-26 for 224 yards and a touchdown to Rod Smith; Ed McCaffrey was the major receiving star, though, picking up 122 yards on just four catches. Lorenzo White rushed for 86 yards and scored twice on just ten carries, but Warren Moon was limited to only 106 yards on 26 dropbacks.

1999 Jacksonville Jaguars (6-4) 34, 2009 New Orleans Saints (4-6) 21

Fred Taylor scored on touchdown runs from 16, 7 and 43 yards away and the Jaguars built up a twenty-point lead en route to an easy home victory at Alltel Stadium. Taylor gained a total of 125 yards on just 13 carries and Mark Brunell added 235 yards and a touchdown through the air on 26 attempts. Drew Brees threw for 285 yards and a touchdown on 41 attempts for New Orleans, who had a 14-10 lead late in the second quarter but then gave up 24 unanswered points before piling on a garbage-time touchdown in the fourth quarter.

1975 Pittsburgh Steelers (7-3) 30, 1981 Cincinnati Bengals (5-5) 20

Terry Bradshaw threw two touchdown passes and Rocky Bleier’s 25-yard touchdown run in the third quarter broke a 17-17 deadlock for good, sending the Steelers to 7-3 and giving them a two-game lead in the AFC North over Cincinnati. Had the Bengals been able to win at Three Rivers Stadium, they would have tied the Steelers’ record and would have also owned the tiebreaker due to a season sweep. The Bengals’ offense could only manage 248 yards, however, and Ken Anderson was limited to just 145 yards passing on 31 dropbacks. Bleier rushed for a total of 67 yards and also had a two-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter.

Tomorrow: The ’89 49ers try to will their way back into the playoff race in a must-win road game at the ’05 Seahawks; the ’85 Bears defense takes their shot at The Greatest Show on Turf; and the ’64 Browns and ’60 Eagles both try to keep their respective games against the ’07 Patriots and ’92 Cowboys within 40 points. Won’t be easy.