2013 COAS/SSLYAR Pigskin Pick’Em: Week 9

This week’s fail-safe, sure-fire picks against the spread from Confessions of a Sportscaster and yours truly are shown below. If I keep picking up a game a week on Lucas like I did last week, I’ll wind up winning by two games! Marathon, not a sprint! That’s what I keep telling myself, anyway. Also, groupthink is apparently back, as we only disagree on two games this week. Subjectively, my hunch is that means we’ll both wind up 5-8 this week, but maybe I’m wrong! Please read our picks below.

Cincinnati Bengals at Miami Dolphins (+2.5)

Lucas: Bengals. I feel like Cincy might be rounding into form at this point. Also I don’t really trust the Dolphins.

Nathaniel: Bengals. Ryan Tannehill’s on pace to get sacked 73 times this season. 73! If he and the Dolphins offensive line keep this pace up, he’ll be the second-most sacked quarterback in a single season ever. Why not just embrace the whole thing and gun for David Carr’s record, guys? It’d do David a world of good to know someone out there may have POSSIBLY had it worse than him.

Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers (-7.5)

Lucas: Panthers. I’m behind you, Riverboat Ron! Don’t fail me now!

Nathaniel: Falcons. Was Matt Ryan’s four interception game last week a fluke, a sign that the wheels are starting to fall off the Falcons offense without Julio and Roddy White, or a reminder that the Cardinals defense is really good? The answer, of course, could very well be “All three,” but I prefer to live in a world where the truth isn’t multi-faceted and difficult to understand sometimes.

Kansas City Chiefs @ Buffalo Bills (+3.5)

Lucas: Chiefs. KC reloaded big time in the offseason, which is a big reason why they’ve already notched 6 more wins than they had all last year. Adding Andy Reid also helped. Though personally, I’m a bigger fan of Baby Andy Reid. Happy Halloween!

Nathaniel: Chiefs. Usually the longer a backup quarterback has to stay in, the more cracks and flaws in his game appear. Particularly when you have to go up against the best defense in the AFC. I’m rooting for you, Thad Lewis, but I don’t got a good feeling about this!

Minnesota Vikings at Dallas Cowboys (-10.5)

Lucas: Vikings. Look, I know the Vikings aren’t great. I watched most of the second half of Aaron Rodgers taking his time dissecting their defense. And yes, I realize it’s November and this is when Tony Romo and company take off. But I’m not sold on a double-digit spread at this stage.

Nathaniel: Vikings. If I knew for certain that Josh Freeman would be starting Sunday, then I would take Dallas with no hesitation. Unfortunately, Christian Ponder shows enough flashes of competence to make me a think a backdoor cover would be eminently within reach for Minnesota.  Of course, what would make this easier is if Leslie Frazier decided to pick his starting quarterback more than three hours before kickoff. I do realize that’s an unreasonable demand, though.

Tennessee Titans at St. Louis Rams (+2.5)

Lucas: Titans. St. Louis blew an easily winnable game against the Seahawks by sucking on offense. Why should I trust them here?

Nathaniel: Titans. The less said about this game, the better.

New Orleans Saints at New York Jets (+5.5)

Lucas: Saints. This is partially a gut reaction to the Jets getting annihilated by the Bengals last week. This is also a gut reaction to “Hey, the Saints are really, really good.”

Nathaniel: Saints. The Jets’ tendency this season has been to win a close game and then lose their next matchup, usually by a big margin. So, using that logic, the Jets should win a close game this week. Of course, that logic doesn’t know that the Saints are coming into town.

San Diego Chargers at Washington Redskins (-0.5)

Lucas: Redskins. I’ll give the thug Brandon Meriweather a week grace period before he either takes out a guy’s knee or goes back to his headhunting and gets suspended for the rest of the season like he deserves. (In his defense though: he does have a point about defenders being forced to go low.)

Nathaniel: Chargers. Philip Rivers is quietly having a season that’s nearly as good as Peyton Manning’s has been. It’s good that he has, because the Chargers defense has been horrible all year. Another 45-41 game may very well be in the cards at FedEx Field.

Philadelphia Eagles at Oakland Raiders (-2.5)

Lucas: Eagles. ESPN’s Gregg Easterbrook (TMQ) thinks Philly opponents are actually the Borg. These defenses are adapting to the high speed offense Chip Kelly brought over. But unless Terrelle Pryor breaks a 90 yard run again, I think the only Borg in sight might be in the Black Hole.

Nathaniel: Eagles. Chip Kelly’s figuring out it’s tougher to move the ball at warp speed when you don’t have a semblance of a quarterback behind center. That I’m still taking the Eagles anyway either says something about my stupidity or Oakland’s inability to move the ball through the air. Or both!

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Seattle Seahawks (-16.5)

Lucas: Seahawks. Normally I’d be leery here. But I feel like if the Tampa players really want Greg Schiano gone… isn’t this the perfect game to do it? Get the crap kicked out of you, force ownership’s hand… maybe not likely, but there’s no way Tampa is going to keep up with the Seahawks in Seattle.

Nathaniel: Seahawks. Here’s assuming Seattle’s offensive line actually remembers how to block again after briefly forgetting last Monday Night.

Baltimore Ravens @ Cleveland Browns (+2.5)

Lucas: Browns. Is it me, or did Cleveland look serviceable last week? Against KC, no less! Pit them at home against a not-that-great Baltimore team… I could go for that. You know, as long as Brandon Weeden doesn’t play.

Nathaniel: Browns. Once the Browns actually find a quarterback in next year’s draft, they could turn into a legitimately good team. For now, having Jason Campbell as their quarterback makes them competent. Progress over Brandon Weeden!

Pittsburgh Steelers at New England Patriots (-7.5)

Lucas: Steelers. Look, I know this game is in Foxboro. Part of me just isn’t sold on the spread. Of course, now Tom Brady will torch the Steelers and beat them by 30 points.

Nathaniel: Steelers. I think it’s safe to say 2007-12 Tom Brady isn’t walking through that door at this point. The Patriots actually have a better record at the season’s midpoint than they have the past two years, but they feel 10,000 times less dangerous.

Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans (+2.5)

Lucas: Colts. Houston is clearly not the team they’ve been the last couple years. I was talking to my supervisor from Indy the other day, and we marveled at the fact that it’s not inconceivable for the Colts to run the table the rest of the day. I don’t think it’ll happen, but it’s a scary thought.

Nathaniel: Colts. My hunch is Reggie Wayne’s torn ACL is going to wind up being an insurmountable obstacle to the Colts’s Super Bowl hopes this year, but the Texans have reached the point where every home game is toxic. The fans seem ready to turn on this team from the first mistake they make – and it seems likely that Case Keenum will make a bunch of them Sunday Night.

Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers (-11.5)

Lucas: Packers. Bad news for Bears fans: Jay Cutler is out. Bad news for Packers fans: Jay Cutler is out. Seriously, you have no idea how sad I am that he won’t be available to get sacked half a dozen times and throw three picks. Instead, I’ll have to settle for Green Bay rattling Josh McCown while Aaron Rodgers cremates a banged up and past-its-prime Bears defense.

Nathaniel: Packers. This is not going to be fun.

2013 Records:

Lucas: 64-57 (6-7 last week)

Nathaniel: 57-64 (7-6 last week)

 

Week 8 Predictive Yards per Play Rankings

Week 8’s Predictive Yards per Play Rankings are coming up right about…now.

Offensive Predictive Yards per Play, through Week 8:

Rank Team Yards Plays Passing TDs INTs Rushing TDs Fumbles SOS PY/P (Ball-Control Adjusted
1 Green Bay Packers 3072 473 15 4 6 10 0.22 7.20
2 San Diego Chargers 2820 461 15 5 3 6 -0.14 6.82
3 New Orleans Saints 2772 467 19 5 3 4 -0.12 6.08
4 Atlanta Falcons 2540 448 14 7 3 7 0.10 6.05
5 Denver Broncos 3731 581 29 6 11 18 -0.09 6.01
6 Detroit Lions 3328 556 16 6 8 11 -0.01 5.86
7 Carolina Panthers 2289 451 12 5 7 6 0.36 5.68
8 Indianapolis Colts 2413 441 10 3 8 5 -0.07 5.62
9 Houston Texans 2668 500 9 11 2 9 0.28 5.42
10 San Francisco 49ers 2743 484 9 5 15 11 0.42 5.40
11 Cincinnati Bengals 2957 517 16 7 5 13 -0.07 5.33
12 Chicago Bears 2574 424 13 7 7 8 -0.05 5.33
13 Philadelphia Eagles 3178 542 11 7 7 13 -0.18 5.06
14 Seattle Seahawks 2715 493 14 4 7 17 0.19 4.96
15 Tennessee Titans 2181 438 10 5 3 10 0.23 4.79
16 Dallas Cowboys 2735 485 18 5 5 11 -0.20 4.73
17 Washington Redskins 2761 484 9 10 8 13 -0.35 4.70
18 Kansas City Chiefs 2646 542 9 4 7 8 -0.06 4.49
19 Pittsburgh Steelers 2255 435 8 7 3 10 0.03 4.48
20 Cleveland Browns 2536 531 13 9 1 7 -0.01 4.48
21 Baltimore Ravens 2301 474 8 8 5 7 0.07 4.30
22 New England Patriots 2640 562 9 6 7 11 -0.05 4.22
23 Minnesota Vikings 2141 418 5 8 10 10 -0.04 4.21
24 St. Louis Rams 2430 510 14 6 0 11 -0.10 4.09
25 Miami Dolphins 2177 444 11 9 5 9 -0.03 4.07
26 Buffalo Bills 2632 566 8 6 8 17 0.19 4.05
27 Arizona Cardinals 2516 492 10 14 6 13 0.20 4.03
28 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2084 466 8 6 1 11 -0.12 3.92
29 New York Jets 2643 533 8 13 3 10 -0.09 3.88
30 Oakland Raiders 2204 425 7 8 6 11 -0.32 3.83
31 Jacksonville Jaguars 2292 511 4 12 3 9 0.05 3.69
32 New York Giants 2622 506 10 16 5 12 -0.37 3.41

Defensive Predictive Yards per Play, through Week 8:

Rank Team Yards Plays Passing TDs INTs Rushing TDs Fumbles SOS PY/P (Ball-Control Adjusted
1 Seattle Seahawks 2314 508 6 13 4 18 0.02 3.59
2 Kansas City Chiefs 2472 498 8 10 2 14 -0.33 3.91
3 Arizona Cardinals 2740 547 14 12 3 11 0.38 3.98
4 San Francisco 49ers 2601 521 10 9 7 10 0.11 4.15
5 Baltimore Ravens 2401 447 11 4 1 12 0.11 4.16
6 Houston Texans 1874 394 10 3 6 7 0.17 4.18
7 Oakland Raiders 2316 451 10 5 6 13 0.24 4.29
8 New York Giants 2755 558 14 7 5 14 0.14 4.33
9 Cleveland Browns 2563 563 11 5 9 8 0.05 4.43
10 New York Jets 2520 520 15 3 5 13 -0.19 4.46
11 Tennessee Titans 2359 443 6 6 8 10 0.12 4.48
12 New England Patriots 2770 570 9 10 4 11 -0.19 4.58
13 Cincinnati Bengals 2580 534 11 7 3 8 -0.03 4.67
14 St. Louis Rams 2749 484 14 5 7 15 0.15 4.67
15 Carolina Panthers 2110 429 6 9 2 11 -0.59 4.81
16 Pittsburgh Steelers 2120 430 5 4 9 7 -0.28 4.87
17 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2369 445 13 6 3 7 0.10 4.87
18 New Orleans Saints 2327 429 8 9 5 11 -0.34 4.87
19 Miami Dolphins 2485 479 9 8 7 8 0.14 4.88
20 Indianapolis Colts 2455 448 8 8 5 9 0.14 4.92
21 Buffalo Bills 3049 575 20 12 2 6 -0.09 4.93
22 Detroit Lions 3048 498 13 10 5 10 0.02 5.04
23 Denver Broncos 3045 542 15 13 8 9 -0.28 5.12
24 Green Bay Packers 2318 425 12 3 6 8 0.04 5.13
25 Washington Redskins 2780 460 15 7 10 6 0.41 5.20
26 Jacksonville Jaguars 3138 525 16 3 13 13 0.31 5.50
27 Minnesota Vikings 2811 507 16 7 9 10 0.18 5.55
28 Dallas Cowboys 3380 562 15 11 6 10 0.17 5.56
29 Philadelphia Eagles 3214 580 14 8 5 9 -0.18 5.68
30 Chicago Bears 2737 441 11 10 8 14 -0.04 5.68
31 Atlanta Falcons 2546 428 16 4 3 6 -0.45 6.39
32 San Diego Chargers 2650 419 10 3 2 7 -0.07 6.64

Predictive Yards per Play Differential, through Week 8:

Rank Team PY/P Diff. Remaining SOS Projected Wins
1 Green Bay Packers 2.07 -19.45 11.74
2 Seattle Seahawks 1.36 -18.65 13.04
3 San Francisco 49ers 1.25 1.20 11.04
4 Houston Texans 1.24 -15.42 8.72
5 New Orleans Saints 1.21 3.42 12.06
6 Denver Broncos 0.89 18.11 11.80
7 Carolina Panthers 0.87 0.54 9.27
8 Detroit Lions 0.82 -15.80 10.02
9 Indianapolis Colts 0.70 6.75 9.87
10 Cincinnati Bengals 0.66 -8.41 10.98
11 Kansas City Chiefs 0.59 15.79 12.07
12 Tennessee Titans 0.31 -5.15 7.40
13 San Diego Chargers 0.17 1.88 9.04
14 Baltimore Ravens 0.14 -6.76 7.86
15 Arizona Cardinals 0.05 1.49 7.91
16 Cleveland Browns 0.05 -10.97 6.84
17 Atlanta Falcons -0.34 21.88 6.02
18 Chicago Bears -0.35 7.45 8.09
19 New England Patriots -0.36 7.73 9.34
20 Pittsburgh Steelers -0.38 1.48 6.54
21 Oakland Raiders -0.46 6.34 6.42
22 Washington Redskins -0.50 -15.76 5.92
23 New York Jets -0.58 -6.69 7.39
24 St. Louis Rams -0.58 11.43 5.69
25 Philadelphia Eagles -0.63 -4.71 6.25
26 Miami Dolphins -0.81 -11.08 6.59
27 Dallas Cowboys -0.83 -7.16 7.77
28 Buffalo Bills -0.88 -25.85 6.60
29 New York Giants -0.92 5.95 4.68
30 Tampa Bay Buccaneers -0.95 14.61 1.95
31 Minnesota Vikings -1.35 9.06 3.36
32 Jacksonville Jaguars -1.82 8.45 1.62

Green Bay’s nearly-perfect offensive showing Sunday Night against the Vikings boosted their offensive rating through the roof and, as a result, moves them past Seattle for the #1 spot in this week’s rankings. It’s still early, but this Packers offense is actually on pace to fly past the vaunted 2011 unit’s PY/P rating by a full yard per play. Considering Aaron Rodgers submitted one of the four or five best quarterback seasons of all time that year, I’d say that’s a pretty good start to the year for the Packers offense.

Rodgers hasn’t quite played up to his 2011 level this year – he’s merely playing at an MVP level rather than an otherworldly level -but the Packers now have an excellent running attack to back up their top-three (or top-two or top-one) quarterback. Football Outsiders ranked the Packers’ offensive line as the best run blocking unit in the league by their Adjusted Line Yards metric going into last week and I could only assume Sunday Night’s performance didn’t hurt that ranking too badly. Defensively, the Packers still rate well below average but have an ace in the hole whenever Clay Matthews returns from injury. If the Packers maintained this rating for the entire season – an unlikely proposition, but not an impossible one – they would easily rank as the best regular season team of the Rodgers/McCarthy era.

However, Seattle is still the favorite to win the top seed in the NFC despite falling to #2 in the overall PY/P rankings and, given their incredible home-field advantage, have to still be considered the main favorite to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. In fact, despite rating .71 yards per play better than any other team in the league, Green Bay is still currently projected to lose the #2 seed and other first-round bye to New Orleans. Given how top-heavy the NFC is this year, the first-round byes may hold more significance than usual – having to win back-to-back road games at New Orleans or Green Bay and then Seattle seems like a nearly impossible task off-hand.

The rest of this week’s overall top ten consists of San Francisco, Houston (sigh), New Orleans, Denver, Carolina, Detroit, Indianapolis and Cincinnati. Both the Panthers and Lions have come on strong in recent weeks and look like the main challengers for the last wild-card slot in the NFC playoffs. Detroit’s currently the favorite to wrest that spot away because of a significantly easier schedule.

Nothing changed in the AFC playoff projections from last week – Cincinnati became a stronger favorite to pick up the #2 seed after their thrashing of the Jets, but no actual spots changed hands this week. Kansas City and Denver are still projected to be the two winningest teams in the conference, but both are slated to wind up around 12 wins because of schedules that rank as the two toughest remaining in the AFC. The two games the teams play against each other – and the two each will play against San Diego – will probably be the main factors in shaking out the AFC playoff race.

Projected AFC Playoff Picture, through Week 8:

  1. Kansas City (12.1 wins)
  2. Cincinnati (11.0 wins)
  3. Indianapolis (9.9 wins)
  4. New England (9.3 wins)
  5. Denver (11.8 wins)
  6. San Diego (9.0 wins)

In the hunt: Houston (8.7 wins), Baltimore (7.9 wins), Tennessee (7.4 wins), NY Jets (7.4 wins)

Mediocre: Cleveland (6.8 wins), Buffalo (6.6 wins), Miami (6.6 wins), Pittsburgh (6.5 wins), Oakland (6.4 wins)

Teddy Bridgewater Sweepstakes: Jacksonville (1.6 wins)

Projected NFC Playoff Picture, through Week 8:

  1. Seattle (13.0 wins)
  2. New Orleans (12.1 wins)
  3. Green Bay (11.7 wins)
  4. Dallas (7.8 wins)
  5. San Francisco (11.0 wins)
  6. Detroit (10.0 wins)

In the hunt: Carolina (9.3 wins), Chicago (8.1 wins), Philadelphia (6.3 wins), Washington (5.9 wins)

Mediocre: Arizona (7.9 wins), Atlanta (6.0 wins), St. Louis (5.7 wins)

Teddy Bridgewater Sweepstakes: NY Giants (4.7 wins), Minnesota (3.4 wins), Tampa Bay (2.0 wins)

Week 7 Predictive Yards per Play Rankings

Below are Week 7’s rankings for your perusal:

Offensive Predictive Yards per Play, through Week 7:

Rank Team Yards Plays Passing TDs INTs Rushing TDs Fumbles SOS PY/P (Ball-Control Adjusted
1 San Diego Chargers 2820 461 15 5 3 6 -0.03 6.93
2 Atlanta Falcons 2248 369 13 3 3 7 0.12 6.71
3 Green Bay Packers 2608 400 13 4 4 10 0.13 6.56
4 Denver Broncos 3285 501 25 3 10 17 -0.05 6.23
5 New Orleans Saints 2386 403 14 5 3 4 -0.09 6.09
6 Philadelphia Eagles 2977 484 11 5 7 8 -0.13 5.73
7 Indianapolis Colts 2413 441 10 3 8 5 -0.03 5.66
8 Detroit Lions 2705 478 15 4 5 9 -0.07 5.62
9 Carolina Panthers 1965 389 10 5 5 6 0.17 5.43
10 Houston Texans 2668 500 9 11 2 9 0.28 5.42
11 Washington Redskins 2495 414 8 6 7 10 -0.28 5.40
12 Seattle Seahawks 2580 453 12 4 7 17 0.19 5.32
13 Chicago Bears 2574 424 13 7 7 8 -0.17 5.21
14 Cincinnati Bengals 2555 461 11 6 5 11 -0.12 5.09
15 Dallas Cowboys 2467 429 15 5 5 10 -0.25 5.03
16 San Francisco 49ers 2345 429 8 5 11 8 0.27 4.98
17 Pittsburgh Steelers 1979 366 7 5 2 10 0.10 4.90
18 Tennessee Titans 2181 438 10 5 3 10 0.29 4.85
19 Kansas City Chiefs 2315 471 7 4 7 7 -0.01 4.46
20 New England Patriots 2388 500 8 5 5 11 0.08 4.44
21 Oakland Raiders 1925 366 7 6 3 9 -0.23 4.28
22 Cleveland Browns 2196 479 11 9 1 6 -0.04 4.28
23 Baltimore Ravens 2301 474 8 8 5 7 -0.03 4.20
24 St. Louis Rams 2091 439 14 4 0 10 -0.01 4.17
25 Buffalo Bills 2333 498 7 5 7 13 0.19 4.10
26 New York Jets 2403 468 8 11 3 10 -0.03 4.09
27 Miami Dolphins 1876 365 9 7 5 8 -0.01 4.07
28 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1787 398 7 6 1 8 -0.06 3.97
29 Minnesota Vikings 1898 375 5 8 7 10 -0.17 3.89
30 Arizona Cardinals 2168 441 8 13 5 12 0.16 3.82
31 Jacksonville Jaguars 1974 441 3 12 3 8 0.01 3.42
32 New York Giants 2297 435 10 16 5 11 -0.21 3.41

Defensive Predictive Yards per Play, through Week 7:

Rank Team Yards Plays Passing TDs INTs Rushing TDs Fumbles SOS PY/P (Ball-Control Adjusted
1 Kansas City Chiefs 2132 446 6 10 2 13 -0.20 3.57
2 Seattle Seahawks 1975 437 6 11 4 17 -0.05 3.60
3 New York Jets 2118 464 10 2 5 11 -0.06 3.98
4 San Francisco 49ers 2283 451 9 9 7 9 0.16 4.00
5 Baltimore Ravens 2401 447 11 4 1 12 0.08 4.21
6 Houston Texans 1874 394 10 3 6 7 0.11 4.25
7 Arizona Cardinals 2448 468 13 8 3 11 0.16 4.34
8 Cleveland Browns 2232 492 9 5 9 7 -0.07 4.46
9 Tennessee Titans 2359 443 6 6 8 10 0.14 4.46
10 New England Patriots 2469 491 7 8 4 10 -0.03 4.51
11 Oakland Raiders 2040 382 9 3 5 13 0.29 4.54
12 Carolina Panthers 1813 361 5 9 2 8 -0.43 4.73
13 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2045 383 11 6 1 7 0.12 4.73
14 Buffalo Bills 2663 511 15 12 2 6 -0.27 4.84
15 New York Giants 2554 500 14 5 5 9 0.08 4.88
16 Cincinnati Bengals 2340 469 11 5 3 8 0.01 4.90
17 New Orleans Saints 2028 361 7 8 4 7 -0.17 4.92
18 Indianapolis Colts 2455 448 8 8 5 9 0.13 4.94
19 Miami Dolphins 2233 417 8 7 5 8 0.19 4.99
20 Green Bay Packers 2075 382 12 3 3 8 0.00 5.06
21 St. Louis Rams 2614 444 12 5 7 15 0.05 5.17
22 Pittsburgh Steelers 1841 371 5 2 6 5 -0.27 5.21
23 Minnesota Vikings 2347 434 14 7 7 10 -0.14 5.36
24 Dallas Cowboys 2757 484 14 9 3 8 0.17 5.36
25 Jacksonville Jaguars 2740 470 15 3 9 10 0.30 5.40
26 Denver Broncos 2779 472 14 9 7 6 -0.20 5.43
27 Washington Redskins 2334 380 11 4 9 5 0.24 5.49
28 Detroit Lions 2780 442 10 10 5 10 -0.09 5.50
29 Philadelphia Eagles 2889 509 14 8 5 8 0.07 5.61
30 Chicago Bears 2737 441 11 10 8 14 -0.05 5.70
31 Atlanta Falcons 2198 377 14 3 2 5 -0.28 6.23
32 San Diego Chargers 2650 419 10 3 2 7 0.00 6.59

Predictive Yards per Play Differential, through Week 7:

Rank Team PY/P Diff. Remaining SOS Projected Wins
1 Seattle Seahawks 1.72 -23.27 12.99
2 Green Bay Packers 1.50 -18.62 11.09
3 Houston Texans 1.18 -23.07 8.65
4 New Orleans Saints 1.17 3.05 11.49
5 San Francisco 49ers 0.97 -5.31 10.77
6 Kansas City Chiefs 0.89 12.35 11.75
7 Denver Broncos 0.80 14.07 11.52
8 Indianapolis Colts 0.72 -2.19 9.80
9 Carolina Panthers 0.69 5.63 8.25
10 Atlanta Falcons 0.48 18.60 7.51
11 Tennessee Titans 0.38 -15.61 7.62
12 San Diego Chargers 0.34 2.41 9.00
13 Cincinnati Bengals 0.19 -14.78 10.45
14 Detroit Lions 0.12 -18.55 9.04
15 Philadelphia Eagles 0.12 -16.07 7.45
16 New York Jets 0.11 -5.02 8.35
17 Baltimore Ravens -0.01 -10.77 7.86
18 New England Patriots -0.06 -2.82 9.50
19 Washington Redskins -0.09 -1.18 6.64
20 Cleveland Browns -0.18 -4.71 6.62
21 Oakland Raiders -0.25 8.58 6.07
22 Pittsburgh Steelers -0.31 -5.83 7.42
23 Dallas Cowboys -0.33 -3.96 8.79
24 Chicago Bears -0.49 1.84 8.19
25 Arizona Cardinals -0.52 2.14 6.57
26 Buffalo Bills -0.74 -7.48 6.77
27 Tampa Bay Buccaneers -0.76 13.11 2.44
28 Miami Dolphins -0.92 -5.63 6.77
29 St. Louis Rams -1.00 12.15 5.79
30 Minnesota Vikings -1.46 15.35 3.50
31 New York Giants -1.47 10.64 3.62
32 Jacksonville Jaguars -1.98 3.27 1.45

The top five teams in this week’s Predictive Yards per Play rankings remain the same and stay in the exact same order. Seattle remains the clear #1 team, although Green Bay did make some notable gains on them this week. Then comes – sigh – Houston, followed by idle New Orleans and San Francisco. The biggest risers this week were Washington and (weirdly, given their blowout loss to the 49ers) Tennessee, both of whom rose four spots. Chicago and New England both fell four spots, making those two the biggest falls in this week’s rankings.

The most interesting development to come out of this week’s rankings, though, is a complete reshuffling of the Predictive Yards per Play playoff projections for the AFC from last week. Five of the six teams remain the same, but each projected seed is different from the post-Week 6 rankings. Most notably, Denver’s loss to Indianapolis has now installed Kansas City as a slight favorite to win the AFC West and the home-field advantage throughout the playoffs that’s likely to come with the title.

Even so, though, the projection model only sees Kansas City going roughly 5-4 the rest of the way – they still have both games against Denver and San Diego (the two current projected wild-card teams) remaining and have to play Indianapolis the second-to-last week of the season. Cincinnati, meanwhile, is the new favorite to get the second bye in the AFC, but is projected to do so with only 10.5 wins.  In other words, Predictive Yards per Play doesn’t really forecast any AFC team to go off on a wild tear in the second half of the season. Well, except for Houston, but that’s a bug in the system that unfortunately doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon.

That probably speaks to the state of the AFC this season – it’s the undeniably deeper conference in 2013, but all of the top contenders have notable flaws. I talked last week about the struggles of Kansas City’s offense and Denver’s defense. Both units trended upward this week, but remain worse than any unit that has ever been apart of a Super Bowl-winning team. Cincinnati is slightly above-average on both sides of the ball – not exactly the most terrifying combination to face in the postseason. It’s possible this is the year that the wheels have actually fallen off for Tom Brady and Indianapolis just lost Reggie Wayne, by far their best receiver, to a torn ACL.

In other words? Things still look pretty wide open in the AFC. In the NFC, on the other hand, it’s pretty tough to imagine the conference’s Super Bowl representative not coming from the Seattle-Green Bay-New Orleans-San Francisco quadrumvirate. Dallas’s victory at Philadelphia re-installed them as the favorites to win the NFC East and Detroit remains the most likely recipient of the last wild-card slot because of a very easy remaining schedule. Seattle’s the highest-rated team in the league so far, however, and also has the easiest remaining schedule in the league. Green Bay and San Francisco also have easier than average schedules the rest of the way and the Saints have three home games in their next four overall that should build some cushion for when they have to play four away games out of five starting in late November.

Projected AFC Playoff Picture, through Week 7:

  1. Kansas City (11.8 wins)
  2. Cincinnati (10.5 wins)
  3. Indianapolis (9.8 wins)
  4. New England (9.5 wins)
  5. Denver (11.5 wins)
  6. San Diego (9.0 wins)

In the hunt: Houston (8.7 wins), NY Jets (8.4 wins), Baltimore (7.9 wins), Tennessee (7.6 wins), Pittsburgh (7.4 wins)

Mediocre: Buffalo (6.8 wins), Miami (6.8 wins), Cleveland (6.6 wins), Oakland (6.1 wins)

Teddy Bridgewater Sweepstakes: Jacksonville (1.5 wins)

Projected NFC Playoff Picture, through Week 6:

  1. Seattle (13.0 wins)
  2. New Orleans (11.5 wins)
  3. Green Bay (11.1 wins)
  4. Dallas (8.8 wins)
  5. San Francisco (10.8 wins)
  6. Detroit (9.0 wins)

In the hunt: Carolina (8.3 wins), Chicago (8.2 wins), Atlanta (7.5 wins), Philadelphia (7.5 wins)

Mediocre: Washington (6.6 wins), Arizona (6.6 wins), St. Louis (5.8 wins),

Teddy Bridgewater Sweepstakes: NY Giants (3.6 wins), Minnesota (3.5 wins), Tampa Bay (2.4 wins)

Week 6 Predictive Yards per Play Rankings

Here are my Week 6 NFL power rankings (which don’t include stats from last night’s Seattle-Arizona game):

Offensive Predictive Yards per Play, through Week 6:

Rank Team Yards Plays Passing TDs INTs Rushing TDs Fumbles SOS PY/P (Ball-Control Adjusted
1 Green Bay Packers 2251 334 10 4 3 9 0.33 6.74
2 Denver Broncos 2856 428 22 2 9 13 -0.11 6.74
3 Atlanta Falcons 1957 325 10 3 3 6 0.06 6.70
4 Philadelphia Eagles 2699 409 11 2 7 8 -0.08 6.32
5 San Diego Chargers 2386 394 14 5 1 6 -0.16 6.29
6 Indianapolis Colts 2079 370 7 3 7 4 0.15 6.14
7 New Orleans Saints 2386 403 14 5 3 4 -0.10 6.07
8 Seattle Seahawks 2236 389 9 4 6 13 0.24 5.53
9 Houston Texans 2374 446 8 11 2 7 0.30 5.49
10 Carolina Panthers 1683 332 9 5 4 5 0.07 5.47
11 Chicago Bears 2215 372 12 6 4 8 0.00 5.38
12 Dallas Cowboys 2099 354 14 3 4 9 -0.17 5.33
13 Detroit Lions 2271 402 12 4 5 9 -0.18 5.10
14 Washington Redskins 1996 341 6 5 4 8 -0.36 4.98
15 Cincinnati Bengals 2134 408 8 6 5 10 -0.07 4.73
16 Tennessee Titans 1813 381 8 4 3 9 0.28 4.61
17 New England Patriots 2093 430 8 4 3 8 0.06 4.60
18 Pittsburgh Steelers 1693 311 6 5 2 9 0.07 4.57
19 San Francisco 49ers 1996 365 8 5 8 8 0.05 4.56
20 Minnesota Vikings 1692 307 5 7 7 8 -0.06 4.45
21 Cleveland Browns 1980 411 10 8 1 6 0.06 4.42
22 Buffalo Bills 2065 432 7 4 6 11 0.29 4.32
23 Miami Dolphins 1583 301 6 5 5 7 0.00 4.27
24 St. Louis Rams 1774 380 13 3 0 6 0.00 4.27
25 Oakland Raiders 1925 366 8 6 3 9 -0.16 4.20
26 New York Jets 2020 379 7 10 2 8 0.01 4.09
27 Kansas City Chiefs 1958 403 7 3 7 9 -0.17 3.91
28 Arizona Cardinals 1934 371 7 11 4 10 0.12 3.89
29 Baltimore Ravens 2014 413 7 8 5 6 -0.12 3.85
30 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1450 323 5 6 1 6 0.01 3.83
31 New York Giants 2040 362 9 16 4 8 -0.30 3.55
32 Jacksonville Jaguars 1621 382 3 11 3 8 0.02 3.02

Defensive Predictive Yards per Play, through Week 6:

Rank Team Yards Plays Passing TDs INTs Rushing TDs Fumbles SOS PY/P (Ball-Control Adjusted
1 Kansas City Chiefs 1838 392 5 10 2 11 -0.20 3.41
2 San Francisco 49ers 1915 394 7 8 7 8 0.33 3.56
3 Seattle Seahawks 1741 367 5 9 3 15 -0.10 3.74
4 Baltimore Ravens 2115 392 10 4 1 11 0.23 3.87
5 New York Jets 1823 394 10 1 3 9 0.02 3.98
6 Houston Texans 1517 326 10 2 4 6 0.03 4.18
7 Cleveland Browns 1875 426 6 5 8 6 -0.23 4.35
8 New England Patriots 2086 402 6 7 3 8 0.05 4.39
9 Cincinnati Bengals 1906 393 8 5 3 8 0.07 4.40
10 Tennessee Titans 2010 379 6 6 5 10 -0.06 4.49
11 Arizona Cardinals 2104 404 10 8 2 7 0.00 4.59
12 Oakland Raiders 2040 382 9 3 5 13 0.10 4.62
13 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1754 339 8 6 1 6 0.01 4.69
14 Carolina Panthers 1496 302 4 8 2 4 -0.21 4.69
15 New Orleans Saints 2028 361 7 8 4 7 -0.06 4.79
16 Pittsburgh Steelers 1554 310 4 2 6 4 -0.16 4.92
17 Buffalo Bills 2370 447 12 10 2 5 -0.21 4.93
18 Jacksonville Jaguars 2306 403 14 3 7 10 0.20 5.01
19 Detroit Lions 2359 389 7 10 5 9 0.00 5.02
20 New York Giants 2348 432 14 4 5 7 0.22 5.26
21 Indianapolis Colts 2026 375 5 7 4 6 -0.11 5.27
22 St. Louis Rams 2332 387 11 5 6 14 -0.03 5.40
23 Green Bay Packers 1859 314 11 2 3 8 -0.21 5.40
24 Miami Dolphins 1965 351 8 6 4 6 0.27 5.41
25 Washington Redskins 1975 328 10 3 6 5 0.30 5.43
26 Chicago Bears 2238 368 9 9 5 12 -0.13 5.54
27 Minnesota Vikings 2090 361 13 7 6 7 -0.02 5.79
28 San Diego Chargers 2297 360 10 2 2 7 0.24 5.88
29 Denver Broncos 2445 401 11 9 6 5 -0.28 5.93
30 Dallas Cowboys 2479 409 14 6 3 8 -0.02 5.95
31 Philadelphia Eagles 2521 434 13 6 4 7 -0.07 6.10
32 Atlanta Falcons 1861 302 12 3 2 3 -0.12 6.28

Predictive Yards per Play Differential, through Week 6:

Rank Team PY/P Diff. Remaining SOS Projected Wins
1 Seattle Seahawks 1.79 -25.65 12.86
2 Green Bay Packers 1.34 -15.71 10.28
3 Houston Texans 1.31 -22.59 9.64
4 New Orleans Saints 1.28 -0.44 11.40
5 San Francisco 49ers 1.00 -11.00 10.86
6 Indianapolis Colts 0.86 -1.71 9.12
7 Denver Broncos 0.80 10.65 12.41
8 Carolina Panthers 0.77 -4.17 7.71
9 Kansas City Chiefs 0.50 17.30 10.48
10 Atlanta Falcons 0.42 1.90 7.36
11 San Diego Chargers 0.41 -11.07 8.81
12 Cincinnati Bengals 0.32 -8.21 9.89
13 Philadelphia Eagles 0.22 -19.20 8.15
14 New England Patriots 0.20 0.71 10.37
15 Tennessee Titans 0.11 -14.15 7.50
16 New York Jets 0.11 -7.58 7.71
17 Detroit Lions 0.09 -17.32 9.71
18 Cleveland Browns 0.07 5.25 7.08
19 Baltimore Ravens -0.02 0.58 7.98
20 Chicago Bears -0.16 3.00 8.94
21 Pittsburgh Steelers -0.34 -6.19 7.12
22 Oakland Raiders -0.42 6.10 6.06
23 Washington Redskins -0.46 -4.19 5.91
24 Buffalo Bills -0.61 -12.29 6.33
25 Dallas Cowboys -0.62 -2.31 8.15
26 Arizona Cardinals -0.70 7.68 6.45
27 Tampa Bay Buccaneers -0.85 17.46 2.46
28 St. Louis Rams -1.13 12.80 6.14
29 Miami Dolphins -1.14 -11.19 7.37
30 Minnesota Vikings -1.34 11.08 4.87
31 New York Giants -1.71 -0.73 3.07
32 Jacksonville Jaguars -2.00 3.14 1.45

After outplaying Tennessee by a significantly larger margin than the 20-13 final score would indicate, Seattle widens its lead as the #1 team in Predictive Yards per Play Differential this week. Green Bay leapfrogs Houston, who have now thoroughly perfected the art of outplaying their opponents in most key statistical indicators and still get blown out anyway, for the #2 position. New Orleans and San Francisco round out the top five, perhaps indicating the prevailing preseason view of the NFC being the superior conference wasn’t so wrong after all.

The most noticeable trend I saw this week when compiling the ratings is how one-dimensional most of the highly ranked teams seem to be this season. That is, most well-rated teams are performing extremely well on either offense or defense but poorly on the other side of the ball. All of the current top six teams on offense – Green Bay, Denver, Atlanta, Philadelphia, San Diego and Indianapolis – rate well below average on defense. And on the other side, Kansas City, San Francisco, Baltimore and the New York Jets are all in the top five defensively but come out well below average on offense.

Only four teams right now have above-average ratings on both offense and defense – two you would expect (Seattle and New Orleans) and two you wouldn’t (Houston and Carolina). Since the Texans have crossed over into full-blown implosion mode and the Panthers can’t be taken seriously in any game that’s not decided by fewer than 25 points, that would seem to suggest that the Seahawks and Saints deserve to be the two biggest favorites to win Super Bowl XLIII, right?

In actuality, while those two teams deserve to be mentioned at the top of any Super Bowl contenders list, history suggests that not all hope is lost for the rest of the league. I looked back at the Predictive Yards per Play ratings that I’ve run back to the 1970 season and compiled a list of all the Super Bowl champions that rated below average on one side of the ball or the other. The list, as you can see below in reverse chronological order, is rather larger than I expected.

  • 2009 Saints (-0.32 defensively)
  • 2008 Steelers (-0.01 offensively)
  • 2006 Colts (-0.08 defensively)
  • 2002 Buccaneers (-0.31 offensively)
  • 2000 Ravens (-0.28 offensively)
  • 1998 Broncos (-0.31 defensively)
  • 1995 Cowboys (-0.02 defensively)
  • 1987 Redskins (-0.26 defensively)
  • 1984 49ers (-0.16 defensively)
  • 1983 Raiders (-0.11 offensively)
  • 1980 Raiders (-0.22 offensively)
  • 1978 Steelers (-0.01 offensively)
  • 1976 Raiders (-0.27 defensively)
  • 1974 Steelers (-0.19 offensively)
  • 1970 Colts (-0.36 offensively, -0.49 defensively)

So 15 of the past 43 Super Bowl champions – about 35% of the title winners since 1970, in other words – have been below average on offense and/or defense. Clearly, being subpar on one side of the ball or the other isn’t an insurmountable barrier to winning the Super Bowl. It obviously helps to be good at both offense and defense, but being great at one or the other certainly seems to have worked out for a lot of teams.

The main kernel of wisdom I take away from that list is that you can definitely win a Super Bowl with a below-average unit as long as that unit isn’t truly terrible. Some of the teams showing up on that list were so slightly below average on one side of the ball that it’s probably splitting hairs to call them something other than “roughly average.” The others were all within enough shouting distance of league average to not wipe out their vastly superior units’ gains and could all potentially provide something of value to the team. The 1970 Colts are the only exception provided in the past 43 seasons and their postseason success can be easily explained away as a byproduct of the turmoil the AFC went through in its first post-merger season in the NFL.

With that last paragraph in mind, let’s take a look at the two undefeated AFC West teams, Denver and Kansas City. Both are in virtual ties for first place on one side of the ball – the Broncos obviously on offense and the Chiefs on defense – but rate so far below average on the other that it would be historically unprecedented for either team to win the Super Bowl if they maintained their current ratings throughout the course of the season. Denver’s defense rates a full yard below average and gave up 362 yards of offense last week to Jacksonville, who had seemingly only gained 362 yards of offense in the five games prior. Champ Bailey came back from injury in that game and Von Miller’s six-game suspension is now in the books, so that unit will likely improve but right now they’re not even in the same zip code as league average.

The Chiefs’ offense is almost as bad – they rank 27th this week with 3.91 Predictive Yards per Play, also a yard below average. Excluding the fluky 1970 Colts, the two other worst offensive Super Bowl champions – the 2002 Bucs and 2000 Ravens – both had historically great defenses to fall back on. If the Chiefs maintained their current defensive performance, they would probably deserve to be called a historically great defense – however, this is the same defense that finished 26th in the league in Defensive PY/P last season, so a drop-off in quality could very well be forthcoming.

Other Super Bowl contenders that may be in danger of being too one-sided are the Packers and 49ers – Green Bay’s defense rates .48 yards per play below average and the 49ers’ offense is currently .37 yards per play below average. Both those marks would also rate as the worst Super Bowl champion unit (non-1970 Colts division) of all time.

The only change in this week’s playoff projections comes from the NFC East, where Philadelphia is now expected to win .003 games more than Dallas. PRINT THOSE PLAYOFF TICKETS NOW, EAGLES FANS. For all intents and purposes, let’s just say that the NFC East is probably going to come down to the two games between the Cowboys and Eagles. Otherwise, the computer is still stubbornly clinging to its vision of a 2013 AFC South title for the Texans, not knowing that one more pick-six will cause the fanbase to burn Reliant Stadium to the ground. I pray next week will finally be the time the computer agrees with the other 99.9999999% of Football America and predicts the Colts will win the AFC South.

Projected AFC Playoff Picture, through Week 6:

  1. Denver (12.4 wins)
  2. New England (10.4 wins)
  3. Cincinnati (9.9 wins)
  4. Houston (9.6 wins)
  5. Kansas City (10.5 wins)
  6. Indianapolis (9.1 wins)

In the hunt: San Diego (8.8 wins), Baltimore (8.0 wins), NY Jets (7.7 wins), Tennessee (7.5 wins), Miami (7.4 wins)

Mediocre: Pittsburgh (7.1 wins), Cleveland (7.1 wins), Buffalo (6.3 wins), Oakland (6.1 wins)

Teddy Bridgewater Sweepstakes: Jacksonville (1.5 wins)

Projected NFC Playoff Picture, through Week 6:

  1. Seattle (12.9 wins)
  2. New Orleans (11.4 wins)
  3. Green Bay (10.3 wins)
  4. Philadelphia (8.2 wins)
  5. San Francisco (10.9 wins)
  6. Detroit (9.7 wins)

In the hunt: Chicago (8.9 wins), Dallas (8.2 wins)

Mediocre: Carolina (7.7 wins), Atlanta (7.4 wins), Arizona (6.5 wins), St. Louis (6.1 wins), Washington (5.9 wins)

Teddy Bridgewater Sweepstakes: Minnesota (4.9 wins), NY Giants (3.1 wins), Tampa Bay (2.5 wins)

COAS/SSLYAR Pigskin Pick’Em: Week 7

Busy week offline this time, so an abbreviated and tardy Confessions of a Sportscaster/Someone Still Loves You Alberto Riveron Week 7 picks against the spread column appears below. Hope you guys enjoy it!

 

Thursday Night: Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals (+6.5)

Both Lucas and Nathaniel: Cardinals. We’re off to a great start!

Sunday, Early Afternoon: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons (-7.5)

Lucas: Buccaneers. I know this game is in Atlanta, but what have they shown this year that should make them this big a favorite against anyone? Yeah, Tampa is bad too, but I’m taking the points.

Nathaniel: Buccaneers. I’m gonna miss the crap out of Julio Jones for the rest of the season – that guy was probably the most fun receiver to watch over the first month of 2013.

Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins (-8.5)

Lucas: Dolphins. Still not quite sure what to make of Miami, but without Manuel I don’t know that the Bills can pull it off.

Nathaniel: Bills. My new strategy this week is to generally pick the teams that are getting points, unless I don’t see any possible way they can cover. Ryan Tannehill will probably let himself get sacked enough for the Bills to get the cover this week.

Chicago Bears at Washington Redskins (-1.5)

Lucas: Redskins. Anyone else think Deangelo Hall has had this game circled on his calendar?

Nathaniel: Bears. Thanks for the reminder of one of the most painful Bears losses of the past five years, Lucas!

Cincinnati Bengals at Detroit Lions (-2.5)

Lucas: Lions. I think Ndamukong Suh is as big a scumbag as anyone, but I’m not so sure the hit on Brandon Weeden he had this past week is deserving of a fine for once. Give him and the Lions the benefit this time.

Nathaniel: Bengals. My faith in the Bengals flip-flops tremendously every week. Right now, I think they’re the odds-on favorites to win the NFC North. Tune in next week when I pronounce them chokers and the heirs to an eventual 7-9 record!

Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles (-2.5)

Lucas: Cowboys. Dallas already showed they can get into a shootout with elite offenses. Even on the road I think they can pull this one off.

Nathaniel: Eagles. I’ve always been a big Nick Foles supporter, ever since he started playing well last week.

St. Louis Rams at Carolina Panthers (-6.5)

Lucas: Rams. Taking the points despite feelings of “Holy crap! Ron Rivera is reading Bill Barnwell!”

Nathaniel: Rams. Can’t take the Panthers in good conscience unless I feel confident their game is going to be decided by 25 points or more.

New England Patriots at New York Jets (+4.5)

Lucas: Patriots. At this point I feel like Nathaniel and I could be Tom Brady’s wide receivers and the Pats could still be 5-1. I’m just waiting to see what happens when Gronk comes back.

Nathaniel: Jets. No, I haven’t heard that Gronk is coming back this week, why do you ask?

San Diego Chargers at Jacksonville Jaguars (+7.5)

Lucas: Chargers. I’m much more comfortable picking a 7.5 point spread than the one 20 points bigger. And Phil Rivers has been better this year. I’ll pounce on this one.

Nathaniel: Jaguars. No, I haven’t heard that the Jaguars haven’t lost a game by fewer than 10 points this season, why do you ask?

San Francisco 49ers at Tennessee Titans (+4.5)

Lucas: 49ers. People have been kind of quiet about the Niners for much of the season. I think this might be a statement game.

Nathaniel: 49ers. That poor schmuck Ryan Fitzpatrick gets another chance at starting and the first three defenses he has to face are the Chiefs, Seahawks and 49ers? NOT COOL.

Cleveland Browns at Green Bay Packers (-10.5)

Lucas: Packers. I was going to take Cleveland at first based on the size of this spread, plus Jarret Boykin potentially being Green Bay’s #2 wide receiver. Then I remembered Brandon Weeden is Cleveland’s quarterback.

Nathaniel: Browns. Equally as ugly as the above Weeden-ception was virtually any attempt Jarret Boykin made at catching a pass last week – and he might be Rodgers’ #2 receiver.

Houston Texans at Kansas City Chiefs (-6.5)

Lucas: Chiefs. Brandon Flowers pick six? Anyone?

Nathaniel: Chiefs. Feeling roughly a zillion times more confident about this one after Gary Kubiak pushed the panic button and decided to start CASE KEENUM at quarterback this week. In case there was any doubt that the Texans are headed for a raging tire fire of a 2013 season, that move erased any of those lingering feelings.

Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers (-1.5)

Lucas: Ravens. Yeah, Baltimore is a shell of itself, but so is Pittsburgh. I feel the only thing the Steelers could do would be to have Bane blow up Heinz Field when the Ravens step out.

Nathaniel: Steelers. Coin flip said, “Take Pittsburgh.” So I am!

Denver Broncos at Indianapolis Colts (+6.5)

Lucas: Colts. This is going to be a cool game. As much as I’m sure Manning will be energized by going back to his old stomping grounds, Indy seems to have some magic at home. I’ll take the points, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Indy can pull this one off.

Nathaniel: Broncos. Time to amend the “Never bet against Peyton Manning at night” rule to include the following provision: “Never, ever, ever under any circumstances bet against Peyton Manning at night when he’s playing his first game back at Indianapolis.”

Minnesota Vikings at New York Giants (-3.5)

Lucas: Vikings. Lol Eli Manning. …please don’t hurt me.

Nathaniel: Vikings. HOW ARE THE GIANTS FAVORED OVER ANYONE OTHER THAN JACKSONVILLE? Sorry, that deserved all CAPS.

2013 Records:

Lucas: 52-41 (6-9 last week, 0-1 so far this week)

Nathaniel: 45-48 (6-9 last week, 0-1 so far this week)

QB Charting, Week 4: Patriots-Falcons, Bengals-Browns and Cowboys-Chargers

Just a straight data dump this time, but hopefully some of you will find this interesting!

New England Patriots

Tom Brady: Week 4, at Atlanta.

Passing Breakdown

Comp. Att. Yards Sacks Sck Yards TDs INTs ANY/A
Dropback 9 16 120 0 0 1 0 8.75
Play-Action 10 14 201 0 0 1 0 15.79
Screen 1 1 -5 0 0 0 0 -5.00
Designed Rollout 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00
Total 20 31 316 0 0 2 0 11.48

Rushing/Miscellaneous Stats

Scrambles Yards Fumbles Penalties Drops Inaccurate throws
Dropback 0 0 0 1, 15 yards 3 4
Play-Action 0 0 0 0 1 2
Screen 0 0 0 0 0 0
Designed Rollout 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 0 0 0 1, 15 yards 4 6

Atlanta Falcons

Matt Ryan: Week 4, vs. New England.

Passing Breakdown

Comp. Att. Yards Sacks Sck Yards TDs INTs ANY/A
Dropback 29 46 391 2 22 2 0 8.52
Play-Action 2 4 19 0 0 0 1 -6.50
Screen 3 3 11 0 0 0 0 3.67
Designed Rollout 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0.00
Total 34 54 421 2 22 2 1 7.04

Rushing/Miscellaneous Stats

Scrambles Yards Fumbles Penalties Drops Inaccurate throws
Dropback 0 0 0 2, 20 yards 8 3
Play-Action 0 0 0 1, 38 yards 0 1
Screen 0 0 0 0 0 0
Designed Rollout 0 0 0 0 0 1
Total 0 0 0 3, 58 yards 8 5

Cincinnati Bengals

Andy Dalton: Week 4, at Cleveland.

Passing Breakdown

Comp. Att. Yards Sacks Sck Yards TDs INTs ANY/A
Dropback 17 32 172 1 5 0 1 3.70
Play-Action 1 5 2 1 1 0 0 0.17
Screen 5 5 32 0 0 0 0 6.40
Designed Rollout 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00
Total 23 42 206 2 6 0 1 3.52

Rushing/Miscellaneous Stats

Scrambles Yards Fumbles Penalties Drops Inaccurate throws
Dropback 2 11 1 0 3 6
Play-Action 0 0 0 1, 40 yards 1 2
Screen 0 0 0 0 0 0
Designed Rollout 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 2 11 1 1, 40 yards 4 8

Cleveland Browns

Brian Hoyer: Week 4, vs. Cincinnati.

Passing Breakdown

Comp. Att. Yards Sacks Sck Yards TDs INTs ANY/A
Dropback 15 25 158 2 18 1 0 5.93
Play-Action 8 11 64 1 4 1 0 6.67
Screen 2 2 47 0 0 0 0 23.50
Designed Rollout 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00
Total 25 38 269 3 22 2 0 7.00

Rushing/Miscellaneous Stats

Scrambles Yards Fumbles Penalties Drops Inaccurate throws
Dropback 1 8 0 0 3 4
Play-Action 0 0 0 0 0 2
Screen 0 0 0 0 0 0
Designed Rollout 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 1 8 0 0 3 6

Dallas Cowboys

Tony Romo: Week 4, at San Diego.

Passing Breakdown

Comp. Att. Yards Sacks Sck Yards TDs INTs ANY/A
Dropback 25 34 202 2 15 1 0 5.75
Play-Action 2 3 48 1 4 1 0 16.00
Screen 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00
Designed Rollout 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00
Total 27 37 250 3 19 2 0 6.78

Rushing/Miscellaneous Stats

Scrambles Yards Fumbles Penalties Drops Inaccurate throws
Dropback 1 15 0 1, 25 yards 4 2
Play-Action 0 0 0 0 1 0
Screen 0 0 0 0 0 0
Designed Rollout 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 1 15 0 1, 25 yards 5 2

San Diego Chargers

Philip Rivers: Week 4, vs. Dallas.

Passing Breakdown

Comp. Att. Yards Sacks Sck Yards TDs INTs ANY/A
Dropback 22 28 247 1 7 2 1 8.10
Play-Action 9 10 140 0 0 1 0 16.00
Screen 4 4 14 0 0 0 0 3.50
Designed Rollout 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00
Total 35 42 401 1 7 3 1 9.51

Rushing/Miscellaneous Stats

Scrambles Yards Fumbles Penalties Drops Inaccurate throws
Dropback 0 0 0 1, 3 yards 0 2
Play-Action 0 0 0 0 0 0
Screen 0 0 0 0 0 0
Designed Rollout 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 0 0 0 1, 3 yards 0 2

Week 5 Predictive Yards per Play Rankings

Here are Week 5’s Predictive Yards per Play ratings for your viewing pleasure. Don’t worry! Houston’s no longer #1 overall! They’re now a much more sensible #2.

Offensive Predictive Yards per Play, through Week 5:

Rank Team Yards Plays Passing TDs INTs Rushing TDs Fumbles SOS PY/P (Ball-Control Adjusted
1 Denver Broncos 2449 357 20 1 6 10 -0.26 6.66
2 Green Bay Packers 1813 269 9 3 3 6 0.05 6.51
3 New Orleans Saints 2025 340 12 4 2 2 -0.07 6.11
4 Philadelphia Eagles 2274 344 8 2 6 7 -0.20 6.04
5 San Diego Chargers 2008 323 13 5 1 6 0.07 5.94
6 Atlanta Falcons 1957 325 10 3 3 6 0.03 5.87
7 Indianapolis Colts 1812 322 7 2 7 4 0.05 5.70
8 Seattle Seahawks 1832 323 9 4 4 8 0.29 5.51
9 Dallas Cowboys 1886 304 13 2 2 9 -0.23 5.45
10 Houston Texans 1954 373 8 9 1 4 0.36 5.34
11 Chicago Bears 1843 307 10 6 4 7 -0.14 5.28
12 Detroit Lions 1905 330 8 3 5 9 -0.23 5.10
13 Washington Redskins 1563 266 6 4 3 6 -0.19 5.08
14 San Francisco 49ers 1609 296 6 4 7 6 0.14 5.05
15 Kansas City Chiefs 1742 342 7 3 3 3 -0.17 4.84
16 New York Jets 1753 322 7 8 2 7 0.20 4.82
17 Minnesota Vikings 1402 247 4 5 7 7 -0.02 4.75
18 Miami Dolphins 1583 301 6 5 5 7 0.19 4.70
19 Tennessee Titans 1590 329 8 2 3 6 0.07 4.69
20 New England Patriots 1717 347 7 3 1 8 0.16 4.62
21 Pittsburgh Steelers 1365 250 5 5 2 8 -0.02 4.53
22 Carolina Panthers 1316 266 6 5 2 5 0.05 4.52
23 Oakland Raiders 1651 295 6 3 3 9 -0.36 4.49
24 Baltimore Ravens 1654 352 5 8 5 4 0.13 4.39
25 Buffalo Bills 1743 363 5 4 5 10 0.15 4.34
26 Cincinnati Bengals 1651 324 5 5 5 10 -0.09 4.26
27 St. Louis Rams 1558 339 10 3 0 6 -0.18 4.16
28 Arizona Cardinals 1531 308 5 9 3 7 0.18 4.15
29 Cleveland Browns 1585 345 8 6 1 5 -0.08 4.00
30 New York Giants 1685 309 8 13 2 8 -0.14 3.93
31 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1099 257 3 5 1 5 0.13 3.63
32 Jacksonville Jaguars 1259 311 3 9 2 6 0.19 3.28

Defensive Predictive Yards per Play Rankings, through Week 5:

Rank Team Yards Plays Passing TDs INTs Rushing TDs Fumbles SOS PY/P (Ball-Control Adjusted
1 Seattle Seahawks 1518 315 5 7 3 11 0.23 3.60
2 Houston Texans 1301 285 7 2 4 6 0.28 3.67
3 Kansas City Chiefs 1564 321 4 7 2 11 -0.15 3.92
4 San Francisco 49ers 1512 331 5 6 6 6 0.28 3.96
5 New York Jets 1495 333 9 1 3 8 0.14 4.01
6 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1329 274 5 6 0 5 0.06 4.16
7 Cleveland Browns 1509 354 2 4 8 6 -0.27 4.17
8 Baltimore Ravens 1677 327 9 3 1 8 0.26 4.22
9 New England Patriots 1725 339 4 6 2 7 0.07 4.27
10 Cincinnati Bengals 1584 324 6 5 2 7 -0.07 4.33
11 Carolina Panthers 1206 242 3 6 2 3 -0.15 4.46
12 Tennessee Titans 1606 313 6 6 3 6 0.04 4.47
13 Arizona Cardinals 1717 335 8 7 1 5 0.12 4.59
14 Buffalo Bills 1887 363 9 9 2 5 -0.21 4.92
15 Indianapolis Colts 1652 303 4 7 4 6 -0.25 4.96
16 Miami Dolphins 1965 351 8 6 4 6 0.33 5.01
17 New Orleans Saints 1652 278 6 7 2 7 -0.18 5.05
18 Pittsburgh Steelers 1287 253 4 0 6 3 -0.09 5.11
19 Chicago Bears 1883 315 8 6 3 12 -0.12 5.17
20 Detroit Lions 1964 323 5 8 5 8 0.10 5.17
21 New York Giants 1976 367 12 4 5 6 0.20 5.20
22 Oakland Raiders 1820 322 9 3 3 7 0.03 5.28
23 Jacksonville Jaguars 1899 332 12 2 4 7 0.12 5.42
24 Philadelphia Eagles 2170 368 11 5 4 6 0.12 5.53
25 Green Bay Packers 1499 253 9 2 3 6 -0.10 5.57
26 St. Louis Rams 1912 314 11 3 5 11 -0.21 5.60
27 Minnesota Vikings 1723 295 10 7 4 7 -0.13 5.70
28 San Diego Chargers 2030 312 10 1 2 7 0.15 5.86
29 Atlanta Falcons 1861 302 12 3 2 3 -0.07 6.01
30 Dallas Cowboys 2046 334 14 5 2 6 -0.10 6.05
31 Washington Redskins 1762 278 9 2 4 5 0.03 6.11
32 Denver Broncos 2083 330 11 7 5 3 -0.38 6.39

Predictive Yards per Play Differential, through Week 5:

Rank Team PY/P Diff. Remaining SOS Projected Wins
1 Seattle Seahawks 1.91 -30.69 12.84
2 Houston Texans 1.67 -38.01 11.39
3 San Francisco 49ers 1.09 -30.41 11.38
4 New Orleans Saints 1.06 -6.23 12.41
5 Green Bay Packers 0.94 -12.54 9.97
6 Kansas City Chiefs 0.92 13.65 10.35
7 New York Jets 0.81 -8.36 8.92
8 Indianapolis Colts 0.74 2.75 9.05
9 Philadelphia Eagles 0.51 -21.23 7.38
10 New England Patriots 0.36 14.21 9.60
11 Denver Broncos 0.27 -8.31 12.74
12 Tennessee Titans 0.22 -10.69 7.51
13 Baltimore Ravens 0.17 6.67 8.40
14 Chicago Bears 0.11 -10.47 8.92
15 San Diego Chargers 0.08 -8.61 8.27
16 Carolina Panthers 0.06 -2.43 5.75
17 Detroit Lions -0.07 -16.09 9.19
18 Cincinnati Bengals -0.07 -9.73 9.34
19 Atlanta Falcons -0.14 -9.06 7.53
20 Cleveland Browns -0.17 1.11 6.91
21 Miami Dolphins -0.30 -12.23 8.29
22 Arizona Cardinals -0.44 16.11 6.46
23 Tampa Bay Buccaneers -0.53 8.04 2.13
24 Buffalo Bills -0.58 -11.00 6.72
25 Pittsburgh Steelers -0.58 -5.28 6.33
26 Dallas Cowboys -0.61 -10.69 8.10
27 Oakland Raiders -0.79 13.81 5.92
28 Minnesota Vikings -0.95 6.08 5.58
29 Washington Redskins -1.03 6.66 6.10
30 New York Giants -1.27 4.32 3.58
31 St. Louis Rams -1.44 18.90 4.87
32 Jacksonville Jaguars -2.15 19.04 1.00

Notes on Week 5’s ratings:

  • Despite losing for the first time this season, Seattle nonetheless rises to the #1 spot in the overall rankings and now has the highest projected win total for the season, narrowly edging out still-unbeaten Denver (more on them in a minute) and New Orleans in PY/P’s win projection model. Their division rival 49ers have risen up to third in the overall rankings, largely due to a very tough opening schedule. In fact, the Seahawks and 49ers have faced two of the four toughest schedules in the league so far…but are projected to have two of the three easiest schedules going forward. Seems safe to pronounce those two teams as playoff locks, just like we all figured they would be before the season started.
  • Sandwiched in between those two teams in the overall rankings is the squad that lost to both of them in the past two weeks – the Houston Texans. Sunday Night’s disaster against the 49ers was clearly their worst game of the season and their PY/P rating took a hit as a result – but not as large of a hit as you would expect. The Texans actually outgained the 49ers in yardage Sunday Night and still are averaging 5.2 yards per play on offense, compared to 4.6 yards per play on defense. And they’ve been doing that against the hardest schedule in the league so far.
  • With that said, though, I’m still proclaiming PY/P’s win projection for Houston of 11.4 wins completely foolhardy and not something that should be taken seriously. In the long run, the Texans are a good franchise with a very strong foundation on both sides of the ball and at some point they’re going to get out the monstrous rut they’re currently in and get back to winning. The emotional trauma that Matt Schaub is going through right now, however, isn’t going to suddenly disappear in an instant and I’m not sure how a schedule filled with two games against the Colts (plus matchups with Denver, Kansas City and New England) could possibly be considered the easiest remaining in the league. Oh wait, actually now I know – they still have two games with Jacksonville. My mistake. Nevertheless, 11 or 12 wins is still crazy at this point.
  • Denver is still projected as the #1 seed in the AFC this year, mainly because the team’s offensive Consistency Index is off the charts (it’s almost as if they have a good offense this year or something). In the actual PY/P rankings this week, though, the Broncos only come in at #11. The two reasons for this are as follows: 1): the Broncos have faced by far the easiest schedule in the league so far, according to Predictive Yards per Play (just think how much further their schedule strength will sink after facing Jacksonville this week) and 2): (closely correlated with #1) they currently have the worst-rated defense in the league, an extremely easy statement to believe if you watched their performance against Dallas Sunday. Getting Von Miller and Champ Bailey back will obviously help and it’ll come at a good time because after their upcoming slaughter of the Jaguars, the Broncos get into the tough portion of their schedule. They still have two games against Kansas City and two against the Chargers, plus the assorted tough teams of the AFC South and the Patriots.
  • The NFC East race – or light jog, if we’re being honest with ourselves – provides an interesting dichotomy among the two main projection models I use. Strictly going by Predictive Yards per Play, Philadelphia is rated well ahead of everyone else in the division and should wind up running away with the ignominious title of 2013 NFC East Champion. But the wins projection model using Consistency Index is enamored with Tony Romo’s 71.8% completion rate and not very excited by Philadelphia’s 55.6% completion percentage. Thus, according to the official wins projection model, Dallas is still projected to win the NFC East and wind up as the Wild-Card Round sacrificial lamb for either the 49ers or Seahawks. For accuracy’s sake, I’ll be interested to see which team winds up winning the division because it’ll provide a good litmus test for which prediction model winds up being more accurate.
  • Two slight changes came about in this week’s playoff projections. First, in the NFC, Green Bay’s win over Detroit made them the favorite to win the NFC North again, which they honestly should have been all along. In the AFC, Indianapolis is now projected to earn the final Wild-Card slot instead of San Diego – the Chargers are still amongst a group of four teams closely nipping at the Colts’ heels in the projections. Remember, though, that these projections still carry a slight weight of the preseason forecast PY/P had made for all teams and the Colts’ preseason projection was actually worse than every team’s other than Jacksonville. As the preseason forecast slowly gets phased out over the next few weeks, expect the Colts’ win projection to jump each time because it now appears that they’re a legitimately good team.

Projected AFC Playoff Picture, through Week 5:

  1. Denver (12.7 wins)
  2. Houston (11.4 wins)
  3. New England (9.6 wins)
  4. Cincinnati (9.3 wins)
  5. Kansas City (10.4 wins)
  6. Indianapolis (9.1 wins)

In the hunt: NY Jets (8.9 wins), Baltimore (8.4 wins), Miami (8.3 wins), San Diego (8.3 wins), Tennessee (7.5 wins)

Mediocre: Cleveland (6.9 wins), Buffalo (6.7 wins), Pittsburgh (6.3 wins), Oakland (5.9 wins)

Teddy Bridgewater Sweepstakes: Jacksonville (1.0 win)

Projected NFC Playoff Picture, through Week 5:

  1. Seattle (12.8 wins)
  2. New Orleans (12.4 wins)
  3. Green Bay (10.0 wins)
  4. Dallas (8.1 wins)
  5. San Francisco (11.4 wins)
  6. Detroit (9.2 wins)

In the hunt: Chicago (8.9 wins), Atlanta (7.5 wins), Philadelphia (7.4 wins)

Mediocre: Arizona (6.5 wins), Washington (6.1 wins), Carolina (5.8 wins), Minnesota (5.6 wins)

Teddy Bridgewater Sweepstakes: St. Louis (4.9 wins), NY Giants (3.6 wins), Tampa Bay (2.1 wins)

QB Charting, Week 4: Eagles-Broncos, Dolphins-Saints, Seahawks-Texans and Ravens-Bills

 

On a time crunch this week, so this’ll mainly just be a data dump post, but I’ll add any nuggets of information from the action I saw that I deem absolutely necessary and/or compelling.

Philadelphia Eagles

Michael Vick: Week 4, at Denver.

Passing Breakdown

Comp. Att. Yards Sacks Sck Yards TDs INTs ANY/A
Dropback 10 18 163 2 10 0 0 7.65
Play-Action 2 6 44 1 3 0 0 5.86
Screen 2 3 41 0 0 0 0 13.67
Designed Rollout 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00
Total 14 27 248 3 13 0 0 7.83

Rushing/Miscellaneous Stats

Scrambles Yards Fumbles Penalties Drops Inaccurate throws
Dropback 5 33 0 0 3 3
Play-Action 2 9 0 0 1 0
Screen 0 0 0 0 1 0
Designed Rollout 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 7 42 0 0 5 3

Got victimized by a bunch of drops that dragged his completion percentage lower than it should have been – Vick played really well last Sunday. Take a look at the Eagles’ next five games: a home-and-home with the Giants, a road game at Tampa Bay and home games against Dallas and Oakland. As well as they’ve been able to move the ball this year, there’s certainly a possibility they could go on a bit of a run this next month.

Nick Foles: Week 4, at Denver.

Passing Breakdown

Comp. Att. Yards Sacks Sck Yards TDs INTs ANY/A
Dropback 2 3 43 0 0 0 0 14.33
Play-Action 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00
Screen 1 1 6 0 0 1 0 26.00
Designed Rollout 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00
Total 3 4 49 0 0 1 0 17.25

Rushing/Miscellaneous Stats

Scrambles Yards Fumbles Penalties Drops Inaccurate throws
Dropback 0 0 0 0 0 1
Play-Action 0 0 0 0 0 0
Screen 0 0 0 0 0 0
Designed Rollout 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 0 0 0 0 0 1

Denver Broncos

Peyton Manning: Week 4, vs. Philadelphia.

Passing Breakdown

Comp. Att. Yards Sacks Sck Yards TDs INTs ANY/A
Dropback 16 20 129 1 6 3 0 8.71
Play-Action 11 13 190 0 0 1 0 16.15
Screen 1 1 8 0 0 0 0 8.00
Designed Rollout 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00
Total 28 34 327 1 6 4 0 11.46

Rushing/Miscellaneous Stats

Scrambles Yards Fumbles Penalties Drops Inaccurate throws
Dropback 0 0 0 1, 6 yards 1 2
Play-Action 0 0 0 0 1 0
Screen 0 0 0 0 0 0
Designed Rollout 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 0 0 0 1, 6 yards 2 2

Good luck, Dallas.

Brock Osweiler: Week 4, vs. Philadelphia.

Passing Breakdown

Comp. Att. Yards Sacks Sck Yards TDs INTs ANY/A
Dropback 1 2 5 0 0 0 0 2.50
Play-Action 1 1 5 0 0 0 0 5.00
Screen 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00
Designed Rollout 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00
Total 2 3 10 0 0 0 0 3.33

Rushing/Miscellaneous Stats

Scrambles Yards Fumbles Penalties Drops Inaccurate throws
Dropback 0 0 0 1, 16 yards 1 0
Play-Action 1 4 0 0 0 0
Screen 0 0 0 0 0 0
Designed Rollout 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 1 4 0 1, 16 yards 1 0

Miami Dolphins

Ryan Tannehill: Week 4, at New Orleans.

Passing Breakdown

Comp. Att. Yards Sacks Sck Yards TDs INTs ANY/A
Dropback 17 26 204 4 33 1 3 1.87
Play-Action 4 6 44 0 0 0 0 7.33
Screen 1 3 1 0 0 0 0 0.33
Designed Rollout 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00
Total 22 35 249 4 33 1 3 2.59

Rushing/Miscellaneous Stats

Scrambles Yards Fumbles Penalties Drops Inaccurate throws
Dropback 2 23 1 0 2 3
Play-Action 0 0 0 0 2 0
Screen 0 0 0 0 0 1
Designed Rollout 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 2 23 1 0 4 4

New Orleans Saints

Drew Brees: Week 4, vs. Miami.

Passing Breakdown

Comp. Att. Yards Sacks Sck Yards TDs INTs ANY/A
Dropback 18 23 282 2 16 2 0 12.24
Play-Action 7 10 64 0 0 2 0 10.40
Screen 5 6 67 0 0 0 0 11.17
Designed Rollout 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00
Total 30 39 413 2 16 4 0 11.63

Rushing/Miscellaneous Stats

Scrambles Yards Fumbles Penalties Drops Inaccurate throws
Dropback 0 0 0 0 2 2
Play-Action 1 5 0 0 0 0
Screen 0 0 0 0 1 0
Designed Rollout 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 1 5 0 0 3 2

Brees’ performance Monday Night had Jon Gruden achieving football nirvana, especially when they ran one of Jon’s favorite plays, Spider 7 Y Banana. Actual quote from Gruden: “There’s a beautiful banana…doesn’t that look like a banana, Mike [Tirico]?” Whatever you say, Jon!

Seattle Seahawks

Russell Wilson: Week 4, at Houston.

Passing Breakdown

Comp. Att. Yards Sacks Sck Yards TDs INTs ANY/A
Dropback 4 10 36 2 16 0 1 -2.08
Play-Action 3 7 35 3 16 0 0 1.90
Screen 4 5 46 0 0 0 0 9.20
Designed Rollout 1 1 6 0 0 0 0 6.00
Total 12 23 123 5 32 0 1 1.64

Rushing/Miscellaneous Stats

Scrambles Yards Fumbles Penalties Drops Inaccurate throws
Dropback 3 23 0 1, 15 yards 0 3
Play-Action 3 42 0 1, 33 yards 1 2
Screen 0 0 0 1, 15 yards 0 1
Designed Rollout 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 6 65 0 3, 63 yards 1 6

Something that worries me about the otherwise-nearly-impossible-to-stop Seahawks juggernaut: the amount of times they run the ball. They might be more talented than every other team in the NFL, but more running plays means fewer plays over the course of a game and more chances for a low-scoring, high-variance game where an inferior team could hang around, hand around, hang around and then steal a win at the end. If they wind up losing in the playoffs, I’m 85% positive that’s the way they’re going to end up losing. Also, Russell Wilson played much worse than Matt Schaub for most of the game Sunday. Just for the record.

Houston Texans

Matt Schaub: Week 4, vs. Seattle.

Passing Breakdown

Comp. Att. Yards Sacks Sck Yards TDs INTs ANY/A
Dropback 23 36 276 2 19 1 1 6.10
Play-Action 6 10 63 2 11 1 1 2.25
Screen 2 3 16 0 0 0 0 5.33
Designed Rollout 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00
Total 31 49 355 4 30 2 2 5.19

Rushing/Miscellaneous Stats

Scrambles Yards Fumbles Penalties Drops Inaccurate throws
Dropback 1 5 0 2, 29 yards 2 4
Play-Action 0 0 0 0 0 2
Screen 0 0 0 0 0 0
Designed Rollout 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 1 5 0 2, 29 yards 2 6

Now seems like a good time to point out to the Texans fans who burned Matt Schaub’s jersey after last week’s pick-sixaggedon that the next four career passing yards leaders in Texans history are, in order: David Carr, Sage Rosenfels, T.J. Yates and Tony Banks. Matt Schaub’s no Peyton Manning, but he’s sure as hell no Sage Rosenfels, either.

Baltimore Ravens

Joe Flacco: Week 4, at Buffalo.

Passing Breakdown

Comp. Att. Yards Sacks Sck Yards TDs INTs ANY/A
Dropback 19 40 306 4 26 1 5 1.71
Play-Action 5 9 37 0 0 1 0 6.33
Screen 1 1 4 0 0 0 0 4.00
Designed Rollout 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00
Total 25 50 347 4 26 2 5 2.52

Rushing/Miscellaneous Stats

Scrambles Yards Fumbles Penalties Drops Inaccurate throws
Dropback 0 0 0 2, 27 yards 4 7
Play-Action 0 0 0 0 0 1
Screen 0 0 0 0 0 0
Designed Rollout 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 0 0 0 2, 27 yards 4 8

Buffalo Bills

EJ Manuel: Week 4, vs. Baltimore.

Passing Breakdown

Comp. Att. Yards Sacks Sck Yards TDs INTs ANY/A
Dropback 6 11 79 1 2 0 1 2.67
Play-Action 4 11 88 1 9 1 1 4.50
Screen 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00
Designed Rollout 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0.00
Total 10 22 167 2 11 1 2 3.58

Rushing/Miscellaneous Stats

Scrambles Yards Fumbles Penalties Drops Inaccurate throws
Dropback 1 5 0 1, 6 yards 1 3
Play-Action 1 3 1 0 3 2
Screen 0 0 0 0 0 0
Designed Rollout 0 0 0 0 1 0
Total 2 8 1 1, 6 yards 5 5

2013 COAS/SSLYAR Pigskin Pick’Em: Week 5

Here’s the Week 5 picks against the spread from Confessions of a Sportscaster and Someone Still Loves You Alberto Riveron. Richard Sherman’s pick-six against Matt Schaub last week sent Lucas to a winning 8-7 record and yours truly to a losing 7-8 record – for the season, we’re still both above .500. This week, we’re only disagreeing on two games, which has to be the fewest games in a week we’ve ever disagreed over – feel free to scroll through the COAS/SSLYAR category to see if my preliminary hunch is wrong. At any rate, check out our apparently groupthink-filled picks below.

Thursday Night: Buffalo Bills at Cleveland Browns (-4.5)

Lucas: Browns. Brian Hoyer as the new Eff You Quarterback? Brian Hoyer as the new Eff You Quarterback.

Nathaniel: Browns. Funny how fast the Browns went from completely hopeless to having as good a chance as anyone to win the AFC North.

Sunday, Early Afternoon: New Orleans Saints at Chicago Bears (-0.5)

Lucas: Saints. This past Sunday was an enjoyable experience for me as I got to relive my days in 2009 as an intern for ESPN Chicago where I was in for every Bears game and took great joy in every Cutler interception. The Onion article on him published on Monday was the proverbial cherry.

Nathaniel: Saints. I’m relatively flabbergasted how this is a virtual pick’em. I’m rooting for the Bears as much as any Chicagoan (not named Lucas Mitzel, anyway), but I don’t think anybody debates that the Saints are a considerably better team.

New England Patriots at Cincinnati Bengals (-1.5)

Lucas: Patriots. Yeah, I know Vince Wilfork is probably done for the year, but I feel like the Pats offense can put up enough points to not worry about it this week.

Nathaniel: Patriots. Getting tired of doubting Belichick and expecting the Bengals to actually play as well as their talent level suggests they should play.

Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers (-6.5)

Lucas: Packers. Detroit still hasn’t won in Green Bay since I was like 2 and didn’t know anything about the NFL. Detroit’s defense took advantage of turnovers that Aaron Rodgers is probably 89% less likely than Jay Cutler to commit, yet they still gave up 32 points to the Bears. Ah, the joys of having the best quarterback in the league…

Nathaniel: Packers. Rule of thumb: no matter how good a team has looked in the first four weeks of the season, always pick against them if they’re facing an opponent in a stadium they haven’t won at in 22 years.

Kansas City Chiefs at Tennessee Titans (+2.5)

Lucas: Chiefs. I was originally thinking the Titans based on home field and some regression to the mean, but with Jake Locker hurt after looking really good for a while this past week… I just can’t take them.

Nathaniel: Titans. On the one hand, Ryan Fitzpatrick tends to throw as many passes to the other team as he does his own. On the other, Kansas City hasn’t really played anybody yet and there’s still a good chunk of me that questions how good they actually are.

Seattle Seahawks at Indianapolis Colts (+2.5)

Lucas: Colts. Maybe this is one of the supervisors at work (who’s from Indy and is a Colts fan) rubbing off on me. But Seattle hasn’t played quite as well away from the Link and would likely be 3-1 if Matt Schaub would quit throwing pick-6’s. Maybe I’m wrong, but Indy is starting to round back into decent form.

Nathaniel: Colts. Indianapolis has played really well the past two weeks and Seattle doesn’t look anywhere near as terrifying on the road as when they’re back home in CenturyLink Field.

Jacksonville Jaguars at St. Louis Rams (-11.5)

Lucas: Rams. If for no other reason than I felt like an idiot for taking the points with Jacksonville last week. I’m just really looking forward to the 27.5 point spread next week…

Nathaniel: Rams. It ought to say something that the Rams have lost their last two games by 24 points each and are still 11.5 point favorites against the Jaguars. At this point, I’d have to say Florida International should be giving 3.5 points to the Jags.

Baltimore Ravens at Miami Dolphins (-2.5)

Lucas: Dolphins. Riding the “Miami is pretty good” and “Baltimore sucks on the road” bandwagons this week. Seems safe with this spread.

Nathaniel: Dolphins. Things are usually pretty simple with the Ravens: pick them at home and pick against them on the road. Don’t you dare muck up my complicated formula this week, Joe Flacco!

Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants (-2.5)

Lucas: Eagles. Through four weeks, I’m not really impressed with Chip Kelly at the NFL level so far. Fortunately for him, the reeling Giants were just what he needed.

Nathaniel: Eagles. I honestly don’t understand how the Giants could be favored over anybody right now – other than Jacksonville, of course.

Sunday, Late Afternoon: Carolina Panthers at Arizona Cardinals (+2.5)

Lucas: Cardinals. I don’t know if it’s home field, Arizona’s decent defense, Ron Rivera, or what it is… but it’s sure smarter than Scott Burnside taking hallucinogens before picking the Phoenix Coyotes to win the Stanley Cup.

Nathaniel: Panthers. I can’t underestimate the misgivings I have with this pick, though – they’ve only played three games so far, but the Panthers already look like this year’s team that no one can figure out. Well, I take that back – we know that if they play a close game, they’ll undoubtedly lose. Other than that, we know nothing.

Denver Broncos at Dallas Cowboys (+7.5)

Lucas: Broncos. I have yet to meet the man who can stop this Denver offense. I don’t think Jerry Jones is that man, unless DeMarcus Ware injures Peyton in taking advantage of Ryan Clady being gone.

Nathaniel: Broncos. I feel a certain sense of loyalty to Peyton and will continue to pick the Broncos until he throws an interception. After that, though? Never again. A SACRED BOND HAS BEEN DESTROYED.

Sunday Night: Houston Texans at San Francisco 49ers (-6.5)

Lucas: Texans. San Fran beat the Rams pretty convincingly last week, but I’m still not sure how I feel about them after 4 weeks. This isn’t an advocation of Houston by any means, I just think the points are safer.

Nathaniel: Texans. I feel like 6.5 points gives Matt Schaub leeway to play really well for most of the game and ensure the cover while ultimately throwing the game-killing pick-six that sends Houston to 2-3.

Sunday, Late Night: San Diego Chargers at Oakland Raiders (+4.5)

Lucas: Chargers. If you were going to reschedule a Raiders game to accommodate the MLB, at least it involved another West Coast team so biorhythms don’t get all wacked out. Though Phillip Rivers’ biorhythm being out of wack wouldn’t be the most surprising thing to find out.

Nathaniel: Chargers. By far the coolest thing about this game is that it’ll get started a few minutes before midnight on the East Coast. Thank you, Oakland, for reminding us how weird scheduling can be when you have a playoff baseball team and a football team sharing the same stadium!

Monday Night: New York Jets at Atlanta Falcons (-9.5)

Lucas: Jets. It’s an odd numbered year, so the Falcons are holding tradition by being down this season. I know, the Jets are the Jets, but 9 ½ is still a lot to be giving.

Nathaniel: Jets. That’s a mighty big line for a 1-3 team with little to no defense to be covering!

2013 Records:

Lucas: 37-26 (8-7 last week)

Nathaniel: 32-31 (7-8 last week)

Week 4 Predictive Yards per Play Rankings

Today brings the first batch of Predictive Yards per Play rankings for the season. I didn’t bother running them for the first three weeks because there’s little to no actual insight they can provide that early in the year. Even now, things are very fluid and one or two outlier games can massively monkey wrench the results. A quarter of the way through the season seems like a good time to take the first statistical litmus test of the season, though, so here’s how each team has fared in the first four weeks of the year.

Strength of schedule is incorporated into the rankings; however, I’m only inputting those figures at 17% strength this week because some teams have played ridiculously lopsided schedules in one direction or another. I’ll up the schedule strength by one-sixth each week until it reaches 100% at the season’s virtual midway point after Week 9. Below are the offensive and defensive rankings, followed by the overall team rankings. Included with the individual team rankings are each team’s remaining strength of schedule and the projected wins Predictive Yards per Play thinks each team will wind up by the end of the season. Those two metrics are half comprised of this year’s results; the other half is comprised of each team’s preseason projection in the hopes of not overreacting to unexpected starts (looking at you, AFC West and South.)

Remember, Predictive Yards per Play seeks to measure the aspects of play so far that correspond best with future success – it is not a descriptive measure of how teams have played so far. That’s an important piece of information to keep in mind because the current #1 team in the overall rankings doesn’t have a winning record right now and probably isn’t ranked in the top five of any subjective power rankings.

Offensive Predictive Yards per Play, through Week 4:

Rank Team Yards Plays Passing TDs INTs Rushing TDs Fumbles SOS PY/P
1 Denver Broncos 1932 284 16 0 4 8 -0.15 6.66
2 New Orleans Saints 1678 275 10 4 2 2 0.24 6.51
3 Green Bay Packers 1364 205 8 3 3 4 -0.06 6.41
4 San Diego Chargers 1585 253 11 2 1 4 0.00 6.10
5 Houston Texans 1641 302 8 6 1 2 0.51 5.92
6 Indianapolis Colts 1495 262 5 2 6 2 -0.01 5.83
7 Atlanta Falcons 1594 255 8 3 1 4 -0.11 5.81
8 Philadelphia Eagles 1835 267 6 2 5 7 -0.62 5.67
9 Seattle Seahawks 1409 256 7 3 4 6 0.57 5.66
10 Detroit Lions 1619 266 7 3 5 8 -0.18 5.41
11 New England Patriots 1469 287 7 2 1 4 0.43 5.39
12 New York Jets 1465 276 4 8 2 7 1.00 5.36
13 Minnesota Vikings 1402 247 4 5 7 7 0.25 5.02
14 Tennessee Titans 1251 263 7 0 2 4 0.20 4.97
15 San Francisco 49ers 1325 244 5 4 5 5 0.00 4.88
16 Chicago Bears 1409 253 8 6 4 5 -0.17 4.86
17 Kansas City Chiefs 1389 275 7 2 2 2 -0.24 4.84
18 Carolina Panthers 963 200 6 2 2 4 0.16 4.75
19 Buffalo Bills 1400 288 5 3 2 10 0.67 4.72
20 Dallas Cowboys 1362 250 8 1 1 8 -0.36 4.54
21 Pittsburgh Steelers 1365 250 5 5 2 8 -0.01 4.54
22 Miami Dolphins 1289 244 5 5 5 6 0.04 4.54
23 Washington Redskins 1563 266 6 4 3 6 -0.82 4.45
24 Oakland Raiders 1352 240 4 3 3 6 -0.58 4.41
25 Arizona Cardinals 1281 250 4 6 2 7 0.21 4.33
26 Baltimore Ravens 1270 278 5 7 3 3 0.24 4.29
27 Cincinnati Bengals 1310 254 5 4 4 9 -0.15 4.15
28 Cleveland Browns 1295 280 7 6 0 3 -0.03 4.10
29 St. Louis Rams 1207 267 7 3 0 5 -0.03 4.10
30 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1099 257 3 5 1 5 0.30 3.80
31 New York Giants 1302 239 6 10 1 7 -0.28 3.67
32 Jacksonville Jaguars 896 252 1 7 2 3 -0.01 2.76

Defensive Predictive Yards per Play Rankings, through Week 4:

Rank Team Yards Plays Passing TDs INTs Rushing TDs Fumbles SOS PY/P (Ball-Control Adjusted
1 Houston Texans 1017 233 6 2 2 5 0.06 3.66
2 Cleveland Browns 1166 279 2 3 5 6 -0.11 3.76
3 Kansas City Chiefs 1225 255 3 5 1 9 -0.16 3.81
4 Seattle Seahawks 1201 255 3 7 2 9 -0.37 3.98
5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1329 274 5 6 0 5 0.00 4.22
6 Tennessee Titans 1253 246 6 5 2 5 0.21 4.25
7 New Orleans Saints 1218 224 4 7 2 5 0.10 4.30
8 San Francisco 49ers 1199 260 5 3 6 4 0.09 4.39
9 Baltimore Ravens 1383 270 8 3 1 7 0.09 4.42
10 New England Patriots 1384 269 4 5 1 6 -0.17 4.47
11 Indianapolis Colts 1229 236 2 6 4 4 -0.03 4.49
12 Carolina Panthers 956 184 2 3 1 3 -0.09 4.55
13 New York Jets 1132 263 7 1 1 6 -0.72 4.56
14 Cincinnati Bengals 1336 264 6 4 2 3 -0.03 4.81
15 Arizona Cardinals 1364 269 8 4 1 4 -0.11 4.90
16 Chicago Bears 1536 250 6 6 3 12 -0.10 5.01
17 Oakland Raiders 1397 252 7 0 3 5 0.30 5.02
18 Detroit Lions 1515 259 4 8 5 6 -0.05 5.13
19 Pittsburgh Steelers 1287 253 4 0 6 3 -0.11 5.13
20 Miami Dolphins 1581 277 8 5 2 5 0.08 5.31
21 New York Giants 1537 290 10 4 4 6 -0.11 5.35
22 Buffalo Bills 1597 298 8 9 1 3 -0.46 5.38
23 St. Louis Rams 1549 255 9 1 5 8 0.22 5.39
24 Denver Broncos 1561 276 6 6 4 2 -0.05 5.40
25 Philadelphia Eagles 1787 298 9 2 3 5 0.32 5.53
26 Washington Redskins 1762 278 9 2 4 5 0.57 5.57
27 Atlanta Falcons 1573 256 9 3 2 3 0.34 5.60
28 Dallas Cowboys 1529 261 10 4 0 4 -0.13 5.67
29 Jacksonville Jaguars 1548 260 9 2 4 6 -0.01 5.69
30 Green Bay Packers 1213 189 8 2 3 5 -0.03 5.98
31 Minnesota Vikings 1723 295 10 7 4 7 -0.66 6.22
32 San Diego Chargers 1729 257 8 1 2 5 0.04 6.31

Predictive Yards per Play Differential, through Week 4

Rank Team PY/P Diff. Remaining SOS Projected Wins
1 Houston Texans 2.27 -30.48 12.12
2 New Orleans Saints 2.21 2.96 12.31
3 Seattle Seahawks 1.68 -29.14 13.47
4 Indianapolis Colts 1.34 11.45 8.21
5 Denver Broncos 1.26 -5.28 13.02
6 Kansas City Chiefs 1.03 15.35 9.64
7 New England Patriots 0.91 18.38 11.04
8 New York Jets 0.81 -1.54 7.96
9 Tennessee Titans 0.72 -11.14 8.20
10 San Francisco 49ers 0.49 -15.64 10.61
11 Green Bay Packers 0.44 -9.77 9.39
12 Cleveland Browns 0.34 -4.22 6.60
13 Detroit Lions 0.28 -14.49 9.98
14 Atlanta Falcons 0.21 -3.25 8.26
15 Carolina Panthers 0.20 1.17 6.47
16 Philadelphia Eagles 0.14 -26.75 6.36
17 Baltimore Ravens -0.13 2.44 7.71
18 Chicago Bears -0.15 -3.40 9.27
19 San Diego Chargers -0.21 -14.10 8.73
20 Tampa Bay Buccaneers -0.42 14.32 2.57
21 Arizona Cardinals -0.57 13.65 5.49
22 Pittsburgh Steelers -0.59 -7.64 6.52
23 Oakland Raiders -0.62 16.18 5.10
24 Cincinnati Bengals -0.65 -5.99 7.79
25 Buffalo Bills -0.67 -14.14 7.50
26 Miami Dolphins -0.78 -6.88 8.40
27 Washington Redskins -1.11 8.24 6.27
28 Dallas Cowboys -1.13 1.35 8.39
29 Minnesota Vikings -1.20 3.70 5.77
30 St. Louis Rams -1.29 9.14 4.48
31 New York Giants -1.67 -1.21 4.22
32 Jacksonville Jaguars -2.93 16.69 1.03

Yes, the 2-2 Houston Texans have the best Predictive Yards per Play differential in the league through four weeks, narrowly edging the undefeated Saints. This is partly because the Texans have had the toughest schedule in the league so far, but also because they really have outplayed all of their opponents in the indicators that usually point to future success. They needed the final play of the game to notch both their victories against San Diego and Tennessee, but they outgained both those teams by roughly 200 yards and 10 first downs. They lost by 21 to the Ravens, but actually gained more yards and averaged more yards per play. And they somehow found a way to lose to Seattle last week despite gaining 200 more yards and 14 more first downs than the Seahawks.

So far on the season, they’re averaging 5.4 yards per play and their opponents have averaged 4.4. They’ve fumbled twice, their opponents have fumbled five times. And they’ve gained a staggering 39 more first downs than their opponents. If you didn’t know anything about their won-loss record other than those above facts, you would assume the Texans would be at least 3-1 or, more likely, 4-0.

Now, not to pull a Dan Dierdorf on you all, but just because the Texans have been very impressive in most important aspects doesn’t mean they don’t deserve to be 2-2. Matt Schaub has thrown three interception that have been returned for touchdowns so far this year, including last week’s soul-crushing pick-six to Richard Sherman, and their special teams also allowed a punt return for a touchdown to Tandon Doss of the Ravens. They’ve beat themselves the past two weeks and tried their very best to throw away the Titans game as well. The good news for Texans fans is return touchdowns are fairly uncommon and (typically) don’t have any predictive value. Then again, sometimes we see teams like last year’s Lions that catch on unlucky streaks like that over an entire season and don’t see any regression towards the mean until the next season. We’ll have to see if that’s the case with this year’s Texans.

After Houston’s unexpected slot at #1, the PY/P rankings fall a little more in line with conventional wisdom. The undefeated Saints and Seahawks come in at #2 and #3, followed by the Colts and then the Broncos. No single unit’s been more terrifying so far this year than the Broncos offense, whose PY/P figure of 6.66 falls in line with Bill Simmons’ Evil Peyton theory, but their defense is currently ranked just 24th. Rounding out the top ten are the Chiefs, Patriots, Jets, Titans and 49ers. The Jets are the only team out of that bunch whose ranking doesn’t really jive with the eye test – I, for one, do not believe for a second that they have the 12th-best offense in the league – but maybe the computer knows something we don’t.

The AFC’s performed unexpectedly well in interconference play thus far and seven of the top ten teams in overall PY/P come from the AFC. Overall, though, the top half of the rankings are evenly split with eight AFC teams and eight NFC teams. The NFC East has been (deservedly) derided so far as the biggest laughingstock division in the league, but PY/P doesn’t seem to think the AFC North is much better. Cleveland – CLEVELAND! – is the only team in that division that currently has an above-average rating, thanks to their #2 rating defensively. Cincinnati’s #24 ranking overall is one of the most surprising to me – just watching their games, they look like one of the most talented teams in the AFC.

Finally, teams that had both a strong preseason projection and have started the season well tend to do the best in PY/P’s wins projection, but Consistency Index is another important component in those projections. For example, Dallas is rated well below Philadelphia in pure Predictive Yards per Play, but the Consistency Index trusts Tony Romo’s ability to complete passes infinitely more than Michael Vick’s going forward. Thus, Dallas is currently the odds-on favorite to win the NFC East. Honestly, though, I wouldn’t put too much trust in the final wins projections just yet – midseason is really the first point where we have a firm grasp of each team’s real quality for the season.

Most of my free time this week has been devoted to generating these rankings and writing the analysis, so quarterback charting from Week 4’s games will probably be mainly delayed until next week and will then appear in truncated form. Thanks to all who have read those so far.

Projected AFC Playoff Picture, through Week 4:

  1. Denver (13.0 wins)
  2. Houston (12.1 wins)
  3. New England (11.0 wins)
  4. Cincinnati (7.8 wins)
  5. Kansas City (9.6 wins)
  6. San Diego (8.7 wins)

In the hunt: Miami (8.4 wins), Indianapolis (8.2 wins), Tennessee (8.2 wins), NY Jets (8.0 wins) Baltimore (7.7 wins), Buffalo (7.5 wins)

Mediocre: Cleveland (6.6 wins), Pittsburgh (6.5 wins), Oakland (5.1 wins)

Teddy Bridgewater Sweepstakes: Jacksonville (1.0 win)

Projected NFC Playoff Picture, through Week 4:

  1. Seattle (13.5 wins)
  2. New Orleans (12.3 wins)
  3. Detroit (10.0 wins)
  4. Dallas (8.4 wins)
  5. San Francisco (10.6 wins)
  6. Green Bay (9.4 wins)

In the hunt: Chicago (9.3 wins), Atlanta (8.3 wins)

Mediocre: Carolina (6.5 wins), Philadelphia (6.4 wins), Washington (6.3 wins), Minnesota (5.8 wins), Arizona (5.5 wins)

Teddy Bridgewater Sweepstakes: St. Louis (4.5 wins), NY Giants (4.2 wins), Tampa Bay (2.6 wins)