Scattered stats and thoughts regarding Super Bowl XLVII…
Scattered stats and thoughts regarding Super Bowl XLVII…
Scattered stats and thoughts regarding the 2013 NFL Pro Bowl (stop groaning)…
Scattered stats and thoughts regarding the 2012-13 NFL Conference Championships…
5. It took me a long while to get on the 49ers’ bandwagon this year – you may remember a certain 6.9 win projection coming out from these parts around August that started looking ridiculous around late September – but it became clear around the midway point of the season that this was clearly the best team in the league if you disregarded the quarterback position. And given how well Alex Smith was playing before he got Wally Pipped by Colin Kaepernick in November, maybe they would have still made the Super Bowl without making the switch around Thanksgiving. But Kaepernick definitely lifts this team up a level with not only his speed (which is well-celebrated at this point) but also his ability to make strong throws into tight coverage. He made several such throws yesterday over the middle for critical first downs, throws that Smith was not often eager to make. To win the Super Bowl, you have to consistently complete passes over the middle. Ryan’s last incompletion to Roddy White in the fourth quarter illustrated that truth in a heartbreaking way for Atlanta.
Scattered stats and thoughts regarding the 2012-13 NFL Divisional Playoffs…
3. Outside of a period in the second quarter where he went cold, Joe Flacco was outstanding. The below-zero wind chills clearly affected his arm far less than Peyton’s, who was off on virtually every throw outside the numbers all night. For Joe, on the other hand, it could probably be seventy below zero and he’d still probably be able to chuck it seventy yards. And if he was ever asked about the cold, he would probably just shrug his shoulders and reply with no hint of emotion on his face, “Huh. Yeah, I suppose it is.” He’s a live wire, that Joe Flacco! Played really well on Saturday, though.
3. Russell Wilson is really good. I don’t particularly blame him for the sack at the end of the first half that ruined both the Seahawks’ chance at points and ultimately their shot at victory – Jonathan Babineaux was on him almost instantaneously and if he tries to get rid of the ball after he’s in Babineaux’s grasp, then it’s intentional grounding and a ten-second runoff and the half’s over, anyway. I take more issue with the Seahawks’ fourth-down play call on the prior series – running the fullback up the middle with no sort of deception or misdirection against a defense that has its ears COMPLETELY PINNED BACK against the run up the gut? I ain’t got a good feeling about that, Muddy.
3. We heard a lot last week about this being Aaron Rodgers’ first trip to Candlestick Park and how he was going to throw out an “EFF YOU” performance to the hometown team that snubbed him first overall all those years ago. Taking nothing away from Rodgers – he’s likely going to end up as one of the top twenty quarterbacks of all time, minimum – I just don’t think it’s that simple in football for one player, even the most important player, to completely take over a game. Simmons in particular gets this idea stuck in his head based on what he’s seen out of Jordan and Bird in basketball and tries to transplant that idea to other sports when, the reality is, there have only been a handful of guys in basketball that have been able to completely enforce their will over a game. And that’s in the easiest sport possible for one player to control play. In football, even the most important player (the quarterback, for those of you unclear on who I’m talking about) is only going to meaningfully touch the ball about 35-40 times a game – and even then, there are 21 other players on the field who realistically can alter the whims of that alpha dog dramatically (somewhere, Peyton Manning is shaking his head sadly). I swear I’m not trying to slight you, Aaron, I’m really not. Although I must say, I always thought you’d be taller in real life…
3. GRONK FOUR ARM SMASH! OH NO! GRONK FORGET FOUR ARM STILL WRAPPED IN ARM CONDOM. STILL BRING MUCH PAIN WHEN NOT ON FOOTBALL FIELD AND TRYING TO TALK TO PRETTY LADIES. NOW GRONK CANNOT CATCH PASS FROM GISELE HUSBAND OR WRESTLE WITH J.J.! GRONK FOUR ARM HURT.
Scattered stats and thoughts regarding the 2012-13 NFL Wild Card Playoffs…
3. On a somewhat unrelated note, I love the name “Breno Giacomini.” I love it to an almost unhealthy level. I found myself spending large swaths of the second and third quarter just watching the Seahawks offensive lineman work and yell “YOU JUST GOT BRENOED” at the TV screen whenever his back was featured prominently in a close-up of Marshawn Lynch. Just a phenomenal moniker. I bet Breno enjoys himself some good Italian pasta.
3. The Vikings-Packers game is the last real game Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth will get to announce this year – they’ve still got the Pro Bowl left to go, but we all know that doesn’t count – and that’s a real travesty. Faith Hill may stretching the truth quite a bit in some of the verses to “Waiting All Day for Sunday Night,” but the one lyric she tells the impeachable truth on is without a doubt “Al and Cris are the best on TV.” No other announcing duo remotely combines the insight, appropriate tone for the situation, and entertainment those two bring on a weekly basis. I’ve listed my fair share of favorite Al moments this year, but Cris is a hoot-and-a-half as well, particularly when he knows a team’s committed a brain-dead penalty (like the Vikings 12 Men on the Field penalty on the Packers’ field goal attempt in the third quarter) and he says “Uh-oh…UH-OH…” like a bemused bystander watching a husband tell his wife she looks fat. Man, I’m going to miss those guys. WHY DOES FOOTBALL SEASON LEAVE US SO QUICKLY?
3. In between the Colts-Ravens and Seahawks-Redskins games yesterday, I was exposed for the first time to the comedic stylings of the show entitled Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! It was brought to my attention to the internet that this program hasn’t been on the air for two years, thus continuing my run of not watching comedy programs (i.e. Arrested Development, Party Down) until they’re already off the air. So I’m well aware I’m behind the times here and that most of you have already made up your minds on this show, but holy freaking crap was the episode I saw an abortion. Just horrendous. It made According to Jim look like the freaking Simpsons by comparison.
Scattered stats and thoughts regarding Week 17 of the 2012 NFL Season…
3. We’ll talk a lot about Washington later in the week, so let’s get some final thoughts on Dallas’ season down here. The problems facing Botox Jerry’s roster right now are perhaps at their most numerous than in any time in the past decade. Contrary to what you saw last night, the one thing the Cowboys were generally good at this year was throwing the ball: Romo’s the acknowledged master of terrible interceptions but even in possibly his worst season as a starter he’s been an excellent quarterback. The issues are everywhere else: the offensive line has descended into a black hole of crap, DeMarco Murray and Sean Lee are potential superstars when they’re not hurt (this is only an issue because they’re always hurt), their safeties still take horrible routes to the ball, and you’ll find more depth in a Rick Reilly column than at any position other than quarterback on the Dallas roster. Will they be good enough to once again challenge for the NFC East title in 2013? Probably. Is this team close to being a true Super Bowl contender? Not really.
3. We would also be remiss if we didn’t note the unintentional comedy duo of Jordy Nelson and Mike McCarthy, who JUST NOW learned that he’s allowed to challenge plays and decided to throw the red flag after a turnover – which, as Jim Schwartz would tell you, ain’t always the best course of action. Nelson’s stealthy pickup of the flag and even-handed explanation of the situation to McCarthy was priceless, as was their hearty chuckle after the problem resolved itself in a manner most agreeable to their interests. Good times! However, as a Bears fan I must point out that I EFFING. HATE. THE PACKERS. Go beat Green Bay by 40 in the first round, Minnesota.
Quick Thought: My buddy Mark Murphy tends to get WAY DOWN on the Bears whenever something bad happens to them, such as a loss or blowing a 7-1 start and failing to make the playoffs. So his adamant claims that the Bears won’t contend for another five years aren’t particularly surprising. I must admit, however, that I agree with him on wanting Lovie Smith’s ouster. One playoff trip in six seasons ain’t too good.
Quick Thought: Good for Chuck Pagano. The standing ovation he received from the Lucas Oil Stadium crowd before the opening kickoff was a genuinely inspirational moment, as has been just about everything he’s said over the past three months.
Quick Thought: If the Giants were in the AFC, where would you rank them? Below Denver and New England, for sure, but after that they’d probably be the scariest team to face in the playoffs. You could make the same argument for the Bears, Cowboys and maybe even the Rams, Panthers and Saints. Tough time to be a good-but-not-great team in the NFC.
Quick Thought: Adrian Peterson’s freaking amazing, but Peyton Manning’s your 2012 Most Valuable Player. Somehow. 4659 yards, 68.6% completion percentage (the highest of his career), 37 touchdowns against 11 interceptions, a league-leading 7.89 Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt – all in all, his best season since 2006. Absolutely incredible.
Quick Thought: Everybody and their grandmother is now penciling a Pats-Broncos AFC Championship Game, which of course means we’re going to get Bengals-Ravens for the Super Bowl instead. “Dalton! Flacco! It’s the AFC Championship on CBS! PLEASE DON’T CHANGE THE CHANNEL.”
Quick Thought: Colin Kaepernick ended up finishing second in the league in Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt. He threw 500 fewer passes than Tom Brady, but still! NOT BAD.
Quick Thought: Didn’t take long for Jeff Fisher to turn the Rams into Tennessee Slightly Northwest. Play ugly, be a pain in the keester, keep it close, maybe win the game. Nobody’s better at keeping a team perpetually around .500. Enjoy the next 17 years, St. Louis!
Quick Thought: I ended up losing the Pigskin Pick ‘Em group to Lucas by two games – partly because Tony Romo enjoys screwing with people who bet on the Cowboys, but also because Tyrod Taylor threw a late pick-six to Carlos Dunlap and gave Cincinnati a late cover in a game they were getting thoroughly outplayed in. NO I’M NOT BITTER WHY DO YOU ASK?
Quick Thought: The two likeliest 2013 NFC South winners, in my opinion. The Panthers will likely rebound from their terrible close-game performance this year (as long as they keep Ron Rivera far, far away from the Late Game Decision button) and the Saints will go from having a couple of guys who had no idea what they were doing to one of the five best coaches in the league. That counts as an upgrade, in my opinion.
Quick Thought: Because Atlanta looked so good the two previous weeks against the Giants and Lions, I won’t give them crap this week for losing to Tampa Bay at home in a game they were MOST DEFINITELY TRYING TO WIN. I’m a nice guy like that.
Quick Thought: It’s entirely possible that the following is because of my nonexistent expectations for him, but I was actually pleasantly surprised by Thad Lewis. He seemed remotely competent! Of course, maybe that’s just the magic of Pat Shurmur: any quarterback he coaches plays at a remotely competent level and no further. Maybe that’s why he’s getting fired?
Quick Thought: SSLYAR received four visits yesterday from Google hits for the term “Jon Gruden poop.” All I can say is: I’m glad I’ve found a kindred spirit out there.
Quick Thought: Here’s hoping for a better 2013 for you, Timmy.
Quick Thought: What a crazy game. Tennessee had four return touchdowns in a five minute span and then also gave up a punt block touchdown late in the game, too. Maybe if you two had been doing these things all season, people would be more likely to watch your games, guys! Keep that in mind for 2013.
Scattered stats and thoughts regarding Week 16 of the 2012 NFL Season…
3. Finally, your Al Michaels Golden Blowout Call of the Night: after referee Bill Vinovich picked up a flag on the final kickoff of the game with two minutes left, Michaels exhaled, “Thank God.” If there’s anyone out there who hates killing air time during blowouts more than Al, I’d like to meet that person!
Quick Thought: Tough to say Todd Haley’s first season in Pittsburgh has been anything other than a disaster. After a rough start, the Steeler defense once again turned out to be one of the five best in the league this year – it’s Pittsburgh’s offensive woes that are keeping them out of the postseason and in danger of falling below .500 for the first time in nine years. Mike Wallace has been MIA for most of the season, failing to hit the home run plays he seemed to have in plentiful supply the last two years. And the running game has been ugly – Rashard Mendenhall’s been either hurt or ineffective and Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman have been most proficient at running into the arms of defenders. Say, where’s Bruce Arians when you need him?
Quick Thought: The Ravens illustrated a truth about the Giants defense that has been apparent all season but rarely seen in practice: if you don’t turn the ball over against the Giants, you’ll be able to move the ball at will. Still surprising to see the Giants essentially destroy their playoff hopes by playing so poorly in back-to-back road games. Did you know that if the Giants, as anticipated, do not come up with a miracle Sunday and sneak in as a wild-card, it will be the third time in four years they failed to make the playoffs? FIRE TOM COUGHLIN!
Quick Thought: As a Bears fan, I would just like to extend a hearty SCREW YOU to Houston for not showing up offensively yesterday. It warmed the cockles of my heart, it truly did.
Quick Thought: Holy crap that fumble scrum after the Marques Colston catch in overtime was exciting. Is there a way we could ensure that would happen in every overtime? Like, if the game is tied at the end of overtime during the regular season, just toss the ball at the fifty-yard line and have every player and coach from both sidelines dive for the ball. Whoever comes up with it wins. Seems more exciting than just shaking hands and calling it a tie, right?
Quick Thought: I really don’t think Washington will go particularly far in the postseason if they get there – primarily because they’d likely have to face Seattle in the first round – but I’m definitely rooting for them to get there. Partly because, you know, screw the Cowboys and partly because, you know, RGIII. An RGIII-Russell Wilson matchup in the Wild Card round would NOT be unexciting.
Quick Thought: Jaaaaaaaaaaaassshhhhhhh Freeman just throws interceptions, apparently. Great day for Janoris Jenkins – he scored his fourth defensive touchdown of the season AND he gets to play in Seattle next week, where, as you may know, marijuana was recently decriminalized. Everything’s coming up Janoris!
Quick Thought: Speaking as a fan of a team playing against the Cardinals, I can’t tell you how much relief you feel whenever you score a touchdown against Arizona. If no lead is safe against Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, then any lead is safe against the Cardinals. My heart rate was nice and low after Zack Bowman scored the Bears’ first defensive touchdown Sunday. Thank you again for playing Ryan Lindley, Coach Whisenhunt!
Quick Thought: I don’t know how this went in other parts of the country, but here in the Chicago area yesterday we were stuck with the Packers-Titans rout until the bitter end while the Bengals and Steelers were only locked in a fiercely contested contest that would essentially decide a playoff spot. Obviously, since the Titans scored a touchdown at the end, the game WAS in fact still competitive. Maybe I should start shelling out the dough for NFL Sunday Ticket? …*thinking*…Nah, still too cheap.
Quick Thought: Uhhhhhhhhhhhhh….you feelin’ all right there, New England? Much more worrisome performance than in their loss to San Francisco last week. Chad Henne was more efficient than Tom Brady? Maybe the Mayans weren’t so wrong after all. Oh wait…
Quick Thought: You don’t think Peyton Manning’s going to be pulling for his old team next week, do you? Heck, I’m pretty sure Peyton would cut off the big toe on his left foot if it meant he didn’t have to face the Patriots in the second round.
Quick Thought: What in the ho-ho heck do the Colts have to do to lose a football game? They got outgained 507-288, averaged 4.4 yards per play to Kansas City’s 7.6 (KANSAS CITY!), and gave up 352 yards ON THE GROUND. Peyton Hillis ran for over 100 yards, for crying out loud. I…I’m at a loss. Unlike the Colts, who APPARENTLY CAN’T LOSE EVEN WHEN THEY’RE ACTIVELY TRYING TO.
Quick Thought: It utterly boggles my mind that Detroit is 4-11. Just utterly boggles the mind. How a team that has THAT talented an offense and THAT proficient of a pass rush can have two fewer wins than the Chargers is freaking crazy. Football doesn’t make sense sometimes, you guys.
Quick Thought: What happened to the plan of giving Terrelle Pryor a shot, Oakland? We all know what Matt Leinart is at this point – a whole lot of three-yard dumpoffs via a noodly left arm. Why put him in after Carson Palmer got hurt in a meaningless game? Time to see how bad Terrelle sucks so you can move on to the next blown draft choice!
Quick Thought: Not even Mark Murphy can muster enthusiasm for the Bills anymore. That’s a bad sign, folks.
Quick Thought: Uh, Rex, if you wanted someone to get sacked eleven times, Timmy Tebow would have MORE THAN OBLIGED, my good friend. In fact, he would have found a way to lose twenty-eight yards on one sack if only you would have let him. THE PEOPLE DEMAND TEBOW START AGAINST BUFFALO AND THEY DEMAND IT NOW.
Welcome to the Week 15 edition of Someone Still Loves You Alberto Riveron’s weekly NFL power rankings. To help us make sense of what happened during this last batch of NFL action, we’ve asked the panelists of the syndicated PBS program The McLaughlin Group to share their thoughts with us below. Please enjoy.
Announcer voiceover: From Washington, “The McLaughlin Group,” the American original. For over two decades, the sharpest minds, best sources, hardest talk.
John McLaughlin: ISSUE ONE: CAN’T HARDLY BEAR IT.
IN THE WAKE OF THEIR DISASTROUS 21-13 LOSS TO THE HATED GREEN BAY PACKERS ON SUNDAY, THE CHICAGO BEARS SEEM TO HAVE A NEW ENEMY TO WORRY ABOUT: THEIR FANS. AT LEAST THAT’S IF INJURED STAR LINEBACKER BRIAN URLACHER IS TO BE BELIEVED. MR. URLACHER ARGUED ON A CHICAGO TELEVISION STATION AFTER THE GAME THAT, QUOTE, “THE ONLY TEAM IN OUR DIVISION TO GET BOOED AT HOME IS US. IT’S UNBELIEVABLE TO ME” AND “TWO OF THE PEOPLE I DON’T CARE ABOUT, FANS OR THE MEDIA…IT DOES BOTHER ME BECAUSE THOSE PEOPLE DON’T KNOW WHAT THEY’RE TALKING ABOUT, OBVIOUSLY.” END QUOTE.
(back on screen)
QUESTION: IS URLACHER CORRECT IN HIS INSINUATION THAT PAYING SPECTATORS AT A SPORTING EVENT DO NOT HAVE THE RIGHT TO EXPRESS THEIR DISAPPROVAL AT THE HOME TEAM’S PERFORMANCE? OR SHOULD THEY BE ALLOWED TO HECKLE, JEER, BOO, AND TOSS ROTTEN EGG SALAD SANDWICHES ON THE PLAYERS AS THEY PLEASE, PAT BUCHANAN?
Pat Buchanan: John, there’s a fine line between expressing natural disappointment and going over the edge into outright slander and I think Urlacher’s got a point on this. These people who are calling into these talk radio shows have no idea what’s going on in the inner workings of the Bears headquarters, of Lovie Smith’s team. Whenever I hear stories like this, I hearken back to my time in the Nixon White House, when we were accomplishing so much good for the country but were eventually overrun by a bunch of naysayers who didn’t have national interests in mind – only interest in exposing remarkable fraud and illicit activity. When I think of poor Lovie Smith, John, I think of Richard Nixon. I really do.
McLaughlin: PERHAPS A MORE APT COMPARISON WOULD BE BILL BELICHICK, PATRICK. YOUR THOUGHTS, ELEANOR CLIFT.
Eleanor Clift: Well, obviously fans have a constitutional right to express themselves in any capacity they so choose and their anger over the Bears’ performance is understandable and, in a way, endearing – it shows they really care about this team. But I think what this whole silly, overblown saga really shows is that Obama really does have everything in control and is above suspicion or rebuke in any form and anyone who raises slight suggestions to the contrary is really committing high treason against our fearless leader.
McLaughlin: BUT DOES NOT THE SECOND PART OF YOUR TREATISE PERHAPS DIRECTLY CONTRADICT THE FIRST, ELEANOR?
Clift: IT DOES NOT!!!
McLaughlin: FAIR ENOUGH. ISSUE TWO: JETTING OFF TO NOWHERE.
IN THE FIRST TWO YEARS OF REX RYAN’S TENURE AS HEAD COACH OF THE NEW YORK JETS, THEY MADE THE PLAYOFFS EACH YEAR AS A WILD-CARD ENTRY. THEY WOULD THEN GO ON TO REACH THE AFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME BOTH YEARS BEFORE EVENTUALLY SUCCUMBING TO NOBLE DEFEAT AT THE HANDS OF PEYTON MANNING AND BEN ROETHLISBERGER. WITH LAST NIGHT’S LOSS TO THE TENNESSEE TITANS, HOWEVER, THIS MARKS THE SECOND STRAIGHT YEAR THE JETS WILL MISS THE PLAYOFFS AND THE TEAM’S STRUGGLES IN NATIONALLY TELEVISED GAMES HAS MADE THEM A BIGGER PUNCHLINE THAN BERNIE SANDERS’ FALSE TEETH.
(back on screen)
QUESTION: HAS REX RYAN EARNED ENOUGH GOODWILL FROM HIS FIRST TWO SEASONS TO SURVIVE THIS RECENT DOWNTURN IN PERFORMANCE? OR HAS HIS RELUCTANCE TO BENCH THE TERRIBLE MARK SANCHEZ LED HIM ON A ROAD TOWARD RUIN AND DECAY AND WARM BUCKETS OF URINE BEING CONTINUOUSLY DROPPED ON HIS HEAD WHILE A HOMELESS RODEO CLOWN DANCES SADLY BESIDE HIM? I TURN TO YOU, MONICA CRAWLEY.
Monica Crawley: Look, John. Rex has had his chance. He’s had FOUR YEARS to turn this team into a Super Bowl champion and it hasn’t happened. Frankly, I think the time has more than come for –
Clift: SORRY I DON’T LISTEN TO ANYONE’S OPINIONS ON THIS SHOW OTHER THAN JOHN AND PAT’S SO I’M JUST GOING TO YELL OVER YOU FOR THE NEXT THIRTY SECONDS UNTIL I GET TO MAKE THE COMMENT YOU ALREADY KNOW I’M GOING TO MAKE. OBAMA.
Buchanan: I thought it was a point worth raising, the Jets HAVE been wildly underperforming their talent level the past couple of years. However, I don’t believe we have a right to interfere with their organizational decisions. In fact, just talking about it now on-air indirectly affects the choice they’re going to make in a way I’m not comfortable with. The safest thing to do here, as in all situations and scenarios we face in life, is to SIMPLY DO NOTHING.
McLaughlin: IS IT NOT POSSIBLE, HOWEVER, THAT WE’VE THOUGHT ABOUT THIS IN AN ENTIRELY WRONG FASHION? WHAT IF REX RYAN IS A DIRECT DESCENDANT OF GHENGHIS KHAN, THE GREAT MONGOL WARLORD FROM THE 13TH CENTURY, AND IS USING HIS BULLY PULPIT AS HEAD COACH OF THE NEW YORK FOOTBALL JETS TO ORGANIZE A MONGOLIAN REBELLION AGAINST THE OPPRESSION OF THE HARSH WINTERS OF THE GOBI DESERT REGION? ON A SCALE OF 0 TO 10, WITH 0 REPRESENTING ZERO POSSIBILITY AND 10 REPRESENTING COMPLETE METAPHYSICAL CERTITUDE, HOW MUCH DOES THIS SCENARIO PERTURB YOU, CLARENCE PAGE?
Clarence Page: Uhhhh….
McLaughlin: NO TIME FOR A RESPONSE, CLARENCE. PREDICTION: GRAPE NUTS WILL ONCE AGAIN BE THE MOST POPULAR BULK-PRODUCING AGENT IN THE COUNTRY BY THE YEAR 2016. BYE-BYE.
A quick thought on Monday Night’s game…
Quick Thought: Is this not the quintessential Chris Johnson line or what? 122 yards on 21 carries – 94 of which came on one run. To paraphrase the Associated Press’s sympathy for the Rams yesterday, if there’s any consolation for the Jets, Johnson only had 28 yards on 20 carries if you take away that long one. Did you know that Chris Johnson is currently at 1159 yards with a 4.8 YPC this season? Every time I see something written about CJ2K these days, it’s about how he’s a lazy sack of crap who loves destroying people’s fantasy teams. That’s not fair at all. He’s just going to get 75% of his year’s rushing total off of five big runs and average a yard per carry the rest of the time. Big difference!
Here’s SSLYAR’s Week 15 rankings by Adjusted Yards per Play Differential, which is a descriptive metric that is designed to give an accurate representation of how each team has played thus far. San Francisco remains #1 for the umpteenth week in a row; interestingly, for the second week in a row they will be playing the #2 team in this metric. Seattle continues its torrid stretch by leaping up to #2 and supplanting New England, who lead an AFC triumvirate in the 3-4-5 slots with Houston and Denver. Your biggest movers of the week come out of the Falcons-Giants game; Atlanta uses the blowout win to rise to #8 from #14 and the Giants drop to #12 from #6.
Adjusted Yards per Play Differential (league average: 0.00)
Offensive Adjusted Yards per Play (league average: 4.97)
Defensive Adjusted Yards per Play (league average: 4.97)
SSLYAR also ranks teams according to Predictive Yards per Play Differential, a metric which doesn’t give as large a penalty or bonus to turnovers or touchdowns, will also take into account strength of schedule and will (theoretically) better able to predict future performance. This metric uses probabilities drawn from research Brian Burke did back in 2008 in trying to determine which stats best correlated with future play. For example, because offensive performance is much more consistent from week-to-week than defensive performance, offensive play is more highly prioritized in these rankings.
San Francisco and Seattle are the top two teams in this metric for the second straight week, making their upcoming Sunday night showdown at CenturyLink Field even more attractive. New England and Denver come in at #3 and #4, but there are no other AFC teams in the top ten and only four total that rate above-average (Houston and Baltimore being the other two). One of the likely two AFC wild-card teams, Indianapolis, comes in #30! Their defense is in a virtual tie for last place with Oakland and the easy schedule their offense has faced merits a rating well below average as well. Another AFC wild-card hopeful, Cincinnati, experienced a severe drop in the ratings this week; the Bengals’ ugly win over the Eagles Thursday night dropped them from the above-average ranks and sent them falling from #13 to #19. New Orleans uses their 41-0 blowout over Tampa Bay to jump eight spots to #9.
Predictive Yards per Play Differential (league average: 0.989371)
Offensive Predictive Yards per Play (league average: 2.835901)
Defensive Predictive Yards per Play (league average: 1.84653)
Scattered stats and thoughts regarding Week 15 of the 2012 NFL Season…
3. So, in an extremely roundabout way, we got the close game we expected, with San Francisco’s excellence on both sides of the ball proving to be juuuuuussssstttt a bit too much for the Patriots in the end. Well, that and San Francisco recovering SEVEN OUT OF THE EIGHT FUMBLES in the game. Is it possible the game’s outcome would have been different had the fumble luck been more evenly distributed? Absolutely. Unfortunately for the Patriots, the Occupy Movement has not made much headway in the NFL nor in real life and thus they likely now await a game in the Wild-Card Round of the playoffs and a trip to Denver should the two teams meet in the divisional round. You picked a good time to be lucky, 49ers! You picked a good time to be lucky…
Quick Thought: No comment.
Quick Thought: I’ll give Flacco credit for huffing and puffing all the way down the field on Chris Harris’s pick-six, trying desperately to prevent the TAINT from occurring. Even though he didn’t end up making the tackle, he deserves roughly ten thousand times the credit for his attempt than Tom Brady does for his actual “tackle” on Carlos Rogers last night. Brady couldn’t have made a more half-hearted slide than if he was stuck playing on the Astros in late September. Carlos Rogers should be ashamed of himself.
Quick Thought: Brandon Carr obviously made a great play on that game-winning interception in overtime, but after seeing that replay like ten times…HOW DOES HE NOT GET INTO THE END ZONE??? It’s like he got to the one-foot line and his computer programming completely malfunctioned at the thought of scoring. Ahmad Bradshaw could learn well to emulate Carr’s touchdown avoidance the next time he needs to take a dive on the one when the other team is trying to let him score in the Super Bowl.
Quick Thought: WHOA HEY AN ACTUALLY IMPRESSIVE VICTORY FROM THE FALCONS. I acknowledge your achievement, gentlemen. Also, I remain convinced Tony Gonzalez could play until he’s 50 just on post-up moves alone. And he’d still probably be able to dunk even then. Take that, Vernon Davis!
Quick Thought: Congratulations to Bryan Braman on setting the Texans single-season franchise record for most blocked punts in a season! His remarkable mark of TWO blocked punts truly shows what the human body is capable of accomplishing when completely unblocked twice in one season. Well done, big guy!
Quick Thought: Actual quote from the Associated Press’s game story yesterday: “Slight consolation for the Rams: Without the two long-gainers, Peterson had 78 yards on 22 carries.” WOO-HOO! You know, without the two kick return touchdowns and one punt return touchdown he has this season, Jacoby Jones has ZERO return touchdowns this year. EVERYBODY’S HELD THESE TWO GUYS IN CHECK SO WELL.
Quick Thought: Sooooooooo….it doesn’t really matter who’s under center for the Redskins, does it? I think we can all see that the real offensive masterminds in D.C. are the Shanahans and they could stick anybody in at quarterback and rack up 400 yards of offense, right? I’M JUST KIDDING, RGIII, PLEASE DON’T HURT ME.
Quick Thought: How in God’s Name Did THIS Defense Get a Shutout, Vol. 1: in an awe-inspiring display of empty yardage that even the Raiders would stand up and applaud for, the Buccaneers actually racked up 386 yards against the Saints but turned the ball over five times and failed on two other fourth-down attempts. Pro Football Reference says it’s the most yards a team has ever accrued without scoring a point, narrowly edging the Dolphins’ 35-0 loss to the Colts in 1970 by three yards. Hey, if you’re going to underperform, why not do it spectacularly?
Quick Thought: Seattle is utterly terrifying right now, although I would like to point out that the Bills seemed to dial their defensive effort level back to October levels — which is to say it was non-existent. Additionally, Earl Thomas’s interception return for a touchdown seemed to answer the question: “Which NFL offense would make the worst defense?” Ryan Fitzpatrick’s attempts at tackling made Tom Brady look like Ronnie Lott.
Quick Thought: Mike Tolbert said after the game that he helped his Panther teammates with the Chargers’ terminology for their audibles and checks and keys and that was a major reason why the Chargers struggled to get over 150 yards on offense. Now with the way San Diego’s played offensively this year, it’s entirely possible that the Panthers could have accomplished this fine outing without the inside tips, but wouldn’t it be just like Norv to not pick up on little things such as, “Oh, we’re facing a team whose head coach and fullback were with us only for about five years, maybe we should mix up our terminology today?” Also, props to Tolbert for the following quote: “They don’t think a little fat man can jump, but I can definitely get up.”
Quick Thought: When you’re outTAINTing the King of TAINTs, the immortal Ryan Lindley, it’s perhaps a sign that your season should maybe be coming to a close…
Quick Thought: The Jaguars lost a touchdown in the second quarter when Guy Whimper failed to report as tackle-eligible on a play where Justin Blackmon caught a twenty-yard touchdown from Chad Henne. Guess Guy didn’t WHIMPER loudly enough to the official, eh? EH???????? Man, this post really needs to end soon.
Quick Thought: How in God’s Name Did THIS Defense Get a Shutout, Vol. 2: unlike the Saints, the Raiders were completely dominant defensively. The Chiefs didn’t get their first first down of the game until five minutes left in the third quarter. The Kansas City Chiefs: Making 4-10 teams look like the ’85 Bears since 2012.
If there was any week to head over to the house of a good friend or casual acquaintance or even a serial killer – anyone who has NFL Sunday Ticket or the Red Zone Channel, basically – this would be the week, guys. Look at these early game matchups: Packers-Bears, Broncos-Ravens, Giants-Falcons, Colts-Texans, Jaguars-Dolphins. All of those games except the last one are AWESOME and they’re all going on at the same time. NOT COOL. Luckily, the Game of the Week will still be able to be viewed by all in primetime – and it may just be a preview of a little game coming up the first weekend in February…but most likely not. Still should be enjoyable, though!
Who: San Francisco 49ers vs. New England Patriots
Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, MA
When: 7:30 P.M. Sunday, December 16th
Network: NBC (Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya)
Steve Stone’s Said in Stone Cold Lock of the Game: “During my 14 professional seasons in baseball I always heard retired players saying, ‘The game was better during my era.'”
Projected Final Score: Patriots 28, 49ers 27
Team To Bet On If Gambling Were Legal: 49ers (+5.5)
Before we get into the rest of our Week 15 preview, let’s post a quick recap on last night’s Bengals-Eagles game…
Quick Thought: Is it possible to have a less impressive 21-point win? Andy Dalton got less than three yards per dropback and lost a couple fumbles. Defensively, the Bengals often gave Nick Foles the appearance of confidence (when he wasn’t under-throwing Jeremy Maclin by twenty yards, anyway). I think Marvin Lewis summed up it best when he said: “We’ve got nothing to celebrate here.” What a fitting end to the Thursday Night Football slate. Please, Roger Goodell, give us more poorly-played games on three days’ rest next year!
Below are SSLYAR’s Week 15 NFL Projections, ranked by the author’s subjective interest in watching each game. Home teams are italicized; projected winners against the spread are underlined. To see which games are being shown in your area, check out the506′s TV distribution maps. Our guest analyst this week is a deli owner from Quahog, Rhode Island who should have never, EVER under any circumstances received his own TV show: Cleveland Brown.
2012 Record Thus Far: 137-71-1 (13-3 last week)
2012 Record against the Spread Thus Far: 107-102 (12-4 last week)