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The 2016 Presidential Election

In light of last night’s surprising results, I can’t get too focused on writing an article about football. There will be really good articles written by smart people out there today, but it all starts and ends with the maps. Here was 2012:

nyt_us_620px_president_map

And here is 2016, according to the NYT:

screen-shot-2016-11-09-at-8-14-03-am [click to continue…]

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The Washington Redskins have made five Super Bowls in their history:

  • To conclude the 1972 season, with Republican Richard Nixon in office as President of the United States;
  • At the end of the 1982, 1983, and 1987 seasons, with Republican Ronald Reagan as the sitting POTUS;
  • In January 1992, during the final year of Republican George H. W. Bush’s presidency.

During the Super Bowl era, Washington has gone 272-180-3 while a Republican is in office. That translates to a .601 winning percentage, the best of any team.

But the Redskins have been a lot worse with a Democrat in office. In fact, Washington has a lowly 150-201-5, a 0.428 winning percentage that is the fourth worst of any team during the Super Bowl era. Washington’s best years came under Reagan, Bush, Ford, and Nixon, while the franchise’s worst years have been under Obama, Clinton, and LBJ.  Take a look: [click to continue…]

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538: Chiefs, Texans, Try to Join AFC’s Upper Crust

Today at 538: a look at the Chiefs and Texans game this weekend, with both teams trying to vault into the top tier in the AFC.

The AFC has an established hierarchy. The New England Patriots have appeared in the title game in five consecutive seasons, and teams only become legitimate AFC contenders after proving they can defeat the Pats. Denver has beaten New England three of the last four times the teams have played — including in last year’s title game — and won the AFC West in five straight seasons. And whichever team emerges from the top-heavy AFC North can’t be ignored, either: Baltimore won the Super Bowl four seasons ago, the Bengals have won 44 games since 2012, and the Steelers look like the second-best team in the AFC.

Two other teams are threatening to break into the AFC’s upper crust, and they happen to face off in Week 2. Kansas City has won 11 consecutive regular-season games, the longest active streak in the NFL. Houston finished 2015 on a hot streak of its own, winning seven of its final nine games; after an opening-day win in Chicago, the Texans join the Chiefs as the only AFC teams to win at least eight of their last 10 regular-season games. Yet despite those results, neither of these teams are viewed as part of the AFC’s top tier. And that’s because both teams are viewed as having relatively low ceilings. So the question for this season is, can either team raise its ceiling?

You can read the full article here.

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538: Carolina, Denver and Super Bowl Rematches

Today at 538, a look at the history of the Thursday Night Opener and how teams fare in Super Bowl rematches.  Also, in researching for this piece, I found one of my new favorite pieces of trivia:

On January 31, 1993, the Cowboys obliterated the Bills 52-17 in Super Bowl XXVII.  364 days later, Dallas beat Buffalo in the Super Bowl again, 30-13, the only time the same teams have ever met in consecutive Super Bowls.  But in between those historic games, the teams also met in Dallas during Week 2 of the 1993 regular season. The Cowboys, missing Emmitt Smith because of a contract dispute, lost 13-10 on a late field goal. It was a result symbolic of that entire Bills era: in games started by Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly from 1990 to 1993, Buffalo went 14-0 in the regular season against the NFC, including a 4-0 mark against Dallas, New York, and Washington. Against those same teams in the Super Bowl, of course, the Bills went 0-4.

You can read the full article here.

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NFL Survivor Pool Thoughts (2016)

I’m entering a Survivor Pool this year, so I plan on posting about my picks for exactly as long as I stay alive. Given the uncertainty involved in projecting an NFL season, I don’t think the payoff is there to project every week in the preseason and produce a model telling you which team to will use in each week. By week 5, a lot of our assumptions will have changed, injuries will make some teams an easy one-week play, and so. Flexibility is just as important as foresight, and there’s a lot of uncertainty about the future.

As a result, rather than getting too technical, I am simply going to place an early focus on trying to stay alive, with some emphasis on saving good teams for later. And to always look one week ahead.

Those two masters are in conflict right away, as one of the league’s most dependable teams is also the clear best choice in survivor leagues for week 1. Take a look at the current spreads: [click to continue…]

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Foster prays for good health in Miami

Foster prays for good health in Miami

Arian Foster‘s emergence as a star was almost as sudden as his (likely) exit. An undrafted free agent in 2009, Foster rushed for 100 yards in his first start — in week 17 of the ’09 season. Then, in 2010, he led the NFL in both rushing yards and rushing touchdowns, beginning a five-year stretch of dominance.  A ruptured Achilles tendon ruined Foster’s season in 2015, and he signed with Miami yesterday; at 29, it’s fair to wonder if Foster has much left in the tank.  A one-year, $1.5M contract is a sign that the NFL isn’t too optimistic about his future.  But that doesn’t make his past any less incredible.

From 2010 to 2014, Foster played in 70 games. But in two of those games in 2013, injuries limited him to just 9 combined snaps. And in the season finale in 2014, a hamstring injury caused him to exit after 10 snaps. In those three games, Foster had a total of 9 carries for 34 yards. [click to continue…]

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Charles Tillman announced his retirement on Monday, marking the end of a remarkable career. From a game-saving interception (video here) during his rookie season to stop a Daunte Culpepper game-winning touchdown pass to Randy Moss, Tillman was known for delivering big plays in key moments for the Bears. But he will always be remembered for doing something cornerbacks don’t really do: or, given the rate at which he did it, maybe he should be remembering for intercepting passes at an abnormally high rate for a player who forced so many fumbles.

From 2003 to 2015, there were 49 players who recorded 20+ interceptions. During those same years, 52 players recorded at least 15 forced fumbles. Tillman had 38 interceptions and 44 forced fumbles.  To put that remarkable figure in context, take a look at the graph below, which shows all 95 players with either 20+ interceptions or 15+ forced fumbles from ’03 to ’15: [click to continue…]

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Happy Independence Day, folks. July 4th, 1776 was the day our forefathers declared independence in a remarkable document that’s worth your full read. We at Football Perspective wish you a very happy, and very safe, Fourth of July.

153 years after America declared its independence, Al Davis was born. On January 30th, 1960, the AFL awarded Oakland the last franchise for the new league. Then, in early April, the team was named:

Screen Shot 2016-07-04 at 9.27.30 AM [click to continue…]

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2017 Super Bowl Odds

With free agency and the NFL Draft behind us, it’s a good time to take stock of the NFL landscape. Over at ESPN, Bill Barnwell is recapping each division, starting today with the AFC East. I thought I’d post the latest Super Bowl odds, courtesy of Bovada, along with the odds from the end of season (February 8th) and after the first rush of free agency (March 14th).

All odds have a vig associated with them; for example, the Patriots, at 7/1, would have a 12.5% chance (1 divided by 7 + 1) to win the Super Bowl if there was no vig; but if you take the odds of all 32 teams, they sum to 124.8%, not 100%. As a result, every team’s implied odds are divided by 1.248 to get their vig-adjusted Super Bowl odds, shown in the last column. [click to continue…]

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In 2003, Larry Fitzgerald caught 16 touchdowns in Pittsburgh’s first 8 games, making him one of only three players to reach those marks since 2000. The second was Texas Tech’s Michael Crabtree, who had 17 as a freshman in ’07 through eight games. That was eclipsed — by three whole touchdowns — last year, when Baylor’s Corey Coleman caught 20 touchdowns through 8 games. At the time, Coleman had 58 receptions for 1,178 yards and 20 touchdowns. Unfortunately, his numbers tanked after that, thanks (i) to injuries to first starting quarterback Seth Russell and then backup Jarrett Stidham and (ii) the schedule getting significantly harder.

As good as Coleman’s numbers were, though, he didn’t even lead the country in receiving yards at that time. TCU’s Josh Doctson had 71 receptions for 1,250 yards and 14 touchdowns through eight games. In game 9, Doctson had six catches for 64 yards against Oklahoma State before suffering a wrist injury in the second quarter that effectively ended his season.

Now, neither player is being projected to go in the top half of the first round. That maybe isn’t too weird, given the inflated offensive numbers for Big 12 offenses. In a mock draft on November 2nd (which is right before the seasons went downhill for Coleman and Doctson), Matt Miller had Doctson going to Dallas at 12 while Coleman wasn’t even in Miller’s mock (I don’t know if it was because Coleman was a junior or if Miller had him going in another round). A November 16th mock by Dane Brugler had Coleman getting drafted at 29, with Doctson not being selected in the first round. A November 19th draft at the San Diego Union Tribune had the duo going in the back third (23/31) of the first round, although the same author had them going 15th and 23rd a week earlier. [click to continue…]

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The 2016 NFL Schedule

The color-coded schedule is back!

Download the Excel file here

That Excel file contains full page and wallet-sized copies of the schedule, in both color and black and white. On the wallet-sized copies, the line between weeks 8 and 9 has been enlarged — that is where you want to fold the paper in half to put in your wallet.

iPhone 6s page: http://www.footballperspective.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/nfl-2016-iphone-6s.png

Go to that page on your phone, then hit your power and home button at the same time to take a photo (or hit the button on the middle of the Safari browser and click ‘save image.’) The schedule has been formatted to fit an iPhone 6s screen, so you can always carry the schedule with you.

Go to that page on your phone, then hit your power and home button at the same time to take a photo (or hit the button on the middle of the Safari browser and click ‘save image.’) The schedule has been formatted to fit an iPhone screen, so you can always carry the schedule with you.

2016 nfl schedule_final

Commentary to follow, but for now, enjoy! And, of course, please report any bugs you see.

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Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan was hired a year ago and given the enviable position of a lot of cap space. He used that to sign Darrelle Revis to a blockbuster deal, but he also made a couple of smart trades, adding Brandon Marshall and Ryan Fitzpatrick for a 2015 5th and 2016 6th round pick, respectively (while also getting back a 7th round pick later traded for Zac Stacy). There were six veterans who switched teams between 2014 and 2015 that wound up producing double digit points of AV last year; half of those were acquired by the Jets.

The table below shows the 44 veterans who changed teams in 2015 and produced at least 7 points of AV: And, courtesy of Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap, the table has been revised to include each player’s 2015 cap hit and $/AV: [click to continue…]

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Yesterday, the NFL approved a one-year rule to kickoffs to change the spot of the snap after a touchback to the 25-yard line. Last year, 56% of all kickoffs were not returned, and the average starting field position following kickoffs was heavily impacted by the 2011 rule change that moved kickoffs from the 30 to the 35 yard line:

kickoff fp

This change goes in the other direction, albeit with competing interests. On one hand, this provides a significant incentive for kickoff returners to take a knee. Many kickoffs are boomed several yards into the end zone; at this point, the odds are pretty low that an average return five yards deep will make it out ahead of the 25-yard line. [click to continue…]

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The Jets Sign Matt Forte

The Jets lost Chris Ivory to Jacksonville, but may have improved the offense by going in the other direction and adding Matt Forte. Ivory is one of the most one-dimensional running backs in recent memory: he has the 4th most rushing yards of any runner since 1990 who has 10x as many rushing yards as receiving yards. Forte, meanwhile, is one of just 12 players in history in the 4,000/8,000 club, and there’s a good chance he joins Tiki Barber, Marshall Faulk, and Marcus Allen as the only members of the 10,000/5,000 club before he retires.

The move makes a lot of sense for a Jets team that had the most two-dimensional passing attack in the NFL last year. Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker were outstanding and historically great at scoring touchdowns, but they combined for 61% of all Jets receiving yards last year. That was the most in the NFL in 2015, and the 8th highest rate since 2002 among teams with at least 4,000 receiving yards. [click to continue…]

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This week at the Washington Post, an ironclad, inarguable ranking all 106 players on the Broncos and Panthers. The list is a combination of best players, most valuable players, and also most important ones. For example, two players who maybe aren’t quite as good as these rankings imply have a pretty critical role on Sunday:

11. Michael Oher, T, CAR
Oher, who started for the Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII, joins Harry Swayne (San Diego, Denver, Baltimore), Jon Runyan (Tennessee, Philadelphia), and Fred Miller (St. Louis, Chicago) as the only offensive tackles to start in Super Bowls for different teams.

12. Mike Remmers, T, CAR
Given the Broncos’ league-best pass rush, the pressure will be on Oher and Remmers to contain Denver’s terrifying edge-rushers. Remmers, an undrafted free agent in 2012 who has been with six franchises in four seasons, could be the key to the game — for both teams.

You can read the full article here.

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Courtesy of Bryan Frye, let’s look at some graphs of the four quarterbacks in the conference championship games. The stat we will be using today is Total Adjusted Yards per Play, which is like ANY/A on steroids.

First, let’s start with Cam Newton. His Total Adjusted Yards per Play is in blue; the average TAY/P allowed by his opponent each week is in black. As you can see, in 6 of 17 games, he was below-expectation, but he’s been above-expectation in five of his last six games. (Note that for each quarterback, the bye week is included, and the division round matchup is plotted below as Week 18.) [click to continue…]

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The Rams Return to Los Angeles: How Will They Do?

It’s now official: the Rams are heading back to Los Angeles, home of the team from 1946 to 1994. The Rams played in Cleveland during the team’s first decade of existence before heading the league’s westward expansion after World Warr II. The Rams played in Memorial Coliseum from ’46 to ’79, before moving to Anaheim Stadium from 1980 to 1994. It is still unclear where the team will play in the short term, although a return to the Coliseum seems likely. But beginning in 2019, the team will play in Inglewood, California.

A three-year period at an interim stadium is an interesting phenomenom to analyze, and will probably be worthwhile to examine in say, three years. In general, teams have only a minimal home field advantage during year one in a new home, so a three-year window at the Coliseum could hurt the Rams on-field product a little bit (and the same goes for the 2019 season at the new stadium). But for now, let’s look at the bigger move across the country. [click to continue…]

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Pre-Week 17 WP: Awards Banquet

This week at the Washington Post, I hand out my 2015 awards, including my thoughts on the Carson Palmer/Cam Newton debate.

Most Valuable Player: Tie (Cam NewtonCarson Palmer)

Choosing between Newton and Palmer is an exercise in pickin’ nits. The two have drastically different styles and playing in very different offenses, making it difficult to compare the two players. Arizona would be worse with Cam Newton, and Carolina would be worse with Carson Palmer, so both teams should be happy that they have the co-most valuable players of the 2015 season.

You can read the full article here.

As always, please leave your thoughts in the comments. One point to open up the discussion. Is declaring the MVP vote a tie akin to fence-sitting and worthy of criticism? Or does it make sense to acknowledge that football is a far too complicated game to try to derive meaningful bits of information out of minute differences?

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As I wrote on Sunday, the college football playoff looks pretty clear, absent any big upsets on Saturday.

One spot will go to Oklahoma, the 11-1 champions of the Big 12.  The Sooners have been an early favorite of the SRS: OU ranked 2nd in the first edition, produced after five weeks, and regained that #2 spot three weeks later, despite the loss to Texas in the interim.  The Sooners finished the regular season as the #1 team in the SRS.

Alabama, at 11-1, is the 2nd-ranked team in the SRS.  The Crimson Tide represent the establishment in college football, and that title is well-earned.  Alabama is great every year, and this season is no different.   A win against Florida in the SEC Championship Game seems predestined: the SRS makes ‘Bama a 13-point favorite, while the Vegas line is up to 17.5 points (likely because Florida is playing worse now than it was in the beginning of the year, with an eligible Will Grier). [click to continue…]

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This week at the Washington Post, a look at the most indispensable non-quarterbacks in the NFL.

 

Todd Gurley, St. Louis Rams

Since entering the starting lineup in week four, the Rams rookie has averaged 22 carries a game for 131 yards, producing an exceptional 5.85 yards per carry average. No team has thrown fewer passes in the league this year or gained fewer passing yards than St. Louis. Incredibly, Nick Foles has failed to hit the 200-passing yards mark in any of his last seven games, despite throwing at least 20 passes in each contest; that makes him the first quarterback to meet those marks since Matt Hasselbeck in 2008. Gurley is the Rams offense, making him the most indispensable running back in football.

 

You can read the full article here.

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WP: Pre-Week 9 – Midseason Awards

This week at the Washington Post, a look at some unusual midseason awards.

Unsung Rookie of the Year: Offense – Stefon Diggs, Minnesota Vikings

With the types of seasons being had by a pair of SEC stars in Georgia’s Todd Gurley and Alabama’s Amari Cooper, there is little hope for Diggs — a fifth round pick out of Maryland — to bring home any hardware at the end of the season. But after being inactive during the first three games of the season, the Vikings wide receiver has been the model of consistency since then, catching six or seven passes each week for at least 87 yards. Over the last five weeks, Diggs ranks fifth among all players in receiving yards despite the Vikings bye week taking place during that stretch.

You can read the full article here.

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Here are the SRS ratings as of this morning — that is, through seven weeks and the Patriots/Dolphins game last night. The formula here was pretty simple: I took the difference between each team’s points scored and points allowed in each game, and added 3 points for home field, and that was it. The Patriots have a HFA-adjusted average margin of victory this season of 16.1, against a schedule that (after iterating) has been 0.5 points below average. That gives New England an SRS of 15.7.

RkTmGMOVSOSSRS
1NWE716.1-0.515.7
2ARI713.3-2.410.9
3CIN610.0-0.59.5
4NYJ67.31.38.6
5GNB69.5-2.47.1
6PIT74.32.36.6
7PHI73.71.85.5
8CAR68.7-3.45.3
9DEN67.2-2.64.5
10ATL76.6-2.34.3
11SEA74.10.14.2
12STL6-1.83.71.9
13NYG71.0-0.50.5
14BAL7-2.62.60.0
15BUF7-0.40.3-0.1
16MIN63.7-4.0-0.3
17KAN7-2.71.5-1.2
18NOR7-3.01.3-1.7
19OAK6-1.5-0.3-1.8
20DAL6-6.24.1-2.1
21WAS7-3.31.2-2.1
22MIA7-1.9-0.5-2.3
23SDG7-5.11.2-3.9
24CLE7-4.60.3-4.3
25IND7-4.3-0.4-4.7
26TEN6-4.3-2.9-7.3
27SFO7-11.44.1-7.3
28CHI6-9.81.8-8.0
29DET7-9.11.0-8.1
30HOU7-6.0-2.6-8.6
31JAX7-8.6-0.8-9.3
32TAM6-6.5-4.0-10.5

[click to continue…]

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The Patriots are 6-0, while all other AFC East team has at least two losses. Given that New England is the best team in the division and already has a large lead, the odds of the Jets, Bills, or Dolphins winning the division are really, really low. But considering the rest of the AFC — the South has zero good teams, the West has one, and the North has two if Roethlisberger is healthy — it’s pretty likely that the AFC East will send a second team to the playoffs. Right now, 538 has the Jets playoff probability at 59%, Buffalo at 16%, and Miami at 15%. [click to continue…]

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This week at the Washington Post, a look at how the Jets built an offense the “wrong” way.

Fitzpatrick is the team’s leading passer, Ivory the leading rusher, and Decker and Marshall the two leading receivers.

It’s very rare for a team’s top passer, top running back, and top two weapons in the passing game to all come from other teams. In fact, the 2015 Jets will become just the second team in the last 10 years to meet those criteria, and just the 12th since 1970. The question now is how well this core can sustain this high level of play. As you can see from the table below, which illustrates the first 11 teams that featured out-of-house core fours, success isn’t that common for teams of this type.

You can read the full article here.

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Punting, Kicking Games Power Luck-less Colts

The Indianapolis Colts won a game without Andrew Luck in week four, but that doesn’t mean the defense is any good or that the offense can survive without Luck.  In fact, this was the rare game where the Colts got outplayed on both sides of the ball and still win.  It sure helps to have two All-Pro specialists on the team.

Take a look at the boxscore from the game.  The Colts won by 3 points, and PFR provides an expected points summary of many aspects of the game play.  By definition, the sum of those values have to equal +3 for the Colts, and -3 for the Jaguars.  On offense, the Colts were 3.57 points below average, and therefore, the Jaguars were 3.57 points above average on defense.  Indianapolis had a similar performance on defense, where it was 3.23 points below average, and Jacksonville was 3.23 points above average. [click to continue…]

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Last year, Atlanta won its fourth game of the year in week eleven.

Last year, Carolina won its fourth game of the year in week fourteen.

This year, both the Falcons and Panthers have started the season 4-0. But both teams have feasted on some pretty easy schedules. Which gets us to the real question: how good are these teams, really?

For Carolina, it’s easy to buy into the idea that this 4-0 streak is mostly a mirage. The Panthers have beaten Jacksonville, Houston, New Orleans, and Tampa Bay. Those four teams are 4-12 this year, after the Saints defeated the Cowboys in overtime on Sunday Night Football. And two of those wins came against each other! Carolina may very well have gone 4-0 against four teams that won’t win 20 games combined this year. [click to continue…]

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For most NFL fans, the book on Andy Dalton has been written in permanent ink.  But this week at the Washington Post, I write why 2015 may in fact be his breakout season.

So, through three weeks, it’s easy to dismiss the great numbers that Dalton has produced as the product of a small sample size. On 94 passing drop backs, he’s thrown for 866 yards and 8 touchdowns with just two sacks and one interception. That translates to a 10.32 Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt average, the best in football through three weeks. But is there any reason that Dalton, who has had hot streaks before, can maintain this level of play?

You can read the full article here.

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What am I looking to watch today? Some quick thoughts on each game.

New Orleans Saints @ Carolina Panthers

Luke McCown last threw a touchdown pass on December 30, 2007.  Cam Newton was a freshman at Florida, and this was three weeks after Tim Tebow just won the Heisman Trophy.  It was a long time ago, although we will stretch back a few weeks earlier later in this preview.

The Panthers are on track to become one of the worst 3-0 teams in a long time. A win over Jacksonville is the best trophy on the wall, matched up against wins vs. a Ryan Mallet-led Texans team and whatever you want to call this version of the Saints. The Panthers are banking wins, though, and could get to 4-0 next week courtesy of a visit to Tampa Bay.

Carolina 20, New Orleans 6

Oakland Raiders @ Cleveland Browns

The last time the McCown brothers both started on the same day? December 9, 2007. But let’s not focus on Josh McCown or even Johnny Manziel: Derek Carr appeared to have his breakout game last week. Can he keep that up against a Cleveland defense that was very strong against the pass in 2014, but has been inconsistent so far this year? [click to continue…]

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Instant Analysis: Jets Top Browns In Week 1

fitzmagicFor the fourth straight year, the Jets have opened at home. Each time, the Jets have been blessed with the good fortune of getting to face one of the weaker teams in the league. And each time, the Jets have emerged victorious. Given that I spent half of my Sunday at the game, my week 1 analysis is going to be limited to the wonder that was Jets/Browns.

The optimistic view is that over 60 minutes, the Jets were pretty clearly the better team. New York averaged 4.3 rushing yards per play with 9 first downs, while holding the Browns to 3.7 rushing yards and just 5 rushing first downs. And, frankly, that’s pretty misleading, because Cleveland’s top two rushers were the team’s quarterbacks, who gained 58 yards on 8 carries, carries which came with a large cost: three fumbles. Cleveland running backs had 20 carries for just 46 yards. [click to continue…]

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TTaylorTyrod Taylor was a sixth round pick of the Baltimore Ravens in 2011. Since then, he’s thrown just 35 passes over four years, before signing with the Bills as a free agent in the 2015 offseason. Now, after beating out Matt Cassel and EJ Manuel in training camp, Taylor will be the Buffalo Bills opening day starter in 2015.

How rare is this? Taylor was in the NFL for at least four seasons and never started a game in his NFL career; now he’s his team’s opening day starter. Since 1970, there are just four other quarterbacks who meet that profile. In reverse order… [click to continue…]

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