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Non-Offensive Touchdowns

This year, the Chiefs have returned four interceptions for touchdowns, and also scored via a fumble return, kickoff return, and punt return. That’s seven non-offensive touchdowns for Kansas City, the most in the league. In addition, Kansas City hasn’t allowed a single non-offensive touchdown, so the Chiefs obviously lead the league in net non-offensive touchdowns: [click to continue…]

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Guest Post: Wide Receivers and the Hall of Fame

Today’s guest post comes from one of the longest followers of this blog (and its predecessor), Richie Wohlers. Richie is 44-year-old accountant from Southern California who is a Dolphins fan despite never being to Florida. As always, we thank our guest posters for contributing.


Previously, I looked at linebackers and centers in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. With Andre Johnson’s recent retirement announcement, I thought it would be a good idea to take a look at wide receivers next. As before, I am just taking a look at post-merger players by using some objective factors to try to get a picture of what a typical HOFer looks like. Those factors are All-Pros, Pro Bowls, Weighted AV, Total AV, Super Bowl Appearances and Super Bowl wins). I am going to classify all players into a single position for simplicity. If you are interested in knowing the details of my calculation, see footnote.1

I explored the relationship between statistics (receptions, yards, touchdowns) and HOF induction for WRs, and it doesn’t improve the correlation. My “Career Score” is more aligned with HOF inductions than any single receiving statistic. The correlations are hurt by weak stats from HOFers like Swann and Hayes. And they are also hurt by big numbers from non-HOFers like Henry Ellard, Harold Jackson and Football Perspective hero Jimmy Smith. [click to continue…]

  1. Methodology: For All-Pros, Pro Bowls, Career AV and Total AV, I am looking at the average numbers for each player at his position. In an attempt to make the average HOFer at a position worth 100 points, I am assigning a weight of 16.6 for each category (16.6 times 6 categories equals 99.6 points). If an average player had 5.7 All Pros I divided 16.6 to get 2.9. So each All Pro is worth 2.9 points at that position. Super Bowls are the exception. I’m just going with a straight points system. One appearance is 8 points, 2 appearances is 14 points, 3 appearances is 18 points, and then 2 more points for each additional appearance. Super Bowl wins are worth 12, 20, 26, 30 and then 2 more per additional win. I add them up for a “Career Score”. []
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Yes.

Take a look at the Broncos pass defense this year, compared to the Broncos pass defense last year:

Year Tm G Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD TD% Int Int% Y/A AY/A Y/C Y/G Rate Sk Yds NY/A ANY/A
Sk% EXP
2016 DEN 14 260 483 53.8 2562 10 2.1 12 2.5 5.8 5.1 10.7 183.0 67.5 40 221 4.9 4.2 7.6 72.16
Year Tm G Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD TD% Int Int% Y/A AY/A Y/C Y/G Rate Sk Yds NY/A ANY/A
Sk% EXP
2015 DEN 16 344 573 60.0 3193 19 3.3 14 2.4 6.2 5.7 10.3 199.6 78.8 52 351 5.1 4.7 8.3 59.89

Three years ago, I looked at the Seattle pass defense and calculate how many standard deviations above average the Seahawks were. At the time, I compared them to an average of the other 31 defenses rather than an average of all 32 defenses, including themselves. I don’t know if there’s a right or wrong answer there, but I’m going to use the latter methodology today, which will explain why the numbers are slightly different.

Anyway, Seattle was 2.80 standard deviations above average in ANY/A allowed in 2013. That’s because Seattle’s pass defense allowed 3.19 ANY/A, while the league average was 5.89 ANY/A. That’s a difference of 2.70 ANY/A, and the standard deviation among the 32 pass defenses that year was 0.97. Divide 2.70 by 0.97, and you see that Seattle was 2.80 standard deviations above average.

The 2016 Broncos? They are allowing just 4.25 ANY/A. That is over a full yard “worse” than Seattle, but worse needs to be put in quotes. For starters, the league average is 6.25 ANY/A this year; in addition, the rest of the league is bunched together. The standard deviation for the 32 pass defenses is 0.74 ANY/A. That means the Broncos have a Z-Score of 2.69 standard deviations better than average (here, negative is better).

That puts Denver as the 5th best pass defense, by this metric, since 1970: [click to continue…]

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Which Teams Are Trending Up Or Down?

The Eagles have outscored their opponents by 17 points this year, but Philadelphia is obviously trending in the wrong direction. The Eagles began 3-0 with wins of 19, 15, and 31 points, but have now lost five games in a row.

So what if instead of using traditional points differential, what if we used a weighted version based on when the game occurred? To do this, we multiply the Eagles points differential in each game this season by the game number; that means the team’s third game counts for three times as much as the first game, and the ninth game counts for three times as much as the third game. With 14 games so far this year, to determine the team’s weighted points differential, we sum the weighted results and divide by 105 (14+13+12+11…+1).

By doing this, Philadelphia’s points differential moves from +1.21 to -3.72. Here’s how: [click to continue…]

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Browns Continue To Lose … Against the Spread, Too

Cleveland is 0-14 this year, but that’s maybe not the saddest stat of the Browns season. Everyone expected Cleveland to be bad, but Cleveland has also been really bad relative to expectations. After losing against on Sunday to the Bills, and again failing to cover against the spread, the Browns are now just 2-12 against the spread this season.

Cleveland covered in games against the Dolphins and Titans early in the year, but the Browns have now failed to cover the spread in eight straight games. The graph below shows the number of points Cleveland was expected to lose by in black, and the actual points differential in orange. Since the Browns have been underdogs and lost every game, the range goes from 0 to -30: [click to continue…]

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Are The Dolphins the New Texans?

Fresh off of Miami’s largest win of the season — and only the team’s second win by more than 7 points — it might seem like an odd time to question the Dolphins. But Miami is now 9-5 and has now only outscored opponents by 1 point. That’s right: it took a 21-point win over the Jets to finally put Miami’s points differential in the black. Miami lost by 32 to Baltimore, which obviously stands out as a big outlier, but the team also lost by 15 to Cincinnati and 13 to Tennessee. And while it doesn’t impact the team’s points differential by much, another loss came by 7 to New England despite a Game Script of -15.6.

A few weeks ago, I asked if the Texans were the worst 6-3 team ever. We may be getting to that point now regarding the 9-5 Dolphins. According to Pro-Football-Reference.com, Miami has also faced the second easiest schedule in the league this year, behind only the Patriots. Miami gets to face the bad NFC West, the mediocre NFC North, and has had two games against the Jets already. Five of Miami’s nine wins came against the Jets, Browns, 49ers, and Rams, and three more came against below .500 teams. As a result, combine a weak SOS and an average MOV, and the Dolphins have a negative Simple Rating System grade.

The graph below shows each team’s winning percentage on the X-Axis, and SRS on the Y-Axis.  The farther south of the trend line, the more a team is “overachieving” in record relative to SRS (think Miami, Detroit, and the Giants), and the farther north of the trend line, the more a team is “underachieving” in record relative to SRS (think Philadelphia, San Diego, Atlanta). [click to continue…]

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What Can We Expect from Bryce Petty?

Tonight’s game between the Jets and Dolphins certainly falls short of any threshold necessary for primetime television.  That said, for Jets fans, is there anything to get excited about with Bryce Petty?  What does he need to show over the final three games to enter 2017 as part of the conversation for quarterback of the future?

Petty was a 4th round pick who didn’t play last season; his first start came in New York’s 10th game this season, and he will likely that he’ll finish the year with five starts.

Since 1990, here are the quarterbacks who were drafted in the 3rd round or later, didn’t start in the first half of their rookie season, but started at least 3 games in the second half of that season.  Petty wouldn’t meet this definition, but I wanted to run the numbers for context:

Nick Foles
Ryan Lindley
T.J. Yates
John Skelton
Keith Null
Charlie Frye
Ryan Fitzpatrick
Luke McCown
Mike McMahon
Kent Graham
Tom Hodson

Okay, not exactly a promising group there.  What about players more like Petty — 3rd round or later, didn’t start a game in their rookie year, then didn’t start again until the second half of the season of their second season, and started at least 3 games?

Brodie Croyle
Scott Zolak
Bobby Hoying
Aaron Brooks
Koy Detmer
A.J. Feeley
Derek Anderson
A.J. McCarron
Josh McCown

A couple of promising names there, perhaps, with Brooks (at least to me) sticking out as the most promising case. Over the second half of the ’00 season, Brooks ranked 8th in AY/A.  As for Petty? He hardly has shown much yet: he currently ranks last in Adjusted Yards per Attempt over the second half of the year.  But if he has any chance of throwing his hat into the 2017 ring, it starts tonight.

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There were 15 quarterbacks selected in the 2016 NFL Draft. Two notable ones were Big 10 stars Christian Hackenberg and Connor Cook.

Hackenberg had an impressive freshman year at PSU, then regressed significantly. He had the tools but not the resume, making him one of the more polarizing prospects out there. The Jets drafted him 51st overall. Last year, Penn State went 7-6; this year, without Hackenberg, the team went 11-2. That represents an increase in winning percentage of 0.308.

Meanwhile, Cook led the Spartans to a 12-2 record last year. This year, without Cook and a number of other veterans, Michigan State collapsed, going 3-9. That’s a decline in winning percentage of 0.607. That’s the second largest decline, behind Mississippi State post-Dak Prescott.

Here were the 15 quarterbacks drafted:

And here is the record of their college teams last year and this year, through Dec. 15:

RdPkTeamQuarterbackSchool2015 Win%2015 Rec2016 Win%2016 RecDiff
251NYJChristian HackenbergPenn State0.5387-60.84611-20.308
393CLECody KesslerSouthern California0.5718-60.759-30.179
6191DETJake RudockMichigan0.76910-30.83310-20.064
6187WASNate SudfeldIndiana0.4626-70.56-60.038
4139BUFCardale JonesOhio State0.92312-10.91711-1-0.006
126DENPaxton LynchMemphis0.6929-40.6678-4-0.025
6201JAXBrandon AllenArkansas0.6158-50.5837-5-0.032
391NWEJacoby BrissettNorth Carolina State0.5387-60.56-6-0.038
12PHICarson WentzNorth Dakota St.0.92912-10.86713-2-0.062
6207SFOJeff DriskelLouisiana Tech0.6929-40.6158-5-0.077
7223MIABrandon DoughtyWestern Kentucky0.85712-20.76910-3-0.088
5162KANKevin HoganStanford0.85712-20.759-3-0.107
11LARJared GoffCalifornia0.6158-50.4175-7-0.198
4135DALDak PrescottMississippi State0.6929-40.4175-7-0.275
4100OAKConnor CookMichigan State0.85712-20.253-9-0.607

Let’s be clear: wins and losses aren’t a great way to measure a quarterback, and there’s a ton of noise in the data before you start comparing teams across seasons. Connor Cook on the 2016 Spartans wouldn’t have made Michigan State 12-2. That said, I find this stuff interesting in at least a trivia perspective. But maybe there’s a bit more to it, too. What do you think?

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Here are the top 6 teams in Net Yards per Pass allowed: Denver, Minnesota, Arizona, Jacksonville, the Giants, and the Rams. Those teams rank 21st, 22nd, 25th, 28th, 18th, and 29th, respectively. The Patriots (3rd in NY/A, 10th in NY/A allowed) are the only team to rank in the top ten in both categories, and Cincinnati of all teams (12th, 12th) is the only other team to rank in the top 12 in both categories.

The graph below shows each team’s rank in the simplest of categories: net yards per attempt on offense is on the X-Axis, and net yards per attempt allowed is on the Y-Axis.

Because the best teams have high NY/A averages and low NY/A allowed averages, the correlation coefficient between NY/A and NY/A allowed would be negative if the league was very top-heavy: that is, if the best teams were great at both metrics, and the worst teams were bad at both metrics, the correlation coefficient among all teams in these categories would be closer to -1.0. Instead, the correlation coefficient this year among teams is 0.10, indicating a weak but positive relationship.

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The Falcons blew out the Rams in week 14 in one of the most embarrassing games of the season. Atlanta was up 21-0 at halftime, 28-0 early in the third quarter, and then 42-0 entering the fourth quarter. Two late Los Angeles touchdowns muted the final score, but the 22.0 Game Script tells all.

That was the second biggest Game Script of the season, but it was also only the second most notable Game Script of the week. That’s because of the crazy Jets/49ers game. San Francisco scored two early touchdowns, taking a 14-0 lead in the first four minutes of the game! The 49ers led by 11 or 14 points for the next 50 minutes of game action, too. But New York scored a touchdown, a two point conversion, and a field goal in the second half of the fourth quarter, and ultimately won in overtime, 23-17. Even considering the six plus minutes of overtime, the 49ers finished with a Game Script of +11.5. That’s the largest Game Script of any team that lost since at least 2012, and maybe longer.

Below are the full Game Script results from week 14:

TeamH/ROppBoxscorePFPAMarginGame ScriptPassRunP/R RatioOp_POp_ROpp_P/R Ratio
ATL@RAMBoxscore42142822322556.1%442365.7%
GNBSEABoxscore38102815.2263046.4%422661.8%
CIN@CLEBoxscore23101312.9323845.7%312258.5%
CARSDGBoxscore28161211.8293843.3%442068.8%
TENDENBoxscore131038.9234235.4%54985.7%
PIT@BUFBoxscore272078.8314242.5%301862.5%
MIAARIBoxscore262336.7263145.6%362757.1%
NWEBALBoxscore302376.5392660%541479.4%
KANOAKBoxscore211386.3262749.1%423058.3%
TAMNORBoxscore161156.2283544.4%421672.4%
HOU@INDBoxscore221753.3264138.8%461575.4%
MIN@JAXBoxscore251693342954%412463.1%
DETCHIBoxscore201731.5382857.6%331766%
WAS@PHIBoxscore27225-1.2232350%502566.7%
NYGDALBoxscore1073-2.9313348.4%402561.5%
NYJ@SFOBoxscore23176-11.5414050.6%282750.9%

There have been some games that followed a similar pattern to 49ers/Jets, but what makes that game stand out is how San Francisco was up 14-0 with 11 minutes left in the first quarter. In fact, I only see 25 games since 1998 where a team ran an offensive snap down 14 with over 55 minutes left in the game; the Jets were the fifth to win such a game, with the Giants the previous last such team to do so.

As always, please leave your thoughts in the comments. And the 2016 Game Scripts page is now updated.

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Carson Palmer’s Decline Has Been Severe

In 2015, Carson Palmer finished first in ANY/A, as did his Arizona Cardinals. It was a magnificent passing season for Palmer, who was 36 years old last season. In the offseason, I noted that it was a big outlier, but there were a couple of ways you could interpret the data:

If you’re a Palmer fan, the results here can both show how much of an outlier Palmer is, but also might be considered inspiring. Peyton Manning was really good at age 36 and then historic at age 37; Gannon and Steve Young had great years at 36, and then were even better at age 37. The same goes (with a slightly lower baseline) for John Elway, Kurt Warner, and Tom Brady. Supporting cast is undoubtedly a big part of this, and Palmer seems to be playing with one of the best ones. The wildcard in the room is how much his meltdown in the NFC Championship Game impacts him mentally.

The general rule of thumb, I think, for an older quarterback is to project them to be OK until they aren’t. What does that mean? Well, I think of Adam Harstad’s mortality tables. Just because a quarterback is old doesn’t mean he’s going to have a 5 or 10% decline: guys like Manning, Gannon, Young, Elway, Warner, Brady, and Brees are examples of that. But once that decline hits, it’s often severe and permanent. For now, though, Palmer is still one of the rare quarterbacks who had his best season at age 36.

Well, we have our answer. While teams like the Texans, Panters, and Jets have suffered notable declines in the passing game, all three teams are dwarfed by the decline in pass efficiency endured by the Cardinals this season: [click to continue…]

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538: Le’Veon Bell’s Historic Performance

Breaking news: Le’Veon Bell is really, really good.  In terms of yards from scrimmage, he had a top-10 performance on Sunday, which has catapulted him to a top-2 season, and into a top-1 career. Today at 538:

Bell’s average of 161.6 yards from scrimmage isn’t remarkable for 2016 alone. If it were to stand through the end of the regular season, Bell’s 2016 performance would rank as the second-highest single-season average since 1932.

This may be Bell’s best season, but he has been a yards from scrimmage monster for much of his career. In 45 career games, Bell has 3,830 rushing yards (85.1 per game) and 1,952 receiving yards (43.4 per game). That translates to 128.5 yards from scrimmage per game for his career, which would be the highest career average since 1932.

You can read the full article here.

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Week 14, 2016: Gameday Thread

What’s on your mind today? What do you see happening in today’s games? Post your comments below.

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A number of teams produced blowout wins in week 13, with two of those games coming on national television.  The Colts destroyed the Jets on Monday Night Football, 41-10, with a Game Script of +19.9 in a game that was never close. The Ravens murdered the Dolphins, 38-6, producing a Game Script of +18.1. And the Seahawks had a Game Script of +16.8 in a Sunday Night massacre against Carolina.

Only two teams won with negative Game Scripts: Oakland trailed Buffalo for much of the game, and was down 24-9 halfway through the third quarter. The Raiders ultimately won by two touchdowns, despite a Game Script of -1.1. The biggest comeback belonged to Tampa Bay, who won with a -2.2 Game Script in San Diego. The Chargers led for most of the game, including with a 21-17 lead entering the fourth quarter. The Bucs scored 11 points in the final frame to pull out the victory.

Below are the week 13 game scripts: [click to continue…]

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538: Is the AFC South Not As Terrible As We Think?

Today at 538: Is the AFC South suddenly not as terrible as we all think? Did you know: the AFC South had a better record this year than the NFC West?

Titans offense

Tennessee has turned into one of the most fun teams in football. After an uneven first month, second-year quarterback Marcus Mariota has been incredible. I looked at stats for each quarterback starting with his team’s fifth game and ending with the 12th. Over that span, Mariota led the NFL in both passer rating (117.7)5 and touchdown passes (21), while throwing just three interceptions. The Titans led the NFL in scoring in that same period, finishing with 8 more points than the New England Patriots have scored since Tom Brady’s return. For the season so far, DeMarco Murray is secondin the NFL in rushing, and the Titans rank third in both rushing yards and yards per carry. Tennessee’s offense will be tested in their next two games, against the Denver Broncos and Chiefs: If the Titans win, the AFC South may be sending the hottest offense in the league to the playoffs.

You can read the full article here.

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In 2012, the Atlanta Falcons were 11-1 through 13 weeks, just like the Cowboys are this season. And just like this year, the NFC, no other team had more than 8 wins at that point, with an NFC West squad — then, the 49ers, this season, the Seahawks — holding the second best record at 8-3-1.

Through 13 weeks, how often does a team lead its conference by at least 2.5 games?  I am defining through 13 weeks to mean:

  • In 1993, to mean through 14 weeks, since there were two weeks of byes that year.
  • From 1970 to 1989, to mean through 12 weeks, since there were zero bye weeks before 1990.
  • From 1990 to 2016 (1993, excepted), to mean through 13 weeks! That’s simple, isn’t it?

That gives us 94 seasons to analyze conference data in the post-merger era. This year, the Cowboys are at +2.5, while the Raiders and Patriots are tied at 10-2 in the AFC; that means the AFC leader is at +0. On average, the #2 team in a conference has been 1.1 games behind the #1 team in the conference through 13 weeks. Here is the breakdown: [click to continue…]

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Jeff Fisher and the Losingest Coach Kings

Bryan Frye once chronicled the NFL’s passing kings: that is, the career leaders in passing touchdowns throughout every year in NFL history. There are ten men who have been the career leader in touchdown passes, but only eight (soon to be nine) men who can say that they, at one point, had the most losses of any head coach in pro football history. Let’s begin in the natural place: the beginning.

Ted Nesser (1920-1921): 14 career losses

Nesser was the head coach of the Columbus Panhandles in the inaugural 1920 season of the APFA, the predecessor to the NFL. The Panhandles lost their first five games, and finished the season with the most losses in the league. The next year, Nesser’s Panhandles again led the league in losses (8), before the team moved on without him for the 1922 season.  Nesser was a great player — he made the PFRA’s Hall of Very Good — but was 37 by the time he came to the Panhandles as player/coach.

Jim Thorpe (1922-1925): 25 career losses

Yes, that Jim Thorpe took over from Nesser as the career leader in losses. Thorpe also coached in 1920, and by the end of the ’22 season, he was at 15 career losses. He held the title of losing coach in pro football history for four more years — even though he was done coaching after ’23 — finishing his career with 25 losses.

Carl Storck (1926-1928): 26 career losses

Probably the last name on the list you won’t recognize, Storck coached the Dayton Triangles from 1922 to 1926.  He had a winning record his first year, but went just 4-23-4 the rest of his career.  In his last game as a head coach, in 1926, he finally passed Thorpe for most career losses. [click to continue…]

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Today at 538: A look at how bad the Rams offense has been under Jeff Fisher.  After a 3-1 start this year, things have quickly gone downhill.

Since then, L.A. has gone 1-7, with the lone victory coming in a 9-6 snoozer against a bad Jets team featuring quarterback Bryce Petty in his first NFL start. And if there’s a theme to the Rams’ unyielding mediocrity under Fisher, it’s a bad offense that seems to get worse the more resources it’s given.

L.A. ranks last in scoring, yards and first downs, and in the case of the latter two categories, for the second year in a row.

You can read the full article here.

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Week Fourteen NCAA SRS Rankings: Alabama Finishes #1

The college regular season is over, other than Army/Navy this weekend. Let’s start with a review of the final week of the season for the B12, and the conference championship games for the rest of major college football.

Washington’s destruction of Colorado lead the way, while yet another Alabama blowout only comes in second due to the weaker opponent (yes, Florida is nearly ten points worse than Colorado; 2016 is weird). Also, Temple with a huge upset win over Navy comes in third. [click to continue…]

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Week 13, 2016: Gameday Thread

Behind Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, and an incredible offensive line, the Dallas Cowboys running game has been really, really good. In week 1, Dallas was outrushed by the Giants in the team’s only loss this year, 113-101. But since then, the Cowboys have outrushed their opponent in every game.

No team has ever outrushed its opponent in all 16 regular season games. And only two teams have outrushed their opponent in 100% of all games, with both instances occurring in 1969. Ironically, one of those teams was the Cowboys, who led the NFL in both rushing yards and rushing yards allowed; on average, Dallas outrushed its opponents that year by 88 yards per game. Calvin Hill and Walt Garrison powered the offense, while Bob Lilly, George Andrie, Lee Roy Jordan, and Chuck Howley were the stars of the front seven.

In the AFL, Kansas City did the same thing in every game that year, including the playoffs. Like Dallas, the Chiefs led their league in both rushing yards and rushing yards allowed; for KC, a three-headed monster of Mike Garrett, Robert Holmes, Warren McVea handled the load on offense, while just about everyone was a star in the KC front seven.  No, really: Curley Culp, Buck Buchanan, Bobby Bell, and Willie Lanier all made the Pro Bowl, and Jerry Mays (Pro Bowler every year from ’64 to ’68) and Jim Lynch (’68) were Pro Bowlers the prior year. [click to continue…]

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The Browns Are 0-12…. In the ANY/A Battle, too

You know the Browns are 0-12, and you know that the Browns are not very good at passing or stopping the pass.  Cleveland is 31st in the league in Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt (ahead of only the Texans), and 31st in the league in Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt allowed (ahead of only the Colts).

But did you know that Cleveland has had the worse ANY/A in every game this season? Take a look at the ANY/A for Cleveland’s offense (in brown) and defense (in orange) from each game this year: [click to continue…]

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Today at 538: The Cowboys started the year 9-1 against the spread; the Browns, meanwhile, can’t seem to beat anyone, even with the help of Las Vegas:

On the other end of the spectrum are the Cleveland Browns, who have the league’s worst record against the spread. Cleveland has been an underdog in all the games it’s played so far this season (12), the only team in the league with that distinction. (On average, the Browns have been underdogs by 7.1 points.) It’s been an ugly season for Cleveland — remarkable not only because the Browns have failed to win a game but also because they are just 2-10 against the spread!

Since 1978, 20 teams (including this year’s Browns) have been underdogs in every game. And the majority of those teams were even larger underdogs, on average, than Cleveland has been. So these were really bad teams. But none was as bad against the spread as Cleveland has been so far this season: Among those 19 other teams, the worst record was a more respectable 5-11, set by another Browns team, the one from 16 years ago:

You can read the full article here.

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Week 12 Game Scripts Data

I’m short on time today, so here are the Game Scripts from week 12. I’ll leave the commentary to you.

TeamH/ROppBoxscorePFPAMarginGame ScriptPassRunP/R RatioOp_POp_ROpp_P/R Ratio
PIT@INDBoxscore2872111.9212942%392362.9%
TAMSEABoxscore14599.7283544.4%392263.9%
NORRAMBoxscore4921289.2393254.9%351767.3%
BALCINBoxscore191458.3382956.7%512071.8%
TEN@CHIBoxscore272168.2232944.2%542271.1%
DALWASBoxscore312657.6253045.5%531973.6%
GNB@PHIBoxscore2713146.2392858.2%401869%
NYG@CLEBoxscore2713145.6282750.9%512170.8%
ATLARIBoxscore3819194.1373055.2%471477%
SDG@HOUBoxscore211383.8311863.3%382758.5%
OAKCARBoxscore353233.8413057.7%312555.4%
MIASFOBoxscore312473.2322655.2%482565.8%
KAN@DENBoxscore302731.3502665.8%393850.6%
DETMINBoxscore161330.9421968.9%371669.8%
BUFJAXBoxscore28217-1232944.2%283743.1%
NWE@NYJBoxscore22175-1.4502269.4%332358.9%

Also, as always, the season page is now updated.

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Today at 538:

First downs per route run

Gaining a first down is one of the most important things a wide receiver can do, and he has a chance at it whenever he runs a route. Yards per route run is the wide receiver version of yards per pass, but by replacing yards with first downs in the numerator, we can focus on a less-popular (but very important) statistic that shows us which guys move the chains.

Evans ranks first in this category: He has picked up a first down on a remarkable 15.3 percent of his routes. One reason for that is that Evans runs deeper routes, and he easily leads the league with 62 first-down receptions (no other player has more than 50).

You can read the full article here.

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Checkdowns: Jason Lisk on Overtime

A good article today from Jason Lisk with his thoughts on the best overtime proposal:

My concept is that the team with the last clear chance to avoid overtime kicks off. Here were the rules I put forth then:

1. Eliminate the coin flip at the start of overtime. The team with the “last clear chance” to avoid overtime must kick off to start the overtime period.

2. If either team has scored in the final five (5) minutes of regulation, and regulation ends in a tie, then the last team to score in regulation was the team with the “last clear chance”, unless that team scored the maximum number of points possible on that possession of 8 points (resulting from a touchdown and 2-point conversion). In the event the last team to score did score 8 points on the final scoring drive, then the other team kicks off to start overtime.

3. If neither team scored in the final five (5) minutes of regulation, and regulation ends in a tie, then the last team to punt the football was the team with the “last clear chance”, and must kick off to start overtime.

Ties are going to become more common under the new overtime structure, where teams can trade field goals and soak up much of the 15 minute period. I don’t know if we are at the point where we need to have another rules change for overtime, but Jason’s is interesting because the main goal is preventing games from ever getting there.

What do you think of the current overtime rules? What would you propose?

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Week Thirteen NCAA SRS Rankings: Where Do We Stand?

The rankings haven’t changed much from last week. Here’s how the top 15 teams in the SRS last week fared in week 13:

  • #1 Alabama handled Auburn in the Iron Bowl, 30-12. The Crimson Tide is a lock for the playoffs, even if they lose in the SECCG (which they’re not going to do).
  • #2 Ohio State beat Michigan in perhaps the game of the college football season, 30-27 in double overtime. Ohio State seems like a lock for the playoffs; the Buckeyes regular season is over, as Penn State won the Big 10 East.
  • #3 Michigan lost to Ohio State. Michigan’s playoff chances appear dead in the water.
  • #4 Washington had the single best game of the week, according to the SRS, beating Washington State in the Apple Cup, 45-17.  It was the 5th best single game score of the year. Washington looks to be in a “win and they’re in” situation, as the Huskies will face Colorado in the P12CG.
  • #5 Clemson blew the doors off of South Carolina, 56-7, to finish the regular season 11-1.  The Tigers are in a “win and they’re in” scenario against Virginia Tech in the ACCCG.
  • #6 Colorado beat Utah, at home, 27-22, to capture the Pac 12 South.  The Buffaloes may well be in a “win and they’re in” situation in the P12CG against Washington.  More on that in a bit.
  • #7 Wisconsin handled Minnesota, 31-17.  Wisconsin won the Big 10 West, and will face Penn State in the B10CG.
  • #8 Southern Cal beat Notre Dame, 45-27, but USC’s season is over now that Colorado has won the South.
  • #9 Louisville shockingly lost to Kentucky, 41-38. Louisville finished the year 9-3, with two straight bad losses.
  • #10 Washington State lost to Washington, ending WAZZOU’s playoff hopes.
  • #11 Oklahoma was off.  The Sooners can still win the conference at 10-2 with a win in the de facto B12CG this weekend against Oklahoma State.
  • #12 Penn State beat Michigan State, 45-12.  The Nittany Lions will face Wisconsin in the B10CG.

Below are the week 13 SRS results: [click to continue…]

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Week 12, 2016: Gameday Thread

Let’s fire up the weekly game thread. As always, post whatever you find interesting or noteworthy during today’s games.

I’ll start with a surprising Jets anecdote.  New York’s pass defense was disastrous the first five weeks of the season: opponents averaged 9.24 yards per attempt (excluding sacks), easily the worst in the league.  In fact, only Oakland (8.48) was within a half-yard of the Jets futility.

But since then? The Jets pass defense ranks first in yards per attempt, at 5.99 (the Broncos are second at 6.01), over six weeks and five games. Here’s the game-by-game look:

jets-pass-d

I used Y/A because of the crazy split, going from last over the first 5-game sample to first over the last 5-game sample. But the trend holds if we use ANY/A, too. Here is the same graph, but with ANY/A plotted in orange, along with an orange best-fit trend line:

jets-pass-d-2

Of course, the Jets pass defense faces a very tough today, as the Patriots are coming to town.

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The 2016 Bills Are The 1973 Bills, Reincarnate

In 1988, the Dolphins went 6-10. That was the only sub-.500 season the Don Shula/Dan Marino Dolphins ever had.

You probably won’t be shocked to learn that those Dolphins finished dead last in rushing yards and first in passing yards. After all, Miami finished first in pass attempts, and the team ranked 2nd in NY/A; meanwhile, the Dolphins ranked last in rushing attempts, and 23rd in yards per carry. The presence of Marino, a bad running game centered around Lorenzo Hampton and Troy Stradford, and a 6-10 record all paved the way for the 1st/last split.

In 2005, the Cardinals went 5-11, and also ranked 1st in passing yards and last in rushing yards. That team’s running game was terrible: Marcel Shipp and J.J. Arrington were the backs, and the team ranked last in yards per carry *and* rushing attempts (and rushing TDs), as Arizona finished 190 rushing yards behind every other team. But with Kurt Warner at the helm, a bad record, and that running game, Arizona finished 50 passes (including sacks) more than than any other team, and 327 more yards.

That doesn’t sound so weird, does it? But since 1970, those are the only teams to rank 1st in passing yards and last in rushing yards (seven others raked 1st/2nd and last/2nd to last). And only three teams have done the reverse, finishing first in rushing yards and last in passing yards.

The first, unsurprisingly, was the O.J. Simpson-led Buffalo Bills in 1973 during his historic campaign. Buffalo went 9-5 and finished first in YPC and 2nd in attempts, as Simpson had a 332/2003/6.0 stat line, while Jim Braxton (108/494/4.6) and Larry Watkins (98/414/4.2) produced solid numbers in support. Joe Ferguson was not very good at quarterback: Buffalo ranked last in pass attempts, 3rd-to-last in NY/A, and therefore last in passing yards (and TDs).

The presence of the 2003 Ravens in this group is not going to surprise any folks, either. The 10-6 Ravens had a great defense and a fantastic running game led by Jamal Lewis, who rushed for over 2,000 yards. Baltimore finished 1st in rushing attempts and 3rd in yards per carry, with Lewis doing most of the heavy lifting there. With Kyle Boller and Anthony Wright, the passing attack was pretty bad: it ranked 27th in NY/A and 32nd in attempts, so the last-place ranking in passing yards makes sense.

The third team is one most of you could probably guess: it’s the 2006 Michael Vick-led Atlanta Falcons. Atlanta finished 1st in rushing attempts *and* 1st in yards per carry, joining the famous 1978 Patriots as the only teams since the merger to pull off that feat. The Falcons rushed for 2,939 yards, the most by any team since 1984. The passing game led by Vick was not very good: Atlanta ranked 29th in NY/A, and since it ranked 32nd in attempts, it ranked last in passing yards.

So why bring up those teams today? The 2016 Bills rank 2nd to last in pass attempts (by 1, to Miami) and 2nd in rushing attempts (Dallas), in a very 1973 Bills-like fashion. Buffalo easily leads the league in yards per carry (5.3), although right now the Cowboys (thanks to quantity) are only half a yard per game behind the Bills. LeSean McCoy is averaging 5.2 yards per carry, Mike Gillislee is at 5.8, and Tyrod Taylor is at 6.4; that group is powering an insanely efficient running game.

The passing game, meanwhile, is nearly as bad as the running game is good. That’s mainly because of a drop in yards per completion (from 8th last year to 25th in 2016). Taylor averaged 7.10 ANY/A this year and 5.73 this year; Buffalo ranks in the bottom 5 of the league in NY/A, so given the 31st-place ranking in attempts, it’s not too shocking that the Bills are last in passing yards (though the 49ers are less than 50 yards ahead of them).

As a result, the Bills look a lot like the ’73 Bills, and those two teams could make up half of the franchises since 1970 to rank last in passing yards and first in rushing yards.

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The Dolphins have now won five straight games for the first time since 2008, with Sunday’s win being the most remarkable: Miami won with a Game Script of -6.8, as the offense had a very slow start to the day:

screen-shot-2016-11-24-at-10-22-21-am

In week 11, Miami was the only team to win with a noteworthy negative Game script: technically, the Raiders and Giants won with them, too. Below are the full results from week 11: [click to continue…]

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From Matt To Dak: The Difference A Year Makes

Do you remember the 2010 Panthers? That was the last pre-Cam team in Carolina. That team wast not very good at passing, but got significantly better once Newton arrived. In 2010, Carolina averaged just 2.85 ANY/A, but that jumped to 6.29 the following year, for an increase of 3.43 ANY/A. Here’s the breakdown:

Games Passing
Rk Player Year
Age Draft Tm Lg G GS Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD Int TD% Int% Rate Sk Yds Y/A AY/A ANY/A Y/G W L T
1 Cam Newton 2011 22 1-1 CAR NFL 16 16 310 517 59.96 4051 21 17 4.10 3.29 84.5 35 260 7.84 7.17 6.24 253.2 6 10 0
2 Armanti Edwards 2011 23 3-89 CAR NFL 16 0 1 1 100.00 11 0 0 0.00 0.00 112.5 0 0 11.00 11.00 11.00 0.7
3 Legedu Naanee 2011 28 5-172 CAR NFL 15 10 1 1 100.00 27 0 0 0.00 0.00 118.7 0 0 27.00 27.00 27.00 1.8
4 Jimmy Clausen 2010 23 2-48 CAR NFL 13 10 157 299 52.51 1558 3 9 1.00 3.01 58.4 33 223 5.21 4.06 2.98 119.8 1 9 0
5 Matt Moore 2010 26 CAR NFL 6 5 79 143 55.24 857 5 10 3.50 6.99 55.6 13 90 5.99 3.55 2.67 142.8 1 4 0
6 Brian St. Pierre 2010 31 5-163 CAR NFL 1 1 13 28 46.43 173 1 2 3.60 7.14 48.7 3 23 6.18 3.68 2.58 173.0 0 1 0
7 Tony Pike 2010 24 6-204 CAR NFL 1 0 6 12 50.00 47 0 0 0.00 0.00 60.1 1 10 3.92 3.92 2.85 47.0 0 0 0
8 Armanti Edwards 2010 22 3-89 CAR NFL 3 0 1 1 100.00 0 0 0 0.00 0.00 79.2 0 0 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.0 0 0 0
9 Brandon LaFell 2010 24 3-78 CAR NFL 14 2 0 1 0.00 0 0 0 0.00 0.00 39.6 0 0 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.0 0 0 0

[click to continue…]

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