NFL Stat Oddity: Week 13

It is getting harder to tell when an NFL week begins and ends this season, but the best of Week 13 may still be ahead of us on Monday and Tuesday. Even during a very “meh” late afternoon slate on Sunday, the NFL still surprised us with one of the biggest upsets of the season in Seattle, a ridiculous blowout in Los Angeles, and maybe the beginning of a new era in Philadelphia.

Even though I did not love these 12 games on Sunday, I still found something to write about eight of them. You might as well enjoy these NFL Sundays while you can as there are only four more of them this season.

Previous weeks in Stat Oddity:

I Fvcking Love Patrick Mahomes: Week 13 vs. Broncos

We start with the last game on Sunday night, the surprisingly low-scoring 22-16 win by the Chiefs over Denver. The Broncos not scoring much should come as no surprise, but for only the second time in 48 starts, Patrick Mahomes did not put up 23 points with the Chiefs.

Well, he actually did, but Andy Reid sent the punt team out in a hurry instead of challenging what would have been a 40-yard touchdown pass to Tyreek Hill in the second quarter after the receiver bobbled the ball, only for it to land on him without touching the ground.

That was one of just three drives (out of nine) where the Chiefs did not score points on the night, however the red zone was again a huge problem with Kansas City settling for four field goals down there.

One problem I see is too many cutesy, horizontal plays. Stop trying to flip the ball to multiple players or get Travis Kelce to throw a touchdown to Mahomes (that one was last week in Tampa Bay, another bad red zone day). In fact, the NBC graphic said that the Chiefs had seven straight red zone drives that did not result in a touchdown, the longest streak in the NFL this season. The Jets and Giants had streaks of six drives. You do not want to be compared to those offenses for anything. The Chiefs eventually ended that streak in this game with Mahomes’ lone touchdown pass to Travis Kelce late in the third quarter, but again, the Broncos are the only defense this season to hold Mahomes to a single touchdown pass and they did it twice. Mahomes has still technically never led his offense (not counting return touchdowns or the backup QB drives) to more than 30 points against Denver in seven starts, but he is 7-0 against them.

This game is another great example of how the Chiefs are their own worst enemy. Mahomes and Hill couldn’t connect on a potential 64-yard touchdown drive on the first drive of the game. You had Hill and Reid screw up the no-challenge, no-catch 40-yard touchdown. The only other drive without a score came in the fourth quarter with the Chiefs up 19-16. Mahomes thought he had an 18-yard completion to Sammy Watkins, but the pass was dropped. Two plays later, Mahomes threw a great 48-yard touchdown bomb to Hill, but a shady holding penalty negated that to bring up 3rd-and-20. Even then Mahomes nearly had the connection to Kelce, but the Chiefs had to punt.

This was the exact same stuff we saw in Tampa Bay last week between the red zone problems and the long fourth-quarter drive bogged down by penalties with Mahomes just missing on a 3rd-and-27 when it looked like the Chiefs were ready for the dagger.

But this time, the Chiefs failed to run out the final 6:07 on the clock. Mahomes was leading a good drive, but Reid was not quite aggressive enough after the Broncos used their final timeout at 2:28. If you have a 2nd-and-9 at the Denver 31 in that situation, you cannot worry about bringing the clock down to the two-minute warning with a “safe” run. You do not worry about the clock stopping for an incompletion. You have Mahomes. You let him touch the ball three straight plays if you have to, because he’s probably going to get those 9 yards and end this game. Instead, the “safe” run turned out to be a 3-yard loss by Le’Veon Bell, setting up a tough 3rd-and-12. Mahomes got 9 yards to Kelce, and then Reid let the clock go down to 1:12 before sending out the field goal unit.

Again, that is a mistake. Do not go for the 6-point lead and give the Broncos a minute to beat you with a touchdown. Let the best player win the game with one more play, and if he doesn’t get it, you know they’ll have a long field and will play for the field goal in that situation.

Harrison Butker made the 48-yard field goal after a penalty, but Drew Lock still had 64 seconds to drive 75 yards for the win. The Chiefs were fortunate to be playing Denver. The running game had a strong performance, but this was a time Lock had to make plays. He couldn’t even get one first down and ended the game the way he started it with an interception thrown to Tyrann Mathieu.

The Chiefs (11-1) escaped this one with another close win, but this felt more like a 2016-17 Chiefs game than what we are used to seeing. The play-calling in the red zone and the game management here would likely lead to playoff disappointment if the Chiefs were facing a stronger opponent with a more competent quarterback.

We are two weeks away from the Chiefs heading to New Orleans where maybe Drew Brees will be back for that game. That is one that could be so decisive for the No. 1 seed in both conferences, especially if the Steelers slip up on Monday or Sunday night in Buffalo.

Biggest Win for the Browns Since…

The Cleveland Browns have not won a playoff game since the 1994 season, but on Sunday they took a step closer to getting back to that level with a 41-35 win in Tennessee that was not as close as the final score suggests. Cleveland jumped out to a 38-7 halftime lead behind a monster half by Baker Mayfield before hanging on for the one-score win after a more than respectable comeback attempt by Tennessee.

The Browns were a 5-point underdog in this one and still have a negative scoring differential (-15) for the season, but Cleveland’s 9-3 record is now the third-best record in the AFC.

Since 1995, the Browns have had bigger upsets by the point spread than this game (most notably: a 12.5-point underdog in New Orleans in 2010). They have beaten higher-caliber playoff teams than the 2020 Titans, including last year’s 40-25 upset in Baltimore. They have certainly won some of these games by bigger margins, such as their 34-14 win over the 2010 Patriots that no one saw coming.

But none of those games happened in seasons where the Browns really mattered. Even in 2007, Cleveland’s only 10-win season since 1995, the only playoff team Cleveland beat that year was Seattle, and it was 33-30 in overtime. The only time the Browns have beaten a playoff Pittsburgh team in this time was in 2014, a 31-10 rout where the Browns were actually favored by 1.5 points at home.

When you consider the quality of the opponent and the magnitude of the game, you could argue this was the best Cleveland win since that 1994 playoff win.

Mayfield threw for more yards (290) and touchdowns (four) in the first half than he’s had in 15 of his last 16 full games. Will he get this many favorable looks against a defense better than the Titans in the playoffs? Probably not, but if the Browns are this prepared for a big game under rookie coach Kevin Stefanski as they were on Sunday, then it’s not unreasonable to think the Browns could win in Tennessee or Indy or Buffalo in the wild card round.

As for Tennessee, we can cancel the Derrick Henry MVP campaign immediately. Henry’s early stuffed run on 4th-and-1 and lost fumble set the tone for the avalanche Cleveland unleashed in the first half. Henry finished with 15 carries, ending his 20-game streak with at least 18 carries, the second-longest streak in NFL history (Emmitt Smith had a 23-game streak).

Had Henry been better on those two plays, the Titans may have had a real shot in this one. As it stands, the Titans are only the second team in NFL history to trail by 31 points at halftime and lose by fewer than seven points. The 1989 Packers trailed the Rams 38-7 at halftime and lost 41-38. Coincidentally enough, that game turned late on a fumble by fullback Brent Fullwood (a Pro Bowler in 1989 too) at the Rams 1-yard line after a 40-yard pass interference penalty put the Packers one yard away from tying the game after being down 31.

God damn, overrated power backs.

Seattle’s Giant Letdown

The last time I recall seeing the Seahawks trailing a mediocre team 14-5 in the second half, it was a 2016 game in Tampa Bay. Russell Wilson threw two picks and suffered six sacks while the 14-5 score never changed from halftime. It ended Seattle’s historic 98 game “no blowout” streak:

There was a sense of déjà vu seeing the Seahawks trail 14-5 into the fourth quarter on Sunday against a Giants team that was a 10.5-point underdog and starting Colt McCoy at quarterback. McCoy was about as limited as expected, throwing for 105 yards on 22 attempts. However, he kept his turnovers limited to one and took advantage of some big runs and field position provided to him.

This 17-12 loss, the final nail in Wilson receiving a single MVP vote this year, lies mostly with the offense, which scored 10 points on 12 drives (Seattle added a safety on a blocked punt before the end of the half).

Much like that 14-5 loss in 2016, Wilson accounted for two turnovers and five sacks in this one. However, the fumble was a botched exchange from center and the fourth-quarter interception was a drop-turned-pick by running back Chris Carson. That’s not to say this is not one of the most disappointing losses of the Pete Carroll-Wilson era. This was supposed to be the easiest part of Seattle’s schedule as it looked to take control of the NFC West, but now could have to settle for facing the NFC East division winner (and a potentially embarrassing repeat of this loss) in January.

Wilson had only lost one game in his career as a double-digit favorite before Sunday: a 27-13 loss to the 2015 Rams as a 12-point favorite. Multi-score favorites (9+ points) were absolutely crushing it this season, posting a 20-1 record coming into Week 13. The only loss was the Chiefs (-11) hosting the Raiders. That record is now 23-2 after Sunday.

Wilson had the chance to be the hero again on the final drive, but only moved the ball 26 yards to midfield before his 4th-and-18 Hail Mary fell incomplete with 37 seconds left. It was 4th-and-18 due to a third-down sack.

Seattle is hardly immune to offensive performances such as this one, but you have to go back to November 2017 against Washington (17-14 final) to find the last time Seattle lost a game without allowing at least 23 points. That covers a span of 20 losses.

Again, Wilson’s problem is that his “MVP seasons” always last for seven or nine-game spurts. After getting off to his best start ever in 2020, this year appears to be no different.

Eagles at Packers: Scrap the Wentz Wagon for Parts

It’s time, Philadelphia. No, not the time for me to write an “I told you so” essay about Carson Wentz. That will come later. It’s time for head coach Doug Pederson to do the right thing and bench Wentz for rookie Jalen Hurts.

He did so in the second half of this 30-16 loss to Green Bay, and it did provide some life and enough positives for the Eagles to go forward with this switch. Five of Philadelphia’s six longest gains on Sunday came with Hurts at quarterback and on his arm or legs, including a 32-yard touchdown pass on a 4th-and-18. The Eagles were down 23-3 in the fourth quarter but still made this a one-score game with that miracle touchdown and a punt return touchdown. Of course they failed again in the clutch, but Hurts showed more than Wentz did on this day and he did not look like the human pinata that Wentz masquerades as this season.

The Eagles have to face New Orleans (10-2) next, a tough task. However, the last time Wentz faced the Saints, he lost 48-7 in 2018. How could it be any worse with Hurts starting for the first time? Also, the Saints still have an unconventional quarterback in Hill instead of the efficient Drew Brees, and Philadelphia’s defense is decent enough to keep the game winnable.

With the Eagles (3-8-1) continuing to lose ground in the worst division ever, Pederson has nothing to lose by making the quarterback switch now, and everything to gain if Hurts looks like the real deal. The Eagles could still sneak into the playoffs if this run happens, or they can at least feel confident about not having to acquire another quarterback for 2021 with what will be a high draft pick.

Any other quarterback playing as poorly as Wentz has this season with sacks and turnovers would be benched by now. He’s not the franchise quarterback. He’s not owed anything for a Super Bowl run that Nick Foles finished three seasons ago. Wentz is just there dragging the team down while there might be a better option already available to the Eagles.

The Most Patriots-Chargers Game of All Time

I loathe seeing the Chargers play the Patriots because I just know they are going to find some way to shoot themselves in the foot and lose the game like they have almost every single time since the 2006 AFC divisional round loss.

While that playoff game was a sign of things to come, Sunday’s 45-0 blowout is probably the most hilarious Chargers-Patriots game yet, and it didn’t even need to feature Philip Rivers or Tom Brady.

Bill Belichick took his misfit toys to SoFi Stadium and won 45-0 in a game where Cam Newton only passed for 69 yards. The Patriots scored on a 70-yard punt return and blocked a field goal for a touchdown to end the first half. The Chargers have been horrible on special teams this year, but this game was quite the masterpiece even for their standards in this series.

While he was there, Belichick also saw his defense embarrass rookie quarterback Justin Herbert. If last week in Buffalo was Herbert’s first bad game, this week was his first terrible one. While the special teams stole the show in the first half, in the second half Herbert threw two interceptions and failed on three different fourth downs to end the game. He should not have even been playing that quarter with the deficit out of control, but this is why Anthony Lynn should not be the coach in 2021 and it was laughable to see the Chargers favored in this game (-1.5) with that disparity in coaching on display.

Holding the Chargers scoreless is an impressive feat. This franchise once scored at least 10 points in 105 consecutive games, which is still the NFL record. This current team, going back to 2015, had scored at least 10 points in 80 straight games (including playoffs), which was the fourth-longest streak in NFL history. That streak is now over and the longest active streak belongs to Kansas City at 56 games. You can see the scoring streak for each number of points in the table below, including a New Orleans streak that is still active and the domination the Chiefs have had with scoring 22-26 points (three separate streaks there).

Lions Stun Bears Without Matt Patricia

Just last week, I pointed out that Matt Patricia’s Lions were 3-15-1 (.184) in fourth-quarter comeback opportunities and 5-16-1 (.250) in all game-winning drive opportunities.

However, you might be shocked to know that the Lions are now 4-1 in GWD opportunities and close games this season. It was the ugly losses by 14+ points that got Patricia canned a week ago. The Lions didn’t start this first game with Darrell Bevell as the interim coach much better, but they had a strong finish.

Matthew Stafford led the 30th fourth-quarter comeback of his career, and one that could be among the most memorable given he passed for 402 yards in the game. The Lions returned the favor to Chicago from Week 1 when the Bears rallied from a 17-point deficit in the fourth quarter in a 27-23 win. Here, Detroit was down 30-20 with 4:33 left at its own 4. Stafford led a 96-yard touchdown drive with 2:18 left. Three plays later, Mitchell Trubisky fumbled on a sack and the Lions were 7 yards away from the end zone. No passing fancy here, the Lions handed off twice to Adrian Peterson, who scored the game-winning touchdown with 1:37 left. The Bears lost 34-30 after David Montgomery was stuffed on a 4th-and-1 at the Detroit 20 with 11 seconds left.

The game-winning drive was gifted to him, but it never means a thing without Stafford’s 96-yard drive to get things going. Stafford is the 13th quarterback to have 30 fourth-quarter comeback wins, and he did it in 164 games. Only Johnny Unitas (163) did it in fewer games.

Is Stafford the worst quarterback on this list? Yeah, I think that’s more than fair to say. But it would be nice to see how he would look on a competent team with an actual defense and everything. Maybe we still get that chance someday, but for now, the Lions are 1-0 in the post-Patricia era. Hell, win out (GB, at TEN, TB, MIN) and Detroit will probably promote Bevell to head coach.

With a 5-0 finish against that slate, it might actually be the right move too.

Jets Deliver Masterpiece on Way to Imperfect Season

As I was eating my steak dinner, I saw Derek Carr drawing multiple defensive holding flags on third and fourth down incompletions with the Raiders (-8) trailing the winless Jets late by a 28-24 score. I have seen this too many times before. Carr gets bailed out by the refs, then he finishes off a game-winning drive.

Except this time, it did not happen. He threw incomplete on another fourth down and the Jets took over with 1:37 left. I figured they had finally found a way to win a game in 2020. They will not join the 0-16 ranks of the 2008 Lions and 2017 Browns.

I was already thinking of how to trash the Raiders for this loss – I had money on Devontae Booker TD/Raiders ML combo — but the Jets seemed to have other ideas in mind. First, they ran the ball on 3rd-and-6 with the Raiders out of timeouts. It is not an indefensible call. Running would burn more time, you’re up a touchdown, and Sam Darnold is totally unreliable as a quarterback. I can justify giving the Raiders the ball back with 35 seconds, needing 61 yards.

But what in the bloody fvck was that defense on the final drive? They didn’t cover Darren Waller (200 yards, 2 TD) all day, so those 15 yards make sense. But how does Nelson Agholor get by three defenders in the back of the end zone when only a touchdown can beat you? Carr overthrew him and only 13 seconds remained.

On the next play, Jets defensive coordinator Greggggggg Williams just had to send seven pass-rushers at Carr, leaving speedy rookie wideout Henry Ruggs in single coverage on the outside. Ruggs burned his man for a 46-yard touchdown bomb with five seconds left.

The Raiders were going to win, and it seemed like the Jets wanted exactly that. Why not? You can get the No. 1 pick and Trevor Lawrence in the draft if you keep losing. If there was a way to compete hard, look like you want to win, but ultimately offer the game up on a silver platter if the opposing QB will take it, then this was exactly that kind of tanking finish.

ESPN had the details on that defensive play call:

Out of the last 251 plays, no one sent the house like Greggggggg did. Is it uncharacteristic for him under normal circumstances? Absolutely not. But is there any sense to doing that when a team needs a Hail Mary and only a touchdown will beat you? Hell no. Make him throw a jump ball to a crowd instead of attacking single coverage like that.

Carr is the 32nd quarterback to have 20 fourth-quarter comeback wins. He’s done so in the third-fewest games (106).

This was a disgraceful ending, but also the most perfect ending yet for the Jets this season as they look to achieve imperfection.

Colts at Texans: What the Half?

If there is anything more certain than the Patriots beating the Chargers or Derek Carr drawing crucial flags for a game-winning drive, it’s T.Y. Hilton dominating the Houston Texans. Hilton came into Sunday averaging a career-low 40.8 yards per game with just one touchdown this season. But sure enough, against his favorite team to face, Hilton had a season-high 110 yards and a touchdown to pace the Colts in their 26-20 win to move to 8-4.

I remember seeing the 24-20 score at halftime and thinking we were getting a pretty good shootout between the Colts and Texans, including Deshaun Watson still playing very well despite the six-game suspension for Will Fuller starting Sunday.

Then an odd thing happened in the second half: two more points were scored. Both offenses struggled mightily with sacks in the second half, Watson threw his first interception in almost 300 attempts after Brandin Cooks had the ball taken away from him by Kenny Moore, and the only scoring play was Justin Houston sacking Watson in the end zone for a safety with 6:02 left.

Watson still had a great chance for a game-winning drive, but a bad snap and fumble at the Indy 2-yd line doomed the comeback effort with 1:22 left. The game ended 26-20 after that 24-20 halftime score.

Props to Stephen Holder for pointing out the huge difference in scoring between the halves. After looking into it, I don’t think there’s ever been a game like this in NFL history before.

A couple teams, the last being Oilers-Chargers in 1964, got to at least 17 points in the first half before scoring nothing in the second half, but never just two points on a safety after at least 20 points in the first half before this one.

From my preseason predictions on Houston:

After leading five game-winning drives in each of the last two seasons, there’s a chance things don’t break Houston’s way for Watson in close games again. Maybe that loss of familiarity and comfort with Hopkins comes into play there. A more balanced team in Tennessee or a Philip Rivers resurgence in Indy could be enough to take the division away from Houston this year, but for now I’ll trust Watson. If things go too south, maybe it will be time for O’Brien to do the right thing and fire himself.

Sure enough, the Texans are 0-4 at 4QC/GWD opportunities this season and 2-4 in close games. At least Bill O’Brien was fired, but there is still a lot of work to be done in Houston.

NFL Week 13 Predictions: MEH Edition

Here is an obvious sign the Week 13 NFL slate isn’t quite up to par: the big CBS game at 4:25 is Eagles-Packers.

Now it’s not the NFL’s fault that Drew Brees has been injured for both NO-ATL games, or that we’ll be lucky to see even half of the intended QB battles between Dak-Lamar and Burrow-Tua.

One game that has surprisingly turned out to be a big one is Cleveland at Tennessee, two 8-3 teams and almost the only two teams in the league with a good argument for building their offense around the run.

Alas, I already wrote my preview for that game, along with Lions-Bears, Bengals-Dolphins, and Broncos-Chiefs.

So what’s left?

We are finally getting the first Rams-Cardinals game this season, though it has lost some luster after both had disappointing losses in Week 12. Sean McVay is 14-7 against the NFC West, an impressive mark given the teams in that division since 2017. McVay is 6-0 against the Cardinals and has five wins of 16+ points against them. His smallest margin of victory is 7 points over Arizona. The Rams are very hard to predict from week to week, but I took that into consideration when I made my pick for that game.

Another game that interests me is Monday night where the Bills are a 1.5-point underdog in San Francisco despite having the better record (8-3 vs. 5-6). It’s only the sixth time in the last 20 seasons where an 8-3 team is an underdog to a 5-6 team. The last time was in 2008 when Carolina was a 3-point dog to the Packers in Lambeau in Aaron Rodgers’ first season as a starter. The Panthers won 35-31 with a fourth-quarter comeback. The 8-3 team is 5-0 against the 5-6 team. With the way Buffalo’s defense handled the Chargers last week, I think they’ll be adequate against Nick Mullens and an offense that has lost George Kittle for the season.

Finally, there’s the Steelers-Washington game on Monday. The line was about PIT -10 before Wednesday’s ugly win over Baltimore, but is now down to PIT -7.5. I have to say I really like the Steelers in this one, as they are still 8-3 ATS this season, a record as good as anyone in the league in 2020. I think they’ll put that weird game on Wednesday behind them quickly and play sharper on offense without all the dropped passes. An Alex Smith-led offense reliant on one wideout in the passing game is unlikely to do much damage to this defense.

We also have to put Washington’s recent performance in the context of the worst division in NFL history. Washington started the season 1-4 with all the losses by 14+ points. Then in their last six games they’re 3-3, but they’ve played four games against NFC East teams, the Bengals in a game Joe Burrow was injured (W 20-9), and a 30-27 loss in Detroit where they trailed 24-3 before making a game of it (typical Matt Patricia).

Put this team on the road against the Steelers and I’m very confident the home team will win by 8+ points. That’s my favorite spread pick this week, and yes, I don’t think it will be a pleasant game to watch again. Probably something in the 24-13 range of final scores.

NFL Week 13 Predictions

The full slate (at least every team has a QB, or someone posing as one this week):

I really wanted to pick Atlanta to beat the Saints again, but they screwed me over last time, and several of the skill players are on the injury report for the Falcons. I’m just going to stay away from that one. I hope I’ve learned a lesson there. But the Saints really need Drew Brees back ASAP.

NFL Week 13 Predictions: Peak Browns Edition?

I’m going to do something very rare and focus on the Cleveland Browns. NBC made the right move by flexing Chargers-Steelers into prime time, but I think the most interesting game of Week 13 with a wide range of outcomes just might be Cleveland at Houston. The Texans have won eight in a row while the Browns are on a rare two-game winning streak behind some stellar play from rookie Baker Mayfield. This first meeting between Deshaun Watson and Mayfield could be a glimpse of the future of the AFC, or it could be a 13-10 slog, but that’s why they play the games. J.J. Watt and Myles Garrett make for nice star talent on the defenses too.

The Browns are 4-6-1 and the No. 12 seed in the AFC going into Week 13. For all intents and purposes, they’re going to be 2019’s trendy playoff pick, but there is still an outside shot of doing something this year too. The 4-6-1 record is the team’s fifth best through 11 games since returning in 1999, and the best since the Browns were 7-4 in 2014 before finishing on a typical five-game losing streak.

That shouldn’t happen this time around with the team having some real talent now, and that albatross known as Hue Jackson is gone.

The AFC has been so badly in need of new blood. The AFC East still has The Three Stooges, the Jaguars basically died last Sunday in Buffalo, and the Titans just aren’t cutting it with Marcus Mariota. It’s good to see Andrew Luck back and on a hot streak in Indy, though I don’t think that team has the defensive talent to go up against the top-tier teams yet. It’s been great to see that Patrick Mahomes is having a historic season under Andy Reid in Kansas City, but the Texans and Browns could be built for long-term success too as they grow under their young quarterbacks. So I am actually looking forward to this one, which is something I normally would never say about a game between the Browns and a Bill O’Brien Texans team.

NFL Week 13 Predictions

On TNF, I had the Cowboys covering in a 7-point loss, but I certainly did not expect a 13-10 win. That was quite the defensive game against New Orleans.

2018Wk13

I feel unusually confident about a lot of teams winning this week (IND, LAR, GB, KC, NE, SEA, PIT, PHI). I threw PIT in there despite the tough matchup just because I think the offense will be much sharper at home. Chargers are 1-3 this year when allowing more than 20 points, and Philip Rivers is 3-13 in his last 16 road starts against playoff teams (3-14 once Rams clinch). I think the Steelers are undoubtedly a playoff team again this year, and this is usually a spot where they play well and where the Chargers fold.

Wk1-12

NFL Week 13 Predictions: The End of an Era

Pour one out for Eli Manning as his streak of consecutive starts ends at 222 games including playoffs. That’s third all time among quarterbacks behind only Brett Favre (321) and Peyton Manning (227).

I love constants in the NFL, because they help make the most unpredictable league just a little easier to predict. For the better part of 14 seasons, Manning was a constant in New York no matter how erratic his play was. You knew you were getting a volume passer who didn’t take many sacks, could lead the offense to a reasonable amount of points (until recently), and fourth-quarter drama was often high with Eli. I used to say he’d start games like Archie, but could still finish like Peyton. His A game was quite good, but we just never saw it often enough. Fortunately, he brought it against the Patriots in the best moments. It’s for that reason that his Hall of Fame debate is going to rage on for years, but I’m not interested in talking about that right now. This is about the end of an era in New York, because I don’t see how the Giants, who are in full collapse mode, can ever go back to Eli after the way this unfolded.

So which exciting, young quarterback prospect do the Giants have to turn their fortunes to? Oh, it’s Geno bloody Smith, a turnover machine in an era where many turnovers look like bad bounces more than anything. That’s not going to accomplish anything for this team this year, so here’s hoping the Giants find a new head coach and a new quarterback for 2018 to quickly turn this thing in another direction. Manning deserved a better ending than this.

Another era that begins this week that may have some staying power is Jimmy Garoppolo making his first start for the 49ers. Similar to the Giants right now, the 49ers don’t have much going in the way of a supporting cast, so I wouldn’t expect much, though beating the lowly Bears isn’t out of the question. I’d avoid that game in bets this week. There are quite a few I’d avoid actually, but also some teams I really like (Patriots, Steelers, Rams, Jaguars to name a few).

Vikings at Falcons

I think it’s safe to say that this is the top game on paper this week. Both teams have been playing well as of late, though I think the Vikings have been a bit better all season long. Minnesota is just as good as the other NFC teams that get a lot of attention this year (Eagles, Saints, and Rams). I think the reason Minnesota gets less attention is the quarterback situation. Drew Brees’ name speaks for itself, while the typical “build up a young QB into a superstar ASAP” is at work for Jared Goff and Carson Wentz.

People don’t want to believe in Case Keenum, but it’s December and he ranks No. 1 in DVOA thanks in large part to the way he’s making plays under pressure and avoiding sacks. The latter is certainly a quarterback skill that is highly repeatable, and the fact that Minnesota’s OL is holding up enough for him speaks wonders about the turnaround job they’ve done after 2016’s terrible unit let the team down. Not only are Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs the best WR duo going this year, but Jerick McKinnon and Latavius Murray have formed a pretty solid backfield after the team lost rookie Dalvin Cook so early. This is an impressive offense and the defense under Mike Zimmer is one of the best units in the league. This team is very balanced. I still think Atlanta is too offensive dependent, and Matt Ryan is still taking big sacks that kill drives. While Julio Jones went off last week, this isn’t Tampa Bay. He’ll see plenty of Xavier Rhodes in a good matchup. Meanwhile, I think the injuries in the secondary for Atlanta are big for Minnesota to take advantage of.

I like the Vikings in a close one.

Eagles at Seahawks

I’m honestly not sure this game will be that good to watch on Sunday night. More interested than anything in what the final margin ends up being given that the Eagles have won four in a row by 23+ points, and Seattle just almost never gets blown out. The Seahawks haven’t lost a home game by more than 7 points since a 2011 game against Cincinnati (pre-Russell Wilson). The Eagles haven’t been tested much, especially on the road. Five of their last seven games have been at home actually, so this is a step up in competition. It’s just that Seattle isn’t quite the same when there’s no RB/running game, and no Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor or Cliff Avril on defense.

That’s why Wilson has a pretty strong MVP case if he can finish well with a tough schedule ahead. He has to do so much for this team right now, and that’s why I think this is a bad matchup for the Seahawks since I think the pass rush is going to rack up a lot of sacks in blowing past this offensive line. No one really runs on the Eagles this year to begin with, and Seattle has the worst non-QB rushing of any team this season. So you pin a low point total to the Seahawks, maybe some turnovers that give the Eagles more good field position, and I think Philadelphia takes this one on the road.

2017 Week 13 Predictions

Well, Washington shit its pants on Thursday night. I wasn’t confident about picking that game either way, but that was a really poor performance all around from the Redskins. And to think some people on Twitter scoffed when I said Dallas would score 16 points (scored 38).

2017Wk13

  • Week 1: 8-7
  • Week 2: 11-5
  • Week 3: 9-7
  • Week 4: 8-8
  • Week 5: 6-8
  • Week 6: 6-8
  • Week 7: 11-4
  • Week 8: 12-1
  • Week 9: 6-7
  • Week 10: 12-2 (Spread: 6-8)
  • Week 11: 8-6 (Spread: 8-5-1)
  • Week 12: 12-4 (Spread: 7-9)
  • Season: 109-67 (Spread: 21-22-1)

NFL Week 13 Predictions: Life Without Gronk Edition

There was a point earlier this season where the Patriots looked capable, if not likely, of running the table to finish 18-1 (the good kind of 18-1, not the embarrassing type). But seasons change quickly, and a big pop by Earl Thomas on Rob Gronkowski in Week 10 has seemingly turned this season in a much different, much more open direction. Gronk is now on injured reserve after undergoing back surgery, and Seattle showed that the Patriots are beatable in that game. In fact, I expect the Patriots to lose a couple of more times this season now. The health of Gronk has often been a huge determining factor in just how successful their seasons are. Last year, I thought Gronk leaving the Denver game with an injury (and the Patriots subsequently falling in overtime) was a huge turning point for the 2015 season. New England also lost its next game (Week 13 against the Eagles), and Denver was eventually able to secure the No. 1 seed and keep that AFC Championship Game in Denver.

This year, there are still good reasons to keep the Patriots as the favorites in the AFC, but now not likely the Super Bowl with no possibility of a Gronk return. For one, Martellus Bennett is a very capable backup, and would be the TE1 on more than half of the teams in the NFL. The other big part is that the AFC lacks contenders. This injury news is great for Oakland and Pittsburgh, two teams who would really have to outscore the Pats in January. That gets a little easier if Gronk isn’t there. Oakland especially could get a boost here with the No. 1 seed in sight, and the fact that Khalil Mack is starting to play at an All-Pro level again. Pittsburgh lacks that type of dominant pass rusher, but at least the defense wouldn’t get killed by Gronk again. Meanwhile, Denver and Kansas City were always going to try beating the Pats by holding Brady to 21 or fewer points. That gets easier with Gronk gone, but they’ll still have to find a way to manufacture points in Foxboro. Or maybe not. While the Patriots get a third weak opponent in a row (Rams) this week, those road games in Denver (Week 15) and Miami (Week 17), two places Brady-Belichick have had their share of struggles, look more daunting now, making a 12-4 finish probable. That may only be good enough for the No. 2 seed this year.

Gronk probably should go down as the best TE ever, but his back was an issue in the draft, and his physical style does take its toll on his body each season. We may have already seen him at the best he’s ever going to be, and the Patriots can only wish they would have gotten to see more of him over the years.

Giants at Steelers

This is the highlight game of Week 13, and I’m not just saying that because it involves the Steelers and I usually cover their games here. This is a nice matchup on paper between one of the best offenses (PIT) and one of the best defenses (NYG). However, much like how I felt about DAL-PIT a few weeks back, I don’t think the Giants have been tested by anything like they’ll see from Pittsburgh here. When you have Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell on the field together, especially at home, it’s usually dynamic stuff. The Giants haven’t seen an offense to this level since maybe the Saints in Week 2, and we know New Orleans isn’t the same on the road. So I expect to see the Steelers play up to the competition here and put on a good offensive performance. The key matchup is really on the other side. Eli Manning has not had a great season, but he hasn’t been bad either. Odell Beckham Jr. seems poised for a monster day against this secondary, so that could help this one reach a shootout level or at least a very competitive game into the fourth quarter, which has been the case in all three career meetings between Ben and Eli (a 4QC in each with Ben getting two). The Giants have been squeaking by opponents all season. Records be damned, I think Pittsburgh is a more dangerous team and will get the home win.

Final: Giants 22, Steelers 28

2016 Week 13 Predictions

I had the Cowboys on TNF, and that was a little close for comfort, but an 11th straight win nonetheless.

Winners in bold: 

  • 49ers at Bears
  • Texans at Packers
  • Broncos at Jaguars
  • Eagles at Bengals
  • Rams at Patriots
  • Dolphins at Ravens
  • Chiefs at Falcons
  • Lions at Saints
  • Bills at Raiders
  • Giants at Steelers
  • Redskins at Cardinals
  • Buccaneers at Chargers
  • Panthers at Seahawks
  • Colts at Jets

Might be warming up down the stretch (Finally). And something is totally fvcked if Lions-Saints isn’t a very high-scoring game.

  • Week 1: 7-9
  • Week 2: 10-6
  • Week 3: 8-8
  • Week 4: 8-7
  • Week 5: 7-7
  • Week 6: 12-3
  • Week 7: 10-5
  • Week 8: 7-6
  • Week 9: 8-5
  • Week 10: 7-7
  • Week 11: 12-2
  • Week 12: 12-4
  • Season: 108-69

NFL Week 13 Predictions: The MVP Race Is FUBAR

We’re into Week 13, so it is about that time for me to rant about the NFL’s MVP race.

The 2015 MVP Race Is FUBAR

Seriously. Where in the world is Carson Palmer (and Carmen Sandiego for that matter)?

This has been a terrible season for MVP discussion, because it seems like the people having the discussion have never paid any attention to what usually qualifies for an MVP season in the NFL.

Team record has been driving the debate this year with the Patriots (now 10-1) and Panthers (11-0) having their quarterbacks on top of most lists regardless of performance. Team record matters, but you never had to be a No. 1 seed just to be discussed. Look at Aaron Rodgers last year. Of course, some like to be hypocritical and throw J.J. Watt into the mix, but I thought we killed that noise last year of how a defensive player almost can never be MVP. And are we really just going to ignore that the Texans were behind by over 40 points in two different games to start this season? Give him his DPOY (if that) and move on already.

Yet I saw a Friday poll on NFL Network for MVP that included Tom Brady, Cam Newton, Andy Dalton and J.J. Watt.

Frankly, I’m shocked they didn’t throw in Aaron Rodgers after a gift-wrapped Hail Mary to beat the Lions. Sure, we’ll just ignore he’s having his worst season since 2008.

But Andy Dalton? Yeah, through six games he was right up there, but we’ve seen more of the old Dalton emerge in recent weeks. He’s having a nice year, but it’s not in the MVP range.

Cam Newton’s season is not even close to what you’d expect from an MVP season. It’s more like a classic Steve McNair year, and I don’t even mean 2003. People just wanted to give him the award before the year started because he lost Kelvin Benjamin, yet for the fifth season now, we’ve seen that Newton essentially posts the same statistics every year regardless of what’s around him. And they are just solid, not spectacular numbers even if you adjust for shortcomings around him (while also adjusting for his own problems with overthrows and inaccurate passes). Defense is what drives the W-L record in Carolina, and it always has in the Newton era. Newton has played better since the Green Bay game, but if we prorate his numbers to a 16-game season, this would have to be one of the worst seasons ever for a MVP winner. And it’s coming against a Charmin-soft schedule that might help this team get to 16-0.

I saw another link from a top site that asked if Adrian Peterson can make this a three-horse MVP race. If that wasn’t bad enough, the article excluded other quarterbacks and had the nerve to say “Brady’s putting up better numbers with worse players.”

That statement is vomit inducing to say the least.

For all but two plays and two drives, Brady has had Rob Gronkowski, the best TE in football, all season long.

Dion Lewis was having an incredible season in terms of forcing missed tackles. He was the third-most targeted receiver on this team, and he’s missed four full games and most of a fifth. He wasn’t knocked out for the season until Week 9.

Julian Edelman is one of the best YAC receivers in the game. He has missed two full games and a large chunk of the Giants game.

Danny Amendola is about the closest thing you can have to an Edelman replacement. He missed some of the Buffalo game and one full game (Denver last week).

Most of Brady’s 2015 stats were compiled with these players on the field. If we look at since Week 9 when the slew of injuries (one every week) started, Brady’s numbers have clearly dropped to a non-MVP level.

  • Brady Weeks 1-8: 68.9% complete, 20 TD, 1 INT, 8.34 YPA, 115.8 PR
  • Brady Weeks 9-12: 58.6% complete, 8 TD, 3 INT, 7.35 YPA, 90.3 PR

Gee, it’s almost like the value-added parts of the team have been hurt in the last month. And you expect this to happen to any QB when they lose so much in a short period of time. But please stop pretending he’s put up his numbers with scrubs or that he’s still putting up MVP numbers. In this span he also should have thrown a game-ending interception against the Giants on a terrible pass, but Landon Collins dropped the ball.

In any other season, the quarterback on the No. 1 scoring offense with a 9-2 record with dazzling stats would be right at the top of the MVP discussion, yet that is not happening for some reason with Carson Palmer this year in Arizona.

He’s averaging 8.8 YPA, which is phenomenal at this volume.

Palmer’s average pass is thrown 11.0 yards beyond the line of scrimmage — highest in the NFL — and he is still completing 63.6% of his passes. Tom Brady’s average pass is 7.7 yards. Newton’s is high too at 10.5, but he’s completing 57.1% of his passes.

ESPN’s QBR has had strong correlation with MVP winners. Palmer’s 82.1 QBR is well ahead of No. 2 Dalton (73.1), and much higher than Brady (67.5) and Newton (58.5). Newton ranks 20th on the season. Palmer’s season has been more consistent than any of them.

Palmer had the big prime-time performances in back-to-back weeks against the Seahawks and Bengals, leading a GWD in each game. He’s led a GWD in three consecutive games.

Palmer slipped up late against the Rams and in Pittsburgh, but he still threw for over 300 yards in both games (over 400 in Pittsburgh) and had the team in position late. He would have liked a dropped pick in Pittsburgh.

Let’s not act like Palmer has a loaded cast here either. Never mind that his defense isn’t as strong as NE or CAR, but his offense is basically driven by three wide receivers best suited for intermediate to deep routes. John Brown and Michael Floyd are also weekly fixtures on the injury report. Chris Johnson just went down. They don’t really have much at TE. This is a vertical offense predicated on the QB being accurate down the field, and Palmer has excelled this year. If you’re someone in need of a storyline for the award, having a career year at 35 a year after a torn ACL is pretty damn good.

Guess which offenses rank first and second in average starting field position? That would be the Patriots (31.72) and Panthers (31.40). That’s very valuable to have, and none of it is driven by the QB. Arizona is solid at 7th (29.44), but again, not as favorable as what Brady and Newton have had.

Palmer should be running away with this MVP race so far, yet he’s a footnote at best in mainstream media. Offering him the “Comeback Player of the Year” award is a slap in the face.

Arizona gets Minnesota on Thursday night, and will finish the season with Green Bay and Seattle. If these quarterbacks continue to play the way they have, we’ll find out just how much of a popularity contest this award has become.

2015 Week 13 Predictions

I knew better than to start trusting the Lions, because once you do, they do something like that on Thursday night against Green Bay.

Winners in bold:

  • Ravens at Dolphins
  • Texans at Bills
  • Panthers at Saints
  • Jets at Giants
  • Bengals at Browns
  • Seahawks at Vikings
  • Falcons at Buccaneers
  • Jaguars at Titans
  • 49ers at Bears
  • Cardinals at Rams
  • Broncos at Chargers
  • Chiefs at Raiders
  • Eagles at Patriots
  • Colts at Steelers
  • Cowboys at Redskins

This feels like a week where Miami fired someone and will remember how to play good football for at least one game.

Luke McCown almost beat the Panthers in Carolina this year, so it’s good to have Drew Brees back, but the Saints are just playing lousy football right now. Panthers should win.

I like the Giants mainly because Darrelle Revis is out. Beckham in DFS, yes.

Browns are only punishing themselves by not starting Johnny Manziel. Austin Davis is not the future.

Really intrigued by Seahawks in Minnesota. Think the lack of passing game and soft running D from the Vikings hurts them in this matchup. Still, hard to trust Seattle in early road game. Should be a close one.

Normally I’d pick the Falcons to bounce back, but Tampa Bay goes against what I think this year. So I went with the opposite of my opposite pick and just stuck with Atlanta.

I expect Denver to run wild on the worst run defense in the league, which Brock Osweiler will somehow get the credit for.

Tom Brady won’t throw five touchdown passes against the Eagles, but the Patriots still might score five offensive touchdowns.

I expect the Cowboys to split the series with Washington down the stretch here, but give me the Redskins at home on Monday night.

Obviously the main game I’m focused on is Colts at Steelers. It was an offensive display last year with Ben Roethlisberger having the game of his career. He has to forget all about that one and just play the way he has this year. He’s piled up the yards in the games he has finished and has his full plethora of wide receivers for this one. I want to see if Matt Hasselbeck can win a shootout. He’s getting a lot of credit for 4-0, but this could be the toughest test yet if he has to score 28+ to win on the road. Yes, Pittsburgh’s defense has given up plenty of 300-yard passing games already, but points have been harder to come by. I think Hasselbeck is the perfect QB to repeatedly take advantage of Pittsburgh’s soft pass defense (big cushions), but you can’t do that the entire game. He’ll have to hit some big throws and the running game is still as unreliable as ever. Should be a fun game, but I like the Steelers at home here in a pretty important game for both teams.

Season Results

  • Week 1: 10-6
  • Week 2: 6-10
  • Week 3: 14-2
  • Week 4: 11-4
  • Week 5: 9-5
  • Week 6: 8-6
  • Week 7: 10-4
  • Week 8: 10-4
  • Week 9: 8-5
  • Week 10: 4-10
  • Week 11: 9-5
  • Week 12: 8-8
  • Season: 107-69 (.608)

NFL Week 13 Predictions: Patriots vs. Packers

I had this big Patriots-Packers matchup circled months ago as I was going to do an article I started in summer 2012 about Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady. It’s one of only a few articles in my files that I started without finishing a full draft. This was going to be a very eye-opening piece that I still expect to complete at some point. Missing from my plans was the fact that Week 13 was Thanksgiving week, so that put a damper on my hopes of generating a lot of discussion over my article with the holiday. Throw in the fact that I’m experiencing pain in the bottom right side of my body every time I move and I haven’t been able to do much at all this week.

What I will do is provide some thoughts on this important game which should have major playoff implications. After Sunday, I’m not sure either team will lose another regular-season game this year. 

Coaching – The Patriots are believed to have a big advantage with Bill Belichick matching wits with Mike McCarthy, who still rarely gets credit as one of the best coaches in the league. Also, Dom Capers and his 3-4 defense havea lot in common with Dick LeBeau’s system, which Belichick and Tom Brady have picked apart better than anyone. I’m inclined to agree with all of that, but I know in 2010 McCarthy took his team with Matt Flynn at QB and played very well in Foxboro. At a time when the Patriots were blowing everyone out, the Packers only lost 31-27. A few tactical errors did doom them, such as a short kickoff late in the first half that a NE lineman returned for 71 yards. In the fourth quarter, McCarthy chickened out on a 4th-and-1 at the NE 1 and kicked a field goal for a 27-21 lead. Has McCarthy improved as a decision maker, especially in close games? I wouldn’t say  he has, but he’s better than most of the coaches the Patriots have faced this year.

The Quarterbacks – You may have heard five million times already this is the first start between Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady. I was listening to Sterling Sharpe and the NFL Playbook crew break down the matchup and found their takeaways to be intriguing and accurate. Basically, they said Rodgers just has to show up and be himself, which means making great throws into tight coverage to beat those NE cornerbacks. For Brady, they talked about how he’ll take advantage of your mistakes, especially in the red zone and with breakdowns in coverage that leave guys wide open like Tim Wright on just about every touchdown he has this year.

In layman’s terms, Rodgers can credit a higher percentage of his success to his own greatness while Brady benefits more from schematic advantages.

In caveman terms, Rodgers succeeds by being great and Brady succeeds because the opponent fucked up.

That might sound harsh, but I can’t really disagree with it. That’s a big part of the reason I never bought into Brady being the “best” because you rarely see him make the tough plays. There are throws that Rodgers can routinely make that Brady and just about every other QB in the NFL simply can’t make. When pressured, we know Rodgers will take more sacks because he’s really cautious to not throw picks, but he’s still much better than Brady at making something out of nothing. He has the better individual tools for the position.

But the question is which quarterback will have to do more to win this game? That should be Rodgers, because I think he’s playing the tougher defense. Forget the early-season results. The Patriots held Denver and Indianapolis, two of the best offenses in the league, to 21 and 20 points. Rodgers has gone from having the deepest receiving corps in the NFL to basically playing catch with Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, yet he’s still playing like a MVP this year. He’ll have to play at a high level to consistently beat Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner in coverage with those receivers. I think Nelson is more dangerous and so much of his success comes near the sideline by adjusting to throws from Rodgers where only Nelson can get the ball. Revis will have studied this, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see if they play the size matchups and Revis sees a lot of the faster Cobb. But if the Patriots are winning these matchups, then Green Bay could be in trouble due to a lack of production from tight end and other receivers.

The Running Game – I didn’t even consider the running game in Patriots-Colts, because NE didn’t show any real consistency in that area this season. Of course, the RB position was critical and the Colts made Jonas Gray a star for one night. Of course, the Patriots are the only team in NFL history who would have a guy go off for 200 yards and 4 TD and not even play the following week to teach him a lesson. I have no idea if Gray will contribute this week or if the reacquired LeGarrette Blount will get most of the action. Eddie Lacy has been anything but consistent for GB this year, but he’ll need to have a decent impact. His receiving has been a huge benefit lately, but rarely do you see a Belichick-coached defense look so pathetic on a screen or tackling the way the Bears and Eagles have in recent weeks against GB.

For the year the Patriots have done a better job of stopping the run. A big part of containing the Broncos and Colts was holding those offenses to pathetic rushing numbers. If Lacy has 10 carries for 23 yards, I can promise you the Patriots will win this game decisively. I expect better than that, but I also expect the Patriots to have a better rushing day to help complement Brady’s passing.

Home-field Advantage – It’s good for Green Bay the game is at Lambeau, because they have been landing fatalities before halftime there this season. The problem is they’ve done it against a bunch of weak teams except for the Eagles, who still don’t match up as well as the Patriots can. There’s a pretty big step up in competition here for Green Bay. Still, this is one of the toughest road tests for the Patriots in years, and Indy game be damned, they rarely pass these tests anymore. Keep in mind the Patriots had a bye week to prepare for that Indy game where they went unorthodox by utilizing a sixth offensive lineman to much success in the running game. These are fairly unfamiliar opponents, though I’m not sure that benefits or hurts either team too much after a normal week to prepare. Belichick was playing against a Peyton Manning offense for the 23rd time this year. He was facing the Colts for the 12th season in a row. Did that experience help with those performances? Maybe. I’m just trying to figure out how Geno Smith and the Jets had more offensive success than those teams, and if the Packers are added to that list, then I’m going to be even more confused.

Close Game? – Speaking of first-half fatalities, these teams aren’t playing close games this year at all. They each only have one 4QC/GWD opportunity and both were in Miami. The Packers are 1-0 at 4QC/GWD opportunities, which is stunning since they have three losses. That means they were beaten thoroughly, which is unusual. The Patriots are 0-1 at 4QC/GWDs, because they got their asses kicked in Kansas City and have mostly blown teams out since then. If you want to see a classic shootout between these quarterbacks, you’re probably going to be disappointed. This is more likely to be a rout the Patriots haven’t seen since Drew Brees destroyed them in 2009, or it could be a stomping the Packers haven’t taken under Rodgers since the 2012 Giants made us think they were prepared for another run.

Gronkowski Factor – He’s regained his status as the best TE in the NFL, but Gronkowski can have a big impact without even touching the ball now. Defenses are so afraid of him they’ll allow other guys (like Wright) to get open and Brady has no problem picking out the open guy. Gronk’s actually been held under 80 yards the last two weeks, yet NE continued to score 34-42 points. His touchdown against the Colts, as impressive as it was, came with the game basically decided already. So you can hold down Gronk to respectable numbers, but that doesn’t mean you’ll stop the Patriots. They have too many ways to succeed, and that’s the overall theme I’ve been driving towards with this matchup. Hell, Brady didn’t even average 6.6 YPA against Denver (6.28) or Detroit (6.59), yet the Patriots won by 22+ points. If it’s not Gronk’s amazing catch radius or taking advantage of a poor run defense, you get the defense setting up short fields with takeaways or Julian Edelman making a monster punt return. Did I mention the Patriots are better on special teams? Brandon LaFell has also really come on during this run as a trustworthy third receiver and I wouldn’t be shocked if he outproduced Cobb and Nelson on Sunday. I’m assuming his injury wasn’t a big deal at the end of last week’s game.

Rodgers is certainly having more of a MVP season than Brady, and he could take a significant lead in that race with a brilliant performance here. But it’s also for that reason — needing one player to do more to succeed — that I think the Patriots, the more complete team, get this win.

Final prediction: Patriots 33, Packers 24

NFL Week 13 Predictions

Should the Broncos be worried if Julius Thomas doesn’t play on Sunday night? I don’t think so. Last week’s dominant offensive display was done without Thomas, as was last year’s 35-28 win in Arrowhead. In both games Virgil Green played over 70% of the snaps to give Denver better blocking. While I think the Chiefs will come out strong looking to make up for the Oakland loss and rally around the terrible Eric Berry news, I still think Denver will score enough to get the win. Hopefully this game and NE-GB will live up to the hype, because Thanksgiving really sucked. I picked Detroit, Dallas and Seattle, so there’s a 2-1 start.

Winners in bold:

  • Redskins at Colts
  • Browns at Bills
  • Saints at Steelers
  • Raiders at Rams
  • Giants at Jaguars
  • Chargers at Ravens
  • Titans at Texans
  • Panthers at Vikings
  • Bengals at Buccaneers
  • Cardinals at Falcons
  • Patriots at Packers
  • Broncos at Chiefs
  • Dolphins at Jets

Heavy on the road teams late in the week, I guess.

Season Results

  • Week 1: 8-8
  • Week 2: 9-7
  • Week 3: 11-5
  • Week 4: 8-5
  • Week 5: 11-4
  • Week 6: 9-5-1
  • Week 7: 10-5
  • Week 8: 10-5
  • Week 9: 11-2
  • Week 10: 10-3
  • Week 11: 8-6
  • Week 12: 12-3
  • Total: 117-58-1

NFL Week 13 Predictions

I was going to type a rant about how we overstate the importance of quarterbacks who aren’t very good (think Sam Bradford) while it can never be overstated for teams like Green Bay (Aaron Rodgers).

But I’m left football speechless after what happened in the Alabama-Auburn game, so save the rant for next time. That could not have happened to a greater human being than Nick Saban. What kind of jackass bypasses a 30-yard field goal that would have made it 31-21, but tries a 57-yard kick with one second left? Even with a different kicker that’s a bad decision. You have to try the Hail Mary instead.

I just hope we don’t see Ohio State in the NC game.

NFL Week 13 Predictions

Last season the home teams were 0-3 on Thanksgiving. This year they were 3-0 and I had them all.

  • Jaguars at Browns
  • Bears at Vikings
  • Cardinals at Eagles
  • Patriots at Texans
  • Titans at Colts
  • Buccaneers at Panthers
  • Dolphins at Jets
  • Falcons at Bills
  • Rams at 49ers
  • Broncos at Chiefs
  • Bengals at Chargers
  • Giants at Redskins
  • Saints at Seahawks

I don’t have much confidence in any of these picks. Could be another wild week.

Season results:

  • Week 1: 11-5
  • Week 2: 12-4
  • Week 3: 8-8
  • Week 4: 9-6
  • Week 5: 9-5
  • Week 6: 11-4
  • Week 7: 10-5
  • Week 8: 10-3
  • Week 9: 8-5
  • Week 10: 8-6
  • Week 11: 9-6
  • Week 12: 7-6-1
  • Season: 112-63-1

NFL Week 13 Predictions, QB Turnover Rates and Writing Recap

Getting right down to business.

This Week’s Articles

Captain Comeback Week 12: Ray Rice 4th-and-29 Conversion Strikes a Norv – Cold, Hard Football Facts

Joe Flacco hits the first “Dump Mary” in NFL history, with Ray Rice taking it the distance on 4th and 29. NFL teams are 6/35 (17.1%) on 4th and 20+ since 2000 in clutch situations. Full table included of the successes. Also this week:  Houston wins in OT for the second straight week with the help of Walt Coleman explaining another terrible, obscure NFL rule. Matt Ryan sets more records and the Steelers make asses out of themselves in Cleveland.

WC

10 NFL Teams That Absolutely Cannot Afford to Lose Their Starting QB – Bleacher Report

It’s a slideshow, but don’t worry, it’s still over 4,100 words. A look at the 10 teams who could least afford to lose their starting QB, with some surprises in the top 5.

Following a Legend: Andrew Luck Week 12 vs. Buffalo Bills – Colts Authority

The “Fire Wanny!” movement is understandable. Dave Wannstedt’s defense was the most vanilla up front all season out of the 11 games the Colts have played, rushing four or less on 40 of 43 drop backs for Andrew Luck. However, they did get an impressive amount of pressure, so it was not all bad. Though, Reggie Wayne was the most wide open he has been all season, and the Colts receivers had their best YAC performance of the season.

What parity? Familiar faces dot NFL playoff chase – NBC Sports

Since the NFL moved to eight divisions in 2002, the league averages 5.2 new division winners and 6.3 new playoff teams. This season, they may be lucky to only get two new division winners and three new playoff teams. The numbers could be even smaller if the Packers win the NFC North again. This comes after a season with a record seven new division winners in 2011.

Even if you don’t want to read this one, it’s a great piece to bookmark as I compiled the division winners and all 12 playoff seeds for 2002-11 into tables. Might be the only place on the internet you can get all of that info on one page.

The Thinking Man’s Guide: NFL Week 13 Predictions – Bleacher Report

This week we look at: why the Falcons need to get over (and did) the Saints hump. Are the Colts the worst 7-4 team ever? Todd Bowles is having the worst career start ever for a defensive coordinator in Philadelphia.

122PRPHI

Rodgers, Ryan, Brady Best Ever Protecting the Football – Cold, Hard Football Facts

Updating (but not rehashing) an article from last year, here is a look at the career QB Turnover Rates, which includes interceptions and fumbles (all fumbles). Aaron Rodgers (2.65) has the best mark ever, while Rex Grossman (5.30) is the worst active QB, and exactly double the rate of Rodgers. How fitting. A full table for 171 quarterbacks in NFL history (min. 1,500 attempts).

2012 NFL Week 13 Predictions

Did Drew Brees’ birthmark expand after he threw five interceptions on Thursday night? I picked the Falcons to win, but that was still a shocking way for the game to play out.

Winners in bold:

  • Jaguars at Bills
  • Seahawks at Bears
  • Colts at Lions
  • Vikings at Packers
  • Panthers at Chiefs
  • Patriots at Dolphins
  • Cardinals at Jets
  • 49ers at Rams
  • Texans at Titans
  • Buccaneers at Broncos
  • Steelers at Ravens
  • Browns at Raiders
  • Bengals at Chargers
  • Eagles at Cowboys
  • Giants at Redskins

Season results:

  • Week 1: 12-4
  • Week 2: 11-5
  • Week 3: 4-12
  • Week 4: 10-5
  • Week 5: 10-4
  • Week 6: 5-9
  • Week 7: 12-1
  • Week 8: 10-4
  • Week 9: 11-3
  • Week 10: 9-4-1
  • Week 11: 11-3
  • Week 12: 10-6
  • Season: 115-60-1 (.656)