Monday, December 31, 2007

Final Picks Record

7 for 16 for week 17. Those pulled starters killed me. 52/79 (65.8%) posted, 163/256 (63.6%) for the full season. Finished right in the middle of the ESPN experts.
1 Jaworski 68.8%
2 Schlereth 66.7%
3 Hoge 65.2%
4 Mortensen 64.1%
5 Shake'n'Bake 63.6%
6 (Tie)Wickersham/Salisbury 63.1%
8 Allen 58.6%
9 Golic 58.4%

Picked a better % than last year, but beat fewer ESPN experts. Wow the season is really almost over. That's sad. On the bright side it's time for the 4 best weeks of games of the year. GO Colts

Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Moss Effect

Obviously Moss isn't the only change on the teams of the QBs being compared, but see the difference between with and without Randy Moss.

Brad Johnson and Randall Cunningham in 1997 (Pre-Moss)
319-540, 59.1% completion, 3537 yards, 26 TDs, 16INTs, 6.6 yrds/att, 11.1 yrds/comp, QB Rating 82.3

Brad Johnson and Randall Cunningham in 1998 (rookie Moss)
327-533, 61.4% completion, 4492 yards, 41 TDs, 16 INTs, 8.4 yrds/att, 13.7 yrds/comp, QB Rating 101.5

Change in performance (1998 minus 1997)
+2.3% completion, +955 yards, +15 TDs, +0 INTs, +1.8 yards/att, +2.6 yrds/comp, +19.2 QB Rating

Daunte Culpepper 2004 (with Moss)
379-548, 69.2% completion, 4717 yards, 39 TDs, 11 INTs, 8.6 yrds/att, 12.4 yrds/comp, QB Rating 110.9, 136.2 DPAR

Daunte Culpepper and Brad Johnson in 2005 (post Moss)
323-510, 63.3% completion, 3449 yards, 18 TDs, 16 INTs, 6.8 yrds/att, 10.7 yrds/comp, QB Rating 81.7, 32.3 DPAR

Change in performance (2004 minus 2005)
+5.9% completion, +1268 yards, +21 TDs, -5 INTs, +1.8 yrds/att, +1.7 yrds/comp, +29.2 QB Rating, +103.9 DPAR

Kerry Collins 2004 (Pre Moss)
289-513, 56.3% completion, 3495 yards, 21 TDs, 20 INTs, 6.8 yrds/att, 12.1 yrds/comp, QB Rating 74.8, 4.8 DPAR

Kerry Collins 2005 (with Moss)
302-565, 53.5% completion, 3759 yards, 20 TDs, 12 INTs, 6.7 yrds/att, 12.4 yrds/comp, QB Rating 77.3, 47.5 DPAR

Change in performance (2005 minus 2004)
-2.8% completion, +264 yards, - 1TD, -8 INTs, -0.1 yrds/att, +0.3 yrds/comp, +2.5 QB Rating, +42.7 DPAR

Average change in QB performance with/without Moss pre-2007
+1.8% completion, +829 yards, +11.67 TDs, -4.33 INTs, +1.17 yrds/att, +1.53 yrds/comp, +16.97 QB Rating, +73.3 DPAR (can't find pre-2000 DPAR if anyone has a link please share)

Not using his Raiders stint where the popular opinion was Moss didn't try the average change is: +4.1% completion, +1111.5 yards, +18 TDs, -2.5 INTs, +1.8 yrds/att, +2.15 yrds/comp, +24.2 QB Rating, +103.9 DPAR.

So a QB with Moss performs far better than the same QB a season later/earlier without him. Here's the before and after for Brady.

Tom Brady 2006 (pre Moss)
319-516, 61.8% completion, 3529 yards, 24 TDs, 12 INTs, 6.8 yrds/att, 11.1 yrds/comp, QB Rating 117.2, 75.9 DPAR

Tom Brady 2007 (with Moss)
398-578, 68.9% completion, 4806 yards, 50 TDs, 8 INTs, 8.3 yrds/att, 12.1 yrds/comp, QB Rating 87.9, (2007 DPAR should be done tomarrow night I'll update then)

Change in Brady's performance
+7.1% completion, +1277 yards, +26 TDs, -4 INTs, +1.5 yrds/att, +1 yrds/comp, +29.3 QB Rating

The Average change with a "motivated" Moss again
+4.1% completion, +1111.5 yards, +18 TDs, -2.5 INTs, +1.8 yrds/att, +2.15 yrds/comp, +24.2 QB Rating


If you subtract the average change from a motivated Moss you get
64.8% completion (less than 1% off Brady's previous career high), 3695 yards (lower than two previous Brady seasons), 32 TDs (4 over his career high), 10.5 INTs (1.5 below his career low), 6.7 yrds/att (below two previous seasons), 11.2 yards/comp (lower than 3 previous years) and a QB Rating of 93 (.4 of his career high)

Brady didn't play much better than you would expect a QB that had Randy Moss added to his offense. Brady just started out better than the other QBs Moss played with.

Moss for MVP?

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Brady's awesome 2007

-Copying and pasting from what I wrote as a comment on 18 to 88, because that's all I have to say tonight. Might have more after some sleep and plenty of over the top Brady love tomorrow.-

52 extra passes to tie the record. It doesn't invalidate the record that Brady needed more attempts, the record is his and no one can argue that he didn't throw the most TDs in NFL history. Where the attempts comes in is in comparing Brady's season to others (2004 Manning's because few other seasons compare statistically).

49 TDs in 497 attempts vs 50 in 578 attempts.

Who threw more TDs? Brady, obviously.

Who had the better season? I'd say Manning. A TD on average every 10 attempts for Manning compared to 11.5 for Brady. Almost a yard more per attempt (.9). 1.6 more yards per completion.

If Manning had the number of attempts Brady had this season (not much of a stretch because Manning was pulled earlier and more often from blowouts)...

04 Manning with 578 attempts

57 TDs, 5317.6 yards, 11.6 INTs

04 Manning with 526 attempts (Manning takes all of Sorgi's 04 snaps)

51.9 TDs, 4822.9 yards, 10.6 INTs

2 more TDs, 17 more yards and 2.6 more INTs.

Manning could have crushed the TD (and passing yards) record if he played as late into blowouts and the season as Brady did.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Last week of Picks

45/63 (71.4%) posted record so far. For the full season 156/240 (65%), so I need only two correct picks to top last season. Of ESPNs experts Hodge, Jaworski and Schlereth have better records, Hodge and Schlereth are within reach but Jaworski ran away from the competition. Matching my 156 correct picks without picking any of the Monday Night Football games (since he was announcing them). Schlereth earned my respect last year by being the first commentator to mention excellent and more run oriented D-line play as a reason for the Colts run D improving in the playoffs (though it took him until just before the AFC Championship game). Most other theories revolved around the players being sick of hearing they were bad or it being a fluke. So I can deal with Schlereth beating me he is better than most at ESPN.
It's also not a surprise that the two ESPN commentators whose jobs are focused on watching and breaking down game film did very well in determining pick team would win. Watching the games actually helps? I thought you just had to watch ESPN to have them tell you which teams are good.
Beating even Jaworski was Brian Burke at using a statistical model he explains here. He is at 69.8% for the year. On to my picks.

NE @ NYG I hope the Giants put up a fight. The "Tom Brady-Randy Moss lob deep balls every play to get the NFL TD records" show didn't even fly vs the Dolphins the Giants have got to be stop that from happening. I've beat the "Brady needs more attempts/games/completions to tie the record than Manning took to set it" line into the ground so I'll lay off it a while. If (probably when) he ties the record I'll do a full write up (rant).

SEA @ ATL Who is the better team when the good team is resting starters? Hard question but the Falcons are so bad and "resting" Shaun Alexander probably helps the Seahawks chances.

NO @ CHI The Bears have pretty well proven they can beat the Packers, but somehow this hasn't translated into beating anyone else.

DET @ GB Don't make fun of Jon Kitna too much. If you had been sacked 111 times in the last two years you'd say some crazy shit too.

CIN @ MIA Carson Palmer has thrown a career high INTs and career low yards per completion along with the least TDs and yards per attempt since his rookie season. All while being sacked less times than ever. Definitely a step back for a guy who was considered the best QB not named Peyton Manning or Tom Brady going into the season (maybe Brees too)

JAC @ HOU The Jags are very good but the Colts have beat them twice now. That is getting lost in the hype building around them from reporters whose jaws are too sore to continue blowing the Pats and wouldn't touch the "boring" Colts with a ten foot pole.

CAR @ TB The Bucs sat starters very early last week (like I hoped) they are probably going to do it again but I'm refusing to think myself in knots figuring out what will happen if they do sit starters. Just taking the better team.

BUF @ PHI Bills lost their stud LT to injury. Colts fans know how this hurts an offense and when you have Trent Edwards instead of Peyton Manning you can't afford that kind of lost production.

-I come up off the bench and put points up on the scoreboard-
-How you do that?-
-I call it Shaun Hill magic-

-I start as third string and outplay two top ten picks-
-How you do that?-
-I call it Shaun Hill magic-

-I score three TDs for every interception
-How you do that?-
-I call it Shaun Hill magic-

-I take a top 3 Pats Pick and put it into the teens-
-How you do that?-
-I call it Shaun Hill magic-

Put it to this beat

PIT @ BAL The Steelers might be better off with the Dump Truck. His FO stats are way better than Parkers. Only time will tell.

SD @ OAK Raiders will get stomped by a good running team again

DAL @ WAS Dallas has got to be sitting/pulling starters and the Redskins are good enough to take advantage. Don't bother pointing out this goes again what I said above about the Panthers game, I already know.

STL @ ARI The game I'm looking forward two this week, for sure. Never trust the Cardnals is the ironclad rule helping me with this pick.

MIN @ DEN Purple Jesus will finally run free against the awful Denver run D.

KC @ NYJ Oh, God. Why do they even bother playing this one. Um the Jets?

TEN @ IND Sorgi time is a merry time of year.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Lookin' Good

Colts have done something that has only been done three times in NFL history and all three of those previous teams have gone on to win the Superbowl. They are the forth team ever to win the Superbowl and go on to win more games the following year. 1975 Steelers, 1989 49ers and 1998 Broncos were the first 3, all repeated as champs. (Thanks for another awesome bit of football knowledge, Football Outsiders)

Colts have another game with little meaning remaining on the schedule and a bye week to get healthy before the playoffs. I'm hoping for a few series up to a half from the 1st teams then sit them. Get Well Soon, Robert Mathis, Ryan Diem, Antoine Bethea, Josh Thomas, Marvin Harrison, Raheem Brock, Joseph Addai, Anthony Gonzalez Dwight Freeney (for next season) and everyone I've missed.

Picks were an awesome 12 of 16 (75%). Maybe I'm lucky, maybe it's been an easy few weeks to pick, but I'm patting myself on the back for these last couple weeks anyway.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Sunday Recap

The Texans scored the first and the last touchdowns, but that was all for them. Between the Texans two touchdowns the Colts put up 38 points all scored in the first 3 quarters, before the starters were pulled. Minus the hopefully minor injury to Addai this game couldn't have gone any better. The offense was clicking, the D was strong, allowing only 7 points until the Texans scored in the final minute against the backups. Even the special teams play was only below average instead of awful. If Addai is ok and I'd guess that he is since he returned after his injury long enough for a powerful TD run up the middle, then the game was a total success.

Tom Brady continues to throw lots of passes and throw most of them very well. He now has 536 attempts, completing 366 for 68.3% completions, 4450 yards, 48 TDs and 8 INTs. At the end of his record breaking 2004 season Peyton Manning had thrown 39 less passes, completed the same number (336), for a completion % 0.7% lower, 107 more yards, one more, TD and two more INTs. Tom Brady has a very good chance of tying and breaking Manning's TD record, but to do it he will have had to have thrown the ball over 40 more times, and will have needed more completions and games than Manning did. Brady is great, but this season is far from proof that he is better than Manning.

In what little of the Pats-Dolphins blowout I could stand to watch I saw Brady throw a ball to a receiver running up the sideline which flew directly between the Dolphins safety's hands as he jumped in front for the easy pick and into Gaffney's hands for Brady's 48th TD . The announcers then praised Brady's arm strength for 5 straight minutes before even mentioning how unbelievably lucky he was to not have it picked off. Absolutely Ridiculous.

The Shaun Hill led Niners continued to give the Pats a big "F YOU" with another win today. Now the highest the 1st round pick obtained by the Pats can be is 4th and the lowest 14th. If the season ended today it would be the 8th. Keep on climbing Niners!

Kyle Orton completed a higher % of his passes for a higher yards per attempt and per completion and threw more TDs. Favre did have two more gun-slings.

Picks were 11 of 15 and the Chargers over the Broncos pick won't have me worried.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Week 16 Picks

Steelers won to get the week off to a good start. Willie Parker's injury is unfortunate, but it allows Najeh "The Dump Truck" Davenport to take over the featured role in Pittsburgh. If you aren't familiar with the nickname or the story behind it you are missing out. I'm not sure if all the details ever came out, if they did someone please tell me, but the name refers to an incident while Davenport was at the University of Miami. Again, I don't know the full story but it ends with him dropping a deuce in a female student's laundry hamper. Link.

Already took the Cowboys for tonight. Sounds like Romo is good to go so I'm not worried about that one.

Bengals @ Browns Bengals=bad

Cheifs @ Lions Cheifs=bad

Texans @ Colts All I want to see in this game is no more injuries and the offense getting on track. Nothing else matters.
Packers @ Bears Come on, Bring Grossman back. Lovie, your QB will suck no matter which one you pick so at least let him fail spectacularly.

Giants @ Bills I really want the Giants to play their starters next week. If the Pats get to cruise to 16-0 against the Giants second stringers I'll be sad. Come on someone take them down. The hype is painfully obnoxious. Go Bills

Raiders @ Jags Now I really know how bad Garrard got robbed he's had this great season all while working a second job and it's a second job that ain't easy.

Eagles @ Saints FO has a nice piece about how amazingly awful Jason David has been in the Saints scheme. Putting a below average corner from a zone D into a man defense? Great Idea.

Bucs @ Niners Bucs have clinched their division and can't earn a 1st round bye so maybe it's time to ease off the gas and let some more Shaun Hill magic kill the Pats draft position.

Falcons @ Cardnals I don't think it's possible for the Falcons to go any lower. Even getting blown out by the Cardnals would just be a sideways move.

Dolphins @ Pats The Jets couldn't pull it off and the Dolphins got a win, so the best scenario for the Pats first loss is vs Colts in the AFC Championship. Still, Go Dolphins.

Ravens @ Seahawks The Ravens are chasing the Falcons to the bottom and the Seahawks were awful last week, but the Ravens clearly suck more.

Jets @ Titans I don't say many nice things about Vince Young but he does throw a better deep ball than Chad Pennington.

Redskins @ Vikings Even Tarvaris Jackson transforming back into the guy who could barely complete half his passes playing D2 football can't stop Purple Jesus.

Broncos @ Chargers Even Norv Turner can't turn a 13+ win team into one that misses the playoffs, you need Brian Billick for that.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

More quick stuff

Colts win an ugly game. I was very happy with the defense, but the offense, especially the running game worried me. They can't think about resting most of the offense until they are in sync. The win locks up the #2 seed along with a 5th straight AFC South title and a NFL record 5th straight 12+ win season for the Colts.

Colts move up to #2 in DVOA and back into the top 10 highest DVOAs ever measured. If this team had been as healthy as 2004/2005 they would be the best Colts team ever.

Miami actually won. Football Outsiders had been saying they aren't that bad for a while now, but I hoped for history anyway.

Picks were 10 of 16. Not bad, after two great weeks picking a worse one was coming. This was about the normal week I've had picking before I started posting, 62.5% this week, 61.3% last season and 62.7% unposted this season. This week brings my posted record to 33/47 (70.2%) awesome.

Ben Utecht's catch % took a little fall from an amazing 88% to a still outstanding 83%. He's an Restricted Free Agent after the season. I'm hoping the Colts at least give him a Jason David like offer. 4th round tender, he'll either be back for cheap or Colts get another pick and with Polian doing the drafting a 4th rounder is a pretty good bet to be good.

Tom Brady did not throw 4 TDs in 21 or less attempts, actually he threw none. Meaning if he does break the TD record it will have taken him more attempts to do so than Manning needed. Counting his touchdowns before they're scored, anyone? Brady needs 3 TD passes in his next 61 to match the 564 passes that Dan Marino threw to set the TD record at 48.

And finally thanks to Big Blue Shoe at the awesome Colts blog Stampede Blue for (accidentally?) coming up with a better blog name. Dropped a "N" out of there, sounds better and it might be how everyone but me read it as.
Shaken-N-Baken----> Shake-n-Baken

2008 Pro Bowl

Pro Bowlers have been announced, so it's time for everyone who follows the NFL to talk about snubs. Who is coasting off their reputation? Which emerging players got the shaft? Who rode a wave of hype to Hawaii?

I'll start with a comparison between the QBs/RBs selected and who I thought deserved it last week.

My picks: Romo, Favre and Hasselbeck
08 Pro Bowlers: Romo, Favre and Hasselbeck
Good job, Pro Bowl voters.

My picks: Manning, Brady, Garrard
08 Pro Bowlers: Manning, Brady, Roethlisberger
I think Garrard deserved it more, but it's hard to argue with Roethlisberger's production behind that awful O-line. Awesome post from FO's open thread for the afternoon games, "BRoeth has been sacked 5 times so far, which would be 15 for a normal human and 25 for Byron Leftwich."

My Picks: Westbrook, Marion Barber III, Adrian "Purple Jesus" Peterson
08 Pro Bowlers: Westbrook, Marion Barber III, Adrian "Purple Jesus" Peterson
Even deciding Pro Bowlers is easier in the NFC

My Picks: LdT, Addai, and a halfhearted vote for Justin Fargas
08 Pro Bowlers: LdT, Addai and Willie "negative yards or a TD" Parker
Even with how ineffective Parkers running has been I wouldn't expect voters to ignore the yardage total. If everyone was that smart it would be average instead of smart. Fred Taylor has been getting a lot of mention as a snub. He deserves some of it because he was close to deserving in my opinion, but Addai and LdT were clearly better backs as shown by their DPAR, DVOA and success rates.

Nearly all of the players I talked about deserving the spot were voted in and the 2 that weren't were the two I was least sure about.

At AFC receiver Welker and Chad Johnson have been sited as snubs and rightfully so, both have a higher DPAR and DVOA than Houshmandzadeh and Braylon Edwards. Welker has higher catch %s than any of the receivers that made it. Housh and Braylon were worse choices than the 2 snubs. Moss and Wayne have been the top WRs in the NFL this year. Welker has put up his big numbers in large part because of the offense/scheme around him but it's hard to discount that much production. Chad Johnson's catch % (59%) is a little below what I'd like to see from a top WR but Edward's is ugly (53%). Andre Johnson and Santonio Holmes have both been extremely effective when they've played, but don't have the raw numbers.

In the NFC Colston and Jennings have been mentioned as snubs. Colston should have made it for sure, 1000 yards, 9TDs with a 70% catch rate for the 4th best DPAR. Jennings doesn't have the yards of the other guys, but gets into the endzone a lot and catches a respectable % of passes his way. Both Fitzgerald and Housh have benefited from a lot of passes to them, Housh leads the league in targets, Fitz is just behind Housh and Chad Johnson for third in the league.
Engram of the Seahawks hasn't gotten much press at all but he has 1000 yards with a 70% catch rate. Only Engram and Welker have over 700 yards with a catch % over 70. Only Welker, Anthony Gonzalez and Ike Hillard have had at least 45 passes thrown to them and caught a higher % of them. I'd go with T.O. (even with the drops, worst catch % in the top 14 of DPAR), Colston, Driver and Engram.

The tight end and fullback choices were fine. I would have liked to have seen Clark, but his hands are officially worrying me (55% catch rate). If he keeps dropping balls Manning's inner child will be whispering "Gonzalez" and Clark will be headed elsewhere in the offseason.

On the O-line I can say that Jonathan Odgen made it on rep alone without even knowing how well he's played, because he hasn't played in 6 of his teams 14 games. A guy that had missed more than half his teams games at the time voting was going on should not be voted in. Allen Faneca is part of a horrible O-line in Pittsburgh, it might not be his fault but he has a recognizable name at a position where that's the main criteria for a Pro Bowl nod.

The NFC defense looks good enough, though I'm sure there are probably some great guys left off. Sean Taylor is the starting FS, classy, they should recognize him with the "missing man" D like the Redskins did.

Allen and Vanden Bosch have been great at DE, the spot vacated by Freeney goes to Jason Taylor. Definitely a choice influenced by reputation but he's still a top DE. I'd have gone with Mario Williams. The Media and Public really owe him an apology. He's been great this year. If he was going against Charlie Johnson Sunday I would want Peyton to handoff on the first play and sit the rest of the game (he plays on the defensive right, right? I sure hope so).

AFC middle linebacker is where I have a problem. Ray Lewis has only one more solo tackle (way to jump on that pile for the assist RayRay) than Gary Brackett who has two more picks and has caused several more with tips. As the MLB in the Tampa-2 he has the most difficult coverage assignment of any LB. He's has to cover deep between the safeties. That's the realm of the freakish TEs and far more territory and open space than most LBs can handle. When he isn't making the Tampa 2 and "Tampa" 2 he is spying on mobile QBs or playing close on elite TEs like Antonio Gates (3 catches for 26 yards vs Colts). Ray Lewis is a member of the top run D (by DVOA), Brackett of the top Pass D, but how well do they do at the other element? Colts run D 10th, Ravens 24th. Overall the Colts are the second best defense in the league, Ravens 8th. Brackett should be going.

AFC safeties are the big three names Ed Reed, Polamalu and Sanders, sounds right.

Decent job overall Brackett is the only omission that really bothers me.
And remember arguing about who goes to the Pro Bowl is far more interesting than the actual game, so don't just write it off as not mattering because the Pro Bowl sucks. The Pro Bowl would be completely pointless if we couldn't argue about who goes.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Week 15 Picks

1 of 2 on the NFL Network games. I'll take it when it hurts the Pats draft position. Go Niners. If the 49ers win out with Shaun Hill he is my hero. 21 for 28 for 7 yards per attempt, a TD and no picks passing with a rushing TD thrown in. That's awesome. It's against the Bengals D, but he put up almost the exact same stat line last week against the Vikings. I didn't know he played well last week. Everyone was too busy making who the hell is Shaun Hill jokes (if I would have put any analysis into that game I would probably be guilty as well) to mention that he played far better than you could ever expect from a third string QB that enters mid-game because of an injury.
Go Niners, keep the Pat's dirty cheating hands off of a top 5 pick.

Time for the Sunday picks (getting them in tonight in case I oversleep).

Titans at Cheifs: When you get blown out by the Broncos you suck. When Vince Young is your Quarterback you also suck, but not as much.

Ravens at Dolphins: The Ravens are perfectly capable of losing to the Dolphins, but they can't because the Dolphins first win with be against the Pats and it will be the greatest moment in football history. You will be able to hear the heads of every smug Patriots fan exploding from across the country. (Not really though. About the Dolphins winning, not the exploding heads, that one would actually happen).

Patriots at Jets: My rank how awesome/hilarious the Pats losing their first game to would be. 1. Dolphins, 14-0 losing to 0-14. 2. Colts in the AFC championship, preferably with another game ending INT from Mr. Super Clutch. 3. Jets this week. "You cheated got what you deserved, stop crying like a little bitch about it."-Mangini after Belichick blows of the postgame handshake.

Bills at Browns: "Who'd after though this one would have playoff implicationts ROFL LOL!!!!!!1111!!111!!. -Everyone I hate

Seahawks at Panthers: {Insert "Vinny Testaverde is old" joke here} because it's the only interesting thing to say about the Panthers.
The Seahawks are looking better now that they've started to realize Shaun Alexander is washed up and adjusted. It only took them half the season.

Cardnals at Saints: How did no one see the Saints collapse coming? Their big defensive upgrade was Jason David. The Cardnals aren't good either so I had no real opinion. DVOA Says, the Saints.

Falcons at Bucs: Tampa Bay is still very good very quietly. I don't blame Petrino for fleeing the disaster that the Falcons are but the way he did it was the problem. He saw a way out and bailed about as fast as humanly possible.

Packers at Rams: Rams suck, I'm sleepy, more on this shitty matchup tomorrow or never.

Jags at Steelers: They lost to the Pats, but so has everyone. Jags are dangerous, but Pittsburgh is still the 3rd best team in the AFC. If the Steelers lose the Colts can clinch the 2 seed and first round bye with a win.

Colts at Raiders: I'm really surprised to hear so many people saying this is where JaMarcus should get his first start. Really? Against the number one pass defense? Against a team who's offense should put them behind quickly and keep them there? If your not putting the top pick in at the start of the season and hoping they can making it through without suffering irreparable emotional and physical damage (Peyton made it, David Carr however) then why throw them in a bad matchup. You've waited 14 weeks one more won't kill you.


Friday, December 14, 2007

Quarterback Intangibles

There is no phrase used in NFL analysis that pisses me off faster than "Intangibles". "This QB has great intangibles" what does that mean and how do you know? Normally people talking about intangibles ramble on about what a great person the QB is and how hard he works and how tough and competitive he is. Of course he's hardworking, tough and competitive, he's one of the an elite few that have reached the top of his profession in one of the purest meritocracies you'll ever find. A NFL QB is one of less than 100 of the best of the best, a starter is one of the top 32, a QB that is considered good or even great is one of only a handful of people out of billions that can play the position to it's fullest. No one reaches that level without being extraordinarily gifted, hardworking, tough and competitive.

If something is intangible by definition it can't be perceived, realized or defined. How can someone know that a QB has intangibles if they can't be perceived, realized or defined. Ignoring the misuse of the word and defining it by context I understand it to mean "things that aren't measured by statistics". I'm sure that somethings a QB does aren't defined in his statistics. The NFL doesn't keep a stat for competitiveness or hours of gamefilm study. They don't need to because all of those things help a QB play better and the QB's statistics will show the improvement. If a QB is liked and respected by his teammates and this makes them play harder wouldn't that mean the QB is able to complete more passes for more yards and throw more TDs. Most things sited as intangibles are part of what creates the tangibles (stats). Adding in those intangibles on top of the stats gives more credit on top of what those intangibles have accomplished. It makes as much sense as randomly picking QBs and saying their yards count double.

I'm sure there are subtle things that a QB does that improve his team that don't get measured in his statistics. Things that are noticed by people that are with them throughout the season and can sense the subtle positives that the QB contributes. I don't doubt that this happens, but how does a guy sitting watching the game see this, whether it's from the stands, the couch or Bristol Connecticut. Even if you do spend time with a QB in his locker room and pick up on his "intangibles" how do they compare them to the rest of the league. I've never heard of a ESPN intangibles specialist who just chills in every locker room in the league and senses which QBs have great intangibles (I call that job). Do they have an intangibles meter that they can walk around with or just hold up to the QB in question.

So what are the intangibles that sports analysis always talk about? They aren't measured by stats, but can be determined by just feel. How does that QB feel to you? Does he make you all warm and fuzzy inside?
That's the basis of intangibles. How the QB seems to you through the TV. When you look at the stats and watch his teams performance you just feel that the QB is better or worse than what the numbers tell you? Do you know what that's called? It's called personal bias.
"Those numbers can't be right. When I watch I see how great (or awful) he is. The stats disagree. There's obviously something missing here."
Yes, there is. It's called
limited experience (you don't see every play) and selective perception (even if you do you don't remember all of them). You base your opinion on what you remember and the conclusions you reached from that (or on which plays you saw agree if the opinion you already have). When the stats disagree it's because they see everything and remember everything within that stats scope. Quarterback Intangibles is what analysis use to describe and allow them to include their personal biases, whether they realize it or not.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

NFLN picks

Texans (tonight) and Bengals (Saturday)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Pro Bowl Voting closed, picks, pats

Really? After 13 games. That sucks. I didn't know that. And I thought that opening the voting as early as they do was the big problem with how it was set up. Starting the voting before mid-season and ending it before the season ends guarantees it will be a popularity contest. Do it right or take away the fan's vote. Allow voting over the last few weeks of the season and end it when the regular season does. Probowlers are announced a week from today. I'm sure I'll have plenty to say about them.

12 0f 16 on the picks, bringing by posted record to 23 of 31 (74.1%) Not too bad.

If Tom Brady doesn't throw the 4 TD passes he needs to tie the single season record in his next 21 attempts, it will have taken him more passes to tie the record than it took Peyton to set it. Brady is having an amazing season by any measure, but the raw (huge) numbers are less impressive when you consider the number of attempts he's taking to get there. He's thrown for 4095 yards and 45 TDs in 476 attempts. In Manning's record breaking 2004 season he threw for 4557 yards and 49 TDs in 497 attempts.
Brady is throwing the ball very well, he's also throwing it a lot. 36.6 attempts a game.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The least homerish Pro Bowl ballot I'll fill out this year Part 1

I've done one or two already (what is it they allow, like 25?), but I'm really going to take a look at who deserves it instead taking the obvious picks plus almost every Colt on the ballot and rounding out the ballot with a few guesses. Please, feel free to disagree and tell me why another guy deserves it more, I'm listening and have 20 some ballots left.

Easy decisions : Peyton, Brady
3rd QB candidates: Anderson, Garrard, Roethlisberger, Palmer
Arguments: Palmer has the most yards, but also the most INTs. Roethlisberger has the best yards per attempt, completion % and is tied with Anderson for the most TDs. Garrard has the least INTs by far. FO's DPAR (as of last week) has them ranked Anderson, Palmer, Garrard with Big Ben behind Cutler for 7th in the AFC, but he's played well behind an awful line and is under constant pressure. Garrard is hurt by his missed time, but DVOA has him as the 2nd best QB in the NFL per play. After watching him against the Colts last week, he earned my respect and now he gets my vote.
My Votes: Peyton, Brady, Garrard

Easy decisions : Romo, Favre
3rd QB candidates: Kitna, Hasselbeck, Brees
Arguments: Kitna has the most yards and yards per attempt. Hasselbeck has thrown the most TDs and the least picks. Brees has the highest completion %, but the most picks and is throwing tons of short stuff (very low yards per attempt) Bress's high completion % with bad yards per attempt and INTs reminds me a bit of Carr and Frye last year, but Bress isn't facing the kind of pressure those bad QBs did (tied for the least sacks of any qualifying QB). DPAR likes Brees by a decent amount and he has the best DVOA by a smaller margin. FO's stats also like Garcia. They don't like Kitna. I like my QBs to not turn the ball over and not remind me of two washed up QBs, it's Hasselbeck.
My Votes: Romo, Favre and Hasselbeck

Easy Choices: Addai, Tomlison
Why?: The Top 2 backs in the AFC in rushing TDs and DPAR, neither has fumbled. Addai is only averaging 4.1 a carry but has one of the top success rates in the league. Meaning he's consistently moving the Colts towards first downs and his per carry average is likely hurt by many (successful) 3rd and short carries.
3rd RB Candidates: Parker, McGahee, Justin Fargas, Fred Taylor,
Arguments: Parker is leading the league in rushing, but he's averaging only 4 yards a carry and is exactly the perfect example of a "boom or bust" back (he breaks big runs, but is stopped for little yardage a ton, making sustaining a drive very hard for his team). DPAR and DVOA hate him, with all the passion a computer model can possibly hate with. He's ranked in the 40s of backs with 75 or more rushes. His four fumbles and bad success rate are the reason. McGahee is 2nd in the AFC in yards and has 7 TDs, but he has a poor success rate to go with his mediocre 4.2YPC. Fargas came out of nowhere to become the key to the Raiders (bad) offense, 920 yards, 4.7 a carry, decent success rate, Justin Fargas a surprisingly decent choice. Fred Taylor, high YPC + bad success rate="boom and bust" or garbage yards (gain of 12 on a 3rd and 16 draw, etc). Ronnie Brown was tearing it up before his injury and would have made this ugly debate moot if he had stayed healthy.
My Votes: Addai, LdT, and Fargas I guess.

Easy Choices: Westbrook, Marion Barber III, Adrian "Purple Jesus" Peterson
Why?: Marion Barber III (aka MB3, my 2nd favorite nickname in the NFL) is 3rd in the NFC in DPAR and averaging 5 yards per carry with 7 rushing TDs. Westbrook leds the NFL in Rushing DPAR and all RBs in Receiving DPAR. 2nd in rushing yards, 4.7 a carry on the conventional stat side. 1,200 yards, 109 per game, 6.1 per carry 10TDs, 2nd in DPAR, 1st in DVOA, bow before Purple Jesus.
Arguable: Brandon Jacobs, awesome success rate, 4.9 a carry.
My Votes: Westbrook, MB3, Purple Jesus

That's all for today. More in the next few days.

Recapping Sunday

The Colts are finally getting healthy and back to their normally elite level of play. They just destroyed the Ravens. Missed most of the game because I was at work, so I'll talk about the only play that I saw that really stood out, along with the stats and recaps I've seen so far.

Anthony Gonzalez's first NFL TD. Sick double move on the Raven's backup CB. They gave Gonzo over 10 yards of cushion and he sold the comeback route so well that the corner bit hard and fell over when AG turned it back upfield. Awesome route running and great speed from the rookie. It took Reggie Wayne until his 3rd year to get all the way into the offense. Gonzalez has already topped Wayne's rookie season in two less games and the current Colts offense is at least, probably more, complex than when Reggie had to learn it.

Congrats to the best QB in the NFL for his 300th TD pass, now 4th on the all-time list.

Great game by the Colts in every aspect of the game (except kick coverage, Fire Russ Purnell). No turnovers or sacks on offense. 5 turnovers forced and no points allowed until garbage time on defense. Gary Brackett needs to be doing his hula dance in Hawaii (I'll accept Glendale, AZ too) in February. I'm going here to vote for him right now.

11 for 15 on the picks, nice week already. Thought about changing the Rams-Bengals pick when I found out Brock Berlin was starting, but I decided I had balls and won't ever change a pick once it's posted. That was kind of dumb. I'll keep the no changing rule for sure but, no more Sunday picks on Thursday.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Ben Utecht

Tight end Ben Utecht hasn't been a favorite of Colts fans this season, myself included. After to Charlie Johnson and Aaron Moorehead I can't think of a player that has been criticized more by Colts fans, but has he gotten a fair assessment? I'll take a look.

The inspiration for the re-examination of Utecht came from one of by favorite sites and home of the best football analysis on the internet, Football Outsiders. A few days ago I stumbled onto this stat: Ben Utecht has caught 86% of the passes thrown to him. That's outstanding. That is the best % of any Tight End or Wide Receiver with more than 10 passes thrown to them (he has 28 targets). The great hands he has displayed this season has gone nearly unnoticed. That's good enough for the 6th best DVOA (value per-play) of all Tight Ends so far this year. It's not just short stuff either. He's averaging 11.2 yards per reception.
Is this a fluke? It's possible, but last season Utecht showed a similar tendency to catch the ball, bringing in 37 of the 53 (70%) passes thrown his way (stat from Pro Football Prospectus 2007). He's always been a good blocker and has kept Bryan Fletcher sitting on the bench nearly all year.
The knock on him this year has been fumbles. I was again shocked when I turned to the stats. He only fumbled twice. Two times, all season. That's not ideal, but far from the perception of him as simply unable to hold onto the ball. In his career he's fumbled 3 times, on 62 catches.

Ben Utecht, underrated, overcritized.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Week 14 Picks

NFL network game tonight Bears-Redskins. Have to get that pick in tonight so I'll just do all of them for the week.

CHI @ WAS It's been months since we've seen "Bad" Rex. Will he be back this week? Maybe not, but do I trust him not to start unleashing the dragon? Hell no. I'll take the Redskins.

CAR @ JAC The Jags are very good. The Panthers aren't. It's that simple.

MIA @ BUF When you get blown out by the Jets you are not just a bad team, you are the worst team by far.

SD @ TEN The Chargers could blow the Titans out if they played as well as they have at times this year, but do I trust them to play well? Only about as far as I could throw Jamal Williams.

TB @ HOU A McCown brother at QB? Really? and they won? The Tampa Bay Bucs just win games.

OAK @ GB Time for the Aaron Rodgers era? I hope so just to end the sportswriters-Brett Favre orgy that's been going on for years and intensified to epic proportions with his surprise return from the land of the old washed up QBs. If he does start how many gunslings you think he'll throw? More than last weeks two?

DAL @ DET Everyone laughed at Kitna's 10 win prediction. I'm still laughing.

NYG @ PHI Was Eli adopted? The Eagles better hope so. The Giants won't blow this one.

STL @ CIN Steven Jackson is a beast. Now that he's finally back healthy the Rams are looking less bad than usual. Bulger is cleared so their good offense is back together. Football Outsiders' DVOA has a seemingly irrational love for the Bengals right now. Not letting it scare me off and will feel dumb when the Rams lose, but they're the pick.

MIN @ SF " ... and on the third week he rose" Three weeks after a minor knee sidelined him, Purple Jesus returned. Tavaris suddenly looks like a real QB, I'm shocked. If he's legit the Vikings are as scary as any team in the NFC.

ARI @ SEA Seahawks looked good last week. The Cardnals won on a questionable final call while losing their stud WRs to injury. Easy pick.

KC @ DEN I didn't think the Broncos were good last week, but I thought they could beat the Raiders. Not anymore. I officially declare the Broncos to suck.

PIT @ NE The only thing more obnoxious than guaranteeing a win is constantly whining about lack of respect. Looking at you HGHarrison. GO STEELERS!

CLE @ NYJ I'm writing last week's loss for Cleveland off. Steelers lost to the Cards too, weird things happen in the desert.

IND @ BAL I hate the Ravens so much for blowing the game. I hope the Colts crush them.
Reggie will call you "Boy" all he wants after his torches your ass Mr. McAllister.

NO @ ATL Signs of life from both teams last week. Only the Falcons did it using Chris Redman at QB. I don't know what to think about that.

Monday, December 3, 2007

How many ways can the Ravens give the Pats a win

- Go 3 and out on the 3 drives they had the lead in the fourth quarter.

-Pass the ball on 3rd and 1. The exact same shit Ravens players were calling Billick out for earlier this season.

-Stop on 4th and 1 negated by a Ravens timeout

-Stop on 4th and 1 Pats false start lets them replay the down (Why can't they decline the penalty? The Pats were short of the first).

-4th and 6, #28 puts his hands on Ben Watson (ticky-tack, but not too ridiculous to call) when he's still in good position and has help behind him and to the sides. First down Pats.

-Bart Scott completely loses his mind and costs the Ravens 30 yards of field position. His dumb ass was still jawing and trying to go after the ref that flagged him, he had to be dragged away by teammates. He broke away from his teammates multiple times and moved towards the ref when loose. Total Moron.

-Boller throws a pass down the middle of the field, far short of the TD, with 10 seconds left and no timeouts. The pass hits Pats DB Brandon Meriweather in the chest.

-Hail Mary comes up a yard short

-Ravens WR commits blatant Offensive pass interference on the Hail Mary, against a DB that was in worse position than the WR who caught it. So the pass shouldn't have counted even if he had made it into the endzone.

As a consolation prize, that puts my picks at 11 for 15 in my first posted week and my quick calculations have my fantasy team winning by 2.81 points.

Sunday Recap/Monday Preview

3 for 5 on the late game picks. Should it have been 4 for 5 with extra 8 fantasy point for me from Kellen Winslow?

I think so. Even with two defenders on his back he gets one foot in. Oh well, Winslow is an asshole, so maybe it's karma.

The makes me 10 for 14 on my first posted picks with the only pending pick Pats over Ravens.

Tonight I'm hoping for:

-Ravens pull the upset, the myth of Patriots invincibility dies forever.

-Brady and Gostkowski outscore Vrabel and Maroney by more than 14 fantasy points to lock up a playoff spot for my fantasy team. Preferably with Brady playing poorly, marking the beginning of the end of his run at the greatest QB season ever.

Good Luck, Ravens
Go Gostkowski

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Colts win

10-2 now, with a 2 (really 3 with the head-to-head tiebreaker) lead in the AFC south with 4 to play. A Colts win or Jags loss any time in the next month clinches the division.

Thoughts from a game I had to listen to over internet radio.

-The Jags have an offense. If Garrard was in the NFC he would get a Pro Bowl vote from me.

-Jags defense, not so much anymore

-The Jags continue to kill themselves by losing their composure and committing personal fouls in big spots.

-Colts D needs to get more pressure. Garrard had all the time he needed most of the game

-Marvin needs to get back. Blitzing Manning becomes a much better option without his best hot read.

-Luuuuuuuuuuuuuuuke!!! Lawton earned his spot on the roster. Blocking, returning a kickoff, catching the damn ball (Kenton is having some trouble with that)

-I <3 Antoine Bethea. The DBs are such great hitters. Even at the nickelback spot which is the weakest on the defense, all three guys that have played there can bring the big hit.

-Go Colts get that second seed

7 for 9 on the early game picks. Can't be unhappy with that, but both picks I missed were so close. Big thanks to you A.J. Feeley and Joe Gibbs. You lost your teams the game and made my picks wrong.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

NFL picks

I try to pick the winners of every NFL game, usually against a friend and/or on my own. Now I'll post them here too. Obviously it doesn't count if it wasn't posted before the games start so I'm starting fresh, but this is my (worthless here) record 157/256 (61.3%) last season good enough to beat 6 of the 7 ESPN experts. 111/177 (62.7%) so far this season.

NFL Week 13 picks (pick in bold) Year To Date 0-0

GB @ DAL- doesn't count because it was yesterday. Had the Cowboys though.

SF @ CAR Niners are awful, but I'll be rooting for them because the Pats have their 1st round pick next draft and because I'm starting Frank Gore on my fantasy team.

BUF @ WAS Good game to explain how I make my picks. I pick the better team. The better team usually wins so if I can tell who is better (the hard part) I'll usually be right. It actually makes the picks easier, no messing around overthinking it with match-ups and motivations, just who is the better team? I think the Redskins are better.

HOU @ TEN Vince Young just wins games. Not really though, Titans D will get it done.

ATL @ STL Hard one. Both teams suck, neither D is impressive, and with Bulger out the QBs are both bad. So I'll take the team with a legit offensive weapon in Steven Jackson.

SEA @ PHI They played the Pats close. That puts them in a elite little group, even if they usually look terrible.

DET @ MIN The talking TV heads like calling the Lions D opportunistic. That's just another way of saying the other team gave the game away. Hail Purple Jesus.

JAC @ IND Because I always pick the team I think is better and I'm a huge Colts fan. I always think the Colts are the better team and therefore always pick the Colts. Lets go COLTS!

SD @ KC Chargers are sometimes bad, Cheifs are always bad.

NYJ @ MIA The Jets have proven they are good enough to beat a very good team when they execute well. The Dolphins haven't executed well enough to win a single game.

DEN @ OAK The most interesting thing about this game is JaMarcus Russel might play. I hope his throws the ball through the uprights from his knees at midfield. It's what they drafted him for.

CLE @ ARI For some reason the Browns became my favorite bad team last year. I thought Brady Quinn would ruin that (make me not like them, not make them not bad). Instead they're in the race for the playoffs and Quinn firmly entrenched as the backup.

TB @ NO Bucs are quietly good. The Saints are loudly mediocre.

NYG @ CHI So happy I root for the good Manning. Eli v Rexy, could be interesting.


NE @ BAL The only thing getting me through this Pats run and Tom Brady offensive explosion is Brady carrying my fantasy team to the playoffs.

Lets go all the teams I picked (except for the Pats and Panthers)

The Colts draft well

Red=out of NFL (years in league for the players with 3+)
Black=on other teams (new team) (games this year)
Blue=on Colts roster Bold=started for the Colts this season

2007 9/9 on team 4 current starters
1 32 Anthony Gonzalez WR
2 42 Tony Ugoh T
3 95 Dante Hughes CB
3 98 Quinn Pitcock DT
4 131 Brannon Condren DB
4 136 Clint Session LB
5 169 Roy Hall WR
5 173 Michael Coe CB
7 242 Keyunta Dawson DE

2006 7/7 on team 4 current starters
1 30 Joseph Addai RB
2 62 Tim Jennings CB
3 94 Freddie Keiaho LB
5 162 Michael Toudouze G
6 199 Charlie Johnson T
6 207 Antoine Bethea SS
7 238 T.J. Rushing CB

2005 5/10 on team 7/10 in league 3 current starters
1 29 Marlin Jackson DB
2 60 Kelvin Hayden DB
3 92 Vincent Burns DT
4 129 Dylan Gandy G
4 135 Matt Giordano DB
5 148 Jonathan Welsh DE
5 165 Robert Hunt(KC) C (0gp)
5 173 Tyjuan Hagler LB
6 202 Dave Rayner(KC) K (12gp)
7 243 Anthony Davis HB

2004 4/9 on team 7/9 in league 2 current starters
2 44 Bob Sanders DB
3 68 Ben Hartsock(TEN) TE (6gs)
3 69 Gilbert Gardner(TEN) LB (0)
4 107 Kendyll Pope LB
4 125 Jason David (NO) CB (8gs)
5 141 Jake Scott G
6 173 Von Hutchins(HOU) DB (10gs)
6 193 Jim Sorgi QB
7 229 David Kimball K

2003 2/8 on team 5/8 in league 2 current starters
1 24 Dallas Clark TE
2 58 Mike Doss(MIN) SS (6gp)
3 90 Donald Strickland(SF) FS (2gs, 8gp)
4 122 Steve Sciullo G
5 138 Robert Mathis DE
5 162 Keyon Whiteside LB
6 198 Cato June(TB) DB (9gs, 11gp)
6 208 Makoa Freitas T

2002 1/8 on team 4/8 in league 1 current starter
1 11 Dwight Freeney DE
2 42 Larry Tripplett(BUF) DT (11gs)
3 74 Joseph Jefferson CB (3 seasons)
4 106 David Thornton(TEN) LB (11gs)
6 182 David Pugh DT
6 183 James Lewis --
6 204 Brian Allen RB
7 220 Josh Mallard(DEN) DE (3gp)

2001 2/7 on team 4/7 in league 2 current starters
1 30 Reggie Wayne WR
2 37 Idrees Bashir(DET) FS (9gp, 1gs)
3 91 Cory Bird DB (4 seasons)
4 118 Ryan Diem G
5 152 Raymond Walls DB (5 seasons)
6 193 Jason Doering DB (3 seasons)
7 220 Rick DeMulling(WAS) G (2gp)

2000 1/7 on team 3/7 in league 1 current starter
1 28 Rob Morris LB
2 59 Marcus Washington(WAS) LB (7gp, 6gs)
3 91 David Macklin(WAS) DB (3gp)
4 122 Josh Williams DT (6 seasons)
5 138 Matt Johnson --
7 235 Rob Renes DT
7 238 Rodregis Brooks DB

1999 1/7 on team 3/7 in league 1 current starter
1 4 Edgerrin James(ARI) RB (11gs)
2 36 Mike Peterson(JAX) OLB (10gs)
3 63 Brandon Burlsworth
4 96 Paul Miranda DB
5 138 Brad Scioli DE (6seasons)
7 210 Hunter Smith P
7 250 Corey Terry DE

1998 1 on team 2/7 in league 1 current starter
1 1 Peyton Manning QB
2 32 Jerome Pathon WR (8seasons)
3 71 E.G. Green WR (3 seasons)
4 93 Steve McKinney(HOU) G (3gs)
5 135 Antony Jordan LB
7 190 Aaron Taylor G
7 231 Cory Gaines --

69 picks 51 still in NFL 28 on team 21 current starters
69 out of 51 is impressive and that's reaching back 9 seasons. The average NFL career is less than four seasons, only 5 of the 35 players drafted by the Colts in the last 4 drafts are out of the league. 8 of the 18 out of the league played at least 3 seasons. In ten years of drafting players only 1 in 7 didn't last to the league average career mark. The Colts draft well.

Starting off

I love the NFL and occasionally have too much time on my hands. I'll post the results, starting with the random (semi)finished projects gathering dust on my computer.