Misery Loves Company

Fifteen teams opened the season with 25-1 or better odds to win the Super Bowl. Of those 15 teams 10 are heading for disappointing seasons. Some are worse off than others but all are looking at potentially disappointing seasons as they approach the half way mark. Major injuries have played a large part in almost half of them. With each team is shown the opening odds, their current record and their last win/loss streak.

Cowboys     10-1     3-3     1W
The Cowboys have surrendered 35 or more points three times in six games. Over their last three games they have given up the 9th most points per game. Their three wins have come against teams that have a combined record of 4-17.

Packers     12-1     4-3     2L
Lost Aaron Rodgers for the season. QB Brett Hundley has played in seven games and has 33 career completions. His 2017 completion % is 53% and his quarterback rating is 41. Green Bay’s yards per pass differential for the last three games is 30th in the league. That is the difference between offensive yards/pass minus opponents yards/pass.

Falcons     16-1     3-3     3L
Through this season the Falcons are on track to have the second largest offensive decline in NFL history for points per game between seasons. Overall, only the Cleveland Browns (19.4 percent) and Carolina Panthers (12.9 percent) have seen a higher rate of their drives end by interception this season (12.8 percent). As of week six, Ryan had completed four of 19 pass attempts that have traveled more than 20 yards in the air —the lowest completion rate in the league, according to Pro Football Focus. PFF has also deemed that just 21.1 percent of those 20-plus-yard throws were accurate, also the worst mark in football.

Broncos     20-1     3-3     2L
Broncos are 9-2 when Trevor Siemian attempts 35 passes or less and 2-7 when he attempts more than 35. The Broncos ended their 2nd longest scoring streak in NFL history when the Chargers shut them out last week.

Raiders     20-1     3-4     1W
Oakland is 27th in the league in yards per pass differential for the year, the last three games, and away games. The Raiders are one of three teams in NFL history to have no interceptions thru the first six games. As of week seven they still have no interceptions.

Panthers     20-1     4-3     2L
The Panthers have the 2nd most interceptions on offense , the 26th ranked quarterback rating, and have the 28th ranked yards per pass attempt differential at home. They have the 29th ranked rushing average. First round 8th overall draft pick, Christian McCaffrey, is averaging 2.5 yards/carry.

Ravens     25-1     3-4     2L
Through week 7 the Ravens are the NFL’s 31st ranked offense. The Raven’s TD against the Vikings with 03 seconds remaining was the first offensive TD scored by the Ravens in over 10 quarters. The Ravens lost guard Marshal Yanda for the season. Yanda made the pro bowl every year for the last six seasons.

Colts     25-1     2-5     2L
Not only did the Colts lose Andrew Luck for what may be the whole season, their pass defense also is dead last in opponent yards per pass attempt for the season, the last three games, and away games.

Giants     25-1     1-6     1L
You know the story, but in one game they lost 67% of their wide receiver roster which included their top three receivers. Half of their opening roster WRs are done for the season.

Cardinals     25-1     3-4     1L
Cardinals lost QB Carson Palmer for possibly the season with a broken arm. Backup QB Drew Stanton finished the game with the lowest QB rating for the season at 20.5. As a backup QB over the prior nine seasons Drew has played in 33 games and has a career QB rating of 65. In addition the Cardinals have the lowest rushing average in the league.

Just a piece of trivia – Since the 2001 Super Bowl only two teams have won the Super Bowl that had preseason odds greater than 25-1. That was the 2007 SB Giants (30-1) and the 2001 SB Patriots (60-1).

Giants don’t need no stinking run game!

 

I came across an interesting article here, that proposes “When it comes to winning in the NFL, passing is king. Rushing hardly matters.” It uses passing and running efficiency as the measure. Efficiency being the difference of offensive yards per attempt minus defensive yards allowed per attempt.

Here is the list of teams by Passing Efficiency in 2017. Teams with a positive passing efficiency and a losing record are highlighted in orange. Teams with a negative pass efficiency and a winning record are highlighted in yellow. The Giants are tied for 9th best in passing efficiency at a positive 0.6 yards. The eight teams better than them all have winning records. Twelve of the 15 teams with a positive passing efficiency have winning records. Two of the top four teams in passing efficiency are the only undefeated teams remaining.

Here is the list of teams by running efficiency as of week three. Worth noting is that the Giants at 29th are followed by the winning teams of Steelers and Patriots.

One thing the Giants have done well is draft the receiving skill position. As of week three Evan Engram leads all rookie WRs/TEs in receptions and yards. Among Sterling Shepard’s draft class, Sterling is second in career receptions, yards and touchdowns. Among Odell Beckham’s draft class, Odell is 1st in career yards and touchdowns and 2nd in career receptions.

  • Week 3 Beckham became the fastest player in NFL history to reach 300 receptions.
  • Beckham is 21st on the list of active career leaders for receiving TDs. All before him have at least 3 more years in the league.
  • Shepard holds the longest reception by a wide receiver for this season.
  • Shepard is the only receiver (WR/TE) in the NFC East with a 100+ receiving game this year.
  • The Giants receiving completion ratio of 73.5% is the best in the NFC and 2nd best in the league.

Here are the Giant receiving draft picks of the last 4 years, their rank in the draft class for career stats, and in parenthesis the stat numbers.

Evan Engram (rookie)
1st round – 5th WR/TE taken
Rec 1st (13)
Yds 1st (138)
TDs 5th (1)
1st Downs 2nd (6)

Sterling Shepard (2nd year)
2nd round – 6th WR/TE taken
Rec 2nd (81)
Yds 2nd (883)
TD 2nd (9)

Odel Beckham (4th year)
1st round – 3rd WR/TE taken
Rec 2nd (301)
Yds 1st (4,237)
TDs 1st (37)

Jerell Adams (2nd year)
6th round – 27th WE/TE taken
22 career targets and zero drops with a completion ratio of 77%.
If you take WRs/TEs in 2016 that had zero drops with a completion percentage of 75% or better and 10 or more targets there are only 6 active players counting Jerell.

Last year’s two top teams for pass efficiency during the regular season were in the SuperBowl. Their run efficiency standings were 14th and 16th with a 0.1 and a 0.0.

The Giants have progressed getting better in passing efficiency each of the last four years. They currently have the best passing efficiency since the 2011 Super Bowl team. The one major anomaly with this data is what happened in the 2013 season that had the second best pass efficiency for the Giants. That year Eli had a career high 27 interceptions and the Giants had a league-high 44 turnovers. The table below shows the Giants passing offense and passing defense by year. The yellow highlights the passing efficiency for each year.

Here are the Giants pass efficiency numbers per game so far

The Giants were just outplayed in the Dallas game but the Giants should have won both the Detroit and Philly games. Those losses can be tied back to sloppy play of penalties, turnovers, bad coaching decisions and poor special teams play. In the Detroit game the following 4 plays contributed to the loss

  1. Brad Wing punt goes out of bounds and the Lions start their first TD drive on the Detroit 46 yard line (1st quarter, 9:51)
  2. Eli interception gives Lions 1st and 10 at NYG 29 for their second TD drive (quarter 2, 11:45)
  3. Giants 1st and goal on the 1 yard line get an offensive holding call on Brett Jones which puts them back to the 11 . They wind up settling for a field goal. (quarter 3, 7:16)
  4. Lions return a Brad Wing punt 88 yards for a TD (quarter 4, 13:17)

In the Philly game the following 5 plays contributed to the loss

  1. Going for it at 4th and 1 with Darkwa run from the 1 yard line instead of taking the field goal points. The Giants were down by only 7-0 at the time (Quarter 2, 0:24)
  2. Pass interference on Eli Apple gave 36 yards gain to Philly on their last TD drive (quarter 4, 5:53)
  3. Penalty of Illegal Shift on Ereck Flowers for 5 yard loss on final Giants drive with the lead and 39 seconds remaining (Quarter 4, 0:39)
  4. Penalty of Offensive holding on Ereck Flowers for 10 yard loss on final Giants drive. (Quarter 4, 0:37)
  5. Brad Wing punts for only 28 yards and the Eagles start at their 38th. (Quarter 4, 0:19)

This team is built for passing efficiency. Over the last four drafts six of the twelve first three round picks have gone to receiving skill positions and defensive backs. The salary cap has 34% of the cap going to cornerbacks and defensive ends. The Giants spent the most on 2017 cap dollars on each of those positions than all other teams.

With a roster of top receivers, Eli as quarterback, a strong secondary and a good pass rush the Giants are still in the running for winning the division!