Experienced veterans and up-And-coming young players for each position

In week 16 running back Adrian Peterson broke 1,000 yards rushing for the eighth time in his career. Peterson also passed Eric Dickerson to move into eighth place in all-time rushing yards. At the start of training camp Peterson was not in any team’s camp. The 33 year old back was training this past summer just in case a team called him. Then when rookie running back Derrius Guice got injured the Redskins brought in Peterson in mid-August. Peterson went on to show that he still has it.

That gave me the idea of this post on the oldest active star at each position and the youngest rising star at that position. Each player is shown with their team and their age.

Quarterback

Tom Brady, NE, 41

Tom  Brady is currently tied at sixth  on the list of oldest quarterbacks to play.  The oldest quarterbacks to play is Steve DeBerg who played to 44.

Brady is fourth in career passing yards and needs 1,700 yards to move past Favre and Peyton Manning into the number two spot.  He is third in career passing touchdowns.  He can move past Peyton  Manning with 26 more touchdowns.  Brady is fourth in Career Game Winning Drives, just 3 behind Dam Marino. Brady is second in career comebacks, eight behind Peyton Manning.

Lamar Jackson, BAL, 21

Lamar  Jackson is the third youngest  quarterback on an NFL roster.

Lamar Jackson has six starts and has a quarterback record of 5-1. He has completed 58% of his passes and has six passing touchdowns to three interceptions. His quarterback rating is 84.9, he has one game winning drive and a long completed pass of 74 yards. Lamar is a dual threat quarterback and has 605 rushing yards on 127 attempts. He is averaging 4.8 yards per rush attempt and has three rushing touchdowns. Lamar has 10 fumbles of which he recovered 5.  He has the most rushing yards of any quarterback even though he has only started six games.

Update: On Sunday, Lamar Jackson will start at quarterback for the Ravens in a playoff game against the Chargers. Jackson will be the first quarterback in NFL history to start a postseason game before turning 22.

Running Back

Frank Gore, MIA, 35

Frank  Gore is the oldest active running back in the NFL. The oldest running back to play was fullback Ken Strong who last played for the NY Giants in 1947 at age 41.

On January 1st, 2017 Frank Gore became the oldest running back in 32 years to rush for 1,000 yards in a season. Gore is fourth on the list of career rushing yards. He needs 522 yards to pass Barry Sanders and move into third place. Gore averaged 4.63 yards per carry in 2018 which was 20th in the NFL.

Saquon Barkley, NYG, 21

Saquon  Barkley is the fifth youngest running back on an NFL roster.

Saquon Barkley needs 114 all purpose yards in his season finale to join Eric Dickerson and Edgerrin James as the only rookie running backs to have 2,000+ yards from scrimmage. For the 2108 season Barkley is top ten in almost all running back statistics. Barkley is third in rushing yards (1,198), fifth in rushing touchdowns (10), fifth in long rush (78),  tenth on yards per rushing attempt (4.9), fourth in rushing yards per game (79.9), fourth in touchdowns (14) and third in All-Purpose yards (1,886). His 1,886 yards from scrimmage is 98th of all time.

Wide Receiver

Larry Fitzgerald, ARI, 35

Larry  Fitzgerald is the oldest active wide receiver. He is 46th on the list of oldest playing receivers. Jerry Rice is the oldest receiver to play and he played to the age of 42. He played most of his career with the 49ers but retired after playing for the Seahawks.

Fitzgerald is third in career receptions (1,299) and needs 27 more to pass Tony Gonzalez for the number two spot.  Larry Fitzgerald is second in career receiving yards (16.243) and only topped by Jerry  Rice (22,895).  He is seventh in career receiving touchdowns.  Fitzgerald has been selected to the Pro-Bowl eleven out of his fifteen seasons.

D.J. Moore, CAR, 21

D.J.  Moore is the second youngest wide receiver on an NFL roster.

Moore’s 879 yards from scrimmage is the most by a rookie receiver this year. His 82 yard reception week 11 against the Lions is the fifth longest reception in the league this season. Moore’s 68.9% catch percentage is the highest of all 2018 rookie wide receivers with 500+ receiving yards and the 17th highest by a rookie since 1991 with 500+ receiving yards.  Pro Football Focus has DJ Moore the top graded rookie wide receiver as of week 16.  He is currently the leader to break the highest Yards After the Catch (YAC) per reception by a rookie wide receiver with a minimum 200 receiving snaps. Moore has 8.2 YAC/Reception and the leader is Hakeem Nicks in 2009 with 9.23.

Tight End

Antonio Gates, LAC, 38

Antonio  Gates is the oldest active tight end and the third oldest to play of all time. The oldest tight end to play was Trey Junkin who last played for the 2002 NY Giants at age 41.

Antonio Gates is sixth for career receiving touchdowns (116). He is 2nd Team Pro Football Hall of Fame All-2000 Team. He has been selected to eight Pro Bowls and is a three-time First Team All-Pro. Through 15 weeks of the 2018 season Pro Football Focus has Antonio  Gates ranked as 10th among 69 qualifying players at the position.

Evan Engram, NYG, 24

Evan  Engram is not one of the youngest players at tight end. However he is one of the best active tight ends under 25.

Evan Engram was selected for the 2017 NFL All-Rookie Team.  As a rookie he caught 6 of 8 red-zone targets for 5 touchdowns. Over his first two seasons he has caught 8 touchdown passes. No other active tight end under 25 has caught more. Comparing per game stats of Evan Engram to all top tight ends under 25, Engram has the highest receptions per game and highest yards per game.

Tackle

Andrew Whitworth, LAR, 37

Andrew  Whitworth is the oldest active tackle in the NFL. The oldest tackle to play was John Nesser who played guard and tackle. John played his last in 1921 at the age of 45.

Andrew Whitworth made the NFL Top 100 list twice including in 2018. He has been selected to four Pro-Bowls with the last one in 2017. Whitworth is two-time First Team All-Pro with the last selection in 2017. About six years ago, Whitworth began studying the careers of older linemen and found that as most aged, they became overweight and their bodies failed to move like they once did. To combat that he watches his diet but mostly he is into training. This past offseason, Whitworth’s workouts included CrossFit, mixed martial arts, power lifting, interval training and running. Through three weeks in 2018 Pro Football Focus had Whitworth as the top graded offensive tackle.

Braden Smith, IND, 22

Braden  Smith is the sixth youngest offensive tackle in the NFL.  Through this his rookie season Smith has played in 14 of the 15 games and started 12. Braden starts at right tackle. Through 14 weeks Pro Football Focus has Braden Smith as the third best rookie offensive lineman and the second best tackle.  According to PFF he has allowed just 22 total pressures which is tied for fourth fewest among qualifying offensive linemen. Braden Smith made the NFL 2018 All-Rookie Team. The site thecomeback.com has Braden number nine in their rookie power rankings and the highest offensive tackle.

Guard

Marshal Yanda, BAL, 34

Marshal  Yanda is the oldest active guard in the NFL. As mentioned prior John  Nesser was the oldest player to play guard and he played to the age of 45.

Marshal Yanda has been selected to the Pro Bowl in seven of his last eight seasons missing only in 2017 when he was injured and played only 2 games.  Prior to his injury in 2017 Yanda was Pro Football Focus’s top-ranked guard for three straight seasons. He is a two time First Team All-Pro and made the NFL top 100 list for four years.

Will Hernandez, NYG, 23

Will  Hernandez started all 15 games so far as a rookie in 2018. Hernandez made the Pro Football Focus Mid-Season All-Rookie Team as the highest graded guard and the third highest offensive lineman. Hernandez and Quenton Nelson made the NFL 2018 All-Rookie Team as the guards. Hernandez has only three penalties compared to Nelson who has eight.

Center

Alex Mack, ATL, 33

Alex  Mack is the third oldest active center in the NFL. The oldest center to play in the NFL was Jeff Van Note. He retired 1986 from the Atlanta Falcons at the age of 40.

Alex Mack made the 2009 NFL All-Rookie Team and was selected for six Pro-Bowls including each of the last four seasons.  At the conclusion of the 2016 NFL season Mack was selected by Pro Football Focus as the best center over 30 years old. Alex Mack was ranked as the 18th best offensive lineman and fifth best center in the 2018 season by Pro Football Focus.

No Young Center

There were not any exceptional centers under age 25 that stood out. If redshirt sophomore  center Tyler Biadasz of Wisconsin declares, he may be the new up and coming center.

Defensive End

Julius Peppers, CAR, 38

Julius  Peppers is the oldest active defensive end in the NFL. The oldest player to play at Defensive End was Jim Marshall who last played for the Vikings in 1979 at the age of 42.

Julius Peppers was selected to nine Pro-Bowls and is a three time First Team All-Pro.  Peppers has 172 career tackles for Loss which is second all time. He has 52 career forced fumbles which is second all time. Three more forced fumbles would pass Robert Mathis and give Julius  Peppers the most forced fumbles. Peppers has 158.5 career sacks which is fourth all time.  Two more sacks would pass Kevin Greene into third place. According to Pro Football Focus Julius Peppers has 88 games with four or more pressures since 2006, which is tied for the most for all defensive players in that span. Peppers wants to be more remembered for impacting lives – on and off the field, rather than his sacks.

Myles Garrett, CLE, 22

Myles  Garrett is the eighth youngest active defensive end. In 2017 he made the NFL All-Rookie Team. He was selected to the 2018 Pro-Bowl. In 2018 Garrett has 3 forced fumbles (10th) and  12.5 sacks (6th). By week 12 of the 2018 season Garrett had generated 50 pressures (4th among edge defenders). In the week 12 game he generated 12 pressures. At that time only two other players generated that many pressures in a game (they generated 13). Garrett had 29 quarterback hits on the year which is tie for fourth most.

Defensive Tackle

Kyle Williams, BUF, 35

Kyle  Williams is the oldest active defensive tackle in the NFL. He is completing his 13th season. Leo Nomellini was one of the oldest defensive tackles to play. He played for the 49ers to age 39. Nomellini was named to the NFL’s all-time team as a defensive tackle.

Kyle Williams has been selected to five Pro-Bowls and twice made the NFL Top 100 list. In a 2016 article Pro Football Focus named Kyle Williams as the Bill’s best player of the last decade (2006-2015).  In 2018 Kyle Williams was selected as a Pro-Bowl alternate.

UpDate (12/28/18) : The Bills announced that Kyle Williams will retire after this season

Da’Ron Payne, WAS, 21

Da’Ron  Payne is the second youngest active defensive tackle in the NFL.  He has started every game in his rookie season. Among rookie defensive tackles Payne has the most quarterback hits (8) and is tie for  most tackles for a loss (6) and sacks (5). Among rookie defensive tackles he is second in solo tackles (30). After eight weeks into the season Pro Football Focus had Da’Ron Payne with the highest rookie run stop percentage among defensive line and edge rookies.

Linebacker

Terrell Suggs, BAL, 36

Terrell  Suggs is the oldest active linebacker in the NFL. Junior Seau was the oldest linebacker to play the position. He last played for the Patriots in 2009 at the age of 40.

Terrell Suggs was the 2003 AP Defensive Rookie of the Year. He has been selected to seven Pro-Bowls and is a 2011 First Team All-Pro. Suggs heads the list of career tackles for a loss with 193 which is 21 more than the second place player. According to Pro Football Focus (PFF) at 36 years young, Suggs ranks 16th in pressure percentage (13.3) with 51 total pressures across his 383 pass-rush snaps. In the week 16 win of the Ravens over the Chargers Suggs Topped the defenders with a PFF 92.5 game grade. He logged a season-best eight total pressures (one hit and seven hurries).

Leighton Vander Esch, DAL, 21

Leighton  Vander Esch is the fourth youngest active linebacker in the NFL.  He was the NFC Defensive Player of the week in week 10. Esch has 99 solo tackles (2nd) and 131 combined tackles (3rd).  He leads all rookie linebackers in interceptions (2) and is second in passes defended (7).  Through the first six weeks of the season Esch is Pro Football Focus’s second highest graded rookie and their top graded linebacker. He remained their top graded rookie linebacker thru week 15.

Cornerback

Johnathan Joseph, HOU, 34

Jonathan Joseph is the fourth oldest active cornerback. Darrell Green was the oldest cornerback to play. He last played for the Redskins in 2002 at the age of 42.

Jonathan Joseph has been selected to two Pro-Bowls. He has a career 7 interceptions returned for a touchdown which is 11th in career history. Joseph has 181 career passes defended which is fifth in career history. Three more passes defensed and Joseph moves into third.

Denzel Ward, CLE, 21

Denzel  Ward is the youngest active cornerback in the NFL.  He has been selected to the Pro-Bowl this his rookie season. Ward made the NFL all rookie team and the PFF Mid-Season All Rookie Team.

Safety

Eric Weddle, BAL, 33

Eric  Weddle is the fourth oldest active safety in the NFL.  He has played for 12 seasons. Charles Woodson was the oldest playing safety. He last played in 2015 for the Raiders at the age of 39.

Eric Weddle has been selected for six Pro-Bowls and is a two-time First Team All-Pro. He has started every game since transferring to the Ravens in 2016.  According to Pro Football Focus in 2017 Eric Weddle led safeties in percent of targets intercepted (25%) for safeties with 15+ targets.

Derwin James, LAC, 22

Derwin  James is the tenth youngest active safety in the NFL. He has started every game in his rookie season. He is tie in second for most interceptions (3)  by a rookie. James leads all rookies in passes defensed (13) and is tie at ninth in the league. He is second among rookie defensive backs in solo and combined tackles. James is first among rookie defensive backs in sacks (3.5) and tie for first among the rookie DBs in tackles for loss (4). His 3.5 sacks is tie for first among all defensive backs. James’s passes defensed (13) accounts for 18.8% of the teams and his Solo Tackles (70) accounts for 11% of the team solo tackles. Both are good percentages especially for a rookie.

Special Teams

Adam Vinatieri, IND, 46

Adam  Vinatieri is the oldest active player in the NFL. He is the third oldest of all time. The next older player is kicker Morten Andersen who last played for the Falcons in 2007 at the age of 47. The oldest player is quarterback/kicker George Blanda who finished his career as a kicker and last played for the Raiders in 1975 at the age of 48.

Adam Vinatieri has played 23 seasons in the NFL for two teams. He was on the 1996 NFL All-Rookie Team and made the Pro Football Hall of Fame 1st Team All-2000s Team. Adam has been selected to three Pro-Bowls and was First Team All-Pro three times. Vinatieri is number one in career points scored (2,591), number two in career playoff games (30) and number two in Extra Point Made (849). Adam has a career 98.037% extra point percentage. He is number one in Total Field Goals made (580) and has a career 84.302% on field goals. That field goal percentage is 16th of all time.

Michael Dickson, SEA, 22

Michael  Dickson is the third youngest kicker in the NFL. He has played in 15 games and has 71 punts for 3,429 yards. He has averaged 48.3 yards per punt which is fourth best in the league. Dickson has a long punt of 69 yards which is the fourth longest in 2018. His 48.3 yard average is 27th best all time. In November Dickson was the NFC Special Teams Player of the Month. Last year in college Dickson won MVP in the Texas Bowl. Michael Dickson is the first  rookie punter to be selected for the Pro Bowl since 1985. In a game against San Francisco he kicked a  65 yard punt and dropped two more at the 1 and 2 yard lines in 20 mph winds.

These “old-timers” are still performing at an incredible level in a sport that demands excellence. They can only do so with dedication to the sport. These young players have exhibited some of the skill, athleticism and dedication that made these older players great. These young players can learn a lot from the veterans. With that same dedication they can quote from Neil Young’s song “Old Man” – “Old man look at my life, I’m a lot like you were.”

Enjoy the Week 17 Games and have a Happy New Year!!

New Year 1905
Baby representing New Year 1905 chasing old man 1904 into history.

 

NFL Week 15: Three Games that have Slugfest Potential

Week 15 of the NFL season brings many games that teams are fighting to stay alive in the playoff race or win a division title. Here are three games that should be great battles. These teams have a combination of the most on the line coupled with the closest parity. That combination of factors can generate some good battles.

AFC

Raiders vs Bengals (Sunday 1:00 ET, CBS, OH-CA-NV area)

In explosiveness differential these two teams sit next to each other with the Raiders tied at 24th and the Bengals at 23rd. In passing offense the teams are tied at sixth with 48 passing plays of 20+ yards. The league average is 43. Raiders quarterback Derek Carr is sixth in completion percentage with 69.4%.  He is fifth in passing plays of 20+ yards with 48. Bengal receiver Tyler Boyd has the fourth most receptions of 20+ yards in the league with 20. In rushing offense the Bengals are ninth with 12 rushing plays of 20+ yards. Bengal running back Joe Mixon has 7 of those which is 9th most in the league. The raiders are 26th in the league with only 6 rushing plays of 20+ yards. Explosive play passing defense is not a strong point. Both these teams are tie for 24th with 50 passing plays of 20+ yards allowed. The league average is 43.  The teams are close in explosive rushing defense with the Bengals 22nd with 11 plays of 20+ yards allowed and the Raiders at 23rd with 12 plays allowed.

In turnovers the Bengals are 19th with a minus one differential. The Raiders are 22nd with a minus five differential. Both teams are close in giveaways and takeaways. They are around the league average in giveaways but below average in takeaways.

In field position differential the Raiders are 26th and the Bengals are 16th. Oakland is sixth in average opponent kickoff return with 21.1 yards. Cincinnati is 25th with 23.8 yards. Oakland is one of five teams to have given up a touchdown on a punt return.

In finishing drives differential the Bengals are 29th with a net -0.62 points per drive and the Raiders are 32nd with a net -0.96 points per drive. On offense the Bengals are 15th with an average 2.12 points per drive. The Raiders are 27th with an average 1.74 points per drive.  The Bengals score an average 23.6 points per game and the Raiders an average 18.8 points. On defense these teams are right next to each other with the Raiders at 30th with an average 2.70 points per drive allowed and the Bengals at 31st with an average 2.74 points per drive allowed. In points per game defense these two teams are dead last with the Raiders at 31st with 29.8 points per game allowed and the Bengals at 32nd with 30.5 points per game allowed. Oakland is better in red zone defense coming in at 16th with 58.8% touchdowns allowed. The Bengals are 26th with 68% touchdowns allowed. On offense the Bengals are very good in the red zone , scoring a touchdown on 75% of their trips. That is second best in the league.

In team play efficiency, as measured by Football Outsiders, the Bengals rank 24th in net overall efficiency and the Raiders rank 29th.  They are close in offense efficiency the the Bengals at 16th and the Raiders at 17th. Not far apart in defense efficiency with the Bengals at 28th and the Raiders at 31st.  Special teams sees the biggest discrepancy with the Bengals ranked 12th and the raiders ranked 29th.

This may not be a pretty game but it should be a close hard-fought contest as two closely matched teams square off with the Bengals fighting at the 1:00 games to keep their remote playoff possibility alive. The Bengals started the season at 4-1 but have lost their last five games. In November they hired former Browns coach Hue Jackson as a special assistant to the head coach. Marvin Lewis.

NFC and AFC

Giants vs Titans (Sunday 1:00 ET, CBS, NY-TN area)

From explosiveness differential both these teams are close. The Giants from an offensive positive and the Titans for a defensive positive. The Giants are tie for first in rushing explosiveness with Saquon Barkley having a record setting rookie year. The five teams in first with 15 rushing plays of 20+ yards are the Chiefs (lost Hunt – 7, Hill – 3), Chargers (Gordon – 9,  Ekeler – 3), Browns (Chubb – 8) Giants (Barkley -14) and Bears (Cohen – 6, Howard – 4). One more 20+ yard run by Barkley would put him at the most of any back over the last four seasons. The Titans are tie for fifth in rushing explosiveness defense allowing only 6 plays of 20+ yards. The league average is 9.75. Their pass defense is also pretty good at eighth allowing only 37 plays of 20 yards. The league average is 43 plays. Titan safety Kevin Byard had a First-Team All Pro year his 2017 season. He is ranked as a top ten safety by Pro Football Focus for 2018.  In passing offense Giant Odell Beckham has the eighth most receptions of 20+ yards in the league with 17.  According to Pro Football Focus Titan quarterback Marcus Mariotta has only attempted 25 deep passes this season, but he has completed 11 of them and has had five of them dropped. This gives him an adjusted completion percentage of 64% on deep passes, which is the best rate for any quarterback with 25 or more deep attempts in the past 13 seasons.

On turnover differential the Giants have the upper hand . The Giants are tie for twelfth  in the league with a plus 5 differential. The Titans are twentieth with a minus 4 differential. The Giants are tie for sixth on giveaways with only 14. The Titans are tie for 29th in takeaways with only 11. Giants linebacker Alec Ogletree leads all linebackers in interceptions with five and is fourth among linebackers in passes defensed with eight. Ogletree’s five interceptions is fourth across all positions.

In field position the Colts also have the upper hand. The Giants come in at 15th in field position differential to 9th for the Titans. Offensively the Colts and the Giants are close on starting field position.  However on defense the Giants are twelfth in opponent starting position to the Titans at 22nd.  The Titans have the worst average opponent yards per kickoff return at 29 yards to the Giants third best at 19.5 yards. On punts the Giants are seventh with opponents averaging 6.9 yards to the Titans at 28th averaging 10.1 yards. Tennessee is one of three teams that have given up a kickoff touchdown with a 102 yards run-back. They also are one of there teams to have a kickoff return for a touchdown by Darius Jennings. For offense the Titans have the best kickoff return average averaging 34.4 yards per return.

The Titans win in finishing drives. They are 14th in net points per drive at +0.07 points to the Giants who are 20th with -0.21. On offense the Giants are 18th with +2.02 points per drive and the Titans are 23rd with +1.85 points per drive. On defense the Titans are 5th allowing only 1.78 points per drive. The Giants are 24th allowing 2.23 points per drive. The Titans are 4th in allowing only 19.5 points per game to the Giants at 23rd allowing 25.5 points per game. On offense the Giants are 17th getting 23.6 points per game to the Titans at 27th getting 19.3 points per game.

Overall Team efficiency as measured by Football Outsiders looks at every play and determines a success success value. Based on their calculations the Giants are 14th in overall efficiency, 14th in offensive efficiency, 20th in defensive efficiency and 3rd in special teams efficiency.  The Titans are 21st in overall efficiency, 23rd in offensive efficiency, 17th in defensive efficiency and 15th in special teams efficiency.

Based on these measures and a formula weighting each factor the two teams are pretty close. The Giants come in slightly ahead with a rank of 18th and the Titans at 22nd. It should be a real battle as the two teams battle to keep their playoff hopes alive. With six seeds getting in the playoffs the Titans currently sit at the ninth seed in the AFC and the Giants at the 12th seed in the NFC.

Colts vs Cowboys (Sunday 1:00 ET, Fox, Large portion Southern US)

In net explosiveness these teams rank 11th (Cowboys) and 12th (Colts). The Colts are a far more explosive team in passing ranking 17th with 41 passing plays of 20+ yards. Colt receiver T.Y. Hilton is ninth in the league for receptions of 20+ yards with 16. The Cowboys rank 29th with 33 passing plays of 20+ yards. The league average is 43 plays. In rushing explosiveness the Cowboys rank 12th with 11 plays of 20+ yards. Ezekiel Elliot has 10 of those and is tie for second in the league in rushing plays of 20+ yards.  The Colts are 22nd in rushing plays of 20+ yards with 7. Defense on pass explosiveness these teams are close and near the top. The Cowboys rank 5th allowing 33 plays of 20+ yards and the Colts rank 7th allowing 35 plays. The league average is 43 plays. Dallas linebacker Leighton Vander Esch is second among linebackers in solo tackles and eigth in passes defended. According to Pro Football Focus Cowboy Byron Jones has allowed a 50% catch rate, and on seven of his 23 catches allowed, he’s made a tackle for a stop. That 65.2% success rate is the best rate for all cornerbacks this year. Colts rookie linebacker Darius Leonard leads all linebackers in solo tackles, assisted tackles and total tackles. Leonard also has seven sacks and four forced fumbles on the season. In explosive run defense the Cowboys rank fifth with six rushing plays of 20+ yards allowed. The Colts rank 12th with nine plays allowed.

In turnover differential the teams rank 17th (Colts) and 18thy (Cowboys)with plus one and zero differentials respectively. The Colts are eighth in the league with 21 takeaways. The Cowboys are 18th in the league with 15 takeaways. The league average is 18. In giveaways the Colts rank 24th in the league with 20 giveaways and the Cowboys rank 9th with 15 giveaways. The league average is 18. Quarterback Andrew Luck is tied for second in the league for most interceptions with 13. He trails only rookie quarterback Sam Darnold.

In field position the Colts rank 9th (net LOS 1.45 yards) and Dallas ranks 31st (net LOS -3.14 yards). On offense the Colts on average start at the 29.4 yard line while the Cowboys start at the 27 yard line. On average the Colt’s opponents start at the 27.9 yard line while the Cowboy’s opponents start at the 30.2 yard line. The Colts are second in the league in covering punts with an average opponent return of just 4.8 yards.

In finishing drives differential the Colts are at ninth averaging 0.4 net points per drive and the Cowboys at twelfth averaging 0.27 net points per drive.  On offense the Colts rank eighth averaging 2.37 points per drive and the Cowboys rank 16th averaging 2.07 points per drive. On defense the Cowboys rank sixth giving up 1.79 points per drive and the Colts rank twelfth giving up 1.97 points per drive. Dallas is second in the league in defense for points per game giving up only 18.9 points per game. Indianapolis  is 15th giving up 23.1 points per game. On offense Indianapolis is 8th scoring 26.8 points per game. Dallas is 23rd scoring 21.2 points per game.

In overall net efficiency the Colts rank 11th, in offensive efficiency 13th, in defensive efficiency 11th and for special teams 13th. For Dallas they rank overall at 17th, offense at 25th, defense at 7th and special teams at 20th.

Summing up all factors weighted by importance the Colts come in at sixth with a sum of 21.75. The Cowboys come in 12th with a sum 0f 19.1. Teams run from the Chiefs summing to 30.1 to the Jets summing to 5.9. The Colts come into this game as the 7th seed in the AFC just one team out of the playoffs. The Cowboys are the fourth seed in the NFC currently leading the NFC East. If the Cowboys beat the Colts the Cowboys would win the NFC East division title and a playoff spot. The Colts are two games behind the Texans in the NFC South with three games left. So the Colts can still win the division. If not they are tie with the sixth seed Ravens for the last wildcard spot. However the Ravens currently win the tiebreaker.

The television audience should get to see some good December football at the early games on Sunday. At macmillandictionary.com the definitions given for slugfest are

  1. an occasion or competition in which you have to compete or fight very hard in order to win.
  2. in baseball and boxing, a hard contest between opponents who are evenly matched.
  3. a long and hard contest between two equal opponents in which an easy victory is impossible.

These games have slugfest potential.  Enjoy the week 15 games!

Don’t Write-Off These NFL Underdogs

Since 2001 twenty-four teams have gone from last in their division to first in their division the following year. Three times one went on to win the Super Bowl. Since my beloved Giants are currently a bottom dweller, I thought I would look at the five lowest ranked teams based on current projected 2019 draft order and see what rays of hope exist. Here are the current projected top five draft teams and what is good about their team this season that could surprise a team this year or turn it around next year.

San Francisco 49ers

Run the Ball, Stop the Run

The 49ers rank second in long rushing plays (20+ yards) with 13 plays through week 12. Matt Brieda, an undrafted free agent in 2017, has 896 yards from  scrimmage and a 3rd best yards per rushing attempt at 5.81 yards. He was a speedy back at his pro day earning a 40 yard dash time of 4.39 which would have been second best among backs at the combine. His 6.85 at the three-cone would have been third best among backs at the combine, and a 4.34 in the 20-yard shuttle lined up as 8th best at the combine.

Another undrafted free agent to watch is 2017 UDFA running back Jeff Wilson. He was recently promoted from the practice squad. Wilson had very impressive stats in college. In his senior year Wilson had upper percentile numbers in red zone TDs (32%), 1st down percent (31%), long plays percent (22%) and touchdown percent (7.5%). He averaged 6.46 yards per rush. His one outstanding flaw was a high fumble rate.

Opening up holes for Brieda and Wilson will be 2018 first round pick tackle Mike McGlinchey. Known coming out of college as an “earth-mover as a drive blocker”, he was a two-year team captain and known as a lunch-pail worker. Pro-Football Focus has McGlinchey graded as the top graded rookie offensive lineman.

On the flip side the 49 defense has allowed just 5 rushing plays of 20+ yards. That is tied for fifth best in the league. A player contributing to this is the run defense of defensive end Arik Armstead. According to Pro Football Focus, Armstead’s 84.4 run-defense grade ranks sixth among all edge defenders.

Tight end George Kittle was a fifth round pick in the 2017 draft. He ranks third among tight ends in yards with 823 yards and has three touchdowns. His 9.8 yards per target ranks fifth among tight ends with 30 or more targets. Kittle has had 84 targets which is third most among tight ends. Through week 9 Pro-Football Focus rated Kittle as the third best run blocking grade among tight ends in the league. His nfl.com draft profile included “..one of the better blocking tight ends in this draft.” Kittle had the third fastest 40-yard dash among tight ends at the combine.

Oakland Raiders

It’s almost exciting to think about all the room for improvement that we have.” — Geno Smith in 2014 on the Jets.

Center Rodney Hudson may be the best pass-protecting center in the NFL. According to Pro Football Focus through week nine Hudson had given up only two pressures all season. Pro Football Focus has him graded as the top pass blocking center and third overall.

Tankathon.com has the Raiders listed as having ten 2019 NFL draft picks with three in the first round as well as two first rounders in 2020. Their 2019 draft capital is listed as the highest among all teams with the next team 700 points below.

Arizona Cardinals

No Passing Zone

Cornerback Patric Peterson was a top five pick in the 2011 draft. Since then he has been a yearly Pro-Bowler. In his eighth season he has accumulated over his career 21 interceptions and 71 passes defended. According to Pro Football Focus this season he owns the NFL’s second-best passer rating when targeted (57.1) and has allowed all of 189 yards all season long.

Defensive end Chandler Jones is fourth in the league with 11 sacks on the year. As of week 11, Chandler Jones led the league in disrupted drop-backs per ESPN . A disrupted drop-back is a passing down in which the player got a sack, interception, batted pass or defended pass. Jones led with a 4% with the next closest defender being Aaron Donald at 3.4%.

The Cardinals are fourth in the league in opponent passing yards per game with 219.8 yards. They are second in the NFL with a 19.3 disrupted drop-back percentage. They sacked Patrick Mahomes five times – a season high for him. The Cardinals held the Chiefs to 212 passing yards, which is the Chief’s lowest thru week 12. The Cardinals are sixth in the NFL in passing touchdowns allowed at 16. They are third in the NFL in passing plays of 20+ yards allowed with 30.

New York Jets

Hope springs eternal especially with rookie first round quarterbacks and a lights out safety.

Safety Jamal Adams was the sixth selection in the 2017 NFL draft. He is a versatile player that has lined up as a deep safety, a box safety, a linebacker position, a slot corner and as an outside corner. He excels across the board. This season Jamal has 12 passes defended which is 4th in the NFL. Through week 11 Adams had the most run stops for a safety (19) as well as the highest run stop percentage for a safety at 7.09%. Pro Football Focus picked Jamal Adams as the best box safety in the league. Adams is a team leader and earned a captaincy in his second season.

Through week twelve the Jets have allowed only 62.4% of pass completions. That is good for sixth best in the league. Their opponent average passer rating of 90.1 is ninth best.

Kicker Jason Meyers has made 92% of his field goal attempts which is good for seventh in the league for kickers with a minimum 10 attempts. He has scored 89 points this season which is sixth among kickers. Meyers leads the league in 50+ yard field goals made with five. He holds the fifth longest field goal of 56 yards.

Rookie tight end Chris Herndon has the tenth best yards per targets (9.24 yards) among tight ends with a minimum 12 targets. Among that group his catch percentage of 76.5% is also tenth best. His 3 receiving touchdowns is tie for ninth among tight ends.

New York Giants

Explosive offense that needs more consistency and a killer instinct

Saquon Barkley has the third highest yards from scrimmage (1,410) and highest total with zero fumbles. Saquon is on track to be one of only three nfl players of all time with over 2,000 yards from scrimmage in their rookie season. Barkley averages 3.54 yards after contact, fifth-most in the league, and leads all running backs with 25 missed tackles forced, according to Pro Football Focus. The Giants rank sixth in explosive rushing plays of 20+ yards with 11. Barkley is fifth in rushing touchdowns with eight. He ranks 11th in rushing yards per attempt (4.85 yards) among backs with over 100 attempts. Saquon Barkley has been in on 84.5% of the offensive snap counts which is fourth most among running backs.

Eli Manning has the 8th best completion percentage (69.1%) and the 11th best Interception percentage (1.75%). Both are career best. His quarterback rating of 96.2 is also a career best. The Giants are 10th in passing plays of 20+ yards (41 plays) and 7th in passing plays of 40+ yards (9 plays). The Giants are tie for 7th in turnover giveaways with only 12. They are one of eight teams (top 25%) that have two or more receivers with each over 500 yards receiving and with a catch percentage of greater than 64%. Beckham and Sterling Shepard have each been in on just over 93% of offensive snaps which is 6th and 7th among wide receivers. That is the most by any receiving duo in the league. Eli Manning sits at 11th place in all time 4th quarter comebacks. This year the Giants’ 4th quarter points/game is 8.5 which is tie for 5th best in the league. Last year it was 4.4 points/game which was 28th in the league.

Kicker Aldrick Rosas is one of fourteen kickers perfect on extra points. Rosas has the fifth best field goal percentage (95.8%) and the fifth most attempts. He is perfect on field goals within 50 yards.

There it is. I think all five have reason for hope. The Raiders with a beast at center and a ton of draft picks, the Jets with a Pro-Bowl safety and a potential franchise quarterback, the 49ers with a solid run game and a returning potential franchise quarterback next year, the Cardinals with a strong pass defense and a potential franchise quarterback, and lastly my Giants with an explosive set of offensive weapons and a quarterback that can still sling it.

As the season winds down only 12 of the 32 teams will make the playoffs, only 4 will make the Conference Championship, only 2 will make the Super Bowl and only one will win. For all the other teams and their fans remember the following quote.

I’ve missed more than 900 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan, six-time NBA champion

Enjoy the week 13 games!

Why the Giants can beat the Eagles.

The Eagles have had the Giant’s number lately. You need to go back five seasons for the last Giant victory over the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. That should change Sunday as the Giants can beat the Eagles at home. It would be the first three game Giants win streak since November 2016.

One could look at five key areas that determine a team’s success. Typically these areas are evaluated from both an offensive and defensive view and evaluated as a differential between getting and giving up. The areas in order of importance per Football Study Hall article football study hall article are

1) Explosiveness – measured by big plays of 20+ yards.
2) Efficiency – success value for each play.
3 – tie) Field position – starting field position for each change of possession.
3 – tie) Finishing Drives – points scored per drive.
5) Turnovers – interceptions and fumbles.

Based on the combined stats thru week 11, the Giants beat the Eagles in four of the five areas. They significantly beat the Eagles in explosiveness and turnovers.

In explosiveness the Giants rank tied at 19th in the league while the Eagles are 31st. The Giants have a minus two 20+ yards play differential to the Eagles minus 15. The Giants have had 37 passing plays of 20+ yards and 9 rushing plays. The Eagles have had 30 passing plays and 5 rushing plays. On defense the both given up 41 passing plays and on rushing plays the Giants gave up 7 to the Eagles giving up 9. Explosive plays differential has been weighted as the most valued area of the five. The top five teams in explosiveness differential in order from top are the
1) Bears,
2) Chiefs,
3) Chargers,
4) Rams and
5) the Saints.

Efficiency is the measure of success of each play. How many yards were gained (or if points were scored) for a play correlated with what down it was. For efficiency I used Football Outsiders statistics. Through week 11 the Giants are 21st in net efficiency in the league and the Eagles are 23rd. The Giants best group is special teams with the 11th ranked efficiency value. The Eagles are ranked 22nd across the board (offense, defense and special teams) in efficiency. The Giants rank 18th in offensive efficiency and 8th in defensive efficiency. The top five teams for overall efficiency are
1) Chiefs,
2) Rams,
3) Bears,
4) Saints, and
5) Chargers.

In field position differential the Giants are 17th in the league and the Eagles are 23rd. The Giants opponent starts on average at the 27 yard line which is 11th best in the league. The Giants field position differential is minus 0.34 yards to the Eagles minus 1.77 yards. The top five teams on starting position differential are the
1) Saints,
2) Chiefs,
3) Texans,
4) Rams, and
5) Dolphins.

Of the five areas the Eagles beat the Giants is in finishing drives. However I was surprised to see that this is not true on offense. It is on defense that the Giants fall short of the Eagles. The Giants rank 27th in finishing drives with a minus 0.46 points per drive to the Eagles minus 0.32 points per drive. The Giants rank 19th in offense points per drive with a plus 1.97 to the Eagle that rank 24th with a plus 1.83 points per drive. On defense the Giants rank 27th giving up 2.43 points per drive to the Eagles rank of 20th giving up 2.15 points per drive. The top five teams in points per drive differential are the
1) Saints,
2) Chiefs,
3) Bears,
4) Rams,and
5) Chargers.

In turnover differential the Giants are tied for 15th in the league with a turnover differential of plus two. The Eagles are tied for 28th in the league with a minus nine differential. The Giants have given up only 11 turnovers in 10 games which is tied for ninth best in the league. The Eagles’ defense has taken away only 7 turnovers which is roughly half of the Giants 13 and the Eagles’ seven is ranked tied for 29th in the league. The top five teams for turnover differential are the
1) Bears
2) Browns
3) Redskins
4) Rams, and
5) Seahawks.

Overall based on the weighted formula proposed in the football study hall article the Giants rank 23rd in the league with a 13.00. The Eagles rank 29th in the league with a 6.85. That is a significant difference in total score.The overall weighted formula of each team’s individual inverse rank per category is

35% (explosiveness rank) + 25% (efficiency rank) + 15% (Field Position rank) + 15% ( finish drives rank) + 10% (turnovers rank)

The rankings from best to worst with scores are

Formula Rankings
Formula Rankings

Based on this analysis the Giants have a definite winnable game Sunday against the Eagles. I am in the win as many games as you can camp and let the draft unfold as it falls out. No guarantees a higher pick would be a better pick.

Attached here is the full data on all teams through week 11.

Statistics Through Week 11

Everything is Not What It Seems

Invasion of the Body Snatchers “You know her uncle, Uncle Ira?…Well Miles, she’s got herself thinking he isn’t her uncle. She thinks he’s an imposter or something.”

What teams are better or worse than what the records and standings indicate. Here are three teams on both sides that are masquerading based on differential metrics of

  1. Explosiveness (20+ yard plays)
  2. Turnovers
  3. Starting Field Position
  4. Finishing Drives
  5. Drive Efficiency

Better Than Appear

Seattle Seahawks

Currently 3-3 and the eight seed looking from outside at the playoff teams. Even at this point one could say with some certainty that the Rams will win the NFC West. However the Seahawks have a clear shot to move up into the wildcard teams edging out the Packers or the Panthers.

The Seahawks lead the league in turnover differential. They lost Earl Thomas for the season and he contributed 3 interceptions. However his replacement, Tedric Thompson, in his first game starting had an interception against the Rams. For years the Seahawks have played with a swarm-to-the-ball mentality and routinely practice tip drills. Their defensive end Frank Clark is defensive player of the week in week 6 and has had three forced fumbles over the last two games.  Defensively they on average allow 1.71 points per drive which is seventh best in the league.

The Seahawks run the ball second most in the league and average 4.3 yards per carry. Per Pro Football Focus running back Chris Carson ranks first in yards per carry (2.3) and yards after contact (3.4) for backs with at least 25 carries in which they’ve been contacted at or behind the line of scrimmage.

Quarterback Russel Wilson ranks sixth among starting quarterbacks in 40+ yard passing plays (5) and ranks seventh in passer rating (104.8).

Houston Texans

The Texans are 3-3, second in the AFC South and at ninth seed in the playoff race looking from the outside at the playoff leaders.

Quarterback DeShaun Watson has been sacked 25 times and hit 70 times. Both are most in the league and the next closest team for hits has 49. Watson is a tough player. In week five he suffered a cracked rib, a bruised lung, and a partially collapsed lung during the Texans/Cowboys game. Yet he led the Texans on the game winning field goal drive. He played the next week against Buffalo.

This season among starting quarterbacks, Watson is seventh in passing plays of 20+ yards (24), fifth in 1st down percentage (41.1%),  ninth in average yards per attempt (8.3), fourth in average yards per completion (12.8) and eight in passing yards per game (299.7).   In his 13 games since his rookie start Watson has 3,497 passing yards which is fourth most in NFL history in that span.  Since his rookie debut Watson has 28 touchdown passes which is the second-most ever through 13 games, behind only Kurt Warner.

The Texan special teams are playing good. On average their starting field position is the 31.2 yard line and their opponent starting position is the 26.1 yard line. The differential starting field position is second best in the league.

Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons are 2-4, last in the NFC South and a 13th seed in the playoff race.

Quarterback Matt Ryan ranks third among starting quarterbacks in passer rating. He ranks fourth in touchdown passes (14)  and fourth in 1st down percentage (41.1%) among starting quarterbacks.  Ryan is ninth in passes of 20+ yards (23).

The team ranks fourth in turnover differential and contributing to that is the fact that Ryan has thrown only two interceptions. That is tie for fourth best among starting quarterbacks.  The Falcons have only one fumble lost for the season which is tie for second.

What is killing the Falcons is that their defense is ranked last in points allowed per drive with 3 points per drive. Three of their four losses were by six points or less.

Not As Good as they Appear

New England Patriots

The Patriots are 4-2, top of the AFC East and a second seed in the playoff race.

You have to go back a decade to 2008 for a season that the Patriots did not win the AFC East. That year the Dolphins took the division title. This season the Jets and the Dolphins so far do not trail the Patriots by much statistically speaking. The one caveat is the return of receiver Julian Edelman in week five could significantly adjust the stats.

In explosive plays the Patriots and Jets have the same play differential. The Jets are better in offensive big plays and the Patriots better in defense limiting big plays. Turnover differential is a wash between the three teams. Starting field position differential is a clear win by the Jets and Dolphins with the Patriots being 24th in the league. In finishing drives the Patriots lead (7th), followed close by the Jets (11th). However the Dolphins are poor at finishing drives(20th). Finally overall play efficiency goes Dolphins, Patriots and Jets.

The AFC East should be interesting to see how things develop.

Carolina Panthers

The Panthers are 3-2, second in the NFC South and a fifth seed making the playoffs as a wildcard.

With the Saints (4-1) doing very well it looks like the Panthers would have to get in as a wildcard. However they show some troubling stats.

From an explosive play angle the Panthers are last in the league. They have 15 passing plays of 20+ yards  and have given up 21 passing plays of 20+ yards. In rushing they have 3 plays of 20+ yards and have given up 6 such plays. This puts their differential at minus nine and trailing the Raiders at minus eight.

Tennessee Titans

The Titans are 3-3, first in the AFC South and fourth seed in the playoff picture.

The Titans are last in the league in passing plays of 20+ yards with only nine in six games.  Compounding the problem is that they are 23rd in rushing plays of 20+ yards with only two. Their explosive play differential is 27th in the league at minus seven.

The Titans are 28th in the league in starting field position differential. They are 23rd in points per drive differential. This even though they are second in defensive points per drive. This again highlights a offensive explosiveness problem.

Enjoy the week 7 games and check out a good horror movie for Halloween!

Week Four Rankings Based on Five Key Factors

Bill Connelly, a writer for SBNation covering NCAA football, came out with a list of five factors for winning football games. His list is

  1. you make more big plays than your opponent,
  2. you are more efficient when you have the ball than your opponent,
  3. you finish drives and stop your opponent from doing so,
  4. you win the starting field position battle, and
  5. you win the turnover battle.

Based on this list and associated data I ranked the thirty-two teams. The data used was

  1. Differential of 20+ yard plays (pass and run) for each team minus their opponents from nfl.com stats,
  2. Net team efficiency as computed by Football Outsiders,
  3. Net Points per drive as computed by Football Outsiders,
  4. Net Starting field position from Football Outsiders, and
  5. Turnover differential from the Football Database.

Here is the ranking starting with the best and a little blurb on each team. The data used was from weeks one thru four of this season. The team’s record at week four is shown for each team.

1 ) Los Angeles Rams (4-0)

The Rams have the most passing plays of 20+ yards with 23 over four games. They are number one in net points per drive (1.52 points) and in 1st down % on passing plays (47.4%).

2) Chicago Bears (3-1)

The Bears are one of only three teams that have not given up a rushing play of 20+ yards. They are one of two teams that have not allowed a rushing touchdown. The Bears have the shortest long running play against them (15 yards).

3) Kansas City Chiefs (4-0)

The Chiefs have a league high 47% of their drives end in a touchdown. The Chiefs are fifth in 1st downs per game, third in third downs made percent (49%) and tie for first in forth downs made with 100% on three attempts.

4) Washington Redskins (2-1)

The Redskins are one of only three teams that did not give up a rush of 20+ yards. They have also given up the least number of 20+ passing plays with only five surrendered.

5) Jacksonville Jaguars (3-1)

The Jaguars have the best 20+ yards big play differential in the league. For 20+ yard plays they are 2nd in passing defense (7 plays), 4th in rushing defense (1 play), 14th in passing offense (14 plays) and 5th in rushing offense (3 plays).

6) Baltimore Ravens (3-1)

The Ravens are second in Net Points per drive due in large part being second in Defensive Points per Drive allowed. They are tied for second in 3rd down conversion percent on defense (28%) . Opposing quarterbacks have the lowest passer rating against the Ravens (69.1).

7) Cincinnati Bengals (3-1)

Receiver A.J. Green is second in receiving touchdowns (5) and fellow receiver Tyler Boyd is eighth among wide receivers in 20+ yard receptions (6). Boyd is most deadly in the middle of the field where he had six 20+yard receptions and an 81% first down conversion rate.

8) New Orleans Saints (3-1)

Drew Brees has the highest completion percentage among quarterbacks with over 20 attempts (75.8%) and the third best passer rating (115.3). He should pass Brett Favre this weekend to take the number two spot in career passing yards.

9) Los Angeles Chargers (2-2)

The Chargers are tie for most rushing plays of 20+ yards (6). The percentage of Austin Ekeler’s runs that go for at least 10 yards (28.6%) , is the best mark in the NFL. The Chargers have 20 total runs of at least 10 yards, which is the most in the NFL.

10) Houston Texans (1-3)

The Texans are number one in Net Line Of Scrimmage (LOS) per drive with a net 7.94 yards. On average they start almost at the 32 yard line and their opponent starts at almost the 24 yard line. Running Back Tyler Ervin is tie in second for kickoff returns of 20+ yards with seven.  At his combine Ervin was 8th overall in broad jump, 12th in vertical jump and 11th in the forty.

11) Miami Dolphins (3-1)

The Dolphins are tie for third in turnover differential with a plus four. They have a league high nine interceptions that are spread across six players. Cornerback Xavien Howard leads with three. Opposing quarterbacks have a 72.2 passer rating against the Dolphins. That is the second lowest in the league.

12) Green Bay Packers (2-1-1)

The Packers have the fourth best 1st down percentage (29.7) on rushes. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers contributes to that with 11 attempts and a 54.5% first down percentage. That is the best in the league for any player with over five attempts. Running Back Aaron Jones also helps with 17 attempts and a 41.2% which is 7th best.

13) Cleveland Browns (1-2-1)

The Browns lead the league in turnover differential with a plus seven. they have a league high six forced fumbles. Khalil Mack leads the league with four forced fumbles.

14) Atlanta Falcons (1-3)

The Falcons are 30th in points allowed per game with 30.5 points. On the bright side they are 6th in points scored per game. Still their Net points per drive is -0.16 which is 20th in the league.

15) Carolina Panthers (2-1)

The Panthers are third in the league in turnover differential. They are one of only three teams that have turned the ball over twice or less. On the flip side they are sixth in the league in interceptions with five. The Panthers are tie for last in explosive play (20+ yards) differential.  They have a league low seven passing plays of 20+ yards.

16) New England Patriots (2-2)

The Patriots are ninth in the league in Net Points per drive. In scoring touchdowns in the red zone the Patriots are 8th with 2 out of every 3 trips in the red zone scoring a touchdown.

17) Seattle Seahawks (2-2)

The Seahawks are tie for third in the league in turnover differential with a plus four. They are third in interceptions with seven. Their secondary has three players in the top twelve in interceptions – Earl Thomas (3), Shaquill Griffin (2) and Bradley McDougald (2). With the loss of Earl Tomas for the season due to injury it remains to be seen if this trend will continue.

18) Denver Broncos (2-2)

The Broncos are tie at 26th in turnover differential. Quarterback Case Keenum is tie for second in the league for most interceptions with six. If that keeps up Chad Kelly may soon be starting.

19) Indianapolis Colts (1-3)

Quarterback Andrew Luck does not seem to be pushing the ball downfield. The Colts are tie for 23rd in passing plays of 20+ yards with nine. They are in 30th for both passing average per attempt (6 yards) and average per completion (8.48 yards).

20) Detroit Lions (1-3)

What happened to Detroit in that opening game loss to the Jets of 48-17? In his last three games quarterback Mathew Stafford has thrown one interception and has had a passer rating of 109.8 (7th best across other teams).  Detroit is tie for 8th in passing plays of 20+ yards (17). They have been close in the other two losses. That first game drags them down to 20th in this ranking.

21) Tennessee Titans (3-1)

The Titans have gone for it on fourth down more than any other team (7 times) and have made it 71% of the time. The Titans, Cowboys and Panthers all have a league low seven passing plays of 20+ yards.

22) San Francisco 49ers (1-3)

The 49ers have the worst Net Average starting field position per drive. On average they start on the 24 yard line and their opponent starts on the 32 yard line. For explosive plays running back Matt Breida has a league high six rushing plays of 20+ yards.

23) New York Jets (1-3)

The Jets are tie for last with the Lions in giving up the most 20+ yard rushing plays with five surrendered. This contributed to the jets tied for worst big play (20+ yards) differential with minus six. The teams tied for last in big plays differential are the Jets, Panthers, Eagles and Giants.

24) Dallas Cowboys (2-2)

Dallas has the 30th ranked third down conversion percentage with a 28.26%. Their passing completion percentage of 61.7% is 26th. For overall team efficiency they ranked 24th. They also had the fourth lowest net starting field position with them starting on average at their 24 yard line and their opponent at their 29 yard line.

25) Pittsburgh Steelers (1-2-1)

The Steelers have the second worst net starting position with their average start on the 24 and their opponent on the 31. Their net points per drive of -.4 ranked 25th in the league.

26) Oakland Raiders (1-3)

The Raiders are 28th in big pass plays (20+ yards) given up with 19 and 27th in big rushing plays (20+ yards) given up with 4.  Their big play differential is minus five which ranks 27th. They rank 30th in finishing drives with a -0.61 net points per drive.

27) Minnesota Vikings (1-2-1)

The Vikings rank 30th in the percent of drives that produce points with 29.1% resulting in a score. The Vikings have a league second worst average point differential at the start of their drives of down by seven.

28) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-2)

The Buccaneers are tie for a league high seven offensive interceptions with three coming in each of the last two games. Even the returned Jameis Winston had two. The Bucs are tie in last with a league low minus four turnover differential.

29) Philadelphia Eagles (2-2)

The Eagles are tie with the Panthers, Jets and Giants for worst big play differential with minus six. The Eagles are 29th in passing plays of 20+ yards with eight. Quarterback Carson Wentz has done better than Nick Foles in long passing plays but even Wentz only has five long passing plays over two games.

30) Buffalo Bills (1-3)

The Bills have the league lowest touchdown percentage on drives with only 10.2% of their drives ending in a touchdown and a league high 55% ending in a punt. Among current starting quarterbacks Josh Allen has the lowest completion percentage of 53.4% and the lowest passer rating at 63.8.

31) New York Giants (1-3)

The Giants are tie for last in big play (20+ yards) differential with the Panthers, Jets and Eagles at minus six. The Giants are ranked 31st in passing average per completion with an average of 8.3 yards.

32) Arizona Cardinals (0-4)

The Cardinals rank 32nd in passing average per completion with an average of 8.2 yards. They rank last in the league in scoring on drives with only 14.6% of their drives resulting in points.

Enjoy the week 5 games!

Best and Worst Teams by Turnovers and Big Plays

Two factors that indicate a team’s win/loss potential are the takeaways/giveaway differential and the big play differential. The takeaways/giveaways are the difference in turnovers between the ones the offense gives up and the ones the defense take. The big play differential are plays (pass or run) of 20+ yards between those achieved by the offense and those given up by the defense.  Below are the teams that are excelling (positive) in these categories and those doing poorly (negative). Beside the team is their win/loss record followed by their big play differential and  turnover differential. Positive numbers are better. Teams are listed in order starting with best and decreasing. Criteria for selection was a combination of positive or negative in both categories.

Update: I added the Net Line Of Scrimmage (LOS) per Drive (Dr). It is the Offensive average starting field position minus the Opponent (Defensive) average starting field position. Positive is better. This is another indicator or contributing factor for win/loss outcome.

Positive Teams

Los Angeles Rams (3 W , 0 L)

Big Play differential: +6

Turnover differential: +3

Net LOS/Dr: 7.10 (4th)

Brandin Cooks is one of only five wide receivers to have reached over 1,000 receiving yards in each of the last three seasons.  This year his catch percentage of 76% is fourth among wide receivers with 100+ yards per game. His 17.7 yards per reception is third among wide receivers with 100+ yards per game. He is one of only nine wide receivers averaging 100+ yards per game. Though only 5’10” and 183 pounds Cooks has played every game over the last three seasons. Brandin Cooks ran the fastest forty yard dash at the 2014 NFL Combine (4.33 seconds). Cooks has got seven plays of 20+ yards, the second most receiving 20+ yards in the league.

Washington Redskins (2 W , 1 L)

Big Play differential: +6

Turnover differential: +2

Net LOS/Dr: -2.35 (21st)

Seven time Pro-Bowler in his nine year career, Adrian Peterson is starting 2018 strong. He has 100+ all purpose yards in two of his three games.In his week three game he averaged 6.3 yards per carry for 120 yards.  He has three rushing touchdowns for the season which is tie for fourth in the league. Peterson is one of only six running backs that have had a rush of 40+ yards. 

Cleveland Browns (1 W , 1 L , 1 T)

Big Play differential: +3

Turnover differential: +9

Net LOS/Dr: 5.93 (5th)

Rookie Denzel Ward was the fourth pick in the 2018 draft and the first defensive player chosen. He opened his rookie season with two interceptions and three passes defended against the Steelers. In his third game against the Jets Ward allowed just two receptions for nine yards in coverage. He also ripped a ball away from Jets receiver Robby Anderson and recovered the fumble to help the Browns to their first win.

Miami Dolphins (3 W , 0 L)

Big Play differential: +1

Turnover differential: +4

Net LOS/Dr: 7.97 (1st)

After returning from a season ending ACL injury in the 2017 preseason Ryan Tannehill is now enjoying what is so far the best season of his seven season career. His completion percentage has been above 70% in each of his three games for an average of 73%, the fifth best in the league.  He has the fourth best passer rating at 121.8. Tannehill’s touchdown to interception ratio of 3.5 is tie for seventh best among quarterbacks with at least one touchdown. He is sixth in touchdowns with seven. In week three he had a 34 yard touchdown pass to Kenny Stills and a 36 yard pass down the sideline to DeVante Parker. he had a 155 passer rating, three touchdowns and zero interceptions in the third game.

Atlanta Falcons (1 W , 2 L)

Big Play differential: +1

Turnover differential: +1

Net LOS/Dr: 4.23 (8th)

Rookie Receiver Calvin Ridley was chosen 26th in round 1 of the 2018 NFL draft. He is tie for first among wide receiver for touchdowns with four. His 90.9% first down percentage on receptions is second among wide receivers with more than five receptions. Ridley was a top wide receiver in the forty (6th) and three cone (10th) at the Combine.  In week three he was targeted eight times and had seven receptions, 146 yards and three touchdowns.

Negative Teams

Minnesota Vikings (1 W , 1 L , 1T)

Big Play differential: -1

Turnover differential: -1

Net LOS/Dr: -4.96 (28th)

The offensive line has been identified as a potential weak link in a strong team. Their run game has averaged  3.5 yards per carry which is 29th in the league. In the passing game they have given up nine sacks which is 22nd in the league. Minnesota has nine big passing plays (15th) and zero big rushing plays (27th).

Pittsburgh Steelers (1W, 1L, 1T)

Big Play differential: -3

Turnover differential: -1

Net LOS/Dr: -5.93 (30th)

The Steelers lead the league in penalties with 37 and 361 penalty yards. The next closest team in number is Buffalo with 28 penalties. The next team in penalty yards is the Eagles with 266 yards.

Philadelphia Eagles (2W, 1L)

Big Play differential: -5

Turnover differential: -3

Net LOS/Dr: -9.34 (32nd)

The Eagles have just five passing plays of 20+ yards which is tie for 28th in the league. Their receiving corps has been hurt by injuries losing both Mack Hollins and Mike Wallace.  The Eagles have only two passing touchdowns thru three games which is tie with eight teams for least in the league.

Oakland Raiders (0W, 3L)

Big Play differential: -5

turnover differential: -4

Net LOS/Dr: -4.19 (27th)

The Raiders traded Khalil Mack and are now hurting to generate a pass rush. They have three sacks in three games which is the least in the league.  Opposing quarterbacks have a 105 passer rating which is 26th in the league. The Raiders have given up 15 passing plays of 20+ yards which is tie for 29th in the league.

Arizona Cardinals (0W, 3L)

Big Play differential: -7

Turnover differential: -3

Net LOS/Dr: -0.30 (15th)

Arizona has just six big passing plays (27th) and zero big rushing plays (27th). Their 23% third down conversion rate is last in the league. On passing plays 21% achieve first down (last) but 23% of their rushing plays achieve first down (17th).

Week Three Television Main Events

Today we look at the television main games for week three. There are some interesting story-lines and two potential shootouts.

Sunday Late: Dallas @ Seattle (FOX)

These are two teams that want to get their run games going.

Seattle was 23rd in the league in 2017 in rushing yards per game with 101. They drafted running back Rashaad Penny in round one of the draft.Their 2017 seventh round pick, Chris Carson, returned in 2018 from a season ending injury in 2017. Carson has rushed for an average of 5.8 yards per carry this season which is sixth best for backs with at least 10 carries. Carson runs with power, can make a quick cut and shows good hands. Penny got off to a slow start in game one with only a 1.1 yard average on seven carries. He did have four receptions for 35 yards. He improved in week two averaging 3 yards a carry on ten attempts with a long of 10 yards.  Carson is listed as running back one on the depth chart. Will Penny push to take over that slot?

The Cowboys are 29th in the league in opponent rushing first down percentage (30.6%).  In passing defense the Cowboys are fifth in the league in opponent passing yards per game (183).

Ezekiel Elliot is 14th in the league in rushing average with 4.6 yards per carry for backs with a minimum 10 carries. He is 13th in rushing first down percentage at 25%.  he does have two rushing touchdowns which is tie for sixth in the league. The Seahawks are one of ten teams in the NFL that have yet to give up a 20+ yard running back play. I see these two teams working hard to dominate in the run game.

Sunday Night: New England @ Detroit (NBC)

New head coach Matt Patricia squares off against his former boss Bill Belichick.

Even though the Lions were 9-7 last season and they made the playoffs twice in the last four seasons they felt a coaching change was needed. You have to go back to 1991 since the Lions moved beyond the wild card game in the playoffs. Before Patricia the coach was Jim Caldwell. Caldwell’s record as Lions coach was 36–28 (.563), making him the first Detroit head coach (who lasted at least one season) to have a winning record since 1972. Caldwell’s .563 winning percentage was the best for a Lions’ head coach since the 1950s.  Patricia is now at 0-2 and faces a tough game against the Super Bowl competitor New England Patriots.

Record-setting quarterback Mathew Stafford had a horrible opening game against the Jets. He had four interceptions to one touchdown, a 58.7% completion rate and a 47.9 passer rating. He came back to form in the second game in the loss to the 49ers with a 101.7 passer rating. The Lions lead the league in passing attempts per game with 52.   The Lions may have the most talented three wide receiver set with Golden Tate, Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay. The Patriots now have a talented receiver group with Josh Gordon and tight end Rob Gronkowski. The pass defenses of these teams are not great. The Lions have yielded n opponent passer rating of 117.7 and Pro Bowl cornerback Darius Slay is questionable after suffering a concussion last Sunday. The Patriots have yielded a better opponent passer rating of 90.7 but have yielded an average 267 passing yards per game (23rd).  This could be a shootout.

Monday Night: Pittsburgh @ Tampa Bay (ESPN)

In passing yards per game these teams are ranked number one (TB – 405) and number two (PIT – 377).

Roethlisberger gets there with a combination of number of passing attempts coupled with decent yards per completion and receiver YACs. He leads the league in passing attempts per game (50). Only Lions’ Mathew Stafford is close with 49. Roethlisberger is ninth in yards/completion (12.7 yards). However his completion percentage (61.4%) and passer rating (86.5) are not that impressive. He is aided by two receivers in the top five per receptions – Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster. The Steelers are fifth in passing plays of 20+ yards with 10. However most of those are due to yards-after-the catch by the receivers. Per Pro Football Focus Roethlisberger has attempted 17 passes of 20+ yards and has connected on only three of them for 75 yards. He may be affected by an elbow injury that occurred in week one.

Amazingly Fitzpatrick is 24th in the league in passing attempts per game at 30. He is efficient with a completion percentage of 78.7% which is third in the league. His yards per completion of 17.1 yards is second in the league.  The Buccaneers have the second most passes of 20+ yards (12) and Pro Football Focus lists Fitzpatrick as the top quarterback in Big-Time throws with ten. The next closest is Russell Wilson with seven. The Buccaneer’s  receivers are not on the level of the Steelers but they do have three good receivers in DeSean Jackson, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Ryan Fitzpatrick has the highest passer rating thru two weeks with a 151.5. A perfect rating is 158.3.  The average passer rating for the first two weeks of the season going back to 2002 hovers in the range of 84 to 92.4. We’ll see Monday if these two teams continue to light it up.

Enjoy the week three games!

 

Week One Bottom Ten Teams By Yards

Continuing my previous post on the top ten teams in week one by yards we now look at the bottom ten teams by yards gained and yards allowed.

23. San Francisco 49ers (0-1)

The 49ers rushed for only 90 yards and a 3.6 yard average. Alfred Morris, 49er running back, turned the ball over on a forced fumble in the red zone at the one yard line.

24. Houston Texans (0-1)

DeShaun Watson passed for only 158 yards, had a 50% completion rate and a 62.9 passer rating. He threw only one touchdown to one interception. His average yards per completion was 9.3 yards which was 24th compared to other teams. He was sacked three times and lost a fumble.

25. New Orleans Saints (0-1)

Drew Brees was in a shootout with Ryan Fitzpatrick.  With Saints running back Mark Ingram suspended for So the Saints decided to give up the run game. They had just 13 rushing attempts , the lowest in week one. Their rushing average was only 3.3 yards per carry. Interesting that the Buccaneers did not abandon the run and rushed for 34 attempts which was fifth most in week one. The Buccaneers also averaged only 3.3 yards per attempt. As for the other game aspects you could say both team passing offenses were outstanding or both pass defenses were abysmal. I lean on the side of poor pass defense.

26. Detroit Lions (0-1)

The feel of the game was that the Lions were disastrous. However the Lions did tie the game 17-17 at the top of the third quarter. Then it went to pieces. After tying the game the Lions allowed Sam Darnold to drive the Jets down the field and score a touchdown. The next Lions possession ended in a Stafford interception by Jets Darron Lee for a pick 6. On their ensuing possession the Lions went three and out and punted, That punt was returned by Jet Andre Roberts 78 yards for a touchdown. In 6 minutes on the game clock the Jets had pulled ahead by 21 unanswered points. The Jets would go on to kick a field goal and score another touchdown on a 62 yard run by Isaiah Crowell. The Lions run defense was terrible allowing the Jets to rush for 169 yards, a 4.7  yard average and giving up the Crowell touchdown run. In the passing game Stafford was picked off five times.

27. Kansas City Chiefs (1-0)

What! The Chiefs! The Chiefs make this list due to the defense. Their pass defense allowed 418 yards (31st) of passing yardage, a 66.7% completion percentage, 45% first down completion and eight passing plays of 20+ yards (32nd). According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), the Chiefs defense combined to miss 19 tackles. This is tied for the third-most ever recorded by a team on the first week of a season. PFF rated the Chiefs defense as last. Granted they did play Phillip Rivers and the Chargers but still the defense was an area of concern going into the season.

28. Cleveland Browns (0-0-1)

Except for a run game aided by quarterback Tyrod Taylor, the Browns ranked poorly in all other aspects. They gave up 313 yards on passing offense (28th) and 41.5% of the Steelers passing attempts made first down. The Browns allowed 159 yards rushing (28th) and a 4.5 yard average. On passing offense the Browns had only 150 yards (27th) and had a passer rating of 51.8.

29. Dallas Cowboys (0-1)

The Cowboys had only 138 yards of passing offense (30th), a 7.3 yards per completion average and only one pass of 20+ yards which was exactly 20 yards. The rushing game was held to 94 yards. Their run defense gave up 147 yards (27th) and two touchdowns.

30. Buffalo Bills (0-1)

The Bills ranked dead last in passing yards with only 70 yards and a 6.3 yard average per completion. Their passer rating was 17. Their completion percentage was a league low 33%.  Bills’ run game ranked 25th with a total 83 yards and a 3.8 yards per carry average. Their defense yards allowed ranked 19th for run defense (117 yards) and 21st for pass defense (252 yards).

31. Seattle Seahawks (0-1)

The Seattle Seahawks run defense gave up 146 yards rushing (26th) and a 4.6 yards average. In Passing they gave up 324 yards (29th) and seven pass plays of 20+ yards (30th). Seattle’s run game had only 64 yards rushing (30th). In their passing offense they did gain 242 yards but that was only 14th in the league.

32. Arizona Cardinals (0-1)

Based on yards the Cardinals rank in last place. The best aspect of their game was their pass defense which gave up 247 yards (20th) and a 118 passer rating. The Cardinal passing game gained only 145 yards (29th) and their run game only 68 yards (29th). Their lowest score was for their run defense which gave up a league high 182 yards.

I would say not a lot of surprises. The only three are the Saints, Chiefs and the Seahawks.

The 48 points the Saints allowed Tampa Bay to score is the most the Saints gave up since the middle of 2015. That season they were dead last in points conceded and went 7-9. In 2016 they were 31st in points conceded and again went 7-9. The Saints brought in defensive talent drafting CB Marshon Lattimore, S Marcus Williams and DE Marcus Davenport. They had DE Cameron Jordan. In 2017 the Saints were 10th in points allowed, went 11-5 and made the playoffs. We shall see if this game was just an aberration.

The Chiefs are another high powered offensive team that has defensive problems. In 2017 they were 28th in yards allowed. For the 2018 draft five of their six selections were defensive players with only the last selection being on offense. In the NFL Top 100 Players of 2018 the Chiefs have three players but none on defense.

The Seahawks were 23rd in rushing yards per game in 2017. In the draft they went first round with running back Rashaad Penny. Defensively the Seahawks saw a large departure of defensive talent this offseason. Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril, Richard Sherman, Sheldon Richardson, and Jeremy Lane will all be on new teams or retired in 2018. Safety Kam Chancellor is on the physically unable to perform list. Will the new starters be able to carry on the legacy of the Legion of Boom?

Enjoy the week two games!

Week One Top Ten Teams By Yards

The results are in for week one and here is a snapshot of the teams based on yards achieved and yards allowed. Granted one week is not a good sample size on which to draw conclusions but it does present a picture of what the teams were able to achieve coming together after a full preseason practice. The strength of the opponent is not factored into this analysis. However with parity being rampant in the NFL that may be okay. Just look at the Steelers-Browns game tie to see parity in full force. The analysis paints a picture based solely on yards gained and yards allowed. It is one aspect of analyzing the teams. This snapshot looked at passing and rushing yards achieved by the offense as well as passing and rushing yards allowed by the defense.  Here are the results.

The Top Ten

Eight of the top ten teams won in week one. The Steelers were the only team that tied and the Chargers were the only team that lost.

10. New England Patriots (1-0)

The Patriots excelled in pass defense allowing only 158 net passing yards which was ranked 8th  in the league. Edge rushers Trey Flowers and Deatrich Wise had 1.5 sacks apiece. Cornerback Stephon Gilmore had an interception in the end zone. DeShaun Watson had a 62.9 passer rating. The Patriots allowed only 23.5% of passing attempts to achieve a first down and limited Watson to only one pass of 20+ yards.

9. Minnesota Vikings (1-0)

The Vikings limited the 49ers to 90 yards rushing and a 3.6 yard average in the Viking victory. The longest rushing play allowed was only 14 yards. The 90 yards allowed was ranked ninth in the league. Defensive Tackle Linval Joseph had four tackles and a forced fumble.

8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-0)

The Bucs excelled in both pass offense and run defense. The Saints did give up the run game to match FitzPatrick’s passing with their own. The Saints had the lowest rushing attempts in the league (13). Nevertheless the Bus did hold the Saints run game to an average of 3.3 yards and a long of 10 yards. In the passing game FitzPatrick had the league highest passer rating (156.2), highest passing 1st downs per attempt (60.7%), most 20+ yard passes (8 – tie), most passing touchdowns (4 – tie) and the third best completion percentage (75%). Jameis Winston watch out.

7. New York Jets (1-0)

Even though Sam Darnold had a good debut the real strength of the Jets was their run game and run defense. Like the Saints the Lions abandoned their run game to keep up with the Jets. The Lions had the second lowest rushing attempts (15). However the Jets did hold the Lions run game to a measly 2.6 yard average, a long of nine yards and a 13.3% first down conversion rate.  In the run game the Jets rushed for a league third highest 36 attempts and 169 yards. They averaged 4.7 yards per carry and had a long of 62 yards for a touchdown. Isaiah Crowell rushed for 10  attempts, 102 yards and two touchdowns. Bilal Powell had 12 attempts for 60 yards.

6. Los Angeles Chargers (0-1)

The Chargers are the only team to make the top ten and lose their game. The Chargers were second in passing yards (418), third in passing touchdowns (3), third in passing first down conversions (45%), tie for first in 20+ yard passing plays (8) and ninth in passer rating (103.7). Phillip rivers’ 66.7% completion percentage was ranked 10th in the league. The Chargers run game and run defense were decent. Melvin Gordon rushed for 64 yards on 15 attempts. The Chargers averaged 5.6 yards per rush and had a 31.8% first down conversion rate on rushing attempts. Their pass defense is where things went bad. Patrick Mahomes threw for 256 yards, four touchdowns and had six passing plays of 20+ yards.

5. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-0-1)

The Steelers had a tie against the Browns and are the only other team in the top ten besides the Chargers that did not have a win. The Steelers turned the ball over six times in the game. It is amazing that the Steelers got a tie with that many turnovers. If one can get past the six turnovers the Steelers had a dominant game in passing, rushing and pass defense. The Steelers passed for 313 net yards (5th), had a 41.5% first downs per passing attempts (7th) and had four pass plays of 20+ yards (8th).  In the run game the Steelers with James Connor rushed for 159 yards (5th), averaged 4.5 yards per carry (12th) and had two rushing touchdowns (2nd). The pass defense limited the Browns to 150 passing yards (6th) and 15% first down conversion on passing attempts (1st). Tyrod Taylor was limited to a 51.8 passer rating (5th). The Steelers were up 21-7 going into the fourth quarter after  the three interceptions. The Steelers gave up 177 yards in run defense (31st),  26% first down rushing conversion (24th) and two rushing touchdowns (26th).

4. Carolina Panthers (1-0)

The Panthers held the Cowboys scoreless until the fourth quarter. They the gave up one touchdown and a two-point conversion. The Panthers limited Dallas to 138 yards passing (3rd), a 5.9 yard average per pass attempt (11th) and had six sacks (2nd). In the offensive run game the Panthers had two rushing touchdowns. Cam Newton had the long run of 29 yards and one rushing touchdown. Christian McCaffrey had 10 attempts for 50 yards and a long of 15 yards. He also had six receptions for 46 yards and a long of 14 yards. The Panthers limited Ezekiel Elliott to 69 yards rushing and 17 yards receiving.

3. Baltimore Ravens (1-0)

The Bills quarterback Nathan Peterman could probably not have gone up against a tougher secondary than his disastrous opener. The Ravens secondary as covered in this prior post  is one of the more formidable secondaries.  The conditions of heavy rain and wind were not inducive to passing. Irregardless the Ravens held the Bills to 70 net yards passing which was the lowest in week one across the NFL. The Bills’ quarterbacks were sacked six times and had a combined passer rating of 17.1, the lowest in week one. The Raven’s run defense was also good holding the Bills to 83 yards rushing, a 3.8 yard average and a 13.6% first down conversion on rushing plays. The Ravens had a good passing offense with 252 yards passing, 68% completion percentage, three passing touchdowns, five pass plays of 20+ yards and a 113.9 passer rating.

2. Denver Broncos (1-0)

The Broncos held the Seahawks to 64 yards rushing with a 4.0 yard average and a league low 6.3% on first down conversions. Denver linebacker Von Miller forced two fumbles and recovered one of them. The Broncos had 324 yards net passing yardage (4th), three passing touchdowns, three interceptions and a 38.5% first down conversion on passing attempts. Case Keenum solidifies his choice as starting quarterback and quells any quarterback controversy for now. In addition the Broncos, led by rookies Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay,  rushed for 146 yards with a 4.6 yard average and a 25% first down conversion percentage on attempts.

1. Washington Redskins (1-0)

This was a surprise! The Redskins lead the top ten excelling in the run game and defense. The Redskins had a league high 182 yards rushing on a high 42 rushing attempts and averaged 4.3 yards per carry. Newly signed Adrian Peterson was a workhorse rushing for 26 attempts and getting his 100th career rushing touchdown. The Redskins held Arizona to 145 yards passing (4th) and 68 yards rushing (4th). The Redskins do have a strong defensive front seven as covered in this post.

That is the top ten teams based on yards gained and allowed for week one. There were a few surprises for me. Those being the Buccaneers with a backup quarterback, the Jets with a rookie quarterback, the Broncos with “one year wonder” Case Keenum and the Redskins with the loss of Derrius Guice. They are off to a good start and have overcome adversity or the odds to get there.

I plan on putting out the bottom ten from week one before the Sunday games. So check back.

Enjoy the game tonight between the Ravens and the Bengals! The Ravens secondary should be tested a little more this week with A.J. Green.