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Archive for the 'Insane ideas' Category

Stathead Blog

Posted by Sean on April 25, 2011

Sports Reference's New Blog: Stathead

I have to admit that I find it very hard to follow all of the great research that people are producing every day on the web. Just for football, culling through the good stuff on Football Outsiders, Cold Hard Football Facts and Advanced NFL Stats is hard enough, but when you add in team blogs, other stathead blogs and everything else, it becomes impossible. This doesn't even include trying to locate recent research in hockey, basketball, baseball and soccer.

So we've decided to do something about it. Every weekday, the Stathead blog will summarize the best research-related studies, news, conferences, and resources for baseball, basketball, football, hockey and soccer.

The blog will primarily be edited by Neil Paine and will typically feature 20-30 links to analytic content around the internet. We've been working out the format over the last two weeks, and we think you'll soon appreciate our concise summaries for all of the articles we write about.

Feedback as always is welcome.

2 Comments | Posted in Announcements, Business, Insane ideas, P-F-R News, Site Features

Insane idea: teams play 18, players play 16

Posted by Doug on February 12, 2011

I think this is a compromise that still generates a big chunk of the benefit the owners see in an 18-game slate while alleviating the concerns of the players who would prefer 16.

NFL teams have a full 18-game schedule, but each individual player can play in at most 16 regular season games.

As far as I know, it would be unprecedented in any non-little-league sport for a healthy player who wants to play, and whose team wants him to play, to be forced to sit for non-punitive reasons. For that reason alone, this idea could probably never gain any traction. I'm aware of that. And yes, some games would be devalued. There would be lots of local news stories about 7-year-old Tom-Brady-idolizers whose parents paid a month's salary so he could watch Brady explain Polaroids to Brian Hoyer for three hours.

But I think there are some benefits here.

42 Comments | Posted in Insane ideas, Lockout

Which QB is Likely to be Best in 2011?

Posted by Neil Paine on February 10, 2011

File this under Chase's "Insane Ideas/Rants/Almost deleted before hitting Publish" category...

In light of the research Chase & JKL have done about the consistency of passing stats between seasons, I was wondering which quarterbacks were likely to be best in 2011 -- assuming there is a 2011 season -- if we take their 2010 numbers and strip away the factors that were heavily influenced by luck or other elements beyond a player's control.

18 Comments | Posted in Insane ideas, Quarterbacks, Rant, Statgeekery, Totally Useless

Quarterback post-season records and Simpson’s Paradox

Posted by Chase Stuart on January 31, 2011

I almost deleted this post before I hit "Publish." There are so many caveats I'm urged to proclaim, and so many nits at which any reader could pick, that I'm still not sure if this is worth posting. Further, on some level, I fundamentally disagree with the not-so-subtle argument this post implicitly endorses. Allow me to cut you off, by noting that yes, this post is stupid, yes I forgot about X, Y and Z, yes, this doesn't even make sense once you realize M, N and Q, yes I've never watched a football game before, and yes I'm biased against Player A and Player B. And, of course, I am Player C's mother. Note that I've categorized this post under both Rant and Insane ideas.

The comments to Neil's post on The Rivers Index raised some interesting questions. Commenter Sean played the role of Marino backer and noted how Miami was always being outrushed in those playoff losses. He pointed out, correctly, that Dan Marino is the only victor of the 52 quarterbacks to start a playoff game in the last 60 years when his team was outrushed by 150+ yards .

I started wondering how to break down each playoff game based on the level of support each quarterback received, from both the running game and the defense. Game-ending stats are deceiving -- just one of the many caveats in my head as I wrote paragraph 1 -- but I figured there was little harm in doing some back of the envelope calculations. If nothing else, this post can just add some layers to the typical discussion of post-season records. Here's what I did:

55 Comments | Posted in Insane ideas, Quarterbacks, Rant

Checkdowns: Matt Ryan vs. Jake Long

Posted by Chase Stuart on January 6, 2011

I'm currently working on a two-part series discussing the Miami Dolphins' decision to draft Jake Long instead of Matt Ryan in the first round of the 2008 draft. It may be a few days, or a few weeks, but it's on the to-do list. That said, I thought I'd throw out a few questions to the commentators first:

1) Where do you rank Matt Ryan among NFL QBs right now, regardless of age? Where do you rank Ryan including age, i.e., if you were building a franchise?

2) Where do you rank Jake Long among NFL LTs right now, regardless of age? Where do you rank Long including age, i.e., if you were building a franchise?

3) In retrospect, who has been a more valuable player over the past 3 seasons, Ryan or Long? To the extent that your answer is different, who has been the better player over the past 3 seasons, Ryan or Long?

4) Suppose the NFL threw every single player into an open dynasty draft in the summer of 2011. There would be a lottery for the first pick, every player would have his contract revoked, and the league would essentially have a 32-team expansion draft. Some lucky team would get the first pick, while the 32nd team would pick 33rd, in a typical snake draft. There would be no salary cap, and the draft would last forever (i.e., we would not renew this process in the summer of 2012).

  • a) Who would be the first pick in this draft? A few years ago, Peyton Manning (or Tom Brady) would have been the obvious choice, but now I'm not sure there is a clear number one.
  • b) Who would go first, Ryan or Long? At what spot would each go?
  • c) Assuming, for the sake of argument, that you believe Long to be the best left tackle in the league. Considering the respective ages of the players, how good would Ryan need to be to be selected ahead of Long? Top 5? Top 10? Top 15? Essentially, at what QB rank would you stop taking Ryan over long (assuming, of course, that if Ryan was the best QB in the league, you'd take him, and if he was the second best QB, you'd take him, etc. At what point does it stop)?

38 Comments | Posted in Insane ideas

Bring back this idea: mid-week pre-playoff playoff games

Posted by Doug on December 23, 2010

File this under "I know that most stuff that happened before I was born was quaint, but not this quaint"....

As the final week of the 1970 season approached, the Vikings had clinched the NFC Central, but the West and East were up for grabs, as was the wildcard (or, as it was known at the time, "the playoff berth for the best second-place team"), with the Cardinals, Cowboys, Giants, Lions, Rams and 49ers all in the mix for three available slots. Back then, the tiebreakers were simpler: (1) head to head, (2) conference record, (3) coin flip.

As the various scenarios were examined, it began to dawn on people that a coin flip was not a remote possibility at all. A Lions/Cowboys coin flip seemed somewhat likely, and some newspaper articles referred to a potential three-way "telephonic coin flip" between the Lions, Cowboys, and Giants. My search for an explanation of the mechanics of the three-way flip ended without success.

But if Lions' GM Russ Thomas had his way, there would have been no mechanics necessary. From this UPI article:

Lions' General Manager Russ Thomas has proposed that the Lions be allowed to meet the Dallas Cowboys in a special playoff game next Wednesday instead of conducting a coin toss if the two teams tie for the playoff spot.

Lions' coach and former broken-glass-eating middle linebacker Joe Schmidt was, of course, ready to play anyone any time. Uh, but only because it was less "lousy" than a coin flip. Unfortunately, Pete Rozelle informed Thomas that such a proposal would require unanimous approval from all 26 owners, and speculated that that was extremely unlikely.

In the end, the Rams saved us the hassle by dominating the Giants 31-3. This allowed both Dallas and Detroit to control their own destinies, and both won their games easily.

Just a few weeks later, Rozelle admitted that the situation had him worried (exact words: "we damn near got burned and had to flip a coin.") and that the competition committee would probably be making some changes, but that pre-playoff playoff games were not a possibility.

8 Comments | Posted in History, Insane ideas

Pro-Football-Reference.com Reset

Posted by Sean on November 22, 2010

Those of you paying close attention to PFR noticed that an hour or so ago, the site's look and feel was tweaked ever so slightly. Baseball-Reference.com got a similar reset about a month ago and we will be moving onto our other sites at some point soon as well.

These are not huge changes, but there are some.

  • Column headers can still be sorted, but clicking three times returns you to the default table
  • The tooltips have been improved in their appearance.
  • There is a glossary link above the stats tables that will show you all of the stats in the table in one place
  • All of the tables on the site are now shareable. Clicking that SHARE link above the stats tables brings up a dialog that lets you create custom reports from the table. You can delete columns and rows and then get the output as html, a link, plain text, text for your favorite bulletin board and more
  • Player pages now have a newsfeed at the top of the page that shows latest injury reports, news from KFFL, and player mentions in various blogs. You can add your blog to our newsfeeds and get links from your player mentions to PFR all in one feel swoop.
  • Player navigation to things like gamelogs, comebacks, splits and the like have been modified to be more in line with what you might know from Baseball-Reference.com. They now appear just above the player stats on the player pages.
  • The site should be faster now as we've tweaked the way the css and js is downloaded.
  • Every player, team, and box score now has a Facebook "Like" button, so that you can let the world know your favorite players. Go crazy.
  • The blog template has been tweaked a bit as well and you can have an image appear by your comments setting up a universal avatar at Gravatar.com.
  • Box scores got an updated look.
  • The search engine got an updated look and now also appears in a larger block on the front page.
  • There are now more links to the College Football Site.
  • Feedback is always appreciated and you can directly file a bug via our Feedback Form.

15 Comments | Posted in Announcements, Insane ideas, P-F-R News, Totally Useless

Scary Good

Posted by Chase Stuart on October 30, 2010

With a full slate of games scheduled on Halloween this year, I thought it would be a good time to look back and note some of the best performances on October 31st over the past 50 years. First, the top 50 quarterbacks, measured by adjusted yards per attempt:

Name Year Team Opp W/L Score Cmp Att Yd TD INT AY/A Rsh Rshyd Rshtd
Earl Morrall 1971 BAL PIT W 34-21 11 19 286 3 0 18.2 0 0 0
Drew Bledsoe 1999 NWE ARI W 27-3 14 22 276 4 0 16.2 0 0 0
Scott Hunter 1976 ATL NOR W 23-20 10 11 138 2 0 16.2 2 3 0
Elvis Grbac 1999 KAN SDG W 34-0 11 15 194 2 0 15.6 1 -1 0
Drew Brees 2004 SDG OAK W 42-14 22 25 281 5 0 15.2 2 21 0
John Hadl 1971 SDG NYJ W 49-21 19 27 358 4 1 14.6 3 38 1
Chris Chandler 1988 IND DEN W 55-23 10 13 167 1 0 14.4 3 8 0
Tim Couch 1999 CLE NOR W 21-16 11 19 193 3 0 13.3 2 5 0
Greg Landry 1976 DET GNB W 27-6 12 19 211 2 0 13.2 2 11 0
Trent Green 2004 KAN IND W 45-35 27 34 389 3 0 13.2 3 -3 0
Bob Griese 1971 MIA RAM W 20-14 13 19 209 2 0 13.1 3 17 0
Scott Mitchell 1993 MIA KAN W 30-10 22 33 344 3 0 12.2 3 12 0
Michael Vick 2004 ATL DEN W 41-28 18 24 252 2 0 12.2 12 115 0
Peyton Manning 2004 IND KAN L 35-45 25 44 472 5 1 12.0 0 0 0
Johnny Unitas 1965 BAL SFO W 34-28 23 34 324 4 0 11.9 1 7 0
John Brodie 1965 SFO BAL L 28-34 20 28 289 2 0 11.8 2 13 0
Jeff Hostetler 1993 RAI SDG L 23-30 20 32 424 2 2 11.7 5 9 0
Chris Chandler 1999 ATL CAR W 27-20 14 21 201 2 0 11.5 1 -1 0
Gary Kubiak 1988 DEN IND L 23-55 12 16 138 2 0 11.1 4 21 0
Craig Erickson 1993 TAM ATL W 31-24 18 28 318 4 2 11.0 3 8 0
Fran Tarkenton 1965 MIN CLE W 27-17 17 27 234 2 0 10.1 2 -9 0
Norm Snead 1965 PHI WAS L 21-23 11 19 196 2 1 10.1 1 7 0
James Harris 1976 RAM SEA W 45-6 14 25 208 2 0 9.9 0 0 0
George Izo 1965 DET RAM W 31-7 9 19 168 1 0 9.9 0 0 0
Ben Roethlisberger 2004 PIT NWE W 34-20 18 24 196 2 0 9.8 5 3 0
Peyton Manning 1999 IND DAL W 34-24 22 34 313 1 0 9.8 0 0 0
Brad Johnson 1999 WAS CHI W 48-22 15 25 204 2 0 9.8 1 1 1
Mark Brunell 1999 JAX CIN W 41-10 11 19 145 2 0 9.7 2 11 0
Jim Hart 1976 STL SFO W 23-20 16 31 271 3 1 9.2 0 0 0
Jeff George 1999 MIN DEN W 23-20 17 29 218 2 0 8.9 1 0 0
David Carr 2004 HOU JAX W 20-6 26 34 276 1 0 8.7 3 15 0
Jim Hart 1977 STL NYG W 28-0 9 13 113 0 0 8.7 0 0 0
Roman Gabriel 1971 RAM MIA L 14-20 23 35 277 1 0 8.5 0 0 0
Kurt Warner 1999 STL TEN L 21-24 29 46 328 3 0 8.4 2 22 0
Sonny Jurgensen 1965 WAS PHI W 23-21 23 35 293 2 1 8.2 3 -10 0
Bill Nelsen 1965 PIT DAL W 22-13 18 35 272 3 1 8.2 2 7 0
Dick Wood 1964 NYJ BOS W 35-14 22 36 325 3 2 8.2 0 0 0
Jake Plummer 2004 DEN ATL L 28-41 31 55 499 4 3 8.1 2 5 0
Jim Harbaugh 1993 CHI GNB L 3-17 15 19 149 0 0 7.8 3 26 0
Jim Hart 1971 STL BUF W 28-23 15 27 171 2 0 7.8 4 2 0
Joey Harrington 2004 DET DAL L 21-31 19 32 255 2 1 7.8 1 -1 0
Steve Young 1993 SFO RAM W 40-17 22 34 245 1 0 7.8 7 57 0
Steve McNair 1999 TEN STL W 24-21 13 29 186 2 0 7.8 12 36 1
Jeff George 1993 IND NWE W 9-6 18 26 200 0 0 7.7 4 -2 0
Dave Krieg 1993 KAN MIA L 10-30 12 19 126 1 0 7.7 1 20 0
Craig Morton 1976 NYG PHI L 0-10 17 28 215 0 0 7.7 2 5 0
Jeff Blake 1999 CIN JAX L 10-41 13 23 155 1 0 7.6 2 10 0
Boomer Esiason 1993 NYJ NYG W 10-6 12 17 129 0 0 7.6 3 15 0
John Friesz 1993 SDG RAI W 30-23 13 25 162 1 0 7.3 2 0 0
Rodney Peete 1993 DET MIN W 30-27 20 28 273 1 2 7.3 8 13 0

The 66 running backs with at least 100 yards from scrimmage:

6 Comments | Posted in Insane ideas, Voodoo and witchcraft

2009 Yardage Differential SRS

Posted by Neil Paine on August 13, 2010

Just for kicks, I plugged last year's results (regular-season + playoffs) into the SRS formula -- except instead of using point differential as the inputs, I used per-game yardage differential, a quick-n-dirty favorite of oddsmakers when determining if a team has played above or below what its W-L record would indicate. Broadly speaking, the outcome of a game can be retrodicted reasonably well using some combination of yardage differential and turnover differential, and we know that turnover differential is somewhat unreliable from year to year, so this SOS-adjusted ypg differential could provide insight into which teams will play better or worse than expected in 2010:

Rank Team Rating
1 Dallas Cowboys 88.2
2 New England Patriots 77.8
3 Minnesota Vikings 74.0
4 Green Bay Packers 69.4
5 New York Jets 62.5
6 New York Giants 55.8
7 Pittsburgh Steelers 51.0
8 Baltimore Ravens 50.6
9 Houston Texans 44.1
10 Philadelphia Eagles 43.0
11 Carolina Panthers 34.6
12 Indianapolis Colts 32.1
13 San Diego Chargers 31.3
14 New Orleans Saints 30.7
15 Denver Broncos 26.8
16 Miami Dolphins 7.3
17 Atlanta Falcons 5.5
18 Cincinnati Bengals 3.3
19 Washington Redskins -1.4
20 Tennessee Titans -11.3
21 Arizona Cardinals -12.6
22 Jacksonville Jaguars -29.0
23 Chicago Bears -33.2
24 Tampa Bay Buccaneers -49.5
25 San Francisco 49ers -50.5
26 Seattle Seahawks -54.6
27 Buffalo Bills -57.8
28 Oakland Raiders -82.1
29 Kansas City Chiefs -83.2
30 Detroit Lions -92.7
31 St. Louis Rams -103.0
32 Cleveland Browns -127.0
Home-Field Advantage 24.3

What this basically says is that to produce a prediction for a game's yardage differential last season, you subtract one team's rating from the other's and add the HFA term to the home team. Doing this for every game last season, this set of ratings produced the smallest squared error.

What jumps out? The Super Bowl participants (Indy & New Orleans) rank surprisingly low; the Cowboys could very well validate Chase's gut feeling about a big year in 2010; the Jets were probably better than their record would indicate (as evidenced by their playoff run); the Patriots might not be finished quite yet; and trendy hopes for a 49ers resurgence (beyond winning the weak West) could be misguided.

Of course, none of this takes into account offseason player movement or the million other factors at play here. But it is interesting as an additional piece of info about which teams played better or worse than you might have thought last season.

12 Comments | Posted in Insane ideas, Statgeekery

The WCB Tournament Final Four

Posted by Jason Lisk on June 7, 2010

It's been since April that I have had a free moment, so I apologize for the delay in getting back to this. For those that don't know, during March and April, I embarked on a non-sensical journey of playing a tournament using the What If Sports website, between the best teams that failed to win a Super Bowl. Here are the previous results:

the opening round results
the first round results from the Tampa/New Orleans regions
the first round results from the Los Angeles/Houston regions.
the second round results from the Tampa/New Orleans regions
the second round results from the Los Angeles/Houston regions
the regional semis and finals from the Tampa/New Orleans regions
the regional semis and finals from the Los Angeles/Houston regions

Today, we pick up with the Final Four teams: 1997 Green Bay Packers, 1967 Los Angeles Rams, 1968 Baltimore Colts, and the 1970 Minnesota Vikings. I wrote a little something about the Fearsome Foursome and its origins as it relates to the 1967 Rams, so I'll give a brief recap of the other teams before we put a bow on this series.

1997 Green Bay Packers: The only defending Super Bowl Champion to make the Final Four, the Packers finished in a tie in the NFC with San Fransisco 49ers at 13-3, and went on the road to win the conference championship at San Fransisco. They then lost to Denver in the Super Bowl, becoming the first NFC team to lose in that game since the 1983 Redskins. The Packers most infamously lost a game to 3-13 Indianapolis in which they surrendered a season high 467 yards, but that game awoke them, as they won their next seven games to reach the Super Bowl. Brett Favre was selected as AP MVP for the third consecutive year.

1968 Baltimore Colts: Johnny Unitas suffered an arm injury in the preseason, and veteran journeyman Earl Morrall led the Baltimore Colts to one of the greatest NFL regular seasons. The Colts' only loss came against the Browns in a game in which Unitas tried to come back and threw 3 interceptions on 11 passes. Playing in the tougher NFL Western Division, the Colts outscored their opponents by 258 points and avenged their only loss with a 34-0 drubbing of Cleveland in the championship game. Earl Morrall's Cinderalla season as NFL MVP came to a crashing end in the Super Bowl III defeat against the Jets.

1970 Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings followed up a dominant 1969 season in which they lost to Kansas City in the Super Bowl with an equally dominant 1970 season, when they lost to San Fransisco in a game in which the offense, and particular the passing game, let them down. The Purple People Eaters were at their peak in 1970, and Alan Page would win his AP MVP selection the following season.

Now, to the matchups. The first semifinal features the 1997 Green Bay Packers against the 1967 Los Angeles Rams. Here is the path that each took to the Final Four.

1997 Green Bay
Defeated 1976 Los Angeles 34-12
Defeated 2005 Indianapolis 26-13
Defeated 1996 Denver 28-26
Defeated 2007 New England 28-21

1967 Los Angeles
Defeated 2000 New York Giants 10-3
Defeated 1984 Miami 27-21
Defeated 2000 Tennessee 13-10
Defeated 1976 Pittsburgh 24-10

FIRST QUARTER: both teams exchange punts throughout the quarter, as the defenses dominate early. The quarter closes with the Rams facing 3rd and goal after taking possession in Packer territory. Tied 0-0.

SECOND QUARTER: Reggie White sacks Gabriel on the first play of the quarter to hold the Rams to a field goal. Later, the Packers go for it at the Rams' 35, but Favre is sacked, and the Rams get another field goal on the ensuing possession. The Packers manage to put together an extended drive right before the half, and get a field goal. Los Angeles 6, Green Bay 3.

THIRD QUARTER: The defenses dominate the third, as the Packers come up with a goal line stand inside the five to keep the game in range. The Packers take that momentum swing and move into Rams territory as the quarter ends. Los Angeles 6, Green Bay 3.

FOURTH QUARTER: Dorsey Levens scores the first touchdown at the start of the fourth. The Rams then go three and out and look to be in trouble, but a fumble gives Los Angeles hope. The Rams go on a lengthy drive, capped by Les Josephson's touchdown run with just under 3 minutes left. Favre is sacked on back to back plays, including fourth down, and the Rams add an insurance touchdown inside the two minute warning. The Packers add a late touchdown, but the onside kick is unsuccessful. Los Angeles 20, Green Bay 17. Full Boxscore

The second semifinal features two powers from the late 1960's and early 1970's. Here were their roads to Miami.

1968 Baltimore
Defeated 1995 Pittsburgh 20-0
Defeated 1997 Kansas City 21-7
Defeated 1991 Buffalo 40-17
Defeated 1967 Oakland 20-12

1970 Minnesota
Defeated 1980 Atlanta 28-6
Defeated 2005 Seattle 24-17
Defeated 1973 Los Angeles 15-7
Defeated 2001 Saint Louis 20-0

FIRST QUARTER: The Colts take the opening kickoff and put together an efficient drive, ending with a Jimmy Orr touchdown catch. The Vikings punt right away, and the Colts go on another long drive, ending with a field goal. The following kickoff is returned deep into Colts territory, giving the Vikings their first scoring chance as the quarter ends. Baltimore 10, Minnesota 0

SECOND QUARTER: The Vikings score on the second play of the quarter, then the defenses bear down and force several punts. Right before the end of the half, the Vikings tie the score with a field goal from Fred Cox. Tied at 10-10

THIRD QUARTER: Cuozzo throws an early interception, and neither team comes close to threatening after that, and the score remains the same.Tied at 10-10

FOURTH QUARTER: Neither team can do much offensively, but when Cuozzo throws his second interception at midfield with a minute left, the Colts move into scoring range. Lou Michaels attempts a 48 yard field goal, but it goes wide and the game goes to overtime. Tied at 10-10

OVERTIME: The Colts win the toss, but do nothing. The Vikings return the favor. On third down of the second possession, Morrall hits a big pass to Richardson that puts it across midfield, then Tom Matte breaks through the line on the next play to get inside the Minnesota 20.
The Colts center the ball, and the field goal attempt is good. Baltimore 13, Minnesota 10.
Full Boxscore

THE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

The final game features an old division rivalry. In fact, it was Los Angeles that knocked the undefeated Colts out of the playoffs in 1967 with their final week victory.

FIRST QUARTER: Morrall throws an interception on his first pass of the game, and the Rams immediately turn it into a field goal. When Morrall throws his second interception one series later, the Baltimore fans collectively groan and begin to have visions of Super Bowl III. Los Angeles 3, Baltimore 0

SECOND QUARTER: The Los Angeles offense does nothing, but the Fearsome Foursome hold firm. With Baltimore threatening right before halftime, Morrall throws his third interception. Los Angeles 3, Baltimore 0

THIRD QUARTER: The Rams squandered chances to extend the lead, and Gossett's missed field goal keeps Baltimore within range. As the quarter closes, the Rams face a crucial third down at the Baltimore 36. Los Angeles 3, Baltimore 0

FOURTH QUARTER: Gabriel hits Jack Snow on the first play of the fourth for a touchdown on third down. Baltimore then finally puts a drive together, but in a move that sends stat guys reeling, Shula opts for a 33 yard field goal on fourth and one at the 16, trailing by 10 with 10 minutes left. Michaels misses it, and Baltimore is in trouble. The Colts do get the ball back a few minutes later, and aided by a personal foul and a Jimmy Orr catch, get into the end zone with 5:39 left. The Rams punt it back to the Colts inside the two minute warning, and it is downed at the 3. The Colts cannot get out of their end zone, and the Rams add a late field goal to seal the victory. Los Angeles 13, Baltimore 7

Full Boxscore

Congratulations to the 1967 Rams, and Rest in Peace, Merlin Olsen.

16 Comments | Posted in Insane ideas, Totally Useless

The WCB Tournament: Los Angeles and Houston Regional Semis and Finals

Posted by Jason Lisk on April 17, 2010

We now turn to the final two regions to get the last two teams in the Final Four of the WCB tournament. Here are the previous results:

the opening round results
the first round results from the Tampa/New Orleans regions
the first round results from the Los Angeles/Houston regions.
the second round results from the Tampa/New Orleans regions
the second round results from the Los Angeles/Houston regions
the regional semis and finals from the Tampa/New Orleans regions

REGIONAL SEMIFINALS

LOS ANGELES REGION
#1 1968 Baltimore Colts vs. #13 1991 Buffalo Bills

The game was a close contest for a quarter and a half. Then, Jerry Logan intercepted a Jim Kelly pass and returned it 35 yards for a touchdown, to make the score 17-10 in favor of Baltimore. The Colts would never look back. Kelly threw five interceptions (to five different defenders) on the day, and the Baltimore defense held Buffalo to 2 for 12 on third down.

Baltimore 40, Buffalo 17

#2 1992 San Francisco 49ers vs. #6 1967 Oakland Raiders

The first game between these two ended in a flat-footed tie after neither team scored in overtime, so much like old time World Cup Soccer, we just had a replay. In the second game, the 49ers dominated the offensive statistics, but to no avail. Oakland got an opening kickoff return for touchdown to start the game, and then frustrated San Fransisco all day. George Blanda made all three of his field goal attempts, while Mike Cofer missed both of his. The Raiders put the game away with a Clem Daniels touchdown early in the fourth quarter.

Oakland 22, San Fransisco 7

#1 2001 Saint Louis Rams vs. #5 1987 San Francisco 49ers

The Niners get off to a great start, holding Saint Louis to punts in the first quarter, then going to the goal line before getting stuffed inches short on fourth down. The goal line attempt pays off, though, as the Niners sack Warner in the end zone for a safety, then take the next possession and add a touchdown for a 9-0 lead. The Rams continue to struggle offensively, but manage two second quarter field goals by Jeff Wilkins to go to the half at 9-6. In the third quarter, the Rams block a Niners punt to put themselves in good position, but Warner throws an interception two plays later, which results in a Rice touchdown and a decisive 16-6 lead at the end of the third. Well, except that it's the Rams, and the offense finally scored a touchdown to start the quarter with Faulk catching a Warner pass. The Rams still trail 16-13, though, but get near field goal range at the two minute warning. Faulk then breaks a touchdown run to give the Rams a four point lead. The Niners march all the way down the field, getting to the 11 for one final play, but it is intercepted as time expires.

Saint Louis 20, San Fransisco 16

#3 1970 Minnesota Vikings vs. #10 1973 Los Angeles Rams

The Rams went on a 71 yard drive in the first quarter, converting two key third down conversions, and took a 7-0 lead. They had 36 total yards the rest of the game, as the Vikings' defense held McCutcheon and Bertelsen to 21 yards on 20 carries. The Vikings dominated the game from that point on, but couldn't get into the end zone, settling for field goals in the second and third quarter, so the Rams still held the 7-6 lead with one quarter left despite doing nothing offensively. The Vikings finally broke through with a Clint Jones touchdown run in the fourth to take the lead. The Rams gain no first downs after that score, and Minnesota holds on.

Minnesota 15, Los Angeles 7

REGIONAL FINALS

LOS ANGELES REGION
#1 1968 Baltimore Colts vs. #6 1967 Oakland Raiders

This regional final featured the teams that lost Super Bowls II and III, in an AFL versus NFL battle. Defense ended up dominating this game. The Colts and Raiders both got an early field goal, and then there was no scoring until Blanda hit a 54 yard field goal at the halftime gun to give the Raiders a 6-3 lead. The Raiders got the ball first to start the second half, but Lamonica threw an interception that the Colts immediately turned into a Mackey score to take the lead. Lou Michaels then missed two field goals that could have extended the lead, while Blanda hit a third to make it 10-9 entering the fourth. The Colts then went on a key 7-play, 85-yard drive in the early fourth to take a 17-9 lead. In what has to be one of the most questionable coaching decisions of the tournament, John Rauch elects to kick a field goal with 3 minutes left and 4th and 4 at the Baltimore 10. The Raiders did hold the Colts on the ensuing kickoff, but failed to pick up a first down and gave the ball back to Baltimore, who added a late field goal.

Baltimore 20, Oakland 12

HOUSTON REGION
#1 2001 Saint Louis Rams vs. #3 1970 Minnesota Vikings

In what has to be the most interesting stylistic matchup this deep in the tournament, the offensive-minded Rams meet one of the most dominant defenses of all-time. Will the fact that this game is played on the turf help the Greatest Show, or will the Purple People Eaters gobble up Warner and company?

While the Minnesota Defense versus Saint Louis Offense got all the pre-game hype, the Minnesota offense took the opening kickoff and went on an efficient drive capped by a clutch third down touchdown catch by Gene Washington. The Rams offense responded with a good drive, moving the ball to first and goal from the 2. The Vikings defense made a stand, though, holding Faulk out of the end zone on three tries as the Rams' fourth down attempt came up short. The Vikings added a Cox field goal in the second quarter. The Rams were frustrated again after a nice drive, when Az-Zahir Hakim fumbled while trying to stretch for a first down at the Minnesota 17. The Rams got to the Minnesota 35 again right before the half, but Warner was intercepted by Wally Hilgenberg, so Saint Louis was shut out despite three scoring opportunities.

Playing with the lead, the Vikings could go to a heavy dose of Dave Osborn, and he carried the ball three times for 48 yards on the Vikings' first possession, scoring the key touchdown to make it 17-0. From that point on, the Vikings D harrassed Warner and intercepted him once, as Minnesota shuts out the Rams.

Minnesota 20, Saint Louis 0

The Final Four is now set:

1997 Green Bay Packers versus 1967 Los Angeles Rams
1968 Baltimore Colts versus 1970 Minnesota Vikings

In the Final Four installment, I will do a quick blurb on some aspect of each of those four teams, maybe finding an interesting story, or event from the archives, as well as having the final games.

15 Comments | Posted in Insane ideas, Totally Useless

The WCB Tournament: Tampa and New Orleans Regional Semis and Finals

Posted by Jason Lisk on April 15, 2010

Today, we get into the Regional Semifinals and Finals and find out our first two Final Four teams, and we start with the Tampa and New Orleans Regions. For those who haven't been following along, here are the previous rounds:

the opening round results
the first round results from the Tampa/New Orleans regions
the first round results from the Los Angeles/Houston regions.
the second round results from the Tampa/New Orleans regions
the second round results from the Los Angeles/Houston regions

REGIONAL SEMIFINALS

TAMPA REGION
#12007 New England Patriots vs. #12 1999 Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jacksonville Jaguars did not have to meet the Tennessee Titans, and have been rolling through the bracket as a 12 seed. That came to an end in this game, though. The Jaguars stayed close early, but the Patriots never punted all game. Brady went 24 of 29 and was never sacked. Maroney vultured 3 touchdowns, and the Patriots pulled away with three field goals at the end of the first half and during the third quarter.

New England 37, Jacksonville 20

#6 1997 Green Bay Packers vs. #10 1996 Denver Broncos

In a near-rematch of XXXII, the Denver Broncos jumped out to a 14-0 first quarter lead. Brett Favre hit Robert Brooks to get Green Bay back in the game, and following an Elam field goal, a William Henderson touchdown reception right before the half brought Green Bay within 3. The only score in the third quarter was another Denver field goal, so Denver held a slim 20-14 lead entering the fourth, with Green Bay on the march. Favre connected with Brooks again early in the fourth to give Green Bay its first lead. After Green Bay held Denver to consecutive three and outs, Favre and Brooks combined for a third touchdown with just over two minutes left. Denver managed to drive for a potential tying score, but Elway's scramble for the goal line in a potential tying conversion came up just short, and the ensuing onside kick failed. Green Bay gets revenge for the Super Bowl loss.

Green Bay 28, Denver 26

NEW ORLEANS REGION
#4 1967 Los Angeles Rams vs. #9 2000 Tennessee Titans

The first two regional semifinals featured lots of offense, but not this one. The defenses combined to yield less than 500 total yards, along with 9 sacks and 5 turnovers. The Rams held on to a slim 10-3 lead throughout most of the game, but McNair rallied the Titans for a tying touchdown inside the final two minutes with a pass to Derrick Mason, which sent the game to overtime. The defensive battle then resumed, as the teams exchanged punts for most of the overtime period. The Rams' defense turned in the play of the game, when reserve linebacker Doug Woodlief etched his name into WCB tourney lore by picking off a tipped McNair pass and returning it inside the 10, setting up Bruce Gossett's game winning field goal.

Los Angeles 13, Tennessee 10

#2 1976 Pittsburgh Steelers vs. #3 1994 Dallas Cowboys

Not all teams in the What Coulda Been Tourney failed to win the title--some are the missing link in what could have been greater immortality. This regional semifinal featured two teams that could have had even greater glory if these seasons had resulted in a win in the conference championship games over teams they had owned in other playoff years. The winner of this matchup would have to be considered one of the favorites to win it all.

Pittsburgh grabbed a 7-3 first quarter lead after a Frank Lewis touchdown. The key point in the game was then a series of plays that resulted in Dallas settling for a field goal after a pass that would have put the ball near the goal line was just out of Jay Novacek's reach, followed by the Pittsburgh possession. The Steelers would not muster a lot of consistent offense on this day, but the big play came two plays after Dallas cut it to 7-6. Bradshaw hit the man who always came up big in big games, Lynn Swann, for a 67 yard touchdown. It was the last points scored all game, as both defenses clamped down in the second half. The Steel Curtain held Emmitt Smith to 52 yards on 27 carries, as Pittsburgh advances to set up a defensive slugfest with the Rams for the New Orleans Region title.

Pittsburgh 14, Dallas 6

TAMPA REGION FINAL

#12007 New England Patriots vs. #6 1997 Green Bay Packers

The Patriots had been rolling through the WCB tournament, but the Packers and Reggie White must have taken lessons from the Giants. The Patriots had to punt on their first three possessions, and when Green Bay scored in the second quarter on a touchdown, and added a field goal on the next drive, they held a 10-0 lead. Brady found Moss right before the half to get on track and cut it at halftime. In the third quarter, Kevin Faulk added the only touchdown to give New England their first lead. A Packers field goal cut it to a one point game, but a Patriots score with about four minutes left gave them the 21-13 advantage.

Surely the Patriots wouldn't lose another close game that they held a late lead? Well, the Packers scored on the play right before the two minute warning, and then hit on the two point conversion to Antonio Freeman coming out of the break. Still, the Patriots had the ball in a tie game with just under two minutes. They moved it to midfield, when LeRoy Butler gambled on jumping a Welker route and turned the game. The Packers then took the ball into scoring range, and scored a touchdown on what may have been a lay down by Belichek in order to get one last desperation chance. The Pats only got two plays off.

Green Bay 28, New England 21

NEW ORLEANS REGION FINAL

#2 1976 Pittsburgh Steelers vs. #4 1967 Los Angeles Rams

With the national media already writing the stories about the 2007 Patriots dynasty versus the 1976 Steelers dynasty in the Final Four, Roman Gabriel had something to say. The Rams jumped to a stunning lead on an 86 yard pass from Gabriel to Bass. On his next pass following a Bleier fumble, Gabriel hit Bernie Casey for a 40 yard score, and the Rams were up 14-0. The Steelers managed to close the gap to 14-10 by halftime, and the score would stay there until the end of the third, when Gabriel connected for his third long touchdown of the game, this one to Billy Truax. The Pittsbugh defense shut down the Rams ground game, but Gabriel's three strikes prove decisive. The Rams defense harrasses Bradshaw all day, and the 1967 Rams move on.

Los Angeles 24, Pittsburgh 10

13 Comments | Posted in Insane ideas, Totally Useless

WCB tournament, second round, part two

Posted by Jason Lisk on April 6, 2010

Here were the opening round results and the first round results from the Tampa/New Orleans and the Los Angeles/Houston regions. The other half of the second round has been played as well, so let's get to the Los Angeles and Houston Regionals, to set the Sweet 16.

LOS ANGELES REGION SECOND ROUND

#8 1997 Kansas City Chiefs at #1 1968 Baltimore Colts

The Kansas City Chiefs, not realizing that Rich Gannon is on the bench and will soon prove to be better than Grbac, leave Elvis in the building to take 6 sacks and put up 59 net passing yards. Baltimore methodically pulls away with a solid game from Morrall.

Baltimore 21, Kansas City 7

#13 1991 Buffalo Bills at #5 1978 Dallas Cowboys

In what has to be one of the games of the tournament so far, the Cowboys jump out to a 13-0 lead, but do settle for two short field goals. The Bills get one back right before the half, and put up 24 unanswered to take an 11-point lead in the fourth. Captain Comeback then leads two scoring drives as part of a 328 yard, 3 td performance, to give Dallas a 1 point lead with just under two minutes. Thurman Thomas adds to his MVP of the WCB resume, with a 33 yard td run to give Buffalo the victory and keep Scott Norwood on the bench.

Buffalo 30, Dallas 25

#6 1967 Oakland Raiders at #3 1983 Washington Redskins

In a back and forth game that went down to the wire, Lamonica found Biletnikoff for the go-ahead score with about 10 minutes left. Riggins scored with 3:25 left, but the 2-pt conversion attempt failed, and the Raiders were able to hold on for the mild upset.

Oakland 24, Washington 22

#10 1986 Chicago Bears at #2 1992 San Francisco 49ers

Even-year Jerry puts up a hall of fame performance, going for 112 yards and 2 touchdowns. The 49ers pull away late, with Tom Rathman adding the clinching touchdown.

San Francisco 24, Chicago 13

HOUSTON REGION SECOND ROUND

#8 2004 Philadelphia Eagles at #1 2001 Saint Louis Rams

The Eagles got off to a good start, and looked like they would take a lead into the half, with the Rams turning the ball over four times in the half. Then, Bruce took a reverse 45 yards for a touchdown to give the Rams a slim 14-13 lead. After that, it became the Marshall Faulk show, as he scored three touchdowns after halftime as the Rams rolled to the victory.

Saint Louis 38, Philadelphia 23

#5 1987 San Francisco 49ers at #4 2004 Pittsburgh Steelers

In an ugly game where neither team can reach the end zone, Charles Haley sacks a rookie Ben Roethlisberger three times, and Ray Wersching connects on all four field goal attempts.

San Fransisco 12, Pittsburgh 3

#11 2005 Seattle Seahawks at #3 1970 Minnesota Vikings

In a tale of two halves, the Vikings get all the scoring they need in the first half and go into the locker room up 24-0. Seattle claws back and cuts it to 24-17 with just over a minute left, but cannot get any closer. Gary Cuozzo has an efficient game for Minnesota, throwing for nearly 10 yards an attempt and adding a touchdown dive.

Minnesota 24, Seattle 17

#10 1973 Los Angeles Rams at #2 1990 Buffalo Bills

The Rams defense shows up in a big way, and intercepts Jim Kelly five times en route to a methodical victory over the no-huddle Bills.

Los Angeles 18, Buffalo 7

THE SWEET 16 MATCHUPS

#12007 New England Patriots vs. #12 1999 Jacksonville Jaguars

#6 1997 Green Bay Packers vs. #10 1996 Denver Broncos

#4 1967 Los Angeles Rams vs. #9 2000 Tennessee Titans

#2 1976 Pittsburgh Steelers vs. #3 1994 Dallas Cowboys

#1 1968 Baltimore Colts vs. #13 1991 Buffalo Bills

#2 1992 San Francisco 49ers vs. #6 1967 Oakland Raiders

#1 2001 Saint Louis Rams vs. #5 1987 San Francisco 49ers

#3 1970 Minnesota Vikings vs. #10 1973 Los Angeles Rams

I will probably not get back to this until next weekend (for those who have office pools riding on the results) but there should be some fun matchups. Thirteen franchises are still represented, with only the Rams (with two versions of the Los Angeles version and the 2001 Saint Louis team) and the 49ers ('87, '92) still having multiple entries. Breaking down by decade, we have three teams from the late 60's, three more from the 70's, only one from the 80's, six from the 90's, and three from the last decade. I think what I'm going to do is to post the regional semifinals and finals for the Tampa and New Orleans Regions (six games) in one post, the regional semifinals and finals for the Los Angeles and Houston Regions in another post, then follow up with a more in-depth profile of the final four teams, with those three games.

8 Comments | Posted in Insane ideas, Totally Useless

The 1987 strike and what could have been, Part II

Posted by Chase Stuart on April 2, 2010

Part I

Yesterday, I posted SRS ratings for the teams during weeks 3, 4 and 5 of the 1987 season -- the replacement teams. The more interesting question, I think, is how did those real teams perform in the other 12 games? The table below shows team SRS ratings for all 28 NFL teams in 1987 during games 1, 2 and 6 through 15:

MOV SOS SRS w l t
San Francisco 49ers 12.8 -0.4 12.4 10 2 0
New Orleans Saints 8.9 0.4 9.2 10 2 0
Cleveland Browns 8.5 -0.1 8.4 8 4 0
Denver Broncos 7.7 -1.0 6.7 8 3 1
Seattle Seahawks 2.9 0.1 2.9 7 5 0
Buffalo Bills 0.7 2.1 2.8 6 6 0
Washington Redskins 4.6 -1.8 2.8 8 4 0
New England Patriots 1.3 1.3 2.6 6 6 0
Philadelphia Eagles 0.7 1.3 1.9 7 5 0
Chicago Bears 2.6 -0.7 1.9 9 3 0
Los Angeles Raiders 1.3 0.6 1.9 4 8 0
New York Giants 1.4 0.4 1.8 6 6 0
Indianapolis Colts 2.0 -0.5 1.6 7 5 0
Miami Dolphins -0.4 0.8 0.4 7 5 0
New York Jets -1.0 1.1 0.1 5 7 0
Minnesota Vikings 2.7 -2.6 0.1 8 4 0
Los Angeles Rams -1.5 0.6 -0.9 5 7 0
Pittsburgh Steelers -2.8 1.8 -1.1 6 6 0
Houston Oilers -1.6 0.2 -1.3 7 5 0
St. Louis Cardinals 0.2 -2.8 -2.6 6 6 0
Green Bay Packers -4.6 1.5 -3.0 3 8 1
Dallas Cowboys -2.4 -1.5 -3.9 5 7 0
Cincinnati Bengals -4.8 0.6 -4.1 3 9 0
Kansas City Chiefs -3.8 -0.9 -4.7 4 8 0
San Diego Chargers -6.6 1.3 -5.3 5 7 0
Tampa Bay Buccaneers -6.8 -0.5 -7.2 2 10 0
Detroit Lions -6.8 -1.8 -8.6 3 9 0
Atlanta Falcons -15.3 0.4 -14.9 2 10 0

20 Comments | Posted in History, Insane ideas

The 1987 strike and what could have been, Part I

Posted by Chase Stuart on April 1, 2010

Per Patrick W's request, I'm going to spend the next couple of days looking at how the 1987 player's strike impacted the NFL. There have been thousands of pages written on the 1987 strike, so any analysis here would be woefully inadequate. But to provide at least some color on the event, let's start at the beginning.

Part I: Labor History

In 1956, the NFL Players Associated was formed. It's original goal was to create a minimum salary for all players and to gain some benefits that would be considered standard today. Threatened by a lawsuit, the NFL owners mostly gave into the players' demand, but refused to enter into a collective bargaining agreement with the NFLPA. In 1968, a brief lockout and subsequent strike occurred. It ended when, with Art Modell serving as NFL President and Chairman of the Owners Labor Committee, the players and owners negotiated the sport's first CBA, guaranteeing veteran players a minimum salary of $10,000. When the AFL and NFL merged, so did the league's respective Player Associations.

And, in the summer of 1970, the newly merged NFL saw its first strike. A new CBA was created, the minimum salary was raised to $13,000 and a more favorably pension plan was approved. By 1974, the NFLPA had become a stronger organization, and was ready to tackle the NFL on more serious issues. The PA wanted to eliminate the option clause and the Rozelle rule, which created a serious barrier to free agency; the PA also demanded that the NFL eliminate the draft, abolish and the waiver system, and begin including guaranteed contracts. The owners didn't budge, and the players went on strike for 42 days. The owners stayed tough, so the players called off the strike and instead chose to take the NFL to court.

10 Comments | Posted in History, Insane ideas

The WCB Tournament, second round, part I

Posted by Jason Lisk on March 30, 2010

Here were the opening round results and the first round results from the Tampa/New Orleans and the Los Angeles/Houston regions.

Now, we move to the second round with some fantastic matchups. There weren't many huge upsets in the first round (1991 Buffalo as a #13 seed and 1999 Jacksonville as a #12 were the two lowest to advance), which may just mean that they are due in this round. Today, we will hit the second round games in the Tampa and New Orleans regions.

#12007 New England Patriots vs. #9 1966 Dallas Cowboys

Wes Welker had a big game in the slot for New England, and they win comfortably again.

New England 38, Dallas 13

#4 1990 San Francisco 49ers vs. #12 1999 Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jacksonville Jaguars are the early Cinderella story, following up the win over the 1974 Raiders with a convincing win across the bay against the 49ers. Joe Montana throws 3 interceptions, and San Fransisco is held to 162 total yards, while Taylor and Stewart combine for 192 rushing yards.

Jacksonville 26, San Fransisco 10

#3 2005 Indianapolis Colts vs. #6 1997 Green Bay Packers

In a 3-6 matchup that many might not see as an upset, the Packers go into the RCA Dome and win. The play of the game comes right before the half, when Holmgren decides to go for it on fourth and inches at the two yard line with 19 seconds left and no timeouts. Levens scores on the play, and the Packers go on to pull away in the fourth.

Green Bay 26, Indianapolis 13

#2 1969 Minnesota Vikings vs. #10 1996 Denver Broncos

Denver manages only 107 yards of total offense for the game, but turns two second quarter Joe Kapp interceptions in Viking territory into 10 points. Minnesota manages only field goals, and with the score at 10-9, gets the ball back at the Denver 37 with just over three minutes left. The offense squanders the opportunity again, going backwards, and leaving Fred Cox to try a desperation 57 yard field goal that misses.

Denver 10, Minnesota 9

NEW ORLEANS REGION SECOND ROUND

#1 1998 Minnesota Vikings vs. #9 2000 Tennessee Titans

The first top seed has fallen as the Titans overcome a sluggish first quarter to take a lead at the half. It stretches to 23-13, but then the Vikings get a touchdown from Moss and a defensive stop. Getting near field goal range, Cunningham throws an interception to Samari Rolle with 39 seconds left.

Tennessee 23, Minnesota 20

#4 1967 Los Angeles Rams vs. #5 1984 Miami Dolphins

The Fearsome Foursome frustrated Marino early, intercepting him at the goal line on Miami's best drive, to create a 10-0 halftime score. Miami gets it going in the third, taking the lead with two touchdowns, but the Rams' ground game is the difference as Les Josephson and Dick Bass put up over 280 combined rushing yards against a leaky Dolphins defense.

Los Angeles 27, Miami 21

#3 1994 Dallas Cowboys vs. #11 1998 New York Jets

The new OT rules have not been implemented for the WCB tournament, and Dallas takes the kickoff in overtime and wins with a field goal. Curtis and Emmitt both struggled to get anything going on the ground, and Testaverde outplayed Aikman, but the Cowboys do just enough to send the Jets home and make Chase Stuart cry.

Dallas 20, New York 17, OT

#2 1976 Pittsburgh Steelers vs. #7 2006 Baltimore Ravens

In a game that lived up to its defensive billing, Pittsburgh wins the turnover battle and scores the only offensive touchdown, and then the Steel Curtain came down in the second half, setting up a "What Could Have Been" regional semifinal between two dynasties.

Pittsburgh 13, Baltimore 3

24 Comments | Posted in Insane ideas, Totally Useless

The WCB tournament: round one, part II

Posted by Jason Lisk on March 28, 2010

Sorry for the delay in finishing the first round. The good news is that over 60% of the games are done after completion of the first round. Here were the opening round results and the first round results from the other half of the bracket. Today we continue with the Houston and Los Angeles regions.

LOS ANGELES FIRST ROUND GAMES

#17 1995 Pittsburgh Steelers at #1 1968 Baltimore Colts

In our alternate universe, Earl Morrall successfully throws to Jerry Hill for a touchdown right before the half, and the Colts go on to dominate.

Baltimore 20, Pittsburgh 0

#9 1977 Oakland Raiders at #8 1997 Kansas City Chiefs

If there is one thing Marty Schottenheimer could do, it was beat the Raiders. Tony Gonzalez' late touchdown catch breaks the tie and sends Stabler home despite a great performance.

Kansas City 24, Oakland 17

#12 2009 Minnesota Vikings at #5 1978 Dallas Cowboys

NOTE: Due to a human error, the original simulation was run with the 1975 Cowboys instead. The Cowboys won that one, and they won this one with the 1978 team in a defensive battle that was clinched with a late Dorsett run.

Dallas 20, Minnesota 9

#13 1991 Buffalo Bills at #4 2006 San Diego Chargers

The Chargers come from 10 down inside the final four minutes to tie it, only to lose another heartbreaking home playoff game on Scott Norwood's field goal with 3 seconds left.

Buffalo 30, San Diego 27

#19 1987 Denver Broncos at #3 1983 Washington Redskins

In a back and forth affair, Theismann scrambles for the go ahead score, then Denver runs out of time inside the Washington 10 yard line.

Washington 17, Denver 13

#11 1988 Cincinnati Bengals at #6 1967 Oakland Raiders

No Ickey Shuffle in this one, but Hewritt Dixon runs for one score and catches another as the Raiders win comfortably.

Oakland 30, Cincinnati 17

#10 1986 Chicago Bears at #7 1976 New England Patriots

Walter Payton totals 217 yards as the Bears jump out to an early 13-0 lead and hold on.

Chicago 20, New England 10

#15 1981 Dallas Cowboys at #2 1992 San Francisco 49ers

In the matchup of the first round thanks to a selection committee error, it is the '92 Niners who avenge the loss against the franchise that defeated them in the playoffs, when Amp Lee's late touchdown run seals the victory.

San Fransisco 27, Dallas 16

LOS ANGELES REGION SECOND ROUND
#8 1997 Kansas City Chiefs at #1 1968 Baltimore Colts

#13 1991 Buffalo Bills at #5 1978 Dallas Cowboys

#6 1967 Oakland Raiders at #3 1983 Washington Redskins

#10 1986 Chicago Bears at #2 1992 San Francisco 49ers

HOUSTON REGION FIRST ROUND

#16 1966 Kansas City Chiefs at #1 2001 Saint Louis Rams

Johnny Robinson's interception return for a touchdown gives the Chiefs' hope after the Rams jump to a 14-0 lead on passes to Bruce and Proehl, but the Chiefs cannot get any closer.

St. Louis 26, Kansas City 16

#9 1970 Dallas Cowboys at #8 2004 Philadelphia Eagles

Brian Westbrook's 65 yard run with just over two minutes left sets up the clinching score.

Philadelphia 24, Dallas 10

#12 1972 Washington Redskins at #5 1987 San Francisco 49ers

Kilmer throws four interceptions and Montana has a great day as the 49ers roll.

San Fransisco 27, Washington 6

#13 1976 Minnesota Vikings at #4 2004 Pittsburgh Steelers

Both passing games struggle in wet conditions, and Aaron Smith's 3 sacks get him player of the game honors as the Vikings lose to the Steelers again.

Pittsburgh 10, Minnesota 3

#19 1980 Atlanta Falcons at #3 1970 Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings dominate on both sides of the ball. Dave Osborn and Clint Jones both rush for 100 yards, and Paul Krause gets an interception (no sacks though)

Minnesota 28, Atlanta 6

#11 2005 Seattle Seahawks at #6 1977 Denver Broncos

If you had Shaun Alexander in your WCB fantasy squad, you are off to a good start. 228 total yards and 2 touchdowns for the 2005 MVP, as the Seahawks jump to a 24-0 halftime lead and cruise to victory.

Seattle 34, Denver 6

#10 1973 Los Angeles Rams at #7 2009 Indianapolis Colts

Art imitates life, as Jim Caldwell sends Stover on to attempt a 52-yard field goal trailing by 8 in the fourth quarter, rather than go for it on 4th and 5, and it comes up short. The Rams control the Colts' anemic ground game, and McCutcheon and Bertelsen run over the Colts and frustrate Manning all day.

Los Angeles 21, Indianapolis 6

#15 1982 Miami Dolphins at #2 1990 Buffalo Bills

In an AFC East battle, the K-gun offense explodes for 20 points in the second quarter to erase an early Miami lead.

Buffalo 27, Miami 13

HOUSTON REGION SECOND ROUND MATCHUPS

#8 2004 Philadelphia Eagles at #1 2001 Saint Louis Rams

#5 1987 San Francisco 49ers at #4 2004 Pittsburgh Steelers

#11 2005 Seattle Seahawks at #3 1970 Minnesota Vikings

#10 1973 Los Angeles Rams at #2 1990 Buffalo Bills

21 Comments | Posted in Insane ideas, Totally Useless

The WCB tournament: first round games, part I

Posted by Jason Lisk on March 22, 2010

The brackets have been set and the opening round matchups have been played. Today, we move to the first round matchups in the Tampa and New Orleans Regions.

TAMPA REGION FIRST ROUND

#17 1986 Denver Broncos at #1 2007 New England Patriots

The first #1 seed to take the field rolls as Tom Brady puts up ruthlessly efficient 25 of 29 for 300 yard and 3 td performance.

New England 37, Denver 14

#9 1966 Dallas Cowboys at #8 1973 Minnesota Vikings

Dan Reeves and Don Perkins combine for 164 yards on the ground, and Lilly and company shut down the Vikings' ground game, as the Purple People Eaters take their first loss of the tourney.

Dallas 21, Minnesota 10
+

#12 1999 Jacksonville Jaguars at #5 1974 Oakland Raiders

Marv Hubbard's early touchdown run gets the Raiders off to a good start, but Stabler throws four picks as the Jaguars roll.

Jacksonville 23, Oakland 7

#20 1992 Buffalo Bills at #4 1990 San Francisco 49ers

Buffalo gets off to a rough start as Kelly throws a pick on the first two possessions, the second of which is returned for a td. Buffalo battles back, and Nate Odomes gets an interception return for touchdown in the second quarter to give Buffalo the lead. Dexter Carter's 30 yard run in the third gives the 49ers the necessary points to win, and they hold off a late Bills drive to tie.

San Francisco 26, Buffalo 19

#14 1975 Dallas Cowboys at #3 2005 Indianapolis Colts

Dallas jumps out to a 16-3 second quarter lead, but the Colts fight back to take a slim lead early in the fourth, and then survive the upset bid where they were outgained significantly, when Fritsch misses a fourth quarter field goal and the Boys are stopped on downs. No Hail Mary to Pearson in this one.

Indianapolis 17, Dallas 16

#11 1976 Los Angeles Rams at #6 1997 Green Bay Packers

Dorsey Levens scores three times as the Packers pull away in Lambeau in impressive fashion, setting up a showdown between Favre and Manning.

Green Bay 34, Los Angeles 12

#10 1996 Denver Broncos at #7 1998 Atlanta Falcons

The game was close at the half, but a huge game by John Elway gives the Broncos an easy victory in the second half. The Falcons do no better against the '96 version of the Broncos.

Denver 34, Atlanta 12

#18 1981 San Diego Chargers at #2 1969 Minnesota Vikings

Cold conditions in the Midwest, and the Vikings defense, hold down Air Coryell, and the neither team scores after the first quarter as the Vikings hold on for the victory.

Minnesota 10, San Diego 7

TAMPA REGION SECOND ROUND MATCHUPS

2007 New England Patriots vs. 1966 Dallas Cowboys

#4 1990 San Francisco 49ers vs. #12 1999 Jacksonville Jaguars

#3 2005 Indianapolis Colts vs. #6 1997 Green Bay Packers

#2 1969 Minnesota Vikings vs. #10 1996 Denver Broncos

NEW ORLEANS REGION FIRST ROUND

#16 1993 Buffalo Bills at #1 1998 Minnesota Vikings

In the game of the tournament so far, the Bills jump to a shocking 21-3 halftime lead with a flurry at the end of the half. The Vikings fight back to within 5, and get a key sack on third down with 3 minutes left to force a punt. On 4th down with the ball at the 7, Cunningham finds Cris Carter in the back of the end zone for the winning touchdown.

Minnesota 22, Buffalo 21

#9 2000 Tennessee Titans at #8 1979 San Diego Chargers

In another tight game, the Chargers jump out to a 13-0 lead, but the Titans fight back. Fouts throws his third interception of the day with the score at 13-9, and the Titans go on an 18 play drive that features two fourth down conversions, and score with less than two minutes remaining. The Chargers get into field goal range, but Benirschke misses a 44 yard attempt that would have sent it to overtime.

Tennessee 16, San Diego 13

#12 2002 Philadelphia Eagles at #5 1984 Miami Dolphins

Marino throws 3 touchdowns, and rookie reserve running back Joe Carter has the game of his career, breaking a 55 yard run and finishing with 169 yards on 11 carries, as the Dolphins roll.

Miami 41, Philadelphia 14

#20 2000 New York Giants at #4 1967 Los Angeles Rams

Eddie Meador's punt return touchdown is the difference in a defensive slugfest.

Los Angeles 10, New York 3

#14 1974 Minnesota Vikings at #3 1994 Dallas Cowboys

Aikman throws four touchdown passes while Tarkenton throws three. The Vikings get one last chance at midfield to tie, but fail to pick up a first down.

Dallas 31, Minnesota 28

#11 1998 New York Jets at #6 1970 Detroit Lions

Testaverde has a huge game at Detroit, hitting Chrebet early for a big touchdown pass. The Jets pull away with two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, as Landry is knocked out of the game.

New York 32, Detroit 10

#10 2003 Kansas City Chiefs at #7 2006 Baltimore Ravens

The Baltimore Defense sacks Trent Green five times in the fourth quarter to preserve the win.

Baltimore 27, Kansas City 17

#15 2002 Oakland Raiders at #2 1976 Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh jumps out to a 17-0 halftime lead. Oakland fights back in the third, but Bleier's late touchdown run seals the win.

Pittsburgh 29, Oakland 13

NEW ORLEANS SECOND ROUND MATCHUPS

#1 1998 Minnesota Vikings vs. #9 2000 Tennessee Titans

#4 1967 Los Angeles Rams vs. #5 1984 Miami Dolphins

#3 1994 Dallas Cowboys vs. #11 1998 New York Jets

#2 1976 Pittsburgh Steelers vs. #7 2006 Baltimore Ravens

10 Comments | Posted in Insane ideas, Totally Useless

The WCB Tournament: the opening round games

Posted by Jason Lisk on March 20, 2010

I talked about the general idea here, and then set the field of 80 here, so you will want to glance at those or this will make little sense. Today, we start the games with the opening round matchups between the teams seeded 13 through 20 in each region. You should be able to click on each matchup and see the What If Sports box score and play by play. As we know, games aren't played on paper, they are played inside tiny computers, so let's get to the action. We'll start in the Tampa Region.

TAMPA REGION OPENING ROUND GAMES

#20 1992 Buffalo Bills at #13 1980 Philadelphia Eagles

The score was 10-7 in favor of Buffalo in the third quarter when Mark Kelso intercepted Ron Jaworski, leading to a Thurman Thomas TD catch. Philadelphia fought back in the fourth quarter, getting to within 3 points when Tony Franklin missed a 43 yard attempt that would have tied it right before the two minute warning. With the Eagles blitzing to stop the run and get the ball back, Thomas sealed the game when he broke through the line and found the endzone 63 yards later.

Buffalo 24, Philadelphia 21

Next up: at #4 1990 San Francisco 49ers

#19 2008 Arizona Cardinals at #14 1975 Dallas Cowboys

Swirling winds in Dallas made life difficult on the offenses, and the kickers combined to miss all three field goals beyond 40 yards. The Cardinals turned in a gutty performance on the road, and had first and goal trailing by 4 points right before the two minute warning. Lee Roy Jordan stepped in front of Kurt Warner's pass on third down to save Dallas.

Dallas 17, Arizona 13

Next up: at #3 2005 Indianapolis Colts

#18 1981 San Diego Chargers at #15 1999 Tennessee Titans

Rolf Benirschke's 49 yard field goal as time expired saved Kellen Winslow from having to come up with overtime heroics, sending Air Coryell on against the Purple People Eaters.

San Diego 13, Tennessee 10

Next up: at #2 1969 Minnesota Vikings

#17 1986 Denver Broncos at #16 1987 Cleveland Browns

The Drive. The Fumble. Revenge for Cleveland?

No. Elway hits Orson Mobley for Denver's only touchdown of the game with less than a minute left to win another close one.

Denver 10, Cleveland 7

Next up: at #1 2007 New England Patriots

NEW ORLEANS REGION OPENING ROUND GAMES

#20 2000 New York Giants at #13 1981 Cincinnati Bengals

Kerry Collins throws for over 300 yards as the Giants jump to an early lead that they never relinquish.

New York Giants 27, Cincinnati 10

Next up: at #4 1967 Los Angeles Rams

#19 1985 New England Patriots at #14 1974 Minnesota Vikings

Fred Cox and Tony Franklin have a field goal battle. Minnesota was shutout through three quarters, but Tony Eason throws two costly interceptions, the last one coming at midfield with a minute left in a tie game, and Cox nails the game winner. Chuck Foreman goes for 165 total yards.

Minnesota 12, New England 9

Next up: at #3 1994 Dallas Cowboys

#18 1989 Denver Broncos at #15 2002 Oakland Raiders

Gannon outduels Elway as the Raiders jump to an early lead.

Oakland 26, Denver 14

Next up: at #2 1976 Pittsburgh Steelers

#17 1999 Tampa Bay Buccaneers at #16 1993 Buffalo Bills
The Bucs defense holds the Bills out of the endzone, but the Bucs offense cannot score. Andre Reed has 138 yards receiving on 3 catches.

Buffalo 15, Tampa Bay 0

Next up: at #1 1998 Minnesota Vikings

LOS ANGELES REGION OPENING ROUND GAMES

#20 1979 Los Angeles Rams at #13 1991 Buffalo Bills

Thurman Thomas is already on his way to the WCB rushing title with another strong performance, as the Bills move to 3-0 in the opening round.

Buffalo 17, Los Angeles 13

Next up: at #4 2006 San Diego Chargers

#19 1987 Denver Broncos at #14 1971 Miami Dolphins

Elway does his best Bob Griese impersonation, throwing only 13 passes as Denver tries to hold on to a lead. Miami fails twice in the red zone in the fourth and time runs out on Miami.

Denver 21, Miami 17

Next up: at #3 1983 Washington Redskins

#18 2003 Carolina Panthers at #15 1981 Dallas Cowboys

Jake Delhomme throws 3 interceptions, and Dallas cruises to a comfortable victory.

Dallas 30, Carolina 11

Next up: at #2 1992 San Francisco 49ers

#17 1995 Pittsburgh Steelers at #16 1979 Houston Oilers

If only the Luv Ya Blue Oilers didn't have to play the Steelers. Mike Reinfeldt of the Oilers gets 4 interceptions of Neil O'Donnell, but the offense can't get in the end zone, and the Steelers make their red zone trips count, pulling it out with a fourth quarter touchdown.

Pittsburgh 15, Houston 12

Next up: at #1 1968 Baltimore Colts

HOUSTON REGION OPENING ROUND GAMES

#20 1994 San Diego Chargers at #13 1976 Minnesota Vikings

Tarkenton throws for 3 touchdowns, and Foreman has another huge game, as the Vikings roll the Chargers.

Minnesota 30, San Diego 3

#19 1980 Atlanta Falcons at #14 2006 Chicago Bears

A 16-point second quarter is enough for the Falcons to take control of the game.

Atlanta 19, Chicago 13

Next up: at #3 1970 Minnesota Vikings

#18 1996 New England Patriots at #15 1982 Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins score two touchdowns in one decisive minute in the fourth quarter, on either side of a Bledsoe interception.

Miami 27, New England 17

Next up: at #2 1990 Buffalo Bills

#17 1993 Houston Oilers at #16 1966 Kansas City Chiefs

A spring snow storm hits the Midwest just in time to wreak havoc on the run-n-shoot Oilers. Moon throws three interceptions in bad conditions, while the Chiefs keep it on the ground for 231 rushing yards. The Oilers still have a chance because of four missed field goals by Kansas City (look for them to draft a Danish Norwegian kicker as a result), but come up two yards short of the goal line as the game ends.

Kansas City 17, Houston 10

Next up: at #1 2001 Saint Louis Rams

39 Comments | Posted in Insane ideas, Totally Useless

The WCB Tournament: the Field of 64, er, 80 is set

Posted by Jason Lisk on March 18, 2010

Okay, so I looked at all the great comments and decided that I couldn't decide between teams. 20 at-large entries was not enough. On the other hand, I have to draw the line somewhere. So I expanded it to 80, so there will now be 36 at-large (non-Super Bowl) entries along with every Super Bowl losing team. Of course, this still means everyone will be disappointed by something. I settled on the 36 entries by some general combination of the following:

1. Find the teams with the best records not to make it (so, everyone that went 14-2 in a non-strike year should be in);
2. Then find the teams with the best SRS performance not to make the Super Bowl (so teams like 1970 Minnesota get in even though they were also just in the year before);
3. Then find teams that were really good for a three year stretch but never made the Super Bowl during that time (think Rams of the late 60's and 70's, or the 13-3 Chiefs from the mid-90's). I chose a representative year for these teams; and finally . . .
4. The last 9 entries were entirely based on commenter votes and adding teams from franchises not represented. I decided that the Texans would not get in (when your best team is 9-7, sorry), but the city of Houston is represented by the run-n-shoot and luv ya blue Oilers. The only other franchise not in is New Orleans. I could have gone with the 2006 Saints but decided that Saints fans can just bask in the glow and ignore this silly exercise. So, commenters pushed in teams like the aforementioned Oilers, the 1977 Raiders, and the 1976 New England Patriots (a very solid choice by all the numbers plus the way they lost, by the way).

Then, I had to seed this darn monstrosity. Trust me, I claim no expertise in this matter. I just set up a rough formula based on win percentage, SRS rating, and margin of defeat and distance from the SB winner in terms of points for each of the 80 teams. I gave myself the liberty to move a team up or down a line or two from what that kicked out. Then I seeded the teams by making sure no franchise could play itself before the Elite 8, and also tried to have a balance across eras. If your team got a bad seed, well they can play their way out.

The #1 seeds are:

2007 New England Patriots
1968 Baltimore Colts
1998 Minnesota Vikings
2001 Saint Louis Rams

All these teams rated highly in every category--outstanding win percentage, high power rating, and lost in close fashion in memorable games (the Colts being the only ones who lost by more than 3). Without further ado, here are the seeds in each region:

The Tampa Region
1 2007 New England Patriots
2 1969 Minnesota Vikings
3 2005 Indianapolis Colts
4 1990 San Francisco 49ers
5 1974 Oakland Raiders
6 1997 Green Bay Packers
7 1998 Atlanta Falcons
8 1973 Minnesota Vikings
9 1966 Dallas Cowboys
10 1996 Denver Broncos
11 1976 Los Angeles Rams
12 1999 Jacksonville Jaguars
13 1980 Philadelphia Eagles
14 1975 Dallas Cowboys
15 1999 Tennessee Titans
16 1987 Cleveland Browns
17 1986 Denver Broncos
18 1981 San Diego Chargers
19 2008 Arizona Cardinals
20 1992 Buffalo Bills

The New Orleans Region
1 1998 Minnesota Vikings
2 1976 Pittsburgh Steelers
3 1994 Dallas Cowboys
4 1967 Los Angeles Rams
5 1984 Miami Dolphins
6 1970 Detroit Lions
7 2006 Baltimore Ravens
8 1979 San Diego Chargers
9 2000 Tennessee Titans
10 2003 Kansas City Chiefs
11 1998 New York Jets
12 2002 Philadelphia Eagles
13 1981 Cincinnati Bengals
14 1974 Minnesota Vikings
15 2002 Oakland Raiders
16 1993 Buffalo Bills
17 1999 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
18 1989 Denver Broncos
19 1985 New England Patriots
20 2000 New York Giants

The Los Angeles Region
1 1968 Baltimore Colts
2 1992 San Francisco 49ers
3 1983 Washington Redskins
4 2006 San Diego Chargers
5 1978 Dallas Cowboys
6 1967 Oakland Raiders
7 1976 New England Patriots
8 1997 Kansas City Chiefs
9 1977 Oakland Raiders
10 1986 Chicago Bears
11 1988 Cincinnati Bengals
12 2009 Minnesota Vikings
13 1991 Buffalo Bills
14 1971 Miami Dolphins
15 1981 Dallas Cowboys****
16 1979 Houston Oilers
17 1995 Pittsburgh Steelers
18 2003 Carolina Panthers
19 1987 Denver Broncos
20 1979 Los Angeles Rams

The Houston Region
1 2001 Saint Louis Rams
2 1990 Buffalo Bills
3 1970 Minnesota Vikings
4 2004 Pittsburgh Steelers
5 1987 San Francisco 49ers
6 1977 Denver Broncos
7 2009 Indianapolis Colts
8 2004 Philadelphia Eagles
9 1970 Dallas Cowboys
10 1973 Los Angeles Rams
11 2005 Seattle Seahawks
12 1972 Washington Redskins
13 1976 Minnesota Vikings
14 2006 Chicago Bears
15 1982 Miami Dolphins
16 1966 Kansas City Chiefs
17 1993 Houston Oilers
18 1996 New England Patriots
19 1980 Atlanta Falcons
20 1994 San Diego Chargers

Okay, so there is the bracket. Tampa Region winner will play New Orleans winner; Houston winner will play Los Angeles winner. Next up is the opening round games between the #13- 20, #14-#19, #15-#18, and #16-#17 teams.

****see comment about 1981 Cowboys below

20 Comments | Posted in Insane ideas, Totally Useless

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