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Archive for October, 2009

Off the Mark

18th October 2009

On a day where Tom Brady made Doug Williams' second quarter in Super Bowl XXII look pedestrian, there was some horrific QB play going on a few miles south of Gilette Stadium. It's rare when you can really blame one player for a loss, but Mark Sanchez today is that guy. Some agonizing footnotes in one of the most unbelievable losses in Jets history:

  • For only the fifth time since 1960, and only the second time in twenty years, a team had a 210-yard rusher and lost. Thomas Jones' historical day -- 22 carries, 210 rushing yards, 1 TD -- went for waste. Since 1960, teams with a 200-yard runner are now 101-7 in the regular season.
  • You might think that teams with a 200-yard rusher should have an even better record. Well, that's because in the first six losses, the losing team with the 200-yard rusher allowed an average of 35.5 points to their opponents. Those games were high scoring affairs where both offenses were clicking. That's what makes the Jets loss so spectacular; to have a dominant runner and to hold a team to 16 points is almost always a recipe for victory. Right? Before today, Walter Payton held the "record" for most rushing yards in a loss where his team allowed 16 or fewer points. On Thanksgiving Day 1981, Payton rushed for 179 yards and the Bears held the Cowboys to 10 points. Only problem? The Bears scored nine.

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Posted in Player articles | 25 Comments »

YouTube Finds: Brady’s Ridiculous 2nd Quarter

18th October 2009

You know, sometimes we love to debate whether Tom Brady is better than Peyton Manning, or where he ranks among the all time greats, and that's fine -- but other times, you just have to appreciate history when it's made:

Posted in YouTube Finds | 8 Comments »

NCAA: SRS ratings through seven weeks

18th October 2009

Last week, I introduced the first iteration of the 2009 college football simple rating systems. All explanations and limitations of the system are explained in that post and/or the links embedded therein.

After another exciting weekend of college football, the top of the rankings have changed quite a bit:

Gms	MOV	 SOS	RAT	conf	team
6	23.7	 5.4	29.1	SEC	Florida (6-0)
7	20.7	 7.5	28.2	SEC	Alabama (7-0)
6	22.2	 5.8	28.0	B12	Texas (6-0)
6	26.5	 0.1	26.6	BigE	Cincinnati (6-0)
6	17.2	 6.7	23.8	B12	Oklahoma (3-3)
7	10.6	11.5	22.1	ACC	Virginia Tech (5-2)
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Posted in College | 7 Comments »

Checkdowns: Name the ’09 QB Alma Maters

18th October 2009

Sporcle time again, as we they ask: Can you name the alma maters for all of the 2009 opening day NFL starting quarterbacks?

Posted in Checkdowns | 10 Comments »

Tecmo Super Bowl Game of the Week: Giants at Saints

17th October 2009

Courtesy of Matt Knobbe and the Tecmo Super Bowl Repository, here's your Tecmo Super Bowl Game of the Week for Week 6, featuring the New York Giants and the New Orleans Saints. The highlights:

(How did we do this? Matt and the other dedicated folks at the message board have spent a lot of time over the years updating this classic Nintendo football game, including the introduction of a 32-team ROM a few seasons ago. Sounds complicated, but don't worry, it's easy for you to enjoy the fruits of their labor: just get yourself an NES emulator, download the 2009 version of Tecmo here, and play to your heart's content. And be sure to check back at Matt's site for roster updates and more Tecmo-related goodness all season long.)

Posted in Tecmo Super Bowl | 2 Comments »

Peak Quarterbacks, Part II

16th October 2009

Two weeks ago, I compiled a list of the top peak regular-season quarterbacks of all-time by averaging together their best 6 seasons (or all of their seasons if they didn't have 6 seasons) in a metric that attempts to estimate Football Outsiders' YAR (yards above replacement) via linear regression. The results were somewhat surprising -- underrated Cincinnati signal-caller Ken Anderson was ranked #1! -- but the concept was a hit, and many readers made suggestions to make the rankings better, so I figured I'd revisit our Peak QB list today and make some changes to the method.

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Posted in Best/Worst Ever, Statgeekery | 20 Comments »

Dick Jauron?

16th October 2009

Here are some facts that will blow your mind. I know they caught me off guard, because I haven’t really paid much attention to Dick Jauron’s coaching career.

If he coaches seven more games, Dick Jauron will rank in the top fifty all-time in games coached in the NFL. Take a moment and let that sink in for a bit, before we get to the names around him.

Now, take another moment, and let it sink in some more. Top fifty all-time. No, really, think about it.

Since he debuted in 1999, the only men who have coached more games are Andy Reid, Jeff Fisher, Jon Gruden, Tony Dungy, Mike Holmgren, Tom Coughlin, Mike Shanahan, and Bill Belichek.

So far this year, he has passed Doug’s boy Wally Lemm, Vince Lombardi and Bobby Ross in games coached. He will pass Steve Mariucci, Joe Kuharich, John Madden, John Robinson, Brian Billick, and Jimmy Johnson if he can avoid the axe for seven more games. He will then rank right behind Buck Shaw and Bill Walsh in games coached.

Only Norm Van Brocklin has a lower winning percentage than Jauron’s among coaches currently in the top 50 in games coached. And Van Brocklin basically coached two expansion teams: the Vikings for the first six years of their existence, and the Falcons starting in their third season. He had five non-losing seasons. Jauron has one.

I am actually hoping that the Bills show signs of life, rebound for a good stretch, and that Jauron makes it to the end of the season. It's like a poker hand where you've hung around too long. Why fold now, at the river? You've put a lot of chips in the pot, let's just make sure that they've got your 10 high beat.

At this point, we are pot committed on Dick Jauron finishing in the top fifty, so let's make it happen. Please.

Posted in Coaches | 11 Comments »

PI Finds: Gasp! Eli Really Did Turn the Corner!

15th October 2009

Remember how mediocre Eli Manning was for the majority of the 2007 season? Remember how Tiki Barber called him out on television, questioning his leadership skills? Remember how well he played against the perfect Pats in Week 17 of '07, and how he followed that up with a shockingly un-horrible postseason run (culminating in a Super Bowl win)? Remember how a lot of MSM types trumpeted that Eli had "turned the corner" and was suddenly a good quarterback based on that 5-game sample? Remember how all of us statheads cried "fluke!"?

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Posted in PI Finds | 15 Comments »

Worst Thirty Game Stretches Ever

15th October 2009

Joe Posnanski pointed out that the Redskins will be playing a team without a win for the sixth straight game, and also made the following observation:

Washington plays the winless Kansas City Chiefs this week, a Chiefs team that has lost 28 of their last 30 games. I wish there was a streak report on Football Reference like there is on Baseball Reference … I cannot imagine many teams in NFL history have lost 28 of 30 games.

In fact, think about this: We know no NFL team has lost 30 games in a row. So the worst a team has been over 30 games is 1-29. That’s just not much worse than 2-28, is it?

Well, we may not have a streak report, but we can look up these sorts of things. (For those of you dying for your Dayton Triangles coverage, wait no further.) The Kansas City Chiefs have lost 28 of their last 30 games, a streak that began after a 4-3 start to the 2007 season. Equally amazing, another franchise has a similar run over the exact same stretch, as the Detroit Lions have lost 27 of their last 30 games. Because the 30th game for the Lions was a win, if the team loses to the Packers on Sunday, they will match the Chiefs with 28 losses over a 30 game stretch. You may soon be able to throw in the Rams, who have lost 25 of their last 30 games. Because games #28 and #29 were consecutive wins during a brief stretch of the Rams' 3-13 season in 2007, if the Rams lose their next three games (the third one appropriately coming against the Lions), they will also have lost at least 27 games over a 30 game stretch.

The following list is every franchise that has lost more than 26 games in a 30 game stretch. I list the inclusive dates where the team met that criteria (so often times, the streak was longer than 30 games). I count ties as half-wins and half-losses. This "opposite of elite" list is in roughly descending order of how bad the streaks were.
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Posted in Best/Worst Ever, History | 9 Comments »

New Jersey, New Jersey

14th October 2009

Last week on the New York Times Fifth Down blog, Toni Monkovic pointed out that Eli Manning has a better record on the road than at home as a starting quarterback. Several theories were posted in the comments, ranging from the winds at the Meadowlands to the Giants' fans behavior. One that was not mentioned, though, was the effect that sharing a stadium with the New York Jets may have on the home field advantage at the Meadowlands. In the past, I have written about the possible role of road team familiarity on home field advantage when discussing similar climate division rivals, when looking at the effect of new stadiums, and when looking at playoff rematches.

The two franchises have shared a home stadium since 1984, when the Jets left Shea stadium. The Giants had been playing at the Meadowlands since 1976. This situation is virtually unique in American sports. The only other situations I am aware of where two professional football teams shared a stadium at the same time (other than occasional games or emergency situations) were in the early days of the AFL, when both Dallas teams played in the Cotton Bowl, and when Oakland played in Kezar stadium, home of the San Fransisco 49ers, in 1960. And in those cases, the leagues and opponents did not intermix. The franchises will continue the shared stadium relationship when they move into the New Meadowlands complex next season.
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Posted in Home Field Advantage | 14 Comments »

Checkdowns: Name the Starting QBs of the 2000s

13th October 2009

Here's an epic Sporcle quiz you guys should love: Can you name every QB to start a game during the 2000s? (through 10/1/09)

Posted in Checkdowns | 14 Comments »

Percy Harvin and Tony Dorsett

13th October 2009

At 5-0, the Minnesota Vikings are off to a terrific start. Part of the reason? Minnesota's two big additions in the off-season -- Brett Favre and rookie wide receiver/running back/returner Percy Harvin -- have paid significant dividends already for the Vikings. The New York Times NFL Blog, The Fifth Down, reminded me of something interesting -- Harvin won the national championship last year with the Florida Gators and is on a pretty good team in the pros. If he were to win the Super Bowl this season, he'd join a pretty exclusive club: only three players have won a college championship their last season in college and then were starters on a Super Bowl champion the following year: Randall Gay (LSU, New England 2004), William Floyd (Florida State, San Francisco 1994) and Tony Dorsett (Pittsburgh, Dallas 1977). Percy Harvin actually isn't a starter yet (he's started in 2 of 5 games, but is generally behind Sidney Rice and Bernard Berrian on the depth chart), but his impact on the team may be more significant than that of any other receiver on the Vikes.

Whether Harvin starts or not, he'll still join an exclusive club. There haven't been many players to win a national title and then earn any amount of playing time and a Super Bowl ring the following season. The complete list is presented below, including the approximate value the player contributed to his team in his rookie year:

player   	 rkyr	tm	college	        AV
Eric Alexander	 2004	nwe	lsu	         0
Randall Gay	 2004	nwe	lsu	         5
Marquise Hill	 2004	nwe	lsu	         0
Brian Griese	 1998	den	michigan	 0
Tyrone Williams	 1996	gnb	nebraska	 2
William Floyd	 1994	sfo	floridast	 8
Derrick Lassic	 1993	dal	alabama	         3
Danny Stubbs	 1988	sfo	miami(fl)	 2
Tony Dorsett	 1977	dal	pittsburgh	16

Percy Harvin isn't the only one who can make history, however. Eagles tight end Cornelius Ingram tore his ACL in August 2008, and watched his Florida Gators win the championship while he was on injured reserve. After being drafted by the Eagles in April, Ingram tore the ACL on the same knee in August 2009 and was placed on injured reserve. If the Eagles win the Super Bowl this season, he'll instantly become the luckiest unluckiest football player ever.

(And before anyone points out, I know there was a third player drafted from the Gators this season. Unfortunately, he was drafted into football purgatory.)

Posted in Approximate Value, College, Trivia | 5 Comments »

PI Finds: Best Individual 5-Game Starts in Denver History

12th October 2009

As we all know, the Denver Broncos defeated the New England Patriots in come-from-behind fashion yesterday to secure a 5-0 start, their first in over a decade. With that in mind, I wanted to look at some of the best-ever performances in the season's first 5 games by members of the Broncos, and see how this year's crop matches up.

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Posted in PI Finds | 5 Comments »

Baltimore Ravens D; Peyton Manning

12th October 2009

En route to becoming the leading rusher in the NFL, Cedric Benson rushed for 120 yards on 27 carries against the Ravens on Sunday. What's more surprising -- Benson leading the league in rushing or having a big ground game against Baltimore? How long had it been since the Ravens allowed a 100-yard rusher? So long that it wasn't a big surprise when Larry Johnson did it against Baltimore in 2006, as he was in the middle of his 416-carry, 1789-yard season. Before Benson's big performance, the Ravens had gone 39 straight games without allowing a 100-yard rusher.

How long is that? Since 1960, only twelve defenses have had streaks of 35 or more games without allowing a 100-yard rusher. The table below shows each team, the year and game the streak was finally broken, the length of the streak, the last player to get 100-yards before the streak began, and finally the streak-busting runner:

team	year    gm      games	last	        breaker
phi	1992	 7	53	Gerald Riggs	Emmitt Smith
ram	1968	 9	51	Jim Taylor	Ken Willard
rav	2001	13	46	James Allen	Corey Dillon
clt	1972	 3	45	Willie Ellison	Mike Garrett
crd	1969	 6	45	Leroy Kelly	Tony Baker
dal	1976	 2	44	Vince Clements	Lydell Mitchell
ram	1975	 3	42	Dave Hampton	Don Woods
rav	2009	 5	39	Larry Johnson	Cedric Benson
mia	1973	 9	38	Emerson Boozer	O.J. Simpson
min	1988	15	38	Curtis Dickey	Neal Anderson
sfo	1991	 5	36	Eric Dickerson	Steve Broussard
det	1970	 3	35	Tom Matte	Larry Brown


Peyton Manning threw for 309 yards on Sunday night -- making him 5/5 in throwing for 300 yards in games this season. Manning now has 1,645 passing yards after five games. While that puts him about 100 yards ahead of where Dan Marino was in his record 1984 season, that puts Manning just 10th on the all-time list.

But before Manning tries to take down Marino, another record is just two games away. Since 1960 (and almost certainly since the beginning of football), no QB has ever thrown seven straight 300-yard games. Rich Gannon (2002), Kurt Warner (2000) and Steve Young (1998) hold the record with six straight 300-yard games. Behind them are Drew Brees, Kerry Collins, Joe Montana and Kurt Warner ('08 version) with five straight games, a mark Manning tied last night. Manning's off next week, and seems likely to resume his torrid pace when the Colts visit the Rams in week 7.

Posted in History | 13 Comments »

NCAA: SRS ratings through six weeks

11th October 2009

PFR has used the Simple Rating System to grade college and NFL teams for years. All ratings or rankings are meaningless without explanation, and the link above explains what the SRS tries to do. The SRS version that I'm implementing below is most useful to predict future results; the SRS is predictive, not retrodictive. That means the SRS will have no trouble at all ranking a team that's undefeated and beat a team with one loss behind the very team it beat. Why? One, because we know that one game is just one game, and never is conclusive proof that one team is better than another; and two, because the SRS weighs each game equally. Of course, sample size issues are always present here; while I've waited for six weeks before presenting the SRS, we really need two or three more weeks in the books before we can have full faith in this system. For now, though, maybe they'll make you rethink your perception of a couple of teams.

So how am I calculating these simple ratings?

1) For each game, 3 points are given to the road team (unless it's a neutral site game). After that adjustment, all wins and losses of between 7 and 24 points are scored as however many points the team won by. So a 24-10 road win goes down as +17 for the road team, -17 for the home team.

2) Wins of 7 or fewer points are scored as 7-point wins and losses of 7 or fewer points are scored as 7 point losses, except that road losses of 3 or fewer and home wins of 3 or fewer are graded as 0 point ties. So a 21-20 home victory goes down as a tie for both teams. This is not as drastic as it sounds, because the SRS ultimately is not concerned with win/loss records. There is no distinction between a win and a loss (you don't need to make such distinctions in predictive systems) except for when the game is close. So three 10-point wins scores +30, just as two 20-point wins and a 10-point loss scores as +30. However, three 3 point wins (+9 before the adjustments, +21 after) is worth more than two 10 point wins and a 1 point home loss (+21 before, +13 after).

3) Wins/Losses of more than 24 points are scored as the average between the actual number and 24. This is to avoid giving undue credit to teams that run up the score. Texas' win over UTEP, 64-7, comes in as +39 for Texas. Why? Texas won by 57, but was at home, so that drops to +54. Averaging 24 and 54 gives you +39. Exception: In games against FCS/I-AA competition, there is no run-up-the-score modifier. Why? Otherwise, the elite teams could beat the FCS cupcakes by 64 points and go down in this system. Additionally, because of sample size reasons, I've combined all FCS teams into one "team" for SRS purposes: FCSTEAM. To the extent that a team plays a weak FCS team, they will therefore be overvalued (because they'll received credit for playing an average FCS team); to the extent that a team plays a top notch FCS team (relative to the average FCS team that plays an FBS team -- only inter-division games are used to calculate the average FCS team), they'll be undervalued.
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Posted in College | 17 Comments »

Checkdowns: Correctly Predict the Final BCS Top 15, Win $100,000

9th October 2009

From Daily Tailgate, here's a contest that could definitely be worth your while: just pick the schools you think will finish in the top 15 of the final BCS rankings (December 6, 2009), and you'll get a shot at a $100,000 grand prize. Oh, and you have until midnight on October 31 to send in your predictions, so there's still some time to study the NCAAFB landscape before making your final choices. Good luck!

Posted in Checkdowns | Comments Off on Checkdowns: Correctly Predict the Final BCS Top 15, Win $100,000

PI Finds: Carney Doin’ Work

9th October 2009

Here's another indicator of just how much of a breakneck pace the Saints are scoring points at so far this season:

Rk Player Age Year Tm tG tW tL XPA XPM XP%
1 Danny Villanueva 28 1966 DAL 4 4 0 25 25 100.0%
2 Mike Clark 27 1968 DAL 4 4 0 21 21 100.0%
3 Steve Christie 24 1992 BUF 4 4 0 19 18 94.7%
4 Pete Gogolak 26 1968 NYG 4 4 0 19 19 100.0%
5 Stephen Gostkowski 23 2007 NWE 4 4 0 19 19 100.0%
6 John Carney 45 2009 NOR 4 4 0 18 18 100.0%

What is this? It's the list of kickers since 1960 with the most extra-point attempts through the first 4 games of the NFL season. I expected Gostkowski to be there from 2007, when the Patriots were just blowing the doors off of everybody, but (perhaps surprisingly) Carney '09 isn't far behind him. Those Patriots started the season with 148 points scored in their first four games; this year's Saints have 144 points in the same span. Now, I'm not saying they're going to go 16-0 or anything, but it's time to start wondering just how dominant this Saints team will be when it's all said and done.

Posted in PI Finds | 10 Comments »

Checkdowns: Name the Rushing Leaders From A-Z

8th October 2009

From Sporcle: Can you name the all-time NFL rushing leaders from A-Z by the first letter of their last names?

Posted in Checkdowns | 5 Comments »

Tecmo Super Bowl Game of the Week: Pats at Broncos

8th October 2009

Courtesy of Matt Knobbe and the Tecmo Super Bowl Repository, here's your Tecmo Super Bowl Game of the Week for Week 5, featuring the New England Patriots and the Denver Broncos. The highlights:

(How did we do this? Matt and the other dedicated folks at the message board have spent a lot of time over the years updating this classic Nintendo football game, including the introduction of a 32-team ROM a few seasons ago. Sounds complicated, but don't worry, it's easy for you to enjoy the fruits of their labor: just get yourself an NES emulator, download the 2009 version of Tecmo here, and play to your heart's content. And be sure to check back at Matt's site for roster updates and more Tecmo-related goodness all season long.)

Posted in Tecmo Super Bowl | 2 Comments »

Wide Receivers changing teams in mid-season

8th October 2009

Yesterday, the Jets traded with the Browns to acquire Braylon Edwards. Edwards joins a relatively short list of notable wide receivers to switch teams in mid-season. Since the merger, there have been only 14 wide receivers to play for multiple teams in a season and to average at least 35 receiving yards per game for one team. Only 26 WRs have averaged at least 25 yards per game for one of the two teams. A complete list of those receivers is listed below:

year   team     name	         g      rec     yd      td      recyd/g

2008	det	Roy E. Williams	 5	17	232	1	46.4
2008	dal	Roy E. Williams	10	19	198	1	19.8

2007	mia	Chris Chambers	 6	31	415	0	69.2
2007	sdg	Chris Chambers	10	35	555	4	55.5
2006	rai	Doug Gabriel	 3	 5	 84	0	28.0
2006	nwe	Doug Gabriel	12	25	344	3	28.7

2005	car	Rod Gardner	10	 9	 84	1	 8.4
2005	gnb	Rod Gardner	 2	 4	 67	0	33.5

2004	dal	Antonio Bryant	 5	16	266	0	53.2
2004	cle	Antonio Bryant	10	42	546	4	54.6

2004	cle	Quincy Morgan	 6	 9	144	3	24.0
2004	dal	Quincy Morgan	 9	22	260	0	28.9

2004	rai	Jerry Rice	 6	 5	 67	0	11.2
2004	sea	Jerry Rice	11	25	362	3	32.9
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Posted in General | 5 Comments »