Tag Archives: Cam Newton

Sour grapes

True Wins did okay over the weekend — predicting the 49ers and Patriots victories, but whiffing on the Ravens and Falcons. Picking the team with more True Wins so far has six correct and two wrong, while relying on actual wins to pick has just four right, two wrong, and makes no prediction on two games (same records for Pats-Texans and 49ers-Packers).

The True Wins king — Denver — is out! Over the last ten years, the top team in True Wins has won four Super Bowls, and the second ranked team has won two more. It’s up to the Patriots (#2) to carry on the tradition, even though the 13.5 True Win Broncos had the second highest total in the last ten years (behind another famous losing team that you may remember). That couldn’t save them from one very cold Manning flinching first in a stalemate and one very cold Champ Bailey getting toasted over and over again (not to mention one very cold referee blowing a couple video reviews and throwing a ton of flags on the Broncos). More on the playoffs later in the week, but for now, I want to go back to some old predictions and talk about this year’s playoff spectators.

The Sour Grapes Club

Last year, I broke the outsiders-looking-in into four groups (follow the link — the predictions are worth a read-through in their entirety):

  • The Michael Vick Division (pretty good teams that had some bad luck): Eagles, Bears, Chargers, Cowboys
  • The Cam Newton Division (mediocre teams with something to build on): Panthers, Titans, Seahawks, Dolphins, Vikings
  • The Rex Ryan Division (overconfident teams that need to reassess their approach): Jets, Cardinals, Bills, Raiders, Chiefs
  • The Sam Bradford Division (teams that need to start over completely): Redskins, Jaguars, Browns, Colts, Rams, Buccaneers

The first thing that has to change are the names. Cam Newton moves up a notch and replaces Vick, who unfortunately goes all the way around the horn to replace Bradford in the blow-it-up division. Rex Ryan, one of the most overconfident men in the world, is saved by Tony Romo and his buddy Troy Aikman — I can’t listen to Aikman defend Romo anymore. I’m sticking with my man Stafford and handing the “something to build on” division to him, even if my Lions regressed this year.

Here are the standings this year:

2012 non playoff standings

From the first group (I expected good things): Continue reading

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Is Joe Flacco Elite? Barnwell strikes again!

Bill Barnwell is up to his usual tricks at Grantland. This time, he’s tired of hearing that Flacco is an elite quarterback and wants a new measure of quarterback value. Flacco gets credit for piling up wins, which Barnwell thinks is unfair:

For whatever good or bad Flacco provides, he has spent his entire career as the starting quarterback of the Baltimore Ravens, who perennially possess one of the league’s best defenses. He also has Ray Rice and a solid running game to go alongside him on offense. It’s safe to say that a win by, say, Cam Newton usually requires more work from the quarterback than one by Flacco.

I agree with this wholeheartedly. In response, Barnwell tries to capture quarterback value by creating an “expected wins” measure based on points allowed by the defense and comparing this to actual wins. He argues that a quarterback with more actual wins than expected wins is doing well because he is scoring more points than average.

An example helps explain the concept. First, Barnwell notes that teams have won 86.5% of games recently when allowing between 8 and 12 points. Imagine a team that allows between 8 and 12 points in all 16 games. They are expected to win 86.5% of those games, or 13.8 games. If the team won 14-16 games, Barnwell would argue that the quarterback is doing better than average, while if the team won fewer, Barnwell would argue that the quarterback is doing worse.

As hoped, Flacco is unimpressive by this measure (while the usual suspects — Tom Brady and Peyton Manning — are top dogs). He has 44 wins in 64 regular season games, but because the Ravens D is so good, an average QB would have managed about 42.

Before going farther, I’ll warn you: these numbers are pretty meaningless. I’ll start by explaining Continue reading

I’ve still never watched the Pro Bowl

I kept up my streak of 28 straight years without watching the Pro Bowl (since my birth). It’s generally a laughable affair; the players don’t care who wins, and everyone just wants to get out of there healthy. This year, Aaron Rodgers started throwing stones at his buddies, criticizing the lack of effort.

The game would certainly be more fun to watch if the players tried harder. However, I disagree with one thing Rodgers said:

I’ve always found that when you’re going that tempo, that’s when the injuries are going to happen, not if you’re going full speed. You’re more likely to get an injury standing around a pile or just going through it half-speed.

Coaches often say things like this to get players to be more physical in practice. However, Aaron Rodgers is wrong. The only serious injury I could find in Pro Bowl history was Drew Brees’s dislocated elbow in 2007. I don’t need to tell you how many serious injuries occur in “full speed” football games.

The NFL has shown an incredible lack of creativity with the Pro Bowl. It’s a crappy event that generates negative publicity for the league. There’s no shortage of ideas to fix it. Let’s hope they ignore Aaron Rodgers and develop a totally different event.

Why try your luck on Luck?

The Colts are going to take Andrew Luck first overall in the draft. No one will blame them if he doesn’t work out because every team without a star quarterback would draft him, given the chance. However, is this the right choice? Here are the career numbers for all first pick QBs since 1990 (from Pro Football Reference):

I listed each quarterback’s draft year, games played, winning percentage, completion percentage, TDs and INTs as a percentage Continue reading

As the dust settles: week 17 recap and playoff preview

The playoffs are set! I’ll give my thoughts on each match up in a moment, but let’s look at what happened in week 17 first. Seven teams were fighting for their playoff lives, and 7 out of 9 that had clinched were still playing for a higher seed. Like last week, let’s start with the teams that have a legitimate chance to win the Super Bowl (at least 10 True Wins and a stable quarterback situation; if you haven’t read about True Wins yet, what are you waiting for?):

All these teams got the job done in week 17. I was confident that the Steelers would win a defensive struggle against the Browns Continue reading

Two point or not two point

This NFL season, Bill Barnwell is preaching quant analysis to the masses over at Grantland. My friend Chris linked me to his article yesterday, where he tackles a couple of topics: icing the kicker with a time out and going for a two point conversion. Coaches face these decisions a lot, so I appreciate the effort to tackle them rigorously. However, Chris and I found some flaws in Barnwell’s take.

Warmup: Icing the Kicker  Continue reading