The Pi-Rate Ratings

September 2, 2015

College Football Preview For Week 1, September 3-7, 2015

Welcome back to the PiRate Ratings.  Many of you have read some of our preseason previews, but by looking at the increased volume to this site in the last 24 hours, we can tell that we have a lot of new readers today.

Yesterday, we posted the spreads for FBS teams only for our three ratings–PiRate, Mean, and Bias.  For those new to this site, a brief explanation follows.

Our ratings are unique in that we do not rely on scores alone to update our ratings.  Most of us here are sports metric statistics lunatics.  Our head man actually works in professional baseball as a “Moneyball” statistician/scout.

We use advanced statistics for each game to come up with the “theoretical score” of the game rather than the actual score, and then we update on our theoretical final score.  For example, if State beats Tech 42-21, this 21-point spread tells us very little.  What if State led 35-0 midway into the second quarter, and they pulled their starters after going five for five in touchdown drives?  What if Tech then scored twice in the final 7 minutes of a 42-7 game?  On the other hand, what if State led 28-21 with 7 minutes to go in the game, and Tech had driven 70 yards to the State 2 yard line, before fumbling at the goal with State returning the ball 100 yards for a TD, and then State added a second TD on an interception return with Tech driving again?

The 42-21 score is the only thing these two examples have in common.  In the first instance, State might have won 63-0 if they had continued to use their starters and top backups; State would win 100 out of 100 times against Tech.  In the second instance, there is a good chance that Tech might beat State 5 times out of 10.  We carefully peruse the play-by-play and statistics of every college football game among FBS teams. 

Our three ratings use the same type of data, but we have three different algorithms to come to the actual number.  The PiRate Rating is the same algorithm in use for the last 30+ years.  The Mean Rating is just that; it takes the mean of all our variables  with no bias.  Of course, the Bias Rating puts a bias on some data at the expense of other data.  Because it is similar to the PiRate Rating, these two will have a much higher correlation than they do to the Mean Rating.

Okay, now for something completely different.  Yesterday, we revealed our spreads for FBS vs. FBS Week One games.  Today, we show you our PiRate Spreads for FBS vs. FCS teams for Week One.  For reasons that involve how our ratings are calculated, we cannot supply Mean or Bias spreads with FCS teams, as it would take maybe 20 additional people to train and work with us.  The FBS vs. FCS PiRate Ratings are purely mechanical, so they are just an approximation of our actual PiRate Ratings.

We have repeated our FBS vs. FBS games so you will not have to look at yesterday’s entry.

This Week’s Games
Home Visitor PiRate Mean Bias
Thursday, September 3        
North Carolina (N) South Carolina 3.6 6.4 4.0
Central Florida Florida Int’l 8.4 11.2 8.4
Central Michigan Oklahoma St. -30.3 -23.5 -29.0
Vanderbilt Western Kentucky 0.4 -3.8 -2.0
Utah Michigan 9.9 6.4 10.4
Minnesota T C U -17.5 -5.4 -19.1
Idaho Ohio U -16.5 -10.6 -15.9
Tulane Duke -4.0 -1.2 -3.9
Arizona U T S A 49.3 31.3 48.6
Hawaii Colorado -16.8 -7.0 -15.9
Friday, September 4 PiRate Mean Bias
Georgia St. Charlotte 8.2 3.4 7.6
Western Michigan Michigan St. -23.5 -15.5 -22.9
S M U Baylor -40.2 -29.9 -41.8
Illinois Kent St. 21.3 14.4 18.5
Boise St. Washington 16.3 12.3 16.1
Saturday, September 5 PiRate Mean Bias
Georgia Louisiana-Monroe 45.0 39.6 44.4
Northwestern Stanford -12.7 -7.6 -14.6
Eastern Michigan Old Dominion -6.9 -2.8 -6.2
Nebraska B Y U 8.2 5.8 6.2
Temple Penn St. -6.4 -4.9 -6.0
Tulsa Florida Atlantic 7.5 10.5 8.0
Arkansas U T E P 42.3 30.9 42.0
Auburn (N) Louisville 11.8 7.5 9.9
U C L A Virginia 27.2 22.4 26.4
Tennessee (N) Bowling Green 32.2 20.4 29.8
N. Carolina St. Troy 40.5 44.0 39.0
Oklahoma Akron 44.6 31.5 41.5
Texas A&M (N) Arizona St. -0.8 2.6 -2.3
Kentucky Louisiana-Lafayette 25.3 16.5 24.4
Notre Dame Texas 13.1 10.1 12.6
West Virginia Georgia Southern 33.9 25.3 32.9
Florida N. Mexico St. 39.6 33.3 38.6
Northern Illinois U N L V 18.2 18.6 18.8
Alabama (N) Wisconsin 11.4 9.1 10.8
Florida St. Texas St. 33.4 28.1 31.6
Southern Miss. Mississippi St. -25.4 -20.7 -27.1
U S C Arkansas St. 36.8 31.0 40.9
Sunday, September 6 PiRate Mean Bias
Marshall Purdue -1.0 -1.5 1.7
Monday, September 7 PiRate Mean Bias
Virginia Tech Ohio St. -15.0 -6.5 -16.1
FBS vs. FCS Week 1 PiRate
Utah St. S. Utah 37.0
Wake Forest Elon 24.0
Ball St. V M I 28.0
Toledo Stony Brook 28.0
Georgia Tech Alcorn St. 44.0
Connecticut Villanova -7.0
Nevada UC-Davis 25.0
San Jose St. New Hampshire 1.0
Fresno St. Abilene Christian 17.0
Army Fordham 9.0
Syracuse Rhode Island 25.0
Oregon St. Weber St. 31.0
Ole Miss UT-Martin 36.0
Navy Colgate 29.0
Rutgers Norfolk St. 39.0
Kansas S. Dakota St. -1.0
Iowa Illinois St. 11.0
Maryland Richmond 20.0
Clemson Wofford 33.0
Pittsburgh Youngstown St. 18.0
Boston College Maine 22.0
Washington St. Portland St. 22.0
Texas Tech Sam Houston 15.0
Rice Wagner 27.0
Air Force Morgan St. 34.0
Buffalo Albany 13.0
Miami (O) Presbyterian 17.0
Appalachian St. Howard 31.0
Colorado St. Savannah St. 51.0
Wyoming N. Dakota 13.0
Missouri S E M O 40.0
Indiana S. Illinois 17.0
California Grambling 35.0
Miami (Fl) Bethune-Cookman 29.0
East Carolina Towson 28.0
S. Alabama Gardner-Webb 17.0
N. Mexico Mississippi Valley 32.0
Memphis Missouri St. 26.0
S. Florida Florida A&M 21.0
Cincinnati Alabama A&M 39.0
Louisiana Tech Southern 31.0
Middle Tennessee Jackson St. 28.0
Kansas St. S. Dakota 36.0
L S U McNeese St. 34.0
San Diego St. San Diego 28.0
Oregon E. Washington 39.0
Iowa St. N. Iowa 7.0
Houston Tennessee Tech 29.0

Please see our sister site: http://www.piratings.webs.com for complete rankings of all 128 FBS and all 32 NFL teams.

Edit: Special Thanks to Reader Charles for catching mistakes that allowed us to correct on Thursday morning.

Selections Against The Spread

Your voices/emails have been heard.  At our sister site, http://www.piratings.webs.com, we have received exactly 137 requests from you to bring back our selections against the spread.  We are happy that some of you sports fans remember that great 2011-12 season in which our ratings finished at the top of the Prediction Tracker ratings against the spread for the NFL, while our college ratings have had multiple top 10 finishes.

Before reading further, please make sure you read the following paragraph in bold:  He or She that uses these ratings as their lone source before wagering their house on this data might as well just sell their house now and at least have funds to move elsewhere.  We NEVER, EVER use this data to wager on games.  As analytics’ specialists, we understand that the one way to make money wagering in football is to be the book.  Yes, there are the Billy Walters of the world, but if you were he, you wouldn’t be reading this blog.  So, since you are not, be advised that wagering any amount of your hard-earned money on football must be considered in the same light as paying for something, because that is exactly what you will be doing: paying somebody else.

Okay, now here is how we will make our selections this year.  First, we will isolate those games in which our Mean rating differs enough from the official line to make it a possibility.  Second, of those possibilities in step one,  the six of us will pick 5-10 games that we personally like against the spread.  If 4 of us have the same game and nobody has the opposite pick in that game, then we go with that as one of our selections.  Because we believe that it is best to pick an odd number of games to prevent a .500 record and a loss, we will eliminate a game if we have an even amount of games.

Here are our 5 selections for Week 1

Home Visitor Line Our Pick
Arkansas UTEP 33.0 UTEP
Central Michigan Oklahoma St. -24.5 Central Michigan
Florida New Mexico St. 33.0 New Mexico St.
Georgia St. Charlotte 8.0 Charlotte
Texas A&M (N) Arizona St. 3.5 Arizona St.

September 1, 2015

Filed under: College Football — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 12:46 pm

Check back Wednesday afternoon, September 2, 2015, for additional coverage of week one of the college football season.

For now, enjoy the initial PiRate Rating spreads for games between FBS school.  Tomorrow’s update will include FBS vs. FCS games.

This Week’s Games
Home Visitor PiRate Mean Bias
Thursday, September 3
North Carolina (N) South Carolina 3.6 6.4 4.0
Central Florida Florida Int’l 8.4 11.2 8.4
Central Michigan Oklahoma St. -30.3 -23.5 -29.0
Vanderbilt Western Kentucky 0.4 -3.8 -2.0
Utah Michigan 9.9 6.4 10.4
Minnesota T C U -17.5 -5.4 -19.1
Idaho Ohio U 16.5 10.6 15.9
Tulane Duke -4.0 -1.2 -3.9
Arizona U T S A 49.3 31.3 48.6
Hawaii Colorado -16.8 -7.0 -15.9
         
Friday, September 4        
Georgia St. Charlotte 8.2 3.4 7.6
Western Michigan Michigan St. 23.5 15.5 22.9
S M U Baylor -40.2 -29.9 -41.8
Illinois Kent St. 21.3 14.4 18.5
Boise St. Washington 16.3 12.3 16.1
         
Saturday, September 5        
Georgia Louisiana-Monroe 45.0 39.6 44.4
Northwestern Stanford 12.7 7.6 14.6
Eastern Michigan Old Dominion 6.9 2.8 6.2
Nebraska B Y U 8.2 5.8 6.2
Temple Penn St. 6.4 4.9 6.0
Tulsa Florida Atlantic 7.5 10.5 8.0
Arkansas U T E P 42.3 30.9 42.0
Auburn (N) Louisville 11.8 7.5 9.9
U C L A Virginia 27.2 22.4 26.4
Tennessee (N) Bowling Green 32.2 20.4 29.8
N. Carolina St. Troy 40.5 44.0 39.0
Oklahoma Akron 44.6 31.5 41.5
Texas A&M (N) Arizona St. -0.8 2.6 -2.3
Kentucky Louisiana-Lafayette 25.3 16.5 24.4
Notre Dame Texas 13.1 10.1 12.6
West Virginia Georgia Southern 33.9 25.3 32.9
Florida N. Mexico St. 39.6 33.3 38.6
Northern Illinois U N L V 18.2 18.6 18.8
Alabama (N) Wisconsin 11.4 9.1 10.8
Florida St. Texas St. 33.4 28.1 31.6
Southern Miss. Mississippi St. -25.4 -20.7 -27.1
U S C Arkansas St. 36.8 31.0 40.9
         
Sunday, September 6        
Marshall Purdue -1.0 -1.5 1.7
         
Monday, September 7        
Virginia Tech Ohio St. -15.0 -6.5 -16.1

August 31, 2015

2015 NFC West Preview

One ill-advised pass is all that apparently separates the Seattle Seahawks from trying for a three-peat at Super Bowl 50.  Maybe, Russell Wilson should have kept an air pump needle in his sleeve and deflated the football a little, and the New England Patriots would not be the defending Super Bowl Champs.

All kidding aside, the Seahawks on paper look like the class of the NFC once again.  However, their job in the NFC West is not going to be easy with maybe the second best team in the conference also playing in the division.  Arizona might have earned the overall number one seed in the NFC last year had Carson Palmer not gone down to injury after the Cardinals began the season 9-1.

The St. Louis Rams face a season on the brink this year in more than one way.  Will they pull up roots and move back to where they once belonged in Los Angeles?  Will the acquisition of Nick Foles give the offense a consistent quarterback.  Will Jeff Fisher keep his job?  It will be an interesting season in the Gateway to the West.

San Francisco is a team under the radar.  The 49ers start over with a new coach in Jim Tomsula with a different offensive philosophy than outgoing coach Jim Harbaugh, a new starting running back, a new number one receiver, and four new defensive starters.  The team with the best won-loss record over a three-year period of 2011-13 fell to 8-8 last year, and where they go this year is a mystery.  The PiRates say the team will take on water in 2015.

 

ARIZONA CARDINALS

Cardinals Starting Lineup
Offense
WR Larry Fitzgerald
WR Michael Floyd
TE Darren Fells
TE Ifeanyi Momah
LT Jared Veldheer
LG Ted Larsen
C A. Q. Shipley
RG Jonathan Cooper
RT Bobby Massie/D. J. Humphries
QB Carson Palmer
HB Andre Ellington
FB (NONE)
   
Defense
DE Calais Campbell
NT Rodney Gunter
DT Frostee Rucker
LB Lorenzo Alexander
LB Kevin Minter
LB Sean Weatherspoon
LB Alex Okafor
CB Patrick Peterson
S Tony Jefferson
S Tyrann Mathieu
CB Justin Bethel
N5 Deone Bucannon
   
Special
Kicker Chandler Catanzaro
Punter Dave Zastudil
KR Brittan Golden
PR Brittan Golden
Arizona Cardinals
Head Coach Bruce Arians
Off. Coordinator Harold Goodwin
Def. Coordinator James Bettcher
2014 W-L-T 11-5-0
Pts 19.4
Opp 18.7
   
Ratings  
PiRate 101.3
Mean 100.5
Bias 101.3
Average 101.0
   
Grades  
Running C-
Passing B
Vs. Run B-
Vs. Pass B-
Special Teams C+
Coaching + Intangibles B
   
Predicted W-L 10-6-0
Division Rank 2
Conference Rank 6
Overall Rank 12
Postseason Yes

ST. LOUIS RAMS

Rams Starting Lineup
Offense
WR Kenny Britt
WR Tavon Austin
WR Stedman Bailey/Brian Quick
TE Jared Cook
LT Greg Robinson
LG Rodger Saffold
C Barrett Jones
RG Jamon Brown
RT Rob Havenstein
QB Nick Foles
HB Tre Mason
FB/TE Lance Kendricks
   
Defense
DE Chris Long
DT Aaron Donald
DT Michael Brockers
DE Robert Quinn
LB Jo-Lonn Dunbar
LB James Laurinaitis
LB Alec Ogletree
CB Trumaine Johnson
S T. J. McDonald
S Rodney McLeod
CB Janoris Jenkins
N5 Lamarcus Joyner
   
Special
Kicker Greg Zuerlein
Punter Johnny Hekker
KR Benny Cunningham
PR Tavon Austin
St. Louis Rams
Head Coach Jeff Fisher
Off. Coordinator Dave McGinnis
Def. Coordinator Gregg Williams
2014 W-L-T 6-10-0
Pts 20.3
Opp 22.1
   
Ratings  
PiRate 95.9
Mean 98.6
Bias 95.0
Average 96.5
   
Grades  
Running D
Passing C+
Vs. Run A
Vs. Pass B-
Special Teams B
Coaching + Intangibles B
   
Predicted W-L 7-9-0
Division Rank 4
Conference Rank 12
Overall Rank 24
Postseason No

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

49ers Starting Lineup
Offense
WR Torrey Smith
WR Anquan Bolden
WR Quinton Patton
TE Vernon Davis
LT Joe Staley
LG Alex Boone
C Joe Looney
RG Marcus Martin
RT Erik Pears
QB Colin Kaepernick
HB Carlos Hyde
FB Bruce Miller
   
Defense
DT Glenn Dorsey
NT Ian Williams
DT Quinton Dial
LB Ahmad Brooks/Eli Harold
LB Nick Moody
LB NaVorro Bowman
LB Corey Lemonier
CB Tramaine Brock
S Antoine Bethea
S Eric Reid
CB Shareece Wright/Keith Reaser
N5 Dontae Johnson
   
Special
Kicker Phil Dawson
Punter Bradley Pinion
KR Reggie Bush
PR Reggie Bush
San Francisco 49ers
Head Coach Jim Tomsula
Off. Coordinator Geep Chryst
Def. Coordinator Eric Mangini
2014 W-L-T 8-8-0
Pts 19.1
Opp 21.3
   
Ratings  
PiRate 99.3
Mean 96.9
Bias 99.1
Average 98.4
   
Grades  
Running A-
Passing B
Vs. Run C+
Vs. Pass C
Special Teams C
Coaching + Intangibles D
   
Predicted W-L 6-10-0
Division Rank 3
Conference Rank 11
Overall Rank 21
Postseason No

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

Seahawks Starting Lineup
Offense
WR Doug Baldwin
WR Jermaine Kearse
WR Ricardo Lockette
TE Jimmy Graham
LT Russell Okung
LG Justin Britt
C Drew Nowak
RG J. R. Sweezy/Alvin Bailey
RT Gary Gilliam
QB Russell Wilson
HB Marshawn Lynch
FB Derrick Coleman
   
Defense
DE Michael Bennett
DT Ahtyba Rubin
DT Brandon Mebane
DE Cliff Avril
LB Bruce Irvin
LB Bobby Wagner
LB K. J. Wright
CB Richard Sherman
S Dion Bailey
S Earl Thomas
CB Cary Williams
N5 Tye Smith
   
Special
Kicker Steven Hauschka
Punter Jon Ryan
KR Tyler Lockett
PR Tyler Lockett
Seattle Seahawks
Head Coach Pete Carroll
Off. Coordinator Darell Bevell
Def. Coordinator Kris Richard
2014 W-L-T 12-4-0
Pts 24.6
Opp 15.9
   
Ratings  
PiRate 107.8
Mean 106.9
Bias 108.0
Average 107.6
   
Grades  
Running B+
Passing B+
Vs. Run A-
Vs. Pass A
Special Teams B+
Coaching + Intangibles A
   
Predicted W-L 11-5-0
Division Rank 1
Conference Rank 2
Overall Rank 3
Postseason Yes

 

August 30, 2015

2015 NFC South Preview

Rarely does a team win five fewer games than the season before and still make the playoffs, but the Carolina Panthers repeated as NFC South champions in 2014 with a 7-8-1 record following a 12-4-0 finish in 2013.  The Panthers won the division because the New Orleans Saints fell four games off their 2013 pace, the Falcons only improved to 6-10, and the Bucs ended up earning the first pick in the draft.

 

All four teams begin 2015 with key additions.  For Atlanta, it’s a head coach, as Dan Quinn becomes a head coach for the first time after putting together the great Seattle defense.  Carolina hopes it has plugged a leak in their offensive line with the signing of left tackle Michael Oher, while bringing in Ted Ginn, Jr. at receiver.  New Orleans added a cover corner in Brandon Browner, while Tampa Bay had the biggest addition of all–they have Jameis Winston, the league’s top pick.

 

This may be the most difficult division to forecast, as even the weak Bucs have improved enough and have the schedule to challenge for the division title.  Atlanta has the passing game and should be improved defensively, and since 8-8 could win the division, in theory, they only need to improve by two wins.  New Orleans’ defense needs improvement, and the Saints will have to score a lot of points this year.  Bear in mind that Jimmy Graham has left the building.  That leaves Carolina; can the Panthers three-peat?  Yes, it is quite possible, but in reality, this is a team that fell to a losing record last year, and a couple game slide this year could find the Panthers in last place.

ATLANTA FALCONS

Falcons Starting Lineup
Offense
WR Julio Jones
WR Roddy White
WR Leonard Hankerson
TE Jacob Tamme
LT Jake Matthews
LG Mike Person
C Joe Hawley
RG Chris Chester
RT Ryan Schraeder
QB Matt Ryan
HB Devonta Freeman
FB Patrick DiMarco
   
Defense
DE Vic Beasley
DT Ra’Shede Hageman
DT Paul Soliai
DE Tyson Jackson
LB Justin Durant
LB Paul Worrilow
LB Brooks Reed
CB Desmond Trufant
S William Moore
S Ricardo Allen
CB Robert Alford
N5 Jalen Collins
   
Special
Kicker Matt Bryant
Punter Matt Bosher
KR Devin Hester
PR Devin Hester
Atlanta Falcons
Head Coach Dan Quinn
Off. Coordinator Kyle Shanahan
Def. Coordinator Richard Smith
2014 W-L-T 6-10-0
Pts 23.8
Opp 26.1
   
Ratings  
PiRate 95.7
Mean 96.1
Bias 95.8
Average 95.9
   
Grades  
Running C
Passing A-
Vs. Run C
Vs. Pass C-
Special Teams A
Coaching + Intangibles C
   
Predicted W-L 7-9-0
Division Rank 3
Conference Rank 13
Overall Rank 25
Postseason No

 

CAROLINA PANTHERS

Panthers Starting Lineup
Offense
WR Corey Brown
WR Ted Ginn, Jr.
WR Devin Funchess
TE Greg Olsen
LT Michael Oher
LG Andrew Norwell
C Ryan Kalil
RG Trai Turner
RT Mike Remmers
QB Cam Newton
HB Jonathan Stewart
FB Mike Tolbert
   
Defense
DE Charles Johnson
DT Star Lotulelei
DT Kawann Short
DE Kony Ealy
LB A. J. Klein
LB Luke Kuechley
LB Thomas Davis
CB Charles Tillman
S Roman Harper
S Tre Boston
CB Josh Norman
N5 Bene Benwikere
   
Special
Kicker Graham Gano
Punter Brad Nortman
KR Ted Ginn, Jr.
PR Ted Ginn, Jr.
Carolina Panthers
Head Coach Ron Rivera
Off. Coordinator Mike Shula
Def. Coordinator Sean McDermott
2014 W-L-T 7-8-1
Pts 21.2
Opp 23.4
   
Ratings  
PiRate 100.8
Mean 100.0
Bias 101.0
Average 100.6
   
Grades  
Running C-
Passing C
Vs. Run A-
Vs. Pass C+
Special Teams C
Coaching + Intangibles C+
   
Predicted W-L 7-9-0
Division Rank 1
Conference Rank 7
Overall Rank 15
Postseason No

 

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

Saints Starting Lineup
Offense
WR Brandin Cooks
WR Marques Colston
WR Brandon Coleman
TE Benjamin Watson
LT Terron Armstead
LG Tim Lelito
C Max Unger
RG Jahri Evans
RT Zach Strief
QB Drew Brees
HB Mark Ingram
FB Austin Johnson
   
Defense
DE Akiem Hicks
DT John Jenkins
DT Kevin Williams
DE Cameron Jordan
LB Hau’oli Kikaha
LB David Hawthorne
LB Dannelle Ellerbe
CB Keenan Lewis
S Kenny Vaccaro
S Jairus Byrd
CB Brandon Browner
N5 Rafael Bush
   
Special
Kicker Zach Hocker
Punter Thomas Morstead
KR C. J. Spiller
PR C. J. Spiller
New Orleans Saints
Head Coach Sean Payton
Off. Coordinator Pete Carmichael
Def. Coordinator Rob Ryan
2014 W-L-T 7-9-0
Pts 25.1
Opp 26.5
   
Ratings  
PiRate 100.1
Mean 95.4
Bias 101.1
Average 98.9
   
Grades  
Running C+
Passing A
Vs. Run C-
Vs. Pass C+
Special Teams C-
Coaching + Intangibles B+
   
Predicted W-L 8-8-0
Division Rank 2
Conference Rank 10
Overall Rank 20
Postseason Yes

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Buccaneers Starting Lineup
Offense
WR Vincent Jackson
WR Mike Evans
WR Louis Murphy
TE Austin Serferian-Jenkins
LT Donovan Smith
LG Logan Mankins
C Evan Dietrich-Smith
RG Garrett Gilkey
RT Patrick Omameh
QB Jameis Winston
HB Doug Martin
FB Jorvorskie Lane
   
Defense
DE Jacquies Smith
DT Gerald McCoy
DT Clinton McDonald
DE George Johnson
LB Danny Lansanah
LB Bruce Carter
LB Lavonte David
CB Alterraun Verner
S Major Wright
S Brad McDougald
CB Johnathan Banks
N5 D. J. Swearinger
   
Special
Kicker Conner Barth
Punter Michael Koenen
KR Kaelin Clay
PR Kaelin Clay
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Head Coach Lovie Smith
Off. Coordinator Dirk Koetter
Def. Coordinator Leslie Frazier
2014 W-L-T 2-14-0
Pts 17.3
Opp 25.6
   
Ratings  
PiRate 92.1
Mean 93.4
Bias 92.0
Average 92.5
   
Grades  
Running D
Passing C+
Vs. Run C
Vs. Pass C
Special Teams C
Coaching + Intangibles C+
   
Predicted W-L 6-10-0
Division Rank 4
Conference Rank 16
Overall Rank 30
Postseason No

2015 NFC North Preview

A division that looked like one of the surer things in the 2015 NFL became very unsure in week two of the NFL Preseason.  When Green Bay wide receiver Jordy Nelson went down with a season-ending injury, the Packers’ advantage over their three division rivals went with him.  Now, this division is an open race, and all four teams could stay in contention through Thanksgiving.  The PiRate Ratings for the Packers will change between this entry and the opening week of the season, as Nelson is almost as valuable to the green and gold offense as Aaron Rodgers.

Detroit now becomes the co-favorite in the old “Black and Blue” division with a rifle-armed quarterback in Matthew Stafford and two all-pro receivers in Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate.  But, a running attack that has no star will allow defenses to key on Johnson and Tate.  Losing Ndamukong Suh will affect the defense.

 

Minnesota is the tiger in the tall grass in this division.  The Vikings are on the verge of becoming relevant again with an improving defense and more consistent offense.  The return of Adrian Peterson should allow Teddy Bridgewater to have more holes in pass defense coverage to locate new receiver Mike Wallace.  Our PiRate Ratings have a pre-set automatic improvement with this team if the Vikings start the season 3-0 like we think they have the chance to do.

 

Chicago is at a crossroads.  The Mark Trestman era was a short-lived failure, and the John Fox era begins after Fox left Denver following a lackluster blowout loss to Indianapolis, in which the Broncos did not act like they were happy to be there.  The Bears start over on defense with the switch from 4-3 to 3-4.  Jay Cutler lost his favorite receiver in Brandon Marshall.  The Bears could go either way this year.  Fox could bring the Monsters of the Midway back to respectability and challenge for a 9-7 season, or the Bears could sink to the bottom of the NFC, effectively ending the Cutler era in the Second City.  As the Vikings’ schedule gives them a shot at starting 3-0, the Bears are looking at a tougher start and could begin 0-3.

CHICAGO BEARS

Bears Starting Lineup
Offense
WR Alshon Jeffrey
WR Eddie Royal
WR Marquess Wilson
TE Martellus Bennett
LT Jermon Bushrod
LG Matt Slauson
C Will Montgomery
RG Kyle Long
RT Jordan Mills
QB Jay Cutler
HB Matt Forte
H-B Dante Rosario
   
Defense
DE Ego Ferguson
NT Jay Ratliff/Eddie Goldman
DE Jarvis Jenkins
LB Pernell McPhee
LB Shea McClellin
LB Christian Jones
LB Jared Allen
CB Kyle Fuller
S Antrel Rolle
S Brock Vereen
CB Alan Ball
N5 Ryan Mundy
   
Special
Kicker Robbie Gould
Punter Pat O’Donnell
KR Marc Mariani
PR Marc Mariani
Chicago Bears
Head Coach John Fox
Off. Coordinator Adam Gase
Def. Coordinator Vic Fangio
2014 W-L-T 5-11-0
Pts 19.9
Opp 27.6
   
Ratings  
PiRate 95.8
Mean 95.1
Bias 95.8
Average 95.6
   
Grades  
Running  C
Passing  C-
Vs. Run  C+
Vs. Pass  C
Special Teams  C
Coaching + Intangibles  A-
   
Predicted W-L 6-10-0
Division Rank 4
Conference Rank 14
Overall Rank 26
Postseason No

 

DETROIT LIONS

Lions Starting Lineup
Offense
WR Calvin Johnson
WR Golden Tate
TE Eric Ebron
TE Brandon Pettigrew
LT Riley Reiff
LG Laken Tomlinson
C Travis Swanson
RG Larry Warford
RT Cornelius Lucas
QB Matthew Stafford
HB Joique Bell
FB Mike Burton
   
Defense
DE Darryl Tapp
DT Haloti Ngata
DT Tyrunn Walker
DE Ezekiel Ansah
LB Tahir Whitehead
LB Stephen Tulloch
LB DeAndre Levy
CB Darius Slay
S James Ihedigbo
S Glover Quin
CB Rashean Mathis
N5 Josh Wilson
   
Special
Kicker Matt Prater
Punter Sam Martin
KR Jeremy Ross
PR Jeremy Ross
Detroit Lions
Head Coach Jim Caldwell
Off. Coordinator Gunther Cunningham
Def. Coordinator Teryl Austin
2014 W-L-T 11-5-0
Pts 20.1
Opp 17.6
   
Ratings  
PiRate 102.9
Mean 101.8
Bias 103.4
Average 102.7
   
Grades  
Running  D
Passing  A
Vs. Run  C
Vs. Pass  C
Special Teams  D
Coaching + Intangibles  C
   
Predicted W-L 9-7-0
Division Rank 2
Conference Rank 5
Overall Rank 10
Postseason No

 

GREEN BAY PACKERS

Packers Starting Lineup
Offense
WR Randall Cobb
WR Davanbte Adams
WR Andrew Quarless
TE Richard Rodgers
LT David Bakhtiari
LG Josh Sitton
C Corey Linsley
RG T. J. Lang
RT Bryan Bulaga
QB Aaron Rodgers
HB Eddie Lacy
FB John Kuhn
   
Defense
DE Letroy Guion
DT B. J. Raji
DE Mike Daniels
LB Clay Matthews
LB Sam Barrington
LB Nate Palmer
LB Julius Peppers
CB Casey Hayward
S Morgan Burnett
S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
CB Sam Shields
N5 Micah Hyde
   
Special
Kicker Mason Crosby
Punter Tim Masthay
KR Ty Montgomery
PR Micah Hyde
Green Bay Packers
Head Coach Mike McCarthy
Off. Coordinator Edgar Bennett
Def. Coordinator Dom Capers
2014 W-L-T 12-4-0
Pts 30.4
Opp 21.8
   
Ratings  
PiRate 108.5
Mean 107.5
Bias 109.1
Average 108.4
   
Grades  
Running  B
Passing  A
Vs. Run  C
Vs. Pass  C+
Special Teams  C
Coaching + Intangibles  A-
   
Predicted W-L 9-7-0
Division Rank 1
Conference Rank 1
Overall Rank 1
Postseason Yes

 

MINNESOTA VIKINGS

Vikings Starting Lineup
Offense
WR Mike Wallace
WR Charles Johnson
WR Cordarrelle Patterson
TE Kyle Rudolph
LT Matt Kalil
LG Brandon Fusco
C John Sullivan
RG Michael Harris
RT T. J. Clemmings
QB Teddy Bridgewater
HB Adrian Peterson
FB Zach Line
   
Defense
DE Brian Robison
DT Linval Joseph
DT Sharrif Floyd
DE Everson Griffen
LB Anthony Barr
LB Audie Cole
LB Chad Greenway
CB Terence Newman
S Robert Blanton
S Harrison Smith
CB Xavier Rhodes
N5 Josh Robinson
   
Special
Kicker Blair Walsh
Punter Jeff Locker
KR Cordarrelle Patterson
PR Marcus Sherels
Minnesota Vikings
Head Coach Mike Zimmer
Off. Coordinator Norv Turner
Def. Coordinator George Edwards
2014 W-L-T 7-9-0
Pts 20.3
Opp 21.4
   
Ratings  
PiRate 100.5
Mean 97.4
Bias 101.9
Average 99.9
   
Grades  
Running  A
Passing  C-
Vs. Run  B
Vs. Pass  B
Special Teams  C
Coaching + Intangibles  C+
   
Predicted W-L 9-7-0
Division Rank 3
Conference Rank 9
Overall Rank 18
Postseason No

 

August 29, 2015

2015 NFC East Preview

2014–Dallas Cowboys

2013–Philadelphia Eagles

2012–Washington Redskins

2011–New York Giants

The NFC East is the only division where all four teams have won a division title in the last four years.  Three of the four have legitimate shots to win it in 2015, not because they are all great.  This division could easily go to a 9-7 team, and it would not surprise us one bit if three teams go 9-7.

Dallas lost in the second round of the playoffs to Green Bay in Lambeau Field at the end of the game last year.  If you are over 55, you can remember when this happened the first go around.  That happened in 1967, and then in 1968, Dallas had what many believe to be their best team ever, but the Cowboys were blown out in the first round of the playoffs to the Browns and did not make it to the Super Bowl for two more years after that.  History could repeat itself this year.  The Cowboys could get back to the playoffs and lose in the first game, because their offense figures to be too one dimensional.  Tony Romo had some pressure taken off having the top runner in the league last year, but now he has an unproven Joseph Randle or an over-the-hill Darren McFadden in the backfield.  The Cowboys’ defense is still top-rate, but we do not expect Dallas to score 467 points again this year.

 

New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin may be at the end of the line.  The Giants went 6-10 last year, and it may take a record reversal to save Coughlin’s job.  Eli Manning to Odell Beckham became a big deal every Sunday in 2014, and with Reuben Randle on the other side, the Giants might move the ball through the air like nobody else in the NFC.  The running game will not shine, but with Rashad Jennings and Andre Jennings returning and adding Shane Vereen to the roster, the Giants will convert short yardage situations into first downs well enough to maintain possession of the ball.  A weak front seven, something Coughlin’s best teams always had, may be the liability that keeps New York from getting back to the top of the division.

 

Philadelphia made a lot of changes in the off-season sending starting quarterback Nick Foles to the Rams for Sam Bradford and then continuing with the acquisition of DeMarco Murray, he of the 1,845 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns for Dallas last year.  But, then the Eagles continued to change personnel like a team bent on starting over from scratch.  Stars Jeremy Maclin, LeSean McCoy, and Trent Cole departed.   Nate Allen, Bradley Fisher, Cary Williams, and Casey Matthews joine Cole to create five new starters on defense.  It will be an interesting season in the City of Brotherly Boos, and we think the Eagles will get their share from the hometown fans when they figure to come up short once again.

 

The Jay Gruden era in the nation’s capital may last just two years, or even less if the Washington Redskins don’t improve at the start of the 2015 season.  The schedule actually helps the Redskins this season, as the first seven games prior to their bye week give them chances to win four or five times.  After the bye, wins may be hard to come by.  Robert Griffin III begins the regular season recuperating from a concussion, and Alfred Morris is still around.  The defense figures to be a little better with the addition of Dashon Goldson, but the Redskins figure to be looking up at the other three teams in the division.

 

DALLAS COWBOYS

Cowboys Starting Lineup
Offense
WR Dez Bryant
WR Terrance Williams
WR Cole Beasely
TE Jason Whitten
LT Tyron Smith
LG Ronald Leary
C Travis Frederick
RG Zach Martin
RT Doug Free
QB Tony Romo
HB Joseph Randle
FB Tyler Clutts
   
Defense
DE DeMarcus Lawrence
NT Nick Hayden
DT Tyrone Crawford
DE Jeremy Mincey/Greg Hardy
LB Kyle Wilber
LB Anthony Hitchens
LB Sean Lee
CB Brandon Carr
S J. J. Wilcox
S Barry Church
CB Morris Claiborne
N5 Byron Jones
   
Special
Kicker Dan Bailey
Punter Chris Jones
KR Lance Dunbar
PR Cole Beasely
Dallas Cowboys
Head Coach Jason Garrett
Off. Coordinator Scott Linehan
Def. Coordinator Rod Marinelli
2014 W-L-T 12-4-0
Pts 29.2
Opp 22.0
   
Ratings  
PiRate 106.9
Mean 105.6
Bias 107.6
Average 106.7
   
Grades  
Running C-
Passing A+
Vs. Run C
Vs. Pass C-
Special Teams B
Coaching + Intangibles B
   
Predicted W-L 9-7-0
Division Rank 1
Conference Rank 3
Overall Rank 5
Postseason Yes

 

NEW YORK GIANTS

Giants Starting Lineup
Offense
WR Odell Beckham, Jr.
WR Rueben Randle
WR Victor Cruz
TE Larry Donnell
LT Ereck Flowers
LG Justin Pugh
C Weston Richburg
RG Geoff Schwartz
RT Marshall Newhouse
QB Eli Manning
HB Rashad Jennings
FB Henry Hynoski
New York Giants
Head Coach Tom Coughlin
Off. Coordinator Ben McAdoo
Def. Coordinator Steve Spagnolo
2014 W-L-T 6-10-0
Pts 23.8
Opp 25.0
   
Ratings  
PiRate 99.9
Mean 99.7
Bias 100.4
Average 100.0
   
Grades  
Running C
Passing A-
Vs. Run C-
Vs. Pass C
Special Teams A
Coaching + Intangibles A-
   
Predicted W-L 9-7-0
Division Rank 3
Conference Rank 8
Overall Rank 16
Postseason No

 

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

Eagles Starting Lineup
Offense
WR Jordan Matthews
WR Nelson Agholor
WR Riley Cooper
TE Zach Ertz
LT Jason Peters
LG Allen Barbre
C Jason Kelce
RG Andrew Gardner
RT Lane Johnson
QB Sam Bradford
HB DeMarco Murray
FB (NONE)
   
Defense
DE Fletcher Cox
DT Bennie Logan
DE Cedric Thornton
LB Connor Barwin
LB Mychal Kendricks
LB Kiko Alonso
LB Brandon Graham
CB Nolan Carroll
S Malcolm Jenkins
S Walter Thurmond
CB Byron Maxwell
N5 Eric Rowe
   
Special
Kicker Cody Parkey
Punter Donnie Jones
KR Josh Huff
PR Darren Sproles
Philadelphia Eagles
Head Coach Chip Kelly
Off. Coordinator Pat Shurmur
Def. Coordinator Bill Davis
2014 W-L-T 10-6-0
Pts 29.7
Opp 25.0
   
Ratings  
PiRate 104.7
Mean 103.9
Bias 105.2
Average 104.6
   
Grades  
Running A
Passing B
Vs. Run A
Vs. Pass C
Special Teams A
Coaching + Intangibles B+
   
Predicted W-L 9-7-0
Division Rank 2
Conference Rank 4
Overall Rank 8
Postseason Yes

 

WASHINGTON REDSKINS

Redskins Starting Lineup
Offense
WR DeSean Jackson
WR Pierre Garcon
WR Andre Roberts
TE Jordan Reed
LT Trent Williams
LG Shawn Lauvao
C Kory Lichtensteiger
RG Brandon Scherff
RT Morgan Moses
QB Robert Griffin III
HB Alfred Morris
FB Darrel Young
   
Defense
DE Stephen Paea
NT Terrance Knighton
DE Jason Hatcher
LB Ryan Kerrigan
LB Keenan Robinson
LB Perry Riley
LB Trent Murphy
CB DeAngelo Hall
S Duke Ihenacho
S Dashon Golden
CB Chris Culliver
N5 Bashaud Breeland
   
Special
Kicker Kai Forbath
Punter Tress Way
KR Andre Roberts
PR Andre Roberts
Washington Redskins
Head Coach Jay Gruden
Off. Coordinator Sean McVay
Def. Coordinator Joe Barry
2014 W-L-T 4-12-0
Pts 18.8
Opp 27.4
   
Ratings  
PiRate 93.2
Mean 92.1
Bias 92.5
Average 92.6
   
Grades  
Running C+
Passing C-
Vs. Run C
Vs. Pass C
Special Teams C
Coaching + Intangibles D
   
Predicted W-L 6-10-0
Division Rank 4
Conference Rank 15
Overall Rank 29
Postseason No

 

2015 AFC West Preview

For Peyton Manning, this could be his final hurrah.  Might he go out the same way his boss went out in 1999?  John Elway retired following a Super Bowl win.  The Broncos window for winning is closing fast, and this will probably be Manning’s last chance to earn a second ring.  Denver made a lot of changes after their early playoff loss in 2014.  John Fox is out as coach, and Gary Kubiak is in.  Wade Phillips, the nomad defensive guru, is the new coordinator of a defense that was tough against the run but so-so against the pass.  Seven starters are gone, most notably tight end Julius Thomas.  Denver is still the favorite in the West, but their edge is razor slim over the Chiefs and Chargers.

Kansas City almost made the playoffs last year without a wide receiver catching a touchdown pass, and with their top defensive player leaving the team after a cancer diagnosis.  The Chiefs have the potential to be better this year, perhaps even better than they were in 2013, and there will be touchdown receptions from wide receivers this year.  Jeremy Maclin, the team’s key signee, should get several.  The defense will continue to be strong, and the Chiefs are within striking distance of overtaking their rivals to the west.

Oakland went through growing pains with a rookie quarterback last year, and the Raiders suffered through a 13th consecutive season without a winning record.  This once dominant team might be in its last year in Oakland, and could once again become the Los Angeles Raiders, making the O.co Coliseum “The Ark of the Lost Raiders.”  New head coach Jack Del Rio should lead to an improved defense, and if Carr can progress as a second year player, the Raiders could be moving up.  Of course, at 3-13, there isn’t much room to move down.

San Diego, like Oakland, is in a holding pattern.  The once Los Angeles Chargers may be the future Los Angeles Chargers, and teams in this situation seldom play consistent ball all season long.  Phillip Rivers returns after speculation that he might be dealt to Tennessee (before the Titans drafted Marcus Mariota).  Rivers has a little more to play with this year, as the Chargers acquired Jacoby Jones and Stevie Johnson.  It could be an interesting season in San Diego, but chances are better than 50-50 that the bolts will fall short of the playoffs.

DENVER BRONCOS

Broncos Starting Lineup
Offense
WR Demaryius Thomas
WR Emmanuel Sanders
WR Cody Latimer
TE Owen Daniels
LT Ty Sambrailo
LG Evan Mathis
C Matt Paradis
RG Louis Vasquez
RT Ryan Harris
QB Peyton Manning
HB C. J. Anderson
FB James Casey
   
Defense
DE Derek Wolfe/Vance Walker
DT Sylvester Williams
DE Malik Jackson
LB Von Miller
LB Brandon Marshall
LB Danny Trevathan
LB DeMarcus Ware
CB Aqib Talib
S T. J. Ward
S Darian Stewart
CB Chris Harris, Jr.
N5 Bradley Roby
   
Special
Kicker Brandon McManus
Punter Britton Colquitt
KR Omar Bolden
PR Omar Bolden
Denver Broncos
Head Coach Gary Kubiak
Off. Coordinator Rick Dennison
Def. Coordinator Wade Phillips
2014 W-L-T 12-4-0
Pts 30.1
Opp 22.1
   
Ratings  
PiRate 105.6
Mean 104.8
Bias 105.0
Average 105.1
   
Grades  
Running C+
Passing A
Vs. Run B
Vs. Pass A-
Special Teams C-
Coaching + Intangibles C
   
Predicted W-L 10-6-0
Division Rank 1
Conference Rank 3
Overall Rank 6
Postseason Yes

 

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

Chiefs Starting Lineup
Offense
WR Jeremy Maclin
WR Albert Wilson
TE Travis Kelce
TE James O’Shaughnessy
LT Eric Fisher
LG Ben Grubbs
C Mitch Morse
RG Jeff Allen
RT Donald Stephenson
QB Alex Smith
HB Jamaal Charles
FB Anthony Sherman
   
Defense
DE Mike Devito
NT Jaye Howard/Dontari Poe
DE Allen Bailey
LB Justin Houston
LB Josh Mauga
LB Derrick Johnson
LB Tamba Hali
CB Phillip Gaines
S Ron Parker
S Eric Berry
CB Seam Smith/Jamell Fleming
N5 Husain Abdullah
   
Special
Kicker Cairo Santos
Punter Dustin Colquitt
KR Knile Davis
PR De’Anthony Thomas
Kansas City Chiefs
Head Coach Andy Reid
Off. Coordinator Doug Pederson
Def. Coordinator Bob Sutton
2014 W-L-T 9-7-0
Pts 22.1
Opp 17.6
   
Ratings  
PiRate 100.2
Mean 102.2
Bias 100.2
Average 100.9
   
Grades  
Running B+
Passing C
Vs. Run B-
Vs. Pass B-
Special Teams A
Coaching + Intangibles A-
   
Predicted W-L 8-8-0
Division Rank 3
Conference Rank 8
Overall Rank 14
Postseason No

 

OAKLAND RAIDERS

Raiders Starting Lineup
Offense
WR Michael Crabtree
WR Amari Cooper
TE Mychal Rivera
TE Lee Smith
LT Donald Penn
LG Gabe Jackson
C Rodney Hudson
RG J’Marcus Webb
RT Menelik Watson
QB Derek Carr
HB Latavius Murray
FB Marcel Reece
   
Defense
DE Khalil Mack
DT Dan Williams
DT Justin Ellis
DE Justin Tuck
LB Ray Ray Armstrong
LB Curtis Lofton
LB Malcolm Smith
CB D. J. Hayden
S Charles Woodson
S Nate Allen
CB T. J. Carrie
N5  
   
Special
Kicker Sebastian Janikowski
Punter Marquette King
KR Trindon Holliday
PR Trindon Holliday
Oakland Raiders
Head Coach Jack Del Rio
Off. Coordinator Bill Musgrave
Def. Coordinator Ken Norton, Jr.
2014 W-L-T 3-13-0
Pts 15.8
Opp 28.3
   
Ratings  
PiRate 90.1
Mean 95.7
Bias 87.9
Average 91.2
   
Grades  
Running C
Passing B-
Vs. Run C
Vs. Pass D
Special Teams C-
Coaching + Intangibles C
   
Predicted W-L 4-12-0
Division Rank 4
Conference Rank 15
Overall Rank 31
Postseason No

 

SAN DIEGO CHARGERS

Chargers Starting Lineup
Offense
WR Keenan Allen
WR Malcolm Floyd
WR Stevie Johnson
TE Antonio Gates/Ladarius Green
LT King Dunlap
LG Orlando Franklin
C Chris Watt
RG D. J. Fluker
RT Joe Barksdale
QB Phillip Rivers
HB Melvin Gordon
FB (NONE)
   
Defense
DE Kendall Reyes
NT Sean Lissemore
DT Corey Liuget
LB Jerry Attaochu
LB Manti Te’O
LB Donald Butler
LB Melvin Ingram
CB Brandon Flowers
S Jahleel Addae
S Eric Weddle
CB Jason Verrett
N5 Jimmy Wilson
   
Special
Kicker Nick Novak
Punter Mike Scifres
KR Jacoby Jones
PR Jacoby Jones
San Diego Chargers
Head Coach Mike McCoy
Off. Coordinator Frank Reich
Def. Coordinator John Pagano
2014 W-L-T 9-7-0
Pts 21.8
Opp 21.8
   
Ratings  
PiRate 100.8
Mean 101.7
Bias 100.1
Average 100.9
   
Grades  
Running C+
Passing A-
Vs. Run C
Vs. Pass C+
Special Teams B+
Coaching + Intangibles C
   
Predicted W-L 9-7-0
Division Rank 2
Conference Rank 7
Overall Rank 13
Postseason No

 

August 28, 2015

2015 AFC South Preview

Indianapolis and the Three Dwarfs:  Since the AFC South was formed, all four member teams have had their turn as the top banana, but there has been one consistent theme.  When Tennessee was dominant in the early 2000’s, the Colts were the chief competitor usually finishing a game behind or ahead of the Titans.

When Jacksonville was tough with their stable of tough running backs, it was Indianapolis that was 14-2 when the Jags were 12-4.

When Houston began to shine a few years ago, once again, their competition was the Colts.

Now, the Colts have no competition in the South.  Houston lacks a quarterback that can get them to the playoffs, and J. J. Watt cannot make 30 sacks to level the playing field.  Jacksonville has more rebuilding to do before they can even challenge for an 8-8 record.  Tennessee has been down for six years, and the Titans have as many holes in their roster as a piece of Swiss cheese.  The Colts could go 6-0 in divisional play, while the other three teams all finish 2-4.

 

Houston surprised the football world by rebounding from 2-14 to go 9-7 and almost make the playoffs.  The Texans’ schedule goes from one of the easiest with all the last place teams to one of the more difficult with two extra second place teams (Kansas City and Cincinnati instead of Oakland and Cleveland).  The Texans lose their star receiver in Andre Johnson, and Brian Hoyer passing to Cecil Shorts and Nate Washington as options to DeAndre Hopkins does not have the look of a playoff contender.

Andrew Luck compares with Peyton Manning in that he has taken over this team and led them to divisional dominance.  He also compares a little to Andy Dalton in that the Colts keep coming up short in the playoffs.  However, as we stated about Dalton, it is not his fault when the Colts’ defense gives up 45 points to the Patriots.  This year, Indianapolis’s offense is set to take a step up to the very top of the AFC.  The Colts add Andre Johnson to a roster already stocked with offensive stars.  An improved defense should give Indy a strong chance at competing for the best overall record in the AFC and a good shot at playing in February.

Jacksonville has been number 31 or 32 in the league for multiple seasons.  At one time, the Jaguars were the leading team to relocate to Los Angeles.  At one time, they were more than 21-point underdogs in a game.  Jacksonville might have been picked to contend for an 8-8 record this year had bad luck not hit this team in the Spring.  Top draft choice Dante Fowler was lost for the season with an ACL injury.  Fowler could have been the Jags’ Watt and improve the defense by a touchdown per game.  Now, they have little pass rush, and enemy quarterbacks will be a lot more comfortable on Sunday.

Tennessee puts all their eggs in the Marcus Mariota basket.  Eventually, we believe Mariota will prove to be the right choice for the Titans, but as a rookie with a vulnerable offensive line, we expect backup Zach Mettenberger to be the starter by midseason and possibly Clay Whitehurst by December.  The Titans defense made a couple of key additions by signing Brian Orakpo and adding legendary defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau as assistant head coach.  LeBeau might wish he had retired with the liabilities in the line and in the secondary.

 

HOUSTON TEXANS

Texans Starting Lineup
Offense
WR DeAndre Hopkins
WR Cecil Shorts
WR Nate Washington
TE Garrett Graham
LT Duane Brown
LG Xavier Su’a-Filo
C Ben Jones
RG Brandon Brooks
RT Derek Newton
QB Brian Hoyer
HB Alfred Blue
FB Jay Prosch
   
Defense
DE Jared Crick
DT Vince Wilfork
DE J. J. Watt
LB John Simon
LB Brian Cushing
LB Mike Mohamed
LB Jadeveon Clowney
CB Kareem Jackson
S Rahim Moore
S Stevie Brown
CB Johnathan Joseph
N5 A. J. Bouye
   
Special
Kicker Randy Bullock
Punter Shane Lechler
KR Chandler Worthy
PR Chandler Worthy
Houston Texans
Head Coach Bill O’Brien
Off. Coordinator George Godsey
Def. Coordinator Romeo Crennel
2014 W-L-T 9-7-0
Pts 23.3
Opp 19.2
   
Ratings  
PiRate 97.6
Mean 99.1
Bias 97.5
Average 98.1
   
Grades  
Running B+
Passing D
Vs. Run A
Vs. Pass C+
Special Teams C
Coaching + Intangibles C
   
Predicted W-L 7-9-0
Division Rank 2
Conference Rank 11
Overall Rank 22
Postseason No

 

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

Colts Starting Lineup
Offense
WR Andre Johnson
WR T. Y. Hilton
TE Dwayne Allen
TE Coby Fleener
LT Anthony Costanzo
LG Lance Louis
C Khaled Holmes
RG Todd Herremans
RT Jack Mewhort
QB Andrew Luck
HB Frank Gore
FB (NONE)
   
Defense
DE Kendall Langford
DT Josh Champan
DT Arthur Jones
LB Trent Cole
LB Jerrell Freeman
LB D’Qwell Jackson
LB Erik Walden
CB Greg Toler
S Mike Adams
S Dwight Lowery
CB Vontae Davis
N5 Darius Butler
   
Special
Kicker Adam Vinatiari
Punter Pat McAfee
KR Dan Herron
PR Phillip Dorsett
Indianapolis Colts
Head Coach Chuck Pagano
Off. Coordinator Pep Hamilton
Def. Coordinator Greg Manusky
2014 W-L-T 11-5-0
Pts 28.6
Opp 23.1
   
Ratings  
PiRate 104.7
Mean 105.8
Bias 104.9
Average 105.1
   
Grades  
Running B
Passing A+
Vs. Run C
Vs. Pass C
Special Teams A
Coaching + Intangibles B-
   
Predicted W-L 10-6-0
Division Rank 1
Conference Rank 4
Overall Rank 7
Postseason Yes

 

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

Jaguars Starting Lineup
Offense
WR Allen Robinson
WR Allen Hurns
TE Julius Thomas
TE Marcedes Lewis
LT Luke Joeckel
LG Zane Beadles
C Stefen Wisniewski
RG Brandon Linder
RT Jermey Parnell
QB Blake Bortles
HB T. J. Yeldon
FB (NONE)
   
Defense
DE Andre Branch
DT Ziggy Hood
DT Tyson Alualu
DE Jared Odrick
LB Telvin Smith
LB Paul Posluszny
LB Dan Skuta
CB Davon House
S Craig Loston
S Sergio Brown
CB Aaron Colvin
N5 Josh Evans
   
Special
Kicker Josh Scobee
Punter Bryan Anger
KR Denard Robinson
PR Rashad Greene
Jacksonville Jaguars
Head Coach Gus Bradley
Off. Coordinator Greg Olson
Def. Coordinator Bob Babich
2014 W-L-T 3-13-0
Pts 15.6
Opp 25.8
   
Ratings  
PiRate 89.8
Mean 95.2
Bias 88.5
Average 91.2
   
Grades  
Running C-
Passing D
Vs. Run C-
Vs. Pass C-
Special Teams C
Coaching + Intangibles C-
   
Predicted W-L 5-11-0
Division Rank 4
Conference Rank 16
Overall Rank 32
Postseason No

 

TENNESSEE TITANS

Titans Starting Lineup
Offense
WR Kendall Wright
WR Harry Douglas
TE Delanie Walker
TE Anthony Fasano
LT Taylor Lewan
LG Byron Bell
C Brian Schwenke
RG Chance Warmack
RT Jeremiah Poutasi
QB Marcus Mariota
HB Bishop Sankey
FB Jalston Fowler
   
Defense
DE DaQuan Jones
DT Sammie Hill
DT Jurrell Casey
LB Derrick Morgan
LB Zach Brown
LB Avery Williamson
LB Brian Orakpo
CB Perrish Cox
S Da’Norris Searcy
S Michael Griffin
CB Jason McCourty
N5 Coty Sensabaugh
   
Special
Kicker Ryan Succop
Punter Brett Kern
KR Dexter McCluster
PR Dexter McCluster
Tennessee Titans
Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt
Off. Coordinator Jason Michael
Def. Coordinator Ray Horton
2014 W-L-T 2-14-0
Pts 15.9
Opp 27.4
   
Ratings  
PiRate 93.9
Mean 93.7
Bias 94.5
Average 94.0
   
Grades  
Running C
Passing C+
Vs. Run C
Vs. Pass B-
Special Teams B
Coaching + Intangibles C
   
Predicted W-L 7-9-0
Division Rank 3
Conference Rank 14
Overall Rank 28
Postseason No

 

August 27, 2015

2015 AFC North Preview

Three of the four AFC North teams have won at least two division titles in the past six years.  Only Cleveland has yet to get into the race, and we see much of the same again this year.  Baltimore, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh could all finish 10-6.  Pittsburgh’s offense is good enough to score 450 points, but their defense might give up 400.  Baltimore has a defense capable of dominating with an offense that is inconsistent.  Cincinnati is not as strong offensively as Pittsburgh or defensively as Baltimore, but they are better offensively than Baltimore and defensively than Pittsburgh.

 

Baltimore breaks in yet another offensive coordinator after Gary Kubiak went to Denver.  Deposed Bears’ head coach Mark Trestman comes to the Harbor when the team has reeled in an incredible catch for QB Joe Flacco.  Breshad Perriman arrives from Central Florida, where the speedster’s slash line of 50/1044/9 foretells future greatness on Sundays.

 

Cincinnati is looking for its fifth consecutive playoff appearance.  Maybe one of these years, the Bengals will actually win a playoff game.  Fans and media alike blame QB Andy Dalton, but the last time we checked, Dalton did not have massive holes open up in the defensive line, nor did he drop any passes thrown right at his numbers.  Dalton is more a reason why the Bengals are in the playoffs and not the reason they lose in the first round.  Last year, Cincinnati swept Baltimore.

 

After week 12, the AFC North standings looked like this:

Cincinnati  7-3-1

Cleveland  7-4-0

Baltimore  7-4-0

Pittsburgh 7-4-0

Yes, Cleveland was right in the thick of the race and had wins over Pittsburgh and Cincinnati.  Four of their final games were against playoff teams, while the fifth came against a team that went 9-7.  The Browns dropped all five games to finish 7-9, and now most pundits believe they will not match that win total this year.

 

Pittsburgh enters 2015 without two defensive icons in the Steel City.  Troy Polamalu retired, while defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau resigned and took the head defensive position with the Tennessee Titans.  The Steel Curtain Defense has become moth-eaten, and Pittsburgh may have to outscore opponents in shootouts to get back to the playoffs.

 

Baltimore Ravens

Ravens Starting Lineup
Offense
WR Kamar Aiken
WR Breshad Perriman
WR Steve Smith
TE Crockett Gillmore
LT Eugene Monroe
LG Kelechi Osemele
C Jeremy Zuttah
RG Marshal Yanda
RT Ricky Wagner
QB Joe Flacco
HB Justin Forsett
FB Kyle Zuszczyk
   
Defense
DE/DT Timmy Jernigan
DT Brandon Williams
DE Chris Canty
LB Terrell Suggs
LB C. J. Mosley
LB Daryl Smith
LB Courtney Upshaw
CB Ladarius Webb
S Will Hill
S Kendrick Lewis
CB Jimmy Smith
N5 Kyle Arrington
   
Special
Kicker Justin Tucker
Punter Sam Koch
KR Asa Jackson
PR Michael Campanero
Baltimore Ravens
Head Coach John Harbaugh
Off. Coordinator Marc Trestman
Def. Coordinator Dean Pees
2014 W-L-T 10-6-0
Pts 25.6
Opp 18.9
   
Ratings  
PiRate 106.7
Mean 105.1
Bias 108.2
Average 106.7
   
Grades  
Running C
Passing B
Vs. Run A-
Vs. Pass B+
Special Teams A
Coaching + Intangibles A
   
Predicted W-L 9-7-0
Division Rank 1
Conference Rank 2
Overall Rank 4
Postseason Yes

 

Cincinnati Bengals

Bengals Starting Lineup
Offense
WR A. J. Green
WR Mohamed Sanu
TE Tyler Eifert
TE Ryan Hewitt
LT Andrew Whitworth
LG Clint Boling
C Russell Bodine
RG Kevin Zeitler
RT Andre Smith
QB Andy Dalton
HB Jeremy Hill
FB Mark Weisman
   
Defense
DE Carlos Dunlap
DT Domata Peko
DT Geno Atkins
DE Michael Johnson
LB Emmanuel Lamur
LB Rey Maualuga
LB Vontaze Burfict
CB Dre Kirkpatrick
S George Iloka
S Reggie Nelson
CB Adam Jones
N5 Leon Hall
   
Special
Kicker Mike Nugent
Punter Kevin Huber
KR Brandon Tate
PR Adam Jones
Cincinnati Bengals
Head Coach Marvin Lewis
Off. Coordinator Hue Jackson
Def. Coordinator Paul Guenther
2014 W-L-T 10-5-1
Pts 22.8
Opp 21.5
   
Ratings  
PiRate 102.9
Mean 103.3
Bias 102.9
Average 103.0
   
Grades  
Running B+
Passing C+
Vs. Run B-
Vs. Pass B
Special Teams B+
Coaching + Intangibles C+
   
Predicted W-L 10-6-0
Division Rank 2
Conference Rank 5
Overall Rank 9
Postseason Yes

 

Cleveland Browns

Browns Starting Lineup
Offense
WR Andrew Hawkins
WR Brian Hartline
WR Taylor Gabriel
TE Gary Barnidge
LT Joe Thomas
LG Joel Bitonio
C Alex Mack
RG John Greco
RT Mitchell Schwartz
QB Josh McCown
HB Isaiah Crowell
FB Luke Lundy
   
Defense
DE Randy Starks
DT Phil Taylor
DE Desmond Bryant
LB Paul Kruger
LB Chris Kirksey
LB Karlos Dansby
LB Scott Solomon
CB Tramon Williams
S Donte Whitner
S Tashaun Gipson
CB Joe Haden
N5 K’Waun Williams
   
Special
Kicker Carey Spear or Travis Coons
Punter Andy Lee
KR Marlin Moore
PR Travis Benjamin
Cleveland Browns
Head Coach Mike Pettine
Off. Coordinator John DeFilippo
Def. Coordinator Jim O’Neil
2014 W-L-T 7-9-0
Pts 18.7
Opp 21.1
   
Ratings  
PiRate 95.4
Mean 92.7
Bias 95.6
Average 94.6
   
Grades  
Running C
Passing C-
Vs. Run C
Vs. Pass B+
Special Teams D
Coaching + Intangibles C-
   
Predicted W-L 6-10-0
Division Rank 4
Conference Rank 13
Overall Rank 27
Postseason No

 

Pittsburgh Steelers

Steelers Starting Lineup
Offense
WR Antonio Brown
WR Markus Wheaton
WR Martavis Bryant
TE Heath Miller
LT Kelvin Beachum
LG Ramon Foster
C Cody Wallace
RG David DeCastro
RT Marcus Gilbert
QB Ben Roethlisberger
HB Le’Veon Bell
FB Will Johnson
   
Defense
DE Cameron Hayward
DT Steve McLendon
DE Stephon Tuitt
LB Arthur Moats
LB Ryan Shazier
LB Lawrence Timmons
LB Jarvis Jones
CB Cortez Allen
S Shamarko Thomas
S Mike Mitchell
CB William Gay
N5 Brandon Boykin
   
Special
Kicker Garrett Hartley
Punter Brad Wing
KR Markus Wheaton
PR Antonio Brown
Pittsburgh Steelers
Head Coach Mike Tomlin
Off. Coordinator Todd Haley
Def. Coordinator Keith Butler
2014 W-L-T 11-5-0
Pts 27.3
Opp 23.0
   
Ratings  
PiRate 102.8
Mean 102.8
Bias 102.5
Average 102.7
   
Grades  
Running B+
Passing A
Vs. Run C-
Vs. Pass C-
Special Teams C
Coaching + Intangibles C+
   
Predicted W-L 8-8-0
Division Rank 3
Conference Rank 6
Overall Rank 11
Postseason No

 

August 26, 2015

2015 AFC East Division Preview

Today, we begin our 2015 previews of each NFL division with a look at the AFC East Division. This year, we are going to concentrate mostly on stats and analytics.

You will see the following information in each preview.

  1. A current starting lineup based on multiple sources.  This will include players that are questionable for Week 1, and players suspended in the first four weeks.
  2. Team Information–Head Coach, Offensive and Defensive Coordinators, Last Year’s W-L Record and Average Offensive and Defensive Points Per Game
  3. 2015 Preseason PiRate, Mean, and Bias Ratings with an Average of the Three.
  4. Our PiRate Grades on Running Game, Passing Game, Defense Against the Run, Defense Against the Pass, Special Teams, and Coaching + Intangibles.  Note that these grades use advanced metrics and do not rely on regular statistics.  More about that in the footnote at the end of this entry.
  5. The PiRate Ratings won-loss predictions for 2015 and whether the team is picked to make the playoffs.  These predictions are based on a unique set of data and do not strictly correlate to our preseason ratings.  We actually have pre-adjustments in our ratings based on factors such as depth, age, schedule, travel, etc.

AFC EAST

New England has won this division six consecutive seasons, and the last time they didn’t win, they lost in a tiebreaker to the Miami Dolphins.  With Tom Brady sidelined for four games, a lot of pundits are picking the Patriots to begin the season trailing one or more contenders.  We remind them that Matt Cassel took over a Patriot team in 2008 and went 10-5 as a starter.  Jimmy Garoppolo should be able to at least split those four games, which should allow the Pats to seven-peat in the AFC East.

Rex Ryan takes over at Buffalo, and the Bills have enough talent on hand to make a playoff run, something Bills’ fans have not experienced since the fateful “Music City Miracle” in 1999.  With the addition of Matt Cassel, LeSean McCoy and to a lesser extent, Percy Harvin and Richie Incognito, Ryan’s Bills could take on the persona of the Oakland Raiders of the 1960’s and 1970’s.

Miami added Ndamukong Suh and Greg Jennings to a roster that was 7-5 before fading fast last year.  The Dolphins will make the Playoffs this year, or Joe Philbin will be history.

The New York Jets start over with a new coach, a new quarterback they did not expect to have, two new cornerbacks, and a commitment to open up the offense.  However, in order for the Jets to get off the ground in 2015, unexpected new starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick must find a way to avoid the interception bug for at least 4 or 5 games, or else rookie Bryce Petty will be in the Big Apple microscope.

BUFFALO BILLS

Starting Lineup
Offense
WR Sammy Watkins
WR Percy Harvin
WR Robert Woods
TE Charles Clay
LT Gordy Glenn
LG Richie Ingonito
C Eric Wood
RG John Miller
RT Seantrel Henderson
QB Matt Cassel
HB LeSean McCoy
FB Jerome Felton
Defense
DE Mario Williams
DT Marcell Dareus
DT Kyle Williams
DE Jerry Hughes
LB Nigel Bradham
LB Preston Brown
LB Manny Lawson
CB Leodis McKelvin
S Aaron Williams
S Corey Graham
CB Stephon Gilmore
N5 Nickell Robey
Special
Kicker Dan Carpenter
Punter Colton Schmidt
KR Percy Harvin
PR Marcus Thigpen
Buffalo Bills
Head Coach Rex Ryan
Off. Coordinator Greg Roman
Def. Coordinator Dennis Thurman
2014 W-L-T 9-7-0
Pts 21.4
Opp 18.1
Ratings
PiRate 99.8
Mean 100.6
Bias 99.6
Average 100.0
Grades
Running B-
Passing C-
Vs. Run B+
Vs. Pass B-
Special Teams C
Coaching + Intangibles C+
Predicted W-L 10-6-0
Division Rank 2
Conference Rank 9
Overall Rank 17
Postseason Yes

MIAMI DOLPHINS

Starting Lineup
Offense
WR Greg Jennings
WR Kenny Stills
WR Jarvis Landry
TE Jordan Cameron
LT Albert Brandon
LG Dallas Thomas
C Mike Pouncey
RG Billy Turner
RT Ja’ Wuan James
QB Ryan Tannehill
HB Lamar Miller
FB (None)
Defense
DE Cameron Wake
DT Ndamukong Suh
DT Earl Mitchell
DE Olivier Vernon
LB Chris McCain
LB Koa Misi
LB Jelani Jenkins
CB Brent Grimes
S Reshad Jones
S Michael Thomas
CB Jamar Taylor
N5 Brice McCain
Special
Kicker Caleb Sturgis
Punter Brandon Fields
KR Jarvis Landry
PR Jarvis Landry
Miami Dolphins
Head Coach Joe Philbin
Off. Coordinator Bill Lazor
Def. Coordinator Kevin Coyle
2014 W-L-T 8-8-0
Pts 24.3
Opp 23.3
Ratings
PiRate 98.7
Mean 100.3
Bias 98.0
Average 99.0
Grades
Running C-
Passing C+
Vs. Run C
Vs. Pass B
Special Teams C-
Coaching + Intangibles C
Predicted W-L 9-7-0
Division Rank 3
Conference Rank 10
Overall Rank 19
Postseason No

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

Starting Lineup
Offense
WR Reggie Wayne
WR Julian Edelman
WR Danny Amendola
TE Rob Gronkowski
LT Nate Solder
LG Josh Klein
C Bryan Stork
RG Ryan Wendell
RT Sebastian Vollmer
QB Tom Brady
HB LeGarrette Blount
FB James Develin
Defense
DE Rob Ninkovich
DT Alan Branch
DT Sealver Siliga
DE Chandler Jones
LB Jamie Collins
LB Jerod Mayo
LB Dont’a Hightower
CB Malcolm Butler
S Patrick Chung
S Devon McCourty
CB Logan Ryan
N5 Robert McClain
Special
Kicker Stephen Gostkowski
Punter Ryan Allen
KR Danny Amendola
PR Julian Edelman
New England Patriots
Head Coach Bill Belichick
Off. Coordinator Josh McDaniels
Def. Coordinator Matt Patricia
2014 W-L-T 12-4-0
Pts 29.3
Opp 19.6
Ratings
PiRate 107.9
Mean 107.9
Bias 107.9
Average 107.9
Grades
Running C-
Passing A+
Vs. Run C-
Vs. Pass C
Special Teams A
Coaching + Intangibles A+
Predicted W-L 12-4-0
Division Rank 1
Conference Rank 1
Overall Rank 2
Postseason No

NEW YORK JETS

Starting Lineups
Offense
WR Brandon Marshall
WR Eric Decker
WR Jeremy Kerley
TE Jeff Cumberland
LT D’Brickashaw Ferguson
LG James Carpenter
C Nick Mangold
RG Willie Colon
RT Breno Giacomini
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick
HB Chris Ivory
FB Tommy Bohanon
Defense
DE Muhammad Wilkerson
DT Damon Harrison
DE Leonard Williams
LB Quinton Coples
LB Demario Davis
LB David Harris
LB Calvin Pace
CB Darrelle Revis
S Calvin Pryor
S Marcus Gilchrist
CB Antonio Cromartie
N5 Buster Skrine
Special
Kicker Nick Folk
Punter Ryan Quigley
KR Chris Owusu
PR Jeremy Kerley
New York Jets
Head Coach Todd Bowles
Off. Coordinator Chan Gailey
Def. Coordinator Kacy Rodgers
2014 W-L-T 4-12-0
Pts 17.7
Opp 25.1
Ratings
PiRate 97.7
Mean 98.2
Bias 97.5
Average 97.8
Grades
Running C-
Passing D
Vs. Run A-
Vs. Pass B+
Special Teams C
Coaching + Intangibles D
Predicted W-L 7-9-0
Division Rank 4
Conference Rank 12
Overall Rank 23
Postseason No

Grade Constituents & Data

Running Game: Offensive Line & Running Backs

Mere average yards per carry or total yards gained matters little here.  We grade based on how effective the running game is.  So, if a player gained 1,200 yards and averaged 4.0 yards per carry last year, there is no guarantee that he is better than a player that gains 800 yards and averaged 3.5 yards per attempt.  Gaining three yards on third and two is a lot more important than gaining four yards on third and eight.  A player that gets a lot of attempts inside the two yard line will see his average yards per carry drop but will be more effective due to getting the job done.

Passing Game: Quarterback, Receivers, Backs, Offensive Line

We use a combination of average yards per attempt, air yards per attempt, yards after catch, sacks per attempt, and avoidance of turnovers.  A team with a better quarterback may have a lower grade than a team with less talented quarterback, if he has a better pass blocking offensive line and/or better receivers.

Defense: All 11 defensive players factor into both run and pass defense.  The defensive ends and cornerbacks count more against the pass than any other position, while the front seven counts more against the run than the secondary.

Special Teams: Punt and Kick Coverage count for a little more than punt and kick return, but with a little extra given weight to returners that have a proven history of becoming game-changers.  Actual punting and kicking have gotten to the point where there is not much difference between the best and worst.  If the top punter averages 46 yards per punt, and a replacement punter averages just 40 yards per punt, that six yards is not that much of a factor.  Coverage is much more important.  Not allowing the opponent to get a long return counts more than the six yards difference in the punters.

Coaching + Intangibles: The head coach is not the only coach that matters, but he counts more than the strength and conditioning coach.  We look at the entire coaching staff, with the coordinators receiving more consideration than all but the head coach.  Intangibles include a host of factors, including things like having a player break a teammate’s jaw, penalties from deflating balls, having a team that missed out of the playoffs by a tiebreaker last year, and many other little things.

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