The Pi-Rate Ratings

December 6, 2011

PiRate Ratings: NFL For Week 14–December 8-12, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 9:06 pm

It Can’t Work, So Now Look For More Teams To Try It

How many weeks in a row have you heard some NFL pundit proclaim that Denver’s option offense cannot work, even with the great Tim Tebow running the team and with two excellent running backs in Willis McGahee and Lance Ball?  Throw in a healthy Knowshon Moreno, assuming he will come back full strength from his knee injury in 2012, and this offense could put up more rushing yards than the old Miami Dolphins Super Bowl Champion teams in 1972 and 1973.

 

With Tebow as starting quarterback, Denver has averaged 200 rushing yards per game on 40 attempts for a 5.0 average per rush.  The 1972 Dolphins averaged 211 rushing yards per game (with Larry Csonka and Mercury Morris both topping 1,000 yards rushing) on 44 attempts (4.8 avg. per rush).  The 1958 Cleveland Browns, with the greatest running back ever in Jim Brown, averaged 211 rushing yards per game on 40 attempts (5.3 avg per rush).

 

Let’s address some of the issues these so-called experts drag up every week.

 

1. You cannot win if you don’t have a top passing quarterback.

First of all, Tebow’s QB passer rating is 87.9.  That would place him 10th in the league if he had enough attempts to qualify.  He is ahead of Carson Palmer, Joe Flacco, Mark Sanchez, Cam Newton, Phillip Rivers, and Jay Cutler this season. 

 

Second, Tebow’s stats are not the liability experts believe them to be.  With him at QB, Coach John Fox has relied on longer passing plays, ala the old days of the American Football League.  Tebow’s numbers look like an old AFL quarterback’s stats.  He is completing 47.5% of his passes, which is about what Joe Namath completed.  He is averaging 14.1 yards per completion, which is what Namath and Daryle Lamonica averaged when the Jets and Raiders led the AFL in offense.  Best of all, Tebow has tossed 10 touchdown passes against just one interception, something that speaks more of Bart Starr at his peak with the Packers.

 

2. Tebow is going to get hit so many times, he will never withstand it and miss several games.

 

Tebow is 6-3 and 245 pounds, and he carries the ball about 10-12 times per game on average.  Arian Foster is 6-1 and 224 and carries the ball about twice that much.  Tebow stands just as much if not more chance of getting hurt standing back in the pocket than when he is on the move, and by being on the move, his momentum makes him more like Csonka and Brown, or like Joe Kapp or Tobin Rote, quarterbacks from the 1960’s that were known to throw their powerful bodies at smaller defensive backs.

 

Did the pundits of the day question Vince Lombardi when he moved quarterback Paul Hornung to running back and give him the ball 15 times a game? 

 

3. Defenses can stop this offense by putting 8 or 9 in the box.

 

All NFL teams put 8 or 9 in the box in short yardage situations and near the goalline, yet teams still convert for first downs and touchdowns.  Most teams have just one running threat, and defenses can key on that one back, and yet the backs frequently find success.

 

Denver has two and sometimes three backs that can threaten the defense on a play.  If the defense overreacts to the threat of the first runner, they could be burned if he is only being used as a fake.  Throw 8 or 9 defenders to the line and make the wrong move, and any back can burn a defense for a long gain. 

 

Also, when Tebow throws, he often goes deep or at least 5-10 yards longer than most teams go these days.  Just one long completion is enough to turn a game around.  Tebow may throw deep 5 or more times in a game, and if he completed just one, that usually will be enough to force defenses to put only 7 in the box.  Just the threat of the deep pass is enough in itself.  He may not be Aaron Rodgers, but he isn’t Jimmy Clausen either.

 

This new option offense being used by the Broncos may be so impossible to succeed in the NFL, that by next year, you could see two or three more teams trying it out.

 

The truth is that any offense that threatens to stretch the field horizontally and vertically has a chance to succeed if the blocking is good enough.  Yes, it is the offensive line that really determines how good an offense will be.  Tebow will succeed or not succeed based on how the five Horses up front perform.

 

Let us take a look at one other team from the past—the 1976 New England Patriots.  Coach Chuck Fairbanks had come to the NFL from Oklahoma, where he made the Sooners the most lethal running team of all time.  His 1971 team averaged over 470 yards rushing per game.  Prior to 1976, the Patriots had failed as a passing team with Jim Plunkett manning the controls.  Fairbanks turned to youthful Steve Grogan to pilot the Pat Attack.  He had Andy Johnson and Sam “Bam” Cunningham as his principle backs in a split backfield.  The Patriots surprised everyone by running to an 11-3-0 record and earning a wildcard berth.  They penned the only loss on the Raiders, blowing Oakland off the field 48-17.

 

In the playoffs, the Patriots faced the Raiders at Oakland in the opening round.  They led 21-10 at the start of the fourth quarter and were leading 21-17 late in the game when Oakland faced a crucial third and long.  Quarterback Ken Stabler dropped back to pass, and fired off target bringing up fourth and long—except, the referee tossed a flag.  He called a roughing the passer penalty on the Patriots and every camera on instant replay showed there was no roughing.  The penalty gave the Raiders a first down, and they scored the winning touchdown in the final moments. 

 

That Patriot team was good enough to win the Super Bowl.  They were definitely better than the Super Bowl Champion Raiders.  New England could not throw the ball at all.  Grogan’s passer rating was a paltry 60.6.  However, he could run the ball, and he averaged better than six yards per attempt.  Overall, the Pats rushed for 211 yards on 42 attempts (5.0 avg per carry).  They averaged only 125 passing yards per game, more than 25 yards less per game than the Broncos when Tebow starts.

 

PiRate Ratings For The Week

NFC East

PiRate

Mean

Biased

HFA

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Dallas Cowboys

102.2

103.1

104.5

3.5

7

5

0

283

244

New York Giants

101.6

100.5

102.7

2

6

6

0

287

315

Philadelphia Eagles

98.6

98.5

98.1

2.5

4

8

0

271

282

Washington Redskins

92.9

94.0

93.6

3

4

8

0

202

256

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC North

PiRate

Mean

Biased

HFA

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Green Bay Packers

113.3

112.3

109.3

3

12

0

0

420

262

Detroit Lions

102.0

104.9

102.3

2.5

7

5

0

333

277

Chicago Bears

95.5

95.1

99.0

4

7

5

0

291

242

Minnesota Vikings

94.3

94.5

91.6

4

2

10

0

246

330

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC South

PiRate

Mean

Biased

HFA

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

New Orleans Saints

109.8

108.7

106.4

5

9

3

0

393

269

Atlanta Falcons

104.9

104.0

105.6

2.5

7

5

0

269

244

Carolina Panthers

96.5

96.6

98.9

2

4

8

0

290

324

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

94.0

94.6

97.5

2

4

8

0

218

329

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC West

PiRate

Mean

Biased

HFA

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

San Francisco 49ers

106.0

106.6

104.9

3

10

2

0

288

161

Seattle Seahawks

98.2

98.9

96.9

3

5

7

0

216

246

Arizona Cardinals

97.5

96.4

100.3

2.5

5

7

0

232

269

St. Louis Rams

91.4

90.4

87.8

2.5

2

10

0

140

296

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC East

PiRate

Mean

Biased

HFA

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

New England Patriots

110.0

109.6

108.1

1.5

9

3

0

362

247

Miami Dolphins

104.7

104.1

104.4

4

4

8

0

246

220

New York Jets

103.6

103.7

100.5

3

7

5

0

290

260

Buffalo Bills

93.7

97.0

100.7

4

5

7

0

278

304

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC North

PiRate

Mean

Biased

HFA

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Pittsburgh Steelers

108.6

108.1

105.0

5

9

3

0

268

195

Baltimore Ravens

107.2

107.7

107.0

4

9

3

0

296

192

Cincinnati Bengals

98.2

98.9

102.5

1.5

7

5

0

266

250

Cleveland Browns

93.9

94.8

94.8

2.5

4

8

0

175

240

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC South

PiRate

Mean

Biased

HFA

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Houston Texans

102.0

101.3

101.6

1.5

9

3

0

310

189

Tennessee Titans

100.5

100.8

102.5

2

7

5

0

249

229

Jacksonville Jaguars

96.5

96.1

93.0

2.5

3

9

0

152

238

Indianapolis Colts

89.7

88.4

85.9

2.5

0

12

0

174

358

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC West

PiRate

Mean

Biased

HFA

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

San Diego Chargers

101.8

99.9

100.1

2.5

5

7

0

287

289

Denver Broncos

98.2

97.8

101.0

1.5

7

5

0

256

292

Oakland Raiders

98.1

99.2

99.9

1.5

7

5

0

274

308

Kansas City Chiefs

95.9

93.6

93.5

1

5

7

0

163

268

 

PiRate, Mean, and Biased Spreads For This Week

Home Team in CAPS

Vegas Line as of: Tuesday, December 06, 2011 @ 5:00 PM EST

 

Favorite Underdog

PiRate

Mean

Bias

Vegas

Totals

PITTSBURGH Cleveland

19.7

18.3

15.2

14   

39   

BALTIMORE Indianapolis

21.5

23.3

25.1

16 1/2

41   

Houston CINCINNATI

2.3

0.9

-2.4

-3   

37 1/2

GREEN BAY Oakland

18.2

16.1

12.4

11   

52 1/2

NEW YORK JETS Kansas City

10.7

13.1

10.0

9   

36 1/2

DETROIT Minnesota

10.2

12.9

13.2

7   

48 1/2

New Orleans TENNESSEE

7.3

5.9

1.9

4   

48 1/2

MIAMI Philadelphia

10.1

9.6

10.3

3   

44   

New England WASHINGTON

18.6

17.1

16.0

8   

48   

Atlanta CAROLINA

6.4

5.4

4.7

2 1/2

48   

JACKSONVILLE Tampa Bay

5.5

4.0

-2.0

-1   

37 ½

San Francisco ARIZONA

6.0

7.7

2.1

3 1/2

39 ½

DENVER Chicago

4.2

4.2

3.5

3 1/2

35 ½

SAN DIEGO Buffalo

10.6

5.4

1.9

6 1/2

47 ½

DALLAS New York Giants

4.1

6.1

5.3

3 1/2

49   

SEATTLE St. Louis

9.8

11.5

12.1

6 1/2

39 ½

 

This Week’s Playoff Projections

We have some changes in this week’s projection.  The Chicago Bears continue to slide with the loss of Jay Cutler and now Matt Forte.  We show the Bears missing out of the playoffs, and there will be a real dogfight for the final playoff berth in the NFC.  Once thought to be out of the race entirely, teams like Arizona and Seattle have something to play for, as 9-7 just might be good enough to finish with the final wildcard spot.  The Detroit Lions could also fall to 9-7, and this would throw both wildcard spots up for grabs.  For now, we will let the Lions keep one and give the other to the Falcons, even though they are limping along.  A 2-2 finish ought to be good enough for Atlanta.

 

In the AFC, we have made only a minor adjustment by moving Pittsburgh ahead of New England for the top spot.  We believe the Steelers have a great chance to win out and get homefield advantage.

 

A F C

1. Pittsburgh 13-3

2. New England 13-3

3. Houston 11-5

4. Denver 10-6

5. Baltimore 11-5

6. Cincinnati 11-5

 

N F C

1. Green Bay 16-0

2. San Francisco 13-3

3. New Orleans 13-3

4. Dallas 9-7

5. Detroit 9-7

6. Atlanta 9-7

 

Wildcard Round

Cincinnati over Houston

Denver over Baltimore

New Orleans over Detroit

Dallas over Atlanta

 

Divisional Round

Pittsburgh over Cincinnati

New England over Denver

Green Bay over Dallas

New Orleans over San Francisco

 

Conference Championships

Pittsburgh over New England

Green Bay over New Orleans

 

Super Bowl

Green Bay over Pittsburgh

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