Crunching the Numbers: Week 9

Before I present the rankings for this week, I'd just like to say that I really do feel sorry for Andy Reid. In his last chance to prove his worth, the unit his team most relies upon gets entirely dismantled by injuries. I've never been one to use the injury excuse - if a team is well rounded and solidly built then they can overcome any injuries - but it certainly doesn't make it any easier on a coach when they happen. I think Reid still gets the overall blame for fielding a team with no depth on the offensive line and not being able to coach them to at the very least mediocrity, given all of this talent. And maybe that's what needed to happen - after all, it's easy to look good when luck is on your side. Maybe this is Andy Reid's true colors, and all of the success he had was just a smokescreen of a great defensive mind and enough stability in key positions. In any case, I think it's a foregone conclusion that this will be Reid's last year, no matter how the season turns out (call me presumptuous, but I don't think I've ever seen a team on its way to nowhere faster). And if that comes to pass, I sincerely hope that Andy is successful in his next coaching or life venture.

But enough of the soap box. Onto the rankings:

Rank Team Score Change
1 Chicago 32.933 +1
2 New England 28.918 -1
3 Houston 25.288 +1
4 New York Giants 21.838 -1
5 Atlanta 21.099 0
6 San Francisco 18.595 0
7 Tampa Bay 10.523 0
8 Green Bay 8.895 +1
9 Baltimore 6.491 +3
10 Pittsburgh 4.009 -2
11 Seattle 3.386 +2
12 Denver 2.718 -2
13 Miami 1.612 -2
14 San Diego 1.158 +3
15 Arizona -3.854 -1
16 Washington -4.227 0
17 Minnesota -8.466 -2
18 Detroit -8.488 +1
19 Cleveland -11.555 -1
20 New Orleans -12.799 +3
21 Carolina -13.810 +3
22 New York Jets -15.869 0
23 St. Louis -16.225 -2
24 Cincinnati -18.859 +1
25 Oakland -20.840 -5
26 Dallas -21.710 +1
27 Indianapolis -24.179 +2
28 Philadelphia -24.201 -2
29 Jacksonville -27.315 -1
30 Buffalo -27.633 +1
31 Tennessee -34.452 -1
32 Kansas City -48.474 0

Some thoughts and musings:

  • Forget the Falcons, the Bears are the class of the NFL. I know I've talked about them before, but I don't think I've ever seen a defense playing at such a high level. You have pundits arguing over whether or not the Bears are too reliant on their defense to be successful in the long term, and then Chicago just keeps on doing what they do. They're tied for first in fumble recoveries per game with 1.4 (New England) and are second in interception percentage (5.33, New York Giants).
  • Winning isn't everything. At least, in the short term it's not. Pittsburgh beat the Giants (despite the referees' best attempts at thwarting them) and still fell two places. Likewise, Denver also dropped two places while the team they beat - Cincinnati - moved up one. There is no mercy for an ugly win; this is the NFL, after all, not the NCAA.
  • Statistic of the Week. This week, we'll look at quarterbacks. I have my own formula for them which I am not claiming to be better or worse than the passer rating or ESPN's QBR. The number is derived by dividing the yards per pass attempt by the interception percentage, and then subtracting the fumbles lost per game. Obviously the quarterback isn't the only offensive player losing fumbles, but I needed that statistic somewhere and thought that place was the best fit. The list of usual suspects heads the list, with Tom Brady in the top spot followed by Aaron Rodgers and the incredibly efficient Matt Schaub. Right after them, however, is Josh Freeman, who is averaging almost eight yards per attempt and has an interception percentage under 2%. My advice to any team playing Tampa Bay would be to not take them lightly, although after the emergence of Doug Martin I don't think anyone is.

Eagles-Cowboys Preview
Once upon a time, this was one of the biggest games in the NFL season (Christmas 2006, anybody?). Now we have two pitiful excuses for teams - both with only three wins - who are likely to miss the playoffs this year. The Cowboys have probably been the better team on film considering how well they played the Falcons last week, but Tony Romo has just been too wildly inconsistent to make the team a real threat. Throw in a nonexistent ground game, and you have a 3-5 team. Let's see how they match up against the Eagles.

The Eagles will win because the Cowboys are basically their twin. Turnover-prone (-11 differential on the year) and with a low-scoring offense (18.8 points per game). Toss in the fact that the Eagles play their division relatively well and that they are playing at home, and that should be enough to get them the "W". Just like an election, this game will only decide which turd stinks less.

The Eagles will lose because they have no offensive line whatsoever. Rob Ryan is a good defensive coordinator and has an elite pass rusher in DeMarcus Ware. Football teams live and die by the dirty work in the trenches, and the Eagles are certainly NOT living (allowing 3.4 sacks per game). It's gotten so bad that even LeSean McCoy doesn't have enough time to break people's ankles. I have a feeling the rest of the season is going to look a lot like what we saw on Monday night.

This seems like the beginning of the end for Andy. A loss this week and we'll see the Eagles' media coverage turn to the draft and start rooting for a high pick that the next coach can start building with. Might as well start doing research on the rest of the offensive and defensive coordinators in the league.

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