Tuesday, January 29, 2013

NFL: Super Bowl Game Picks

Ravens @


  • The 49ers are the only team that has been to multiple Super Bowls and never lost. Of course, their last Super Bowl appearance was 18 years ago.

  • The 49ers and Ravens played last year, in the Thanksgiving late game. Alex Smith was sacked 9 times, and the 49ers had 97 penalty yards.

  • Everybody likes the 49ers. But the Ravens seem to be on a similar trajectory to last years Giants: they both had a pretty unremarkable regular season, squeaked into the playoffs, and then got on a hot streak.

  • And with a couple impressive road victories in the playoffs, the Ravens seem to have shaken whatever problems they had last year playing away from home.

  • The 49ers, on the other hand, haven't looked all that impressive away from Candlestick Park. 3 of their 4 losses have been on the road, including ugly breakdowns in Seattle and Minnesota.

  • Meanwhile, Joe Flacco has been playing his best football of the season, including throwing 8 touchdowns and no interceptions for a 115 passer rating. The 49ers easily have the toughest defense the Ravens have faced in the playoffs,

  • Given how the Ravens played in the regular season, it seems like an odd thing to say, but if the 49ers are to win the Super Bowl, they are going to have to do something the Colts, Broncos, and Patriots could not—slow down Joe Flacco, Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

NFL: A Brief History of the Playoffs by Team

Updated through 2013

TeamLast InLast WinLast in SB Last SB Win
Bills 1999 1995 1993
Browns 2002 1994
Raiders 2002 2002 2002 1983
Rams 2004 2004 2001 1999
Buccaneers 2007 2002 2002 2002
Jaguars 2007 2007
Dolphins 2008 2000 1984 1973
Titans 2008 2003 1999
Cowboys 2009 2009 1995 1995
Cardinals 2009 2009 2008
Jets 2010 2010 1968 1968
Bears 2010 2010 2006 1985
Lions 2011 1991
Steelers 2011 2010 2010 2008
Giants 2011 2011 2011 2011
Redskins 2012 2005 1991 1991
Vikings 2012 2009 1976
Texans 2012 2012
Falcons 2012 2012 1998
Ravens 2012 2012 2012 2012
Bengals 2013 1990 1988
Chiefs 2013 1994 1969 1969
Panthers 2013 2005 2003
Eagles 2013 2008 2004
Packers 2013 2012 2010 2010
Chargers 2013 2013 1994
Saints 2013 2013 2009 2009
Colts 2013 2013 2009 2006
Patriots 2013 2013 2011 2004
49ers 2013 2013 2012 1994
Broncos 2013 2013 2013 1998
Seahawks 2013 2013 2013 2013


  • The years specified are for the season. In most cases, the corresponding game took place in the following calendar year.

  • The last time the Chiefs won a playoff game, Joe Montana was their starting quarterback.

  • The last time the Browns won a playoff game, Bill Bellichick was their head coach. They beat the Patriots.

  • Since winning Super Bowl XXVI, the Redskins have won 3 playoff games.

  • Since winning Super Bowl XXX, the Cowboys have won 2 playoff games.

  • Since winning Super Bowl XXXVII, the Buccaneers have gone 0-2 in the playoffs. Since losing Super Bowl XXXVII, the Raiders have not had a winning season, and only made it to 8 wins twice.

  • The Broncos have won two playoff games since John Elway retired. The Dolphins have won one playoff game since Dan Marino retired. The Bills have not won any playoff games since Jim Kelly retired.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

NFL: Quarterbacks who run

So I'm still obsessing a bit over the way the Packers' D got smoked by Colin Kaepernick in the playoffs. And also motivated by the talk that the run-option offense is going to be the "next big thing" in the NFL. The run-option may be a new wrinkle, but quarterbacks who can run the ball have been around for a long time. Here is a list of quarterbacks who have at least 10 games with 40 or more rushing yards:

PlayerFromTo40-yard gamesTeams
Jeff Hostetler 1985199710Giants, Raiders, Redskins
Jeff Blake 1992200510Jets, Bengals, Saints, Ravens, Cardinals, Eagles, Bears
Tim Tebow 2010201210Broncos, Jets
Robert Griffin III 2012201210 Redskins
Doug Flutie 1986200511Bears, Patriots, Bills, Chargers
Rich Gannon 1987200411Vikings, Redskins, Chiefs, Raiders
Steve Grogan 1975199012Patriots
Jim Zorn 1976198712Seahawks, Packers, Buccaneers
Roger Staubach 1969197913Cowboys
Terry Bradshaw 1970198313Steelers
Jim Harbaugh 1987200014Bears, Colts, Ravens, Chargers
David Garrard 2002201014Jaguars
Vince Young 2006201114Titans, Eagles
John Elway 1983199817Broncos
Mark Brunell 1994201118Packers, Jaguars, Redskins, Saints, Jets
Cam Newton 2011201218Panthers
Jeff Garcia 199920111949ers, Browns, Lions, Eagles, Buccaneers, Texans
Greg Landry 1968198424Lions, Colts, Bears
Fran Tarkenton 1961197825Vikings, Giants
Donovan McNabb 1999201126Eagles, Redskins, Vikings
Kordell Stewart 1995200527Steelers, Bears, Ravens
Bobby Douglass 1969197828Bears, Chargers, Saints, Packers
Daunte Culpepper 1999200928Vikings, Dolphins, Raiders, Lions
Steve McNair 1995200733Oilers, Titans, Ravens
Steve Young 1985199948Buccaneers, 49ers
Randall Cunningham 1985200158Eagles, Vikings, Cowboys, Ravens
Michael Vick 2001201260Falcons, Eagles


  • These counts include regular season and playoff games.

  • Yeah, that's the same Jim Zorn that was head coach of the Redskins 2008-2009. And the same Jim Harbaugh who is head coach of the 49ers.

  • TIL the Falcons had a DB named Cam Newton 2005-2006.

  • In spite of his reputation for running, Aaron Rodgers only has 6 40+ yard rushing games.

  • One of the biggest problems with having a quarterback who is also a threat to run is injuries. Just to my own personal knowledge, Steve Young, McNabb, Culpepper, McNair, Vick, and of course RG3 have all suffered significant injuries while running the ball.

  • Although Cam Newton, with a full slate of starts in his first two seasons, seems to have bucked that trend, at least for now.

Monday, January 21, 2013

NFL: Championship Pick Results

Winning team in bold.

49ers (APR, SRS, Line) @ Falcons
The good news for the Falcons is the 49ers didn't make this an early run-away. The bad news is, no matter how good you are at game-winning drives, sooner or later letting a lead slip away, and needing a score to retake the lead is going to turn out poorly.
The Falcons seemed to make a habit this season of scoring a lot in the first half, and then coasting in the second. This isn't a problem when your opponent is the Eagles or Chargers, but when it's the 49ers, and your halftime lead is just 10 points, that's asking for trouble.
Ravens @ Patriots (APR, SRS, Line)
The Patrtiots looked really flat in this game. They had one of their lowest-scoring first halves of the season, and their lowest scoring game overall. They had 4 trips into the red zone, with just one touchdown as a result.
It seems to me a big part of the Patriots' problem in this game was coaching. At the end of the first half, if they had used their time out earlier, they would've had one, and maybe two chances at a touchdown. Instead, they let the clock wind down and were forced to take a field goal on second down.
The Patriots also didn't seem to adopt to the windy conditions. In spite of the fact that they did better running the ball than the Ravens (3.9 ypc vs. 3.7), the Patriots passed the ball 54 times (25 of which were incomplete, including 2 interceptions).


APR 1-1 6-460%
SRS 1-1 7-370%
Line 1-1 8-280%

Sunday, January 20, 2013

NFL: Championship Power Rankings

W-LThis Week
1 (↑2)Broncos1.0668
(LW × 1.0199)
2 (↓1)Seahawks1.0600
(LW × 0.9924)
3 (↓1)49ers1.0527
(LW × 0.9967)
13-4-1Won by 4
@ Falcons
4 (↑1)Ravens1.0308
(LW × 1.0560)
13-6Won by 15
@ Patriots
5 (↑2)Redskins0.9787
(LW × 1.0131)
6 (↑2)Bengals0.9778
(LW × 1.0141)
7 (↓3)Patriots0.9711
(LW × 0.9425)
13-5Lost by 15
vs Ravens
8 (↓2)Packers0.9663
(LW × 0.9941)
9 (-)Falcons0.9585
(LW × 0.9983)
14-4Lost by 4
vs 49ers
10 (↑2)Giants0.9390
(LW × 1.0123)
11 (-)Panthers0.9351
(LW × 1.0078)
12 (↓2)Vikings0.9282
(LW × 0.9928)
13 (-)Saints0.9158
(LW × 1.0058)
14 (↑1)Steelers0.9105
(LW × 1.0210)
15 (↓1)Bears0.9031
(LW × 0.9930)
16 (-)Cowboys0.8943
(LW × 1.0112)
17 (-)Rams0.8745
(LW × 0.9891)
18 (-)Texans0.8663
(LW × 0.9837)
19 (-)Colts0.8644
(LW × 0.9928)
20 (-)Buccaneers0.8539
(LW × 1.0045)
21 (↑1)Chargers0.8538
(LW × 1.0138)
22 (↓1)Dolphins0.8309
(LW × 0.9783)
23 (-)Browns0.8304
(LW × 1.0173)
24 (-)Bills0.7913
(LW × 0.9822)
25 (-)Lions0.7758
(LW × 0.9925)
26 (-)Titans0.7710
(LW × 0.9878)
27 (↑2)Raiders0.7707
(LW × 1.0140)
28 (↓1)Jets0.7669
(LW × 0.9833)
29 (↓1)Cardinals0.7563
(LW × 0.9923)
30 (-)Eagles0.7434
(LW × 1.0088)
31 (-)Chiefs0.7186
(LW × 1.0125)
32 (-)Jaguars0.6624
(LW × 0.9825)


  • The Broncos reclaim the lead, thanks to the indirect power of having recently played the Ravens. Note the Bengals and Giants also both move up 2 spots.

  • This is the first time since the 1997 season that both home teams lost in the Championship round.

  • This is the third season in a row a 4th-seeded or lower team has advanced to the Super Bowl.

  • The 49ers win makes them 2-5 in their last 7 Conference Championships. Overall, this is just the 2nd time they've won on the road.

  • Both losing teams had a lead at halftime, and both were shut out in the second half.

  • So, Harbaugh vs. Harbaugh? Yeah, we're going to hear a lot about that in the next two weeks.

Friday, January 18, 2013

NFL: New overtime rules are a solution in search of a problem

In the 2009 NFC Championship game, the Vikings (for the most part) outplayed the Saints. But the Saints managed to force overtime, and on their opening drive, got into field goal range and kicked the winning field goal.

The problem, of course, was that the Vikings turned the ball over 5 times, and let the Saints stay in the game. The conclusion of much of the football media was different—that the Saints final score in overtime was too easy, and the Vikings should've had a chance to respond.

In response, starting with the 2010 season, the NFL implemented a new overtime rule for the playoffs. Instead of the usual sudden-death "first team to score wins" scheme, the rules were modified so that both teams would (usually) have a chance to possess the ball.

None of the 2010 playoff games went to overtime, and in 2011 season, only one playoff game that went to overtime, and that game happened to hit one of the exceptions to the "opportunity to possess" rule—if a team scores a touchdown on the opening drive, the game is over.

In 2012, the "opportunity to possess" rule was expanded to regular season games. 22 games went to overtime in the 2012 regular season. Here's how the results broke down:

Opening drive# GamesConsequence
Touchdown3Game over
No score15Sudden death rules
Field goal4Other team gets "opportunity to possess"

In 3 of the 4 cases where a field goal was scored on the opening drive, the other team was unable to respond. That leaves exactly one case where the new "opportunity to possess" rules resulted in a second score (but the first team to score won anyway).

It's only been one season, and maybe things will change when players and coaches get used to the new rules, but for now there's really no evidence that the new overtime rules have solved a problem that actually exists in the field of play.


Here are all the playoff games where Brett Favre's final play from scrimmage was an intercepted pass in a tied game:

This was also not the first time Favre had serious turnover trouble in a playoff game.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

NFL Championship: Game Picks

49ers @
Ravens @


  • As noted earlier, the Falcons have not played well from behind this year. They are 1-3 when they fall behind by more than 7 points (and that figure would be 0-4, if the Cardinals had any kind of offense at all).

    So the question for this game is, which 49ers team will show up on game day—the team that strapped a season-high 45 points on the Packers, or the team that couldn't do anything right when they played the Seahawks in week 16?

  • For the AFC side, this feels like a game that could be a lot closer than its 9-point line would indicate. The Pariots and Ravens played to a 1-point decision in their week 3 matchup, and the Ravens came within a missed field goal of forcing overtime in last year's AFC Championship game.

    The Ravens have had some impressive offensive games, scoring 33 points on the Giants in week 16, and scoring 38 points on the Broncos last week. If they can keep that offensive momentum going, the Patriots may find themselves in a game where they need to score early and often just to keep up.

Monday, January 14, 2013

NFL Divisional Round: Pick Results

Winning team in bold.

Ravens @ Broncos (APR, SRS, Line)
Peyton Manning didn't have a great day in this game. An early interception was returned for a touchdown, and a late one set up the Ravens for the game-winning field goal. Except for a couple return touchdowns scored by the Broncos' special teams, this game would've been even uglier.
But perhaps the real problem for the Broncos was their defense. They made the Ravens' unremarkable offense look like world-beaters. Joe Flacco passed for 300 yards and 3 touchdowns, Ray Rice rushed for 131 yards and another touchdown, and the Broncos lost a home playoff game in spite of scoring 35 points.
Packers @ 49ers (APR, SRS, Line)
As I indicated in the game picks, the Packers' defense needed to step up in this game. For the first half, they had some successes (a pick 6 and two forced punts), but also some failures (the 49ers scored 24 first-half points). Things got very ugly in the second half. While the Packers offense struggled to move the ball, the 49ers drove with ease, Colin Kaepernick ran all over them, and the 49ers scored 21 unanswered points to put the game well out of reach.
Seahawks (APR, SRS) @ Falcons (Line)
The Seahawks had another slow start in this game, falling behind 20-0 by halftime. Like the wildcard round, they seemed to wake up, and managed to go on a run, outscoring the Falcons 28-7 through most of the second half. But that gave them just a 1-point lead, and they left the Falcons enough time to drive into field goal range and score a game-winning field goal.
Whatever faults the Falcons may have, they are used to playing (and winning) games that are close and come down to the final moments of the 4th quarter.
Texans @ Patriots (APR, SRS, Line)
This was pretty much a replay of their week 14 meeting. The Texans' offense couldn't move the ball on the Patriots defense (they didn't have a drive go more than 50 yards until the 3rd quarter).
The Texans' defense slowed down the Patriots offense for a while, keeping it just a 4-point game at halftime, but in the second half, while the Texans struggled to move the ball, the Patriots reeled off 3 touchdowns in 4 drives that put the game away.


APR 2-2 5-362.5%
SRS 2-2 6-275%
Line 3-1 7-182.5%

Sunday, January 13, 2013

NFL Divisional Round Power Rankings

W-LThis Week
1 (↑1)Seahawks1.0680
(LW × 0.9967)
12-6Lost by 2
@ Falcons
2 (↑1)49ers1.0561
(LW × 1.0239)
12-4-1Won by 14
vs Packers
3 (↓2)Broncos1.0460
(LW × 0.9698)
13-4Lost by 3
vs Ravens
4 (-)Patriots1.0304
(LW × 0.9998)
13-4Won by 13
vs Texans
5 (↑3)Ravens0.9762
(LW × 1.0283)
12-6Won by 3
@ Broncos
6 (↓1)Packers0.9721
(LW × 0.9752)
12-6Lost by 14
@ 49ers
7 (-)Redskins0.9660
(LW × 1.0048)
8 (↓2)Bengals0.9642
(LW × 1.0009)
9 (↑1)Falcons0.9601
(LW × 1.0234)
14-3Won by 2
vs Seahawks
10 (↓1)Vikings0.9349
(LW × 0.9884)
11 (-)Panthers0.9279
(LW × 0.9999)
12 (-)Giants0.9276
(LW × 1.0060)
13 (↑1)Saints0.9105
(LW × 1.0061)
14 (↓1)Bears0.9094
(LW × 0.9938)
15 (↑1)Steelers0.8917
(LW × 1.0055)
16 (↑2)Cowboys0.8844
(LW × 1.0047)
17 (-)Rams0.8841
(LW × 1.0011)
18 (↓3)Texans0.8807
(LW × 0.9867)
13-5Lost by 13
@ Patriots
19 (-)Colts0.8708
(LW × 0.9966)
20 (↑1)Buccaneers0.8501
(LW × 1.0017)
21 (↓1)Dolphins0.8493
(LW × 0.9998)
22 (-)Chargers0.8422
(LW × 0.9986)
23 (-)Browns0.8163
(LW × 0.9997)
24 (-)Bills0.8056
(LW × 0.9974)
25 (-)Lions0.7817
(LW × 0.9932)
26 (-)Titans0.7805
(LW × 0.9926)
27 (-)Jets0.7800
(LW × 0.9976)
28 (↑1)Cardinals0.7621
(LW × 1.0014)
29 (↓1)Raiders0.7600
(LW × 0.9980)
30 (-)Eagles0.7369
(LW × 1.0038)
31 (-)Chiefs0.7097
(LW × 0.9932)
32 (-)Jaguars0.6742
(LW × 0.9942)


  • The Seahawks lose some power this week, but not much due to a close loss on the road. The Broncos fall a lot more, and the 49ers can't move above them, so the Seahawks back into the top spot in the rankings.

  • Peyton Manning now has 8 one-and-done playoff appearances.

  • The Seahawks are the only losing team this week that didn't score first.

  • APR is really not impressed with the Texans' season. But (counting the playoffs) they finished 2-3 in their last 5 games, with every loss by at least 12 points.

  • The Falcons are now the lowest-ranked playoff team still alive in the playoffs. And given the way they let a 20-point lead slip away on Sunday, and needed a last-second field goal to secure a win, I think their chances of advancing to the Super Bowl are pretty slim.

Friday, January 11, 2013

NFL Wrapup: APR's biggest upsets of 2012

Dishonorable Mention: games that just missed the top 10

  • Week 17: The Texans need one more win to clinch the AFC's top seed, but are denied by the nothing-to-play-for Colts.

  • Week 6: The Bengals couldn't run the ball, and Andy Dalton threw 3 interceptions, giving the Browns their first win of the season.

  • Week 4: The Seahawks only score 13 points, and 3 interceptions give the Rams enough to give them their second road loss.

  • Week 13: The 49ers travel to St. Louis, offensive mistakes spot the Rams 10 points, giving the Rams an opportunity to kick a late field goal in overtime. The Rams finished 4-1-1 in their division.

  • Week 5: The Packers build a 21-3 lead over the Colts, but then somehow get outscored 27-6 in the second half. Only the Chargers in week 6 had a bigger second-half collapse this season.

APR's Top 10 Upsets of the 2012 Season

  1. Week 3: Steelers 31, Raiders 34 (ρ=1.1726)
    The Steelers had problems on both sides of the ball this season, including allowing the Raiders to score a season-high 34 points on their defense. The Steelers were 2-6 in 2012 when they allowed 20 or more points.

  1. Week 12: Seahawks 21, Dolphins 24 (ρ=1.1900)
    A bad day for the Seahawks on both sides of the ball. They allowed the Dolphins' offense to have one of their best games of the season, and their offense only scored 21 points on a defense that gave up 23 or more points 8 times this year.

  1. Week 3: Jaguars 22, Colts 17 (ρ= 1.1930)
    The Colts had a pretty tough start to the season, including this loss to the Jaguars. In fairness, the Jaguars are a lot better when Maurice Jones-Drew can play.

  1. Week 2: Ravens 23, Eagles 24 (ρ= 1.2047)
    The Ravens' defense has had some bad games this season, perhaps none worse than this one, where they allowed the Eagles 24 points in spite of 4 turnovers.

  1. Week 8: Seahawks 24, Lions 28 (ρ= 1.2172)
    More evidence that the Seahawks just aren't as good a team away from their home stadium. In a situation where one more stop might've won the game, their defense allowed the Lions to drive the length of the field, score a go-ahead touchdown, and use virtually all of the remaining game time.

  1. Week 4: Giants 17, Eagles 19 (ρ=1.2222)
    The Eagles had probably their best game of the season. Only one touchdown, but no turnovers, 422 yards of offense, and their defense held the Giants to just 17 points. If the rest of the Eagles' season had gone this way, Andy Reid would still be coaching in Philadelphia.

  1. Week 2: Cardinals 20, Patriots 18 (ρ=1.2365)
    The Cardinals had a good defense, and occasionally made plays on special teams. In this game, the result was a perfect storm of things going wrong for the Patriots—for drive after drive, their offense stalled short of the endzone, Brady had a pass tipped and intercepted, the Patriots' special teams had a punt blocked, and a last-second field goal try went wide left.

  1. Week 1: Seahawks 16, Cardinals 20 (ρ=1.2376)
    To be fair to the Cardinals, Kevin Kolb was a serviceable quarterback, and the Cardinals were a much, much better team than when they played with any of his backups.

  1. Week 13: Panthers 21, Chiefs 27 (ρ=1.2896)
    The Panthers lost a lot of games this season because their defense couldn't stop their opponents. In this game, they allowed the Chiefs to score a season-high 27 points, and didn't get a single turnover from an offense that had 37 on the season.

  1. Week 3: Chiefs 27, Saints 24 (ρ= 1.2913)
    The Saints claim the top spot on this list for the fourth year in a row. The Saints had a 24-6 lead with less than 6 minutes to play in the 3rd quarter. All they needed to do is control the ball, run out the clock, and maybe get one more insurance score. Instead, the defense gave up a touchdown and 3 field goals, the offense gave up a critical safety, and the Chiefs managed to score 21 unanswered points to win the game in overtime.

The top two upsets qualify for spots on APR's top 25 regular season upsets. They would both go between #14 (1979 Falcons @ Chargers) and #15 (2009 Eagles @ Raiders). It's a measure of just how bad the Chiefs were this season that it introduces to the list the first two upset teams that finished with losing records.

Eliminated Games

  • Week 17: Buccaneers 22, Falcons 17 (ρ=1.1753)
    I will give the Falcons the benefit of the doubt here, that they just weren't playing as hard as they would if they had anything to gain by winning this game.

Biggest Upsets According to the Line

Winning teams in bold. Teams favored by 10 or more points were 25-1-1 this year.

5Packers 27, Colts 30 Packers -7
17Texans 16, Colts 28 Texans -7
14Chargers 34, Steelers 24 Steelers -7
1349ers 13, Rams 16 49ers -7
349ers 13, Vikings 24 49ers -7½
14Eagles 23, Buccaneers 21 Buccaneers -7½
3Chiefs 27, Saints 24 Saints -8½
16Vikings 23, Texans 6 Texans -9
13Steelers 13, Ravens 10 Ravens -9
1Redskins 40, Saints 32 Saints -9½
2Cardinals 20, Patriots 18 Patriots -14

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

NFL Divisional Round Picks

Texans @
Seahawks @
Ravens @
Packers @


  • The Line likes all the home teams. In the 42 divisional rounds played since the merger, all 4 home teams have won 9 times (21.4%). This happened most recently in 2004. Probably not coincidentally, home teams in the wildcard round that year were 1-3.

  • If the Patriots win this week, it will be the first time a team lost the Super Bowl, and then advanced to the Championship round the following season, since the Bills did it in 1993 (and 1992, and 1991).

  • Seahawks @ Falcons is the only game this week that is not a rematch of a regular season game.

  • Once again, I think a Seahawks win will depend on them scoring early and often. A low-scoring game that's close in the 4th quarter benefits the way the Falcons like to play. But as noted earlier, the Falcons get into trouble when they fall behind to a team that can slow down the game.

  • In their week 1 matchup, the Packers' defense had a very poor game against the 49ers' offense. They didn't force a second punt until the end of the 3rd quarter, and by that time the Packers were behind 23-7. A season's worth of experience should help the Packers there.

    On the other hand, the Packers' offense has had a lot of slow starts (their opponent has scored first 9 times this season, including the wildcard game last Saturday). Whatever else happens, the Packers' defense will certainly need to force more than one punt in the first 3 quarters if they are to have a chance to win this game.

Monday, January 7, 2013

NFL Wildcard: Pick Results

Winning team in bold.

Bengals (APR) @ Texans (SRS, Line)
This game went like a lot of other Bengals' losses this season. A.J. Green and Jermaine Gresham were contained, and the Bengals didn't have anyone else who could step up and make a difference. As a result, the Bengals had 127 yards passing, 80 yards rushing, and 3 field goals (as well as a pick 6) on the scoreboard. It really didn't take much for the Texans to overcome that.
Vikings @ Packers (APR, SRS, Line)
The Vikings were forced to start their backup quarterback Joe Webb. For their first drive, it looked like they had a pretty good strategy: hand offs to Adrian Peterson, and quarterback options. They managed to drive 53 yards down the field with just one pass on the whole drive.
After that, the Vikings started calling a lot more pass plays, and at least in this game, Joe Webb was not ready to pass the ball. He had a 37% completion rate and 180 yards (and a lot of that came in garbage time).
Of course, a big part of the reason the passing game was a problem for the Vikings is that the Packers' defense, for the first time this season, managed to contain Adrian Peterson. He was held under 100 yards, and (again, until late in garbage time) well under 4 yards per carry. Even when Christian Ponder is playing, the Vikings' offense is very limited when their running game is contained.
Colts @ Ravens (APR, SRS, Line)
Andrew Luck had a pretty good rookie season, leading the Colts to a 11-5 record and a playoff berth. But if you look at his passing stats, there are a couple things that stand out: a completion rate of 54% is pretty low, and 18 interceptions is pretty high, especially for only 23 touchdowns.
The Ravens' defense made sure both problems were on display in this game: Luck had a 52% completion rate, no touchdowns, and one interception. Somehow the Colts managed to get into Vinatiere's field goal range three times anyway.
On the other side, the Ravens were able to take advantage of the Colts' unremarkable defense, putting up 269 yards passing and 172 yards rushing. With a defensive breakdown like that, The Colts' 9 points were never close to being enough.
Seahawks (APR, SRS, Line) @ Redskins
For one quarter, it sure looked like the Seahawks were in trouble. The Redskins offense came out and put together a couple long touchdown drives, while their defense held the Seahawks to a punt and a field goal.
Unfortunately, after that Robert Griffin III appeared to be injured, and was certainly ineffective. The Redskins' offense didn't have a drive longer than 23 yards the rest of the game, and never came close to scoring again.
The Seahawks' offense didn't look that great against the Redskins' defense, but with the Redskins' offense struggling for most of the game, they didn't need a lot of production to seal a win.


APR 3-1 3-175%
SRS 4-0 4-0100%
Line 4-0 4-0100%

Sunday, January 6, 2013

NFL Wild Card: Power Rankings

W-LThis Week
1 (-)Broncos1.0785
(LW × 1.0071)
2 (-)Seahawks1.0715
(LW × 1.0401)
12-5Won by 10
@ Redskins
3 (↑1)49ers1.0315
(LW × 1.0137)
4 (↓1)Patriots1.0306
(LW × 1.0062)
5 (-)Packers0.9968
(LW × 1.0348)
12-5Won by 14
vs Vikings
6 (↑1)Bengals0.9633
(LW × 1.0053)
10-7Lost by 6
@ Texans
7 (↓1)Redskins0.9614
(LW × 1.0021)
10-7Lost by 10
vs Seahawks
8 (↑3)Ravens0.9493
(LW × 1.0297)
11-6Won by 15
vs Colts
9 (↓1)Vikings0.9459
(LW × 1.0059)
10-7Lost by 14
@ Packers
10 (↓1)Falcons0.9381
(LW × 1.0062)
11 (↓1)Panthers0.9279
(LW × 1.0053)
12 (-)Giants0.9221
(LW × 1.0099)
13 (-)Bears0.9151
(LW × 1.0140)
14 (-)Saints0.9050
(LW × 1.0060)
15 (↑1)Texans0.8925
(LW × 1.0102)
13-4Won by 6
vs Bengals
16 (↑1)Steelers0.8869
(LW × 1.0095)
17 (↑2)Rams0.8831
(LW × 1.0128)
18 (-)Cowboys0.8802
(LW × 1.0047)
19 (↓4)Colts0.8737
(LW × 0.9850)
11-6Lost by 15
@ Ravens
20 (↑1)Dolphins0.8495
(LW × 1.0081)
21 (↓1)Buccaneers0.8486
(LW × 1.0055)
22 (-)Chargers0.8433
(LW × 1.0078)
23 (-)Browns0.8166
(LW × 1.0063)
24 (-)Bills0.8077
(LW × 1.0080)
25 (↑1)Lions0.7871
(LW × 1.0119)
26 (↓1)Titans0.7863
(LW × 1.0056)
27 (-)Jets0.7819
(LW × 1.0088)
28 (-)Raiders0.7616
(LW × 1.0066)
29 (-)Cardinals0.7611
(LW × 1.0146)
30 (-)Eagles0.7342
(LW × 1.0044)
31 (-)Chiefs0.7146
(LW × 1.0035)
32 (-)Jaguars0.6781
(LW × 1.0055)


  • Not a lot of movement, in spite of the fact that only one game ended within one score.

  • The Texans continue APR's tradition of the lowest ranked playoff team winning their first game. Of course, the related tradition is an unceremonious exit in the divisional round.

  • Another good year for the home teams in the Wild Card round. In the 6 seasons From 2004 to 2010, there was only one year (2006) when more than two home teams won in the Wild Card round. Prior to that, at least 3 home teams won in the 11 season from 1993 to 2003.

  • The Ravens are the only winning team that didn't trail in their game this week. The Seahawks are the only team to trail by more than 3.

Friday, January 4, 2013

NFL Wrapup: Pythagorian Projection vs. Reality

As usual, the "Projected Wins" value is used as a baseline, so a positive difference means the team exceeded their projected win value, a negative difference means they fell short.

Teams are sorted by the magnatude (absolute value) of the difference; teams that came close to their projected wins are near the top, teams farthest away from their projection are at the bottom.

This is a follow-up to a post from last summer. See this post for background details.

TeamActual Proj. Diff Note
Browns  5 4.9 0.1
Patriots 12 11.6 0.4
Panthers  7 7.5 -0.5
Bills  6 6.6 -0.6
Cowboys  8 8.6 -0.6
49ers 11.5 12.3 -0.8
Packers 11 11.9 -0.9
Giants  9 7.9 1.1
Texans 12 10.9 1.1
Ravens 10 11.2 -1.2
Bengals 10 8.6 1.4
Dolphins  7 8.5 -1.5
Chargers  7 8.7 -1.7
Bears 10 8.3 1.7
Chiefs  2 4.0 -2.0
Cardinals  5 7.0 -2.0 Kevin Kolb can't stay healthy
Titans  6 8.2 -2.2 Jake Locker doesn't seem ready for prime time
Raiders  4 6.3 -2.3
Jets  6 8.4 -2.4 Revis hurt, and nobody to take up the slack
Seahawks 11 8.2 2.8 Russell Wilson, defense
Jaguars  2 5.2 -3.2 MJD hurt for most of season
Steelers  8 11.2 -3.2 Bruce Arians > Todd Haley?
Buccaneers  7 3.5 3.5
Falcons 13 9.3 3.7 Easy schedule?
Redskins 10 5.8 4.2 RG3
Vikings 10 5.5 4.5 Adrian Peterson's MVP season
Saints  7 12.1 -5.1 Sanctions take their toll
Rams  7.5 2.3 5.2 Jeff Fisher
Eagles  4 9.8 -5.8 Collapse of the Dream Team
Lions  4 9.9 -5.9 Lack of discipline
Broncos 13 5.8 7.2 Peyton Manning
Colts 11 3.3 7.7 Bruce Arians, Andrew Luck


  • Jeff Fisher did an impressive job in his first season with the Rams, managing to post their best record in 6 years, and a 4-1-1 record in the division. Of course, that means they'll be expected to have a winning record next year, something they haven't done since 2003.

  • The Bengals' win over the Giants was the start of a 7-1 streak that propelled them to a winning season and the playoffs. They now have back-to-back winning seasons and playoff appearances for the first time in 30 years. The Bengals last won a playoff game 22 years ago, so a win this Saturday will end the league's longest active streak without a playoff win.

  • It shouldn't be a huge surprise that a lack of discipline off the field for the Lions was reflected in a lack of performance on the field. The Lions did fire a few assistant coaches; I guess we'll find out next fall how much of a difference that makes.

  • I certainly nailed it when I predicted the Saints would fall short of their 12.1-win projection. The good news for that team is (assuming their offense remains strong) even a modest improvement in their defense will get the Saints right back in contention.

  • On the other hand, my prediction that the 49ers would fall short of their 12.3-win projection was, well, wrong. Mostly a very impressive season, especially given a pretty tough schedule. But I wonder how confident Jim Harbaugh can be going into the playoffs with a quarterback who doesn't have 8 starts yet, and his choice of two unreliable field goal kickers.

  • The Colts have managed a very impressive turn-around, with a lot of the credit going to Andrew Luck. But his stat lines haven't been very impressive, with a 54% completion rate, and nearly as many interceptions as touchdown passes. As mentioned earlier, I think there's a good chance Luck will struggle in the playoffs, and could have a noticable sophomore slump next year if the Colts have a tougher schedule of opponents.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

NFL Wildcard Picks

Bengals @
Seahawks @
Colts @
Vikings @


  • APR picks the Bengals to upset the Texans. Given the Texans are on an ugly 1-3 slump that cost them the #1 seed, a win at home is far from a sure thing.

  • Everybody likes the Seahawks. But they have road losses to the Cardinals, Rams, Lions, and Dolphins. On the other hand, the Redskins' defense has been pretty bad, so maybe the Seahawks can continue their high-scoring ways for at least one more game.

  • The Colts have to be pretty happy making the playoffs after such sweeping changes to their franchise. But they only have two road wins outside the division. A last-second come-back win over the can't-win-for-losing Lions, and a one touchdown win over the Chiefs that was close for the whole game.

    The Colts have given up a lot of points on the road (including 35 to the otherwise low-scoring Jets), so unless the Colts really come out hot, this game could be over early.

  • Packers -7½ seems like a big spread, given how the Vikings' offense shredded the Packers defense last week. Yeah, the rematch will be in Green Bay, but the Vikings are anything but a pushover when Adrian Peterson is running like he has been. And when Christian Ponder has a good game as well, the Vikings can be a very tough team to beat.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

NFL Week 17 APR vs. ESPN

What this is

A comparison of APR's Week 17 power rankings with ESPN's rankings for the same week of games. This acts as a sanity check (both ways) to see what teams are over- or underrated.

Only teams with the widest differential are listed. The number in parentheses is the difference between APR's rank and ESPN's rank.

Teams ESPN likes more than APR:

Colts (+8)
The Colts have 2 road wins outside the AFC South. Their playoff game on Sunday could be over by halftime.
Falcons (+7)
I assume ESPN gave the Falcons the benefit of the doubt for not putting away the Buccaneers (in spite of playing all their starters for the whole game). APR did not, dropping them 3 spots.
Texans (+7)
I'm not really sure how ESPN still has the Texans in their top 10. Their record, especially since the bye, is really unimpressive. Does anyone see this team making it to the AFC Championship game?
On the bubble
Nobody closer than Rams, Cowboys (+3)

Teams APR likes more than ESPN:

Panthers (-8)
APR gives the Panthers a 5-spot bump on their 6-point win over the Saints. They finished with a respectable 6-3 record. On the other hand, one of those 3 losses came at the hands of the Chiefs.
On the bubble
Nobody closer than the Saints (-5)