NFL Week 8 Predictions, Scam Newton and Writing Recap

It’s nearly November and most NFL teams are still an inconsistent mess, which makes it hard for predictions, but good for weekly coverage.

This Week’s Articles

Captain Comeback Week 7: Old vs. New, Eli Manning Upstages RGIII – Cold, Hard Football Facts

Random fact: all six quarterbacks to lead a game-winning drive this week are over the age of 30, which hasn’t happened since at least 1995. Yep. Another record for Eli Manning, CBS changes Tom Brady’s stats a week after I pointed out their interesting Week 6 graphic, and a list of Matt Hasselbeck’s game-winning/game-tying TD passes, which oddly slant heavily towards his brief time in Tennessee.

Eli Manning Has New York Giants Soaring Under the Radar Again – Bleacher Report

I rarely write a puff piece, but if I do, it’s going to have a lot of interesting data. This is on Eli Manning and the New York Giants, making note of how they have started 5-2 or better for nine straight seasons, tying the NFL record set by Dallas (1975-83).

I also took a step in the direction of quantifying the difficulty associated with fourth quarter comebacks by looking at Eli Manning’s 23 comeback wins and using win probability. Expect more on this in the future.

Following a Legend: Andrew Luck Week 7 vs. Cleveland Browns – Colts Authority

Luck had a career-low 35 drop backs this week, but the Colts went into a shell again after taking a 17-13 lead in the third quarter. Find out why Luck needs more shotgun in his diet.

Just What Is Going On With the AFC? – NBC Sports

The 2012 season will be the year we remember the NFC regaining control of the NFL as the dominant conference. NFC teams are 19-9 against the AFC so far this year, and have won three straight Super Bowls. Find out how they’ve swung back control, and a breakdown of all 16 AFC teams into their respectful tiers of quality.

The Thinking Man’s Guide: NFL Week 8 Predictions – Bleacher Report

This week’s previews include a look at Dick LeBeau’s 14-1 record vs. rookie quarterbacks since 2004, how impressive Andy Reid’s 13-0 record after a bye week really is, Josh Freeman’s lost comeback magic (which he did not need on Thursday), and expecting a career day statistically from Andrew Luck in Tennessee. Also the shortest Broncos/Saints preview out there.

More Scam than Superman: Cam Newton is NFL’s Worst QB in the Clutch – Cold, Hard Football Facts

Cam Newton can at least argue he is consistent, as his stats are very similar to this point last year, as is the 1-5 record. The other constant trend is his inability to close games at a historic rate, producing a 1-12 (.077) record at fourth quarter comeback opportunities. Here are the worst records I have been able to find so far (min. 10 attempts):

You cannot pretend to be Superman if all you ever do in the face of adversity is wilt under the pressure.

2012 NFL Week 8 Predictions

Why is it so hard to trust our gut? I knew Tampa Bay had the on-field advantages, but basically picked Minnesota since they had the better record and were the home team. 0-1 to start the week, which I have a feeling won’t be pretty after going 12-1 last week.

Winners in bold:

  • Panthers at Bears
  • Chargers at Browns
  • Seahawks at Lions
  • Jaguars at Packers
  • Dolphins at Jets
  • Falcons at Eagles
  • Redskins at Steelers
  • Patriots at Rams
  • Colts at Titans
  • Raiders at Chiefs
  • Giants at Cowboys
  • Saints at Broncos
  • 49ers at Cardinals

Bah, that’s a lot of road teams. Lions, Eagles and Cardinals win at home, is what my gut says, and I’m not listening again.

Season results:

  • Week 1: 12-4
  • Week 2: 11-5
  • Week 3: 4-12
  • Week 4: 10-5
  • Week 5: 10-4
  • Week 6: 5-9
  • Week 7: 12-1
  • Season: 64-40
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NFL Week 7 Predictions, Dick LeBeau and Writing Recap

That was a historic week. Peyton Manning set the new mark for fourth quarter comebacks, which only changed record holders for the third time since 1963, and I wrote eight articles totalling over 24,000 words.

Think I need a bye week.

This Week’s Articles

Captain Comeback Week 6: Matt Ryan Passes Tom Brady For Best Record in the Clutch – Cold, Hard Football Facts

While Manning and the Denver Broncos had the Drive of the Week, there was a rare (or at least they used to be) blown lead of two scores in the fourth quarter by the Patriots. With Tom Brady unable to answer, he was surpassed by Matt Ryan (19-11) for the best record in NFL history at 4Q/OT drives to win games.

Peyton Manning is the NFL’s All-Time Leader in Fourth Quarter Comeback Wins – Cold, Hard Football Facts

With 37 4th quarter comeback wins, Peyton Manning now has the NFL record. Of course in classic comeback semantics style, he was asked in the post-game conference the following question: “Did you know you passed, or tied Marino for the most fourth quarter comebacks?” You can’t make this stuff up, just as the Broncos can no longer claim Elway had 47 comebacks. The comeback king lives in Denver, and this time it’s valid.

NFL Rookie QBs Off to Unprecedented Start – NBC Sports

The 2012 season is the first time five rookie quarterbacks started in Week 1, and Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill, Brandon Weeden and Russell Wilson continue to hold onto their jobs. They are off to one of the most productive starts in NFL history for a rookie class. I understand the table is not displaying properly in this article, so here is a picture of it.

2012 NFL Season is the Year of the Kicker – Bleacher Report

Did you know through 91 games kickers were on pace for the greatest kicking season ever? They have made 326 of 372 field goals (87.63 percent), which would be a new NFL record. A crazy fact: the top nine seasons in NFL history for FG percentage are the last nine seasons (2004-12). Find out what could be causing this.

Following a Legend: Andrew Luck Week 6 at New York Jets – Colts Authority

The second career road game, much like the first, for Andrew Luck did not go so well. A look at every drop back.

The Thinking Man’s Guide: NFL Week 7 Predictions – Bleacher Report

This week we take a look at Seahawks/49ers, and already a correct prediction on the 49ers holding up at home in a low-scoring game. Also: Joe Flacco is a much different QB on the road, Eli’s revenge on Washington, and the Steelers’ recent struggles in prime time.

Captain’s Challenge: Your Answers to the Top 5 Quarterbacks in NFL History – Cold, Hard Football Facts

Here are some of your answers and feedback on the challenge of using one stat to reflect the best top 5 group of QBs in NFL history. I still think 4QC wins does the best job, but some interesting choices also came up.

Don’t Believe Hype with Steelers’ Defense – NBC Sports

Steelers’ CB Ike Taylor asked us to look at the facts, so I did. Not only has the defense been blowing leads in the fourth quarter with regularity since 2007, but this was a big problem in Dick LeBeau’s first run as defensive coordinator in Cincinnati (1984-91). They allowed 27 game-winning drives in that span, tied for most in the NFL. Since 2007 the Steelers have allowed 20 (tied-2nd), and a whopping nine of them came with less than 0:40 left in the game. It’s a career trend, as is the constant failure against the elite QBs in the game.

This is one that can get at least two follow-up articles, so I’m not done yet.

One thing I’ll point out right now is why I didn’t include LeBeau’s 2004-2006 tenure into the stats.

For one, I do have a space limit, and already went over more than I should have on this piece. Two, I feel the problem has grown since Mike Tomlin became the head coach (2007), and I also know the game has statistically changed since that season in terms of passing efficiency.

LeBeau’s defense works great…if you want to win the AFC Central in 1995. But against today’s pass-heavy offenses with multiple receiver sets and little care to the running game, it is a lot easier to pick up his blitzes and throw against his CB cushions. If the scheme was still really that signficantly great, then why is it so dependent on one player (Troy Polamalu) to be there? Without Polamalu this defense is one of the worst in NFL history at creating takeaways.

As for the 2004-2006 seasons, let’s do a quick review for notable games.

2004

Week 1 vs. Oakland – in his first game back, LeBeau’s defense squandered a 21-10 lead in the fourth quarter, with Rich Gannong throwing a 38-yard TD pass on 4th and 12. Ouch. Fortunately, the offense put together a game-winning drive, using up 4:30 of the final 4:36 on the clock in a 24-21 win.

Week 4 vs. Cincinnati – Down 21-17, Carson Palmer threw a pick six late to Troy Polamalu, in what may have been the first big impact play of Troy’s career.

Week 6 at Dallas – Down 24-20, Vinny Testaverde only had 0:25 left at his own 35, but was able to get the ball to the PIT 30 for one final play. The Hail Mary was broken up in the end zone.

Week 11 at Cincinnati – Up 17-14, the Steelers made four stops in the fourth quarter, including forcing a late safety when Palmer was called for intentional grounding in the end zone.

Week 13 at Jacksonville – The Jaguars went 62 yards for a field goal to take a 16-14 lead with 1:55 left. Roethlisberger led the game-winning drive, and Byron Leftwich only had 0:11 left. He would complete a 19-yard pass to Jimmy Smith, but Josh Scobee was wide right on the 60-yard FG.

Week 15 at NY Giants – After the offense took a 26-24 lead, the Steelers allowed a 52-yard TD drive by the young Eli Manning. Giants led 30-26, but Ben led another go-ahead drive. With 3:31 left Manning’s deep ball was intercepted, and the offense converted two third downs to run out the clock.

Week 17 at Buffalo – Playing their backups, the Steelers forced a fumble of Drew Bledsoe, and a young James Harrison returned it for a touchdown to take a 26-17 lead.

AFC Divisional vs. NY Jets – After the offense tied the game 17-17, the defense allowed the Jets to drive, but Doug Brien missed a 47-yard FG with 1:58 left. Roethlisberger threw a big pick, but Brien missed it again. The Jets converted a 3rd & 13 in OT, but a holding penalty stalled their drive. The Steelers drove for the GW FG.

2005

Week 3 vs. New England – Down 13-10 in the 4th, Tom Brady led the Patriots on a 86-yard TD drive. They went 59 yards to add a FG (20-13). Roethlisberger led a game-tying TD drive. With 1:14 left Brady found two quick, easy completions to running backs, and Adam Vinatieri made the 43-yard GW FG with 0:01 left. It was a 37-yard drive.

Week 5 at San Diego – Down 14-13, Drew Brees led the Chargers 62 yards for a FG to take a 16-14 lead. Roethlisberger got the lead back with a 3-play TD drive. The defense allowed an 11-play, 62-yard TD drive to give up the lead again. Fortunately they stopped the 2pt conversion. More fortunately, the Steelers drove for the game-winning FG with only 0:06 left, so Brees didn’t have a third chance.

Week 6 vs. Jacksonville – Defense made a few stops in a tied game, but Tommy Maddox threw a game-ending pick six in OT.

Week 8 vs. Baltimore – Anthony “Radio” Wright led three straight FG drives in the 4th quarter to turn a 17-10 deficit into a 19-17 lead for Baltimore. Roethlisberger led the go-ahead FG drive, and the defense finally stopped Wright on a 4th and 6.

Week 9 at Green Bay – Up 13-10, the Steelers forced a 3 and out and a pick of Brett Favre.

Week 11 at Baltimore – With Maddox struggling at QB again, the Ravens went on a 30-yard drive in OT that ended with Matt Stover’s 44-yd GW FG.

AFC Divisional at Indianapolis – Despite leading 21-3, the Colts went on TD drives of 72 and 80 yards in the 4th QT, plus a 2-point conversion to make it 21-18. Getting the ball back, the Colts went 4 and out after two sacks of Manning. Jerome Bettis shockingly coughed the ball up, and Roethlisberger tackled Nick Harper. Manning completed two passes for 30 yards before rookie Bryant McFadden prevented a Reggie Wayne TD. Mike Vanderjagt missed a 46-yard FG.

Super Bowl XL vs. Seattle – Down 14-10, Seattle drove from their own 2-yard line to complete a pass to the 1-yard line, but Sean Locklear was called for holding. Three plays later Matt Hasselbeck threw an interception and the Steelers all but put the game away on Randle El’s touchdown to Hines Ward.

2006

Week 1 vs. Miami – Up 21-17, this one was a good hold to start the season. The defense intercepted Daunte Culpepper twice, including a pick six by Joey Porter to ice the game.

Week 3 vs. Cincinnati – Two fumbles led to two Carson Palmer touchdown passes on short fields in a comeback win for the Bengals. While the fumbles were bad, there’s no reason to give up one-play TD drives of 9 and 30 yards. Hold them to a field goal at least once. This was the season-long problem with the 2006 Steelers. The offense would turn it over, and the defense would compound it by allowing instant points. A perfect example here.

Week 7 at Atlanta – An unexpected shootout, the Steelers tied the game late 38-38. Michael Vick drove the Falcons, but Morten Andersen was short on a 52-yard FG. In OT Andersen made the GW FG from 32 yards out on the only drive of OT. Key play was Vick converting a 3rd and 9 for 26 yards to Alge Crumpler.

Week 10 vs. New Orleans – Another shootout with Brees, the Steelers took a 38-24 lead. The Saints went 64 yards, scoring on a “fumblerooski” play. Brees was driving late for the tie, but Terrance Copper fumbled at the PIT 25 after a huge hit from Tyrone Carter. Steelers won 38-31.

Week 11 at Cleveland – One of Roethlisberger’s best comebacks. Down 13-3, he led the offense 87 yards for a TD. Josh Cribbs returned the kickoff for a TD (20-10). Ben led another TD drive, then another with 0:32 left. Charlie Frye only had 0:27 left, but moved the ball to the PIT 22. On his last chance, Braylon Edwards could not complete the catch in the end zone.

Week 17 at Cincinnati – This turned into a 4th QT shootout. Down 7-3, Palmer went 80 yards, completing a 66-yard TD to the late Chris Henry. The Steelers went 63 yards for a TD (14-10). The Bengals came right back with a 73-yard TD drive (17-14). Steelers tied with a FG (17-17). With 0:55 left at his own 33, Palmer would find Henry deep for 47 yards. Shayne Graham was wide right on a 39-yard FG with 0:08 left, or else the Bengals would have won, made the playoffs, and another GWD against this defense. Instead the Steelers get the ball in OT and Santonio Holmes goes 67 yards for the TD to give a disappointing season a nice finish.

What do we see? Some good, some bad, and more of the offense bailing out the defense at the end. Things were better then than they have been in recent years, but it’s not the lockdown defense the stats show in terms of how many points and yards they allow. No one cares how many yards you gave up if you blow it at the end of the game.

2012 NFL Week 7 Predictions

I had the 49ers, so I’m already four wins away from matching last week’s awful total.

Winners in bold:

  • Titans at Bills
  • Cowboys at Panthers
  • Ravens at Texans
  • Browns at Colts
  • Cardinals at Vikings
  • Redskins at Giants
  • Packers at Rams
  • Saints at Buccaneers
  • Jets at Patriots
  • Jaguars at Raiders
  • Steelers at Bengals
  • Lions at Bears

Season results:

  • Week 1: 12-4
  • Week 2: 11-5
  • Week 3: 4-12
  • Week 4: 10-5
  • Week 5: 10-4
  • Week 6: 5-9
  • Season: 52-39

Peyton Manning: Crowning the NFL’s New Comeback King

Finally, history has been made. After waiting years for Peyton Manning to just tie Dan Marino – and NEVER John Elway – with his 36th comeback win in the fourth quarter, it only took five more games for that record-setting 37th fourth quarter comeback win.

It came in epic fashion, as Manning completed his first 13 passes of the second half for the biggest single-game comeback of his career (24 points).

Fitting that the go-ahead score came on a great touchdown to Brandon Stokley, who caught the 49th touchdown pass (vs. San Diego) in 2004 in one of Manning’s other comeback wins. Thanks should also go out to Philip Rivers. Consider this payback for the 23-0 comeback in 2007 in San Diego that Manning should have had when Adam Vinatieri blew the late kick.

Two articles on Manning today:

Peyton Manning is the NFL’s All-Time Leader in Fourth Quarter Comeback Wins

Captain Comeback Week 6

Crown his ass: Peyton Manning, new NFL comeback king.

NFL Week 6 Predictions and Writing Recap

Remember when I did that article for Sports Illustrated? Well it came true again last night. Not that I care about baseball, but yet another regular season champion (Washington Nationals) has fallen, and again in epic fashion. Washington blew a 6-0 lead, which has never happened before in a winner-take-all game.

Since 2000, the teams with the best regular season record in the four leagues  have won eight of the 48 championships (16.7 percent). They’ve gone one-and-done 18 times (37.5 percent). Keep that in  mind before predicting a team like the 2012 Houston Texans to go the distance.

This Week’s Articles

Manning vs. Brady is the greatest – and  it doesn’t even matter – NBC Sports

Even though Peyton Manning and Tom Brady receive all the hype when they meet, the fact is the quarterback’s performances rarely decide The War of 1812. This is a career retrospective of the rivalry and what really decides the games. Hint: it’s because the New England Patriots have almost always had a better-coached, more complete team.

Captain Comeback Week 5: Colts Score Season’s Biggest Comeback – Cold, Hard Football Facts

The Colts came back from 21-3 down at halftime to shock Green Bay. Find out what Andrew Luck did that was so rare, and how it was another common disaster in the fourth quarter for the Packers. Also: Matt Ryan ties Ben Roethlisberger for the most game-winning drives (18) in a player’s first five seasons. Drew Brees becomes the 22nd QB to hit 20 fourth-quarter comeback wins. Advice for Kansas City fans. $cam Newton in picture form.

Andrew Luck’s Elite 2-Minute Drills Give Colts Fighting Chance – Bleacher Report

Rookies aren’t supposed to be this good in the hurry-up offense, but Andrew Luck has been dominant in giving the Colts an advantage at the end of each half. In three straight games he has put the Colts ahead in the final minute. See the historical rookie comparison to Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Ryan, Cam Newton and Peyton Manning.

Following a Legend: Andrew Luck Week 5 vs. Green Bay Packers – Colts Authority

A double-dip of Luck on Wednesday. This was the weekly column I have been doing, analyzing every drop back from Luck. He had 64 of them this week, ont including penalties, as the Colts set a record with 89 offensive snaps in a game. Check out how he did.

The Thinking Man’s Guide: NFL Week 6 Predictions – Bleacher Report

Eli Manning is Mr. October (24-5 record; best ever), but he will not pull it out in San Francisco this week. Though he just may be the most consistent QB in NFL history when you look at his road vs. home performance.

Also: Steelers predictably played poorly on the road, the lack of takeaways for three assumed contenders, and Philip Rivers does not own Peyton Manning despite the 4-1 record when they have met.

Captain’s Challenge: Name the 5 Best Quarterbacks of All Time – Cold, Hard Football Facts

SEND ME Y OUR FEEDBACK. Using just one stat, can you find a better group of the top 5 QBs in NFL history than the one produced by using fourth-quarter comeback wins: Dan Marino, Peyton Manning, Johnny Unitas, John Elway and Joe Montana? Good luck. Also included: the reason Captain Comeback is what it is every week.

2012 NFL Week 6 Predictions

I trusted the Steelers just enough to pick them, so I start the week 0-1.

Winners in bold:

  • Raiders at Falcons
  • Cowboys at Ravens
  • Bengals at Browns
  • Rams at Dolphins
  • Colts at Jets
  • Lions at Eagles
  • Chiefs at Buccaneers
  • Bills at Cardinals
  • Patriots at Seahawks
  • Giants at 49ers
  • Vikings at Redskins
  • Packers at Texans
  • Broncos at Chargers

Season results:

  • Week 1: 12-4
  • Week 2: 11-5
  • Week 3: 4-12
  • Week 4: 10-5
  • Week 5: 10-4
  • Season: 47-30

I have high expectations for some articles this week. Stay tuned.

NFL Week 5 Predictions and Writing Recap

The St. Louis Rams are over .500 for the first time in 71 months. I was 4-0 at picking the Rams’ games this year, and did like them on Thursday, but not enough to pull the trigger. Now the home team is 28-13 (.683) on Thursday Night Football since 2006.

This Week’s Articles

Captain Comeback Week 4: Matt Ryan’s MVP Effort Tops Big NFC Week – Cold, Hard Football Facts

The Falcons became the only team since 1981 to start a drive inside their own 10-yard line in the last 60 seconds and have a game-winning drive. That’s how exclusive this comeback was, which dropped Cam Newton to 1-10 in career comeback opportunities; the worst record in the league. Also: big NFC wins for Green Bay, Arizona, Washington, and Philadelphia.

Quarter-Season Review: Peyton Manning’s Transition with Denver Broncos – Bleacher Report

The Broncos may be a work-in-progress, but Peyton Manning is up to his old tricks. A review of Denver’s first four games, and it appears Manning picked up right where he left off in 2010.

The Thinking Man’s Guide to NFL Week 5 – Bleacher Report

Previewing Manning vs. Brady, the Keystone State battle, Rams’ opportunity to go over .500, and the Houston Texans are the 4th team to ever have a 20-point lead in their first four games of the season. A good chance for that one to continue when they play the Jets this week.

When Brees Passes Unitas, It’ll Be the Second Time – NBC Sports

Drew Brees is trying to break Johnny Unitas’ consecutive games with a TD pass record, but he already has Unitas beat 53-to-49 when you count the playoffs. Find out why other quarterbacks like Tom Brady, Brett Favre, Dan Marino, Peyton Manning, Joe Montana and Steve Young never broke this record.

NFL Offenses Facing 5-Year Downward Spiral on Third Down – Cold, Hard Football Facts

If current trends continue, this will be the 5th straight season league-wide conversion rates on third down decrease for the offense. A look at 3rd-down data from 1991-2012.

2012 NFL Week 5 Predictions

It might take a long time for the Browns to get their first win this season, but I think the Saints get their’s this week. Falcons and Texans should remain undefeated.

Winners in bold:

  • Dolphins at Bengals
  • Packers at Colts
  • Ravens at Chiefs
  • Browns at Giants
  • Eagles at Steelers
  • Falcons at Redskins
  • Seahawks at Panthers
  • Bears at Jaguars
  • Titans at Vikings
  • Broncos at Patriots
  • Bills at 49ers
  • Chargers at Saints
  • Texans at Jets

Season results:

  • Week 1: 12-4
  • Week 2: 11-5
  • Week 3: 4-12
  • Week 4: 10-5
  • Season: 37-26

Next week I will be back with the Andrew Luck “Following a Legend” series, and if things go well for him this weekend, perhaps a different article on another site about his season.