NFL Week 17 Predictions, Playoff Teams and Writing Recap

Part of me wishes the NFL regular season was not ending today, while some part of me is ready to move on to the playoffs.

This Week’s Articles

Captain Comeback Week 16: Steelers’ Meltdown Complete – Cold, Hard Football Facts

Pittsburgh came up a drive short to beat the Bengals, who are headed to the playoffs for the second straight season after Ben Roethlisberger threw another late-game interception. At home, Roethlisberger was a perfect 40-0 when the Steelers allowed 17 points or less in his career. Elsewhere the Cowboys had another great comeback to force overtime, but the Saints came away with the win. Andrew Luck joined the list of 11 seasons in which a quarterback led 7 game-winning drives.

Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2012 Season in Review: Where Did It All Go Wrong? – Bleacher Report

An in-depth review of where it all went wrong for the 2012 Pittsburgh Steelers, starting with the offseason plan that failed, the lack of an offensive identity, and the identity fraud of a defense that can no longer get takeaways.

2yrTO

Following a Legend: Andrew Luck Week 16 at Kansas City Chiefs – Colts Authority

Andrew Luck led his 7th game-winning drive, the Colts overcame a record 352 rushing yards from the Chiefs in a win, and clinched a playoff spot at 10-5. Luck went 0/10 at one point in the second half, but as always, here is the play-by-play account of what really happened. Luck’s game-winning touchdown pass was his 4th this season, which is another rookie record.

The Thinking Man’s Guide: NFL Week 17 Predictions – Bleacher Report

This week we have the biggest game in Matt Schaub’s career, not the biggest game in Tony Romo’s, why Christian Ponder needs to be more of the MVP on Sunday if Minnesota wants to make the playoffs, and why a 2,000-yard season for Calvin Johnson would not be as impressive as it sounds.

It’s Do-Or-Die For Some in Week 17 – NBC Sports

A handy guide to what to watch for in Week 17, including playoff scenarios and NFL records on the line.

NFL’s New Overtime System Requires New Strategies for Coaches and Teams – Cold, Hard Football Facts

There have been 22 overtime games this season; the third most ever in one NFL season. With the new rules, combined with the kickoff rules increasing touchbacks, new strategies must be formed. Only 3/22 teams have taken the opening-drive kickoff for a touchdown, and it was always an 80-yard drive. A look at what might be the optimal strategy in the new OT, and it’s not the kind of gutsy decision-making you might have expected.

2012 NFL Week 17 Predictions

I always hate picking Week 17 games because of some teams treating it like preseason.

Winners in bold:

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

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
  • Week 8: 10-4
  • Week 9: 11-3
  • Week 10: 9-4-1
  • Week 11: 11-3
  • Week 12: 10-6
  • Week 13: 8-8
  • Week 14: 11-5
  • Week 15: 11-5
  • Week 16: 12-4
  • Season: 157-82-1 (.656)

With my final picks, here is the playoff field I’m predicting:

AFC

  • 1. Houston
  • 2. Denver
  • 3. New England
  • 4. Baltimore
  • 5. Indianapolis
  • 6. Cincinnati

NFC

  • 1. Atlanta
  • 2. Green Bay
  • 3. San Francisco
  • 4. Dallas
  • 5. Seattle
  • 6. Chicago
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NFL Week 16 Predictions, Adrian Peterson’s Dominance and Writing Recap

It will be a happy holidays as Jets/Titans didn’t go down as the last NFL game ever played.

This Week’s Articles

Captain Comeback Week 15: 49ers and Patriots Play NFL’s Game of the Year – Cold, Hard Football Facts

We only had five games to recap this week with a ton of blowouts on Separation Sunday, but at least we got the game of the year. San Francisco at New England was deserving of a monster recap, as we look at all the teams to come back from 28+ points, finding that only two of the seven have actually gone on to win the game. Also look at the teams who have come back from 21+ down in the fourth quarter and lost, which includes the Patriots three times now. Dallas and Pittsburgh also played an overtime thriller, and the Cowboys are on their biggest run of clutch wins in team history.

NFL Season Changes in a Day…Again – NBC Sports

The NFL is a week-to-week league, and after Sunday’s results, everything changed. Again. The biggest winners were San Francisco and Denver, as they now have the inside track to the No. 2 seed in each conference. Denver should be in Super Bowl or bust mode this season, as they may never have a better chance at a ring.

After Season of Blowouts, What Can We Expect from 2013 NFL Playoffs? – Bleacher Report

It is hard to define a marquee game during the regular season, but I found it even harder to find ones that were really competitive this season. It’s been a lot of blowouts, so what does that mean for the playoffs? A look at the previous five seasons.

Note: I still contend the title of the article should be 2012 and not 2013, but not everyone agrees.

Following a Legend: Andrew Luck Week 15 at Houston Texans – Colts Authority

J.J. Watt led a dominant attack against Andrew Luck and the Colts’ offense in a 29-17 win. Luck was pressured on a season-high 51.5 percent of his drop backs. In his last four games Luck has been pressured on 40.8 percent of his drop backs compared to 27.1 percent in the first 10 games. That explains the drop in offensive efficiency.

The Thinking Man’s Guide: NFL Week 16 Predictions – Bleacher Report

I thought this came out as the best edition of the year. A look at why the Bengals need to stop being the Bungles and take care of Pittsburgh. The stat of the year candidate on Adrian Peterson. He has seven runs of 50+ yards in his last seven games alone. That’s as many as the Houston Texans have ever had (174 games), and as many as the Colts and Patriots have combined for in their last 412 games.

AD

 Apocalypse Now: Chicago Bears and the NFL’s Greatest Second-Half Collapses – Cold, Hard Football Facts

The Bears are who we thought they were, or are they? Once 7-1, the Bears are hoping to avoid becoming the fourth team since 1978 to start 7-1 and miss the playoffs. Included is a look at why the Bears have faltered, and which company they could be joining should they complete one of the NFL’s greatest second-half collapses. Anyone remember the 1993 Miami Dolphins or 1996 Washington Redskins?

2012 NFL Week 16 Predictions

The week is about to soon start with the Falcons/Lions, so let me make sure I get this in on time.

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

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
  • Week 8: 10-4
  • Week 9: 11-3
  • Week 10: 9-4-1
  • Week 11: 11-3
  • Week 12: 10-6
  • Week 13: 8-8
  • Week 14: 11-5
  • Week 15: 11-5
  • Season: 145-78-1 (.650)

Finally, here’s a holiday flashback to a year ago, when I wrote “The Night Before Christmas” as told by Joe Namath (Jets Edition). It is still topical enough, and I especially like this part about Mark Sanchez:

“I can’t win with him anymore, can’t you see?”
Well that’s obvious, but what did he want with me?
I couldn’t coach the kid to play quarterback right,
Look at my stats; they’re one hell of a sight!

Suddenly a gunshot rang through the air
It rattled my heart; gave me a good scare
Little Plaxico must have confused a bag of toys for tots,
With the stash of automatic handguns he just bought.

As we calmed down to discuss the Sanchez situation,
St. Rex continued to vent his frustrations.
“The kid can’t do this, the kid can’t do that!”
So why did you take him fifth in the draft?

It’s a little too late for a return, Jets.

NFL Week 15 Predictions, Rookie QB Study and Writing Recap

Is it Sunday yet? Bring on the best Sunday schedule of the regular season.

This Week’s Articles

Captain Comeback Week 14: 2012 NFL Rookie QBs Make More History – Cold, Hard Football Facts

For the first time ever, two rookie quarterbacks (Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins) combined to lead a fourth-quarter comeback win. Could it have been avoided if the Ravens went for a two-point conversion to take a late 9-point lead? We have stats on that. Also, the Colts won a game when trailing by 13 points at halftime, something teams only do 11.5 percent of the time. Tony Romo had his 17th comeback win, which is the most in Dallas history. Even the Rams are getting heavily back into comeback wins after having two from 2007-11.

Why Mike Wallace is Struggling, and What It Means for Steelers WR in 2013 – Bleacher Report

Mike Wallace wanted Larry Fitzgerald money, then Vincent Jackson money, now he might be lucky to get Antonio Brown money. A look into why he has struggled in 2012, and the warning signs were there before the season even started.

Following a Legend: Andrew Luck Week 14 vs. Tennessee Titans – Colts Authority

Andrew Luck can play 18 years and never have a game with a more misleading TD:INT ratio (1:2). That’s what happens when you have a pick six that was a sack blown by the refs, a Hail Mary INT before halftime, and a dropped 35-yard TD that could have been the game-winner. Instead Adam Vinatieri made his 30th game-winning field goal and Luck set a rookie regular season record with his sixth game-winning drive.

The Thinking Man’s Guide: NFL Week 15 Predictions – Bleacher Report

Peyton Manning will look to keep his 8-game winning streaks alive for both the Broncos and against the Baltmore Ravens. The Giants will take on Matt Ryan in the Georgia Dome, where he is 32-5 but has struggled this season. Jay Cutler always struggles with the Packers, home or road. Finally we will see if the 49ers can slow down the Patriots in a “No. 1 offense vs. No. 1 defense” matchup. Hopefully we’ll just have a great game somewhere, as there have been too many marquee duds this year.

Save the Roll for January, Not December – NBC Sports

“You want to be playing your best football in December.” It’s a cliche, but is it true? I examined the final four regular season games for all 120 playoff teams from 2002-11 to find out if playing well late has any impact on playoff success. The truth is it does not, and more than your record, it pays off to be playing well (scoring differential). Teams who finish 2-2 are just as likely to win in the playoffs and a Super Bowl as teams who finish 4-0 in the regular season. Not to mention the whole playoff rest strategy some teams use plays directly against building momentum for the playoffs.

In summary, just another myth. The Giants are known for getting hot twice, but what about a horrible loss at home to the Redskins in December in both 2007 and 2011? The only thing that matters is how you play that day in the postseason where anything can happen in the one and done.

The 2012 NFL Rookie Quarterbacks Are the Best Rookie Class Ever – Cold, Hard Football Facts

Thanks to the record-setting seasons of the 2012 rookie QB class, they are clearly the best class ever based on rookie performance only. The standard has been increasing for rookie QBs, and this offers a detailed look into the numbers and history that has led to this point. We have eight tables and two graphs in this one. This is basically “Every Thing You Always Wanted To Know About Rookie Quarterbacks * But Were Afraid to Ask.”

 

Colts Q&A with Scott Kacsmar + numbers, thoughts for the game – Houston Chronicle

For a change of pace this week, I did a Q&A previewing Colts/Texans with Stephanie Stradley for the Houston Chronicle. I call the Colts the worst 9-4 team in NFL history, but if Houston lets them stay around late, the Colts will definitely have a shot to pull the upset.

2012 NFL Week 15 Predictions

Part of me wanted to take Philadelphia on Thursday night, but fortunately I didn’t drop the ball on that one and took the Bengals. That’ll conclude the Thursday night games this season.

Winners in bold:

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

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
  • Week 8: 10-4
  • Week 9: 11-3
  • Week 10: 9-4-1
  • Week 11: 11-3
  • Week 12: 10-6
  • Week 13: 8-8
  • Week 14: 11-5
  • Season: 134-73-1 (.647)

NFL Week 14 Predictions, Rookie QBs on 3rd Down and Writing Recap

With the news out of Dallas on Josh Brent killing teammate Jerry Brown in a drunk-driving accident, this is another NFL weekend with tragedy coming before the games. Hopefully the NFL and really everyone out there can learn lessons from these incidents. How hard is it not to get into a car when you’re drunk? If we are still too stupid to make these decisions, then maybe we need cars that will make them for us.

Something has to change.

Before I get confused for Bob Costas during one of his halftime speeches, onto the usual Saturday recap.

This Week’s Articles

Captain Comeback Week 13: Colts, Steelers Rally to Build Familiar AFC Race – Cold, Hard Football Facts

The Colts were able to rally from a 12-point deficit in the final 4:02 for another stunning comeback victory over the Lions. Pittsburgh surprised everyone with Charlie Batch leading the team to a road win in Baltimore. The two wins shape up yet another AFC playoff picture with the usual suspects. Also: Tony Romo tied Troy Aikman for most 4QC wins in Dallas history (16). He did it by attacking “The Todd Bowles Movement.” This is the most jam-packed edition of Captain Comeback yet with 11 game recaps. It was a good week of games.

Andrew Luck Outclasses Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson in the Clutch – Bleacher Report

True story: this article originally had a general headline (see URL), but after finishing it, the results were pretty clear: Andrew Luck owns clutch moments in a way no rookie really has. We know all about his five game-winning drives, but his performance on third down, especially third and long, is something we just never see from a young QB. The surprise is just how historically bad RGIII has been at converting on third and long.

The war is clearly raging between these fanbases, so arm yourself with some real data that matters, unless you think throwing a short pass on 3rd and long and punting is good.

R3D

3DS

Following a Legend: Andrew Luck Week 13 at Detroit Lions – Colts Authority

Find out how Andrew Luck threw 30 incompletions, three interceptions, had a season-high in three-and-out drives, but still managed to grow his legend with another comeback win and career-high four touchdown passes. The young Jedi just had to use the Schwartz.

Yes, Those NFL Offenses Are Better Than Ever – NBC Sports

If the numbers stay on their current pace, then the 2012 NFL season could be the most efficient ever in terms of passing, rushing, kicking and punting, otherwise known as the primary acts of a football game. Details on each category and the record-breaking numbers the league is averaging. It is also the most pass-happy season ever with teams throwing the ball on 57.95 percent of their plays.

The Thinking Man’s Guide: NFL Week 14 Predictions – Bleacher Report

In-depth previews for Raiders/Broncos, Chargers/Steelers, Saints/Giants and Texans/Patriots plus predictions for every game.

Ranking the Random Fumble Luck of NFL Quarterbacks – Cold, Hard Football Facts

Last week we looked at turnover rates using all fumbles. This week I took the lost fumble data that goes back to 1992 and looked at which quarterbacks have the most and least fumble luck, because recoveries are in fact random, and the data bears that out. Tom Brady is completely average (42.5%) in this regard, while Matthew Stafford has only lost four of his 14 fumbles, and Kyle Orton has the worst luck, losing 60% of his fumbles. Finally an updated turnover rate list using fumbles lost is included for the 59 quarterbacks from the last two decades.

 2012 NFL Week 14 Predictions

Was there even any doubt on the Thursday game? Peyton Manning has now won at least eight straight games in a season for the seventh time in his career. If only I had his consistency at making these game picks.

Winners in bold:

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

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
  • Week 8: 10-4
  • Week 9: 11-3
  • Week 10: 9-4-1
  • Week 11: 11-3
  • Week 12: 10-6
  • Week 13: 8-8
  • Season: 123-68-1 (.643)

Greg McElroy Begins Jets Career with Perfect Comeback Start

Mark Sanchez played poorly and was pulled on Sunday in place of the backup quarterback, who promptly led the offense on a game-winning drive for the New York Jets over the Arizona Cardinals.

This scenario has been expected for many months now, but no one imagined it would have been Greg McElroy at quarterback rather than Tim Tebow.

These are the moments Tebow has built his NFL career on, but he was nowhere to be found Sunday, missing the game with a rib injury.

McElroy, on the very first drive of his career, led a game-winning touchdown march, hitting Jeff Cumberland for the easiest 1-yard touchdown pass you may ever see. He even contributed to the last drive which consumed the final 7:55 off the clock in a 7-6 win.

Rarely does a quarterback lead a fourth-quarter comeback and game-winning drive in his first NFL game, but I have started to compile a list of occurrences.

4QC/GWD in NFL Debut:

  • Bob Waters (1960)
  • Warren Rabb (1961)
  • Sam Etcheverry (1961)
  • Archie Manning (1971)
  • Clint Longley (1974)
  • Jerry Golsteyn (1977)
  • Turk Schonert (1981)
  • Dieter Brock (1985)
  • Steve Young (1985)
  • Bernie Kosar (1985)
  • Brian McClure (1987)
  • Mike Kelley (1987)
  • Jim Druckenmiller (1997)
  • Ryan Leaf (1998)
  • Jake Delhomme (1999; 4QC only)
  • A.J. Feeley (2001)
  • Brian St. Pierre (2004)
  • Ryan Fitzpatrick (2005)
  • Greg McElroy (2012)

Not sure anyone on the list but McElroy was able to accomplish it on their very first drive. If you broke it down that way, he’d be batting 1.000 in clutch drive success rate.

Is it the most impressive list? Not at all, but the win should create another quarterback controversy in New York.

Just not the one we all expected.

NFL Week 13 Predictions, QB Turnover Rates and Writing Recap

Getting right down to business.

This Week’s Articles

Captain Comeback Week 12: Ray Rice 4th-and-29 Conversion Strikes a Norv – Cold, Hard Football Facts

Joe Flacco hits the first “Dump Mary” in NFL history, with Ray Rice taking it the distance on 4th and 29. NFL teams are 6/35 (17.1%) on 4th and 20+ since 2000 in clutch situations. Full table included of the successes. Also this week:  Houston wins in OT for the second straight week with the help of Walt Coleman explaining another terrible, obscure NFL rule. Matt Ryan sets more records and the Steelers make asses out of themselves in Cleveland.

WC

10 NFL Teams That Absolutely Cannot Afford to Lose Their Starting QB – Bleacher Report

It’s a slideshow, but don’t worry, it’s still over 4,100 words. A look at the 10 teams who could least afford to lose their starting QB, with some surprises in the top 5.

Following a Legend: Andrew Luck Week 12 vs. Buffalo Bills – Colts Authority

The “Fire Wanny!” movement is understandable. Dave Wannstedt’s defense was the most vanilla up front all season out of the 11 games the Colts have played, rushing four or less on 40 of 43 drop backs for Andrew Luck. However, they did get an impressive amount of pressure, so it was not all bad. Though, Reggie Wayne was the most wide open he has been all season, and the Colts receivers had their best YAC performance of the season.

What parity? Familiar faces dot NFL playoff chase – NBC Sports

Since the NFL moved to eight divisions in 2002, the league averages 5.2 new division winners and 6.3 new playoff teams. This season, they may be lucky to only get two new division winners and three new playoff teams. The numbers could be even smaller if the Packers win the NFC North again. This comes after a season with a record seven new division winners in 2011.

Even if you don’t want to read this one, it’s a great piece to bookmark as I compiled the division winners and all 12 playoff seeds for 2002-11 into tables. Might be the only place on the internet you can get all of that info on one page.

The Thinking Man’s Guide: NFL Week 13 Predictions – Bleacher Report

This week we look at: why the Falcons need to get over (and did) the Saints hump. Are the Colts the worst 7-4 team ever? Todd Bowles is having the worst career start ever for a defensive coordinator in Philadelphia.

122PRPHI

Rodgers, Ryan, Brady Best Ever Protecting the Football – Cold, Hard Football Facts

Updating (but not rehashing) an article from last year, here is a look at the career QB Turnover Rates, which includes interceptions and fumbles (all fumbles). Aaron Rodgers (2.65) has the best mark ever, while Rex Grossman (5.30) is the worst active QB, and exactly double the rate of Rodgers. How fitting. A full table for 171 quarterbacks in NFL history (min. 1,500 attempts).

2012 NFL Week 13 Predictions

Did Drew Brees’ birthmark expand after he threw five interceptions on Thursday night? I picked the Falcons to win, but that was still a shocking way for the game to play out.

Winners in bold:

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

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
  • Week 8: 10-4
  • Week 9: 11-3
  • Week 10: 9-4-1
  • Week 11: 11-3
  • Week 12: 10-6
  • Season: 115-60-1 (.656)