NFL Week 15 Predictions: Saturday Night Edition

Technically, it’s almost always a Saturday night edition here since that’s usually when I post, but we have an actual Saturday night game in Week 15. It’s a polished turd of course between the Jets and Dolphins, but it’s an NFL game nonetheless.

Here are a few better games to think about.

Tennessee at Kansas City

I want to see if Marcus Mariota rebounds after his Tim Tebow day against the Broncos. The Chiefs aren’t as good on defense, but they have playmakers at multiple levels even after losing Derrick Johnson (Achilles). I might like the Titans here at home, but Arrowhead should be a tough spot for this team. Oddly, I think Alex Smith has a good game (dink-and-dunk vs. Dick LeBeau scheme) in what should be the Chiefs’ 11th win of the season.

Detroit at NY Giants

The 2016 Giants are on pace for the lowest DVOA variance of any team since 1989. Basically, you get the same should-be-better offense and solid defense having to salt the game away every week. So it would make sense to see the Lions trying to pick up a ninth 4QC win in a low-scoring game here, but I would really not expect much from Matthew Stafford with the finger injury on the road against this defense. Look for Eli Manning to perk up against that defense and get this win.

Indianapolis at Minnesota

This could be an ugly game for Andrew Luck. Think what Carson Palmer faced earlier in the season in this building. The pass rush should be huge, but I also think the Vikings still struggle to score enough to put the game too out of reach. Luck will have his chance late, and I don’t see Adrian Peterson doing much in his return to action. Remember, there are some serious blocking issues that the Vikings can’t possibly fix this season that have stalled their running game. The talent level of the backs is a secondary concern.

New England at Denver

The Patriots never really do what you expect, but on paper this is a game where the Pats should look to run Blount, and the Broncos should lean heavily on Trevor Siemian’s passing. The latter sounds more unrealistic, but that has been the case the last few weeks with a disappearing running game. This is basically Denver’s last stand for the playoffs and title defense. We know Brady has struggled in Denver, but we also know Bill Belichick can easily limit the scoring of a one-dimensional offense that already has scoring issues. So I think Von Miller and company will show up well enough to win, but the offense won’t do its share this time.

Tampa Bay at Dallas

Feels like a Dallas blowout or a really good game. Let’s hope for the latter. Tampa Bay’s defense has really stepped up on this five-game winning streak. Dallas has obviously struggled on offense in its last two games. I think Dak Prescott, perhaps feeling a little heat to keep Tony Romo on the bench, will rebound with a solid game and the Cowboys take this one at home. Jameis Winston will hold the ball too long in looking for big plays instead of taking the readily available ones against a Dallas defense that simply isn’t very good, but will be good enough in this one. And wow, do we really need another Dallas prime-time game/national game? I know the alternatives weren’t great, but this is overkill.

2016 Week 15 Predictions

I had the Seahawks on TNF, minus a few concussions from that fourth quarter.

Winners in bold:

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

Season summary

  • Week 1: 7-9
  • Week 2: 10-6
  • Week 3: 8-8
  • Week 4: 8-7
  • Week 5: 7-7
  • Week 6: 12-3
  • Week 7: 10-5
  • Week 8: 7-6
  • Week 9: 8-5
  • Week 10: 7-7
  • Week 11: 12-2
  • Week 12: 12-4
  • Week 13: 10-5
  • Week 14: 9-7
  • Season: 127-81
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NFL Week 15 Predictions: Carolina Is the Worst 13-0 Team Ever

The only Week 15 game where both teams have a winning record is Denver (10-3) at Pittsburgh (8-5). Things are not set in stone with three games left, but this is the 25th game this season between teams who currently have a winning record. The home team is 16-8 (.667), and these two teams were actually involved in half of the losses thanks to splitting their season series (all road wins) with the Chiefs and Bengals.

That is not to say this week lacks games that should be competitive. There are just a lot of sub-.500 teams this season, but since they are close to being equal in quality, some games should be decent. I think Detroit at New Orleans could be a fun shootout on Monday night, for example. As for the battle for the AFC South between Houston and Indy where the Texans are 0-13 all time, it’s a shame these offenses are reduced to starting an ailing Matt Hasselbeck and a third-string T.J. Yates.

Broncos at Steelers: Best matchup of the season?

This game lost a little bit of its luster with Denver’s loss last week to Oakland, dropping them to the No. 3 seed for the time being, but it’s still a huge game that both teams really need to win if they want to reach their goals this season.

What better matchup could we see this season than the Pittsburgh offense against the Denver defense? This is arguably the best against the best with both units close to having full health. Obviously the Steelers don’t have Le’Veon Bell, Maurkice Pouncey or Kelvin Beachum, but Ben Roethlisberger is good to go with his cast of receivers, including a now confident (and competent) Markus Wheaton. The Broncos eased DeMarcus Ware back into action last week, and still have Von Miller to rush Ben and the cornerbacks to try covering these wideouts. Denver does have some safety injuries (T.J. Ward, Omar Bolden), so that could be a problem against the AFC’s best vertical passing game. But this is pretty close to getting these units at their best in Week 15. Definitely better health than what the Patriots and Broncos had in their meeting a few weeks ago.

Typically, we see the defense win in these matchups, but that’s usually in a playoff atmosphere where you already expect defense to get more leeway with the whistles and aggressive play. I really like the Steelers at home, and I don’t think they have to score 30 points to win, which is something they’ve done in five straight games for the first time in team history. The Broncos, no matter which quarterback is starting this year, just do not score many points (28th in points per drive). The Steelers can probably put up 24 points and feel great in this one, and I think this offense is more than capable of doing so right now with the variety of ways it can attack a defense. Martavis Bryant can score from anywhere on the field. Antonio Brown can usually get his in any given week. Heath Miller still brings a reliable pair of hands on the short passes as Ben’s security blanket. DeAngelo Williams has been very good in all phases of the game this season. They struggle a little in the red zone, but this offense can move the ball with the best of them, and you can argue Roethlisberger’s protection has been better than ever. They are basically running the Bruce Arians offense this season with all the vertical routes, which is a bit of a departure from Todd Haley’s more dink-and-dunk approach to the last three seasons. I still expect Roethlisberger to test this defense on the big plays with the safety injuries, and to try making them pay for their aggressive play with some play-action shots.

If the Steelers play a smart game offensively and avoid the turnovers, I really don’t see how Denver’s offense scores enough points to win. They will have to rely on short fields here, and a return score. The Pittsburgh defense certainly gives up a lot of plays and it’s not hard to throw for 300 yards on them, but the turnovers have been coming again this season after a historic drought. Thanks, regression to the mean. Brock Osweiler is a sack machine with his indecisiveness and lack of experience, which are a bad recipe behind an offensive line that clearly stinks. I could see big days for the likes of Cam Heyward, Stephon Tuitt and James Harrison. The Steelers are no slouches against the run either, and Denver’s running game has been very hit or miss all season. Demaryius Thomas has killed the Steelers on some huge plays in past meetings, but he won’t get the kind of defensive looks afforded to Tim Tebow in that playoff game, and I can’t even picture him turning a bubble screen into 10 yards these days, let alone a long touchdown. He has to catch the ball first, and that has been a problem. I could see Emmanuel Sanders wanting to have a huge game against his former team, but his talents are being wasted a bit in an offense that has been so unsuccessful at throwing deep this season. While Peyton Manning kept overthrowing Sanders for much of the year, Osweiler barely even tries throwing the ball over 15 yards. When he does, it’s almost always an incompletion outside of that one drive against the Patriots where he hit two bombs on the way to a go-ahead touchdown. You can tell which people are paying attention to the games and which are watching highlights when they talk about Osweiler’s arm and the deep ball. He’s not helping them in this area at all. He’s gone 22 drives without a touchdown drive. The Broncos need to get Manning back, but a healthy Manning in 2015 may just be a pipe dream at this point.

Final score: Steelers 24, Broncos 16

It Doesn’t Take a Giant to Knock Off an Undefeated — Just the Giants

If you’re a Giants fan, you can celebrate some of the best wins in NFL history, and these were usually done against true giants in seasons where New York was really about average at best. No one really expected any of this to happen.

1934: The 8-5 Giants with their middling statistics beat the dominant 13-0 Bears by a 30-13 final in the 1934 NFL Championship Game.

1998: The 5-8 Giants with Kent Graham at quarterback shocked the 13-0 Broncos, eventual winners of back-to-back Super Bowls by a 20-16 final in Week 15.

2007: The underdog Giants used the greatest drive in NFL history to down the 18-0 Patriots in Super Bowl XLII, holding them to just 14 points in a 17-14 win.

2011: The Giants were outscored by 6 points in the regular season, but played Green Bay very tough in Week 13. In the NFC Divisional Round, the Giants stunned the Packers again in Lambeau with a 37-20 win. Green Bay was 13-0 at one point and 15-1 going into that game.

Maybe this history is what has a lot of people surprisingly on the Giants’ side this week as they host 13-0 Carolina. Maybe it’s the fact that this middling Giants squad has let five games slip away in the fourth quarter this year, including what should have been a win over the superior Patriots.

Count me in on the upset talk.

First, Carolina is just not as good as your usual 13-0 team. Pretty much every advanced statistical metric does not have Carolina as the best team in the NFC, let alone the NFL this year. They certainly don’t compare to the teams I mentioned above, and I really don’t see them as better than the 2005 Colts or 2009 Saints, both of which lost after 13-0 starts themselves.

For all the talk about how soft the 1972 Dolphins’ schedule was — and it sure was — has anyone really looked at Carolina’s schedule? I mean, really look at this thing.

I made a tweet in September about the Falcons’ schedule, which obviously has most of the same games as Carolina, back when Atlanta was a bit more impressive than the Panthers to start the season.

ATLtweet

People love to bring this up on Sundays as Atlanta keeps losing even though I said I’m not predicting 16-0, but they’re missing the point. I picked out the right schedule, but wrong team for 16-0. You know how we make all those jokes about this year’s AFC South and NFC East? Well that’s half of Carolina’s schedule. This schedule is the main reason the Panthers have a very good shot at 16-0, and this Giants team is really the last big obstacle in their way assuming they go all out with starters in the final weeks.

Carolina’s 2015 schedule has been an unbelievable combination of bad teams and drawing decent teams at the perfect moment. I can think of at least 30 teams from this century that could have went 16-0 against this schedule. Just take a look.

Week 1 at JAX (W 20-9): lousy team that started 1-5. Offense and Blake Bortles only started picking things up after Week 8 bye. Panthers relied on big 4Q to clinch win.

Week 2 vs. HOU (W 24-17): made a panic move to start Ryan Mallett. This team trailed 42-0 and 41-0 in road games early this season. Got better starting in Week 8. Panthers needed a red-zone stop to beat them.

Week 3 vs. NO (W 27-22): Drew Brees has missed one game due to injury in his career. It was this one. Luke McCown went 31-of-38 with 3 drops and Carolina still needed a Josh Norman INT in end zone to hold onto 5-point win.

Week 4 at TB (W 37-23): Jameis Winston was turnover prone early in season & TB has a bad defense. Buccaneers started playing better in Week 8, but still a young .500 team at best. First game of the season where Carolina didn’t need 4QC stop.

Week 6 at SEA (W 27-23): Seattle came in at 2-3 with 3 blown 4Q leads, something they’ve done 5 times this year. Carolina needed 9-point 4QC for win. This is the worst Seattle team since 2011, but they have just started playing some great football over the last four games. I would pick Seattle to win a playoff game in Carolina right now.

Week 7 vs. PHI (W 27-16): Sloppy game on SNF against a disappointing Philadelphia team. Defense was playing much better than offense at the time. Now? You never know what to expect from them.

Week 8 vs. IND (W 29-26 OT): Andrew Luck made some of the worst plays of his career, yet nearly pulled off a 17-point 4QC in Carolina in regulation. Panthers needed to become first team in NFL history to win after trailing in OT. Like Seattle, this is the worst Colts team since 2011.

Week 9 vs. GB (W 37-29): Again, the Panthers nearly blew a 23-pt 4Q lead, but Aaron Rodgers threw an interception in the red zone at the end. The Packers started 6-0, but lost four of five after the bye week and were clearly in a funk. Normally, beating SEA/IND/GB would mean something, but this is also the worst GB team since 2008.

Week 10 at TEN (W 27-10): Titans are just a lousy 3-10 team with an especially bad defense.  Carolina took care of business.

Week 11 vs. WAS (W 44-16): Washington has been spanked on the road by superior teams several times this season. Another game where Carolina, which started playing better in recent weeks, dominated an inferior opponent.

Week 12 at DAL (W 33-14): This became a lost season for Tony Romo, who suffered another collarbone injury. This is the worst Dallas team since maybe 2004.

Week 13 at NO (W 41-38): The Saints (5-8) are in the running for the worst passing defense in NFL history. At least Brees was back this time, and the Panthers needed a late 4QC/GWD and another final-drive stop to get the win.

Week 14 vs. ATL (W 38-0): The Falcons basically took their ball and went home after an embarrassing loss in NO in Week 6. Once 5-0, Atlanta has not won since Week 7’s 10-7 barnburner over Zach Mettenberger and the Titans. When you need a 4QC to sweep the 2015 NFC East, we should have known better than to accept that 5-0 as legit. And guess who the Panthers get in Week 16?

Now does 13-0 make sense? I’ll freely admit that Cam Newton has played at an MVP level since Week 9. There has been a colossal difference in how he played in Weeks 1-8 vs. Weeks 9-14, but not changing is the fact that this schedule is Charmin soft. I think some of those old Carolina teams with Jake Delhomme, Steve Smith and Julius Peppers could have went 13-0 against this schedule.

So here come the Giants, who are certainly an average team themselves, but I still like them in this matchup.

The best way to beat the Giants is to throw all over them. They don’t rush the passer, yet they still have 25 takeaways, second in the league. Carolina is not a prolific passing team. They struggle to move the ball that way some times, whether it’s Newton overthrows or Ted Ginn drops. Greg Olsen is a little banged up this week, but he’s still probable. Jonathan Stewart is out, so you have some lesser players in the backfield. The Giants are middle of the pack at stopping the run, but they’re not likely to get killed in that area by this backfield.

The Giants have a passing game that can be prolific and spread the field with multiple weapons, including the hottest one in the game (Odell Beckham Jr.). I doubt Josh Norman completely shuts him down. Eli Manning just had a virtuoso performance on Monday night, and we’ve seen him get hot for a month stretch at a time (every four years it seems). He can score the points necessary to win this one. The teams that gave Carolina the most trouble had the passing game to do it. It’s not like the Giants are going to try winning with Rashad Jennings averaging 3.5 YPC and Andre Williams not scoring touchdowns.

New York’s two worst performances this season were on the road against division rivals (WAS, PHI). They were still in every other game this year. I expect them to be in this one with the chance to seal the win in the last minutes again.

Final score: Giants 28, Panthers 24

If the Giants fall short again, maybe they’ll just get another crack in January. We’ve seen this movie before.

2015 Week 15 Predictions

Of course I got the Tampa Bay game wrong on Thursday night. I’m 3-11 at picking Buccaneer games this season. Hey, maybe I’ll pick them to lose to the 15-0 Panthers in two weeks…

Winners in bold:

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

Season Results

  • Week 1: 10-6
  • Week 2: 6-10
  • Week 3: 14-2
  • Week 4: 11-4
  • Week 5: 9-5
  • Week 6: 8-6
  • Week 7: 10-4
  • Week 8: 10-4
  • Week 9: 8-5
  • Week 10: 4-10
  • Week 11: 9-5
  • Week 12: 8-8
  • Week 13: 11-5
  • Week 14: 10-6
  • Season: 128-80 (.615)

NFL Week 15 Predictions: So We Meet Again

This week’s schedule has 11 divisional games we already saw this season. Setting aside Week 17’s, this is only the fourth time since 2002 a week had at least 11 divisional games:

  • Week 14, 2003 – 12
  • Week 13, 2005 – 12
  • Week 2, 2006 – 11
  • Week 15, 2014 – 11

I did a study on divisional rematches (2002-2013) that went up yesterday. You can’t reliably use a first matchup to predict the second. The game’s too complex for that to work.

For some teams this week is almost a last stand for relevance in 2014. Lose and you might as well look ahead to next year.

Texans at Colts

As has been the case since 2012, this matchup features each team’s best player going head-to-head. As long as the Colts don’t let J.J. Watt live in the backfield, they’ll win the game like they always win at home against Houston. Why? The Texans never have the quarterback to match points with Luck, regardless of how great Watt might be. I’m going to paste something I sent in an e-mail yesterday about the topic of Watt and the MVP, which I touched on last week.

I think Watt can make the case that he’s the best at his position by a wider margin than any other player at their position, including the quarterbacks. If we look at stats like Win Probability Added (WPA) or Expected Points Added (EPA) from Advanced Football Analytics, then Watt crushes his competition. Watt is 137 percent above the runner-up in WPA this year and 133 percent higher in EPA, while Aaron Rodgers ranks ahead of No. 2 Peyton Manning by 25 percent in WPA and 48 percent in EPA. However, the problem with these metrics for defenders is the same as the problem with evaluating defensive ends in general: we only focus on the positives. With quarterbacks, we’re still penalizing them for sacks, turnovers and incompletions which make scoring difficult. With Watt, he’s not docked for failing to generate more pressure or sacks or creating more turnovers. We don’t criticize him for getting blocked out of dozens of plays per game. Despite Watt’s monster season, Houston is a 7-6 team with a perfectly mediocre defense, ranked 15th in DVOA at Football Outsiders. Every quarterback the Texans have beat this season was either a rookie or has since been benched (RGIII, Manuel, Hoyer). Meanwhile, Rodgers and Manning are leading 10-win teams with the top two offenses in DVOA. That’s the mark of quarterback value shining through whereas one defender can only do so much for his team, even if he’s the best defender in the league.

Luck will do enough to continue this streak of 20-point games and the Colts will clinch the AFC South.

20

49ers at Seahawks

The wheels are coming off in San Francisco and now the 49ers head to the house of horrors known as Seattle. The 49ers are averaging 11 PPG in Seattle under Colin Kaepernick. They scored 3 points at home on Thanksgiving. This would be a huge upset that I just don’t see happening. Seahawks keep rolling.

Steelers at Falcons

I almost want to say I’ll eat my keyboard if both teams don’t score 28+ points, but there’s a reason I really don’t gamble on NFL games. This one looks destined for a ton of points, but you just never know. Julio Jones’ health can be a big deciding factor in what kind of track meet we get, because if he’s fine, then the Steelers are toast in the secondary again. The best quarterbacks the Steelers have played this year are Drew Brees and Andrew Luck and they really didn’t pass the test in either of those games. That’s why Ben Roethlisberger has to play great and I think he should be at that level against this Atlanta defense with its lack of a pass rush. Le’Veon Bell will also have a shot for a fourth 200-yard game. Maybe I’m thinking too much of the 34-34 tie (2002) or the 41-38 overtime game in 2006 between these teams, but I smell a game-winning drive again in this one and each quarterback will hope he has the ball last. Also a rare meeting between two QBs who actively have at least 25 GWDs.

Packers at Bills

Do you believe in deja vu? In Week 15 of the 2011 season, a hot Green Bay team (13-0) with Aaron Rodgers rolled into Kansas City and surprisingly lost its first game of the season. The Chiefs played shutdown pass defense and Kyle Orton was very efficient at quarterback in a 19-14 win. A lot of the ingredients are present again three years later with this game in Buffalo. The Packers have not been as sharp on the road this year and Buffalo’s pass defense can be stingy at times. More importantly the front four is good at getting pressure, which is the crucial element to slowing down Rodgers. You really don’t want to blitz him. His offensive line has been playing much better lately though and I still expect the Packers to win, but there’s potential here for an upset. It’s Buffalo’s last real shot to keep this season alive.

Broncos at Chargers

Ever since the schedule came out in April I had the Broncos pegged as a 13-3 team with losses at Seattle, at New England and at San Diego. The St. Louis game was a shock to say the least. But here we are this week and I’m a little shaken in confidence with San Diego, but I can’t forget Manning’s Law. Bad stuff usually happens when he plays the Chargers, and of course this team should be playing with the utmost urgency at 8-5. This won’t be an easy game even if the Broncos have already handled the Chargers once this year. I’m not sure where the offensive game plan is for this one, but the new reliance on running has taken something away from the crispness of the passing game. I expect Manning will throw for over 200 yards and a few touchdowns this week, but I also count on John Pagano’s bunch to come up with a takeaway and challenge this game to the final possession. Even if Denver’s up 21 points they still usually make the final score a one-possession game. Still, I think Denver gets the win with the chance to clinch the AFC West on the line.

NFL Week 15 Predictions

I bought into the Rams on TNF and paid for it with another impotent offensive showing against Arizona’s ridiculous defense. Not even Ryan Lindley could throw that game away.

Winners in bold:

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

I initially went Falcons, but finding out Sunday morning that Julio Jones is likely out, I’m going with Pittsburgh. I know, this usually backfires, but I think in a close, high-scoring game that will cut into Atlanta’s ability to score. The Steelers have the better offense to begin with. The gap’s bigger now.

Season Results

  • Week 1: 8-8
  • Week 2: 9-7
  • Week 3: 11-5
  • Week 4: 8-5
  • Week 5: 11-4
  • Week 6: 9-5-1
  • Week 7: 10-5
  • Week 8: 10-5
  • Week 9: 11-2
  • Week 10: 10-3
  • Week 11: 8-6
  • Week 12: 12-3
  • Week 13: 9-7
  • Week 14: 11-5
  • Total: 137-70-1

NFL Week 15 Predictions and Rational Manning vs. Brady Facts

Is it worth anyone’s time to do a full rant about the absurdity of Tom Brady, who spent half the season playing his worst football yet, being a top MVP candidate? No, that’s nonsense I expect to take care of itself naturally the next two weeks. Peyton Manning will get 40-plus votes while a few (mostly homer) votes may go to people like Brady, Drew Brees and Russell Wilson.

A MVP should always be about the current season (all 16 games) and not a lifetime achievement award, but let’s forget about it entirely and go big picture beyond just 2013 since some on social media think I’m purposely putting down Brady’s season. Let’s file this one under “Well Allow Me to Retort.”

Since 2007, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady have each lost 23 games they finished.* That includes Thursday night for Manning.

*Finished can be tricky semantics when Brian Hoyer comes in for the last drive, but it really just means games they played into the fourth quarter and didn’t leave early so Jim Sorgi or Curtis Painter could make the game unwinnable (and unwatchable).

I took each QB’s 23 losses and crunched some numbers for points per drive production for their offense and defense and what their Total QBR (credit to ESPN) was.

The results were not surprising. On average, Manning plays a little better when his team loses and his defense plays worse compared to Brady. This is why I write and say what I do about each quarterback.

Here are the 23 losses for each:

PML

TBL

Not drastically different averages, but we do see Manning’s teams almost score and allow about a FG (3 points) more per game than New England. Manning’s led his offense to at least 20 points in all seven losses as a Bronco. Brady’s longest streak of scoring 20+ in a loss is three games.

We’re only going to score 17 points?

Brady’s offense has been held to 17 or fewer points in 11 losses since his famous quote before Super Bowl XLII. Manning: seven times.

2013 results still pending, but it would appear Manning has lost to 4 teams with a losing record and 15 playoff teams. For Brady, it’s 5 losing teams, 14 playoff teams.

A 50.0 QBR is average, and Brady (50.1) is right there while Manning is better at 55.8. Those are straight averages from the 23-game samples as I do not have the ability to get a cumulative QBR number. I would imagine it’d be close to what’s there.

Then I took the 23 games and sorted them from worst to best in terms of offensive points per drive and QBR.

MBPPD

Manning outpaces Brady every step of the way here. Manning’s worst game was 1.17 Pts/Dr, which Brady falls under four times. Manning has 13 losses with at least 2.0 Pts/Dr, including Thursday night’s game (2.22). Brady has six.

Same thing, but with QBR sorted from worst to best:

MBQBR

Here we see a closer race, especially for Games 9-15 where Brady ranks higher twice, then Manning pulls away.

Brady’s two worst games were 4.2 and 8.7 and both were playoff games. Manning’s worst was 19.9 in Atlanta last season when he threw a trio of first-quarter interceptions. His highest was 92.3 against Brady in 2012.

If we expanded this back to 2001-06, we wouldn’t have QBR for 2001-05 for starters. But in terms of point production, there’s a good chance it’d be the same trends (Manning scoring more, getting fewer drives and Brady’s defense being not as bad).

The general stats from 2001-06 in losses sure would seem to support that. Manning had 48 TD, 51 INT, 78.8 PR compared to 29 TD, 43 INT, 66.1 PR for Brady.

So what you’re saying is…

This week was a painful exercise in sports media manipulating the narrative again.

After the Cowboys lost on Monday night, allowing 45 points and getting zero stops, this was the headline I heard on TV on Tuesday morning: “TONY ROMO LOSES IN DECEMBER AGAIN…”

After the Broncos lost on Thursday night to a ball-control San Diego performance, this was the headline I heard on TV on Friday morning: “DID PEYTON BLOW HIS SUPER BOWL CHANCES?”

Yet if Brady has a dud performance in Miami — something as reasonable as the 21-0 dud he laid to a team with Joey Harrington at QB in 2006 — on Sunday, in the biggest game of Week 15 (game with the best records and the No. 1 seed on the line) you know Monday morning is going to instead start with “WHO DEY GONNA BEAT THE BENGALS?! IS ANDY DALTON MAKING A LATE MVP PUSH?”

That’s just the facts.

NFL Week 15 Predictions

I learned the hard way to trust my gut after last week’s big error.

I showed you my picks like I always do, but after noticing I had the home team finishing 15-1, I scrambled to make some changes and posted a second “official” set of picks. Those changes went 0-4 as I was right with my initial gut picks. Now every week will feature games that you can make a great argument for either team winning. Those are the hard ones, but we must trust our gut even when things look silly like picking so many home teams. Sometimes, crazy shit just happens.

Trust the gut. I knew San Diego had a good shot to win with playing ball-control offense, but I went with Denver anyway, so 0-1, and I’m okay with it.

Winners in bold:

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

Season results:

  • Week 1: 11-5
  • Week 2: 12-4
  • Week 3: 8-8
  • Week 4: 9-6
  • Week 5: 9-5
  • Week 6: 11-4
  • Week 7: 10-5
  • Week 8: 10-3
  • Week 9: 8-5
  • Week 10: 8-6
  • Week 11: 9-6
  • Week 12: 7-6-1
  • Week 13: 11-5
  • Week 14: 10-6
  • Season: 133-74-1

I really do love the Cowboys this week against GB. The “ebb and flow” pick of the week. After such a bad performance on Monday, I expect a much stronger game on both sides of the ball. It won’t be as bad as Thanksgiving for Green Bay, but I think Dallas wins big.

I also really want to pick Washington to have a good game and win with Kirk Cousins so Mike Shanahan can look smart, but since when do I still think Shanahan’s a good coach? Put him out to pasture already.

And if Cousins does have a good game, no, we don’t have to start putting him in the damn MVP conversation.

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)