Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

19 Jan 2007

All Saints Day

ESPN's "Experts" (sorry, Jaws) have all picked New Orleans to win this Sunday at Chicago. The only holdout? The mysterious Accuscore.

It should be noted that Vegas has the Bears anywhere from -2 to -3. In addition, I wrote a piece last week for Boston Sports Media Watch where I noted that cold weather teams playing host to warm weather teams, over the last 20 years, are 33-7 (.825); all home teams, on average, win 69% of home games.

Are the media overplaying N'Awlins chances? Or, alternately, is this a game where cold analysis can't accurately account for the variables?

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 19 Jan 2007

60 comments, Last at 20 Jan 2007, 5:24pm by BB

Comments

1
by Mac (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 5:14am

I like the Saints. I feel like fate has their back. I also like the Colts, because I feel the NFL would love two weeks of Peyton vs. Archie's team. We'll see if the cosmic forces that be agree.

2
by Marko (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 5:37am

Many others in the sports media also are picking the Saints. As a result, the Bears definitely are playing the disrespect card this week.

As I pointed out in another thread this week, an angle that has not gotten much coverage in the media is the condition of the Soldier Field turf. The grass has been resodded multiple times late in the year (as seems to happen every year in Soldier Field), and the field is somewhat slippery. The Bears are used to playing on it, so it shouldn't be too much of an issue for them. However, it could be a problem for the Saints, who may lose their footing when trying to make some of the same sharp cuts that they can easily make at home in the Superdome. So besides the cold, the Saints also will have to deal with less than ideal footing.

3
by William T (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 6:57am

I am a former Oilers fan who also supported the Saints while they were based in San Antonio. Now I'm in Chicago, and I bought my first Bears shirt during the off-season.

How much does America support New Orleans? How to people out there feel [emotionally] about Chicago, besides the Grossman debate? Living in the Bears' bubble, and formerly in the periphery of the Saints' bubble, I have no idea what the rest of the country thinks. I spend hours a day hearing to the beggar in front of my building talk up the Bears.

Who is America's Team?

4
by Andrew (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 7:05am

Maybe it's my cold midwestern heart, but it seems like it hasn't been terribly, horribly cold in Chicago recently. Temps in the upper 20's (like it is now) with moderate winds (like it is now) can be fairly easily ignored by a person who is appropriately dressed and physically active. Then again, I'm not from Louisiana - they likely feel it more than I do.
I would say that all but the coldest temperatures get way too much play, but that 33-7 record is pretty telling. I'd like to see if cold makes warm-climate teams play consistently, significantly below their normal DVOA, as I'd speculate that a lot of the cold-weather record is just that the home team was a better team more than that the road team was frozen. When talking about playoffs, obviously the home team has a higher seed, so they would be expected to win anyway.

5
by peachy (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 7:34am

It has been a pretty mild winter so far - although nothing like the perpetual autumn of last year; on the other hand, southerners start reaching for the sweaters when it breaks 60. (When I visited family in Orlando in October the stores were full of serious, heavy duty winter clothing.) And of course Soldier Field benefits from the fresh wind right off the Lake, which is always worth a few degrees of windchill extra.

6
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 8:34am

At a guess, I would say that both visiting teams have the usual visiting team's chances: between 40% and 45%, depending on specific matchups.

Why this resulted in every carbon-based expert picking the Saints is a mystery to me.

7
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 9:10am

It's obviously because they (rightly) think that Rex is a crappy quarterback, but that alone doesn't singlehandedly torpedo the Bears. If the defense continues its slump, though, that will.

The Saints have a fairly good chance, but I think the Bears have a slightly better chance to win.

8
by Darrel Michaud (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 9:14am

I think the cold weather and bad field cuts both ways. The Saints are the team that will be able to pound it up the middle, and the Bears, to have any chance, need Grossman to step up, who's supposedly not good in bad weather (I haven't seen any numbers...).

9
by White Rose Duelist (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 10:19am

#2 - We are talking talking about the same Bears team that came out in the wrong cleats last week because they didn't want to walk the field on game day, right?

10
by ArizonaCardinalsFan (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 10:42am

Even "expert" Mike Ditka won't say he favors the team he won with as a player and coach over the team he wore a rastafari wig with when signing Ricky Williams...what's the deal with that? And he even called Tom Benson a "stupid cheat", but won't go on record for da Bears???? Yeah, that's fate alright...

11
by bfos7215 (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 11:34am

re: 10.

He also called McCasky a sneak.

But, more importantly, he has put his support behind the Bears. "I'm picking and rooting for the Bears, as I have for every game this year," Ditka said. "I thought I'd make that announcement on my show."

12
by mikeabbott (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 11:35am

I suspect if we tracked predictions by pundits that the teams with the best known offensive stars would turn out to be consistently overrated.

13
by Jimmty6 (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 11:37am

There is also a 70% chance of snow on Sunday.

14
by johnt (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 11:43am

Well, I don't blame people for picking against the Bears. The Bears defense has looked below average since Harris went out. They got into a shootout with the SEAHAWKS, who would have won if they hadn't kept barfing on 3rd and less than 3. If the Saints and Bears defenses cancel each other out, that leaves the Sex Cannon versus Drew Brees.

Now if da Bears are going to win their defense is going to have to snap back to itself. But it hasn't done that any time recently, so it's not unreasonable to expect it not to.

15
by Basilicus (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 11:43am

I can understand the fervor for the Saints right now. They played very well against a pretty jazzed Eagles team. The Bears edged out a Seahawks unit that - while playing well - still looked like it should have been toasted for a solid margin of victory.

The Saints are on an upswing and - in my opinion - have better game-day coaching. The Bears are playing in that middle ground between truly good and good enough. Yeah, Bears fans have NEVER seen that before...

Ignoring the human story, I think people would honestly like a Saints-AFC Super Bowl. People may rightly think the Saints have more potential to keep up with the Colts or Patriots than the Bears do. I mean, is Grossman vs. Belichick's head really a contest?

That said, I think we'll see a Bears win nonetheless, and that the Bears will play well enough to avoid a complete blow-out to the Patriots. Unless they play the Colts, in which case the Bears vs. the way the Colts have been playing lately could be very interesting. The over-under on field goals would be 12.

16
by Charles the Philly Homer (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 11:53am

I would vastly prefer Colts v. Bears over the other available permutations. I can't stand the support for the Saints after how badly the NFL looted that economy to rebuild the Superdome and after how Benson is grousing about moving the team if he doesn't get a new palace.

I'm also sick of the Patriots, their fans, and the media coverage of them. I also happen to like Peyton Manning and hope he can shut up the irrational "not a winner" critiques.

17
by C (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 11:56am

Playing in cold, windy weather isn't necessarily about where the teams are from, but what kind of team they are. The Saints are a ball-control team that runs very well and throws short passes, which works better in the cold, windy weather.

18
by ToxikFetus (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 11:56am

I have nothing against the Saints and I think they've done a great job of rebuilding their organization, but I'll be rooting heavily for the Bears this weekend. If the Saints manage to win this weekend, we'll be inundated with two weeks of stories telling us that they:

1. Single-handedly rebuilt New Orleans
2. Cured cancer
3. Traveled back in time to prevent 9/11, save the crews of the Challenger and Columbia shuttles, and stop the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, narrowly avoiding WWI.

In a similar vein, I'll also be rooting for Indy, because the world really doesn't need any more Brady/Belichick man-love articles.

19
by joel in providence (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 11:56am

i go with whomever ditka is supporting.

20
by mactbone (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 11:58am

It's been mentioned several times, but the Pats and Bears already played each other this year. Grossman didn't play well, but he had worse games than that. It wasn't a blowout either - the Bears had a chance for a tying field goal at the end.

21
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 12:14pm

Ignoring the obvious joke, one thing that gets ignored in the bad weather discussion is the size of the quarterback's hands. Bigger hand, better ability to grip a slick, wet football. Before the thumb injury in '99 reduced his range of motion, Favre's grip allowed him to function better in adverse conditions.

Ron Wolf specifically talked about that as a consideration when he traded for Favre. That when they measured Favre's hands at the combine he was way above the average grip size.

Also, Brees has definitely played in bad weather while at Purdue. Not bitter cold. But cold November rains.

22
by Athelas (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 12:18pm

#20-Didn't the Patriots win by 4? (Although I do get 4 points for a FG over 40 yds in my FFL).

23
by Sophandros (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 12:23pm

16: That comment was both off-base and not competely factual.

Contrast that with 18, which was actually funny. OK, so he got a few facts wrong, like the whole cancer thing. The cure is still in testing.

24
by Jimmty6 (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 12:25pm

20. No no no. Haven't you been listening? Grossman vs. Belichick = 40-0 Patriots victory. We have no reason to think otherwise.

25
by mb (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 12:32pm

For everyone who mentioned the Bears' defense slumping, that's the Tommie Harris factor, as there was a decline immediately following his injury. Losing Mike Brown, the Tank Johnson fiasco, and various injuries in the secondary were all blows as well but you cannot replace on of the best 4 or 5 DTs in the league.

However, even without Harris and Brown the Bears' defense is still better than that of the Saints, with a massive edge at LB and (now that both starting CBs are healthy) a solid if unspectacular secondary compared to the Saints' biggest weakness, their terrible secondary. If Rex gets a little time, which would require the Bears' O line to play better than they did against the Seahawks, I'm confident that he can exploit that weakness.

Obviously I'm biased as a Bears fan but I don't understand the overwhelming "experts" support for the Saints. I understand the emotional part of it for fans, the feelgoodism, but the Saints are not some unstoppable juggernaut of domination. They are a good but flawed football team, the same as the Bears. It's a game that could go either way and it will be decided by a couple of key factors; if the Bears can generate a pass rush with the front 4, if they can stop Deuce from pounding up the middle, if Rex gets time and can nail a deep ball or two to Berrian, and so on.

Whoever goes on to the SB, I'm sure the majority of pundits will be picking the Pats/Colts to annihilate em'. However in the last year there were similar situations in the World Series and the NBA Finals, and look what happened.

26
by MCS (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 12:46pm

Is the draft here yet?

-Packer Backer

27
by Boots Day (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 12:58pm

Also, Brees has definitely played in bad weather while at Purdue. Not bitter cold. But cold November rains.

Well, nothing lasts forever.

As I've said in another thread, I don't have a whole lot of confidence in the Bears this weekend. But nothing has made me more optimistic than the idea that every single pundit is picking the Saints. That kind of overwhelming groupthink is pretty much always wrong.

28
by B (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 1:10pm

24: I'm hoping for a 46-10 victory for the Pats in that scenario.

29
by mactbone (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 1:11pm

Re 27:
Except when it's right.

30
by Jimmty6 (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 1:17pm

I was watching Sportscenter and all the pundits gave the Saints the edge in "intangibles." Also, I think they were also given the edge in "magic powers" but don't quote me on that.

31
by milo (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 1:19pm

mb @ 25: Ah yes, the terrible Saints passing D. Third in the league in passing yards allowed, 15 yards per game better than da Bears. I don't think that terrible is really the right word there. Maybe you meant vulnerable to double moves on long routes on the right side where the QB is not pressured.

32
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 1:23pm

The more I hear about Sunday's probable field conditions, the more I favor the Bears. On the other hand, if it gets really, really, windy, taking away what Grossman does best, throw the deep pass, I think the advantage swings back to the Saints.

When you get right down to it, I don't know what the hell to think. If I were making a play, which I'm not on this game, I guess I'd go to my normal default position when I don't have a clue, which is to take the points.

33
by Jimmty6 (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 1:24pm

31. Or maybe he was just refering to DVOA where the Saints Passing D ranks 22nd and the Bears ranks 2nd.

34
by mb (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 1:27pm

Milo, 31: Did I say terrible passing D? No, I did not, I said "terrible secondary". As in the secondary that was DEAD LAST in the league against #1 WRs and 18th against #2 WRs. Remember that FO maxim about how a good pass defense doesn't always mean a good secondary? That, my friend, is the Saints, with a very good pass rush and bad cornerbacks. Oh and by the way, the Saints ranked 22nd in the league in DVOA vs. the pass. FO seems like the wrong to place to use a convetional metric like yds/game to prove a point.

35
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 1:30pm

"It’s been mentioned several times, but the Pats and Bears already played each other this year. Grossman didn’t play well, but he had worse games than that. It wasn’t a blowout either - the Bears had a chance for a tying field goal at the end."

The Bears had the best defense in the league at that point, and the patriots couldnt stop the pass.

Both of those things have drastically changed.

36
by milo (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 1:37pm

Ah yes, DVOA, the holy grail. Not. If it doesn't fit, hit it with a bigger hammer. But since da Bears have a massive edge at linebacker and the Aints have a terrible secondary then clearly Rex will be the second coming. No. Watch the games. The Aints D in December and January games. You know, the recent ones which give an indication of how they might be playing right now. Sure would love to see those individual game DVOAs. You know the ones where the other team doesn't run a single play from the D's side of the 50.

37
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 1:53pm

Rich:

Over there!! I thought I heard stan suggest Tom Brady was "just a good QB". Quick! Before he gets away!!!

Phew. Maybe now some sane folks can discuss a game in peace.

38
by Mike J (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 1:58pm

I really like a Colts/Saints matchup too - they're definately the teams I'm rooting for.

Hey, Sophandros or someone else from NO, I have a question..

I know that the Mannings are pretty big celebrities as hometown boys in NO, if the Colts and Saints played in the SB, is it something that would kind of be win-win for Saints fans in general, where even if the Saints lost it's still something most people in the area would feel good about, since it's the hometown hero kid?

39
by mb (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 2:03pm

Milo: Ah yes, the guy who goes to a site devoted to the statistical analysis of football and then proceeds to belittle that same analysis when it doesn't fit his arguments instead of trying to make a cogent point. If you're a bitter Saints fan, I feel sorry for you. I never said anything disrespectful or implied that the Saints were terrible, merely that they, like the Bears, had exploitable flaws. In fact, I think they deserve more respect than being labeled as a Cinderella team.

I never claimed that Rex would be the "second coming" and throw for 300 yds and 3 TDs. I said I thought he could exploit a vulnerable secondary IF HE GOT TIME TO THROW. Most QBs could do the same. However, the Saints defensive strength is their D line, especially the pass rush, so that time to throw is not a gimmie. The pass rush helps to cover for the weak secondary.

The Bears do have a massive edge at LB; it's the strongest part of the team. Do you really want to make an argument that the Scotts Fujita and Shanle are comparable to Urlacher and Briggs?

The Saints are 17th in defense in weighted DVOA and 20th in regular DVOA, so there is a slight upward trend. Of course, since you think DVOA is stupid, that probably means nothing to you. However, if you'd like to see a game-by-game DVOA charting of the Saints there's one in last weeks NFC Divisional preview.

I've watched 6 or 7 of the Saints' games this year. I think they certainly have a chance to win on Sunday, especially because of the decimating injuries the Bears have suffered. My point was that neither team was a clear favorite.

40
by paytonrules (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 2:43pm

Honestly even though I'm a Bears fan and I think the Saints will win I am sick of the commentary. This week I heard Michael Wilbon and Sean Salisbury agree that if both teams play their best game there is "no way" the Bears can win.

????Huh??? Now maybe their "best game" is different than what it was earlier in the season, but the Bears did win 3 more games than the Saints right? My god you'd think the Saints were 15 feet tall 16-0 warriors with determination matched only by the size of their gargantuan penis.

41
by skeezer (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 2:44pm

in·tan·gi·ble (Ä­n-tÄ?n'jÉ™-bÉ™l)
adj.
1. Incapable of being perceived by the senses.
2. Incapable of being realized or defined.

42
by Fourth (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 2:48pm

I think there's a lot of different things going into this (obviously, for every single expert to pick the underdog). I'll list them in order of what I think is most important:

1. Chicago's defensive downward trend...they look now like an above average to good defense instead of a dominant unit.
2. The Seattle game: following from the above, watching Alexander have a good day in Chicago and leading the Seahawks, who needed a miracle blunder at home to beat Dallas, to overtime against the Bears. If the 'Hawks O could put up 24 (yeah 7 were a gift but the O still punched it in), how many will the Saints O put up? 31? More?
3. The Saints biggest weakness (pass D) matches up with Chicago's biggest weakness (pass O) and many do not trust Rex or the coaches to fully take advantage here.
4. So-called intangibles: There is the sentimental desire to see the Saints win again and continue this feel-good story. Conspiracy theorists believe the Saints will be getting the close calls. Sean Payton is the media's new "offensive genius"--and maybe he really is. Reggie Bush is just as "dangerous" as Hester.

I don't buy into much of #4, but 1-3 look pretty reasonable. I am usually pretty good at predicting the line in these things, and I thought it would be evenish to maybe Chicago -1.

43
by Eddo (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 2:50pm

30: Last night, Mark Schlereth (sp?) even cited that the Saints have an offensive advantage because of their "reversibility" and that the whole team just has a better "believeability" in each other right now.
I really love when experts back themselves up with nice, concrete analysis.

44
by Judy B. (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 2:57pm

Of course, they're all picking the Saints. It's close enough that they have license to go primarily with the "wishful thinking" line of reasoning.

45
by nikolas (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 3:00pm

41: I agree with your points except #3. Passing offense isn't really the Bears weakness so much as Rex's inability to deal with pressure and struggles with short, quick throws. Actually, the passing offense is one of the more explosive in the league when he gets time. I've given up on not trusting Rex and Lovie, especially because Griese isn't going to ride in on a white horse and save anybody. I'd actually be very encouraged if the Bears try to throw downfield early and often.

46
by Zac (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 4:05pm

What is Accuscore?

I apologize for the preceding comment. I've just always wanted to say that.

47
by Basilicus (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 4:24pm

Match-ups I like:

Bears-Colts
Saints-Patriots
Saints-Colts
Bears-Patriots

Anything outside of those I think is unlikely.

48
by Mikey (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 4:29pm

saintsreport.com now has a "Win It For" thread that was inspired by a thread of the same name on the Sons of Sam Horn site during the 2004 ALCS.

I read it last night, fully expecting that most of the posts would reference Katrina. Surprisingly, they don't.

Mostly it's fans expressing unrestrained joy that a team that has sucked for so long at long last has a chance to play for a trip to the big one.

So don't blame the Saints fans if you're fatigued by the Katrina angle. It seems like most of them have the "right" perspective on this whole thing: it's football, it's a hell of a lot of fun, it's a very welcome diversion, it's not going to bring my neighbor's house back and nobody's expecting it to.

Geaux Saints.

49
by Eddo (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 5:32pm

48: I have no problem with Saints fans cheering for the team. In fact, I expect them to go crazy.
I do think the media was way overplayed the whole "rebuilding New Orleans" angle in the same way the 9/11 angle was overplayed when the Patriots won in 2001.
Should the Saints beat my Bears, I will be rooting for them in the Super Bowl, for the following reasons.
1) They've always been on my "2nd-tier" of teams to root for (first tier being the Bears and only the Bears).
2) I enjoy seeing perennial losers get their chance to finally win something (aka the reason I can't hate the Lions like I hate the Packers and Vikings).
In now way whatsoever would I take into account the fact that the city they play home games in had a terrible tragedy occur. People who root for the Saints in order to "help out the region" would be better served donating some time or money to help their cause.

50
by Andrew (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 5:45pm

Home field advantage in the championship round is non-existant. There have been 32 contests since 1990, and home teams are 17-13, including a 10-10 record since 1996.

Most likely, one of the Bears and the Colts is going to lose.

As far as the Saints go, they are 6-2 on the road this year.

Their scoring distribution is centered around 27 points (they've averaged 26 points per game on offense). 7 of 17 contests saw them score between 27 and 34 points. They scored 27 points or more in 7 of their last 10 contests, while holding appoints to 17 points or less in 6 of 10 contests.

Chicago has capitalized on return touchdowns this season, but 8 of 9 have been non-interception returns. New Orleans has only given up interception returns for touchdowns this year. I don't see this being a factor.

The Chicago defense has given up at least 24 points in 4 of their last 5 outings against mostly some not very good offenses. There is no reason the Saints should not be able to hang 27+ on them. I think the main question is whether or not the Bears can keep up with this scoring pace. They've shown themselves able to late in the season, scoring 26 or more in 4 of five games, but that's mostly been against putrid defenses.

Therefore, the likely question upon which the game will turn is whether or not the Saints can hold down Chicago's offense to under 17 points. In theory, they should be able to, because it isn't like Chicago is a high-flying offense.

51
by Nate (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 6:19pm

Just one comment - part of the Bears late season defensive decline may be relateed to the fact that we didn't start both starting corners for, I don't know, the last six or so games. That should help the pass defense a bit.

52
by B (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 6:52pm

50: Both home teams have a better record at home this year, and both road teams have a better record on the road.

53
by BB (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 7:02pm

49: "People who root for the Saints in order to “help out the region� would be better served donating some time or money to help their cause."

Those are probably the same people who buy a flag sticker made in China somewhere and call it "supporting our troops".

50: "Chicago has capitalized on return touchdowns this season, but 8 of 9 have been non-interception returns. New Orleans has only given up interception returns for touchdowns this year. I don’t see this being a factor."

New Orleans also hasn't faced Devin Hester, the most explosive (for either team, given his adventures lately) return guy around right now. And it isn't like the Bears DBs can't take one to the house given the opportunity -- Nathan Vasher, anyone? I guarantee you Sean Payton thinks Hester will be a factor, and we're probably going to see a lot of directional kickoffs and punts just like Seattle did last week.

54
by Eddo (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 7:12pm

50: As far as I know, in the same way that return touchdowns are non-predictive, a lack of return touchdowns is also non-predictive.
Just because a team returns a lot of interceptions for touchdowns doesn't mean they're more likely than an average team to have an return touchdown in the future. Just because a team has given up zero interception return touchdowns doesn't mean they're less likely than an average team to give one up in the future.

55
by Marko (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 7:35pm

52: Actually, the Bears have a slightly better road record (7-1) than home record (7-2 including last week's game).

56
by Sophandros (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 8:11pm

Mike J,

I know some people (read: Bitter LSU fans) who don't like the Mannings, but otherwise, that will be a story.

57
by david44 (not verified) :: Fri, 01/19/2007 - 8:21pm

MB: I'm not into DVOA much myself but I did see the whole Saints/Eagles game (..actually twice, thanks to NFL network). I think the Saints only recorded one sack on Garcia but he was constantly having to avoid the rush and/or moving out of the pocket to throw on the run. His ability to do that is what kept the Eagles in that game.That was not suprising though, because Garcia has always had the ability to do that, unlike alot of other NFL Q.B.s I have not seen Grossman much this year so I really don't know how
well he does avoiding the rush
or throwing on the run, but I think that will be a big key to how this game unfolds. If the Saints get to him early in this game it could turn into a
long day for the Bears.

58
by Pat (not verified) :: Sat, 01/20/2007 - 12:46am

Home field advantage in the championship round is non-existant. There have been 32 contests since 1990, and home teams are 17-13, including a 10-10 record since 1996.

(17+13 != 32)

Wait. So why is home field advantage nonexistent, then? In the larger sample, it's 56+/-3%. In the smaller sample, you've got no advantage, but you don't really have the granularity to tell (1 out of 20 is 5% - 50% is 50+/-5%). Those two numbers are consistent. Both home teams win this week, and suddenly it's consistent with HFA during the regular season again.

The reason home field advantage doesn't look like it exists for the championship round is statistics. There's twice as much statistics for the previous round, and you get enhanced by the bye, and the better-team factor.

You always have to take into account statistics.

In order to prove that home field advantage does not exist in the playoffs equal to that of the regular season, to 90% confidence, you would need to have 156 games.

Hell, in order to be even 50% confident (i.e. make any kind of statement whatsoever!) you'd need 54 games!

So before you can even start saying anything about HFA in the championship round, wait 6 years.

59
by mb (not verified) :: Sat, 01/20/2007 - 11:09am

Dave44: Yeah, I watched that game, and the Saints' pass rush wasn't dominant but it was solid and consistent. It's the best part of their defense. I do think that a few of those plays were designed rollouts for Garcia but I agree with you that his ability to scramble, buy time, and make plays on the run was huge. Also, like you said it's clear that that's Garcia's strength as a QB.

Rex isn't really much of a scrambler but he's not so bad at moving around the pocket to buy time. His real problem is not being able to recognize the blitz and not being able to react quickly enough to the blitz. That said, I thought he did a better job of handling pressure in the Seahawks game. He fumbled once and made a couple of bad throws, but there were only one or two plays that really made me cringe and he stood in and made throws even though he was getting hammered (3 sacks and I think he got hit maybe a dozen times in all). I agree that it's going to be critical for the offensive line to play better and keep Smith/Grant off of Rex. In fact I think it's one of the 2 keys to the game, with the other being the ability of the Bears to generate pressure without blitzing and stop Deuce.

60
by BB (not verified) :: Sat, 01/20/2007 - 5:24pm

59: And the fumble came on linebacker rush that he didn't seem to recognize. I'm actually not terribly worried about the D-line pass rush. It's inevitably going to be there, and the Bears' tackles are decent but not great, but Rex is likely to just step up and throw, throw it away, or just take the sack when it comes to pressure from them. It's the blitzes when he usually does the really dumb things like the Aaron Brooks drop, the fumbles, etc.

And I'll be there to scream obscenities at the O-line if they can't keep the guys off him :)