Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

21 Dec 2012

ESPN Upset Watch: Bengals over Steelers

More on the quietest hot team in the NFL, the Cincinnati Bengals, and why they could punch their ticket for a return trip to the playoffs this weekend. Cover Watch looks at the improving Cleveland Browns defense against Peyton Manning.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 21 Dec 2012

5 comments, Last at 23 Dec 2012, 11:12am by erniecohen

Comments

1
by erniecohen :: Fri, 12/21/2012 - 5:00pm

Given the health of the PIT CBs/OL and the recent performances of the teams, I'm not sure how this could qualify as an upset. I wouldn't take PIT -4 with a gun pointed at my head.

4
by erniecohen :: Sun, 12/23/2012 - 10:22am

I forgot to mention the fact that CIN has the mini-bye. At this time of year that's worth, what, about 2 points? I'll bet PIT would give them two points to move the game to Monday night.

2
by steveNC (not verified) :: Sat, 12/22/2012 - 1:27am

Yes, exactly my thoughts (that I was trying to post hours ago but the site kept timing out). The upset would be if PIT actually won this somehow.

3
by Hummingbird Cyborg :: Sat, 12/22/2012 - 6:04pm

One thing that really astounds me is that Pittsburgh ranks first in the league in yards per attempt allowed and yet their passing defense DVOA rating is positive. That's astounding to me.

I mean, yards per attempt tends to correlate pretty well with teams with good pass defense, so it really is amazing that DVOA disagrees so strongly with this stat.

It can't all be opponent adjustments can it? They don't have many interceptions, but that's doesn't seem like it should be enough. Is it their opponent adjustments? Any ideas?

5
by erniecohen :: Sun, 12/23/2012 - 11:12am

I think the factors you mention all contribute (e.g., because of the low INT, they are only 11th in passer rating), but in addition there is the low sack rate. I believe that the official YPA does not count sacks (either as an attempt or as lost passing yardage) so the PIT YPA looks better than it really is. A better way to measure pass defense is to take net passing yardage, minus some amount per INT (45 yards seems to be popular), divided by the number of passes plus the number of sacks.

For example, CIN has had an even easier schedule, and only 4 more INTs. But if you count in the sacks, their real YPA drops from 6.7 to 5.6, while the PIT drops only from 5.9 to 5.3. If you count each INT as -45 yards, then CIN drops to 4.75, while PIT drops to 4.6. The CHI YPA drops from 6.4 all the way down to 3.7.