Just in case Sunday night did not make it clear, defense rules the NFL in 2016. The best teams in overall DVOA all combine top-five defenses with below-average offenses. The Eagles now lead the league in both defense and special teams and are back to No. 1 overall.
06 Feb 2013
by Tom Gower and Mike Kurtz
Tom: So, Mike, how about that officiating on Sunday?
Mike: Your talking about the brink of disaster did not help things.
Tom: I freely admit I may be biased, as every Jerome Boger game feels like a near-disaster to me. I thought Rob's comment, that the officiating was about the 15th-biggest issue in the game, was right. Though reflecting on the game it was probably closer to 10th than 15th. Still, not in the top five. In other news, Anquan Boldin just made another contested catch on a play where Donte Whitner didn't provide help.
Tom: Back to things our readers actually care about: Curse you, Bovada. Curse you, Alicia Keys!
Bovada, which published the odds we used in our Super Bowl prop bets, decided that Alicia's repetition of a line in the Star-Spangled Banner constituted adding a word, giving both of us a loss on our bet at -300 that she would not add any words.
Mike: To be fair, it was an addition.
Tom: It was. I was just thinking of it as adding a part of the song that is not in there, not adding a repeat notation at one point.
Mike: True, that was out of left field
Tom: Not getting the $400 for that bet help send me to a losing result on props. I bet a total of $16,175 and won only (only!) $16,040. My big loss, as was yours, was that there would not be a safety. For the second year in a row there was, and this year it cost both of us $1,000.
Mike: My shame at betraying the safety is great.
Tom: Yes, and it helped cost you. You beat me last year, winning several thousand fake dollars (our hypothetical wagering discussed in Scramble represents no actual money). This year, though, you wagered $14,300 and won a mere $10,545. That's all your fake winnings last year and more.
Mike: The fake gambling gods are fickle.
Tom: There wasn't any one bet that put me ahead of you, as your big losses like the safety, adding a word, and Colin Kaepernick throwing an interception before a touchdown were also my big losses. Instead, it was just a collection of the smaller bets. You also had the biggest individual win, selecting the third quarter as the highest-scoring quarter. Excellent foresight there.
One bet I should mention that we both lost was Ray Lewis going well under his 11 tackles over/under. Our All-Keep Chopping Wood Team inside linebacker was credited with seven total tackles, four solo. The Ravens had 40 tackles and were credited with 14 assists after having 30 tackles and 42 assists the week before in New England.
Mike: He really did not have a good game. Then again, he's not very good anymore. At least he gets to leave on top.
Tom: I think we saw, especially in the first half, why the Ravens had a better defensive DVOA in the regular season in the games Lewis missed than they did in the games he played.
As we noted in last week’s column, of course, defensive front seven is the hardest position to select All-KCW nominees at. We end up relying on various heuristics, choosing players we think aren’t very good on defenses and in particular units that seem to struggle. Since we have these nifty advanced stats for individual defensive players, they’re an interesting and sometimes (though not always) insightful tool to use to help us identify players who particularly struggled at their assignments or who struggled to make a positive impact on the game by making particularly positive plays.
Was Lewis the only choice we could have made at middle linebacker? No, certainly not. Was he the worst middle linebacker to play in the NFL in 2012? No, almost certainly not. That didn’t stop us from picking a player for whom the answer to those questions was also "no" at other positions; we selected Mark Sanchez, and I'm pretty sure he was the best quarterback on the Jets last year. (He also finished last in DYAR and had the butt-fumble. We had reasons for picking him.)
In other words, I apologize for how my comments in Audibles came across, which was contrary to the spirit I intended. That the Ravens finished with a fine record with Lewis in the lineup despite his apparent lack of positive contributions is, in my opinion, more of a testament to the quality of the other players in the lineup on defense and offense, luck, and the randomness that is the NFL playoffs of late.
In any event, congratulations to Ray Lewis and the rest of the Ravens on winning the Super Bowl, and I'm sure we'll rightly see him in five years when it comes time for him to be selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
And thus endeth Mike and Tom's Excellent Fake Gambling Adventure of 2013.
Mike: It was, indeed, most excellent.
We have a back-to-back staff league champion, as Danny Tuccitto prevails for the second consecutive season thanks to what was mostly a very balanced roster. He benefited from the Seahawks' fine offensive performances (in fantasy terms, at the minimum) and the services of Dennis Pitta, top-scoring tight end. Aaron came close, and would have won had he selected Anquan Boldin instead of Torrey Smith, but was undone in part by injuries to Rob Gronkowski and Steven Hauschka.
|FO Playoff Fantasy Final Results|
|QB||Aaron Rodgers||Tom Brady||Peyton Manning||Russell Wilson||Colin Kaepernick||Matt Ryan|
|RB||Ray Rice||BenJarvus Green-Ellis||Arian Foster||Marshawn Lynch||Adrian Peterson||Frank Gore|
|RB||Alfred Morris||Vick Ballard||Michael Turner||DuJuan Harris||Knowshon Moreno||Stevan Ridley|
|WR||A.J. Green||Eric Decker||Andre Johnson||Demaryius Thomas||Michael Crabtree||Roddy White|
|WR||Reggie Wayne||Sidney Rice||Randall Cobb||Wes Welker||Brandon Lloyd||Jordy Nelson|
|WR||Pierre Garcon||Golden Tate||Julio Jones||James Jones||Torrey Smith||Brandon Stokley|
|TE||Jermaine Gresham||Aaron Hernandez||Jacob Tamme||Dennis Pitta||Rob Gronkowski||Tony Gonzalez|
|K||Justin Tucker||Josh Brown||Mason Crosby||Stephen Gostkowski||Steven Hauschka||Matt Prater|
A hearty congratulations to mjb for winning Best of the Rest with a fantastic total of 285 points. Not only was that well ahead of Danny’s Staff League-leading total, but it was also the best score in the history of FO playoff fantasy, ahead of Danny's 274 last year. The winning team consisted of Joe Flacco, Bernard Pierce, Jacquizz Rodgers, Anquan Boldin, Greg Jennings, Jacoby Jones, Vernon Davis, Matt Bryant, and Falcons defense.
The ideal Best of the Rest team would have had on it Flacco, Pierce, Shane Vereen, Boldin, Jennings, Jones, Davis, David Akers or Shayne Graham, and Redskins defense, which combined for 318 points. This is the first time in the four years we have been doing Scramble that every player on the ideal Best of the Rest team was actually chosen by a Best of the Rest team. Congratulations to puffbronfman, who was the only participant to select Vereen and finished in third place with 219 points, and to Zac who finished in second with 231 points. Full Best of the Rest results can be accessed here.
For the curious, here were the top scorers at each position, with players eligible for Best of the Rest in italics
Frank Gore-59 points
Arian Foster-50 points
Ray Rice-42 points
Shane Vereen-33 points
Marshawn Lynch-28 points
DuJuan Harris-27 points
Stevan Ridley-20 points
Bernard Pierce-17 points
John Kuhn-13 points
Michael Turner-12 points
Anquan Boldin-61 points
Michael Crabtree-42 points
Julio Jones-35 points
Torrey Smith-33 points
Jacoby Jones/Wes Welker-30 points
Roddy White-23 points
James Jones/Golden Tate-19 points
Greg Jennings/Andre Johnson-17 points
Justin Tucker-29 points
David Akers/Shayne Graham-24 points
Matt Bryant-19 points
Stephen Gostkowski-18 points
Tom: Now, we normally make fun of commercials, but this is our annual column where we talk about commercials we like. Before we say nice things, Mike, did you want to talk about Phil Simms or any other aspects of CBS's broadcast of the Super Bowl?
Mike: The less said about Phil Simms, the better.
Tom: Well put. What were your thoughts on this year's crop of commercials?
Mike: Somewhat underwhelming, really. Few commercials really stood out from the pack, and the official Scramble King of Commercials, Old Spice, was conspicuously absent this year. This actually fits in with the rest of this year's commercials, which were decidedly not high concept. I'm a sucker for high concept. Your mileage may vary.
Tom: Not only was Old Spice missing, but so was Scramble's King of Pitchmen, Peyton Manning.
Mike: The only one that I can think of that was high concept, actually, was Samsung. They usually have terrible commercials, but did a great job bringing together two actors, a good cameo, and the fear of irrelevance.
Tom: Samsung? Was that the ad with the people who must have been famous that I didn't recognize?
Mike: I know you live under a rock, Tom, but that is a bit extreme. You should at least recognize LeBron James.
Tom: Well, okay, I do recognize LeBron James. It didn't hurt that they said "LeBron" right before showing him. I didn't recognize any of the other people in the commercial, though the non-Seth actor is a guy I recognized, though I'm not sure where I had seen him before. I have no idea if the Samsung employees were people who are in any way famous, or just Seth and the guy I vaguely recognized were.
Mike: I'm fairly certain the Samsung people are just other actors. I'm not sure there's anyone associated with Samsung that is actually famous, and if they were, they'd be Korean.
Tom: Fair enough.
Tom: Oh, I should point out the one ad truly related to the Super Bowl that I really liked, namely Jell-O's Pudding Surprise.
Mike: That was a delightful ad, if a bit mean-spirited.
Tom: I'd seen a headline somewhere that Jell-O was going to do something for the Super Bowl loser in some way, but didn't pay attention to it, as I tried to go into the game unspoiled of what was to happen.
Mike: Hilariously mean-spirited.
Tom: Yeah, I have no idea how I would have reacted to an ad like that if it had aired right after Kevin Dyson was tackled at the one-yard-line to end the game. This year, though, I loved it.
Mike: I'm actually surprised GE's Smart Machines wasn't a Super Bowl ad. They sort of wasted it for the season, since it has a lot of quasi-cameos and nostalgia. I think it would have been a great Super Bowl spot, but as it was, it didn't have the same effect.
Tom: Yeah, that did feel more like a Super Bowl ad, though my feelings on it may be covered by my ability to endlessly quote Short Circuit.
"Great, so instead of $11 million dollars on the loose, we'll have $22." "Plus, we are needing gas money."
"Hey, laser lips, your momma was a snowblower."
Mike: I'm cutting this off. For all of our sakes.
Tom: I am standing here beside myself!
Tom: One ad I'm curious about your take on is Budweiser's Clydesdales ad, Brotherhood. Bud has so many commercials during the Super Bowl most years that they have different campaigns, most of them typically unexciting to me, but they normally have one good one.
Mike: It usually involves the Clydesdales.
Tom: Not always. Don't forget Product Placement.
Tom: What was your take on this year's ad?
Mike: I thought it was all right. It was a little less pomp and a little more heart, which was nice, but in the end it's a commercial for beer featuring horses, which is always a bit odd.
Tom: I kind of liked it, but South Park set such a high bar with their use of "Landslide" that Bud suffered in comparison. As a friend of mine also pointed out, Bud is kind of the villain here. They take their horse away from our protagonist, and he doesn't see him in the parade because of the blinders Bud put on.
Mike: I'm pretty sure that if the protagonist doesn't want to see horses he trains go away, he should stop being a horse trainer. And instead be a horse keeper.
Mike: Any other commercials you particularly liked?
Tom: Ah, yes.
Tom: We can't go without discussing maybe the biggest commercial of the game.
Mike: Oh, right. I dislike Deion Sanders severely, as we have discussed in past columns. That commercial, however, was absolutely brilliant. And honestly was probably my favorite of the night.
Tom: I also have to point out Mr. Sandcastle has his own P-F-R page already as well.
Mike: I'm really surprised that the NFL didn't dig up a Ron Mexico joke for this one, honestly. Although I'm not complaining.
Tom: They're not going to make a joke using a name you can't, or at least couldn't, have put on a jersey.
Mike: I'm not saying they name the character Ron Mexico. But it isn't that hard to go for a quick and easy Bob Ecuador. Lord knows, this staff has never felt shy about going back to that well!
Tom: Are you requesting another Cleveland Browns joke, Mike, to finish out the season?
Mike: Perish the thought.
Keep Chopping Wood: When Chris Culliver struggled in coverage, Donte Whitner was never available to help him out. Some of that credit must go to Jim Caldwell's play-calling, as we saw Broncos safety Mike Adams, for one, similarly popping up in unhelpful spots on the field. In any event, both Culliver and Whitner had too many breakdowns.
Mike Martz Award: Though he won it, Jim Harbaugh's spot challenge (a notoriously difficult type of challenge to win) could have cost the 49ers a crucial timeout in the second half. His decision to kick a field goal down eight on fourth-and-2 in the red zone was also non-ideal. He deserves a great deal of credit for his work this season, including intelligent aggressiveness, but Sunday was not his finest moment.
Colbert Award: John Harbaugh, fake field goal. It did not work. It probably should have. One of your Scramble writers went on record in Audibles saying he would not have made the call. It was still a bold move.
49 comments, Last at 10 Feb 2013, 5:14pm by wadingshorebird