Possibly the closest Super Bowl matchup in history also poses the question: how much does it mean when certain aspects of an NFL team improve dramatically in the second half of the season?
15 Jun 2009
by Bill Barnwell
This week, we've got five more quarterbacks to break down. We'll look at the average, maximum, and minimum projections for each quarterback, and give our thoughts on the player's 2009. We start in Dallas with Monday's player:
Monday: Tony Romo
Average Prediction: 3754 passing yards, 26 TD, 16 INT
Maximum Prediction: 4620 passing yards, 37 TD, 8 INT
Minimum Prediction: 3100 passing yards, 20 TD, 21 INT
This prediction seems a little low. Remember -- we're projecting each player to play all 16 games, so people shouldn't be adjusting for the possibility of injury. Over his career as a starter, Tony Romo has averaged 4333 passing yards, 33 touchdowns, and 19 interceptions per 16 games. It's true that the team's likely to run the ball more with their troika of running backs, but at the same time, projecting a drop-off of nearly 600 yards seems unlikely.
Tuesday: Jason Campbell
Average Prediction: 3220 passing yards, 20 TD, 12 INT
Maximum Prediction: 3800 passing yards, 27 TD, 6 INT
Minimum Prediction: 2500 passing yards, 12 TD, 21 INT
As I wrote about in our NFC Building Blocks article for ESPN Insider last week, this is a pivotal year for a player who has shown growth during each of his seasons as a starter -- comparing his career paths to Drew Brees or Byron Leftwich after this year isn't unreasonable, and the difference in their second contracts was $53 million.
This prediction, I think, reflects the uncertainty about Campbell's ability to grow beyond the somewhat limited (if effective) player he is now. His interception rate is going to rise after throwing picks on a league-low 1.2 percent of his passes last year, with 12 seeming like a fair figure for 16 games. I would figure fewer touchdowns, but more passing yards; something like 3450/18/12 seems more accurate to me.
We also enjoyed Chris Mottram's prediction of "Whatever [Jay] Cutler does times two".
Wednesday: Eli Manning
Average Prediction: 3418 passing yards, 22 TD, 15 INT
Maximum Prediction: 3900 passing yards, 31 TD, 7 INT
Minimum Prediction: 3000 passing yards, 17 TD, 20 INT
As we noted on Twitter, Manning's career averages per 16 games are 3295 passing yards with 22 touchdowns and 17 interceptions, so our followers' average prediction isn't very far off. I wrote a bunch in this year's book about Manning's third-down splits and how they're not representative of his career or likely to recur, even with the presence of Steve Smith in the lineup. With injuries likely to occur up front and question marks in his receiving corps, I think it's reasonable to project Manning to regress some from his banner 2008, and expecting a career-average season seems wholly reasonable.
Thursday: Jay Cutler
Average Prediction: 3766 passing yards, 24 TD, 16 INT
Maximum Prediction: 4600 passing yards, 35 TD, 11 INT
Minimum Prediction: 3200 passing yards, 17 TD, 23 INT
More than 20 percent of respondents predicted that Cutler would throw for over 4000 yards in 2009. This confounded me; who is he going to be throwing to in order to reach 4000 yards? Can he bring Brandon Marshall along?
I would suspect that this prediction is, realistically, a little high. While KUBIAK isn't finished yet, it doesn't see Cutler's totals at the average level predicted by our followers. Maybe the Bears will dramatically shift their offense with Cutler around -- it's hard to argue that they shouldn't -- but the team variables surrounding Cutler aren't very promising.
Friday: Ben Roethlisberger
Average Prediction: 3463 passing yards, 23 TD, 15 INT
Maximum Prediction: 4000 passing yards, 33 TD, 10 INT
Minimum Prediction: 2950 passing yards, 17 TD, 19 INT
I'd be downright shocked if Roethlisberger hit that 4000-yard mark; he's only come within 500 yards of it once. Furthermore, he's got a very strange statistical quirk on his record; outside of 2007, when he had 32 TD, he's had either 17 or 18 passing touchdowns every year as a pro. That doesn't preclude him from hitting his average, but I was surprised to see no one predict fewer than 17 touchdowns. I guess it's a function of the Steelers' struggles running the ball at the goal line.
As far as his average prediction goes, I would suspect that he'll hit that interception total, but probably with fewer passing yards and touchdowns.
We'll be back next Monday with another wrapup of this week's predictions; we're starting to forecast running backs this week, starting today with Knowshon Moreno. To join in, simply follow us on Twitter, where we spend our off-days needling Drew Rosenhaus.
34 comments, Last at 26 Jun 2009, 8:41pm by Barney