Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

12 Jan 2009

Any Given Divisional Round

This week’s article for ESPN has a sort of mini-AGS about all three upsets. (The thinking went: we just did Arizona, the most surprising game, last week. The Baltimore upset was almost entirely turnovers so not warranting a full look. Finally, does anyone really want to read an FO writer write another article about how good Philadelphia is?) The downside of this was that I did not get a chance to really address what held back the three teams that lost.

Tennessee: The Titans were great at ball security all season, so this one loss is hardly an indictment of their overall system. Still, you could not help but think that this team was eking out every last bit of talent that it had. Justin Gage as your # 1 receiver? Really? They start Nick Harper, a Colts cast-off, at cornerback and still have one of the top defenses in the league. Of course, the counter-argument is that because most of their talent is along their offensive and defensive fronts, it just is more difficult to see. Still, few thought they would return to the playoffs, and one razor-thin loss to an extremely talented team is hardly a reason to question the results of this season.

Carolina: Jake Delhomme and remember to cover Larry Fitzgerald. (The Panthers, of course, beat a Bears team in the playoffs with massive quarterback questions that forgot to cover Steve Smith. That team ended up in the Super Bowl the next year.)

New York: Once Aaron Schatz runs the numbers on Tuesday, you will see that this game was closer than the score. The Giants missed on converting short yardage where they normally excel. The Eagles set up their first touchdown after a lengthy interception return. Given the windy conditions, it is hard to read too much into their inability to throw the ball. The numbers say they did not miss Plaxico Burress too much, although his absence obviously changes the way the team is defended. Manning’s bad game should not obscure the leap in performance he took this year, and the Giants need to realize that post-season results are at least a little fluky. This year’s team was better than last year’s, and panicking would be an enormous mistake.

Posted by: Ned Macey on 12 Jan 2009

10 comments, Last at 13 Jan 2009, 6:26pm by Alvin Mullins


by Theo :: Mon, 01/12/2009 - 7:33pm

I've not seen the Panthers play this season I think, but those guys didn't impress me at all.
They were behind early, and I said to a friend "they can't play ketchup."
They didn't have a clue of how to be efficient in the passing game. All I read in Delhomme's eyes was "when is the defense going to give me the ball at their 30 yard line?"
He looked like an NFL Europe backup QB again. Just as I first knew him.

by drobviousso :: Mon, 01/12/2009 - 8:26pm

Thank you for studiously avoiding talking about exactly 1 of the games this last week. *eye-roll*

by Fizzman :: Mon, 01/12/2009 - 9:18pm

Ummm... You do realize this is "Any Given Sunday", where FO write about an upset (or three), right?

Or do I need to tune my sarcasm meter more finely...?

by JD (not verified) :: Mon, 01/12/2009 - 11:59pm

They didn't talk about the Patriots!

by drobviousso :: Tue, 01/13/2009 - 9:22am

I know what AGS is. I just think it's weird to leave 1 game out when the 'rules' where already broken to cover all but 1 game. I was actually most interested in the games listed, because I only was able to watch the Chargers/Steelers, since I moved over the weekend.

by DGL :: Tue, 01/13/2009 - 5:24pm

The point is that PHI-NYG, ARI-CAR, and BAL-TEN were all "upsets" (per the conventional wisdom, anyway, if not DVOA), whereas PIT-SD wasn't.

by Andrew B :: Tue, 01/13/2009 - 12:05am

"The most surprising result of the weekend was Arizona's domination of Carolina."


The Cardinals in October were up 17-3 @ Carolina early in the 3rd quarter and 23-17 late in the 3rd quarter, and down just 23-27 with 9 minutes in the 4th quarter (and that becuase of an aborted extra point).

Obviously a couple of boneheaded turnovers by Delhomme in the 3rd quarter could have turned that game into a rout too.

The Original Andrew

by Theo :: Tue, 01/13/2009 - 6:01am

It's surprising that the Cardinals even have a winning record; even more surprisingly they are in the playoffs. And they won a game in the play offs. Twice.

by The Ninjalectual :: Tue, 01/13/2009 - 11:28am

I thought Nick Harper has been playing well for the Titans all season--quite unlike him, from what we saw on the Colts...

by Alvin Mullins (not verified) :: Tue, 01/13/2009 - 6:26pm

Both of the Raven's fumble recoveries which happened in the red zone were because of poor ball protection. Both White's and Crumpler's fumbles were because they didn't put the ball away. Gage who had the ball more than both of them and every time he got hit he had both arms on the ball.

Even with all the turnovers, the Ravens did not score on any of them. The Titans really lost by losing Chris Johnson. If they had a real #1 receiver then his loss would not have hurt them so much.