Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

14 Jan 2011

NY Times: Saturday Divisional Previews

I sometimes wish the Steelers and Ravens would stop playing each other for a while because it is hard to come up with new things to say.

Posted by: Mike Tanier on 14 Jan 2011

19 comments, Last at 16 Jan 2011, 3:54am by Jerry


by countertorque :: Fri, 01/14/2011 - 2:16pm


by dryheat :: Fri, 01/14/2011 - 2:47pm

Okay Mike, for a New York Times article, I can maybe understand withholding Daniel Sepulveda's name. But to follow up botching Jeremy Kapinos's name? You're not too big-time these days to invest in some research before sending these things to print.

Great, great Arthur Blank line.

by tuluse :: Fri, 01/14/2011 - 3:16pm

Hey don't knock that gnarled roadside fruit, it's twice as delicious as supermarket produce.

by TomC :: Fri, 01/14/2011 - 3:27pm

I'm also surprised Tanier went with the "sparky" pick. The almost-meaningless December Saints game was Atlanta's only home loss, while GB is 3-5 on the road (including losses in their last three while they were supposed to be making a playoff push). I foresee lots of GB penalties and another boring win for the Falcons.

by tuluse :: Fri, 01/14/2011 - 3:36pm

I suspect the reffing crew will have a big effect on this game. Does anyone know what crew it is, and what their rate of pass interference and offensive holding calls are?

Green Bay has a pretty sizable DVOA advantage over Atlanta and James Starks looks like he actually has the talent to run the ball at an average level, so it's actually the stats pick as well as the "sparky" pick.

by MCS :: Fri, 01/14/2011 - 4:05pm

I heard it was the John Parry crew. I saw a blog post this morning that this crew had a tendency to let DB's get rough, but called OPI.

More searching required to confirm that.

by Arkaein :: Fri, 01/14/2011 - 10:19pm

It really doesn't matter, this constant talk about GB committing DPI and defensive holding is terribly out of date, and it's annoying to see FO readers rehashing old material instead of keeping up with the times.

Woodson has basically been playing OLB the past half of the season, and when he has been in coverage he and the other DBs have been playing less press man. Just check the play-by-plays, GB has not committed very many defensive penalties since around the Washington and Miami games.

by MCS :: Fri, 01/14/2011 - 11:50pm

Never said they were committing those penalties. Was just commenting on what I read.

I wasn't rehashing any old topic, I was commenting on what Tuluse said. If you find our discussion annoying, feel free not to read it.

I do feel a crew that is not afraid to call an OPI could be beneficial for Green Bay. Roddy White does like to play a physical game.

by tuluse :: Sat, 01/15/2011 - 12:02am

Not committing or not getting caught?

Because I saw two blatant defensive backfield penalties by the Packers in week 17, neither one of which got called. (As well as one by the Bears, so the crew was just letting things go, but still).

by Arkaein :: Sat, 01/15/2011 - 11:26am

Here are the full number of defensive pass interference, holding, and illegal contact penalties by GB in each of their games, along with yardage (yardage for accepted penalties only, opposing offense OPIs thrown in for fun). The trend is obvious, and cannot be explained away by refs letting teams play:

@PHI - 1/5 (1 PHI OPI)
BUF - 1/5
@CHI - 3/32
DET - 1/11
@WAS - 4/23
MIA - 2/10
MIN - 0/0 (1 MIN OPI)
@NYJ - 1/5
DAL - 1/0
@MIN - 0/0
@ATL - 1/5
SF - 0/0
@DET - 1/5
@NE - 0/0
NYG - 2/21 (1 NYG OPI)
CHI - 0/0
@PHI - 0/0

My conclusion: 11 penalties for 86 yards in the first 6 games, followed by a fundamental shift in coverage techniques and use of Charles Woodson that resulted in only 6 penalties for 36 yards over the last 11 games.

by dryheat :: Fri, 01/14/2011 - 3:45pm

Well, if by "almost meaningless" you mean "needed a win to clinch the NFC South", then I agree that it was almost meaningless.

by tuluse :: Fri, 01/14/2011 - 3:54pm

No they didn't. They only needed to one win in the final 2 weeks to clinch.

by dryheat :: Fri, 01/14/2011 - 4:28pm

So it was a planned decision to not try their hardest to win during the first of those two weeks? I understand that they still controlled their playoff scenarios, and I understand they hosted Carolina the next week, but it's somewhat ludicrous to call that game "almost meaningless". I'm fairly certain every NFL coach and team wants to clinch their division as soon as possible.

by tuluse :: Fri, 01/14/2011 - 5:28pm

I'm just making sure we have all the facts.

To answer your question, I think it's very possible that the Falcon's did not give maximum effort in both their final games, but I do agree "almost meaningless" seems silly.

by TomC :: Sat, 01/15/2011 - 1:13pm

Two clarifications:

1) You guys are right, "almost meaningless" is overstating the case. Still, take that qualifier out, and ATL still has a gaudy home record.

2) When I said "lots of GB penalties", I meant the kind that cost them the first Bears game (offensive holding, false starts), not DPI-type penalties. Anecdotally, these seem to be more of a problem for the GB O-line on the road than in Lambeau.

by drobviousso :: Fri, 01/14/2011 - 4:47pm

For the Steelers/Ravens game, Triplette is officiating.

Expect the penalty yards to be written in scientific notation.

by Jerry :: Fri, 01/14/2011 - 7:39pm

Nice to know who we'll be yelling at tomorrow.

by TomC :: Sat, 01/15/2011 - 1:15pm

If the game goes into OT, will they let Jerome Bettis be an honorary captain and call the coin toss?

by Jerry :: Sun, 01/16/2011 - 3:54am

I noticed that while Triplette did indeed referee, Chad Brown was the umpire. Are they using "all-star" crews in the playoffs?