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02 Oct 2013

Scramble: Quarterpoint Pole

by Tom Gower and Mike Kurtz

Tom: Well, Mike, most of the teams in the league have played four of their 16 regular season games. Every year, there are players who look like they could crack the elusive 1,000-yard barrier for the first time. Every year, there are players who have four good early games and swiftly fall off the map. Once again, your Scramble writers will attempt to divine which players who have accumulated at least 250 rushing or receiving yards thus far and have not yet had a 1,000-yard season will actually make it to 1,000 yards. Spoiler: We're not talking about Adrian Peterson. We will talk about Jordan Cameron.

Mike: Every year, Mike and Tom will be completely and totally wrong. Largely because we talk about Jordan Cameron instead of Adrian Peterson, which seems somewhat counterproductive! But much more amusing.

Tom: We actually have done okay with this column gimmick in the past.

Mike: That is surprising, because we are even less well-informed for this than our other terrible predictions.

Tom: Okay, mind you, not great. For example, in last year's column, we both whiffed on Brent Celek, who finished with 684 yards. The Eagles ended up more dysfunctional than we thought they would.

Mike: If only we were predicting whether the players would be involved in a thousand plays this season. Predicting the Eagles would be easy! And probably all under 1,000 yards.

Tom: LeSean McCoy currently has 468 yards. He'll probably make it to 1,000. He's been there before, though. There are only two running backs on pace for 1,000 yards who've never made it there, fitting the new pass-centric NFL. DeMarco Murray is well ahead of the pace, with 356 yards, while Bilal Powell has 292. Murray came kind of close, with 897 yards as a rookie in 2011. Powell had 437 yards last year, with most of his work as the backup to Shonn Greene.

Mike: With marginal guys like this, it's always fun to look at most similar players. Powell's are ... Dee Brown, Keith Henderson, and DeShaun Foster. Murray's are Onterrio Smith, Gary Brown, and Joe Delaney. Note that, in this case, fun rarely means instructive.

Tom: Gary Brown had a couple 1,000-yard seasons, albeit one of them in the comparison years. Somewhat to my surprise, Foster never had a 1,000-yard season, with between 876 and 897 yards in his three high-volume carry seasons. Volume will of course be the biggest concern with both of these players. Murray hasn't made it to 16 games yet, while Powell is getting his first chance at lead back duties. The Jets also have Chris Ivory, whenever he's actually healthy.

Mike: Does anyone actually care about a healthy Chris Ivory anymore, though?

Tom: I think they would if it happened more often. He's pretty good.

Mike: But as you said, quite infrequent. It's interesting that a lot of Murray's success has been despite his line, which, thus far, has been in the middle of the pack in ALY and terrible in power situations.

Tom: Well, nearly half his yards come from the Rams game.

Mike: That is true. Still, slightly above-average, plus a nice boost off a bad team puts Murray solidly into over territory.

Tom: I just don't trust he'll stay healthy enough to get the 225 carries he'll probably need. Under.

As to Bilal Powell, I think he is okay as a runner, not a scrub.

Mike: High praise: "not a scrub."

Tom: The bad sign is him gaining 1,000 yards depends on Jets offensive proficiency. And like Murray, around half of his yards (149 of 292) came in a single game.

Mike: True. The passing attack seems like it will somehow be even worse than last year, and the line looks rather pedestrian this year.

Tom: He's close enough to not passing 1,000 yards by that much that I just look at those other three games, his team, and can't see it happening. Under.

Mike: I don't have any confidence in any facet of the Jets' offense, so I think the smart money is always going to be on the under.

Tom: And once again this year, there is a whole boatload of players on track for 1,000 yards receiving for the first time. To wit, Torrey Smith, Jordan Cameron, Jerome Simpson, Pierre Garcon, Cecil Shorts, Julian Edelman, Randall Cobb, DeAndre Hopkins, and Kenbrell Thompkins.

Mike: Edelman and Thompkins are just a mess, prediction-wise. Tom Brady famously taking whatever the defense is giving him, in our bizarre new post-Wes Welker world.

Tom: Thompkins barely qualifies with 257 yards. Edelman has 319. Sooner or later, I expect both Danny Amendola and Rob Gronkowski to come back. I think they'll be the only reliable targets in that offense.

Mike: Yes and no. I don't think Thompkins will continue to be a real target. Edelman will receive attention, however.

Tom: And even with Welker, the Patriots were as matchup-specific in terms of what they did on offense as any team in a given week, as any Patriots running back owner in those years well knew. Edelman will still get some work, sure, but I wouldn't be confident in anything consistent.

Mike: I think Edelman will get more than you think, especially since Gronkowski will probably be viewed as the team's primary threat and given more attention, particularly with Aaron Hernandez gone. I think Edelman hits the over but Thompkins is under.

Tom: Edelman is averaging 9.4 yards per reception. If he had Welker's deep speed, he could do it, because Amendola is made of glass. I don't think he does. Under on both him and Thompkins.

Torrey Smith has 435 yards already, so I don't think we need to discuss him much. Unless he gets hurt (or maybe Joe Flacco does and the replacement is really awful), he's going over.

Mike: I am somewhat surprised that Smith hasn't had a 1,000-yard season yet, honestly.

Tom: He was 50-841 and 49-855 his first two seasons.

Mike: Ah. I agree, this is a pretty easy over.

Tom: The more interesting question is Jordan Cameron. He already has 360 yards receiving. On 43 targets and 12.0 yards per catch.

Mike: Cameron has already made me look stupid once this young season.

Tom: Jason Witten led all tight ends with 149 targets last year, followed by Jimmy Graham with 135 and Tony Gonzalez with 124. Cameron is on pace for 172. Unless I'm missing somebody or it happened in the pre-DVOA era, no tight end has ever had more than 155 targets in a year.

Mike: On one hand, that is an extraordinary workload for a tight end. On the other hand, what else are the Browns going to do?

Tom: Throw the ball less. Maybe throw it more to Davone Bess and Josh Gordon? Their 183 passing attempts is tied for the most in the league thus far. Is this just a matter of guessing his final passing volume?

Mike: Honestly, I think it is.

Tom: Right now he's averaging 12.0 yards per catch.

Mike: The AFC North is terrible.

Tom: And he has a 70 percent catch rate. If he manages to sustain those two, which does not seem particularly unreasonable, he'll need 120 targets. That's 77 over the final 12 games, or 6.4 per game. He's had 23 in the past two games, with Gordon in the lineup. Norv Turner loves throwing the ball to tight ends. Just like with Celek last year, I'm talking myself into thinking he'll make it.

Mike: All according to keikaku. Over.

Tom: I just can't do it. I can't get myself mentally comfortable with Jordan Cameron getting that many receptions. A horribly unsatisfying, not well-justified, excessively conservative under.

George Orwell Has This in His Personal Room 101

Mike: I ... what.

Tom: That was almost exactly my reaction. I can't decide what my favorite part of the commercial is: The change in the lyrics from "woman's man" to "woman," the zombies (because it's "Stayin' Alive", get it? get it? get it?), that I had no idea what it was for until we get the Jordache logo at the end, or the mention that Jordache is available at Wal-Mart.

Mike: I had to sit back and try to figure out what Jordache is. I'm still a bit confused.

Tom: Jordache is about as 1980's as the video for Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go, which deserves an MPAA-like warning of excessive 80's-ness.

Mike: That makes sense, as I have spent most of my life trying to avoid things that are 1980s.

Tom: I think this is one of those situations where it really matters that I'm a couple years older than you are. I remember, for example, 1983.

Mike: For which I pity you. Really though, this commercial fails at every level save throwing an attractive woman at us. That is the bare minimum to get a commercial on the air, so kudos to Wal-Mart for expanding their general strategy to their marketing material!

Tom: I think it's Jordache's commercial, perhaps to celebrate convincing Wal-Mart to distribute their product. The problem is they had a competition to come up with which commercial they wanted to air, and decided to combine their five finalists into one commercial. I'd love to know what the full idea with the mime was, and if he started off in the same commercial as the guy wearing the horse's head. Perhaps I'm just completely missing a callback to an iconic Jordache commercial (or five of them) from their heyday. If I'm missing it, though, I bet at least 95 percent of their intended viewing audience is missing it as well. Well, maybe only 80 percent if they're targeting hipsters and people who watched more general television in the early 1980's than I did. I was not that old in 1983.

Mike: That is the 20 percent that terrifies me.

Tom: Readers, if we're missing some iconic Jordache callbacks, please let us know! Or display your good taste and don't!

Loser League

Quarterback: Welcome back, Blaine Gabbert! We missed you and your regular appearances with scores like this week's 3 points.

Running Back: Rashard Mendenhall and Daryl Richardson: NFC West lead backs and scorers of 1 point this week.

Wide Receiver: Tavon Austin on a team head-coached by Jeff Fisher and coordinated offensively by Brian Schottenheimer is the ideal place to put up scores like 0 points. Rod Streater, Mohamed Sanu, and Golden Tate each had 1 point.

Kicker: On a dysfunctional Giants offense going against a Kansas City defense, a missed field goal put Josh Brown in negative territory with -1 points.

Weekly Awardings of In-Fame and Bad Fortune

KEEP CHOPPING WOOD: Rookie quarterbacks sometimes make mistakes. Geno Smith's two interceptions, one on a late throw on a post route and the other when his receiver lost a jump ball, were understandable. Ball security on a scramble is a common issue. But what really got to one of your Scramble writers was his tendency when under pressure on a blown up screen to retreat 15 yards downfield. He was nearly safetied for his troubles on one such play and on another lost the ball trying to transfer the ball from one hand to another behind his back. While it lacked the dramatic and hilarious nature of the Buttfumble, Smith's play was even more ill-advised. The Titans recovered his backshuffle for a touchdown.

MIKE MARTZ AWARD: Whatever exactly is going on in Tampa on offense right now exists on a whole separate plane than this award. Thus, this week's Martz honoree is John Harbaugh, for his field goal on fourth-and-5 from the Bills 6 that cut Bufflao's lead from 23-17 to 23-20 with just over four minutes to play.

Todd Haley Lock of the Week

Tom: I apologize, Mike. I picked the Steelers to win and cover against the Vikings. They did neither. You refused to engage me on that subject. You were right. I was wrong. On the other hand, you were wrong too! The Browns not only covered, but they beat the Bengals straight-up. For more on how that happened, and Cleveland going forward, see yesterday's ESPN piece.

Mike: The AFC North. Is. Terrible.

Tom: Yup. For more on the Ravens, see yesterday's Any Given Sunday. Anyway, as per normal, lines are courtesy of Bovada, and all picks are made without reference to FO's Premium picks. And per Bovada, the Rams are 11.5-point favorites. The Rams!

Mike: And as sad as it is, neither of us will take it!

Tom: Sadly, yes. Jacksonville seems to actually be that bad.

Mike: I think this one should be easy. Seattle is currently second in both DVOA and DAVE, top-five in both offensive DVOA, and first defensive VOA. And while Indianapolis might be sitting at 5th in VOA (somehow), the defense is currently ranked 13th, and our buddy DAVE has them pegged at 15.

Tom: They've played two road games, beating the Panthers by five and Texans by three. In overtime.

Mike: In any case, one of the best teams in the league is playing an average-ish team at best, and the line has the game as a draw when adjusting for homefield. That is insane. Seattle Seahawks -3 at Indianapolis Colts.

Tom: Thanks for taking a game I would not have. I'm going to instead to do something crazy, and take a Ron Rivera team that's favored on the road. Carolina has an outstanding defensive front. Arizona has an awful offensive line once again. I do not think Carolina will have to score that many points to cover. Arizona's defense is respectable early, but I think Carolina will score enough. Carolina Panthers -2 at Arizona Cardinals.

Posted by: Tom Gower on 02 Oct 2013

48 comments, Last at 27 Jan 2016, 5:00am by agariogames1


by Evan Koch (not verified) :: Wed, 10/02/2013 - 2:29pm

The line is not at a draw when adjusting for homefield for Seattle @ Indy. The spread it Seattle -3, which means on a neutral field it'd be Seattle -6, since they're the away team.

by dmstorm22 :: Wed, 10/02/2013 - 2:50pm

Yup, that and the site that this article is posted on thinks the Colts are far from an average-ish team.

Of course, Mike may have his own opinion, which is fair, but the mistake on the line adjustment was just wrong.

by Bobman :: Wed, 10/02/2013 - 4:18pm

I caught that, too, but is the 6 pts a neutral field, or home field? That is to say, if the game was in Seattle, would they be favored by 6 or nine? I assume six.

Either way, you're right.

by Sisyphus :: Wed, 10/02/2013 - 5:01pm

The adjustment for Seattle at home is, in most published lines, either 3.5 or 4.0, depending on where you are looking. This is not generally discussed but not everyones home field advantage is equivilent and the books do take that into consideration.

by Bobman :: Thu, 10/03/2013 - 12:26am

Ah, thanks, good point about different venues carrying different advantage weights. Not quite sure why my fellow Seattleites are so loud, but both football stadia in town are known for being particularly loud--part of it is design, part of it is... I dunno, coffee and microbrews? Together? Nobody around here honks a horn while driving, but get them in a football stadium with the opponent in third and long, and it's freakin bedlam.

by Dr. Mooch :: Thu, 10/03/2013 - 1:36am

Although Seattle is loud, I think FO has put up some research previously that lends support to the idea that home field advantage is greatest for W division teams largely because their performance away suffers so much.

This would suggest that teams from the west were generally better than they looked, but dragged down because half their games were played abroad. This was a more appealing theory at the time much of the data was generated, when both AFCW and NFCW were overall pretty bad and assumptions of central tendency would make you think that couldn't be right.

by Rhombus (not verified) :: Wed, 10/02/2013 - 11:21pm

The Seahawks have proven to be an average-ish, at best, on the road. They all but lost to the decidedly average Houston Texans (17th, 1.6% DVOA), and eked another win from the Panthers, who are inexplicably ranked in the top 10. Also, the Colts are 5th in DVOA, anything but an average team, and beat a very similar team just two weeks before. Instead of putting this one as a lock, I'd be talking about this game in the Upset Watch category.

by shmup-o :: Thu, 10/03/2013 - 12:38pm

That is an interesting argument. 2-0 = average on the road? I agree with the "not the same team on the road" argument, but not "average road team".

by Rhombus (not verified) :: Thu, 10/03/2013 - 12:44pm

"2-0" is not a very apt description of Seattle's performance on the road so far. They could very easily have been 0-2, and definitely should be 1-1, against two pretty average teams. I'd say that puts them squarely in the average department.

by someguy (not verified) :: Sat, 10/05/2013 - 2:07pm

If you're going to use the DVOA argument, then you have to stand by it That includes a Panthers team that is only one spot behind the Colts in DVOA. The Panthers have a great defensive line, and, to your point, could easily be 3-0 right now. And even if they were 2-1 the one loss would be to the Seahawks. Right now the better defense between the two is Carolina, and the Panthers have the better DAVE rating by quite a bit.

by Rich A (not verified) :: Wed, 10/02/2013 - 2:43pm

Doesn't Edelman have better deep speed than Welker? I've always seen Brady's deep ball over Welker's head but Edelman has always had to slow down for it. Though that may just be Brady's throw rather than any actual difference in speed.

by Guido Merkens :: Wed, 10/02/2013 - 3:02pm

Subjectively, it looks like Brady has lost some velocity off his deep ball in the last few years.

by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Wed, 10/02/2013 - 6:10pm

He does, but the real miss here is Thompkins, who is much better than these guys seem to think. It is probable that he falls short of 1,000 yards, but he is anything but a "mess."

by TomC :: Wed, 10/02/2013 - 8:43pm

"Edelman and Thompkins are just a mess, prediction-wise." I.e., given New England's offense and personnel management history, it's really hard to make predictions for these guys based on their first four games. Tom & Mike are not calling either one of them a mess as a player or person.

by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Wed, 10/02/2013 - 8:46pm

That is a very fine line your are drawing. How can someone's production be "a mess" without the player in question being in the same vicinity?

by Rhombus (not verified) :: Wed, 10/02/2013 - 11:24pm

In the same way that any talented backup is a mess, prediction-wise. They can put up great numbers when necessary, but it's hard to predict when the two top receiving threats for the Patriots are out for most of the season so far. We really have no idea how much they will contribute when Gronk and Amendola return, although its safe to say it will be less.

by Noah Arkadia :: Thu, 10/03/2013 - 10:00am

Prediction, not production.

The man with no sig

by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Thu, 10/03/2013 - 11:40am

Ahhhhh.... that is where my issue was. Thanks.

by jrichuso :: Wed, 10/02/2013 - 2:49pm

EDIT: duplicate topic, sorry.

"and the line has the game as a draw when adjusting for homefield. That is insane. Seattle Seahawks -3 at Indianapolis Colts."

I think you're mistaken regarding the adjustment for homefield. If we assume homefield is worth 3 points over a neutral field, then the Seahawks would be 6 point favs on a neutral field and 9 point favs in Seattle. How is this a draw?

by eddy (not verified) :: Wed, 10/02/2013 - 7:57pm

because it is at Indy. Seattle is a 3 point fav, but indy gets 3 points for being at home. So its a toss up. If it was at Seattle, they would be a 3 point fave, but 3 points again better from playin at home, and expectedly win by 6. Being at a neutral field just means the line would be unaffected by location, and thus merely win by 3.

by Eddo :: Thu, 10/03/2013 - 9:37am

Incorrect - the three-point homefield is built into the line. Therefore, sports books are saying that Seattle is six points better on a neutral field, and thus only three points better in Indianapolis.

by Theo :: Wed, 10/02/2013 - 3:24pm

What or who is Jordache?
Is that like 'headache' but different?

by Insancipitory :: Wed, 10/02/2013 - 3:29pm

A brand of jeans for women that Sir Mix-A-Lot railed against in his seminal call to empowerment for those women with an LA face and an Oakland booty.

by DEW (not verified) :: Wed, 10/02/2013 - 4:17pm

It's funny, because back in the 80s, Jordache wouldn't have been caught dead being sold at the equivalent of Wal-Mart.

by Bobman :: Wed, 10/02/2013 - 4:22pm

...working, playing, day or night... Jordache has the look that's right. (facepalm)

Okay, now can we old guys who remember this crap not taint the innocent minds of the youngsters born since about 1982? They have their own horrid cultural disasters to come to terms with. Grunge, for one. I was kind of busy in the 90s and have no idea what else was going on in the world... The TV show Cop Rock? Steven Segal movies? Oooh, I know: The Macarena!

by TomC :: Wed, 10/02/2013 - 8:49pm

Yeah, that was a pretty sobering moment. I don't usually think about my age relative to the median on this site, but that really brought it home. The girl I was madly in love with in 7th grade wore Jordache jeans.

And, just to bring the sports and designer jeans threads together, anyone remember the Sasson commercial with the 1980 Ron Duguay Rangers?

by Bobman :: Thu, 10/03/2013 - 12:30am

Ooh-la-la Sassoon! Absolutely.

When I was in middle school in the mid-70's, Jordache jeans were the equivalent of wearing a sign that said "I'm easy." Of course easy in 7th grade didn't mean all that much back then... dammit.

by Jerry :: Thu, 10/03/2013 - 3:12am

Apparently, the original Sasson spot isn't currently on YouTube, but here's a sequel:


by Jimmy Oz :: Wed, 10/02/2013 - 9:13pm

I'm just interested in Bobman's reasoning on how Grunge replacing 80's hair bands was a "horrid cultural disaster"...

by Mike B. In Va :: Wed, 10/02/2013 - 11:23pm

I think he's saying they're equally horrid cultural disasters, just for different generations. ;)

Most grunge, like most "hair metal", wasn't all that great to begin with, and hasn't aged well.

by Bobman :: Thu, 10/03/2013 - 12:34am

That's what I meant, yes, but I also meant it as a fashion statement, since this all started with Jordache jeans. You'd suddenly see guys that you knew all your life and who were fairly normal (I can think of one female lawyer), dressing and following a personal hygiene regimen that made them appear to be lumberjacks who just rolled of of the forest after three weeks. It was a ear-piercing music that spun out a whole lifestyle.

by RickD :: Wed, 10/02/2013 - 5:40pm

Jordache was pretty bottom tier for designer jeans. It was no Calvin Klein/Gloria Vanderbilt.

by robbbbbb (not verified) :: Wed, 10/02/2013 - 5:55pm

"Seminal" being the completely appropriate verb here, in any way you want to think of it.

by RickD :: Wed, 10/02/2013 - 5:43pm

It's pronounced Jor-dash, not Jor-dake.

by Paul R :: Wed, 10/02/2013 - 8:09pm

All these years I've been pronouncing it "head-ash." How embarrassing.

by TomC :: Wed, 10/02/2013 - 8:49pm


by Independent George :: Thu, 10/03/2013 - 12:18am

I f*cking love this site.

by Independent George :: Wed, 10/02/2013 - 3:24pm

Is there a way to get the individual scoring on our Loser League teams?

by nick thunderdome (not verified) :: Wed, 10/02/2013 - 6:46pm

Doing well in my league but I've been guessing wrong on whom to start every week.

.5 point per reception, pick 3:

Stevie Johnson @CLE tonight
Denarius Moore vs SD
Steve Smith @ARI
Brian Hartline vs BAL
Kendall Wright vs KC

Right now I'm thinking Stevie, Moore and Smith.

by commissionerleaf :: Thu, 10/03/2013 - 1:59am

Hart line is tempting if only because Baltimore is likely to line up Lardarius Webb on Wallace, which means he can be Brian Hartline and catch ten yard comebacks against Baltimore's not so hotso 2 and 3 corners all night.

by Tom Gower :: Thu, 10/03/2013 - 12:38pm

I like the matchup for Hartline. With Pryor starting, I would start Moore against an awful SD secondary. The Browns have done pretty well against opposing #1 wide receivers. I would assume they'll match up Haden with Stevie, so I would lean against him. Patrick Peterson may end up matching up with him a ton, but I would still go with Smith as my third. Re Wright, I wouldn't trust Tennessee's pass game against a good defense, especially because Ryan Fitzpatrick's timing was awful last week. It should be better this week, but they're not a high-volume pass game.

by Mike Kurtz :: Thu, 10/03/2013 - 5:39pm

As trite as it is to say, I agree with Tom, here.

by nick thunderdome (not verified) :: Thu, 10/03/2013 - 9:04pm

Thank you for the advice - I'll be following it and we'll see if I can actually have my team outscore my bench for the first time this season.

by Friv 10 (not verified) :: Thu, 10/03/2013 - 4:11am

the story is great, so I'm wondering which team to support

by gguillotte (not verified) :: Thu, 10/03/2013 - 11:56am

Darren Sproles? Career best is 710; he already has 277 yards, and is also on pace for career-bests in receptions and >20-yard receptions. He's an edge case helped by a big game (and really, a big first half) against Miami that'll get complicated when/if Lance Moore is back and to form, but Brees is leaning on Sproles more now that he's getting sacked a bunch.

by Tom Gower :: Thu, 10/03/2013 - 12:48pm

Shoot, I forgot to add him after the Monday night game.

The YPC looks so out of whack relative to where he's been the past couple years I have trouble seeing it. Volume, in terms of targets, isn't up that dramatically (28/112 v 111 and 104 the past two years). My guess is he's gotten a disproportionate number of long gains early and will probably end up closer to 750 than 1000.

by Edge (not verified) :: Thu, 10/03/2013 - 4:33pm

Why do the writers keep discussing the Colts as if they still rank in the 20's among teams? The numbers they are spitting out have them as the favorite in the AFC South and as good as anyone in the AFC save the Broncos. If those numbers are wrong then someone should explain it, but this is the third article I've seen dismissing the Colts as a non factor while their record, history, and position on the performance charts say they are a playoff caliber team.

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