Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

Week 11 Open Game Discussion

Week 11 features a few games that will have major playoff ramifications.

The action starts with a Thursday night AFC match up between 6-3 Tennessee and 7-2 Pittsburgh. Sunday will see a pair of 7-2 clubs face off when the Vikings host the Rams, and then at night the 8-1 Eagles will look to finish off the 5-4 Cowboys. Finally, 6-3 Seattle hosts 5-4 Atlanta on Monday night. Use this thread to discuss all the action.


by The Ninjalectual :: Thu, 11/16/2017 - 9:38pm

LOVE the madden cam! You actually get insight into the QB's decision making process, since you can see what he's seeing downfield, how the routes and coverage look. I also like how you could see AB had position on that TD throw all the way

Then on the INT it's not a surprise. Like how normally you see the pocket, then a throw downfield, and it's always a surprise to see if the pass is in target or not

by jtr :: Thu, 11/16/2017 - 10:00pm

Still getting used to it, but I suspect I will like the Madden cam better than sideline once I'm adapted. It's cool to see the exact defensive front and watch the coverage unfold. My big complaint right now is that you can't see the outside receivers and corners, so they're only getting 18 out of 22 players on screen.

by jtr :: Thu, 11/16/2017 - 10:53pm

They haven't been committed to the Madden cam today. Lots of plays coming from the sideline cam.

by The Ninjalectual :: Thu, 11/16/2017 - 11:37pm

Yeah I find that distracting. Impossible to get used to it

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Fri, 11/17/2017 - 5:46pm

Hardly noticed which view I was in after the 1st half.

The one play it didn't work on was kickoffs. Great seeing the coverage teams in their running lanes but no idea where the ball was because it just doesn't show up against the night sky when it's being kicked to the endzone. I suspect that if they went with the view from behind the returner it would be better as you'd at least see the guy catch it!

by Raiderjoe :: Fri, 11/17/2017 - 6:41pm

Been thinking/saying for year s think only matter of time when home viewer will be own producer. Wiwill special thi ng witj ability to decide what camera angles to use almsot like if plahing Madden. Technology nto available to do this yet but whoever tjought something like TiVo or DVRs anx other things would happen. With the help of aliens, this camera angle option for wtaching NFL games night happen in next 15 years

by roguerouge :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 7:51pm

When Rotoworld was streaming Sunday Night Football a few years back, you actually could switch between sideline, end zone, and Madden-cam. The tech is there, just not on TVs.

by Theo :: Sat, 11/18/2017 - 7:04pm

I'm trying to watch Oklahoma vs Kansas.
The camera starts at the bottom at the tight end (who cares about the split end and slot receiver, right?!).
Then at the snap they zoom in on the QB and you litterally can not see 5 yards downfield, if the ball is thrown, you have NO idea where it is going.
Complete garbage.

by jtr :: Thu, 11/16/2017 - 10:03pm

Why the hell is Connor the back for the first play of a drive? And you know that Haley's not going to put him in in the middle of a drive when Bell actually needs a breather

by jtr :: Fri, 11/17/2017 - 12:31am

They announced on the broadcast that Pittsburgh was going to rotate the RB's a lot in order to help Bell with the short week, but that didn't really pass the smell test because Todd Haley doesn't do running back rotations. What actually happened was that Conner got both of the carries of a three-and-out in the first quarter and then never saw the ball again until it came time to just run the clock out in the fourth quarter. So that three-and-out was just a waste, as I suspected at the time, rather than an actual strategy.

by Theo :: Sat, 11/18/2017 - 8:40am

There is no rhyme or reason to the rb rotation or lack thereof in Pittsburgh.
Last season they kept handing the ball to Bell in meaningless games and situations only to miss him in the playoffs.
Connor is a capable back, so just give him 10 of the 35 carries. Let him pick up a blitz or run a route. Its just waiting till the wheels fall off Bell again and then Connor has to carry the load in the playoffs.

by runaway robot :: Sat, 11/18/2017 - 2:43pm

Can the Steelers get a break from their alleged fans? In the actual game, Bell got 12 carries and Conner 5, so they did significantly lighten the load on Bell, just like they said they would.

by jtr :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 10:07am

He got two failed carries on one drive and they gave up on him until the game was out of hand. That's not a strategy and that's not significantly lightening the load on Bell. If they were serious about Bell's workload then Connor would at least once have relieved Bell in the middle of a drive before garbage time.

by The Ninjalectual :: Thu, 11/16/2017 - 10:39pm

The Tennessee LT is telegraphing the play by how he sets his feet before the snap. I've correctly predicted a pass or run 100% of the time since I noticed

Edit: I keep forgetting to pay attention to him, but it hasn't been so obvious since that 3rd drive

by jtr :: Thu, 11/16/2017 - 10:21pm

I'm a Steelers fan and TJ Watt is already starting to get on my nerves. He's got the same over-the-top act as JJ but he isn't nearly the player, or at least not yet. Chill out TJ.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Fri, 11/17/2017 - 10:48am

TJ's pro-rated stats this year are almost identical to JJ's rookie year.

by The Ninjalectual :: Thu, 11/16/2017 - 10:49pm

Isn't Karl Klug a jazz musician?

by RickD :: Thu, 11/16/2017 - 11:05pm

Mike Tirico just effusively praised Mike Tomlin for taking three timeouts.


by Cythammer :: Thu, 11/16/2017 - 11:22pm

Okay, that officiating error on the first half fumble is a pretty huge gaffe. Refs gotta know the rules.

by The Ninjalectual :: Thu, 11/16/2017 - 11:36pm

Huh. I wonder if the resident Tomlin here is a Grimm fan

by jtr :: Thu, 11/16/2017 - 11:42pm

I have a sneaking suspicion that if everything unfolded exactly the same but under Russ Grimm rather than Mike Tomlin, we would not have a Grimm Is Infallible troll on here every week.

by Cythammer :: Thu, 11/16/2017 - 11:46pm

I see no reason to believe that.

Also, you don't know what the word troll means.

by Theo :: Sat, 11/18/2017 - 8:45am

I dont know what you are implying but the critsism towards Tomlin is based on a decade of time mismanagement, idiotic playcalling, bad games vs sub 500 teams and in some eyes player mismanagement.
Agree or not but some criticism is reasonable and frustrating because Tomlin doesnt seem to learn.

by The Ninjalectual :: Thu, 11/16/2017 - 11:58pm

Wow any damn thing can be called in a replay now. There is no consistency whatsoever anymore

by Cythammer :: Fri, 11/17/2017 - 12:12am

Couldn't Brown have just caught that with two hands? It didn't look like the defender was pinning his other arm or anything.

by Anger...rising :: Fri, 11/17/2017 - 12:19am

Tomlin, the guy who goes for two just for the hell of it, doesn't when leading by 19 with 12 minutes left. What, he's guarding against two touchdowns, two two-point conversions and a field goal leading to an overtime loss?

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Fri, 11/17/2017 - 10:50am

Go ask the Falcons about the difference between a 19- and a 20-pt 4th quarter lead.

by RickD :: Sat, 11/18/2017 - 1:54am

You must really hate Dan Quinn to bring this up.

by Cythammer :: Fri, 11/17/2017 - 12:33am

The Titans performance in this game just serves to underscore how bad of a decision it is for the Bills to bench Taylor. Winning a wild card in the AFC isn't going to require that much.

by Will Allen :: Fri, 11/17/2017 - 9:13am

It'll suck short term, because getting benched hurts his market value, but Taylor oughta' be happy that the Bills are going to absorb an 8 million dollar cap hit and dump him this off-season. At least I think they are. They may be so inept that they change their mind again, and don't exercise their out clause! Tyrod is stuck in Bills Hell!

by jtr :: Fri, 11/17/2017 - 10:19am

Taylor's due $10M next season, which is almost certainly less than he's worth, considering that Matt Stafford is apparently worth $27M/year and Taylor is at least half as good. Which means that he could potentially have some trade value for a desperate team like Cleveland or Jacksonville. They're probably torpedoing that trade value with the benching--who wants a QB who wasn't even good enough to start for his own team? Now they're probably going to cut a perfectly fine starting QB and get nothing in return, not even a compensatory draft pick.

by Will Allen :: Fri, 11/17/2017 - 10:31am

It is unbelievable to me that, given their other talent dumping moves, in addition to this benching, that they didn't trade him a couple weeks ago.

by dank067 :: Fri, 11/17/2017 - 11:50am

Well, they were 5-2 when the trade deadline passed. Management may not particularly care whether they win this year but I can't even imagine attempting to sell THAT to your fan base. I don't think the league office would have liked it very much either. I'm still mystified as to what they're doing, but seems that the circumstances have changed enough for enough people to be willing to buy the benching.

by t.d. :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 6:43pm

Yes, selling Peterman will be much easier now

by dank067 :: Fri, 11/17/2017 - 11:50am

Taylor is actually owed $16M next year, with $6M of that as a roster bonus due in March, so I don't know that the Bills really would have had much trade leverage there anyway.

by RickD :: Sat, 11/18/2017 - 2:01am

Only starting QBs* are making more than half of Stafford's salary. If the Bills don't view Taylor as a starter....

*Well, starters + Mike Glennon. And there's no obligation to pay every NFL player at least as important as Mike Glennon a contract as big as his.

by PatsFan :: Fri, 11/17/2017 - 9:36pm

Looking ahead to Sunday, NE will be without its starting center vs. OAK.

by Theo :: Sat, 11/18/2017 - 8:49am

They have Brady and BB? Dont worry.

by billprudden :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 11:16am

Raiders = historically bad pass defense. I suspect Ne's gonna be OK...

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 5:45pm

Tom Brady 9 of 9 on the opening TD drive.

by Steve B :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 2:11pm

Horrid RZ pick by Hundley kills a promising opening drive for GB.

by Steve B :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 2:25pm

And ANOTHER horrid pick by Hundley. Not sure, but I think I may have heard the ball quaking on the way down.

by Theo :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 2:25pm

Jax make an offside on a kickoff. Go back 5 yards.
Ensuing kickoff goes to the endzone for a touchback.
Browns get the ball on the 25... shouldn't that be the 30? Or is that only NCAA.

by The Ninjalectual :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 3:23pm

Huh? That's a weird sounding rule. A touchback on a kickoff goes to the 25, nice and simple, like all NFL rules.

WTH does the NCAA do?

by Theo :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 5:20pm

I thought is was 45 yards from the kickoff in NCAA, but now I'm looking for it it's also just at the 25.

by Hoodie_Sleeves :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 6:52pm

I think only the "kickoff out of bounds" is placed by "yards from kickoff location" in the NFL

by Steve B :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 3:12pm

Bad as these two offenses look, 3-0 might be the final score of the Bal-GB game. Huntley sure doesn't look like NFL starting QB material.

by Cythammer :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 3:18pm

The exciting, fun, and effective Chiefs offense from earlier in the season has gone missing.

by The Ninjalectual :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 3:25pm

I'm watching the Rams-Vikings and I'm not even bothering to change channels (to KC-whoever) for commercials, I'd rather just mute it

by The Ninjalectual :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 3:30pm

Jim Harbaugh was the best NFL coach this side of Belichick, but he's struggling to stay ranked in college? What the hell?

The 49ers owner should be stripped of his team for kicking such a great talent out of the NFL. The 49ers have made the entire league worse. Screw them

by RickD :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 4:42pm

95% of coaching in college football is recruiting. I don't think he's a worse coach for Michigan than he was for Stanford.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 6:30pm

The Big 10 is deeper than the Pac-12.

It also doesn't help that the 4 other good teams are all adjacent to U-M's recruiting backyard.

by Raiderfan :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 4:14pm

70+ comp %, 5TD and 1INT. Who are those guys wearing Gabbert's and Savage's jerseys?

by RickD :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 4:27pm

Kamara gains 19 yards on a rush on 3rd and 22. Am I correct to say that's not treated as a successful run by DVOA? I feel that, from a field-position standpoint, it should be recognized at least a little bit.

by The Ninjalectual :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 4:32pm

It is, that gets nearly the credit a conversion would have, since he nearly converted. But it's not a successful play, and shouldn't be considered successful. It's just a relatively good failure

"When I was a kid in West Virginia when my jeans were wore out." -Nick Saban, master of his own brain

by Eddo :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 6:44pm

Right. For success rate, it counts as a failure. But for DVOA, it might be positive, given it gets compared to other runs in 3rd-and-22 situations.

by joe football :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 4:53pm

Time for another season of FO slack gameday chat! For people who are already in, just go to https://kotakuites.slack.com/messages/fo/details/. For anyone that wants to join a star-studded cast of their favorite FO posters for gameday chat, just email me at gamadict@gmail.com and you will receive an invite

by Cythammer :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 5:08pm

This Chiefs-Giants game has a good chance of finally delivering that tie we've all been waiting for. I think it's actually been a pretty entertaining game though. The weird quirk of the day has been BOTH teams having interceptions thrown by non-QBs.

by The Ninjalectual :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 5:19pm

WHAT how the fuck is that an intentional grounding call? There was no pressure, Cousins and his WR just had a miscommunication, and just like that the game is decided by the refs, AND I bet we're not allowed to watch OT.

Fuck the NFL today
"When I was a kid in West Virginia when my jeans were wore out." -Nick Saban, master of his own brain

by The Ninjalectual :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 5:27pm

"When I was a kid in West Virginia when my jeans were wore out." -Nick Saban, master of his own brain

by Cythammer :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 5:25pm

I think they only switch away for OT for games that were joined towards the end. If the game was scheduled for your local area then I don't think they'll ever leave it, unless for the start of the local home team's late game.

by RickD :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 5:25pm

Yeah, I thought that grounding was dubious. Clearly Cousins didn't think he was under pressure.

Fox only has one game today. That might affect whether you can watch the OT or not. I live just outside DC so this affiliate would have shown it regardless.

by Jerry :: Mon, 11/20/2017 - 2:35am

In fact, the Giants-Chiefs OT ended before the early window closed, so we got to see the whole thing.

by RickD :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 5:23pm

Remember when the Chiefs were 5-0?

What happened to those guys?

by Steve B :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 6:19pm

Realistically, that loss today took them out of the race for a first round bye.

by RickD :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 6:36pm

Certainly the #1 seed is gone, and probably the #2, also. They'd have to win out and hope the Steelers (and somebody else) beat the Pats. And they're not going to win out at this point.

by ChrisLong :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 5:27pm

Hundley just couldn't deal with pressure and pocket movement today at all. Doesn't seem like he can process fast enough to get the ball out of his hands, and just doesn't seem able or see the virtue in stepping up in the pocket. Just bad QB play, andnits exactly what was on his college scouting report. I guess this leopard can't change his spots.

by Cogitus :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 5:28pm

Peterman starts two drives with two turnovers, one of which wasn't his fault but still, the returns are not promising

by Cogitus :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 5:58pm

3 picks in the first quarter, where's a ledge to jump off

by Cogitus :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 6:06pm

Lol I hate this fking team so much

by Theo :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 6:10pm

* 4 early and counting

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 6:39pm

Put him down for a fumble and recovery as well.

Oh and #5 int just before halftime. Hmmm ... and Tyrod had only thrown three so far this year.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 6:41pm

Holy shit, 5.

He's at 83% of a DelHomme in a half, and 14 passes.

This is Hadl/Bratkowski/ old Blanda territory

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 6:13pm

With one of them being a pick-six this really couldn't have gone any worse.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 6:33pm

That sound you hear is Taylor scrawling a "1" in front of his future salary demand.

by RobotBoy :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 7:13pm

Here's the comment that won my internet for the day: 'I thought the last 10 months would have been sufficient warning about the dangers of replacing a competent black man with an inexperienced and unqualified white guy, but here we are again.'

by Athelas :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 7:16pm


by RobotBoy :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 7:28pm

Think Taylor can get a baseball cap with ‘Schadenfreude’ printed on it in time for the post-game interviews?

by PaddyPat :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 8:47pm

This really hurts. So abominably true.

by Cogitus :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 9:47pm

+a billion. I dont know if this is the case with the coaching staff, but the Bills fanbase's frenzy to call for Tyrod's head has to me been fueled by racist undertones. I can't prove it directly except for that's the tone of ignorance I get when reading Bills message boards and Facebook comments. Unsurprisingly upstate New York went red in the election

by Will Allen :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 10:16pm

Can we please keep the politics out of this site?

by JIPanick :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 11:05pm

Yeah, I thought this political nonsense was against board rules.

by RobotBoy :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 11:31pm

Wait, I was referring to Gabbert replacing Kaepernick. I mean, who else could it be?

by D2K :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 10:37pm

+1 but was too scared to say it lol

by ChrisS :: Mon, 11/20/2017 - 1:59pm


by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 11/20/2017 - 9:43am

Tanier made a worthwhile point.

Peterman is why Tyrod is worth $10M per year.
Tyrod is why Stafford is worth $25M per year.

Tyrod offers competence and ball-safety, and can make a team with a shaky defense and a piecemeal offense work when all it's really good at is running.

Stafford offers that, plus a functional pass offense, on a similar team that also can't run.

Buffalo would be 8-2 with Stafford and Detroit would be 3-7 with Taylor, but both would be 0-10 with Peterman.

by Joshua Northey :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 5:31pm

So fox just cut away after showing the first few plays of the WAS/NO overtime to give us the "Amazon play of the day", and it is a 3 yard dive for a TD from the MIN game...a game that featured numerous huge defensive and offensive plays.

Almost makes you think they don't care.

by Jerry :: Mon, 11/20/2017 - 2:41am

If Saints-Squirrels was your game throughout, you got to see it to its conclusion. If you got bonus coverage after another game on Fox, they had to cut away when the late game started on CBS. The networks care more about maintaining their exclusivity than about you seeing the end of an extra overtime.

by Cythammer :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 5:35pm

That Saints-Redskins game was crazy. I basically stopped following when NO was down 15 late, which proved to be a mistake. The Saints defense didn't really up to their high ranking though.

by Theo :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 5:36pm

I don't know what green outfits the Chargers Cheerleaders are wearing, but I'm ordering it for my girlfriend.

by Theo :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 5:38pm

New Scientific Results just in:
CTE does not come from playing football, but from slaps to the head from team mates after making a play.

by Will Allen :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 6:15pm

I expected the Vikings o-line to improve a lot from last year's injury ridden Black Hole of Suck, but I am shocked at the level they are now playing at. Today, they simply curb-stomped the the number 1 defense by DVOA, including the league's best defensive tackle. It is not crazy to assert that it is the best performing o-line in the league right now, with a 3rd round draft pick rookie at center, a heretofore decent free agent at left tackle, a 35 year old rg who was never a regular starter in his 20s, a 2nd year left guard, who was undrafted, now on his 17th start, and now a 2nd year guy, also undrafted, on about his 7th NFL start, at right tackle.

What in The World of Jim Parker is going on here?

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 6:36pm

There's no way Berger is 35.


Goddamnit, I'm old.

by Pen :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 6:24pm

Peterman has as many interceptions in the first half as RGIII had his entire rookie season. Think Buffalo has an excuse not to have hired him or Kaep?

by Cythammer :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 6:32pm

LMAO. What they should have done is stuck with Taylor, a serviceable, starter-quality NFL QB, not go pick up one of two QBs who have been terrible for years and don't even know the playbook.

by Cythammer :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 6:28pm

Not watching the game, but Peterman already has 4 picks, which is more than Taylor had for the entire SEASON. Taylor hasn't been nearly as good as that three picks stat makes him sound, but still. For Bills fan, at least this should necessitate a move back to Taylor. At 5-5, they'll still have a shot at the playoffs.

by Will Allen :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 6:34pm

I simply refuse to believe that next year's 8 million dollar cap hit, if Taylor was cut in the off season, made him untradeable prior to the deadline. This is just criminally incompetent roster management in Buffalo.

by D2K :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 10:38pm

Life as a Bills fan can be summed up, in one word.... UGH

by Cogitus :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 6:36pm

Taylor 3 picks entire season, two of which were off drops, Peterman 5 in one half. +1 for talent evaluation?

Fire everybody please, I don't care that it's only been half a season for this coaching staff

by Steve B :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 8:07pm

For all the Taylor-Peterman stuff, their defense is actually the bigger issue.

by Cogitus :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 9:43pm

The defense is a huge issue as well, obviously, but I think it's more catastrophic for the coaching staff to prove themselves incompetent when it comes to making measured and rational decisions regarding QB play. Over the short term the poor play of the defense is what has been directly causing the Bills to lose games, but for the long-term health of the franchise the inability to correctly identify QB talent and scheme correctly for that talent is way more concerning to me

by Hoodie_Sleeves :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 9:50pm

No, its really not.

Their defense and offense are both ranked about 20 in DVOA.

Their offense, with Peterman starting, is the worst in the league. Their offense is a way bigger issue right now.

A team with an elite offense could win with their defense. You can't say the same thing about Peterman's offense.

by Cythammer :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 10:02pm

In their last three disastrous games it's been the defense that has been more the problem though.

by coboney :: Mon, 11/20/2017 - 7:43am

Which - we should also note came after they traded away Marcell Darius and was heavily influenced by them not able to stop a running back it generally appeared. They've managed to make Darius look a lot better by just not having him because of how much they dropped after.

And it was Tyrod Taylor's fault the defense suddenly couldn't stop a running back obviously.

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Mon, 11/20/2017 - 8:36am

The Bills were beginning to look like a football version of Mel Brooks' film "The Producers".

At least they managed to get back to their tanking aims by trading Dareus and benching Taylor.

How can the Pegula's have any faith in a coaching staff that is deliberately destroying the team to be able to rebuild it the way the coach's ego thinks is right? Especially when you realise that the NFL is forever changing and in 5-10 years time everybody will be playing a different brand of football.

by Cythammer :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 6:53pm

I really, really wish the NFL would try to balance the slate between the early and late afternoon games, instead of overloading everything early. Like today, of the three games going on, two look like they are already over, and the other is between two sub-.500 teams.

by The Ninjalectual :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 7:46pm

But the Cowboys are playing tonight, what else could the NFL possibly do?

"When I was a kid in West Virginia when my jeans were wore out." -Nick Saban, master of his own brain

by RickD :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 7:32pm

This is how things are going in Mexico: Raiders punt on 4th and 6, but get a 5-yard penalty on Patriots for running into the kicker. So they go for it on 4th and 1.

And lose a yard.


by Athelas :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 7:44pm

I'd love to say the Patriots DBs look great, and they're not bad, but really the Oakland receivers are just awful.

by Steve B :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 7:57pm

So do we still not know how much NE's defense has truly improved?

by RobotBoy :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 8:40pm

Am I wrong in thinking that over the past couple of years the Pats D has gotten better results than FO would suggest, with those results largely based on things that should not be predictive of future performance? Or is is a matter of the Pats being so good on offense and special teams that the field is always tilted in favor of the defense? I just have a nagging suspicion that the one thing that usually makes NE better than models would predict is almost impossible to quantify - Bill Belichick. He's close to a football singularity.

by sbond101 :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 8:58pm

The Pats defense has played average to above average the last couple weeks. DVOA hates that they have given up a bunch of very long drives, and doesn't believe the 3 and outs they have produced along side are predicative (because DVOA doesn't have a modulated function to value variance as a potential defensive objective depending on the expected points generated in a game). It's tempting to take this as an opportunity to slag the limitations of DVOA, but after watching football for 20ish years I know of no coaches besides BB that really understand how to use variance as well as expected value as an effective tool to maximize win probability in the long term. I do blame a lot of NFL observers for periodically thinking that BB forgets how to coach defense (e.g. the "terrible" NE defense that went all the way to the 2011 Superbowl, 31st in yards, 15th in points, 2nd in int's).

by RobotBoy :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 9:01pm

Thank you for the insights.

by Hoodie_Sleeves :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 9:38pm

There's a lot of good insight there.

One of the fundamental problems DVOA has with the Patriots is that on of its design goals is to correct for context - and football is inherently context sensitive. The defense's goal isn't to stop the offence - its to do whatever increases win probability at the current moment(and future moments). Sometimes that is allowing a long slow low variance drive, sometimes that is high variance and gambling for turnovers. Its impossible to separate defense and offense into component parts accurately because they are dependent variables.

And yes, BB is one of the few NFL coaches who seem to actively understand this - that ALL football is situational football. The defensive goals for a team with an elite offense (and special teams) are necessarily different than those of a team with a bad offense, and the defensive goals when such team plays another good offense are going to be different than when they play a bad offense.

by RobotBoy :: Mon, 11/20/2017 - 12:05am

Variance and context are a great framework for looking at how coaching can impact the game. Look at the 4th quarter of tonight's game - the Raider's last drive was something like six minutes! They were behind by 25! I have a sense that BB's coaching philosophy has altered significantly in this regard over the past 15 years. Roster building seems to remain a major difference between BB and other coaches/GMs. I remember how utterly shocked I was by his dumping of Chandler Jones and Jamie Collins, two of the most talented players he's ever had. A big part of their being banished is that they didn't bend their talents enough to the role shifting that BB demands from situation to situation, and that the talent wasn't worth the cost. It's nice to have guys who are that talented but it's not the most important thing.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 11/20/2017 - 9:29am

You can get to a Super Bowl with a sub-par defense.

Atlanta's defense (26th) wasn't a liability last year in the playoffs, until suddenly it was.

And even that was overstated. Atlanta ran into a combination of depth issues and a huge plays-run disparity. And while that can be a false indicator, realize that Alabama ran into the exact same issue against Clemson in the NCAA title game, and that team had depth to spare.

Incidentally, KC seems to be playing a similar style this year. Jacksonville is an interesting example, too. Their yards allowed per point allowed is about the same as NE, except they generate a ton of TOs (which NE doesn't).

by Alternator :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 9:39pm

A few years back, somebody went and checked the bend-but-don't-break concept, and found that the only team able to consistently pull it off was the Patriots. The consistently good field position for the defense is part of it, but really, the Patriots actually DO implement a defensive concept that nobody else can replicate.

Trying to model the outliers tends to weaken a model. It's best to just note them, and then mentally adjust.

Also, early this year the defense was just blowing assignments, now they've stopped doing that. "Not shooting yourself in the foot" is something the Patriots have been consistently good at, top to bottom, and is vastly underrated.

by Hoodie_Sleeves :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 10:02pm

Part of the problem earlier this year was a failure of the "do your job" mantra - and its corollary - "don't worry about other people doing their jobs"

Gilmore (and a couple of other newer guys) were blowing coverages, and the safeties were drifting out of their zones trying to accommodate, and not doing their own jobs, and there were holes everywhere.

They did a bunch of simplifying of the defense to help Gilmore (etc), the safeties got chewed out, and it largely got fixed.

Playing Hightower (who wore the dot) out of position probably wasn't helping either.

by sbond101 :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 11:03pm

I also think it's fair to say Hightower was playing pretty awful football early in the year. That linebacker group actually seems better without him (counter-intuitive as that might be), I really hope he plays like he's been capable of in future given how much money/term they gave him.

by RobotBoy :: Mon, 11/20/2017 - 12:10am

My wild guess is that they were trying to shield Hightower from an injury issue by putting him on the outside but ultimately it was too much of a liability for the team. Of course, a few weeks after they returned him to the middle he was out for the season. It was rumored that one of the reasons he didn't get the offer he wanted in free agency was a pre-existing condition.

by Will Allen :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 10:23pm

Bend but don't break has a much, much, higher failure rate when the benders' offensive teammates have a higher than normal number of short possessions. The Patriots offense cannot be said to have suffered that liability for a very long time.

by Hoodie_Sleeves :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 8:38pm

A lot of the drops (in the later part of the game) are because the Patriots CBs are doing a fantastic job covering, and the Raiders WRs are getting destroyed when they get the ball. I don't know how good they actually are, but this is a lot better defense than the first couple weeks.

Its also not helping that Carr is making some terrible decisions and throwing at very covered receivers. There have been at least 4 or 5 balls that have bounced off of patriots defenders backs on plays where the WR was never even close to open.

by Yu Narukami :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 8:01pm

It has improved a lot, in the sense that is not giving away one pathetic blow assignment for every series.

by Cythammer :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 8:14pm

Frustrating that CBS is still on Patriots-Raiders when there's also a competitive Broncos-Bengals game going on.

by The Ninjalectual :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 8:27pm


by Steve B :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 8:15pm

What is it now, 20 dropped passes for the Raiders today?

by Steve B :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 8:31pm

Ravens, even with all their issues on offense, are now the favorite to get the second WC in the AFC. Remaining schedule for them is pretty favorable overall.

by Athelas :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 8:50pm

From Twitter:

Replying to @MikeTanier
Hey Mike, has any defense (ever?) had more backup QBs on their schedule than the Ravens? I count OAK, MIA, MIN, GB, with HOU & IND still to come, and the possibility of injuries or benchings in CLE/CIN.

by Raiderjoe :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 9:29pm

not sure who amny but 2000 Gaints faced a lot. I knew that was a fraud team. actiually precdicted Ravens woul;d win Suiper Bowl 20-0. not bad prediction becuause if exclude return touchdowns, score would've been 20-0.

by ChrisS :: Mon, 11/20/2017 - 1:57pm

I think Cleveland only has back-up (or worse) quality QB's.

by Cythammer :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 8:51pm

I think that became true as soon as the Bills decided to bench Tyrod Taylor. Actually, this site's playoff odds thought the Ravens were already favorites after last week's game.

by Steve B :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 9:03pm

That and their defense turning into a complete sieve

by The Ninjalectual :: Sun, 11/19/2017 - 11:43pm

Seems like Alfred Morris isn't so big a drop-off in the run game, but the Cowboys will do anything to avoid giving him the ball. I'd put Morris as their best non-OL offensive player

by Will Allen :: Mon, 11/20/2017 - 10:23pm

Weird to here the Seattle crowd so subdued.

by BJR :: Mon, 11/20/2017 - 11:02pm

I don't understand why Atlanta is running the ball so often. Surely just a no-brainer to relentlessly go after Byron Maxwell etc. Even if they don't complete the pass, it's pick 'em to draw a flag.

by BJR :: Mon, 11/20/2017 - 11:34pm

Ok, Cleveland copped a lot of heat last week for their attempted QB sneak right before half time last week. but that appears like an all-time great playcall in comparison to the lunacy of that fake field goal attempt by the Seahawks just now.

by anotherpatsfan :: Mon, 11/20/2017 - 11:46pm

With seven seconds left they had to think it would result in a TD. Carrol had his befuddled look.after the play. Just a dopey call, almost no upside in that time/yardage situation...

by BJR :: Tue, 11/21/2017 - 12:02am

Well you would need almost a 50% chance of scoring a TD on that play to justify the call. It's just utter stupidity.

by BJR :: Tue, 11/21/2017 - 12:11am

And now Carroll tosses away a time-out challenging an obviously incomplete pass. Terrible night for him.

by anotherpatsfan :: Tue, 11/21/2017 - 12:33am

Bet ol' Pete wishes he had let Walsh kick it now...

by justanothersteve :: Tue, 11/21/2017 - 12:33am

Wilson to Baldwin on an Aaron Rodgers-like TD after the Falcons jump offsides. It's a game again.

by justanothersteve :: Tue, 11/21/2017 - 12:50am

I only caught the last 5-6 minutes of Falcons/Seahawks, but that was a pretty good game at the end.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Tue, 11/21/2017 - 8:31am

I think very highly of Pete Carroll as a coach, but his game management was like Colts Jim Caldwell last night.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 11/21/2017 - 8:46am

Terrible, wasn't it? The senseless high risk, zero reward fake field goal, the loss of a critical timeout via a hopeless challenge...ugh.

by ChrisS :: Tue, 11/21/2017 - 11:06am

The only semi-defensible reason to challenge that pass was to the show the WR (Baldwin?) what an idiot he was for repeatedly making the "throw the challenge flag" motion.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 11/21/2017 - 11:26am

Never listen to a receiver. A high percentage of them are compulsive liars about their own performance.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Tue, 11/21/2017 - 1:22pm

Wilson does deserve some heat for that final drive, too. They used up way too much time lining up and running plays instead of spiking it (don't know if that's a directive from Carroll or not). They could have used that extra time to either score a TD or get to closer field goal range. Time is way more valuable than downs when the clock is under 1:00 in that situation.