Football Outsiders
Innovative Statistics, Intelligent Analysis

Week 9 Open Game Discussion

The post-Deshaun Watson section of the 2017 season begins tonight with the Buffalo Bills and new toy Kelvin Benjamin taking on the Jets and old man Josh McCown. Action continues through Sunday night as the Raiders and Dolphins try to save their seasons, and finishes on Monday as the Lions and Packers battle for second place behind Minnesota. Use this thread to discuss all the action.


136 comments, Last at 09 Nov 2017, 5:23am

1 Re: Week 9 Open Game Discussion

Wait so now TNF is *not* on TV? This is so confusing. How is this inconsistent on again/off again broadcast schedule a good idea from ANY theoretical perspective? Soo stupid, so frustrating. I actually thought this would be a good game, but apparently no one is allowed to see it.

2 Re: Week 9 Open Game Discussion

I mean, it is on TV, just NFL Network. If I remember correctly, this is actually the only Thursday game all year that is solely on NFL Network and not NBC or CBS.

Anyway, the DVOA playoff odds already have the Bills as heavy favorites to make the playoffs. If they can avoid slipping up today they should definitely be on their way, especially since the wildcard race doesn't look particularly competitive this year.

3 Re: Week 9 Open Game Discussion

I can't even think of a single friend who gets the NFL network right now. And I don't drink so I don't like bars (since I USED to drink, heavily). Have you ever heard of a coffee shop that has NFL Network? That would work for me.

It's the inconsistency that really bothers me. I tend to forget that there's even a game on Thursdays at all, but after missing Pats/Bucs bc I forgot I've been trying to get in the habit, and when I finally do, they go changing the rules on me? Seriously, fuck them. I realize that this isn't a surprise and I COULD have gone and memorized which Thurs games I can watch and which I can't, but watching football shouldn't require cramming like it's a high school exam! It's just stupid in every way.

4 Re: Week 9 Open Game Discussion

I don't have cable so I signed up for Sling to watch football games. It has the local networks, ESPN, NFLN and redzone. The only downside is that because Amazon bought the streaming rights for the other Thursday games you can't watch them on sling and have to use Prime Video (which I also happen to have). I agree it's really stupid and given that the NFL is having issues with declining viewership maybe they'll figure out how to make it easier to actually watch their games.

I also highly recommend to see what networks and areas games are on.

6 Re: Week 9 Open Game Discussion

Oh, I check 506 weekly, I love looking at their broadcast maps. But I usually don't check before Saturday because tv stations are constantly changing their minds, and it's not terribly accurate before then. I've never heard of this sling you speak of, I wonder if it meets my own personal definition of "affordable"

14 Re: Week 9 Open Game Discussion

The television idea is becoming outdated very quickly.
I live in Europe so it's either paying premium for NFL Ticket, going to a sportsbar or looking up a stream and watch HD for nothing.
Guess how I watch the NFL.
If the NFL made a free-to-watch youtube channel where you can watch and re-watch games, they'd make billions on advertisement and target viewers world wide.
But they are still in their US television market mindset.

21 Re: Week 9 Open Game Discussion

Well the NFL is still selling exclusive rights to broadcasts that are bringing them lots of money. If the networks are overpaying for those rights then it makes sense that the NFL wouldn't offer those streams for free. To me it seems like NFL broadcasts have a lot of commercials advertising other programs on the same network, so it wouldn't surprise me if games are being as used as a sort of loss leader to promote other things in the Network.

As a fan I definitely want them to make every game available for easy streaming (preferably with the awesome Madden cam view as an option) but as a business decision it may not make sense yet.

10 Re: Week 9 Open Game Discussion

Wow, the Jets are rolling Buffalo. I just saw Forte break about nine tackles on two runs, and then watched Taylor get sacked for the sixth time after fumbling a snap. Oh, and now the Jets TE isn't touched after making a catch and going to the ground. He gets up thinking the play is dead and is stripped by the Jets.
There is still plenty of talent on this Jets D and the rookies are looking good. Did anyone expect them to perform like this? Amazing.
Does Bowles get to keep his job because of how competitive they are or does he get fired even quicker for failure to tank properly?
So much for the Bills being a threat to the Pats.

13 Re: Week 9 Open Game Discussion

Doesn't get fired quicker. But it does feel like the Jets 8-8 season in 2013. That was another Jets teams that seemed supremely untalented (Kerley was the #1 WR, Geno Smith at QB) and somehow managed an 8-8 season, that gave Rex another season that turned into a minor debacle.

17 Re: Week 9 Open Game Discussion

Raider Joe, your irony works on so many levels and with such hyperbolic intensity that it is impossible to know when, if ever, you're being serious. Nay, you destabilize the very concepts of 'certainty' and 'meaning' themselves. I look forward to your collected aphorisms.

29 Re: Week 9 Open Game Discussion

Wass responding to this-
"Does Bowles get to keep his job because of how competitive they are or does he get fired even quicker for failure to tank properly?"

Change Bowles to name of any head coahc, any eyar and would find such a qiuesiton insulting as NFL fan.

If a team was going to fire head coach for not tnaking properly (whatever that actually means), then that is very sad commentary. also, fi a team relaly worried about such a thing, then maybe the team was drunk for letting the head coach still be the head coahc.

Rebuilding- get rid of expensive veterans who won't be with team long temr and are keeping playing time away from youngsters; letting the younger players gel and grow and help change team culture

tnaking- doing things to purposefully lose to improve drarft stock; very strong allegation

SEems "rebuilding" applies to Jets

Am not seeing tanking applyinh to any teams EVER except possibly in final motnh of a season like when team is 3-9 and another team is 3-9, both need a franchise quatreback, and thgere is considered to be one franchise quarterback at top of next draft

Do you really think a NFL team enters a season at 0-0 and truly wants to go 0-16 or 1-15?

The anmswer, beucuase some need to be told, is NO

30 Re: Week 9 Open Game Discussion


This ought to be a fun season to be a Jets fan so far. Expectations were they were worst team in the league, but they look far from it, and are actually winning some games. Their rookie safeties are performing well. A.S.Jenkins and R.Anderson are nice stories having been plucked from the scrapheap and look like pieces to build their offence around.

It should be fun to root for an underdog punching above their weight like this. Anybody upset or confused about them not 'tanking' and missing out on one of the top couple of picks in the draft really ought to take a break from following football because their priorities are wrong.

22 Re: Week 9 Open Game Discussion

So much for the Bills being a threat to the Pats.

That seems a bit of an overreaction to one bad, fumble-filled game. The Bills are one game behind with eight games to go. They have (and will still have, I'd think) the better DVOA and easier schedule. Given the specifics of the schedule, if the Bills were to regain that one game, then the tie breakers would be close.

The edge goes to the Patriots for having the one game lead. But the Bills remain a serious threat to win the division. It's way too soon to panic.

23 Re: Week 9 Open Game Discussion

They have the better DVOA because the Patriots defense literally didn't know what they were supposed to be doing or who they were supposed to be covering for the first 3 or 4 games. They've made schematic changes and have been allowing <13 points/game since.

If the Patriots defense is merely "bad" and not "worst in the nfl" they're a huge favorite over Buffalo.

We'll know on Dec 3rd, I guess, but I'm pretty confident that NE's DVOA will be higher than Buffalo's at that point (assuming Brady hasn't pumpkin'd).

26 Re: Week 9 Open Game Discussion

I think this comes down to division math.

The Patriots don't have a division loss and the Bills lost to the Jets.

If New England sweeps Miami, splits with Buffalo and beats New York in Foxboro then the race is over.

I think Buffalo has the harder schedule because New England is better than Buffalo and the Patriots really tough game is against a team they own. The Patriots get a very bad Denver on the road and a flawed Oakland at a neutral site. The Bills have to play New Orleans, at a dangerous Chargers (with those pass rushers) then at KC before they host New England.

I would not bet on Buffalo in any of their next 4 games. I don't expect 0-4 but I don't expect 3-1 either.

12 Re: Week 9 Open Game Discussion

The Jets look so loose and confident on D. Before this latest series, the D linemen were actually dancing at the line as they waited for the snap. No playing it conservative either, they keep attacking and Taylor turns over the ball again on a sack-fumble.
I thought the Bills O-line was supposed to be good? Haven't been following them closely so I don't know about injuries.
Has any statistical work been done on the difference between teams' records inside their division vs. outside? Seems like many bad teams do better against even elite division opponents. (Not that the Bills are elite).

15 Re: Week 9 Open Game Discussion

"Has any statistical work been done on the difference between teams' records inside their division vs. outside?"

Well statistically, the average team wins 50% of their games in division, and 50% of their games out of division.

Joking aside, I guess the way to measure this is to look at good teams versus bad teams. Preferably this would be between teams that finished a certain number of games apart by seasons end, but I can only look at playoff versus non-playoff.

Here is the performance of playoff teams versus in-division non-playoff teams over the last 10 years, both straight up and against the spread:

And here's out-of-division:

So playoff teams are slightly worse in division: 3.6% lower winning percentage straight up and 6.4% lower against the spread, but there's certainly a lot of variation. New England is worse in their division, while Indianapolis is better, although that's mainly because the other AFC South teams have been worse than the other AFC East teams during this time period.

18 Re: Week 9 Open Game Discussion

Thank you.
I had the vague notion that familiarity might remove some of the variation in the quality of coaching, unusual schemes or unique athletic ability - i.e., no matter how much film study you do, your players still won't be completely comfortable against a read-option system if they're facing one for the first time, while few scout teams will be able to replicate the play of, say, Aaron Rodgers in practices.
The knowledge that they'll face division opponents twice a season without fail must lead to the assignment of all kinds of additional resources to preparing for that opponent (including how teams draft and trade).
So does this resource allocation tend to reach a point of diminishing returns leading games to be decided by smaller margins, and perhaps indicate as well a relative wash in athletic ability between NFL rosters, as even the worst starter on a team, after all, is an elite athlete.
Pretty far fetched, I admit.
It does seem that playing the Patriots twice a year would benefit opponents, as the Patriots' success is so scheme dependent. It's not like their roster, year in and year out, is stacked with guys who have great combine scores.
One caveat about division records. It seems like the league generally schedules a divisional opponent for the last game of the season, a time when playoff seeding is often determined. In that situation, playoff teams tend to rest starters, skewing the results.

24 Re: Week 9 Open Game Discussion

" It's not like their roster, year in and year out, is stacked with guys who have great combine scores.'

Just nitpicking, but pretty much everyone that plays a "skill position" for the Patriots has great 3-cone and short-shuttle times, usually in the top 10 of their draft.

This may be a bit chicken and egg though - as I'd guess that cornerbacks who are fast but not particularly agile look terrible covering guys like Edelman in practice.

Its clearly something they value - LeGarret Blount would have had the 3rd fastest RB 3 cone in this year's draft. (MCCAFFREY at 6.57 and Jones at 6.82 - BLOUNT was 6.85)

27 Re: Week 9 Open Game Discussion

That's my bad. What I meant to say was that the Pats aren't exactly stacked with astonishing athletes (at least in NFL terms). Gronk, obviously. And against the grain this year they went out and got Cooks and Gilmore.
In fact, BB traded two of his best athletes last season.
After the first superbowl, the Pats missed the playoffs (because Brett Favre didn't beat the Jets on the last regular season Sunday). I remember a quote from a player on another team that the Pats 'just beat you with scheme' and didn't have the talent to match up straight ahead. It was a transition year as the players from BB's drafts were still really young and the Carrol guys were getting old). Yet that comment has stuck with me. If you take away some of the surprise of BB's unorthodox schemes, you level things down quite a bit.

20 Re: Week 9 Open Game Discussion

Watching this game would give you the impression that it was the Jets who were playoff contenders and the Bills were the sad sacks, especially how the Jets are controlling both lines of scrimmage. Bowles clearly had them ready for this game, and their 38 year old QB looked spry and sharp.
Just any given Thursday in the NFL.

31 Re: Week 9 Open Game Discussion

Oh my god, I forgot the Broncos were playing Osweiler this week. Fuck Vance Joseph, Seimian has been getting bad coaching all year. This is scapegoating pure and simple. I never liked the Joseph hire, but I gave him a chance. We should have hired Shannahan.

I'm a Broncos fan, yet I'm laughing my ass off at the Broncos losing. WTF did they expect? WTF did they even sign Brock for in the first place?

God fucking damnit I stopped rooting for Washington because of their fucked up organization, but now the Broncos are dysfunctional too? Arrrghh!

41 Re: Week 9 Open Game Discussion

You'd think after a few years now of seeing the same results you'd think the broncos would realize that unless you have the GOAT at QB it doesn't matter who's back there; the offense is going to suck when you don't have an O-Line that capable of blocking and not committing penalties.

Siemian made a lot of bad decisions, but what do you expect when he's always running for his life? We already know that Osweiler isn't any good, switching to him is merely an attempt to deflect from the horrible coaching.

48 Re: Week 9 Open Game Discussion

I think Elway is just a terrible GM, who got lucky twice (signing Manning, hiring Kubiak who hired Phillips). All the FAs on Denver's D came because of Peyton.

Elway is ironically a horrible QB evaluator: he drafted OS in the 2nd round! Then signed him after seeing him in Houston and after he failed to even make the Browns roster!

I stopped rooting for Wash bc the problem is a guy who can't be fired, because he owns the team. In Denver, the problem can't be fired because he's a local hero!

59 Re: Week 9 Open Game Discussion

This reminds me of how much praise Elway got at times last season for not bringing back Osweiler. (Particularly before Denver's playoff push fizzled out.) I don't know if we'll ever know how much they offered him but with Osweiler talking this year about how he agonized over the decision to go to Houston, Elway almost certainly offered him a contract at least in the ballpark that the Texans signed him for.

43 Re: Week 9 Open Game Discussion

It would be reasonable to think they would be much better on the strength of their defense. Few people predicted their offense would be this good.

The 2016 vs the 2017 Rams should be exhibit A to argue against people who think coaching doesn’t matter that much at the NFL level. It’s like an almost perfect control group vs experimental group.

45 Re: Week 9 Open Game Discussion

The wild card was McVey, of course, but not that wild, given how well Cousins performed. Wade Phillips has an argument for best d coordinator ever, so I was very confident that they would get to 9 wins. They now appear to be one of those young, very well voached teams that keeps improving into January. I think they'll keep getting better.

37 Re: Week 9 Open Game Discussion

The ironic thing is that the Broncos have a roster that likely would be much closer to being optimized if it was coached by John Fox.

Osk Broweiler makes Keese Cane'im look like Fran Tarkenton.