Football Outsiders
Innovative Statistics, Intelligent Analysis

Week 12 Open Game Discussion

San Francisco 49ers ER Nick Bosa
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

We start with a high-profile Thursday nighter, as the Colts (6-4) visit the Texans (6-4) in a game with major playoff implications. Key games on Sunday include Seattle (8-2) at Philadelphia (5-5), Carolina (5-5) at New Orleans (8-2), and Green Bay (8-2) at San Francisco (9-1). The Monday nighter pits Baltimore (8-2) at the L.A. Rams (6-4). Use this thread to discuss them all.


106 comments, Last at 26 Nov 2019, 8:54am

2 Eric Ebron reminds me of…

Eric Ebron reminds me of Noah Fant; they're both giants who are deceptively quick and have really soft hands. As a Bronco fan I'm getting excited about Fant's potential. He could become great, or he could become… Ebron, but that's not so bad.

3 Indy with an old school 3…

Indy with an old school 3 yards and a cloud of dust TD drive to go up 17-10 (minus the actual dust 'cuz dome).

5 Passing on Passing

Couldn't watch the game. Why did Brissette only have 25 attempts? Both teams trying to limit possessions?

16 generatioanl running backs

whether i agree with poitn being mad eor not, that phrase has ebcome so annoyign that have had to unfollow and mute, respectively, the two football people who are constantly using it to make fun of football commenters of all sorts (whether media or jsut commenting people like us here) on Twitter. Do understand it is those fellows' brand but jeez give it a rest already. 

7 Colts have been run-heavy…

Colts have been run-heavy all season, and ran with fairly consistent success throughout this game. The Texans definitely didn't run with success (half of Hyde's yardage was on one run), but it didn't matter because Hopkins & Fuller produced big plays. A nice example of how a run-heavy game plan can go awry, even if executed successfully, when the opponent has an explosive (if inconsistent) pass game. 

17 I think it gave them the…

I think it gave them the best chance to win though. They won this game despite very few big plays at all. The passing game was very inconsistent. They moved the ball on the ground and if they convert on that last drive we'd look at the game a lot different and talk about how effective the running game was.

9 Hilton dropping two second…

Hilton dropping two second half third down throws he normally catches shortened a couple of Colts drives, and didn't do much to inspire confidence in the passing game.

10 Joe Buck is personally…

Joe Buck is personally offended by any team that goes for it on fourth down. When the Colts tried to convert a 4th and 7 down 3 with three minutes to go, he acted like Frank Reich had let his dog poop on Buck's living room carpet.

13 Spending a time out before…

Spending a time out before the 4th down play was a big mistake, though.  I know it's a big down and you want to get the right call in (which they didn't, as it ended up with a Brisset scramble that came up 1 yard short), but dropping from 3 time outs to only 2 dramatically raised the importance of converting the 4th down.

Going for it was absolutely the right call.  Spending a time out before doing so was wrong, as an article on this site not that long ago pointed out (here's no improvement in your chances to convert a 4th down after calling a time out, because - surprise! - the defense gets the benefit of that time out, too.  That's speaking on average, of course, but there were no unusual circumstances requiring Indy to use a time out there.  The clock was stopped on the 3rd down conversion, they had the normal amount of time to call a play and get the personnel on the field they wanted.

12 That game felt like a…

That game felt like a microcosm of Bill O'Brien's entire tenure in Houston. Squeaking out an inefficient win over a divisional opponent thanks to some individual brilliance, on the way to a divisional title and inevitable playoff mauling at the hands of one of the AFC powerhouses.

18 Probably a couple little known NFL tidbits going into this week.

If Seattle wins, Wilson becomes the only QB in NFL history to play on a winning team every year for his first 8 seasons. 3 more wins ties Brady's win record for eight seasons. Also, Wilson, though his 8 year stats compare favorably to Manning, Brady, Montana, Marino and Brees, has never recieved a single MVP vote in his entire career. ZERO. Nada. People just can't bring themselves to admit they were wrong about that kid.

Check out his stats vs everyone else's first 8 yrs.  Only Aaron Rodgers is better.  Consider that Wilson is also one of the most sacked QB's in history, playing behind the worst pass protection in the NFL for most of those years while still putting up those numbers.  Wilson is probably the 2nd greatest QB of all time.

19 Wilson is well on his way to…

Wilson is well on his way to the HOF imo, but he's got work to do before we crown him like that.  He is largely overlooked while tucked away in the Pacific NW.  Pundits and fans are aware of him, but the "discussion surrounding him" seems to always lag and be out of date compared to reality.  My biggest complaint is the moving goal post people want him to chase, in order to be "legit".  This MVP run will hopefully overcome all of that and force the east coast to stay up past their bed times.  It's unfortunate today's game was flexed, as the Seahawks going to 6-0 on the road in another primetime game might have awaken people that they don't need to play in Centurylink to win.

21 I believe the staff on this…

I believe the staff on this very website have said that sacks are actually more a product of the QB than the line. Not that that implies he doesn't suffer from bad pass protection too.

Wilson is undoubtedly excellent and frequently underrated, but you can't pretend like comparing his passer rating through x amount of seasons tells us much. First of all, passer rating isn't a good stat. Secondly, as anyone using this site should know, directly comparing statistics from one offensive era to another makes no sense. Wilson has spent his whole career in the easiest passing environment the NFL has ever seen. You'll note that that list you link to is littered with names of modern QBs who no one would seriously consider as all time greats. Matt Schaub is 8th, Daunte Culpepper is 12th, Derek Carr is 13th. Those guys are all ahead of Dan Marino and other HOFers.

32 Did you click on all the other stats?

Evidently not or you wouldn't have made that comment.

TD:  Wilson 3rd

TD% 3rd

INT% 2nd

CMP% 3rd

ANY/A 4th

Wins: 2nd

4QC: 3rd and rising

GWD: 3rd and rising

Or, you could just compare his AV to Peyton, Brady, Rodgers, Brees, and Marino their first 8 seasons.  Wilson is tied with Marino for 2nd but his AV for this season hasn't been added in yet, so he's going to have the highest AV of all time for a QB's first 8 seasons.

I think your response is a perfect example of why Wilson has zero MVP votes after one of the greatest first 8 seasons of all time.

43 Hey FYI - you can search…

Hey FYI - you can search these stats in PFR indexed to league average over the time period, which helps adjust for era. He's still up there, but you really do have to understand how much the game has changed and how that has affected passing stats.

I think you can still make a solid argument for Wilson as having a top-15, maybe even top-10 start to his career taking into account his rushing value and that, even if he's mostly responsible for taking as many sacks as he does, his offensive lines have been so bad that they've probably hurt his overall production.

67 thing is...

Carson Wentz and Mike Vick were both very close to winning MVPs, and Cam Newton actually did it.  Wilson's career arc is clearly above those three.

With all due respect to Lamar Jackson and Christian McCaffrey, I'm pulling for Wilson this year.  And if they Seahawks do get the #1 seed, I think he'll be the favorite.  

20 There are nine games in the…

There are nine games in the early afternoon slot today and just two in the late slot. I don't know why the NFL schedules games like this.

31 The NFL hates late sleepers…

The NFL hates late sleepers. If you're not a morning person, then fuck you. I don't think I've seen the opening kickoff in a morning slot this year. I usually haven't woken up enough to really pay attention until the afternoon games.

Morning NFL games should be abolished. Nobody needs to play this damn early.


23 picks

Bears 22, Gaints 17
Raiders 44, Jets 13
Browbns 34, Dolphins 20
Bills 19, Broncos 13
Eagles 29, Seahawks 24
Steelers 23, Bengals 9
Saints 38, Panthers 17
Buccaneerrs 44, Falcons 34
Loins 28, Squirrels 13
Titans 20, Jaguars 17
Pates 30, Cowboys 23
Packers 27, 49ers 24
Tiger-Cats 31, Blue Bombers 26
Ravens 27, Ramms 20

24 The Jets defense cannot stop…

The Jets defense cannot stop anyone. The Raiders offense, however, are eminently capable of stopping themselves.

25 Watching Red Zone. Scott…

Watching Red Zone. Scott Hanson seemed genuinely surprised the Jets got to the red zone as the channel switched to follow the game.

26 Saw the Jets march right…

Saw the Jets march right down for a TD, had a little signal hiccup, and when it comes back they took the score off the board? Sounded like they called OPI on replay? They haven't shown any replays since the FG so I never saw what happened.

29 If you're ever wondering why…

If you're ever wondering why Darnold does those stupid frisbee throws when he gets hit... there the defender came through basically untouched, Darnold steps up to avoid getting flattened, and with the defender's arms around him he does one of those flips to Bell for about 15 yards.

There, it was probably the right decision: the sack would've been a safety, and Bell was wiiiiiiiiiide open so it was basically risk-free. But one might worry that success there will make him more likely to try it again, when circumstances are... less favorable.

33 Gruden challenged a 4 yard…

Gruden challenged a 4 yard pass on 2nd and 7 at the Jets' 35 for some reason That victory lasted all of one snap, as the Jets just converted next play.

He could have (and, in a just world, should have) challenged that there was DPI on the Raiders' previous drive, as Adams (I think) clearly hit the guy early (and plausibly hit a defenseless receiver, that was pretty nasty and the guy was down for awhile afterward). I get not wasting a challenge there due to the unofficial policy of never overturning PI non/calls (unless it's a booth review of a Jets touchdown, apparently), but it would've been less of a waste than challenging some random 4 yard pass in the 2nd quarter. It's not the end of the world, but it's just baffling, coming from a coach who's been around for a million years.

35 In five possessions the…

In five possessions the Seahawks have two long TD drives and three drives where they actually lost yards. Weird.

37 Kind of a funky half for OAK…

Kind of a funky half for OAK-NYJ. The Raiders offense pretty much shredded the Jets defense, but had a bunch of drops and other miscues (including a missed field goal) so they only have 3 points. The Jets offense was almost as good the other way - seriously, Darnold can frickin' throw - but they also left a bunch of points on the board, with that OPI directly taking away the TD, and some other poorly-timed penalties and miscues (including a missed FG of their own). Anecdotally, it sure seems like when luck hands you the opportunity to stomp an opponent and you don't, they usually come back and beat you, so I expect Oakland to come out on top. But they'll need to stop with the unforced errors like wasted challenges and failing to run out the clock when they got the ball with 35 seconds left.

38 Welp, instead, the Jets…

Welp, instead, the Jets score in literally two plays, on a badass catch and run down to the 2, and then a comically wide open TE screen... thing... in which the blockers were totally unnecessary because the Raiders literally didn't have a defender on that half of the field. Raiders' DC is literally slack-jawed; whether that's due to the way the Jets played or his own team is unclear. It's pretty much a stomping now, although the Raiders offense is starting to move.

UPDATE: Raiders offense stalls out and fails on 4th and 1, except it probably should have been a 1st down as the runner appeared to get the ball past the line-to-go on 3rd, but Gruden didn't challenge for some reason. Deciding to challenge a random 4 yard pass on 2nd and 7 but not that should get his control of the red flag revoked. Instead, he is sort of forced to challenge the 4th down spot - I actually thought he might've made it there, too, to be fair - but the refs uphold the original spot, and now they're out of challenges (and about to go down at least 20). Pure incompetence.

UPDATE 2: Jets score the TD in short order (on a nice throw by Darnold to hit a reasonably well-covered receiver), and then first play of the Raiders' ensuing drive is a pick-six (tipped, but the guy was pretty well-covered). 34-3 Jets. Holy crap.

I'm gonna switch to a different game lol. This is a slaughter.

40 Wilsons WR can't catch today.

A couple horrendous passes by Wilson, but most of Seattle's troubles coming from dropped passes. 11 pts left off the scoreboard.

42 Yeah, I don't think Lockett is healthy

Looks like he's a step slower and hasn't fully recovered from that leg injury.

Meanwhile Carson fumbles on back to back plays.  Penny already has 128 yds rushing, why is Carson out there?  It's time to accept he can't hold onto the ball and let the player who has always been the best RB to begin with finally take over the load.

44 I think you're right about…

I think you're right about that injury.  Carson and Penny have complimentary skill sets, from where I sit.  Granted, the fumbling is a big issue, but Carson breaks tackles at an impressive rate and is the better receiver.  Penny has home run speed, which Carson lacks, and holds onto the ball better. 

Feels pretty good to have a win sewn up on the road while Wilson played as poorly as he has all year.  This defensive resurgence definitely has something to do with the opposition they've faced, but is heartening none the less.

45 Wow, Carolina actually…

Wow, Carolina actually manages to get a pass interference call overturned. That will not go over well with Saints fans.

46 There's been a lot of drama…

There's been a lot of drama in this Carolina-NO game. The Panthers miss out on a chance at a TD and then their kicker misses for the third time on the day.

47 Squirrels pull off the upset…

Squirrels pull off the upset (?) in Detroit (not sure how much a favorite they really are without Stafford). Haskins looked a little shaky on the winning FG drive, generally inaccurate and got a pass batted, but he got it done, to his credit.

68 actually home game for Skins

Though you might not know it from the crowd noise.  

Without Stafford, the Lions aren't very good.  I still wonder how Patricia rose this high in the coaching fraternity.  

Margin of victory was a freak  TD kickoff return by Steven Sims.  Both offenses were very sputtery.  Pretty ugly football game to watch.  The contrast between this early game and Pats-Cowboys was jarring.  

Haskins has a nice strong arm but has some accuracy issues.  Terry McLaurin is a very good rookie WR.  

50 End of the Carolina game,…

End of the Carolina game, Saints on 3rd-and-6 with the game tied and time running out, how how how does Carolina call a defense that leaves Michael Thomas single covered?

Football's a complicated game, but sometimes co-ordinators make it too complicated. Don't let Thomas beat you. Let Brees try to find somebody else to convert, but don't give him single coverage on his favourite target and possibly the best WR in the game.

52 Heh, Brady does the Darnold…

Heh, Brady does the Darnold Special. Falls incomplete, in no small part because the Cowboys' defender was brutally picked by his own guy. Still don't quite understand what happened there.

It looked for a bit like the Pats were going to run away with it, but it's only 10-6. The conditions seem to be making this a toss-up, and if things shake out against the Pats in the end, that could be huge. They'd be tied with the Ravens, and each team has a similar strength of schedule going forward to my eyes, and of course the Ravens own the head-head tiebreaker. They could end up with the same record and the Ravens as the #1 seed, with the Pats facing the prospect of a replay of their first loss in the AFCCG.

55 The Pat's offense is very…

The Pat's offense is very limited.  Their pass D is stellar in the back 7.  They are far better off getting ahead so their opponents are forced to pass.  It's the story of most teams, honestly, but moreso.  The difference is in how they pull it off. 

69 welll....

Just as they get Wynn back, they lose Dorsett and Sanu for the week.  And Marcus Cannon was fighting an illness.  The running game was reasonably impressive today - better than it's been in a long time.  

The Cowboys seem like they are limited by their coaching.  Garrett seems to be hitting his ceiling.  Now his ceiling is pretty high, but I don't see them getting to a Super Bowl with this crew.  

73 feels like people aren't looking at the actual rule

And that includes AIkman.  Mike Pereira tried to explain that

a) the lineman lifted his foot off the ground

b) his knee interfered with the defenders leg

c) the defender fell to the ground.

Apparently that's all that's needed for "tripping".

I wouldn't have called it here, but this conspiracy/favoritism nonsense gets tiresome.  

77 Rarely Called

I'm not an expert in OL play - but this seems like a penalty that could be called more based on the way the rule works. But it's definitely a violation based on the strict definition even though I don't see intent. Basically the definition of ticky-tack in the biggest moment of the game. 

63 The Packers' o-line has been…

The Packers' o-line has been just shredded by the 49ers' d-line, no surprise there really. But the 49ers' o-line isn't doing much better than the Packers', who are getting pressure nearly every play without blitzing, and should also have one more sack (and 3 fewer points against) but for the refs' continual bewildering belief that the shoulders are the "face."

64 Adams has apparently been…

Adams has apparently been studying James Harden, not a welcome development. Instead of trying to catch the pass, he slows and ties up the defender to try to draw the foul. He's lucky he didn't get called for OPI honestly.

Packers decide to go for it on 4th and 2, a defensible decision. They decide the best way to get it is to call the world's least creative run up the middle against this line for a guy who's 5'8" 208 lbs, which is not.

65 Man, on replay that was…

Man, on replay that was clearly a catch by Graham. No idea why LaFleur didn't challenge that, that could be huge, the way the game is shaping up.

72 1.8 yards per play from the…

1.8 yards per play from the Packers in the first half. The defense has actually been fine but hard to hold up given the situation the offense has placed them in.

Remaining schedule and tiebreakers are very favorable to the Packers in the race for the division, but this team isn't contending for much else if this is what the offense is going to look like in tough road games. There's still a whole half left, so I guess we'll see if they have any response.

91 Vikings

Might be better than all of them.. I think GB will lose twice in Minnesota-- once to lose the division, and then in first round...

100 Vikings could win the division

In reply to by oaktoon

But I'm very much not sold on them being better than SF and Seattle.

Actually, at this point I'd be surprised if Vikings don't win the division. 

76 Sherman with huge back to…

Sherman with huge back to back penalties. That illegal contact on Jones was almost funny, he just shoved him out of bounds. Not sure what that personal foul was - they called "unnecessary roughness," apparently due to shoving Jones in the back? Seems pretty questionable, but the replay didn't show any context at all (e.g., before or after pass).

Anyway, Packers take advantage with a score and a 2-pointer, and it's at least semi-competitive again.

78 Competitive no longer! It…

Competitive no longer!

It looked like King had coverage on Kittle, but when Kittle made his move he just kept running like 5 yards in the same direction before turning to follow him? A cover corner shouldn't get burned that badly by anyone, but especially a dang tight end, yeesh.

79 I loved the focus on Rodgers…

I loved the focus on Rodgers vs Alex Smith over the #1 draft choice. Does anyone think that Rodgers would have fared better than Smith if he had been the 1 pick? Would he have survived until the Harbaugh regime? Would he have even stayed on top with Harbaugh? I'm frankly sick of hearing about the chip on Aaron Rodgers' shoulder.

92 If you're really asking: yes…

If you're really asking: yes, I think that one of the all-time, era-adjusted passing leaders and winner of multiple MVPs could have persevered through the same situation that Alex Smith did. You're really onto something bringing this up after the worst game of Rodgers' career. (Flip their situations exactly around - think Alex Smith would be the all-time leader in passer rating?)

Of course, Rodgers was terrible tonight and I wonder where they stand going forward.

94 One Bay Area perspective

As a San Francisco Bay Area resident (the suburb next to Levi's Stadium) and admirer of Alex Smith *, and a fan at the time of the draft, I still think about this.  (BTW, one of my pet sports peeves is pure hindsight drafting criticism, criticism that does not take into account the team's perceived needs and available talent pool at the time of the draft.   The most obnoxious example of this, touted ad nauseum by Bill Simmons:  the Golden State Warriors "passing" on Kobe Bryant for Todd Fuller when no one at the time actually was suggesting drafting Bryant, including because the Warriors were looking for a big man.)

As I recall, it was a little bit surprising here that Smith was selected over Rodgers, who after all played at Cal.  If I had to guess, the collective pundit view was 60-40 Rodgers.  Alex was the big loser in this, because he ended up playing for Mike Nolan. 

One of the weaknesses of the sports fan and media base here is the Name Player Syndrome, the notion that a "famous" or "name" player is going to be a savior.  (Go check out Ball Four for Jim Bouton's original use of the term in a slightly different context.) The Giants are an excellent example of this -- whenever they sign a, say, Evan Longoria, they Surely Are Going To Win.  The two final contestants for the 49ers job were said to be Mike Nolan and (the late) Mike Heimerdinger.  To this day, I say that if the names were switched, the other guy would have got the job.  It was the Name Player Syndrome applied to coaches.  (I was worried about Kyle Shanahan for that reason, but fortunately that's worked out.)

At least as I observed (pardon if I am wrong), Nolan proved to be The Empty Suit, a coach with a good suit and a well-known 49ers name and good talk but little to back it up.  Asked about the team's poor record, Nolan replied something like, "the air smells good in here," referring to the team headquarters.  Smith was very poor at first (not surprising for a 20 year old who according to his college coach Urban Meyer would be "non functional" until he completely learned the system), then hurt his shoulder.  Nolan questioned whether Smith's injury was real.  Alex Smith was right and Mike Nolan was wrong (and noted talented but curmudgeonly Ray Ratto blamed both guys when Smith justifiably went public, fed up with the behind the scenes but well-known sniping). 

Smith barely made it through Nolan and Mike Singletary, a Name Player coach of a different type who preferred Troy as his QB Smith.  [By the way, critics of Jim Tomsula forget what a breath of fresh air he was as the one game interim coach after Nolan and Singletary, before Harbaugh.  When Tomsula became the full time head coach after Harbaugh, he inherited a historical loss of talent on the defensive side, see the table on page 19 of this year's FO almanac, and a dis-spirited QB (another story for some day).  He went 5-11; Chip Kelly took a similar team the next year and went 2-14.  Jim Tomsula disparagement is the flip side of the Name Player Syndrome for coaches, not to say that Vic Fangio would not have been a better choice.]  Jim Harbaugh -- surely a better judge of offensive talent that his predecessors -- recognized from Day 1 that Smith had value. 

Had Rodgers been selected, he, like Smith, would have started from practically the start.  I think he would have outlasted Nolan, as Smith did, but his career would have been delayed and hampered as was Smith's.  Rodgers ended up doing better by not playing.  What I can't see happening is Rodgers succeeding enough to save Nolan

* Alex lived in the far south of the county, Morgan Hill.  There was a sad child abduction near the end of his tenure here.  Alex not only helped in the search, he brought bottled water for other searchers. 

80 Niners fan here

Are this refs trying to make this a game? Or am I a giant Homer. Don't hold back.

83 I've long held a conspiracy…

In reply to by zenbitz

I've long held a conspiracy theory that refs generally shade towards calls/no-calls that benefit the losing team and/or keep one team from building too much of a lead early. Sort of like Mario Kart AI. Would be interesting to see some data on prevalence and types of penalties based on time left and score, but to do it properly would require basically re-refereeing every game to get the baseline of what "should have" been called.

85 Haven't looked at it for…

Haven't looked at it for football, but there's a very strong effect for baseball umpires calling balls and strikes based on who is behind in the count ( you generally have to be 2+ inches off the plate to get a 3-0 pitch called a ball, etc)


There are a bunch of other smaller effects too based on score - smaller but still measurable. 


So yeah, I'd bet that a big part of the umpires 'letting them play' and such is based on them not wanting to have a decision decide a game

93 Rubberbanding

That is the term you are looking for. I have thought that this was the case. Although today's Cowboys tripping penalty doesn't fit.

95 situations pretty different

In reply to by kcmiz24

GB was WAAAAY behind and DAL was threatening; DAL-NE was a pretty close game;   No matter which way calls went people were watching. GB/SF was a late night near blowout.   The "interesting" calls didn't really make it a game, but perhaps added another 10 minutes (game clock) of watchability.

90 DVOA-- I am Not Worthy

The Packers are who you said they were.... and I'm not letting them off the hook. Poorly coached... no talent outside of Adams at WR... and Rodgers was borderline awful... They won't be around long in the playoffs

96 The Rams came into this game…

The Rams came into this game with the #3 run defense according to DVOA, and they have simply been blown off the ball by Baltimore these first two drives.

97 I say again, those scouts…

I say again, those scouts who reportedly thought Lamar Jackson was not an NFL caliber passer should not have jobs evaluating passing talent anymore (if they still do).

99 Dear god, I knew the Ravens…

Dear god, I knew the Ravens were good, #1 offense and defense after week four, but I didn't expect them to go 4/4 in terms of touchdowns on their drives. Considering the opposition, I'm fine with the offense. Run blocking hasn't been great all year, and isn't again now, but my god the defense has just been getting destroyed. And at no point did they even look like they were threatening to get a stop except for the 3-12/4-1 on the first drive.

101 Ravens bringing back the running attack

...and, really, it's about time! 184 yards rushing in first half!?! Vs. the Rams, in Los Angeles??

Between last night's game and tonight's, we need to start hyping the 49ers vs. Ravens Super Bowl rematch.

Oh wait, that's next Sunday.

103 Jackson vs Wilson for mvp…

Jackson vs Wilson for mvp will be very interesting to watch.
Right now ravens look like the best team in the league. Forget the 49ers or Patriots.