2011 Staff Predictions

2011 Staff Predictions
2011 Staff Predictions
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

complied by Rivers McCown

Here's your standard warning: Predictions are probably wrong. It is the intrinsic nature of the NFL -- there are so many variables and so much luck involved in a 16-game season that teams will make the playoffs or bomb for totally unexpected and sometimes baffling reasons. This year, especially, is unpredictable because nobody truly knows what the effect of the lockout will be. We can only guess.

Let's say we think the Pittsburgh Steelers have the best chance of any team in the AFC to make it to the Super Bowl -- 20 percent, perhaps. For the sake of argument, we'll also say that Baltimore, New England, and San Diego each have a 10 percent chance to make the Super Bowl, ten other teams have a five percent chance, and Tennessee and Denver are there to make sure everybody has a full schedule.

OK, so we pick Pittsburgh to win the AFC. Even based solely on this opinion, there is four in five chance the pick will be incorrect. So all preseason predictions are going to be mostly wrong. It is unavoidable.

As we note every year, we're going to make picks anyway, because that's part of running a football site: you make picks.

For the fourth year, instead of each picking 12 playoff teams, we're showing our individuality by each arguing our point in categories such as "team likely to beat its projection" and "who will go first in the 2011 draft." Our college writers make similar comments about the FEI projections that ran in Football Outsiders Almanac 2011. However, the official FO predictions are based on the statistical projection system, even when the output looks a little strange. You can find those projections here, and as a reminder, the playoff forecast is:

AFC divisions: San Diego, Houston, Pittsburgh, New England
AFC wild cards: Baltimore, New York Jets
NFC divisions: San Francisco, New Orleans, Green Bay, Philadelphia
NFC wild cards: Atlanta, Chicago (narrowly over the Giants)
Super Bowl: Pittsburgh over Philadelphia
First Pick in the Draft: Tennessee

We often say -- even though some people don't seem to ever hear it -- that we do not believe that our statistical methods are perfect. Our subjective views are informed by our objective numbers, but not dictated by them. However, we want to make this clear: EACH OF THE OPINIONS LISTED BELOW IS THE OPINION OF THAT WRITER AND THAT WRITER ONLY. These are not "Football Outsiders predicts."

All right, let's rock.

Team Most Likely to Beat Their FOA Prediction

Tom Gower: I think the St. Louis Rams are better than they were last year, and with a semi-competent receiving corps and an improving cast of defensive players, they will win the NFC West and at least eight games.

Mike Kurtz: Green Bay. The Lions are steadily improving but have yet to reach competitor status, and the Vikings and Bears are both in decline. Sweeping the division should be pretty easy, and that sets them up nicely for an impressive record.

Sean McCormick: St. Louis. I understand that Sam Bradford's rookie season was probably blown a bit out of proportion -- he didn't exactly throw up a Ben Roethlisberger or Matt Ryan-type performance -- but Bradford showed me more than enough to believe that he will be a good quarterback and soon. The Rams have also done a nice job of stocking their defensive and offensive lines. In a weak division, a team that can protect the quarterback and go after the quarterback should really be good for more than five wins.

Rivers McCown: St. Louis. I know I'm aiming at low-hanging fruit with the projection of 6.6 wins, and I also know they have a brutal early-season schedule, but this team does play six games against the rest of the NFC West. Bradford is the best quarterback in the division in my eyes, I like McDaniels as an offensive coordinator, and I also like Robert Quinn across from Chris Long. That doesn't necessarily mean I'd pick them to win the division, but even if they only win half of their NFC West games, they only need to go 4-6 against the rest of their schedule to beat that projection.

Brian McIntyre: Green Bay. With perhaps the deepest and most-talented roster in the entire league, and a quarterback in his prime, the Packers appear poised for an 11 or 12 win season.

Ben Muth: Denver. The Broncos go from the chaos of the Josh McDaniels regime to the steady hand of John Fox. They get back their best player in Elvis Dumervil, and they have a decent quarterback in an average division. That seems like six-to-eight win team to me.

Aaron Schatz: The Dallas projection is based on the idea that the Cowboys' defense will not recover from last year's decline, but you've got to think that Mike Jenkins is better than he was last year. If he plays halfway between his 2009 and 2010 performances, and Rob Ryan can improve the pass rush just a little bit, that should give the Cowboys an average defense, which combined with the return of Tony Romo should make them more of a 9-7 or 10-6 team and put them right in the middle of the NFC Wild Card picture.

I also think the Green Bay offensive projection came out a bit low.

Mike Tanier: The Chiefs. Their number is low for a team with good offensive and defensive fronts, young talent, and a somewhat weak division.

Danny Tuccitto: Green Bay Packers. Their Pythagorean difference, strength of schedule difference, and likely AGL improvement all suggest more wins this season than last. FOA11 projects fewer.

Vince Verhei: Kansas City Chiefs. They’ll have to win a bunch before the Pats-Steelers-Bears-Jets-Packers death march late in the year, but their schedule up to that point isn’t otherworldly – it’s two games against the Chargers and eight other games in which they could be favored. Then they finish with marshmallows in Oakland and Denver. Plus, there’s always the chance Thomas Jones gets injured and Todd Haley is forced to use Jamaal Charles like a feature back should be used.

Robert Weintraub: Dallas. Eight wins seems very doable with the question marks in the division, plus the firepower on offense. New Orleans seems low too.

Team Most Likely to Fall Short of Their FOA Prediction

Tom Gower: Saying the Indianapolis Colts if Peyton Manning misses extensive time would be too easy. Most years there are some lines in FOA that I look at and think "no." This year, though, the lines I don't like the most are ones I think FOA is pointing in a better direction than conventional wisdom. I'll go with one of those, the Cleveland Browns.

Mike Kurtz: Pittsburgh.

1. 13 wins is kind of insane with a first-place schedule, even with the NFC West and AFC South thrown into the mix.
2. Mike Wallace does not actually possess the ability to warp time and space, as many have speculated.
3. I have a reputation to uphold.

Sean McCormick: New York Giants. The secondary depth is severely depleted, and while I still think the front four is going to be excellent, teams will be able to spread the Giants out and neutralize the pass rush. Also, Eli Manning has had a dreadful training camp, which makes me worry that the offense won't be able to keep up when the defense gives up points.

Rivers McCown: Buffalo. I don't want to say mean things about Buffalo, because the city has suffered enough. I just don't see seven wins there for a rag-tag offense (spoiler: not a Ryan Fitzpatrick guy) and a defense built on players trying to rehabilitate their value and get a new contract somewhere else. I guess that was kind of mean after all. Well, now we're even for Frank Reich.

Brian McIntyre: Cleveland. Playing the NFC West and a possibly Peyton Manning-less Indianapolis Colts team should be good for the ol' win total, but I'm not sure they have enough talent and depth in the front seven to stop the run effectively enough to get to eight wins. Plus that December/January schedule -– road games against the Steelers, Cardinals, and Ravens sandwiched by home games with the Ravens and Steelers -– is beyond brutal.

Ben Muth: Cleveland Browns. You're either in on Colt McCoy, or you're not. I am not. I'm seeing shades of Rick Mirer, and the Browns don't have a ton of weapons around him. I think Peyton Hillis regresses and I don't like any of their receivers. Plus the Eric Steinbach injury could really hurt.

Aaron Schatz: I understand all the mathematical reasons why the projection system likes the Minnesota Vikings, but I think there's a problem with the "OL continuity" variable here, because it doesn't recognize that the Vikings offensive line, despite continuity, has dissolved into soft pudding. I also have questions about the defense. Is Erin Henderson really a starting-quality linebacker? Is there enough on the defensive line? And what if Antoine Winfield suddenly gets old? I know that the Vikings have an easy schedule, but I still don't think that gives them more wins than the Cowboys or Giants.

Also, Seattle projected with one of the five best defenses in the league seems a bit silly, but the offense is projected so low that the overall projection comes out as expected.

Mike Tanier: The Steelers. After seeing them beat the Eagles up in the preseason, I was starting to think the Steelers are capable of anything, and they have a lot of talent all over the roster. But 13 wins is a lot in a tough (other than the Bengals) division, and their defense is getting old. I also have a feeling that a couple of the teams with sack-heavy defenses, like the Steelers and Packers, are going to lose a game or two on momentum-swing penalties: the borderline hit that becomes unnecessary roughness instead of a strip sack.

Danny Tuccitto: Cincinnati Bengals. If this team wins seven games, I'll wear a tiger suit to all of my live fantasy drafts next season, and post pics on Twitter as proof. A rookie quarterback, a rookie No. 1 wide receiver, and a strongside defense imported from San Francisco is not the recipe for success; it's not even the recipe for mediocrity.

Vince Verhei: Pittsburgh Steelers. I really want to take “none of the above.” All the teams at the top of the projections look like they belong there. Since I don’t think that’s an option, I’ll go with Pittsburgh just because their projection (13 wins) is so high. We can find four losses for a team with question marks at tackle and cornerback, can’t we? Let’s say they drop one of the Ravens contests, fall on the road to Andre Johnson and the Texans, and lose at home to New England. And then … hmm. This is harder than I thought. A road game in Kansas City? A Monday nighter in San Francisco? Let’s say they rest their starters in Week 17 against Cleveland and lose on the road. Still counts as a loss.

Robert Weintraub: This might be my bias talking, but Cleveland should fall short of 9 wins. On reason in particular to bet on that is their injury situation, which doesn't figure to improve with that training staff. I like Dick Jauron, but I also think they will miss Rob Ryan's fire at DC.

Player Most Likely to Beat His KUBIAK Projection

Tom Gower: The obvious answer is somebody who plays a bigger role than KUBIAK is expecting. The Steelers' Antonio Brown seems like a good fit for that.

Mike Kurtz: Darren McFadden. The AFC West defenses are very bad! I'm not even sold on the Chargers, really. Plus, what else is the team going to do? Not run with McFadden? Pshaw. His per-play stats and DVOA will probably stink, but his accumulation stats will be fantastic.

Sean McCormick: Matthew Stafford. Our numbers are pretty down on Stafford, while most of the conventional football world thinks he is ready to blow up. If you watched Stafford in the preseason, you can understand where the conventional wisdom is coming from. There are a lot of quality weapons in that Detroit offense, and the team seems inclined to let their quarterback sling the ball rather than babysit a run dominated offense. Provided he stays healthy, I expect Stafford to comfortably beat his projection.

Rivers McCown: Ryan Mathews. I'm willing to write most of last year off because of the high ankle sprain. The fumbles are still a problem, but the Chargers didn't trade up to get him just to have him split carries. If he's healthy, I'm expecting a workhorse. I don't care how many nice things they say about Mike Tolbert.

Brian McIntyre: Calvin Johnson. With a healthy Stafford, Johnson could be in for a 90-catch, 1,500-yard, 12-touchdown season.

Ben Muth: Vincent Jackson. I think he comes in with a big chip on his shoulder and becomes a top five fantasy guy for the first time in his career. At the very least, I expect top 10, which is higher than he is currently projected at.

Aaron Schatz: I don't know why I can't get the Calvin Johnson projection to go higher without cheating, but we do have this strange habit of underrating him.

Mike Tanier: Jimmy Graham. We got a little conservative with a player that the Saints really want to use a lot. Graham, I think, is going to have Witten numbers.

Danny Tuccitto: Sam Bradford. He's been on my radar ever since Aaron sent out the first round of projections in preparation for FOA11. Josh McDaniels might be a lot of things, but he's not a coach who fails to maximize passing talent. He coaxed 3,700 yards and 20 touchdowns out of Matt Cassel and Kyle Orton. Bradford, whose KUBIAK is basically equal to that, can do much better.

Vince Verhei: Reggie Bush. He’s listed as the top running back on the Dolphins’ depth chart right now, and while I don’t really think he’ll lead the team in rushing, I think it will be close. I also think he’ll easily top his projected 382 receiving yards.

Robert Weintraub: I hate this prediction because there is so much leeway. Sure, I'd like to say Ben Roethlisberger, because I think he's going to have a huge year, but it's not like KUBIAK thinks he'll stink. So, the hell with it -- this is the season Matthew Stafford stays healthy and fulfills his destiny. Oops, just put the whammy on him. Sorry, Staff.

Player Most Likely to Fall Short of His KUBIAK Projection

Tom Gower: I don't believe in Peyton Hillis nearly as much as most people, especially with Eric Steinbach out for the year.

Mike Kurtz: Ray Rice. I've been shouting this from the rooftops, and while I may be eating significant crow, the offensive line is not going to be as strong for him as it was last year. Baltimore's offense is going to transition more toward the passing game, and Rice is just not an impressive player. Plus, he's stuck in a division with fairly impressive defenses. I'm stuck with him in both of my leagues and it makes my soul hurt.

Sean McCormick: Cam Newton. Our projection is a decidedly low bar for the number one overall pick to clear, but I think he'll still fall short. Newton undoubtedly has an NFL arm, but he looks clueless on the field, he has no viable receiving threats outside of Steve Smith (who he has been completely unable to reach in the preseason), and with the combination of Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams, Carolina will likely have the lowest pass/run split in the league. Otherwise, I see a first year somewhere between Mark Sanchez and JaMarcus Russell.

Rivers McCown: Andre Roberts. I'm sure he'll be a little bit better this year, but we're really projecting someone who nearly had a -40% DVOA in limited time last year to have 850 receiving yards? I'll take the under, and I'm betting the new-found focus on tight ends in Arizona will also cut into his targets.

Brian McIntyre: Peyton Manning is far too obvious, so I'll say Drew Brees. Between the re-signing of Pierre Thomas, trading back into the first-round to select Mark Ingram and picking up fullback Korey Hall in free agency, the Saints clearly want to run the ball more this season.

Ben Muth: Matt Ryan. There are a lot of reasons not to like Matty Ice. Tony Gonzalez is old, Michael Turner has gotten a lot of carries the past couple of years, and rookie wideouts always seem to dissapoint. I'm also not too high on the Falcons offensive line. That leaves Roddy White, and I don't think he gives Ryan enough production to finish sandwiched between Tom Brady and Tony Romo in the top 10.

Aaron Schatz: Always hard for me to pick, since I'm the KUBIAK guy, and I can generally lower a player's role variable when I feel it is necessary. I love A.J. Green, but that Bengals offense does look like it's going to have a hard time getting him the ball.

Mike Tanier: Tie: Michael Vick and Michael Turner. Vick’s completion percentage is far too high. The Eagles will be very strong this year, but they are going to have some games where the offensive line is a mess and Vick winds up 12-of-24 with a long touchdown or two and 75 rushing yards. The Falcons are going to spread the ball around much more this year, and Turner is becoming more and more of a grinder with age.

Danny Tuccitto: Tie between Arian Foster and Antonio Gates. Show me a lower-body injury to a skill position player, and I'll show you a guy who's poised to have, "battled through injuries all last season" offered as an excuse by his coach next year. In Gates' case, I think Norv Turner's been saying that since Dubya was president. Full disclosure: I have Gates in all leagues, so this is a statement against interest. As for Foster, losing Vonta Leach doesn't help the situation either.

Vince Verhei: Steven Jackson. His rushing numbers look about right (1,155 yards, six touchdowns), but I’m not sure where these 560 receiving yards are supposed to come from, considering he’s only gone over 400 once in his career.

Robert Weintraub: Michael Turner looked like the accumulation of carries and hits was starting to catch up to him this preseason. Perhaps that means nothing, but my initial reaction to a prediction of 12 TDs and nearly 1500 yards is "no chance."

College Team Most Likely to Beat Their F/+ Projection

Bill Connelly: Texas A&M. I don't think they are a top 10 team by any means, but I'm absolutely willing to believe top 20. Their recent history very much tamped their projections down, however.

Brian Fremeau: Mississippi State. We totally overvalued Auburn and the Bulldogs are a real threat to contend as the SEC West's fourth power team (behind LSU, Alabama and Arkansas). Last year was a nice step forward, and this year they can get to eight or nine wins again.

Tom Gower: College football requires less quarterbacking than the NFL, but it helps to have a good one and Baylor's Robert Griffin III is one of the better ones. I think the Bears end up bowl-eligible with six or seven wins.

Rivers McCown: Texas A&M. I think they have too much offensive talent to be kept out of the top 20.

Ben Muth: Stanford. Andrew Luck is the best player in the country. David DeCastro is the best offensive lineman in the country. Moose Martin is the best LT in the country. Chase Thomas is going to lead the Pac-12 in sacks. And most importantly, I'm an unabashed homer. All this adds up to 14-0 and a national title.

Aaron Schatz: North Carolina. Last year's performance was likely depressed because of all the suspensions, and there's so much defensive talent there.

Robert Weintraub: Tennessee has dragged down the SEC East the last few seasons, but there is a surfeit of talent there, waiting to explode. And it's not as though the rest of the East is riding high. Surprise challenger for a trip to Atlanta in December.

College Team Most Likely to Fall Short of Their F/+ Projection

Bill Connelly: Auburn. There is no recent precedent for coming from out of (relative) nowhere to rank No. 1 in F/+, and there is no recent precedent for then turning around and losing nearly every single playmaker. The projections had no idea what to do with AU, but in the end they were probably ranked far too high.

Brian Fremeau: Auburn's the obvious choice and I agree with Bill. I might be cheating a bit by not predicting this before the blow-up against Baylor, but TCU is destined for a bigger step back than we originally projected. The Horned Frogs have been so dominant lately it was too easy to assume they could overcome another wave of personnel losses. They'll take more lumps than usual and finish outside of the top 20.

Tom Gower: I said last year Auburn was a 6-6-type team with two gamechangers in Cam Newton and Nick Fairley. Newton and Fairley are now playing on Sundays, and Auburn should be happy with bowl eligibility in a tough SEC West.

Rivers McCown: Auburn. Utah State already demonstrated why.

Ben Muth: LSU. The Mad Hatter seems due for some bad luck.

Aaron Schatz: Auburn. Hey, that's what everyone else thinks, who am I to argue?

Robert Weintraub: Pitt will be interesting this season but 10 wins seems like a stretch. Don't discount the Wannstedt departure factor though: that could be worth a game or three.

Super Bowl XLVI Winner and Loser

Tom Gower: Pittsburgh Steelers over the Philadelphia Eagles.

Mike Kurtz: New England over Philadelphia. I think the Patriots' defense will be just good enough to win a bunch of shootouts leading to a Super Bowl where the Eagles' vaunted new secondary is completely and totally outschemed.

Sean McCormick: Patriots over Saints.

Rivers McCown: Baltimore over Philadelphia.

Brian McIntyre: Saints over the Patriots. How miserable will Colts fans be if the Saints and Patriots are playing for the Lombardi Trophy in Lucas Oil Stadium?

Ben Muth: The Chargers beat the Saints 31-27.

Aaron Schatz: New England over Green Bay. The team projection system likes New England and Pittsburgh as the two best teams, and if it comes down to those two, New England generally hasn't had a problem beating Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh the last few years. As much as I love Philadelphia to win the NFC, I would be worried about their offensive line and linebackers, and Green Bay just has a lot more depth.

Mike Tanier: Steelers over Eagles. I can pick the Steelers to win the Super Bowl and still fall short of a 13-win projection, right?

Danny Tuccitto: Green Bay Packers over Baltimore Ravens. Repeat champions have been rare over the past decade, but teams usually overshoot Pythagoras in their championship season. If you go all the way back to 1992, no champ has undershot it by two full wins ala the 2010 Packers. As far as the Ravens go, they'll probably be more efficient in both pass offense and pass defense, this might be the year that the perennial AFC powers (i.e., IND, NE, and PIT) falter, all the Jets do is lose AFC Championship Games, and I just can't see Norv Turner head coaching a team to a Super Bowl appearance.

Vince Verhei: Eagles over Patriots.

Robert Weintraub: New England over New Orleans.

2012 BCS Championship Winner and Loser

Bill Connelly: Alabama over Oklahoma. I like to keep it simple, though Boise State (they're great and have an easy schedule) and Virginia Tech (they're very good and have a pretty easy schedule) could throw a kink into things.

Brian Fremeau: I like Oklahoma, but I'm going to go with the numbers and say that Alabama (though deserving due to schedule strength) won't get the nod due to the loss column. I think Virginia Tech is going to cruise to an undefeated regular season and is my sleeper pick to sneak into the championship game.

Tom Gower: Alabama Crimson Tide over ... some one-loss team. Let's go with Virginia Tech.

Rivers McCown: Stanford over Oklahoma.

Ben Muth: Stanford beats some SEC team (I'll go Alabama), 27-13

Aaron Schatz: Alabama over Oklahoma.

Robert Weintraub: Alabama over Boise State

With the First Pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, ____ selects Andrew Luck. (And do they really have the top pick, or do they get it in trade?)

Tom Gower: With the first pick, the Cincinnati Bengals select Andrew Luck with their own pick.

Mike Kurtz: Tennessee. The Titans are a train wreck, and while they've locked down Chris Johnson, he's surrounded by garbage and I question his motivation now that he's been paid. Also, any team where Kenny Britt is considered a valid diva receiver must be purged with fire.

Sean McCormick: I expect (and am kind of hoping) that Carolina will be the worst team in the league again, putting themselves in the position of not being able to draft Luck because they reached on Cam Newton. Seattle has the worst non-rookie quarterback in the league, and should be close enough that they can swing a deal to trade up for Luck.

Rivers McCown: Seattle, and they trade up a few slots, giving up a couple of future No. 1's as well as some other goodies, to do it.

Brian McIntyre: With the first pick in the 2012 draft, the Miami Dolphins select Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck. The Dolphins defense is talented enough to win close to eight games. All that's missing is a quarterback. Miami trades up to select Luck, which should be easier to do now that first overall picks are no longer carrying a "$50 million in guarantees" price tag.

Ben Muth: With first pick in the 2012 draft the Seattle Seahwaks select Andrew Luck. My other draft prediction is that two Stanford guys go in the top 10.

Aaron Schatz: Oakland.

Mike Tanier: The Bengals take Luck, and totally botch the ensuing QB controversy with Dalton.

Danny Tuccitto: Seattle Seahawks via trade. The Bengals will "earn" the first pick, but they just drafted Dalton, and the offers for Luck will be Coreleone-esque. Seattle will be bad enough to have the requisite draft value for trade, and Pete Carroll hates Jim Harbaugh bad enough to acquire his protege out of pure spite, even if it means pulling a Ditka.

Vince Verhei: Raiders finish in last place. With no second-, third-, or fourth-round picks, they trade the first overall pick to New England (who have extra first- and second-round picks, so far). Luck sits behind Tom Brady for a few years, Ryan Mallett becomes trade bait a la Kevin Kolb, and the Patriots’ next ten years look a lot like their last ten years.

Robert Weintraub: San Francisco, with its own pick. I don't necessarily think Luck is a lock -- these things never work out as we expect them to. But the Harbaugh factor means that barring a serious injury, the reunion will be complete.


122 comments, Last at 06 Mar 2012, 11:25am

#1 by Vincent Verhei // Sep 07, 2011 - 3:04pm

I just spent a few minutes reading and writing about the Eagles' offensive line, and I would formally like to change my Super Bowl prediction to Packers over Patriots. Thank you.

Points: 0

#25 by JIPanick // Sep 07, 2011 - 5:04pm

You've just done everything humanly possible to put Philly in the Super Bowl. Why would you do that?

Points: 0

#2 by Bobby Wommack (not verified) // Sep 07, 2011 - 3:08pm

Do people really think the Ravens are going to be that good? Shaky o-line, two past their prime WRS, Joe Flacco, aging defense with no pass rush, mediocre corners (with a rookie starting).

No thanks. You can keep the hype.

Points: 0

#21 by jonnyblazin // Sep 07, 2011 - 4:51pm

Ravens O-line in 2009, when they were a dominant unit and Rice had a monster year:

LG: Grubbs
C: Birk
RG: Yanda
RT: Oher

This is what their line will be this year. Grubbs, Yanda, and Oher are now in their prime, so they should be better. The only difference is that Gaither is replaced by McKinnie, which is likely a wash.

30 years old isn't that old for WR.
Their CBs, which I don't believe are mediocre, are still much better than last year, so that's an improvement.
Pass rush should be better with Kindle, Kruger, plus D-lineman who have improved entering their second year (esp. Arthur Jones).
And Flacco is going into his fourth year, which is when QBs make a considerable leap forward in terms of development.

You can list a bunch of descriptions and attach them to the 2011 Ravens, but that doesn't make them accurate in the least bit.

Points: 0

#28 by pedropolis // Sep 07, 2011 - 5:10pm

Devils advocate would mention that you have many "shoulds" in your defense of the Raven's. McKinnie is a former first round pick, but has regressed. Oher is back to his natural RT position, but last year he declined. You lose Heap and Mason, two of Flacco's blankets, and expect him to improve with a new cast and re-shuffled O-line? They should improve over the course of the year, but do they get off to a slow start as these new pieces mesh?

The CBs feature a rookie, with equal parts talent and character issues, and an aging Ed Reed. Kindle is a question mark and there is little depth behind any of the starters. Last year there was little in terms of pass rush.

Points: 0

#34 by 0tarin // Sep 07, 2011 - 5:40pm

Kindle is indeed a question mark, but how big of one depends on how much stock you put into preseason. The Ravens' DL has looked excellent, particularly in terms of depth. Both Kruger and Kindle have looked solid (with the former being a monster at times), and as was mentioned, Arthur Jones has been a terror that came out of nowhere.

I'm certainly not saying that the preseason hype will translate directly into week 1, but there's absolutely reason to be optimistic that the pass rush will improve over last year's.

Points: 0

#42 by BaronFoobarstein // Sep 07, 2011 - 6:57pm

Gaither was their best lineman and one of the best tackles in the league. I think saying that replacing him with McKinnie is a wash is very wishful thinking.

Points: 0

#45 by jonnyblazin // Sep 07, 2011 - 7:50pm

By the end of 2009 Gaither had declined considerably and become a liability, he just didn't take conditioning seriously enough. He's very talented, but that didn't translate into being one of the best tackles in the league. If that was the case, why didn't teams aggressively bid for him this offseason?

Also, for all the question marks about the secondary, their #1 CB last year (Chris Carr) is now behind J. Smith, C. Williams, and L. Webb, and maybe behind D. Foxworth as well. Its hard to see how this unit won't be better, their best player last year got beat out by at least 3 people.

The front 7 is ridiculously deep, although there isn't any established pass rusher outside of Suggs. However, part of the problem with the pass rush last year was due to the crappiness of the CBs. The D-coordinator (Greg Mattison, who I thought sucked) used a lot of 3 man rushes to compensate - not even the best pass rusher can get to the QB in that scenario. Presumably a better secondary will lead to more pressure packages.

Points: 0

#51 by Geer (not verified) // Sep 07, 2011 - 9:30pm

Where's the love for Vonta Leach? Surely adding him helps Ray Rice, no?

Points: 0

#111 by armchair journ… // Sep 08, 2011 - 7:42pm

+ Vonta - McGahee = Better, right?

Points: 0

#70 by Will Allen // Sep 08, 2011 - 2:14am

Signing Bryant Mckinnnie to replace a guy with conditioning issues is like marrying Charlie Sheen after getting divorced from Tiger Woods.

Points: 0

#71 by Thomas_beardown // Sep 08, 2011 - 2:39am

It's going to spawn more internet memes?

Points: 0

#87 by jonnyblazin // Sep 08, 2011 - 12:54pm

Games played last year:

McKinnie: 16
Gaither: 0

I'd say McKinnie is a bit more reliable. Only missed 4 starts since 2003, so I'm not sure I follow your analogy.

Points: 0

#88 by BaronFoobarstein // Sep 08, 2011 - 1:15pm

Gaither missed a season due to a freak neck injury that had very little to do with conditioning. Even so, that's irrelevant to the comparison you were making, which was to the 2009 version of the Ravens line.

Points: 0

#91 by jonnyblazin // Sep 08, 2011 - 1:46pm

Not really true. It was an alleged "back injury" that none of the Ravens doctors were able to identify, but Gaither's personal doctors insisted he had. It led a lot of people to assume that Gaither has no work ethic, no desire to play football, and only cares about collecting checks. These are the same reasons he lasted until the 5th round of the supplemental draft, you'd think a 6-9, 340 pound LT with good feet would be able to get a better contract that 600K for 1 year.

Bottom line is McKinnie is much more reliable than Gaither, and the quality of Gaither's play was always spotty. Even in 2009 he wasn't very good by the end of the season. There's no reason to believe he'll ever be a consistent LT, or even make it through a season health due to his poor conditioning.

Points: 0

#95 by Tim R // Sep 08, 2011 - 3:23pm

To be fair I don't know a great deal about Gaither aside from the fact he's generally considered pretty good. McKinnie on the other hand has never been reliable. He's was very good for a period but consistently had weight issues and never played up to his potential. Granted I don't know enough about Gaither to say he hasn't done the same, but I'm not sure McKinnie and reliable belong anywhere near each other.

Points: 0

#46 by Rivers McCown // Sep 07, 2011 - 8:05pm

Speaking purely for myself here, No, I don't think the Ravens are a lock to be one of the best teams in the NFL. But I'm also not quite sold on the Steelers defense fighting off the clock and injuries to Harrison and Polamalu another year.

I think it's very possible that Baltimore winds up with 11-12 wins even if they do decline a bit, considering they play the NFC West and AFC South. From there, anything can happen in the playoffs. I liked their win-now fortifications.

But really, what it's about is predicting something a little off the board. I don't think it's out of the realm of 10% possibility that Baltimore wins the AFC, and I have a good gut feeling about them, so I'll ride with it.

Points: 0

#94 by big_jgke // Sep 08, 2011 - 3:07pm

Apropos of nothing, is your arch-nemesis Philip Cade?

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#3 by Will Allen // Sep 07, 2011 - 3:09pm

I think Aaron is correct on the Vikings, but with the caveat I mentioned yesterday in the DVOA projection thread; the Vikings will likely give some insight as to the value of getting rid of bad assistant coaches, given how poorly the offensive line was coached in the Childress era. My guess is 4-6 wins, however, so I guess I don't see it helping that much.

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#4 by ammek // Sep 07, 2011 - 3:15pm

Nobody likes Washington for the #1 pick?

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#54 by Raiderjoe // Sep 07, 2011 - 9:41pm

No, Old Shamarat team (Broncos) gogin to be crappier than curernt Shamarat team ()Redskisn).
Grossman will eb more good in more games than K. oorton and T. Tebow and the other one there .

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#119 by Kevin from Philly // Sep 12, 2011 - 10:02am

All I can say is, Shamarat-Wow!

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#86 by edswood (not verified) // Sep 08, 2011 - 12:36pm

No. As he has shown before with Plummer, Shanahan can take lemon QBs and make lemonade. Hightower looks legit, and the defense seems improved this preaseason. I can't see them having the #1 pick. Not with all the teams in total disarray out there.

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#5 by MilkmanDanimal // Sep 07, 2011 - 3:16pm

My prediction for the Vikings is that they are very bad and are, in fact, just bad enough to miss Andrew Luck by one and only one draft slot. Why? Because that is the most painful situation imaginable, and that is what invariably happens to Vikings fans.

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#6 by Will Allen // Sep 07, 2011 - 3:25pm

No,no,no,no,no. What will happen is that the Vikings will get the 1st pick, and at the press conference featuring Luck, Zygi Wilf will annouce that the franchise is emulating the Lakers, and moving to Los Angeles.

Either that, or GM Rick Spielman will go on an ether binge in Manhattan the day of the draft, and trade the right to draft Luck to the Colts, for all the Colts' offensive linemen.

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#13 by MilkmanDanimal // Sep 07, 2011 - 3:56pm

Spielman will drunkenly trade the #1 pick to the Colts for Peyton Manning, who will play five minutes of one game before becoming injured badly enough that he has to retire.

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#83 by Spielman // Sep 08, 2011 - 9:38am

No I won't.

(Yes he will.)

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#15 by Jamie (not verified) // Sep 07, 2011 - 4:03pm

I figured if the Vikings had the first overall pick their time would expire and the team with the #2 overall pick would take Luck.

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#104 by Tri Shanku (not verified) // Sep 08, 2011 - 5:57pm

No luck for Vikings then, eh?

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#112 by armchair journ… // Sep 08, 2011 - 7:47pm

Nah... the Vikings will say they already have their QB of the future and pick a middling DB, rather than trading out of the spot. Then they'll stay in Minnesota.

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#7 by Temo // Sep 07, 2011 - 3:30pm

So this Luck character, he can play QB?

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#43 by BaronFoobarstein // Sep 07, 2011 - 7:00pm

I've never witnessed such hype before. What are the chances he does a full JaMarcus?

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#49 by Mr Shush // Sep 07, 2011 - 8:59pm

Zero. Not only is he more talented, with what will be a far larger collegiate body of work to base the judgment on, but he is by all accounts extremely hard working and focused. Pulling a Jamarcus requires not giving a shit.

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#52 by BaronFoobarstein // Sep 07, 2011 - 9:33pm

Yeah, I strongly think that you're right about that. But money can do strange things to a person. And there's always purple drank.

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#92 by Aaron Brooks' … (not verified) // Sep 08, 2011 - 1:47pm

Luck has money. His dad is the athletic director at WVU, and he's loaded.

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#55 by MC2 // Sep 07, 2011 - 9:51pm

I've never witnessed such hype before.

You must not follow baseball. When it comes to hype, nobody (including Luck) can hold a candle to Stephen Strasburg.

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#57 by Marko // Sep 07, 2011 - 10:38pm

I can think of a few players who could hold a candle to Strasburg in baseball alone: Mark Prior and Bryce Harper come to mind. In football, Reggie Bush, Tony Mandarich and Bo Jackson. John Elway could hold a candle store to him. In basketball, Greg Oden and a few others. LeBron James could hold a candle factory to him.

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#67 by Scott C // Sep 07, 2011 - 11:24pm

Candle Factory. HA!

+1 million internet points

Kobe didn't quite hold up a candle factory, but the candle was a big one that threw off sparks.

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#78 by jebmak // Sep 08, 2011 - 7:36am

Okay, this totally devalued the points I've been saving up. Thanks a lot, jerk!

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#113 by armchair journ… // Sep 08, 2011 - 7:49pm


(its a start..)

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#68 by MC2 // Sep 08, 2011 - 12:20am

Bush and LeBron are close, but I still say Strasburg is the All-Time King of Hype. For example, Bob Costas said that watching his first start (on TV!) would be something that "50 years from now, people will be telling their grandchildren about." This was during the pregame, before Strasburg had thrown a single major league pitch!

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#80 by apk3000 // Sep 08, 2011 - 8:07am

Well, the Strasburg debut hype does have the advantage that DC fans gave it a name, "Strasmas".

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#93 by Aaron Brooks' … (not verified) // Sep 08, 2011 - 1:49pm

Strasburg is like a less-talented, more-often-injured version of Kerry Wood. Let that career arc sink in for a moment.

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#105 by Bryan and Vinny Show (not verified) // Sep 08, 2011 - 6:23pm

That's true, the one injury he suffered, and which he seems to have recovered from fairly nicely, is much in line with the 'oft-injured'. His career arc of being two years removed from college would strongly indicate...well, nothing that you've said. But, what difference does it make, really?

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#99 by Theo // Sep 08, 2011 - 4:07pm

Bush was called "the best NFL ready prospect coming out of college in years" (I quote it, but it's an estimate) long before the draft.
I only watch, not follow baseball.

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#58 by Bowl Game Anomaly // Sep 07, 2011 - 10:44pm

A better comparison would be Leinart, who had basically identical hype to Luck going into his last year of college. Even though JaMarcus was drafted #1 and Leinart wasn't, I think more people doubted JaMarcus than Leinart. (If JaMarcus had been in the same draft class as Leinart, he rpobably would have been the 4th QB drafted behind Vince Young, Leinart, and Cutler.)

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#84 by Dean // Sep 08, 2011 - 9:55am

I disagree. There was certainly a general consensus that Leinart was the top prospect entering the season, but there were also people already questioning him at that point. NOBODY is questioning Luck. I frequently hear people saying he's the single greatest prospect to come along at any position since John Elway. When you hear hype like that, it's actually rather natural to be skeptical. Truth is, I don't know if I've ever sat and watched an actual game of his, so I can't say I really have much of an opinion. But purely from a statistical probablitly standpoint, he could end up being picked first overall and turning into a start QB and still end up being overhyped.

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#100 by Theo // Sep 08, 2011 - 4:13pm

I remember Sean Taylor (rest in peace) had no negatives at his scouting report.
Even the best recent picks had trouble in the NFL.

Jamarcus is a bad example, the guy was a reach. All his scouting reports had question marks. Al Davis is just hungry for speed and arm strength, the guy is playing madden franchise in real life there. Case in point: he signed Kyle Boller.

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#8 by Theo // Sep 07, 2011 - 3:30pm

Drafted QBs predicted in 2010 (2011 draft): Locker 6x, Ponder 1x. (and DE Quinn and some Luck)
2009: Bradford 2x, Tebow 2x.
2008: LT, Michael Oher 8x (good movie BTW) ... QBs: Boone, Stafford 2x.
2007: Brohm 4x and a lot of Jake Long.
I also remember the Brady Quinn Bowl being discussed here.

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#16 by Theo // Sep 07, 2011 - 4:04pm

Tom Gower: Buffalo Bills select Christian Ponder, quarterback, Florida State.

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#19 by Arkaein // Sep 07, 2011 - 4:26pm

Also, don't forget that the lowest tier team win projections in Pro Football Prospectus (before FOA) were called "Leinart Land" and "The Brohm Closet" in a couple of years.

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#26 by Theo // Sep 07, 2011 - 5:08pm

Ah yes, could be that the Quinn Bowl was in the book too. But it's funny.
I always love this "I know we were plenty wrong about the other guys, but THIS time... the guy really is the best."

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#30 by asg (not verified) // Sep 07, 2011 - 5:14pm

Don't forget "The Quest for Quinn".

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#10 by tunesmith // Sep 07, 2011 - 3:36pm

Surprised that no one picked Denver for the first pick, given the jokes made about them.

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#18 by Eddo // Sep 07, 2011 - 4:24pm

Now that McDaniels is gone, hasn't the joking mostly stopped?

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#106 by Bryan and Vinny Show (not verified) // Sep 08, 2011 - 6:32pm

From what I've seen of Denver in the preseason, they are nowhere near the worst team in the league. They have a fair amount of talent, the defense should be improved via the return of the injured Elvis and the addition of Von Miller to actually create a pass rush, and, honestly, the division isn't all that great. The Chargers are good, of course, but I don't think the Chiefs are much better ( besides at running back ), and the Raiders are a mixed bag. I don't think Denver will be shockingly good or anything, but they have pieces to work with. There are teams in Cincy, Jacksonville, Seattle ( who looked truly horrible against the Broncos a couple of weeks ago ), Carolina and a few others who I think are much more up against it than the Broncos. I guess you could throw the Colts in there, too. Believe me, Elway and I would love for Denver to get the first pick, and have Luck as the choice, but it seems unlikely, unless Orton gets lost in traffic every week and Tebow is stuck out there to run around in circles. Even then, I think this team could beat Cincy or Seattle.

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#11 by justanothersteve // Sep 07, 2011 - 3:40pm

While I'm hoping the Packers win the SB again, I think it's far more likely the Vikings earn the right to select Andrew Luck. The OL is a mess, the DL got old or left, Antonio Winfield is as old as Charles Woodson and was never as talented, and their best WR went to Seattle. I'm also not convinced McNabb has enough left to be effective and Christian Ponder was by all accounts a reach. Finally, there's all the distractions on whether the Vikings will even stay in Minnesota due to the continuing stadium controversy. It's enough to give Percy Harvin more migraines.

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#12 by Dean // Sep 07, 2011 - 3:55pm

Most likely to beat their Kubiak projection - Lance Kendrick. With their WR corps(e), and Bradford projected at 3700 yards, how on earth is only 300 of it supposed to come from their TE?

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#96 by Tim R // Sep 08, 2011 - 3:53pm

I agree with you but I can see a scenario where Hoomananawui(sp?) performs better and gets more targets as well as the chance that all the receivers, aside from Amendola, are distinctly average and targets/yards are all split equally low. I think that's all unlikely but not impossible.

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#102 by Mr Shush // Sep 08, 2011 - 5:18pm

Looking at the distribution of targets in pre-season for the periods where the 1s were on the field, that really doesn't look likely. Sims-Walker got all the deep stuff and some red zone looks, and everything else went to Amendola and Kendricks, about 50-50, with a bias towards Kendricks in the red zone.

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#14 by JamesMcc (not verified) // Sep 07, 2011 - 4:02pm

The mere suggestion that Luck could end up in New England is the most horrifying thing I have ever read for the sake of the children this MUST not happen!! Oh the humanity! The Horror.... The Horror... Where is
Therapist's number no no nbvgfghjjj

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#20 by John (not verified) // Sep 07, 2011 - 4:38pm

No, no, no, it's the 6th round QB picks you have to be worried about. If the Patriots get Luck in the 1st round, he's doomed to Maroneydom.

(So sayeth the Colts homer)

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#60 by Obvious Troll (not verified) // Sep 07, 2011 - 10:52pm

Seems that BB has jettisoned a lot of high picks over the last few, like he's a new coach to the team.

One side of the coin says the conviction to cut ties with high picks is further evidence of genius. The other says he's slipping into mediocre land after a few lucky drafts.

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#17 by morganja // Sep 07, 2011 - 4:12pm

Carolina with the first pick. It won't even be close. No DT's, extremely raw over-hyped rookie quarterback, new coach. How can it even be in question?

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#97 by Tim R // Sep 08, 2011 - 3:57pm

If they have a healthy OL their running game should be very solid n their D could easily be average. I can see them winning 4-6 games and there being a completely rubbish team like the Seahawks or Bengals

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#22 by Snack Flag (not verified) // Sep 07, 2011 - 4:52pm

"Miami trades up to select Luck, which should be easier to do now that first overall picks are no longer carrying a "$50 million in guarantees" price tag."

I'm confused as to why the rookie wage scale would make it easier to trade up to the number 1 pick. If it costs less, the pick is even more valuable because plenty of teams would be wiling to take the risk and trade for it. Seems that would make it more difficult.

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#24 by Theo // Sep 07, 2011 - 5:02pm

More demand = more value.
The first pick money was something that teams kept from trading for it (I think that's what the writer means here)

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#29 by Snack Flag (not verified) // Sep 07, 2011 - 5:14pm

I get that - but that value would cause more teams to be in the mix, thereby making it more expensive in terms of picks. In years past I would imagine you could name your price for the top pick because no one wanted it.

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#31 by RichC (not verified) // Sep 07, 2011 - 5:16pm

Right, but the money also kept the cost of trading for it down.

If a stud QB prospect was worth 2 first round picks with 50M guaranteed, whats he worth with only 20M guaranteed? Its certainly higher.

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#32 by Snack Flag (not verified) // Sep 07, 2011 - 5:29pm

Yes, thats my point. It's more difficult to get that first pick now. Luck will be a Herschel Walker type trade in this scenario.

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#47 by zlionsfan // Sep 07, 2011 - 8:41pm

It might be more difficult, but there is interest in getting it. I'm not sure there was any interest in getting the top pick the last couple of years: I think that's one reason the Lions took Stafford, because they couldn't find anyone willing to pay a reasonable price for the pick.

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#90 by Carlos // Sep 08, 2011 - 1:36pm

I'm with Snack. This comment makes no sense. There will be much more competition to trade up vs. the recent past when there were few or no bidders for top 3 picks.

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#27 by Jonadan // Sep 07, 2011 - 5:09pm

I feel like Hasselbeck + Chris Johnson will keep Tennessee far away from the #1 pick. In no way will the Titans actually be good, I'm not saying that, but I don't see them as worst-team-in-the-league bad, either. Carolina looks like another disaster waiting to happen, Dalton is the only good thing about the Bengals and he's a rookie (okay, maybe Benson could be decent), Buffalo and Miami will likely rescue each other from #32 finish in some form. It seems to me Tennessee's more likely to finish with the Vikings and Seahawks of the world - 5-11 to 7-9 depending on luck. Er, ha.

"When you absolutely don't know what to do any more, then it's time to panic." - Johann van der Wiel

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#56 by MC2 // Sep 07, 2011 - 9:56pm

I agree with virtually all of this (except I would replace "Dalton" with "Green"). The Titans are nowhere near a playoff team, but I doubt they'll be picking in the Top 5 either, assuming, of course, that they don't have freakishly bad luck with injuries.

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#33 by Anonymousguy (not verified) // Sep 07, 2011 - 5:33pm

The bit about New England drafting Luck was easily the dumbest thing I've ever read on this site.

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#36 by JFP // Sep 07, 2011 - 6:00pm

The Pats fan in me would love to see the Andrew Luck scenario become reality. However, I would have to take it as proof that Belichick has made a deal with Satan. Of course it could also mean that God (or Al davis) really loves Coach Belichick.

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#37 by dewces (not verified) // Sep 07, 2011 - 6:06pm

I think that was meant as a joke.

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#39 by Theo // Sep 07, 2011 - 6:29pm

I thought the guy was just dreaming out loud. With his fingers on a keyboard.

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#107 by Bryan and Vinny Show (not verified) // Sep 08, 2011 - 6:38pm

Vinny is a Seahawks fan. I think he's afraid to jinx the possibility of them getting Luck. High comedy scenario:In the last game of the season, with the number one pick theirs if they lose, Tavaris Jackson throws a last-second touchdown pass to win the game, and bumps the team down to number two. In the post-game press conference, Pete Carroll says 'That's why we traded for T-Jax. He's a proven winner.' He then resigns to take the head coaching job of the Miami Hurricanes.

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#120 by Kevin from Philly // Sep 12, 2011 - 10:13am

That sort of thing happened to the Eagles a long time ago. They won their last game, ended up in a tie for worst record and then lost a coin flip with Buffalo for the right to draft O.J. Simpson.

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#48 by zlionsfan // Sep 07, 2011 - 8:42pm

I take it you don't read anything about Al Davis' decisions.

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#62 by Alternator // Sep 07, 2011 - 11:00pm

After the Patriots obtain the rights to Usain Bolt, the Raiders first round picks for the next decade will belong to Belichick.

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#35 by RawLewisRules (not verified) // Sep 07, 2011 - 5:58pm

Agree with Aaron that the Vikings are on the way down, and that their decline will be sooner rather than later. Only thing I disagree with the FO staff on is the Ravens. I would pick them as the team to fall apart. Finish 7-9.

Going with the Peter King Superbowl prediction: Atlanta over San Diego.

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#38 by Marko // Sep 07, 2011 - 6:29pm

I also agree that the Vikings are on the way down. But I don't agree with his comment that they have an easy schedule. I think they are clearly the worst team in the NFC North and think they will probably go 1-5 in the division. Maybe they go 2-4, but that's a best-case scenario, and I think it's equally likely that they go 0-6. They play the NFC South (featuring 3 teams that won 10 or more games last year) and would be fortunate to go 2-2 (although 1-3 seems more likely). While the AFC West isn't very good, I can't see them beating San Diego on the road in the first game (San Diego vows to start fast this year!), and they probably lose at least one more game against that division. So that's 2-2 at best. Their other two games are against Arizona and Washington. That's probably 1-1 at best. So I think they will win at most 6 games.

To me, an easy schedule is one in which you can look at a number of games and think that they are "sure" wins. I don't see many such games for the Vikings, largely because they aren't very good.

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#40 by Theo // Sep 07, 2011 - 6:32pm

I have Pittsburgh - Green bay in the SB.
Pittsburgh - San Diego and Green Bay - Atlanta in the Conference Finals.

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#108 by Bryan and Vinny Show (not verified) // Sep 08, 2011 - 6:41pm

I know that Atlanta is a good team, but one thing that's always kept me from thinking they can go any further in the playoffs is memories of that game against Green Bay. I realize that one game doesn't mean anything, but defensively they looked like a group that had no idea what to do once Rodgers got going. Maybe there was nothing anybody could do, but I, personally, felt like that destruction by Green Bay made Atlanta look like a paper tiger. I guess we'll see.

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#41 by jebmak // Sep 07, 2011 - 6:55pm

So, theoretically, is Pit +100 to win the division a better bet than Pit Over 10.5 @ -110?

I'm leaning Pit Over 10.5, I think.

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#44 by GKJohn // Sep 07, 2011 - 7:35pm

How can the steelers drop from 13 to 11.1 wins in the span of a preseason, one in which they had a very good 3rd game (prob. the best indicator if you are going to use a game to help project the regular season)?

2 wins is a lot. was it that 13 was a mistake/glitch to begin with?

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#50 by Mr Shush // Sep 07, 2011 - 9:08pm

Different calculation methods - it's explained in the intro to the DVOA projections article. Essentially, the formula which predicts the whole season says 13, but when they ran a bunch of game-by-game season simulations using the formula which predicts individual games, the average result was 11.

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#82 by GKJohn // Sep 08, 2011 - 9:32am

I know i had probably read that before, but I guess I was just assuming it would have to be close. I assume that the 'formula' which predicts the season wins has incorporated schedule strength and probabilities. i.e. If the steelers host the browns in week 8, and they project to be, say 7.5 point favorites, they then have a 76% chance of winning the game. by adding all these probabilities, they get the sum total of projected wins. (just making up a scenario)

I would ASSUME that is how they got their original seasonal wins.

if that is the case, a simulation should play out VERY CLOSE to their orginal prediction. Iknow they don't want to give secrets, but it makes me question how in the world they got 13 to begin with........

I guess next time, before I bet my over unders, I will wait for their simulations, as I put a little more credence in them..

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#85 by Arkaein // Sep 08, 2011 - 10:32am

I think the basic difference is that the simulation includes unlikely cases where things go horribly wrong. Even a small number of losing seasons will drag down the mean wins, especially since it is impossible for the simulation to produce more than 16 wins. So even if you think a team is destined for 13-14 wins, a few very bad and mostly unlikely scenarios will drag down the average.

You see the same things in Vegas lines. In the over/under lines I've seen no team is lower than 4.5 and no team is over 11.5. The mean win projections have a very similar distribution to Vegas lines, even when the specific teams projections are different.

I'm not as sure about this other formula. It looks like it produces more realistic W/L distributions for the league as a whole, in that it knows that there will be 12 and 13 win teams every year in the NFL, but seems like the variance for individual teams is a bit high.

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#89 by Mr Shush // Sep 08, 2011 - 1:17pm

I don't think that is how the projection system works, to be honest. I imagine it's just a formula with inputs including projected DVOA, projected mean opponent DVOA, projected opponent DVOA variance and some others, which spits out a number, probably derived from a regression analysis on past seasons. That's a guess, of course, but I rather suspect that the clever bit is coming up with the projected DVOA scores in the first place, more than what it does with them when it has them.

I freely admit that none of this may be true.

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#116 by GKJohn // Sep 09, 2011 - 12:07pm

I would like to see an FO writer address this discrepancy. It seems there is something amiss.
Being a math major and understanding the binomial distribution and skewness and such, and allowing for good teams to go 5-11 or something like that (which should be rare), there is simply no way a team’s wins using two different formulas should differ by 2 games in a 16 game season! Again, formulas work more like simulations than people may realize. As I mentioned before, if a simulation has one team beating another team x % of the time (allowing for home field, matchups etc), then a formula SHOULD be pretty close.
So, again pointing to Pittsburgh… Assume their simulation has them beating Cleveland at home 76% of the time. Assume they have a formula involving Dvoa (and adjusting for matchups, etc). What must their formula be saying? It should be close to 76%. If it is 73% (acceptable), and the formula overestimates their probability consistently that should not change the projected win total that much. In fact, just a quick and dirty calculation comparing a team that has a 75% chance of winning every game and a 70% chance of winning every game would have them differing by 0.8 wins. That to me is about as much as it should differ by. If it is differing by 1.9 wins, then the probabilities are TOO inconsistent, and this needs to be addressed.
Yes, I understand different methods can produce different results, but 2 games through a 16 game season is too much beyond an acceptable level.
Hey, don't get me wrong. I love this site. I just know that if I had a company that produced such inconsistent results, I would investigate and tweak where necessary.

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#117 by Mr Shush // Sep 10, 2011 - 8:47am

I don't think the formula predicts individual games (or assigns probabilities to their outcomes) at all. I think it just predicts total wins, holistically.

Like Dirk Gently.

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#118 by Shattenjager // Sep 10, 2011 - 10:10pm

Though I believe it has a better navigation plan than Dirk's.

I had a friend in college who tried driving that way. Unfortunately, she decided to try it with me in the car, when I had a job interview.

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#79 by Mr Shush // Sep 08, 2011 - 7:45am

The Rams will beat their FOA projection - their offense will be much better than the system expects.

The Jaguars will underperform their FOA projection, because Luke McCown isn't good enough to keep them in contention long enough to keep Gabbert from starting some time around midseason.

Lance Kendricks will comfortably beat his KUBIAK projection, as by far the best receiver in the Rams' offense.

Vernon Davis will underperform his projection. That 49ers pass offense is going to be horrible.

The Packers will retain their title against the Chargers.

Edit: The Seahawks will use the #1 pick acquired via trade with the Bengals to select Andrew Luck.

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#53 by Raiderjoe // Sep 07, 2011 - 9:39pm

Super Bowl 46

Raiders iover Saimts, 24-13
Super Bowl MVP- Jason Campbell

Dotyn relaly have time for more piocks such as division winners and awards (like Suh or McClain for Ddefensive MVp), but those don't matter aynway. Just a bunch of stuff that happen duriong 4th Super Bowl champiosnhip Raiders season.

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#61 by Moon Hippo (not verified) // Sep 07, 2011 - 10:58pm

Erm... Is poster drunk?

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#66 by Raiderjoe // Sep 07, 2011 - 11:22pm

Not yet. Have fnatasy drafttomorow. need mind clear. also then will get drunk when watch Sainmts- Packers ganme. Think Packers will win 27-24. Good thrillign opener.

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#63 by Shattenjager // Sep 07, 2011 - 11:05pm

If you get time, I would love to hear whom the Raiders will be defeating in the AFC title game.

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#64 by Raiderjoe // Sep 07, 2011 - 11:20pm

Raiders 27, Jets 17 in agc championshuip game

Saitns to beat Loins in NFC Chanmpionshup Game

N. Suh major force defense, J. Schwartz good coach, Burleson, Johnson, Pettigrew excelelt receiving corpse, off line good enough, punter okay, good oteam overall. Going to lose 12/18 to Raiders. Win week after. Loins going to bring greta joy to Raiders fans this Christmas.

Cant wait till Suh sakcs M. Cassel 9/18 and Spievey rteurn pass for touchdown.

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#121 by Kevin from Philly // Sep 12, 2011 - 10:18am

Ah, Greta Joy - what a dame.

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#76 by BJR // Sep 08, 2011 - 6:34am

Clearly that is absurd, but I do like the Raiders to outperform their low projection. They have considerable young talent on both sides of the ball, and the departures from last year have been a little overblown. The division is not strong, therefore another 8-8 season seems within reach.

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#59 by Thomas_beardown // Sep 07, 2011 - 10:46pm

I'll give this a go.

Team Most Likely to Beat Their FOA Prediction

Saint Louis, I really like Sam Bradford, and Spags should be able to get good defensive results.

Team Most Likely to Fall Short of Their FOA Prediction

Jacksonville. I don't see how this team wins 8 games before cutting Garrard.

Player Most Likely to Beat His KUBIAK Projection

I don't buy KUBIAK, but I'm going to guess Cutler outperforms what a lot of people are predicting. I expect big things out of him this year.

Player Most Likely to Fall Short of His KUBIAK Projection

With no Kubiak, I can't even begin to guess on this one.

Super Bowl XLVI Winner and Loser

Steelers over Bears.

With the First Pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, ____ selects Andrew Luck. (And do they really have the top pick, or do they get it in trade?)

Bills trade up to get Luck. I think the team with the 1st pick will have drafted a QB in the 2011 draft and won't want to admit the mistake.

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#65 by Shattenjager // Sep 07, 2011 - 11:20pm

I'm curious about Cutler this year. With Martz coming in, I thought last year that he would have a bizarre/ridiculous season and throw for 4800+ yards along with 35+ interceptions, but obviously nothing like that happened (instead he had a totally boring mediocre year). It should be interesting to see what happens with the Martz-Cutler combo this year.

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#74 by dbt // Sep 08, 2011 - 3:50am

martz didn't get to do anything fun with his toys because the o-line wasn't good enough and Lovie threatened to shoot him in the face (at least, that's what the chicago media have been assuming) during the bye week last year if he got Jay killed.

Points: 0

#69 by MC2 // Sep 08, 2011 - 12:22am

Jacksonville. I don't see how this team wins 8 games before cutting Garrard.

Heck, I don't see how they win even 1 game before cutting Garrard.

Points: 0

#75 by Jonadan // Sep 08, 2011 - 6:21am

They won one in the preseason – that counts, right?

"When you absolutely don't know what to do any more, then it's time to panic." - Johann van der Wiel

Points: 0

#101 by Theo // Sep 08, 2011 - 4:17pm

Rule number 1 about the pre season: pre season doesn't count.

Points: 0

#73 by sswoods (not verified) // Sep 08, 2011 - 2:58am

Team to beat projection:
Rams. An average team, which means 6-0 in the NFC West. 10-6,11-5.
Team to fall short:
Philly. FO has a long history of overrating Philly.
Player to beat Kubiak:
Mike Sims-Walker. Somebody is catching 25% or so of the Rams' completions, of which there will likely be plenty. A rookie TE isn't going to be that somebody. And I don't believe in Amendola that much.
Player to fall short of Kubiak:
Adrian Peterson. Great player, but his offense will be putrid. Will be like Steven Jackson all those years in St Louis.
Super Bowl:
Saints over Colts. Don't laugh, I'm serious.
#1 Pick:
Seattle, the hard way. With lots of demoralizing blowout losses.

Points: 0

#81 by Mr Shush // Sep 08, 2011 - 8:47am

Even assuming Manning comes back after a couple of weeks (and at this point that looks highly unlikely) I am really intrigued to know how on earth you think the Colts would get past the Patriots, Steelers and Chargers.

Points: 0

#110 by sswoods (not verified) // Sep 08, 2011 - 7:32pm

Everyone expects the Colts to be a complete trainwreck without Peyton, including the Colts' opponents. If there was ever a time during the last decade that folks take the Colts lightly, it will be this year.
I don't believe the Colts will be a trainwreck. Kerry Collins is no Peyton Manning, but he's closer to Peyton than he is to Curtis Painter. After taking some time and analyzing the Titans offense while he was there, I believe Collins is still an average QB, and that's good enough to keep the Colts on top of the AFC South. I think they'll beat Ravens/Jets/Texans in the 1st round of the playoffs, get the overrated Chargers in round 2, leaving it a one game scenario against Pitt, who I believe will beat the Pats. At this point I'm thinking momentum, home field potential in the Super Bowl, emotion, and a "let's shock the world" mentality will win out.
I'll admit, the hardest hurdle on this road is the AFC Championship Game, but as the Seahawks proved last year, on any given Sunday a lesser team can win, even when the stakes are high. And since I have the Colts/Steelers in the AFC Championship Game, I'm going against the grain because that's how I roll. Plus, the Colts owe the Steelers an upset in that scenario.

Points: 0

#114 by Mr Shush // Sep 08, 2011 - 8:01pm

I don't think I disagree much on how good Collins is (I'd maybe say slightly below average, but certainly a legitimate NFL starter). We may disagree about how good Peyton is - I think the difference between him and Collins is greater than the difference between Collins and Painter. And I think that Colts offensive line is absolutely terrible, and Collins, being a human, is going to get absolutely killed behind it. I see the Colts as a below average offense coupled to an actively bad defense, winning 4 to 6 games in a soft division.

I cannot possibly see them beating the Steelers or Ravens. The Chargers or Texans, that's another story - both those teams are capable of losing to anyone if they put their minds to it. Although there is no way in hell the Colts and Texans both make the playoffs.

Points: 0

#72 by t.d. // Sep 08, 2011 - 2:48am

The NFC has surpassed the AFC at the top, with only New England on par with the Green Bay-New Orleans-Philadelphia elite. Pittsburgh is still likely to finish with the best record, due to facing an easy schedule.

Points: 0

#77 by CBPodge // Sep 08, 2011 - 6:44am

If the Bengals drafted Luck, how long do you think it would take Carson Palmer to unretire? Is there a measurement of time short enough to quantify it?

Points: 0

#98 by Joseph // Sep 08, 2011 - 4:04pm

I wonder if the Bengals would draft Luck at all, unless Dalton has a HORRIBLE year or a horrible injury. My hope for Palmer is that he comes back soon enough to get an "accrued" year--which I think is week 8, iirc. By that time, Dalton should be comfortable in the offense, things will be clicking enough that they will be, say, 3-5, and Brown will have to trade him to avoid gumming up the QB situation. [I know that by that time he won't be able to be traded DURING the season--but there will be an understanding, and Palmer/his agent can do some work behind the scenes to have a trade with SEA, SF, BUF, or MIA.
I would think whoever has the first overall pick--barring a major injury or major regression from A. Luck, is looking to trade with one of these four teams (unless somebody has a MAJOR QB injury and ends up in the top 5).

Points: 0

#103 by Theo // Sep 08, 2011 - 5:31pm

I'm watching Luck right now.
He looks like a natural passer and seems to be in comfort at the game. What I mean is he finds targets that were obviously not in the play. Good things.
His team is very well coached.
For Luck, I think it's good. The guy is at ease and goes to an option out of the playbook a lot "whatever guy is open" and then finds it. Very important.
Can the guy manage a game? Does he spike it when there's 50 ticks on there with only 1 TO remaining on their half?
He looks good, but I also didn't see the guy challenged that much. I have trust that he will find a way when coaching breaks down, but I'm not sure yet when talent around him is worse than talent with him.
Is he going with the team, or is the team going with him?

Points: 0

#109 by Bryan and Vinny Show (not verified) // Sep 08, 2011 - 6:47pm

I saw him play a number of times last year ( I live in Pac-12 territory ), and he is very good. I can't answer some of the rhetoricals you threw out there, but I really do think he's very talented, and will be very successful ( depending on the team he goes to, and what system they run ) in the NFL. I know this is all generic speak I'm giving, but sometimes you can just tell.

Points: 0

#122 by WeaponX (not verified) // Mar 06, 2012 - 11:25am

Nice call on the Newton "reach" there ace.

Points: 0

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