Staff Predictions 2013

Staff Predictions 2013
Staff Predictions 2013
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

compiled 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. We can only guess.

Let's say we think the New England Patriots have the best chance of any team in the AFC to make it to the Super Bowl -- 29.7 percent, perhaps, by some odds. We'll also say that Denver, Houston, Cincinnati, and Baltimore each have a better than 10 percent chance to make the Super Bowl, a few other teams have a five percent chance, and Jacksonville and Oakland are there to make sure everybody has a full schedule.

OK, so we pick New England to win the AFC. Even based solely on this opinion, there is a seven in ten 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 fifth 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 2014 draft." Our college writers make similar comments about the FEI projections that ran in Football Outsiders Almanac 2013. 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: New England, Baltimore, Houston, Denver
AFC wild cards: Cincinnati, Pittsburgh
NFC divisions: Washington, Green Bay, Carolina, Seattle
NFC wild cards: San Francisco, New Orleans
Super Bowl: New England over Green Bay
First Pick in the Draft: Minnesota

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 2013 Projection

Tom Gower: St. Louis Rams. As I discussed in Scramble, I think the defense will continue to be good and like the offensive pieces and Jeff Fisher's ability to get the most out of most mediocre teams.

Scott Kacsmar: Atlanta Falcons. They definitely will not be a No. 1 seed again, but this team has beaten its Pythagorean wins in all five years of the Matt Ryan/Mike Smith era. Double-digit wins again in 2013.

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Peter Koski: Kansas City. Residing in the AFC West with the abominations that are Oakland and San Diego should provide at least three easy wins for a decent Chiefs team with Jacksonville, Buffalo, Tennessee, and Cleveland also on the schedule. Kansas City was last in Pass Offense DVOA in 2012. Andy Reid is much better than Romeo Crennel. Alex Smith is better than Matt Cassel. Jamaal Charles, Dwayne Bowe, and Eric Fisher should mean a much improved offense. Dontari Poe had a solid if unspectacular year at nose tackle for the 30th-ranked DVOA defense, but I will note Poe's No. 1 similarity score after his rookie season is Haloti Ngata. No pressure. Sean Smith is a big upgrade over Javier Arenas at right corner, completing a solid secondary. With Tamba Hali and Justin Houston applying the pressure, the Chiefs have a shot at a top-16 defense in 2013 and eight or nine wins.

Mike Kurtz: Atlanta. The Falcons added a serious upgrade at running back, already have a potent -- if extremely conservative -- passing game, and a defense that could be passable. In other words, they're built largely the same way other contenders are, with a little less flash. I'll take eight wins from that.

Rivers McCown: I'm having an exceptionally hard time picking out a team that FOA 2013 pegs as lower-rung that I think will jump up, which means we'll have to look at this as "which team is most likely to finish with the best record in the league." As much as I hate to pick them over the pangs of "bias" I hear from my own head, that's the Houston Texans. The AFC South is slim pickings, they have five games against Arizona, St. Louis, Oakland, San Diego, and Kansas City. Three of their five toughest opponents (49ers, Seahawks, Patriots, Broncos, Ravens) are at home, and Denver may have wrapped up a playoff berth by the time they play in Week 16. I don't think J.J. Watt is going to regress very much, and I have a hard time seeing this team against this schedule not winning 10 games.

Ben Muth: Cincinnati Bengals. I think they have the best offensive and defensive lines in their division. I think they have the two best players (Geno Atkins and A.J. Green) in their division. As long as Andy Dalton doesn't regress, this feels like the winner of the AFC North and a 10-win team.

Mike Ridley: Atlanta Falcons. Just like the 2011 49ers, the Falcons went 13-3 and were expected to have a huge dropoff the following year. I don't expect them to win the NFC South again, but I can't see them falling below .500, either.

Aaron Schatz: St. Louis. I think the defense is young enough to avoid the regression suggested by the system, although the offense still looks like a mess of unfulfilled potential.

Danny Tuccitto: Kansas City. They're the darlings of the stats community this year because of all the positive indicators for a turnaround. If I squint, they remind me of the 2011 49ers in terms of a talent-laden roster getting a big boost from competent coaching and vastly improved quarterback play; not to mention a joke of a schedule. That's not to say I think the Chiefs will go 13-3, but I could easily see 10-6 and a wild card berth. With games against Jacksonville, Tennessee, Oakland, Cleveland, and Buffalo in the first nine weeks, it's not crazy to see them beating 6.6 wins by their Week 10 bye. For their playoff run, it helps that they finish with Oakland, Indianapolis, and San Diego.

Vince Verhei: Cincinnati. Honestly, this is a total stab in the dark. No team in this year's projections seem unreasonably low to me. So I'm going with the Bengals, who seem to have fewer obvious weaknesses than division rivals Pittsburgh and Baltimore. They could easily win the division, which would mean they would probably beat their 8.9-win projection.

Rob Weintraub: Gotta think it's the Falcons. No Super Bowl, but more than eight wins.

Team Most Likely to Fall Short of Their FOA 2013 Prediction

Tom Gower: There aren't enough very high lines for me to have a candidate I love here, but I think the Steelers are the third best team in the division and go 8-8 or worse.

Scott Kacsmar: Oakland Raiders. Not that I have been covering the NFL for long, but it's hard to remember many teams entering a season with such a lack of talent on the roster. Two wins may be the ceiling. This was a very poor team last season who reached 4-12 by sweeping Kansas City, but the Chiefs are better this year. I might eat my keyboard if the Raiders win six games.

Peter Koski: The Chargers. San Diego was a bottom half (DVOA) offense last year and there is little indication it will be improved this year. The offensive line got worse and has looked nonexistent this pre-season. Antonio Gates is another year older, their receiving corps is already paper thin. Ryan Mathews is healthy, for now, and Danny Woodhead was brought in to play the "Darren Sproles" role in the offense. Apparently, New England was incapable of extracting the Sproles from Woodhead the last two seasons, but the Chargers will! At least Philip Rivers doesn't need to be "fixed."

Mike Kurtz: Indianapolis. Even with their extremely easy schedule, the Colts are going to have some serious growing pains. Fortunately, this is a normal side effect and will be forgotten when they blossom into flowers of manliness next year.

Rivers McCown: San Diego Chargers. Let's review: this team finished 22nd in offensive DVOA this year, with the worst adjusted sack rate in the league, and their major offseason fix was adding Danny Woodhead. They drafted D.J. Fluker to help protect the immobile Philip Rivers at right tackle. I think D.J. Fluker is a guard. They installed King Dunlap at left tackle. Nobody thinks King Dunlap is a left tackle. They lost promising hybrid endbacker Melvin Ingram for the season with an ACL tear, and their solution was to call up Dwight Freeney. That would be awesome if it was 2003. It is not 2003. Perpetually injured Derek Cox is their No. 1 cornerback, draft question mark Shareece Wright is ostensibly the No. 2, and offseason waiver claim Johnny Patrick and camp cut Richard Marshall are the depth at the position. The Raiders are a bigger mess, but there's no chance the Chargers are winning eight games when the only phase of the game they can claim as a strength is stopping the run.

Ben Muth: I was tempted to go with the Cardinals here, but I just can't see the Gang Green winning more than six games; the only thing worse than the Jets wideouts is the Jets quarterback situation. If I was Rex Ryan I'd rather watch Clemson play too.

Mike Ridley: New York Jets. Mark Sanchez, Geno Smith, Brady Quinn...

Aaron Schatz: First of all, I'm taking my prerogative as editor to make a comment to the two choices above. I counter your Geno Smith, Mark Sanchez, and Brady Quinn with Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson, and Antonio Cromartie.

As for my choice here, I'll go with Washington. Even with Brian Orakpo back, I was shocked the system kicked out so little regression. I think this is still a playoff team, but I don't think it will be competing with Green Bay, Seattle, and San Francisco for the No. 1 seed in the NFC.

Danny Tuccitto: Carolina Panthers. I'm not drinking the Kool Aid (TM). Tampa Bay got a pass defense and New Orleans got their dear leader back. Atlanta seems poised to regress somewhat, but they're not going to be pushovers by any means. The Panthers also have to play Seattle, San Francisco, and New England. Elsewhere, Ron Rivera is not a good coach.

Vince Verhei: Oakland. This is saying quite a bit, because only the Dolphins and Jaguars (6.1 each) have fewer projected wins than the Raiders (6.4) in the AFC. But look at this depth chart and try to find an average NFL starter. Darren McFadden, who had the worst rushing DYAR of any starter in the NFL last season? Denarius Moore, below replacement level last season catching passes from Carson Palmer? A Frankenstein defense built entirely out of used-up parts from other teams? Jared Veldheer and Tyvon Branch are probably the best of the bunch, which speaks loads. There's no way this team wins four games, let alone 6.4.

Rob Weintraub: Tough to see the Jets getting to eight wins.

Player Most Likely to Beat His KUBIAK Projection

Tom Gower: The standard answer most years is "some receiver who plays a bigger role than we project." If Miles Austin really is healthy, then the targets in Dallas could be more evenly split than we have assumed. I do not have a candidate I love here.

Scott Kacsmar: Wes Welker. I just think when you take the league's most productive slot receiver and pair him with the league's most efficient slot-passing quarterback, it's going to be a perfect match in Denver. He will not see 120 receptions, but no reason he cannot get to 100 again.

Mike Kurtz: Russell Wilson. I'm not sure where KUBIAK is getting its significant decrease in touchdowns and completion percentage from. Wilson might not be the next Aaron Rogers, but he's all upside at this point.

Ed. Note: That significant decrease in touchdowns consists of going from 30 (26 pass, 4 run) to 28 (23 pass, 5 run). The significant decrease in completion rate is two percentage points. Is that really "significant?"

Peter Koski: LeSean McCoy. Shady is the best player on Philly's offense and I see him getting back to his 2011 form with a yards per carry creeping up to around 5.0. I don't know how successful Chip Kelly's transition to the NFL will be, but I do think that his impact will mean big things for McCoy.

Rivers McCown: Cordarrelle Patterson. In case you hadn't noticed, Christian Ponder has a problem with deep balls, and Jerome Simpson has a problem with everything besides making highlight reels. The Vikings are going to need someone to replace Percy Harvin as their explosive short passing game option, and I think Patterson has the skill set to pull that off. I expect him to best his KUBIAK projection by about 30 catches and 300 yards.

Ben Muth: Chris Ivory. He's going to get the ball because the Jets have literally no other options.

Mike Ridley: Jermichael Finley. In a contract year, it's time for him to finally put his otherwordly athleticism to good use.

Aaron Schatz: Trent Richardson. His quarterback sucks but I believe in Richardson, his line, and Norv Turner's desire to move safeties back with deep routes.

Danny Tuccitto: Daryl Richardson. Jeff Fisher at head coach plus Brian Schottenheimer at offensive coordinator plus Captain Checkdown at quarterback plus Jake Long at left tackle plus Scott Wells at center plus watching him shred the Niners run defense last year plus no great shakes behind him on the depth chart equals volume and production for Richardson if he stays healthy.

Vince Verhei: Larry Fitzgerald. Our projection: 83-1,105-8. His average in the three seasons since Kurt Warner retired: 80-1,115-6. I just can't accept that Carson Palmer won't have a massive impact on Fitz's stats, compared to the John Skeltons and Derek Andersons and Ryan Lindleys and Max Halls of the world.

Rob Weintraub: Feels like the biggest benefactor from EJ (Manuel) will be C.J. (Spiller). Adding the threat of a running quarterback will open things up for Spiller to really wreak havoc.

Player Most Likely to Fall Short of His KUBIAK Projection

Tom Gower: Brandon Marshall. I know Jay Cutler loves him, but I think he'll be closer to WR15 than WR3.

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Scott Kacsmar: Reggie Bush. Maybe he's worth it if you are playing in a PPR league, but I just do not see the touchdowns coming that often this season. The running back position has also seemingly been cursed in Detroit since Barry Sanders retired. At least his name isn't Kevin Bush.

Peter Koski: Chris Ivory. I drafted Ivory and I'm rooting for him to play well, but I don't trust that he gets over 200 carries. He's yet to crack 150 in a season and has only played in 12 games total the last two seasons. Also, he's on the Jets.

Mike Kurtz: Philip Rivers. I think Rivers is done, which is a shame, but he's just not the same player he used to be. Blame Norv.

Rivers McCown: Ryan Mathews. I'm out on Mathews. I think the Chargers spend a lot of time trailing, I think Mathews is always a risk to get hurt, and I see Danny Woodhead getting a pretty even timeshare in San Diego because of those factors.

Ben Muth: Rashard Mendenhall. I don't like the player or the situation. I don't think anyone on the Cardinals breaks 600 yards rushing and I don't think Mendenhall is their leading rusher.

Mike Ridley: Doug Martin, only because I think defenses will key on him as Josh Freeman continues to struggle.

Aaron Schatz: It always feels strange to try to pick this category since I'm the one who decides how to give out expected roles, but I guess I'll say Jacoby Jones. I have him listed as a starter because the Ravens say he's a starter, but does Jacoby Jones strike anyone out there as a starting-quality wide receiver?

Danny Tuccitto: Arian Foster. Don't really have a stats reason for this other than that I think he won't be getting 343 touches like KUBIAK projects. Honorable Mention for Similar Reason: Ray Rice.

Vince Verhei: Danny Amendola. We're projecting him for 1,095 yards. If we take the best 16 games of his first four seasons, we get a total of 1,118 yards, so the projection seems possible. On the other hand, in his other 26 games (a larger sample), he's never even gained 50 yards. I don't think Wes Welker was just a product of the New England system, and I don't think you can stick in any generic fringe starter and expect similar results.

Rob Weintraub: What the heck -- Colin Kaepernick, because his receivers are a question mark and as a protest against the whole "Jaws thinks he can be the greatest ever" meme.

College Team Most Likely to Beat Their F/+ Projection

Bill Connelly: UCLA.

Brian Fremeau: A week ago, I would have picked Kansas State due to the Bill Snyder wizard effect, and though I think Kansas State may still rebound from their FCS loss, I don't see the Wildcats making a major move this year. I'll go with Michigan, because the Wolverines were the one team in my initial FEI projections that seemed to be the most underrated. I've since added other factors that have boosted Michigan's ratings, and they made a big jump forward after dominating their opener. Michigan looks like a team that will be a handful for most of their opposition.

Matt Hinton: Louisville. Our projections are downright frigid on the Cardinals, relegating them to 31st in the preseason F/+ projections while most preseason polls place them on the verge of the top ten. While the numbers like Cincinnati in the American (née Big East), though, there is nothing standing between Louisville and an undefeated season except Louisville. True, against their middling schedule, the Cardinals' F/+ ceiling is limited, leaving them with no room for error if they have any chance of landing in the top 25. (Last year, even their Sugar Bowl ambush of Florida only lifted them to No. 28 in the final F/+ ratings after two bad conference losses.) But the next defense that stands a chance against Teddy Bridgewater is whoever turns out to be the Oakland Raiders' opponent in the 2014 opener.

Scott Kacsmar: Louisville. As the Iron Sheik would say, Teddy Bridgewater does not drink the [expletive] Sprite. No reason they cannot go undefeated with that schedule.

Rivers McCown: Baylor. How many more out-of-nowhere offensive force seasons do we need before we acknowledge that Art Briles can coach them up? I think they're a factor in the Big 12 title race.

Ben Muth: Washington. I had this penciled in before their rout of Boise in week 1. I like Keith Price and their coaching staff, that goes a long way in college football.

Mike Ridley: Louisville. With all the talent on that team and the Charmin-soft schedule they play, there's no reason they shouldn't run the table.

Rob Weintraub: Michigan. More likely to go unbeaten than win just seven games. And I think Ole Miss can scrape over seven wins -- they have some huge, if young, talent on that roster.

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

Bill Connelly: Notre Dame.

Brian Fremeau: With the advantage of one week in the books, Boise State looks to be a good candidate here. A big flop against Washington makes them far more vulnerable in conference play than they have ever been under Chris Petersen. I'll go with Florida, however, a team propped up by program ratings and point-producing defense that probably still won't have enough offensive production to win a division or conference title in the SEC.

Matt Hinton: Oklahoma at No. 8. The Sooners are breaking in a new quarterback and a mostly new defense in a conference with three other teams (Oklahoma State, Texas and TCU) projected in the top twelve, not to mention Baylor and Kansas State. Last year, a far more accomplished lineup came up well short in its three toughest games, losses to Kansas State, Notre Dame and Texas A&M, and barely escaped a handful of upset bids. What reason do we have to believe the 2013 edition is going to fare better? Too many question marks in the lineup and too many landmines on the schedule for a top-10 finish.

Scott Kacsmar: Georgia, because the Bulldogs will lose at least two more games.

Peter Koski: Michigan State. I've been a Sparty fan for 25 years and they never live up to expectations. Never. Oh, they'll pull off miraculous wins from time to time, but then pair them with confounding losses. The top 20 hype and F/+ 10-2 projection has me penciling in a 7-5 season. Prove me wrong, kids. Prove me wrong.

Rivers McCown: Man, it feels like kicking someone when they're down after you already watched Week 1, but I can't see Boise State doing much of anything with that offense this year. It's time for the Joe Southwick Era to end.

Ben Muth: Oregon State. I cheated a little bit and turned this in after their loss to Eastern Washington, but did you see that game against Eastern Washington? A pack of actual beavers could have played better defense, assuming they were allowed resources to build a dam. Someone might have tripped over a dam.

Mike Ridley: Texas. I think Texas rebounds in a big way this year, but I can't see them cracking the top 10.

Rob Weintraub: Michigan State. Too many losses to get to ten wins, plus, you know, they're Michigan State.

Super Bowl XLVIII Winner and Loser

Tom Gower: Green Bay Packers over the New England Patriots

Scott Kacsmar: Denver over Atlanta. Unlike these teams in 1998, a prolific running back will not power them here. Like their Super Bowl XXXIII counterparts, they will need a running game in February when the weather is horrible in New Jersey.

Peter Koski: Green Bay over Houston

Mike Kurtz: Green Bay Packers over Cincinnati Bengals

Rivers McCown: I think the chalk picks are Denver and Green Bay. But, because I am that asshole who thinks "chalk in the NFL isn't going to be right very often anymore," let's say San Francisco over Cincinnati. I think the Bengals have the best skill position talent and best pass defense in the AFC. I think San Francisco has the best front seven and coach in the NFL. They have flaws at quarterback and wideout, respectively, but they're good enough to overcome those problems.

Ben Muth: Denver beats Green Bay.

Mike Ridley: Due to stubbornness, I'm sticking with my rapid-fire pick of Broncos over Packers.

Aaron Schatz: I'll go with our top-projected teams in wins rather than our top-projected teams in DVOA, especially since their pass rushes should be better in January than in September: Seattle over Denver.

Danny Tuccitto: San Francisco over Cincinnati, just so I can sit back during the Thursday night opener of 2014, and listen to Cris Collinsworth lament his two Super Bowl losses to San Francisco 400 times instead of the usual 100. It's really a shame NBC doesn't have broadcasting rights this season; that would make for great television.

Vince Verhei: Green Bay Packers over Denver Broncos.

Rob Weintraub: Seattle over New England.

Who Plays Alabama in the 2014 BCS Championship Game?

Bill Connelly: Oregon

Brian Fremeau: I've picked Oregon before, and I'll stick with them again. Because I really want to see that game.

Tom Gower: The winner of the LSU-Texas A&M game, so I'll say we get another Alabama-LSU rematch.

Matt Hinton: Oregon. The Ducks lose Chip Kelly, but not the obsession with efficiency he instilled across the program. The new coach, former offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich, will run practices and games at the same break-neck pace, with most of the same players, including excellent sophomore quarterback Marcus Mariota. The defense was much better in 2012 than it got credit for, finishing second nationally in Defensive S&P+ and fourth in Defensive F/+; more than half of the touchdowns it allowed for the season (18 of 35) came with the Ducks already leading by at least 20 points. Oregon was easily good enough to be in the title game in 2011 and 2012 and will finally break through.

Scott Kacsmar: Oregon, just because I do not want it to be Ohio State.

Peter Koski: Stanford.

Rivers McCown: Oregon, because Marcus Mariota is not a normal human being.

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Ben Muth: Stanford beats Clemson as SEC fans decry the BCS as completely illegitimate because a two-loss Bama team didn't get a chance to defend their belt.

Mike Ridley: Stanford. After finally knocking off Oregon last season, the Cardinal take the next step up. And just like Oregon, they'll fall to an SEC team.

Rob Weintraub: Any time a team has its ass crowned by the multitudes this early, it's a wise bet to look elsewhere. So let's try Stanford against LSU for the title, with the Cards ending the SEC streak.

...What am I talking about? It'll be Bama over Stanford

Who Wins the Heisman Trophy?

Bill Connelly: Lache Seastrunk, Baylor! Or Teddy Bridgewater.

Brian Fremeau: Teddy Bridgewater, edging out Jameis Winston and Jadaveon Clowney.

Tom Gower: This is about the only thing A.J. McCarron needs to complete his coating in WinnerSauce.

Matt Hinton: NOT Johnny Manziel, who has the burden of having to live up to last year's outrageous numbers -– and of having to play against a very angry Alabama defense –- even if he wasn't alienating voters with his transformation into a WWF-style heel. I would also say NOT Jadeveon Clowney, who is going to have a very hard time racking up the numbers necessary for a strictly defensive player to break through with opposing offenses so acutely aware of his presence at all times. Given the politics of the award, the best bet is Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller, who already has the name recognition among voters after finishing fifth in 2012 and will have both the stats and the successful record he needs at the end of the year as long as he's healthy. Clemson's Tajh Boyd is a very good candidate, as well, and will definitely have the numbers in the Tigers' offense. But quarterbacks are ultimately judged by the success of their team, and remaining dates with Florida State and South Carolina leave Clemson with higher bars to clear than Miller faces at OSU.

Scott Kacsmar: Johnny Manziel, because outside of being historic, that would be a great moment in live television. He's also pretty good.

Peter Koski: Jadeveon Clowney.

Rivers McCown: Teddy Bridgewater. Even if Louisville does lose to Cincinnati, as Bill's computer has foretold, he is going to put up ridiculous numbers. The only players I think could snag the spot from him are an undefeated Marcus Mariota, Jameis Winston, or Tajh Boyd.

Ben Muth: Marcus Mariota.

Mike Ridley: Jadeveon Clowney stops the defensive drought and brings home the hardware.

Aaron Schatz: I don't follow college football as closely as anyone else, but is Braxton Miller a ridiculous idea?

Vince Verhei: Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville

Rob Weintraub: Marcus Mariota, Oregon

Who Gets the No. 1 Pick in the NFL Draft (and do they pass on Jadeveon Clowney to take a quarterback instead)?

Tom Gower: Oakland, and they don't love any of the quarterbacks enough to bypass Clowney.

Scott Kacsmar: The Oakland Raiders will take Teddy Bridgewater with the No. 1 pick. Maybe Tajh Boyd by the end of the year, but it will be Oakland, a quarterback and not Clowney. And I have no problem with that.

Peter Koski: The Raaaaaiiiiiiderrrrrrs. They pass on Clowney when someone offers them a Robert Griffin/Julio Jones-level package.

Mike Kurtz: Cleveland, which does not draft a quarterback, because they already have their quarterback of the future.

Rivers McCown: The Oakland Raiders will trade down with the Jacksonville Jaguars, who will take Teddy Bridgewater with the No. 1 pick.

Ben Muth: The Oakland Raiders select Teddy Bridgewater.

Mike Ridley: Jacksonville, who promptly exits the Blaine Gabbert era by picking Teddy Bridgewater.

Aaron Schatz: Jacksonville takes Clowney and then grabs a quarterback with pick No. 33. Based on the Lewin Career Forecast, of course.

Danny Tuccitto: It has to be Oakland, right? The only other contender is Jacksonville. Both need quarterbacks, so both would pass on Clowney.

Vince Verhei: Oakland Raiders get the No. 1 pick. They then trade down with Miami, who takes Clowney, and the Raiders end up with Bridgewater.

Rob Weintraub: Once again, total chalk is to pick Oakland taking Clowney, so I'll change it up and have the Jets taking Teddy Bridgewater, just for the sake of the fun the tabloids can have with that name on the back pages.


46 comments, Last at 07 Sep 2014, 9:43pm

#1 by Independent George // Sep 05, 2013 - 1:42pm

Kurtz wins bonus points for his use of the term, "blossom into flowers of manliness". Bravo.

Points: 0

#4 by Bobman // Sep 05, 2013 - 3:00pm

Yes, except after reading this I had to scroll up to see if it was a 2012 prediction. I know DVOA has it as #32, but how is that an easy schedule? A lot tougher than last year's, with 49ers, Seahawks, Broncos, Texans (x2) and Bengals, (all SB favorites according to this very column). Titans and Jags are a given, sure, along with Raiders, Chargers, and maybe Chiefs and Rams. But the Texans play all those same easy teams and he didn't point out how easy THEIR slate is... (Yes, they have added TWO division winners from last year while the Colts have two division runners-up. But the Texans twice play the Colts, who are not "manly" according to Kurtz, so their slate may even be easier!).

So maybe my gripe is with DVOA and not Kurtz... Logically, if the team got any better (6 starting rookies from last year can't get worse, can they? plus FA acquisitions can't be worse than the guys they replace, right?) and their schedule got weaker, they'd certainly outperform the projected 7.5 wins, right? The only factor not in there is luck with a small "l".

Though the "blossom into flowers of manliness" bit was excellent.

Points: 0

#16 by Perfundle // Sep 05, 2013 - 7:08pm

The teams that changed between last year and this for Indy were Oakland, San Diego, St. Louis, Arizona, Cincinnati, San Francisco, Seattle and Denver replacing New York Jets, Cleveland, Buffalo, Detroit, Minnesota, Green Bay, New England and Chicago. Pretty similar really: you've got four poor teams, one borderline playoff team (despite the Super Bowl predictions you mentioned, Cincinnati is still a AFC wildcard team in DVOA) and three great teams (Chicago was sixth in DVOA last year despite missing the playoffs).

Also, the schedule didn't get weaker, did it? It was -7.4% last year and a predicted -5.3% this year. Besides, Indy had an estimated 6.2 wins last year with their season stats taken into account, so 7.5 is a noticeable improvement on that.

Points: 0

#2 by Splattered // Sep 05, 2013 - 1:48pm

Did Rivers and Danny show their SB picks to Rob just to see him twitch?

Points: 0

#3 by eng11 (not verified) // Sep 05, 2013 - 2:44pm

So these are predictions, and as it was so eloquently put above, predictions will probably be wrong. However, I have to ask about the New York Jets. It seems to me that that the Jets, a team that was 6-7 before being eliminated last season, are at least a little bit underrated for the 2013 season. In fact, the Jets went 6-7 last year before benching Mark Sanchez, which means that they were still in playoff contention despite having MARK SANCHEZ at quarterback. Despite all the roster clearing this offseason, it also seems that the Jets have improved. The rushing attack should be better, the offensive line is clearly better, and the defense has a legitimate chance to be a top 10 unit. I'm not saying that the Jets will make the playoffs this year, they're passing attack will be abysmal, but how is it that people are choosing them to be the worst team in the league? I mean the Oakland Raiders, the Jacksonville Jaguars, the San Diego Chargers, are the Jets really worse than these teams?

Points: 0

#6 by DEW (not verified) // Sep 05, 2013 - 3:01pm

Probably because the Jets were 4-7 after the epic butt fumble game before defeating the Ryan Lindley Experience 7-6 and following that up with a win over Jacksonville before losing out once they resumed playing actual football teams. And they're predicted to get worse pretty much everywhere, ergo the contempt for them.

Somehow, I doubt they'll actually be anywhere near "worst in the league"--they have, at least, a genuine defense, which puts them ahead of Oakland, Tennessee, and Jacksonville and probably Cleveland, San Diego, and Buffalo. And maybe Miami and Indy, too, if the OLs of those teams sink them. DVOA predicts the Jets to be adequate-though-not-good, too (and second in the East)...

Points: 0

#11 by sundown (not verified) // Sep 05, 2013 - 6:03pm

If you're talking the consensus on message boards, then I'd agree the Jets are likely to top that. But weren't they projected to have 7 wins by DVOA? You really see them being considerably better than that?

The central problem is that Sanchez was still looking like their best option before getting hurt. Granted, that Buffalo and Miami could both pretty easily go absolutely nowhere this year which would considerably improve the Jets chances of topping .500. But is that any more likely to happen than the Jets themselves imploding? I doubt it.

Points: 0

#5 by Bizono (not verified) // Sep 05, 2013 - 3:00pm

Mike Kurtz: Cleveland, which does not draft a quarterback, because they already have their quarterback of the future.

Which is less likely to be true - Cleveland gets the first pick of the 2014 draft, or they already have their quarterback of the future?

Yes, I realize that this was probably intended as sarcasm.

Points: 0

#7 by batesbruce // Sep 05, 2013 - 4:16pm

Player to beat his KUBIAK projection: Easy! WR Marlon Brown, Ravens. First, he is still not listed on Kubiak even though he has made the 53. Second, I think this Parade All-American is going to surprise us. He has a career of injuries at a very good SEC school (UGA) and went undrafted and was too hurt to do much at the combine. He is healthy now and showed great chemistry with Joe Flacco in the preseason My prediction: 38 catches, 465 yds, 5 TDs.

Points: 0

#8 by Rivers McCown // Sep 05, 2013 - 4:35pm

Well, I think it's kind of implied that we wouldn't pick someone to beat a projection if we didn't make a projection for him...

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#12 by sundown (not verified) // Sep 05, 2013 - 6:05pm

Humor really isn't your thing, is it?

Points: 0

#23 by Dragon Pie (not verified) // Sep 06, 2013 - 1:26am

And yet I found myself chuckling.

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#13 by sundown (not verified) // Sep 05, 2013 - 6:05pm

Humor really isn't your thing, is it?

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#14 by sundown (not verified) // Sep 05, 2013 - 6:06pm

Weird double post. The website must have liked that one!

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#9 by Jin (not verified) // Sep 05, 2013 - 5:10pm

The Vikings clearly stole DVOA's girlfriend.

Points: 0

#10 by Insancipitory // Sep 05, 2013 - 5:44pm

It's funny Finley's mention at beating his projection. When anyone brings up how he's occasionally disappointed, I flash back to the preseason game where I first saw him and how my first thought on him was, "Holy shit, Green Bay will be unstoppable."

Points: 0

#15 by Ryan Carney (not verified) // Sep 05, 2013 - 6:42pm

The reason why Finley is a popular pick to exceed expectations this year is due to the fact that he has underperformed to the point where they've reached a laughable low

Points: 0

#17 by CincySaint (not verified) // Sep 05, 2013 - 7:28pm

Have you guys seen the Reddit analysis listing FO as the #1 and #2 best power rankings.

Here's the link ->

Points: 0

#19 by grady graddy (not verified) // Sep 05, 2013 - 7:47pm

"[L]ook at this depth chart and try to find an average NFL starter." Verhei, go eat Kacsmar's keyboard. Lamarr Houston, Stefan Wisniewski, Marcel Reece, Charles Woodson, Kevin Burnett. Pretty easy. If you don't think they're average, make the argument.

Kacsmar, not only have you not been covering the NFL for long, but I predict you will not be covering it for long. You are bad at it, in my humble opinion. I have read all of your FO articles and found nothing interesting or entertaining in any of them. Your analysis sounds like it comes from a 2008 fantasy football magazine. Here are the pro players you mention throughout the course of this article: Matt Ryan, Wes Welker, Reggie Bush, Barry Sanders. Your college list is just as superficial - Bridgewater, Manziel, Boyd, Clowney. If we are going to talk about someone having lost all of their talent, FO would be a more appropriate institution to analyze than the Oakland Raiders. How about if the Raiders win six games you forget about the keyboard (again, Verhei should eat it now) and simply quit covering football?

I'm no Raiderjoe. I know the Raiders can have a lousy season. But I have no tolerance for assertions without evidence, at least on a site with as lofty aims as this one. If you think Mike Jenkins and Tracy Porter are washed up, say so. If you think Nick Roach won't play well as a Mike (a role he scarcely had the chance to play due to Urlacher), then say why. If you think Lucas Nix and Menelik Watson have no shot of overcoming their inexperience to play well, then say so. If you think Brisiel and Barnes will be awful and not merely mediocre, detail why. If you think that the talent flashed by Terrelle Pryor, Rod Streater, and Jacoby Ford is purely illusory, explain why; don't assert they have no talent when it is clearly absurd to anyone who actually watches them play.

"Innovative statistics, intelligent analysis." Live up to the credo. You are at the end of a long line of kneejerk d-bags who think the Raiders WILL be terrible this season. I love analysis, so I like those who talk about why the Raiders have their work cut out for them (i.e., it's a tough season ahead, I know this quite well) but also discuss the possibilities if the Raiders figure a few things out. When was the last FO article that had an in-depth analysis of anything Raiders? Bueller? Were any of you picking the Raiders to be a .500 team in 2010-11, missing the playoffs on a tiebreaker in the latter? Not to the best of my recollection. They took a step back in 2012, but could easily take a step forward in 2013 by virtue of their young players and coaches jelling as well as because they brought in quality veterans (both players and assistant coaches). Jettisoning Carson Palmer is not necessarily a disaster; it worked OK for the 2011 Bengals.

Oh, McFadden had a bad DYAR last season? You might want to mention the scheme changes both before and after 2012. You might want to mention that Oakland was 0-5 and outscored by 90 points from the time McFadden went down against TB until he returned against Denver. Oakland was 4-7 and only outscored by 63 points over the time that McFadden was available. You all should damn well know by now that if a team is one-dimensional, it can make their best players look bad in the numbers. When McFadden was in the lineup, defenses were stacked up to stop him; they largely did, but it set up Palmer to benefit. When McFadden went down, Marcel Reece moved to tailback (Goodson played well as a change of pace back but he got injured a few minutes after McFadden) and put up nice numbers because defenses weren't worried about him busting long runs or scoring touchdowns (he had no rushing TD's and his longest run was 17 yards). Superficial fools say McFadden was awful and Reece much better. Eight of Palmer's 14 interceptions came in the 4.5 games McFadden was out of the lineup. Palmer put up better yards per attempt with McFadden in the game, even though he compiled an awful lot of garbage yards in the stretch McFadden was out.

As for Denarius Moore, by FO numbers he had a positive DYAR - no reason to say he "was below replacement level." He was also treated as the #1 receiver by Palmer even though he was a fifth round pick in his second year still developing - I was fully disappointed by his performance, but he contributed 741 yards, 7 TD's, and 86 yards from DPI. He had substantially better numbers than Larry Fitzgerald and Mike Wallace. Streater has emerged as the go-to guy for Oakland, which should help Moore.

As for the supposed talent exodus, the Raiders let go four players who played well last season, Wheeler, Bryant, Huff and Seymour. Wheeler and Huff were quite inconsistent, and Seymour and Bryant were basically complements who split playing time. They also let go of players who just weren't any good in 2012 in Heyward-Bey, Myers (lots of catches but awful blocking), Kelly, Shaughnessy, Carlisle, Giordano, and all the stopgaps they tried at cornerback. I understand why some would say the Raiders lost a bit more talent than they picked up in the offseason, but the argument that they improved has a lot of merit. Of course, they also got rid of Palmer, who was below average though not awful. Some think Pryor will be awful, but there were a lot of people who thought Cam Newton would be awful in 2011. Until we see how they play in games, we don't know. Pryor has made a few big mistakes on the field, but he's made more good plays.

A modest proposal: either FO should hire a writer who will actually pay some attention to Oakland, or they should not write about Oakland. Don't leave it to Raiderjoe and then act like pompous talking heads whenever the team comes up, pretending to have an opinion on the team but not knowing feces from shinola. This team was relevant as of week 17 in 2011. They beat the Steelers and nearly the Falcons last season. They were 3-4 prior to McFadden's injury. The Raiders being bad isn't a truism, it's a media cliche that overweights 2012 to an absurd degree. Fortunately, FO numbers don't do that. Unfortunately, FO writers do. FO's inability to cover the Raiders has consistently frustrated me, and I really don't see why I shouldn't tell you all to go F yourselves.

"It has to be Oakland, right?" Right, because that's exactly what your numbers say, right?

You know what, I will sweeten the deal. If the Raiders end up the first overall pick, I will write an article for FO explaining why you were all correct, singing the high praises of Football Outsiders. But if the Raiders win six or more games, will you please publish an actual article talking about why you were all so mistaken? You know, one with analysis, and references to players other than QBs, McFadden, and WR's? The majority of you pick the Raiders to have the last pick. None of you chose either the Jags or the Chiefs last year. I bet you are wrong again this year too. Verhei himself declared Kansas City the AFC West favorites last year.

The Raiders might be terrible this year. I know it. But I know the reasons why. You all evidently do not and are relying on conventional wisdom. AND you have the audacity to treat it as a certainty. GFY.

Points: 0

#26 by Will Allen // Sep 06, 2013 - 10:40am

Yeah, we readers really think the prospect of you writing an article for FO is sweet. Yep. You betcha'.

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#27 by MaineRaider // Sep 06, 2013 - 12:12pm

I have to agree with some of these points, although the tone is excessively harsh. You're right, the Raiders have more NFL-caliber starters than Kacsmar gives them credit for, e.g., their starting LT. The problem, which Kacsmar fails to indicate, is the lack of roster depth, as their current LT situation exemplifies. I can hardly imagine my team winning 6 games with that roster, despite the vast improvement in front-office quality, and preseason looked god-awful for them--but, yeah, the predictions above were more conclusory than explanatory. In the long run, this should be a respectable franchise again, but 2-14 is plausible this year.

Points: 0

#28 by Led // Sep 06, 2013 - 2:30pm

When the FOMB curse applies to this year's Raiders roster, the result may be a singularity.

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#29 by Vincent Verhei // Sep 06, 2013 - 5:21pm

Verhei himself declared Kansas City the AFC West favorites last year.

Correct. That did not work out well.

Lamarr Houston,

Started at least 13 games each of the last three seasons. Ranked 56th in sacks in 2010, 232nd (not a typo) in 2011, 75th in 2012.

Stefan Wisniewski,

I’ll give you that one.

Marcel Reece,

A Pro Bowler, yes, but he played less than two-thirds of the snaps for Oakland last season, despite starting 14 games.

Charles Woodson,

I’m skeptical of a defensive back who turns 37 in October.

Kevin Burnett.

76th last year in both stop rate on run tackles and average yards gained on run tackles.

If you think Mike Jenkins and Tracy Porter are washed up, say so.

Mike Jenkins and Tracy Porter are washed up. Dallas was all too happy to bench Jenkins, then let him leave. Porter was really never any good. His last two seasons as a regular, he ranked 62nd and 82nd in Success Rate in pass coverage. Then he couldn’t get off the bench in Denver, then they let him leave.

If you think Nick Roach won't play well as a Mike (a role he scarcely had the chance to play due to Urlacher), then say why.

98th last year among linebackers in Run Stop Rate. NINETY-EIGHTH.

As for Denarius Moore, by FO numbers he had a positive DYAR

No he didn’t.

When was the last FO article that had an in-depth analysis of anything Raiders?

This article is a quick summary meant to be read on your coffee break. Most articles on FO are meant to be read in ten minutes or so. We wrote a book that contains an Oakland Raiders chapter nearly 4,000 words long (not including stat tables, or comments on individual fantasy players) explaining why we think they’re going to suck. The book is where we do super-long form writing.

But if the Raiders win six or more games, will you please publish an actual article talking about why you were all so mistaken? You know, one with analysis, and references to players other than QBs, McFadden, and WR's?

No. But we will write about it in next year’s Almanac. Like we did for Kansas City and San Francisco this year.

Points: 0

#30 by grady graddy (not verified) // Sep 06, 2013 - 5:50pm

Fair enough on much of this, though citing ranks in one year is not a great way to provide evidence, in my opinion. However, your broken link aside, WR stats list Moore at 5 DYAR. And Lamarr Houston was drafted as a run stopping DT who has been developed into a DE. He's great against the run and stepped up his pass rushing productivity (pressures and hurries) as 2011 and 2012 wore on. I expect to see more sacks this year but one never knows. Nonetheless, sacks aren't going to tell the whole story.

Overall, you seem to miss the point. I can come to and find all sorts of analysis about other teams. I stopped buying the Almanac years ago because some chapters were very good but the overall quality was quite inconsistent. Maybe they're better now, but the quality of the site gives me no reason to think the Almanac is improving.

It's interesting that you finally responded only after my more conciliatory post was blocked. I assume this one will be as well. No reason for me to give FO money when they block me from posting whenever I criticize them. The irony is, every time that happens, when I walk back from extreme statements and apologize for any over-reactions, the follow up never posts, and I just get more angry at your site. Not exactly a way to keep someone who has spent about $120 on FO over his lifetime a repeat customer. Criticize a former paying customer for not staying that way all you want, but if you don't take his criticism to heart, it's merely a vicious circle.

Points: 0

#31 by Vincent Verhei // Sep 06, 2013 - 6:51pm

Just wanted to say that I, Vince Verhei, know nothing about any of your posts being blocked at any time.

Points: 0

#32 by Sifter // Sep 06, 2013 - 10:03pm

Dare I wade in...but last season Denarious Moore had a DYAR above zero (5), but a negative DVOA (-12.1%). Hence Vince can say he was below average/replacement level, and you can say he's above it and both be right.

Points: 0

#33 by Vincent Verhei // Sep 06, 2013 - 11:14pm

No, there is a discrepancy between Moore's numbers on the WR page (where he has positive DYAR) and on his own page (where they are negative). I think Aaron mentioned an error that had been fixed on the player pages but not on the position pages, but I could have that backward.

Points: 0

#38 by LionInAZ // Sep 07, 2013 - 5:32pm

Does it even matter? Even with 5 DYAR Moore ended up 73rd among qualified WRs in both DYAR and DVOA. Hardly something for any Raider fan to boast of.

Points: 0

#21 by Marko // Sep 05, 2013 - 9:48pm

"Feels like the biggest benefactor from EJ (Manuel) will be C.J. (Spiller)."

Nitpick: Am I the only one who notices how often people use "benefactor" when they mean "beneficiary"?

Points: 0

#22 by Marko // Sep 05, 2013 - 9:49pm

I don't know what's up with these weird double posts.

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#25 by SainT (not verified) // Sep 06, 2013 - 9:51am

chalk pics are denver and sf at pinnacle

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#34 by KK Probs (not verified) // Sep 07, 2013 - 12:49am

Great vibe in here right now. The Raiders are rebuilding. It's ok. Damn.

Last year in this space, I singled out the overlooked Baltimore Ravens as the most likely team to beat their projection, and I believe I was the only one in the comments to do so. I was proud.

I've been waiting all year to get lucky here again, so here it goes: this year, the one that stands out the most is Cincinnati. They're treated by FO, and most people, as having another team 9-7 caliber team worth ignoring. I think that's they're downside. They were probably a 9-7ish team that managed to go 10-6 last season, but there is almost no area where this team should be worse than they were in 2012. In fact, I can make a case they'll be stronger at every single offensive and defensive position, except possibly defensive back, where they did fine and could do fine again. To stay in 9-win territory would mean that they'd hold serve, and I think that's pessimistic at any given position, let alone for this entire roster.

Part of my case is that it's my opinion that the opposite could be said of their division rivals. Baltimore and Pittsburgh just aren't as strong this year, and Cleveland is still not relevant enough to be worth arguing about. I don't even disagree that the Ravens and Steelers are likely playoff teams this year; I just think that one topic nobody has started talking about yet is how much the AFC has declined. (The Bengals are about the only average-or-better AFC team countering that trend, and maybe Denver, but that's a different discussion.) When you get past the division, which I think Cincinnati can win, the only projected playoff teams on the Bengals schedule are Green Bay and New England, both of which are home games. Facing the Lions, Vikings, Dolphins, Colts, Chiefs, Chargers, Raiders (DUCK!), and Browns twice should provide 9 games where the Bengals are solid-to-overwhelming favorites. This team has several small positive trends, and few negative ones - and again, that's building off of a 10-6 squad last year.

The point that really gets me excited about the team is what they can do on offense, and this is where I think the upside points to a very realistic shot at a #1 overall seed in the AFC. A.J. Green and Dalton are both at ages where massive improvement could occur. Gresham is Pro Bowl level and in a contract year and in his prime. The main knock on Dalton is arm strength, but the two weapons they brought in this year play exactly to his strengths: Bernard is a receiver out of the backfield, and Eifert is an all-purpose tight end. These are guys who can get open, catch short passes, and create match-up problems. When Alabama put their best coverage guys on Eifert against Notre Dame last year, it got my attention, and I think he's this year's biggest sleeper at tight end for fantasy football purposes. It looks like a weird cast of characters, sort of a poor man's Patriots, but this strikes me as the ideal supporting cast for Dalton's skill sets. Green-Ellis and Bernard might be a below-average tandem at running back, but with Bernard in the mix and an improved passing attack, can it be worse than last year? The Bengals had a -1.4% Rush DVOA in 2012. As for the offensive line, it's telling to me that Ben Muth was the only FO writer to jump on Cincinnati as most likely to beat their FO prediction, and he justified it with their prowess in the trenches.

Last year's Ravens observation was about them having enough to stay strong one more year and not dropping off as much as everyone thought. This year's Bengals team is about the culmination of a surprisingly solid but overlooked building project finally ready to break into the upper tier of NFL teams. I don't know if they can beat Denver or New England in January, but they're a great bet to beat 8.9 wins.

Points: 0

#35 by Sifter // Sep 07, 2013 - 6:25am

You might be right on the Bengals - if they emerge from that competitive division, then they've got as good a shot as anybody. But just to burst your Ravens bubble...the DVOA article last year projected the Ravens would win 8.8 games @ 10.4% total DVOA...they ended up winning 10 games @ 9.8% DVOA. That difference between projected and actual DVOA was the smallest of any of the 32 teams. Their playoffs were fantastic, but in the regular season they were who we thought they were.
The biggest misses from last year's preview were: 5) Denver (5.8% projected, 36.6% actual); 4) San Francisco (-6.9% projected, 29.9% actual); 3) Kansas City (3.4% projected, -40.4% actual); 2) St Louis (-47.0% projected, 1.1% actual); 1) Seattle (-15.1% projected, 38.3% actual). Looking at the article, a couple of guys nominated Seattle to overperform, and the 49ers were a popular selection as a projection the system had wrong. Vince Verhei had an absolute shocker, nominating Denver to underperform their 5.8%, while simultaneously backing the Chiefs to overperform their 3.4%! Given Vince's picks this year, perhaps I should be putting some cash on Oakland!

Points: 0

#36 by Karl Cuba // Sep 07, 2013 - 10:08am

Did your Ravens projection include them canning the offensive coordinator mid season? ;)

The lack of a middle tier in the AFC was regularly noted last year and the Bengals aren't really sneaking up on anyone after two playoff seasons. Not that I really disagree with either statement.

My only quibble is that I'm not sure I see Dalton's play greatly improving, other than due to improved play from his supporting cast (Eifert and Sanu could add to the available weapons). Dalton was very NFL ready on entering the league but lacks the great arm and athleticism that would give him a high ceiling. I was nor surprised to see him have early success but I don't expect him to ever be a top flight passer.

Points: 0

#44 by KK Probs (not verified) // Sep 08, 2013 - 10:45am

Hell, it was a walk-off home run. Don't overanalyze it. Let me have my bubble.

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#37 by KK Probs (not verified) // Sep 07, 2013 - 1:10pm

Also, Vince picked the Bengals to beat their projection, albeit with a complete lack of enthusiasm.

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#40 by KK Probs (not verified) // Sep 08, 2013 - 10:35am

I issued a well-thought-out reply and the spam filter flagged it and asked me to write a message to the admin to ensure I wasn't spam, which I did, and the message still hasn't shown up yet. So I assume it's lost to history. How do I avoid that?

Points: 0

#45 by Karl Cuba // Sep 08, 2013 - 11:28am

Register your username and then send them an email asking to be put on the non-spam list. Or buy premium and they'll put you on the list automatically. Basically, if you keep posting with an unverified account then you might lose a lot of posts to the spam filter.

Points: 0

#41 by KK Probs (not verified) // Sep 08, 2013 - 10:37am

Basically (doing this piecemeal to avoid spam filter):

That the Ravens outperformed their DVOA in win total doesn't make the prediction that they'd beat their win total less impressive. I didn't predict they'd beat their expected DVOA; I predicted they'd beat their predicted win total. It further verifies that DVOA/win arbitrage was identified.

Points: 0

#42 by KK Probs (not verified) // Sep 08, 2013 - 10:39am

If people think the Bengals are a sleepy 9-7 team, then they are still sleeping on them. FO has them at 8.9 wins, and the mainstream media isn't much higher on them.

Finally, Dalton could get better (and maybe a lot better) or he could stay the same, but I don't see a case to be made that he's going to get worse. It's pretty much the same story for the team at every other position; that's the crux of my opinion. Also, Marvin Lewis seems unusually qualified to limit the downside of any drama that does pop up.

Points: 0

#43 by KK Probs (not verified) // Sep 08, 2013 - 10:43am

The 2012 Ravens had significant adversity from injuries, in addition to an OC coordinator firing and a near-player mutiny in mid-season. Not a worst-case scenario, but significant adversity. And still, with all of that, they managed to be who you thought they'd be. That's what I call a great over bet. When they were back on track and rattled off four wins in January, three against better DVOA-rated teams, they were more who I thought they'd be.

Points: 0

#39 by michael jones (not verified) // Sep 08, 2013 - 1:32am

Shatz is great at illuminating what has already taken place with statistics, but his talent evaluations and predictions are generally just a little more untrustworthy than my grandmothers'; and she's been dead for 4 years.
I'll never forget when he described mark sanchez as a little better than an average qb, when everyone with two eyes and objective point of view (and even the FO adjusted interception numbers were screaming that sanchez's improved season was truly just as bad as every other season but with a little more luck) could see that the Sanch had such abysmal pocket awareness, decision making ability, and accuracy under pressure that he was destined to be the worst qb ever to start 48 games since the nfl liberalized the pass interference rules in 2005.
Grandma, Shatz says the Rams are a darkhorse - yeah I think it's safe to take the under on the rams season win total as well. Stick to what you do best Shatz, tell us about what we already watched on tv.

Points: 0

#46 by justme_cd // Sep 07, 2014 - 9:43pm

"Stick to what you do best Shatz, tell us about what we already watched on tv."

Unless he retroactively edited the picks, I hope you've come back to this page since the superbowl picks came true.

Points: 0

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