2014 Football Outsiders Awards

2014 Football Outsiders Awards
2014 Football Outsiders Awards
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

comments by Vincent Verhei

Welcome to the results of the 12th annual Football Outsiders Awards -- the best and worst players of the year, as voted on by you, our readers. For those curious about the FO Award winners in past years, you will find links to each of the previous FO Awards articles on this page.

Who is your choice as Offensive MVP for 2014? (Last year's winner: Peyton Manning)

53.5% Aaron Rodgers, QB, GB
8.4% DeMarco Murray, RB, DAL
7.9% Marshawn Lynch, RB, SEA
7.5% Andrew Luck, QB, IND
6.5% Tom Brady, QB, NE
6.3% Le'veon Bell, RB, PIT
4.2% Tony Romo, QB, DAL
3.3% Ben Roethlisberger, QB, PIT
1.4% Russell Wilson, QB, SEA
0.9% Peyton Manning, QB, DEN

Not a lot of controversy here. Rodgers was in the league's top three in touchdowns, passer rating, yards per attempt, yards per completion, and touchdown rate, and he had the lowest interception rate in the NFL. In Football Outsiders' numbers, he was a few ticks behind Ben Roethlisberger for the DYAR crown, and way ahead of everyone else in DVOA. Oh, and the Packers won 12 games in the regular season, one more in the playoffs, and took the Seahawks to overtime in the NFC Championship Game. That all helps. The voting wasn't close, but most of the other candidates have obvious credentials as well. You've got the rushing DYAR leader, the rushing DVOA leader, the receiving DYAR leader among running backs, the rushing DYAR record-holder for quarterbacks, the passing DYAR leader, and four other playoff quarterbacks. Andrew Luck finished higher than his numbers (10th in DYAR, 12th in DVOA) would suggest, but he presumably got a "this guy's teammates suck" boost from voters. (After all, that's why we listed him as a nominee in the first place.)

Who is your choice as Defensive MVP for 2014? (Last year's winner: Luke Kuechly)

89.8% J.J. Watt, DE, HOU
3.0% Earl Thomas, FS, SEA
2.2% Darrelle Revis, CB, NE
1.8% Justin Houston, OLB, KC
1.3% Luke Kuechly, MLB, CAR
1.3% Richard Sherman, CB, SEA
0.3% DeAndre Levy, OLB, DET
0.3% Von Miller, OLB, DEN

It can be hard at times to express the statistical dominance of J.J. Watt. He led the league with 43 Defeats, of course. (A defeat is any play -- tackles, passes defensed, fumbles forced, or interceptions -- that prevents the offense from gaining first-down yardage on third or fourth down; stops the offense behind the line of scrimmage; or results in a turnover.) But he did that as a defensive lineman; the next seven players in Defeats are all linebackers. (To be fair, that includes Kansas City's Justin Houston, a 3-4 outside linebacker who often plays with the responsibilities of a lineman.) After Watt, the top pure lineman in Defeats was Jason Pierre-Paul of the New York Giants, with 27. Only 13 linemen in the league reached even half of Watt's total. And Watt was versatile, too. He led the league with 26 Pass Defeats, and was tied for second with 17 Run Defeats. (Tampa Bay's Lavonte David was first with 26.) Further, Watt wasn't just a highlight machine. He made small plays too, leading all linemen in successful plays and total plays. When you compare Watt's Defeat numbers (to recap, 26 pass, 17 run, 43 total) to the average of the next ten linemen (14.0 pass, 10.1 run, 24.1 total), you start to understand the monstrous gap between Watt and his peers. (Also, while we're here, we should point out that Bobby Wagner was 32nd in total plays, 15th in successes, and tied for 39th in Defeats ... and Tony Dungy voted for him for MVP of the entire league.)

Who should be the NFL MVP, your choice for Offensive MVP or your choice for Defensive MVP?

54.9% Defensive MVP 45.1% Offensive MVP

Basically, this was our way of naming an Offensive MVP, while simultaneously asking whether Watt should win the MVP award. And the answer was a resounding "yes." By filtering the results of the last three questions, we find that 52.5 percent of you effectively voted for Watt for NFL MVP, followed by Rodgers (28.2 percent) and Brady a distant third (3.7 percent). The bottom of the table is just as fascinating as the top. Seventeen total players got at least one "vote," including Luke Kuechly (3), Justin Houston (2), and DeAndre Levy (1).

Who is your choice as NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year for 2014? (Last year's winner: Keenan Allen)

79.1% Odell Beckham, WR, NYG
8.5% Zack Martin, RG, DAL
4.8% Teddy Bridgewater, QB, MIN
3.2% Mike Evans, WR, TB
2.0% Joel Bitonio, LG, CLE
1.5% Jeremy Hill, RB, CIN
0.7% Sammy Watkins, WR, BUF
0.4% Jarvis Landry, WR, MIA

We ran this last year for Keenan Allen, so we can just update it for Beckham. Highest receiving DYAR by a rookie wide receiver, 1989-2013:

Randy Moss, 1998 MIN: 428 DYAR
Odell Beckham, Jr., 2014 NYG: 394 DYAR
Michael Clayton, 2004 TB: 389 DYAR
Keenan Allen, 2013 SD: 342 DYAR
A.J. Green, 2011 CIN: 288 DYAR
Lee Evans, 2004 BUF: 284 DYAR
Marques Colston, 2006 NO: 258 DYAR

Remember, Beckham missed the first quarter of the season. In fact, no receiver last year had more DYAR than Beckham after he hit the field in Week 5. He also led the league with 108.8 receiving yards per game, an all-time rookie record, becoming the first freshman to hit triple digits in more than half a century. A case can be made that in his first season, Beckham was already the best receiver in the league.

Who is your choice as NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year for 2014? (Last year's winner: Sheldon Richardson)

32.9% Khalil Mack, OLB, Raiders
27.2% Aaron Donald, DT, Rams
20.9% C.J. Mosley, ILB, Ravens
11.2% Chris Borland, ILB, 49ers
3.4% Anthony Barr, OLB, Vikings
2.3% Kyle Fuller, CB, Bears
1.9% Bradley Roby, CB, Broncos
0.1% E.J. Gaines, CB, Rams

With three strong candidates, the voters went with talent and ability over on-field production. Aaron Donald had nine sacks in his debut season, first among all rookies and second among defensive tackles. He added a dozen run Defeats, and his 24 total Defeats were second among defensive tackles behind Detroit's Ndamukong Suh (26). C.J. Mosley led all rookies and was fifth in the NFL with 30 Defeats, showing up strong against the run and in pass coverage. Khalil Mack, meanwhile, had "only" 25 Defeats, and most notably, just 4.0 sacks. Our charting data, though still not totally complete and cleaned up, paints a rosier picture, crediting Mack with 28 pressures. Which leads me to a funny story. A few weeks ago, while charting the Raiders-49ers game in Week 14, I tweeted out a GIF of Mack beating Joe Staley for a pressure. Staley himself, apparently doing a vanity search, saw the tweet and replied simply: "dudes a beast." Indeed he is, sir, and our voters have confirmed it. Khalil Mack: dudes a beast.

Who was the best offensive lineman of 2014? (open question, two votes per ballot, top 14 listed) (Last year's winner: Joe Thomas)

20.9% Marshal Yanda
18.1% Tyron Smith
11.4% Joe Thomas
6.2% Zack Martin
4.9% Andrew Whitworth
4.8% Jason Peters
4.5% Josh Sitton
3.0% Travis Frederick
2.5% Maurkice Pouncey
2.2% Sebastian Vollmer
1.7% Max Unger
1.4% Kelechi Osemele
1.4% Nick Mangold
1.3% Nate Solder

Perhaps it's because Ben Muth was singing his praises all year long, or perhaps he's just that much better than everyone else, but Marhal Yanda wins the award, with Tyron Smith his only close competition. Most observers would tell you that Dallas had the league's best offensive line (foreshadowing!), and it shows here, with Smith, Zack Martin, and Travis Frederick all making the top eight. Baltimore and New England were the only other teams with multiple linemen in the top 14. Meanwhile, it says a lot about the talents of Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson that Seattle had a historically great rush offense this season, even though only one lineman finished in the top vote-getters -- and that lineman (Max Unger) missed ten games.

Who is your choice for Unit of the Year in 2014? (New Award)

39.4% Dallas offensive line
26.6% Seattle secondary
11.3% Detroit defensive line
9.9% Buffalo defensive line
4.1% Baltimore offensive line
3.3% Pittsburgh receivers (WR/TE)
3.0% Carolina linebackers
2.2% Denver receivers (WR/TE)

The Cowboys offense had its best DVOA since 2009. In his 11th season, Tony Romo led the league in completion percentage, yards per pass, touchdown rate, passer rating, and Total QBR, and finished second in DVOA. DeMarco Murray led the league in rushing yards, touchdowns, yards from scrimmage, and rushing DYAR. Both owe a significant portion of credit to the big uglies up front. Yes, this was the best offensive line we have seen in some time. Your quarterback needs an excellent day to beat the Seahawks; unfortunately for them, Tom Brady was excellent in the Super Bowl. The Bills led the league in Adjusted Sack Rate, while the Lions led in Adjusted Line Yards, so you can pick your poison there.

Who is your choice for NFL Coach of the Year in 2014? (Last year's winner: Bill Belichick)

46.3% Bruce Arians, ARI
20.5% Bill Belichick, NE
17.3% Pete Carroll, SEA
7.0% Jason Garrett, DAL
5.5% John Harbaugh, BAL
1.4% Jim Caldwell, DET
1.2% Doug Marrone, BUF
0.8% Mike Pettine, CLE

Pete Carroll had to navigate his team through the Percy Harvin disaster, Bill Belichick had to rebuild his offensive line on the fly, but no coach did more with less this year than Bruce Arians. The Cardinals finished the year with their top quarterback, top pass rusher, and top interior lineman on injured reserve (along with five other players), and their top linebacker suspended for the season. However, I am surprised Mike Pettine finished so low. With an offense led by Brian Hoyer, Terrance West, and Andrew Hawkins; with questions about Johnny Manziel looming every week; with Josh Gordon suspended, then ineffective, then suspended again; with a front office relationship so toxic his offensive coordinator ran like hell after the season; with division rivals as good as Cincinnati, Baltimore, and Pittsburgh; with all that going against him, Pettine found a way to win seven games. I voted for Pettine, but then I very nearly picked Cleveland to win the first draft choice before the season started (I eventually chose Oakland), so maybe my perspective is skewed.

(Ed. Note: One other note about Arians. The difference between a team's win-loss record and DVOA involves a lot of intangibles. A lot of that gap is just luck and timing. But some of it has to do with coaching, and the ability of a head coach to navigate his way through more close wins than losses. I feel fairly confident saying that Bruce Arians deserves some of the credit for guiding the No. 22 team in DVOA to an 11-5 record. And that's before you even consider the injuries. And remember, two years ago Arians was head coach, at least for most of the year, of an Indianapolis team that also went 11-5 despite finishing No. 25 in DVOA. -- Aaron Schatz)

Who is your choice for the Bill Arnsparger Award for Coordinator of the Year in 2014? (Last year's winner: Ken Whisenhunt)

27.9% Todd Bowles, ARI defense
14.5% Dan Quinn, SEA defense
14.1% Rod Marinelli, DAL defense
11.6% Teryl Austin, DET defense
11.0% Jim Schwartz, BUF defense
9.1% Gary Kubiak, BAL offense
4.9% Dave Fipp, PHI special teams
3.8% Vic Fangio, SF defense
2.0% Darrell Bevell, SEA offense
1.1% Bill Lazor, MIA offense

Coaches who finish high in this category often win head coaching jobs as a result, and this year was no different. The Jets hired Todd Bowles after the season, while the Falcons hired Dan Quinn, and some reports said that Teryl Austin was their second choice. Bowles, like Arians, wins for overcoming so many injuries on his team, with an aggressive dime scheme. According to ESPN Stats & Information data, the Cardinals were the only team this season to blitz a defensive back on more than 20 percent of opposing pass plays, and they nearly doubled the league average rate.

Who is your choice for the Art Rooney Jr. Award for Executive(s) of the Year? (Last year's winner: John Schneider)

24.6% Bill Belichick, NE
23.8% John Schneider, SEA
14.0% Ozzie Newsome, BAL
8.5% Steve Keim, ARI
8.4% John Elway, DEN
8.2% Ted Thompson, GB
8.0% Jerry Jones, DAL
4.6% Rick Spielman, MIN

The Patriots just barely stopped Seattle from winning back-to-back Super Bowls, and Bill Belichick just barely stopped John Schneider from winning this award for the third year in a row. Belichick gets credit for trading Logan Mankins, signing Darrelle Revis, and finding Bryan Stork in the draft. Schneider's biggest accomplishment was having the courage to admit that the Percy Harvin acquisition was a mistake and moving on, though he also drafted a starting tackle in Justin Britt and signed Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, K.J. Wright, Cliff Avril, and Pete Carroll to contract extensions.

Who is your choice for the John Elway Award for disappointing highly-drafted rookie who turns things around with an impressive sophomore season? (Last year's winner: Alshon Jeffery)

42.2% Jamie Collins, OLB, NE
19.9% Travis Kelce, TE, KC
13.1% Darius Slay, CB, DET
6.5% Eric Fisher, LT, KC
6.4% Lane Johnson, RT, PHI
5.1% Johnathan Hankins, DET, NYG
3.9% Kevin Minter, ILB, ARI
2.9% Datone Jones, DE, GB

The 52nd pick in the 2013 draft, Jamie Collins had only seven Defeats in his rookie season, but he had 22 in 2014. Travis Kelce missed all of 2013 after microfracture surgery. We wrote in FOA 2014 that it was "possible" he would see the field this year. He ended up leading the Chiefs in catches, receiving yards, and touchdowns, and finished fourth among tight ends in DYAR. Darius Slay had four starts in 13 games as a rookie, but the former second-round pick started every game this year, and helped Detroit finish with the best pass defense by DVOA.

A couple readers asked why we didn't list Le'veon Bell as a nominee here; we felt he didn't qualify because an average DVOA behind a struggling offensive line in 2013 translated to a pretty good rookie year for Bell, not a disappointment.

Who is your pick for the Kurt Warner Award, for a low-drafted (or undrafted) backup who finally has a breakout year as a starter? (Last year's winner: Julian Edelman)

62.4% Justin Forsett, RB, BAL
25.6% C.J. Anderson, RB, DEN
3.8% Jermey Parnell, RT, DAL
2.4% Matt Asiata, RB, MIN
2.3% Drew Stanton, QB, ARI
1.6% Daniel Kilgore, C, SF
1.3% Vincent Rey, OLB, CIN
0.5% Kamar Aiken, WR, BAL

Justin Forsett ran for 1,692 yards and eight touchdowns in the first six seasons of his career, spending time with four teams. In his seventh season, with his fifth team, he nearly matched those numbers, gaining 1,287 yards and eight scores on the ground. He had shown flashes of talent before -- he had games of 123 and 130 yards in November of 2009 with the Seahawks, but the next year Seattle traded for Marshawn Lynch, and Forsett spent four more seasons waiting for another opportunity. When he got it, he made the most of it. Speaking of opportunity, C.J. Anderson might have won this award if Denver had given him more chances early in the year. He had just 172 yards in the first half of the year, but 677 in the second half.

Who is your choice for the Keep Choppin' Wood Award for 2014 (player who most hurt his team, on or off the field)? (Last year's winner: Richie Incognito)

30.4% Adrian Peterson, RB, MIN
23.6% Trent Richardson, RB, IND
19.3% Josh Gordon, WR, CLE
9.1% Ryan Lindley, QB, ARI
6.9% Greg Hardy, DE, CAR
4.0% Matt Kalil, LT, MIN
2.5% Bradley Fletcher, CB, PHI
2.1% Blake Bortles, QB, JAC
1.7% Kenny Vaccaro, SS, NO
0.4% Dimitri Patterson, CB, NYJ

A depressing number of strong candidates here. Adrian Peterson -- who, we remind you, looks like this -- stuffed leaves into his 4-year-old son's mouth and whipped him bloody with a switch. Then, while out on bond for that crime, he told a court official during a drug test that he had smoked "a little weed." If he's reinstated for 2015 -- and that is an "if" -- he would count for $15.4 million against the salary cap, and he told ESPN in December that he saw no reason he should take a pay cut. Trent Richardson finishes second for this award for the second year in a row, so... yay? The former third overall pick had played one snap in the wild card game and then was a healthy inactive the rest of the playoffs. The Colts announced after they had been eliminated that they had suspended Richardson for two games -- which means, if he somehow returns to Indianapolis next year, he'll be suspended for the opener. The Colts were reportedly upset with Richardson for gaining 15 pounds during the season, which doesn't even seem possible, and then no-showing the walkthrough the day before the AFC Championship Game. Richardson claimed a family emergency, but the Colts say they had no idea where he was. Josh Gordon started the year on suspension, had his suspension cut, showed up out of shape, got suspended by the Browns for violation of team rules after skipping a walkthrough, and then got suspended by the NFL for drinking alcohol, from which he was banned under the terms of one of his many earlier suspensions. Ugh.

Who is your choice for the Keep Choppin' Game Film Award for the worst coach of 2014? (Last year's winner: Greg Schiano)

25.8% Marc Trestman, CHI head coach
19.3% Jay Gruden, WAS head coach
17.8% Mike Smith, ATL head coach
11.2% Ken Whisenhunt, TEN head coach
10.8% Lovie Smith, TB head coach
9.8% Rob Ryan, NO defense
2.9% Jedd Fisch, JAC offense
2.5% Dick LeBeau, PIT defense

Marc Trestman completely lost the Chicago locker room. His own assistants were ripping quarterback Jay Cutler in the media, then making tearful apologies to the team. The Bears ended the year on a five-game losing skid, and at one point Trestman, in 2014, decided that starting Jimmy Clausen ahead of Jay Cutler was a good idea. Jay Gruden, like Trestman, seemed at times to be deliberately sabotaging his own quarterback, knocking Robert Griffin in the media and benching him at one point for Colt McCoy. Mike Smith has a defensive background, but under his watch the Falcons defense declined in each of the past three seasons, and they were last in defensive DVOA in 2014.

Who was the least deserving pick for the Pro Bowl? (Last year's winner: Frank Gore)

32.6% John Kuhn, FB, GB
17.2% LeSean McCoy, RB, PHI
9.3% A.J. Green, WR, CIN
8.9% Mike Iupati, LG, SF
8.0% Lawrence Timmons, ILB, PIT
6.5% Ryan Clady, LT, DEN
6.2% Calvin Johnson, WR, DET
4.7% Joe Haden, CB, CLE
4.5% Joe Staley, LT, SF
2.2% Tamba Hali, OLB, KC

Presumably, the selection of John Kuhn here is a protest against the antiquated Pro Bowl voting format that insists teams carry a fullback, which is quickly becoming an obsolete position. It's hard to figure out who is the other fullback who maybe should have been named to the team instead of Kuhn and Marcel Reece. LeSean McCoy's name is more easily explained, as the Eagles runner finished 45th in rushing DVOA and 24th in receiving DVOA. A.J. Green also had an off year by his standards, finishing 29th in DYAR and 38th in DVOA. It's not just advanced stats; Green was just 20th in the NFL in receiving yards.

The most deserving offensive player left off the original Pro Bowl roster is: (open question, top 10 listed) (Last year's winner: Alshon Jeffery)

42.4% Odell Beckham
10.2% Randall Cobb
8.6% Emmanuel Sanders
8.2% Justin Forsett
8.0% Andrew Whitworth
4.0% Joel Bitonio
4.0% Russell Wilson
1.4% Golden Tate
1.2% Matt Forte
1.0% Drew Brees

As we noted earlier, you could argue that Odell Beckham was the best wide receiver in the NFL in 2014. The notion that there were eight better players at the position is pretty silly. Though, as it turns out, our voters found a lot of receivers who should have made the Pro Bowl were left out.

A quick note: this year for the first time, we listed specific suggested nominees for this open category (and the next two). The players we suggested, of course, generally received the most mentions. However, we wanted to provide guidance because it can be hard to vote in this category and not know who is in the Pro Bowl as an original selection and who is there as an injury/Super Bowl replacement.

The most deserving defensive player left off the original Pro Bowl roster is: (open question, top 10 listed) (Last year's winner: Lavonte David)

30.9% Lavonte David
14.6% Khalil Mack
13.0% Sheldon Richardson
12.8% DeAndre Levy
5.9% Thomas Davis
4.3% Antoine Bethea
2.4% Michael Bennett
2.2% Jamie Collins
1.8% Harrison Smith
1.4% Fletcher Cox

Hey! Pro Bowl voters! The Bucs stink, but Lavonte David is awesome! Similarly, Khalil Mack and Sheldon Richardson were great defensive players who went overlooked because they were on lousy teams. David and Mack (and DeAndre Levy) are also casualties of the way Pro Bowl voters tend to favor specific stats like sacks and thus only 3-4 outside linebackers get voted into the game. (Then, by Pro Bowl rules, defenses have to play a 4-3 scheme, so you get to watch Tamba Hali and Justin Houston try to cover the league's best tight ends. Fun!) Lions GM Martin Mayhew offered up an interesting idea to counter this problem, suggesting that the Pro Bowl specifically designate one team each year as a 3-4 defense and the other team as a 4-3. This takes the front seven players out of their fancy "fantasy Pro Bowl draft," but it would do a better job of properly honoring the year's best players.

The most underrated special teams player in the NFL is: (open question, top 10 listed) (Last year's winner: Cordarrelle Patterson)

34.7% Justin Tucker, Ravens
22.2% Adam Jones
10.2% D'Anthony Thomas
5.9% Sam Koch
3.6% Darrell Stuckey
2.3% Dan Bailey
2.3% Ricardo Lockette
2.0% Jon Ryan
1.5% Matt Bryant
1.3% Cody Parkey

Justin Tucker wins this award for the second time in three years, because apparently nobody pays attention to kickoff stats. Adam Jones led the league in kickoff return average and was fourth in punt returns; for a while there, he was actually first in both categories. Thomas was third in punt returns and would have been third in kickoff returns as well, but he didn't get enough returns there to qualify.

Which is your choice for Game of the Year in 2014? (Last year's choice: AFC Wild Card: Kansas City 44 at Indianapolis 45)

46.0% NFC Championship: Green Bay 22 at Seattle 28 (OT)
30.3% AFC Divisional: Baltimore 31 at New England 35
5.5% Week 6: Dallas 30 at Seattle 23
4.6% Week 16: San Diego 38 at San Francisco 35 (OT)
4.2% Week 3: Denver 20 at Seattle 26 (OT)
1.9% Week 13: San Diego 34 at Baltimore 33
1.8% Week 12: Miami 36 at Denver 39
1.8% Week 12: Dallas 31 at New York Giants 28
1.2% Week 1: New Orleans 34 at Atlanta 37 (OT)
1.1% Week 8: Detroit 22 at Atlanta 21
0.8% Week 2: Philadelphia 30 at Indianapolis 27 (OT)
0.5% Week 7: New Orleans 23 at Detroit 24
0.3% Week 8: Baltimore 24 at Cincinnati 27

I'm pretty sure if we did the voting at the end of the playoffs instead of just after the conference championship games, Super Bowl XLIX would win with 100 percent of the vote. The Seahawks sure played some exciting games this year, didn't they?

Player most likely to breakout in 2014 (open question, top 12 listed): (Last year's winner: Cordarrelle Patterson)

13.3% Teddy Bridgewater
4.4% Davante Adams
4.2% Jadeveon Clowney
2.8% Derek Carr, Raiders
2.6% Carlos Hyde
2.6% Donte Moncrief
2.6% Jordan Matthews
2.3% Brandin Cooks
2.3% Martavis Bryant
2.1% Christine Michael
2.1% Dominique Easley
2.1% Odell Beckham

Don't get too excited, Vikings fans. Our readers are not very good at picking breakout players. The last three winners were Matt Flynn, LaMichael James, and Cordarrelle Patterson. Also, the nine of you who voted for Odell Beckham: what the hell? How is he going to break out in 2015? Is that even possible? Is he going to average 200 yards a game?

Player most likely to significantly decline in 2014 (open question, top 13 listed): (Last year's winner: Peyton Manning)

30.4% Peyton Manning, DEN
23.8% DeMarco Murray
7.6% Tom Brady
3.7% Drew Brees
2.5% Justin Forsett
2.1% Marshawn Lynch
1.9% Tony Romo
1.4% Colin Kaepernick
1.4% Frank Gore
1.0% Adrian Peterson
1.0% Ben Roethlisberger
1.0% Joe Flacco
1.0% Le'veon Bell
1.0% Russell Wilson

Peyton Manning wins for the second year in a row, though he only picked up 17.9 percent of the vote last year. And hey, he did decline. DeMarco Murray also seems a safe choice, if only because he'll never get 392 carries again. I assume those who voted for Adrian Peterson just never expect him to play again. Because if he comes back, I bet he tops the 75 yards he had last year.

Which of the following teams is most likely next year's surprise Super Bowl contender? (Last year's choice: Tampa Bay)

32.0% Atlanta
26.5% New York Giants
20.9% St. Louis
8.0% Chicago
4.5% Oakland
3.1% Tampa Bay
2.3% New York Jets
1.2% Washington
1.1% Jacksonville
0.4% Tennessee

You guys were really, really wrong about Tampa Bay last year. The funny thing is, we didn't list Atlanta as an option because they seemed like an obvious choice to get back in the playoffs (remember, they went 13-3 in 2012, then 4-12 the next year), and instead they won just six games. So now? Of course, Atlanta seems like a pretty obvious choice to get back to the playoffs.

Which playoff team is most likely to miss the playoffs in 2014? (Last year's choice: San Diego)

23.8% Arizona
16.6% Carolina
15.8% Cincinnati
12.6% Denver
12.2% Detroit
8.2% Dallas
6.6% Pittsburgh
2.1% Baltimore
1.1% Indianapolis
0.5% Seattle
0.3% Green Bay
0.3% New England

The "We don't think Bruce Arians can do it twice in a row" award. Denver's ranking, I think, shows that a lot of voters are expecting Peyton Manning to retire.

The "Get Your Story Straight" Award for best commercial during NFL games this year goes to:
(Last year's choice: Sprint James Earl Jones/Malcolm McDowell )

28.2% Geico "Ickey Woods cold cuts"
26.6% Direct TV Rob Lowe ads
15.5% Southwest Airlines "wedding dancing girl"
14.6% State Farm "Aaron Rodgers/Hans and Franz"
8.2% Honda classic toys ads
6.9% McDonald's "arch enemies"

This is a travesty. Did you people even watch the Skeletor ad? 8.2 percent? Bah. Also, we got a lot of notes from readers who wanted to vote for Kate Upton's Game of War ads for best commercial. So yes, breasts remain popular.

The "John Mellencamp Must Die" Award for most annoying commercial during NFL games this year goes to:
(Last year's choice: State Farm Discount Double Check)

22.8% NFL Shop "Vikings/Bengals/Eagles/Cowboys/Steelers family"
12.6% Papa John's Peyton Manning ads
12.3% Game of War with Kate Upton
11.9% Direct TV Rob Lowe ads
10.7% State Farm "Aaron Rodgers/Hans and Franz"
8.8% Nationwide with Peyton Manning
7.6% Microsoft Surface Pro 3 "Winder Wonderland"
7.4% McDonald's "disaster signs"
5.9% Pizza Hut Blake Shelton "Cheese and bacon in the crust"

Because if there's one thing devoted football maniacs love, it's disloyal bandwagon fans.

That does it for the 2014 Football Outsiders Awards. Once again, thanks to all the readers for voting. Next stop: The offseason!


119 comments, Last at 26 Feb 2015, 12:46am

1 Re: 2014 Football Outsiders Awards

How did the Start Farm ad not win worst commercial by a freaking landslide? Massively over repeated, disastrously unfunny and really quite racist; how can get more votes for best advert than worst?

16 Re: 2014 Football Outsiders Awards

1) They're comedians? They actually earned a living from that crap?

2) Their act is based on a national, cultural stereotype. Maybe that's 'nationist' not racist, I don't know or care, the advert is truly awful.

3) Err, I need a third point for impact...

20 Re: 2014 Football Outsiders Awards

"2) Their act is based on a national, cultural stereotype."

No, it's not. It's based on poking fun at one hugely successful celebrity. Period. Nothing "nationist," nothing "racist." Just Schwarzenegger mockery. That's it. That's all of it. Just one 20 year old Saturday Night Live sketch brought out of retirement, from back when Schwarzenegger and Nealon and Carvey were all famous.

22 Re: 2014 Football Outsiders Awards

OK, I think you're taking my comment a little too seriously. I'm perfectly willing to accept that it's a Schwarzenegger impression, if a terrible one.

But here's the thing: if you didn't know about their previous history of doing their Arnie impression then it comes across as pretty nationist/racist. If your massive advertising campaign requires knowledge of a twenty five year old sketch in order to not look dubiously offensive then it's probably not a very good campaign is it?

It's also really annoying.

27 Re: 2014 Football Outsiders Awards

Wait. You seriously don't know who Kevin Nealon and Dana Carvey are? Okay now I feel old (what are you, 20?). Do I need to explain who Paul McCartney is too?

I kid because I love. But no really, spend some time watching 90's SNL episodes and you'll find out why asking if they are comedians is a little ... ridiculous...

50 Re: 2014 Football Outsiders Awards

I was completely baffled by the commercials, too. I had no idea who the guys were or what they were referencing until reading this comment section.

Now, if the commercial had instead been some sort of Ingmar Bergman or Fritz Lang reference . . .

67 Re: 2014 Football Outsiders Awards

Oh so much this! The worst bit is at the end when they all stand about applauding their devastating mediocrity in a smugsplosion that makes your fists itch.

"Yay guys, crap work!"
"Whooooo we're all vastly overpaid, talent free hacks!"
"I'm oblivious to how much I suck! High fives!"

68 Re: 2014 Football Outsiders Awards

A few years ago, I somewhere saw a list of "Best SNL episodes ever" and thought, "Okay, I will try watching what are supposed to be some of the best. Maybe I just haven't seen the best work." So I watched the top 5.

Not a funny moment. Not even with Steve Martin (of whom I'm normally a fan) involved.

82 Re: 2014 Football Outsiders Awards

Like Monday Night Football, it's hard to overstate just how much of a phenomenon Saturday Night Live was when it first went on the air. Both seem inevitable now, but they were gambles at the time. (In the MNF case, I'm referring to weekly prime time games on network TV; cable wasn't a thing in 1970, so the Sunday/Monday night stuff we see now wasn't a factor.)

SNL has certainly had its ups and downs over the decades. It wasn't designed to be timeless, so a lot of the humor worked better in its own context. When they did Hans and Franz, the idea that Schwarzenegger would ever be a governor would have been much funnier. I'm sure the State Farm commercials are aimed at people who remember those sketches fondly.

103 Re: 2014 Football Outsiders Awards

Harmful to society, huh? Give me a break. What's really harmful to society is the increasingly popular idea that anyone who refuses to march in lockstep with conventional wisdom should be demonized and treated as some kind of pariah.

And in case you're wondering, no, I'm not an "anti-vaxxer" (a ridiculous buzzword if ever there was one). However, I will admit to being an anti-thought-policer.

109 Re: 2014 Football Outsiders Awards

You need to read more carefully. This isn't a football thread, it's a thread about advertisements involving SNL people that devolved into a discussion of SNL. If you're going to flame anyone, flame the entire thread.

Beyond that, I agree with Shattenjager. Refusing to get your kids vaccinated is the equivalent of driving drunk. If someone gets sick or dies from exposure to your unvaccinated kid, you should be liable.

110 Re: 2014 Football Outsiders Awards

Jim Carrey has never been a cast member of SNL. If you're going to pick nits, start with your own.

Meanwhile, I'm not going to get into the ridiculous vaccine debate, as that was not even the point I was trying to make. In fact, my original point was a lot less about vaccines than it was about smug, condescending douchebags like you and Shattenjager.

112 Re: 2014 Football Outsiders Awards

The vaccine debate is not "ridiculous" - it's really serious stuff and a very big deal right now. It's an infuriatingly dangerous, stupid thing that's happening and you should be a little understanding about folks getting enraged by it. There's nothing smug and condescending about being outraged by what's happening - "smug" and "condescending" is saying you refuse to march in lockstep and implying that's some bold, noble stance for enlightened men opposed to totally fucking idiotic in this instance.

Being anti-vax is the the same as saying "I don't think there should be separation between our sewage and drinking water - in fact, there's evidence exposure to fecal matter in drinking water improves our health! Did you know that for health reasons, some people even get fecal implants?" I'm sure you'd be proud not to "march in lockstep" on that issue either. It's a dangerous, 100% discredited idea that directly endangers my family and community, there's no smugness and condescension in being infuriated. Smug and condescending is taking pride in your oh-so-original stance of bucking all the sheeple out there.

116 Re: 2014 Football Outsiders Awards

Boy, you really are an arrogant prick, aren't you? Or maybe you're just too young to remember all the times that the "scientific consensus" has been reversed. Try researching the history of DDT, to cite just one of many examples.

The bottom line is that ANY medical procedure involves risks, and it's up to each individual to decide what level of risk they are willing to tolerate. It's their body, not yours, and they get to decide what to put in their body. You don't get to make that decision for them, so as far as I'm concerned, you can take your God complex and shove it!

117 Re: 2014 Football Outsiders Awards

I basically agree with you, but everyone's getting too worked up (and yes, Shatten's response was asinine). I haven't looked into this particular matter, but even though I like science in general, I think the scientific community and those who sympathize with it can be a little bit thick at times about what they think they know and their level of certainty when expressing it.

On the other hand, though science reverses itself, it can also reverse back again, so that there may be wisdom in arrogance after all.

Who, me?

113 Re: 2014 Football Outsiders Awards

You really don't understand the science of it? For example, the measles vaccines for children under five years old are about 90% effective. It goes up to 95% or so after their second vaccination. Measles is incredibly contagious - if you're not vaccinated, even minor exposure means contraction is pretty close to certain. If you increase the amount of children in your community with no vaccination, you make the spread of it to even vaccinated kids more likely- it's called herd immunity and I have a tough time believing you'd weigh in on this debate without being familiar with the term. Herd immunity also protects the weakest and most helpless children, ones with cancer who can't get vaccinated and other immune system ailments. Refusing to get your kids vaccinated is literally an attack on toddlers with cancer.

114 Re: 2014 Football Outsiders Awards

Exactly, it's a decision that directly impacts everyone else and it's based on absolutely no good evidence against vaccination. It's selfish, ignorant and indiscriminately dangerous.

Here's a quote from a recent article in the Independent:

"You can't really blame us for forgetting, though: it's an all too human reaction. After all, the saying "time heals all wounds" is just a nicer version of "don't worry, you'll forget how much this sucked". The troubles ahead are what happens when we forget the real danger and focus only on what we perceive to be the biggest threat. Disengaging from the vaccine system becomes a nice, passive way to feel like you're protecting yourself from "maybe" dangers. Suddenly, not vaccinating starts to look like caution. We've spent the past 100 years or so running around like public health mercenaries, isolating, defeating, and chaining up the monsters of old, but it seems that perhaps we've done the job too well. Would you wear a seat belt if car accidents stopped happening in the 1950s?"


2 Re: 2014 Football Outsiders Awards

And the award for worst "premium" content goes to...Football Outsiders, for managing to turn a $1,000,000 bankroll into $61 over 17 weeks.


17 Re: 2014 Football Outsiders Awards

That's not all they do is it. I don't gamble but I use it.

I did use it to give a friend a few betting tips, I think he won on five bets out of six (the only one I remember is telling him to take the Broncos against the niners, that game is seared on my brain).

28 Re: 2014 Football Outsiders Awards

Been a premium content user for a long time. Never once made a bet but use it regularly for Fantasy.

But thanks for linking to a single paragraph post with no context or background information. We just love self serving drivel like this...

35 Re: 2014 Football Outsiders Awards

"You’ll note I put some teams in bold. Those are the teams where Football Outsiders felt it had a strong edge and would Kelly-bet more than 25% of its bankroll on an edge of that size. Football Outsiders would expect to win 6.37 of those 11 bets on average. Instead they won 3 (with one of the 3 wins being a bet against Oakland to make the playoffs). The Kelly-results of those 11 wagers was a loss of $23,019. The total Kelly-result of all 30 wagers (there were no bets involving the Carolina Panthers or the New York Giants) was a loss of $35,089. If we had stuck to flat betting, it would have been a loss of $23,517. So, what the heck happened? Let’s go team-by-team:"

They also take home the award for worst regular season win totals! Congrats to Aaron and the gang at Football Outsiders!

"Football Outsiders bet on the Jets to make the playoffs."


42 Re: 2014 Football Outsiders Awards

As I mentioned earlier in this thread, I don't gamble myself so I haven't the faintest clue what a Kelly-bet is. However, I have a handful of friends that like a wager and think I know a lot about football (I'm not saying they are correct, it's their crap opinion), so they ask me for good bets.

The first place I go is the premium page but then, and this is the key thing, I use my experience with DVOA (it's flaws and benefits) and my own opinions to understand how their lines match up with the odds.

If you are simply backing the DVOA picks without understanding how those numbers come to be then you are asking to get hosed, just like any other advice system. Does anyone with a functioning brain really think they're going to find a magic money fountain available online for a small fee? If so I've a magic rock that deters bunyips that I'll sell you for five thousand dollars.

My picks off their picks have done quite well for the last few years but you still have to use your brain.

And I've been bunyip free since 93!

49 Re: 2014 Football Outsiders Awards

Norm, we've asked you nicely in the past to please stop hijacking threads with your complaints about the premium picks. I've responded to the complaints you've e-mailed us. I've seen your non-stop criticism on Twitter. We're not trying to hide the fact that we had a bad year, both with premium picks and with our preseason projections. In the Week 11 DVOA commentary, I specifically addressed the poor 2014 picks and my health problems which have limited my ability to work on improvements and updates to some of our formulas. I'm not sure why our bad year is forcing you to ruin everyone else's experience of reading and participating in comment threads.

I'm also not sure where you ever read that we told anyone to bet on the Jets to make the playoffs. FOA 2014 gave them 29.5 percent odds of making the postseason.

Obviously, it's pointless to feed the trolls, but I want to make sure it is clear to all other readers: we're not trying to hide from our subpar projections and picks in 2014. But there's a lot more to Football Outsiders than those weekly picks. I'm sorry you can't seem to enjoy those things, but can you please let everyone else try to enjoy them? Thanks.

53 Re: 2014 Football Outsiders Awards

"...my health problems which have limited my ability to work on improvements and updates to some of our formulas."

That's a completely reasonable response, if you weren't making people pay for that content. To use that as an excuse, while still charging people for that content, is so incredibly slimy.

57 Re: 2014 Football Outsiders Awards

I have to admit, I don't think Norm can appropriately be termed a "Troll" here. What he's doing is legitimately decrying a poor product that he paid money for. Whether one likes it or not, when a person takes to Yelp or Amazon to slime a product that didn't work out, that person has every right to do so. I don't imagine there's a Yelp page or a review section for Premium Picks on this site where customers can voice their displeasure, so where else is Norm supposed to go to howl? It's the unfortunate truth in this world that if a company sells a range of products and one of them sucks, even for a little while, that the negative feedback is apt to flow in at a much higher rate than any compensatory praise for the good stuff. I have no complaints about FOA Prospectus, which I buy annually and enjoy reading immensely. That said, if I were in Norm's shoes, buying premium betting content that gave me lousy advice and on which I lost money, I would be absolutely ripped.

70 Re: 2014 Football Outsiders Awards

I agree with your general point. However anyone who thinks they can find the secret formula for gambling success or investing success on the internet (or in a book) does not deserve much sympathy. Anyone who had a secret formula that worked would be exploiting it themselves and not trying to sell it.

91 Re: 2014 Football Outsiders Awards

He has admitted that the formula for the predictions needs to be improved, and that he has been unable to devote the time needed to do so. Given that, continuing to charge people for what you know to be a suboptimal product certainly seems to me to be an example of operating in bad faith. Of course, your mileage may vary.

92 Re: 2014 Football Outsiders Awards

Businesses charge people for suboptimal products all the time. Refrigerators and washing machines (not to mention cars) are designed to wear out after a while, so people have to keep buying more. I can go into Home Depot and buy the high quality paint for $50 a gallon, or buy a paint that doesn't work as well (and may be worse than not painting at all) for $20 per gallon. Yelp and Amazon are littered with products with 1-star reviews because they aren't very good products, and indeed, you'd be better off buying nothing than trying to use them.

In this case, there's even excuse to complain than for buying cheap paint or a lemon car. In those cases, the product is posing as something it's not (i.e. good). There is no secret as to what the Premium Picks are--the predictions of a computer model that is based on past correlations to certain statistics, and that may or may not provide a good prediction of future performance. The fact that FO has been open about them needing improvement (what model doesn't) makes it even more honest.

If you think its worth paying for Premium to have access to another tool that might (or might not) improve your gambling odds, go right ahead.

Caveat emptor.

93 Re: 2014 Football Outsiders Awards

Refrigerators and washing machines (not to mention cars) are designed to wear out after a while, so people have to keep buying more.

This is an incredibly silly claim.

As for an "excuse" to complain, people don't need one. If you buy something, and it does not meet your expectations, you have the right to complain. I'm not saying they should be entitled to a refund, but calling people "trolls" for pointing out flaws in your product (that you admit is flawed, but have failed to fix) is silly.

Oh, and for what it's worth, I agree that the premium is an obviously poor investment, which is why I cancelled my subscription to it many years ago.

108 Re: 2014 Football Outsiders Awards

So, let me see if I understand. You're alleging a conspiracy, in which every company agrees to manufacture shoddy items, so that people will have to buy replacements? And for some reason, the owners of these shoddy products will choose to buy the replacement from the same company that just sold them a lemon, right?

Do you also believe that there is a machine that turns water into oil, but all the oil companies have conspired to keep its existence a secret?

Or how about the one that says they long ago came up with cures for cancer, AIDS, and so forth, but all the drug companies have conspired to cover up these cures?

115 Re: 2014 Football Outsiders Awards

No conspiracy required. No need to get all histrionic. It's just business.

The products aren't shoddy; they're just not everlasting. The work well and then break down.

Pull aside someone who knows about the stove business and ask them why Wedgewood isn't in business anymore.

101 Re: 2014 Football Outsiders Awards

That doesn't mean the rest of us have to put up with it in a thread about things WE voted on. I don't know and couldn't care less about how football gambling works or what FO's premium information is and how it relates to gambling. THIS thread is not behind the "Premium" content wall. Go complain about the premium content to others behind that wall.

47 Re: 2014 Football Outsiders Awards

No sane gambler would use the Kelly strategy with Football Outsiders as the only input. If true (which I highly doubt), the guy deserves his losses.

Heck, even using multiple inputs the Kelly strategy is borderline insane for betting sports.

It's irresponsible money management.

3 Re: 2014 Football Outsiders Awards

Tampa Bay as the Super Bowl contender and Cordarelle Patterson as the breakout star is not exactly an impressive 1-2 punch of predictions.

Also, while I will readily sing the praises of Mike Evans to anyone that would listen, even I can't begin to understand how anybody would vote a WR other than ODB as OROTY. I mean, I guess I can understand somebody voting for Frederick purely on "voting for an offensive lineman on principle" or even Bridgewater for "QB as a rookie is hard", but Evans, Watkins, and Landry (really?) are nutso votes over ODB.

5 Re: 2014 Football Outsiders Awards

The funny thing is, we didn't list Atlanta as an option because they seemed like an obvious choice to get back in the playoffs (remember, they went 13-3 in 2012, then 4-12 the next year), and instead they won just six games.

And still, all they needed to do to make the playoffs was win a Week 17 home game against a sub-.500 opponent.

8 Re: 2014 Football Outsiders Awards

Can we get some explanation from the 1.2% who voted Washington as the surprise super bowl contender? Did RG3 or his family vote?

I'm a Washington fan and can't fathom a scenario beyond there not being 15 other teams in the NFC where Washington makes the Super Bowl. Even winning 8 games would be an extreme.

31 Re: 2014 Football Outsiders Awards

I'm not one of the voters for the Redskins, but...

RG3 comes back fully healthy, and Jay Gruden loses the power struggle going on there. They win a few surprise games, have a breakout rookie or two, and Romo misses several games due to injury. The Eagles and Giants are merely decent, the NFC South continues to blow chunks, and suddenly they're a #3 seed in the playoffs.

10 Re: 2014 Football Outsiders Awards

I would ask the same question about the winter wonderland commercial. Pretty sure that one was outlawed in the Geneva Convention.

11 Re: 2014 Football Outsiders Awards

I'm still curious why Devin McCourty wasn't even listed as a choice on the "Most Deserving Defensive Player Left Out of the Pro Bowl" question. By far one of the worst snubs on the defensive side of the ball in my opinion.

13 Re: 2014 Football Outsiders Awards

Southwest Dancing Girl got robbed. The ad was cute, funny, and best of all once it started to get tiresome they stopped showing it! I feel like I haven't seen it in 2 months; pretty sure I saw Ickey Woods last week.

18 Re: 2014 Football Outsiders Awards

Woah! Nate Solder with best OL votes?! I happen to like the kid and think he's closer to the guy in the playoffs than he was earlier, but man.

One nit pick:

"Belichick gets credit for trading Logan Mankins, signing Darrelle Revis, and finding Bryan Stork in the draft."

And Browner and LaFell, plus getting Ayers and Casillas for virtually nothing when the LB corps was in shambles in the middle of the year as well as Branch, who was a necessary part of the DL rotation down the stretch, and Blount. It is rare to get so much contribution from midseason acquisitions.

These are fun, I always look forward to the FOA.

21 Re: 2014 Football Outsiders Awards

And I would actually argue that trading Mankins was a mistake, unless the cap space was absolutely necessary to make some of those other moves. Wright was a useful contributor, but not really that necessary to the Pats success this season,(Hoomanamanui could probably have done almost everything he did) while the Pats were haunted by the ghost of interior line depth all season. If Stork hadn't managed to rehab his knee enough and play in the SB, I'm pretty sure the Pats lose.

38 Re: 2014 Football Outsiders Awards

I'm one who loved the Mankins trade the minute I heard about it. I thought he was overrated and overpaid and had been for several years.

Setting that aside, I could see a case that Mankins' absence might have impacted the Miami loss, which looked important for seeding at one point. Mankins would also have been a better alternative than Kline in the event of an injury in the super bowl.

That said, at this point any debate over the merits of the trade has been put to bed. NE earned the top seed, a chance to rest on week 17 and won the SB, all of which are the best possible outcomes, Mankins or no. It's a classic cake/eat scenario where they won and get the cap space, pick and two more years of Wright.

43 Re: 2014 Football Outsiders Awards

I strongly disliked the timing of the Mankins trade. I also wondered why there was a hurry to unload him. After Mankins left, the Pats basically had only 5 linemen they could trust, one of whom was a rookie. Yes, they did well when they were all healthy, but I didn't see the point of offloading Mankins in favor of Tim Wright, who was a non-entity throughout the playoffs.

I don't think the fact that the Pats managed to skate through the playoffs with no depth on the offensive line validates the choice to trade a usable lineman for a non-entity TE who couldn't stay ahead of Hoomanawanui on the depth chart.

What use is cap space gained in September? I'd have said keep him for the season and then clear him out when cap space is useful, in the off season.

51 Re: 2014 Football Outsiders Awards

I can't help wondering if one of the reasons for the timing of the Mankins trade was him having issues with DeGugliemo. There were rumblings regarding Degugliemo's style being much different than Scarnecchia's and players having difficulty adjusting. If the acknowledged 'leader' of the o-line wasn't buying into the new coach seems like that is a recipe for poblems.

72 Re: 2014 Football Outsiders Awards

Other than the timing, I disagree with everything you have in this comment.

1) Since cap space can be rolled, it doesn't matter when you free it up, just that you do. This was particularly true for the Patriots, who went into the season planning on paying out ~$7mm in NLTBE bonues. Rather than push those into 2015, they chose to pay for it with current assets. The "free it up later" argument also overlooks the fact that the dead hits would be higher in 2015 and in 2016, so it isn't an even trade.

Considering how much NE is trying to get done this offseason, having lower dead hits this year and next, as well as some room rolling over is a complete win.

2) Tim Wright was a non-entity because the team preferred to have Amendola on the field to spread the field and went with a heavier set when running 2TE. Tim displayed more than enough ability to feel optimistic about what he can do over the next two years, though.

Beyond that, if asked back in August what could sink NE's SB hopes, would you have said issues at backup guard or the fact that Hooman was the top backup behind Gronk? Wright was a far more necessary emergency plan than Mankins.

3) "Skates" is a very poor description of how NE went through the playoffs considering that Kline was on the field for 7 of the first 8 quarters.... with the team putting up 80 points in that time.

NE earned everything they possibly could have and did, in fact, rely on OL depth to get there. The very best you can say about Mankins is, "well, it might have been a smoother ride." Me, I'll gladly accept a rockier path if it comes with extra cap space, the second pick in the 4th round and two more years of Tim Wright. ;-)

73 Re: 2014 Football Outsiders Awards

1) my understanding of the salary cap is limited, so I can waive this point

2) not exactly a disagreement about Tim Wright

3) "skates" was a poor word choice - I think "snuck" would have been a better choice. Kline played decently enough, but there were certainly worries. It's hard to draw lessons from the games against the Colts since apparently anybody can run on them (except Denver?)

The Pats were poor on the offensive line down the stretch and somehow managed to string together enough Oline play to beat the Ravens, though I'd say that had more to do with the tattered Ravens' secondary. The Pats also had incredible luck in the Super Bowl facing the best secondary in the NFL that suddenly saw all of its best players injured. (And if you listen to the on-field commentaries on the NFL network, I think that at least the injury to Earl Thomas played a very significant role. Brady was surprised that Thomas wasn't as aggressive as he usually is.)

From a football standpoint, I'll still maintain that they would have been better off with Mankins on the roster than Wright. If Mankins was making a major problem for the new line coach, that's an entirely different issue.

76 Re: 2014 Football Outsiders Awards

I've heard about Mankins butting heads with Googs, but I don't give it much consideration because I loved the trade irrespective of that.

I'll agree that Mankins would likely have offered more value than Wright over the course of the season, though the bar being set at backup TE level for a $10mm player speaks to how overpaid he was. Bill took a calculated risk and it paid off in spades. Can't do much but tip your cap and hope they make the best use of tools acquired.

45 Re: 2014 Football Outsiders Awards

I do agree that Belichick had a good year (gee, what a surprising opinion to have). I didn't like the Mankins trade, but Mankins did not have a good year in Tampa, or so I've heard. And by now it's a pattern - Belichick gets rid of somebody, fan base is livid, turns out guy is pretty much done as a high-level NFL player. There will be hell to pay when Brady is shown the door. But we needn't think about that now.

Browner was good, LaFell had a good season, and Ayers was a nice surprise for a very low price. And then there was Revis.

95 Re: 2014 Football Outsiders Awards

I can't speak for other Patriots fans, but at this point the assumption among my friends, family, and acquaintances is that Belichick has some kind of plan behind the strange moves - either personality conflicts, needing cap money, or a belief that the decline is coming and better to offload the player while they still have value.

For Mankins, we were assuming it was more of a cap issue than anything else.

98 Re: 2014 Football Outsiders Awards

At this point, as a non Pats fan, any time Belichick does something weird there's a level on which I have the reaction of "what?! see, this is exactly why my team loses - they need to mysteriously cut their beloved LT immediately!"

94 Re: 2014 Football Outsiders Awards

" getting Ayers and Casillas for virtually nothing "

Mike Reiss points out this morning that, with the Patriots winning the Super Bowl and the Buccaneers finishing with the worst overall record, the cost of acquiring Casillas was trading the last pick in the 5th round for the 1st pick in the 6th. The cost of acquiring Ayers was trading the last pick in the 6th round for the 2nd pick in the 7th.

So, yeah - virtually nothing. As close to nothing as you could get without being actually nothing...

97 Re: 2014 Football Outsiders Awards

It really makes you wonder what the other teams were thinking when they made the trades. I guess if neither was signed beyond the end of this year they were hopeful they'd pick up a few spots in the draft for a player they weren't going to re-sign.

23 Re: 2014 Football Outsiders Awards

The whole point of the ad is to tap into the cultural nostalgia of us middle-aged folks, so yes, they expect their audience to recognize the skit and know its history.

33 Re: 2014 Football Outsiders Awards


Rob lowe directu ads v e st.

In order, best ones-
1. Painfully Awkward Rob Lowe
2. Suoer Creepy Tob Lowe
3. Peaked IIn High School Rob Lpwe
4. Overly Paranoid Rib Lpwe
5., Meatheaf Rpb Lpwe

6. The others

37 Re: 2014 Football Outsiders Awards

"Also, we got a lot of notes from readers who wanted to vote for Kate Upton's Game of War ads for best commercial. So yes, breasts remain popular."

Yes. I am that guy on the FO discussion boards each week asking, "OK, who is that woman in the Game of War commercials again?" and I'm sure I put in my two cents in the voting comments, too. I feel like I'm too old to enjoy playing Game of War, but I hope I'm NEVER too old to enjoy watching that woman walk towards the camera in some fantastic low-cut white dress.

39 Re: 2014 Football Outsiders Awards

If this were conducted after the Super Bowl, Nationwide wins in a walk. I think paying north of a million dollars for a spot that is more likely to cost you customers than gain them is about as bad as it gets. And it will likely never air again. Five gets you ten that somebody's been sacked over that one.

58 Re: 2014 Football Outsiders Awards

I want to just add to this thought. When Russell Wilson threw to Lynch and the 2-minute warning happened, me and my father and brother at the bar were sweating puddles onto the table. Then on comes the Victoria Secret ad. My brother quips, "this has to be just about the only time they could have aired this ad when no one gives a damn." That has to be worth something in the pantheon of terrible advertising. Titillate the audience at half time for heaven's sake.

46 Re: 2014 Football Outsiders Awards

I was one of the many who said that Kuhn doesn't deserve to be in the Pro Bowl. Basically that vote means "fullbacks shouldn't go to the Pro Bowl". Nobody plays their fullback full-time.

63 Re: 2014 Football Outsiders Awards

I voted for Kuhn too but I think that's a little strong. Fullbacks shouldn't go to the Pro Bowl automatically every year. But if somebody starts playing like Tony Richardson in his prime, he's definitely in. That may be unlikely given current offensive trends but things change.

62 Re: 2014 Football Outsiders Awards

What was particularly funny about Kuhn making the Pro Bowl (and first team all-pro!) this season was that he has almost entirely lost his role in the offense. The Packers had a lot of trouble from 2011-13 finding a running back who could pass protect, and that's where Kuhn truly earned his salary (he really isn't that great of a lead blocker; the TEs get as many snaps as he does in that role). Lacy matured into a good pass protector this season and Starks is finally adequate in this regard too.

81 Re: 2014 Football Outsiders Awards

Fullbacks shouldn't go to the Pro Bowl, which is why I didn't consider picking Kuhn, because it's not like sending him was keeping a deserving Pro Bowler out. It's not really Kuhn's fault that they still have a fullback spot, and it would be pretty boring and uninformative if we just kept picking the FB for least deserving Pro Bowler.

In other words, McCoy wuz robbed.

64 Re: 2014 Football Outsiders Awards

I'm a little surprised about the best game vote, though I agree with the commentary that the SB would have taken it if the voting had been done afterwards.

But, let's be honest, GB @ SEA wasn't actually that good of a game. All it had going for it was a completely surprising ending. The first 55 minutes were a complete snooze, with a hobbled Rodgers unable to do anything but his team dominating otherwise (or, alternatively, Seattle sucking) for 55 minutes. It was 55 minutes of domination and then 10 minutes of miracle. And it was a game between two teams that really don't care that much about each other.

Contrast that to the AFC Divisional match between NE and BAL, where you had two teams that are bitter rivals due to recent playoff meetings, two championship QB's both playing their best (as compared to two championship QB's playing terribly, due to an injury and a case of sucking), two offenses on fire, multiple leads opened up and then lost, some key and exciting defensive plays at key times, trick plays and cleverness, and overall and a game that seemed in doubt from the snap and was indeed in doubt to the last minute.

Maybe it's just because I'm invested in the Pats, but objectively, I would think that would have been a better game to a neutral observer.

I also wonder why the Dallas-Green Bay playoff game wasn't a choice. That one was up there in excitement, too. Too tarnished about the call on the "catch"?

75 Re: 2014 Football Outsiders Awards

I voted for Den @ Sea for a few reasons. The largest was probably my strong, strong dislike of immediacy bias. (Gee, all sorts of polls taken in the past 10 days think that Brady is the best QB ever - what a surprise!) My contrarian attitude led me to dismiss the conference championship games and go for something much earlier.

I thought GB @ SEA was a terrible game. SEA played poorly most of the game and then GB choked. BAL @ NE was certainly better, but I wasn't going to jinx the Super Bowl by picking the most recent Pats' victory as "Game of the Year".

77 Re: 2014 Football Outsiders Awards

Yeah, I hated that game because it was just watching the worst coaching job I've ever seen unfold in painful slow motion. Seattle was terrible and McCarthy was worse. That doesn't make it a good game. The AFCCG was way better, no comparison.

(Also, can McCarthy now finally take the place in every punchline that used to end with "Andy Reid?" Reid never managed a game that ludicrously awful. They should have fired McCarthy during the post-game press conference.)