Lazy preview of the NFL

I'm not even using a picture, that's how lazy this is going to be.  But, it's going to be finished before the first game, so that has to count for something.  There's a 30% chance that I forget one of the teams, because I am not going to consult any other site.  I used up all my linking ability yesterday.

The Patriots and Packers look like the two best teams in the NFL.  The Giants aren't even close.  I doubt they'll make my personal top 10.  And I usually only drop them one or two spots because I don't really like Eli Manning, more on that later.  Green Bay and New England have two of the top three fantasy quarterbacks and if Sean Payton didn't want to take a break to spend more time with his family, the Saints might be in the discussion a little more.  My top two teams have incredible passing attacks, shaky defenses and questionable running games.  Even three years ago, I would have been concerned about their lack of balance, but the NFL passing game has evolved so much in just the last three years that you need a truly great, elite, potentially Hall of Fame quarterback, a good pass defense and not much else to win.  This evolution has happened so fast that no one is really ready to even consider the idea of making an adjustment.  When you only need ten yards for a first down and quarterbacks are averaging 8-9 yards per pass attempt (not completion, attempt), then you almost start to wonder why teams aren't throwing on every play.  Fantasy football hasn't quite caught up either.  A 4000 yard passing season scores the same number of points as a 1600 yard rushing season.  Off the top of my head, I think there were about ten quarterbacks who threw for 4000 yards and only 1 running back to rush for 1600 yards.  Then you throw in the crazy number of touchdowns quarterbacks are throwing against the rushing touchdowns scored and it starts to feel like two different games.  As I mentioned yesterday, everything I'm going to look at will be the passing offense vs. the passing defense.  First, because it really is that important and second, because it is more predictable and less random.  Finally, I will be focusing on efficiency.  Passing yards per attempt are one of the better indicators of a quarterback's throwing ability, as it tends to favor quarterbacks who are capable of completing downfield passes.  One of the most annoying phrases I have heard sports announcers use has been "When ___ gets 25 carries, this team wins more games, so they need to make sure to feed him the rock early and often."  This is completely ass-backwards and doesn't really seem to have any insight into how actual football games are played, which is surprising, because most of these guys have supposedly played or watched a lot of football.  The team did not win because he got 25 carries.  He got 25 carries, because the team was winning.  Passing yards tend to be inflated by the number of attempts and many times the losing team is throwing late to try to score quickly, while the winning team is running the ball to run out the clock.  At least, this is how it was three years ago and earlier.  Now passing games have become so efficient and completion percentages are so high, that teams can effectively run out the clock despite an occasional incomplete pass.

Patriots and Packers...check. through all the divisions in my head... AFC & NFC West, no.  The two south divisions?  Maybe the Saints and Texans... North divisions, maybe the Steelers, but they look worse than they have in several years, Lions can't be the third best team...East? Giants, Eagles, Cowboys...hhmmmm.... You know what, I'm don't really think there is a third best team.  I'm going to make one big tier of the Saints, Texans, Steelers, Ravens, Lions, Bears, Giants, Eagles, Cowboys...OH! I almost forgot about the Falcons.  The two West divisions will produce a division champ, but not a wild card, and I already gave you the Packers and Patriots, so of the 10 teams I just listed, 6 or 7 will make the playoffs.  The last one or two playoff spots will come from the Panthers, Buccaneers, Bills, Jets, Bengals, Vikings, Redskins, Titans, or Jaguars.   And the Browns, Dolphins, Cardinals, Colts, Raiders, and Rams will not make the playoffs.  That leaves the Chargers, Broncos and Chiefs fighting for the AFC West and the 49ers and Seahawks fighting for the NFC West.  So my dirty, non-scientific odds for each team making the playoffs are:
Patriots, Packers: >90%
Falcons, Saints, Texans, Steelers, Ravens, Lions, Bears, Giants, Eagles, Cowboys: 60-70%
49ers, Seahawks: 50%
Chargers, Chiefs, Broncos: 33%
Correction:  Chargers, Broncos: 40%, Chiefs: 20%
Panthers, Buccaneers, Bills, Jets, Bengals, Vikings, Redskins, Titans, Jaguars: 11-22%
Browns, Dolphins, Cardinals, Colts, Raiders, Rams: <5 p="p">
I think that adds up to 1200% or so.

You know what is convenient?  Those odds tend to match up pretty well with the talent level of the quarterback.  Every team with odds above 40% has a pretty good quarterback and every team with odds below 40% has a question mark at quarterback.  Either bad, or young.


  1. Wow! I can't believe you fired off this column in time! Love the lazy preview. A couple thoughts shortly.

  2. Eff you. The Niners have a 60% chance of winning their division. At least!

    I'll bet you $10 the Niners make and the Chargers miss.