Week 10 Review, TNF Preview

Posted: 11/17/2016 by levcohen in Football

Now that was a fun week. There were two games last week — Pittsburgh vs. Dallas and New England vs. Seattle — that were better than any game in the first nine weeks of the season when considering both quality of play and excitement of game. Another game featured one of the biggest win-probability shifts imaginable. The Saints, down 23-17 against Denver, drove down the field and scored what should have been the go-ahead touchdown with 1:22 left in the game. After the touchdown but before the extra point, ESPN gave the Saints a 71.6% chance of winning the game. Then, the Broncos blocked the extra point and took advantage of the new rule that allows teams to return failed conversions for two points. With the help of his white shoes, Will Parks got away with (likely) stepping out of bounds and the Broncos took a 25-23 lead and were able to kneel their way to victory. That game wasn’t as well-played as the other two, but it also had huge playoff implications, with the Broncos getting a much needed win to stay within half a game of first place in the AFC West and the Saints missing a chance to move within a half game of first in the NFC South. Anyway, it was a great week, and ratings were unsurprisingly way up (I think I’d attribute that more to better play than to any post-election bounce).

It’s time to eliminate San Diego after another hard-luck loss, this one to the Dolphins. They’re 4-6 and three games behind the third place (and second wild card) Broncos in the brutal AFC West. They’ve played good football this year, but even 10-6 may not take them out of the AFC West cellar. I’ll be ready to cross off the Panthers if they lose against the Saints tonight. With their win in New England, Seattle resoundingly moves back into the top tier. I was just waiting to see Russell Wilson be Russell Wilson before moving them back up. Russell Wilson was Russell Wilson last week. The Patriots are fine, and still probably the favorites to win the Super Bowl.

Top tier: New England, Dallas, Seattle, Oakland
Eliminated teams: Cleveland, Chicago, Buffalo, New Orleans, San Francisco, Miami, New York Jets, Jacksonville, Los Angeles, Tampa Bay, San Diego

Some other quick takeaways:

  • Sometimes, not much changes when a coordinator is replaced in the middle of the season (see: Jaguars, Jacksonville). That’s not the case with the Minnesota Vikings and specifically Stefon Diggs. In his first six games this season (he sat out one week), Diggs had 35 receptions. Since Pat Shurmer became the play-caller two weeks ago, he has 26 catches. With another 11 this week, he’ll break a record shared by Antonio Brown, Brandon Marshall, and Tom Fears for most catches in a three game span with 37. Unfortunately for the Vikings, his catches have been less impactful (9.4 yards per catch) than they were in his first six games (13.3), and the Vikes have lost each of the past two, pushing their losing streak to four games.
  • What a way for Case Keenum to go out! One day before coach Jeff Fisher said that Keenum would remain the quarterback and three days before he (probably with pressure from higher up) reversed course and named Jared Goff the starter, Keenum tore up the Jets to the tune of… 17/30 for 165 yards. But hey, at least they beat the Bryce Petty-led Jets 9-6! Now the question is: how bad is Goff? Because given that Keenum held onto the job for nine games, he can’t be very good.
  • The Texans just keep doing it. Another week, another ugly win. Last week, I said they were the worst winning team through nine weeks. Now, they’re the worst winning team through 10 weeks. They were lucky to beat the pitiful Jags last week, as they were out-gained and needed a pick-six to win by three. Quarterback Brock Osweiler is looking like one of the worst free agent investments of all time. He went 14/27 for 99 yards, also known as worse than Case Keenum.
  • Speaking of not-good teams, it’s time to talk about the Arizona Cardinals. They just aren’t good!! Playing against the second worst team in football and one of the worst run defenses of all-time, stud running back David Johnson only managed 2.9 yards per carry. This against a team giving up 5.1 yards per carry this season. It took a game-winning field goal for the Cardinals to escape 23-20 at home. Now, their schedule gets a lot tougher. While their past schedule ranks 26th-toughest in the NFL per DVOA, they have the second hardest remaining schedule. This doesn’t seem like a playoff team, which is incredible given that their defense is great and their offense is full of skill-position talent (Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, John Brown, Michael Floyd).
  • I don’t know what this Giants team is. They’re 6-3 with a better defense than they’ve had in years and Odell Beckham Jr., but I don’t think they’ve played one impressive game of football this season. They’ll likely be 8-3 after games against Chicago and Cleveland, so we won’t really know what they’re capable of doing until they go to Pittsburgh in Week 13 and then end the season with three divisional games and one against the Lions. I don’t think they’re very good, but they’re definitely the best 6-3 team in the NFL (the Texans are the only other one).

Last week’s picks:
8-6 straight up… 82-63-2 for the season
8-6 against the spread… 76-65-6
7-6-1 over/under… 72-72-3

3-0 on upset picks… 16-19-1 (In a week full of upsets, I wish I had picked more)
1-0 on lock… 6-4

Best picks of the week:
Rams 13, Jets 10… Actual result: Rams 9, Jets 6
Broncos 24, Saints 21… Actual result: Broncos 25, Saints 23
Giants 26, Bengals 24… Actual result: Giants 21, Bengals 20
Ravens 23, Browns 13… Actual result: Ravens 28, Browns 7

Worst picks of the week:
Steelers 35, Cowboys 26… Actual result: Cowboys 35, Steelers 30
Packers 33, Titans 24… Actual result: Titans 47, Packers 25
Cardinals 41, Niners 17… Actual result: Cardinals 23, Niners 20

New Orleans Saints (4-5, 5-4) at Carolina Panthers (3-6, 2-6-1):
Spread: Panthers favored by 3.5
Over/under: 53
My prediction: These teams are coming off the two most devastating losses of Week 10. I already talked about New Orleans’s loss, but Carolina’s was almost as bad. They were up 17-3 going into the fourth quarter and lost 20-17 after Kelvin Benjamin fumbled in Panthers territory with 29 seconds left (talk about win-probability changes: the Panthers’ chances went from 61.6% before the fumble to 13.4% right after it). The winner of this game will be the team that rebounds better on a short week to their loss. Both of these teams are terrible against the pass, which means that both Cam Newton and Drew Brees should have ample opportunity to pad their stats and put up points. The difference, I think, might be that New Orleans’s top cornerback Delvin Breaux is out of the lineup, while Carolina’s top corner James Bradberry is back from injury. I’ll take Carolina 31-28.
Saints cover
Over

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