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Week 2 of the 2012 Regular Season

Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers

A little history of the Cold, Hard Football Facts real and spectacular picks, for those of you new to CHFF Insider.

The picks derived their name from our former real and spectacular pigskin prognosticating muse, the once-lovely Ms. Teri Hatcher.

Those of you old enough may remember her famous scene in sitcom “Seinfeld” when she said of a certain physical gift in her possession, “they’re real, and they’re spectacular.”

When our picks originally caught fire a few years ago, they were often accompanied by her lovely visage (not to mention other parts). Hence, the name of our picks.

Our picks drifted a bit in the middle of the 2011 season and we immediately knew the sagging performance could be traced to the sagging assets of the formerly lovely Ms. Hatcher, who made her bosomy boast nearly 20 years ago.

So we dumped that wrinkly old hag like a bad case of the crabs, and replaced her with a younger model, the very real and spectacular Ms. Karen McDougal. She came as a suggestion from devoted CHFF Insider Bob Fargo.

Not even sure we want to know what she does for a living. But she sure looks good.  

And, more importantly, accompanied by the younger model Ms. McDougal, our picks instantly perked up in a late-season surge of blood, adrenaline and killer late-season performance.

That trend looked to continue in Week 1. We were sitting fairly pretty heading into primetime football on Sunday afternoon. We were 7-6 ATS and merely needed to nail two out of three night games to kick off the 2012 season in winning fashion.

And then we made a tragic mistake, insulting the real and spectacular pigskin prognosticating muse Ms. McDougal in the process. Instead of putting her photo at the top of our Week 1 review, we did for some foolish reason lead the story with an image of our Cowboys girl.

We regret the decision.

Spurned by this unintended insult, we posted a dismal and nearly unprecedented 0-3 performance ATS in the primetime games. Keep in mind, we went 13-4 ATS last year all season on Monday Night Football.

Clearly, hell hath not fury like a real and spectacular pigskin prognosticating muse scorned.

CHFF Insider Fargo has emailed us a slew of new Ms. McDougal picks, for your viewing and our prognosticating pleasure.

2012 season week-by-week performance
Week 1: 9-7 straight up; 7-9 ATS
Year to date: 7-9 (.438) ATS

On to the picks!

Chicago at Green Bay (-6)
The Bears raced out of their cage in Week 1, mauling rookie QB Andrew Luck and the hapless Colts, 41-21.

The Packers were upended 30-22, at home no less, by the powerful San Francisco 49ers. No surprise for the Cold, Hard Football Facts: we picked the 49ers to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl this year.  Packers girl

It’s hard to read too much into those two games: after all, Indy was dead last in 2011 in our Quality Stats Power Rankings, worse on defense than they were on offense, and fielded a rookie QB, even if he was the No. 1 overall pick. The Bears should have won big.

The Packers, in our estimation, simply lost to a tougher, more well-balanced and more well-coached team.

The Bears lead the all-time series in the NFL’s oldest rivalry 92-86-6. But the Packers have dominated for 20 years, with a 29-11 record in the last 40 meetings. Green Bay was won four straight. Chicago last won on Sept. 27, 2010.

The Packers have also dominated the battle in the eyes of public perception: 36-27-4 vs. Chicago ATS since 1978, including 25-14-2 since 1992, according to Spreadapedia.

With all that said, we had grave concerns about the Green Bay defense last year, even as it went 15-1. And we have those same concerns this week, after Alex Smith torched it like a marshmallow s'more at Camp North Star.

Bears QB Jay Cutler has struggled in recent years against the Packers – but he struggled largely against the Green Bay teams of 2009 and 2010 that possessed one of the NFL’s most fearsome pass rushes. The Packers seem to have lost that capability over the past year.

Green Bay is still the better team, but not a perfect team. Far from it. The defense has more holes than a styrofoam cheesehead and they rarely win close games. They don't look capable of running the Bears of the field, and may actually win a game in the fourth quarter. Look for the Bears to keep it close at Lambeau Field, where the Packers are 0-2 in their last two games.

Green Bay 27, Chicago 24

Bears Pre-Game Analysis Packers
Value Rank Quality Stat Value Rank
11.05 7

Quality Stats Power Rankings

9.55 6
25% 20

Quality Standings

44% 10
13.25 3

Scoreability

13.28 5
18.23 3

Bendability

16.04 11
5.67 27

Real Passing Yards per Attempt

6.65 12
5.41 4

Defensive Real Passing Yards per Attempt

5.68 7
71.70 24

Real Quarterback Rating

95.30 3
63.95 1

Defensive Real Quarterback Rating

70.96 6
7.74 11

Real Quarterback Rating Differential

24.35 3
80.42 23

Offensive Passer Rating

108.28 1
71.28 2

Defensive Passer Rating

76.77 4
9.13 9

Passer Rating Differential

31.51 1
21.67 26

Offensive Hog Index

18.00 21
8.67 5

Defensive Hog Index

15.33 15
6.35 7

The Relativity Index

6.98 5
6745 25

Total Team Yards

7512 10
6180 3

Total Team Yards Allowed

6818 7
565 8

Total Team Yards Differential

694 6
88.19 16

Offensive Rusher Rating

87.28 17
64.73 1

Defensive Rusher Rating

101.33 25
23.46 5

Rusher Rating Differential

- 14.06 23
24 13

Total Turnovers

18 2

 

Arizona Cardinals at New England Patriots

Arizona at New England (-14)

It’s only been one game, but Patriots fans were excited about the performance of New England’s younger, faster defense last week at Tennessee.

The unit produced a TD last week, ranks No. 13 or better in Defensive Real Passing YPA, Defensive Real QB Rating, Defensive Passer Rating, and on the Defensive Hog Index, while also ranking No. 2 in run defense after a dominant performance in the trenches that trailed only Tampa’s surprising smackdown of the Panthers.  Patriots fan

All those numbers represent a huge improvement over last season.

The Cardinals beat the Seahawks with some late-game heroics from backup QB Kevin Kolb last week (6 for 8, 66 yards, 1 TD, 138.5 passer rating).

Those are the kinds of numbers that Arizona expected when they acquired Kolb from Philadelphia after the 2010 season, and then gave him a huge, long-term contract.

Skelton appears to be sidelined for a little while at least, so the QB job is Kolb’s for now.

Either way, the Patriots have a huge advantage in the one area that usually makes the most difference: QB. While Kolb’s numbers last week were impressive, he’s still no Tom Brady.

With that said, Arizona’s defense was pretty solid in 2011 (No. 7 in Defensive Real Passing YPA, No. 13 in Defensive Passer Rating, and No. 10 on the Defensive Hog Index), and they were very good defensively last week against Seattle.

In fact, the Seahawks ran off 20 offensive snaps on their final drive, propelled by two penalties against Arizona, and were still unable to punch the ball in the end zone.

Also ome VERY interesting data from Spreadapedia that we discussed this week on CHFF TV: the Patriots are 14-point favorites (or better) for the 18th time in the Bill Belichick-Tom Brady Era.

The Patriots are a perfect 17-0 straight up in those previous 17 games. But they are just 8-9 ATS.  

They are not alone: since 2000, 93 teams have been favored by 14+. They are a nifty 83-10 (.892) overall, but just 40-49-1 ATS (.449). 

Arizona may have the defensive horses to slow down New England long enough to keep the game interesting.

Given all that, we’d approach this game extremely cautiously. Arizona has been a TERRIBLE road team recent years: 3-13 since 2010, with two of those wins at St. Louis. But many of those games were close, and just too many things can go wrong late in a game to take a 14-point plunge: note the Indy-New England game last year. The Patriots, leading 31-3 and huge favorites, surrendered 21 straight points in the fourth quarter.

Pick: New England 28, Arizona 17

Cardinals Pre-Game Analysis Patriots
Value Rank Quality Stat Value Rank
21.09 24

Quality Stats Power Rankings

7.50 4
22% 22

Quality Standings

50% 7
16.84 24

Scoreability

12.29 1
15.14 20

Bendability

18.04 4
4.51 32

Real Passing Yards per Attempt

6.98 6
6.01 11

Defensive Real Passing Yards per Attempt

6.88 27
54.08 32

Real Quarterback Rating

94.39 5
64.53 2

Defensive Real Quarterback Rating

77.42 13
- 10.45 23

Real Quarterback Rating Differential

16.97 7
63.10 32

Offensive Passer Rating

97.66 7
71.17 1

Defensive Passer Rating

86.92 17
- 8.08 21

Passer Rating Differential

10.74 7
31.67 32

Offensive Hog Index

6.67 1
8.67 5

Defensive Hog Index

12.33 10
- 5.03 25

The Relativity Index

14.13 1
6041 32

Total Team Yards

8607 1
7072 12

Total Team Yards Allowed

7541 23
-1031 31

Total Team Yards Differential

1066 3
78.84 23

Offensive Rusher Rating

110.38 3
86.98 14

Defensive Rusher Rating

75.30 5
- 8.14 17

Rusher Rating Differential

35.09 2
34 28

Total Turnovers

19 3

 

Baltimore Ravens at Philadelphia Eagles

Baltimore at Philadelphia (-2.5)

Yes, we double checked when we saw the Eagles favored, too.

The Joe Flacco that the Ravens have been waiting for since 2008 finally showed up Monday night against Cincinnati (21 for 29, 299 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT, 128 passer rating, 8.80 Real Passing YPA).

He was magnificent against a Bengals’ defense that finished in the top 10 in several of our key defensive Quality Stats last season and led the Ravens to a huge blowout win.

Baltimore’s great defense, even without injured star Terrell Suggs, picked up right where it left off in 2011. They dominated the Bengals as if their relationship came straight off the pages of "50 Shades of Purple." (Out soon in paperback!)

As a result of that handcuffed beating, Baltimore emerged from Week 1 as the top-ranked team in our Quality Stats Power Rankings.

The Eagles’ defense also spun a beauty last week in a 17-16 win at Cleveland. Philadelphia picked off four passes from rookie QB Brandon Weeden, holding him to a microscopic passer rating of 5.1 passer rating in the process.

The flip side of Philadelphia’s great defensive performance last week, however, was the horrid performance of Michael Vick. Vick threw for 317 yards against Cleveland, but it took him a whopping 56 attempts to do it (No. 26 in Real Passing YPA), while he also matched Weeden’s four interceptions and put up a very unimpressive 51 passer rating.

Right now, Vick versus the Ravens’ defense looks to be a huge mismatch. But the Eagles can still run the ball effectively (No. 5 in Rushing YPA), and Baltimore’s rush defense was really the only negative aspect of their performance against Cincinnati last week (No. 25 in Defensive Rushing YPA).

Still, in the NFL, you win by passing the ball effectively downfield. Based on what we’ve seen so far this season, and much of last year, Baltimore executes that skill much better than the volatile Philly offense.

Pick: Baltimore 20, Philadelphia 16

Ravens Pre-Game Analysis Eagles
Value Rank Quality Stat Value Rank
11.59 9

Quality Stats Power Rankings

25.59 29
43% 12

Quality Standings

29% 19
14.17 11

Scoreability

20.23 31
16.32 8

Bendability

12.37 32
6.25 15

Real Passing Yards per Attempt

5.69 26
6.14 16

Defensive Real Passing Yards per Attempt

6.74 23
79.81 14

Real Quarterback Rating

71.24 25
74.20 11

Defensive Real Quarterback Rating

92.87 30
5.61 12

Real Quarterback Rating Differential

- 21.63 31
86.43 16

Offensive Passer Rating

78.64 24
80.63 11

Defensive Passer Rating

99.57 31
5.80 12

Passer Rating Differential

- 20.93 31
14.33 13

Offensive Hog Index

15.67 17
10.33 8

Defensive Hog Index

23.00 23
4.36 10

The Relativity Index

- 10.28 29
7920 4

Total Team Yards

7269 14
7089 13

Total Team Yards Allowed

7624 27
831 4

Total Team Yards Differential

-355 21
98.48 8

Offensive Rusher Rating

73.48 29
86.92 13

Defensive Rusher Rating

91.10 18
11.55 10

Rusher Rating Differential

- 17.62 26
20 5

Total Turnovers

37 30

 

Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland at Cincinnati (-7)

Based on last week’s effort against Philadelphia, the Browns appear to be the same team in 2012 that they were in 2011.

Cleveland’s defense, as it did for most of 2011, put forth a Herculean effort last week, only to be screwed by another pathetic performance by the offense.Bengals cheerleader

Rookie QB Brandon Weeden was very bad last week, tossing four interceptions and registering a near-invisible 5.1 passer rating.

Hell, we know that it was Weeden’s NFL debut last week, but a 5.1 passer rating is the football equivalent of scoring less than 200 on the SATs because you forgot to write your name on the test.

Let’s put it this way: if you do nothing but throw the ball into the ground all day, you get a 39.6 passer rating.

The Bengals probably had a worse opener than the Browns last week, as they were humiliated by division rival Baltimore on national TV.

As a result of that performance, Cincinnati ranks dead last after Week 1 in our Quality Stats Power Rankings. Still, Cincinnati remains an overall better team than Cleveland, if only because the Cincy offense can actually move the football on a fairly consistent basis, whereas the Cleveland offense cannot.

Bengals’ QB Andy Dalton got off to a lousy start against Baltimore’s great defense last week (65.3 passer rating, 0 TD, 1 INT for a pick six by Ed Reed), and the Browns’ pass defense, which ranks in the top 7 in three key defensive Quality Stats that measure pass defense, will not offer much relief for Dalton in Week 2.

The Browns defense should keep this one close, we just can’t get past Weeden’s 5.1 passer rating when assessing this game or get past Cleveland’s historic offensive ineptitude. So this is more than just a one-time issue. You simply cannot get that kind of “production” out of your QB and hope to win in the NFL.

With that said, the defense gives the Browns a chance to hang tough, as they so often do against the AFC North. The Browns are a respectable 37-40-2 ATS vs. the AFCN since 1999, 15-15 ATS over the last five seasons and 3-3 last year.

Pick: Cincinnati 21, Cleveland 16

Browns Pre-Game Analysis Bengals
Value Rank Quality Stat Value Rank
20.41 23

Quality Stats Power Rankings

12.91 12
12% 25

Quality Standings

60% 3
16.65 23

Scoreability

13.61 7
15.82 13

Bendability

15.98 12
5.71 25

Real Passing Yards per Attempt

6.11 19
6.15 17

Defensive Real Passing Yards per Attempt

5.56 6
68.09 28

Real Quarterback Rating

79.41 15
80.11 17

Defensive Real Quarterback Rating

71.31 8
- 12.01 26

Real Quarterback Rating Differential

8.10 10
73.55 29

Offensive Passer Rating

88.09 13
86.64 16

Defensive Passer Rating

80.66 12
- 13.09 26

Passer Rating Differential

7.43 11
23.00 27

Offensive Hog Index

24.67 28
13.67 11

Defensive Hog Index

7.67 4
- 4.74 24

The Relativity Index

2.78 12
7172 17

Total Team Yards

6956 22
7345 18

Total Team Yards Allowed

7021 11
-173 17

Total Team Yards Differential

-65 13
91.80 14

Offensive Rusher Rating

86.17 18
89.91 16

Defensive Rusher Rating

85.08 11
1.89 14

Rusher Rating Differential

1.09 15
26 15

Total Turnovers

27 21

 

Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars

Houston (-7) at JacksonvilleTexans cheerleaders

The good news for Jaguars fans is that Blaine Gabbert finally showed flashes of being a decent NFL quarterback last week against the Vikings (96.1 passer rating, 260 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs).

The bad news is that Jacksonville still lost the game, somehow managing to gag away a three-point lead with 20 seconds left in regulation before falling in overtime.

Oh, and this week, instead of the very friendly Minnesota pass defense, which was the second-worst in NFL history last year, Gabbert gets to face the suffocating Houston defenders.

The Texans, our pre-season Super Bowl pick (if the Curse of Flutie decides to go into a one-year hibernation), clobbered Miami last week and once again shot up to near the top of our Quality Stats Power Rankings, settling in just behind Baltimore at No. 2 overall.

They finished the 2011 season No. 1, even with the Matt Schaub injury.

Last week, Houston’s defense picked up right where it left off in 2011, picking off Dolphins’ rookie QB Ryan Tannehill three times, sacking him another three times, and clocking in at No. 2 on our Defensive Hog Index, No. 2 in Defensive Passer Rating, No. 2 in forcing Negative Pass Plays, and No. 2 in Defensive Real QB Rating when the day was done.

Offensively, QB Matt Schaub returned to action with an efficient effort (266 yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs, 7.70 Real Passing YPA), as the Texans hit the 30-point mark against what was a pretty good Miami defense during the 2011 season.

Bottom line: Houston is simply a superior team.

Pick: Houston 28, Jacksonville 14

Texans Pre-Game Analysis Jaguars
Value Rank Quality Stat Value Rank
8.27 5

Quality Stats Power Rankings

27.59 32
50% 6

Quality Standings

11% 26
14.31 14

Scoreability

18.78 29
15.63 15

Bendability

13.71 26
6.58 13

Real Passing Yards per Attempt

5.38 28
5.78 8

Defensive Real Passing Yards per Attempt

6.90 28
83.35 11

Real Quarterback Rating

65.97 29
70.69 5

Defensive Real Quarterback Rating

86.14 26
12.67 8

Real Quarterback Rating Differential

- 20.17 30
89.22 10

Offensive Passer Rating

74.65 28
79.97 10

Defensive Passer Rating

89.78 21
9.25 8

Passer Rating Differential

- 15.13 29
13.67 10

Offensive Hog Index

27.00 31
7.00 3

Defensive Hog Index

24.00 28
4.66 9

The Relativity Index

- 13.18 31
7693 7

Total Team Yards

6272 31
7389 20

Total Team Yards Allowed

7992 30
304 10

Total Team Yards Differential

-1720 32
104.60 6

Offensive Rusher Rating

74.01 28
74.00 3

Defensive Rusher Rating

96.45 22
30.60 3

Rusher Rating Differential

- 22.44 28
19 3

Total Turnovers

26 15

 

Kansas City Chiefs at Buffalo Bills

Kansas City at Buffalo (-3.5)bills girl

We’re not quite sure which of these teams looked worse last week. The Chiefs were humiliated at home by the Falcons, while the Bills were humiliated on the road by the Jets.

Buffalo’s shiny new (and expensive) defensive additions did absolutely nothing to help their cause last week (Mario Williams registered just one tackle).

The Buffalo defense allowed Mark Sanchez to put up a 123.4 passer rating. Kansas City's pass defense, which was a top 10 unit in three of our key defensive Quality Stats last season, was torched by Matt Ryan and the Falcons’ passing game.

Those performances do not bode well for a team whose main weaknesses in 2011 were on offense; that KC offense was just as bad last week as it was during 2011, by the way, as QB Matt Cassel was picked off twice and registered a 72.5 passer rating against what typically has been a pretty mediocre Atlanta pass defense.

On the bright side, both teams ran the ball very well last week, which in the modern NFL is like saying both teams wore pretty uniforms last week.

In the end, running the ball well is basically meaningless if you can’t pass it well, too, and if you can’t play good pass defense.

Both teams were so bad last week, this game is a tough call. To Buffalo’s credit, they at least managed to put up 28 garbage-time points against a very good Jets’ defense, and emerged from Week 1 with our No. 3-ranked Offensive Hogs.

But the Bills also have plenty of problems, too: after one game, they rank No. 26 or worse in nine different Quality Stats.

Pick: Buffalo 21, Kansas City 20

Chiefs Pre-Game Analysis Bills
Value Rank Quality Stat Value Rank
27.27 31

Quality Stats Power Rankings

21.82 26
0% 29

Quality Standings

0% 31
24.21 32

Scoreability

15.95 20
13.42 27

Bendability

13.35 28
5.27 31

Real Passing Yards per Attempt

6.04 20
7.20 30

Defensive Real Passing Yards per Attempt

6.07 14
56.58 31

Real Quarterback Rating

76.68 19
95.54 32

Defensive Real Quarterback Rating

81.42 19
- 38.96 32

Real Quarterback Rating Differential

- 4.73 18
63.81 31

Offensive Passer Rating

82.24 19
99.91 32

Defensive Passer Rating

84.40 15
- 36.10 32

Passer Rating Differential

- 2.16 17
21.33 25

Offensive Hog Index

11.00 6
24.33 29

Defensive Hog Index

26.67 32
- 14.07 32

The Relativity Index

- 7.16 27
6768 24

Total Team Yards

7282 13
7144 15

Total Team Yards Allowed

7831 29
-376 23

Total Team Yards Differential

-549 27
78.62 25

Offensive Rusher Rating

85.75 19
91.58 19

Defensive Rusher Rating

113.82 32
- 12.96 22

Rusher Rating Differential

- 28.07 30
37 30

Total Turnovers

34 28

 

Minnesota Vikings at Indianapolis Colts

Minnesota (-1.5) at Indianapolis

Welcome to the NFL, Andrew Luck. Luck, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 draft, got a rude introduction to pro football in Chicago last week. He threw three interceptions, lost a fumble, and registered a 52.9 passer rating in a blowout loss to the Bears.Vikings sign

This week, Luck will face a Minnesota pass defense that was one of the worst in NFL history last season, as measured by Defensive Passer Rating (107.6).

Minnesota’s pass defense was a little better in last week’s dramatic win over Jacksonville (No. 19 in Defensive Passer Rating after Week 1). But, remember, it was a game against Jacksonville.

The Vikings still allowed Jags QB Blaine Gabbert to put up a 96 passer rating and drive Jacksonville to what could have been the game-winning TD in the final few seconds. So clearly, the Vikings’ pass defense still has a long way to go and Luck could make some noise after his struggles against the Bears.

Minnesota’s young QB, Christian Ponder, gave Vikings’ fans some reason for optimism with a  terrific effort against Jacksonville, as he completed 20 of 27 passes for 270 yards (9.17 Real Passing YPA, 105.5 passer rating), and manufactured a miraculous game-tying field goal drive in the final 20 seconds of regulation.

Ponder, like Luck, will face subpar pass defense this week, so he should have the opportunity to put up some big numbers. Remember, Indy's problems last year were even worse on defense than they were on offense. And all we saw in Week 1 were sings of lingering problems still in all phases of the game for the Colts.

One Quality Stat that really jumps out at us when analyzing this game is Passer Rating Differential, a key indicator of overall success. In that category, Minnesota owns a huge advantage. Minnesota also ranks No. 16 overall in our Quality Stats Power Rankings, while the Colts are near the bottom, at No. 28.

It’s hard to put too much stock in those differences after just one game. But numerous signs put to a giddy-up in the step of the Vikings and still a long road to recovery for the Colts.

Pick: Minnesota 24, Indianapolis 20

Vikings Pre-Game Analysis Colts
Value Rank Quality Stat Value Rank
16.18 15

Quality Stats Power Rankings

21.73 25
44% 11

Quality Standings

50% 9
14.21 12

Scoreability

16.24 22
16.09 10

Bendability

15.47 18
5.34 30

Real Passing Yards per Attempt

6.17 18
5.96 10

Defensive Real Passing Yards per Attempt

6.68 21
75.30 21

Real Quarterback Rating

72.53 23
84.67 23

Defensive Real Quarterback Rating

84.39 22
- 9.37 22

Real Quarterback Rating Differential

- 11.85 25
81.23 22

Offensive Passer Rating

76.35 27
92.31 25

Defensive Passer Rating

90.07 22
- 11.07 24

Passer Rating Differential

- 13.71 27
11.33 7

Offensive Hog Index

16.67 18
18.00 18

Defensive Hog Index

23.33 25
2.77 13

The Relativity Index

- 4.46 23
7070 19

Total Team Yards

7227 15
6832 8

Total Team Yards Allowed

7606 25
238 11

Total Team Yards Differential

-379 24
97.83 9

Offensive Rusher Rating

84.44 21
84.44 10

Defensive Rusher Rating

104.48 29
13.39 9

Rusher Rating Differential

- 20.04 27
26 15

Total Turnovers

29 24

 

New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers

New Orleans (-3) at Carolina

So much for the Saints playing with chips on their collective shoulders in the wake of “Bountygate.” New Orleans was torched at home last week by the Redskins and rookie QB Robert Griffin III.Panthers cheerleader

It proved once again the old CHFF adage that we like to spin chewing grass in our overalls sitting on a tree stump chair on the porch overlooking the back 40:

“You can say you’re going to play with all the emotion in the world, but if your defense sucks, and you don’t have a head coach, and your record-setting passer has an off-day, and the other QB is a young phenom, there’s a good chance Ol Betsy ain’t harvesting no turnips and victories that season.”

Rolls right off the tongue, no?  

After one game in 2012, the New Orleans’ defense appears to be even worse than it was in 2011: the unit came out of Week 1 ranked No. 32 in Defensive Real Passing YPA, No. 31 in Defensive Real QB Rating, and No. 32 in Defensive Passer Rating.

When you look at the fact that every other team that played a rookie QB owned him, it’s not a good sign.

On the other hand, Carolina’s offense, which was No. 1 in Rushing YPA last season, and also ranked No. 13 or better in several of our Quality Stats categories, fell apart at Tampa Bay last week, scoring just 10 points.

The Panthers clock in this week at No. 32 on our Scoreability Index, No. 32 in Rushing YPA, and No. 32 on the Offensive Hog Index.

Both Cam Newton (83.3 passer rating, 2 INTs) and Drew Brees (70.9 passer rating, 2 INTs) turned in subpar performances last week and need to rebound with big performances.

The Saints were, by almost any measure, a lot worse last week than the Panthers were, and Carolina has the advantage in most of our key Quality Stats comparisons below, including Defensive Passer Rating and Passer Rating Differential. New Orleans still has Brees and that explosive offense to fall back on, so this is a tough call.

Based purely on what we saw last week, however, and the budding little statistical seedlings we’re cultivating with our Quality Stats, we go with the home team here.

Pick: Carolina 27, New Orleans 26

Saints Pre-Game Analysis Panthers
Value Rank Quality Stat Value Rank
17.91 16

Quality Stats Power Rankings

13.45 14
14% 24

Quality Standings

29% 17
14.26 13

Scoreability

16.17 21
15.51 17

Bendability

14.68 22
7.17 3

Real Passing Yards per Attempt

7.00 5
7.41 32

Defensive Real Passing Yards per Attempt

6.01 12
91.59 8

Real Quarterback Rating

87.10 9
87.50 28

Defensive Real Quarterback Rating

82.13 20
4.09 14

Real Quarterback Rating Differential

4.97 13
96.39 8

Offensive Passer Rating

86.50 15
93.83 28

Defensive Passer Rating

91.66 23
2.56 13

Passer Rating Differential

- 5.17 19
7.33 2

Offensive Hog Index

11.33 7
26.00 31

Defensive Hog Index

14.33 13
1.48 14

The Relativity Index

0.83 15
8400 2

Total Team Yards

7106 18
8854 32

Total Team Yards Allowed

6586 6
-454 25

Total Team Yards Differential

520 9
93.43 12

Offensive Rusher Rating

107.13 5
104.20 28

Defensive Rusher Rating

85.43 12
- 10.77 20

Rusher Rating Differential

21.70 6
24 13

Total Turnovers

22 9

 

Oakland Raiders at Miami Dolphins

Oakland (-2.5) at Miami

Raiders-Dolphins has the potential to be uglier than our prom dates. Believe you us, that’s no small feat.

The Raiders looked about as bad in all three phases of the game as any team can look in their 22-14 opening night loss to San Diego. We’ve seen lime green leisure prom tuxedos with fuchsia cummerbunds that looked better than Oakland Monday night.Raiders fan

And the most attractive thing associated with the Dolphins after their 20-point beatdown loss in Houston last week remains rookie QB Ryan Tannehill’s smokin’ hot wife.

Tannehill’s NFL debut, however, was ice cold.

He averaged just 6.08 yards per attempt, was sacked three times, intercepted three times, and registered a 39 passer rating in the loss at Houston.

At least Tannehill has the “I’m just a rookie” excuse for his lousy performance.

Carson Palmer, for whom the Raiders gave up a small fortune to Cincinnati last year, has no such excuse. Palmer was unable to move the Oakland offense very well against San Diego last week. Palmer produced a very impressive average per attempt during his time with the Raiders.

But poor efficiency and a glut of turnovers – and not the tasty kind made with pastry and apples – have negated any of the positives. He threw 13 picks in nine games last year.

The deal is beginning to look like yet another in a long line of disastrous player transactions the Raiders have made over the past decade.

Oakland’s  across-the-board performance, while subpar last week, was better than Miami’s. But keep in mind, the Dolphins faced the statistical juggernaut Texans; the Raiders faced the statistically confused Chargers.

But lost amid Oakland's offensive struggles and special teams meltdowns is the fact that the its defense played pretty darn well against a team with a prolific QB. The Chargers mustered just 32 rushing yards on 20 attempts and averaged a ho-hum 6.65 Real Passing YPA.

The snapping miscues handed San Diego the ball at the Oakland 42, 39 and 8. The Chargers mustered three field goals out of those three gifted opportunities.

The biggest concern about Oakland may be its cross-country trek, never an easy feat.

At the end of the day, the game comes down to the quarterback: Miami has an inexperienced rookie QB stone hanging around its neck early this season. Oakland has, for all his faults, the more experienced and dependable QB, plus a huge advantage in Passer Rating Differential.

Pick: Oakland 21, Miami 17

Raiders Pre-Game Analysis Dolphins
Value Rank Quality Stat Value Rank
25.77 30

Quality Stats Power Rankings

19.18 21
0% 30

Quality Standings

29% 18
18.98 30

Scoreability

17.31 26
12.80 29

Bendability

18.01 5
6.23 16

Real Passing Yards per Attempt

5.88 22
6.85 26

Defensive Real Passing Yards per Attempt

6.19 19
76.55 20

Real Quarterback Rating

71.04 26
92.95 31

Defensive Real Quarterback Rating

78.51 14
- 16.39 28

Real Quarterback Rating Differential

- 7.47 20
82.45 18

Offensive Passer Rating

76.69 26
97.46 30

Defensive Passer Rating

83.44 13
- 15.01 28

Passer Rating Differential

- 6.75 20
20.00 24

Offensive Hog Index

18.33 22
23.67 26

Defensive Hog Index

14.00 12
- 10.62 30

The Relativity Index

- 2.57 21
6674 27

Total Team Yards

6532 29
7356 19

Total Team Yards Allowed

7324 17
-682 29

Total Team Yards Differential

-792 30
70.13 31

Offensive Rusher Rating

91.06 15
103.20 27

Defensive Rusher Rating

88.57 15
- 33.07 32

Rusher Rating Differential

2.49 13
26 15

Total Turnovers

26 15

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New York Giants

Tampa Bay at N.Y. Giants (-7.5)

Wow! If this game were any more intriguing it would roam the deepest wilderness of the Rocky Mountains like a modern day over-sized hairy cave man with huge feet, causing us to wonder if it really exists.Sasquatch

On one side of our statistical mystery machine are the Giants, who are somehow the defending champs despite the fact they are 10-10 in their last 20 regular-sesaon games. They are hoping to avoid 0-2.

On the other side are the Bucs, who were so pathetic last year that starving children in Ethiopia saved their pennies in rice bowls and donated them to Malcolm Glazer. 

But they emerged suddenly a new-look team with a stifling defense that shutdown Cam Newton and the Panthers in Week 1. The 2011 Panthers were the No. 7 rushing team IN NFL HISTORY (5.43 YPA). Tampa held them to 0.77 YPA.

Greg Schiano’s Bucs made a statement in Week 1. He can read to the football a world a Declaration of Independence from suckiness and pen his name at the bottom of it in letters so large that even King George can’t miss it if they beat the Giants.

But we’re not drinking the Tampa Kool-Aid just yet.

It’s one thing to beat the 6-10 Panthers at home – a team with a defense that was nearly as bad as Tampa’s in 2011. It’s another to hand the proud defending champs – a team that has proved it’s clutch-iness over the years time and again, in their own arena.

Tampa is far from perfect. Cam Newton still passed for more than 300 yards and, more importantly, averaged 8.08 Real Passing YPA – but the Bucs a mere No. 24 in that indicator. Josh Freeman, meanwhile, produced just 4.92 Real Passing YPA himself, far from a confident number.

The Giants displayed plenty of flaws themselves in Week 1 against Dallas. And it stands to reason if Schiano’s aggressive new defense was able to haunt Newton that it will have some success getting in the face of the less elusive Eli Manning.

N.Y. Giants 27, Tampa Bay 23

Buccaneers Pre-Game Analysis Giants
Value Rank Quality Stat Value Rank
18.73 19

Quality Stats Power Rankings

13.27 13
33% 16

Quality Standings

43% 13
14.96 16

Scoreability

13.26 4
15.43 19

Bendability

17.83 6
6.73 11

Real Passing Yards per Attempt

6.84 9
7.28 31

Defensive Real Passing Yards per Attempt

7.17 29
77.04 17

Real Quarterback Rating

82.64 12
88.38 29

Defensive Real Quarterback Rating

83.66 21
- 11.33 24

Real Quarterback Rating Differential

- 1.02 15
81.77 20

Offensive Passer Rating

87.17 14
93.46 27

Defensive Passer Rating

88.69 20
- 11.70 25

Passer Rating Differential

- 1.51 16
14.33 13

Offensive Hog Index

7.33 2
18.33 19

Defensive Hog Index

22.00 22
- 0.50 18

The Relativity Index

6.41 6
7198 16

Total Team Yards

8080 3
7478 22

Total Team Yards Allowed

8449 31
-280 20

Total Team Yards Differential

-369 22
97.55 10

Offensive Rusher Rating

109.38 4
92.12 20

Defensive Rusher Rating

80.72 8
5.43 11

Rusher Rating Differential

28.66 4
23 12

Total Turnovers

21 7

 

Dallas Cowboys at Seattle Seahawks

Dallas (-3) at Seattle

If we've learned only two things at Pigskin Bible Camp in recent years it's that: 1) the beer and Buffalo wing diet is not the best way to reduce that belly fat, no matter what the nice man behind the bar tells you; and 2) Seattle is two different teams home and away: 65-37 at home since 2000, and 36-66 on the road, according to trusty new Spreadapedia.

The Seahawks are also 54-43-5 ATS at home and 39-6Cowboys girl0-3 ATS on the road. Wow! What a difference. Normally the market adjusts for these disparities, but clearly has not with Seattle.

Maybe there is something to this whole “12th Man” thing. Of course, it might also be the fact that no team has to travel farther year after year when it goes on the road, isolated as Seattle is so far from its opponents.

With all that said, we discuss the dichotomy merely to highlight the power of Spreadapeadia.

When it comes to breaking down each game with our real and spectacular picks, we treat each game as its own unique statistical event, unlike any other that has come before or will come after.

Dallas last week walked into the home of the defending champ Giants and pretty much owned the joint. The 12th Man can hardly be more threatening than Eli Manning and a raucous banner-raising home crowd.

Dallas last week played better on the road against better competition than Seattle. Oh, and the Seahawks are trying to do it with a rookie quarterback.

Russell Wilson was not dreadful against the Cardinals – but he wasn’t very good, either.  He was what you expect out of a rookie QB.

Seattle exits Week 1 No. 28 in Real QB Rating, No. 28 in Offensive Passer Rating and No. 31 in Real Passing YPA. Wilson will be no match for the prolific Tony Romo, whether the game is played in Dallas, in Seattle or in the front row of the Miss Missouri beauty pageant.

Dallas 27, Seattle 17

Cowboys Pre-Game Analysis Seahawks
Value Rank Quality Stat Value Rank
19.55 22

Quality Stats Power Rankings

6.36 3
22% 21

Quality Standings

83% 2
15.94 19

Scoreability

13.62 8
14.22 23

Bendability

20.00 1
6.81 10

Real Passing Yards per Attempt

6.92 7
6.76 25

Defensive Real Passing Yards per Attempt

5.42 5
84.14 10

Real Quarterback Rating

93.29 6
86.35 27

Defensive Real Quarterback Rating

65.78 3
- 2.21 16

Real Quarterback Rating Differential

27.50 2
91.32 9

Offensive Passer Rating

100.58 5
94.67 29

Defensive Passer Rating

71.80 3
- 3.35 18

Passer Rating Differential

28.78 2
15.00 15

Offensive Hog Index

13.67 10
25.33 30

Defensive Hog Index

17.00 17
0.13 16

The Relativity Index

11.82 3
7358 12

Total Team Yards

7056 21
7430 21

Total Team Yards Allowed

6438 5
-72 14

Total Team Yards Differential

618 7
78.65 24

Offensive Rusher Rating

99.29 7
101.79 26

Defensive Rusher Rating

78.84 7
- 23.13 29

Rusher Rating Differential

20.45 8
29 24

Total Turnovers

21 7

 

Washington Redskins at Los Angeles Rams

Washington (-3) at St. Louis

The Rams last week forced three picks of Matt Stafford, returning one for a touchdown, did not suffer a single turnover themselves – and still lost, 27-23.Redskins cheerleader

St. Louis can do nothing right, even when it does.

Hey, you don’t go 15-66 (.185) since 2007 without turning losing into an art form. And when it comes to losing, the Rams are the Picasso of Pigskin.

New coach Jeff Fisher brings a proven track record with him to St. Louis this year. But coaches don’t win without quarterbacks who can successfully and consistently carve up defenses. And our biggest concern on that end remains the play of Sam Bradford, who has averaged 6.0 and 6.1 YPA in his two seasons, dreadful numbers.

He did boost that number to 7.9 in Week 1 against the Lions and St. Louis is a respectable middle-of-the-pack in each of our Quality Stats used to measure the passing game. Quite an improvement.

But after the effort we saw out of Robert Griffin III in Week 1, we’re not sure Bradford and the Rams are up to the task of running with the Redskins.

It’s not just that the Washington passing game was so effective and that RGIII was so explosive, especially by the lowly standards of rookie QBs. 

Perhapy more importantly, the Redskins are in the Top 10 in most of our defensive indicators after Week 1 – after staring down the barrel of a New Orleans offense that has been absolutely unstoppable at home in recent years.

We like the balance. And we like the Redskins to beat a team that also finds creative ways to lose, even when it plays well. Bad time for St. Louis to face the super-hot Redskins, an exciting QB and perhaps even a solid pass defense.

Washington 28, St. Louis 20

Redskins Pre-Game Analysis Rams
Value Rank Quality Stat Value Rank
11.09 8

Quality Stats Power Rankings

18.41 17
50% 8

Quality Standings

33% 15
14.06 9

Scoreability

17.61 28
15.57 16

Bendability

15.75 14
7.20 2

Real Passing Yards per Attempt

6.00 21
6.75 24

Defensive Real Passing Yards per Attempt

6.01 13
99.93 1

Real Quarterback Rating

76.79 18
80.05 16

Defensive Real Quarterback Rating

79.34 15
19.88 5

Real Quarterback Rating Differential

- 2.55 17
102.06 3

Offensive Passer Rating

82.75 17
86.99 18

Defensive Passer Rating

83.95 14
15.08 6

Passer Rating Differential

- 1.20 15
13.67 10

Offensive Hog Index

18.67 23
23.67 26

Defensive Hog Index

11.00 9
3.29 11

The Relativity Index

- 0.65 19
7675 8

Total Team Yards

6696 26
7778 28

Total Team Yards Allowed

6873 9
-103 15

Total Team Yards Differential

-177 18
110.71 2

Offensive Rusher Rating

77.10 27
90.06 17

Defensive Rusher Rating

107.54 31
20.65 7

Rusher Rating Differential

- 30.44 31
16 1

Total Turnovers

22 9

 

New York Jets at Pittsburgh Steelers

N.Y. Jets at Pittsburgh (-6)

The Steelers had no answer for Peyton Manning in Week 1. Will they have one for Mark Sanchez in Week 2?Steelers girl

History, for what it’s worth, says the Jets are toast against Pittsburgh.

First, Pittsburgh is 13-4 vs. the Jets since 1978, including a sterling 12-5 ATS. That’s pretty dman good, for those of you keeping score at home. The teams are 1-1 both straight up and ATS in the Rex Ryan-Mark Sanchez Era.

Spreadapedia giveth. That's what it does.

The Jets won 22-17 at Pittsburgh in Week 15 2010, but then lost the rematch in the AFC title game at Heinz field, 24-19.

Sanchez is no Peyton Manning. And the Steelers are at home this week, not in Denver, where their Ryan Clark-less defense has failed to stop both Manning and Tim Tebow – now with the Jets – in each of their last two games.

You have to be impressed by the way the Jets stormed out to a 48-point romp in their Week 1 win over the Bills.

But the win doesn’t hide all the wounds from the eyes of the Cold, Hard Football Facts. The Bills ripped off 195 yards on just 26 carries (7.5 YPA) and still hung three TD passes and 28 points on the scoreboard despite three picks by Ryan Fitzpatrick.

The wildcard here is Jets CB Darrelle Revis, who left the Bills game with a concussion. He’s one of the rare elite difference makers on defense in the NFL and the Jets were two different defenses with and without him on the field.

We’d reserve making a pick on this game until you know his status. Revis did not practive Wednesday, but it’s possible he’ll be cleared to play on Sunday.

We’ll reserve our pick until we know his status, too. (NOTE: Darrelle Revis will NOT play on Sunday, according to the latest reports Saturday morning.)

With Revis on the field: Pittsburgh 23, N.Y. Jets 21
Without Revis on the field: Pittsburgh 27, N.Y. Jets 20

 

Jets Pre-Game Analysis Steelers
Value Rank Quality Stat Value Rank
23.00 27

Quality Stats Power Rankings

12.86 11
17% 23

Quality Standings

57% 4
17.04 25

Scoreability

15.85 18
13.80 25

Bendability

14.05 24
5.35 29

Real Passing Yards per Attempt

6.20 17
5.79 9

Defensive Real Passing Yards per Attempt

5.29 2
57.47 30

Real Quarterback Rating

81.98 13
74.33 12

Defensive Real Quarterback Rating

71.19 7
- 16.86 29

Real Quarterback Rating Differential

10.80 9
68.33 30

Offensive Passer Rating

88.12 12
78.21 7

Defensive Passer Rating

79.04 8
- 9.89 22

Passer Rating Differential

9.08 10
25.00 30

Offensive Hog Index

17.00 19
18.67 20

Defensive Hog Index

9.00 7
- 6.09 26

The Relativity Index

0.04 17
6546 28

Total Team Yards

6862 23
7139 14

Total Team Yards Allowed

6091 2
-593 28

Total Team Yards Differential

771 5
77.75 26

Offensive Rusher Rating

71.74 30
95.04 21

Defensive Rusher Rating

81.11 9
- 17.29 25

Rusher Rating Differential

- 9.37 18
37 30

Total Turnovers

30 26

 

Tennessee Titans at Los Angeles Chargers

Tennessee at San Diego (-6)

Here’s something we don’t think we’ve ever seen and don’t think we’ll see again: One team with every single statistical checkmark in its corner.Chargers cheerleader

Sure, it’s after only one game. So if you’re going to see such a disparity, this is when it will happen.

But the on-field differences are not so stark as the early-season statistical profile will lead us to believe.

After all, the Titans were smoked at home by the dynastic Patriots in Week 1, while the Chargers muddled through an ugly win at Oakland.

This game will be more competitive than the numbers indicate below, especially as it looks like Titans QB Jake Locker (shoulder) will be ready to play at full speed.

He was fairly effective against the new-look Patriots defense, completing 23 of 32 passes (71.9%), with 7.2 YPA, 1 TD, 1 INT and an 89.2 rating before separating his shoulder.

San Diego, meanwhile, won in Oakland but was far from spectacularly effective against the Raiders and their wounded offense.

The Chargers were handed three golden scoring opportunities in Oakland territory after the Raiders' now-famous snapping woes, but managed only three field goals in those opportunities. A huge concern if you’re a San Diego fan.

The Chargers generated just 258 yards of offense and ran the ball nearly as bad as the Titans did in Week 1. Tennessee produced just 20 yards on 16 carries (1.2 YPA); San Diego, 32 yards on 20 carries (1.6 YPA).

The Chargers should win. Spreadapedia tells us they are 26-10 under Norv Turner when favored by 6 or more points, including 22-6 at home. They’re even 17-11 ATS in that situation.

But this team has more concerns at all levels than past Turner teams. The Titans can compete against this group, at least if Locker is healthy. And so far it seems he will be.

Pick: San Diego 24, Tennessee 21

Titans Pre-Game Analysis Chargers
Value Rank Quality Stat Value Rank
23.27 28

Quality Stats Power Rankings

18.50 18
0% 32

Quality Standings

0% 28
15.18 17

Scoreability

13.59 6
12.74 30

Bendability

14.92 21
5.74 23

Real Passing Yards per Attempt

5.71 24
6.57 20

Defensive Real Passing Yards per Attempt

6.07 15
70.75 27

Real Quarterback Rating

74.74 22
84.93 24

Defensive Real Quarterback Rating

81.19 18
- 14.18 27

Real Quarterback Rating Differential

- 6.45 19
76.91 25

Offensive Passer Rating

88.46 11
92.69 26

Defensive Passer Rating

87.95 19
- 15.79 30

Passer Rating Differential

0.52 14
15.33 16

Offensive Hog Index

24.67 28
14.67 14

Defensive Hog Index

16.00 16
- 9.88 28

The Relativity Index

- 1.54 20
7410 11

Total Team Yards

6370 30
7552 24

Total Team Yards Allowed

6901 10
-142 16

Total Team Yards Differential

-531 26
85.32 20

Offensive Rusher Rating

68.04 32
100.03 24

Defensive Rusher Rating

78.76 6
- 14.71 24

Rusher Rating Differential

- 10.72 19
28 22

Total Turnovers

26 15

 

Detroit Lions at San Francisco 49ers

Detroit at San Francisco (-7)

The Lions visit the 49ers in Handshake Bowl II in primetime on Sunday. It’s our Game of the Week at CHFF TV.

The annotated version of each team’s story is this: the Lions are talented but undisciplined. The 49ers are a well-oiled, highly efficient, highly disciplined workmanlike team.49ers cheerleader

If you know the Cold, Hard Football Facts, you know the latter always trumps the former.

We saw that scenario play out last year in Handshake Bowl I. The undefeated Lions blew a lead to the 49ers and lost 25-19. Detroit soon spiraled out of control. That loss was the start of a 5-7 end to the season for the once-promising silver-and-blue.

San Francisco included that win as part of a surprising but season-defining eight-game win streak.

Week 1 2012 unfolded in similar fashion. The Lions were undisciplined (3 INT) but still had enough talent to pull out a win at St. Louis.  The 49ers out-muscled and out-efficiencied (yes, we just made up a word) the mighty Packers in every phase of the game.

At the end of the day, it all adds up to one thing: San Francisco is the better team. But we still believe Detroit is a talented and dangerous crew. Yes, they played a bad team last week, but they also pulled out a win on a day when they suffered three INT, including a pick-six.

That is a formula for defeat almost 100 percent of the time, so there is something to be said for a win, even against a bad team, when you play your worst football. Matt Stafford still passed for more yards than any QB in football last week (355) and Calvin Johnson was his usual Megatron self (6 catches, 111 yards).

San Francisco will win the game. They are 4-0 under Jim Harbaugh when favored by 7 or more points, including 3-1 ATS. And we are high on the 49ers in general. After all, they’re our preseason pick to win the NFC title.  

Blowing out two talented, productive offenses in back-to-back weeks is a tall order in the NFL, even for very, very good teams. But the 49ers look up for the task. The beat the undefeated Lions by 6 on the road last year and play at home in the rematch, a week after they treated the Packers like a rag doll at Lambeau Field.

It’s tough to pick teams to win by more than a touchdown in the NFL. But Harbaugh’s 49ers are not only 15-4 overall, they’re also an incredible 14-4-1 ATS. Detroit, meanwhile, looks shakier Pat Benatar in the "Love is a Battlefield" video.

Given last week's performances, and last year's history, and take a shot with the 49ers big.

Pick: San Francisco 28, Detroit 20

Lions Pre-Game Analysis 49ers
Value Rank Quality Stat Value Rank
19.09 20

Quality Stats Power Rankings

5.55 1
9% 27

Quality Standings

57% 5
17.58 27

Scoreability

14.58 15
12.49 31

Bendability

17.25 7
6.41 14

Real Passing Yards per Attempt

6.91 8
6.17 18

Defensive Real Passing Yards per Attempt

5.29 3
77.92 16

Real Quarterback Rating

94.55 4
86.08 25

Defensive Real Quarterback Rating

74.08 9
- 8.16 21

Real Quarterback Rating Differential

20.47 4
81.47 21

Offensive Passer Rating

101.19 4
91.74 24

Defensive Passer Rating

78.02 6
- 10.27 23

Passer Rating Differential

23.18 4
9.67 4

Offensive Hog Index

17.67 20
19.33 21

Defensive Hog Index

6.33 2
- 3.35 22

The Relativity Index

9.55 4
7658 9

Total Team Yards

7744 6
7617 26

Total Team Yards Allowed

6320 4
41 12

Total Team Yards Differential

1424 2
94.03 11

Offensive Rusher Rating

112.31 1
97.80 23

Defensive Rusher Rating

73.83 2
- 3.77 16

Rusher Rating Differential

38.47 1
33 27

Total Turnovers

20 5

 

Denver Broncos at Atlanta Falcons

Denver at Atlanta (-3)

Peyton Manning wowed the football world with his command performance against Pittsburgh in his Denver debut and first game back since the 2010 season. The fact that he used Jedi mind tricks to screw with Dick LeBeau’s defense may have been the most fascinating image of Week 1.

But it was Matt Ryan who quietly produced the most effective performance last week. He enters the Monday Night Football showdown against the Broncos and Zen Master Manning No. 1 in the NFL in the all-important Real QB Rating.Falcons cheerleader

We discussed its importance for CHFF Insiders earlier this week.  Teams win almost 90 percent of all NFL games when they win the battle of Real QB Rating.

So far in 2012 – for what it’s worth with one week under our belts – that’s a huge advantage for the Falcons, even against Manning. Ryan is 25.4 points better than Manning in Real QB Rating after Week 1.

And Romeo Crennel’s Kansas City defense was not exactly chopped liver last year. The Chiefs managed to win seven games with an offense that scored a paltry 212 points.

These two teams each have the same weakness: they don’t get off the field on third down. The Broncos allowed the Steelers to convert 58 percent of third downs, the Falcons allowed the Chiefs to convert nearly 70 percent of third downs. It’s a problem that haunted Atlanta last year and not a problem you want to have against Manning.

The teams are largely evenly matched after Week 1: Denver No. 4 in our Quality Stats Power Rankings, Atlanta No. 3.

The big deciding factor may be nothing more than the location. Ryan’s Falcons simply do not lose at home.

They are 26-7 at home since he became QB in 2008, and a sterling 20-11-2 ATS, according to Spreadapedia. So they not only win consistently, they consistently beat public expectations.

But is that defense, and that third-down defense, good enough to help lift the Falcons to a victory of greater than a field goal, against the Zen Master? We don’t think so.  Atlanta has been dominant at home – but not when facing great quarterbacks.

This should be a GREAT one on Monday Night Football.

Pick: Atlanta 28, Denver 27

Broncos Pre-Game Analysis Falcons
Value Rank Quality Stat Value Rank
5.86 2

Quality Stats Power Rankings

11.77 10
40% 14

Quality Standings

100% 1
13.23 2

Scoreability

14.10 10
16.10 9

Bendability

19.56 2
7.44 1

Real Passing Yards per Attempt

7.01 4
5.23 1

Defensive Real Passing Yards per Attempt

6.69 22
98.89 2

Real Quarterback Rating

93.19 7
69.01 4

Defensive Real Quarterback Rating

74.18 10
29.89 1

Real Quarterback Rating Differential

19.01 6
105.34 2

Offensive Passer Rating

99.10 6
79.44 9

Defensive Passer Rating

77.10 5
25.90 3

Passer Rating Differential

22.00 5
9.67 4

Offensive Hog Index

12.33 9
2.00 1

Defensive Hog Index

23.00 23
12.30 2

The Relativity Index

6.24 8
7882 5

Total Team Yards

7066 20
5897 1

Total Team Yards Allowed

7280 16
1985 1

Total Team Yards Differential

-214 19
79.80 22

Offensive Rusher Rating

92.99 13
74.94 4

Defensive Rusher Rating

105.19 30
4.86 12

Rusher Rating Differential

- 12.20 21
28 22

Total Turnovers

22 9





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