Scott Norwood

Scott Norwood
Wide Right started it all.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Super Duper Bowl LII

Here is the last pick of this season, the no-frills, no-sizzle Super Bowl between the Patriots and the Eagles.  Both of us have the same pick versus the spread, so there's not much sizzle there, either.  But we do see the outcome of the game differently.

Fav Spread Dog Final Dre Jay
NE (15-3) Phi (15-3) Minneapolis, MN Phi Phi
108.1 102.9
Last Week +8 +4
=116.1 =106.9
All of our thoughts and observations can be heard here:

Super Duper Bowl LII

Sunday, January 21, 2018

2018 Conf. Finals

Championship Sunday is here, and I knew Jason had to disagree with me on at least one pick in order to compete for our picks title, so I was confident that he would take Jacksonville and differ with me in the Vikings-Eagles game no matter what.  He's been clear about thinking that the Jags would give the Pats the best fight out of all the teams left in the playoffs, so I thought he would be all in on them.  But it turns out he trusts Minnesota more to beat Philly than he does the Jaguars.  He said if I took Minny, he would have agreed and flipped to the Patriots.  So he's going with his true gut pick in the Vikings, which scares me because I'm going with my true instinct in taking the Eagles, and that hasn't worked much for me this postseason.  Here are our picks and current points standings:

Fav Spread Dog Final Dre Jay
NE (14-3) Jack (12-6) NE 24-20 Jack Jack
Min (14-3) 3    PHI (14-3) Phi 38-7 Phi Min
105.1 96.9
Last Week +3 +6
=108.1 =102.9
All of our thoughts and observations can be heard here:

NFL 2018 Conf. Finals

Saturday, January 13, 2018

2018 Conf. Semis

Another show, another issue with connectivity with BlogTalk Radio.  It's so frustrating.  I don't have any smart lead-in to our playoff picks, just letting you know that Jason, in trying to catch me in our playoff points race, has changed his pick in the Jags-Steelers matchup.  He originally went with Pittsburgh, but after learning we had the same four picks this week, he changed to the Jaguars in order to have more flexibility in picking the Conference Finals.  So with that in mind, here are our picks for the Divisional Round:

Fav Spread Dog Final Dre Jay
Atl (11-6) 3    PHI (13-3) Atl Atl
Sat. Nite
NE (13-3) 13    Tenn (10-7) NE NE
PIT (13-3) 7    Jack (11-6) Pit Jack
MIN (13-3) 5    NO (11-5) NO NO
103.1 92.9
+2 +4
=105.1 =96.9

All of our thoughts and observations can be heard here:

NFL 2018 Divisional Round

Saturday, January 6, 2018

2018 Wild Card

Wild Card Weekend is upon us, and we know you the NFL fan can't wait because neither can we.  And in this postseason full of new teams and new faces, Jason and I start with three games where we do battle.  He's trying to take an early chunk out of my lead in playoff points.  And how did we determine playoff points, you ask?  Simple:  Take our season percentages, multiply by 200, and that's the number of points we each start with.  From there, it's 2 points for each Wild Card win, 3 points in the Conference Semis, 4 points in the Conf. Finals, and a big 5 points for picking the Super Bowl correctly.  I begin with an 11-point advantage as the playoffs kick off:

Fav Spread Dog Final Dre Jay
KC (10-6) Tenn (9-7) KC Tenn
Sat. Nite
LAR (11-5) Atl (10-6) Atl LA
JACK (10-6) 9    Buf (9-7) Jack Jack
NO (11-5) Car (11-5) NO Car
Season 123-118-15 112-129-15
0.510 0.465
Lock Total 8 6
x200 x200
Playoff Points 102.1 92.9
Lock Bonus +1 +0
103.1 92.9
Scoring System
Wild Card 2 pts. each
Conf. Semis 3 pts. each
Conf. Finals 4 pts. each
Super Bowl 5 pts.

All of our thoughts and observations can be heard here:

NFL 2017 Wild Card

Friday, January 5, 2018

Fun With Numbers: Playoff Teams w/ Elite or Subpar Offense or Defense

I got bored and started looking at some numbers the last couple of days.  I think it has something to do with how wide open I continue to think the NFL is going into this year's playoffs, and I decided to see if I could find a betting edge to sort out the teams.  I'm always harping on my favorite stats, yards per rush and yards per throw, so I decided to see if there was any importance to those numbers.  I set out to see if the squads over the years with the explosive offenses have had more success, or maybe it's the ones with the stifling defenses, and I also wanted to see if the teams that make the playoffs despite averages that are below the norm get bounced very quickly.  These things should work out the way one thinks, but I wanted to know what the numbers say, just to be sure.  I'm not trying to hype my findings as far off the expectations, but I did find a couple of trends that you may be able to use when deciding where you're laying your cash.

I used the regular season stats dating back to 2009, so that's eight years of data, and I came up with the following terms to decide what's a top or bottom offense or defense:  Since an average run game always seems to be around four YPC and an average passing attack around seven YPA, I labeled teams at 3½ YPC or less as an Elite run D or Subpar run O.  4½ YPC or more makes you an Elite run O or Subpar run D.  6½ YPA makes you an Elite pass D or Subpar Pass O.  7½ YPA makes you an Elite pass O or Subpar Pass D.  Got it?  If a team was in between those numbers, then they didn't show up on my chart in that specific field, so if a team was so vanilla that they didn't have what I defined as an Elite or Subpar offense or defense, they didn't make the chart at all.  From there, I slotted teams who fit these criteria and saw how they did SU and ATS for that year's playoffs.  For example, this is what the chart looked like for the 2009 season showing how those teams fared in the 2010 playoffs, including the Super Bowl:

                 Elite                                                                       Subpar
Run O 4.5+ Run D 3.5- Pass O 7.5+ Pass D 6.5- Run O 3.5- Run D 4.5+ Pass O 6.5- Pass D 7.5+

Bal Bal
SU/ATS 1-1/1-1 1-1/1-1
Ind Ind Ind
2-1/2-1 2-1/2-1 2-1/2-1
0-1/0-1 0-1/0-1 0-1/0-1
Dal Dal
1-1/1-1 1-1/1-1
Phi Phi
0-1/0-1 0-1/0-1
2-1/2-1 2-1/2-1
3-0/2-1 3-0/2-1 3-0/2-1
0-1/0-1 0-1/0-1
Total 7-3/6-4 1-1/1-1 7-7/7-7 4-4/4-4 2-2/2-2 4-2/3-3

As you can see, there was hardly any separation in that year between the Elite and Subpar teams.  But a look deeper can reveal some eye-raising outcomes.  The Saints rode an Elite running attack by the committee of Pierre Thomas, Mike Bell, and Reggie Bush, and a typical Elite passing attack by Drew Brees to a Super Bowl title, ignoring the Subpar run defense.  So no surprise, an Elite offense can go a long way.  The Cardinals won a playoff game despite also having a Subpar rush D, so does that mean the adage of defense winning championships is BS?  That's a small sample size to use to arrive there, but it's something I watched as I crafted charts for every year up to today, and no, I won't show you all of them.  I'll spare you the gory numbers.  It's also worth noting from '09 just how many teams made the playoffs with Elite passing games as opposed to running.  That's another legend people like to believe, including me:  Ya gotta run the rock to survive in the postseason.  Well, maybe you do, but not at an Elite level.  So after all the charts for the past eight years, here's the breakdown for each category:

Elite Run O Elite Run D Elite Pass O Elite Pass D
SU 23-25 11-7 54-46 29-19
ATS 24-24 10-8 51-47-2 29-18-1
Subpar Run O Subpar Run D Subpar Pass O Subpar Pass D
6-4 26-24 4-6 13-14
6-4 26-23-1 5-5 13-14

Again, I'm blown away by how many more teams are in the playoffs by having high-powered passing attacks ahead of anything else, but that's not why I did these charts.  I don't really care how a team made the field, I'm just trying to see if there's a particular style of team that's more deserving of a play when picking the games.  Are there any edges?  From what I see, a team with an Elite run and pass D is rare and it wins at a high percentage (8-3), though they're not a lock ATS (6-5).  High-powered offenses can get tripped up, though.  Teams with the combo of Elite running and throwing games don't fare so well, going 14-14 SU and only 12-16 vs. the number.  That's actually a worse percentage than the teams that have Subpar run and throw defenses, which are 7-6, though that's skewed by the unlikely 4-0 run that the 2011 Giants went on.  The Patriots won two playoff games that same year with a Subpar overall D, so six of the seven wins came that year.  Speaking of Eli Manning, another anomaly:  The only two teams to win any playoff games at all in this eight-year stretch while carrying a Subpar running offense are Eli's G-Men and the '09 Colts, with QB Peyton Manning, who lost the Super Bowl to the Saints.  So while having an Elite running game may be overrated, you can't overcome a Subpar running game without a Manning at the helm.

Other trends I noticed:

  • By far, the best bet is on the team with the Elite pass defense.  That .617 percentage ATS is hard to ignore, though it's mostly boosted by the Legion of Boom-era Seahawks, the rival '49ers from '12 and '13, and the magical run by Aaron Rodgers and the 2010 Packers.  Remember when they could play defense?
  • There was only one Perfectly Elite team, i.e. one team that was elite in all four categories:  The '14 Seahawks.  That's the team that should have won the title except for Darrell Bevell ignoring his Elite RB Marshawn Lynch with one yard to go for a TD, instead going with his Elite QB Russell Wilson, who threw the INT to lose it.  The lesson, now as it was then, is, if you're going to lose with a yard to go, lose with your RB.  Don't put it in the fucking air where anyone can grab it.
  • There were three teams with Elite or Subpar numbers (remember, "normal" teams aren't listed, so some champs aren't accounted for) that made perfect runs SU and ATS through the playoffs:  the '10 Pack, the '11 Giants, and the '16 Patriots.  (The '09 Saints won it all but went 2-1 against the number.)  The obvious:  All of those four teams had Elite passers.  The surprise:  All but one (NE) also had Subpar rush defenses!  It doesn't matter if you can't stop the run, which correlates to the next item.
  • Throw out the advantage of facing a bad run defense.  As you can see above, they're over .500 SU and ATS.  I actually have a theory on that:  Remember that playoff game when Herm Edwards took 2,000-yard rusher Larry Johnson and the Chiefs into Indianapolis and refused to rely on him even though the Colts were a bad run D, and Indy won?  I think coaches and coordinators get scared if their running game doesn't tear into the opposition right off the bat because they don't want to get eliminated without going to the air and going for the big chunk plays.  And they ignore the fact that most teams don't tear into an opponent on the ground early in a playoff game because the D is so jacked up.  If those coaches would just stick with the plan and grind it out, they may succeed more, but like ol' Herm, they get antsy and start looking for more and more big bombs from the QB, whether the QB is any good or not.  Something to consider if the Titans or Jags start slow on the ground.  Speaking of this year's playoff teams, here's how my little chart sets up for them:

Run O 4.5+ Run D 3.5- Pass O 7.5+ Pass D 6.5- Run O 3.5- Run D 4.5+ Pass O 6.5-

Pass D 7.5+

Phi Phi
Min Min

Here we see a couple of teams with Elite overall offenses in the Saints and Chiefs.  It's been a while since Drew Brees led such a potent offense, but we can see what happened when he did in 2009.  As for KC, Alex Smith led some teams in SF to the playoffs, but they didn't become an Elite passing group until that 2012 season when Colin Kaepernick took over halfway through.  We'll see how Smith fares this time with his own Elite passing game.  There are no Elite total defenses, but all three Elite passing Ds should be tough outs.  It's too bad that the Eagles could have came in with an Elite QB to buttress that Elite passing defense, as Minnesota will, but Carson Wentz won't be there.  Will Nick Foles join the infamous list of substitute QBs who get embarrassed in the playoffs, along with Ryan Lindley and Connor Cook?  As for the Bills making the postseason despite a Subpar passing game, they can look to two teams that won playoff games with crappy throwing:  The '10 Seahawks, who had home field advantage as 7-9 division champions and rode that and the birth of Beast Mode to an upset of the Saints, and last year's Texans, who were also at home and lucky enough to catch the Raiders without Derek Carr at QB and with the aforementioned Cook.  Buffalo isn't at home and won't be playing a backup QB, so they should not pose a problem for the Jags.

I hope you enjoyed my offbeat fun with numbers, and hopefully you spot a trend or two that helps your wallet this postseason and in the future.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

2017-18 What I Learned About Each Team In One Sentence

Cowboys--This team is as reliant on a few super-impact players as any in the league, and when Dez, Zeke, and Sean Lee aren't on, they're all the way off.
Eagles--They arrived a little earlier than many thought they would, but Philly is double tough defensively and fearless behind Carson Wentz on offense, and they will miss him dearly in the playoffs.
Giants--The Eli Manning Era should end so as to start fresh, but Eli doesn't seem ready to exit stage left.
Redskins--The soap opera "As Kirk Cousins Turns" seems to be stagnating the entire franchise, so they should decide once and for all and move forward.
Bears--A predictably drab season ended with the predictable John Fox shitcanning, and the occasional sparkle from Mitch Trubisky shouldn't have been surprising given his high draft selection.
Lions--Another above average campaign from Matt Stafford couldn't save a team that consistently has no running to complement him and no real hope of a title.
Packers--All hopes of contention were cracked along with Aaron Rodgers' clavicle, and it feels like he's returning to a squad next year whose window is closing fast.
Vikings--Mike Zimmer did a marvelous job uniting his team after last year's near-mutiny, and they stand poised as maybe the most complete contender in the postseason despite their QB.
Falcons--They're compelling because lost in the attempts to rekindle the flame of last year's record-setting offense was the further molding of the athletic defense in Dan Quinn's image.
Panthers--Revamped the offense on the fly and relied on Cam Newton's unparalleled QB-ur-bruising-RB style to win, though the field-wide pursuits on D by Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis need praising.
Saints--Sean Payton's bend-but-make-game-changing-plays defense and double-headed RB tag team of Ingram and Kamara combined with the timeless Drew Brees make New Orleans as well-rounded as their Super Bowl championship club.
Buccaneers--Dirk Koetter must figure out the mercurial Jameis Winston in order for Tampa Bay to fight for survival in their monstrous division.
Cardinals--The defense kept its level as best it could, but Carson Palmer broke down one final time and Bruce Arians ran out of answers.
Rams--If Sean McVay can bottle whatever potion he used to turn Jared Goff into a decisive playmaker, then they can play with anybody, and if they have a lead, then Aaron Donald and Robert Quinn can pressure any opposition into mistakes.
49ers--Similar to the Rams, they need their genius Kyle Shanahan to keep molding his charge Jimmy Garoppolo into a winning QB and build from there.
Seahawks--Seems like the dynasty is collapsing thanks to injuries and attitude problems, and it may be fascinating to watch and see what measures Pete Carroll takes to stem the tide.
Bills--Never seen a team try to lose and win by accident anyway, which may make Buffalo the spotlight team in a season of pure zaniness.
Dolphins--Between the Cutler-for-Tannehill disaster and the dealing of Jay Ajayi after 1½ years, Miami doesn't seem to be going in the right direction, and Adam Gase will pay unless they turn it around drastically.
Patriots--They won so many games big after two months of their defense being atrocious in all phases that maybe they're just bulletproof and know how to prevail under any circumstances.
Jets--Such a lack of playmakers that everyone assumed they were tanking from the jump, so some credit goes to Todd Bowles and his coaches for getting really good efforts from them most of the year.
Ravens--Just slight enough tilting of their scales the wrong way from losing their shutdown CB Jimmy Smith, and Baltimore's mediocre ways lead them out of the playoffs.
Bengals--Amazing that Cincy proved a clear lack of stewardship from Marvin Lewis and yet ownership will allow it to happen all over again next season.
Browns--They fought their asses off all year, and the lack of talent shone through in each and every painful loss, so Hue Jackson staying after 0-16 is not even a hill to die on.
Steelers--The offense took time to come together and LeVeon Bell is well rested for the playoff run, but they're doomed without Ryan Shazier patrolling the middle.
Texans--What a stark contrast between Bill O'Brien having a confident, dynamic offense with DeShaun Watson at QB and no confidence with anyone else, and the D equally became rudderless after J.J Watt and Whitney Mercilus got hurt.
Colts--They competed behind Jacoby Brissett, but they failed as a team should when their crackpot owner leads them to believe that the franchise QB is right around the corner and he never comes into the room.
Jaguars--Part of the new blood rising in the NFL, they asserted a wicked QB-killing pass rush early and will make a dangerous playoff team even with inconsistent Leonard Fournette and Blake Bortles leading the O.
Titans--Mike Mularkey hasn't led Marcus Mariota to be any better this season and never figured out the right RB split between Derrick Henry and DeMarco Murray, so he may be finished despite the last-minute Wild Card berth.
Broncos--John Elway showed his lack of leadership when his assembled roster couldn't contend under new coach Vance Joseph, choosing to criticize the squad's "toughness" instead of asking himself why he trusted Trevor Siemian and Brock Osweiler to handle the offense.
Chiefs--A tale of two seasons as Alex Smith and rookie Kareem Hunt lit up the league early before crashing to Earth, leaving Kansas City to scramble to a division title and Andy Reid to dream up new ways to get the most out of his stars.
Raiders--Hard to contend when your secondary is trash, and your top draft pick CB can't get off the trainer's table, but Jack Del Rio's fate was sealed when Amari Cooper and Derek Carr took big steps back in their development.
Chargers--Under a less-than-ideal home stadium situation, credit old man Philip Rivers with connecting with his targets as the season wore on to make a run at a playoff spot and finish as the #1 passing offense in football.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017 Week #17

The connection issues on BlogTalkRadio are starting to get more and more frustrating, and Jason and I are going to have to discuss alternatives because the show is suffering as a result.  We're both frazzled and frustrated by the time we finally connect, and it sounds crappy when we're trying to reconnoiter and gather ourselves.  Anyhow, this year Jason took over coin-flipping duties for Week 17, dubbing it the "Coin of Privilege" because instead of my lucky dime, he used a quarter, shoving his unearned higher wages in my face.  But I channeled my inner MLK and carried on in the face of such undignified behavior.  Here, after all the trials and tribulations, are the picks for the last week of the regular season, where Jay and I battle on eight games:

Fav Spread Dog Final Dre Jay Coin
DET (8-7) 7    GB (7-8) Det Det GB
MIN (12-3) 12    Chi (5-10) Min Min Chi
PIT (12-3) Cle (0-15) Cle Pit Pit
Dal (8-7) 3    PHI (13-2) Phi Dal Dal
NE (12-3) 14½ NYJ (5-10) NY NE NY
Wash (7-8) 3    NYG (2-13) Wash Wash Wash
IND (3-12) Hou (4-11) Ind Hou Hou
SEA (9-6) 9    Ariz (7-8) Sea Sea Sea
NO (11-4) TB (4-11) NO NO NO
ATL (9-6) 4    Car (11-4) Atl Car Car
SF (5-10) 4    LAR (11-4) SF SF LA
TENN (8-7) Jack (10-5) Tenn Jack Jack
LAC (8-7) 7    Oak (6-9) Oak LA Oak
BAL (9-6) 9    Cin (6-9) Cin Cin Bal
Buf (8-7) MIA (6-9) Mia Buf Mia
DEN (5-10) KC (9-6) KC KC KC
Week 16 10-4-2 6-8-2
0.714 0.429
Season 114-111-15 103-122-15
0.507 0.458
Lock Total 7 5

All of our thoughts and observations can (hopefully) be heard here:

NFL 2017 Week 16 Recap + Week #17