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WELCOME to QuantCoach.com, the only site on the world-wide web that provides meaningful professional football coaching statistics. QuantCoach.com's revolutionary coaching statistics are derived from a peer-reviewed and generally accepted theory of competition known as Growth Theory. Veteran coach Bill Parcells once said, "If they want you to cook the dinner, at least they ought to let you shop for some of the groceries." But Growth Theory teaches us that success "springs from better recipes, not just from more cooking." In professional football, those "recipes" are the plays that coaches design. Simply, QuantCoach.com's coaching statistics separate the contribution of plays to pro football success from the contribution of players.

THE ARCHIVES (2017-Part 1)

QC's Week 4 Thoughts

He probably will not get much credit but you have to like the job Jets' HC Todd Bowles has done so far. Given up for dead before the season and an 0-2 start, New York is not only 2-2 after beating Jacksonville, 23-20, but also better than 1% better designed than its opponents. And the Jets are facing one of the more difficult schedules in the NFL. Can this last? Maybe not. But if New York keeps playing like this, Bowles will not have to worry about losing his job. Well done.

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Expect the Deshaun Watson hype to spin wildly out of control. It is true that Watson was sensational against the Titans and their DC Dick LeBeau who has a long history of dominating rookie QBs. But Tennessee helped out a lot too with 5 turnovers. Moreover, it was not that long ago that first Vince Young and then Robert Griffin III were taking the NFL by storm. "NFL" truly stands for "Not For Long" as Jerry Glanville once quipped. Perhaps Watson will turn into a long-term success where the others failed. Time will tell.

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Speaking of dual threat QBs, it seemed like perhaps 2015 NFL MVP Cam Newton's future might be one of diminishing returns. But Newton lit up New England and directed the Panthers to a 33-30 win. Granted so far every QB that has faced Bill Belichick's defense has started a wild fire. Still, it was good to see Newton back in form. Before the season started, Sports Illustrated ran an article proclaiming the read option dead in the NFL. But if Newton regains his form and Watson continues to excel, perhaps the proclamation will prove too hasty.

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QC is tracking penalties for the first time this year, although it has been difficult to find any time to apply any analysis to the penalty data. It is QC's theory that the volume of penalties and perhaps even the total yards lost to penalties may not be very signficant. Rather, it may be that a penalty's harm is mostly derived from its untimeliness. Both Jacksonville and San Francisco had what would have been go-ahead Q4 TDs wiped out by penalties on Sunday, settled for field goals, and lost in OT. Carolina had just 1 penalty in their win over New England. On the other hand, the Panthers also had just one penalty the week before in a big loss to New Orleans. It remains unclear just how significant penalties are other than the kind that bit the Jaguars and 49ers.

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Pittsburgh's pass defense is the best in the NFL, surrendering just 4.647 QCYPA. That's better than the legendary 2008 defense designed by Dick LeBeau and spearheaded by Troy Polamalu. But that number might not be all it seems to be. So far, the QBs the Pittsburgh D have faced have been DeShone Kizer, Case Keenum, Mike Glennon and Joe Flacco. It's not exactly a murder's row.

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The New England defense has been awful, but Bill Belichick has coached worse. The Patriots have yielded 128 points in their first 4 games, which is the second most in NFL history to this point in the season. The 1987 New York Giants defense, which Belichick coordinated, gave up 129 points in its first 4 games. However, for two of those games the G-men's D was compromised of substitute players who were filling in for the striking Lawrence Taylor, Carl Banks, Harry Carson, et al.

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Week 4: QC's 5 Best Bets

As the NFL reaches the quarter pole, only two undefeated teams remain, Atlanta and Kansas City. Those two are 5-1 ATS and rank No. 1 and No. 3 in the league in play design differential. At the other end of the spectrum, there are four winless teams, 49ers, Browns, Bengals and Giants (5-7 ATS). QC's Week 4 picks steer clear of all but one of these teams as bet takers are starting to make bet makers pay a premium to bet on the former teams and to bet against the latter teams.

1. Titans -1.5 over Texans
Houston's rookie QB Deshaun Watson almost upset Tom Brady in New England, but he likely will find Tennessee's defense less friendly than the Patriots porous unit. Since 1995, Titans' DC Dick LeBeau is a preposterous 28-3 SU against rookie passers. In one of those losses, the Steelers rested their starters in a meaningless Week 17 game against Troy Smith. In another, the Pittsburgh offense committed 8 turnovers in a loss to Branond Weeden. The third anomaloy happened so long ago that even a Google search could find the identity of rookie who accomplished the feat. So Watson has his work cut out for him. It will help if Bill O'Brien calls 30 or more running plays. The Texans are 2-0 ATS when rushing 30 or more times. However, LeBeau's defense has been strong against run, yielding just 3.64 yards per attempt. No opponent has attempt 30 rushes, although the Raiders did get to 29. Tennessee also is 2-0 ATS when it runs the ball 30 or more times. HC Mike Mularkey bludgeoned Jacksonville and Seattle for 179 and 195 yards on the ground, respectively. Those are two of the more sturdy run defenses in the NFL. It seems pretty clear that whichever team imposes its will on the other and gets its 30 carries will win. The consistency and mistake-free nature of Titans QB Marcus Mariota, who is deadly in the red zone, makes it more likely than not that team will be Tennessee.

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2. Jaguars -3.5 over Jets
Both teams are coming off shocking wins. The Jaguars massacred the Ravens in London, 44-7, while New York dispatched Miami, 20-6. In the latter game, NY QB Josh McCown averaged more than 10 QCYPA. That will not happen against Jacksonville's suffocating pass defense (4.478 D-QCYPA) led by CBs Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye, the best tandem in the NFL. If his receivers cannot get open, McCown will put the ball up for grabs and the turnovers should flow. The Jaguars usually play better on the road. QB Blake Bortles has not thrown a pick away from home yet. The Jets D gave up an average of 185 yards rushing in its first two games before thwarting Miami's gimpy Jay Ajayi last week. The bet here is rookie bull Leonard Fournette gets traction and Bortles is not forced to carry the load on offense. QC would make this line Jacksonville -7 so even though it is unnerving to lay the hook, the Jags still should have enough cushion to cover. Great pass coverage is almost always undervalued.

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3. Ravens +3 over Steelers
Both teams were victims of upsets last week as the Steelers stumbled in Chicago while the Ravens were being blasted by Jacksonville. Pittsburgh's run defense was shredded by Bears running backs. Baltimore has covered 5 straight games in which they have attempted 28 rushing attempts or more so even though their O-line is beat up look for Terrence West and Javorius Allen to get touches. When Pittsburgh has the ball, it has to get RB LeVeon Bell going. The Steelers are averaging just 3.1 yards per carry on the ground and the Ravens deep secondary will make things hard for Ben Roethlisberger if the Steelers' offense is not balanced. It will help that Bell will not have to contend with DT Brandon Williams, who is out with a foot injury. But Baltimore has surplus run stuffers and very active LBs led by C.J. Mosely. It is hard to see Pittsburgh making a living on the ground. The Ravens took the ball away 10 times in the first two weeks, but no turnovers were served in London. Joe Flacco was terrible last week, but nobody has less fear of the Steelers (or Patriots) than Flacco and he has bounced back from dreadful performances before with workmanlike ordinary Joe outings. That is probably all it will take here to at least push provided the Baltimore pastry chef is still not on sabbatical.

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4. Cowboys -6.5 over Rams
Los Angeles is greatly improved under HC Sean McVay, ranks second in the NFL in play design differential, but is just 1-2 ATS. QB Jared Goff is averaging a gaudy 10.6 QCYPA (Matt Ryan averaged 9.5 last year) and RB Todd Gurley looked engergized last week against the 49ers. But Wade Phillips defense has fallen on hard time as both San Francisco and Washington piled up more than 30 rushes the last 2 games. Dallas is 10-3 ATS the last 2 years when Zeke Elliott, et al. attempt 30 or more runs. The Cowboys also should have a couple DBs return from injury, although LB Sean Lee's hamstring may keep him out of the game. Regression to the mean, a healthier, secondary, and a new and nasty pass rush led by DeMarcus Lawrence should bring Goff back to earth a bit and create some turnovers. Dallas has faced three robust defenses (Giants, Broncos, Cardinals) while the Rams have faced three softies (Colts, Redskins, 49ers). Sharp money has bet this game from -8 to -6.5, a price that is a bit of a bargain on Dallas at home. Look for HC Jason Garrett to order 30+ carries, Zeke to have a big game, and the Cowboys to win comfortably.

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5. 49ers +6.5 over Cardinals
This is the "Underachiever Bowl" of the first quarter of the NFL season. San Francisco has yet to win a game. Arizona has yet to cover a game. The latter is worse. If good teams win and great teams cover, then bad teams lose and deadbeat teams don't cover. QC would rather back a bad team than an underachieving team any Sunday (or Monday or Thursday) because linemakers are far more likely to price a bad team correctly than they are to price an underachieving team correctly. QC has a statistic that measures underachievement. Don't ask, it's secret. But here are the five worst underachievers since 2011 and their ATS records:

2012: Chiefs: 5-11
2013: Texans: 4-12
2012: Eagles: 3-12-1
2013: Redskins: 5-11
2011: Rams: 3-12-1

If the 2017 season ended today, the Cardinals would join this list (and so would the Bengals so keep that in mind before assuming Cincinnati is bouncing back this week in Cleveland). San Francisco is bad, but the 49ers achieve much closer to their true performance level than Bruce Arians' club does. Against the Rams, QB Brian Hoyer finally started to look like a mediocre NFL QB. And HC Kyle Shannahan might have found a player in slot Trent Taylor. The Cardinals defense is strong against the run so Hoyer cannot expect Carolos Hyde to carry the load in the desert. Those who remember Carson Palmer in Cincinnati know what they are seeing. Palmer has no mobility and his core G-C-G protection has eroded over the years. Look for San Francisco's towering young pass rusher, DeForest Buckner, to consistently push the pocket back into Palmer's lap. Don't expect "No risk it, no biscuit" Arians to shorten any pass routes so Palmer is likely to put the ball up for grabs. If Hoyer takes care of ball and plays within himself, the under should cover easily and San Francisco should get its first win of the season.

Last Week: 4-1
Season: 12-3

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QC's 5 Week 3 Thoughts

Dallas had to rally to beat Arizona 28-17 on MNF. Don't expect things to get any easier for the Cowboys. After 3 games, Dallas' 2017 opponents have the best combined play design differential in football (+1.4%). Other teams likely to face challenging roads are New Orleans (+1.15%), LA Chargers (+0.81%), NY Jets (+0.79%) and Washington (+0.49%). The five teams with the easiest paths are: Tennessee (-2.85%), Baltimore (-2.77%), Jacksonville (-2.65%), Cleveland (-2.21%), and Cincinnati (-2.06%).

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Boy, oh, boy is the Patriots defense bad. Opposing passers are averaging nearly 9.5 QCYPA against New England. Tom Brady is lighting it up at over 9.8 QCYPA, but he is just barely producing a little more than break even as the defense is yielding almost 9.5 D-QCYPA. There is no way that Brady can keep up the pace and no way New England can win the Super Bowl with a defense this bad. Bill Belichick will have his hand full fixing this mess.

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Speaking of Dallas, the Cowboys comeback against the Cardinals was impressive. Zeke Elliott got tough rushing yards and sparked the offense in the second half with a couple gash runs. Dak Prescott was efficient and finished drives (2 TD passes, TD run). Led by DeMarcus Lawrence, the Dallas defense buried Arizona QB Carson Palmer. Opposing passes are losing an average of .788 yards per attempt against Rod Marinelli's defense. That's an outstanding number and if the D can continue to make it doomsday for opposing passers the Cowboys should be just fine.

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Better designed teams finished 12-4 in Week 3 just as coaching stats expect better designed teams to finish every week. But the bookmakers made a killilng as underdogs covered at every turn and the bookies held onto about 16 cents over every dollar bet. That is almost 4x what we expect them to hold. What happened? Well, the Raiders saw their play design differential decline by more than 10% while the Redskins and Jets differentials increased by more than 10%. The Ravens, Saints and Colts also saw more than 6% change in their differential. it is not unusual for one team to have a bad game and see a major play design differential in Week 3. It does not happen every year, but it happens more often than not. For 5 teams to experience such a dramatic reversal is unprecedented and made the books a lot of money. Don't overreact. Everybody has a good day or a bad day now and then. In the NFL its unusual for so many teams to have one on the same day.

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Week 3: QC's 5 Best Bets

If you listen to ex-NFL coach and personnel man Pat Kirwan on NFL Radio, you frequently will here him say coaches need 3 games of video to start figuring out new players. QC believes it is pretty much the same with linemakers. Until 3 games are in the bank, the linemakers (and bettors who shape the lines) are pretty much taking views that are based more on prior year performance than current performance. In Week 3, QC has noticed that: 1) Week 3 is the worst week of the year to bet better designed teams except 2) better designed teams that have started out very strong tend to stay very strong and the linemakers do not charge excessive premiums until after the Week 3 results are in.

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1. Colts +1 over Browns
A consensus quickly formed that Indy is the worst team in the NFL after the LA Rams routed Chuck Pagano's team in Week 1. But we have learned since then that LA coach Sean McVay and QB Jared Goff are going to move the ball on just about everyone. Pagano also quickly made adjustments to his defense by inserting rookie DBs Malik Hooker and Quincy Wilson into the starting lineup and the Indy D looked a lot better before falling to Arizona in OT, 13-10. Also, new DT Margus Hunt is creating good gut pressure. Wilson is out for this game, but there is a pretty good chance that top DB Vontae Davis will make his 2017 debut so expect the Indy defense to bend but not break again. Cleveland, on the other hand, is in a bit of flux offensively. QC is fan of HC Hue Jackson as a play designer, but thus far his designs have not meshed well with rookie QB DeShone Kizer. Despite signing two FA pass protectors, Kizer has been sacked 9 times and the Browns lead the league in deep pass attempts. Jackson has not been able to get RB Isaiah Crowell going and that might be hard to do against an Indy D that has yielded just 2.5 yards per rush (No. 2 in the NFL). There is a term for what Jackson and his team are going through: "Growing Pains." The Colts' will experience some growing pains too, especially with QB Jacoby Brissett, but Pagano has enough veterans on offense (Frank Gore, T.Y. Hilton, Jack Doyle) to weather those pains a little better and get a close win at home.

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2. Bengals +8.5 over Packers
Not scoring a TD in the first 2 games cost Cincinnati OC Ken Zampese his job. In the afermath of the firing, several Bengals said Zampese's designs were too complicated. QB Andy Dalton, who has struggled mightily, said new OC Bill Lazor, will try to simplify things. This actually might work. Lazor made the University of Virginia's offense potent when he was OC in Charlottesville. Nick Foles and Ryan Tannehill played well using Lazor's designs in his prior stops in Philadelphia and Miami. When the Dolphins faced the Packers in Lambeau in 2014, Miami put up 24 points despite 3 turnovers. Moreover, Dalton cannot be this bad. Dalton threw only 8 interceptions in 2016 and already has tossed 4 this year. He will miss TE Tyler Eifert, but if Lazor can get WR Tyler Boyd back into the flow and getting the running game going, the Bengals should show improvement. It will help that Green Bays' front 7 is not nearly as imposing as Cincinnati's first two opponents (Baltimore and Houston), particuarly if DL Mike Daniels does not play or is slowed by his hip injury. The Falcons gashed the Packers on the ground in Week 2 and the Bengals have runners (Joe Mixon, Jeremy Hill, Gio Bernard) who present problems. On the other side of the ball, Green Bay QB Aaron Rogers was stymied by Atlanta's sticky pass coverage until the outcome was decided. Rogers was the best player in the NFL when he followed the play designs between the 20s and used his uncanny ad lib ability and accuracy in the red zone to throw TDs. But for the last few years, Rogers has mostly ad libbed all over the field and Green Bay's QCYPA had steadily deteriorated. Rogers' current QCYPA is 6.7, down from 7.4 in 2016, and the Bengals D-QCYPA is a suffocating 5.3. Rogers is by far the best passer the Bengals have faced and he has been known to light up Lambeau in matchups like this, but it is more likely Cincinnati's D keeps the Bengals in the game and perhaps pulls off the upset if it can coax a turnover or two from the Pack.

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3. Bears +7.5 over Steelers
Pittsburgh is No. 1 in the NFL in QCYPA at 4.9 and Chicago ranks near the bottom of the league in D-QCYPA at 5.8. On the surface, it appears that Mike Glennon has no chance to move the ball in the air against the Steelers. But Glennon should get a little more help this week. Ex-Pitt WR Markus Wheaton is slated to make his debut in Chicago and G Kyle Long also is expected to play for the first time this year. Getting those two back should helpt the offense alot. The Bears WR corps is in dissarray. Wheaton may not be a No. 1 NFL WR, but he was a pretty good deep threat in 2015 before injuries cost him the 2016 season. RB Tarik Cohen has been targeted far more than any other RB so far in 2016 and he should help too. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh will be without dynamic rookie LB T.J. Watt who is out with an injury. On offense, Ben Roethlisberger and Le'Veon Bell have not been able to crank up the offense yet. It would not be surprising if they continue to find the sledding tough against Chicago's defense. The Bears gave up 29 points on the scoreboard in Week 2 in Tampa, but 7 of those points came on a pick-6, 7 more points came on a 1-play drive after Cohen fumbled a punt, and 7 more of those points came on a driver of less than 40 yards after another turnover. Chicago has just 1 takeaway through 2 games after equalling an NFL record with just 11 takeaways in 2016. But the Bears defense is too good for such ineptness to continue forever. And on the road Big Ben can almost always be counted on to throw at least one ghastly interception.

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4. Chiefs -3 over Chargers
Through two weeks, the surprising Chiefs are unbeaten and +10.02% better designed then their opponents. Here is how such teams have faired in Week 3 since 2009 (better designed team in bold):
2009: Saints 27 Bills 7
2009: Colts 31 Cardinals 10
2009: Jets 24 Titans 17
2010: Bears 20 Packers 17
2011: Lions 26 Vikings 23
2012: Cardinals 27 Eagles 6
2013: Seahawks 45 Jaguars 17
2013: Broncos 37 Raiders 21
2014: Bengals 33 Titans 7
Ironically, the only team on this list to lose--the 2012 Eagles--was coached by Andy Reid. But don't pay any attention to that. The 2012 Eagles committed 9 turnovers in their first 2 games and squeaked by the Browns and Ravens by 1 point apiece. Philly was a total mirage, imploded, finished 4-12, and cost Reid his job. This Kansas City team is not that. The Chiefs have two dynamic playmakers in Tyreke Hill and Kareem Hunt and a ferocious pass rush led by blooming star Chris Jones. Los Angeles (0-2), on the other hand, looks like a lot of the "going nowhere teams" that make up the losing side of the list. Look for KC to roll again and the linemakers to start increasing premiums to bet the Chiefs significantly.

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5. Raiders -3 over Redskins
Washington has a win but it has yet to win a design battle and its -9.2% play design differential is better only than the Colts and the Jets (combined 0-4). The Redskins ripped LA last week for 229 yards on the ground, but the 49ers showed Thursday night that the Rams D may not be who we thought they were and it is almost impossible to run over an opponent in the NFL two weeks in a row. Oakland's D is yielding 4.5 yards per carry, but that figure doesn't matter if the opponent is playing from behind as the Raiders' first two opponents have been. QB Derek Carr is averaging over 8.8 QCYPA and has tossed 5 TD passes. Meanwhile, Washington's D is yielding over 8.7 D-QCYPA. Look for Carr and his receivers to have another big game. With Carr under center, Oakland has coverd 7 of its last 8 road games. The Redskins have failed to cover their last 3 home games. Don't overthink it. Lay the points with the Raiders before the linemakers make it cost prohibitive to do so.

Last Week: 5-0
Season: 8-2

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Week 2 Thoughts

As QC suspected, the Rams felt a little too go about themselves after thrashing Indianapolis in the opener and it got them beat by Washington, 27-20. QB Jared Goff was again in good form posting 9.615 QCYPA. But, even though superstar DT Aaron Donald returned to the lineup and Redskins starting RB Fat Robert Kelly left it midway through the game, the Redskins still ran for 229 yards (5.87 per try). It is rare that an NFL team is simply run over by another and Washington hardly looked like a steam-rolling juggernaut in Week 1 against Philadelphia. Rather, QC suspects, Los Angeles was just not ready. It happens, particularly with a young team that his learning to be consistent. There is still much to be optmistic about with the Rams.

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Before the season began, QC expected Atlanta to significantly regress. It seemed impossible that the Falcons could match their 2016 numbers on offense. But the attack numbers have not fallen. And the defense, particularly the pass rush, has been vastly improved. HC Dan Quinn has the D playing like it did for more than a half in the Super Bowl. Through 2 games, the Falcons pass pressure has taken an average of .724 yards per pass attempt from opposing offenses. That's outstanding. On Sunday night, the D suffocated Green Bay's Aaron Rogers until the game was well in hand (31-7). The only negative is top pass rusher Vic Beasley looks like he will miss a monthy with an injury. It bears watching to see if the Falcons can keep the heat on opposing passers without Beasley or restart the fire when he returns.

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QC bet the Bears to win the NFC North at 40-1 and though Chicago is 0-2 and got pasted in Tampa Bay, 29-7, it is far too early to give up John Fox and his team. The Bucs had to travel less than 50 yards for their 3 TDs because Chicago turnovers set up Jameis Winston and company in great field position. When Tampa had to drive the field, all Winston could muster was field goals much as Atlanta mostly could only muster field goals in Week 1. Chicago has only forced one takeaway and the Bears cannot win without subisidies from their opponents and turnover-free, efficient production on offense. But Chicago is only 1 game behind division favorites Green Bay and Minnesota and still has all its division games in front of it. It looks bad right now. But the last time QC bet a long-shot, the 2013 Carolina Panthers started 0-2 (including an ugly Week 2 loss to Buffalo, which finished 6-10) before roaring back to win 11 of 12 behind a rugged defense. It probably will not happen again. But it is way to early to give up on Chicago.

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If it seems like NFL coaches are not very innovative, maybe it is because it could be harder to innovate than it used to be. That is the theory several renowned economic scholars have about a wide variety of industries. In a recent paper, Are Ideas Getting Harder to Find?, these scholars found "a wide range of evidence from various industries, products, and firms showing that research effort is rising substantially while research productivity is declining sharply." A few years ago, Pat Kirwan of NFL Network did a rudimentary study that showed teams with the smallest coaching staffs (New England, Pittsburgh, Green Bay) often performed way better than teams with the largest coaching staffs (Buffalo, Jacksonville, Cleveland). "Coaching staffs should be smaller," said Kirwan. "We're in the age of technology. That fact alone should have made these staffs smaller, not bigger. Computers and digitized film are much faster, more accessible, and easier to manipulate than anything we used to do by hand back in the day." It looks like these economists agree with Kirwan.

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Week 2: QC's 5 Best Bets

Week 2 of an NFL season is the hardest week of all the hard weeks to handicap. We only have one data point, which means we really have no data points. But we have seen performance on the field. The Colts stink. Hmm? The Rams are (maybe) good? The Vikings are great (at least against the Saints defense). Were the Steelers sleep walking against the Browns? Or are they perhaps not as good as we thought they were. So many questions. It's a nightmare. So we have to look outside the box.

We have to look for potential blowouts.

Since 2009, forty-one Week 2 games have been blowouts with one team winning by 14 or more points. in 95% of thos games, a team finished either in the top 10 or the bottom 10 of the NFL in play design differential. So we are looking for teams that are not likely to be well designed. In 83% of those games, the favorite won. In 75% of those games, the home team won. So we are looking for home teams laying points that are well-designed and, preferably, playing teams that are not well designed. Jacksonville has lost six times in this eight year period so we can eliminate the Jaguars from the start. This leads us to...


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1. Raiders -14 over Jets
This game checks all the boxes. There is little doubt New York will finish in the bottom 5 in the NFL in play design. Oakland looked improved over their 12-4 form in an impressive Week 1 win at Tennessee. Further, neither team enjoyed a turnover edge last week, but the Raiders were +16 in 2016 while the Jets were -20. Finally, Oakland's kicking game became suspect when Sebastian Janikowski went on IR, but rookie Giorgio Tavecchio was a perfect 4-for-4 against the Titans. All of this points to an easy win for the Raiders. Bookmakers like to joke if you lay two TDs, you will lose your "wiseguy card." But the true wiseguy is the one that can spot a massive design mismatch and a below normal risk of emergent, undesigned negative events.


2. Ravens -8 over Browns.
Baltimore did not show much on offense against Cincinnati but it did not have to do so because the Bengals provided 5 turnover subsidies. So it is possible that the Ravens are not nearly as good as they appeared. On the other hand, with the acquisition of Tony Jefferson, Brandon Carr, and rookie Marlon Humphrey, suddenly DC Dean Pees as as much pass coverage depth as any designer in the NFL. Great pass coverage is always undervalued. Hue Jackson probably won't be able to run against Baltimore's twin monsters, Brandon Williams and Michael Pierce. So Jackson will have to put the game in the hands of rookie QB DeShon Kizer against that pass coverage and Kizer won't have had an entire off-season to prepare as he did for the opener with the Steelers. QC forecasts more turnovers in Baltimore.

3. Buccaneers -7 over Bears.
This one makes QC a little nervous. Jameis Winston always has the potential to turn the ball over and the Bucs were out of their routine a bit because of Hurricane Irma. But it has been business as usual since Tuesday in Tampa. Moreover, Chicago was 0-8 on the road in 2016. Poor Mike Glennon has no WRs at all. It seems impossible for OC Dowell Loggains to design any kind of balanced attack until a WR--perhaps Tanner Gentry--emerges as a bona fide pass catcher. Chicago's defense is rugged, but it did not force any TOs in Week 1 versus Atlanta. The Bears simply must have turnovers to win. If Winston avoids the turnovers, DC Vic Fangio's stop troops probably will wear down in the second half and Tampa will win by at least two scores.

4. Bills +7 over Panthers.
These teams are virtual mirror images of each other and not just because Buffalo HC Sean McDermott was Carolina's DC last year under Ron Rivera. Both teams want to run the ball. Both teams feature dual threat QBs. Both teams have capable run defenders. (Bills edge Shaq Lawson received the best run defender grade from Pro Football Focus in Week 1.) In 2016, the Panthers were just .0002 percentage points better designed than the Bills. Of the two, Cam Newton is more likely to turn the ball over than Tyrod Taylor. For all of those reasons, this looks like a great spot to ride the dog.

5. Redskins +2.5 over Rams.
Los Angeles and its rookie HC Sean McVay looked awesome in blasting Indianapolis last week. Everything went right for McVay and second-year QB Jared Goff. It simply can't go that well two weeks in a row. And the Rams are probably feeling pretty good about themselves. That usually gets you beat in the NFL. Meanwhile, Washington is already desparate. The Redskins fell to Philadelphia, 30-17, in Week 1. But Washington was seeking the lead in Q4 when QB Kirk Cousins tossed a pick in the Eagles' end zone. Granted that is a signature Cousins play, but he also can produce. The Redskins were 6-2 ATS on the road in 2016 and historically HC who vastly exceed expectations in a debut are 5-13-2 ATS in their next game. This seems like a good spot to bet on the rebound.

Last Week: 3-2
Season 3-2

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QC's Week 1 Thoughts

Better coached/designed finished Week 1 15-0. It is rare for such teams to win all the games in any week. It has only happened twice since 2009. Better coached/designed teams win about 75% of all games. For this reason, in the coming weeks, expect to see some chaos as turnovers and special teams correct the market. This will make handicapping particuarly difficult for those who rely heavily on quantitative methods driven by statistics like yards per play, etc. Until the market shows some correction, focus on teams that are sound, but not spectacular play designers, and have shown they can win the turnover battle and be solid in the kicking game. The Raiders, Ravens, and Chiefs look like they could be such teams for the first month of the season.

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QC's not ready to buy into the Eagles hype after Philadelphia's 30-17 win over Washington. Philadelphia got off to a good start when Carson Wentz misread a coverage, escaped a sack, and found Nelson Agholor for a deep TD. Greg Cosell of NFL Matchup later showed how Agholor was not even supposed to be part of the progression read. The Eagles also denied the Redskins a score when they intercepted Kirk Cousins in their own end zone and scored a defenseive TD when DT Fletcher Cox returned a controversial fumble for a score. The Eagles' defensive numbers were good. But this win may not be as impressive as a 13-point margin indicates.

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Who needs design experience? Three of four new HC won in their deput (Sean McVay, Vance Joseph and Sean McDermott). The oldest, Joseph, is just 44 years-old. It is just one game. But if their teams compete for a playoff spot all year it will be interesting to see if NFL owners try to get younger at this postion.

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10 Reasons the 40-1 Bears To Win the NFC North is the Best Bet of 2017 NFL Pre-Season

QC was in Las Vegas last week and while he was there he stopped in on his friend Chris "Mr. Peabody" Andrews' joint--the sports book at the South Point Casino & Hotel--to place a bet he has been itching to make for months:

Bears to win the NFC North at 40-1.

The so-called experts have been crushing Chicago. Not only did the Bears finish an abysmal 3-13 in 2016, they signed Tampa Bay backup QB Mike Glennon to a big bucks FA deal and then turned around and traded multiple picks to San Francisco to move up one spot and draft QB Mitchell Trubisky. The moves left the "experts" scratching their heads and thinking Chicago at best is unsure of what it is doing and at worst, in the words of Colin Cowherd, a "dysfunctional dumpster fire."

This is sweet music to QC's ears.

Here is what Mr. Peabody, Cowherd and the other experts are missing:

1. NFL bottom feeders rebound to win division championships much more frequently than 40-1.
Of the 59 NFL teams that finished a season 4-12 or worse since 2005, 7 rebounded the next year to win a division title. In other words, teams like Chicago go from worst-to-first 11.86% of the time. That is far more often than the 2.44% chance that the South Point's 40-1 odds imply. The Jaguars, Browns, Rams and 49ers also fit this description, but, as will be shown below, only Jacksonville might be considered to have comparable potential to the Bears and Mr. Peabody's 5-1 odds on the Jags is nothing to dream on. If 11.86% is Chicago's true chance to win the divisions, their odds should be far closer to what Mr. Peabody is dealing on Jacksonville, (i.e., between 7-1 and 8-1) not 40-1.

2. Chicago actually was pretty well coached and designed in 2016.
The Bears +.0050 play differential ranked 15th in the NFL in 2016, well ahead of 2016 division champ and 2017 favorite Green Bay (-.0178, 24th). Since 2008, 6 of 11 NFL teams (54.5%) that finished with a losing record despite being positively designed rebounded the next season to post a winning record. As the Packers won the division in 2016 at just 10-6, a winning record should put Chicago right in the thick of the divisional race. The Chargers (+400) and the Bengals (+450) also fit this description, but, again, Mr. Peabody's San Diego and Cincinnati odds have no sex appeal.

3. Vic Fangio and Dowell Loggains
Chicago HC John Fox is fairly uninspiring, but the same should not be said for his play designers. DC Fangio is from the same zone blitz family that produced master designers Dick LeBeau, Dom Capers, and Marvin Lewis. The Harbaugh Brothers have kept him on staff for most their careers. Loggains is a rising star as an offensive play designer. The Bears ranked 13th in QCYPA in 2016 (7.349) despite a grab bag at QB of Jay Cutler, Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkely. Trubisky is a sponge who will soak up Loggain's designs quickly and assume the starting role if Glennon cannot demonstrate that he can at least minimize TOs and produce at middle of the NFL rate of efficiency.

4. Hedge Value
Of course, even if Chicago's true odds are between 7-1 and 8-1 that is still quite a bit of risk. So while in Vegas QC bought a little insurance on Minneota and Detroit. If the Vikings or Lions end up taking the divisional flag, then Mr. Peabody has only borrowed QC's money, not won it. Combining Minnesota's and Detroit's odds to win the NFC North yields a +860 figure. The only divisions where you can get better value is the AFC East (where you would have to topple New England) and the NFC West (where you would have to best Seattle), which are the only divisions with bigger favorites than Green Bay. In addition, your third choice in those divisions is a 15-1 shot (Buffalo) and 12-1 (LA Rams) whereas your third choice in the NFC North--Detroit--is a more respectable 6-1. A division that is more competitive top-to-bottom increases the odds that a holder of a wooden spoon (an Australian Rules Football team for last place) can rise to claim a golden spatula (just made that up).

5. Packers and Vikings backers will pay almost all of Mr. Peabody's margins for you.
QC calculated that the South Point book's margin on betting the winner of the NFC North is 17.84%. If you allocate that margin on a pro rata basis, each team bears 4.46% of the margin. The Packers (13.08%) are carrying 285% of their pro rata share of the margin. The Vikings are carrying 111% of their pro rata share of the margin. The Lions are carrying 57.2% of their pro rata share of the margin. And the Bears are carrying 10% of their pro rata share of the margin.

6. Somebody in the NFL almost always goes worst-to-first.
In 7 of the last 8 years, a team has won a division after finishing last the year before and in 2011 two teams turned the trick (Denver and Houston, albeit the Texans tied with the Titans for last in the AFC South in 2010). So it is almost a sure thing that somebody is going to go from worst-to-first in 2017. Here are the candidates: Jets (forget about it), Browns (worst designed team in NFL in 2016), Jaguars (a possibility), Chargers (a possibility), Eagles (a possibility), Panthers (a possibility), 49ers (2nd worst desiged team in the NFL in 2016), and Bears. If we conservatively say worst-to-first occurs in 87.5% of all years and that there are 5 genuine candidates to go worst-to-first, then Chicago has a 17.5% chance to win NFC North (.875 x .2). In addition, of the 5 genuine candidates, only San Diego was better designed than the Bears in 2016 and Chicago's 40-1 odds are far more attractive than next best offer of the 5-1 Jaguars.

7. Turnovers tend to turnover.
What destroyed the Bears in 2016 was their ghastly -24 TO differential. On average, the 7 teams that rebounded from 4-12 or worse to win a division averaged -12.85 TOs when they bottomed and improved by about +19 TO when they triumphed. Jettisoning Cutler and Barkley should create addition by subtraction (of turnovers). In addition, Fangio's defenses in San Francisco excelled in creating TOs. It is highly likely Chicago will provide fewer and receive more subsidies in 2017. In addition, Bill Barnwell pointed out that in 2016 opposing NFL kickers nailed 94.3% of their field goals against the Bears, the highest percentage against any team in the league. The Bears also lost the most points due to field position according to Barnwell's source. As Barnwell acknowledged, "[t]here's no evidence that teams can pull this off deliberately from year to year...."

8. Chicago has some players ready to emerge.
Almost everybody knows that RB Jordan Howard (1313 yards) finished second in the NFL in rushing in his rookie year in 2016. But probably not as many know that WR Cameron Meredith was the highest graded receiver by Pro Football Focus over the final 5 games of the season. Or that LB Leonard Floyd flashed the second most productive pass rush pressure for 4 weeks before he suffered a concussion. Or that PFF graded Jerrell Freeman as the best past coverage and overall LB in the NFL in 2016. Or that PFF found DT Akiem Hicks to be the third-best pass rusher on third-down in 2016. Or that PFF graded the Chicago O-line led by rookie C Cody Whitehair to be the NFL's 5th best. Or that solid S Adrian Amos will be joined by all new personnel in the secondary, including CB Prince Amukamara, who was a Top 25 corner in Jacksonville in 2016. The cupboard is not bare. If Glennon or Trubisky can manage the game and not turn the ball over, there is enough talent in Chicago for the Bears to compete.

9. Green Bay is in decline.
The Packers resurrection and stunning playoff win over Dallas masks the fact that Green Bay has been getting old and declining for several years. This year, Green Bay will be without DE Julius Peppers--who drew most of the attention of opposing OCs--and C J.C. Tretter and G T.J. Lang--who both received fairly nice pay days on the free agent market. Without them, Green Bay will be without its most feared defender and the interior core protection that is critical to preventing gut pressure from quickly getting to QB Aaron Rogers. Furthermore, since blowing the 2014 NFC Championship Game, the Packers play design differential figures have fallen precipitously and HC Mike McCarthy has come under fire. Only Rogers' red zone magic has kept the Pack from falling out of the playoffs the last two years. Green Bay won the NFC North last year despite a negative play design differential. It was just the sixth team since 2008 to win a division with negative play design. Only 3 of those teams (50%) came back the next year to repeat as division champions. So it seems like at best the Packers should be even money to win the division, not -250 (implies 71.43% chance of NFC North title).

10. You probably can hedge against Green Bay after Week 6 cheaper than you can today.
The Packers first six games of the season are against teams that were positively designed in 2016. That is a tough stretch for any team and rarely do any teams emerge from such a stretch better than 3-3. The Packers do get 3 of their first 4 at home including a Thursday night visit in Week 4 from Chicago, which seems like too tall a mountain for a new QB to climb. And superstar RB Ezekiel Elliott may or may not be on the field when the Packers take the field against the Cowboys in Week 5. But the home opener is Seattle, who was embarrassed last year in Lambeau Field, and all 3 of the road games are difficult (at Atlanta, at Dallas, and at Minnesota). Unless McCarthy and Rogers can regain their past play design excellence, it is probable that the Packers will be even money or at worst a short favorite to win the division after this stretch and you can hedge your exposure to the Packers at this time at discount to Mr. Peabody's current -250 price.

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QC's Draft To Design 2017 NFL Mock Draft (1RD)

The reason it is so hard to know if drafting a highly touted college QB high in the NFL Draft will pay off is that a QB is a parlay bet.

As QC's 4th Commandment states, a QB is both a play designer and a playmaker. Once a generation or less, a QB--John Elway, Peyton Manning--comes along who presents obvious value on both sides of the proposition. But more frequently, a QB prospect's playmaking skills (Tom Brady) or play designing skills (Ryan Leaf) do not look up to NFL caliber.

Such is the case with the 2017 NFL Draft. Mitch Trubisky, DeShone Kizer, Pat Mahomes II, and Deshaun Watson have all flashed playmaking skills, but their play designing body of work is thin. With no clear expected value on the QB bets, the best draft to design strategy that a team holding a Top 5 2017 pick can follow is identify one of a handful of players with the "potential to be great" and select that player, regardless of position, or to trade down and increase its number of picks.

Here is how the 2017 NFL Draft 1RD would play out if QC drafted for every team:

QC's 2nd ANNUAL DRAFT TO DESIGN MOCK DRAFT

No.

Team

Pick Position

College

Comments

1

Cleveland

Myles Garrett

DE

Texas A&M

New DC Gregg Willams turned Jevon Kearse into the "Freak" (14.5 sacks; 8 forced fumbles) in his rookie year in 1999.

2

San Francisco

O.J. Howard

TE

Alabama

New HC Kyle Shannahan is a brilliant play designer and a generational TE is too tasty an ingredient to pass up.

3

Chicago

Reuben Foster

LB

Alabama

DC Vic Fangio did wonders in SF with multi-talented LBs Patrick Willis and Navarro Bowman.

4

Jacksonville

Ryan Ramczyk

OL

Wisconsin

New HC Doug Marrone knows blocking design and Ramczyk is a versatile player with big upside. (Howard is the pick if he is still available otherwise Jags should try to trade down and take Ramczyck.)

5

Tennessee

Jamal Adams

S

LSU

DC Dick LeBeau is a master with fast, aggressive, versatile safeties.

6

NY Jets

Marshon Lattimore

CB

Ohio St.

HC Todd Bowles' blitz designs only work if he has at least one lock down corner.

7

LA Chargers

Malik Hooker

S

Ohio St.

New DC Gus Bradley's designs require a rangy centerfielder at the back end.

8

Carolina

Fabian Moreau

CB

UCLA

Panthers HC Ron Rivera starts with D and the secondary is the area of his D that needs the most attention.

9

Cincinnati

Solomon Thomas

DE

Stanford

DC Paul Guenther likes to play a lot guys up front and they are starting to show their age.

10

Buffalo

Jonathan Allen

DT

Alabama

New HC Sean McDermott saw what loading up on the D-line can do when he was in Carolina.

11

New Orleans

Derek Barnett

DE

Tennessee

If DC Dennis Allen's designs are going to stop anyone, he needs super pass rushers (and Sean Payton loves a D that forces TOs).

12

Cleveland

DeMarcus Walker

DT

Florida St.

Quick gut pressure from Walker inside could make QBs easy targets for outside rushers Garrett, Ogbah and Nassib.

13

Arizona

Pat Mahomes II

QB

Texas Tech

HC Bruce Arians likes a gunslinger and Mahomes seems to have more 'slinger in him than any other QB prospect in this class.

14

Philadelphia

Dalvin Cook

RB

Florida St.

Sophomore QB Carson Wentz needs weapons and HC Doug Pederson saw what Zeke Elliott did for Dak Prescott in Dallas.

15

Indianapolis

Forrest Lamp

G

Western Kentucky

OC Rob Chudzinski is a Norv Turner disciple who wants to throw deep routes; he needs solid core protection to do so and not get Andrew Luck killed.

16

Baltimore

Haason Redick

LB

Temple

Ravens pass rush is not what it was so DC Dean Pees gets an ingredient to soup up pressure.

17

Washington

Tra-Davious White

CB

LSU

Former Wash LB Greg Manusky is now the DC and he will need some cover corners if his D designs are going to slow anyone down.

18

Tennessee

Jabrill Peppers

S

Michigan

Doubling down on versatile safeties for Dick LeBeau is a great way to play your cards.

19

Tampa Bay

Garrett Bolles

T

Utah

QB Jameis Winston is lethal when he has protection... and a TO-machine when he does not, so HC Dirk Koetter should beef up the OL.

20

Denver

David Njoku

TE

Miami

New OC Mike McCoy has to fix an offense that fell apart at the end of 2016 and a TE that can threaten the middle of the field is a good place to start.

21

Detroit

Leonard Fournette

RB

LSU

As QC said last year when he recommended Darrick Henry to the Lions: How would Matt Stafford look if he had a RB who a D had to respect on first down?

22

Miami

Marlon Humphrey

CB

Alabama

New DC Matt Burke is an design unknown, so a cover corner taught by Nick Saban seems like a good idea.

23

NY Giants

Cam Robinson

T

Alabama

HC Ben McAdoo designed around poor O-line play in his first year; Robinson could help mitigate the need to do so in YR2.

24

Oakland

Zach Cunningham

LB

Vanderbilt

HC Jack Del Rio took over D design early in 2016, but he still needs improved ingredients in the middle of the field for the Raiders to improve.

25

Houston

Mitchell Trubisky

QB

North Carolina

A low maintenance (he sat his first 3 years in college), accurate, NE Ohio grinder is just the antidote for Bill O'Brien and the Texans' failed Brock Osweiler experiment.

26

Seattle

Gaeron Conley

CB

Ohio St.

HC Pete Carroll is a master designer, particularly with rangy, tall cover corners.

27

Kansas City

Christian McCaffrey

RB

Stanford

How excited woud you be to see this guy in Andy Reid's screen game? Yeah, QC too!

28

Dallas

Taco Charlton

DE

Michigan

Remember what DC Rod Marinelli did with Julius Peppers in Chicago? Charlton (6-5+) is the tallest pass rush prospect left on the board.

29

Green Bay

Mike Williams

WR

Clemson

With Jordy Nelson getting older, HC Mike McCarthy and OC Tom Clements need to start breaking in a new No. 1 WR for Aaron Rogers.

30

Pittsburgh

Budda Baker

S

Washington

DC Keith Butler still remembers how Tom Brady and Chris Hogan shredded his back end in the 2016 AFC Championship Game.

31

Atlanta

Adoree Jackson

CB

USC

HC Dan Quinn is committed to making the Falcons D faster and more athletic and dangerous; no ingredient in this draft checks all the boxes in that recipe more than Jackson.

32

New Orleans

Corey Davis

WR

Western Michigan

It is hard to image that HC Sean Payton would not see the big and fluid Davis as an upgrade from the diminutive Brandin Cooks who was traded for this pick.

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