Vince Lombardi

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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 (2018-Part 4)

QC's Wild Card Round Thoughts

NFL QBs make their money in the red zone. In Indianapolis' 21-7 win over Houston, Colts' QB Andrew Luck tossed a pair of red zone TD passes. His counterpart, Texans' QB Deshaun Watson twice came up empt on 4DN in the red zone. Indianapolis outplayed in Houston from the jump its offensive line was particularly dominant. The Colts OLs allowed just one sack and paved the way for a career high rushing day by RB Marlon Mack. Watson is a gamer and battled to rally the Texans, but he missed too many opportunities.

****

Chargers DC Gus Bradley may not be the COY, but he is the "Coach of the Wild Card Round" based on LA's 23-17 win over Baltimore. Bradley used 7 DBs on virtually every play to completely fluster Baltimore QB Lamar Jackson. Until Q4, Jackson and the Ravens offenes was non-existent and gave the ball away twice on turnovers. After Jackson came to life late and got the ball back with one more chance to try to conjure a miracle win, another Chargers' sack and Jackson TO ended the matter. Over 41.5 bettors were sabotaged by missed field goals by LA's Michael Badgely and Baltimore's Justin Tucker.

****

Seattle OC Brian Schottenheimer has come under intense unwarranted criticism for not calling enough pass plays for Russell Wilson in the Seahawks 24-22 loss to Dallas. Seattle not only covered the spread, but also won both the design battle and the turnover battle and was solid in the kicking game (thanks to a penalty that nullified a punt return TD by the Cowboys' Tavon Austin). An NFL team wins 95% of all such games. Dallas won because it executed, and Pete Carroll's team did not, on four high-leverage plays that went the Cowboys' way. Seattle abandoned contain on Dallas' last drive of the first half and RB Zeke Elliott may them pay by dashing 41 yards to set up a Dak Pescott TD pass. On the Cowboys' final scoring drive, a pair of 3DN pass interference penalties and a marvelous 16-yard run by Prescott on 3rd and 14 set up Dallas' final TD. The Prescott run was particularly devastating to under 43.5 bettors as HC Jason Garrett clearly was playing for a field goal when he called Prescott's QB draw and a field goal would have all but clinced an under as it would have put the Cowboys up by 6 points. If the Seahawks had stopped Prescott and held Dallas to a field goal and then scored, it would have tied the game at 20-20 and set up a dramatic two-point PAT to decide the game because Seattle K Sebastian Janikowski was injured in the first half and could not play in the second half.

*****

The teams whose year-over-year play design improved the most from 2017 met in Week 17 when Baltimore held off Cleveland, 26-24, and captured the AFC North. With rookie QB Baker Mayfield setting a rookie record for TD passes, the Browns finished with a +1.37% play design differential, an improvement of 5.96% over 2017. The Ravens, finished No. 8 in play design differential (+1.55%), an improvement of 3.98% over 2017. Pittsburgh missed the playoffs despite topping Cincinnati, 16-13, but still finished in the Top 10 in play design differential (+2.57%). The Steelers are the only team in the NFL to finish in the Top 10 every year since QC began tracking coaching statistics 10 years ago in 2009. Pittsburgh just could not overcome its -11 TO differential.

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Chicago's 16-15 loss to Philadelphia is going to sting for some time. The Bears and Eagles essentially battled to a standstill. Chicago was 0.14% better designed than Philadelphia and 0.20 points more productive. Matt Nagy's team also was +2 T) and usually such a turnover edge is enough for an NFL team to win. Provided said NFL team is solid in the kicking game. But the Bears were not as K Cody Parkey hit an upright and the crossbar on a last-second field goal attempt that would have given Matt Nagy's team the win. It was fitting (though painful to Chicago rooters) end to the first playoff round in which 3 out of 4 teams that statistically won the play design battle lost the game. It's called "Wild Card" Weekend for a reason.

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Wild-Card Round Playoff Preview

AMERICAN FOOTBALL CONFERENCE

Houston (-1) vs. Indianapolis (Total 48.5)

PLAY DESIGN DIFFERENTIAL RANKINGS: Houston 9th; Indianapolis 18th
PLAYER PRODUCTIVITY DIFFERENTIAL RANKINGS: Houston 9th; Indianapolis 18th
TURNOVER MARGIN: Houston 2nd (+13); Indianapolis 13th (+3)

This game will be decided by the Indianapolis O-line. The Colts are just 1-7 ATS when QB Andrew Luck throws 40 or more passes, albeit the one was Indy's 24-21 victory over the Texans. If Houston QB Deshaun Watson--the rare QB who can match Luck's playmaking and does not commit TOs--can get the Texans out the gate quickly and Colts' RB Marlon Mack is non-factor, Luck alone will have to do all the heavy lifting and the balance will tip slightly in the favor of Bill O'Brien's team. It will tip even further in favor of Houston if Jadaveon Clowney and J.J. Watt can get home 2 or 3 times as Indy is 0-4 ATS when Luck is sacked for -14 yards are more. The Colts' pass protection has been outstanding and Luck has lost only -.208 yards per pass attempt. Romeo Crennell's pass coverage has more holes than a slice of swiss cheese. If Luck is protected, he may torch the Texans. All of these considerations suggest the game will go over the 48.5 total. Houston has averaged 26.7 points per game since its bye (7 games) and Indy has gone over 48.5 in 5 of the 8 games in which Luck has attempted more than 40 passes.

QC's Pick: Houston Texans SU & ATS and OVER 48.5

Baltimore (-2.5) vs. LA Chargers (Total 41.5)

PLAY DESIGN DIFFERENTIAL RANKINGS: Baltimore 8th; LA Chargers 2nd
PLAYER PRODUCITIVITY DIFFERENTIAL: Baltimore 16th; LA Chargers 2nd
TURNOVER MARGIN: Baltimore 22nd (-3); LA Chargers 15th (+1)

It will cost you extra juice to get Baltimore at just -2.5 but it's a sound investment. The Ravens are bad matchup for LA. Baltimore is running the ball with record frequency, which shortens the game. In response, Chargers' OC Ken Whisenhunt should try to lengthen the game as measure by number of plays. To do so, QB Phil Rivers should come out running no huddle and firing away to try to grab an early lead and get the Ravens out of their ground game. Baltimore is just 2-4 ATS when opponents attempt 40 or more passes. But Whisenhunt and Rivers don't like to fast break and Rivers has attempted more than 40 passes just twice in 16 games (home losses to the Chiefs and Broncos). LA plays at the slowest pace in the NFL. Compounding the Chargers' purposeful sluggish pace is the environmental fact that Pacific Time Zone teams usually take at least a quarter to wake up in early games in the Eastern Time Zone. When the Ravens have the ball, QB Lamar Jackson and RB Gus Edwards should run successfully. Morover, Jackson enjoyed his best passing game as a pro in the first meeting in LA (208 yards and a TD). Baltimore has rushed the ball at least 35 times in every game since Jackson took over as the starting QB and the Chargers are 1-4 ATS when their opponent runs 30 or more times, escaping in Seattle with the aid of a pick-6. The over also is attractive. The Ravens have gone over 41.5 in 5 of the 7 games Jackson has started and LA is 3-2 to the over when its opponents runs the ball 30 or more times.

QC's Pick: Baltimore Ravens SU & ATS and OVER 41.5

NATIONAL FOOTBALL CONFERENCE

Dallas (-2) vs. Seattle (Total 43.5)

PLAY DESIGN DIFFERENTIAL RANKINGS: Dallas 19th; Seattle 10th
PLAYER PRODUCITIVITY DIFFERENTIAL RANKINGS: Dallas 19th; Seattle 11th
TURNOVER MARGIN: Dallas 12th (+3); Seattle 1st (+15)

Pete Carroll's team turned its season around when it blasted the Cowboys 24-3 in Seattle in Week 3. If the Seahawks are +3 TO again the result will be the same. Led by NFC Player of the Month RB Chris Carson, Seattle has rushed the ball at least 28 times in 14 straight games. Dallas is 0-6 SU and 1-5 ATS when its opponent runs the ball 28 or more times. Carson and QB Russell Wilson also have taken equisite care of the ball. Seattle has just 6 giveways in its last 14 games and have had more than 1 giveway in any of those games. On the other side of the ball, Dallas QB Dak Prescott and teammates have committed 10 of their 18 giveways in their last 5 games and played just 1 TO-free game. Prescott has been sacked for at least -15 yards in 7 of his last 8 games and Seattle is 5-1 ATS when it dumps the opposing QB for -15 sack yards or more. Finally, like just about every other aspect of this matchup, the ATS records of the coaches are completely one-sided. Carroll is 14-6 ATS vs. the NFC East as Seattle's HC. Cowboy's HC Jason Garrett is 16-32-1 as a home favorite. The total has grown from the 41 open to 43.5, which makes the under ultra-attractive as Dallas games have not exceeded 42 points in 6 of 6 games when the Cowboys' opponent has rushed the ball 30 or more times.

QC's Pick: Seattle Seahawks SU and ATS and UNDER 43.5

Chicago (-6.5) vs. Philadelphia (Total 41.5)

PLAY DESIGN DIFFERENTIAL RANKINGS: Chicago 3rd; Philadelphia 14th
PLAYER PRODUCITIVITY DIFFERENTIAL RANKINGS: Chicago 7th; Philadelphia 15th
TURNOVER MARGIN: Chicago 3rd (+12); Philadelphia 25th (-6)

It is easy to see why so many handicappers like Chicago. The Bears have covered 9 of their last 10 games, are 7-1 ATS at home and 6-1 ATS versus positively designed teams. DC Vic Fangio's defense has given up just 3 TD passes in its last 6 games. Concededly, there is a lot to love about Chicago. But the Bears live on TOs. Chicago's pass pressure (-.357 sack yards per pass attempt) is below average and its pass coverage (7.508 D-QCYPA) can be exploited. These stats suggest the game is in the hands of streaky Philadelphia QB Nick Foles, who comes in hot. Foles will not be able to afford more than a single giveway and the Eagles are -6 TO on the season. But Philadelphia is +3 TO in its last 5 games so it might be peaking in this area at the right time too. It is not unprecedented for a team that struggled during almost all of the regular season with TO generosity to suddenly reverse its TO fortunes in the playoffs (see, e.g., 2007 NY Giants) and become miserly. Defensively, DC Jim Schwartz's front seven is again throttling opposing running backs. Eagles opponents have attempted less than 20 rushes in 5 of their last 6 games and Philadelphia is 4-2 ATS in those games. In addition, Fletcher Cox and company has sacked opposing QBs for -20 or more yards in 12 of 16 games, so it might be a physical day for mercurial Bears' QB Mitch Trubisky, and that could lead to TOs as it did when Chicago hosted the Rams. On paper, this looks like it should be a defensive struggle, but Chicago has scored at least 24 points in 7 of 8 home games and Foles and company have averaged 27 points per game over their last 6 games. The total is relatively small and QC likes the over. It will only be a mild surprise to QC if Doug Pederson's team wins this game SU, but the more likely outcome is a pitched battle won by a late Cody Parkey field goal and Chicago advances, but does not cover.

QC's Pick: Philadelphia Eagles ATS, Chicago Bears SU and OVER 41.5

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QC's Week 17 Thoughts

Better designed teams won only 72.4% of their games, the fifth straight year that coaches who have won the design battle have seen their results decrease, albeit the decline from 2017 to 2018 is almost imperceptible. Since 2009, better designed teams have won 76.1% (1942-611-7) of all NFL games. There is no easily identifiable explanation for why successful play designers have won less frequently the last 2 years than they did the prior 8 years. Increasing the PAT distance before the 2015 season did not seem to have any impact in 2015-2016 relative to the 6 prior years (2009-14). During the last 2 NFL season, instant replay review has been handled off-site at NFL HQ and controversies realting to on-site subjective officiating of catches and roughing the passer have seemed to occur more freuquently in the past. But QC does not have a scientific reason to explain why successful play designers have been losing a few more games the last 2 years.

2018: .724 (184-70-2)
2017: .727 (186-70)
2016: .768 (195-59-2)
2015: .778 (199-56-1)
2014: .784 (200-55-1)
2013: .773 (198-58)
2012: .749 (191-64-1)
2011: .746 (191-65)
2010: .766 (196-60)
2009: .789 (202-52)

****

Late scores by Dallas and New Orleans caused QC's Best Bets (3-4) to suffer its 5th losing week of the year in Week 17. Best Bets limped home below the 11/10 break even 52.4% threshold in back-to-back weeks and 3 of the last 4 weeks. That's frustrating. Still, Best Bests finished the year at 57.5% (65-48-4), which translates to a 9.8% profit if you laid 11 to win 10 on every Best Bet. This figure was just a little off 2017 Best Bets, which cashed at a 58% rate (47-34-4) and returned 10.8% on 11-to-10 bets.

****

Do not be surprised if NFL teams come calling for Andy Reid's OC Eric Bienemy. The "Kansas City School of Play Design" was the play design story of 2018. Chief's QB Pat Mahomes throw 50 TD passes and for more than 5,000 yards in his first year as a full-time starter. Moreover, Reid's teams finished No. 1 in the AFC and NFL in play design differential (+5.83%) and his former OC's team (Matt Nagy's Bears) finished No. 1 in the NFC in play design differential (+4.15%). Both teams also finished in the top 6 in the NFL in turnover differential.

*****

The teams whose year-over-year play design improved the most from 2017 met in Week 17 when Baltimore held off Cleveland, 26-24, and captured the AFC North. With rookie QB Baker Mayfield setting a rookie record for TD passes, the Browns finished with a +1.37% play design differential, an improvement of 5.96% over 2017. The Ravens, finished No. 8 in play design differential (+1.55%), an improvement of 3.98% over 2017. Pittsburgh missed the playoffs despite topping Cincinnati, 16-13, but still finished in the Top 10 in play design differential (+2.57%). The Steelers are the only team in the NFL to finish in the Top 10 every year since QC began tracking coaching statistics 10 years ago in 2009. Pittsburgh just could not overcome its -11 TO differential.

****

Philadelphia enters the playoffs as the team on the hottest play design run. The Eagles play design stood at -1.39% after they were crushed 48-7 by the Sainst and left for dead in New Orleans. But after HC Doug Pederson's team mashed Washington, 24-0, and former Redskins QB Kirk Cousins disappeared in the Vikings 24-10 loss to the Bears, Philadelphia's play design differential reached a season high +1.1%. It was the second time in 3 years that Cousins' team entered Week 17 needing a win to qualify for the playffs and came up short and finished 8-7-1. Washington fell to the NY Giants in 2016, 19-10.

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