Around the League and Back

Quick Thoughts:

  • Seattle looks really good, their defense plays downhill because of their secondary's ability to blanket one on one. It's quite ironic that a defense running out of a 4-3 base alignment and isn't known for its exotic or even complex philosophies is quite possibly the best in the league. Richard Sherman looks legitimate, like his attitude or not the guy can play.



  • Other teams that look superb: Denver (duhh) and Green Bay. Really the top teams in the NFL that will roll through their schedules go in some order like this: Seattle, San Francisco, Green Bay, Denver, and Houston. Atlanta and New Orleans will be at each other's throat all year and Atlanta has shown signs of regression, their sub par defense will begin to have its growing pains.
  • Mario Williams: 4.5 Sacks, 4 TFL, is he turning a corner? Probably not Carolina's Offense really is a train wreck under Mike Shula. Still cheers for him.
  • Michael Vick has looked absolutely resurgent thus far, passing for 400 yards last week with no INT.
  • Philip Rivers also put together another good game with 400+ yards and no INT.
  • Kansas City has matched their win total from last year already.

Notable Stats from Week 2:

JJ Watt: 2 Sacks, 2 TFL 2 PD
Mario Williams: 4.5 Sacks, 4 TFL
Luke Kuechly: 14 Tackles
Aaron Rodgers: 146.0 QBR with 480 Yards
Michael Vick and Philip Rivers: 400+ Yards no INT
DeSean Jackson: 193 Yards TD
Julio Jones: 180 YD TD
Daryl Smith: 11 Tackles, 1.5 Sacks, 2 PD
Mark Barron: 13 Tackles, INT
Players with 2+ Sacks: Ryan Kerrigan, Dontari Poe, Demarcus Ware, Chandler Jones, Brian Cushing, JJ Watt, Aldon Smith

Way too Early Playoff Picture:

The AFC is really quite unimpressive. I know that only two games have been played, but really its Denver, Houston and everyone. I dont think its bold at all to assume that this will be the seeding come January: 1. Denver 2. Houston 3. Cincinnati 4. New England (1 and 2, 3 and 4 are really quite interchangeable). Cincinnati is going to make some noise this year, they're too talented not too. One can never count Bill Belichick and Tom Brady out. Cliche? Yes. True? Usually.

The AFC Wild Card race however will be extremely tight. Indianapolis, Tennessee, Miami, Baltimore, Kansas City and San Diego all have legitimate claims to a potential playoff spot. Finishing second in the division last year did Indy no favors having to play revamped Dolphins and a "#2" in the AFC North Cincinnati .My guess (which is really good for nothing), Tennessee and Miami round out the playoff picture, Colts finish 8-8 (Losses to SF, SEA, HOU x2, @TEN, CIN). Meanwhile Tennessee grabs PIT (already a win for them) and the Jets. That will probably be the difference between Tennessee 10-6 and Indianapolis' 8-8 seeing as Division opponents share 14 of the same opponents. The match up between the AFC South and West definitely has more traction
in the AFC Playoff Picture than the East and North. Kansas City could easily get to 11-5 (the only games where they face clearly better teams are Houston and Denver, twice). Their match up with the AFC East could result in 4 wins. Kansas City and San Diego in the West, Tennessee and Indianapolis in the South are in for a slug fest. Baltimore is probably a better team than those four but they have a first place schedule. Miami is really going to have to stack wins up against inferior competition. I have San Diego, Kansas City, Indianapolis and Baltimore on the outside looking in.

The NFC is a lot easier to imagine three months from now, Seattle or San Francisco is #1. Green Bay will be #2. The winner of the NFC South will be #3 and the winner of the NFC East will have the #4 seed in the NFC playoffs for the third straight year. Obviously whoever doesn't claim the West will be #5 in all likelihood. Chicago, New Orleans and Atlanta battling it out for #6. The NFC is stacked.



Way too Early QB Draft Thoughts:

  • Marcus Mariota is still my draft obsession. I think he has all the tools to be a successful NFL QB and then some. He has the character and personality traits of someone much beyond his years. He's going to be a good one.
  • Derek Carr looks fantastic as well, his leadership and poise are just so impressive.
  • Teddy Bridgewater, Tajh Boyd, Marcus Mariota, Brett Hundley, Stephen Morris, Derek Carr, Aaron Murray and David Fales all probably would have gone in the first round of last year's draft, it'll be interesting to see how it all shakes out come April.

Bold Prediction That Will Never Happen:

Teddy Bridgewater, Marcus Mariota and Tajh Boyd, Stephen Morris and Brett Hundley are the top five picks in the upcoming draft. A record four teams trade into the top 5 including, Houston, Arizona, Pittsburgh and Philidelphia. Why this will never happen? JaDeveon Clowney.



Quick Notes from Today’s Game:

  • Bullock did bad, really it shouldn't be a debate in anyway, he went 0-3 on field goals. How he copes and rebounds is the real debate.
  • Lechler’s punting is absolutely absurd. He was easily the MVP of today’s game until Hopkins went off in the final drives of the game. He had the Tennessee on the 1 yard line twice and it could have been a third had a punt not bounced one yard into the end zone then died.
  • Duane Brown is trying to use his athleticism too much. Get into the guy and get mean. Derek Newton turned in another solid game.
  • Tennessee looks very good. Locker looked really good, his coaches are holding him back in my opinion. He took his team 99 yards down the field to take the lead, but his coaches don’t trust him to ice the game and opt to run the ball the next drive.
  • Foster and Tate both look very very good. They combined for 172 yards on 28 carries, over six YPC.



DeAndre Hopkins:
The rookie put together a quiet first half of one catch on two targets. However when Andre Johnson went down late in the game, boy did he step up. Every single one of his second half catches were made with a defender draped all over him. He’s going to be put into the "open even when not open" category of WRs with AJ, Calvin Johnson, Julio Jones and AJ Green very soon. He is currently on pace for about 1500 yards and 8 TD. I don’t think he will put up the yardage but I think he surpasses the TD and gets into the double digit mark. Nuk is going to get defenders out of the box in the red zone, so the corner can play with outside leverage or get a safety over the top.

Interesting Stat: Hopkins is converting 91.7% of his catches for first downs. Only other receiver with a percentage that high is Vincent Jackson, who has more yards but no TD and even more importantly no wins.

He currently has more yards than Julio Jones and AJ Green had at this point in their respective careers. Hopkins certainly has gotten off to a great start and I firmly believe that by the time this year is over, he will be part of the changing of the guard at WR. AJ Green, Julio Jones, Dez Bryant, and Demaryius Thomas are the future of the position. Whether Hopkins joins the discussion as part of that group remains to be seen but he is certainly off to a fantastic start.

Expected Wins based on Pythagorean Wins Expectancy Jargon:

Essentially the Pythagorean expected wins formula is a way to estimate win totals based off point differential. Basically the talk before the season was that the Texans wouldn’t win as much close games this season and would regress to the median this year to a win total closer to 9 wins. However Houston already is 2 for 2 in close games, this team displays the ability to win in tight games and statistically their "luck" hasn't gone anywhere. They could lose all their other close games this season too though but it’s more reasonable to expect this team to win in late game situations because of an improved aerial attack and because it has done what it needs to do win late in games to this point.



Empty Set is Money for Matt Schaub:

Last year Gary Kubiak’s infamous third and long draw plays drew plenty of criticism from fans and analysts. This year Kubiak has been much more aggressive on third down and long. Whether it’s because he felt the criticism of the year before, or because of the different game situations of these first two games or the better offensive personnel, Kubiak’s new aggressive third down play calling has been fantastic. A formation he’s been going to often on third and long has been the empty set. No backs and all receivers on the line of scrimmage has been money. 3rd and 10+ has been the pivotal point in multiple games; Andre Johnson’s countless conversions last game and DeAndre Hopkins’ phenomenal grabs in both games, have sparked and fueled comebacks in both games. People are saying that Matt Schaub is the reason the Texans’ championship hopes are in question. They say he won’t win us games but he won’t lose them either. I won’t get into the whole team vs individual discussion but Schaub’s dominance out of empty thus far is all the proof you need to know about his proficiency as a top-tier quarterback. In empty there is no threat of a run (Matt Schaub isn’t putting fear into opposing defenses with his legs). It’s Schaub sitting behind his offensive line, reading his five eligible receivers. It is literally all on the QB in empty and Schaub has performed beautifully thus far. His reads have been crisp. His throws accurate. Really what more could you ask of a QB then to consistently convert out of an empty set on third and long, with no threat of run?

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