Cleveland Browns: Week 9 NFL Power Rankings (#28)

Last week: 29 (+1)

Record: 2-6

The Browns remain better than their record. At 2-6, they rank 25th in the league in yards per play differential and 28th in rate of sustaining drives differential. They’ve only lost one game by more than a touchdown and that was against the Giants in New York in a game that was a lot closer than the final score suggested. The Browns were leading 14-0 early and held the lead right into before halftime.

They’re also getting healthier as Phil Taylor and Ahytba Rubin return this week, while their pass defense has been better now that Joe Haden has returned from suspension. They’re not going to the playoffs or anything and they’ll probably still have a huge draft pick, but they’re not an easy win, as the Chargers will tell you. As I’ve said before, comparing them to teams that were winless late into last season, they’re closer to the Dolphins (who finished 6-3 after starting 0-7) than the Colts or Rams, who both finished with a league worst 2-14 record.

Studs

RB Trent Richardson: Rushed for 122 yards (68 after contact) and a touchdown on 24 attempts, 7 broken tackles, allowed 1 quarterback hurry on 3 pass block snaps, caught 1 pass for 12 yards on 1 attempt

LT Joe Thomas: Did not allow a pressure on 30 pass block snaps, run blocked for 6 yards on 3 attempts

RG Shawn Lauvao: Did not allow a pressure on 30 pass block snaps, run blocked for 3 yards on 2 attempts

C Alex Mack: Did not allow a pressure on 30 pass block snaps, run blocked for 27 yards on 7 attempts

RT Mitchell Schwartz: Did not allow a pressure on 30 pass block snaps, run blocked for 16 yards on 5 attempts

SS TJ Ward: Did not allow a completion on 2 attempts, 3 solo tackles, 1 assist, 2 stops, 1 quarterback hit on 3 blitzes

FS Usama Young: Did not allow a completion on 2 attempts, 2 pass deflections, 5 solo tackles, 2 assists,

ROLB James-Michael Johnson: 7 solo tackles, 6 stops, 1 quarterback hurry on 4 blitzes, was not thrown on

Duds

QB Brandon Weeden: 11 of 27 for 129 yards, 4 throw aways, 4 batted passes, 4 drops, 69.8 adjusted QB rating, pressured on 8 of 30 drop backs (2 sacks, 2 of 6, 3 throw aways)

MLB D’Qwell Jackson: 6 solo tackles, 1 assist, 2 stops, 1 missed tackle, allowed 5 catches for 60 yards on 6 attempts

DT John Hughes: 1 quarterback hurry on 24 pass rush snaps, 2 solo tackle, 1 assist

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Oakland Raiders: Week 9 NFL Power Rankings (#29)

Last week: 29 (+2)

Record: 3-4

After unimpressive wins over the crappy Jaguars and Chiefs, the Raiders are now 3-4 and somehow right in the thick of the playoff race. However, I’m still not sold on this team just because they beat some crappy teams. They schedule gets tougher going forward as they host Tampa Bay, go to Baltimore, host New Orleans, go to Cincinnati, host Cleveland, host Denver, host Kansas City, go to Carolina, and go to San Diego. I don’t think they’ll win very many games.

Studs

LG Cooper Carlisle: Did not allow a pressure on 29 pass block snaps, run blocked for 8 yards on 3 attempts

ROLB Phillip Wheeler: 11 solo tackles, 1 assist, 6 stops, 1 sack, 1 quarterback hit, and 3 quarterback hurries on 9 blitzes, allowed 7 catches for 66 yards on 7 attempts

LOLB Miles Burris: 6 solo tackles, 1 assist, 5 stops, 1 missed tackle, 1 quarterback hurry on 8 blitzes, allowed 4 catches for 25 yards on 4 attempts

SS Tyvon Branch: Allowed 1 catch for 1 yard on 2 attempts, 4 solo tackles, 1 assist, 2 stops, 1 quarterback hit on 6 blitzes

FS Matt Giordano: Did not allow a completion on 1 attempt, 1 interception, 1 solo tackle, 1 assist

DT Tommy Kelly: 2 quarterback hits and 4 quarterback hurries on 32 pass rush snaps, no tackles

K Sebastian Janikowski: 7 kickoffs, 5 touchbacks, 70.9 yards per kickoff, 18.9 opponent’s average starting distance, 4/4 FG (29, 32, 35, 36)

Duds

None.

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Carolina Panthers: Week 9 NFL Power Rankings (#30)

Last week: 28 (-2)

Record: 1-6

Cam Newton is now 1-10 in his career in games decided by a touchdown or less and 6-17 overall. Typically, records in touchdown games even out over time. Teams that win a game by a touchdown or less win their following game 52% of the time if that game is also decided by a touchdown or less. However, it’s very troubling that Newton has started his career this way.

Typically, franchise quarterbacks are the exception to that rule and have a better than average record in games decided by touchdown or left. Cam Newton isn’t close to that at this point in his career. He’s still got plenty of upside, but it’s become increasingly obvious that we anointed him too fast. Unfortunately for him, because of that, he’s being viewed as a major disappointment this year, when really he’s just going through growing pains. I still have confidence in him long term.

Studs

WR Steve Smith: Caught 7 passes for 118 yards on 15 attempts on 46 snaps, 1.2 YAC per catch, 1 drop, 1 interception when thrown to

LE Charles Johnson: 2 sacks and 6 quarterback hurries on 33 pass rush snaps, 1 assist, 2 stops

MLB Luke Kuechly: 11 solo tackles, 6 stops, allowed 2 catches for 16 yards on 2 attempts

RE Greg Hardy: 3 sacks and 2 quarterback hurries, 2 solo tackles, 5 stops

RE Frank Alexander: 4 quarterback hurries on 26 pass rush snaps, 1 batted pass, 3 solo tackles, 3 stops

Duds

QB Cam Newton: 20 of 39 for 314 yards and 2 interceptions, 1 drop, 1 throw away, 3 batted passes, 63.0 adjusted QB rating, pressured on 15 of 43 drop backs (2 sacks, 2 scrambles, 5 of 11, 1 throw away, 1 interception), rushed for 37 yards on 5 carries, 1 fumble

RT Byron Bell: Allowed 5 quarterback hurries on 47 pass block snaps, run blocked for 0 yards on 3 attempts

LG Amini Silatolu: Allowed 1 sack, 1 quarterback hit, and 2 quarterback hurries on 47 pass block snaps, run blocked for 31 yards on 5 attempts

C Geoff Hangartner: Allowed 2 quarterback hurries on 47 pass block snaps, 1 penalty, run blocked for 26 yards on 13 attempts

RG Jeff Byers: Allowed 3 quarterback hurries on 47 pass block snaps, 1 penalty, run blocked for 6 yards on 2 attempts

TE Greg Olsen: Caught 3 passes for 23 yards on 5 attempts on 38 pass snaps, 2.0 YAC per catch, 1 interception when thrown to, allowed 1 quarterback hurry on 9 pass block snaps

CB Josh Norman: Allowed 8 catches for 84 yards on 11 attempts, 1 interception, 4 solo tackles, 1 missed tackle

DT Nate Chandler: Didn’t record a pressure on 11 pass rush snaps, no tackles

ROLB James Anderson: 2 solo tackles, 1 assist, 1 stop, 1 missed tackle

P Brian Nortman: 3 punts for 77 yards, 2 returns for 11 yards, 22.0 net yards per punt

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Kansas City Chiefs: Week 9 NFL Power Rankings (#31)

Last week: 30 (-1)

Record: 1-6

The Chiefs have yet to lead in regulation this year. Meanwhile, when Head Coach Romeo Crennel was asked why Jamaal Charles only got 5 carries last week, he said “I’m not exactly sure.” I get that Brian Daboll calls the play, but having no clue why your best offensive player isn’t getting the ball is ridiculous. Both of them should be fired. I have no idea how Romeo Crennel got another Head Coaching job. He’s worse than Todd Haley. That’s hard to do.

And yet they’re not last in these Power Rankings. The lesser of two terrible quarterbacks is starting this week as Brady Quinn suffered a concussion, meaning Matt Cassel will make this start. I thought the decision to start Quinn was a mistake (unless the goal was to secure the #1 overall pick). Cassel was turning the ball over at an incredible rate, but that was bound to regress to the mean eventually. Right now, he has an interception rate of 4.9%, almost double his career rate of 2.5% (not including this season).

Meanwhile, they have a turnover differential of -18. That won’t continue. Not only are they on pace to shatter the record of -30 (they’re on pace for -41), a record that’s stood since 1965, turnovers differential is also inconsistent on a week to week basis, as seen here.  Even if they break that record and finish with say a turnover differential of -31, that’s an average of -1.4 per game the rest of the way, which is barely half as bad as what they’ve done through 7 games (-2.6 per game).

Cassel also offers a career YPA that was over a yard per play better than Quinn’s. Unless he continues to throw interceptions at a rate almost double his career rate and the Chiefs continue to lose the turnover battle at a record pace, they’ll look improved with Cassel under center, even if it’s only the difference between 2 and 3 wins, and unfortunately for Chiefs fans, the difference between the 1st pick and the 2nd pick. They should still be able to get the franchise quarterback they need.

Studs

LT Branden Albert: Did not allow a pressure on 45 pass block snaps, run blocked for 7 yards on 3 attempts

CB Brandon Flowers: Allowed 1 catch for 7 yards on 6 attempts, 1 pass deflection, 3 solo tackle, 1 stop, 1 missed tackle

MLB Derrick Johnson: 9 solo tackles, 3 assists, 6 stops, 1 batted pass, allowed 3 catches for 16 yards on 4 attempts

RE Ropati Pitoitua: 1 quarterback hurry on 12 pass rush snaps, 1 batted pass, 4 solo tackles, 1 assist, 3 stops

Duds

LG Jeff Allen: Allowed 2 quarterback hit and 3 quarterback hurries on 45 pass block snaps, 1 penalty, run blocked for 17 yards on 1 attempt

CB Stanford Routt: Allowed 6 catches for 130 yards and 2 touchdowns on 10 attempts, 1 interception, 1 pass deflection, 1 penalty, 4 solo tackles, 1 assist, 1 missed tackle

ROLB Tamba Hali: Did not record a pressure on 26 pass rush snaps, 3 solo tackles, 1 assist, 1 stop

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Jacksonville Jaguars: Week 9 NFL Power Rankings (#32)

Last week: 32 (+0)

Record: 1-6

The Chiefs are bad, but I still think the Jaguars are the worst team in the league, in spite of the fact that they hung with a banged up Green Bay squad. In rate of sustaining drives differential, they rank dead last at -15.0%. No one else is worse than -10.3%. In yards per play differential, they rank dead last at -1.2. No one else is worse than 0.9. The Chiefs have played very poorly, but I have reason to think they won’t play quite as poorly going forward and I’ll get into that in their write up. They’re still really bad, but I’d give them a better shot to win more games going forward and if the two were to play, I would pick the Chiefs…and pass out in the 2nd quarter.

Studs

LT Eugene Monroe: Allowed 1 quarterback hit on 57 pass block snaps, 1 penalty run blocked for 26 yards on 3 attempts

LG Mike Brewster: Allowed 1 quarterback hurry on 57 pass block snaps, run blocked for 20 yards on 6 attempts

RG Uche Nwanari: Allowed 1 quarterback hurry on 57 pass block snaps, run blocked for 2 yards on 1 attempt

RT Cameron Bradfield: Did not allow a pressure on 57 pass block snaps, run blocked for 3 yards on 2 attempts

WR Cecil Shorts: Allowed 8 catches for 116 yards on 11 attempts on 55 pass snaps, 3.3 YAC per catch, 1 drop

CB Aaron Ross: Allowed 4 catches for 20 yards on 8 attempts, 2 solo tackles, 1 stop

LOLB Russell Allen: 7 solo tackle, 1 assist, 5 stops, allowed 1 catch for 4 yards on 3 attempts, 1 pass deflection

LE George Selvie: 2 quarterback hits and 1 quarterback hurry on 13 pass rush snaps, 2 solo tackles, 1 assist, 2 stops

Duds

WR Mike Thomas: Caught 4 passes for 19 yards on 7 attempts on 43 pass snaps, 1.5 YAC per catch, 1 drop

FS Chris Prosinski: Allowed 4 catches for 60 yards and 2 touchdowns on 4 attempts, 1 pass deflection, 4 solo tackles, 1 stop

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Kansas City Chiefs at San Diego Chargers: Week 9 NFL Pick

Kansas City Chiefs (1-6) at San Diego Chargers (3-4)

Side note: It’s week 9 already?!?!? What?!?!?!?

On Thursday Night, the rule of thumb is to take the home team, assuming they’re favorites, as home favorites are 45-27 ATS on Thursday Nights. This makes sense. The home team not only doesn’t have to travel on a short week, meaning they get more valuable time to practice, game plan, and rest, but they’re also typically a more veteran, experienced team who won’t be fazed by playing on short rest. This trend didn’t work last week as Minnesota lost as home favorites to the Buccaneers, but there’s a simple explanation for that and it’s just that Minnesota is not a veteran, experienced team, despite being favorites, which is why it wasn’t a big play on the hosts.

San Diego is the more veteran, experienced team here and playing at home, but they’re also divisional home favorites. Divisional home favorites are just 17-16 ATS on Thursday Nights. This makes sense. Having familiarity with a team, like the Chiefs do with division rival San Diego, nullifies some of the effects of being a young, inexperienced team on the road on a short week. Besides, while the Chargers are technically a veteran, experienced team, you can’t really say they won’t be fazed by playing on a short week. I’m not sure there’s anything that you can say won’t faze them considering how horribly coached they are.

Philip Rivers has a strong career record off a loss as favorites, going 14-9 ATS in this situation in his career, including 12-6 ATS when favored again. This makes sense because good quarterbacks always tend to bounce back after disappointing losses. However, I’m not sure this is the same Philip Rivers anymore. I thought his high turnover rate from 2011 was an outlier and that he’d bounce back, especially since he played so much better in the 2nd half of last season (14 interceptions in games 1-8 and 6 in games 9-16). After all, Eli Manning threw 25 picks in 2010 and he didn’t have such a bad 2011.

However, Rivers’ struggles seem to have carried over into this season. Not only has his turnover rate remained the same, but his YPA of 6.8 YPA is a career low and down over a whole yard per play from his “disappointing 2011.” He doesn’t look like the same player as he was from 2006-2010. Some of the blame falls on his supporting cast. The Chargers have 10 draft picks in the first 3 rounds in the last 3 years and only 2 of them have been used on offensive players, including one, Vincent Brown, who is currently out with an injury (the other is Ryan Mathews). At the same time, no late round picks from those 3 drafts have stepped up and become starters offensively.

Meanwhile, they’ve let key offensive players like Vincent Jackson and Darren Sproles walk out the door without replacing them and key cogs in this offense from Rivers’ heyday like Marcus McNeill, Kris Dielman, LaDainian Tomlinson, and Antonio Gates are either retired or not playing at nearly the same level, without being properly replaced. Some of the blame can fall on Rivers himself. In his age 31 season, he doesn’t seem to be the same player, for whatever reason. Either way, I don’t see his season turning around this week, especially off 3 days rest.

For the Chiefs, they have a different kind of quarterback issue, namely that all of theirs suck. However, the lesser of two terrible quarterbacks is starting this week as Brady Quinn suffered a concussion, meaning Matt Cassel will make this start on short rest. I thought the decision to start Quinn was a mistake (unless the goal was to secure the #1 overall pick).

Cassel was turning the ball over at an incredible rate, but that was bound to regress to the mean eventually. Right now, he has a interception rate of 4.9%, almost double his career rate of 2.5% (not including this season). Meanwhile, they have a turnover differential of -18. That won’t continue. Not only are they on pace to shatter the record of -30 (they’re on pace for -41), a record that’s stood since 1965, turnovers differential is also inconsistent on a week to week basis, as seen here.  Even if they break that record and finish with say a turnover differential of -31, that’s an average of -1.4 per game the rest of the way, which is barely half as bad as what they’ve done through 7 games (-2.6 per game).

Cassel also offers a career YPA that was over a yard per play better than Quinn’s. Even last week in relief against the Raiders, he looked much better than Quinn ever did in his limited action. Before Cassel went down, this team ranked better in yards per play differential and rate of sustaining drive differential than they do now. With Cassel back under center, that should improve and unless he continues to throw interceptions at a rate almost double his career rate and the Chiefs continue to lose the turnover battle at a record pace, they’ll look improved with Cassel under center. They won’t be good or anything, but they should be able to hang with a Charger team that isn’t very good either.

Even at their current yards per play differential and rate of sustaining drives, we are getting line value with the Chiefs at +7.5. The rate of sustaining drives method gives us a calculated “real” line of +7 and the yards per play method gives us a calculated “real” line of +6.5 and that’s including some of Brady Quinn’s playing time. Again, they won’t be good with Matt Cassel under center, but the Chargers aren’t very good either and as long as Cassel is starting, the Chargers don’t deserve to be more than touchdown favorites over them.

The trends also say Kansas City is the right spot. Divisional home favorites like the Chargers are 10-27 ATS off a loss as non-divisional road favorites since 2002. The Chargers lost to the Browns in Cleveland last week. Meanwhile, teams with 1 win or fewer like the Chiefs are 77-42 ATS as divisional dogs after week 8 since 1989. I think the reason for this is twofold. One, these tend to be huge respect games for the bad team. Two, they have an advantage in a divisional game that they wouldn’t have in any other game because it’s a divisional opponent that they know, so they’re undervalued based purely off their record.

I hate betting on a team like the Chiefs, especially as dogs on a Thursday Night, but I like the Chiefs to keep this close for a small play. Unfortunately, San Diego is also my survivor pick this week on a bad week for survivor. Everyone in my top-14 in my Power Rankings has either already been picked or is playing another top-14 team, except Denver who travels to Cincinnati. It was close between the Broncos and Chargers for survivor this week, but I hate picking road teams. San Diego is #15 and Kansas City is #31, so I like the Chargers to win, though I think the Chiefs will cover the 7.5 point spread. Also, I like the under as the under is 70-52 on Thursday Nights.

Public lean: San Diego (new thing I’m adding, siding with the odds makers on bets is not a bad thing to do since they make so much money, so I’m listing this here to allow readers to “fade” the public, if they so choose, in this example, the odds makers win if Kansas City covers)

San Diego Chargers 17 Kansas City Chiefs 13 Survivor Pick (HOU, NE, NO, BAL, SF, ATL, CHI, GB)

Pick against spread: Kansas City +7.5 (-110) 2 units

Total: Under 41.5 (-110) 1 unit

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Jacksonville Jaguars trade WR Mike Thomas to Detroit Lions

Trade for Jaguars: Mike Thomas caught 63 passes for 820 yards and 4 touchdowns as a 23 year old receiver in 2010, but it’s all gone downhill since there and he has just 13 catches for 80 yards this year, buried behind Justin Blackmon, Cecil Shorts, and Laurent Robinson on the depth chart. Given that he’s owed 8.61 million over the next 3 seasons, I’m surprised there were able to get anything for him, though only 1 million of his 2013 salary is guaranteed. I don’t know how they got the mid round pick they reportedly received.

Trade: A

Trade for Lions: I don’t get this. I get that they’re taking a chance on Thomas bouncing back with a real quarterback, but I don’t understand giving up a mid round pick and taking on his salary. Besides, it’s not like they really need another wide receiver with Calvin Johnson, Titus Young, and Ryan Broyles.

Grade: D

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Week 9 Fantasy Football Waiver Claims

RB Daryl Richardson (St. Louis)

Percent owned (ESPN): 12.0%

Richardson continues to split carries with Steven Jackson and out-produce him. He had 263 total yards in his last 4 games. That doesn’t make him startable, but Jackson could get traded this week and even if he doesn’t, Richardson is clearly the future and may be the better back in the present, so he could lead the team in touches going forward from the running back position.

RB Joique Bell (Detroit)

Percent owned (ESPN): 2.7%

Mikel Leshoure left Detroit’s game with an injury and Bell rushed for 25 yards on 7 carries in his absence. He’d get the start if Leshoure were to miss any time. Even as Leshoure’s backup, he’s an excellent receiver for a running back and is worth a look regardless in some PPR leagues. He had 20 catches for 227 yards on the season.

WR Cecil Shorts (Jacksonville)

Percent owned (ESPN): 3.4%

Shorts is the Jacksonville receiver to own if you’re into that kind of thing. In 2 starts, he’s caught 12 passes for 195 yards and a score, including 8 for 116 yards last week. Jacksonville isn’t going to throw 49 times every week and he’s always going to be inconsistent because of his quarterback play, but he’s worth a look.

RB Ronnie Hillman (Denver)

Percent owned (ESPN): 0.6%

A popular preseason sleeper, Hillman finally had a breakout day, rushing for 86 yards on 14 carries against the Saints. He won’t get to play the Saints run defense every week and he got most of his action in garbage time, which won’t happen every week, but he’s the clear #2 back in Denver right now and John Fox has been known to use 2-back sets. Veteran Willis McGahee has been less than stellar in front of him and has a history of injury problems at in advanced age in football years. Hillman could be worth a bench stash.

RB Kendall Hunter (San Francisco)

Percent owned (ESPN): 15.0%

Hunter continues to have a role on a weekly basis behind Frank Gore in San Francisco with 263 total yards and a score in his last 5 games. He’s behind only the injury prone Frank Gore on the depth chart and if he were to become the starter, he’d be running behind probably the best run blocking offensive line in the league on a team that loves to run the football. He’s worth a bench stash.

TE Brandon Myers (Oakland)

Percent owned (ESPN): 5.1%

Again, not flashy, but he has 31 catches for 383 yards in 7 games for the Raiders from the tight end spot and is on pace for 71 catches for 875 yards. He’s yet to score, which is weird and hurts his value, but he should score a few times going forward the rest of the way.

TE Logan Paulsen (Washington)

Percent owned (ESPN): 0.6%

“His name is” Logan Paulsen, not Chris Cooley, got the start in Fred Davis’ absence, which makes sense since Cooley has been out of football for the whole season. That should continue going forward because Paulsen has proved himself to be a solid player, catching 4 passes for 76 yards after Davis went down last week and then 4 catches for 43 yards this week. This week’s total wasn’t impressive, but it was the 2nd best on the team and came on Washington’s worst passing game of the year. They’ll have better days and Paulsen looks like a big part of the offense. He’s worth a look if you need an injury replacement or bye week filler at tight end. He also doesn’t have bitch tits like poor Bob.

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Week 8 NFL Picks Results

Week 8 Results

ATS: 7-7 -1 unit/-$270

SU: 11-3

Upset Picks: 3-0 +490

Over/Under: 1-1 -10

Total: +$210

Public Results ATS*: 6-8 -1 unit

2012 results to date

ATS: 57-56-5 +10 units/-$395

SU: 74-44

Upset Picks: 22-21 +$1540

Over/Under: 5-2-1 +280

Parlays: 1-0 +100

Total: +1535

Survivor: 6-2 (HOU, NE, NO, BAL, SF, ATL, CHI, GB)

Public Results ATS*: 51-65-2 -31 units

*I’m doing this to see how the general public does. Based on percent of bets on each team, if the more popularly bet team covers, it’s a public win, if not, it’s a public loss. If a team that has 50-59% of the action on it covers, the public gets “one unit,” if they don’t cover, they lose one unit, 60-69% is 2, 70-79% is 3, etc.