NFL Developments You May Have Missed

NFL STAT DEVELOPMENTS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED

Yesterday we ran through some important information from last week's college football boxscores that you may have missed out on. Today, we wanted to do the same thing in the NFL. What happened last week will provide clues about what will happen THIS week. So, you should know as much of what happened last week as possible...not just what all the highlight programs were showing you.

Let's take the games in schedule order:

  • Both New Orleans and Green Bay had huge offensive days. Just remember that each team scored one non-offensive touchdown. Those aren't likely to repeat on a weekly basis. Your instincts will now be thinking about Overs whenever these two teams take the field. Be careful with THAT! Not every game these teams play will be a 42-34 shootout where both teams are petal to the metal to score for all 60 minutes. These quarterbacks know how to run clock with a lead too.

  • Joe Flacco of Baltimore performed better than he normally does against top defenses. But, he didn't have as big a day as the final score of 35-7 might have suggested in the win over Pittsburgh. He only passed for 215 yards. Baltimore converted 43% of its third downs. The Ravens won because of a 170-66 rushing edge and that 7-0 turnover onslaught. It was a great win for Baltimore. Just don't give them the AFC Central crown yet.

  • Detroit was MUCH more dominant at Tampa Bay than the 27-20 final score would have suggested. Tampa Bay had an interception return for a TD, and 10 other relatively cheap points.  Detroit outscored Tampa Bay on drives of 60 yards or more by a stunning 27-3 mark (biggest edge for anyone in the league in that stat). They won yards-per-play 6.3 for 4.9 too. Heck, Stafford only had 9 non-completed passes compared to 17 for Freeman. Detroit had the look of a playoff team, and WILL BE ONE if they can clean up some of the sloppiness.

  • There's been some media backlash against the Bears because they didn't statistically dominate Atlanta and they recovered every fumble (which is a bit lucky). Just be aware that Chicago won long distance scoring by a 17-3 mark, and held Atlanta to 30% on third down tries. They also sacked Ryan FIVE times! This was a STELLAR effort from the Chicago defense considering they were facing high octane Atlanta in great weather. The Bears may not have been as good as the 30-12 final score suggested, but they were clearly the better team on Sunday.

  • Kansas City passed for just 105 yards in a game where they were playing catch up the whole day. Whatever happened to garbage time yardage?! Either the Kansas City offense is in dire straits this year, or the Buffalo defense is better than realized. Maybe it's a mix of both. It looks like the Kansas City players saw their brutal schedule and just gave up hope before the season even started.

  • Matt Schaub of Houston had a sloppy game...much sloppier than you'd think in a 34-7 win. It's easy to see Houston as a juggernaut because they won big, and everyone's picking them to win the AFC South. Just remember that they were handed a bunch of cheap points by the incompetent Indianapolis offense. Schaub's passer rating was only 78.5 because of two interceptions. Houston may just be this year's Kansas City...meaning they're an unimpressive team winning a weak division rather than a true playoff caliber unit.

  • You saw a zillion highlights of Michael Vick last week after Philadelphia's 31-13 win over St. Louis. He still has gamebreaking abilities. But, he also had some very poor plays. Did you realize he was only 14 of 32 passing for 167 yards? Vick brings negatives with his positives. Don't let the highlight shows trick you into thinking he's superhuman. Note also from this game that Philadelphia's defense was pushed off the point of attack fairly consistently. St. Louis rushed for 154 yards even though their star running back was hurt relatively early. The Eagles aren't quite a dream team yet, though this was a good result...and they're definitely shaping up as a real contender. Don't mistake "goodness" for "greatness."

  • The Cincinnati/Cleveland game didn't draw much media attention beyond Andy Dalton's wrist injury and the general "Hmm, wasn't Cleveland supposed to be a darkhorse this year" sentiment. It's important to note that Browns quarterback Colt McCoy was just 19-40-1-202 passing...which is very poor for a West Coast offensive schematic that emphasizes a good pass percentage. This was supposed to be a marriage between quarterback and offense...but McCoy rarely looked like a true NFL quarterback in this game. Cleveland was just 26% on third down tries. This was an under-reported surprise.

  • Luke McCown got credit for "engineering" a win for Jacksonville over Tennessee. He didn't really do much though. The offense was quiet most of the day, and put up pedestrian stats. They beat a team that was pedestrian with a limp in a close game. Neither the Jaguars nor Titans impressed here. A huge hunk of Tennessee's yardage came on a fluky play that turned into a long touchdown.

  • Eli Manning was seen as having a disastrous day, while Rex Grossman was seen as having a big game in a win. Check out these numbers:

Passing Yards: Manning 240, Grossman 258
Times Sacked: Manning 4, Grossman 4
Yards-Per-Play: Giants 5.6, Redskins 5.2

Washington did do a better job on third downs (36% to 10%), and did have an extra TD drive of 60 yards or more (21-14 in that stat). So, the right team won. But Grossman wasn't really much better than Manning in the big picture. And, neither team looked ready to compete for a Wildcard spot behind Philadelphia.

  • The big story of Carolina/Arizona was obviously the stunning huge game from Cam Newton. Time will tell whether he's really that good, or Arizona's pass defense is really that horrible. Newton really shouldn't pass for anything like that in this league based on his skill set. Not yet anyway. So, there's a chance Arizona's defense is hideous this year...and the Cards will play a lot of high scoring games. This may have been a battle of 4-12 caliber teams that was fun to watch, but not particularly relevant down the road. We'll see what happens when they play other teams.

  • San Francisco's offense was abysmal in its 33-17 win over Seattle. Hardly anyone watched this game. And, the highlight packages were about Ted Ginn's TD returns. Hey, he's a great story. But, the San Francisco offense under Alex Smith and Jim Harbaugh gained just 209 yards on the day, and was only 1 of 12 on third downs. Both Seattle and San Francisco had little clue how to move the ball. Another awful year in the NFC West...as defending champion Seattle is worse at quarterback. Maybe a 4-12 caliber team will end up winning it (which is what St. Louis would drop to if its stars keep getting injured).

  • Donovan McNabb may be finished. A passing line of 7-15-1-28 in great weather is a pretty good sign that you're not ready to make a big contribution. Washington wasn't sad to see him go. Minnesota felt he was an upgrade from Tavaris Jackson. Maybe they upgraded from D-minus to D on a report card. The Vikings only scored 10 points after returning the opening kickoff for a touchdown. Only three of those came on a drive of 60 yards or more. And...be careful falling in love with San Diego just because they rallied from that early deficit. It's a very bad sign for the special teams that they allowed a TD on the first play. You just can't play championship caliber football passing 50 times in desperate catch up mode.

  • Most of you probably watched Dallas at the NY Jets, so there's not much to add. Both quarterbacks had flashes of brilliance and flashes of boneheadedness. They were known for that coming in. Neither team can think seriously about WINNING a Super Bowl until they fix the screw-ups. The Jets great defense gives them a better chance of getting there.

  • New England looked so much like their old selves that you should just treat them that way until Brady gets injured. Pencil in 35-42 points most weeks...and evaluate the Vegas pointspread based on what you think opponents might score. This defense may not allow them to run the table. If you let Chad Henne pass for 390 yards...then better quarterbacks will eat you up.

  • Oakland crushed Denver on the ground this past Monday Night, winning rushing yardage 190-38. The volume of penalties was crazy though, making it hard to take Oakland seriously as a Wildcard threat. They'll win some games like this...but you have no margin for error when you're erasing 120-plus yards from the equation every week with linen on the turf. Denver joins Cleveland on the list of teams who were supposed to be better than they played. Some Wise Guys took a hit with both of those teams, particularly those who played Denver back at pick-em, -1, and -2 earlier this summer.

That wraps up the week. We go back to previews tomorrow with a look at the great LSU-Mississippi State matchup that kicks off the week in the colleges. Boise State/Toledo could get interesting too on Friday given how well Toledo matched up with Ohio State last week.

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