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NFL17 Cherry Picks W1: Nuff With Knees & QBs, It’s Time For Bridesmaids & Tacklese

8 Sep

Even the best NFL tacklers like Seattle Seahawks’ Bobby Wagner could enjoy the chick-flick Bridesmaids (2011). That’s no foolin.’

When the thin one (Kristen Wiig) starts to panic on the jetliner (pills + liquor), triggering the air-marshal plan, it’s on-the-spot volunteer “Megan (Melissa McCarthy),” a G5 federal employee, who lays her friend flat with the best flying tackle seen by this football fan since Pat Willis patrolled the tundra (ret. 2015).

‘That was acting, Steve.’ Sure, but then sport itself can be fairly fantastic.

Take soccer (fútbol) for example. ¡Ay, caramba! Those guys fall to the turf more than The Bad News Bears (76), pre-“Kelly Leak (Jackie Earle Haley)” and “Amanda (Tatum O‘Neal).”

— — —

For all the fascination with scoring by guys like Tom Brady and David Johnson, the foundation of every team will lay in its defense. It’s football 101.

And if you don’t have it for the whole shebang, i.e., 4Qs for 16Gs and the entire post-season, you’re in for a shootout at worst possible time, something the Atlanta Falcons, and Green Bay Packers for that matter (NFCC), know about all…too…well.

The two key measures in team defense have traditionally been yards allowed per game (yapg) and point allowed per game (papg). Why? Because you can’t pile up points without both of ‘em. Get it?

In NFL16, Houston (301), Arizona, Minnesota, Denver and Seattle (319) held down the top five (5) spots in the former category (yapg). Combined, they were eight (8) games over .500, two division titles, three (3) had winning marks with the Vikes even-Steven and Cards ½ game under. Not proof-positive of the D’s value, but not too shabby an indicator, either.

A better gauge might be the later rank, papg.

Those top five (5): New England (15.6), Giants, Seahawks, Broncos & Cowboys, a combined thrity-five and one-half games (35.5) over .500. “Zowie!”

The short story, and that’s what you’ll get most often at NFLCherryPicks in opposite of the trend to long story (See; sabrmetrics), is that defense matters, alot.

We know about the Patriots positioning prior to the playoffs (#8 / 1) but where’d the Falcons finish up in the top D rankings?

An inglorious 25th (yapg) and 27th (papg) is where the A-Birds settled in. And like I wrote above, those deficienies will not remain hidden forever. Great teams will expose them in the brightest of lights.

So if Atlanta was so deficient on the defensive side, how would you think they could make it through the post-season and into the Big Game?

Besides stellar offensive efforts by their quarterback and League MVP Matt Ryan, 3rd-year RB Devonta Freeman, another monster stat-season by receiver Julio Jones and offensive line that did their job (37s), the non-team-related reason was that the NFC was a veritable graveyard of competition in 2016.

Youth-movement-led Cowboys rolled after a W1 loss to the Giants but proceeded to flop in the PS, Green Bay had to kick-start its campaign and lost home-field in the process, Seattle hasn’t been the same since Lynch went wingnut and Arizona, expected by some to make the SB51, proved the Big Enigma of 2016.

Falcons’ defense did have its performers that shone bright when it counted most, of note was the League’s top sack-master in Vic Beasley (15.5) and the 25th best tackler in Deion Jones (75s – 33a). Those aren’t eye-popping stats but Jones was busy elsewhere, having 14 PDs and 3 INTs. Another player, or two, like Deion and A-Birds might make a return trip to the Big Game in 2018.

Cherry Picks Week 1: On the right foot

Chiefs @ New England: 9.7 NBC 8:30: NE
Cardinals @ Detroit: 9.10 Fox 1:00: Arizona
Buccaneers @ Miami: Fox 1:00: Tampa Bay
Raiders @ Tennessee: CBS 1:00: Titans
Ravens @ Cincinnati: CBS 1:00: Bengals
Seahawks @ Green Bay: Fox 4:25: Packers
Giants @ Dallas: NBC 8:30: New York
NO @ Minnesota: 9.11 Disney 7:10: Vikings

2014: 97 – 55 -1 (NE)
2015: 105 – 101 – 1 (DEN)
2016: 88 – 93 – 3 (NE (8 – 3))

StevenKeys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credits: NFL-icon, wikiproject; B.Wagner, wc.cca, 10.6.14, K.Allison; M.Ryan, 8.8.16, wc, E.Drost; cherries, Hispalois, Caceres-Spain, wc, 7.2.12; Wood, Topps, 1970
Posted: 9.7.17 @ 8:28pE; Copyright © 2017

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NFL16 Cherry Picks W8: Poise’n in the Pocket, Philip Rivers Just Keeps Rollin’

27 Oct

Live-wire.

Fully charged.

Gung-ho, go-getter.

The Decatur Dynamo.

Jay Cutler’s bizarro-world opposite (Sorry JC, it‘s not you, it’s ‘dem (‘da Bears)).

All tags that hang well on San Diego Chargers sanguine quarterback, Philip Rivers. Some seem tailor-made, given that Rivers (‘04) has been signal-calling for over a decade on a team nicknamed, the Bolts.

rivers-1-12-14-wc-j-beall-2mIn the football vernacular, Phil Rivers is best described as such: Prototype pro-set pocket passer, aka, PPPP. And with all those peas it’s no wonder Phil’s “bursting with country fresh (goodness) (ahem).”

Why the fawning over a signal-caller with a career playoff mark of 4-5? Because in all sport there are men, top-tier players, who 1) Seem destined to toil on teams that are incapable of fully utilizing their talents (under-staffed), 2) happen to join a club just after the cork-popping has ceased (Lafontaine (NYI) / Murcer (NYY)), or 3) get traded the same season it all comes together, his former acquiring what’s supposed to’ve been the missing piece to a championship puzzle.

In baseball, such a soul would be Ernie Banks, though, you could just as well throw in Billy Williams, Ron Santo and Fergie Jenkins.

Then there’s Akron’s first great NBA power-player, HOF center Nate Thurmond (d.2016) who for thirteen San Fran seasons battled the best big men in history, then got shipped to Chicago (C. Ray) the year the Warriors got title #2 (‘74-75).

In the NHL it’s current superskate Alex Ovechkin (DC) and past greats Gilbert Perreault, Marcel Dionne, Rod Gilbert and Peter Stastny to name a few.

It’s always a somewhat tenuous claim that one particular player could’ve won titles on a better club or should be held largely blameless for their current team’s struggles, no matter the stat-line and pollyannaish persona he may possess.

chargers-cheer-wc-1-2m-dirk-9-4-9The dynamic of team sport is a complicated creature.

Who knows then if Rivers would’ve gone deeper into the playoffs and made a Super had the Chargers opted to keep Drew Brees on board (30-28) and chosen to jettison Phil instead to New Orleans? You just can’t know.

What you can know are the numbers.

Here then are the numbers Phil has compiled in his 10+ at Chargers’ helm: 98-76, 65C%, 43K+ pass, 294-139 TD-ratio and 25 GWDs. If he keeps matriculating as he has PR’s gonna’ have his #17 retired and join that Cantonese sect like former Bolts’ quarterback great, Dan Fouts (’93 (#14)).

Interesting to note is the steady rise in the Bolts QB-sack totals.

In the Decatur Dynamo’s first 4 years as a starter, Chargers averaged just under 25 sacks per (24.75), whereas, since 2010 that number’s risen to 37+, a figure the 2016 Chargers’ offense is on pace to match (17). And though not privy to numbers on quarterback-hurries, common sense would say they’ve increased at a like rate.

So what’s in store for the Chargers the rest of 2016?

Standing at 3-4 in the AFC West and the NFL in the full throes of parity, Bolts are still very much in the thick of the playoff hunt. But if there’s a team more plagued by injuries than San Diego, I know not who they be. I count 21 in SD sick-bay.

mccoy-wc-8-28-13-tl-fenney-usn-471kHead coach Mike McCoy is in his fourth season with a win-loss mark of 25-30.

An undrafted QB out of Utah – LBS (b. SF ‘72) and having brief stints in both NFLE and CFL, Mike’s signal-caller savvy was expected to be the tonic to turn Phil’s game up a notch and the Chargers into Super Bowl contenders.

Things looked promising early on as San Diego went 9-7 in 2013, made the post-season, beat the Cincinnati Bengals convincingly in the wild-card (27-10) and then played eventual AFC titlist the Denver Broncos close in the Divisional, falling 24-17.

But since then, progress has stalled.

Going 9-7 again in 2014, the Bolts missed the PS and then stumbled badly to 4-12 last season. Inconsistency has marked the 2016 campaign, not helped by all those hurts, but nevertheless playing every Sunday to win, their four (4) loses, three on the road (@ KC, IND & OAK), having happened by a total of just 14 points.

Encouraging as well are the team ranks: In yard gained per game (ygpg), Bolts come in at a respectable #13 (365.3 (#1 ATL 433.6)) and hold down the vaunted #2 spot in points scored (pspg (29.4)), then defeating the #1 in the Falcons (32) in OT last weekend on the road in Atlanta. A-1 confidence booster.

On the defense side is where SD’s injuries have taken their biggest toll as the Bolts rank a pedestrian 21st in yards allowed per game (yapg) and are trending trouble at 24th in points allowed per (papg). Ugh.

rivers-k-allison-wc-10-1-06-1-5m-baltimoreSchedule-wise, the Chargers have to be hopeful.

A challenging game at Sports Authority (DEN) awaits in W8, but the Bolts’ bye comes at an opportune time (W11) while the rest of the slate is not too imposing, meaning, most opponents wouldn’t frighten a Girl Scout troop on Halloween. Boo!

With a steady offensive attack that can recall & retain what seems a lost art of pass-protection, a tightened-up D, especially late, a little luck from the sporting gods (injuries) and San Diego should slip into the playoff party, by the backdoor, but in. Then, as any sport fan worth their units in amperes knows, anything can happen.

For Philip, a man who appears iron-laden in not having missed a start in ten-plus campaigns (See Also: D.Brees), he could have 3-to-4 productive seasons left in those limbs, if those offensive sack totals start trending the other way (down).

So while most in the sporting biz are preoccupied with the movements of Colin Kaepernick, the musings of Tom Brady and the whereabouts (bench or under-center) of hotter than a West Texas sidewalk in July, Rayne Dakota Prescott, Phil Rivers will just keep playing and lighting up that scoreboard.

cherries-hispalois-7-2-12-caceres-spain-wc-4-4mCherry Picks W8: Even Steven

DC (4-3) v. CIN (3-4): 10.30 Fox 9:30a (L): Cincy wins
Chiefs (4-2) @ Colts (3-4): CBS 1:00: Kansas City wins
Cardinals (3-3-1) @ Carolina (1-5): Fox 1:00: Cards win
Oakland Raiders (5-2) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-3): CBS 1:00: TB wins
Seattle Seahawks (4-2) @ New Orleans Saints (2-4): Fox 1:00: Saints win
Detroit Lions (4-3) @ Houston Texans (4-3): Fox 1:00: Houston wins
New England Pats (6-1) @ Buffalo Bills (4-3): CBS 1:00: Buffalo wins
San Diego Bolts (3-4) @ Denver Broncos (5-2): CBS 4:05: Chargers win
Green Bay Packers (4-2) @ Atlanta Falcons (4-3): Fox 4:25: Falcons win
Philadelphia Eagles (4-2) @ Dallas Cowboys (5-1): NBC 8:30: Eagles win

Record: 35 – 35 – 1
Chargers (LA – SD (b.1960)): 424 – 424 – 11

......NFL-symbol.wikiproject.6kbSteven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: Chargers-wordmark, wc.cca, sportslogos, 8.25.15; P.Rivers, wc, 1.12.14, J.Beall; Chargers-cheer, wc, 9.4.9, Dirk; M.McCoy, wc, TL.Fenney, 8.28.13; Rivers, wc, K.Allison, 10.1.06; cherries, wc, Hispalois, Spain, 7.2.12; NFL-symbol, wikproject
Posted: 10.26.16 @ 11:14pm EST, edit 10.28 @ 11:15am; Copyright © 2016
References: Pelletier’s greatesthockeylegends.com; (PFR).com; Wikipedia