Friday, November 30, 2007

Sports Media Bias: Brett Favre [EdMcGon]

We have all heard of the liberal Media bias displayed by most Media sources. But there is a Media bias far more glaring and obvious than anything the Media does related to politics. That bias is towards Brett Favre.

If you took Cal Ripken's durability and work ethic and combined it with John Kruk's wit and love of the game, and put it into a football player, you would have Brett Favre, who is without question one of the great quarterbacks playing, as well as one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time.

But the media treatment of Favre would lead you to think he transcends the game itself. Last night's Cowboys-Packers game was a disgusting example of Favre bias on full display.

Favre got injured in the second quarter. Mind you, the game was still being played, but you might not know it from the coverage. While Bryant Gumbel and Cris Collinsworth were droning on about Favre's injury, we got to see repeated replays of the play where Favre got hurt. While Aaron Rodgers led the Packers on a touchdown drive at the end of the second quarter (something Favre had not accomplished while he was in there, and I don't count Ryan Grant's 62 yard touchdown run as Favre's accomplishment), you would think Islamic terrorists had flown an airplane into Brett Favre's arm based on the amount of coverage it was getting.

But it was clear from the replay that Favre hit his arm on a defender's helmet as he was trying to throw. Worst case scenario was that Favre broke his arm, but it didn't even look that serious from the replay. Considering Favre is hoping to play next week, it is safe to say it is a minor injury.

The halftime show was even worse. At one point, Rich Eisen nailed the bias when he called the score of the game "secondary" to Favre's injury. I might buy that if Favre had broken his neck, or sustained some other life-threatening injury. But was it really necessary to have the camera on the locker room door when the Packers came out for the second half, with the constant "we don't see Favre coming out with the team" comments?

Just when you think the "Favre love-in" cannot get any worse, the third quarter started. Or did it? Forget the game! Forget replays of the action on the field! Favre is leaving the locker room! Favre is returning to the field!

Thank God the Packers announced Favre would not be returning to the game. Otherwise, Gumbel and Collinsworth might have spent the entire second half wondering if Favre would be returning. As it was, we got treated to plenty of camera shots of Favre standing on the sidelines in the second half, as if just the mere presence of Favre on the sidelines added to the game somehow.

While the announcers were busy gushing over Brett Favre, his replacement was actually having a better game than Favre. The final stat line for both:

Brett Favre: 5/14, 56 passing yards, 2 interceptions
Aaron Rodgers: 18/26, 201 passing yards, 1 td, 5 rush attempts, 30 rushing yards

During the second half, Bryant Gumbel noted how there would be "no quarterback controversy in Green Bay". Probably because the Media would skewer Green Bay's management if they even hinted at benching Favre.

Don't get me wrong. I am NOT saying the Packers should bench Favre. But the Media will not even consider the possibility, which is a dereliction of the Media's duty. When a public figure is not performing as well as they should, the Media has a responsibility to question whether that public figure is worthy of their position. For the Media to place a public figure above scrutiny is the definition of bias.

Any politician would kill to get the kind of Media bias that Brett Favre enjoys. The drinking problems from early in his career? Forgotten. The fact he has thrown more interceptions than any other quarterback in the history of the NFL? No biggie.

If it wasn't for the Media genuflecting before Favre at every oppurtunity, I might enjoy watching the end of Favre's career. As it is, I will be glad when he retires.


Thursday, November 29, 2007

Pigskin Pick'em - NFL Week 13 Picks [EdMcGon]

As stated in my previous post, the Cowboys-Packers game will NOT count, per the Pigskin Pick'em rules (see below, or any of the other previous 12 times they were posted). Here are my weekly picks:

San Francisco 49ers at Carolina Panthers: Hard to pick against the 49ers with a healthy Frank Gore.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis Colts: If you can't see the Cowboys-Packers, then try to catch this one. It might be better. With Peyton playing more like Eli lately, expect the Jags to exact some revenge for their last loss to the Colts.
San Diego Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs: The Chiefs are a mess.
New York Jets at Miami Dolphins: Speaking of good games...well, you know I wasn't talking about this one. This may be the only time I pick the Fish all year.
Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings: My first upset special for this week.
Seattle Seahawks at Philadelphia Eagles: Coin toss game.
Atlanta Falcons at St. Louis Rams: These two teams are still playing? I thought they were both mailing it in this year.
Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans: My second upset special this week.
Buffalo Bills at Washington Redskins: How do you pick this game, considering the Skins are in mourning over Sean Taylor? My gut feeling is because the Skins are at home, they will stomp the Bills. Or they'll be flat and get rolled by the Bills.
Cleveland Browns at Arizona Cardinals: I never thought I'd hear the words "offensive shootout" associated with a Browns-Cards game, but it's true.
Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders: If ever there was a game where I want to pick the Raiders to win, this is it. Forgive me Al, for I have sinned...
New York Giants at Chicago Bears: Take "Da Bears" at home.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints: Just a feeling...or was it that po'boy I ate?
Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers: The only chance the Bengals have is if the Steelers are looking past them to...
New England Patriots at Baltimore Ravens: " Moss...TOUCHDOWN!!!" Now say that four more times, inserting different receivers each time. And that's just the first quarter.

Pigskin Pick'em Rules:
1. Pick the straight-up winners of all this weeks NFL games (excluding any Thursday games). Picks will be accepted in the comments section of the following websites:
Politics and Pigskins, Ragged Thots, and American Legends. All picks must be posted by 1 pm Eastern Time on Sunday (otherwise known as "The Barker Rule"), or by the kickoff of the first NFL Saturday game on weeks when that happens.
2. The winner gets...bragging rights! (you weren't expecting money, were you?)
3. And new for this year: I will be keeping a running tally for the season, so the person who gets the most picks correct for the whole season, including the playoffs, gets...even BIGGER bragging rights! (and still no money)


Pigskin Pick'em - NFL Week 12 Results [EdMcGon]

In a crazy week of football, it figures the guy from Canada would win. Congrats Audio Dave!

Audio Dave - 9
Robert A. George - 8
EdMcGon - 7
Bill Barker - 7
SoloD - 7
David Stefanini - 5
Moose - 1

In the YTD standings, a bad week for Stefanini and a good week for Robert George means we have a real bottleneck at the top of the standings (with weekly wins in parentheses):

David Stefanini(2) - 99
EdMcGon(2) - 98
Robert A. George(2) - 97
J. Mark English(1) - 82
Bill Barker - 76
BL(2) - 74
FunkyPundit(0.5) - 56
SoloD(1) - 53
Audio Dave(1.5) - 37
Dave O'Leary - 21
Rigel - 17
Snave - 8
Mike - 8
Moose - 2

Per the Pigskin Pick'em rules, tonights Packers-Cowboys game will NOT count towards the weekly or YTD results, although you are welcome to pick it. Personally, I like the Cowboys tonight.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Sad Day for the NFL [J. Mark English]

Sean Taylor of the Washington Redskins is dead. This is from the NY Times, by Kirk Semple:

Sean Taylor, a Pro Bowl safety with the Washington Redskins who was shot early Monday by an intruder at his home in an affluent suburb south of Miami, died early today from his injuries, one of his lawyers said. The lawyer, Richard Sharpstein, who has represented the 24-year-old Taylor, said in an interview by telephone that he received the news this morning from Taylor’s father.

“His father called me at 5:15 a.m. this morning and said Sean was with God,” Sharpstein said. “He was crying and overwrought with grief.” Sharpstein said he did not know exactly what time Taylor died.

The shooting Monday was reported to the police at 1:46 a.m. by Taylor’s girlfriend, who was in the house with Taylor in Palmetto Bay, an affluent suburb south of Miami. Taylor, bleeding profusely, was airlifted to Jackson Memorial Hospital where he had surgery but remained in a critical condition throughout Monday.

He was unconscious for most of the day and although at one point he showed some signs of responding to a request to squeeze an attendant’s hand he never fully recovered. “Everybody was sort of brightened by the response but he never showed any kind of real response,” Sharpstein said.

“It’s just a sad senseless useless tragedy, an example of the incessant violence in this town and every other town in America,” Sharpstein said.

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

College Football Quote of the Day [EdMcGon]

"I have done an excellent job in every area." - Bill Callahan

Callahan said that about a month ago. Today, Callahan was fired as head coach at Nebraska after the Cornhuskers finished their season with a 5-7 record.


NFL Pro Bowl Balloting Update [EdMcGon]

The only early NFL Pro Bowl balloting results I can find are from last week (at Mile High Report). If anyone has a link to more current information, please post it in the comments section.

How does Tom Brady fall below Brett Favre and Peyton Manning in the Pro Bowl vote totals? Brady is having not only the best season of his career, but the best season ANY quarterback has EVER had.

I would buy the argument that "Favre is carrying his team", except for the fact he did NOT carry them last year. The truth is the Packers have surrounded Favre with enough talent this year that he CAN carry them.

As for Manning, he is having one of the worst seasons of his career. Aside from Brady and Favre, the other quarterbacks having a better year than Manning: Ben Roethlisberger, Tony Romo, David Garrard, Jeff Garcia, and Matt Hasselbeck.

The Pro Bowl is NOT about who has had a better career, but rather who is having the best season THIS YEAR. No one is better than Brady this year.

Only the best tight end in the NFL this year and going back to 2004. But you wouldn't know it based on the Pro Bowl votes, which only rank him as the best in the AFC.

Jason Witten of the Cowboys has 238,598 votes, compared to Gates getting only 199,593 votes. Statistically, they are comparable. Not counting the Cowboys-Jets game, Witten has 55 catches for 696 yards and 5 touchdowns, whereas Gates has 54 catches for 729 yards and 6 touchdowns. So why is Witten worthy of more votes?

The truth is Gates is being underutilized by the Chargers (thank you Norv Turner) whereas Witten is being utilized to the best of his abilities by the Cowboys. Ask any NFL head coach or scout who they would rather have on their team, and Gates would win easily over Witten.

But there is a reasonable explanation for this voting anomaly: Tony Gonzalez. Gonzalez has 59 catches for 690 yards and 4 touchdowns. These numbers are certainly worthy of Pro Bowl votes. Compare this to the NFC's second best tight end, Jeremy Shockey: 48 catches for 528 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Clearly, Witten rates a bigger edge over the second best tight end in his conference than Gates in his conference. Kudos to the Pro Bowl voters for recognizing this.

According to the Pro Bowl voters, Nick Folk of the Cowboys and Adam Vinatieri of the Colts are the two best kickers in the NFL this year.

In the NFC, I will grant the argument for Folk, since he has made 85% of his field goals. However, in the AFC, there are only two names we should be talking about: Rob Bironas (Titans) and Kris Brown (Texans). Both of them are perfect on their extra points, compared to Vinatieri who has missed two. Both of them have made over 90% of their field goals (Bironas has 92.3%, Brown has 91.3%), whereas Vinatieri has only made 76% of his field goals. Both of them are perfect on field goals beyond 50 yards (Bironas is 3/3, Brown is 4/4), whereas Vinatieri missed his only try from that distance (in fact, the longest field goal Vinatieri has made this year was from 39 yards).

I would even rank Shayne Graham (Bengals) above Vinatieri this year, although below the other two because Graham's longest field goal was from 48 yards. Graham has been perfect on extra points, and has been good on 95.5% of his field goal attempts.

How on earth does Wes Welker lead the AFC for kick returner votes? He is not even the best return man on his own team!

Welker does a good job returning punts for the Patriots, but Ellis Hobbs handles the kick return duties. Hobbs tied an NFL record with a 108 yard kick return for a touchdown earlier this year. Welker has no touchdowns returning kicks or punts this year.

Among the worthy kick returners, it is an easy choice between Joshua Cribbs of the Browns (with 2 touchdowns on 1475 kick return yards) and Leon Washington of the Jets (with 3 touchdowns on 946 kick return yards).

Among the worthy punt returners, Roscoe Parrish of the Bills is the clear leader in the AFC, with 330 punt return yards for a 19.4 yard average (which is almost worthy of a kick returner) and one touchdown, compared to Welker's 236 return yards for an 11.2 yard average and no touchdowns.

I hope that after the Packers pass rushing display against the Lions that their defensive ends get a little more respect from the Pro Bowl voters.

Even before that game, Aaron Kampman and Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila were among the NFC leaders in sacks, with 9.0 and 8.5 respectively. The other leader is Trent Cole of the Eagles with 9.0 sacks.

So who is the NFC's leading Pro Bowl vote receiver? Osi Umenyiora of the Giants, with 8.0 sacks. While Osi is having a great year, Kampman or Cole both deserve more consideration. Each of them have had over 50 tackles this year, whereas Osi has only had 30. Even Michael Strahan of the Giants, who is having arguably his worst season, has 8.0 sacks and 37 tackles.

How does Dwight Freeney of the Colts merit ANY Pro Bowl consideration? He has had 3.5 sacks and 21 tackles. Even if you throw out Jared Allen of the Chiefs (9.5 sacks and 38 tackles) because of his suspension early this season, there are still plenty of better choices

Start with Elvis Dumervil of the Broncos (8.0 sacks and 23 tackles). Then look at Freeney's other bookend for the Colts, Robert Mathis (6.0 sacks and 27 tackles). How about Jason Taylor of the Dolphins (5.0 sacks and 30 tackles), Kyle Vanden Bosch of the Titans (5.0 sacks and 31 tackles), or Mario Williams of the Texans (5.0 sacks and 29 tackles)?

A year after the Chargers Shawne Merriman is suspended for steroid use, he is having his worst season. Coincidence? I doubt it.

Yet he still gets the most votes at outside linebacker in the AFC, even though his numbers (45 tackles and 5.5 sacks) are clearly less than two other outside linebackers, Mike Vrabel of the Patriots (50 tackles and 9.5 sacks) and James Harrison of the Steelers (57 tackles and 7.5 sacks).

So it doesn't matter that Merriman made his name while using steroids, while two better players who have NEVER been accused of steroid use get ignored?

I hate to pick on Tedy Bruschi, because his story is inspirational (had a mild stroke, a congenital heart defect, and was partially paralyzed). And the Patriots are having a good year. It can even be argued that his work against the run has made the Patriots a better defense this year. But his numbers (56 tackles and 2 sacks) are nowhere among the AFC leaders for inside linebackers.

Among the AFC's inside linebackers, Ray Lewis is probably still the best, with 92 tackles and 1.0 sacks. Even if you throw out Lewis based on his story versus Bruschi's, there are still other better choices.

Start with Gary Brackett of the Colts, with 87 tackles and 0.5 sacks. Then there is DeMeco Ryans of the Texans with 83 tackles and 2.0 sacks. Consider D.J. Williams of the Broncos, with 82 tackles and 1.0 sacks.

Last and certainly least, we have the punters.

While Mat McBriar of the Cowboys would not be my first choice in the NFC (I would take Andy Lee of the 49ers), at least McBriar is close enough to merit consideration.

However, in the AFC, how does the player with the easiest job in the NFL get ANY votes? Chris Hanson of the Patriots has only punted 22 times this season, for a net average of 36.2 yards. Granted, he has pinned opponents inside their 20 a total of 8 times (36%), with 18% of his kicks being touchbacks.

But if you only look at Hanson's averages and percentages in comparison to other punters in the AFC, he is still nowhere near the best in the AFC. There are 10 AFC punters with better net averages. There are four punters with better "inside the 20" percentages. There are 15 punters with lower touchback percentages.

For the best in the AFC, look at Shane Lechler of the Raiders (44.3 net) or Daniel Sepulveda of the Steelers (44.2% inside the 20, with a touchback percentage of 4.7%).


Friday, November 23, 2007

Thanksgiving Day Pick Results [EdMcGon]

For those of you who made Thanksgiving Day picks in our Pigskin Pick'em this week, how hard could it be to pick three games? Especially when only one of the games was even mildly contested?

Here are the results:

EdMcGon - 3
SoloD - 3
Bill Barker - 3
David Stefanini - 3
Audio Dave - 3

Robert A. George - 2
BL - 2
J. Mark English - 1

I will admit in most years there is usually one upset on Thanksgiving Day, but there was only one game this year that was between even remotely close teams, the Packers against the Lions. Based on how both teams have played the last few weeks, it was hard to see how the Lions could pull off an upset.

As for the Jets or Falcons pulling an upset, it was hard enough trying to imagine those two getting off the ground, let alone beating the superior opponents they were going against in the Cowboys and Colts.


Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving Day: Remember the Troops! [J. Mark English]

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Pigskin Pick'em - NFL Week 12 Picks [EdMcGon]

Per the Pigskin Pick'em rules, this week's Thursday games will NOT count towards the weekly or YTD standings. Feel free to pick them, but don't expect any credit for it.

With that in mind, here are my special turkey day picks:

Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions: While the Lions tend to play better on Thanksgiving, I can't pick against the Packers here.
New York Jets at Dallas Cowboys: This is where the Jets meet the earth.
Indianapolis Colts at Atlanta Falcons: Even with the Colts in a seeming death spiral, they should have no trouble with the low-flying Falcons.

Now on to my regular weekly picks:

New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers: This game is a coin toss. The Saints just seem a little healthier.
Tennessee Titans at Cincinnati Bengals: The Titans should take out their Monday night frustrations on the Bengals.
Houston Texans at Cleveland Browns: Another close game for the Brownies.
Buffalo Bills at Jacksonville Jaguars: I have to feel sorry for the Bills. The Patriots followed by the Jags is one of the toughest two-game stretches any team could pull.
Oakland Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs: The Raiders could pull off the win, but I can't pick it.
Minnesota Vikings at New York Giants: The G-men by a mile.
Seattle Seahawks at St. Louis Rams: Bad news for the Lambs. The Hawks are playing better.
Washington Redskins at Tampa Bay Buccaneers: This game could go either way, but I think the Skins are just a little better.
San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals: Did you ever think you'd see the day when the 49ers had no passing game?
Denver Broncos at Chicago Bears: While the Bears might get an upset here, I just like what I have seen from the Broncos lately.
Baltimore Ravens at San Diego Chargers: This was a much better game last year.
Philadelphia Eagles at New England Patriots: Just keep taking the Pats until Brady or Moss blow out a knee.
Miami Dolphins at Pittsburgh Steelers: If the Steelers lose this one, Tomlin should be fired. Losing to the Jets AND Dolphins in consecutive weeks would be inexcusable.

UPDATE: Due to popular request (ok, two people asked for it), I will post a special Thanskgiving Day winners blog on Friday. This will have no bearing on the regular Pigskin Pick'em standings, and is strictly for fun.

Pigskin Pick'em Rules:
1. Pick the straight-up winners of all this weeks NFL games (excluding any Thursday games). Picks will be accepted in the comments section of the following websites:
Politics and Pigskins, Ragged Thots, and American Legends. All picks must be posted by 1 pm Eastern Time on Sunday (otherwise known as "The Barker Rule"), or by the kickoff of the first NFL Saturday game on weeks when that happens.
2. The winner gets...bragging rights! (you weren't expecting money, were you?)
3. And new for this year: I will be keeping a running tally for the season, so the person who gets the most picks correct for the whole season, including the playoffs, gets...even BIGGER bragging rights! (and still no money)


Pigskin Pick'em - NFL Week 11 Results [EdMcGon]

Yours truly wins again! Sort of...Robert George snuck in and tied me for the win. Couldn't stand to let me have the spotlight by myself?

The great irony here is that Bill Barker would have also tied for the win, except for picking his namesake team over the Patriots. Sorry Bill, that deserved mentioning!

This week's results:

EdMcGon - 12
Robert A. George - 12

Bill Barker - 11
Audio Dave - 11
David Stefanini - 10
J. Mark English - 10
SoloD - 9
BL - 8
FunkyPundit - 8

YTD results, with weekly wins in parentheses:

David Stefanini(2) - 94
EdMcGon(2) - 91
Robert A. George(2) - 89
J. Mark English(1) - 82
BL(2) - 74
Bill Barker - 69
FunkyPundit(0.5) - 56
SoloD(1) - 46
Audio Dave(0.5) - 28
Dave O'Leary - 21
Rigel - 17
Snave - 8
Mike - 8
Moose - 1


Friday, November 16, 2007

The Best NFL Quarterback Playing [EdMcGon]

Over a year ago, I did a post rating the best quarterbacks of all-time. In that post, I excluded quarterbacks currently playing.

With apologies to all the Trent Dilfer and Brad Johnson fans out there, there are only four Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks worthy of consideration as the best still playing: Brett Favre, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Kurt Warner. However, I also have to exclude Warner for the simple reason he has only started 78 games in his career, and he is clearly nearing the end, whereas Brady and Manning have both started over 100 games and will undoubtedly play for many more years. (Of course, Favre is the all-time champ with 246 games started.)

While there are certainly young quarterbacks who may yet win a Super Bowl, they have not played long enough to be rated with these three quarterbacks.

I will use the same criteria as I used in my "all-time best" post to rate these three quarterbacks, with a look at percentages since the three have clearly played careers of different lengths. The stats are taken from their career statistics through last weekend:

The first quality all rookie quarterbacks must learn is game management. By this I mean the ability to avoid interceptions and fumbles.

To rate this ability, I will use the interception percentage:

1. Tom Brady: 2.4%
2. Peyton Manning: 2.9%
3. Brett Favre: 3.3%

The key to Brady's success in this category is that he knows how to throw it away instead of making risky throws. Favre may be fun to watch, but he also throws where he shouldn't way too often.

In order to throw a lot of touchdowns, you have to be able to throw the ball in the red zone. You won't make a career out of only lobbing 70 yard bombs. You also have to be able to
toss the little two yard pass to the tackle eligible in the end zone.

A simple look at touchdowns per pass attempt for the three quarterbacks:

1. Peyton Manning: 291/5205= 0.056
2. Tom Brady: 180/3363= 0.054
3. Brett Favre: 430/8577= 0.050

I would consider this category a wash. The statistical difference between these three is insignificant. They can all throw touchdowns quite well, and an easy argument can be made that the differences are due to the quality of teams they have played on over the years. In addition, when you consider Favre has played twice as long as the other two, and an argument can be made that Brady and Manning's touchdown percentages may drop over the remainder of their careers.

A quick release is not necessary to be a great quarterback, but it seems the great ones tend to have quicker releases than most quarterbacks.

The quickest release of all-time belonged to Dan Marino. As a pure pocket passer, it is easy to see how fast he got rid of the ball: In 8,358 pass attempts, he fumbled the ball only 57 times, for a 0.68% rating.

While it is tougher to rate scrambling quarterbacks using this statistic, none of the three quarterbacks we are looking at would be considered a significant scrambler.

Here is how they rate:

1. Peyton Manning: 49/5205= 0.94%
2. Brett Favre: 144/8577= 1.68%
3. Tom Brady: 63/3363= 1.87%

Even though Manning is no Marino, he still gets the ball away faster than anyone today.

By itself, arm strength is nice, but it won't win games.

Early in his career, Doug Williams had the strongest arm I have ever seen. Unfortunately, when he threw little passes into the flat, the ball would bounce off the receiver because it was uncatchable.

For arm strength to be effective, it has to be combined with touch on shorter passes.

In this category, average gain per pass attempted tells us the quarterback is using his arm strength to its ultimate advantage:

1. Peyton Manning: 7.7
2. Tom Brady: 7.2
3. Brett Favre: 7.0

Manning would not rate among the best of all-time in this category, but he is clearly better at getting the most out of his arm strength of these three quarterbacks.

A strong arm needs accuracy to be effective. This is where completion percentage is important, and where Manning rates a slight edge:

1. Peyton Manning: 64.0%
2. Tom Brady: 62.9%
3. Brett Favre: 61.3%

In a team sport, the championship stands out as the ultimate test of how much a quarterback is helping his team. In Super Bowl victories, this is where Tom Brady stands out from the crowd:

1. Tom Brady: 3
2t. Peyton Manning: 1
2t. Brett Favre: 1

None of these three quarterbacks is a great scrambler, like a Mike Vick or a Randall Cunningham. With rushing averages ranging from 1.9 (Brady) to 3.3 (Favre), they won't be winning games by running for 70 yard touchdowns.

Where we can make a comparison is in rushing touchdowns/rushing attempts:

1. Peyton Manning: 16/279= 5.7%
2. Brett Favre: 13/543= 2.39%
3. Tom Brady: 5/256= 2.0%

Manning doesn't run often, but he does make it count more often than the other two. That is good running judgement.

For the record, Manning's percentage is even better than LaDainian Tomlinson's percentage (5.7% vs. 4.9%).

If we throw out the touchdowns as a consideration (for the reason stated earlier), then total their rankings (with lowest total being better), here is how they rank:

1. Peyton Manning: 8
2. Tom Brady: 12
3. Brett Favre: 15

Is this a fair comparison? Absolutely not, when you consider that Manning has had the luxury of playing with an elite receiver (Marvin Harrison) for his entire career. Brady has only had an elite receiver this year (Randy Moss), and it can be argued that Favre has NEVER played with an elite receiver.

To make a fair comparison, let's start with Brady's career numbers prior to this season, against Favre's overall numbers (using the same criteria from above):

Tom Brady: 2.5% interception pct., 4.8% td pct., 1.93% fumble pct., 7.0 yds./attempt, 61.9% completed, 3 championships, 1.26% rush td's/attempts
Brett Favre: 3.3% interception pct., 5.0% td pct., 1.68% fumble pct., 7.0 yds./attempt, 61.3% completed, 1 championship, 2.39% rush td's/attempts

Brady and Favre are virtually identical, with each of them only rating a significant edge in two categories.

Assuming Brady and Favre are comparable, how do we draw a fair comparison to Manning? The best way might be to take Brady's stats from this year, prorate them to a full season, and then compare them to Manning's best season (2004):

Tom Brady: 1.3% interception pct., 11.0% td pct., 1.34% fumble pct., 9.0 yds./attempt, 73.2% completed, 11.8% rush td's/attempt
Peyton Manning: 2.0% interception pct., 9.9% td pct., 1.01% fumble pct., 9.2 yds./attempt, 67.6% completed, 0% rush td's/attempt

Brady rates a slight edge in four categories. But with fewer games completed in this sample, it is hard to call this definitive. However, IF Brady finishes this season with approximately the same stats, then we can conclude that Brady AND Favre (since Favre is comparable to Brady) are better quarterbacks than Manning. But that has yet to be determined.

Since the statistics don't show us a truly objective "best quarterback" among these three quarterbacks, then it comes down to a subjective choice. Assuming Brady continues at his current pace, and I think he will, then it comes down to a choice between Favre and Brady. If you look at the quality of receivers that both of them have had over the years, in my opinion Favre has had better (even if they were not elite) receivers overall, yet has only managed comparable numbers to years when Brady's best receivers were Troy Brown or Deion Branch. Therefore, Tom Brady would be the best quarterback playing now, depending on how he finishes this year.

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Pigskin Pick'em - NFL Week 11 Picks

Let's see if I can get more than 3 right this week. My picks for this week's NFL games:

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons: Remember the good old days when the Bucs used to have Mike Vick's number? Now they can have the whole Atlanta phone book.
Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens: What a difference a year makes. Last year, the Ravens would have been a lock to win this game. This year, with the disappearance of the Ravens offense, plus their struggling defense, and the arrival of football to Cleveland, the Brownies are the lock.
Arizona Cardinals at Cincinnati Bengals: Neither of these teams are who we thought they were. Expect the unexpected, and take the Cards.
New York Giants at Detroit Lions: The Lions have a tendency to flop the weekend before their Thanksgiving game. Playing the Giants doesn't help them in this regard.
Carolina Panthers at Green Bay Packers: Hey Brett Favre! Don't think of this as an easy game. Think of this as a job tryout for when you become the Panthers quarterback in a few years.
New Orleans Saints at Houston Texans: With both Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson back, the Texans should be too much for the Saints.
Kansas City Chiefs at Indianapolis Colts: I bet the Chefs would like some payback for last year's playoff loss to the Colts. Too bad they won't get it.
San Diego Chargers at Jacksonville Jaguars: Don't expect this one to be pretty.
Oakland Raiders at Minnesota Vikings: The Vikes will be crying "Adrian!" after this one. Or just crying.
Miami Dolphins at Philadelphia Eagles: I hear fish are good for the heart. There should be a lot of warm hearts in Philly after this one.
Pittsburgh Steelers at New York Jets: Ugly.
Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys: The most storied rivalry in NFL history continues. Even though I am picking the Boys, I won't be surprised by anything in this one.
St. Louis Rams at San Francisco 49ers: The Rams got their win out of the way last week.
Chicago Bears at Seattle Seahawks: Rex Redux! And Hawks usually beat ducks, so...
New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills: You don't even have to ask on this one.
Tennessee Titans at Denver Broncos: This actually looks like a fun Monday night matchup.
Pigskin Pick'em Rules:
1. Pick the straight-up winners of all this weeks NFL games (excluding any Thursday games). Picks will be accepted in the comments section of the following websites:
Politics and Pigskins, Ragged Thots, and American Legends. All picks must be posted by 1 pm Eastern Time on Sunday (otherwise known as "The Barker Rule"), or by the kickoff of the first NFL Saturday game on weeks when that happens.
2. The winner gets...bragging rights! (you weren't expecting money, were you?)
3. And new for this year: I will be keeping a running tally for the season, so the person who gets the most picks correct for the whole season, including the playoffs, gets...even BIGGER bragging rights! (and still no money)


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Next Time in Dallas [Karol Sheinin]

This is a guest spot from Karol Sheinin of Alarming News. I'll have a response up later tonight:

"You know, what's worse is that you'd met Wellington Mara! And then you go and spit on his legacy by supporting the Cowboys." -Oschisms.

It was a new one. I'd heard that I had betrayed New York, I'd betrayed my family (my brother is a Jets fan) and that I'd broken the hearts of various Redskins and Giants fans who I call friends. But I'd never heard that my choosing the 'Boys as my team was some kind of affront to the legendary Mr. Mara. Oschisms, though, is nothing if not original.

What. A. Game.

I had dressed in layers, just as I was told. Tanktop, thermal, t-shirt, (new Cowboys) sweatshirt, jacket. Tights, socks, pants. I was ready to see Terrell Owens up close. And I was willing to go to New Jersey to make that happen.

Oschisms is a good friend of mine and I didn't remember that he was particularly into football. Turns out his family has had Giants season tickets for something like 50 years. We had such sick seats. 45 yard line, 30 rows in. Perfection. Oh, and he brought me a sandwich. Seriously, perfection.

I was only marginally worried that I would get hassled in my Cowboys gear. Oschisms assured me that the people in his section, also people who were lifetime season ticket holders, were very nice and might only razz me a little. Turns out, I had absolutely no need to worry. There were Cowboys fans everywhere. It was really amazing. Unfortunately, the world's most annoying, drunk, loud Cowboys fans (don't start, no all Cowboys fans are not like that, these two were 22 at most and seemed to have had at least that many beers) were right in front of me. At one point I told Oschisms that I was sad that I had no one to high-five with since the only people within high-fiving distance were these idiots. There were some Cowboys fans not too far away and we'd exchange smiles when the 'Boys did well.

I spent most of the game on T.O. watch, as my photos from the game convey. His smile is even more dazzling in person.

Attending this game made me realize that I had made one mistake in my team selection. I chose a team that plays nowhere near where I live. I had such a good time at the game that it's sort of sad I won't be going to another one for awhile. I loved going to a bunch of Yankee games last spring, it's unfortunate I can't complement that with Cowboys games in the winter.

"I'm not trying to hate any other team, I'm just trying to love the Cowboys"-Me.
"HA! That's practically Communist."-Oschisms.

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Pigskin Pick'em - Week 10 Results [EdMcGon]

This weekend was just ugly. Even uglier, if Mark English had gotten his picks in on time, he would have won with ten picks right. Unfortunately, I had to penalize him the 1:00 games, leaving him with 5 picks right. Congrats to SoloD!

Sorry Mark. If it is any consolation, with only 5 picks right, you still did better than me:

SoloD - 9
FunkyPundit - 7
Audio Dave - 7
bl - 6
J. Mark English - 5
David Stefanini - 5
Robert A. George - 5
Bill Barker - 5
EdMcGon - 3
Moose - 1

Fortunately, I did not lose too much ground on Stefanini, since he tanked this week too. Our year-to-date results (with weekly wins in parentheses):

David Stefanini(2) - 84
EdMcGon(1.5) - 79
Robert A. George(1.5) - 77
J. Mark English(1) - 72
bl(2) - 66
Bill Barker - 58
FunkyPundit(0.5) - 48
SoloD(1) - 37
Dave O'Leary - 21
Audio Dave(0.5) - 17
Rigel - 17
Snave - 8
Mike - 8
Moose - 1

As you may have noticed, I gave Moose credit for picking the Steelers this week. Thanks for playing Moose!


Lowell Set to Test the Market, A-Rod Looms [Addison Quale]

The Boston Globe is reporting that an hour away from the deadline, Lowell and the Sox still haven't reached a deal. He wants to see if there's a 4 year deal out there for him somewhere. The Sox seem intent on a 3 year deal. It seems a bit reminiscent of perhaps Pedro's departure from the Sox. I believe they offered him a 3 year deal and he spurned it for the Mets' 4 year deal. As great as Pedro was, time has shown that the Sox made the right move there. I think if they were to let go of Lowell by not offering him a 4 year deal, it'd be the right move too. He's a great guy and a very good ballplayer. But 2007 was above his ability it seems. And he ain't getting any younger. If he were to leave, that would open up speculation about A-Rod of course. I wonder what Sox fans would think about having him in Boston. Perhaps ambivalent at best. We like to think that cheering for our team is a moral thing to do. We like to think that our home team truly deserves to win because they're the good guys. And in many instances, this has proven true in the history of sports. Some teams DO kinda deserve to win in light of their character and their opponent's lack thereof. Baseball is a business though. And 54 homers goes a long way to ease misgivings over a 3rd baseman's character. Plus, the lure of being powerful is stronger compared to the lure of being noble. A-Rod to Boston. I don't think I'd be ready for that one.

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Thursday, November 08, 2007

Pigskin Pick'em - Week 9 Results AND Week 10 Picks [EdMcGon]

Who the heck is Audio Dave?

I don't know, but he pops into the Pigskin Pick'em for the first time last week, and ties yours truly for the weekly win:

EdMcGon - 10
Audio Dave - 10

Robert A. George - 9
Bill Barker - 8
David Stefanini - 7
J. Mark English - 7
bl - 6

Thanks to my semi-glorious victory this week, I also managed to close the gap a little on our YTD leader (with the usual weekly wins in parentheses):

David Stefanini(2) - 79
EdMcGon(1.5) - 76
Robert A. George(1.5) - 72
J. Mark English(1) - 67
bl(2) - 60
Bill Barker - 53
FunkyPundit(0.5) - 41
SoloD - 28
Dave O'Leary - 21
Rigel - 17
Audio Dave(0.5) - 10
Snave - 8
Mike - 8

And now for the part of this week's post that I know you all anticipate the most, my picks for this week's game:

Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers: The Harrington-Testaverde showdown we have all been waiting for with muted anticipation. VERY muted.
Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers: The Vikes are fun to watch because of Adrian Peterson, but don't mistake that for a possibility of beating the Pack.
Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs: Two schizo teams. Without Larry Johnson, can the Chiefs establish the run with Priest Holmes against the poor run defense of the Broncos? Can the Broncos establish ANYTHING against the Chiefs defense? Take the Chiefs at home, but this one is a toss-up.
Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins: This game could be a massacre.
St. Louis Rams at New Orleans Saints: This could be a trap game for the Saints.
Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers: THIS game is what football is all about. When these two teams met in the first week of the season, Charlie Frye was the Browns quarterback. The Browns lost 34-7. Now with Derek Anderson, expect the Brownies to get a little payback in what should be a very close game.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans: Another great AFC South matchup. Don't expect a lot of scoring, but the 4th quarter should bring some highlight reel material. Jags QB David Garrard is banged up, so don't expect him to be effective if he even plays.
Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Redskins: Which Eagle team will show up this week? I am only picking the Skins because they have been more consistent.
Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens: Two train wrecks. I only pick the Ravens because they at least seem to CARE about winning games.
Detroit Lions at Arizona Cardinals: Pssst! Hey buddy! Want a little tip? The Lions are pretty good this year.
Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants: FOX Sports should be a little miffed. They pay more for the NFL than CBS, yet this is the ONLY NFC game worth watching this week. While the G-men may get some payback for their week 1 loss to the Boys, I have to take the Cowboys, who have only lost one game this year (to the Patriots).
Chicago Bears at Oakland Raiders: This would have been an interesting matchup. In 1985. Now it's just two teams trying to figure out what the heck they are trying to do. The Raiders may have a bit more motivation to beat last year's Super Bowl losers.
Indianapolis Colts at San Diego Chargers: Pity the Chargers.
San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks: THIS is a Monday night game? We have the 49ers, who can't throw the ball, against the Seahawks who can't run the ball. With a well-rested Frank Gore, pick the 49ers and go to bed early.

Pigskin Pick'em Rules:
1. Pick the straight-up winners of all this weeks NFL games (excluding any Thursday games). Picks will be accepted in the comments section of the following websites:
Politics and Pigskins, Ragged Thots, and American Legends. All picks must be posted by 1 pm Eastern Time on Sunday (otherwise known as "The Barker Rule"), or by the kickoff of the first NFL Saturday game on weeks when that happens.
2. The winner gets...bragging rights! (you weren't expecting money, were you?)
3. And new for this year: I will be keeping a running tally for the season, so the person who gets the most picks correct for the whole season, including the playoffs, gets...even BIGGER bragging rights! (and still no money)


Friday, November 02, 2007

Pigskin Pick'em - Week 8 Results AND Week 9 Picks AND Pats-Colts Preview [EdMcGon]

Who cares about last week when we have THE...SINGLE...MOST...IMPORTANT...GAME...OF...THE...SEASON...this weekend?

But for those of you who do care, congrats to bl! Here are last week's results:

bl - 10
David Stefanini - 9
EdMcGon - 8
J. Mark English - 8
FunkyPundit - 8
Snave - 8
Robert A. George - 6
Bill Barker - 5

Give a welcome to newcomer Snave. You have to appreciate someone who is willing to enter the weekly race without a chance of winning the YTD. Kudos!

Speaking of the YTD (with weekly wins in parentheses):

David Stefanini(2) - 72
EdMcGon(1) - 66
Robert A. George(1.5) - 63
J. Mark English(1) - 60
bl(2) - 54
Bill Barker - 45
FunkyPundit(0.5) - 41
SoloD - 28
Dave O'Leary - 21
Rigel - 17
Snave - 8
Mike - 8

For this week's picks, since we all only really care about one game, that's the only one I will comment on (this week, my picks are in green, with the exception of the last game):

San Francisco 49ers at Atlanta Falcons
Cincinnati Bengals at Buffalo Bills
Denver Broncos at Detroit Lions
Green Bay Packers at Kansas City Chiefs
San Diego Chargers at Minnesota Vikings
Jacksonville Jaguars at New Orleans Saints
Washington Redskins at New York Jets
Arizona Cardinals at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Carolina Panthers at Tennessee Titans
Seattle Seahawks at Cleveland Browns
Houston Texans at Oakland Raiders
Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles
Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers

New England Patriots at Indianapolis Colts: The undisputed game of the week, possibly of the entire season. This one deserves a "Super Bowl" quality analysis:

Passing offense: The Pats are head and shoulders above everyone in the NFL. 73.6% completions, 8.65 yards/attempt, 303.8 yards/game, 30 touchdowns, 3 interceptions, 8 sacks allowed, 133.2 pass rating.

The Colts have a great pass offense, but they don't match the Pats: 65.4% completions, 7.58 yards/attempt, 258.7 yards/game, 13 touchdowns, 3 interceptions, 5 sacks allowed, 102.5 pass rating. EDGE: Patriots.

Rushing offense: For all the press generated by Tom Brady and the Pats passing game, their running game is no slouch, averaging 135.8 yards/game with a 4.2 average per attempt for 8 touchdowns.

However, the Colts have been slightly better: 140.3 yards/game with a 4.4 average per attempt for 12 touchdowns. EDGE: Colts.

Rushing defense: The statistics are a bit deceptive in this category, mostly because the Patriots have forced opponents to abandon the running game early (Pats: 87.0 rush yards/game allowed; Colts: 107.4 rush yards/game allowed). But look at what the Pats do to teams with decent running games (rush attempts/pass attempts, rushing yards allowed, rushing average, td's):

vs. Chargers (20/30, 52 yards, 2.6 avg., 0 td's): The Chargers rank 12th in the NFL in rushing yards/game.
vs. Cowboys (15/29, 97 yards, 6.5 avg., 0 td's): The Cowboys rank 9th in the NFL in rushing yards/game.
vs. Dolphins (30/37, 179 yards, 6.0 avg., 3 td's): The Dolphins rank 15th in the NFL in rushing yards/game.

On the surface, it would seem that if you run a balanced attack against the Patriots, you can actually beat their run defense. Actually, this is misleading because the Dolphins did most of their rushing damage in the 4th quarter when they were already down 42-7. The Dolphins gained 72 yards rushing and scored 2 rushing touchdowns in the 4th quarter of a game they had already lost. EDGE: Patriots.

Passing defense: This is where both of these teams really shine.

Patriots pass defense: 59.7% completion percentage, 5.09 yards/pass attempt, 181.5 yards/game, 10 td's, 11 interceptions.

Colts pass defense: 65.7% completion percentage, 4.79 yards/pass attempt, 165.4 yards/game, 5 td's, 9 interceptions.

The big difference: The Pats have 22 sacks vs. the Colts 12 sacks. EDGE: Patriots.

Special teams (returns): The Pats are averaging 29.2 yards per kickoff return with 2 touchdowns and 10.1 yards per punt return. The Colts are averaging 23.9 yards per kickoff return with no touchdowns and 9.0 yards per punt return. EDGE: Patriots.

Special teams (punting): Neither of these teams has had to punt very often this year. But when they do, the Pats get the better results with a net punt average of 36.7 yards vs. 32.0 yards for the Colts (worst in the NFL). EDGE: Patriots.

Special teams (kickers): Not a lot of difference between the two kickers in this game statistically, as both have only missed one field goal so far this year. However, Adam Vinatieri is a money in the bank clutch kicker. EDGE: Colts.

Coaching: Three Super Bowl wins for Belichick. One Super Bowl win for Dungy. However, the Colts have won the last three times they have played. EDGE: none.

My prediction: Patriots win 35-17. Defense and special teams win big games, and the Patriots carry the edge there.

Pigskin Pick'em Rules:
1. Pick the straight-up winners of all this weeks NFL games (excluding any Thursday games). Picks will be accepted in the comments section of the following websites:
Politics and Pigskins, Ragged Thots, and American Legends. All picks must be posted by 1 pm Eastern Time on Sunday (otherwise known as "The Barker Rule"), or by the kickoff of the first NFL Saturday game on weeks when that happens.
2. The winner gets...bragging rights! (you weren't expecting money, were you?)
3. And new for this year: I will be keeping a running tally for the season, so the person who gets the most picks correct for the whole season, including the playoffs, gets...even BIGGER bragging rights! (and still no money)