Tuesday, February 15, 2011

2010 NFL Recap

I hate it how analysts make predictions without accountability. So I'm calling you out right now, Chris Mortensen, for picking the Cincinnati Bengals to play the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl XLV. I haven't forgotten. You can't sweep that under the rug. That happened. Terrible pick.

Moving along to some other preseason prognostications:

Peter King picked the Steelers and Packers to play in the Super Bowl, though he got the winner wrong. Well done sir. King's only glaring mistake was picking the Panthers as a surprise playoff team. Most Sports Illustrated writers actually picked the Packers to represent the NFC in Super Bowl XLV, so good job SI.

Football Outsiders
did an incredible job this year. Check out some of these estimated win totals:

Chicago Bears 9.0
Cincinnati Bengals 5.5
Dallas Cowboys 7.5
Houston Texans 5.6
Kansas City Chiefs 8.9
Philadelphia Eagles 9.3
Pittsburgh Steelers 9.9
San Diego Chargers 8.6
San Francisco 49ers 6.1
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 8.0

Each of these teams had a far different public perception starting the season. FO deserves serious kudos for these picks. The only teams FO badly misfired on:

Arizona Cardinals 9.4
Denver Broncos 8.0
Detroit Lions 3.1
Oakland Raiders 4.5

Finally, let's take a look at my own preseason power rankings. The biggest error I made was picking Tampa Bay at #31 when in reality they were an average to slightly above average squad throughout the season. I ranked the Bears #23, about where most analysts had them. I had the Cardinals and Panthers, who wound up being the league's two worst teams, at 19 and 18, so that was a bit off. Like many others, I didn't think their QB situations would wind up being quite so ruinous. Particularly astute predictions of mine included the Niners at #20, Chargers at #17, Vikings at #16, and Bengals at #14 when most analysts had these squads making the playoffs. I also correctly predicted the Patriots (#3) and Falcons (#2) to exceed expectations. Overall, pretty strong predictions, strong enough that I will surely bet on some win totals when the NFL returns to action.

It was a career year for me picking the games during the season. It may be many years before I hit on 55.2% of all the season's games again, and nailing 61.2% of games I had a stronger opinion on is downright spectacular. I only wish I had been betting the whole season, but of course, that was out of the question after a dismal 2009. I'm sure I was very lucky this season, even in games where I thought I made the right play. Just as I'm sure I was very unlucky in 2009.

Some notable stats regarding individual teams:

I went

4-10 picking Bills games
12-4 picking Browns games
10-5 picking Chargers games
11-5 picking Chiefs games, 6-3 with priority
4-11 picking Cowboys games
11-6 picking Falcons games, 4-1 with priority
11-5 picking Jaguars games
11-5 picking Panthers games
12-3 picking Rams games, 4-1 with priority
12-5 picking Ravens games, 4-0 with priority
12-5 picking Saints games, 4-0 with priority
13-6 picking Steelers games
1-4 picking Texans games with priority

Most of the teams I predicted well have pretty obvious strengths and weaknesses. I attribute the accurate picks to understanding how and when these strengths and weaknesses would be manifested due to the team's current matchup.

I picked against the Cardinals fifteen times out of sixteeen (with priority six times).

The story of 2010 was obviously Michael Vick. There's nothing I can write about him that others haven't already, but he does segue nicely into the awards section of this recap:


4) Michael Vick, Philadelphia

No defense can stop Vick; he can only stop himself.

3) Philip Rivers, San Diego

Just gets better every year as his team gets worse.

2) Peyton Manning, Indianapolis

Hard to imagine the Colts winning more than three or four games without him.

1) Tom Brady, New England

Like Manning this season, without the INTs.

Defensive MVP

3) Lamarr Woodley, Pittsburgh

2) James Harrison, Pittsburgh

The scariest players in the league.

1) Clay Matthews, Green Bay

No one was more disruptive this season.

Sneaky MVPs

Offense: Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay

Freeman doesn’t have the accuracy or experience of the quarterbacks above – but he was the most inspiring leader in the NFL, and saved his best for the biggest moments.


2) Charles Woodson, Green Bay

1) AJ Hawk, Green Bay

Woodson won Defensive MVP last season, when it clearly should have gone to Darrelle Revis; this year, he might have been even better – though teammate Trammond Williams was actually more effective in pure pass defense. Hawk quietly had a career year, anchoring a searing defense.


Win/loss evidence points to 4) Randy Moss, New England/Minnesota/Tennessee while 3) Roy Williams, Dallas and 2) Mike Tirico, ESPN, are quality choices in this category year in and year out, but we’re gonna go with Matt Millen, ESPN/NFL Network. It wasn’t enough for Millen (along with the equally atrocious Joe Theismann) to submarine Thursday Night Football. He had to bring his “talents” to ESPN’s Monday Night Countdown as well – and then he’d pop up doing random college games just when you thought you were safe. When you consider the Lions are still rebuilding from Millen’s apocalyptic reign as Detroit GM, no one did more damage to the NFL viewing experience than Millen in 2010.

Coach of the Year

4) Mike McCarthy, Green Bay never gets enough credit for his fantastic offensive design

3) Andy Reid, Philadelphia did a great job juggling a lot of different issues and sort of started to figure out the clock this season

2) Steve Spagnuolo, St. Louis appears to have his team set to crush the NFC West for years to come

1) Bill Belichick, New England is head and shoulders above everyone else. This is not close.

Worst Coach of the Year

Ken Whisenhunt, Arizona

It’s pretty obvious the Cardinals would have won the NFC West with some remote semblance of a quarterback. Failing to a) convince Kurt Warner to come back b) work things out with and/or adequately develop Matt Leinart and c) provide a backup plan that didn’t consist of Derek Anderson, Max Hall, and John Skelton makes Whisenhunt the automatic choice here. It's pathetic that coaches like Whisenhunt and Jeff Fisher let personal matters overcome what’s best for the team.

Offensive Coordinator of the Year

2) Marty Mornhinweg, Philadelphia has made everyone forget about his disastrous tenure as Lions head coach.

1) Pat Shurmur, St. Louis was able to accomplish amazing things with a rookie quarterback, shaky offensive line, no tight end, and bargain-basement wide receivers. The Cleveland Browns seemed to think so: he is now their coach.

Defensive Coordinator of the Year

2) Dick LeBeau, Pittsburgh might be the best assistant coach ever.

1) Dom Capers, Green Bay did another excellent job fighting through the injuries, making everyone on his defense look like a star.

Game of the Year

5) Philadelphia 38, New York Giants 31 (Week Fifteen)

Michael Vick, DeSean Jackson and The Eagles dig out of a 31-10 deficit with eight minutes remaining.

4) Atlanta 28, Tampa Bay 24 (Week Thirteen)

A personal favorite thanks to the scintillating Falcons -3 comeback cover.

3) Green Bay 28, Minnesota 24 (Week Seven)

A nailbiter between two desperate teams in Brett Favre's last game at Lambeau Field.

2) Pittsburgh 13, Baltimore 10 (Week Thirteen)

Yet another taut, pitched battle in what has become the NFL's best rivalry. Troy Polamalu’s 4th quarter sack/fumble turned the tide.

1) Kansas City 21, San Diego 14 (Week One)

The second of two exciting Monday Nighters in week one. The rain-drenched crowd was absolutely delirious, the game came down to a last-minute goal-line stand, and everyone walked away happy (except for the villains). This result set the tone for both teams for the rest of the season and ultimately decided the division.

Biggest Upset

2. Minnesota 24, Philadelphia 14 (Week Sixteen)

The Tuesday Night Football/Joe Webb game.

1. Cleveland 30, New Orleans 17 (Week Seven)

No one, no one saw this one coming.

Worst Line

2. Vikings -1 over BEARS (Week Ten) was silly. I’m embarrassed to say I had Minny in that one.

1. Niners -1 at CHIEFS (Week Three) is pretty hysterical in retrospect.

Best Fantasy Performance

Michael Vick, Philadelphia vs Washington (Week 10): 333 passing yards, 4 TD, 0 INT, 80 rush yards, 2 rush TD. #3 all-time in fantasy points in standard leagues.

Worst Fantasy Performance

I can’t imagine many managers were forced to start him but Todd Collins’s 6/16, 32 yards, 0 TD, 4 INT game in Carolina Week Five has to be the worst statistical performance ever for a QB in an easy win.

Fantasy MVP

Antonio Gates was actually the obvious choice here before he got injured; after that 6) Peyton Hillis, Cleveland, 5) Michael Vick, Philadelphia 4) Arian Foster, Houston did more to get fantasy owners to the playoffs than anyone else, but also destroyed a lot of seasons in those playoffs.

3) Peyton Manning and 2) Tom Brady both had excellent seasons but weren't at their best late

1) Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay was consistent throughout the fantasy season and playoffs though he did miss a game and a half late. Rodgers wins MVP based on a monstrous 404 yard, 4 TD performance in week 16 (when most fantasy championships are held). So Rodgers was this season's Super Bowl MVP, playoff MVP, and fantasy MVP, and wasn't elected to the Pro Bowl. In the annals of "stupidest Pro Bowl selections ever", Matt Ryan in 2010 will end up ranking near the top of the list.

Pony of the Year

Jamaal Charles, Kansas City

The Chiefs were the gift that kept on giving this season, with an endless string of laughable lines. Nobody seemed to buy into the Chiefs except us, and Charles was their best player.

Cooler of the Year

Andre Johnson, Houston

The man who correctly picks Texans games is a smarter man than me.

Implosion of the Year

2) Derek Anderson “Not Funny”

1) Minneapolis Metrodome “Roof Collapse”

Play of the Year

10) Lance Moore “Tiptoe”

9) DeSean Jackson “Falling Backwards”

8) Reggie Hodges “Knife Through Butter”

7) Mike Thomas “Hail Mary”

6) Dan Connolly “Dan Connolly”

5) Donald Driver “Seven Nation Army”

4) Eric Weems “Still Going”

3) DeSean Jackson “Miracle at the Meadowlands II”

2) Troy Polamalu “The Leap”

1) Marshawn Lynch “Beast Mode”

And just in case you haven't seen this college play yet...Broderick Brown's “Greatest”


Blogger 81Trucolors said...

Not even a runner-up mention for LVP coach of the year to Josh McDaniels?

True, he did his best work in 09 but the after effects will end up being positively Millen-esque.

Great post.

11:28 PM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Truly a great post. How you managed to find all of those videos for us is beyond me, I can imagine it was not fun or easy.

That said, game of the year is obviously that sick Eagles - Giants game; the other games you listed above it are little more than afterthoughts this season. It's not close. Though I could not agree more about the Marshawn Lynch run in the playoffs -- that is I think the best single run I have ever seen in the NFL post-season in my life. I just love when he literally throws Tracy Porter to the ground around the 30-yard line.

2:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

very good post. the one area i'll disagree with is the fantasy football mvp's. i can't see how vick and foster aren't #1/2 in some order. in my league they were the top 2 players overall without PPR for foster. foster was almost always drafted after the big 3 qb's and vick was a FA almost everywhere.

4:49 PM  
Blogger GnightMoon said...

I thought about this some more and concluded Foster was the fantasy MVP of 2010. He was the #1 overall scorer (17 pts ahead of Peyton Manning in my league) and BY FAR the #1 RB (an absurd 101 pts ahead of #2 Peyton Hillis), plus he wasn't drafted in the first round of any leagues.

3:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree - this is a great post. As to home team, am thinking the problem is the owners?? AJ

12:26 PM  

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