Fat Pickins (and probability) - Week 5

Welcome to yet another week of Fat Pickins, our little experiment in math, the wisdom of crowds, and drunken stupors.

Here we put the weekly picks of Fat Man's finest up against a drunk, a mob, and an idiot.  We'll leave it up to you to determine the latter.

We also mix in some probability and Baxter McLove's stone-cold drunk locks of the week.  If you haven't followed McLove's locks, he's undefeated this season at 8-0.

Before we jump into last week's results and this week's games, let me say that if you wagered hard-earned money on the Broncos game today, I respect you.  At the same time, I think you are certifiably loco.  Or you've got a rich uncle named Joe Ellis.  Perhaps both.

The Broncos have a 50.06% chance to win.

In other words, no one has a clue about this game.

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Fat off the Bone: Week 5 - Chargers

Last week, the Packers did almost everything the scouting report said they would, but the Broncos were powerless to stop them.  Although the Broncos employed the right strategy defensively (playing nickel most of the game), they simply didn't have the horses to stay in the fight.

This week, the Broncos will again be the least talented team on the field; however, their familiarity with the Chargers' scheme and the Chargers' scheme itself should help the Broncos stay in the game.

Before we break down the percentages, remember that the system that Norv Turner uses in San Diego is the same system he's used since the days when he was the offensive coordinator for all the great Dallas Cowboys teams of the 1990s.  Troy Aikman is played by Philip Rivers.  Michael Irvin is now known as Vincent Jackson.  Antonio Gates is Jay Novacek.  At its core, it's a deep spread passing game, in which the quarterback, unlike other systems, reads deep to short.  In other words, Philip Rivers isn't playing around.   If the deep ball is there, he's going to take it.  

Perhaps that's why his career average yards per attempt is 8.0.  In Turner's offense, almost all of the passing plays have a deep option available to Rivers.  The receivers are taught to get as much space as possible between their intermediate and long routes and between their short and intermediate routes.  Rivers rarely uses a three-step drop.  Instead, in Turner's offense, he consistently uses a lot of five- and seven-step drops.  That doesn't mean he takes a lot of sacks, though.  That's because in Turner's offense, which relies on timing, the quarterback is taught to get the ball out quickly.  You've probably heard and read that Philip Rivers has a quick release.  Part of the reason is because he actually does have a quick release.  The other part is because he's expected to get rid of the ball as soon as his back foot hits at the end of his drop.

With this as our backdrop, let's look at how the Chargers attack a 4-3.

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Gut Reaction - Al Davis is gone

My biggest punch line is gone.

Goodbye, Al Davis, we're going to miss you.

Davis died today at the age of 82 at his home, presumably with his middle finger still pointed at the NFL and at Roger Goodell.

If you were hoping for a rosebud moment, keep hoping.  Davis wouldn't give Goodell the pleasure.

That's exactly why Davis was good for the game, of course.  Unlike today's NFL, replete with waves upon waves of lawyers, and a commissioner whose plastic emotions--whether they're reserved for concussions or for passionate fans--are as transparent as bottled water, Davis was a football guy first.

He wore his emotions on his jumpsuit.

Davis used lawyers, but only because he knew that punching Goodell in the face would result in wounds that would heal.

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The Daily Lard 10-8-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Champ Bailey, Rahim Moore, Marcus Thomas and Knowshon Moreno are all probable for tomorrow's game, while Brian Dawkins, Daniel Fells and Jonathan Wilhite are all questionable. As expected, Eddie Royal, Julius Thomas and Demaryius Thomas are out and will hopefully return after the bye week at Miami. Mike Klis is pretty sure Dawkins will play, while Legwold says that Marcus Thomas will make his season debut in a rotational role.

For San Diego, TE Antonio Gates is listed as doubtful, while C Nick Hardwick, WR Vincent Jackson and CB Quentin Jammer are all probably and expected to play. DEs Jacques Cesaire and Luis Castillo continue to be out.

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Digesting the Chargers

Happy Friday, friends.  It’s Chargers week, and today we’re going to Digest the Bolts.  After watching the film, I have some reasons to be cautiously optimistic, and I get the impression from some comments on other articles that I’m not the only one.

As with any week where I come back from vacation, it’s been hellacious.  When you sign up to be a salaried employee, they don’t explicitly tell you that your pile only grows when you’re away, but you figure it out pretty quickly - and taking Friday and Monday off means doing six days of work in four days when you get back.  Anyway, on to the analysis.  Between my job, this site, and my Marketing Strategy class for my MBA program, my brain has been analyzing nonstop this week, and the hamster is getting a little tired.  Still, for you, I press on.

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The Daily Lard 10-7-11

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Brian Dawkins again did not practice due to his ankle injury, while Rahim Moore joined Jonathan Wilhite on the sideline; both were described by John Fox as being out due to "illness." Quinton Carter saw more action in Dawkins' absence, while Daniel Fells was back at practice, giving the Broncos a full complement of tight ends. Remarkably, Orlando Franklin practiced yesterday despite mourning the loss of his younger brother.

Meanwhile, Vincent Jackson did not practice for the Chargers but is expected back today, while Antonio Gates is still foreseen as missing Sunday's game. CB Quentin Jammer missed practice with the flu but is expected to play.

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STDL: Week 5 - Broncos vs Chargers

Welcome to Week 5's Stats That Don't Lie, already featuring changes from last week's edition. As I explained on Sunday, I'm actually not that wild about using penalty yardage to assess teams, so in the spirit of wanting STDL to be a simple and svelte tool to help visualize the Broncos' chances each week, I've decided to axe that category. I've also changed the rushing metric from CHFF's rusher rating to PFR's Adjusted Rushing Yards per Attempt (ARY/A), also expressed as a differential between offense and defense.

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The latest Tebow billboards

You know it was only a matter of time before I got involved.

After our Gut Reaction to last week's game, I had several requests to create more Tebow billboards.

Since I never turn down readers' requests when they ask nicely--or correct typos--I thought I'd give the people what they want.

Are you not entertained?

Hit it after the jump and find out.

Oh, and since this billboard thing isn't going away anytime soon, I'll keep beating this dead bronco until it's really dead--you know, dead like Todd Haley's head-coaching prospects after the season.

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The Daily Lard 10-6-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! The team is gradually getting some more key players back, as Champ Bailey, Marcus Thomas and Knowshon Moreno practiced fully yesterday and figure to play on Sunday. Brian Dawkins, Daniel Fells and Jonathan Wilhite did not practice, while Eddie Royal, Demaryius Thomas and Julius Thomas still figure to return after next week's bye. According to Andrew Mason, if Fells is kept out by the knee injury he sufferd in Green Bay, there's always the chance that T Chris Clark sees some action at TE, and Quinton Carter would likely step in for Dawkins if his ankle injury prevents him from playing. But Klis says Dawkins, Fells and Wilhite are all expected to suit up.

Meanwhile, Orlando Franklin was excused from yesterday's practice due to the death of his 20-year-old brother. No word on his availablity for Sunday's game, and of course our thoughts go out to Orlando and his family.

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Wednesday Musings: Orton’s turnovers, slipping Dawk, perspective from Green Bay

So, what do you say when the Super Bowl Champs kick your tail all the way down the street? When you’re playing Aaron Rodgers and the Packers right now, you say hello to all the company you’re in - Green Bay is playing like the champions that they are. Continuing on what they showed last season, they put up 42 points on the New Orleans Saints, won two on the road and then destroyed Denver at home. They’re headed to Atlanta this weekend, and if anyone wants to take the Falcons, I’m open. I’m not a betting guy, and there’s always the ‘on any given Sunday’ fact, but betting against Rodgers and Company right now is just a bad, bad idea.

Sure, there were things that Denver did to themselves, too. Kyle Orton had a couple of pretty bad interceptions. That’s something that’s new this year - like, love or hate him, Orton had always taken care of the ball. The fumbles (two) and INTs (six) are a concern as much because they are so unlike him with regard to the game that he’s always played. Denver could have had a couple of more TDs and Green Bay one less and the Broncos would still have lost, so it was a whole lot more than Orton, who also made some very nice throws, but the ball issues bother me.

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