Happy Friday, friends. Today, we digest the formerly ascendant Buffalo Bills, who have lately been pretty descendant. In fact, they’ve lost seven in a row and are 5-9. They've won two blowouts, lost four, and are 3-4 in close games. It’s been a weird season.
Really, the 5-2 start was the case of a team with below-average talent and no depth overachieving on the strength of excellent coaching and good early health. The good health significantly disappeared, some marginal players had to play, defenses started playing to take away the short passing game, and the overachievement ended. After the jump, we’ll explore the Bills in detail.
Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Last night's game had a rather interesting ending with plenty of implications, as Colts QB Dan Orlovsky led a 12-play, 78-yard drive to defeat the Texans 19-16. For Houston, the loss is a severe blow to their chances at nabbing a playoff bye and one of the top seeds; instead they're likely to end up with the #3 seed. Should the Broncos take the AFC West and the #4 seed, they would host the #5 seed in the first round, which will be either PIttsburgh or Baltimore, and unless Houston is knocked out by the #6 seed, Denver would have to go to Foxborough if they can pull off a first-round upset.
On the other end of things, the victory for the Colts is their second straight, and it means their stranglehold on the first-overall pick and chance to draft Andrew Luck is gone - Indy is now tied in the win column with the Rams and Vikings, and the Colts face their division rival Jaguars to close out their season. Due to strength of schedule, it appears the Colts would still get the #1 pick if they finish tied for the worst record with the Rams and/or Vikings. So the Colts/Jags matchup could be the determinant of whether Jacksonville has to face Andrew Luck twice annually for potentially the next 10 or 15 years. I'm not sure the Jags really want to win that game...
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Interesting post yesterday from Brian Burke on the silly reliance upon gross rushing yards to measure a running back's effectiveness. Funny thing is, he's not just talking about fans here - Burke is studying salaries and how players are valued by the NFL. Running backs apparently get paid for their rushing yards rather than their total contributions to their teams, which is how guys like DeAngelo Williams get $21M in guarantees to comprise just one half of a RB tandem. Burke's best line is his clincher:
"Football people" want to tell you that they ignore stats and just look at the game. They want us to believe they have a near mystical sense of how to recognize good play. The fact is they do rely on stats, just the wrong ones.
Remember this next time you hear/read someone say how much they hate stats and then later cite some as proof of a player's worth. "I hate stats" usually translates to "I hate advanced (or rate) stats that I haven't taken the time to understand, and instead I prefer the traditional ones I've heard about my whole life."
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Don Banks is loving the storylines of the AFC West right now, and who can blame him? There sure is a lot of wackiness going on here, and there could be no more interesting regular season finale than Tim Tebow versus Kyle Orton for the division title. And as Banks highlights, the Chargers are the only team in the division whose W-L record underachieves their point differential.
In fact, if the teams' records matched what would be expected from their point differentials (Pythagorean Wins or PW), San Diego would be the lone 8-6 team, Denver and Oakland would each be two games back at 6-8, and Kansas City would be 3-11 rather than the 6-8 mark they currently sport (You can see PW on each team profile over at PFR as "Expected W-L"). Sure, it's the actual games that really count and ultimately a team is judged by its record. But as we've seen over a zillion times, your team isn't really that good until it posts some decisive (on the scoreboard) victories.
The IAOFM staff discuss the Denver Broncos' 41-23 Week 15 loss to the New England Patriots
Ted: Happy Weird Football Sunday, gents
Doug: Hey, the band's back together! Good to see you Doc
Ted: Howdy Em
Doc: Hey, Ted, Doug. Great to be back! And, Weird is right!
Ted: The Packers insisted on attacking KC's strength all day, rather than hitting their weakness. They might have gotten away with it, if not for bad drops and penalties. Plus, the Packers defense was bad all day. Except for the red zone
Doug: Maybe they just believe in Kyle Orton
Ted: Could be. I'd damn sure believe in him more than Tyler Palko
Good Morning, Broncos fans! The official playoff scenarios haven't been released by the league yet (that's supposed to happen today), but it appears a Denver win at Buffalo combined with an Oakland loss or tie at KC would clinch the AFC West for the Broncos. And according to Stuart Zaas, the Broncos can also clinch a wild card spot on Saturday by beating the Bills, plus losses or ties by the Titans, Jets and Bengals.
The Niners beat the Steelers 20-3 last night in a game delayed twice by a power outage, and Ben Roethlisberger turned it over four times (three picks, one fumble). Big Ben played with a brace on his high ankle sprain (on his left/plant leg) but was apparently not hobbled. It will be interesting to see if the Steelers play Roethlisberger the next two weeks, although presumably they will since they still have a shot at both the AFC North title, the #1 or #2 seed and a first-round bye. The loss for Pittsburgh keeps Baltimore ahead of them in the standings (by virtue of sweeping the Steelers earlier in the season) and increases the likelihood that the Broncos would end up hosting the Steelers in the Wild Card round, should Denver win the AFC West.
So, if Big Ben plays the next two games but Baltimore hangs on for the division title, the Broncos would likely be facing a more faithful but less mobile Roethlisberger in the playoffs. Hmm. Before we get carried away, let's get to the links.
Coming tonight: we're moving our comments over to Disqus.
It means having an IAOFM membership is no longer required to post here. An account at any major site (or Disqus, which I'll recommend) will be necessary.
Why change? Features, features, features.
Update after the jump
Happy Monday, friends. Even after a loss on Sunday, the Broncos are in very strong shape to make the playoffs as either the AFC West champion or as a Wild Card. Winning games in your division is of major importance, but winning ones in your conference ends up being very helpful to tiebreakers, as well. Let's examine the various paths the Broncos have into the postseason. The Broncos have earned their strong position by winning in the division, and by beating teams like Cincinnati and the Jets within the conference.
You can test these and other scenarios using ESPN's Playoff Machine, which is pretty cool.