A week ago, we found the advanced metrics to say the 2012 Broncos were a far better team than their 1-2 record might have indicated.
After a brutal start to the schedule which featured the Steelers, Falcons, and Texans (the latter two remain undefeated), having the rebuilding Raiders into SAF@MH for a visit portended two things:
First, it was something of a breather, traditional rivalry notwithstanding. If everything were to play to form, the Broncos were due to finally whip their AFCW brethren at home.
Second, the strength of schedule figures were sure to take a hit this week. Indeed, they have.
Now that we're three weeks into the season, stats and metrics can begin to have at least some meaning.
But as noted in the title, it's still rather early - so take these rankings with a grain of salt.
Brian Burke's efficiency rankings - which consider passing, running, turnovers, penalties, and strength of schedule - have Denver as the third-most efficient team in the league (sixth in offense, third in defense), behind the Texans and Eagles.
From Nathan Jahnke of Pro Football Focus earlier today:
In 2011 Elvis Dumervil went eight straight games with a sack late in the season. While he doesn’t have a sack yet this year, he has 13 overall pressures which ties him for the most among defensive linemen.
Pressures, schmessures. What every fan wants to see is sacks. There’s something exciting about seeing an edge rusher taking on a player who might outweigh him by 50 lb. and still flash by him, to, and through the quarterback. They’re the Holy Grail for the weekend watchers, a stat you can reel off and feel like you’re talking sense. And, no one can argue that sacks aren’t a great way to create negative yardage for the offense.
The sack is big news.
Elvis Dumervil doesn’t have one this year, and fans are getting antsy. Talk is increasing about how Doom isn’t having the same impact this season; how he’s been soundly beaten by offensive left tackles Sam Baker and Max Starks. With Jason Hunter out for the year and the DL having to try different options to get the pressure that the John Fox/Jack Del Rio scheme calls for, is Doom unfit for his role with the team?
Neat little trick from Jeff Legwold today. He came up with a premise that the Broncos have given up too many big plays of late, and his column was titled thusly:
Broncos defense prone to yielding "explosive plays" in recent years
In classic Legwoldian, he writes that "most teams" consider 10-yard rushes and 20-yard completions to be "explosive plays." Not sure if he polled the league's coaches, or what, for that one.
By now you're all really tired of reading/hearing how bad Tim Tebow was on Sunday and has been for the past few weeks. So, let's just get to the numbers. They speak for themselves.
Last week, Tim ranked 25th in ANY/T and was tied for 32nd in NY/T with Matt Cassel - out of the top 40 quarterbacks in terms of pass attempts. What did his 30-touch, 66-yard, two turnover performance against the Chiefs do to his rankings?
By now, you know what's at stake. Seven weeks ago, the Broncos went into KC and came out victorious despite the fact that Tim Tebow completed just two of his eight pass attempts. Denver reeled off 244 rushing yards that day, the bulk of them provided by Lance Ball, Tebow and Knowshon Moreno. Neither team committed a turnover, and they combined for just 193 net passing yards. Overall, it was a snoozefest. Nine days later, Denver released Kyle Orton.
Tomorrow will be anything but boring - even if it's three hours of three-and-outs. After all, the AFC West is on the line, and as much as the two teams are trying to downplay it, the game really is Tim versus Kyle. About the only way this game could have had more drama is if the Chiefs had managed to beat Oakland last week (they were just a blocked FG shy of doing so), thus turning it into a winner-takes-all contest. So, how do the teams match up?
Tim Tebow has now started 10 games this season, and although he was responsible for two Denver TDs on Saturday, two of his four turnovers were brought back for six points by the Bills. Along with the 45-10 loss to Detroit in his second start of the season, Tebow now has two games where he was charged with both a pick-six and a fumble return for a score.
Although the narrative had been that Tebow takes exceptional care of the football, he now has 12 fumbles to go along with five interceptions. Among the NFL's top 40 QBs in terms of pass attempts, Tebow now has the second-highest sack rate (10.7%), third-highest fumble rate (3.0%) and the tenth-highest negative play rate (sacks, fumbles, interceptions - 11.9%).
Let's see how he stacks up in terms of Adjusted Net Yards and Net Yards:
Let's take a quick pre-game look at how the Broncos and Bills match up:
Let's see how Tim Tebow's offensive numbers look after nine starts as the Broncos starting QB. Prior to the New England game, Tebow was 20th in the league in Adjusted Net Yards per Touch and 33rd in Net Yards per Touch, out of the 40 passers who had attempted 100 or more passes. While there are now 43 QBs who've thrown over 100 passes, we'll constrain the list to the top 40 players in terms of attempts:
Interesting matchup today, right? Have you ever seen so much talk about a regular-season game featuring an eight-point spread (the third-biggest one behind Packers/Chiefs and Saints/Vikings)? It's pretty bizarre, but that's the power of Tim Tebow. He's all anyone ever wants to talk or read about (just ask Skip Bayless about his show's ratings), except of course for when the author/commentator's viewpoint doesn't match that of the readers/viewers/listeners.
This is the animal we're dealing with. Anyway, big betting line or not, this is an exciting day to be a Broncos fan, because we get to see how our team measures up against NFL royalty (if not the far-from-perfect class of the conference). Let's see how the two teams match up.