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.
As always, an explanation of the figures:
- NY/A Differential: This is a marriage of PFR's NY/A (Net Yards per Attempt) and CHFF's Passer Rating Differential. NY/A takes the all-important Yards Per Attempt and adds sack data into the mix to provide a clearer picture of a passing game's impact. NY/A Differential is simply a team's NY/A minus the NY/A they've allowed on defense. In other words, how well Denver passes the ball minus how well they defend against the pass.
- ARY/A Differential: This is a team's efficiency rushing the football minus the efficiency of their defense in stopping the run, and it factors touchdowns in to provide a better measure than a simple Yards Per Attempt stat. Well, for now - we'll likely change this next week, as mentioned above.
- TO Differential: Takeaways minus giveaways. If you need help with this one, you must be a Raiders fan and probably refer to this as a ratio.
- Net Field Position: This is a team's average starting field position in terms of yards, minus the average starting field position they allow their opponents.
- Strength of Schedule: This is each team's strength of schedule as viewed through the prism of PFR's SRS (Simple Rating System).
You know what? The above chart looks a whole lot like the one from last week. The starkest differences are that the Patriots have an advantage in field position (thanks to the second-best starting FP allowed in the NFL), and the Pats have faced a weaker schedule than have the Broncos. But, as their placement on this weekly chart shows, these are the least crucial of our Stats That Don't Lie.
Of course, there's one more difference of note, and that is that New England has an electric passing game (8.0 NY/A). But there's a caveat, and one that has the potential to work in Denver's favor - the Patriots' pass defense sucks (7.3 NY/A allowed).
New England obviously has a far superior offense - there's simply no denying that. Yet, if Tebow and the Broncos offense can take advantage of the Pats' porous defense, this game could be a lot closer than Vegas is predicting.
I'm picking the Patriots, but it's not exactly a choice made with conviction. I think Denver really does have a good chance today, which is pretty much all we can ask for only one year after a 4-12 season, right?