By Owen Tedford
In 2008, the NFL added a rule that allowed teams that won the coin toss to defer their choice of receiving or kicking to the second half. When this rule was first introduced, it was used only 7.8% of the time. But, it has become an increasingly used option in today’s NFL with the toss getting deferred over 78% of the time now. Why are teams doing this? Well, coaches, like Vikings coach Mike Zimmer, claim that by deferring you have the chance to get an extra possession. Now, if true, this would provide teams a clear advantage by giving them an extra chance to score.
Using data from Sporting Charts , I’ve compiled the time of possession in minutes, the total number of drives, and time per drive for each NFL team (table at the end). The average time of possession this past year was 2.65 minutes or 2 minutes 39 seconds. But, looking at the data, there are a few outliers, and so for the rest of my analysis, I chose to use the median of 2.695 or 2 minutes 41.7 seconds.
By Owen Tedford
We’ve reached the end of another NFL season and that means that it’s time for the playoffs. The 12 teams have been decided with the Patriots, Chiefs, Steelers, Texans, Raiders, and Dolphins representing the AFC and the Cowboys, Falcons, Seahawks, Packers, Giants, and Lions representing the NFC. Every team has had their share of ups and downs but they’ve all made it to the final stage where records mean nothing and all that matters is what they do going forward, as this is what will make them remembered.
It’s Championship Week, and the picks are in! This week we have Sam Michaelson and Max Kaplan joining us for the first time. Last week, Jay Hashop was the only one to pick Atlanta, and therefore the only writer to get two games correct, bringing his record to 6-2 so far. This week he is sticking with them, while the other writers aren’t convinced.
If you’d like to see us justify a bunch of picks that were eventually wrong, here are last week’s picks.
Jay Hashop: Atlanta; Much of San Fransisco’s offensive success against the Packers followed as a result of their 8-for-13 mark on third down. That 62% rate seems anomalous given that the 49ers converted a subpar 36% on third down in Kaepernick’s regular season starts. Atlanta’s run game looked revitalized against Seattle, providing the necessary balance the Falcons will need to continue toward the Super Bowl.
Sam Michaelson: San Francisco; While everyone seems to be discussing Kaepernick’s record-breaking rushing performance, aside from his early interception, he was also nearly perfect through the air. Russell Wilson showed that the Falcons defense is susceptible to a scrambling/playmaking quarterback in the second half last week, and I fully expect Kaepernick to exploit these weaknesses as well. Matt Ryan will need a monster game against arguably the best defense in the league to keep up with the ‘9ers balanced attack.
Max Kaplan: San Francisco; The Falcons almost blew it last week. The 49ers, on the other hand, approached 600 yards. They already had a top defense (2nd to only Seattle in the regular season). The Falcons were the #1 seed and have home field advantage (7-1 in the regular season), but the 49ers just looked unstoppable against the Packers. Kaepernick runs a 4.5 40-yard dash, and the Niners will run their way into the Super Bowl.
Chad Horner: San Francisco; The 49ers are better than the Falcons in passing and rushing DVOA on both offense and defense. They’re simply the better team. If Atlanta is to win, it’ll have to be through the air – they’re 29th in rushing offense DVOA, while San Fran is 2nd in rushing defense. However, the Falcons are only 2-3 in games in which Matt Ryan throws over 40 passes. I think the Niners will run all over Atlanta and win big.
We’re back again this week to pick the Divisional games, with Jonathan Lack joining us this week, along with Jay Hashop, Danny Lei, and Chad Horner who gave their picks last week.
For the record, last week’s records were as follows:
- Hashop: 4-0
- Lei: 3-1
- Velloso: 3-1
- Horner: 2-2
Jay Hashop: Denver; Knowshon Moreno gashed the Ravens defense to the tune of 115 yards at a rate of 5.5 yards per carry when these two teams met in Week 15, and the Mile High Machine is still clicking on all cylinders. Meanwhile, the Flaccocoaster’s passer rating has alternated between being above 114 and below 77 over his last six games. You can probably guess which one’s due this Saturday.
Danny Lei: Denver; The Denver defense will be too much for Joe Flacco to handle, and Peyton Manning will continue his dominant play. In their only matchups against top-5 defenses this year, the Ravens lost by 30 and 17 points.
Jonathan Lack: Denver; These two teams met in Week 15 and the Broncos blew out the Ravens in Baltimore. While Baltimore has gotten some defensive starters back since then, I would hesitate to read too much into the Ravens’ win over the Colts. They put up some points against a poor defense, but moving the ball will be far more difficult against a Broncos defense rated top-5 in defensive efficiency. With a short week to travel to altitude against Peyton Manning and Co., I’m taking the home team on an 11-game win streak.
Chad Horner: Denver; To me, this game isn’t very difficult to pick. Baltimore beat the Colts rather easily last week, but Indianapolis was the worst team in the playoffs. I think Denver is going to win the Super Bowl, and I don’t see the Ravens, who the Broncos handled rather easily a few weeks ago – in Baltimore no less, stopping them.