Noise and Signal Callers: Week 1
“Noise and Signal Callers” is a statistical smorgasbord for the upcoming NFL week. Some of the stats are (hopefully) predictive, while others are just interesting. … I leave it to you to sort out which is which.
Denver v. Carolina
|Starting QB||Trevor Siemian||Cam Newton|
The Panthers allowed the lowest adjusted yards per attempt (AYA) in 2015, and they weren’t vulnerable in any area of the field:
Siemian has zero NFL pass attempts.
Carolina’s low implied total is scary, but not a death knell. Carolina’s QBs (i.e., Newton) scored 6.0 points per game better than the implied total would have predicted in 2015, best in the league. Seattle (+3.1) and Buffalo (+2.6) ranked third and fifth, respectively. The commonality: these were the top-three teams by QB rushing yards.
Tampa Bay v. Atlanta
|Starting QB||Jameis Winston||Matt Ryan|
Atlanta allowed just 19 passing touchdowns in 2015, tied for third-lowest in the league. Tampa Bay threw for just 22 passing touchdowns, tied for eleventh-lowest in the league.
Matt Ryan had just three top-10 finishes in 2015 compared to 18 in his previous three seasons. But his volume and yardage efficiency numbers are relatively stable over that time. The difference was touchdowns: Ryan’s 21 TDs marked his lowest total since his 2008 rookie season.
Buffalo v. Baltimore
|Starting QB||Tyrod Taylor||Joe Flacco|
Taylor ranked in the top-five among 2015 qualifying QBs in yards per attempt, adjusted yards per attempt, and interception rate. He was among the top-ten in quarterback rating, Total QBR, and adjusted net yards per attempt. Before 2015, he had 35 career pass attempts.
Flacco averaged 41.3 pass attempts per game in 2015. His previous career average was 32.7, and his previous career high was 38.4 in 2013. 2013 and 2015 marked Flacco’s worst seasons in interceptions per game (1.2 in 2015 and 1.4 in 2013) and interception rate (2.9 percent in 2015 and 3.6 percent in 2013). They also marked his worst and third-worst seasons in yards per attempt (6.8 in 2015 and 6.4 in 2013).
Chicago v. Houston
|Starting QB||Jay Cutler||Brock Osweiler|
Cutler has thrown for at least 300 yards in Week 1 six times. Among active passers, only Drew Brees has topped 300 yards more times in the opening week.
Osweiler’s 6.9 adjusted yards per attempt, though only good for twenty-sixth best in 2015, would have been a slight improvement upon Houston’s 6.7 adjusted yards per attempt.
Green Bay v. Jacksonville
|Starting QB||Aaron Rodgers||Blake Bortles|
Since taking over as Green Bay’s starter in 2008, Rodgers had never averaged less than 7.0 yards per attempt, and he’d averaged less than 8.0 yards per attempt only twice. Until 2015, that is, when he averaged 6.7 yards per attempt. Over that stretch, Rodgers accounts for four of the top 25 yards per attempt seasons. Aside from Rodgers, only Philip Rivers (4) and Ben Roethlisberger (3) have more than two such seasons.
Bortles completed 72 passes for 20 yards or more in 2015, most in the league. Next best was Drew Brees with 68. But only 10 of those passes went for touchdowns. Seven QBs had more touchdown passes of at least 20 yards.
The Packers haven’t allowed 300 yards passing or three touchdowns in their last eight games. That’s the longest such streak in the league.
San Diego v. Kansas City
|San Diego||Kansas City|
|Starting QB||Philip Rivers||Alex Smith|
In 23 career games where his team faced an implied total of 20 or less, Rivers has averaged 17.0 points per game. In 141 career games where his team’s implied total was greater than 20, he’s averaged 16.1 points per game.
NFL teams averaged 35.7 pass attempts per game in 2015. Smith hasn’t hit 35 pass attempts since Week 6 of 2015. He hasn’t hit 35 attempts in a win since Week 8 of 2013.
Oakland v. New Orleans
|Starting QB||Derek Carr||Drew Brees|
Through the first eight games of 2015, Carr was on pace for 4,188 passing yards, 38 touchdowns, and 8 interceptions. His 8.4 adjusted yards per attempt was fifth-best in the league. Through the final eight games of 2015, Carr was on pace for 3,768 yards, 26 touchdowns, and 18 interceptions. His 5.83 adjusted yards per attempt was below Johnny Manziel‘s 5.84.
The Saints’ implied team total of 26 is sixth-highest in the league, but not much above the average of 25.1 over Brees’ New Orleans career. Indeed, in games with an implied total between 25 and 27, Brees has averaged 19.8 points per game — slightly less than his 20.6-point average in all games with the Saints.
Cincinnati v. New York Jets
|Starting QB||Andy Dalton||Ryan Fitzpatrick|
Dalton’s 2015 may have been the quietest career year in history. His 8.9 adjusted yards per attempt was the third-highest in 2015 and the first time he topped even 7.0. His 66 percent completion rate was a career high, and his 1.8 percent interception rate was a career low.
The Bengals defense had the best interception to touchdown ratio in the league in 2015, picking off 21 passes and allowing only 18 passing touchdowns. Even after shattering his career high with 31 touchdowns in 2015, Fitzpatrick has thrown an interception for every 1.32 touchdowns in his career. For comparison, Jay Cutler boasts a 1.44:1 ratio.
Cleveland v. Philadelphia
|Starting QB||Robert Griffin III||Carson Wentz|
Robert Griffin III
In his first 18 career starts, Griffin threw for 300 yards six times and accounted for 32 touchdowns. In his last 17 starts, he’s thrown for 300 yards just once and accounted for 15 touchdowns.
The Browns surrendered the third-most passing touchdowns (34) and the second-highest adjusted yards per attempt (8.5) in 2015. Despite facing the fourth-fewest pass attempts in the league, they surrendered the fourth-most fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks.
Minnesota v. Tennessee
|Starting QB||Shaun Hill?||Marcus Mariota|
Among 33 rookie QBs who played at least eight games since 2000, Mariota had the fifth-highest adjusted yards per attempt (7.4). Only Robert Griffin (8.5), Ben Roethlisberger (8.3), Russell Wilson (8.1), and Matt Ryan (7.5) were better.
The Titans faced the fewest pass attempts in the league in 2015, but they allowed the fifth-most fantasy points per game.
For his career, Hill has averaged 6.46 adjusted yards per pass attempt. Similar players include Ryan Tannehill (6.57), Alex Smith (6.48), Jason Campbell (6.28), and Sam Bradford (6.11).
Miami v. Seattle
|Starting QB||Ryan Tannehill||Russell Wilson|
Before this week, the lowest implied team total the Dolphins faced under Tannehill was 17.25 (on the road against Seattle in 2012).
The Seahawks allowed only 14 passing touchdowns in 2015. The Bengals were the next stingiest, allowing 18.
Since 2013, Seattle has been favored by at least seven points 18 times. Wilson averaged 17.3 points per game in those contests. In all other games, he averaged 22.0.
New York Giants v. Dallas
|Starting QB||Eli Manning||Dak Prescott|
The Cowboys allowed 300 passing yards only once in 2015, in a Week 4 road matchup against the Saints. Dallas faced just 506 pass attempts in 2015, second-fewest behind Tennessee.
The Giants allowed the most passing yards in the league in 2015 and the third-most fantasy points to quarterbacks. But when opponents had an implied total of less than 24, their quarterbacks averaged only 18.0 points per game. When opponents had an implied total of greater than 24, their quarterbacks averaged 24.0 points per game.
Detroit v. Indianapolis
|Starting QB||Matt Stafford||Andrew Luck|
Stafford’s 67.2 percent completion rate was fifth highest in the league. Before 2015, his career completion rate was 59.6 percent. Even in the first eight games (before Jim Bob Cooter took over as offensive coordinator), Stafford completed 64.6 percent of his passes, which would have been a career high.
Luck has averaged 19.7 points in the 21 games where the Colts’ implied team total was 26 or greater. He’s averaged 20.6 points in the 34 games where the Colts’ implied team total was less than 26.
New England v. Arizona
|Starting QB||Jimmy Garoppolo||Carson Palmer|
The Cardinals surrendered only 16.2 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks in 2015, sixth-lowest in the league. New England was the pass happiest team in the league, throwing 629 times despite having the second-most favorable average game script.
Palmer’s late-season demise is more myth than reality. Through the first eight games of 2015, Palmer had the highest adjusted yards per attempt in the league (9.68), and he was second to Tom Brady in passing touchdowns (20 to Brady’s 22). Through the final eight games, he had the fourth-highest adjusted yards per attempt (8.52) and tenth-most touchdowns (15).
Pittsburgh v. Washington
|Starting QB||Ben Roethlisberger||Kirk Cousins|
Despite missing more than a quarter of the Steelers’ Week 3 contest, Roethlisberger averaged 328 passing yards per game in 2015. Not only was this the highest in the league, it was the third-highest per-game production in the last decade.
Over the final eight games of 2015, Cousins had the highest passer rating (126.1) and adjusted yards per attempt (10.65) in the league.
Los Angeles v. San Francisco
|Los Angeles||San Francisco|
|Starting QB||Case Keenum||Blaine Gabbert|
Gabbert has thrown a touchdown in each of his last 10 appearances. Only Kirk Cousins and Russell Wilson have longer streaks. Gabbert’s streak began on October 6, 2013.
The Rams haven’t topped 300 yards passing in their last 28 games. The next closest streak is Buffalo at 17 games.