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Deflategate: The Plot Thickens!

Since 2010, New England Has the Lowest Fumble Rate in the NFL

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One of the many questions surrounding “Deflategate”—the controversy that has engulfed the New England Patriots—concerns what advantage an NFL team would gain from using a deflated football. Numerous players have said a softer ball is easier to grip, and a ball that’s easier to grip is harder to drop

New England coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady both denied ever purposely using footballs that were inflated below the NFL minimum. But on the basis of the allegations, the Count looked at the fumble rate of the Patriots compared with the rest of the league.

New England has had an uncanny ability to hold on to the football for quite some time. According to data compiled by Warren Sharp of Sharp Football Analysis, the Patriots fumble far less than any other team that plays outdoors, where the elements can make the football harder to handle. Beginning in the 2010 season, Patriots players have fumbled (whether lost or recovered) once every 73 touches from scrimmage, which is 52% better than the league average. The next best team is the Ravens, who have fumbled once every 55 touches.

Additionally, according to Stats, LLC, the six players who have played extensively for the Patriots and other teams in this span all fumbled far less frequently wearing the New England uniform. Including recovered fumbles, Danny Amendola, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Danny Woodhead, Wes Welker, Brandon LaFell and LeGarrette Blount have lost the ball eight times in 1,482 touches for the Patriots since 2010, or once every 185.3 times. For their other teams, they fumbled 22 times in 1,701 touches (once every 77.3).

 

Of course, Belichick is strict disciplinarian when it comes to holding on the football, frequently benching running backs who dare to put the ball on the ground. But other NFL head coaches aren’t exactly cavalier about the practice.

And it’s not only ball carriers who can potentially benefit. Quarterbacks are frequent fumblers when sacked. But while the average passer fumbles once every 7.3 sacks, Brady’s rate is once every 9.1, an improvement of nearly 25%.

 

Source:  The Wall Street Journal

 

 

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Officials change minds on controversial call, helping Cowboys to win

Conspiracy theorists had their smoking gun in the fourth quarter of the Dallas Cowboys-Detroit Lions playoff game on Sunday.

You very rarely see an officiating crew pick up a flag as late as the Cowboys-Lions crew did on the most controversial play of wild-card weekend. On third down, Matthew Stafford threw to Brandon Pettigrew, who was covered by Cowboys linebacker Anthony Hitchens. Hitchens never turned around, face-guarding Pettigrew, and that combined with some contact drew a flag for pass interference.

But the Lions went from thinking they had a crucial first down to facing a fourth and 1. That’s because the officials reversed the call, saying Hitchens made a clean play. There was no pass interference. The Lions unsuccessfully tried to draw the Cowboys offsides on fourth an 1, took a delay of game penalty, shanked a punt, and the Cowboys marched down for a go-ahead 8-yard touchdown pass from Tony Romo to Terrance Williams with 2:32 remaining. The non-call changed the entire game. The Cowboys (who, conspiracy theorists will note, are an enormous draw for the NFL) held on to win 24-20. Most NFL fans hate the Cowboys, and did they ever hate that the pass interference wasn’t called.

Mike Pereira, the well-respected former vice president of officiating in the NFL, was in the booth for Fox’s broadcast and said he thought it was pass interference and wrong of the officials to reverse the call. That seemed to be the consensus opinion of most fans watching as well. No matter what the call should have been, it went against the Lions and will be a topic of conversation for a long time.

Source here


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NFL Playoff Picture and Scenarios After Week 16

With the Philadelphia Eagles’ surprising loss to Washington on Saturday, clarity was finally cast upon the NFC playoff picture. The AFC? That’s a question that will be better answered following Week 17.

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Sunday’s action only proved to muddy the picture further in the AFC, with multiple teams above .500 jostling for position heading into the season’s final week.

On Saturday, the San Diego Chargers kept themselves alive with a three-touchdown comeback from the dead-on-arrival San Francisco 49ers, while the AFC North is a complicated riddle yet to be solved.

The Pittsburgh Steelers clinched a playoff berth after a win against Kansas City. The Baltimore Ravens, meanwhile, shot themselves in the foot with a dispiriting loss to the Houston Texans, who were forced to start Case Keenum at quarterback due to injuries.

While there are still some positions left to be filled, this week has helped pare down the field. The Eagles’ loss in Washington eliminated them from contention, Kansas City and Baltimore both have work to do and Detroit further solidified its playoff status.

But as much as some things changed, others stayed the same. The New England Patriots are the top seed in the AFC and clinched home-field advantage after the Denver Broncos’ loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday.

To cap off Sunday’s action, the Seattle Seahawks looked as strong as ever in their Super Bowl defense, dominating the Arizona Cardinals 35-6 on the road to ascend to No. 1 in the NFC.

Let’s take a quick look at the updated playoff picture, courtesy of theNFL‘s official press release, and assess how everything should shake out.

Week 17 AFC Scenarios

Broncos clinch first-round bye with:

  1. Denver win vs. Oakland OR
  2. Denver tie vs. Oakland + Cincinnati loss or tie vs. Pittsburgh OR
  3. Cincinnati loss OR
  4. Cincinnati tie + Indianapolis win vs. Tennessee

Bengals clinch AFC North with:

  1. Cincinnati win vs. Pittsburgh

Bengals clinch first-round bye with:

  1. Cincinnati win + Denver loss or tie OR
  2. Cincinnati tie + losses by both Denver and Indianapolis

Steelers clinch AFC North with:

  1. Pittsburgh win vs. Cincinnati

Chargers clinch playoff spot with:

  1. San Diego win vs. Kansas City OR
  2. San Diego tie + Baltimore loss or tie vs. Cleveland

Ravens clinch playoff spot with:

  1. Baltimore win + San Diego loss or tie OR
  2. Baltimore tie + San Diego loss

Chiefs clinch playoff spot with:

  1. Kansas City win + loss by Baltimore + loss or tie by Houston

Texans clinch playoff spot with:

  1. Houston win + losses by both Baltimore and San Diego

Week 17 NFC Scenarios

Cowboys clinch home-field advantage throughout NFC with:

  1. Dallas win + loss or tie by Arizona vs. San Francisco + Detroit vs. Green Bay tie OR
  2. Dallas win + win by Seattle vs. St. Louis + Detroit vs. Green Bay tie

Cowboys clinch first-round bye with:

  1. Dallas win + loss or tie by both Seattle and Arizona OR
  2. Dallas win + Detroit vs. Green Bay tie OR
  3. Seattle and Arizona both lose OR
  4. Dallas and Seattle both tie + Arizona loses or ties + Detroit vs. Green Bay does not end in a tie

Lions clinch NFC North with:

  1. Lions win or tie

Lions clinch home-field advantage throughout NFC playoffs with:

  1. Lions win + Seattle loss or tie + Arizona loss or tie OR
  2. Detroit tie + losses by both Seattle and Arizona + Dallas loses or ties

Lions clinch first-round bye with:

  1. Detroit win OR
  2. Detroit tie + Dallas loss or tie OR
  3. Detroit tie + both Arizona and Seattle lose

Packers Clinch NFC North and first-round bye with:

  1. Green Bay win

Packers clinch home-field advantage throughout NFC playoffs with:

  1. Green Bay win + loss or tie by Seattle

Seahawks clinch NFC West with:

  1. Seattle win OR
  2. Seattle tie + loss or tie by Arizona OR
  3. Arizona loss

Seahawks clinch home-field advantage throughout NFC playoffs with:

  1. Seattle win + Detroit vs. Green Bay does not end in tie OR
  2. Seattle win + Dallas loss or tie OR
  3. Seattle tie + losses or ties by both Arizona and Dallas + Detroit vs. Green Bay tie

Seahawks clinch first-round bye with:

  1. Seattle win OR
  2. Seattle tie + Arizona loss or tie + Dallas loss OR
  3. Seattle tie + Arizona loss or tie + Detroit vs. Green Bay tie

Cardinals clinch NFC West with:

  1. Arizona win + Seattle loss or tie OR
  2. Arizona tie + Seattle loss

Cardinals clinch home-field advantage throughout NFC playoffs with:

  1. Arizona win + Seattle and Green Bay both lose or tie OR
  2. Arizona tie + Seattle loss + Dallas loss or tie + Detroit vs. Green Bay tie

Cardinals clinch first-round bye with:

  1. Arizona win + Seattle loss or tie OR
  2. Arizona tie + Seattle loss + Dallas loss or tie OR
  3. Arizona tie + Seattle loss + Detroit vs. Green Bay tie

Panthers clinch NFC South with:

  1. Carolina win or tie vs. Atlanta

Falcons clinch NFC South with:

  1. Atlanta win

Read more at the Bleacher Report

Original article here: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2306994-nfl-standings-2014-15-results-playoff-picture-and-scenarios-after-week-16