Midweek Musings: The Vikings And Other Issues

One may quibble with how the Broncos won the first three games of the season, but nobody is ever going to be unhappy starting the NFL season 3-0. Thus far, the Broncos have established themselves as the team to beat in the AFC West and are in good position to enter the Week 7 bye with a 6-0 record.

By no means will it be an easy task, but the next three matchups favor the Broncos on paper. The Broncos are ranked ahead of the Vikings, Raiders and Browns in Football Outsiders’ DVOA rankings, in the Pro Football Reference Simple Rankings System and in the Pro Football Focus power rankings. One may debate the criteria each site uses to determine rankings, but three sites that seek to go beyond the usual stats people trot out consider the Broncos to be better than the opposition the next three weeks.

I’ll also throw in Andrew Mason’s power rankings, in which the result is the same: The Broncos outrank their next three opponents.
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Oh When The Saints Mess With Their Cap…

The New Orleans Saints restructured the contract of Drew Brees, deferring $2.6M in cap charges to next season.

As Jason Fitzgerald notes, the Saints’ cap situation is terrible, as they were pushing against the limit this year and will be close to that next year. The Saints continue to believe they are just a few players from a Super Bowl when they are not.

Brees’ 2016 salary becomes fully guaranteed in February, meaning the Saints will have to make a quick decision on his future. If they finish 5-11 or worse, the best thing would be to find somebody willing to trade for Brees, and failing that, they need to cut him.

Either way, the Saints are very much like the Broncos in 2008 when Mike Shanahan’s bad personnel decisions caught up with him. I may talk more about how the teams compare later on.

UPDATE: Shanahan’s final season with the Broncos was 2008, not 2007. I have corrected that.

Could Any 3-0 Team This Year Go 16-0?

OK, so earlier this week, I said my Midweek Musings would be about the 3-0 teams and where they stand. Well, OK, I sort of lied.

Actually, it came down to me having some time to squeeze this in today and wanting to talk more about things pertaining specifically to the Broncos in the Midweek Musings. I’m sure you won’t argue with additional content, right?
Continue reading Could Any 3-0 Team This Year Go 16-0?

Pro Football Focus Gives, Then Defends, A -0.8 Grade For Aaron Rodgers From Monday Night

If you watched last night’s barbecue of Kansas City at Lambeau in a 38-28 Packers victory that wasn’t as close as the final score suggests, you likely got the takeaway that Aaron Rodgers is rightly the defending NFL MVP, tossing five touchdowns–several of those against a choice foe of Peyton Manning’s in Marcus Cooper.

But the metrics of Pro Football Focus paint a different picture, as the title of this thread suggests.  Knowing that this would be a controversial finding, PFF wrote an article explaining this grade.  The core of the explanation comes down to two arguments:

  • Three of Rodgers’s five TDs passes were judged to be the result of exceptional play by Randall Cobb instead of by Rodgers.
  • Rodgers earned two negative plays with a fumble lost (but it was nullified by a Chiefs penalty) and a dropped interception to Josh Mauga that, in their judgment, possibly should have been a pick six.

I’m going to reserve my own comment until a possible later time to think over the arguments and counter-arguments (and suffice to say, there are plenty of the latter).  In the meantime, if you’re looking for something from PFF that satisfies your Broncos fandom, I would recommend this article that explains the perpetual ceiling that the Chiefs will have with Alex Smith as their starter.

Glazer: Panthers Acquire Jared Allen

The trade signals the Bears acknowledging they are rebuilding and sends Allen to a contender.

It’s good for the Panthers as they get a veteran defensive end who will add to their pass rush for a minimal cap hit this season. They can always get out of the contract after this season with no dead money.

The Panthers are one of six 3-0 teams remaining (Green Bay could join them with a win over Kansas City). I’ll have thoughts on the 3-0 teams later this week (of course, the Broncos are one of them).

What’s Your General Opinion On NFL Officials?

I think it’s safe to say that, after last night, neither Broncos nor Lions fans have much good to say about referee Jeff Triplette and his crew.  Thankfully, we have an objective metric for this crew’s struggles–it had four calls on the field overturned.

So since this is a current hot topic here, I thought I’d open the floor broader. Are there any officials you particularly like or dislike?

PFF: Top Players From Broncos-Lions

A positive sign from last night’s Broncos-Lions game is that Pro Football Focus graded Peyton Manning positively for the first time this season.

— Only Matthew Stafford entered this weekend’s games with a lower PFF grade among quarterbacks than Peyton Manning (+2.4). But, after recording his first positive grade since Week 17 last season Manning’s 2015 finally has some positive momentum. Manning was in control of his intermediate passing (6 of 8 for 73 yards, 1 TD, +3.2 PFF passing grade) and was the beneficiary of his receivers winning on jump balls against Darius Slay (-3.2) to boost his deep passing numbers (2 of 2 for 79 yards, 1 TD, -0.1 PFF passing grade).

Ryan Harris also graded positively (+1.8).

The defense, of course, had a great showing, but the one who made the biggest mark, as measured by PFF, was Von Miller (+6.4). Remember, things like QB pressure and hits don’t show up in the box scores, but Miller had plenty of both.

Open Thread: Broncos Vs. Lions

Talk about the Broncos-Lions game here. Latest injury reports:

* Broncos CB Kayvon Webster has been ruled out with an ankle injury. DE Kenny Anunike and CB/S Omar Bolden are questionable. It’s likely CB Lorenzo Doss will be active and chances are S Josh Bush will be as well if Bolden can’t play.

* Lions TE Brandon Pettigrew has been ruled out and DE DeAndre Levy is doubtful, but is not expected to play because of a hip injury.