AFC North Stats Watch, Week 8 Edition
Since the Bengals are carrying all before them, I thought we would just admit defeat and make it all about them. Here’s the AFC North record, which doesn’t look nearly as nice this week, alas. The Steelers lost ground on the Bengals, although the Browns have thoughtfully continued to lose. Maybe we don’t have to worry about the Ravens getting the No. 1 pick after all.
- Bengals +66
- Steelers +21
- Ravens -34
- Browns -49
Well, the Steelers got Ben back, but not the Ben we were hoping to see, at least after the first series. I trust he got those first-time-back willies out of his system and will be ready to put up some big numbers against the Raiders. Scarcely a given, I might add, even if he’s at a lot closer to 100% than what we saw last week.
This was one of those cases where the NFL Passer Rating and the QBR don’t seem particularly related. Josh McCown actually improved slightly in QBR last week, despite his NFL rating taking a nose dive.
Andy Dalton still looks like the class of the division at the moment (the isolated point is because he still has one less game.) but both his QBR and NFL Passer Rating took a bit hit against the Steelers. Just like he did, several times. Go D!
Joe Flacco had another good game this week. However, he’s lost Steve Smith Sr. It will be interesting to see whether this impacts the offense, which has definitely underachieved this season.
Here are the NFL Passer Ratings for Week 8, for purposes of comparison:
- Joe Flacco: 103.3, up from 80.4 last week
- Josh McCown: 89.2, down from 101.8 last week
- Andy Dalton: 64.7, way down from 118.6 the previous game.
- Ben Roethlisberger: Sigh. 57.8. Landry Jones had a better rating the previous week, at 60.8. Throwing three picks will do that.
Overall Offensive Rating: Football Outsiders
Here are the rankings:
- Cincinnati: No. 2, last week No. 1
- Pittsburgh: No. 6, last week No. 5
- Baltimore: No. 16, last week No. 18
- Cleveland: No. 25, last week No. 24
If you aren’t familiar with DVOA, the idea is, they adjust the offensive numbers for the quality of the defense for each game.
Here is Football Outsiders’ ranking of the offensive lines:
- Cincinnati: No. 4
- Pittsburgh: No. 7
- Baltimore: No. 13
- Cleveland: No. 30
- Bengals: No. 4
- Ravens: No. 8
- Steelers: No. 23
- Browns: No. 30
For individual players I’m going to use the Football Outsider numbers, since apparently revealing the PFF numbers isn’t okay with them. Sorry, Fever. As usual I’ll give the top-ranked player in each category from each team. I’m taking the ranking from DYAR (Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement.) According to the FO guys, this is the best metric for total value.
- A.J. Green: 174, (No. 7)
- Antonio Brown: 134, (No. 12)
- Steve Smith: 118 (No. 17)
- Travis Benjamin: 102 (No. 19)
As noted above, Steve smith is out for the season, and perhaps forever, given he’s pretty old. He was simply amazing this year and I feel sad that he finished his last year this way. Not that I wanted him to go out with a Super Bowl ring or anything, but I think he deserved better than this.
The next highest-rated WR for the Ravens is Kamar Aiken, 35 (No. 43).
- Gary Barnidge: 151 (No. 2)
- Tyler Eifert: 115 (No. 5)
- Crockett Gilmore: 60 (No. 9)
- Heath Miller: 57 (No. 11)
If Heath has a few more games like Sunday’s, he may be shooting up the list… Interestingly, he has a 73% catch rate, which is better than any of the other three on this list.
- Le’Veon Bell: 150 (No. 2)
- Gio Bernard: 115 (No. 4)
- Justin Forsett: 73 (No. 8)
- Isaiah Crowell: -31 (No. 31)
It was hard not to cry as I put these numbers down. See video below for tribute. DeAngelo Williams doesn’t have enough carries to make the main list at this point, but they give his DYAR (in the 12-63 rush category) as 52, which would be be somewhere between Jonathan Stewart and Matt Forte (Nos. 11 and 12.)
Here is the Football Outsiders rating for the defense. In their system, the lower the number the better the defense, so as you can see everyone got better except the Ravens. As you will see, the Steelers’ defense took a particularly large jump. Cleveland’s defense, despite improving numerically, stayed the same in the rankings:
The rankings are:
- Pittsburgh: No. 11, up from No. 16 last week
- Cincinnati: No. 12, up from No. 13 last week
- Baltimore: No. 26, down from No. 23 last week
- Cleveland: No. 27, same as last week
Football Outsider doesn’t grade individual defensive players. Sounds prejudiced to me. Or maybe it’s just a whole lot harder to sort out such things. They do rank the defensive lines, and here they are. I’m going to throw in the charts for Sacks and Passes Defensed as well to see where we are. I will also note that rookie Bud Dupree is the sack leader for the Steelers at the moment.
- Cincinnati: No. 11
- Pittsburgh: No. 13
- Cleveland: No. 19
- Baltimore: No. 27
- Pittsburgh: No. 6
- Cincinnati: No. 12
- Baltimore: No. 18
- Cleveland: No. 29
Return yards gained/allowed:
- Ravens: 479/212
- Bengals: 561/470
- Browns: 627/735
- Steelers: 514/590
I couldn’t decide whether the Steelers ought to move above the Browns because the differential is less, or stay in fourth place, since the number of yards gained is also considerably less. But what I really want to know is, how are the Ravens giving up so few return yards? This week they gave up 2. Yes, as in 2 yards. On a punt.
And I might as well give the Football Outsiders Special Teams rankings as well:
- Baltimore No. 2
- Cleveland No. 5
- Cincinnati: No. 7
- Pittsburgh: No. 19
Here is the Takeaway to Turnover ratio, in order of awesomeness or lack thereof.
- Pittsburgh Steelers: +2 (down 1)
- Cincinnati Bengals: +2
- Cleveland Browns: -4 (up 2)
- Baltimore Ravens: -7
From Elliot Harrison of NFL.com:
Ravens: No. 27 (+2) First order of business: Congrats on another gut-check win for the Ravens, who simply refuse to pack it in this season. Now to the important stuff: The Ravens’ most effective player on offense — or defense, for that matter — is out for the season. And if this proves to be the last play we ever see from Steve Smith Sr., what a shame for all football fans, not just those in Baltimore. There is hope, though. Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor had been contemplating retirement in 1992 before rupturing his Achilles. Then he decided he didn’t want to end his career by leaving Giants Stadium on a cart. So let’s wait and see on No. 89.
Bengals: No. 3 The Bengals are 7-0 and seen as different in the eyes of the masses right now. This organization boasts the most talented roster in the NFL and certainly deserves to be atop the AFC North. But to be clear, Cincinnati didn’t look too hot Sunday. The Steelers lost Le’Veon Bell to his season-ending injury early, while Ben Roethlisberger was playing his first game after missing well over a month with a knee injury of his own. The key is that the Bengals‘ defense was able to hold down the fort late in a game that saw the offense largely stink up the joint (especially on third down). On another note, Andy Dalton‘s shaved-side updo deserves way more respect. Is that Clipper 1?
Browns: No. 24 (-1) Saw many folks giving Josh McCown low marks for his performance versus the Cardinals. Here’s the truth: The veteran quarterback was flat dealin’ in the first half, staking the Browns to a double-digit lead. Then he took a few big hits in the second half and just wasn’t the same. McCown entered this game with a banged-up shoulder, then was seen doubling over and grabbing his ribs in pain at various points after halftime. Think we can cut this guy a break? Or maybe the Browns should’ve given him some relief. Quarterbacks are not machines. In my book, McCown earned some stripes — and not the ugly Bengals kind — for doing his best to gut it out.
Steelers: No. 9 (-1) “I didn’t make good throws.” That was Ben Roethlisberger after Sunday’s loss to the Bengals, with two fourth-quarter interceptions costing the Steelers a potential divisional win sans their most dynamic player. Pittsburgh’s defense has grown up faster than anyone expected, keeping the Steelers in the contest. OK, so now would be the appropriate time to mention the Le’Veon Bell injury. Yep, it changes everything in the AFC. Wanted to keep the bad news last.
ESPN: Comments from ESPN Stats and Information:
Ravens: No. 27 (-1) Joe Flacco was 3-for-3 on throws 30-plus yards downfield in the win Sunday. He was 2-for-12 on such throws in his first seven games this season.
Bengals: No. 3 The Bengals are 7-0 for the first time in franchise history. They host the Browns Thursday, who Cincy has lost to in three of their past five meetings. Andy Dalton threw six touchdowns and 10 interceptions in those games.
Browns: No. 23 (+1) The Browns’ two wins this season came against the Ravens and Titans, who are a combined 3-12. The unbeaten Bengals are up next.
Steelers: No. 13 (-3) The Steelers were finally healthy, then lost RB Le’Veon Bell for the season with a torn MCL. Bell had averaged a league-high 119 scrimmage yards per game since 2013.
Uncredited commentary from USA Today Sports:
Ravens: No. 19 (+8) Please, Steve Smith, don’t let that be the last play of your career. Rehab that Achilles, and give us just one more year
Bengals: No. 2 (+1) They don’t face many top-tier RBs rest of way, but 5 yards per rush defense allows bodes as an Achilles’ heel for January.
Browns: No. 26 (-1) They showed pluck last year and even last month, but don’t be surprised if GM Ray Farmer detonates this roster sooner or later.
Steelers: No. 12 (-2) DeAngelo Williams did great job spelling Le’Veon Bell when he was suspended. But can Steelers rely on 32-year-old for eight games?