AFC North Stats ‘N At, Week 9 Edition
Week 9 began with a fairly predictable result for the only AFC North tilt. After managing to end the half with a deficit of only four points, the Browns were held to 32 yards of offense in the second half. Cincinnati is 8-0 for the first time in franchise history. Cleveland is 2-7 for the fourth time in franchise history.
Looking this up made me realize all the more how pathetic we Steeler fans can be. Only twice in franchise history (i.e. since 1999) have the Browns actually had a winning record after nine games. The most frequent record was 3-6 (seven of the prior 16 years have begun this way.)
One of those 2-7 years was 2008. The Steelers won the Super Bowl. The Browns were shut out their last two games of the season, losing 14-0 to the Bengals and 31-0 to the Steelers.
And those two years with winning records? In 2001 they began 5-4 and only won two other games. Last season they began 6-3 and won a single additional game. The Browns have made it to the playoffs only once, in 2002, where they lost to the Steelers.
I say this not to denigrate the Browns but to make the rest of us count our blessings. All too many Steeler fans, without considering any of the circumstances, whine as if Mike Tomlin had personally adulterated their breakfast cereal when the team goes less than 10-6 (the number I think is probably the minimum number of wins to which people feel entitled) and/or misses the playoffs.
The Ravens had their bye week, leading to the excitement (for Ravens fans) of finally moving above the Browns in the division race. Perhaps they should try not playing more often. And the Steelers won another last-minute thriller versus the Oakland Raiders, with the usual large number of body bags being required for the wounded. Unfortunately for the Steelers, one of the wounded was Ben Roethlisberger. But if an injury could be said to be fortunate, it would be this one, as the 2015 Steelers seemingly have dodged another bullet. Like Charles Woodson last Sunday, it was only a flesh wound.
- Bengals +87
- Steelers +24
- Ravens -24
- Browns -70
The Bengals’ point differential is getting ridiculous. The Steelers are the only team to hold them to under 27 points. Well done them, even if it doesn’t make me, as a Steelers homer, particularly happy.
Josh McCown was still out for the Browns so Johnny Manziel played. According to both QBR and the NFL passer rating he played a good game, a game free of turnovers from either team. But it wasn’t enough to win, by a long shot. Andy Dalton is back to looking like Andy Dalton, with that one-game blip near the bottom being thanks to the Pittsburgh Steelers defense.
Ben Roethlisberger was back for the Steelers, until he wasn’t. But while he was there he put up decent, if not fabulous, numbers. Landry Jones relieved him and only threw a handful of passes, making just enough plays to help win the game. Because he, unlike Ben, didn’t manage to throw a pick, his passer rating was actually better.
Here are the NFL Passer Ratings for Week 8, for purposes of comparison:
- Johnny Manziel: 71.8
- Andy Dalton: 103.3, way up from 64.7 the previous game.
- Ben Roethlisberger: 84.8, a distinct improvement over 57.8 the previous week
- Landry Jones: 109.7. It’s too bad Landry can’t always play like a relief QB.
Rob Rossi, of all people, told a sweet story about Jones after the first game when he came in for Michael Vick. He was leaving the building, and Rossi didn’t realize who it was at first—he was wearing the goofy plaid hunting shirt because naturally no one would want to interview him after the game. His wife was waiting for him with tears in her eyes and said “I’m so proud of you.” He looked at her and said “I don’t even know what happened out there.” Maybe the key for him is not having the time to worry about it beforehand. Which isn’t helpful this coming week…
There was very little movement in the Football Outsiders rankings:
- Cincinnati: № 2
- Pittsburgh: № 4, last week № 6
- Baltimore: № 16
- Cleveland: № 25
If you aren’t familiar with DVOA, the idea is, they adjust the offensive numbers for the quality of the defense for each game.
Football Outsiders rankings:
- Cincinnati: № 2, last week № 4
- Pittsburgh: № 4, last week № 7
- Baltimore: № 14, last week № 13
- Cleveland: № 30
- Bengals: № 6, last week № 4
- Ravens: № 9, last week № 8
- Steelers: № 22, last week № 23
- Browns: № 26, last week № 27
Football Outsiders Individual rankings for the best player from each team:
- Antonio Brown: 211, (№ 4)
- A.J. Green: 194, (№ 5)
- Travis Benjamin: 87 (№ 25)
- Kamar Aiken: 35 (№ 45)
Antonio Brown moved up an impressive 77 points from last week, pushing him up from № 12 to № 4.
- Tyler Eifert: 159 (№ 2)
- Gary Barnidge: 136 (№ 4)
- Heath Miller: 70 (№ 8)
- Crockett Gilmore: 64 (№ 11)
- DeAngelo Williams: 129 (№ 3)
- Gio Bernard: 107 (№ 5)
- Justin Forsett: 74 (№ 10)
- Isaiah Crowell: -26 (No. 32)
Le’Veon Bell moved up to № 1 (from № 2) this week despite not playing—his score of 150 is 15 points higher than the № 2, Davonte Freeman. Williams, like Antonio Brown, moved up 77 points. Isaiah Crowell shouldn’t feel too bad. He’s two slots below Eddie Lacy and one slot above Adrian Peterson.
The chart at right gives the Football Outsiders scoring for the defense. In their system, the lower the number the better the defense.
The rankings are:
- Cincinnati: № 10, up from № 12 last week
- Pittsburgh: № 12, down from № 11 last week
- Baltimore: № 25, up from № 26 last week
- Cleveland: № 26, up from № 27 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.
- Baltimore: № 7
- Cincinnati: № 10
- Pittsburgh: № 12
- Cleveland: № 21
- Cincinnati: № 15
- Baltimore: № 17
- Pittsburgh: № 20
- Cleveland: № 31
Return yards gained/allowed:
- Ravens: 479/212
- Bengals: 582/512
- Steelers: 599/665
- Browns: 669/756
I’ve decided to determine the order by the differential.
And I might as well give the Football Outsiders Special Teams rankings as well:
- Baltimore № 3, down from № 2
- Cleveland: № 7, down from № 5
- Cincinnati: № 9, down from №7
- Pittsburgh: № 18, up from № 19
Here is the Takeaway to Turnover ratio, in order of awesomeness or lack thereof.
- Pittsburgh Steelers: +6 (up 4)
- Cincinnati Bengals: +2
- Cleveland Browns: -4
- Baltimore Ravens: -7
And I’ll finish with an overview of the week’s power rankings:
From Elliot Harrison of NFL.com:
Ravens: № 27 The Ravens finally earned themselves a little momentum with the win over San Diego, and then got to capitalize on it by … drum roll … having a bye. Oh boy. Could Baltimore still have hopes for a wild card? Believe it or not, yes. The Jets and Steelers own the two wild-card spots for now, and Baltimore has a win over the latter team. Anything is possible. Though having Steve Smith Sr. in the lineup sure would help. #captainobvious
Bengals: № 2 (+1) Another impressive victory for undefeated Cincinnati, with everyone getting into the act. Tyler Eifert was the headliner with his three touchdown catches, but Mohamed Sanu made plays, Geno Atkins got a sack and, overall, the Bengals showed why they are what their record says they are. One question: Why does Giovani Bernard seem so much more effective than Jeremy Hill? The latter has always been a more patient runner, but Bernard is finding and getting through the creases more quickly. #randomfootballthoughts
Browns: № 26 (-2) Another loss, another frustrating week for Browns fans. While Johnny Manziel showed signs of development in the first half last Thursday night, the second-half regression exemplified typical Brownies football. (Coming at you again since 1999!) Cleveland went three-and-out on its first four drives after the break. It wasn’t all Manziel’s fault, as two balls went off guys’ helmets (how does that happen? prime-time glare?) and another off a knee (how does a guy let a ball carom off his knee before getting his hands on it?). So I guess what we’re saying is that the Browns at least find entertaining ways to drop footballs.
Steelers: № 9 All eyes are on Ben Roethlisberger, who is set to miss time with a foot sprain, right now. He should be back in time to at least make the wild-card chase interesting. Coolest play of the Steelers’ big win over the Raiders on Sunday — even better than Martavis Bryant’s triple-move touchdown or, well, everything Antonio Brown did in his 500-yard game — had to be DeAngelo Williams’ 50-plus-yard jaunt down the left sideline. Forget a piano on his back … it looked like someone dropped an F-350 Diesel Dually on Williams’ back about 40 yards into that scamper. Perhaps even better, the man tasked with running Williams down was 39-year-old Charles Woodson
ESPN: Comments from ESPN Stats and Information:
Ravens: № 24 (+3) The Ravens are 2-6, but they’ve been outscored by only 24 points this season. The 3-5 Chiefs are the only sub-.500 team with a better point differential (plus-13)..
Bengals: No. 2 (+1) Tyler Eifert has been making Andy Dalton’s life easier. Dalton has completed 74.0 percent of his passes to the tight end this season with nine touchdowns and no interceptions.
Browns: № 28 (-5) The Browns are 0-6 against teams currently at or above .500 this season. They travel to Pittsburgh, a place where they haven’t won since 2003, to take on the 5-4 Steelers on Sunday.
Steelers: № 9 (+4) No Ben Roethlisberger, no Le’Veon Bell, no problem? Maybe this week. The Steelers are 14-2 at home against the Browns since the team returned to Cleveland in 1999.
Uncredited commentary from USA Today Sports:
Ravens: № 19 If ever a team might reach playoffs after 2-6 start … crippled Steelers, Bengals (Week 17) only winnings teams left to face.
Bengals: № 2 (+1) TE Tyler Eifert’s nine TD grabs are two more than anyone else in league. He could be January game changer Cincy has needed.
Browns: № 30 (-4) We have to watch these guys in two national games this month? Time to send schedule makers to Principal Goodell’s office..
Steelers: № 18 (-6) They stayed afloat without Le’Veon Bell. They stayed afloat without Ben Roethlisberger. Can they possibly do it sans both?