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Post-Mortem, Week 11: Feast or famine in Detroit

Maybe "throw the ball to Calvin Johnson on every play" is too simplistic. But maybe ... maybe it's NOT!

Joe Sargent

The thing about math is that it's fundamentally dishonest. I know, that sounds like an absurd statement, but, according to math, every team in the NFL is still in the playoff hunt. The Jaguars, the Vikings, the Falcons — math says they all have a shot. Does that sound right to you? Is your brain willing to accept the possibility of Greg Schiano and Gary Kubiak coaching in the Super Bowl? Of course not. Get out of here with that mess, math.

New York Jets 14, Buffalo 37

Time of Death: The Jets still had some flicker of hope when they cut the lead to 13 early in the third quarter, but EJ Manuel's 43 yard touchdown to Marquise Goodwin snuffed that out quickly.

Cause of Death: Geno Smith completed his third pass with eight minutes left in the first quarter and the game still scoreless. He did not complete his fourth pass until five minutes into the third quarter, at which point the Bills had taken a 20-point lead. Between those two completions, Smith threw five incompletions, was sacked four times, fumbled once, and threw one pick. This was possibly the worst half hour a person can spend outside of a dentist's chair.

Baltimore 20, Chicago 23

Time of Death: Robbie Gould ended the game with a 38-yard field goal on the second possession of overtime, after Baltimore had driven to the Chicago two yard line at the end of regulation but was forced to settle for three points and extra time.

Cause of Death: The Ravens did a good job of preventing the Bears from making big plays — Chicago only gained 20 yards or more on two occasions — but they didn't make big defensive plays of their own, finishing with no turnovers forced, two sacks, and only four tackles for loss. That last statistic is particularly surprising, given that Baltimore had been averaging nearly eight tackles behind the line of scrimmage a game, the second best rate in the league.

Cleveland 20, Cincinnati 41

Time of Death: After cutting the lead to eleven, Cleveland's defense forced a punt. They then watched the special teams unit jump offsides to give the Bengals a first down. Retaking the field, they forced a punt again — and then saw Jason Campbell throw an interception. You're trapped in a loveless relationship, Cleveland defense.

Cause of Death: Ten of Cleveland's 16 drives gained no more than five yards, and that's not even counting drive 17, which lasted one play and ended in an interception. In their last five games, the Browns had only accumulated nine drives that short in total.

Washington 16, Philadelphia 24

Time of Death: What had been a blowout turned interesting when Washington scored 16 unanswered points in the fourth quarter and got the ball back with three minutes to play, but RGIII picked the worst time to come down with a case of the armpunts.

Cause of Death: Ill-advised as that pass may have been, it was quarters one through three where Griffin really struggled, going 7/14 for 52 yards, four sacks, and one fumble lost. Nearly a third of Philadelphia's sacks this year (a category in which they rank an unimpressive 21st) have come at Griffin's expense.

Detroit 27, Pittsburgh 37

Time of Death: After relinquishing the lead late, the Lions needed an answer from their offense, and they got one: a deep throw from Matthew Stafford that was picked off by the Steelers and taken back to the Detroit 34, setting up Pittsburgh's final touchdown. (Hey, wrong answers are still answers.)

Cause of Death: The 6-4 Lions are averaging 16 second half offensive points in their wins this year. Including their post-halftime shutout in this loss, the offense has only put up 21 points TOTAL in the four losses. Detroit's looking too much like a North Korean missile: potentially explosive but ultimately inconsistent.

Atlanta 28, Tampa Bay 41

Time of Death: With roughly 17 minutes to play, the Bucs got into the end zone for the fourth time and took a 38 to 6 lead. I'm so embarrassed for you, Atlanta. You can't come to my birthday party now. It'd be social suicide.

Cause of Death: Even in the good years, Tampa is never a team that puts up a ton of points; in their entire existence the Bucs have only scored 40 points in a game eight times, ahead of only the Texans and the Panthers. How did Atlanta wind up as team number nine? By allowing Mike Glennon to complete every pass he threw for the last three quarters. Seriously, you can't even come over to work on our group project for history class, Atlanta.

Jacksonville 14, Arizona 27

Time of Death: Jacksonville's offense finally mounted a drive to the Arizona 36 with seven minutes left but stalled out there, turning the ball over on downs.

Cause of Death: It'd be a lot easier to understand Jacksonville's inability to convert on third down if they were constantly facing third-and-15 or third-and-27. But the Jaguars are averaging 7.39 yards to gain, and the NFL average on third down this year is 7.21. They failed to convert on 12 of 14 attempts against the Cardinals, and seven of those failures were with six yards or less to gain. League-wide, teams are converting right about half of the time when faced with third-and-6 or less. Jacksonville? 28.3 percent.

Houston 23, Oakland 28

Time of Death: A game-winning drive for the Texans came up just short when Matt Schaub's (oh yes, Matt Schaub got to play) last pass to Andre Johnson fell incomplete.

Cause of Death: For all the criticism we've given Houston's offense and kicker this year, there's another area of significant regression we haven't discussed — the run defense, which got burned by Rashad Jennings for 150 yards. Last year, the Texans were first overall in rushing touchdowns allowed, seventh in total rushing yards allowed, and 10th in opponent yards per run. In 2013, those rankings have dropped to 12th, 22nd, and 21st.

San Diego 16, Miami 20

Time of Death: The Chargers were 25 yards away from a comeback win, but you don't walk away victorious when you grow this on your face, Philip Rivers.


Cause of Death: San Diego had to settle for field goals on two red zone possessions, giving them 15 kicking attempts on the year from the opponent's 20 and in. Only the Steelers have more this season, and GOOD LORD IT'S IMPOSSIBLE TO THINK WITH THAT DAMN MUSTACHE LOOKING AT ME.

San Francisco 20, New Orleans 23

Time of Death: Garrett Hartley hit an easy field goal on the last play of the game to give the Saints their best record through 10 games since their Super Bowl winning season in 2009.

Cause of Death: On the one hand, I want to applaud the Niners for not sitting on a slim lead in the fourth quarter. On the other, I'm not sure if calling nine passes and only one running play on a day when you wind up averaging 3.7 yards per throw is all that brilliant.

Green Bay 13, New York Giants 27

Time of Death: Things were setting up for a brutal fourth quarter collapse by the Giants, but Scott Tolzien is a good guest. He's not going to embarrass you at home like that, even if it means throwing a pick six to a defensive lineman.

Cause of Death: Through Week 10, the Giants had been unable to sustain long, clock-chewing possessions, last in the league with only seven drives of 10 plays or more. They picked up three more against the Packers, thanks in part to two fourth down conversions, and now the Giants are TIED. For last. But, hey, improvement!

Minnesota 20, Seattle 41

Time of Death: At 12:30 in the fourth quarter, when the Vikings sent Matt Cassel into play quarterback. This is the equivalent of waving a white flag, except the flag misses open receivers.

Cause of Death: The Vikings are one of four teams (the Bears, Bills, and Falcons are the others) to allow 20 points in every game they've played this year, and they're on pace to allow 36 passing touchdowns, which would be the most any team has given up in the last four seasons. Oh, and they still have games against Calvin Johnson, A.J. Green, Brandon Marshall and Nick Foles.

Kansas City 17, Denver 27

Time of Death: Despite having three opportunities to do so, Kansas City couldn't pick up three yards to keep their penultimate drive going, allowing Denver to run out most of the clock before punting the ball back to the Chiefs.

Cause of Death: This was the most unbalanced offense the Chiefs have had all year, with 20 more passing attempts than rushing ones. Kansas City's previous high was 13 more passes than runs, and in seven of their last nine, they'd kept the margin under double digits. And this wasn't entirely the product of playing from behind in the second half; the first five Chief possessions featured 15 pass plays and only six rushes. Just because they're not expecting you to let Alex Smith throw the ball 45 times doesn't mean you should do it.

New England 20, Carolina 24

Time of Death: Tom Brady's last pass to the end zone was picked off and nobody seems to have a really firm grasp on whether the Panthers committed pass interference/defensive holding/mortgage fraud.

Cause of Death: Cam Newton was spectacular on third down, finishing 3 of 6 passing for 29 yards and two touchdowns and, more importantly, running four times for 56 yards. Those who would question Newton's ability to be a top quarterback should take notice of his third-down performance — no QB has a higher completion percentage (70 percent) or yards per passing attempt number (9.5) than Newton this year.


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