If there is one misgiving I have about inventing the Spike Factor, it's that it unintentionally glorifies one of the most useless outcomes in football: the one yard gain. Picking up one yard in any situation where you need two or more means nothing. Even on second-and-two, getting one yard suggests that the defense really might be able to stop you from picking up an easy conversion. But the Spike Factor doesn't count those plays; you picked up a yard, now you get a gold star.
So I'd like to take a moment and single out the team that has the most one yard plays when the distance to gain is two or more yards - the Tennessee Titans. They've pulled this off 42 times this season, and it's likely the only thing saving them from the very depths of Spike Factor despair. You hacked the system, Ken Whisenhunt. Congratulations.
(Want to know what the Spike Factor is and how it's calculated? Read the full explanation here.)
CARLOS SANTANA SMOOTH TEAM OF THE WEEK
At the conclusion of the afternoon games last Sunday, Kansas City was sitting in first place for this week's award, with a Spike Factor of 20.45 percent against the once-mighty Seattle defense. Then the Patriots showed up and bumped the Chiefs down to the silver medal, picking up yards on nearly 82 percent of their offensive plays as they ran all over the Colts. And if there's one quarterback I'm betting knows every lyric to "Smooth," it's Tom Brady.
(I will pay you handsomely if you have video of him singing it. Oh, and all of the week's data can be found in the usual spreadsheet.)
THE ALMOST WORST
In that same game, Indianapolis looked dreadful on offense, finishing with what's easily their worst Spike Factor of the year, 46.43 percent. That was slightly better than the meltdown the Giants experienced interceptioning (totally a word) a chance at a win away against the 49ers; Eli and company failed to gain yards on 44.12 percent of their snaps. And both were less-terrible than the Oakland Raiders, who wasted a strong defensive effort by posting a Spike Factor of 48.15 percent. Of course, had the Raiders been the spikiest team of Week 11, they wouldn't be in the "Almost Worst" category, now would they?
THE TETANUS SPIKE
No, they would not. That unpleasant distinction belongs to the Cleveland Browns, who ran 75 plays against the Texans and failed to move the ball on 42 of them, a might-as-well-spike-it rate of 56 percent. The good news is that the Browns only had one play against Houston that gained one yard. So at least they're being honest about just how bad they are in this particular statistical area.
RACE FOR THE S.S. TETANUS
Oakland's offensive stumbles against San Diego weren't good enough to win the week, but they did catapult the Raiders into first place for the season, so at least it wasn't a total waste of bad offense. Because their lead over the Cardinals is but a fraction of a percent, it's far too early to call this race for Oakland.
Fortunately, the Raiders play in the Thursday night game this week, so we'll all get to watch just how inept they can be when they have the ball. Thank you, Rich Uncle NFL!