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The Post-Mortem diagnoses NFL Week 1 afflictions

The first week of the NFL season revealed the existence of a few contagions floating around from huddle to huddle. SB Nation's Department of Epidemiology has some advice for preventing disaster on a larger scale.

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The Post-Mortem is provided as a courtesy by the SB Nation Department of Football Epidemiology. We do not have a medical license or scientific training of any sort. We barely passed chemistry, if you want to know the truth.


Turnovers, while troublesome and annoying, are a normal function of every football team. Takeaway and giveaway levels go up and down from week to week due to a variety of factors, but a dangerous imbalance between the two can prove disastrous. Consider patients Tampa Bay (beaten at home by Carolina), Kansas City (beaten at home by Tennessee), and Dallas (beaten at sort-of-home by San Francisco). Research over the past five years indicates that teams who turn the ball over at least three times while not forcing any turnovers on defense lose at a rate of 95.71 percent. The Bucs, Chiefs, and Cowboys were therefore merely victims of statistical probability. We at the Department of Football Epidemiology remind teams that moderation, especially in turnover production, is the key to healthy living.


Medicine has always assumed that quarterback play in the second half of a close game is a key indicator of victory or loss. Let's test that assumption with these two cases:

Patient A: 31 dropbacks, 35 net yards, four sacks, two fumbles lost
Patient B: 27 dropbacks, 92 net yards, one sack, one fumble lost

Patient A averaged an alarmingly poor 1.1 yards per dropback, Patient B was also largely ineffective but was three times more productive than Patient A, averaging 3.4 yards per dropback. Is that enough improvement to yield a win?

Unfortunately, the answer is no. Patient B, Chad Henne, saw his Jaguars blow a 17 point lead to the Eagles.

(Oh, and Patient A? New England's Tom Brady.)


As you may recall, points rationing is still in effect for the AFC North. We hope that eventually the division will be strong enough to no longer need this austerity measures but cannot predict when, or if, that day will come. In the meantime, we appreciate the efforts of Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Baltimore, who each had one offensive half with eight points or fewer in Week 1.


  • A shiny gold sticker to the Denver offense, which converted seven of 14 third down attempts in their victory over Indianapolis. The Broncos were second overall last year in third down conversions, and it truly is inspirational to see them carrying over those good habits into 2014.
  • The Texans were the only team that failed to force a turnover in the red zone in 2013 (Seattle led the league with 11), but they recovered two Washington fumbles inside the Houston 20, which helped secure their first win since September 15 of last year.
  • Only the Jaguars allowed more red zone possessions than the Vikings last season, but the Minnesota defense held St. Louis to but one trip inside the 20, and that ended in a field goal. Truly, there are few defensive ills that the combination of Austin Davis and Shaun Hill cannot remedy!


  • We had previously given the New Orleans pass defense a clean bill of health, but further testing may be warranted after the Saints gave up 448 passing yards and three touchdowns to the Falcons while only sacking Matt Ryan once.
  • In 2013, the Bears allowed 84 runs that gained ten or more yards, by far the most in the NFL -- Dallas was second with 58. They show very little sign of improving in that department, as the Bills tallied four double-digit runs, including this one. This is a reminder that Chris Conte has not been approved by the Department of Football Epidemiology for use in important games.
  • The Raiders are 10-28-1 in franchise history when they run fewer than 50 plays in a game. They only managed 47 snaps in a loss to the Jets. Fear of your offense may be natural, Oakland, but avoidance is not a healthy coping mechanism.


Do not get kicked in the face.