Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Upon Further Review: Chiefs Lose 29-49

And just like that, the Chiefs bring BadNFL's three game winning streak to a screeching halt. This game perpetuates the trend of BadNFL predictions missing by a mile, as the favored Chiefs lost by 20. And it wasn't pretty; the Broncos jumped out to a huge 28-0 lead by way of 21 1st quarter points (after they had scored 7 first quarter points all season). The huge early lead for the Broncos totally negated the Chiefs' vaunted running game, which was my primary reason for picking the Chiefs. Indeed, the "dynamic" duo of Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles combined for an unsightly 44 yards on 18 carries.

Obviously, had I known that the Broncos would come roaring out of the gate on offense like that, I never would have picked the Chiefs. To be fair to myself, it was difficult to foresee -- the Broncos had their highest scoring game in 47 years, and many analysts referred to it as a "stunning" loss for the chiefs. The question is, why did it happen? Several theories have been bandied about: maybe it was the Elway pep talk he gave before the game,  maybe their quick passing attack surprised the Chiefs and put them on their heels, maybe it was the injuries to the Chiefs' underrated safeties. Or maybe the Chiefs just came out flat and played poorly, yet again, on the road. Others, including some friends of BadNFL, claimed that crazy things happen in divisional games like this -- although I looked up the stats, and the Broncos had been 0-4 under McDaniels in home games against the AFC West. This much is certain: pretty much nothing the Chiefs did, in any phase of the game, looked good. Things were going so bad that even the replay machine broke when the Chiefs tried to challenge a questionable call.

In any event, some pundits are proclaiming the Broncos' season re-energized. They certainly dominated this game, and the bet was nowhere close.


1. Don't just cite aggregate rushing statistics, but break down them game by game. It is true that the Broncos' rushing defense statics were ugly coming into the game, but in retrospect, they had been distorted by one atrocious loss against the Raiders. In fact, they'd had some decent games, especially when health had permitted them to play their 3-4 scheme of choice. That fact, combined with the fact that an early deficit can pretty much eliminate a ball control offensive strategy, should have inspired some caution about relying so heavily on the ground game match-up. After all, in my preseason preview, I noted some research showing that it is actually the match-up of pass offense vs. pass defense that matters much more in today's NFL.

2. Beware the team coming off the massive blowout. I just noted the statistical effect that the Oakland blowout had on my analysis, but I think that it may have also affected the psychology of the game. I need to do this statistical research next summer, but I wonder what teams' records are against the spread in the 3 or 4 weeks following huge blowouts. Probably pretty good. Far preferable is finding an overrated team who has had some ugly wins and not that bad losses -- which, combined with other factors, may be the sign that a dominating loss is on the horizon (the Skins' ugly loss to the Eagles on MNF this week is a good example).

On the other hand, the Chiefs had led some smart analysts, like FO's Aaron Schatz, to label them Super Bowl contenders. But then the wheels just totally came off. I obviously thought that the poor performance by the Chiefs in Oakland last week was an anomaly, but instead it looks now like it may have portended things to come. 

3. Detroit covered yet again. They are now 8-1 against the spread. Just sayin'.

4. The "Hilton 100" theory moves to 7-3 since I've begun tracking it. The top three picks -- the Rams +6 @ Niners, Vikings -1 @ Bears, and Bucs -6.5 vs. Panthers -- went 2-1 this week. The Rams +6 line looks like a miscalculation by oddsmakers in retrospect. I hated the Vikings line, but liked the Bucs line, and stayed away from it because it was getting so much public action. But of course, so were the Chiefs, and that didn't dissuade me. In retrospect, Bucs probably should have been the pick last week.

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