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Old 12-19-2012, 07:56 AM   #1
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Default Inside the Numbers: Week 15 and the Broncos Read More: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/nfl/news/20

Call this holiday tale "How the Broncos Stole the Super Bowl."

John Elway jettisoned Denver's super-popular pop-icon quarterback Tim Tebow at the end of the 2011 season -- a move that might have backfired had he not gift-wrapped for Broncos fans one Peyton Manning.

Think of Manning as the Red Ryder BB gun of NFL quarterbacks: the coveted sharp-shooter who was at the top of every Little Ralphie's free-agent wish list this season.

Manning might have shot his eye out if he responded with a rusty performance in the wake of the catastrophic neck injury that forced him to miss the entire 2011 season.

Instead, he has rebounded in grand form, looking as good as ever, and putting the Denver Broncos in prime position to accomplish a feat that would distinguish him from all other quarterbacks who came before.

There is a very good chance right now -- even a statistical likelihood -- that Manning will become the first quarterback to lead two different teams to Super Bowl victories. Elway would become the first Super Bowl-champion quarterback to win again as an NFL executive.

Manning helped lift the Colts to a victory six years ago, with his MVP performance in Super Bowl XLI.

Fast forward to today: the Broncos are 11-3, sitting on the precipice of a first-round bye with two weeks to play, and will host at least one playoff game, and maybe two.

Certainly, football fans know that the offense has improved dramatically over the unit that Tebow led last year, when he dragged Denver's Stone Age attack across NFL playing fields like an overwhelmed little pup pulling a sled of stolen Christmas loot uphill.

Somehow, Tebow and the Broncos nearly reached the top. Denver won the AFC West crown and captured a dramatic victory over the Steelers in the wild-card playoffs. But Denver never had the offensive juice to be a true contender.

The Broncos scored just 19.3 PPG In 2011, 25th out of 32 teams. That unit has clearly improved with Manning at quarterback. Scoring is up nearly 10 points per game (29.2) and Denver boasts the No. 2 offense in the NFL, behind only the point-a-minute Patriots. But the reality is that Denver lacked the defensive juice to be a contender last year, too.

Denver's Super Bowl-worth defense

Manning deserves plenty of credit for the instant injection of offense he's brought to Mile High.

But offense alone does not a make a Super Bowl contender.

And Denver's offensive improvements are not even the team's biggest statistical story this year.

The bigger storyline may in fact be Denver's defense, that Elway overhauled with key free agents and brilliant draft picks, most notably Von Miller.

Here's a look at the 2011 Broncos and 2012 Broncos side by side in key measures of defensive success, including our Quality Stats, each of which has a direct correlation to winning football games.
Category 2011 2012
Scoring defense (rank) 24.4 PPG (24) 19.6 PPG (5)
Total defense (rank) 357.8 YPG (20) 307.1 YPG (4)
Bendability (rank) 14.7 YPPA (24) 15.7 YPPA (15)
Relative scoring defense (rank) -1.1 PPG (26) +4.6 PPG (5)
Defensive Hog Index (rank) 14.0 (11) 2.7 (1)
Third-down defense (rank) 33.5% (6) 31.1% (3)
Sacks (rank) 41 (10) 42 (2)
Interceptions (rank) 9 (28) 16 (7)
Negative Pass Play% (rank) 8.7% (23) 10.6% (3)
Run defense YPA (rank) 4.1 (13) 3.56 (2)
Defensive Passer Rating (rank) 93.1 (28) 80.2 (9)
Defensive Real QB Rating (rank) 85.6 (27) 70.0 (5)
Defensive Pass YPA (rank) 6.4 (21) 5.5 (5)
Quality Stats Power Rankings 28th 1st

The improvements are pretty startling in the space of a one season. They tell us that the Broncos are more than just Peyton Manning and one of the league's best offenses.

The Broncos are No. 1 in the Quality Stats Power Rankings we use at Cold, Hard Football Facts to size up every team top to bottom. Essentially, our Quality Stats Power Rankings measure the average performance of each team in all our different indicators. In other words, the Broncos are the most balanced team in football top to bottom.

Denver captured the No. 1 spot from Houston after Week 12 and shows no signs of giving it up anytime soon -- not after a dominating 34-17 win over the playoff-bound Ravens and with two patsies remaining on the schedule (Cleveland and Kansas City).

It's great news for the Broncos: teams that top our Quality Stats Power Rankings have a habit of winning Super Bowls.

Denver was No. 28 in that same indicator last year. It was almost literally a statistical miracle that the Broncos made the playoffs last year, and even won a postseason game, when you consider that they paired a struggling offense with one of the worst defenses in football.

That defense today is one of the most dominant forces in football.

The 2012 Broncos boast the best defensive front in football -- No. 1 on the Cold, Hard Football Facts Defensive Hog Index, which we use to size up every defensive front in football.

The Defensive Hog Index, like our Quality Stats Power Rankings, have a curious habit of identifying Super Bowl champions. Teams that rush the passer, and dominate up front defensively, tend to win in the postseason. See: 2007 Giants, 2008 Steelers, 2010 Packers and 2011 Giants.

You can see the defensive improvements in Denver up and down the stat sheet. The Broncos have:

• Already surpassed their 2011 sack total with two games to play

• Nearly doubled their interception total
• Improved 19 spots and 4.8 PPG in scoring defense

• Jumped from No. 28 to No. 9 in Defensive Passer Rating, a key measure of Super Bowl potential

Consider this: the 2011 Broncos surrendered more than 30 points six times in 18 games, and more than 40 points five times -- including 40+ points allowed three times in their final five games.

The 2012 Broncos: only the Texans and Patriots, two of the league's best offenses, have topped 30 against them this year (31 each).

The Team Colts Fans Had Always Hoped For

Putting it another way: the 2012 Broncos are the team that Colts fans also pined for but rarely got a chance to see: a Hall of Fame QB at the top of his game paired with a tough defense that gets after opposing passers as well as any team in football.

It's a deadly combination. And it all but guarantees that Manning will carry the day in any given game.

Manning, of course, is certainly one of the great storylines in football this year and probably your NFL Comeback Player of the Year, and perhaps even its Most Valuable Player.

But the statistical reality is that the Broncos are more than just Manning and one of the league's best offenses.

They are, right now, the most balanced team in football. And history proves that balance in the NFL usually triumphs in the end.

If that Super Bowl victory comes to fruition, they might say in Denver that Elway and Manning's legends grew three sizes this season -- to paraphrase a certain children's story

Read More: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/nfl...#ixzz2FVfOcHI8


Read More: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/nfl...#ixzz2FVf9Wlju
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Old 12-19-2012, 08:01 AM   #2
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WTF is the "Defensive Hog Index"? How is it calculated? And what does it mean?
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Old 12-19-2012, 08:22 AM   #3
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WTF is the "Defensive Hog Index"? How is it calculated? And what does it mean?
The top defensive front is that which posts the highest average rating across the board. The Defensive Hog Index is based upon these criteria: YPA –Yards Per Attempt. So simple, even you can understand it. This rates a defense's ability to stuff an opposing ground game; NPP% – Negative Pass Plays, expressed as a percentage. This is how often an opponent's pass plays end in either a sack or interception. Defenses that get after the quarterback and overwhelm the opposing offensive line naturally force sacks and INTs. These negative pass plays are calculated as a percentage of attempts. So if a team foces two sacks and two INTs in 40 pass plays, their NPP% will be 10 percent (4/40); 3down% - Opposition success rate on third down. The lower the percentage, the higher the defensive success.

http://www.coldhardfootballfacts.com/stats/2012/16/DHI/
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Old 12-19-2012, 08:22 AM   #4
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Some of the most forced, stilted writing in recent memory. None of the Christmas analogies make any sense whatsoever.
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Old 12-19-2012, 08:26 AM   #5
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The top defensive front is that which posts the highest average rating across the board. The Defensive Hog Index is based upon these criteria: YPA –Yards Per Attempt. So simple, even you can understand it. This rates a defense's ability to stuff an opposing ground game; NPP% – Negative Pass Plays, expressed as a percentage. This is how often an opponent's pass plays end in either a sack or interception. Defenses that get after the quarterback and overwhelm the opposing offensive line naturally force sacks and INTs. These negative pass plays are calculated as a percentage of attempts. So if a team foces two sacks and two INTs in 40 pass plays, their NPP% will be 10 percent (4/40); 3down% - Opposition success rate on third down. The lower the percentage, the higher the defensive success.

http://www.coldhardfootballfacts.com/stats/2012/16/DHI/
Thanks.
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Old 12-19-2012, 08:28 AM   #6
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My only concern remains 'quality of opponents'
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Old 12-19-2012, 08:30 AM   #7
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In the comments section, alot of people were talking about how Tebow had so many 3 and outs that it left the defense on the field for extended periods thus wearing them out. Now with Manning and extended drives, the defense is fresher and thus plays better. However another poster comment that last year, the defense was on the field 29:42 vs 30:39. I am too lazy to verify these numbers so i'll just go with it.
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Old 12-19-2012, 08:39 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by SleepingTiger View Post
In the comments section, alot of people were talking about how Tebow had so many 3 and outs that it left the defense on the field for extended periods thus wearing them out. Now with Manning and extended drives, the defense is fresher and thus plays better. However another poster comment that last year, the defense was on the field 29:42 vs 30:39. I am too lazy to verify these numbers so i'll just go with it.
It's not really time of possession because that only variates by a few minutes from top to bottom.

It's the defense going back on the field after multiple 3 and out drives when the offense goes cold for 2/3 quarters like it did a lot last year.
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Old 12-19-2012, 09:10 AM   #9
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My only concern remains 'quality of opponents'
I don't normally post other than one liners, but here it goes. I don't look at quality of opponents as a stat of wins and looses. Lets start with the first game of the 9 game win streak and analyze each one.

@ Chargers - Even though they just came off a loss to the Saints, this was still early in the season and the Chargers at that time was 3-2 and ready to hammer and take a huge lead in the AFC West. After some crazy turnovers on special teams the team struggled in the 1st half. We came out big in the second half and shut out the Chargeless. This was a huge game for both teams and a breakout game for Manning and the defense.

Saints - was coming off a 2 game win streak with wins over Chargers and Bucs in Tampa. Everyone was talking about how Brees is getting back to his superbowl form. Experts talk about if Manning can keep up with Brees. Well, Brees and that vaunted pass attack was held in check and we basically blew them out 34-14.

@ Bengals - The Bungles just came off a bye after a 3 game loosing streak. I can see this game was sort of a gimmie, but its still a NFL team playing at an opposing teams stadium

@ Carolina - This was alot tougher game than many say. Panthers at that time was 2-5 with 4 of the 5 losses a score differential of only 18 points. Many of those games they should of won. They were also coming off a win over the Redskins. Many experts were talking about how Newton is back. Well, the Broncos D made sure Newton never do his superman move.

Chargers - What can i say other its a divisional game and the Chargers wanted revenge.

@ Chiefs - Man, I don't care that the Chiefs were 1-9. Broncos always struggled in KC and historically always loose even when we had a better team. The Chefs did not play like a 1-9 team that day.

Bucs - The Bucs were 6-5, winning 4 of their last 5. The sole loss was by 1 point to the Falcons. This was also another game where experts was all over Freeman nuts. Talking all this crap how he came into this season as a changed and better player than ever. Muscle hamster was the talk of the town and everyone was ridding his nuts as well for ROY. Yeah whatever, we kicked their ass.

Raiders - its a divisional game at our house. this was a gimme as the raiders was b****ed slapped from beginning to end.

@ Ravens - A team that Denver always looses to. For some damn reason, we always play at their house. They said the ravens have the best home field advantage. They were a playoff team. This game will decided who gets the number 3 seed in the playoffs. We just didn't win, we blew them out. I myself was very confident in the Broncos. Confident enough not to start Ray Rice on my fantasy team.
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Old 12-19-2012, 09:14 AM   #10
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impossible, i got 1100 post! wtf... i thought i lurked alot more than i post. its all because of the stupid war/religion/poitics forum.
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Old 12-19-2012, 09:16 AM   #11
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My only concern remains 'quality of opponents'
I forget where I read it, but there was an article about two years ago that pointed out getting an easy schedule was a bigger factor in making and even winning the super bowl than some of the other factors you'd think. They broke down all the SB teams of the past decade and all of them, even the wild card teams that got hot and won, faced a number of easy teams that allowed them to secure their playoff position.
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Old 12-19-2012, 09:19 AM   #12
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Last year, "Denver's stone age attack... "
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Old 12-19-2012, 09:29 AM   #13
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Love this stuff!


Here's a look at the 2011 Broncos and 2012 Broncos side by side in key measures of defensive success, including our Quality Stats, each of which has a direct correlation to winning football games.

Category 2011.................................... 2012


Scoring defense (rank) 24.4 PPG (24) 19.6 PPG (5)

Total defense (rank) 357.8 YPG (20) 307.1 YPG (4)

Bendability (rank) 14.7 YPPA (24) 15.7 YPPA (15)

Relative scoring defense -1.1 PPG (26) +4.6 PPG (5)

Defensive Hog Index (rank) 14.0 (11) 2.7 (1)

Third-down defense (rank) 33.5% (6) 31.1% (3)

Sacks (rank) 41 (10) 42 (2)

Interceptions (rank) 9 (28) 16 (7)

Negative Pass Play% (rank) 8.7% (23) 10.6% (3)

Run defense YPA (rank) 4.1 (13) 3.56 (2)

Defensive Passer Rating (rank) 93.1 (28) 80.2 (9)

Defensive Real QB Rating 85.6 (27) 70.0 (5)

Defensive Pass YPA (rank) 6.4 (21) 5.5 (5)

Quality Stats Power Rankings 28th 1st

Last edited by baja; 12-19-2012 at 09:34 AM..
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Old 12-19-2012, 09:42 AM   #14
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1. The Houston Texans aren't the best team in the AFC. Denver is. The Broncos are on a nine-game roll, have an underrated defense, a Super Bowl quarterback and a schedule that should make them 13-3 by season's end. Nevertheless, it's Houston that probably gains home-field advantage -- not only because it has a better record but because it holds the tiebreaker with Denver. But don't be fooled. The Texans may get the No. 1 seed, but they're no favorite to win the AFC.

2. The Texans aren't even the second-best team in the AFC; New England is, and there's a 42-14 rout of the Texans to prove it. But Denver and New England probably lock down the second and third seeds, and that's good for Houston ... because it means it only has to face one of them. The good news for Denver is that if all stays the same the next two weeks, it gains the second first-round bye and, if it plays New England, would draw the Patriots at home.


http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/story/2...to-beat-in-afc
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Old 12-19-2012, 09:46 AM   #15
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I forget where I read it, but there was an article about two years ago that pointed out getting an easy schedule was a bigger factor in making and even winning the super bowl than some of the other factors you'd think. They broke down all the SB teams of the past decade and all of them, even the wild card teams that got hot and won, faced a number of easy teams that allowed them to secure their playoff position.
I know where you're coming from, but it also makes me leery that the best team we've beat was the Bengals. When we were playing legit playoff teams, we still got the living **** kicked out of us, regardless of "4th quarter almost come-backs". I mean, did you see how we're justifying our schedule? Sleeping Tiger just listed ****ing Oakland as a tough game because they're in division.

Hopefully we can chalk that up to new D system and Peyton getting back into his stride, but I'm just really glad we're currently sitting on a first round bye, that's all I'm saying.
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Old 12-19-2012, 09:56 AM   #16
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Obviously you have to play the teams on your schedule. During our winning streak we gave a lot of garbage points and could have scored a lot more points. Most of those wins could have easily been by a much larger margin. I hate the protect the lead philosophy of Fox but I do understand why he does it.
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Old 12-19-2012, 10:52 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by SleepingTiger View Post
In the comments section, alot of people were talking about how Tebow had so many 3 and outs that it left the defense on the field for extended periods thus wearing them out. Now with Manning and extended drives, the defense is fresher and thus plays better. However another poster comment that last year, the defense was on the field 29:42 vs 30:39. I am too lazy to verify these numbers so i'll just go with it.
I don't think TOP tells the real story about how much time the defense gets to rest. We were a very heavy run offense last year, which drains time off the clock, but doesn't provide any more real time rest. A three and out with three running plays could take over 2 minutes off the game clock.

Football outsiders keeps track of offense's average yards per drive. Last year we averaged 25 yds per drive which was near the bottom of the league. This year we average about 35 which is near the top. I think this provides better insight into how long the defense gets to rest.
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Old 12-19-2012, 12:02 PM   #18
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The whole schedule issue is interesting.

Denver's "cake" schedule has translated into 11 wins over teams with a combined 61-93 record (teams with an average record of 6-8). A .35 winning percentage In that span they lost three games to teams that are a combined 34-8 (11-3 avg record).

They have played 5 teams that are likely going to be in the playoffs (NE, Houston, Atlanta, Baltimore and Cincy) They beat 2 of those teams and lost to the other 3. Two of them on the road by an average margin of 7 points. They have not lost to a team with a losing record. They have won games they should win.

Houston's success is never subject to schedule scrutiny. Let's look at their schedule.

12 wins over teams with a combined 64-96 record. Hmmmm. They have been victorious over opponents with an average record of 5-8. A .34 winning percentage. They have lost to 2 teams, both with 10-4 records. Once at home and once on the road. They have played 6 teams that will likely end up in the playoffs (Denver, Baltimore, Chicago, Indy, Green Bay and New England) although you could argue Chicago won't make it. Of those 6 teams, they beat 4. The two they lost were by a combined score of 84-38 - an average defeat of 42-19. They got smoked. They also haven't lost to a losing team.

But their schedule strength and results against it, to this point, is nearly identical to Denver's. Yet Denver has a soft schedule and the Texans crap gold nuggets.

The undefeatable juggernaut that is the greatest team to ever play, i.e. New England, has better results.

They have won 10 games over opponents with a combined 71-68 record. Average opponent record is 7-7. They have lost 4 games to teams that are 33-22 (average record of 8-6). They lost to 1 team (Arizona) with a losing record and 3 likely playoff teams (Baltimore, SF and Seattle) 2 of those losses were at home. Their average margin in defeat was less than 3 points.

They have played 6 likely playoff teams (Denver, Indy, Houston, Baltimore, Seattle and San Fran) 4 of them at home and lost 3.

They have one bad loss against Arizona.

Their numbers are better but not a ton better than Denver and Houston's.

The flavor of the week is San Fran after they beat the Pats. They have won 10 games against a pile of teams with a combined record of 69-71. That translates into roughly a 7-7 average record for their vanquished foes. They lost 3 games to teams that were a combined 22-19 so a stellar average record of 7-6. They had one tie. If you count that as a loss then they lost to teams with an average record of .500.

They have played 6 likely playoff teams (Green Bay, Seattle, Chicago, New England, Minnesota and the Giants) they won 4 and lost 2. They lost to a losing team in the Rams and could only manage a tie against the Rams the next time around at home.

So if you are going to throw around schedule versus results I don't think the argument holds a ton of water. Four of the top 5 teams in the league (I didn't do Green Bay's but I need to get back to work!) are pretty darn close in schedule strength.

It's a league of parity and more often than not, the champ is the team that played well enough to survive the regular season grind and got hot at the end of the season.

The biggest thing to compare is head to head. They both beat Denver. But the time they beat them, I think, mitigates some of that. You can't ignore the fact that they flat out beat the Broncos but it's clear the Broncos of today are a better team than back then.

Bottom line: I think the playoffs this year should be a lot of fun.

Last edited by TerrElway; 12-19-2012 at 12:08 PM..
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Old 12-19-2012, 12:07 PM   #19
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^ Excellent and very thorough, but what you're missing:

We aren't worried and don't care about whether the other teams with similar results go 1-and-done or not.

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Old 12-19-2012, 12:10 PM   #20
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^ what you're missing:

We aren't worried and don't care about whether the other teams with similar results go 1-and-done or not.
True Rev. But everyone keeps throwing around the whole schedule strength thing when trying to find a knock on the Broncos so that was the issue I was hoping to address.
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Old 12-19-2012, 01:14 PM   #21
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I think in rebuffing the strength of schedule knock on the Broncos there are two points that should be looked at.

1-We played the toughest teams on our schedule while the team was still in the very early stages of development. This offense is 180 degrees from last year's and getting on the same page as Manning was bound to take some time and the struggles in the 1st halves of games early in the year were a manifest sign of a unit in the very early stages of development. The offense has improved dramatically since then.

2- Yes, during our winning streak we have not played many good teams, but look at the ease with which we've beaten them. Great teams make a living on beating the teams they're supposed to beat, and we haven't even had a scare against a non-playoff team on our schedule (since the first half of the SD game), and we handled the Bengals and Ravens with relative ease in their own houses.
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Old 12-19-2012, 01:58 PM   #22
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I think in rebuffing the strength of schedule knock on the Broncos there are two points that should be looked at.

1-We played the toughest teams on our schedule while the team was still in the very early stages of development. This offense is 180 degrees from last year's and getting on the same page as Manning was bound to take some time and the struggles in the 1st halves of games early in the year were a manifest sign of a unit in the very early stages of development. The offense has improved dramatically since then. I would add that Manning was showing lots of rust early and has been looking much better. In addition the corners, aside from Champ, and safeties are playing better than those present in 2011. The same is true of the entire defense this year, though.

2- Yes, during our winning streak we have not played many good teams, but look at the ease with which we've beaten them. Great teams make a living on beating the teams they're supposed to beat, and we haven't even had a scare against a non-playoff team on our schedule (since the first half of the SD game), and we handled the Bengals and Ravens with relative ease in their own houses.
Outside of those comments, I agree.
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Old 12-19-2012, 02:20 PM   #23
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The top defensive front is that which posts the highest average rating across the board. The Defensive Hog Index is based upon these criteria: YPA –Yards Per Attempt. So simple, even you can understand it. This rates a defense's ability to stuff an opposing ground game; NPP% – Negative Pass Plays, expressed as a percentage. This is how often an opponent's pass plays end in either a sack or interception. Defenses that get after the quarterback and overwhelm the opposing offensive line naturally force sacks and INTs. These negative pass plays are calculated as a percentage of attempts. So if a team foces two sacks and two INTs in 40 pass plays, their NPP% will be 10 percent (4/40); 3down% - Opposition success rate on third down. The lower the percentage, the higher the defensive success.

http://www.coldhardfootballfacts.com/stats/2012/16/DHI/
We don't suck but I also think we only keep that rank for as long as Von Miller stays healthy.
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Old 12-19-2012, 02:29 PM   #24
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I think in rebuffing the strength of schedule knock on the Broncos there are two points that should be looked at.

1-We played the toughest teams on our schedule while the team was still in the very early stages of development. This offense is 180 degrees from last year's and getting on the same page as Manning was bound to take some time and the struggles in the 1st halves of games early in the year were a manifest sign of a unit in the very early stages of development. The offense has improved dramatically since then.

2- Yes, during our winning streak we have not played many good teams, but look at the ease with which we've beaten them. Great teams make a living on beating the teams they're supposed to beat, and we haven't even had a scare against a non-playoff team on our schedule (since the first half of the SD game), and we handled the Bengals and Ravens with relative ease in their own houses.
I think your first post is especially on the money. I remember watchingb those games and thinking the talent is there just the timing and execution are off, for the first half of some of those games we took ourselves out of it as much as our opponent, I just dont see us making those kinds of mistakes anymore, plus we did mount a push to comback as well. I like where we are.
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Old 12-19-2012, 02:31 PM   #25
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^ Excellent and very thorough, but what you're missing:

We aren't worried and don't care about whether the other teams with similar results go 1-and-done or not.
I get that. However we weren't playing our best ball then. Remember how horrid we were on third and forever? Remember how out of sync Manning was in some of those games? For me it's a sign we haven't peaked. We're playing really good football and can get better in a lot of ways.
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