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Monday, 31 December 2012

OLR Week 17: Pat And Go

Is it just me, or did the regular season pass by far too quickly, again? Week 17 saw playoff spots locked up, records broken (or missed by 9 yards), and the final regular season OLR scores recorded. For the third time in four weeks, it's the Patriots that top the pile in week 17, and with a big score as their rivals at the top of the OLR table falter, maybe they stand a chance of claiming this season's OLR overall title?

The first thing to look at when we talk about the Patriots win in OLR this week is the Dolphins D they faced. On the surface, they don't impress that much, but look deeper and you can see that their front 7 is formidable, and in fact grades out as the #1 front 7 in the NFL this season by our rankings. 
They've allowed 4.0YPC on the ground (T-7th in the league), 10 rushing TDs (T-8th), and allow just 18.3% of their 1st downs via runs (3rd in the NFL, admittedly partly thanks to their poor DBs). None of these numbers are world beaters, but obviously grade them out as a top 10 run D, but add to this the fact they rank 7th in the league in sacks (42) and 7th in the league in point allowed per game (19.8) and you see how consistently good they are. The guys over at Football Outsiders rank them pretty highly too, at least in the run game, with their DL 8th in Adjusted Line Yards (after week 16), and their second level LBs grading out as 2nd overall. 

Whether these stats are worthy of #1 front 7 in the league is a point for debate, but whether they're a top 10 front 7 is unquestionable. So that fact that the Patriots once again moved all over a team shows how impressive their offense is, particularly on the line. With a 4.39YPC on 38 carries, combined with 2 Stevan Ridley rushing TDs and 12 rushing 1st downs, the Pats OLR score of 0.998 was far and away the winner of week 17.

In week 16, we saw that the Patriots terrible performance against the Jaguars had more than likely left them without a shot at the OLR title for the season, but with the current #1 New York Giants down in 15th this week, despite slaughtering the Eagles, maybe they're still in with a shot as we release our OLR final rankings later this week.

The Giants were up against it to score big in OLR this week; facing a poorly ranked Eagles defensive front 7 (27th in the NFL) they would've needed some top notch stats for the defensive adjustment not to drag them down. And to be fair to them, they did pretty decently. A 5.28YPC, a staggering 15 rushing 1st downs, and only 1 sack allowed is good enough for a raw OLR score of 0.522 (a top 5 score this week), but only 1 rushing TD compared to Eli Manning's 5 passing scores prevents them from keeping this score so high when the ineptitude of Steve Spagnuolo's Eagles D is taken into account. 

Week 16 showed that the Giants closest rivals for the OLR title were the Seattle Seahawks, buoyed by the mobility of Russell Wilson and the running power of Marshawn Lynch, averaging 50 points a game through week 14-16. Week 17 put pay to any hopes of Seattle claiming the #1 spot. Their offensive line was bullied and beaten by the St Louis Rams front 7, particularly in the passing game, as they managed to record 6 sacks on the rookie Wilson, and in the process claim the league's sack champions (a title shared with Denver, with a total of 48 each). A decent rushing game from Seattle (5.1YPC, 8 first downs, 1 TD) protected their score from being too embarrassing (a raw score of -0.24), but even with the Rams defensive strength taken into account their 18th placed 0.061 means the Seahawks have no chance of claiming the OLR title.

Perhaps the best shot at ousting NYG is the Vikings. From 3rd place in week 16 they had a shot, and when Adrian Peterson is your running back your OLs job is made significantly easier in one aspect of the game. Week 17 saw them welcome the Packers, and in a fight for their playoff lives, the Vikings pulled out an impressive victory once again on the back of All Day's running. Of course, he finished 9 yards short of the NFL's rushing record, but pushing his team to 217 rushing yards at 5.86PYC, 10 rushing first downs, and a rushing score meant Peterson had a chance to help his OL take the OLR crown. With an adjusted score of 0.426, 5th this week, the Vikings might just have done enough to grab that #1 spot, arguably even more sought after than that #6 seed in the playoffs they claimed with the win (OK, obviously not, but I'm sure they'd at least appreciate it!)

To find out who has claimed the overall #1 spot this season, along with a full breakdown of the league and a look at who are the worst offensive lines in the league, check back later this week for our Regular Season OLR Review. Plus, keep an eye out for our TPL Season Awards, in which we'll crown our own MVP, Offensive and Defensive Rookies, and Lineman of the Year, amongst other highly coveted titles!

- Phil Gaskin (@sosayitisaid)
- The Pulling Linemen

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