Calvin Johnson was stopped at the 1-yard line seven times in 2012.
With the NFL season being a mere 15 days away, I thought this was the appropriate time to give a short list of things I think are worth watching in the NFL this year. Some things may be solely based on my rooting interest as a Cowboys fans, while others may have a historical or league-wide ripple effect.
Can Calvin Johnson score this year?
I’m sure many NFL fans are wondering whether or not Megatron can repeat his performance from last year (short answer: Yes, have you seen Detroit’s receiving corps?), I’m more interested in seeing if he’ll actually find his way into the end zone this year. Johnson’s touchdown rate of one for every 24.4 receptions is the sixth-lowest rate in league-history for a receiver with 100 receptions.
According to Football Outsiders Game Charting, Johnson was tackled an uncanny seven times on the 1-yard line last season. SEVEN times. He was also tackled twice more at the 2-yard line and another two times at the 3-yard line. How does a guy that big get denied from the end zone that many times? I highly suspect these numbers are incredibly fluky and expect to see Megatron’s TDs fly into the double-digits this season. Continue reading
In an effort to keep more regular posts on the site without scouring my brain for creative topics to write about, I’ve decided to take on Major League Baseball Power Rankings, since almost all respectable (and non-respectable) sites have them. It’s something where I get to express my opinion and you get to argue with me about it. These will continue on until I release my first college football rankings, which should happen right around the time the regular season wraps up, with maybe a week of overlap.
*Important note: Unlike my college rankings, which are purely statistically based, my MLB rankings will feature no special formulas and will be completely subjective.
Due to the fact that I don’t have the time to do a deep dive into every team, but also want to provide info on more than a few teams (ala Jonah Keri), I’ll be providing snippets or quick thoughts on with playoff aspirations, along with my arbitrary rankings of the remaining teams.
- Atlanta Braves (76-48, +132 run differential): Despite what popular media would have you believe, the Dodgers are not the best team in baseball, despite a historic run over the last two months. The Braves continue to follow in stride with the Dodgers as they’re now a season-high 28 games over .500 and on pace to win a league-high 99 games.
- Detroit Tigers (73-51, +155): The Tigers sport baseball’s best run differential thanks to best strikeout rotation in baseball and otherworldly play from some guy named Miguel Cabrera.
- Los Angeles Dodgers (72-51, +52): As I detailed on Friday, this team scares the piss out of me. Despite their winning streak finally being snapped thanks to Hanley Ramirez’s defense, they’re still on a run for the ages. Pretty impressive for a team that had a negative run differential as late as July 21st. Continue reading
Thanks to the Dodgers being based out of Los Angeles, arguably the second-most covered sports market behind New York (Boston is neck-and-neck), the entire world has been aware of L.A.’s recent tear through the National League. As ESPN Stats & Info noted, the Dodgers are the first team since the 1944 Cardinals to go 40-8 or better during a 48 game stretch. That’s a mind-boggling .833 win percentage. To put that in perspective, the Major League record for highest win percentage belongs to the 1906 Cubs, with a mark of .763, thanks to a 116-36 record (no, they didn’t win the World Series then, either).
The Dodgers, courtesy of the emergence of Yasiel Puig, have been media darlings. They have gone from an overpaid group of underachievers to the hottest, most feared team in baseball. As an avid Braves fan, I’m scared to death at the thought of facing the Dodgers in a five- or seven-game series. And this is coming from a guy whose team just reeled of the fifth longest win streak of the 21st century. Los Angeles has the league scared for its life thanks to brilliant pitching and solid contributions from their previously overpaid superstars.
In the article linked above, ESPN notes that the Dodgers bullpen has been otherworldly since July 5th, allowing only 16 earned runs in 108 innings for an ERA of 1.33. Going into that game, the Dodgers’ bullpen was among the league’s worst, allowing a staggering 4.42 runs per nine, a figure that would be 27th in the league today. Since then, closer Kenley Jansen and relievers J.P. Howell and Paco Rodriguez have all seen their ERAs drop from the 2.50’s to right around 2.00 (2.08, 2.01 and 2.03, respectively). Jansen, who had blown three saves in a limited closer role through June, has come on and allowed only two earned runs since July 5th while notching 11 saves. This trio helped the bullpen rebound from being on the brink of FEMA support to a respectable unit on a spectacular run. Continue reading