Watchtower Review: Lions at Broncos

>> 11.02.2011

The accuracy of last week's Watchtower was a wildly pleasant surprise--both in terms of the confidence I had in the projection, and in the result itself.

I project the Broncos to score 15-17 points, pass for 5.75-6.25 YpA, and rush for 4.75-5.50 YpC. I have medium-to-low confidence in this projection.

Turns out this gave the Broncos too much credit. The Lions defense hassled Tim Tebow and the offense all day, excepting only the first and last drives (which netted the Broncos their 10 points). The Broncos ran for a ridiculous 195 yards on 30 carries, a stonking 6.4 YpC.

In a lesson I'm trying to drive home with a sledgehammer, THAT DOESN'T MATTER.

Points come out of the passing game, and the Broncos neither passed nor scored. They gained 172 aerial yards on 39 attempts, a miserable 4.41 YpA. They were sacked 7 times for -55 yards, fumbled five times (lost two, including one for a touchdown) and interception (also returned for a touchdown).

The Lions should score 30-34 points, averaging 8.50-9.0 YpA and 4.00-4.25 YpC, and so I will project them to, but at this point I have medium-to-low confidence in this projection, despite having plenty of data.

Bingo. The Lions scored 31 offensive points, passed for 8.50 YpA, and rushed for 4.04 YpC. This officially qualifies as spookily accurate. I thought the Lions could win even bigger or make it much closer, though, and said so:

In fact, what the Lions should score is almost assuredly what they will not; they’re more likely to do much better or worse than to meet expectations square on the nose.

Whoops. The Lions spooked me so bad with the Falcons game that I just couldn’t trust the numbers:

Given that the Lions offensive starters have more talent than the Broncos 53-man roster put together, I’m not sure why I feel so bad about signing my name to that projection. Maybe it’s because I said almost the same score last week and was brutally disappointed. However, Denver is not Atlanta—not even close. And I have to believe the Lions defense will feast on Tebow and the Broncos offense, giving Stafford many bites at the apple. Worst-case scenario, the D should have some chances to take matters into their own hands, as they did against Minnesota and Dallas.

. . . and indeed they did, boosting the Lions up to a 45-10 clobbering.

As I said in the Fireside Chat, this win, in this fashion, with these stats, proves the numbers right; the Lions are who we thought they were. They are one of the best offenses in the NFL, and one of the most opportunistic defenses in the NFL. When both units are “on” they play football at a very, very, very high level.


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