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Lions, Bengals, And Fails: Why Two Wildcard Winners May Miss the Playoffs In 2015

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Lions, Bengals, And Fails: Why Two Wildcard Winners May Miss the Playoffs In 2015

 

Posted June 20, 2015

 

 

The AFC and NFC North both had multiple teams make the playoffs last season. In the NFC, both the Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Lions made the playoffs, and in the AFC every AFC North team not from Cleveland managed to squeak their way in. For fans of the Lions and Cincinnati Bengals, the season ended on a particularly tough note. The Lions lost on the road against the Cowboys in a game where they played better for most of the clock and had some very questionable calls and decisions go against them in the end (to say the least). The Bengals were utterly dominated by the Colts and the playoff win drought for Cincinnati lived on. Well to those fan bases, i would love to say that it will get better, but I don’t think it will. Both the Lions and Bengals over-performed last season, which will most likely leave them on the outside of the playoffs looking in at seasons end.

 

One of my favorite stats to look at (and really one of the most simple) is point differential. Team sports are full of nuance and strategy, but at the end of the day the objective is clear. You need to score more points than the other guy. And while a win is a win, clearly a team that wins by more points got to their win with a little more skill and a little less luck. The Detroit Lions won 11 games last season but based on their points scored and given up, their expected number of wins was 9.2. For the Bengals, they managed to go 10-5-1 while there point differential would have predicted them getting 8.6 wins. Neither of these differences between expectation and reality are super extreme, however, among teams that made the playoffs these were two of the biggest over-performers. The Arizona Cardinals were another one, but I already wrote about them, so I won’t beat that issue to death. But the good fortunes of the Lions and Bengals begged for a second look into the numbers.

 

Both the Lions and the Bengals finished in the top half of the league in turnover differential, with the Lions finishing 6th. Although these performances are good, they are not reliable. Turnovers are very volatile from year to year and are determined heavily by luck. There is no strong correlation between turnovers one year and turnovers the next. So if the Lions or Bengals get a bit less lucky less season and don’t fare so well in turnovers, it could cost them a game or two, because although they are hard to predict, they are very important when it comes to winning and losing.

 

In addition to the turnovers, in a league that is becoming more and more dependent on offense, last year these two teams were downright average. The Lions finished 22nd in points and 19th in yards (12th in passing and 28th in rushing). The Bengals finished 15th in points and in yards (21st in passing and 6th in rushing). These numbers aren’t bad, but they aren’t great. They don’t instill confidence in these team’s abilities to score next season.

lions.jpg

Defense was a different conversation for Detroit, but more of the same for Cincinnati. Detroit had a great season giving up the second least yards, ranking 13th against the pass and 1st against the rush. The Bengals finished 22nd in defensive yards per game, ranking 20th in both the pass and the run.

 

As you can see, the strength for Detroit was in their defense, and for the Lions, it all stemmed from their defensive line. Big bodied pass rushers and run stoppers with big talent were able to keep teams under wraps. This off-season was bad news on that front as the Lions lost both Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley. They did make some good moves, adding Haloti Ngata and Tyrunn Walker to help out with the defensive line. This additions will soften the blow, but the Lions will look different without Suh. They did strengthen the offensive line with a draft day trade for Denver’s Manny Ramirez, but any off-season where you lose a top 5 defensive talent is hard to call a win.

 

The Bengals off-season was pretty underwhelming. They signed Denarius Moore of the Oakland Raiders and A.J. Hawk of the Green Bay Packers. These guys are solid players, but overall, they’re not huge adds. The Bengals also signed a couple retreads for their defensive line in Michael Johnson and Pat Sims. Most of their work this off-season consisted of bringing back their own guys and hoping guys get and stay healthy. This may prove to work, but they failed to add any premier talent.

 

It’s the same story as their draft. The drafted a lot of guys with potential. Players like Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher likely won’t help much this season, but will be assets down the road. Unfortunately for Bengals fans, this piece is about next season and the Bengals draft does not provide any immediate help. The Lions draft was similar. They didn’t blow any experts away, but they did get a player or two like Laken Tomlinson and Ameer Abdullah that could provide some assistance next season.

 

When you add it all up for these teams, there is definitely a reason for concern. From a wins standpoint, they outperformed their statistics and what can be shown for their play is lackluster offensive and defensive numbers. Both teams had mediocre off-seasons and drafts and didn’t really take the step forward that Wild Card teams need to take. But what could be most concerning is this: The Bengals had the 17th hardest strength of schedule last season, this year it is the 2nd. The Lions had the 4th easiest schedule and will go into 2015 with the 15th hardest. It could be rough sailing for these hopeful AFC contenders.

 

 

http://www.nationalfootballpost.com/lions-bengals-and-fails-why-two-wildcard-winners-may-miss-the-playoffs-in-2015/?

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Lions, Bengals, And Fails: Why Two Wildcard Winners May Miss the Playoffs In 2015

 

Posted June 20, 2015

 

It could be rough sailing for these hopeful AFC contenders.

 

 

http://www.nationalfootballpost.com/lions-bengals-and-fails-why-two-wildcard-winners-may-miss-the-playoffs-in-2015/?

 

Ooops.

 

I predict a Cincy v Detroit Super Bowl now.

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The point differential thing was brought up in an article a few weeks ago.  It only makes a difference if a team barely squeaks out several close games.  Then you could say that any of those games could have gone the other way.  That was not the case with the 2014 Bengals. When they won, they usually won by a touchdown or more and when they lost, they usually got blown out.  Point differential is not a one-size-fits-all stat.

 

The Bengals off-season was pretty underwhelming. They signed Denarius Moore of the Oakland Raiders and A.J. Hawk of the Green Bay Packers. These guys are solid players, but overall, they’re not huge adds. The Bengals also signed a couple retreads for their defensive line in Michael Johnson and Pat Sims. Most of their work this off-season consisted of bringing back their own guys and hoping guys get and stay healthy. This may prove to work, but they failed to add any premier talent.
 
It’s the same story as their draft. The drafted a lot of guys with potential. Players like Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher likely won’t help much this season, but will be assets down the road. Unfortunately for Bengals fans, this piece is about next season and the Bengals draft does not provide any immediate help. The Lions draft was similar. They didn’t blow any experts away, but they did get a player or two like Laken Tomlinson and Ameer Abdullah that could provide some assistance next season.

 

 

No mention of the injuries to key players?  Will none of those players return this year?

 

Bottom line:  One of these years, the Bengals will fail to make the playoffs. That year may be 2015 or it may not, but we've been hearing this every year since 2011.  I just hope those who predict it don't suffer rotator cuff injuries patting themselves on the back for their accurate predictions when it does happen.

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Ooops.

 

I predict a Cincy v Detroit Super Bowl now.

I imagine the Commish and Network execs would slit their wrists if such a thing occurred for SuperBowl 50.    

 

My guess is they are visiting Voodoo doctors and lighting candles for a Denver v New England AFC championship and Dallas, Seattle or Green Bay on the NFC side.

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The point differential thing was brought up in an article a few weeks ago.  It only makes a difference if a team barely squeaks out several close games.  Then you could say that any of those games could have gone the other way.  That was not the case with the 2014 Bengals. When they won, they usually won by a touchdown or more and when they lost, they usually got blown out.  Point differential is not a one-size-fits-all stat.

 

No mention of the injuries to key players?  Will none of those players return this year?

 

Bottom line:  One of these years, the Bengals will fail to make the playoffs. That year may be 2015 or it may not, but we've been hearing this every year since 2011.  I just hope those who predict it don't suffer rotator cuff injuries patting themselves on the back for their accurate predictions when it does happen.

 

 

Agree to all and will add one more.

 

Writer claims Bengals overachieved due to plus turnover margin but quickly reminds the reader how unpredictable those things are.

 

The writer then immediately ignores his own advice and attempts to predict the unpredictable, basing the negative spin that followed upon a prediction of things going from bad to worse. 

 

That said, the offseason recap wasn't innacurate and it's entirely possible the Bengals fail to make the playoffs due to the reason the writer finally got around to mentioning in the final paragraph.

 

The schedule is much more difficult.

 

No NFC South teams to feast upon.

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Agree to all and will add one more.

 

Writer claims Bengals overachieved due to plus turnover margin but quickly reminds the reader how unpredictable those things are.

 

The writer then immediately ignores his own advice and attempts to predict the unpredictable, basing the negative spin that followed upon a prediction of things going from bad to worse. 

 

That said, the offseason recap wasn't innacurate and it's entirely possible the Bengals fail to make the playoffs due to the reason the writer finally got around to mentioning in the final paragraph.

 

The schedule is much more difficult.

 

No NFC South teams to feast upon.

Perfect example of turnovers:

 

2005 Bengals Defense ranked 28th BUT +22 in turnovers.  11-5

2006 Bengals Defense ranked 30th BUT +7  in turnovers.  8-8.

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Last year at this time our '14 strength of schedule was pretty high.

 

Can't compare apples to oranges.

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Both the Lions and the Bengals finished in the top half of the league in turnover differential, with the Lions finishing 6th. Although these performances are good, they are not reliable. Turnovers are very volatile from year to year and are determined heavily by luck. There is no strong correlation between turnovers one year and turnovers the next. So if the Lions or Bengals get a bit less lucky less season and don’t fare so well in turnovers, it could cost them a game or two, because although they are hard to predict, they are very important when it comes to winning and losing.

 

This is a joke.  Bengals were dead even on turnover differential last year.  We had the exact same number of turnovers as takeaways for a net of zero.  Technically we finished in the top 17 of 32 teams (tied for 16th).

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Last year at this time our '14 strength of schedule was pretty high.

 

Can't compare apples to oranges.

Yeah and that division (NFC West) will be weaker than last year I have to believe.  

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Until we reach a point where each NFL season is a carbon copy of the previous one, preseason strength of schedule ratings will mean little.

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You should drink a cup of Drano, that way you won't have to endure Dalton being the QB any longer.

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This year Andy will throw more picks+fumbles than TD's.

 

 

No he won't.  He has only had one season in his four year career where he did this.

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