This week we look at the Washington Redskins. Home of the amazing RG3 and the amazingly douchey Dan Snyder.
Initial Assumptions, Prior Bias and Basic analysis
The Redskins under "Chainsaw" Dan have been consistent winners in the offseason and losers in the regular season. I seem to remember that they had a pretty good defense and a not so great offense last year owing to their starting QBs being the inimitable Rex Grossman and John Beck.
Points Scored (PS) = 30.75 (5.67 points more than their opposition allowed on average)
Points allowed (PA) = 30.75 (9.08 points more than their opposition scored on average)
The addition of RG3 has seems to have goosed their offense. Meanwhile their defense seems to have fallen apart partly due to injuries but partly because they employ DeAngelo Hall to be a consistently good football player.
The Redskins running game averages 175.5 yards per game(YPG) at an average of 5.12 yards per carry(YPC). Considering the Falcons allowed 146.3 YPG @ 5.22 YPC expect the Redskins to run with ease.
The Redskins passing game has flourished under RG3 with an excellent passer rating of 103.23 (5th best in NFL). RG3 comples 69.3% of his passes for an average of 8.63 yards per attempt(YPA) (3rd best) which means that not only can they move the ball but they are very successful at completing the long ball. In addition, RG3 has given up only 2 turnovers so he protects the ball as well. This is bad news for a Falcons defense which has derived a large part of its effectiveness by forcing turnovers. The fate of this game could well be decided by whether the Falcons can force RG3 into turning the ball over. On the bright side, their offensive line has allowed 11 sacks (9th worst) and a NPP* of 8.21% which is about average (14th best).
So the Redskins offense will allow sack opportunities but otherwise it is an excellent unit capable of moving the ball on the ground as well as in the air and ganing yardage in large chunks. The Falcons defense will be sorely tested and their only hope lies in confusing RG3 into a couple of turnovers.
The Redskins allow 89 YPG @ 4.29 YPC (19th in the league). I would expect the redskins to focus on stopping (or slowing) the Falcons passing game so the Falcons should be able to run it fairly well.
Meanwhile, the Redskins pass defense allows opposing QBs to complete 61% of their passes @ 8.76 YPA (3rd worst). In addition they allowed 11 TD to 5 interceptions for a passer rating of 99.73 (9th worst). The Redskins have forced 7 sacks in 4 games (8th worst in NFL) and an NPP of 7.45% (10th worst).
It would appear that the Redskins pass defense is somewhat like the Falcons D in that they rely on forcing turnovers more than stops. However, they are not quite as good at forcing turnovers or limiting big plays. The Falcons have allowed 9 passes of 20+ yards to be completed while the Redskins have allowed 20. As a result, I expect big days for Matt Ryan and his crew.
The Redskins special teams are average and unremarkable except for one exception. Kicker Billy Cundiff is 6/10 on the year which is a good omen since this game may come down to one of his field goal attempts.
Interesting Statistical Battle
The Redskins apparently abhor 3rd down conversion. They allow only 34.1% 3rd down conversions on defense (9th best) while converting only 25.49% on offense (2nd worst). The Falcons are the exact opposite, freely allowing 3rd down conversions on both offense (47%, 2nd best) and defense (48%, 4th worst).
Moral of the Story
This is going to be a shootout plain and simple. Start all the offensive players involved in fantasy football. Take the over on total points and expect a close game. With that said, the Falcons have the defense more capable of generating a stop when absolutely necessary, the QB with the better clutch resume and the kicker who is money from 50 yards in. The Redskins have a decent rushing D but an awful passing D, a rookie QB (albeit a very good one) and a kicker who I wouldn’t trust to hit the broad side of a barn. In addition to which they are the most penalized offense as well as defense. That screams errors in late game execution. Falcons for the win.
- The Falcons defenses of years past have had a terrible time against mobile QBs. Their one test this season did not go well. It would behoove them to fix this issue if they harbor ambitions in the playoffs coz the NFC is full of mobile QBs.
- Matt Ryan. It was nice to see him standing in the pocket waiting for the play to develop even while the pocket was crumbling. It may have resulted in a few more sacks than necessary but that attitude will result in big plays in the future.
Disclaimer: I will be using stats from the current seasons most often unless I'm talking about individual players which means in the first few weeks the sample size is very, very small. So i will use my subjective views more than I would if I had more data. Stats used in this article are from ESPN.com.
*NPP - percentage of dropbacks /passing plays that result in negative plays (sacks, interceptions). Good defenses force a NPP% >10% while good offenses restrict NPP% < 6.5%. This stat was obtained from coldhardfootballfacts.com