NFL Handicapping: What You Forgot From 2010 Season
by Nicholas Tolomeo - 9/5/2011
The NFL 2011 regular season is fast approaching and with the unpredictable nature of the game, there are bound to plenty of things that surprise you. Here is a list of some surprising developments during the 2010 NFL season that you may have likely forgotten about to help you with your NFL handicapping.
The Oakland Raiders went 6-0 against the AFC West
Not only did the otherwise pathetic Raiders win all six games against their divisional opponents, but they did so generally in blowout wins and as touchdown-plus underdogs three times. They swept the Chargers, winning 35-27 in Oakland as seven-point underdogs and then stunned them again, 28-13, in San Diego as 13-point underdogs. They swept the division-winning Chiefs 23-20 in overtime and 31-10 in Arrowhead Stadium. The Raiders really had the Broncos number, wiping them out 59-14 in Denver as seven-point underdogs and then winning again, 39-23, at home in the only divisional game they were favored in.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won 10 games
The Buccaneers led the Lions, 20-17, at home in Week 15 with less than two minutes to play. If they held onto that lead we are likely talking about the Buccaneers as a playoff team last season. But they lost 23-20 in overtime and despite winning out, the 10-6 Buccaneers lost out on tiebreakers to the Saints and Packers. This season Tampa Bay appears to be coming into its own led by quarterback Josh Freeman. But a repeat performance should not be expected. Tampa Bay was only 2-5 versus playoff teams, including terrible home losses to Pittsburgh with Charlie Batch at quarterback (38-13) and New Orleans at home (31-6). For that group 10 wins looked to be more of a ceiling than a sign of things to come.
The San Diego Chargers had the best offense AND defense in the NFL
The Chargers had an elite offense, that was not much of a surprise. They gained 395.6 yards per game and scored 27.6 points per game. They ranked first in the NFL, but of the Top 5 offenses in the league only the Philadelphia Eagles and Indianapolis Colts reached the playoffs. The truly surprising thing is that the Chargers allowed only 271.6 yards per game, the top rank in the NFL, ahead of the Steelers, Jets, Saints and Packers. Of course, teams ranked second-fifth all made the playoffs (three made their conference title games and two made the Super Bowl). Yet somehow the Chargers became the first team to lead the league in both offense and defense and miss the playoffs despite playing in the awful AFC West. Most of those pieces are back, and if San Diego is anywhere near as statistically dominant again, there will be no keeping them out of the postseason.
Michael Vick won only one game versus a playoff team in 2010
The Michael Vick experience was a lot more entertaining against teams like the Giants, Lions, Jaguars, Redskins and Texans than it was against the Bears or Packers. The Chicago and Green Bay defense were able to match his athleticism and keep him contained. The Eagles play five playoff teams from 2010, including the Bears again. One more thing people may forget is that Vick threw at least one interception in his final six games.
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