Sep 04 2013

The 2013 NFL Hypothesis Report

Finally … The Hypothesis Report returns to 1SKILLZ-NetworksUnited.

I’ve been doing this special treat on the site for a third year now, but I’ll re-establish my philosophy once again for you good people:

NFL Hypothesis 2013


  • I’ll share with you my picks, but understand that it is simply a hypothesis; a barometer if you will.  Once again, I picked all 256 regular season games on the NFL schedule.
  • I predict all of these games before the regular season and don’t change a single pick until the playoffs, no matter how drastically different a team can get over the course of a season.
  • In the scientific method, my hypothesis are these predictions based off of nine factors: passing offense, rushing offense, offensive line, pass rush, run stop, pass coverage, and special teams, as well as coaching and intangibles.  I don’t grade the last two factors but they figure into my game-to-game matchups.
  • The games are the experiment that tests every prediction.
  • Crazy stuff happens in games, and it’s a field day for people like me to break it all down.  That’s where I go to work: ANALYSIS.
  • I hold myself accountable for my outrageous methodology, but respect the 2012 record: 142-113-1.  If you picked all 256 games before the season last year without changing a single pick, then you’re on my level.

Also, for the first time, I will disclose my grades as part of the procedures. I know you’re excited for that. The spreadsheet data is included so you can see where I’m getting my one-sentence analysis from (yes, I’m trying to keep it to one sentence; the revisit will go deeper).


EAST: New England Patriots (12-4, 4th in AFC), Miami Dolphins (10-6), New York Jets (5-11), Buffalo Bills (3-13).

Team Pass Offense Run Offense Offensive Line Pass Rush Run Defense Pass Defense Special Teams Coach Intangibles
Buffalo Bills C- B+ B- B C- C C+ Doug Marrone/OL Ralph Wilson Stadium
Miami Dolphins B- C C B B B- B+ Joe Philbin/OL Sun Life Stadium
New England Patriots B- B A- B B+ B- B Bill Belichick/DB Gillette Stadium
New York Jets D- C C C- C B+ B- Rex Ryan/DL MetLife Stadium

I don’t want to take Patriots QB Tom Brady for granted after losing all of his receivers, but the offense will still be fast and balanced, and the defense will be good enough. The Dolphins’ front seven is deep and talented; there’s a chance the offensive line holds the team back another year. The Jets always have a top-ten defense, but the dysfunction on offense will cause heads to roll in 2014. The Bills might have the most explosive player in the league in RB C.J. Spiller, but the Bills defense tends to make opposing offenses look explosive as well.

NORTH: Baltimore Ravens (12-4, 3rd in AFC), Cincinnati Bengals (12-4, 5th in AFC), Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6, 6th in AFC), Cleveland Browns (5-11).

Team Pass Offense Run Offense Offensive Line Pass Rush Run Defense Pass Defense Special Teams Coach Intangibles
Baltimore Ravens B- B B B- B- B A John Harbaugh/DB M&T Bank Stadium
Cincinnati Bengals B B+ C B+ B B B+ Marvin Lewis/LB Paul Brown Stadium
Cleveland Browns C C+ B C+ C C B- Rob Chudzinski/TE FirstEnergy Stadium
Pittsburgh Steelers C+ C C B- B+ A- C Mike Tomlin/DB Heinz Field

The defending Super Bowl champs Ravens might have a muted pass offense, but the running game and defense should be up to standards set in 2008. The Bengals have a destructive defensive line, and they used the draft (TE Tyler Eifert, RB Giovani Bernard) to add much needed pop to the offense. The Steelers have had a top-ten defense every year since 2000, but their offense promises many sloppy games. The Browns have a fair amount of talent, but they need that talent to step up and produce all season; Cleveland has one of the more shallow rosters in the NFL.

SOUTH: Houston Texans (13-3, 2nd in AFC), Tennessee Titans (9-7), Indianapolis Colts (8-8), Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14).

Team Pass Offense Run Offense Offensive Line Pass Rush Run Defense Pass Defense Special Teams Coach Intangibles
Houston Texans B+ B B B B+ B D Gary Kubiak/QB Reliant Stadium
Indianapolis Colts B B- C C C- B- B Chuck Pagano/DB Lucas Oil Stadium
Jacksonville Jaguars D+ C C D- C C- C Gus Bradley/LB EverBank Field
Tennessee Titans D+ B+ B+ B- C C C+ Mike Munchak/OL LP Field

The Texans need their younger talent to emerge in supporting roles this season; Houston remains the most balanced team in the division by far. The Titans need to see progress from their defense and QB Jake Locker; the Titans have an aggressive collection of speed and ability at every position but consistency is a question mark. Colts QB Andrew Luck is special (rookie record  4,374 passing yards, 23 pass TDs, 5 rushing TDs), but he has to improve his accuracy (five games under 50% completions) and decision making (five multi-INT games) while hoping he doesn’t have to rescue an underwhelming defense again. The Jaguars have my vote for the team most likely to be on the clock at the end of the season; one of the worst pass rushes in the league combined with shaky QB options.

WEST: Denver Broncos (14-2, 1st in AFC), Kansas City Chiefs (7-9), Oakland Raiders (3-13), San Diego Chargers (3-13).

Team Pass Offense Run Offense Offensive Line Pass Rush Run Defense Pass Defense Special Teams Coach Intangibles
Denver Broncos A- C- B B B+ B+ B+ John Fox/DB Sports Authority Field at Mile High
Kansas City Chiefs C B B- C C B- C- Andy Reid/QB Arrowhead Stadium
Oakland Raiders D+ C C D C- D+ B+ Dennis Allen/DB Coliseum
San Diego Chargers C C- C- C- B C- C+ Mike McCoy/QB Qualcomm Stadium

The Broncos have QB Peyton Manning and the best trio of WRs in the NFL, though it will be interesting to see if their offense will be balanced well enough. The Chiefs have the reigning leading rusher in the AFC in RB Jamaal Charles, but new head coach Andy Reid will probably spend too much time getting QB Alex Smith over 20 TD passes for the first time in his career. The Raiders have blown so many draft picks that they now resemble an expansion team on both sides of the ball. I have extremely low expectations for the Chargers’ ability to move the ball effectively, they are extremely thin at cornerback, and they lack reliable edge rushers.

AFC WILD CARD: Ravens over Steelers, Bengals over Patriots.

AFC DIVISIONAL: Broncos over Bengals, Texans over Ravens.

AFC CHAMPIONSHIP: Broncos over Texans.


EAST: Washington Redskins (9-7, 4th in NFC), New York Giants (9-7), Philadelphia Eagles (5-11), Dallas Cowboys (5-11).

Team Pass Offense Run Offense Offensive Line Pass Rush Run Defense Pass Defense Special Teams Coach Intangibles
Dallas Cowboys B C- C- C D+ C B Jason Garrett/QB AT&T Stadium
New York Giants B B B C C- C- B Tom Coughlin/WR MetLife Stadium
Philadelphia Eagles C+ B C C C C- C Chip Kelly/OL Lincoln Financial Field
Washington Redskins C+ B+ B B- B- C- C Mike Shanahan/WR FedExField

The Redskins need more than just a near-repeat performance from QB Robert Griffin III and RB Alfred Morris; they need to improve their suspect defense from a year ago. The Giants continue to roll out high-powered offenses with a defense waiting to meltdown at the worst time (usually December). The run-heavy fast pace will be a boon for Eagles QB Michael Vick and RB LeSean McCoy, but the secondary isn’t much better than last year’s group that had a role in the Eagles allowing the most points in franchise history. Cowboys QB Tony Romo will continue to be under the pressure of an inconsistent running game, suspect offensive line, and a lightweight defense making a switch back to the 4-3.

NORTH: Green Bay Packers (10-6, 2nd in NFC), Chicago Bears (10-6, 6th in NFC), Minnesota Vikings (8-8), Detroit Lions (5-11).

Team Pass Offense Run Offense Offensive Line Pass Rush Run Defense Pass Defense Special Teams Coach Intangibles
Chicago Bears B+ B C B B B B Marc Trestman/QB Soldier Field
Detroit Lions B+ B C+ C+ C- C- C Jim Schwartz/LB Ford Field
Green Bay Packers A- C- D+ B C- B B- Mike McCarthy/QB Lambeau Field
Minnesota Vikings D+ A- B B B D+ B+ Leslie Frazier/DB Mall of America Field at Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is the best passer in the NFL by my standards, but he takes way too many sacks; the defense has been embarrassed three of the last four postseasons. The Bears have their first offensive-minded head coach since Mike Ditka in Marc Trestman; the Bears defense should be fine without Brian Urlacher. No RB has ever rushed for 1,500 yards after a 2,000+ yard season; Vikings RB Adrian Peterson will attempt to pull that off while the rest of the team looks to not get killed in passing yardage differential again. Many are excited about the addition of RB Reggie Bush to a Lions offense that saw QB Matthew Stafford only throw 20 TD passes despite being the first QB to ever throw 700+ passes and the presence of WR Calvin Johnson; even with offensive improvements, the annually undisciplined defense isn’t all that strong either.

SOUTH: Atlanta Falcons (9-7, 3rd in NFC), New Orleans Saints (8-8), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-8), Carolina Panthers (6-10).

Team Pass Offense Run Offense Offensive Line Pass Rush Run Defense Pass Defense Special Teams Coach Intangibles
Atlanta Falcons A- C C C- C- B B+ Mike Smith/LB Georgia Dome
Carolina Panthers B- B- C B B- D C Ron Rivera/LB Bank of America Stadium
New Orleans Saints A- B- B- C- D D+ B+ Sean Payton/QB Mercedes-Benz Superdome
Tampa Bay Buccaneers B B+ B D+ A- C+ D+ Greg Schiano/DB Raymond James Stadium

There’s a real chance that new Falcons RB Steven Jackson will approach the cliff this season; Atlanta will still rely on the passing game to overcome an increasingly suspect front seven. The Saints are yet another high powered offense that will have to make up for a defense lacking depth and proven playmakers coming off of an NFL-worst 7,000+ yards allowed. The Buccaneers should be more balanced defensively with the additions of CB Darrelle Revis and FS Dashon Goldson, but they still have an uninspiring pass rush and a boom-or-bust pass offense. In a division full of strong passers, the Panthers have arguably the fourth-best in the division and arguably the least improved secondary.

WEST: Seattle Seahawks (12-4, 1st in NFC), San Francisco 49ers (12-4, 5th in NFC), Saint Louis Rams (7-9), Arizona Cardinals (5-11).

Team Pass Offense Run Offense Offensive Line Pass Rush Run Defense Pass Defense Special Teams Coach Intangibles
Arizona Cardinals C+ D D+ B C B C+ Bruce Arians/WR University of Phoenix Stadium
Saint Louis Rams C+ C C A- C+ B- C+ Jeff Fisher/DB Edward Jones Dome
San Francisco 49ers B- A- B+ B- B+ B- B Jim Harbaugh/QB Candlestick Park
Seattle Seahawks B- A- C+ B+ C+ B+ C Pete Carroll/DB CenturyLink Field

Even without new WR Percy Harvin for the majority of the season, the Seahawks should be able to maintain similar run-heavy success, and the added depth to the defensive line should make a good defense even better. The 49ers are another run-heavy offense dealing with a critical injury at WR (Michael Crabtree); they have an outstanding run defense every year led by ILB Patrick Willis, but the pass defense is questionable at best. The Rams might have the best group of pass rushers in the NFL, but their safeties are suspect and there is no guarantee the Rams will be consistent enough offensively despite the stable of speed acquired over the last two offseasons. The Cardinals don’t have the worst QBs in the NFL anymore, but they still have a poor offensive line and shoddy RBs.

NFC WILD CARD: Falcons over Bears, 49ers over Redskins.

NFC DIVISIONAL: Seahawks over 49ers, Packers over Falcons.

NFC CHAMPIONSHIP: Seahawks over Packers.



That does it for now, but to borrow a line from Gregg Easterbrook: All predictions wrong or your money back. The hypothesis for the NFL season has been set; now it’s time to run the experiment (regular season), note some observations (playoffs), and then draw a conclusion (Super Bowl).

Blinded by science.

As usual, follow my lead @1maddskillz, and I’ll be sure to be accountable throughout my various channels. I’ll be releasing weekly picks that were solidified in August before every week.


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