The Zombie is dead. Let us never speak of him again. Just a horrible nightmare. Next season the Chargers can hopefully go through a season without ever resorting to returning from beyond the grave.
The Chargers gave up the ghost against the Bengals this past weekend. They are now 8-7 and will finish 0-2 against their uncommon opponents (Patriots were the other). This game eliminated the Chargers from any sort of playoff contention. Also, unless they win their final game this will be the biggest dropoff in wins from one year to the next since 1999-2000 when the Bolts went from 8 wins to 1 win. With a win next week they would match the dropoff seen from 2002 (8 wins) to 2003 (4 wins). The only other times in franchise history where the team lost 4 or more wins from one season to the next were 1996-1997 as the Kevin Gilbride era started with a bang going 4-12 after Bobby Ross' 8-8 final season, 1981-1982 when the strike limited the Chargers to 6 wins after a 10 win season and 1960-1961 when the transition from Jack Kemp to John Hadl sent then from 12-2 to 4-10.
Here are the numbers from this past Sunday:
I knew a bad rushing mark was coming. Two fumbles and 3 failed goal line attempts against one of the worst run defenses in the NFL will do that to you. That's easily the lowest mark of the year. The previous low was -31.2% against Oakland in San Diego. This game also had the worst overall defense of the season and, obviously, the worst pass defense. The previous lows in both were also the game at the Q against the Raiders. 3rd highest special teams mark for the year and the 3rd straight positive DVOA in that category. Does that do anything for ya?
Here's where the Chargers stand on the season:
The defense and the run game took a hit in this game. Defense dropped from 3rd to 5th. The run game from 10th to 18th and above average to below average. The overall team efficiency still looks really good. For whatever that's worth for a team not going to the playoffs.
The Broncos defeated the Houston Texans and improved to 4-11. They maintain the worst record for the franchise since 1990 and have one more game to see if they become the Broncos team that lost the most games in franchise history. The Broncos, Bills, Bengals, Browns, Cardinals, Cowboys, Lions, Panthers, Redskins, Texans, and Vikings were joined this week in elimination-land by the Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers, San Francisco 49ers and Tennessee Titans.
Here's how the Broncos' game looked in DVOA form:
Those are the numbers from a win? Gross. Take notice that Tim Tebow's 300 yard passing day came with a below average DVOA. That's really not that surprising. Following the game I noticed that the former-Florida Gator and Heisman trophy winner very slowly accumulated that yardage. When you are facing a team that normally gives up big gains in large chunks, then methodically getting your yardage is not a good way to impress.
Here's where the Broncos stand on the season:
The Chiefs took care of business pummeling the Tennessee Titans and clinching the AFC West Division Title at 10-5 due to the Chargers losing later in the day. This is their first division title since 2003 and their first 10 win season since 2005. This is already the franchise's biggest win increase in consecutive seasons in its history. The previous high was a 5 win increase. They achieved that twice. Once in 1962 when Len Dawson joined the Dallas Texans and they won the AFL Championship with an 11-3 record. The other was in the aforementioned 2003 season when they fielded almost the exact same roster as the previously 8-8 team, but took advantage of collapses by the Chargers and Raiders and a down year by the AFC North to pick up some extra wins.
Here's how the game went down by DVOA:
The Chiefs did what seemed impossible for them to do. They lifted their focus just enough away from the run game and allowed Matt Cassel, Dwayne Bowe and Jamaal Charles to build a lead through the air. Bravo. My thought going into this game was that the Titans would have a chance because the Chiefs would pound the ball into the teeth of the Tennessee defense. Kansas City showed me something on Sunday and if they allow their passing offense to take advantage of matchups once the postseason starts, then they could be winning some games in January.
Here's where the Chiefs stand on the season:
KC's overall DVOA, offensive DVOA and defensive DVOA didn't budge this week. Their special teams move 0.1%. They are the model of consistency this season and with their week schedule and two division contenders (Oakland and San Diego) that were inconsistent, that was well enough to win them a division title.
For the 4th time this season the Raiders lose after making it to .500. This time it was Peyton Manning and Indianapolis Colts that put them there. The Raiders only went into one game this season above .500 after they beat the Chiefs in overtime back in week 9. They subsequently lost back-to-back games to the Steelers and Dolphins and have flirted with .500 ever since. Regardless, it's still the Raiders winningest season since 2002 when they made it all the way to the Super Bowl. If the Raiders can manage to win next week or lose by less than 18 points it will also be the first season since 2002 where they scored more points than they gave up. The last 7 seasons haven't even come close to that with the high water mark being a -93 performance in 2005 under Norv Turner.
Here are the numbers from this week's loss:
Unlike the Broncos who won ugly, the Raiders lost a game where they can still hold their heads high. The put up a good fight against the Colts. And it was in a game where the Silver and Black had already been eliminated from playoff contention and Indianapolis was still seeking a division title. Of course, much of that 21.0% total DVOA is a result of special teams success while their running game and defense faltered. That might not be the path to success.
That big special teams day catapulted the Raiders into the top 10 among special teams. Jacoby Ford is a force to be reckoned with on kickoff returns and teams better prepare for him on that opening kickoff.