Excerpt: "Football Scientist KC Joyner breaks down the data and predicts the Giants will be a playoff team in 2014.
Good news, New York Giants' fans! Your Giants are going to the playoffs in 2014. At least they are if KC Joyner, known as 'The Football Scientist,' is correct. Joyner recently penned (typed?) an article for ESPN Insider detailing the six reasons he believes the Giants will be a playoff team in 2014.
Let's go through Joyner's reasoning.
1. Eli Manning can't be that bad again.
With the Giants it always starts -- and often ends -- right here. Manning had the worst season of his career in 2013 -- a ridiculous 27 interceptions, a 57.5 completion percentage, a 69.4 passer rating and a 36.5 QBR.
The good news? Joyner uses a stat he calls Bad Decision Rate (BDR) to show that Manning actually fewer poor decisions that led to turnover opportunities for the opposing team during 2013 (2.4 percent) than he had in 2012 (2.8 percent). He points to the miscommunications with receivers, wrong routes and bad luck and says that "to see a significant drop in his interceptions total would not be a surprise."
2. The Giants have to be healthier. Don't they?
Joyner uses Football Outsiders' Adjusted Games Lost (AGL) and shows that the Giants' 144.6 AGL is the highest recorded since Football Outsiders began tracking the data in 2006. Joyners says teams who have led the league in AGL one year have averaged placing 17th the next. Part of injuries, of course, is luck. The Giants, though, have spent much of the offseason trying to get younger and, theoretically, healthier.
3. The offensive line has to be better.
Well, I'm not sure how it could be worse than the sieve the Giants trotted out there in 2013. We know all of the moves the Giants have made already, adding Geoff Schwartz, J.D. Walton, John Jerry and Charles Brown and re-signing Chris Snee. We know there is plenty of speculation the Giants will add more linemen in the draft like, oh, maybe Michigan offensive tackle Taylor Lewan or Notre Dame's Zack Martin. Here is quick set of numbers from Joyner showing how bad the line was in 2013, and why the changes are necessary:
... percentage of sacks that occurred with four or fewer pass rushers (65 percent, ranked tied for 25th) and number of rushing plays that gained zero or fewer yards (105, ranked 27th).
4. The running backs should be better.
I have to be honest. I'm not sure what Adrian Peterson could have accomplished in front of the Giants' offensive line in 2013. That said, Rashad Jennings should turn out to be a massive upgrade over Andre Brown. Joyner calls Jennings "one of the most significant free-agent signings in the NFL this offseason." He explains:
Last year he ranked 14th in yards per carry (4.5), second in yards per rush after contact (2.2) and tied for first in fumbles on rushing plays (zero), but his biggest impact may come in the passing game.
Jennings placed 18th among running backs in yards per reception (8.11), 11th in receiving yards after contact (94), tied for first in drop percentage (zero percent) and third in receiving percentage (85.7 percent). The Giants ranked next-to-last in receiving yards by running backs (370), so Jennings' addition should go a long way toward turning that weakness around." Read more...