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A very good QB or a very good Defense?

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A very good QB or a very good Defense?
Wed Apr 11, 2018 7:44 am
  • Discussion around whether a team has a better chance being successful with a franchise QB and having to pay that cost, or attempting to run with an adequate QB and instead build an outstanding defense has been discussed as a side conversation in several other topics ranging from the Rams acquiring players, to discussing our departing defensive stars. This post is an attempt at an analytical evaluation and response to this question: Does a team have a better chance reaching a championship game with a very good QB or a very good Defense?

    Assumptions
      • While having both a very good QB and a very good defense is preferable, the assumption here is that it is improbable to have both for any significant length of time, and for the purpose of clarity, the two are viewed as mutually exclusive to due long term cap implications and having to pay for one or the other.
      • The data set includes starting** Quarterbacks’ regular season rating for teams that reached the NFCC or AFFCC between 2000 and 2017.
      • Average quarterback rating league-wide rose significantly from ~76.0 in 2000 to ~85.0 in 2017, although the top quarterback rating in a given year had no significant change over that same time period, ranging from 102 to 122. This leads one to believe that the rules changes have made it easier for QBs to perform at a high level, but the best quarterbacks have retained a similar ceiling.
      • Very good quarterback play is defined by having a regular season average of 90 or greater than.
      • Very good defensive play is defined by having a top 5 defense in that given year.
      • Benchmarks (top5/90 rating) were chosen before any data was reviewed in an attempt to remove as much bias as possible.
      • Defensive Ranking is based upon NFL Standard yards given up per game. The reason yards are used instead of scoring defense is scoring defense has a greater tendency to be impacted by offensive performance, turnovers, etc..

      **Note that Nick Foles in 2017 and Tom Brady in 2001 were backups that started in the championship game.
    The Numbers

    Quarterback
      From 2000 to 2017, there have been a total of 72 teams involved in championship games (4 teams a year, times 18 years). In that span, there have been 35 unique starting quarterbacks to play in those games.

      Of the total possible 72 instances, 44 (61%) have maintained a regular season rating of 90 or greater.

      Of the 28 instances where season average rating was below 90, 7 instances were for a QB whose career average was greater than 90. This indicates that the potential for very QB play was present and proven but the individual didn’t live up to that potential in the regular season. Due to this, one could say that 21 of 72 (29%) instances exist where the team didn’t have very good QB play but made the championship game.

    Defense
      Unlike quarterback, it is more difficult to say a team has the same defense year to year due to the amount of player turnover. For this reason, each year is considered unique even if the same team (e.g. 2013/2014 Seattle) advanced to the game.

      From 2000 to 2017, of a total 72 instances, 28 (39%) had a team with a top 5 defense, with 44 (61%) not having a top 5 defense. For the curios, 13 of the 44 that were not top 5 were in the top 10.
    Putting things together, for the 28 instances that didn’t have a very good quarterback (90 rating or better), 14 (50%) of them had a top 5 defense. Of those, two of them were from quarterbacks who were very good but had a bit of a “down” year. This means that 14 of the 44 instances where a team had very good quarterback play, they also had a top 5 defense. This leaves the odds of a team who made the championship game having a very good quarterback and top 5 defense at 19% (14 of 72).

    In Summary
      • Instances where team had very good QB play: 61% (44/72)
      • Instances where team had very good defense: 39% (28/72)
      • Instances where both were true: 19% (14/72)
      • Instances were neither were true: 19% (14/72)
    Conclusion
      While this is certainly not a probability evaluation, as a much more extensive data set would have to be used, this small evaluation seems to point to it being easier to make the championship game if you have very good QB play versus very good defensive play.

      Further, I would submit it is likely easier to maintain having a good QB once you have one, than attempting to maintain a very good defense which involves many more variables. The data in this sample seem to back that is well since there was rarely a “top 5 defense’ that repeated the championship game, while there are many examples of very good QB repeats.

      This is not definitive, and I am sure many holes can be poked in this evaluation, but I enjoyed analyzing the numbers and putting it together.
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  • Really great thread MHH, top work!
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  • First, we have seen that teams like the Vikings and the Eagles have shown you can be very competitive with a great defense and a decent or even somewhat average QB.

    We have also seen that the price of QBs is rising. The % of cap that a team needs to allocate to QB is going to get higher - once we see guys like Rodgers get their contracts.

    So to keep a good QB, you have to underpay other areas of the team. Which makes it harder to be competitive.

    There is a way to offset this, you have to draft well so that you get starters out of players that are still on rookie contracts. Otherwise, you will end up with a lot of positions having average to below average journeymen shoved in there to fill holes.

    This makes it doubly important, however, to leverage the QB if you choose to keep your high priced QB.

    It makes no sense to put game plans in place that make Wilson 'look like Flacco in the 1st half and Montana in 2nd' (someone else's quote not mine, but pretty damn accurate).

    But there are several teams that have shown, you can win without a great QB. And having a great QB is going to make it harder to win with over time because it is going to starve out portions of the team so you can feed the QB.
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Re: A very good QB or a very good Defense?
Wed Apr 11, 2018 10:54 am
  • 90 is WAY too low. A 90 passer rating is what an 80 passer rating was in the 80s/90s. Your data is biased because of this choice. Raise that number to 95 minimum, and it probably should be closer to 100. Kaepernick had a 90.7 passer in 2016 and was awful.

    Due to rule changes, a 90 passer rating is easily achievable by AVERAGE qbs. Using this number GREATLY skews your data away from great defense.

    Your own data showed that 61% of qbs hit that mark, so why are you surprised that the pool with 61% hitting the mark wins more championships than the pool with 15.6% hitting the mark.


    As hard as you worked, with 90 as your passer rating threshold, this analysis is worthless. All it is saying is that having a below average qb makes it hard to win championships. It says NOTHING about elite, Franchise qbs, since 90 is not even close to Franchise qb play.
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Re: A very good QB or a very good Defense?
Wed Apr 11, 2018 11:10 am
  • On the other hand...



    Nick Foles is the exception to the rule. But remember he had a season with 27 tds and 2 ints. He is no slouch. Before him was Brady. Before that was Manning. Yes, he was a shell of his former self, but he still had what it took between the ears. Before him was Brady again, and before that was Wilson. Then we had Flacco, your average qb to break the pattern. Then it was Eli Manning, who while not elite, has hovered near the mark most of his career and is clearly a franchise qb. Before that? Rodgers. Then Brees. Then Raplessberger. Then Eli, then #18 Manning, then Rapelessberger, then Brady, then Brady.



    If you guys think Wilson might one day end up in the HoF, with Eli on the cusp of consideration (and he is in many media circles), other than Flacco and Foles you have to go clear back to 2003 to find a Super Bowl winning team that didn’t have either a HoF qb or one who has been discussed in the media as a possible inductee some day.




    But a 90 passer rating is not a Franchise qb. You want to compete yearly for a SB, get a HoF worthy qb. Great defenses don’t last long enough.
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Re: A very good QB or a very good Defense?
Wed Apr 11, 2018 11:33 am
  • 5_Golden_Rings wrote:90 is WAY too low. A 90 passer rating is what an 80 passer rating was in the 80s/90s. Your data is biased because of this choice. Raise that number to 95 minimum, and it probably should be closer to 100. Kaepernick had a 90.7 passer in 2016 and was awful.

    Due to rule changes, a 90 passer rating is easily achievable by AVERAGE qbs. Using this number GREATLY skews your data away from great defense.

    Your own data showed that 61% of qbs hit that mark, so why are you surprised that the pool with 61% hitting the mark wins more championships than the pool with 15.6% hitting the mark.


    As hard as you worked, with 90 as your passer rating threshold, this analysis is worthless. All it is saying is that having a below average qb makes it hard to win championships. It says NOTHING about elite, Franchise qbs, since 90 is not even close to Franchise qb play.


    I appreciate you taking the time to respond, however I am not sure your response makes a whole lot of sense. Remember the question is, is it easier to be successful as a team with very good QB play or very good defensive play. Using a lower rating threshold actually puts more emphasis on the answer that a team should pursue better QB play over attempting to form a "very good" defense because it should be even easier to reach that lower threshold.

    I would ask that you take the time to understand the information a bit more before formulating assumptions. I said nothing of:

      Evaluating QBs league wide (61% is not league wide but only of the data set defined, only just under 40% of QBs were 90 or better in 2017 I believe, a very similar number to total teams that make the playoffs (12 vs. 13))
      Defining Elite or Franchise in any way as being relevant to the data set.
      Having a "Great" defense.

    Try to think about it a bit more as it seems you have jumped to some conclusions not addressed here.
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Re: A very good QB or a very good Defense?
Wed Apr 11, 2018 11:37 am
  • MontanaHawk05 wrote:Both.


    This response isn't extremely helpful and seems kind of trite. In an ideal world, of course a team wants both, but that is not the question posed nor answered. This thread is to discuss which potential team strategy is more likely given the very real choices teams have to make with regards to cap investment. Any thoughts around that are very welcome.
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Re: A very good QB or a very good Defense?
Wed Apr 11, 2018 11:48 am
  • TwistedHusky wrote:First, we have seen that teams like the Vikings and the Eagles have shown you can be very competitive with a great defense and a decent or even somewhat average QB.

    We have also seen that the price of QBs is rising. The % of cap that a team needs to allocate to QB is going to get higher - once we see guys like Rodgers get their contracts.

    So to keep a good QB, you have to underpay other areas of the team. Which makes it harder to be competitive.

    There is a way to offset this, you have to draft well so that you get starters out of players that are still on rookie contracts. Otherwise, you will end up with a lot of positions having average to below average journeymen shoved in there to fill holes.

    This makes it doubly important, however, to leverage the QB if you choose to keep your high priced QB.

    It makes no sense to put game plans in place that make Wilson 'look like Flacco in the 1st half and Montana in 2nd' (someone else's quote not mine, but pretty damn accurate).

    But there are several teams that have shown, you can win without a great QB. And having a great QB is going to make it harder to win with over time because it is going to starve out portions of the team so you can feed the QB.



    Yes, there will always be exceptions to statistical analysis and anecdotal evidence tends to lead to perception based arguments, not data based arguments. It seems, based upon this data set, that the Vikings are an exception. The Eagles can be argued because Wentz performed to the very good standard defined and earned them the #1 seed. So there is some nuance to be understood when looking at specific examples.

    When evaluating this data, we are seeking to see if there is a trend or some statistical inclination that would indicate one choice is more likely to lead to the desired result. In this case, again, from the data analyzed, it seems right now more likely for a team to reach a championship game with a QB who can average greater than 90 rating versus a top 5 defense.

    The cost of a QB, as you correctly point out is certainly rising. To what degree we do not know. But, what we might anticipate is that due to the increased cost of that commodity, it becomes even more important where the team decides to employ its limited cap space. At some point the cost/benefit of having a "very good" QB will tilt the scales, but I am not sure we are there yet and my analysis doesn't directly address that conundrum.

    In the end, there will always be exceptions and some teams will occasionally rise above, but just because 19% of those teams didn't have either very good QB play nor good defensive play, doesn't necessarily lend itself to pursuing that strategy.
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Re: A very good QB or a very good Defense?
Wed Apr 11, 2018 11:50 am
  • Milehighhawk wrote:
    MontanaHawk05 wrote:Both.


    This response isn't extremely helpful and seems kind of trite. In an ideal world, of course a team wants both, but that is not the question posed nor answered. This thread is to discuss which potential team strategy is more likely given the very real choices teams have to make with regards to cap investment. Any thoughts around that are very welcome.


    You're assuming a team cannot have both. It's a faulty assumption, and therefore it's difficult to provide deeper discussion along the parameters you've set out.
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Re: A very good QB or a very good Defense?
Wed Apr 11, 2018 11:55 am
  • MontanaHawk05 wrote:
    Milehighhawk wrote:
    MontanaHawk05 wrote:Both.


    This response isn't extremely helpful and seems kind of trite. In an ideal world, of course a team wants both, but that is not the question posed nor answered. This thread is to discuss which potential team strategy is more likely given the very real choices teams have to make with regards to cap investment. Any thoughts around that are very welcome.


    You're assuming a team cannot have both. It's a faulty assumption, and therefore it's difficult to provide deeper discussion along the parameters you've set out.


    I am not sure if you are trying to be intentionally obtuse here or not. Yes, teams try to do both, but when there is a pool of limited resources, in this case the spending cap, especially with the rising cost of "good" QBs, teams will have to choose where to invest and where to attempt to draft for talent. The Seahawks are of course in the middle of making their choices now. When that decision arises and it will at some point in roughly 3-4 year cycles based upon rookie contract duration (usually re-up a year before end), which strategy is most likely to yield a result that ends with the team reaching championship games?
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Re: A very good QB or a very good Defense?
Wed Apr 11, 2018 12:16 pm
  • How many Super bowl appearances did these QB's appear in without a good or great defense and when that went away how many.

    Elway, Marino, Manning Peyton, Fouts, Pastorini, Moon, Elway and Manning won when they had a running game threat and a very good defense, Marino sniffed it once and then the defense declined right away and never again. Fouts and Pastorini and Moon never sniffed the title game. Were on good teams but missed against teams that had better defenses or a run game.
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Re: A very good QB or a very good Defense?
Wed Apr 11, 2018 12:59 pm
  • QB.

    No question.

    While a QB is pricey, you can get ONE and be relevant for a decade or more.

    Defenses get more expensive because eventually all the individual pieces will need to get paid AND they have a shorter shelf life.

    Just as an example...Richard Sherman was seen as possibly losing a step BEFORE the Achilles...and the dude wasn't even 30 yet.

    QBs will get into their mid or even late 30s and now one in particular in his 40's and they are still game changers.

    I love to see great defenses play, but the QB is more important now than ever before...and will only get MORE important as rule changes take the helmet out of the game.
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  • chris98251 wrote:How many Super bowl appearances did these QB's appear in without a good or great defense and when that went away how many.

    Elway, Marino, Manning Peyton, Fouts, Pastorini, Moon, Elway and Manning won when they had a running game threat and a very good defense, Marino sniffed it once and then the defense declined right away and never again. Fouts and Pastorini and Moon never sniffed the title game. Were on good teams but missed against teams that had better defenses or a run game.


    That's true, but all those guys were on teams that at least had a chance. They were relevant.

    Put this another way....how many teams had GREAT defenses and average QBs and won a championship? Bears? Ravens? Bucs? That's only three out of more than 50 and NONE of them were dynasties or won more than once.

    EDIT: Upon second thought, you could probably add the Steelers of the 70s and they WERE a dynasty...but that was really a different age, different rules, and still not the way most teams have won it all.
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  • Milehighhawk wrote:
    MontanaHawk05 wrote:
    Milehighhawk wrote:
    MontanaHawk05 wrote:Both.


    This response isn't extremely helpful and seems kind of trite. In an ideal world, of course a team wants both, but that is not the question posed nor answered. This thread is to discuss which potential team strategy is more likely given the very real choices teams have to make with regards to cap investment. Any thoughts around that are very welcome.


    You're assuming a team cannot have both. It's a faulty assumption, and therefore it's difficult to provide deeper discussion along the parameters you've set out.


    I am not sure if you are trying to be intentionally obtuse here or not. Yes, teams try to do both, but when there is a pool of limited resources, in this case the spending cap, especially with the rising cost of "good" QBs, teams will have to choose where to invest and where to attempt to draft for talent.


    Not if they're good enough. That's what I'm arguing. They need to find a way to get both, and they can, because teams have done it before.
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  • Marvin49 wrote:
    chris98251 wrote:How many Super bowl appearances did these QB's appear in without a good or great defense and when that went away how many.

    Elway, Marino, Manning Peyton, Fouts, Pastorini, Moon, Elway and Manning won when they had a running game threat and a very good defense, Marino sniffed it once and then the defense declined right away and never again. Fouts and Pastorini and Moon never sniffed the title game. Were on good teams but missed against teams that had better defenses or a run game.


    That's true, but all those guys were on teams that at least had a chance. They were relevant.

    Put this another way....how many teams had GREAT defenses and average QBs and won a championship? Bears? Ravens? Bucs? That's only three out of more than 50 and NONE of them were dynasties or won more than once.

    EDIT: Upon second thought, you could probably add the Steelers of the 70s and they WERE a dynasty...but that was really a different age, different rules, and still not the way most teams have won it all.

    Marvin,
    To the bold part you could add the Cowboys..
    One fact for sure is you are NOT winning anything without a good defense PERIOD!
    You don't need a great QB to win Championships that has been proven but does make
    it easier if you had one with that good defense.
    Another certain thing you need is a solid running game to go with that defense.
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  • Thank you, Milehighhawk, for all the data and the work you put into that post.

    It's a good read.... Illuminating.
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  • MontanaHawk05 wrote:<snip about QB vs. D>Not if they're good enough. That's what I'm arguing. They need to find a way to get both, and they can, because teams have done it before.


    It's "easy" to get both, and we've seen it here. Problem is it seems to cause a cyclic downturn. We had a good D, but were throttled down by Tavaris Jackson. So we paid a bunch of money to the D, the O-line, and Beastmode, and got a great QB for cheap in the draft. Then we went to the Superbowl twice and won once. Then the cyclic downturn started because we needed to pay everyone at once and sacrificed the O-line (along with having an idiot OC). Now we have a well-paid and really good QB, we got rid of some expensive D, and hopefully the O-line will improve. So we're back on the upswing except this time with a relatively cheaper D. About the time the RW is done the D will all be well-paid again due to being really great, and we can start over with a cheap really good QB from the draft. Rinse, repeat.

    For you nerds out there, think of it as a sinusoidal function with two out-of-phase components - the O money and the D money. When added together there will be peaks (Superbowl years) and valleys (not making the playoffs). If they're 180 out of phase you get a flat line, which was the 'mediocrity hell' we were in for most of this franchise's existence. No great years, no truly bad years.

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  • I think a more meaningful comparison would be comparing top 5 QB play to a top 5 defense. How do those numbers stack up? What percentage of the time that a team has a top 5 QB do they win the Super Bowl? What percentage of the time that a team has a top 5 defense win the Super Bowl?

    5_Golden_Rings was unnecessarily blunt, but I do agree with his point. You are comparing apples and oranges, the numbers are contrived. I mean, think about it like this: in theory, all 32 starting quarterbacks next year could have a passer rating over 90. The number of defenses that qualify as "top 5" is always capped at 5. You can't compare a counting stat with no cap (passer rating) to a percentage (top 5 is essentially top 15%). That simply is not a meaningful comparison.

    You are arguing that 'a passer rating over 90 is easier to achieve, so teams should shoot for that'. I feel the opposite. Value comes from scarcity. The less common something is, the more of a competitive advantage it becomes. I do believe that a good quarterback is necessary to win in this league, but being a necessity and being a competitive advantage are not the same thing.

    You also make no attempt to account for era. The Offensive Renaissance -- passer ratings exploding -- has more to do with how much rules favor the offensive side of the ball. You can't tell me that Case Keenum's 2017 (98.3 passer rating) was better than Peyton Manning's 2000 (94.7 passer rating). The point being here that more lax offensive rules means it's easier to find a player that can succeed in those conditions, which means it's also easier for all of your competitors to do so as well.
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  • Like the analysis MHH. Montana, he is clearly trying to parse out which is more likely to lead to success if you have to have one or the other. No one is saying that having both isn't ideal. It's not a perfect analysis, but it's a start and it's cool to see.

    Also, as someone has mentioned in this thread, the Foles example is a bit misleading because Wentz was crucial to the Eagles earning that #1 seed and he had a passer rating of 101.9, which is great. I have a hard time believing that Eagles team gets to the SB without HFA. Also, I think Keenum's actually a good example of a sub-par QB not being enough to win. The Minny defense had an awful day in the championship game and Keenum did nothing to help them and arguably harmed them with his play. A HoF, franchise, elite, whatever you want to call it, QB would have stepped up there and at least given his team a chance. Look at the game prior. If not for the Minneapolis Miracle, Drew Brees brought his team back from a 17-0 deficit at halftime to take the lead over the Vikes in Minnesota with barely any time left on the clock. I don't see a Keenum-tier QB doing that if the roles are reversed.
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  • Milehighhawk wrote:
    5_Golden_Rings wrote:90 is WAY too low. A 90 passer rating is what an 80 passer rating was in the 80s/90s. Your data is biased because of this choice. Raise that number to 95 minimum, and it probably should be closer to 100. Kaepernick had a 90.7 passer in 2016 and was awful.

    Due to rule changes, a 90 passer rating is easily achievable by AVERAGE qbs. Using this number GREATLY skews your data away from great defense.

    Your own data showed that 61% of qbs hit that mark, so why are you surprised that the pool with 61% hitting the mark wins more championships than the pool with 15.6% hitting the mark.


    As hard as you worked, with 90 as your passer rating threshold, this analysis is worthless. All it is saying is that having a below average qb makes it hard to win championships. It says NOTHING about elite, Franchise qbs, since 90 is not even close to Franchise qb play.


    I appreciate you taking the time to respond, however I am not sure your response makes a whole lot of sense. Remember the question is, is it easier to be successful as a team with very good QB play or very good defensive play. Using a lower rating threshold actually puts more emphasis on the answer that a team should pursue better QB play over attempting to form a "very good" defense because it should be even easier to reach that lower threshold.

    I would ask that you take the time to understand the information a bit more before formulating assumptions. I said nothing of:

      Evaluating QBs league wide (61% is not league wide but only of the data set defined, only just under 40% of QBs were 90 or better in 2017 I believe, a very similar number to total teams that make the playoffs (12 vs. 13))
      Defining Elite or Franchise in any way as being relevant to the data set.
      Having a "Great" defense.

    Try to think about it a bit more as it seems you have jumped to some conclusions not addressed here.


    Most importantly, it's a cool thing to think about and a lot of work clearly went into this, so a serious and sincere :2thumbs:

    When doing this type of statistical examination, however, you have to be open to criticism of it, as small choices can have big effects on the outcome you come to (which holds a lot of power as it can be written in a sentence that obscures all those small choices.

    5_Golden_Rings is (correctly) noting an error in one of those choices. I'll try to explain it clearly, and then explain my thinking on another choice you made that is worth considering.

    CHOICE 1: By using a ranking cut-off to measure defense (Top 5) and a threshold cut-off to measure quarterbacks (>90 quarterback rating) you're not measuring apples to apples.

    This is a particularly big problem if you're asking a "which matters more" question, which you are.

    As you correctly note that QB rating increases over time, the simplest and easiest way to compare applies to applies is to use a ranking cut-off for BOTH QBs and Defenses (e.g. top 10 starting QB Rating and Top 10 defense; top 5 starting QB rating and Top 10 defense).

    That's an apples to apples comparison to measure which apple is better

    CHOICE 2:

    Your outcome variable is making it to the championship game. Why? Once you get to the divisional game that's a dichotomous event, which by definition will come with a whole bunch of noise (i.e. things that aren't overall quality QB play or overall quality defense -- think things like randomly bad fumble luck in the divisional game, or getting matched up against a juggernaut opponent, or your top WR randomly being injured that week).

    To decrease noise, a MUCH more straightforward measure is simply winning percentage.

    If you are measuring QB play and team defense on the same scale (top x for both for that year) you essentially have a 2x2 table as based on overall winning %:

    Winning % for top QB but not top defense
    Winning % for top defense but not top QB
    Winning % for top QB and top defense
    Winning % for not top QB and not top defense
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  • I'd take a great D with an average qb as long as I had a great running game to go with it
    That seems to make average QBs better and still tough to score on teamwise
    That just only lasts so long no matter who you are because running backs only last so long and an average QB that looks good via association gets poaches as soon as the rookie contract's up
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  • hawxfreak wrote:I'd take a great D with an average qb as long as I had a great running game to go with it
    That seems to make average QBs better and still tough to score on teamwise
    That just only lasts so long no matter who you are because running backs only last so long and an average QB that looks good via association gets poaches as soon as the rookie contract's up


    Tavaris Jackson. There is all the facts one needs to counter a 'great D, average QB, plus great running game' argument. You all saw it with your own eyeballs in 2010 and 2011. The D was better in 2011, Beastmode was here for both of those years, and we had an average (at best) QB with bad results. In a stinker of a division. We got RW and it all turned 180 degrees.
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Re: A very good QB or a very good Defense?
Sat Apr 14, 2018 11:45 am
  • Popeyejones wrote:
    Milehighhawk wrote:
    5_Golden_Rings wrote:90 is WAY too low. A 90 passer rating is what an 80 passer rating was in the 80s/90s. Your data is biased because of this choice. Raise that number to 95 minimum, and it probably should be closer to 100. Kaepernick had a 90.7 passer in 2016 and was awful.

    Due to rule changes, a 90 passer rating is easily achievable by AVERAGE qbs. Using this number GREATLY skews your data away from great defense.

    Your own data showed that 61% of qbs hit that mark, so why are you surprised that the pool with 61% hitting the mark wins more championships than the pool with 15.6% hitting the mark.


    As hard as you worked, with 90 as your passer rating threshold, this analysis is worthless. All it is saying is that having a below average qb makes it hard to win championships. It says NOTHING about elite, Franchise qbs, since 90 is not even close to Franchise qb play.


    I appreciate you taking the time to respond, however I am not sure your response makes a whole lot of sense. Remember the question is, is it easier to be successful as a team with very good QB play or very good defensive play. Using a lower rating threshold actually puts more emphasis on the answer that a team should pursue better QB play over attempting to form a "very good" defense because it should be even easier to reach that lower threshold.

    I would ask that you take the time to understand the information a bit more before formulating assumptions. I said nothing of:

      Evaluating QBs league wide (61% is not league wide but only of the data set defined, only just under 40% of QBs were 90 or better in 2017 I believe, a very similar number to total teams that make the playoffs (12 vs. 13))
      Defining Elite or Franchise in any way as being relevant to the data set.
      Having a "Great" defense.

    Try to think about it a bit more as it seems you have jumped to some conclusions not addressed here.


    Most importantly, it's a cool thing to think about and a lot of work clearly went into this, so a serious and sincere :2thumbs:

    When doing this type of statistical examination, however, you have to be open to criticism of it, as small choices can have big effects on the outcome you come to (which holds a lot of power as it can be written in a sentence that obscures all those small choices.

    5_Golden_Rings is (correctly) noting an error in one of those choices. I'll try to explain it clearly, and then explain my thinking on another choice you made that is worth considering.

    CHOICE 1: By using a ranking cut-off to measure defense (Top 5) and a threshold cut-off to measure quarterbacks (>90 quarterback rating) you're not measuring apples to apples.

    This is a particularly big problem if you're asking a "which matters more" question, which you are.

    As you correctly note that QB rating increases over time, the simplest and easiest way to compare applies to applies is to use a ranking cut-off for BOTH QBs and Defenses (e.g. top 10 starting QB Rating and Top 10 defense; top 5 starting QB rating and Top 10 defense).

    That's an apples to apples comparison to measure which apple is better

    CHOICE 2:

    Your outcome variable is making it to the championship game. Why? Once you get to the divisional game that's a dichotomous event, which by definition will come with a whole bunch of noise (i.e. things that aren't overall quality QB play or overall quality defense -- think things like randomly bad fumble luck in the divisional game, or getting matched up against a juggernaut opponent, or your top WR randomly being injured that week).

    To decrease noise, a MUCH more straightforward measure is simply winning percentage.

    If you are measuring QB play and team defense on the same scale (top x for both for that year) you essentially have a 2x2 table as based on overall winning %:

    Winning % for top QB but not top defense
    Winning % for top defense but not top QB
    Winning % for top QB and top defense
    Winning % for not top QB and not top defense


    Thanks for the thoughtful response. In hindsight taking the top 5 QBs or maybe instead a top 10 defense would have been more fair. I also understand the sample size argument but I was personally more curious about looking at the top 4 finishers each year.

    I would be curious to see the results purely based on winning percentages as well, but don’t necessarily have the time to put in that work right now.

    Thanks again.
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  • Milehighhawk wrote:
    5_Golden_Rings wrote:90 is WAY too low. A 90 passer rating is what an 80 passer rating was in the 80s/90s. Your data is biased because of this choice. Raise that number to 95 minimum, and it probably should be closer to 100. Kaepernick had a 90.7 passer in 2016 and was awful.

    Due to rule changes, a 90 passer rating is easily achievable by AVERAGE qbs. Using this number GREATLY skews your data away from great defense.

    Your own data showed that 61% of qbs hit that mark, so why are you surprised that the pool with 61% hitting the mark wins more championships than the pool with 15.6% hitting the mark.


    As hard as you worked, with 90 as your passer rating threshold, this analysis is worthless. All it is saying is that having a below average qb makes it hard to win championships. It says NOTHING about elite, Franchise qbs, since 90 is not even close to Franchise qb play.


    I appreciate you taking the time to respond, however I am not sure your response makes a whole lot of sense. Remember the question is, is it easier to be successful as a team with very good QB play or very good defensive play. Using a lower rating threshold actually puts more emphasis on the answer that a team should pursue better QB play over attempting to form a "very good" defense because it should be even easier to reach that lower threshold.

    I would ask that you take the time to understand the information a bit more before formulating assumptions. I said nothing of:

      Evaluating QBs league wide (61% is not league wide but only of the data set defined, only just under 40% of QBs were 90 or better in 2017 I believe, a very similar number to total teams that make the playoffs (12 vs. 13))
      Defining Elite or Franchise in any way as being relevant to the data set.
      Having a "Great" defense.

    Try to think about it a bit more as it seems you have jumped to some conclusions not addressed here.

    First, see my second post.

    Second, having a lower threshold in your metric DOES NOT make teams who reach the threshold better. Reaching the lower threshold simply means your team will be mediocre.

    Third, the single best way to have sustained success in the NFL is by having an ELITE qb. NOT a middling QB with a 90 passer rating, which will give you an average of 8 wins per year, or an ELITE defense , which will give you three or four seasons of contention. An elite QB will give you 12 years of contention.


    That is the reason your analysis is useless. You are comparing elite defenses to mediocre qbs and above. Compare ELITE QBs to ELITE defenses and then you will be comparing apples to apples, and when you do that, the winner is clear: elite QBs.



    one more HUGE thing

    The significance of a 90 passer rating has changed over time, while the significance of a top five defense has not. Top five defenses have and always will be ELITE defenses. 90 passer ratings were once elite qb play, and now are mediocre or below average. If you want to do a REAL statistical analysis comparing passer rating to defensive ranking, then NORMALIZE passer rating based on the standard deviation of each of the given seasons.
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  • Milehighhawk wrote:
    Popeyejones wrote:
    Milehighhawk wrote:
    5_Golden_Rings wrote:90 is WAY too low. A 90 passer rating is what an 80 passer rating was in the 80s/90s. Your data is biased because of this choice. Raise that number to 95 minimum, and it probably should be closer to 100. Kaepernick had a 90.7 passer in 2016 and was awful.

    Due to rule changes, a 90 passer rating is easily achievable by AVERAGE qbs. Using this number GREATLY skews your data away from great defense.

    Your own data showed that 61% of qbs hit that mark, so why are you surprised that the pool with 61% hitting the mark wins more championships than the pool with 15.6% hitting the mark.


    As hard as you worked, with 90 as your passer rating threshold, this analysis is worthless. All it is saying is that having a below average qb makes it hard to win championships. It says NOTHING about elite, Franchise qbs, since 90 is not even close to Franchise qb play.


    I appreciate you taking the time to respond, however I am not sure your response makes a whole lot of sense. Remember the question is, is it easier to be successful as a team with very good QB play or very good defensive play. Using a lower rating threshold actually puts more emphasis on the answer that a team should pursue better QB play over attempting to form a "very good" defense because it should be even easier to reach that lower threshold.

    I would ask that you take the time to understand the information a bit more before formulating assumptions. I said nothing of:

      Evaluating QBs league wide (61% is not league wide but only of the data set defined, only just under 40% of QBs were 90 or better in 2017 I believe, a very similar number to total teams that make the playoffs (12 vs. 13))
      Defining Elite or Franchise in any way as being relevant to the data set.
      Having a "Great" defense.

    Try to think about it a bit more as it seems you have jumped to some conclusions not addressed here.


    Most importantly, it's a cool thing to think about and a lot of work clearly went into this, so a serious and sincere :2thumbs:

    When doing this type of statistical examination, however, you have to be open to criticism of it, as small choices can have big effects on the outcome you come to (which holds a lot of power as it can be written in a sentence that obscures all those small choices.

    5_Golden_Rings is (correctly) noting an error in one of those choices. I'll try to explain it clearly, and then explain my thinking on another choice you made that is worth considering.

    CHOICE 1: By using a ranking cut-off to measure defense (Top 5) and a threshold cut-off to measure quarterbacks (>90 quarterback rating) you're not measuring apples to apples.

    This is a particularly big problem if you're asking a "which matters more" question, which you are.

    As you correctly note that QB rating increases over time, the simplest and easiest way to compare applies to applies is to use a ranking cut-off for BOTH QBs and Defenses (e.g. top 10 starting QB Rating and Top 10 defense; top 5 starting QB rating and Top 10 defense).

    That's an apples to apples comparison to measure which apple is better

    CHOICE 2:

    Your outcome variable is making it to the championship game. Why? Once you get to the divisional game that's a dichotomous event, which by definition will come with a whole bunch of noise (i.e. things that aren't overall quality QB play or overall quality defense -- think things like randomly bad fumble luck in the divisional game, or getting matched up against a juggernaut opponent, or your top WR randomly being injured that week).

    To decrease noise, a MUCH more straightforward measure is simply winning percentage.

    If you are measuring QB play and team defense on the same scale (top x for both for that year) you essentially have a 2x2 table as based on overall winning %:

    Winning % for top QB but not top defense
    Winning % for top defense but not top QB
    Winning % for top QB and top defense
    Winning % for not top QB and not top defense


    Thanks for the thoughtful response. In hindsight taking the top 5 QBs or maybe instead a top 10 defense would have been more fair. I also understand the sample size argument but I was personally more curious about looking at the top 4 finishers each year.

    I would be curious to see the results purely based on winning percentages as well, but don’t necessarily have the time to put in that work right now.

    Thanks again.


    Thanks for the reasoned response man, which (from experience) is pretty hard, as it always sucks to have people pop up with and throw their "good ideas" at the wall without even considering the work that has already gone into something, and that their "good idea" is EVEN MORE WORK.

    All to say I'm nitpicking on stuff, but really think this is a cool idea and am grateful for the time you put into doing it and writing it up. :2thumbs:
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  • I’d normally say I’d rather have a good defense, but I still have nightmares on the ‘92 Tez led team who’s defense flat out dominated but the offense couldn’t score to save their lives.
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Re: A very good QB or a very good Defense?
Wed Apr 18, 2018 10:32 am
  • Passer rating is a dangerous statistic to use because the meaning of a particular value has changed over time. Let me give you an example (which incidentally shows that Montana is the GOAT, not Brady).

    In 1989, the average passer rating was 73.3. Montana’s was 112.4. That’s 53.3% better than average. In 2007, Brady’s 117.2 rating was was just 44.9% better than average. Great, but less than Montana.

    Montana’s career passer rating was 27.7% better than average. Brady’s up till now is 19.5%.


    And in the playoffs? Montana’s passer rating was an unreal 32.3% better than average, while Brady’s has been a significantly less impressive 11.3% better than average.




    The Point?


    Passer rating is only useful as a statistic relative to ERA, because rules and scheme have vastly inflated quarterback statistical output. But when you compare qbs to their peers (that is, when you normalize your data), a clearer picture comes out.




    Incidentally, it also shows once again that Montana is still the GOAT. Brady has benefited from rules that made EVERY qb look better. His longevity is a big argument for his status as GOAT, but once again, rule changes have prolonged the careers of qbs.

    Bottom line: put Montana on the 2000-2017 Patriots, and based on his superior RELATIVE performance to Brady, and the Patriots have eight championships instead of five. Passer rating only tells time-dependent relative truths.
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  • Passer ratings are skewed for a lot of reasons, Montana used his receivers on shorter routes, picks quick slants etc with a lot of YAC, Brady throws to layered routes and seams with Gronk and other tight ends he has used. More chances of misses and picks.
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Re: A very good QB or a very good Defense?
Wed Apr 18, 2018 11:06 pm
  • chris98251 wrote:Passer ratings are skewed for a lot of reasons, Montana used his receivers on shorter routes, picks quick slants etc with a lot of YAC, Brady throws to layered routes and seams with Gronk and other tight ends he has used. More chances of misses and picks.

    Let's make this easy,in today's game with the pampering of QB's with many rule changes
    that Montana never had.Do you take Brady or Montana?
    To me the Patriots win every SB with Joe.The guy's will to win and vision under pressure
    was unreal hence the nickname "Joe cool".
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  • chris98251 wrote:Passer ratings are skewed for a lot of reasons, Montana used his receivers on shorter routes, picks quick slants etc with a lot of YAC, Brady throws to layered routes and seams with Gronk and other tight ends he has used. More chances of misses and picks.



    Not to mention Jared Goff. I was very happy with his development, but a passer rating of 100 is misleading for where he is at right now. He's not to "that level" yet.
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  • Even after 49, I would vehemently argue that Montana was the GOAT and Brady wasn't. After 51 and now 52, it isn't much of a debate IMO. Brady is the greatest to ever play the QB position.
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Re: A very good QB or a very good Defense?
Sun Apr 22, 2018 11:24 pm
  • chris98251 wrote:Passer ratings are skewed for a lot of reasons, Montana used his receivers on shorter routes, picks quick slants etc with a lot of YAC, Brady throws to layered routes and seams with Gronk and other tight ends he has used. More chances of misses and picks.

    Either you didn't watch a lot of Montana or you don't watch lot of Patriots. Both of them throw short more than anything else, and both of them took well timed shots down field. Brady also throws a ton of curl-flat concepts and passes to his running backs. They also run a bunch of zig zag short in and out routes.

    In fact, I can prove that the two threw roughly the same percentage of deep passes versus short passes of their careers with a simple look at two stats: Completion percentage and yards per attempt.


    You can see this in yards per attempt and yards per completion: they are both nearly identical (both at 7.5. y/a and 11.9 y/r for Montana and 11.8 y/r for Brady). If your theory was correct, then Montana would have a much better completion percentage than Brady, since they have similar yards per attempt and yards per completion. (If you think about it for a moment you'll understand why that's true)


    Montana: 63,3%
    Brady: 63.9%

    Again, nearly identical.

    Let me explain why what I said in bold is true:

    There are TWO ways to average 7.5 yards per attempt. Either you complete a high percentage of short passes, or you have a lower completion percentage, but hit on deeper passes (the yards gained on the deep passes makes up for the lower completion percentage, resulting in a similar yards per attempt). Since their career completion percentage, yards per attempt, and yards per catch are all about the same, they MUST have thrown a similar ratio of deep to short passes.

    A concrete example: both QBs throw two passes. One throws two short passes, each of which are 7.5 yards. Thus, he averages 7.5 yards per attempt. The other QB throws two deeper passes, but only completes one, but that one is for 15 yards. Thus, he, too, averages 7.5 yards per attempt. But with Montana and Brady, their completion percentages are nearly identical, as are their yards per attempt. The only reasonable conclusion is then that over their careers, both threw roughly the same ratio of short to deep passes.








    It's only recently that Brady has taken to throwing a lot of deep passes (and in 2007).

    See here: https://www.profootballfocus.com/news/q ... -passing-2

    Even in the Super Bowl against Seattle, he killed that secondary with short passes.




    As for Montana, he had a lot of short passes. He also had a lot of this:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJ68KAHv1Iw
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  • whichever you choose you also need a playcaller that seems to know how to use what you've got
    We may have had beastmode when we had tarvaris J but I don't remember ever having a great running game to go along with him , an ok running game maybe but he was running backwards and hesitating so much I couldn't tell if we had a viable running game at the time , bcuz he just stunk so freakin bad , especially under pressure
    Our OC may have known how to run but definitely not how to get the ball out of Tjacks hands before he got sacked cuz tjack sure as hell didn't know how to run out of the pocket and chuck the ball out of bounds
    Too bad nobody's around anymore to stick up for tjack or bevell anymore :sarcasm_on: :2thumbs: :2thumbs: :2thumbs: :stirthepot:
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  • I hate to say it and sound like I'm parroting a national narrative, but I'd say QB.

    I only look at the Harbaugh 49ers to see why. The team had everything and couldn't get it done.

    Two QBs, same overall result.

    Smith and Kap could have won an SB, but it didn't happen and when it doesn't happen and you have a tremendous roster then you pin it on them.

    Now the Seahawks I hold to the similar fire despite more success - the RB was a bit more effective and the defense was a bit stronger.

    Wilson has improved yet the Seahawks haven't been close to the dance since 49. Wilson was on a rookie contract back then, no different than Kap and Smith was only playing for $8MM a year.

    For a 2-3 year window you can make legit arguments that a great defense, running game, OL and everyone but QB will work well if the QB is good enough to get it done.

    But long term it never works.

    You can get lucky of course, but it's not the formula.

    Dynasties are built off of very good QB play with head coach with a pretty good defense.
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  • adeltaY wrote:Even after 49, I would vehemently argue that Montana was the GOAT and Brady wasn't. After 51 and now 52, it isn't much of a debate IMO. Brady is the greatest to ever play the QB position.



    Judging by how well he played with KC, I have no doubt whatsoever that if he could have remained healthy he would have had at least 1 more if not possibly 2 more rings. I'm ok with how things transpired with Young, but the expectation with Montana was higher.

    To me, the comparison is simple, because it has two winners:

    Thomas Edward Brady had the best career of any NFL QB, hands down. His longevity and stat accumulation along with clutch play cannot be denied. Maybe others could have done the same, but they haven't. And his QB playing level from ages 36-40 are also without peer, just like Jerry Rice's was for a WR. It seems to reason that it can only get better if he somehow manages to win another one, but playing in 8 SBs is incredible.

    As for Joseph Clifford Montana, I have always felt he was the best QB to rely on for the playoffs/single game/game winning drive. His peak play I've always felt was better than Brady's.

    Not by a landslide, but enough:

    Montana didn't lose to Eli/Giants twice....he beat them instead (Boomer/Bengals).
    Montana won 4 SBs quicker than Brady - it took Brady another 4 seasons to match Montana's 4th.

    [That part is conveniently left off in these debates. Montana's starting career for the 49ers practically ended less than 365 days from his last SB victory due to injury. Going to KC, it wouldn't matter if he was Montana from 1989, he wasn't going to win another SB (but he did play damn well).]

    Montana was infinitely more mobile, which has to count for something
    Montana played his entire career under center - you won't find one shotgun snap in his career (or Young's).

    If Brady retired after 2011, nobody is parroting him as being better than Montana.....or at least this undeniable GOAT stuff is a lot lot quieter.

    Meanwhile he continues to play at more or less the same level for several more years and accumulate more stats that a retired Montana could not match. Does that make him a better QB or just one who had a better career?

    Ultimately, there's a lot of inconsistency with arguments because people will use Lombardis as a means to compare Montana & Brady, but they never would equate a 1/3 of all SB winning QBs as being better than Dan Marino.

    Why is 5>4 but 1 or 2 not better than 0? LOL.

    It's selective bias.

    I like the eye test and even to my biased eyes I still like Montana better. When you look at his best game highlights, the difference is there to see.
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  • Longevity does not mean better, the 49ers ran into the bounty of success and also the Debartolo fiasco. Brady has had the fortune of Belichick as his GM and Coach and a Teflon coating that has made them immune to all the rule bending they have done.

    Like a person with great genes that looks younger and healthier then other people their age, some things are just fortune and good luck.
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Re: A very good QB or a very good Defense?
Sat May 05, 2018 12:59 am
  • A great QB is better in the modern day NFL. Look no further than Tom Brady. What is he now like 5 - 3 in Super Bowls? With the exception of a few years maybe he has never really had great defenses. This lead to 5 Super Bowl wins and 3 Super Bowl losses. But 8 appearances in the Super Bowl.

    All of the rule changes the last 15 years or so are made to benefit the offense at the expense of the defense. That benefits you more to have a great QB than a great defense.

    But yes as others said you want both. It's better to have both if you can.

    If you look at great defenses you have teams like the Baltimore Ravens who won 2. Or the Tampa Bay Bucaneers who won 1. But rarely if ever are they ongoing dynasties like the Patriots have been with Tom Brady. Or Montana and the 49ers. Also Bradshaw and the Steelers. Troy Aikman with the Cowboys also confirms this. Roethlisburger with the Steelers is another example. You need a QB period. If you have a game manager QB you can only get so far. Look at the Chiefs in recent years. They had some good defenses and a running game and Alex Smith at QB. That would usually lead to a good regular season record and a very quick loss and exit in the playoffs. Just watch which teams are dynasties and appear in multiple Super Bowls and win multiple Super Bowls. You need a QB period. You can't win multiple times without that. You can win 1 with a great defense but that is probably about it for most teams built like that.

    Not that it is bad to build a powerhouse defense. In fact it is good. Elite Franchise QB's don't grow on trees. They are super hard to find. Sometimes you go 5, 10, 15 years or more without one. Most teams don't win much in that time period either.
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  • A QB is just one man out of 11 on the offense. He may be the most important piece but he can’t function well without adequate support. A great defense means all 12 men working together doing their parts. Our early game against Denver looks to be a good illustration. Unless our new ol coach is a miracle worker Russell will be under enormous pressure.
    Last edited by brimsalabim on Sat May 05, 2018 5:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: A very good QB or a very good Defense?
Sat May 05, 2018 12:45 pm
  • brimsalabim wrote:A QB is just one man out of 11 on the offense. He may be the most important piece but he can’t function well without adequate support. A great defense means all 12 men working together doing their parts. Our early game against Denver Luke be a good illustration. Unless our new ol coach is a miracle worker Russell will be under enormous pressure.


    A QB needs a supporting cast. But without it you will LOSE period in the NFL. It's the most important piece. You can fill in other parts around it. But without it you have no chance.
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