2018 NFL season: Predicting every AFC team’s MVP - Dan Hanzus
Baltimore Ravens: Justin Tucker, K
Ideally, my list doesn’t start with a freaking place-kicker, but sometimes alphabetical order trolls you like that. That said, I’ll pound the table for Tucker’s greatness anywhere on this list. This is a guy coming off two of the greatest seasons a kicker’s ever had. Shame it’s been wasted on a pair of middling Ravens teams, but we can see the brilliance tucked amidst mediocrity. Some Tucker facts: He’s missed just four field goals in the last two seasons. He went 10-for-10 from beyond 50 yards in 2016, a season in which his only miss came on a block. He’s never missed an extra point in 205 attempts. He’s a game-changing talent at the game’s most underappreciated position. Justin Tucker will win multiple games for the Ravens in 2018.
Elsewhere in the AFC North, Hanzus predicts WR A.J. Green, DE Myles Garrett and WR Antonio Brown will be the 2018 MVPs of their respective teams.
2017 Passing Plus-Minus - Scott Kacsmar
One of the stats we annually track to help provide context to completion percentage is passing plus-minus. In case you forgot, passing plus-minus estimates how many passes a quarterback completed above or below what an average quarterback would have completed, given the location of those passes. It does not consider passes listed as “Thrown Away,” “Tipped at Line,” or “Quarterback Hit in Motion.” Player performance is compared to a historical baseline of how often a pass is completed based on the pass distance, the distance required for a first down, and whether the ball was thrown to the left, middle, or right side of the field. Note that plus-minus is not scaled to a player’s total attempts.
Rank 24, Joe Flacco, BAL, 509 passes, -1.0% C%+/-, -5.1+/-
Another metric that shows Joe Flacco underperformed in 2017, even when eliminating uncontrollable variables. The top quarterbacks last season according to this Football Outsiders analysis were Drew Brees, Case Keenum, Tom Brady, Alex Smith and Jameis Winston.
“You feel free to just go out there and play. He gives you that confidence to go out there and do what you’ve got to do. He gives you the tools in meeting rooms to come out here and just play Raven Football,” defensive tackle Brandon Williams said. “He’s just kind of letting you go out there and play fast. He’s going to correct you, but at the same time, he’s not going to put the chains on you and kind of make you a robot.”
“Of course the coaches are making the calls, but he’s giving the players a chance to kind of be able to do different things within the coverages and within the techniques and schemes – to where it’s not just, ‘We’re doing this, and it’s this.’ It’s kind of like, ‘We’re doing this,’ and then some of the guys like [Weddle] and C.J. and some of the other guys who have the ability can say, ‘Coach, we can do this,’ and then also letting us be able to change things on the field,” second-year cornerback Marlon Humphrey said. “I feel like it’s a lot more flexible and just helps us with seeing what’s there and working with the call.”
Players across the defense seem enamored with the ‘continuity’ promotion of Don Martindale. The offense will have a chance to attack former coordinator Dean Pees’ defense in Week 6 when they travel to Tennessee.