It's all fantasy football's fault. I realize I've spent way too much time talking about offense in my blog. It's time to spend some time on the D.
Today's absurd prediction:
Nnamdi Asomugha will finish second in the league in INTs.
Obviously, Champ Bailey will be first, and he won't be tying with anyone this time around. Dre Bly will be a threat on the other side, so Bailey should see more balls thrown his way, and he'll find a way to nab them.
Why Asomugha? Well, more than anything else, interceptions are an opportunistic stat. I don't think any other figure in the league is as dependent on who one is playing against. In 2005, the Bengals led the league in interceptions, getting five in three different games-all against NFC North opponents. Last year they didn't play the NFC North, and didn't come close.
However, three of the six players who got 8 or more INTs in 2006 played at least four games against North teams: Asante Samuel, Walt Harris, and Charles Woodson. And in 2005, the same could be said for seven of the top 10. This isn't coincidence-some kind of Great Lakes Curse. It's simply that teams facing the NFC North got to play against Brett Favre, Rex Grossman, and Jon Kitna - three of the top five INT-throwing QBs in the league last year. And this year, newbie Tarvaris Jackson gets thrown into the mix.
Three of the top six will be playing the NFC North this year. One is Woodson again (obviously). The other two? You guessed it - Bailey and Asomugha. Hence my prediction.
I've given each team a rating for how likely it is that their top cornerback will get a lot of interceptions, based primarily on the quarterbacks they'll be facing. I also factored in their opponents' receiving options - the top cornerback isn't as likely to get interceptions against Cincinnati or Arizona, for example, because the QB has a great #2 to throw to, so he can keep the ball away from the #1 corner all night. However, we know Brett Favre is going to throw to Donald Driver no matter what. Same for Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson. So that factored in.Interestingly, the numbers totaled up to numbers that look like percentage grades for school, with the lowest being a 60 and the highest being a 102, so I'm going to translate them into A's and B's.
Here are the grades:
A+: Detroit, Minnesota
A-: Denver, San Diego, Chicago
B+: Oakland, New York Giants
B: Green Bay, Washington, Kansas City, Philadelphia, Dallas
B-: St. Louis, Jacksonville
C+: Indianapolis, New Orleans
C: New York Jets, Baltimore, Carolina, Seattle
C-: Miami, Houston, Cincinnati, Tampa Bay, New England
D: Cleveland, San Francisco, Buffalo, Arizona, Pittsburgh
Note: This had nothing to do with who the #1 cornerback is, only with who they are playing. I'm sure someone will still say "How can you give San Francisco a D? They have Nate Clements now!" Sigh... it's so hard to read carefully these days.
So, now that we've seen the grades, here's who I see landing in the top 10 in INTs:
- Champ Bailey (I'm predicting he'll total 12, the highest yet this decade)
- Nnamdi Asomugha
- Rashean Mathis (the other member of the top six last year)
- Lito Sheppard
- Roy Williams
- Charles Woodson
- Asante Samuel
- Walt Harris (despite the D, he'll get to take advantage of #2 receivers)
- Nathan Vasher
- (tie) Dre Bly (also gets #2s), Quentin Jammer
Naturally, there'll be a lot of ties involved, not just at 10, but I really wanted to put both Jammer and Bly on this list. I think Jammer's ready for a breakout, and he's got the opponents to do it to.
Hopefully you enjoyed reading this. I think FanNation is in dire need of reading material that isn't about Michael Vick or any of the other thousand constantly rehashed topics.