By Nate Dunlevy
Cold, Hard Football Facts pretender to the stars
Everyone hates a poser, the guy who acts like something he's not.
You know the teenage girl who suddenly starts wearing hemp necklaces and stops eating meat? Or the douche who shows up to a party one night wearing wire rimmed glasses, smoking pipes and talking about obscure poetry? Or pretty much any politician?
The world is full of posers, and they annoy the hell out of us.
Bill Parcells hated posers, too. He famously declared football's anti-poser creed, "You are what your record says you are."
While that's a catchy phrase, it's not quite true.
A team's record is what it is. But that doesn't mean they'll keep winning or losing games at the same rate. For the purpose of future projections, the guys at ProFootballreference use a mathematical formula
based on points scored and points allowed and tout it as more sound than using a team's current record.
Sometimes their formula reveals that teams are not as good as their record would indicate.
In other words, some NFL teams are posers.
Over the long haul, the formula is quite accurate, especially for teams in the middle of the NFL pack. Teams with truly elite records like the 2010 Patriots or the 2009 Colts almost always have more wins than "expected." But for most teams "Expected Wins" is a great way to spot the frauds. Some teams should have had a much better record than they did. Others aren't nearly as good as the standings say.
Here are the profiles of the biggest posers from the 2010 NFL season.
The Poor Caddy in the Country Club
Point differential: -66
Expected Record: 6.4-8.6
Difference: +1.6 wins
The Jags come from the wrong side of the tracks. Despite being in position to win the AFC South entering the final week of the season, the Jags were outscored all year. They had no business being in that position – and
wouldn't have been had they not have won one game with a 59-yard field goal and another with a Hail Mary. Jacksonville went just 1-5 against Quality Teams.
It will be tempting for people to think of the Jaguars as a young team ready to take a leap next season. They were one win over Indianapolis from making the playoffs.
But the Jags are like the ambitious caddy who showered, shaved and tried to hit on the daughters of the country club members. The truth is that he's a poor low life, and if he gets caught with Lacey Underall, he'll get fired.
The sand traps and water hazards are everywhere: Jacksonville finished No. 27 in scoring defense and No. 31 in Defensive Passer Rating.
On offense, Maurice Jones-Drew has had five high mileage seasons and David Garrard is already 32. When projecting the future for the Jags, it's better to think of them as a 6 or 7 win team, rather than a playoff contender.
Also, keep a closer eye on your daughter.
The Stoner Genius
Green Bay: 10-6
Point differential: +148
Expected Record: 12.1-3.9
Difference: -2.1 wins
Alright, alright, alright! The Packers are like that guy in high school who has an IQ of 210 and a GPA of 1.6. The stoner genius ought to be applying for Ivy League schools or homefield advantage throughout the playoffs.
Instead, he spends too much time smoking weed to turn in his homework or win close games. The Packers are No. 1 in Defensive Passer Rating, No. 1 in Passer Rating Differential and No. 2 in scoring defense (15.0 PPG), while Aaron Rodgers is the highest-rated passer in NFL history.
The Packers went just 4-6 in one-score games this year as they've battled injuries all season. If the Pack can straighten up and apply themselves, there's no reason they can't get into a good school and have a successful post-graduate (and postseason) career ahead of them.
The Troll in Midlife Crisis
Point differential: +48
Expected Record: 9.5-6.5
Difference: +1.5 wins
He's balding, fat and the only woman that would have him was the one he knocked
up 20 years ago. In short, he's a Troll. That's not all bad, some of our best friends are Trolls.
In this case, though, the Troll refuses to accept his fate and embrace middle age gracefully. Instead, he dumps the old lady, buys a red Camero and a toupee, and cruises the Chinese restaurant karaoke lounge circuit where he gets gracelessly hammered drinking scorpion bowls on Tuesday nights.
He's the Chicago Bears.
The Bears ought to be home at night asleep in front of the TV, but instead they are posing as one of the best teams in the NFC. A 6-4 record in one score games is their attempt to hide the unsightly bald patches that make it unlikely for them to go all the way at the end of the night.
The Bears have a lot of things going for them, but they are dead last in the Offensive Hog index and their offense is 22nd in turnovers.
The next time you see this poser cruising the town, remind him that Calvin Johnson got robbed and that he should go home to his wife.
The Trust Fund Kid Slumming at the Non-Profit
San Diego: 9-7
Point differential: +119
Expected Record: 10.9-5.1
Difference: -1.9 wins
We've all the met the bleeding heart girl who works with the homeless for $25,000 a year at a non-profit foundation.
She's always dressed nice and gushes over how much she identifies with the poor and down trodden as she climbs into her Lexus that her daddy gave her when she graduated from Brown.
This poser wants us to think she's lowly and humble. But has some serious power in her checkbook thanks to that hefty bank account her parents gave her.
The Chargers are that girl. They're slumming this year, having missed the playoffs for the first time in five years.
However, the numbers say this perennial AFC power ought to be among the best teams in football. The Chargers lead the league in Passing Yards Per Attempt, they were No. 2 in Offensive Passer Rating and No. 3 in Passer Rating Differential – a cash deposit of statistical greatness for a team with one of the most potent offenses and defenses in the league.
But instead of living high on the hog, the Chargers languish nearly two wins below where they out to be, behind the exploits of Norv Turner and Phil "The Fraud
The White Suburban Rapper
Point differential: -97
Expected Record: 5.5-10.5
You know this guy. You hate this guy. The world of rap has a style and flavor all its own. It just shouldn't be embraced quite so fully by a pasty dude from a gated community who calls himself M Money but whose his real name is Melvin Q Baumgardner.
No matter how many gold chains he sports or how low his jeans ride, M Money will never cook MCs like a pound of bacon. In fact, he has all the street cred of an actuarial table.
Similarly, the Seahawks have no business being in the playoffs. Sure, their 7-9 record is historically ugly. But if anything, Seattle is even worse than they look in the standings. Believe it or not, the Seahawks were LUCKY to finish 7-9.
How bad are they? Try 25th in Defensive Passer Rating, 26th on the Defensive Hog Index, 27th in Passing Yards Per Attempt, 28th on the Offensive Hog Index and 29th in Passer Rating Differential.
The problem with the White Suburban Rapper is that he looks ridiculous even before he opens his mouth. Everyone suspects he's a fraud from the start, but once he starts bustin' rhymes, all doubt is removed.