Inside the Isolator : Week 12 Edition

Warren Sharp

Sunday, November 26, 2017 2:34 PM UTC

Sunday, Nov. 26, 2017 2:34 PM UTC

An “emptying the notebook” with a collection of interesting angles, concepts, matchups and other analysis I uncovered this week which didn’t make it into my write-ups or analysis that I shared with clients for the week.   

What I saw heading into today’s action was …

… another example of how vital Sean Lee is for the Cowboys. We mentioned it in this exact space last week. And the Eagles smoked Dallas. The Cowboys returned Tyron Smith to the lineup, and it didn’t matter. The Chargers smoked Dallas. Until Lee returns, this Cowboys defense is going to be a major problem.

… Kirk Cousins has been phenomenal this season. His stats won’t show it. But the Redskins royally botched their receiving situation, thinking that Terrelle Pryor would replace both DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon. He did neither and is being scratched from the lineups while healthy. They have been without Jordan Reed, one of the most dynamic TEs in the NFL. Their offensive line has been ravaged by injuries and they lost their top 2 RBs. And yet Cousins has this team rolling. They should have won in New Orleans, and because they didn’t, they probably won’t make the playoffs. Nor should they, as their team isn’t a real playoff caliber team. But Cousins is willing them towards it and he should be compensated with a long-term deal by the Redskins this offseason if they know what’s good for them.

… the Lions continue to show those of us who pay attention to the details how they truly are pretenders this year. Trailing 27-10 at home on Thanksgiving, Matthew Stafford did Matthew Stafford things, but it didn’t matter. The Lions are now 6-5. Against teams in the top-half in total efficiency, they are now 1-5, and are 5-0 against teams in the bottom-half of total efficiency.

What I want to see from teams this week is…

… the Bills and specifically Tyrod Taylor come out with a passion that they haven’t exuded much on offense since 20165. If Taylor wants to stay a starting quarterback, it’s easy: stop playing poorly and carve up a very suspect Chiefs defense. The Chiefs defense is extremely suspect yet appears to be strong on the surface of the public opinion. Taylor should be able to deliver a very successful performance.

… the Raiders rebound from a horrific performance in Mexico last week and try to handle a 3-7 Broncos team in Oakland. Last year, Raiders vs Broncos would have been a top matchup. This season, it’s a total afterthought. And for the Raiders, that reason hinges on their lackluster offense. We know their defense was suspect, but their offense should be playing much better than they currently are.

… the Dolphins and Matt Moore produce against the Patriots defense. I’m reluctant to believe the Patriots have made a complete turnaround defensively to mirror the minuscule productivity they are allowing of late. The Raiders were highly productive but failed at key moments last week, punting twice from near the Patriots 40 yard line, and making 3 trips into the Patriots 21 yard line and walking away with points on only 1 of those trips. The Raiders averaged 55 percent success rate on all plays, including 76 percent on run plays for an average of 5.2 yards per carry. While Miami has seen their share of royal blowouts (20-0 vs NO, 40-0 vs BAL and 45-21 vs CAR) these have come against top-10 defenses. Are the Patriots a top-10 defense now? And can Miami cover the largest spread that we’ve seen in 2017?

… the Chiefs run the damn ball with Kareem Hunt against the bad Bills run defense.

What I don’t want to see from teams this week is…

… Joe Flacco and this Ravens offense make the Texans defense look strong. Since losing their key cogs, the Texans defense has faced Kevin Hogan, Russell Wilson, Jacoby Brissett, Jared Goff and Blaine Gabbert. The only QB of this bunch to look bad was Hogan. Even Gabbert put up a 92 rating and tossed 3 TDs. The Ravens defense should smother Tom Savage, but I don’t want to see Flacco fall into Kevin Hogan territory. The Ravens need this game, and they need Flacco to perform well to get the home win.

… the Broncos offense look like they’ve looked to this point in the season. It’s hard to win in the NFL without a quarterback, and the Broncos surely don’t have one. But they canned Mike McCoy and promoted Bill Musgrave. Musgrave has familiarity with the Raiders. And the Raiders defense is horrendous. The Broncos offense must rise to the occasion and attack the multitude of weakness of the Raiders defense.

… the Saints and Rams game will not be a thriller. There are numerous injuries already which make the game less than ideal. The Saints are without two starters in their secondary along with Alex Okafor, a top pass rusher who they lost for the season last week. The Rams are without WR Robert Woods, arguably their most talented WR. This matchup still should be fascinating, and I’m extremely eager to see what Wade Phillips tries to employ to slow down this multi-dimensional Saints attack.

What I found is …

… the Broncos pass offense, after facing the 16th toughest schedule of pass defenses the last 3 weeks, now get the NFL’s worst pass defense, the Raiders.

… the last 3 weeks, the Cardinals have faced the 12th easiest schedule of passing defenses. This week they face the NFL’s best pass defense, the Jaguars, with Blaine Gabbert under center.

… the last time Marcus Mariota faced the Colts, he recorded the following incredibly interesting stat lines:

- 18/22, 11.3 YPA, 110 rating, 65% success rate on early downs

- 5/10, 5.7 YPA, 68 rating, 40% success rate on 3rd down

What you need to know is…

… the Packers will be without their top 2 running backs and have a number of defensive starters on the questionable list

… the Seahawks appear to be getting back T Luke Joeckel, who has missed the last 5 games. They will pair him with LT Duane Brown and the offensive line could look much better starting today in San Francisco.

… the Titans will likely be without WR Rishard Matthews, who injured his hamstring in practice.

… Panthers TE Greg Olsen is slated to return from his broken foot which was injured in week 2.

About the author: Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) is a licensed Professional Engineer and is an inventor of custom & predictive NFL analytics/visualized data. He owns Sharp Football Analysis and Sharp Football Stats. His work has been seen at ESPN, FOX, the Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post and many other news/sports sites. He authored the bestselling 'Warren Sharp's 2017 Football Preview', available on Amazon or in PDF.

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