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NFL

NFL Week 14: Making You the Smartest Fan in the Room

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Stats to Discuss During Week 14

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Kirby Lee - USATODAY Sports

Admit it, no matter where you watch football on Sundays you’d love to be the smartest fan in the room, especially if you watch the games with people who claim to be “experts.” Just once, you’d love to see the look on their face when you spit out a random but accurate statistic in the middle of an average conversation. Luckily, you’re not the only one. My girlfriend lives for these moments, and I know she’s not alone. So, instead of searching the internet for a trend or a tidbit that you may or may not ever find, allow me to lay out a handful of stats that even the most astute NFL fan would find interesting and enlightening.

These stats are easy to remember, but they are numbers/trends that your football friends likely failed to notice. This set of data is strictly from last week, as the most useful statistics are the most recent statistics.

That’s right, I’m making you the most interesting fan in the world. Do what you want with this knowledge, but you will have the opportunity to contribute some impressive tidbits to any football conversation. Some perceived trends were disproved last week, thus giving you the chance to back your arguments with some cold, hard data.

How important is the big play? Does the value of kicking a field goal increase or decrease as the game progresses? Is it important to simply call a bunch of pass plays even if the quarterback is nothing more than average? Those answers and many more are included in the following slides.

Looking for more of my work? My fantasy articles and NBA picks against the spread are published routinely and I’m always fielding questions @unSOPable23

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5. Receiving Non-Receivers

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Ron Chenoy - USATODAY Sports

Teams that were led in receiving by either a tight end or a running back held a record of 5-4 in Week 13.

Not every team has a Calvin Johnson, but having a reliable chain moving or short yardage pass catcher is huge when it comes to sustaining drives. Players like Coby Fleener aren't going to take the top off of a defensive like an Alshon Jeffery might, but a dependable pass catcher has as much, if not more, value than a player who can score from anywhere on the field (move ahead three slides).

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4. Quality Not Quantity of Passes

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Denny Medley - USATODAY Sports

The team with the most incomplete passes won just six of the 16 games played last week.

Given the rules that favor the receiver and how hard it is to "properly" tackle a pass catcher, most fans assume that their team is better off throwing the ball on every single down. If your team has a deadly accurate arm (Peyton Manning or Phillip Rivers for example), then you may have an argument, but for the most part, teams that focus on the quality of pass plays as opposed to the quantity seem to have success.

Case in point: the last place 4-8 Cleveland Browns lead the league in passing attempts while the already playoff bound 11-1 Seattle Seahawks lead the league in rushing attempts.

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3. Single Yard Scores

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Bob Donnan - USATODAY Sports

Only 11 of the 19 one-yard touchdowns were scored by a running back.

Old school football fans will tell you that any team with pride should be able to gain three feet with a plunge up the middle, but times are changing. With quarterbacks who can create space either with their size or athleticism (or both in the case of Cam Newton), pounding the ball up the middle is beginning to seem like beating your head against a wall. Why not give your best playmaker (in most cases these days, your quarterback) the ball in space with a run/pass option? Spit out this stat when your team has a hot quarterback and a running game that is hit-or-miss.

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2. Long Touchdowns

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John Geliebter - USATODAY Sports

On the other hand, teams that recorded a touchdown of at least 40 yards won only once in five instances.

Don't get me wrong a big play threat is nice to have, but sometimes offenses will try to use a field stretching player too often. This is a nice statistic to share when you see Alex Smith constantly moving the ball five yards at a time down the field. It's not as exciting, but it keeps your offense on the field longer and allows you to maintain drives.

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1. Importance of Late Field Goals

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Jesse Johnson - USATODAY Sports

Teams that made a field goal in the fourth quarter or overtime went 11-2.

I've said this before and I'll say it again: "Settling for three" isn't always a negative. Sure, getting six points is the goal, but so is outscoring your opponent and putting points on the board is a good way to do that. I plan on using this tidbit when I'm watching a close game and a fourth-and-three type of situation comes up. Take the points unless it is absolutely critical (i.e. a four-plus point deficit with less than three minutes to play) to score a touchdown.