Home-field advantage in the NFL is typically assumed to be worth about three points to the spread, although there are exceptions. For example, the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks have exceptional home crowds, while the Jacksonville Jaguars and Miami Dolphins are renowned for their poor turnouts. All home-field advantages are not created equal and, more John Elway Jersey importantly, they are almost always overvalued by casual bettors.
Seven weeks into Johnson’s second NFL season — his first as the Cardinals’ full-time starting running back — he leads the NFL with 174 touches and 1,004 yards from scrimmage. His total yardage accounts for 36.8 percent of the Cardinals’ offense and his eight touchdowns represent 44.4 percent of Arizona’s total offensive scores, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
“He’s special,” center A.Q. Shipley said. “We love blocking for him. We know that as long as we give him a crack, there’s something for him. He’s going to get you John Phillips Jersey four or five.”
The Cardinals’ offense isn’t just leaning on Johnson, it’s putting one-third of its weight on him.
His 174 touches account for 34.6 percent of the Cardinals’ total plays and 47.8 percent of Arizona’s total touches. Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, a future Hall of Famer, has the second-most touches on the team with 48 — 9.6 percent of the Cardinals’ total offensive plays and 13.2 percent of the team’s total touches.
Arians, however, isn’t concerned about wearing out Johnson, who’s played the second-most offensive snaps among skill players with 417.
“If he’s tired,” Arians said, “he taps out.”
Philadelphia presents a similar story: The defense looks great, but how far can the team go with a rookie quarterback and rookie head coach? Like the Vikings, Philadelphia also lacks a top-notch playmaker on offense to carry the team. Jordan Matthews is the team leader in yards from scrimmage, but leaguewide he ranks just 75th in that metric this year. Darren Sproles, at age 33, is second on the team and 77th overall.
Arizona has a similar statistical profile to the Eagles, but the Cardinals are 3-3-1 against a schedule that has been below average. And while the Cardinals were a top team last year, it’s hard to be impressed by a team that has lost to the Patriots without Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski, the 3-4 Rams and the 4-3 Bills.
Denver, like the Vikings and Eagles, is trying to ride a strong defense to a Super Bowl title. Unlike those teams, the Broncos have some precedent for it: the 2015 season. Denver remains a Super Bowl contender, but the team is hardly balanced. In fact, the Broncos are averaging just 5.2 yards per play this year, down from 5.4 on last year’s hard-to-watch offense.
Buffalo is another team that is hard to take seriously as a contender: The Bills are 4-3, with losses to the 3-4 Ravens, 3-4 Dolphins, and 2-5 Jets. The team will live and die with its rushing game: Buffalo has averaged 73 rushing yards in its three losses, and 212 in its four wins.
New England? Well, no argument here. Expect the Patriots to be on top of just about every set of power rankings this week, including ours.
Dallas, like Philadelphia, is a surprise behind a rookie quarterback. And while the Cowboys rank seventh in points allowed per game, the defense is below average, as its EPA rating indicates. Dallas leads the NFL in time of possession, which helps keep the raw numbers down, and the Cowboys defense ranks fourth in percentage of drives ending in turnovers, which is unlikely to continue. More worrisome? Dallas ranks 29th in third-down defense and is below-average against the pass.
Atlanta is the mirror-image Vikings: Whereas Minnesota ranks first in defensive EPA and 28th in offensive EPA, the Falcons are first in offensive EPA and 28th in defensive EPA. But the Falcons are trending in the wrong direction, making it fair to question them. Atlanta began last year 5-0 yet managed to finish 8-8, and after starting this year 4-1, Neil Paine asked if the Falcons were going to screw it up again. Since then, Atlanta is 0-2.
Perhaps if Tom Brady had never been suspended, the 2016 season would be thought of as a year highlighted (again) by a dominant Patriots team. But through seven weeks, there are no longer any undefeated teams, and no teams that looked great on both sides of the ball. Parity may be a selling point for the league, but that doesn’t make it pretty.