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Green Bay Packers Have A Penalty Problem

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The Green Bay Packers are 6-0. By many measures, they are one of the best teams in the NFL. But through Week 6 Green Bay was also one of the top teams on a list you do not want to be on the top of: the most-flagged teams in the NFL.

The Packers have been called for 51 penalties through their first six games. That total is third-most in the NFL, behind only the Buffalo Bills and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a sharp reversal from last year’s third-fewest ranking. Mike McCarthy has shown no signs of following Rex Ryan’s lead and having the Packers do push-ups to atone for their errors, but should he? Just how much more have the Packers been flagged compared to other teams? How much have the penalties hurt the Packers this season? Are the Packers particularly prone to any single type of penalty? Finally, how hard is to be successful when committing so many penalties?

The Most-Penalized Teams

Table 1 shows the teams in the league that had the most flags thrown against them this season through Week 6.

Table 1. Most-Penalized Teams, Total Through Week 6

Team Penalties
Buffalo 68
Tampa Bay 58
Green Bay 51
Baltimore 50
Cleveland 49
Oakland 49
Washington 49

A couple things to note. First, Green Bay is third, but only narrowly. They rank well behind Tampa Bay and are closer to 26th-ranked San Francisco than they are to the league-leading Bills. Second, Oakland and Tampa Bay had early bye weeks. Adjusting for bye weeks makes the Packers look somewhat better.

Table 2. Most-Penalized Teams, Per Game Through Week 6

Team Penalties/Game
Tampa Bay 11.6
Buffalo 11.3
Dallas 9.0
Oakland 9.0
Green Bay 8.5

Ranking fifth in penalties per game is not a place you want to be, but this emphasizes the Packers have not committed nearly as many infractions as other top teams. Green Bay is closer to NFC North mates Detroit and Minnesota’s fifth-fewest penalties per game than they are to Buffalo’s second-highest rate.

Further, while the Packers have been flagged for many penalties, those penalties have not resulted in many yards against them. Rex Ryan’s squad drew his ire because of all the 15-yard penalties they had been flagged for, and Buffalo led the league through Week 6 with 490 yards in penalties. New Orleans has not committed many penalties, but they have a lot of defensive pass interference calls and ranked second with 419 yards in penalties. The Packers, on the other hand, ranked just 12th in total penalty yards at 330 and 15th in penalty yards per game.

It is important not to read too much into those numbers. The penalty count is based on total penalties, while yards come just from accepted penalties. A holding penalty on a third down incompletion will be declined, just like pass interference on a long completion. We have to look at the mix of infractions the Packers have been called for to get a better picture.

Green Bay’s Penalty Mix

The Packers’ most common infraction is offensive holding, where they have been flagged 10 times this year. This is not much of a surprise. Offensive holding is the most common penalty in the league, and the most common penalty for most teams. The Packers do not even rank among the league leaders. The average team had been whistled over 8 times through Week 6, and the league-leading Bears had been penalized 15 times.

The list of most common Packers flags does not any indicate any real problem area.

Table 3. Most Common Green Bay Penalties

Penalty Count
Offensive Holding 10
Defensive Offside 4
Delay of Game 4
False Start 4
Illegal Use of Hands 4

Delay of game is the only one of those penalties where the Packers led the league, and they were tied with three other teams. Moreover, two of those delay of game penalties were intentional, taken before fourth down punts. Two unintentional delay of game penalties in six games is two more than you want, but not so bad.

You also cannot pin the penalties on a single player. The most penalized player is left tackle David Bakhtiari, flagged five times for holding or false start, but even that total is just above average and not egregious.

That is really the theme of the Packers’ penalties in general. They have been flagged a lot, more than an average team. But it is hard to see an overriding theme in their penalties. They have an above-average number of penalties on offense. They have an above-average number of penalties on defense. They have an above-average number of penalties on special teams. In no single area, however, is their total more than above average.

What It Means Going Forward

That Green Bay’s penalties are not concentrated in a single area means there is no one single fix for Mike McCarthy and his coaching staff. More likely, McCarthy will focus on players being more disciplined in their technique and life for Green Bay will be a little bit more difficult than it might be if they were penalized less frequently.

On the whole, though, penalties should not be a major issue for Green Bay. The Packers were penalized only infrequently last year. The other three teams that earned a first-round bye, though, were penalized at an above-average rate. Green Bay can take inspiration from last year’s Patriots and Seahawks, who did not let a higher penalty rate than this year’s Packers prevent them from reaching the Super Bowl.

Broncos double-digit favorites on Sunday night vs. winless, depleted Giants

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The Denver Broncos head into Sunday night with the largest spread they have had at home after a bye week in at least 25 years. The Broncos are 11.5-point favorites against the winless New York Giants with a 38.5-point total for the Week 6 Sunday Night Football matchup at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Denver is 6-1 straight-up and against the spread in post-bye week games dating back to 2010. There’s a similar long-running trend of Denver being 7-2 SU and ATS in home games following a bye week since 2003. However, this is the first time since 1996 that Denver has been a double-digit favorite in that scenario.

The Giants, which are 0-5 SU and 2-3 ATS, had three wide receivers, including Odell Beckham Jr., sustain season-ending injuries last week. That has left QB Eli Manning with WR Roger Lewis (15 career catches) and WR Tavarres King as his main outside targets. Slot WR Sterling Shephard (sprained ankle) could be inactive.

While team performances tend to gravitate toward the mean with time, the Giants will need to show something new – with replacement-level personnel – in order to move the ball against a Denver pass defense which allows only 6.2 yards per pass, fifth-best in the NFL.

The Broncos’ top-ranked defense, led by OLB Von Miller, is also first in run defense and has every starter healthy. While NFC teams are a combined 1-10 SU on the road against Denver since 2012, the Giants are a solid 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games against the AFC.

Denver, 3-1 SU and 2-1-1 ATS, has been quietly efficient on offense. The Broncos, with QB Trevor Siemian, are in the middle of the NFL pack in yards per pass, but they are facing a Giants secondary that is minus CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (suspension) and has also had inconsistent play from CB Eli Apple.

Denver, 7-2 ATS over its last nine home games in October, has been good at opening holes for the tandem of C.J. Anderson and Jamaal Charles, who are each capable of making things happen in the open field if the tackling gets sloppy. New York also won’t have DT Olivier Vernon drawing double teams up front and keeping blockers off MLB Damon Harrison.

Unless the Broncos stop themselves, they should be able to grind out a workmanlike win.

The total has gone over in three of the Giants’ last four games against the Broncos, according to the OddsShark NFL Database. The total has gone over in six of the Broncos’ last seven games as a favorite of 11.0 points or more.

For more info, picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the new OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes, or check it out at OddsShark.libsyn.com.

Watch Indianapolis Colts vs. Seattle Seahawks live on NBC

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The Seattle Seahawks host the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday Night Football as both teams look to get back to .500.

Russell Wilson will be the focal point of the Seahawks offense after throwing for a career-high 373 yards and four touchdowns in a losing effort vs. the Titans in Week 3. Wilson’s ability to avoid the rush and use his legs will be on full display as Seattle’s offensive line continues to struggle.

On the defensive side, the Seahawks’ “Legion of Boom” will look to get back on track at home in a raucous environment against Colts QB Jacoby Brissett who is filling in for an injured Andrew Luck.

If the Colts have any chance to pull off the upset on the road, Brissett will have to use his legs and connect on some deep throws to T.Y. Hilton.

Football Night in America

Start time: 7:00 p.m. ET

TV channel: NBC

Live stream: NBCSports.com, NBC Sports app

Colts vs. Seahawks

Start time: 8:30 p.m. ET

TV channel: NBC

Live stream: NBCSports.com, NBC Sports app