NFL Preview: Introduction

The NFL season fast approaches, and so, to inaugurate the new Arutz Sheva sports section, I shall attempt something a little 'different'.

Shai Landesman , | updated: 2:30 PM

Football (illustration)
Football (illustration)

Sports analysis is moving in a very, well... analytical direction. Numbers and advanced stats are coming to dominate the "smart" sports discourse.

In itself, this isn't necessarily a bad thing. The new stats measure actual performance far better than our old archaic stats do. I too, in my team previews, shall primarily use the DVOA stat developed by Aaron Schatz and his team of merry statisticians over at Football Outsiders (Schatz, incidentally, pronounces his name "shots", like in Yiddish). I don't have anything against numbers per se.

However, sometimes the bigger story gets lost in the shuffle of endless numbers. You can't really reduce the performance of every player and team to the numbers. The stats are very helpful in highlighting certain aspects of what happens on the field, but there is more to it than that.

Each NFL team has a feel, a culture, to it. Think of the emotional response you have to watching a team you should be neutral about, like when it isn't your team or a particular rival of your team. Every team has its own vibe, and even the casual fan responds to it.

Football lends itself especially to this kind of thing, as there are so many different kinds of players on each team doing so many different things. Some teams' culture is dominated by their Quarterback (Packers, Patriots, Colts), some by their secondary (Seahawks) and some by both (last year's Panthers), and all to varying degrees.

I'm going to try to explore the culture and feel around the NFL. I intend to write an article about each NFL team in the coming weeks leading up to the start of the season (wish me luck), in which I will do some of the normal stuff ( you know, how they did last year, how well I think they'll do this year, etc').

Mainly, though, I'd like to try and look at each team in terms of what kind of feel they bring to the NFL. What the viewer can learn about Football from watching them; what story the history of the franchise has told, and where the current team stands in relation to that history; and just in general, how to look at this team in a way which will make following them more fun, hopefully in such a way that may inspire even the uninitiated (like if you're, say, English or Israeli) or unenthusiastic to try and follow the story of the 2016 NFL season.

I would love if this approach could be part of a conversation and debate, not just me lecturing to a nameless, faceless audience that will hopefully feel like reading information about football ideas and observations.

You can email me at with thoughts, criticisms, corrections, horrifying insults, or anything else about the NFL or sports in general. Interesting responses may be featured in mailbag articles where readers might earn the tremendous privilege of being mentioned by name on this here august site.

You can also follow me or contact me on Twitter @ShaiLandy.

A note about stats:

I will primarily be using Foootball Outsiders' DVOA stat in these previews. The only things you really need to know about DVOA is that it's a much better measure for team performance than any of the traditional stats, and that it can be applied to every facet of the game individually.

The team as a whole has a DVOA, the Offense, Defense, Special Teams, running game, passing game, they all have their own DVOA. It's super useful. Usually I'll just mention how the team ranked in DVOA in various aspects, not the actual raw DVOA number.

If you're statistically inclined and want to know the whole story of DVOA, you can read all about it over at the Football Outsiders site.