Commentary

FBO: The cliché graveyard

Take everything you thought you knew about the NFL -- and throw it out

Originally Published: November 23, 2009
By Bill Barnwell | Football Outsiders
RiversDoug Pensinger/Getty ImagesNot a typical Rivers day, but he did go 13-of-14 in the first half.

Anytime someone tells you there's a clear way to win in the NFL, they're lying. They might not know it, but they're lying. Week 11 was a great example of how purportedly perfect explanations of how to win in the NFL are flawed.

Pick a cliché, and Week 11 buried it. Seriously, let's run through them.

You need to convert on third down: Jason Campbell was perfect on third down, and the Redskins scored six points and lost.

You need to win the turnover battle: Chicago was plus-3 in turnover differential against the Eagles until Jay Cutler's final pass, and the Bears lost 24-20.

You need to get touchdowns inside the red zone: Matt Cassel was sacked twice inside the Steelers' 10-yard line, and the Chiefs came back for a win.

You need to win the overtime coin toss: Pittsburgh won the coin toss and lost.

You need a balanced offense: San Francisco was awful running a standard attack in the first half against Green Bay, and went virtually all-shotgun in the second half to score 21 points.

You need to get out to an early lead: Cleveland went up 21-3 and promptly blew the lead by halftime -- then lost on the final play of the game.

You can fire up your team by bringing in a new coach: Buffalo fired Dick Jauron and promptly came out with a flat performance against the Jaguars.

Regardless, it turns out the only way to ensure victory is to actually score more points than the other team. It's easy to see that happen and try to figure out a narrative that sounds correct afterward (including the ones above), but none of those narratives was enough to individually push a team into the winner's circle. The simple answer to winning football games is that there is no simple answer.

Here's a look at which players did the most to help their teams win in Week 11 according to Football Outsiders advanced stats.

Bill Barnwell (@billbarnwell) is a staff writer for Grantland.