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Pro football, not for dummies

"Pro Football Prospectus 2007" is one of those rare books that successfully marries detailed statistical analysis with enjoyable writing. A must for any NFL fan and any fantasy football player, the 500-page book is chock-a-block with detailed breakdowns of all 32 teams, plus all skill players in the league.

The heart of the book, written by Aaron Schatz and writers from Football is their DVOA (Defene-Adjusted Value Over Average), a system that better weighs statistics to give a more true measure of a team's success. "DVOA breaks down every single play of the NFL season, assigning each play a value based on both total yards and yards towards a first down." Yes, a book written by stats geeks. But you needn't truly comprehend their system to enjoy the book, since most of it is written in a breezy style that still makes its point. For example, the authors positively hammer new San Diego Chargers coach Norv Turner. Their 2007 prveview of the teams says: "Uh, oh, the Chargers got Norved." They then back it up with a chart that shows Turner is among the worst coaches in NFL history in holding a fourth-quarter lead (somebody did some serious research on this chart). They ask the question a lot of us did when the Chargers hired him: "Why do people keep hiring Norv Turner if he is bad as he appears?"

The book continues in that same vein, making it an enjoyable read for even casual fans. Hard-core types like me will eat it up, especially the essays on various parts of the game (I especially enjoyed the one on onside kicks and the two-point conversion). If you buy one NFL book this season, make it "Pro Football Prospectus 2007." --Jim Buzinski