Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

Most Recent FO Features

JefferyAls12.jpg

» Catch Radius: The Bigger, the Better?

Our season finale of catch radius focuses on the growing size of Josh McCown's talented receiving duos, including breakout stud Alshon Jeffery. Also: Anquan Boldin's incredible year.

21 Oct 2003

Week 7 Team Efficiency Ratings

by Aaron Schatz

Here are the team efficiency ratings after Week 7, measured by our proprietary Value Over Average (VOA) system that breaks down every single play and compares a team's performance to the league averaged based on situation in order to determine value over average.  (Explained further here.)  Tampa Bay's loss to San Francisco drops them out of the top spot -- in fact, it drops them out of the top five -- and Minnesota is back in the #1 slot.

Moving up: BUF (from #17 to #11), NOR (from #30 to #24), CIN (from #25 to #20), HOU (from #26 to #21)
Moving down: WAS (from #27 to #19), GNB (from #11 to #18), TAM (from #1 to #6)

Before I get into discussion this week's action, an update on the Gregg Easterbrook/Tuesday Morning Quarterback situation which I originally discussed here.  It is becoming clearer that ESPN's removal of Easterbrook has less to do with the anti-semitic overtones in his comments about the release of Kill Bill and more to do with the fact that he was criticizing ESPN owner Disney.  For more you can read here or here or here.  Once again, I want to point out that I'm not here to talk about the politics of the whole situation.  From a football perspective, what I know is that my week was not complete without reading three things: Peter King's MMQB, Scramble for the Ball, and TMQ.  And now one of those things is gone for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with football.  Since many of our new readers came here from TMQ, I felt it was my duty to let them know what was going on.  If you want to discuss this situation, however, please comment in the discussion thread for the original Easterbrook comment, and keep the discussion thread for this article to comments on VOA ratings and NFL Week 7.

Since TMQ won't be appearing today -- as far as we know -- I wanted to honor some of Gregg Easterbrook's traditions.

Best Play of the Week: Third quarter, and Buffalo has a slim lead of 10-7 on the Chesapeake Region Indigenous Persons.  Buffalo has made it up to the Persons' 10-yard line for a first down thanks to two long Travis Henry runs.  Ball is snapped, and Bledsoe play fakes to Henry running left.  Josh Reed, lined up as the right-side wide receiver, sells run block for what seems like an hour and a half, causing Champ Bailey to bite so hard his tongue had to be surgically re-attached.  Once Bailey finally moves far enough towards Henry, Reed peels off into totally open space on the right side.  Bledsoe to Reed, easy touchdown, and the Bills never look back.

Worst Play of the Week: Beginning of the second quarter, Kansas City has a 7-0 lead on the Raiders but are stuck in their own end after Gannon throws an interception in the red zone.  Trent Green is sacked for nine yards on first down and Tony Richardson drops the second down pass, leading to 3rd-and-19 on the Kansas City 10.  Now, I know this is a clear passing down.  But let's not go overboard, shall we?  Raiders have three linemen on the line of scrimmage and then everyone else back to play pass.  I mean, back.  There are at least 15 yards between the Raiders' three linemen and the rest of the defense.  Have you heard about this Priest Holmes kid?  He's supposed to be pretty good.  Draw play up the middle, Holmes runs about 12 yards before any Raiders are even close to him; he avoids a tackle or two and ends up with 20 yards for the first down.  You couldn't stick a linebacker 10-yards past the line of scrimmage to guard against a short pass or a draw play?

Hot Babe: Here's a link to Brooke Burke's website.

Now, back to my traditions: explaining the VOA ratings.  Let's talk about Tuna Surprise.  Dallas moves up to #5 in the VOA ratings this week.  You'll hear a lot about their offense being the reason for the improvement, but I explained why that isn't true after Week 5.  No, this is all about defense, and with Tampa Bay's problems (which Bucs fan Ian will discuss in Thursday's Scramble for the Ball) the Cowboys move into the top spot defensively with  -29.1% OVOA.

Now, the Cowboys have played a very easy schedule so far, the easiest in the league in fact.  They rank #1 in defense despite being penalized for this schedule.  What's interesting is that they receive no penalty for the rushing offenses they have played so far, and a colossal penalty for the passing offenses they have played so far:


DAL vs. pass DAL vs. run
Opponent-adjusted -26.3% -32.8%
Non-adjusted -44.0% -34.2%

This high-quality rushing defense isn't that much of a shock.  Last year, they ranked #3 against the run, and this year they are #1 against the run, so that's not a big jump.  The big change is the passing defense, even after adjusting for the poor quarterbacks they have faced.  They've gone from average to #2 in the league behind Tampa Bay.  The Cowboys defense is among the league's best on every down and in every part of the field, particularly when the other team's offense is pinned from their own goal line to their own 20-yard line (-96% in this zone, almost twice as good as the second-best team).  That's what makes their offense look so good, because when the opponents fail, they are forced to give the ball back to the Cowboy offense in great field position.

What has happened to this defense, besides the Tuna?  We are likely seeing the maturation of Dallas' two first-round picks over the past two years: 2002 first-rounder Roy Williams at safety and 2003 first-rounder Terence Newman at cornerback.  Newman is playing RCB, which means he is on the offense's left, and wouldn't you know it, opposing quarterbacks are average throwing to the right but dismal throwing towards the left -- where Newman normally is.  All who said Newman would be the impact player of the 2003 draft, pat yourselves on the back.

Elsewhere in the NFC East, Washington has really hit the skids, dropping from #12 to #26 in two weeks.  And over in the AFC East, I have no idea what is going on.  Buffalo (#11) won big this week, the Jets (#10) move up again despite their awful public reputation, and VOA says that Miami (#13) played better than New England (#17) despite the loss -- even when Olindo Mare's two missed field goals are taken into account.  As a result, the VOA ratings for the AFC East are now completely the opposite of the standings.  Confusing things even more, a number of injured players are about to return -- Chad Pennington for the Jets, Willis McGahee for the Bills, and about 100 different Patriots.  Oh, and the Patriots and Bills are listed as having the two hardest remaining schedules in the league.  As a Patriots fan, I feel good about my boys, but there are too many variables here to have any idea who is going to win the AFC East.

But hey, I bet the Patriots sure wish they had taken wide receiver David Terrell in the 2001 draft like Ron Borges suggested.  That Seymour guy will never make it in the pros.

The week's other big news was Carolina playing the way I have expected all along.  With their running backs taking out of the game, their overrated defense and mediocre passing game were pummeled by the Saints.  That sound you hear are the millions of legs cracking as people jump off the Panthers bandwagon.  Another Internet commentator, for example, predicts that "Carolina does not even make the playoffs after such a strong start."  Um, have you seen Carolina's schedule?  Their remaining schedule is easily the NFL's easiest: HOU, ARI, ATL, and DET are all awful teams, PHI and WAS are struggling mightily, NOR and NYG have been up and down.  Of the remaining Panther opponents, only TAM and DAL are good teams this year.  Given their two-game lead on Tampa Bay, I can't see how the Panthers don't win the division.  After which I fully expect them to be creamed by their playoff opponent.

This week you will notice that the schedule strength measurements have moved to their own table, and they are now ranked from #1 (hardest schedule) to #32 (easiest schedule).  They are joined on this table by two new measurements: WEIGHTED VOA and VARIANCE.

WEIGHTED VOA will be an attempt to take into account teams that improve or decline over the course of the season.  Each of the past four weeks will be weighted fully, while each week before that is will be progressively weighted 5% lower.  Right now, that means that Week 1 is weighted 85%, Week 2 is weighted 90%, Week 3 is weighted 95%, and Weeks 4-7 are weighted 100%.  At the end of the season, Week 1 will be weighted only 35%.  This measurement uses opponent-adjusted VOA so that, for example, teams don't appear to have declined simply because they stomped all over an easy early schedule.

The idea of measuring VARIANCE was inspired by Cleveland's performance so far.  They seem to play at a different level every week, like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Holcomb.  So I decided to measure how consistent each team is from week to week, and it turns out that Cleveland has not been the NFL's least consistent team so far.  In fact, they aren't even close.  Instead, that prize goes to the Buffalo Bills, who were destroyed by Miami and the Jets yet dominated New England and Washington.  The most consistent teams are generally in the bottom half of the league -- Cincinnati, San Diego -- but Kansas City is #4, meaning that they've been very good on a consistent basis.

  • Opponent adjustments are at 70% strength.
  • As always, positive numbers represent more points so DEFENSE is better when it is NEGATIVE.
  • All numbers are adjusted for opponent quality except for NON-ADJ TOTAL VOA.

Here are the ratings through Week 7:
 


TEAM
ADJUSTED
TOTAL VOA
LAST
WEEK
NON-ADJ
TOTAL VOA
W-L
OFFENSE
DVOA
OFF.
RANK
DEFENSE
OVOA
DEF.
RANK
SPECIAL
VOA
S.T.
RANK
1 MIN 38.3% 2 51.5% 6-0 25.1% 1 -13.9% 7 -0.8% 22
2 SEA 34.1% 3 42.2% 5-1 16.4% 4 -16.7% 4 1.0% 17
3 IND 33.5% 4 29.0% 5-1 20.4% 2 -9.4% 11 3.7% 4
4 KAN 32.1% 5 32.9% 7-0 12.9% 6 -8.7% 12 10.6% 1
5 DAL 32.0% 7 49.9% 5-1 1.5% 14 -29.1% 1 1.4% 12
6 TAM 24.5% 1 31.8% 3-3 9.9% 9 -15.9% 6 -1.3% 26
7 SFO 24.3% 9 22.1% 3-4 11.8% 8 -13.7% 8 -1.2% 25
8 STL 23.2% 8 26.2% 4-2 2.4% 12 -18.6% 3 2.2% 10
9 DEN 17.8% 6 17.2% 5-2 9.5% 10 -7.2% 13 1.1% 15
10 NYJ 11.6% 12 7.6% 2-4 15.0% 5 9.5% 23 6.1% 3
11 BUF 9.7% 17 12.9% 4-3 -1.8% 18 -10.5% 10 1.0% 16
12 PIT 7.8% 13 5.2% 2-4 -6.8% 21 -16.5% 5 -1.9% 29
13 MIA 6.7% 15 8.2% 4-2 -12.8% 25 -21.2% 2 -1.8% 28
14 CLE 5.6% 10 -0.5% 3-4 -7.4% 22 -13.6% 9 -0.6% 21
15 OAK 4.8% 14 4.8% 2-5 6.4% 11 2.9% 19 1.3% 13
16 TEN 4.4% 18 4.6% 5-2 16.5% 3 11.0% 24 -1.1% 24
TEAM
ADJUSTED
TOTAL VOA
LAST
WEEK
NON-ADJ
TOTAL VOA
W-L
OFFENSE
DVOA
OFF.
RANK
DEFENSE
OVOA
DEF.
RANK
SPECIAL
VOA
S.T.
RANK
17 NWE 3.4% 16 7.1% 5-2 -4.4% 19 -6.5% 16 1.3% 14
18 GNB 1.2% 11 3.4% 3-4 11.8% 7 11.3% 25 0.7% 19
19 NYG -2.1% 21 -6.8% 2-4 -4.7% 20 -6.8% 14 -4.3% 32
20 CIN -8.2% 25 -8.6% 2-4 -1.8% 17 3.0% 20 -3.4% 30
21 HOU -10.4% 26 -13.7% 2-4 -8.5% 23 3.4% 21 1.6% 11
22 CAR -12.7% 20 -14.0% 5-1 -15.2% 26 6.2% 22 8.7% 2
23 BAL -12.7% 22 -5.2% 3-3 -21.6% 28 -6.5% 15 2.4% 9
24 NOR -13.3% 30 -9.7% 3-4 -0.9% 16 12.4% 27 -0.1% 20
25 JAC -13.5% 23 -11.6% 1-5 -9.0% 24 0.3% 18 -4.2% 31
26 SDG -14.8% 27 -16.6% 1-5 2.1% 13 16.0% 29 -0.8% 23
27 WAS -17.3% 19 -12.9% 3-4 0.1% 15 18.4% 31 0.9% 18
28 PHI -20.3% 24 -28.0% 3-3 -23.8% 30 -0.9% 17 2.7% 7
29 DET -32.4% 28 -41.2% 1-5 -22.0% 29 13.3% 28 2.9% 6
30 ATL -36.1% 29 -47.1% 1-6 -21.5% 27 17.0% 30 2.5% 8
31 CHI -37.2% 31 -48.7% 1-5 -28.7% 32 12.0% 26 3.5% 5
32 ARI -51.7% 32 -59.6% 1-5 -23.9% 31 26.3% 32 -1.4% 27

  • PAST SCHEDULE lists average VOA of past opponents, while FUTURE SCHEDULE lists average VOA of upcoming opponents.  Teams are ranked from hardest schedule (#1, most positive) to easiest schedule (#32, most negative).
  • The PAST SCHEDULE number will differ from the difference between ADJUSTED VOA and NON-ADJ VOA because schedule strength is based on the opponent's total efficiency rating, while opponent adjustments to VOA take into account the situations faced within each specific game.
  • WEIGHTED VOA combines the team's adjusted VOA performance from each game.  The past four weeks are each weighted at 100%, while each week before that is weighted 5% lower, beginning with Week 1 at 90%.
  • VARIANCE measures the statistical variance of the team's weekly adjusted VOA performance.  Teams are ranked from least consistent (#1, highest variance) to most consistent (#32, smallest variance).


TEAM
ADJUSTED
TOTAL VOA
W-L
PAST
SCHEDULE
RANK FUTURE
SCHEDULE
RANK WEIGHTED
VOA
RANK VARIANCE RANK
1 MIN 38.3% 6-0 -10.4% 31 -4.3% 28 38.2% 1 17.7% 18
2 SEA 34.1% 5-1 -8.9% 30 -2.3% 24 32.0% 4 21.3% 11
3 IND 33.5% 5-1 -0.8% 21 -1.7% 22 33.6% 3 25.4% 7
4 KAN 32.1% 7-0 -0.9% 22 -1.8% 23 31.3% 5 8.6% 28
5 DAL 32.0% 5-1 -21.8% 32 -3.9% 27 34.0% 2 22.6% 9
6 TAM 24.5% 3-3 -4.7% 26 -6.4% 29 23.9% 7 38.0% 2
7 SFO 24.3% 3-4 8.0% 5 -8.7% 30 22.6% 8 34.8% 3
8 STL 23.2% 4-2 -5.0% 28 -3.2% 25 24.9% 6 17.8% 17
9 DEN 17.8% 5-2 4.0% 14 1.8% 14 17.2% 9 7.9% 29
10 NYJ 11.6% 2-4 4.0% 13 3.4% 9 12.8% 10 18.2% 16
11 BUF 9.7% 4-3 -5.4% 29 12.3% 1 7.2% 12 47.9% 1
12 PIT 7.8% 2-4 6.5% 7 1.6% 16 6.7% 13 19.7% 14
13 MIA 6.7% 4-2 -0.2% 20 3.0% 12 8.1% 11 23.7% 8
14 CLE 5.6% 3-4 5.0% 10 5.1% 6 5.8% 14 20.6% 13
15 OAK 4.8% 2-5 0.0% 18 5.4% 5 4.0% 17 4.6% 31
16 TEN 4.4% 5-2 1.9% 16 1.4% 17 5.7% 15 17.0% 19
TEAM
ADJUSTED
TOTAL VOA
W-L
PAST
SCHEDULE
RANK FUTURE
SCHEDULE
RANK WEIGHTED
VOA
RANK VARIANCE RANK
17 NWE 3.4% 5-2 -1.0% 23 10.3% 2 4.8% 16 21.0% 12
18 GNB 1.2% 3-4 0.9% 17 0.6% 19 0.7% 18 15.8% 22
19 NYG -2.1% 2-4 4.6% 12 1.6% 15 -3.2% 19 9.7% 27
20 CIN -8.2% 2-4 5.5% 9 3.8% 8 -7.7% 20 5.7% 30
21 HOU -10.4% 2-4 4.7% 11 3.9% 7 -11.5% 21 29.4% 5
22 CAR -12.7% 5-1 -0.1% 19 -12.7% 32 -11.9% 22 12.6% 24
23 BAL -12.7% 3-3 -4.9% 27 10.3% 3 -12.6% 23 18.4% 15
24 NOR -13.3% 3-4 -3.5% 25 -9.5% 31 -13.5% 24 21.3% 10
25 JAC -13.5% 1-5 2.0% 15 0.9% 18 -14.1% 25 11.9% 25
26 SDG -14.8% 1-5 5.7% 8 3.1% 11 -14.1% 26 4.4% 32
27 WAS -17.3% 3-4 -1.3% 24 2.1% 13 -18.5% 27 28.7% 6
28 PHI -20.3% 3-3 8.3% 4 -0.6% 20 -19.2% 28 11.6% 26
29 DET -32.4% 1-5 10.3% 3 3.2% 10 -32.1% 29 13.4% 23
30 ATL -36.1% 1-6 10.7% 2 -1.1% 21 -37.7% 31 32.6% 4
31 CHI -37.2% 1-5 14.9% 1 -3.6% 26 -35.5% 30 16.7% 20
32 ARI -51.7% 1-5 7.6% 6 10.0% 4 -51.8% 32 16.5% 21

PREVIOUS WEEKS:

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 21 Oct 2003

comments