Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

Most Recent FO Features

WareDeM05-1.jpg

» Week 7 DVOA Ratings

Denver: great team, or the greatest team? Would you be satisfied with "one of the ten greatest teams?" Plus: hard times in the NFC South, where defense goes to die.

14 Dec 2004

Week 14 DVOA Ratings

by Aaron Schatz

Here are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through Week 14 of 2004, 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.)

Moving Up: Nobody to any large extent

Moving DownDET (from 12 to 15)

Welcome to the week without any upsets, where nothing much changed.  (Of course this didn't stop me from getting smacked in my picks pool, as all the underdogs I thought would cover did not cover, and all the underdogs I thought would not cover, did.)  Although a number of teams shifted up or down one spot, Detroit was the only team that moved more than two places in the ratings.

New England takes the top spot back from Philadelphia this week.  On the other hand, in WEIGHTED DVOA ratings that place more weight on recent performance than early season performance, Pittsburgh now is in the top spot.  To be honest, the order of the top four teams doesn't really matter.  The four teams are so close to each other that you can't really say one is better than another.  This is why home field advantage is going to be so important in the AFC playoffs.

Which brings us to another discussion of 2004's favorite topic, Peyton Manning.  Some of you may have noticed Bill Simmons' take on the Manning season in his Week 14 picks article.  I know it was mentioned in a couple of discussion threads this weekend, since his take and mine are a bit different.  Reader Jere noted that "we need a Schatz-Simmons throw down on the subject."

Before I make my observations, I'm going to reproduce Bill's comment here, all four paragraphs of it.  As far as I am concerned, three words in this mini-essay stand out as the most important.  Can you guess what they are?

People keep asking me why I have a grudge against Peyton Manning. Not true. I just feel like we make a mistake -- not just the media, but fans, too -- of placing too much emphasis on statistics and not enough emphasis on actual success. Certain superstars have a knack for coming through when it doesn't matter: guys like Karl Malone, A-Rod, Bonds, C-Webb, Manning, even Donovan McNabb. I would rather see us celebrating the players and teams that come through when it matters.

To me, the best example of this argument was always "Emmitt vs. Barry." Whenever people argued that Barry Sanders was better than Emmitt Smith, my head would practically explode. So you'd rather have the guy who gets tackled behind the line of scrimmage eight out of 10 times, then breaks off a 40-yard run, over the guy who rushes for five yards a pop, keeps moving those chains and gets stronger as the game goes along? You really think the Cowboys were winning those Super Bowls because of Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin? Emmitt was the heart and soul of those teams. I loved watching Barry Sanders, and he's in the Pantheon for "Guys You Should Never Bet Against," but for one game with my life on the line ... sorry, I'm taking Emmitt. No contest.

Anyway, here's the bottom line: Manning and the Colts had a chance to beat the Patriots three times over the past 13 months ... and they couldn't do it. After Week 8, they were 4-3 and everyone was saying "same old Colts." They barely held off the Moss-less Vikings at home on a Monday night, then exploded for 182 points against Houston, Chicago, Detroit and Tennessee (four subpar teams by all accounts). Now we're supposed to think they can beat Pittsburgh and New England in January -- on the road, in back-to-back games -- just because they've been rolling up the score against crummy teams? Please.

Is Manning having a remarkable statistical season, even when you throw in the relaxed pass defense rules that have bumped up everyone's stats? No question about it. I'm just more impressed with stats like "Ben Roethlisberger is 10-0 as an NFL starter" and "Tom Brady is 51-13 as a starter and 7-0 in overtime games" than "Manning has thrown 62 TDs in a single season." Let's see him play like this when it truly matters. That's all I'm saying.

OK.  Can you figure out which three words are the most important in the whole piece?

The answer is: "and the Colts."

When the time comes to discuss specifics of why Simmons believes that Peyton Manning is not a player who comes through when it matters, Simmons suddenly switches from the third person singular to the third person plural.  Manning and the Colts have failed three times to beat the Patriots.  After Week 8, they were 4-3.  They barely held off the Moss-less Vikings at home on a Monday night.  They've been rolling up the score against crummy teams.

But the final paragraph goes back to singular.  Let's see him play like this when it truly matters.

I don't mean to "call out" Bill Simmons here, his comments just happen to be written in a way where I can point to my disagreement easily.  His point of view is a popular one both among New England fans and all around the world of sports.  A player doesn't truly achieve greatness until he wins a championship.  I simply don't agree.  And the main reason why I don't agree is that the natural corollary of the statement "the best quarterback is the one who wins the most games" is the statement "coaching and defense are meaningless."

Is the quarterback the most important player on the field?  Yes.  But no matter how important he is -- even if he is the only player on the offense that matters in the slightest -- he can never be responsible for more than half the team's performance. (Actually, about three-sevenths, since the split of a team's performance is about three parts offense, three parts defense, and one part special teams.)

Did they barely hold off the Moss-less Vikings, or did Manning barely hold off the Moss-less Vikings?  Or, for a better example, take the 27-24 loss to Jacksonville in Week 7.  In that game, Manning threw for 368 yards and three touchdowns with no turnovers.  He marched the Colts up the field to tie the game or take the lead twice in the fourth quarter.  Did they lose to Jacksonville, or did Manning lose to Jacksonville?  If you believe that Manning must ultimately be judged solely on wins and losses, he holds the responsibility for that loss.  Or worse, if Manning loses a game in overtime because his team loses the coin flip and the Colts defense allows the other team to score immediately, is he somehow less of a clutch player? 

It isn't like Peyton Manning has played badly in all three Indianapolis losses to New England over the past two seasons.  He played badly in one of those losses, the AFC Championship Game.  In this year's opener, he threw for 256 yards and two touchdowns and had the Colts in position for a game-tying field goal only to see Mike "Money" Vanderjagt honk it.  Last year during Week 13, he threw for 278 yards and four touchdowns and marched the team down to the goal line to win the game only to have Edgerrin James stuffed three times.  Manning isn't losing to the Patriots by himself.

If the argument had been that Peyton Manning -- one guy, in the singular -- cannot be considered a great quarterback because he -- one guy, in the singular -- does not have a good playoff record, it would have made sense.  The fact is Manning doesn't have a very good playoff record -- I'm talking yards and interceptions here, not just wins and losses -- except for last season against Denver and Kansas City.  On the other hand, he doesn't have a very long playoff record, and I do think that his regular season wins count as "actual success."  He's led a Colts team with an average defense (at best) to five seasons of ten wins or more in the last six.

Football is a team game.  On one hand, that means that your ultimate goal should be a championship, not personal statistics.  I'm sure that Peyton Manning would trade his MVP award and all his passing records for a Lombardi Trophy.  On the other hand, because football is a team game, no one player is responsible for winning and losing.  I think that Manning is the most valuable player in the league, hands down, but that doesn't mean that he has any control over the Colts defense or special teams.

That's why Simmons is absolutely right to be skeptical about the idea that the record-setting Indianapolis offense is going to the Super Bowl.  The chances of them winning back-to-back road games against Pittsburgh and New England, or vice versa, are remote.  You are talking about two teams that:

  • will have the bye week advantage as well as the home-field advantage
  • play outdoors, which will affect Manning no matter how great he is
  • have strong pass defenses, unlike Houston or Minnesota or the other teams the Colts have recently beat
  • have strong running games that can keep Manning off the field and take advantage of Indy's weakness on run defense
  • have quality blocking fullbacks and/or tight ends that can help double Dwight Freeney, the only truly dangerous player on the Colts defense

The difference between our positions is that I wouldn't say that Peyton Manning has something to prove by "playing like this when it really matters."  But the Colts, as a team, certainly do.  The numbers say the Colts defense is improving, but the competition hasn't exactly been top-notch recently.  Let's see how they do against three winning teams in the next three weeks -- Baltimore, San Diego, and Denver -- and then a series of winning teams in the playoffs.

But if the Colts go to Pittsburgh in the playoffs, and Manning throws for three touchdowns and 300 yards, but Bettis and Staley run all over the Colts defense and the Steelers win, let's not all be talking about how Peyton Manning can't win when it counts.

* * * * *

Although no team really saw its total rating jump or dive this week, there is one rating that significantly climbed: Carolina's defense, which went from eleventh (-3.9%) to fifth (-13.3%) after picking off Chris Chandler six times.  Unfortunately, this huge change exposes one of the problems with the DVOA system.  The opponent adjustments are based on the entire season, even though we know that injuries and trends mean that sometimes a team that was a strong opponent early in the year is no longer a strong opponent.  Certainly this is the case with St. Louis.  Carolina is getting a bonus for shutting down a top passing offense, but we know that the Rams on the field Sunday were not the Rams that have been on the field most of the year.

Unfortunately, there really is no alternative.  Fiddling with the opponent adjustments every week to take into account trends and injuries is not feasible for two reasons.  First, it would be massively time-consuming.  Second, it would be massively subjective.  A one game sample size is not enough to decide that an injury to player X means that team was a much easier opponent for a single week.  If I were to change opponent adjustments like this, the numbers would be less about how teams performed on the field and more about what I wanted the ratings to look like.

So, we deal.  Numbers are a guide to which team is better, not a rule.  We know in the back of our minds that Carolina's defensive rating shouldn't be quite that high.  That will have to do.

In other news, thanks to people for being understanding about my recent illness.  We've been battling for the first time that terrible turn of events known as "entire family gets sick simultaneously" in which my wife and I feel like garbage while our daughter screams non-stop.  This means that I'm even more behind on e-mail than usual so please be patient if you have sent me e-mail recently.  It also means we had to postpone today's Baseball Prospectus chat to Friday at 2 p.m. EST.  You can ask your questions at the rescheduled chat here.

All the position stats should be up to date.  Unfortunately, I discovered that an error in the tool that calculated the defensive line stats led to the adjusted sacks for defenses being really, really off.  Sorry about that.  It should be fixed now.

One more note.  If you find an error in your loser league score one week, please do not hesitate to tell us.  It helps us spot errors that may occur in our play-by-play database.

* * * * *

OFFENSE and DEFENSE DVOA are adjusted based on strength of opponent as well as to consider all fumbles, kept or lost, as equal value.  SPECIAL DVOA is adjusted for type of stadium (warm, cold, dome, Denver) and week of season.  NON-ADJ TOTAL VOA does not include these adjustments.  DVOA is a better indicator of team quality.  VOA is a better indicator of wins so far.

As always, positive numbers represent more points so DEFENSE is better when it is NEGATIVE.


TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
LAST
WEEK
NON-ADJ
TOTAL VOA
W-L OFFENSE
DVOA
OFF.
RANK
DEFENSE
DVOA
DEF.
RANK
SPECIAL
DVOA
S.T.
RANK
1 NE 44.6% 2 36.1% 12-1 30.6% 4 -11.6% 6 2.4% 12
2 PHI 43.6% 1 40.3% 12-1 31.3% 3 -2.5% 11 9.7% 1
3 PIT 40.7% 4 43.7% 12-1 15.2% 8 -21.4% 1 4.0% 6
4 IND 38.0% 3 44.7% 10-3 41.3% 1 0.5% 17 -2.7% 25
5 BAL 23.9% 6 18.8% 8-5 -3.9% 19 -21.2% 2 6.6% 4
6 NYJ 22.5% 5 29.8% 9-4 21.5% 6 1.8% 19 2.8% 10
7 BUF 18.3% 8 20.5% 7-6 -8.1% 24 -17.3% 3 9.1% 2
8 SD 16.0% 7 23.7% 10-3 15.9% 7 -1.3% 12 -1.3% 21
9 KC 13.0% 9 4.2% 5-8 32.0% 2 17.9% 27 -1.1% 19
10 DEN 10.1% 10 13.5% 8-5 1.5% 13 -10.7% 8 -2.1% 24
11 CAR 10.0% 13 13.7% 6-7 -0.2% 16 -13.3% 5 -3.1% 27
12 CIN 5.9% 11 -2.2% 6-7 12.8% 10 10.4% 24 3.4% 7
13 TB 3.9% 14 9.5% 5-8 -4.5% 22 -11.4% 7 -3.0% 26
14 JAC 0.2% 15 -4.5% 7-6 0.8% 14 -0.6% 15 -1.2% 20
15 DET 0.1% 12 0.8% 5-8 -4.1% 21 -1.2% 13 3.1% 8
16 ATL -0.7% 18 5.8% 10-3 -4.0% 20 1.0% 18 4.2% 5
TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
LAST
WEEK
NON-ADJ
TOTAL VOA
W-L OFFENSE
DVOA
OFF.
RANK
DEFENSE
DVOA
DEF.
RANK
SPECIAL
DVOA
S.T.
RANK
17 SEA -1.6% 17 13.6% 7-6 2.4% 12 0.4% 16 -3.7% 28
18 GB -2.4% 16 -4.1% 8-5 14.7% 9 18.7% 28 1.6% 13
19 WAS -2.8% 21 -4.6% 4-9 -14.9% 28 -16.1% 4 -4.0% 29
20 HOU -2.9% 20 -14.6% 5-8 -0.4% 17 2.4% 20 -0.1% 18
21 MIN -3.9% 19 -1.3% 7-6 23.6% 5 22.9% 30 -4.6% 30
22 NYG -16.3% 23 -9.7% 5-8 -9.6% 25 6.6% 21 -0.1% 17
23 CLE -16.3% 22 -31.7% 3-10 -9.8% 26 7.5% 22 1.0% 16
24 DAL -17.0% 24 -18.7% 5-8 -1.8% 18 16.5% 25 1.3% 14
25 TEN -17.2% 26 -16.5% 4-9 -12.6% 27 -0.9% 14 -5.6% 31
26 OAK -18.4% 25 -30.4% 4-9 0.7% 15 17.0% 26 -2.1% 23
27 NO -20.4% 27 -12.1% 4-9 -6.7% 23 21.9% 29 8.2% 3
28 MIA -24.6% 29 -30.0% 2-11 -32.8% 31 -5.5% 10 2.6% 11
29 CHI -26.3% 28 -26.5% 5-8 -37.4% 32 -8.2% 9 2.9% 9
30 ARI -29.0% 31 -20.7% 4-9 -19.6% 30 7.7% 23 -1.7% 22
31 STL -31.1% 30 -28.0% 6-7 3.9% 11 25.7% 32 -9.3% 32
32 SF -40.8% 32 -38.7% 2-11 -17.0% 29 25.0% 31 1.2% 15

  • ESTIMATED WINS uses a statistic known as "Forest Index" that emphasizes consistency as well as DVOA in the most important specific situations: red zone defense, first quarter offense, and performance in the second half when the score is close.  It then projects a number of wins adjusted to a league-average schedule and a league-average rate of recovering fumbles.  It is based on the number of games a team has played so far, so teams which have not had their bye will appear higher.
  • WEIGHTED DVOA represents an attempt to figure out how a team is playing right now, as opposed to over the season as a whole, by making recent games more important than earlier games.
  • PAST SCHEDULE lists average DVOA of opponents played so far, ranked from hardest schedule (#1, most positive) to easiest schedule (#32, most negative).
  • FUTURE SCHEDULE lists average DVOA of opponents remaining on the schedule, ranked from hardest schedule (#1, most positive) to easiest schedule (#32, most negative).
  • VARIANCE measures the statistical variance of the team's weekly DVOA performance.  Teams are ranked from least consistent (#1, highest variance) to most consistent (#32, smallest variance).


TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
W-L ESTIM.
WINS
RANK WEIGHTED
DVOA
RANK PAST
SCHED
RANK FUTURE
SCHED
RANK VARIANCE RANK
1 NE 44.6% 12-1 12.2 1 42.6% 4 6.0% 8 -14.3% 30 18.8% 14
2 PHI 43.6% 12-1 11.5 2 43.0% 3 -2.3% 22 -14.1% 28 18.9% 13
3 PIT 40.7% 12-1 10.3 3 49.6% 1 3.9% 11 8.6% 10 16.9% 15
4 IND 38.0% 10-3 10.3 4 44.3% 2 -2.6% 23 16.7% 4 13.4% 23
5 BAL 23.9% 8-5 8.6 6 24.9% 6 9.7% 3 18.0% 2 25.0% 6
6 NYJ 22.5% 9-4 9.0 5 19.6% 7 2.3% 13 3.9% 13 12.9% 24
7 BUF 18.3% 7-6 8.6 7 25.2% 5 1.0% 15 1.9% 15 29.4% 1
8 SD 16.0% 10-3 8.2 8 17.9% 8 -0.6% 17 11.6% 7 12.2% 27
9 KC 13.0% 5-8 7.8 10 10.6% 11 6.7% 6 2.6% 14 15.9% 19
10 DEN 10.1% 8-5 7.5 11 6.6% 13 -1.6% 19 11.3% 8 16.2% 17
11 CAR 10.0% 6-7 8.0 9 14.6% 9 -4.5% 25 -5.7% 23 19.0% 12
12 CIN 5.9% 6-7 6.8 16 11.0% 10 8.6% 4 15.2% 5 14.1% 21
13 TB 3.9% 5-8 7.2 12 10.5% 12 -7.2% 29 -13.1% 27 13.4% 22
14 JAC 0.2% 7-6 6.8 14 -0.5% 16 8.2% 5 -7.9% 24 5.4% 31
15 DET 0.1% 5-8 6.8 15 -2.4% 18 -1.7% 20 -15.8% 31 21.0% 9
16 ATL -0.7% 10-3 6.7 18 -2.8% 20 -7.6% 30 -4.0% 22 26.4% 4
TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
W-L ESTIM.
WINS
RANK WEIGHTED
DVOA
RANK PAST
SCHED
RANK FUTURE
SCHED
RANK VARIANCE RANK
17 SEA -1.6% 7-6 6.3 20 -7.8% 21 -12.5% 32 -2.4% 19 11.8% 28
18 GB -2.4% 8-5 6.8 17 2.7% 15 -2.0% 21 -10.0% 26 24.7% 7
19 WAS -2.8% 4-9 5.3 22 4.7% 14 5.2% 9 -20.6% 32 20.2% 10
20 HOU -2.9% 5-8 6.4 19 -1.3% 17 6.1% 7 -14.1% 29 10.7% 29
21 MIN -3.9% 7-6 7.0 13 -2.6% 19 -3.7% 24 -1.7% 17 15.8% 20
22 NYG -16.3% 5-8 4.8 23 -28.5% 28 0.8% 16 9.9% 9 28.0% 2
23 CLE -16.3% 3-10 4.8 24 -16.7% 22 18.0% 1 -3.9% 21 26.1% 5
24 DAL -17.0% 5-8 5.4 21 -20.2% 23 1.8% 14 8.2% 11 12.5% 26
25 TEN -17.2% 4-9 4.6 25 -21.1% 25 3.7% 12 -2.7% 20 22.7% 8
26 OAK -18.4% 4-9 4.5 27 -22.4% 26 11.7% 2 -1.3% 16 20.1% 11
27 NO -20.4% 4-9 4.5 26 -20.6% 24 -6.9% 28 4.4% 12 3.2% 32
28 MIA -24.6% 2-11 4.2 28 -25.1% 27 4.9% 10 17.4% 3 12.8% 25
29 CHI -26.3% 5-8 3.9 29 -32.2% 31 -1.4% 18 -1.7% 18 16.6% 16
30 ARI -29.0% 4-9 3.5 31 -29.5% 29 -6.2% 26 -9.6% 25 16.2% 18
31 STL -31.1% 6-7 3.9 30 -32.1% 30 -6.6% 27 12.4% 6 26.5% 3
32 SF -40.8% 2-11 2.4 32 -42.6% 32 -12.2% 31 20.0% 1 8.9% 30

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 14 Dec 2004

7 comments, Last at 26 Mar 2007, 10:51pm by bmw motorcycle of orlando

Comments

1
by order bontril without prescription (not verified) :: Wed, 01/31/2007 - 2:44am

order bontril without prescription

FOOTBALL OUTSIDERS: Football analysis and NFL stats for the Moneyball era - Authors of Pro Football Prospectus 2005

2
by Instant Movie Downloads (not verified) :: Sun, 02/04/2007 - 12:21am

saw III preview

Download unlimited movies and TV shows instantly. Learn how now.

3
by andorra compacta juniper (not verified) :: Thu, 02/15/2007 - 4:00pm

andorra compacta juniper

andorra compacta juniper friends

4
by perma bound book (not verified) :: Sat, 03/17/2007 - 7:17am

perma bound book

abrikoskos 2714459 perma bound book intro

5
by Slot Machines Rules (not verified) :: Sun, 03/25/2007 - 9:56pm

Slot Machines Rules

distracting.thesis steel memorable dearth

6
by 745li bmw used (not verified) :: Mon, 03/26/2007 - 5:49pm

745li bmw used

Of 745li bmw used and more

7
by bmw motorcycle of orlando (not verified) :: Mon, 03/26/2007 - 10:51pm

bmw motorcycle of orlando

Research about bmw motorcycle of orlando.