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Brady-Manning XVI: the biggest game in the AFC this year. Denver has juggernaut potential as a complete team, but the Patriots have the crucial home-field advantage in Week 9.

08 Nov 2005

Week 10 DVOA Ratings, Shot to Hell Version

by Aaron Schatz

Among the issues discussed in this week's FOXSports.com commentary, now posted here on FOXSports.com:

  • Carolina is Cincinnati
  • Indianapolis will not go 16-0
  • The Kansas City defender nobody knows
  • Green Bay's biggest problem

Individual pages for offense, defense, and special teams are now updated, players stats will be updated later tonight or tomorrow. Remember, FOXSports.com ratings are the weighted DVOA, not the full-season DVOA. The tables are still in order by regular DVOA, I'm trying to decide if I should change that.

* * * * *

These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings for 2005, measured by our proprietary Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) system that breaks down every single play and compares a team's performance to the league average based on situation in order to determine value over average. (Explained further here.)

OFFENSE and DEFENSE DVOA are adjusted based on strength of opponent as well as to consider all fumbles, kept or lost, as equal value. Opponent adjustments are currently set at 90% and will be at full strength after Week 10. SPECIAL DVOA is adjusted for type of stadium (warm, cold, dome, Denver/Mexico City) and week of season. NON-ADJ TOTAL VOA does not include these adjustments.


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 IND 33.8% 1 52.9% 8-0 25.0% 3 -14.9% 5 -6.1% 31
2 CIN 32.5% 2 48.8% 7-2 22.6% 5 -10.0% 7 -0.1% 19
3 NYG 31.2% 3 45.4% 6-2 11.2% 9 -4.7% 14 15.2% 1
4 SD 29.8% 4 19.9% 5-4 28.0% 2 -0.1% 19 1.8% 13
5 SEA 29.0% 6 38.3% 6-2 29.4% 1 -0.5% 18 -0.9% 22
6 JAC 26.9% 5 18.1% 5-3 1.1% 16 -25.0% 1 0.8% 15
7 DEN 25.7% 7 25.5% 6-2 23.4% 4 -5.6% 11 -3.4% 26
8 DAL 24.1% 9 29.1% 5-3 3.2% 14 -17.9% 3 2.9% 9
9 PIT 22.4% 8 31.0% 6-2 5.5% 12 -17.5% 4 -0.6% 21
10 WAS 18.7% 11 -1.3% 5-3 8.6% 11 -13.6% 6 -3.5% 27
11 KC 17.2% 10 8.9% 5-3 13.1% 7 -1.6% 16 2.5% 10
12 CHI 10.4% 12 11.8% 5-3 -14.8% 25 -21.6% 2 3.5% 7
13 CAR 8.1% 14 27.3% 6-2 2.5% 15 -4.8% 12 0.7% 17
14 OAK 6.6% 13 12.1% 3-5 12.5% 8 5.7% 20 -0.1% 20
15 NE 6.5% 16 -12.7% 4-4 20.8% 6 15.9% 29 1.6% 14
16 MIA 2.8% 15 -6.7% 3-5 -12.2% 24 -9.0% 8 6.0% 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 ATL -0.1% 18 18.9% 6-2 9.7% 10 8.5% 25 -1.3% 25
18 PHI -0.5% 19 -4.0% 4-4 3.8% 13 -2.8% 15 -7.1% 32
19 BAL -5.5% 20 -17.1% 2-6 -12.0% 23 -4.8% 13 1.8% 12
20 TB -6.2% 17 13.2% 5-3 -15.8% 26 -8.8% 9 0.8% 16
21 GB -11.3% 23 -13.0% 1-7 1.0% 17 7.2% 24 -5.1% 28
22 CLE -12.7% 25 -17.5% 3-5 -5.4% 20 9.3% 26 2.0% 11
23 BUF -15.0% 22 2.0% 3-5 -18.6% 27 6.4% 23 10.0% 2
24 DET -17.1% 21 -17.1% 3-5 -20.0% 29 -8.7% 10 -5.7% 30
25 TEN -18.6% 24 -14.4% 2-7 -7.7% 21 14.8% 27 3.8% 6
26 MIN -19.7% 30 -33.0% 3-5 -2.8% 19 15.6% 28 -1.3% 24
27 STL -21.2% 26 -19.8% 4-4 -1.1% 18 20.7% 30 0.6% 18
28 NYJ -21.8% 27 -24.2% 2-6 -22.4% 31 -1.5% 17 -1.0% 23
29 NO -22.8% 29 -24.5% 2-7 -11.5% 22 6.0% 21 -5.4% 29
30 ARI -24.8% 28 -24.9% 2-6 -22.0% 30 6.0% 22 3.2% 8
31 HOU -43.5% 31 -59.4% 1-7 -18.7% 28 31.4% 32 6.6% 3
32 SF -70.2% 32 -76.9% 2-6 -51.0% 32 25.3% 31 6.1% 4

  • 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.  Teams that have had their bye week are projected as if they had played one game per week.
  • 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. This is the statistic used for the FOXSports.com Power Rankings.
  • PAST SCHEDULE lists average DVOA of opponents played this season, ranked from hardest schedule (#1, most positive) to easiest schedule (#32, most negative). It is not adjusted for which games are home or road.
  • FUTURE SCHEDULE lists average DVOA of opponents still left to play this season, ranked from hardest schedule (#1, most positive) to easiest schedule (#32, most negative). It is not adjusted for which games are home or road.
  • 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 IND 33.8% 8-0 7.7 1 33.6% 1 -17.3% 31 6.7% 9 3.0% 32
2 CIN 32.5% 7-2 6.6 4 32.2% 2 -5.7% 28 3.3% 12 22.4% 13
3 NYG 31.2% 6-2 6.2 5 30.5% 4 -5.1% 24 9.4% 7 27.0% 7
4 SD 29.8% 5-4 7.1 3 30.3% 5 12.4% 3 12.8% 1 10.7% 26
5 SEA 29.0% 6-2 7.4 2 31.2% 3 -5.6% 27 -15.9% 31 9.4% 29
6 JAC 26.9% 5-3 6.2 8 24.4% 7 7.1% 8 -20.0% 32 27.5% 6
7 DEN 25.7% 6-2 6.2 7 29.3% 6 16.6% 1 5.2% 10 25.4% 9
8 DAL 24.1% 5-3 6.2 6 23.8% 8 2.5% 13 7.8% 8 22.4% 14
9 PIT 22.4% 6-2 6.1 9 19.4% 9 2.1% 14 1.1% 15 22.8% 11
10 WAS 18.7% 5-3 5.8 10 19.1% 10 8.3% 6 4.9% 11 29.3% 5
11 KC 17.2% 5-3 5.8 11 17.0% 11 8.5% 5 11.4% 4 6.9% 30
12 CHI 10.4% 5-3 5.2 14 10.0% 13 -5.4% 26 -11.0% 30 34.0% 4
13 CAR 8.1% 6-2 5.3 13 10.1% 12 -11.6% 30 -3.9% 23 10.5% 27
14 OAK 6.6% 3-5 5.1 15 8.5% 14 7.6% 7 12.4% 3 11.6% 24
15 NE 6.5% 4-4 5.6 12 6.0% 15 13.9% 2 -8.1% 27 10.7% 25
16 MIA 2.8% 3-5 5.0 16 -0.3% 17 -1.9% 19 -2.3% 22 19.8% 17
TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
W-L ESTIM.
WINS
RANK WEIGHTED
DVOA
RANK PAST
SCHED
RANK FUTURE
SCHED
RANK VARIANCE RANK
17 ATL -0.1% 6-2 4.7 17 -0.2% 16 -5.2% 25 -4.6% 24 14.1% 22
18 PHI -0.5% 4-4 4.3 18 -0.8% 18 6.5% 10 9.6% 6 22.0% 15
19 BAL -5.5% 2-6 4.0 21 -5.1% 19 3.6% 12 2.5% 13 13.7% 23
20 TB -6.2% 5-3 4.1 20 -7.8% 20 -18.0% 32 -0.3% 19 21.1% 16
21 GB -11.3% 1-7 2.6 29 -9.8% 21 -1.9% 20 0.9% 16 23.5% 10
22 CLE -12.7% 3-5 4.2 19 -12.9% 22 -2.4% 22 11.1% 5 17.3% 20
23 BUF -15.0% 3-5 3.2 24 -17.6% 24 -9.8% 29 12.6% 2 26.7% 8
24 DET -17.1% 3-5 3.7 23 -19.1% 27 -3.3% 23 0.0% 18 46.4% 2
25 TEN -18.6% 2-7 3.1 26 -16.4% 23 -1.4% 17 0.8% 17 22.7% 12
26 MIN -19.7% 3-5 3.9 22 -18.6% 26 -0.8% 16 -0.5% 20 19.5% 18
27 STL -21.2% 4-4 3.2 25 -18.5% 25 -1.9% 21 -10.9% 29 14.5% 21
28 NYJ -21.8% 2-6 2.8 28 -20.4% 28 6.2% 11 2.3% 14 10.3% 28
29 NO -22.8% 2-7 3.1 27 -25.5% 30 -1.6% 18 -5.2% 25 42.1% 3
30 ARI -24.8% 2-6 2.4 30 -24.2% 29 1.4% 15 -9.1% 28 6.8% 31
31 HOU -43.5% 1-7 1.5 31 -40.5% 31 12.3% 4 -7.8% 26 18.9% 19
32 SF -70.2% 2-6 0.5 32 -72.9% 32 6.9% 9 -1.6% 21 65.4% 1

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 08 Nov 2005

653 comments, Last at 31 Oct 2006, 9:53am by sharif masawudu

Comments

1
by bobman (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 5:33pm

Time for me to review the criteria for special teams analysis again. Just when I thought the Colts good coverage on kickoffs last night might erase the drawbacks of David "two-thirds of a leg" Rayner's short-hop KOs (and the one 29-yard punt return), there they are at 31 in ST ranking.
It has not burned them yet, but that's one of those things that is just begging to be a factor later in the year. Week 19: Manning, 3 TD passes. Freeney 2 sacks and a FF. Opponents, 5 TDs off KO returns.

2
by Freddie (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 5:42pm

All I can say is...
HAAA HAAAA HAAA HAA
6-2 Falcons beat a 3-5 Maimi
but are still ranked lower. Miami
needed 2 fumble recoveries to even
score. The Falcons sustained multiple
90+ yard drives. If these teams played
10 times the Falcons would win 11.

3
by wrmjr (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 5:43pm

Even though it wouldn't belong in this table, is there a way to try to quantify the loss of T.O. to the Eagles? Assuming the average quality replacement (which may not be true), how far down would the offense slip?

4
by DavidH (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 5:49pm

Atlanta's ahead in weighted DVOA now

5
by doktarr (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 5:50pm

I guess you could take TO's 11.5 DPAR out of the Eagle's passing numbers. I can't convert that to DVOA because I don't know what percentage of the passing offense TO comprised.

That said, it's hard to measure what impact he has on the field in terms of drawing defenders away from other players, so that simplistic correction would probably not capture how much losing TO costs the Eagles.

6
by Duck in MA (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 5:51pm

I can't even believe Rayner is considered a kick-off specialist. Can't the Colts get a kid off a high school soccer team to do better than that? Every time he kicked off last night I was thinking, 'This guy is really worth a roster spot over a backup lineman?'. I know Mike "money" Vanderjagt sucks at kickoffs, but was he really that bad? I'm sure even he could kick it to the 20 yard line 1/2 the time.

7
by mawbrew (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 6:06pm

Miami has been living off that Denver win all year, but they are slowly sinking to a more appropriate level.

Don't know what Atlanta and St. Louis are doing wrong per DVOA. Both are, IMO, much better than currently ranked.

8
by doktarr (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 6:09pm

Re #1

Of the AFC teams that the Colts need to be worried about, only San Diego has an especially good kick return game, and they could easily miss the playoffs. KC has Hall, oof course, but with their pass defense I don't think a return TD will be enough help.

I'm not saying that the Colts' special teams aren't a weakness, because they are. I just doubt that the coverage game will be their downfall, at least before the Super Bowl.

9
by Daniel (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 6:10pm

Thats twice now that you've screwed the Steelers because Big Ben did not play. With him fully healthy (he's not out for the year!) this is clearly the second best team in the league. To have them ninth is an insult to the foundation of mathematics and statistical analysis itself.

10
by Mshray (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 6:12pm

Hey, Aaron, while I don't pretend to know one tenth what you know about manipulating statistics, could you please explain why Past/Future Schedule is not adjusted to reflect home/away? I can understand that this may be tricky when weighting for overall DVOA, but it seems a major limiting factor in the meaningfulness of those two columns by themselves.

Just look at DEN v. IND. IND is rated #9 most difficult & DEN is rated #10. IND has 5 home/3 away, while DEN has 3 home/5 away. It's counterintuitive to think that this means anything without adjusting for home/road. Curious as to your thoughts.

11
by Brian (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 6:31pm

Obviously the special teams of the Colts aren't spectacular. But does having a good offense hurt their special teams ranking by having less FG attempts, punts, etc? It just seems like (with a few notable exceptions) the top teams in ST ranking have pretty inept offenses.

12
by Xian (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 6:36pm

re: #8

How is analyzing the whole team's performance, rather than just their performance when Ben R is playing an insult to the foundation of mathematics and statistical analysis itself.?

Seems to me that it's a lot more valid to analyze everything, rather than just the subset where one particular player is playing. And does the analysis of the defense & ST not count because Big Ben is out?

13
by John (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 6:39pm

I don't know, but I think my favorite part of the DVOAs being posted each week are all the irrational arguments posted by fans of a specific team.
Thanks Freddie and Daniel, you have added a little joy to my life.

14
by james (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 6:43pm

AFC Rankings by estimated wins
------------------------------
1.Indy
2.San Diego
3.Denver
4.Jacksonville
5.KC

Cincinatti is 6th. Cinci has a pretty good offense but a defense that is at the will of the weapons of the opposing offense. On the road against a decent offensive team they will always be in trouble. Anyone that can score can come into Cinci and beat them. So they est. wins rate them at 3rd I don't think that is necessarily accurate.

NFC rank by estimated wins
---------------------------
1. Seattle
2. Dallas
3. Giants
4. Washington
5. Chicago/Carolina

We have yet to see Chicago or Carolina beat a quality team. The NFC East is ridiculous. Seattle will have the benefit of home field advantage most likely because they don't have to get their hands dirty. That won't necessarily help them to the superbowl because you don't how to play like the best until you play the best. The east will all have a leg up by virtue of their schedules. I think the Superbowl participant will come from this division because of their schedule.

Over in the AFC, the Colts and whoever survives the AFC West will have the same sort of advantage.

15
by rk (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 6:50pm

Re 8: There are a bunch of teams playing with their back up QB's all over the league. Orton has started every game for Chicago and Wright and Brunell have been starting since Week 2. The Jets and San Francisco are on their 4th QBs, and the Niners' Week 1 starter isn't even on the team anymore. To say the Steelers are being screwed is missing the point of these statistics.

16
by admin :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 7:01pm

The answer to question number 9 is pretty simple actually.

Past and future schedule are not adjusted for home and road DVOA because managing a book the size of PFP 2005 takes up a lot of time, especially when you've never done a book before. Then I went on a book tour. That pretty much took care of any time I had to improve things before the season. My wife got a new job which requires a long commute, so I need to be with my daughter in the morning before she goes to day care. That takes care of any time during the season, as all of my extra "invent new statistics and refine the ones we've got" time is now daddy time.

In other words, you're right and it's on the list of things to do, but I have no idea when I can get to it.

17
by soulardx (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 7:02pm

I'm willing to bet that STL being ranked so low has to with predominantly one thing--that week 1 loss to SF. (That loss hurts in the real world NFL even more, BTW.)

With the Rams, many things have changed since week 1, all for the better. The week 1 STL team isn’t the same one that's out there now, primarily because:

Vitt>Martz (i.e., Vitt’s use of Stephen Jackson), and Barron>Sappia.

Vitt (Jackson)/Barron are the reasons the Rams are incredibly better than their current DVOA, but I do have to question their JAX win doing virtually nothing for their DVOA. How is that possible?

18
by RowdyRoddyPiper (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 7:05pm

Daniel, big Steelers fan here and I'm definitely disturbed by their play with Roethlisberger on the sidelines. I was, quite frankly, disturbed by their play with him on the field against Baltimore. I don't think anyone in that locker room feels as though they are the second best team in the league. In fact I'm pretty sure they let the fans worry about that kind of stuff.

Picking observations to suit your a priori conclusions, as you are doing is not insulting to statistical analysis, it doesn't even masquerade as it. Like it or lump it, the Steelers have not played their best football in half of the games this season. That they are 6-2 at this point gives me hope, that they will be able to turn wake up in the second half and set themselves up for a playoff run.

Just for you, I've constructed a formula that allows the Steeler's to be 2 with Ben in and 9 on average for the season, work with me here.

We divide games into two classifications, B+ and B-, for with Ben and without Ben. We have 6 B+ games and 2 B- games. The weightings would be .75 B+ and .25 B-. During the B+ games let's say that the Steelers are the 2nd best team in the league. That gives us 2 * .75 for 1.5 ranking points. In B- games let's say the steelers are the 30th best team in the league. That gives us 30 * .25 for 7.5 ranking points. Add 'em up and we've got 9 ranking points. Just as DVOA has predicted. Enjoy.

19
by DavidH (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 7:05pm

James-

I don't see how you can knock Cincy down for their defense but ignore the Chiefs' bad D. Not to mention that SD and Denver both are ranked worse defensively by DVOA than the Bengals are.

20
by Mr.X (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 7:12pm

When two teams play against each other does one DVOA beat another? Example: If a team with a high Offensive DVOA more often than not lose to the team with the high Defensive DVOA?

21
by Jerry P. (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 7:13pm

No Daniel, the system actually screws my Cardinals since they passed on Roethlisberger and thus the system has not taken into account he should be playing for them. Also, Steven Jackson is our running back.

Oh wait, it only takes into account what really happened, not should have or could have happened?!? But...but...but this means the Cardinals have to return all their illusionary Super Bowl trophy's.

22
by james (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 7:14pm

I see the Bengals offense as the kind of team that is incapable of scoring 3 td's against a good defense and the other teams as all being able to do so.

Without a great defense to make a playoff run you gotta be able to get out of the lower 20s with your offense. I think KC, Den, and San Diego are all capable of doing so. Each of these teams has beaten a good team. Cincinatti has yet to do so.

23
by james (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 7:15pm

Jerry P,
Hilarious

24
by Morphy (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 7:16pm

Your placement of Atlanta in your so-called "scientific" ranking will end up being an embarrassment and will expose stats as one of the most foolhardy methods of ranking.

Thanks for helping proove my point!

25
by Jake (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 7:25pm

The Steelers.

It seems the way to play the Steelers OFF is to max protect, and throw short passed (5-7 yards).

The Steelers blitz, and take away the deep ball. This opens up the short passes. If a team max protects, they should be able to pick up the blitzes. This will allow QBs to have the time to throw short balls.

NE does this against them quite a bit, and it seems other teams have picked up on it too.

Just a personal observation.

26
by DavidH (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 7:27pm

Your placement of Atlanta in your so-called “scientific� ranking will end up being an embarrassment and will expose stats as one of the most foolhardy methods of ranking.

Yeah, the NFL should stop basing who makes the playoffs on that stupid "Wins" stat and should just vote on who plays in the Superbowl.

Or at least go BCS-style, and have Wins count for 1/3, the polls count for 1/3, and swagger count for the last 1/3.

27
by zip (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 7:30pm

#24

Yeah, after that dominating win over Miami I am conviced that Atlanta is FOR REALLL!

28
by Jake (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 7:35pm

25

should be, the way to play the Steelers DEF...

29
by putnamp (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 7:38pm

#14,

James: Seattle wont know how to play the best until they've played the best.. but the only team in your top 4 that they haven't played yet is New York. They beat the Cowboys, and narrowly lost to the Redskins. This doesn't mean they'll win, but I'd say they certainly did okay "playing the best" - at least in the NFC, which is all that matters in getting *to* the Super Bowl.

30
by SJM (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 7:38pm

I think that over the long run DVOA will "proove" that it is actually pretty accurate at ranking teams.

31
by putnamp (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 7:38pm

Another interesting thing about Est. Wins:

Not a single team in the AFC East has scored more points than they've given up.

Not a single team in the AFC West has scored fewer points than they've given up (barely, Oakland.. barely..)

32
by james (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 7:42pm

putnamp no. 31,

I stand corrected.

Also I mistakenly left Pitt out of my AFC ranking. I would put them 5th with KC and Cinci just outside.

33
by admin :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 7:44pm

The Atlanta fans apparently don't notice how low Carolina and Tampa Bay are. It's a strength of schedule thing for the entire NFC South.

34
by Drew (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 7:54pm

Someone tell Fox to hurry up and get the commentary up. I've got a fever, and the only prescription... oh wait, that joke has been pumped dry.

35
by P. Ryan Wilson :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 7:55pm

I was actually surprised PIT ranked so high defensively. They haven't even been close to getting off the field on third down the last two weeks, and BAL and GB are ranked 23rd and 17th in offensive DVOA. That said, they do have a knack for only giving up FGs instead of TDs. Again, I'd point to the 23rd and 17th ranked offenses for some insight there.

36
by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 7:59pm

<team> is clearly ranked <too high/too low> because <reason unrelated to DVOA>. <subjective ranking system> is way better than this. <unrelated team-supporting or -denigrating comment, preferably with poor spelling and/or chat-acceptable spelling>

There. That should save some people a lot of time.

37
by Ray (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 8:01pm

Yeah, what zlionsfan said! Get a clue, FO!

38
by Drew (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 8:05pm

I think post 26 has the solution to the rankings problem nailed. My only possible tweak would be a 1/4:1/4:1/2 spread instead of equal weights, with swagger being the 1/2.

39
by MTR (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 8:08pm

Two questions. First, why rank teams by DVOA instead of estimated wins? I understand that estimated wins was created to better coorlate with wins - wouldn't using that be more in the spirit of a power ranking?

Second, people have a tendency to simply ignore outlier data points, especially as time goes by (such as Miami beating Denver week 1). Is this just a silly human bias or is there some value to it?

40
by MTR (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 8:10pm

zlions fan: power ranking madlibs! Cool!

41
by thad (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 8:10pm

James,
don't you think that the Bengals pass defense has been quite good? Now their run defense is very bad, but it is the reverse of the Chiefs. Also while I generally agree with your rankings, it seems that since Kansas City did beat the skins by seven and the Bengals lost to the Jaguars by three that its hard to ardue the Chiefs are better

42
by Ben (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 8:22pm

The Steelers.
I've seen every play for at least the last ten years (the last two in HD -- thank you Sunday Ticket :-) And the "Still'ers" have played terribly for a lot plays this year. The team has tons of talent (and amazing depth) and plays like it in their better games (Cincinnati, for example). At other times their offense can't convert a third down to save their life (especially easy third downs like third and three) and the defense can't stop the other team on third down (especially if it's third and ten or longer) to catch their breath. I really like our young corners (Ike Taylor & Bryant McFadden) but right now the collective backfield has some agonizingly sieve-like qualities. There's nothing wrong here that can't be fixed in time to win Superbowl XL (except maybe Cowher's amazing talent to coach well in regular season games and completely suck at coaching in AFC Championship games), but I'm actually surprised to see that Pittsburgh ranks as high as they do statistically.
Of course in the modern NFL it all comes down to how well you play at the end of the year and how many injuries you've accumulated without finding adequate or better replacements. And since the Steelers have an easy schedule the rest of the way (two and a half tough games remaining), it'll be interesting to see what they do in the playoffs later this year.

43
by admin :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 8:22pm

Team offense, defense, special teams now online.

44
by Chris (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 8:23pm

How can anyone actually be mad about stats not giving teams enough credit? They're stats. They are what they are. If you're averaging 40 yards rushing a game, you're not a good rushing team. If you're throwing 3 picks a game, you're not a good passing team.

I doubt Aaron is sitting at home, cackling to himself as he changes numbers around to make the system specifically hate Atlanta.

45
by seven year lion (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 8:41pm

zlionsfan, I love your system, let me give it a try.

The New York Giants is clearly ranked too low because Eli is the best clutch quarterback ever. Rating teams by swagger, veteran presence, and Chris Berman's preferences is way better than this. Thanx for helping me win a bet with my friend. A bet that scienticians are stoooopid!!!!!!1!!1one! ahahahahahahahahahhahahah

I like it.

46
by doktarr (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 8:43pm

Re #11:

The DVOA rankings are on a per-play basis, so no, having fewer punts and FG attempts will not change things. Indy's kickoff and return units are just plain bad.

47
by Mshray (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 8:46pm

Re #10 & 16, Thanks for the response Aaron. I can totally empathize. I have little kids, a working spouse & I used to have a 120-mi roundtrip commute thru Bay Area traffic (which I'm overjoyed to report is now only 75 mi).

Keep up the good work.

Re #36 That's brilliant, zlionsfan, except you overlooked the part where you're supposed to leave out 60% of the expected punctuation. ;-)

48
by Ted (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 8:53pm

Aaron, would you please be able to tell me the VOA for the Raiders-Chiefs game. I didn't get to see it but from reading the play by play I get the feeling that the Raiders outplayed the Chiefs and should have won.

49
by Mshray (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 8:59pm

Re #44 "I doubt Aaron is sitting at home, cackling to himself as he changes numbers around to make the system specifically hate Atlanta."

You are absolutely right Chris!

It is well-known that Aaron only cackles when he does that to Denver.

50
by admin :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 9:27pm

Commentary now posted (click link on my name).

51
by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 9:32pm

You explain away the massive error in your Falcons predictions by saying the Falcons were just lucky this year and last.

They are not 17-4 under Vick during this "lucky" period because a forced fumble bounced the wrong way.

The two losses we have (one without Vick) were by a field goal each. We lead the league in rushing and sacs, despite being RIDDLED with INJURIES both defensively and offensively.

Also - does your program account for the fact the Falcons forfeited the last two games of the regular season last year because they clinched so early.

We hold all of the tie breakers in our division so far - wins against common opponents and point differential. As the previous poster stated - Miami was very lucky in that game.

Be a man and admit the program is flawed with regard to the Falcons.

52
by Richie (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 9:36pm

If Atlanta is so obviously better than Miami, then why did they just barely beat them?

Also, why was Mike Vick all Giddy about a 228-yard passing performance?

53
by AZfalcon (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 9:42pm

This just proves that geeks should stick with band. Because they don't know %^%^ about football.

54
by tom (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 9:45pm

Aaron, I like your comments about Carolina. they snuck up in my perceptions, a little. If I can venture a theory, it looks to me like that they've only exceeded people's expectations of them a little, whilst the Bengals seemed to beat expectations by not sucking. There's also relative perceptions and the media's attention span; they need to laud someone else to have a new story to write...

55
by Brick Tamland (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 9:48pm

Loud Noises!!!

56
by Richie (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 9:48pm

Wow, Bill Simmons sounds awfully bitter.

57
by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 9:49pm

Score should have been 34-7 Falcons.

Did you watch the game?

Twice the yards as Miami - 4 drives of more then 70 yards (two more than 90).

Miami First Downs - 0, Atlanta First Downs - 29.

Massive edge on time of possession.

The Falcons shot themselves in the foot.

Muffed return, decided not to kick the easy field goal, dropped touch down pass.

Another fumble on the Dolphins 4.

When our opponents do that we are considered to be lucky.

However, the Falcons did BARELY LOSE in their only two loses.

Nice try hater. Try reality sometime - it usually works. The Falcons are not perfect but for them to not be in the top 5 is a joke.

58
by Bob (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 9:49pm

#52 Yeah and I guess that means Mia should be way ahead of Carolina to, I mean they almost pulled out a win against..oh wait they did beat Carolina. See if they hung out with Mora more he would teach them the art of the "lucky fumble" he learn in Thailand last summer. Those monks are on to something I tell ya. I am disappointed though I was sure the Falcons would crack the 20's with a win this week. I mean we were 19 last year at the end I believe and went to the NFCCG, so maybe if we can get on in the 20's we can get to the SB. Here's a good comment though, go to Las Vegas and bet on these power rankings next week. Please do it, and report back and let us know how much you lost next week.

59
by bobman (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 9:52pm

Aaron,
Had I not watched every minute of last night's game, your "Footloose" joke would have sailed over my head. Nice work. Manning's comments were pretty banal, eh? And how 'bout that Elvis impression! Good thing his day job pays well.....

60
by Richie (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 9:53pm

Aaron - I would have had no clue what your Colts and Giants comments were about, if I hadn't just read The Sports Guy.

I'm just saying...

61
by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 10:06pm

Aaron - apparently you did not read Schatz's explanation of why he is so wrong on the Falcons for a season and an half now.

He says they are lucky to win so much and that they can still miss the playoffs. He referred specically to some forced turnovers the Falcons got on the Jets - a product of him trying to make reality fit the model as opposed to the other way around.

Positive turnover ratios are a planned goal for all teams - but apparantly with regard to the Falcons - it means they got a cheap win.

And ofcourse he never discounts our injuries and turnovers - just our opponents.

62
by Richie (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 10:07pm

Yeah and I guess that means Mia should be way ahead of Carolina to, I mean they almost pulled out a win against..oh wait they did beat Carolina.

So that's the only thing that matters. Who beat whom. Well, every NFL team has a win, so what team is worst? Houston? Well, they beat Cleveland. Cleveland beat Chicago, so they are obviously better than the Bears.

63
by tunesmith (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 10:07pm

I think the point is there isn't really a good argument for ranking Miami anywhere at all. In a way, Miami is similar to San Diego - beatpaths.com (my site) shows that those two teams are in beatloops (win cycles) with the most other teams in the league this week. When a team is in a lot of beatloops, they're just behaving erratically and there isn't really much stable evidence to determine where to place them. I also think they should be ranked below Atlanta, but right now my power rankings have them ranked 29th because their loss to the Jets is valid, and I don't think that's really realistic, either.

64
by Bob (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 10:08pm

Wait a min. The Falcons are ranked so low because of a bad strength of schedule, part of which is due to the NFC North, yet the Leader of that Division at 5-3, the Chicago Bears are much higher and their statement this week is In the last five games, the best team Chicago has played is Baltimore, ranked 19th. Are the Bears ever going to have to play another good team? Not this week. Man I love consistent journalism! Last time I checked everyone in the NFC South other than NO had a winning record. Yeah the Falcons just have a ton of Cupcakes ahead of them, but the Bears have world beaters.. ok..

65
by Sean (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 10:08pm

Wow, the two teams who are down to their fourth quarterbacks of the season are last in offense. Who would have guessed?

66
by seven year lion (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 10:10pm

Richie I was going to mention that Simmons article earlier but I couldn't think of where to put it. It was a 750 word temper tantrum. My favorite part about it (even though he's mentioned it other places) is the NFL conspiracy to help the Colts. I can just imagine Tagliabue in his office.

Tags: "Boys we need to drum up interest in the league and make money, let's conspire to make one team win. That'll make their fans happy."

Toadie: "Good idea boss, what about the Jets or the Giants, a lot of people live in NY, or how about Dallas, they have virtually all of Texas rooting for them, surely we can bleed a lot of money out of them for merchandise."

Tags: "No I've got a better idea, the Colts!"

Toadie: "You mean...Indianapolis?"

Tags: "Of course, you know the old saying, 'As goes Indianapolis, so go the coffers of Tagliabue.'"

Toadie" "No sir, I've never heard of that, but you're right the best way to get the most people excited about football is definitely by targeting the 30th biggest market."

Tags: "Here's how we'll do it, first we'll make the referees actually enforce some of the existing rules in the rule book, and then we'll hope that the rotating schedule works out in their favor eventually."

Toadie: "Pure genius sir."

67
by Richie (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 10:11pm

Dirk -

Why do you and others take such offense to ratings like these? If you are unwilling to look at them and evaluate them like the rest of us, then why look at them?

I think everybody agrees that Atlanta is a tough team to evaluate because Mike Vick is a tough player to evaluate. He is the best running QB in a long time, yet he is a horrible passer. How to evaluate this?

68
by Bob (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 10:11pm

62 Actually yes it does matter who beat whom. They actually do make playoff spots based on records and give the Lombardi Trophy to the winning team. I guess though they could give it to the team that accumulated the most yards, divided that by punting average and then added challenge flag throwing distance and say to heck with the whole playoffs thing. It's overrated anyway. Point is don't make Miami to be these world beaters, and claim how bad Atlanta is because they "barely" beat them, Yet eveyone jumps on Carolina's jock but they couldn't even pull off a "barely" win.

69
by admin :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 10:12pm

OK, see, comments like 51 and 53 are pointless. They don't add anything to the conversation, and that's what we're having around here, an intelligent conversation about football. I'm very open to the idea that the Atlanta rating is wrong -- just like I was open to the idea that the Denver rating was wrong when they were lower. What I want to know is *why*? I'm only interested in Atlanta fans who have a basic understanding of what we're trying to do with DVOA and think there is something specific about the Falcons that the formula doesn't value correctly. Something specific about their playcalling? Is it a clock management issue? I'm not interested in having these ratings be inaccurate. If Atlanta is really one of the best teams in the league, and this isn't just an issue of luck and (more importantly) schedule strength, I want to fix the formula so they move up. Calling me names does not make that happen.

(Yes, I'm feeding the trolls, but I'm feeding the trolls because somewhere out there is an intelligent Atlanta fan who has an intelligent idea about why the formula doesn't work for his team, and I want to hear from *that* guy because he's going to help me improve my numbers.)

One more thing about Atlanta. The link on my name goes to the ratings from Week 16 of last year, before Atlanta sat its starters for two games. At that point, Atlanta was the third-highest team in the NFC. Carolina, which was second, spit the bit in the last week and missed the playoffs, which means that DVOA expected Atlanta to get to the NFC conference championship and lose, and that's what happened. They were ranked so low because the AFC was so dominant, not because they weren't one of the top teams in their conference.

70
by Bob (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 10:14pm

Richie, most people in the real world like to evaluate teams by Wins and Losses. They even base silly things like the playoffs on wins and losses. Crazy huh? Like for instance Atlanta, ranked lower than Oakland will end the season with a winning record and Playoff bearth. Oakland will finish with a losing record, higher power ranking, and miss out on the playoffs. Crazy huh? I really say Challenge Flag Throwing Distance should count more for playoff contention. Let's see whose head coach has that rocket arm.

71
by Malene, cph, dk (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 10:15pm

I have to say, I'm sort of baffled here... the first few weeks of FOX rankings, I thought "yeah, that's what you'd expect" when ridiculous cyclopic fansters sounded the "your stupid biased stats clearly suck" (or, "ur stopid bised stat cleerly suc").

But after looking more closely - and in vain - for a "to voice your opinion, post at FO" link on FOX, I'm confused... these people actually found out themselves about the FO comment board? Really?

72
by Richie (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 10:16pm

nice job lion.

It's funny that Simmons thinks there is a schedule conspiracy in favor of the Colts, yet they have to play at New England for the 36th-consecutive time this year.

73
by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 10:16pm

I don't think playing Caroina twice and Chicago and Detroit on the road is that easy. Tampa will be tough at home as well.

At least the Falcons beating Carolina twice will help with their "Beat Path".

74
by Bob (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 10:18pm

How much simpler of a why is that the Falcons have a BETTER RECORD than 8 of the teams listed above them? I mean we could understand the top 10 but 16 is just laughable, especially when the analysts who watch the actual games have them no less than 4 and as high as 2. Thats a pretty huge discrepency. I agree the Falcons don't win conventionally, but they win. Period. The team only cares about one stat, which apparently counts for zilch on these rankings.

75
by Richie (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 10:20pm

Richie, most people in the real world like to evaluate teams by Wins and Losses. They even base silly things like the playoffs on wins and losses.

So why look at Power ratings? You can make your own at home:

Indy 8 wins
Cincinnati 7
Pittsburgh 6
Denver 6
NY Giants 6
Seattle 6
Carolina 6
Atlanta 6

Oh, wait, Pittsburgh beat Cincinnati. What to do now?

76
by Bob (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 10:23pm

So why look at Power ratings? You can make your own at home:

Indy 8 wins
Cincinnati 7
Pittsburgh 6
Denver 6
NY Giants 6
Seattle 6
Carolina 6
Atlanta 6

Oh, wait, Pittsburgh beat Cincinnati. What to do now?

Wow thanks Richie! We just jumped 8 spots! Common sense is amazing.

77
by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 10:23pm

Richie - I have not bothered with sites that rank mathmatically becuase an anomalous team like the Falcons will never rate well.

Let me tell you why I am mad.

Because Dr. Frankenstein, explained away his errors concering the Falcons that the model was not wrong but rather the Falcons were lucky for 27 games.

If he simply admitted that the model does not apply because of the nature of the Falcons as you did - I would be fine with that.

Also - you used some soft language in your compliment. Vick is the best running QB ever. And Vick is a fine passer - but quite frankly - our model prefers the accumalation of time of possession and the positive turnover ratio having the best rushing offense in the league provides. As someone who as watched every Vick game - those that think he will not be an A minus passer and an A plus rusher are sadly mistaken.

78
by Richie (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 10:25pm

The team only cares about one stat, which apparently counts for zilch on these rankings.

Pittsburgh cared about their 15 wins last year, and that got them punked at home in the AFC Championship game. By a team with fewer wins (the only stat that counts), yet had a higher DVOA than them. Hmmmm....

Last year DVOA predicted that the obviously worse Jets with a record of 10-6 would go to San Diego and beat the obviously better 12-4 Chargers in the playoffs.

79
by Bob (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 10:27pm

Good points, not how many Teams ranked above the Falcons at the end of last year were sitting at home watching the playoffs while the Falcons were in the NFCCG? Hmm

80
by Richie (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 10:28pm

So why are the Falcons an anomoly?

81
by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 10:28pm

Aaron - my fault - My outrage is not about the ranking itself - it was about Dr. Frankenstiens explanation or rather justification for why it does not predict the Falcons success.

82
by Bob (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 10:30pm

They aren't an anomoly. They just don't make Fantasy fans happy, so they get labeled an anomoly. They play good defense, lead the league in rushing. If you talk to any football coach, I think if you just mentioned those two he would not find it to be an anomoly at all. Control the clock and keep the other team from scoring. If you've ever played football thats pretty simple.

83
by Richie (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 10:31pm

Good points, not how many Teams ranked above the Falcons at the end of last year were sitting at home watching the playoffs while the Falcons were in the NFCCG? Hmm

The link on my name goes to the ratings from Week 16 of last year, before Atlanta sat its starters for two games. At that point, Atlanta was the third-highest team in the NFC. Carolina, which was second, spit the bit in the last week and missed the playoffs, which means that DVOA expected Atlanta to get to the NFC conference championship and lose, and that’s what happened. They were ranked so low because the AFC was so dominant, not because they weren’t one of the top teams in their conference.

84
by Malene, cph, dk (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 10:31pm

Aaron, wouldn't the intuitive answer be that a team seemingly outperforming its DVOA is a matter of playcalling? or rather, play distribution?

Since DVOA is on a per-play basis, the answer could be that Atlanta is not more succesful in executing plays than other teams, but maybe do a better job of arranging plays, having their unsuccesful plays when in situations where they don't hurt as much? Say, when you're ahead against Gus Frerotte.

85
by mirkwood23 (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 10:31pm

Oakland above Atlanta... oh man, what kind of drugs is your computer program on..
With these stats Atlanta cannot get number 1 in your system even if they win the superbowl... something seems horribly wrong here..

86
by Bob (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 10:32pm

Yeah a team with a losing record was ranked 2nd? Ok.. How did the 2nd ranked team do in the playoffs again? Those Wins and Losses are just tough to swallow arent they?

87
by Richie (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 10:36pm

Control the clock and keep the other team from scoring. If you’ve ever played football thats pretty simple.

Well, Atlanta averages 30:21 in time of possession this year, that ranks them 16th in the league. Behind such dominating teams as Detroit, New Orleans, Baltimore, Arizona and Buffalo. Want to try again?

Atlanta ranks 11th in keeping the other team from scoring, which is worse than Cleveland and Baltimore.

So, Baltimore has better clock control and fewer points allowed than Atlanta. Hmmm..

88
by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 10:36pm

Richie and Aaron -

Both aknowledged the difficulty in evaluating the Falcons specifically Vick in your earlier post - Richie did amnesia set it - scroll up. Your arrogance is astounding.

89
by tunesmith (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 10:40pm

But even if you rank only in terms of wins and losses and who beat who, I don't have Atlanta above #11. They lost to New England so it's not like Atlanta needs to automatically be in the top ten.

90
by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 10:40pm

Bob - they are only an anomaly as far as Dr. Frankenstein's model in concerned.

We both know that what the Falcons do with running the ball. Also why the Steelers fair poorly in the rankings. Physical team will be under represented.

91
by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 10:44pm

Truesmith.

How do you account for the fact that they started their second string Quarterback and still almost beat the Patriots. They also got a bad call where Schaub was called out of bounds when he picked up a first down to keep a crucial drive going.

Is Vick not worth 4 points?

92
by Richie (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 10:45pm

Both aknowledged the difficulty in evaluating the Falcons specifically Vick in your earlier post - Richie did amnesia set it - scroll up. Your arrogance is astounding.

I suspect that Vick's abnormality has something to do with the Atlanta ranking, but I don't understand what it could be. If Vick runs instead of passes and it's successful, then it should reflect positively in DVOA. But somehow it's not, and I don't know enough about the detail of the numbers to figure it out. I'm sure Aaron has looked at it, but hasn't come up with a solid reason yet.

The other thing that tends to happen, is after a full season, the DVOA numbers really shake out for the most part. Either Atlanta's DVOA will rise over the rest of the season, or its winning percentage will drop.

93
by Sean (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 10:46pm

I didn't think it would be possible for Simmons to embarrass himself any more than he did with that appalling column on Friday, but apparently I was wrong. Very wrong.

94
by Countertorque (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 10:52pm

Is Brett Favre the Vinny Testeverde of 2005?

95
by michael (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 10:52pm

based on the DVOA on the above X comments, i think we can fairly accurately say that joining forces with foxsports has led to a radical decrease in "posting value above replacement" for FO.

96
by Joe (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 10:58pm

I'm not sure what is more entertaining - seeing Falcons fans throw an absolute fit over a power ranking or the fact that Dirk Dugan still hasn't realized that the "Aaron" that is posting in this thread IS Dr. Frankenstein. I almost feel guilty for pointing it out.

I think the basic problem for Atlanta's rating this year is they haven't beaten anyone of consequence yet. Their VOA would rank them 10th. With a future schedule in the bottom 1/4 of the league (i.e. pretty easy) thanks to a bunch of NFC North + New Orleans, I see an easy playoff team anyway regardless of the ranking.

The key games will be both Carolina games, because the Panthers are also living off an easy schedule. That's good news because Vick owns Carolina. However, if Atlanta has to travel outdoors for the playoffs they'll be at a big disadvantage.

97
by buddha (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 10:58pm

"But…but…but this means the Cardinals have to return all their illusionary Super Bowl trophy’s."

Wait, the Cardinals stole the Lions' illusionary Super Bowl trophys? Damn them! Now there's a reason to rile up some bad blood for this weekend's game!

Battle for the Illusionary Super Bol Trophy! It'll be our own L'il Brown Jug.

98
by Richie (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 10:59pm

How do you account for the fact that they started their second string Quarterback and still almost beat the Patriots.

How many Patriots were injured? For God's sake, Tedi Bruschi was still not playing.

And wasn't Philadelphia missing Jeremiah Trotter in Atlanta's week 1 win over them?

Matt Schaub was the QB, and they lost. The NFL doesn't credit them with a win for that game out of pity. Part of being a good NFL team is having solid depth.

But yes, if you are trying to consider how a team will fare in the future, you would want to look at past performance and make your own mental judgements as for how much at adjust to account for the injury.

Schaub threw for 298 yards and no interceptions. I'm not sure if he deserves any blame for the loss anyway.

That 298 yards is more passing yards than Mike Vick has had since he threw for 337 in Week 16 of 2002!

99
by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 10:59pm

Well - we do know that without Vick (2003) the Falcons performed at a level predicted for 2004 and 2005. So the problem is somewhat Vick specific, except for the fact our GM/coaching, offesive and defensive line (when healthy) have been greatly improved.

Schaub will eventually reduce the impact of a Vick absence - but his games I gather will be tracked better by the model.

Of the leagues elite teams (don't laugh) the Falcons do have the most room to improve. (Particularly in terms WRs and the secondary).

100
by putnamp (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 11:01pm

Mshray: You're a seattle fan living in the bay area too? Know any place to catch Seattle games on TV on Sundays?

101
by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 11:08pm

Richie I watched the game. Yes our defense failed us - we lost Ed Hartwell that game. But Vick is worth 4 points, and it also speaks to the fact that the rest of the Falcons offense is competant.

You are falling into this mentality used by Frankenstein that everyone but the Falcons are injured in any particular game. We have played without key players all season long. Hartwell and Mathis are out for the year - we have had to turn to practice squad players.

BTW - if Trotter was in the game - maybe Vick would have thrown for 200 plus yards. Another cop out. Come up with your own cliched, Al Michael excuses.

102
by Chris (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 11:15pm

Pure stats don't reflect wins and losses. How many times have we all watched a game and seen the clearly better team lose? Seen a team that got outplayed all game win? We've all seen the game where a good team marches up and down the field at will, makes a couple mistakes, and winds up losing. That doesn't mean that suddenly the better team is worse, even from a statistical point of view.

The Falcons are winning, they're leading their division. That's ultimately the only stat that does matter, so don't worry about them not getting the proper respect from an objective mathematical system that is incapable of "dissing" a team. The numbers are what they are.

103
by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 11:15pm

Thank you Joe - but I guess you have not been reading my posts. I have no problem with the ranking being wrong - it was the cop out "bounce of the ball" excuses that some how led to Vick's 17-4 record excuse that "Aaron" gave that angers me.

By the way - I am glad you think it is phony that I have not picked up through osmosis who Dr. F is.

104
by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 11:22pm

Aaron-

My only issue with you were the excuses you gave - nothing else.

Two of them - injuries and luck are truley irreleveant in fixing your model's problem.

Your riteous indignation is a little late.

105
by Chance (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 11:30pm

My guilty pleasure revealed! Ed McAffrey's spicy mustard is the absolute best. I originally bought it just to have the bottle as kind of a joke, but it turned out to be really good.

106
by michael (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 11:31pm

Dirk,

just for clarity's sake, can you please cite (link and quote) where you see Aaron mentions the 'excuses' of injuries and luck?

107
by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 11:43pm

Sure Michael.

http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/story/5044040?CMP=OTC-K9B140813162&ATT=5#at...

Aaron does attempt some lame technical excuses as well - such as a passing game is more consistant year to year than a running game. Tell that to the Eagles today , or the dominating running teams like the Cowboys of the 90s or Bears of the 80s.

This is where he really loses crediability:

The Falcons were lucky last year. Usually, a team that outscores its opponents by just three points should be expected to go 8-8, not 11-5. In general, teams that win more games than their points scored and allowed would otherwise be worse the next year. But Atlanta has been lucky again this year, just in a different way. Check our ratings, and you'll see that Atlanta would rank 11th before our adjustments but ranks 18th afterwards. That's because, as I detailed last week, they've had insanely good luck recovering fumbles, and at some point, those bounces are going to occasionally go against them.

Of course he is probably your boy - so you will downplay the pathetic nature of this excuse.

108
by Fnor (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 11:45pm

Ye gods. At least Denver fans just insulted everyone and left it at that.

It's freaking mathematical model, guys. It's a darn good one, too. There are even nifty subparts of it that you can look at if you have objections to the whole thing, like james does with est. wins (and yes, James, we can read the table, you don't have to repost it every week). The thing is, this isn't about how good we THINK teams are. I THINK that the Steelers are at least a top 5 team. I don't THINK the giants are a top-5 team. But the thing is, so far, they've played like they are, and the steelers haven't. So at some point you have to say "Okay, I'm thinking about this team playing an ideal game in my head, not what's been happening." Is there anything wrong with that? Heck no. But it's not going to get anyone anywhere if they want hard and fast objective numbers.

So yeah, complain if you don't like how the system works, or if you have a new idea, or talk about the numbers. Because for everyone complaint you have about how the system treats the Falcons, I've got a whole load of whining I could unleash about Maddox/Batch: Electric Bugaloo. But whining isn't going to make the numbers go up, because frankly the numbers don't care.

109
by X Coach T (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 11:46pm

Aaron,

You sure can tell that the Broncos didn't play last week. Not much to say about them. I see now what a pain in the butt it is when fans keep complaining about their rankings--i.e. Atlanta, Pittsburg. I guess just swallowing the fact that sometimes our teams are not playing well but winning is a hard thing to do.
This week is big for Denver. They play 2 away games in 11 days. Big test--if they win all three it will be hard to keep them out of the playoffs. Interested to see how the rankings will change over the next 3 games, especially with the weighted games

One more thing, last week I asked you if teams are rewarded regarding 3rd down conversions if they never get to 3rd down--achieve a first down in 2 downs or less? Never got it answered--any possibility of getting that answer this week?

great web site!!
Born a Bronco Fan/Die a Bronco Fan

110
by Fnor (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 11:47pm

And for the kicker, 107, both of those are good points. That's why every sport has a pythagorean theorem estimation. And as for the fumbles, if you think an oblong ball falling into a mass of people, a certain number of whom have no knowledge of it falling is anything but random, I've got a great bridge to sell ya.

111
by michael (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 11:51pm

he's probably my boy? nice. That's the best zing i've had on the internet since someone called me a 'homophone' (sic)

I was legitimately curious as to where the comment you took offense to was, that's all. That's why i asked, since, after all, i didn't see Aaron say anything about injuries, etc. this on this page or the foxsports page for this week.

112
by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 11:56pm

Fnor - I am glad you agree that Mora's magic voodoo spell on forced fumbles and how they spin is hard to quantify mathematically

- without those spells Vick could never get to 17-4 in regular season starts.

Unbelievable - keep kissing the ring of Dr.F.

This was a MASSIVE failure of the model - just not a blip on the radar screen Igor. But unlike the model and Atlanta - you are predictable.

113
by MRH (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 11:57pm

And now for something completely different...

I enjoy the ripping of the Jets draft picks as much as anyone, but the Chiefs used their 3rd rounder on a punter and that has worked ok so far - from -13.4 punt rating to +3.8. Obviously not just due to the punter, and perhaps a lost opportunity to get a young OL that can't yet be quantified but at least not totally wasted. Maybe the Jets just took the wrong guy...

114
by BlueStarDude (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 12:00am

X Coach T - Your question might have been lost in the the comments shuffle. Try the contact link. Aaron is great at getting back, even when he's busy. Since DVOA is the per play measurement I don't think the number of third down chances factors in - in effect, the 1st and 2nd down conversions are already accounted for. That's my understanding, but even though I've been reading (lurking) for a couple years now, I'm not a statistician myself.

115
by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 12:01am

Listen I have no problem with what Dr. F is trying to do. If his model says the Falcons suck - so be it.

It is the excuse for its MASSIVE FAILURE that makes you guys sound like mental masturbators - you would have us believe the Falcons win every week due to their opponents comedy of errors.

116
by tunesmith (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 12:04am

#91 is a hilarious comment about Atlanta. Your objection to DVOA's low ranking is that it's not paying enough attention to the game results, and your objection to BeatPaths' low ranking is that it's paying too much attention to the game results.

117
by Chris (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 12:08am

Usually, a team that outscores its opponents by just three points should be expected to go 8-8, not 11-5. In general, teams that win more games than their points scored and allowed would otherwise be worse the next year.

Yeah, that lost a ton of credibility. Saying that a team that scores nearly exactly as many points as their opponents should win about half their games. Mindboggling.

He even prefaced it with "in general" - in otherwords, "most of the time".

Think of it like meteorology. You can put in all the statistics, trends, likelihoods, patterns that you notice into a computer but it doesn't mean it will know whats going to happen. Even the best weathermen struggle to be right 50% of the time.

118
by MRH (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 12:10am

There's two basic ways most people use to rate qbs: stats and wins. The extreme of the "wins" argument is the "championships" argument.

Michael Vick supporters cannot yet win the stats argument, at least the passing stats argument. So if they fight this battle they can fall back on his running stats but really most go over to the "wins" camp.

Unfortunately, Vick has not "won" a championship - lost a college championship game; lost a conference championship game; hasn't been in a Super Bowl. So really, how good is the "wins" case for Vick? Manning without the stats? McNabb without the soup?

119
by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 12:11am

Tunesmith - try real hard to listen.

Look at Aaron's link and some of your buddies' posts.

One reason 'besides luck' that is given for the Falcons winning is that our opponents were the only ones injured.

You brought Trotter's absense as the reason we beat Philly.

You also brought up our loss to New England - without our most valuable player!

How dare I mention that!

Your bias is clear in your analysis. You are under Dr. F's spell.

120
by Andrew (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 12:13am

Dirk:

Aaron and Schatz are the same person. Aaron is his first name, and Schatz is his surname. Apparently you now know him as Dr. Frankenstein. Myself, I am surprised he is still treating you with courtesy.

IMHO, Vick is not the best running quarterback ever, because he is barely a quarterback.

Better running quarterbacks than Vick?

How about:

1) Elway
2) Cunningham
3) Young
4) Tarkenton
5) Staubach

You, know, guys who could not only make a mad dash across the field or into the endzone, but who could also consistently toss 25+ TD's and limit their interceptions to 15 or less in a season.

Now, for intelligent criticism of why DVOA might not be picking up on what Vick brings to Atlanta in terms of statistics. My own feeling is that Atlanta is helped out by the need of defenses to assign a spy to Vick, and to play containment on pass rush. This opens things up for Atlanta in terms of what other players should be able to do on a per play basis. Additionally, Atlanta's inordinate luck on turnovers appears from my watching of games to come from Vick's propensity to fumble the ball out of bounds on his scrambles, where it cannot be recovered by the opposition. On defense, Atlanta seems to have an inordinately good front 4 who not only are able to create sacks and forced fumbles, but bring enough pressure that the fumbles they force seem to frequently occur further away from the offensive line than with other teams, and with more Atlanta defenders around to pounce on the ball because their front four is more overpowering. So they appear to recover more fumbles than they should, and lose fewer on offense than they should. However, other than a very good pass rush, the Atlanta defense is less than overwhelming.

Conventional NFL statistics give Atlanta the #1 rushing offense, the #27 passing offense, the #18 rushing defense, and the #17 passing defense. That averages out to the #15 or #16 team overall. You are whimpering that Aaron's special sauce formula has them pegged at #17. Cry me a river!

The Falcons are a couple of missed David Akers Field Goals, a few stupid Nick Saban playcalls, and a couple of lucky breaks against the Jets and Saints from being a 2-6 team. Can they keep on making fluky wins like these and make the playoffs? Yes. It happens at least once a year. Should we expect them to survive the playoffs on flukes? No.

All that being said, Vick appears to be an incredibly flawed player because of the poor coaching he is receiving from Jim Mora's gang, in comparison to what Dan Reeves was doing in 2002. The 2002 Vick had 7 games with over 200 yards passing and made a TD strike twice as often as he flung a pass to an opposing defender, and he ran for a TD about every other game. The 2004-5 Vick has just 4 200 yard passing games, and throws a TD as often as an interception, and is running for a TD about every 5th game. So he is both less effective as a passer and a runner by raw statistics.

Two teams have figured out how to consistently frustrate Vick, and force Atlanta to work without him to win - Tampa Bay and Philadelphia, as well as providing a blueprint for others on containing him without selling out defensively. Until Atlanta finds an answer for this Kiffin/Johnson game plan, they are going to lose to it in the regular season and playoffs more often than not.

Whooping about how Atlanta only lost 2 games by 3 points and should therefore be higher ranked also ignore that Atlanta only won 4 of 6 games by 3, 4, 7, and 8 points - i.e. one score. This sort of record leaves one less than overwhelmed.

Overall, I think Atlanta really is not much better than what Aaron is showing. Goody for you that a weak schedule has you at 6-2. Prepare for disappointment in January though.

121
by Fnor (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 12:14am

#112: Despite your fabulous nicknames for us all, I fail to see how the model has failed, for one. The only real argument you can forward is that it ranks the Falcons lower than you think they should be. You're thowing out all the other stuff it's been accurate for, including, a lot of times, the falcons. And ignoring that the team it's REALLY had trouble with has been Tampa Bay the past few years. Just because Vick's running doesn't hurt them, because he gets them numbers under rushing VOA. Does his low completion rate hurt him? Oh yeah, just like any other QB with a low completion rate.

We could talk about wins and losses, then, like you insist. So where's my little bobble-head of Big Ben holding the lombardi? Is it in the same warehouse as DET's illusionary trophy? Something like that. Each team has a different difficulty in their schedule. Moreover, wins can fool you into giving teams too much credit, because those "tale of two halves" teams are really big question marks, even if they pull most of them out at the end, when they get into the postseason and the better teams make them pay for it.

Finally, there is no magic spell about the fumbles. Creating fumbles is a skill. Avoiding fumbling is also a skill. But RECOVERING that fumble is not. Aaron has data to back it up, if you want to trawl through the archives or get a copy of PFP to read about it. Or you could even just go outside and drop a ball with a semi-random spin on it and watch it go in every weird direction imaginable.

122
by BillinNYC (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 12:15am

Dirk,

I'm not completely certain, but I'm pretty sure no one is forcing you to believe (or even read) Football Outsiders and their rankings system. Obviously a fair number of fans believe in the workings of the system, and obviously FOX is happy with the system.

Last I checked, Atlanta will not win or lose any games because they are ranked 2nd or 32nd in anyone's poll.

123
by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 12:18am

Chris - I don't think you watch any of the games.

The Chiefs blow out of the Falcons last year - one game can skew that stat.

What is the excuse super genius for the Falcons low rating this year? Their point differetial is above average for a team with their record.

Boy - none of you can admit that defending the model based on luck and injuries in the case of Atlanta is a lost cause.

Your egos are astounding.

124
by Dr. Frankenstein (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 12:23am

It's all about the swagger that Vick brings. With Mr. Mexico behind center the Falcons are invincible. Why can't DVOA measure swagger? Or at least account for random bounces? DAMMIT AARON WHY CAN'T DVOA PREDICT THE FUTURE?!?!?!? I need answers. Or people need to realize that any analysis using statistics CANNOT be biased, although it may appear that way.

125
by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 12:24am

Billin - thank you for your polite comment.

You are a little late here - I am not concerned with the ranking. It is the excuse and justification of it in the case of Atlanta.

I posted Aaron's link above where he attributes Atlanta 17-4 record under Vick to luck, and opponent injuries never caring to consider how that washes against our own - or the degree to which the turnovers were earned.

If Aaron only said what he said today - which is help me figure out what is wrong - you would not see me complaining.

But what is really entertaining is watching he's pseudo intellectual cronnies struggle to rationalize the model's failure while insulting me.

126
by Se7en_Dust (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 12:25am

The only stat that matters in football is the W-L Record. It doesn't matter how you get the W, just that you get it. Some teams find ways to win, even when it's not pretty in the stat column.

Any ranking system that is judged purely on stats and leaves out common sense will always be flawed in a major way.

127
by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 12:28am

Thanks, all. Too bad I couldn't help everyone out ... at least seven year lion got some use out of it! :)

I appreciate the additional traffic that the Fox folks send this way, but I'm a little confused as to way people who only want to rank teams by wins and losses even bother with this site. It's kind of like taking an English Lit class and just wanting to read the books rather than discussing them.

There's nothing wrong with that, and there are a lot of people who feel that way, I'm sure. But this site is more about why a team has a good record or a bad record. You're more than welcome to read the books, but please don't take offense if we stay after class and talk about allegory.

128
by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 12:32am

LOL-124

We refer to him as Wonder Boy 7.

129
by freddie (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 12:34am

Ok. I warned everyone about the falcons weeks ago and everone bit my head off including Aaron.

Comment#96-Did you see the falcons beat the Packers at Lambeau when it was snowing in the 2002 playoffs. It was their first home playoff loss EVER.

Comment#107-The fumbles all bounced Miami's way but Atlanta still won.

The problem is that you need to add a Vick quotient or VQ to the formula. The Falcons play good enough just to win. They play down to all their opponents. But when they get in trouble Vick is so good that he can always to something unhuman to win and nobody seems to be able to stop him. Check out the Carolina game last year in the dome where Vick "floated" into the endzone to tie the game in the 4th. Not good for the stats but good for the W's.

130
by BillinNYC (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 12:36am

"But what is really entertaining is watching he’s pseudo intellectual cronnies struggle to rationalize the model’s failure while insulting me. "

Hello pot, this is kettle. You're black.

The mathematical model that is DVOA has secure roots in establishing why teams win and lose. Are there teams that the model loves yet they lose and the model hates but win, sure.

However, you acuse these so-called "pseudo intellectual cronnies" as blind defenders, but you have barely presented a logical arguement as to the model's failures.

131
by Chris (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 12:36am

But what is really entertaining is watching he’s pseudo intellectual cronnies struggle to rationalize the model’s failure while insulting me

No one ever said it was infallible or even that they agreed it with most of the time. Any given week when the new DVOA comes out, theres always at LEAST 2 teams I look at and go "Wuh?"

Though I am interested to know - what are you exactly trying to prove? That the system is 100% a failure and this entire site should be shut down? That there are too many factors in football to successfully analyze it so why bother trying?

132
by Andrew (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 12:39am

Bob #79 and 82:

Atlanta in 2004 was the #5 NFC team by DVOA and #3 by estimated wins, and was crushed by the #1 NFC team by DVOA and estimated wins, Philadelphia.

Atlanta's defense is mediocre at best.

Sacks are great but averaging 3 sacks a game ignores what the defense is surrendering on the other 57 defensive plays in a typical game. Frequently with Atlanta, it is not very pretty.

133
by Se7en_Dust (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 12:39am

To add another note, these rankings do not figure in the "clutch factor." The ability of a team or player to make a play at a crucial time in the game that changes the entire game.

What makes football so great is that it's about each team facing each other head to head. Teams match up differently against each other and stats from prevous weeks really don't matter. Some teams can dominate and lose because of a few plays and vice versa.

These stats also do not factor in schemes or philosophies, which have a huge impact on the stats themselves. Only the human mind can do that. Football is too big for stats. We've seen it before and we'll see it again and again.

134
by mactbone (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 12:40am

Fumbles are not predictable events. Especially not their recovery. This statistical model is designed to predict. Therefore any element of a football game that is non-predictive, i.e. random, isn't considered. The Falcons are recovering a higher percentage than the league average of fumbles - they are more likely to regress to the mean than keep this up. Washington had a similar issue with long third down conversions - they were converting something like twice the percentage of 3rd and 8+ as the rest of the league - that kind of behavior looked unsustainable and guess what, it was!

BTW, Aaron has never made any mention of injuries. Every team is rated without regard to the injuries suffered - the stats are only concerned with what happened, not what could have happened.

135
by dave (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 12:41am

I think all the Denver fans that were here at the beginning of the year have moved to Atlanta.

136
by oopso facto (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 12:44am

I think Dirk accused Aaron of not reading himself. What a hater.

137
by Rocco (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 12:45am

"What is the excuse super genius for the Falcons low rating this year? Their point differetial is above average for a team with their record."

Based on the Pythagorean Theorem, the Falcons have 5.3 wins according to their point differential. They currently have 6 wins, so to say their point differential is "above average" is wrong. Of the other teams with 6 wins or more, the Falcons and Broncos have the lowest point differential of 49 points.

The Falcons low record this year is because they haven't been all that impressive in their wins, with the exception of the win at Minnesota. Of the big teams so far this year, they've been the least impressive. They don't have a win against a team over .500, and they've been unable to pound the teams they've played. I don't think it's a conspiracy against Atlanta- they're a team that outperforms their stats for some reason, and that's all there is to it.

138
by Vince (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 12:45am

It is the excuse for its MASSIVE FAILURE that makes you guys sound like mental masturbators - you would have us believe the Falcons win every week due to their opponents comedy of errors.

Dude! Did you WATCH the Saints and Jets games?! That's EXACTLY what happened! And as most people here know, I'm a DIEHARD Falcons fan.

Now, Aaron asked for a realistic theory, from an intelligent Falcons fan (as I consider myself to be) as to why DVOA underrates Atlanta. I have two theories.

One, because of their heavy reliance on the run, and their use of zone blocking schemes, they have very few negative-yardage plays, despite Vick's passing struggles. As such, they have very few third-and-longs. I'd bet their average distance needed on third down is among the lowest in the league. Maybe DVOA doesn't penalize negative-yardage plays as much as they should?

On a somewhat similar note, we all know that Michael Vick gets sacked a lot, and probably always will be sacked a lot, however, a lot of those sacks are plays where he tries to run and almost gets back to the line. A lot of his sacks are 2- and 3-yard losses, not 10- and 11-yard losses. Again, maybe DVOA is missing that difference.

139
by BillinNYC (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 12:46am

Actually, Se7en_Dust, that's exactly what it does. It compares how Team A does on each play compared to the average of everyone else based on factors of down, distance, score, time, etc....

140
by Se7en_Dust (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 12:46am

#132. Crushed? Maybe stat wise, but wasn't Atlanta in that game until late in the 4th. And with that you'll see the utterly obvious flaw with these rankings. The only numbers that matter in a football game is the score.

It doesn't matter if you give up 98 yards on a drive, but then make a big play that prevents them from scoring. By the same token, it doesn't matter if you drive 98 yards if ya can't punch in the TD or turn the ball over and get 0.

141
by Se7en_Dust (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 12:50am

139. In no way possible does it figure in a clutch factor, as in where a team has driven down the field and is about to take the lead, until a defense that has yielded up to that point makes ONE HUGE PLAY that changes the game. Sorry.

Most football games are decided by a few plays. All of the rest of the stats mean nothing.

142
by Andrew (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 12:52am

Dirk Dugan #101:

Atlanta beat Philly because David Akers shanked two field goals.

This had nothing to do with Vick, McNabb, Trotter, TO, DeAngelo Hall, or anyone else on either the team. It wasn't a matter of Vick performing better if Trotter was there. It was all about Akers blowing two perfectly good scoring opportunities all by himself in the controlled climate of a dome.

In a normal football game, you can't count on the team that has outplayed you to consistently blow Field Goal opportunities.

Lets keep a little perspective and keep it real here, okay?

143
by Fnor (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 12:53am

#124: Don't you remember? Chris Simms stole everyone's! And then lost it under the couch or something. So no more swagger for anyone. DVOA is safe. Hooray!

And Dirk, no one has insulted you, despite your name-calling and talk about our "egos" and repeatedly calling Aaron out. We've all been responding directly to your comments. zlionsfan even had a nice little "side of the tracks" thing going on.

But the real meat of the issue is that you're saying the system, despite its successes, despite its objectivity is a failure because it has one team ranked lower than you think it should be. The only reason you give is wins/losses with Vick. Like I said, if wins and losses told us everything about a team, I would've been partying like it was 1999 last January instead of crying myself to sleep after the AFC Championship game*.

And then the conventional stats were brought in, and you didn't even address those. Another poster then went on to say only wins matter. Again, partying like it's 1999.

That just doesn't cut it. Nor does just assigning numbers to teams based on whatever vibe you're getting off them. There are a host of problems with this method, among them the fact that no one will ever agree, even being a super-expert on football won't help (ala Dr. Z), and no one can actually watch EVERY SINGLE GAME to get a personal account of how good they think the team is. Some come close, but even then, there are a lot of things we miss because we're only paying attention to one facet of the game. That's why teams have multiple film coaches, not just one.

But really, it's all intuitive. Teams are necissarily compared against each other, since everything is competitive. The goal is to get to the end zone or at worst a field goal (gain points). Sure there are ansualry things like clock control, but they're not massive factors, since the absolute best you can do is get two more drives out of the game than your opponent, and that is very hard to do when a QB can whip the ball downfield for a 50 yard drive in 30 seconds of clock. So why does it not make sense to go play by play and look at how well each play did compared to all the other plays everyone ran in similar situations? Sure, individual plays will be worse, but good teams on average will run more GOOD plays or at least a couple more spectacular plays than a worse team. Usually, that ends up in a win. Sometimes, and often with one-sided teams, it's not enough.

* Note: There was no actual crying.

(Apologies for the long post)

144
by Anti-Andrew and the rest of you geeks (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 12:53am

Andrew....what stats are you looking at?

Staubach (career 57% completion pct) had more season of 15 or more interceptions (4) than 25 or more TD's(2)

Tarkenton (career 57%) 3 season of 25 or more, 7 seasons of 15+ int...including a whopping 32 in 1978

Steve Young passed for 25 TD 4 times

Cunningham - (career 56%) 25+ TD's twice, 15+ int's twice

Elway - (57%) 4 times with 25+, 5 times with 15 or more int's

Hardly consistent for any of them...Vick also has a greater winning pct than all of them. The ultimate stat!

Put that in your formula and smoke it freckled-face, bubble-eyed NERD!

145
by Se7en_Dust (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 12:55am

142. And Todd McClure has one holding penalty that cost the Falcons 7 points. I'll give you the 2 FGs if you allow the holding penalty. Both teams made mistakes. You have to look at both sides and not just one.

146
by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 12:57am

Andrew - how wrong can you be.

The luck on turn overs is his fumbling out of bounds - are you kidding me - he is running out of bounds. And you make the tortured statement that he is not the best running QB becuase he is not a QB.

gymnastics.

You blame the Miami loss on a GOOD Saban call (they got zero first downs by the way) - but ignore our failure to kick the easy field goal or our dropped pass and muffed return.

How many games did we lose last year due to our missed field goals? Why we got a new kicker this year.

Did we not lose both are games this year by field goal margins. Did we not get a bad call that forced us to punt against the Patriots late in the game?

The Miami game really gives you away.

Let me ask you - if Saban ran the ball - and if they got in the end zone - even if all the LUCK the Falcons afforded Miami - what would have happened then with two minutes left?

What do you reealllly think this inferior team would do in the last 2 minutes with two time outs left?

come on - 29 first downs - moving the ball at will - drives averaging over 80 yards? What would this inferior lucky offense do?

You just handed a victory to a dominated Miami team because of a Saban call - intellecually dishonest and quite pathetic your argument is.

and BTW - I never insulted Aaron - he however referred to me as a troll - but I am a big boy. I am merely expressing displeasure at the excuses.

Good Robot now go download some more instructions.

147
by Rocco (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 12:58am

"It doesn’t matter if you give up 98 yards on a drive, but then make a big play that prevents them from scoring. By the same token, it doesn’t matter if you drive 98 yards if ya can’t punch in the TD or turn the ball over and get 0."

True, however if a team consistently gives up long drives into its territory, it's likely going to give up points more often than not. Conversely, a team that can consistently drive into the red zone will probably score more often than not.
That is more predictive than a big play every so often to snuff out a scoring drive.

148
by Vince (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 12:59am

The problem is that you need to add a Vick quotient or VQ to the formula. The Falcons play good enough just to win. They play down to all their opponents. But when they get in trouble Vick is so good that he can always to something unhuman to win and nobody seems to be able to stop him.

This is actually a valid point. The Falcons have a tendency to build an early lead and then try to hang on to it. As it turns out, I just recently checked Atlanta's record by quarter for last year:

Qtr W L T
1 8 5 3
2 8 6 2
3 3 10 3
4 6 6 4

They've been more consistent this year, but the pattern of "get ahead, fiddle about for three quarters, win it at the end" seems to be working for them.

In that regard, Vick reminds me somewhat of a young John Elway, who put up some ugly numbers but won a lot of games with late drives.

149
by Anti-Andrew and the rest of you geeks (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 12:59am

Atlanta beat Philly because they scored more points....Was this not a normal game? Was it played on a different planet?

More more perspective do you need besides Atlanta 14 - Philly 10?

How exactly did Philly outplay Atlanta? Last I checked, statistically, Atlanta outgained Philly, but for all intents and purposes, the game was played to a virtual standstill.

150
by Fnor (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 1:03am

Se7en: Okay, so the only stats that matter are wins. And the score. By that token, Indianpolis will never lose again, and The Redskins threw the Giants game. It doesn't make sense. No one even argues that that makes sense. That's why we have all these annoying yardage trackers all over the place during the game: because it's commonly accepted that if you're gaining yards, you're doing well! And if you're gaining lots of yards and not scoring, something is going horribly wrong! That's where turnovers come in. Also, not part of the score.

Secondly, it doesn't factor in clutch because there are a whole lot of good arguments against it's very existence. We had a nice discussion the other day about how you can look "clutch" if you have a bad day up until the last quarter and then start playing decently at the end. Clutch? Sure. If you didn't suck it up bigtime in the first half? Definitely not clutch. Then there's the problem that it's often used as a term for players that win it at the end, like Vinatieri. Sure, he's a great kicker. But he's a CONSISTENTLY GOOD kicker. He even says himself that he approaches every kick the exact same way, no matter what's going on. His go-ahead kicks have similar percentages to all his others at similar distances. So is he clutch? Or just really good?

Baseball Prostpectus did something about clutch in baseball, I think. I'd look at it, but they want money so nyah. But suffice to say, it's like "swagger:" it means different things to different people, and often doesn't make sense.

151
by Se7en_Dust (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 1:05am

147. And it points to what I said about this formula not taking schemes into account. Some teams have a bend but not break scheme, where they allow yards, and wait for the big play as in sacks, fumbles, and INTs.

If you look at the teams that finished at the top of the league in Sacks last season, you will see your 4 teams that went to the their respective Championship Games.

152
by BillinNYC (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 1:07am

"Most football games are decided by a few plays. All of the rest of the stats mean nothing. "

That is about the dumbest thing passed off as real logic I've even seen. Why don't you take a poll of NFL coaches and see how many agree with you. Don't bother - it's 0.

153
by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 1:09am

Can you believe that this Andrew hands the game to Miami if it weren't for a Saban call?

- that Miami earned the right to be within 7 points.

- that it was not lucky for Miami that the Falcons muffed a return, went for a fourth down coversion, dropped a touchdown pass, fumbled on their 3 yard line (and they still could not score a touchdown mind you).

But if Saban just made the call - Miami would have just strolled into the endzone unmolested. And the Falcons would have been four an out with two minutes and two time out left for an to set up the overtime victory whereby the lucky Falcons would win the coin toss - but go four and out - and have to punt to the superiou Miami team that will stroll down the field for the first time in the game and get a series of first downs - even though they got zero in regulation and win the game like they desevered to do.

Damm that Saban.

154
by Se7en_Dust (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 1:11am

150. No one said the Colts wouldn't lose. But by virtue of them being 8-0, then they deserve the top ranking. A 6-2 team doesn't deserve to be in th elower 2nd of the league when they are tied with the best record in the NFC.

What was Atlanta predicted to do last year at this point. Just by watching those games, I'd say that they would have had a low ranking based on this formula as well. However, football is played between the hashmarks, and big stats don't determine winners.

155
by Rocco (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 1:11am

#151:

I'm pretty sure the formula takes into account turnovers, and it probably gives bonuses/penalties for red zone turnovers. And I still contend that teams that don't give up the yards are better than teams that give up yards and try to play for the big plays- even on good defenses, turnovers are too infrequent and dependent on offensive mistakes to be counted upon. You're better off not getting into that spot in the first place.

Interesting about the sacks. Does that hold over multiple years, or was it a one-off thing? And if it holds, does it mean anything, or is it shoe size and intelligence recast into football?

156
by IzzionSona (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 1:12am

Se7en_Dust: The problem with saying "this holding penalty cost team A 7 points" is that often times, a holding penalty is the CAUSE of the 7 points. Without the film of the play in question, I can't assert for certain, but if holding was called according to the rules (at the point of attack), it's likely that McClure's holding significantly effected the play, thus resulting in the TD. So, before you assert that a holding penalty cost a team points, you'd hafta be able to assert that the play would have been a touchdown despite the holding penalty.

157
by Se7en_Dust (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 1:14am

152. Maybe I should have worded it different, but what I meant is that the outcome of the game can be pinpointed to a few plays. By that I mean, if those plays had went the other way, or you take them back, the other team would have won.

All the 10 yard runs or 15 yards passes, etc., don't make nearly as much of a difference on the outcome of a game as 1 FR for a TD, or 1 50 yard run/pass.

158
by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 1:14am

Vince has a good point.

You have already though seen better point diffentials though this season.

You should expect them to improve.

Miami and Philly should have been wider margins of victory - and could have been easily.

159
by Se7en_Dust (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 1:16am

155. Teams that make big plays, and sacks are big plays, usually win football games.

Indy leads the league in Sacks this year. Atlanta was number 2 entering Sunday. Dallas was #3 if I'm not mistaken. Those are just off the top of my head.

160
by thad (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 1:19am

re 69
Aaron, overall i think your ratings are quite good, but Atlanta is kink of an odd team.
I often criticize the Eages for throwing the ball to often because it leads to incomplete passes, I have pointed it out for weeks, and for the last three games, their offense has sucked. Ok, it came to life for a bit against Denver.
The opposite is true for Atlanta. Yes Vick is not a great passer, but he does not throw a lot of incomplete passes. So far this year the Falcons are throwing less than 12 a game. They have more sacks than their opponents. That just adds up to less neagative plays then their opponents. I do not think your system adjusts enough for that. Well it would be fairer to say that Palmers system does not adjust for that.
Vick has run for a first down 25 times, Brooks and Carr are next with 14. So the Falcons do manage to move the chains.
Also almost every single playoff team throws fewer incompetions than their opponents, regardless of who they played.

161
by Slippery Pete (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 1:20am

The Atlanta Falcons organization should pay much closer attention to their DVOA than their Won/Loss record. Didn't eveyone get the memo that the NFL is going to give the Lombardi trophy to the team with the best DVOA, Wins and Losses be damned?

162
by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 1:22am

Aaron did start the name calling.

however, Dr. F - was not intented to be malicious.

For the zillionth time - I don't mind if you keep your ranking system. Just don't make up lies about the Falcons to justify it - - maybe not you per se but your colleagues including Aaron are jumping through hoops to say the Falcons fit when they don't.

I am all for fixing your model - just keep the asterisk on the Falcons and the Steelers until it is fixed.

And P.S. your egos are huge.

163
by Se7en_Dust (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 1:23am

156. Good point, but I watched the play AND the replay, and it did not. As many times as penalties are the result of a big play, lots of times they are on the other side of the field and have no factor.

My point was just stating that Atlanta had it's share of mistakes. What people fail to realize is that both of Akers FGs were not chip shots... 49 yarders to be exact, and Atlanta's defense made plays that pushed them back to kick a farther FG.

It's why you have to watch the games to make any common sense predicitions. Many had Atlanta losing to the Phins due to stats, and I could understand why, but Atlanta dominated that game. They find ways to win even when it's not pretty. Simple stats will never be a good factor in predicting IMO.

164
by Ferg (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 1:24am

Wow, I just can't stop reading this thread.

Re 155: Interesting about the sacks. Does that hold over multiple years, or was it a one-off thing? And if it holds, does it mean anything, or is it shoe size and intelligence recast into football?

I think it's pretty similar to the top rushing teams having the best records, namely: 1. If you win a lot, it's because you're ahead a lot; 2. if you're ahead a lot, the opponent passes more to catch up; 3. if the opponent passes more, you have more opportunities for sacks.

Last year the top four teams in adjusted sack rate were Tampa, Atlanta, Buffalo, and Indy -- three good Ds and Dwight Freeney. (For the record, Pitt, Philly, and NE were also in the top ten.)

165
by Vince (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 1:24am

The Dolphins had 11 first downs on Sunday. They were 0 for 9 on third down.

And actually, I believe that "clutch" ability exists in football, at least on plays from scrimmage. If you have one set of plays you're 100 percent confident in, and another set that you're 50 percent confident in, wouldn't you save your best plays for when you needed them most?

166
by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 1:25am

156

Talk to Andrew - he just handed Miami the win if it weren't for a so called bad Saban call.

167
by Todd S. (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 1:25am

#6 I see your point, but I think we need to take into account hangtime as well. It's my contention as a Colts observer that Vanderjagt kicks short and low, while Rayner may kick short but is apparently getting the ball high enough (based on the relatively short returns NE got last night). I'll try to track this more, but I don't know where hangtime statistics are kept. (I'm sure the teams have them, but I don't know if they're available to us unwashed masses.) My intuitive feeling is that Rayner is worth the roster spot because Vanderjagt is unequivocably horrible at kickoffs. (Ask Pat if you don't believe me.)

168
by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 1:27am

165 - you are right Vince.

What down was it when Atlanta made the interception?

169
by Fnor (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 1:33am

#167: Couldn't they find a cheap replacement? Like a Cortez or something? I'd imagine it's relatively easy to find someone who can just kick the crap out of the ball.

Vince: Why do you save those plays for "when you need them?" Why aren't you using those plays in the beginning so you aren't in a needy situation to begin with?

Plus, the plays that coaches pull out in those situations are, of necessity, high-risk/high-reward plays. They're the ones they're not so confident in, the ones that have a bigger chance of not working or going horribly wrong. Perhaps that's where this idea of "clutch" came from... good players simply running those sorts of plays. They get extra yardage, they're usually good enough so that if the play doesn't work, it simply doesn't work, instead of creating a disaster. After all, they do have 4 down in those situations to get it right.

170
by Todd S. (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 1:38am

#56, #66, #72, #93 As a Colts fan Simmons has driven me crazy in the past. I stopped reading him for awhile. I came back, though, since he is so damn funny. I decided to enjoy him as a comedy writer and ignore him as a sports analyst. It's working pretty well, actually. Seeing him choke on his own bile in today's post is quite gratifying, actually.

I think he must have something against Manning, or at least the MSM treatment of Manning. He's an unabashed Pacers supporter, so it doesn't seem to be related to Indianapolis.

Aaron, if you need to delete this post I understand.

171
by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 1:41am

I must apologize for my shrillness - and typos - we have been doing this for some time now.

And to the extent I was rude - please forgive me.

You must understand - it is disheartening to follow a team for 27 years - finally get an owner that cares - hires the best GM in football - and watch them do everything right for the top down. It is like watching the Braves and Shurholtz in 1990.

Then everything starts to work like you know it will - people discount the success due to one-sided intangibles.

Its not fair to a fan like me - and it gets frustrating. When Trotter was not in the game against the Eagles - I was upset - because I knew that at that point we could not win the game in the eyes of our critics - if we won - and if we dominated - as we did - it would be a tainted victory - if we lost - it would be - told you so.

Hey - it comes with the territory - it comes with being a Falcon - we thrive on disrespect and I should learn to welcome it.

But I just got ask you guys one question - what record do you think the Falcons will have this season? And at what point will you say they are legit?

Thank you for your patience with me.

172
by Todd S. (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 1:42am

#169 Well, to be fair, they've tried. Last year alone they had Robbie Goold, Hunter Smith, and Martin Grammatica try kickoffs. None of them really worked out. Rayner is a 7th round draft choice and thus is pretty cheap. Vandy will not be back next year so I expect Rayner will be given every opportunity to win the job.

173
by thad (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 1:45am

re 144
ok, i do not know where to begin.
Compared to the standards of the day, Staubach had exceptional stats.
In 71, 78, and 79 he was amazing. Yeah he had more int's, everone did. That is a stupid comparison, and you should really know better than to compare pre 78 stats to post 78 stats, when the rules were changed.
While Vicks winning percentage is certainly good, its a small sample size. I think he has started less than 50 games.
Staubach played for 11 years, his teams missed the playoffs once.
Staubach was 12-6 in the playoffs
Vick is 2-2
Your comparison is goofy at best.

174
by Israel (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 1:48am

Our resident Steelers expert Ryan Wilson, however, believes this is related to the max protect schemes that both Baltimore and Green Bay ran on offense

Steeler broadcasters Tunch Ilkin and Craig Wolfley - both ex-OL - are peddling this same line on their morning show. It may excuse the CBs, but it reflects badly on the coaches.

175
by Andrew (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 1:48am

Se7en_Dust #140:

Yes, Atlanta was crushed 27-10 in Philadelphia last year. No, the game was not close. No, Atlanta was not "in the game until the 4th", unless you consider "in the game" to refer to that elusive score or two that Atlanta had no chance of making since they were playing most of the game on the wrong side of the field to make a score.

One of the vital parts of a game is moving the ball across the 50 yard line. Atlanta had 10 drives, 5 of which crossed midfield, 1 ended in a TD, 1 a Figgie, 2 of those resulted in punts from the 37, and 1 ended on downs on the 43. Philadelphia had 10 possessions, 1 was a kneel down to end the game, 7 crossed midfield, 3 resulted in TDs, 2 in Figgies, 1 a fake Figgie, and 1 a punt.

BTW, DVOA is not concerned with stuffed 98 yard drives. It is concerned with a team's ability to put together drives that result in points versus the average of all teams, and their play on these drives in various situtations. If Atlanta doesn't look good, quite possibly it is because they've gotten a large number of points off of unusual plays like fumble recoveries and blocked field goals, and have conversely not put together a consistent number of scoring drives needed to win in a typical game against a team of average caliber.

Beating up on the cellar dwellers of the league all year doesn't mean Atlanta will be good enough to beat the top teams in the playoffs.

176
by Todd S. (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 1:48am

#150 BP has found that, while clutch hits happen, clutch hitters do not seem to exist. That is, there is no statistical correlation from year-to-year on which hitters will be clutch. That's the been the wisdom at BP for awhile, but there have been hints lately that new research may have uncovered other trends. I have yet to see the new research published-it's only been alluded to.

177
by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 1:59am

Andrew - what record will the Falcons have this year?

178
by FizzMan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 2:00am

...posted Aaron’s link above where he attributes Atlanta 17-4 record under Vick to luck

Dirk, I haven't seen you post too often before today, so I'm guessing you haven't been a regular. Here's the thing that I think you've missed, because you haven't been around as long as some others. You have accused Aaron and his "cronies" of attributing Atlanta's great winning percentage under Vick to luck. You assume, reasonably enough, that because there's a big difference between the Falcons' record over the last few years and the rating assigned to them by this system, that those who made the system are trying to "explain away" the differences and prove that the DVOA system was right all along. Here's what you're missing:

1. Aaron is NOT convinced that his system is perfect. After all, he specifically asked for suggestions on how to improve the formula in comment #69.

2. There is a difference between "trying to explain why two things are different from each other" and "trying to prove that one thing is better than the other."
In my opinion, Aaron is not attributing Atlanta's record to luck as much as he is explaining one reason why the DVOA ranking is so different from the Falcons W/L record: it's different, in part, because the Falcons don't lose possession on very many fumbles. Usually, fumble recovery is random, so this would seem like good luck. Perhaps, as one poster suggested, the flaw is that Atlanta's fumbles are often out of bounds, so unrecoverable by the defense. Regardless, part of the reason that DVOA and W/L for the Falcons is so different is because of this fumbling situation. Okay, now we understand one reason for this difference. That doesn't prove anything for or against DVOA. Either there is something specific about the way the Falcons play that will lead them to consistently have a good record on fumble recovery (a possibility), or the ball will start bouncing the other way (another possibility). Either way, we just might learn something about them as a team and about how to predict their future success.

179
by Fnor (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 2:02am

#172: Good point, I hadn't thought about that. Though by the fact that Grammatica (along with half the StL D) is on my Madden team should've been enough reason for them to stay away from him like the plague. About games getting realistic... yeah. But I digress.

#171: In my completely unscientific opinion, I see them winning 11 or 12 games. I also see them bowing out of the playoffs. That might seem inconsistent with what I've said before, but it's really not: the rest of their schedule is pretty easy, and I'm getting the twilight zone weird feeling from Tampa Bay. They don't have to be world-beaters to do well by that schedule, and you're seeing some of that in Aaron's numbers... they're getting pushed down because the schedule is easier, like he said in the article.

Yeah, intangible arguments are a real pain. We're still living with Cowher's big-game phobia, and I definitely remember "Bonds can't execute in the playoffs." Then again, Bonds really did suck in the playoffs, so I suppose that's not so intangible. Anyway.

Arguments like the Trotter one are always interesting. On one hand you're correct, it's reenforcing one of those stupid storylines the media has created for their convenience. On the other hand, there is a kernel of truth to it: Jeremiah Trotter eats rushing attacks like marshmallows. That's how a lot of those go, in varying degrees of plausibility. It's a "but for" argument... I believe that "but for" bulger going down, IND would have a loss already. I don't believe that "but for" Randle-El's "Hey Hines!" lateral, PIT would have sole ownership of the division. I could be wrong or right on both of them. That's the problem with speculation- we don't know. That's why I like having these stats to toss around, because it takes some of that away.

So, like I said, Atlanta might be a little low, but aside from their rushing offense, they're pretty middle of the pack. And they've played in a bunch of close games. So I'm not going to say they're necissarily too low. 7th in the NFC isn't too bad, considering the weirdness going on in NY and WAS this season. And yes, I'm drinking the Bears Kool-Aid, so don't bother bringing that up :P.

180
by NF (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 2:03am

You blame the Miami loss on a GOOD Saban call (they got zero first downs by the way) - but ignore our failure to kick the easy field goal or our dropped pass and muffed return.

Saban made a horrible call. He was making horrible calls all day. He only called a run on one 3rd down play, he called a double reverse in the first quarter that lost 12 yards. While Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown were regularly making runs of five or more yards he kept on calling pass plays on third downs. Saban basically put the game in Gus Frerotte's hands, while he has two RBs who are moving the ball with ease. If Saban calls 3 rushes for every pass, the Falcons defense gets trampled, and Miami wins the game easily.

Instead, you stopped the Gus Frerotte passing game, and managed to beat Miami by 7. Congratulations.

And if you don't think the Atlanta run defense is atrocious, the power house of Antowain Smith and Aaron Stecker ran for over 160 yards and 2 TDs against the Falcons on 28 carries.

Atlanta is 6-2 because they have only played two teams that are likely to make the playoffs, and those were both losses. Their hardest games will be within the NFC South, but the only division game they have played so far was against the Saints in San Antonio, where they barely won.

181
by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 2:08am

Fizzman -

Thank you for trying to explain - but please see post 107 - it was the basis of my complaint.

182
by Drew (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 2:08am

If we're still trying to guess why Atlanta isn't rated higher, I'll take a stab. Some random thoughts, which might very well be misguided --

On offense, they aren't a quick strike team. They string together slightly-above-average plays, but don't hit as many big ones as some higher octane offenses. This "slow and steady" approach can be very effective, both at moving the ball, and protecting their defense. But when we're looking at the total value of plays over average, it doesn't stand out. Correct me if I'm wrong; I may be misunderstanding how VOA gets calculated.

They seem to give the ball away a little more than a ball control offense should. 11 isn't a lot of turnovers, but still seems like too many for a team that passes so little. Vick also gets sacked too much for the amount of passes he throws.

On defense, they just aren't all that great. They have no particular facet of defense where they excel. They allow 4.6 yards per rush, and 7.15 yards per pass. Neither of those numbers is good. They have a very high rate of fumble recoveries, but are middle-of-the-road at actually forcing fumbles (which is what counts in VOA Land).

Bed time.

183
by Joe (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 2:13am

Dirk (re #171) - I think you should be more concerned with the actual Falcons performance than whether or not FO thinks the team is legit. Nobody will be able to accurately describe a team's future record, if Vick breaks his leg tomorrow Atlanta's future changes quite a bit. However, based on their schedule and current performance (DVOA), I see:

GB - Win
TB - Win
@DET - Toss up
@CAR - Loss
NO - Win
@CHI - Loss
@TB - Loss
CAR - Win

I see 4-5 more wins and 3-4 more losses, so I'll say they'll finish 11-5 or 10-6. I don't have time right now to run the projections for TB and CAR, but ATL looks like a playoff team to me.

184
by Chris (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 2:15am

I think another thing thats hurting Atlanta in the DVOA is the adjustment for strength of schedule. It looks like what's punishing them in the stats is not that they aren't winning, just that they aren't winning by as much or as dominantly as they "should" against some of the teams they've played.

185
by Anti-Andrew and the rest of you geeks (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 2:15am

Those same Saints the Falcons were barely able to beat in San Antonio beat the Panthers in Carolina....

p.s. - Andrew is still a nerd, I don't care if he changed his name to Drew.

How about not trying to find out why they aren't rank them higher. They're 6-2 after being 12-4 last year because they're a GOOD TEAM.

Ever thought that a calculator doesn't have all the answers?

186
by Andrew (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 2:17am

Anti-Andrew and the rest of you geeks #144:

Staubach and Tarkenton both went to 4 Super Bowls. They also both played mostly before the 1978 liberalization of the passing rules, so the statistics are not directly comparable.

"Steve Young passed for 25 TD 4 times"

Yes, and he also passed for 17 and 20 in two seasons he only played 11 games in. Extrapolation brings both those up to 25+. That is 6 out of the 9 seasons Young started most of the games - 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 98. In 1996, Young only really played in 10 games, yet had 14 TD's, and in 1997, he only played in 13 games, yet had 19 TD's.

Cunningham never had a running game like Vick has to complement him. He also threw for 23 TD's in 12 games in the strike season of 1987.

Elway - 5 Super Bowl appearances with 2 wins, including 3 in his first 7 years.

"Vick also has a greater winning pct than all of them. The ultimate stat!"

No the ultimate stats for a QB are yards passed, and TD to INT ratios. The ultimate accomplishment are not just wins but Super Bowl appearances.

That being said, Cunningham is the closest model to what Vick is - an ill coached wonder - except that Cunningham was far and away a better Quarterback than Vick ever will be, and he was playing in a division with the Gibbs Redskins and Parcells Giants and Johnson Cowboys in the midst of their winning 6 Super Bowls in 8 years. Not quite the caliber of competition Vick faces in the NFC South.

187
by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 2:20am

Saban's call was only bad because he did not make it. The Falcons outran Miami and Mora and the Falcons left plenty of points on field themselves.

The Saban call in an of itself did not cost Miami the game - it was the lost points the Falcons left on the field.

The Eagles would have kicked Miami's butt if the hosted the home opener. And Buffalo - who we also beat - kicked your Miami's butt as well.

But who I am kidding - you are right - you deserved to win Sunday - what I am thinking? - you clearly dominated us the entire game.

We played New England and Seattle much tighter then you played us.

We should be 8-0.

188
by Chris (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 2:21am

Not quite the caliber of competition Vick faces in the NFC South.

Let's not sell Coach Haslett short now.

189
by FizzMan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 2:23am

Re #185
Ever thought that a calculator doesn’t have all the answers?

I give you, from EVERY FoxSports Rankings with which FO has been associated, the following:
Remember, of course, that any statistical formula is not a replacement for your own judgment, just a tool to use in analyzing performance.

And we try to be a kinder, gentler crowd here - any chance you could lose the negative tag? How about "Pro-me" instead of "Anti-Andrew"?

190
by Se7en_Dust (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 2:24am

175. I'll just say that it is my opinion that you haven't watched enough football over a period of time.

The whole formula contradicts itself by ranking Chicago ahead of Atlanta anyway.

191
by BillinNYC (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 2:24am

Dirk, what you seeemingly fail to grasp is what IS the stat of DVOA that these rankings are based upon. It's a mathematical measure of how a team has done (past performance) based on how efficient they have been compared to other teams over time in similar situations on a per play basis. It also factors the quality to the opponent (thus the D in DVOA). It's not about giving respect, and more importantly it doesn't measure how a team WILL play. It has a very high correlation to wins and losses at the end of the day. To quote an old Bill Parcells line, "you are what you are." If on a per play basis, you are no better than the historical average of other teams, then you are an average team. If your aggregated results are below average, then you are a below average team. It doesn't mean you don't win more than the "model" would suggest. However, if you are an average team, you are not likely to win more than an average amount, unless you step up your play. Frankly, according to the numbers, Atlanta has only won 1 more game than they should have. Yet, no one here should suggest they know how many games Atlanta WILL win this year. It totally depends upon how they play. However, if you extrapolate how they have played in the past into the future they will be an average team. However, they don't play a particularly difficult schedule. They will probably win a lot of games. But that alone doesn't make them a great team.

192
by rk (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 2:26am

I'm a Steelers fan, and I think that DVOA may be missing something for teams like Pittsburgh and, from what I've gathered in this discussion, Atlanta. When the Steelers get a lead of say 7+ in the 2nd half, the offense shuts down. The passing game disappears, and they'll run even if it's 3rd and long, sometimes even on fourth down just so they don't kick a field goal to run the score any higher. It is an intentional move by the coaches to preserve the win without risking turnovers and without giving away any more of the gameplan for teams watching film. Based on the what people have said about Atlanta not putting teams away, they may be adopting this style as well. If so, all of these vanilla, minimal-risk offensive plays are going to seriously deflate their DVOA. I don't know what you can do to adapt the formula for this, and I believe it was discussed after Washington blew out San Fran. There probaly is no adjustment to be made, people just need to realize that the numbers are just a tool for trying to understand what's going on and should not be used as a substitute for your own judgment.

193
by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 2:34am

Comments to Drew - I have not tried to look into how the model calculates but I couple of comments.

Falcons pass rush is excellent - they are second in the league in sacks. Their secondary is young and beat up but are making due. This is expected to improve as the year progresses.

The Falcons do usually break a few big run plays per game.

A league leader in third down coversions.

194
by Joe (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 2:34am

Re myself in #183: To complete the NFC South contender projections...

CAR projections:
NYJ - Win
@CHI - Loss
@BUF - Win
ATL - Win
TB - Win
@NO - Win
DAL - Win
@ATL - Loss

I see a 12-4 record and an NFC South title for the Panthers.

TB:
WAS - Loss
@ATL - Loss
CHI - Win
@NO - Loss
@CAR - Loss
@NE - Loss
ATL - Win
NO - Win

That's 8-8 and out of the running for the NFC South.

195
by rk (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 2:36am

Dirk,
It is interesting that you are trying to convince people that Atlanta is really good, but you keep pointing out all of the mistakes they made to leave points on the board. Those mistakes bring down their DVOA.

Also, you keep insisting that it's not the rankig but Aaron's explanation for it that you are insulted by. First, to be insulted by what is written about an organization that you are not a part of and are merely a fan is bizarre. You keep referring to the Falcons in the 1st person. A lot of people do this, and I am always intrigued by it. Secondly, if you were a scientist and you developed a model to explain some phenomenon, and the model was really good 30 out of 32 times, would you just throw it away or would you try to explain what is causing those differences? Aaron tried to explain what is going on with his model concerning the NFL, and he somehow insulted you.

196
by Andrew (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 2:38am

Dirk Dugan #153:

"Can you believe that this Andrew hands the game to Miami if it weren’t for a Saban call?"

Well, playcalls are controllable events with predictable outcomes in the aggregate. Fumbles and muffed punts and dropped passes are not.

"- that Miami earned the right to be within 7 points."

Was the score 17-10 or not? Did Atlanta spot them 10 points to be sporting about the game before it started?

"- that it was not lucky for Miami that the Falcons muffed a return, went for a fourth down coversion, dropped a touchdown pass, fumbled on their 3 yard line (and they still could not score a touchdown mind you)."

None of that is "luck". It is a glaring lack of skill and poise on the part of the Falcons that they fortunately got away with.

"Miami team that will stroll down the field for the first time in the game and get a series of first downs - even though they got zero in regulation and win the game like they desevered to do."

Are you totally retarded or just ignorant and illiterate?

2-2-MIA29 (9:56) G.Frerotte pass to R.Brown to MIA 34 for 5 yards (B.Scott; D.Williams).

A first down!

2-5-MIA15 (1:54) R.Brown left tackle to MIA 24 for 9 yards (K.Brooking; K.Carpenter).

Another first down!

2-5-MIA41 (12:44) G.Frerotte pass to C.Chambers pushed ob at ATL 36 for 23 yards (D.Hall).

And another!

2-7-ATL33 (11:36) G.Frerotte pass to C.Chambers to ATL 23 for 10 yards (K.Carpenter).

Oooo ... another!

2-3-MIA36 (14:31) R.Brown up the middle to ATL 49 for 15 yards (M.Boley; J.Babineaux).

1-10-ATL49 (13:57) R.Brown right tackle pushed ob at ATL 34 for 15 yards (K.Brooking).

Hey, what's that? Two more first downs!

2-2-MIA28 (3:33) G.Frerotte pass to R.McMichael to MIA 33 for 5 yards (B.Scott).

2-6-MIA37 (2:19) G.Frerotte pass to M.Booker ran ob at MIA 45 for 8 yards (D.Hall).

Oooo ... look, look, look! Two more first downs!

2-2-ATL34 (6:01) R.Brown right tackle to ATL 30 for 4 yards (C.Lavalais).

4-1-ATL21 (4:12) R.Brown right tackle to ATL 16 for 5 yards (D.Williams).

Hey, another first down! And oh, wow! A first down on a 4th down conversion!

197
by Fnor (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 2:40am

#192: That's not accurate, though. He lists it as efficiency for a reason. A bunch of running successes, which is what you do to eat the clock, count well for you. Not as flashy, but a bunch of them add up bigtime. You see that sort of thing with the "boom and bust" vs "workhorse" backs in the DPAR ratings every week. As for running on 4th down, that's still under the same umbrella. Why does Cowher do it? Because he believes that getting the first down and eating more clock is worth more than 3 points. But getting first downs is a team's goal: it aids scoring greatly. So successes and failures on 4th down work the same way.

As for where the Steelers are, if anything they're too high for having two really bad offensive days and for the quality of defense they've been playing. It's been a disappointing half-year thus far.

198
by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 2:42am

Billin - thanks for the condensation.

I fully grasp the exercise at hand.

Please see post 107 to see where the problem lies.

It is my understanding (from the link in 107) that Atlanta was projected to win a total of 5 games this season. There is an error in the model that as it relates to Atlanta and the Steelers - that is fine - but the troubling thing is when people suggest the model is so far off - only because the Falcons are "unbelievably lucky" as Aaron says.

199
by BillinNYC (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 2:43am

Finally, Dirk, if your argument rests of this from #107 "This is where he really loses crediability..." "Luck" in this case comes from probability theory.

If you flip a coin 5 times and it comes up heads 4 times, I can not predict what the 6th flip will be. However, based on the law of large numbers, I know that given enough flips, you're mix of heads/tails will be much closer to 50% than 80%. The same goes here. Based on years of data, the probability says that a fumble is just as likely to be recovered by the offense as the defense. So if I recover 75% of the fumbles, I'm "lucky." However, over time, I more likely to regress to the mean. There are other reasons to be lucky - success on third downs vs 1st and 2nd, and so on.

The probabilities about things like fumbles or that the passing game is more consistant year to year than a running game or third down performance of defense is more predictive than that of offense or things like that are scattered in articles throughout this site.

There's nothing flawed about the numbers. It is what it is. Whether you choose to believe they have descriptive power is your own choice.

200
by BillinNYC (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 2:45am

Estimated wins is not wins for the season, but wins up to now.

201
by rk (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 2:49am

Fnor,
I agree that Steelers have been playing awful football lately, and it is probably earlier success against bad teams that is hoisting them up, plus the Cincy game. I'm not trying to compain about their ranking. And I understand that DVOA is about efficiency. It seems to me though that it is tough to be efficient when everyone knows what you're going to do, and you don't care, you just plow ahead to take 40 more seconds off the clock. Overall though, you are probably right and my point probably isn't a valid way of explaining the discussed phenomenon.

202
by Andrew (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 2:49am

Dirk #177:

Atlanta will go 10-6.

There are 4 losses lurking among 5 divisional games (2 of them away) and away games in Detroit and Chicago.

Carolina will win the division. Vick does not "own" Carolina. There is no such thing.

203
by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 2:52am

Andrew - your statements are always full of double standards.

When the Jets fumble it lucky for us - when we fumble it is a lack of poise.

When we make bad play call - ignored - when they do - the reason for the loss.

You are an arrogant fool. Your analysis inconsitant - devoid of logic. You basically have the Falcons at 2-6. Why don't you take that supreme widsom of yours to Vegas and rake it in.

You know I meant converting third downs. That is converting in the clutch - something they have not been able to do all game.

Funny how you did not expound on your reasoning for the guaranteed - "run the ball - Miami wins" victory.

How does it feel to be so wrong so often?

204
by BillinNYC (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 2:53am

Sorry, you were referring to the 5 wins from the article, not the 5 wins I mentioned.

205
by Andrew (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 2:59am

Se7en_Dust #190:

Chicago is a way better team than Atlanta. You'll find this out soon when you go and visit them and try to rush for touchdowns against them.

That game is my nominee for the Atlanta gets blown out game of the year.

206
by BillinNYC (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 3:00am

Really Finally, I don't know why you think the article loses creditibility at the point you mention. 1. Vick is not a good passer. 2. the statement is correct, but he admits it needs to be adjusted for a team that is so reliant on the run, 3. come back to this, 4. the scheulde was not as hard as one would have expected in July, 3 and 5. see comment above.

The prediction for Atlanta was around 5 wins, but they also had (in the same projections) a 7% chance of being a Super Bowl contender.

207
by Ron Mexico (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 3:02am

8-0?

Dugan you are a Panthers loving dork!

I'm so good at quarterback that we should be 16-0 in our first 8 games, because we could have beat all these teams two different ways - me running or me passing for a record smashing 228 yards per game.

208
by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 3:04am

Wow - you are way off on 199 - getting a fumble recovery is not flipping a coin. When Vick is running toward a sideline and fumbles out of bounds - it is more likely to go out bounds. When a swarming defense forces a fumble - the defense is more likely to recover. When the Falcons have small and quick offensive and defensive lines - they will be able to react to recover a fumble opportunity.

Every great coach - and great team has pursued ownership of the turnover ratio - as a strategic initiative.

Only with the discussion over the Falcons has it become one of roulette.

209
by doktarr (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 3:07am

I can't help but join in the fun here. Regulars can go ahead and skip this, they know all this stuff.

Aaron is open to any change, provided it actually predicts the future. He doesn't change things because they "look wrong" to him. He changes things because the change makes DVOA a better predictor of future performance.

The reason DVOA considers fumble recoveries to be random, is because teams that recover a lot more fumbles than their opponents in the first half of the season, don't consistently recover more than their opponents in the second half of the season. The reason DVOA doesn't consider close victories, is because teams that win all the close ones in the first half of a season don't consistently win the close ones in the second half of a season.

Yes, Atlanta has done these things for about a season and a half now. But unless you can provide some predictive stat that explains this over all teams (and "running the ball" or "running QB" is not that stat), then there's nothing Aaron can do with that, except chalk it up to luck. Other teams have been lucky for that long before.

210
by Joe (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 3:10am

Andrew #205 - I don't know about a blowout but I think that the ATL @ CHI game will be the absolute gambling lock of the year.

1. Dome team on the road in Chicago in December

2. ATL could be 10-3 by that game with their schedule

3. CHI will likely get pounded @ PIT the week before

211
by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 3:16am

Doktarr - you dont have to join the condensation band wagon.

see post 107 - the model is apparantly just fine - no adjustment necessary - Atlanta's unjustified success is due to luck. Aaron already identified the problem.

BTW - it is a lost cause - people like Andrew who like to argue the Falcons should be 2 and 6 and were outplayed by Miami has tainted the boards entire crediability. In the case of Miami the beloved stats are not enough - keeps changing according to how to best disrespect the Falcons - not the model mind you - just some of the cattle on the board.

212
by Andrew (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 3:17am

"When the Jets fumble it lucky for us - when we fumble it is a lack of poise."

No, it is lucky for you to recover all the fumbles and score immediately off of them. That is not something that recurs with regularity.

It is a lack of poise for the Jets to fumble, and unlucky for them to not recover a single one.

"You know I meant converting third downs. That is converting in the clutch - something they have not been able to do all game."

If you are consistently converting 1st or 2nd downs, you don't need to be "clutch", whatever that is. The easiest way to avoid 3rd down problems is to convert by 2nd down.

Miami showed the ability to move the ball when needed, and had the game in hand for a tie at the end, then tossed it away on a dumb call.

Atlanta really is not that far removed from Miami. 4 wins by a total of 22 points. They could easily be as bad as 2-6. Miami has 2 losses by a total of 13 points. They could easily be 5-4.

Neither of these teams has proven they are far removed from the mediocre middle of the NFL so far, unlike the Colts and Texans.

"How does it feel to be so wrong so often?"

I don't know. Why don't you ponder yourself and then tell me about how those feelings are to you?

213
by Teximu (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 3:17am

Re: 140,141.

If "the only numbers that matter in a football game is the score" and "the rest of the stats mean nothing", then (and I seriously mean no offense here) you really ought to consider just avoiding this site and the Fox power rankings altogether. The entire point of DVOA is to reveal trends and indicators of future success (or failure) that don't show up in standard football statistics, much less in raw win-loss tallies. If it is your contention that wins and losses are all that matters, then of course you're going to disagree with these power rankings, and more power to you. After all, the playoffs are seeded by record, not by DVOA. Just please realize that the Football Outsiders website is frequented by a whole lot of people who believe for right or wrong that insight on the game of football can be gleaned past records, yards, and Super Bowl winners.

214
by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 3:21am

212 -
Andrew - I would strip you clean if you had the balls to put your money where you mouth is.

Continue to fool yourself.

215
by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 3:25am

Oh - should Mora have kicked the field goal?

Boy - you would not know what to do with yourself if he did.

What could you blaim the Miami loss on then????

Oh - to continue your point - Falcons lost their two games by a total of 6 points. I guess that means we should be 8-0.

216
by Chris (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 3:29am

Andrew says they could be 2-6. Dirk says they could be 8-0. Sort of funny how their estimated wins comes out to be nearly 5.

217
by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 3:30am

Oh - and Saban disagrees with you Andrew on your point about their failure to convert thirds downs.

218
by Fnor (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 3:31am

*sigh* and we were making progress, too.

Andrew, please stop talking about how Miami was blowing out Atlanta. It just made me look at the play by play. Dear god, they weren't. The stats for the first 10 combined drives make baby Marino cry. I don't think you're gonna win that one. I think you're better off with the "Nick Saban is a bonehead" claim, because that one seems to have teeth.

Dirk, our credibility is rather irrelevant. Aaron has a credible system that spit out a number you don't like. We can argue for or against that number, but the two aren't intrinsically intertwined.

And please stop rattling the "excuses" sabre. He's right about point differentials. We see it in every sport. People who overperform? They usually get punked. Like the Steelers did last year. Sometimes they don't, like the 2001 Pats. But that's an anomaly, a tuck rule, and a kicking in the snow. We've discussed fumbles ad infinitum. That's an even more obvious concept. What he's saying is that this is abnormal, and that abnormal things have a tendency to become normal. I don't even think he's said that they'll become normal in the bad way, since they could become normal in the GOOD way (points trending towards the higher wins and fumbles going back to normal rather than wins trending towards current points and fumbles doing whatever the heck they want). He's just saying that these things work themselves out one way or another, and at this point, Atlanta is benefitting from what is probably an unmaintainable situation. That seems accurate to me.

219
by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 3:36am

In fairness - I think we should be 7-1 with the one loss coming from New Orleans - who are always dangerous for us - like we are to Carolina.

The difference is I would be closer to be right (talking about Andrew ofcourse).

In terms of our final record - looking to be 11-5 or 12-4. Scout.com projects us at 11-5 and to win the division. Madden 12-4 or 13-3.

Obivously we will need to beat Carolina at least once. If we do that - we win the division. Andrew thinks we will lose the division. We shall see.

220
by Chris (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 3:46am

Fnor, there was another team sort of like that to on the older stats - the 2003 Panthers. For the first half of the year, DVOA kept placing them relatively low despite their winning games. Then towards the end of the season, they stopped showing up as a fluky team that won more games then they should have and started showing up as a legitimately good team.

221
by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 3:54am

Fnor - you and Aaron are talking about the Jets game - one game - we are not talking about being off by a game or two - I am talking about it being off by 6 or 7 games. I could disect any one team the way you do the Falcons and explain away a victory or a loss for that matter. Even some early Colt victories.

The problem is the model seems to be biased toward passing teams where differentials can be more prolific. That works for most teams - since passing offence has been the staple for most teams for the last 25 years.

But for times where time of possession, and ball control take priority in a running based team - there has to be an adjustment made. And when you have a team that has QB that can improvise first downs when all else fails to maintain control - I am not sure how that would be captured in the model.

I have also given some examples of where point differntial can be misleading. When Vick is taken out early with a big lead so he can rest. Or the Kansas City blow out of last year, or the fact that the Falcons clinched early and forfeited their last two games of the season. I am not sure how all that is accounted.

Finally - the Falcons are an adaptive team - they really on phyicality on raw talent as opposes to a carefully hone system right now. As a result - they tend to rise up to good teams and down to bad. That may not look good next to a Pats performance but it gets the job done.

Again of the elite teams - the Falcons have the most room to improve - young team with great management - past performance will not be indicative of the future.

Oh - another example of how Aaron left the logic train. Injuries. The Falcons have had their share - particularly on defense - Hartwell's loss - major - but again - the observation is one sided.

Finally - I don't mind that the model ranks us last - I just don't want to hear you guys say luck was a reason why it was 7 games off.

222
by Brad (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 3:59am

Dirk, Sometimes it's helpful to understand the stats you're blowing a gasket about before blowing said gasket.

When the 'D' is added to 'VOA' to form 'DVOA' fumble recovery is normalized (50%). This would mean that Atlanta's high fumble recovery rate would go down, which is what what Aaron was getting at with his lucky bounces statement. This affected Atlanta's rating in a negative fashion.

And, unless Vick has somehow played 21 games this season, he career record of 17-4 has no bearing on what Aaron stated because he's only talking about this season, not past ones.

Next, Atlanta's ranking before the defensive adjustment is 10. One of you Falcons supporters said you'd be happy with a top 10 ranking. Well, there you go. It's adjusted downward to account for the fact that the falcons haven't beaten anyone of note. You can rant and rave about the week one win over philly, but the formula has started placing a lesser emphasis on early games. If you think that's unfair then present a logical reason for it. Teams change over the season and unless you really feel that San Fran is better than St. Louis or New Orleans is better than Carolina, you probably agree with that statement (and if not, I'm dying to hear why).

Anyways, have a nice day and try not to get so angry over internet power rankings. They're not the BCS, they have no power, and all it does is ruin your mood for awhile.

223
by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 4:04am

Thanks Brad - that helps a little - but the normalization to 50% does not make sense for the reasons previously stated.

A fumble in practice is not a 50/50 proposition.

Most good teams have a better than 50% recovery rate.

Lastly look at post 107 - Aaron does reference 2004 as part of his 2005 projections.

224
by Sean (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 4:28am

Bill Moore over at Two Minute Warning crunches the numbers in a fairly similar way to DVOA, and he puts out what the final score would be projected to be based on the same set of criteria, i.e. successful plays. Here is how his stats grade Atlanta's performance to date:

vs. PHI LOSS 21-3
vs. SEA LOSS 45-12
vs. BUF WIN 32-6
vs. MIN WIN 33-0
vs. NE LOSS 41-26
vs. NO LOSS 49-16
vs. NYJ LOSS 16-9
vs. MIA WIN 39-14

On average, a team that turned in the performance that the Falcons did in each on of their games to date would be 3-5 at this point. If you break down Atlanta's performance on a per play basis- and this has been demonstrated to be a more accurate predictor than anything else- they should be a below .500 team right now.

There are only two possibilities- the Falcons are lucky or they aren't. Teams that are lucky, which is to say teams that win games that the metrics say they should lose, don't tend to maintain that luck over an entire season. So basically, if it's so important to you that the Falcons record be reflected in their DVOA rankings, come back in eight weeks. If the ranking is still out of line with the Falcons performance, feel free to scream bloody murder.

(Of course, we all know that if DVOA proves to be correct and the Falcons fall off in the second half, you won't be back at all...)

225
by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 4:31am

Why would Atlanta be undervalued by the Model? Don't know all the variables the model considers - first day here.

But what makes Atlanta and to some extent Pittsburg different from other winning teams.

1. Large disparity between rushing and passing yards.

2. Swarming mobile lines - fumble recovery advantage?

3. High third down coversion rate.

4. High number of sacks delivered.

5. High time of possession.

The rest of their numbers should be pretty much average - though I think the Falcon's point differential is better than average for a team with their record.

It would be interesting to look at historic scoring differentials for Champions that were stronger with the rush verses those that were stronger with the pass.

Ofcourse that would be an obivous suggestion.

226
by Brad (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 4:32am

Some fumbles, you're right, are not 50/50 propositions. The offense has a much better chance of recovering a botched snap than the defense does for example. When a running back fumbles the ball at the LOS or in the middle of a crowd however, the fumble, as you'd probably expect, is a 50/50 proposition. Regardless, Aaron uses different numbers depending on where the fumble was (botched snap opposed to 30 yards downfield where it's likely the receiver fumbling is the only one on his team anywhere near the ball) to modify the rating.

I'd like you to prove your assertion that good teams have high fumble recovery percentages.

Yes, Aaron did use last year to an extent to make his prediction about the Falcons' record this year. That is not relevant whatsoever to the discussion though. The point of contention was that he said the Falcons were insanely lucky in recovering fumbles this year. He makes no mention of their fumble recovery percentage from last year.

I'm curious, do you grill other sportswriters about their preseason predictions as much as you have today? The nature of preseason predictions is that most are likely to be wrong, it's part of life.

227
by Brad (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 4:35am

The steelers were number two in the rankings before Big Ben went out. The model has no problem with them.

228
by Bernie Kosar has a Superbowl Ring (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 4:41am

Two football analysis site showdown matchups this weekend.

Miami vs. New England: DVOA predicts a close game between two closely ranked teams, Beatpaths predicts the much higher rated Patriots will beach the Dolphins big-time.

Detroit vs. Arizona: DVOA rankings have Detroit as the substantially better team, Beatpaths ranks Arizona slightly higher.
I've got my glasses securely taped and my pocket protector at the ready. Should be an exciting Sunday.

229
by Joon (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 4:44am

dirk--i am a falcons fan. i love the falcons. i am quite sure that they are one of the better teams in the NFL. but i am equally sure that DVOA is a good way to measure teams. perfect? obviously not. predictive? well, more than most other methods, but obviously predicting the outcome of future sporting events is highly fallible, no matter how you do it. but DVOA is a good tool. it is intelligently designed. it has been finely honed. it works well in the vast majority of cases. most importantly--it is 100% objective. it is not an attempt to offend you or denigrate your favorite team.

it is true that the falcons have played a weak schedule thus far, and that several of their wins over bad teams were unimpressive. their future schedule is a little tougher, so perhaps the second half of the season will be more telling.

#217 is dead-on, by the way. atlanta dominated miami like nobody's business, and i couldn't believe my eyes when it was still in doubt in the fourth quarter. vick had a legitimately excellent passing game--if not for griffith's fumble (and ensuing MIA recovery, heh) and finneran's dropped TD, the falcons would have had 28, or at least 24, on the board easy.

that said, the game was troubling for a number of reasons. they really couldn't stop the run. that's bad. i mean, ronnie brown looked great, but there were big holes for him to run through almost every time. same for ricky. another--dunn had a bad game. lots of 1-yard rushes and a few 9-yard carries; that's worse than consistently getting 4-5, as he has been all season. i hope he's not wearing down. they didn't have duckett healthy to spell him, and when they tried griffiths, he ran well, but boy that was a costly fumble.

a request: dirk, please put away that straw man. aaron did not make any claims about the win over philly being due to trotter's injury. key players being injured for some games has nothing to tell us about why the falcons have been outperforming their DVOA. also, i watched the patriots game start to finish. schaub was very, very good. so i don't like your claim that atlanta "should" have that game since vick is worth 4 points. the offense did its job. the reason that atlanta lost is because brady played phenomenally well, and the falcons cannot cover (or tackle) the other team's TE. thirdly, please stop complaining about other people's "huge egos"; while it is true that some of the posters here are arrogant dickheads, many of the others were trying to engage you in intelligent discussion and you insulted them. at best, you're painting with too wide a brush.

being a falcons fan is frustrating. they are ridiculously inconsistent (although i guess this is probably what it's like to be a fan of any other team, too). i thought they played really well against philly, miami, and obviously minnesota. but they really do play down to the level of their competition. not blowing out the saints is an embarrassment. the jets game was tough to watch--vinny gift-wrapped the game for them and they spent the whole 2nd half trying to give it back. i can understand in part why DVOA doesn't like them. but given that miami is a solid team and the falcons whipped them pretty thoroughly, i thought they'd move up. maybe they didn't because it is starting to discount miami's week 1 win over the broncos and atlanta's own week 1 win over philly.

one parting shot: i hate it when i see "vick will never be a good passer." who keeps saying this? why do you believe it? he's not a good passer this year, and he wasn't a good passer last year. but before greg knapp and the "west coast offense" (which is a joke of a description of how atlanta actually plays offense), he was one of the league's better passers. he was a phenomenally accurate and efficient passer at va tech. the system change is terrible for his passing game, and they have so far discovered that peerless price was not the answer. this is why vick will "never" be a good passer? they haven't scrapped the system because obviously they are rushing very effectively from it, and winning ballgames. but if they ever do and go to a more vertical passing game (ideally with a legitimate deep threat), you'll see vick back among the league leaders in QB rating and passing DPAR.

230
by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 4:46am

Well - at least it agrees Atlanta was dominate against Miami - lol.

If percentage of sucessful plays are what is being considered - I can see where Atlanta would be undervalued. However I am not following why it necessarily has to be a product of luck.

Physical and at times emotional teams - like the Falcons and Steelers - with many new and young players in a new system would be expected to miss a lot of plays. But success can still be obtained by performing well in spurts - and in the clutch. Furthermore, a team can learn from their mistakes and make adjustments - ala the Seattle game.

In other words - a sloppy team can still be a consistant winner.

231
by jonnyblazin (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 4:47am

Also I've notice that some DE passrushers are not only great at causing fumbles (mathis, abraham, suggs i think at least last year), but sacking the QB and poking the ball away so fast that the only people who know that a fumble occured and where the ball is are the onrushing Dlineman, increasing the potential for not only a defensive recovery but runback as well. I'm not sure if Kearney or other falcons fit this model, and it would be difficult to statistically factor in coverage sack (which i assume would be easier for the offense to recovery) vs. speed sack, but it is just a suggestion.

232
by Joon (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 4:47am

oops, i really didn't mean to link to that panthers cheerleaders article again. stupid autocomplete.

233
by John (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 4:51am

Dirk Dugan, you have spent an ungodly amount of time defending a team that doesn't give crap about you--take a breather man, this isn't worth the effort you are putting into it.

Aaron, I'm not an Atlanta fan but have often wondered if perhaps DVOA has a tough time evaluating the Falcons because their offensive system is a bit of an abnormality among modern offenses. Therefore a tool designed to be effective for a normal offense gets funky results for one that seemingly lives by different rules. You see this in baseball stats when it comes to evaluating knuckleballers. I wonder if having an offense predicated on a running attack is somehow less risky/more consistent than a traditional pass heavy Offense. Or, if perhaps Vick's ability to scramble makes them especially effective in crucial situations like third and long. How does ATL perform in your late and close metric? This is only an observation, but from what I've watched it does seem like Vick has an uncanny ability to make a play when his team is desperate.
Basically what I am saying is that if you create a metric that is designed to measure your average 2WR, 1 RB, 1 QB offense and you instead are measuring a 1WR, 2 ½ RB ½ QB offense, it can be expected that you might have misleading results.

234
by ian (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 4:56am

Wow, what a flame war. I want to play.

I haven't seen any Atlanta games except for their game against Seattle in week 2 but if you look at the box score for that game there are some interesting things that stand out to me.

1. They were out rushed by Seattle. Yeah, Vick got hurt in the game, on his longest run no less. But the Falcons rushed for 115 (Dunn for 54 and Vick for 43) and averaged 4.1 yards per rush while the Seahawks rushed for 163 (Alexander 144) and averaged 4.8 yards per rush.

2. They were out passed by Seattle. Schaub only attempted 1 pass, and it was incomplete (evidently two-point conversions don't count as completions). Vick was 11/19 for 123 (57.9%) for a 6.5 average and 1 TD. Hasselback was 20/31 for 281 (64.5%) for a 9.1 average and 2 TDs.

3. Vick was part of 27 of 51 plays - about 53% of the offense. In contrast Hasselback was part of 37 of 67 plays - about 52% of the offense.

4. Atlanta converted 2 of 11 third downs and third downs represented 21.5% of total plays on offense. Seattle converted 4 of 12 third downs and third downs represented 17.9% of total plays on the offense.

5. Neither team threw an interception, both teams fumbled once, and Seattle lost their fumble.

6. Seattle outgained Atlanta 428 yds to 223 yds.

If all you were to do was judge the game on those points, the close outcome wouldn't be predicted, I don't think. What was the difference?

1. Punting. Seattle had an average of 38.4 yards per punt while Atlanta averaged 49.6. Not only was the Atlanta punter off the charts, but the Atlanta punt returns averaged 14.5 yards (2 returns, 29 yds). Seattle punting was a shankfest and they averaged 6.3 yards (3 returns, 19 yards). Both teams had 2 punts downed inside the 20 and Atlanta had 2 touchbacks. My memory of the game is dominated by the ability of the Falcons to repeatedly pin the Seahawks offense deep in their own territory when punting from their own 30 - 40 yard line.

2. Penalties. Seattle committed 10 penalties, some at critical junctures in the game (according to the recap I don't personally remember) and a lot on punt returns (a common feature of the Seattle not-so-special teams). Atlanta was only flagged 3 times.

What's the point? Based on the stats that most people pay attention to Atlanta shouldn't have been within a FG of taking the game to overtime.

In this game Michael Vick wasn't the showcase of the Falcons offense - he was only marginally more involved than Hasselback was for Seattle. Yes, he got hurt, but that is one of the criticisms against Vick - he is too fragile. There isn't anything wrong with that, unless you don't have a good backup who can step in and take over. Seattle carried Trent Dilfer as their #2 for several years, and payed him like a starter, while Matt Hasselbeck grew into their starter, and when he played, they won.

The Falcons couldn't run against the Seahawks. Yes, they were down by 21 at halftime, but they didn't do a good job with any of their three backs (Duckett, Dunn, Vick) before Vick was injured on a 32 yard scramble.

The Falcons couldn't throw against the soft Seahawks pass defense (16th in the league in yards/game, 22nd in DVOA).

All together this says two things:

1. Against the only team they've played who has a winning record after 10 weeks, Atlanta couldn't run, couldn't pass, couldn't feature Mike Vick, and hung in the game because of their punter and mistakes by the other team.

2. The common stats don't tell the whole story.

Finally, it says that no matter how much you love your team, they can go out on the field and let a f---ing punter dominate the game.

235
by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 4:56am

Brad - he says the Falcons were lucky last year as well if you read the link.

I only brought it up because you said he did not consider last year.

And you can google it - Most dominate teams maintain a positive turnover ratio.

We can discuss whether or not there is a chicken or an egg issue here.

However it stands to reason that teams are usually better when they dominate lines and can gang tackle. That advantage is conducive to creating and recovering fumbles.

236
by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 5:06am

Ian - as a Falcon fan - that is only concerned with winning - I hope that it works out we play Seattle in the playoffs.

237
by ian (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 5:21am

All right Dirk, if all you care about is winning, why have you been perched on this stat-centric supergeek site all night long raving about how good your team is and ranting that the supergeek stat freaks are all wrong when they build a system to try and play Billy Beane for the NFL?

I'm serious. I don't know why you would come in here and tell everyone they are wrong and how great your team is and then be miffed when they don't agree.

The whole point of this kind of site is to crunch numbers to make sense of the game and the league in a way that your gut or fan loyalty doesn't justify or explicate. That doesn't mean you have to be like that, but if you aren't, why would you be here?

I don't have a problem with you being a homer, but a homer who is oblivious to the facts - like the fact that lots of regular season wins might be an illusion if the schedule is weak, or that a strong finish or late collapse might be predictable, or that the structure of the NFL schedule is unintentionally unbalanced from year to year but balances out over the course of 3 or 4 seasons - well, that just makes a guy who might be a great tailgater or the kind of guy who you can dress up or paint your body with to go to a game, but probably shouldn't be in a conversation like this. (Not that a supergeek stat freak wouldn't go bare chested at Lambeau or put on the spiked shoulder pads at the Colosseum, but that isn't the point.)

238
by Sean (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 5:44am

Dirk,

"1. Large disparity between rushing and passing yards."

This is an irrelevant distinction. It's very simple- DVOA rewards a team for gaining enough yardage on any given down as to make it statistically probable that the drive will continue. That means 40% of the yardage needed on first down, 65% on second down, and 100% on third or fourth down. It doesn't matter how you get the yards, it's simply a function of looking at every play and saying, "What's the down and distance now?" It's entirely possible to be much better at one aspect of offense than the other and still be a highly ranked offense- in 2003, for instance, the Colts offense was 2nd overall, while being the #2 passing attack and the #17 rushing attack. Tennessee was even more imbalanced, with the #1 passing attack and the #30 rushing attack- the offense ranked 5th overall.

You want to know why the Falcons do poorly? Just go through the play-by-play for their games and look for how many 1st down plays result in 2nd and 6 or better, how many 2nd down plays result in 3rd and 3 or better, and how many 3rd down plays result in a first down. Do it for every game and see what you get. Last year, you wouldn't get a very high percentage of successful plays. This year, you might, as the Falcons offense is 10th in the league according to DVOA.

239
by Jake S. (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 6:20am

My pardons if someone's mentioned this already:

You said this about the 'Skins this week:
"I've heard some people complain that the Redskins are trying to use Clinton Portis as a physical inside back, which isn't really his style. But this isn't actually true — the Redskins have only run 38 percent of carries up the middle or behind the guards, the lowest percentage in the league."

Sorry, Redskins do seem to be using Portis as a physical runner on the inside. It's not so much that he's running inside (between the tackles) too much, but the adjective phsyical.

Portis is getting 3.1 ypc going up the middle. It was even worse last year, at 2.7.

With the Broncos, he gained 6.7 ypc up the middle 2 years ago, and 5.6 ypc up the middle the year before that.

See the difference? In his first and second years with both systems, he he does twice as well with the Broncos.

Now, I do not see the 'Skins play enough or watch film, but at the very least this shows that the 'Skins are using him ineffectively up the middle. Maybe he is not being used as a power back all the time, but when the run is called up the middle, that's Gibbs appears to be using him as a power back.

Or maybe the 'Skins just stink at running the ball...

240
by R.J. (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 6:46am

Is there anything in common among the Falcons, Broncos and Steelers that could possibly explain the discrepancy at different times this year between their W-L records and their DVOA rankings?
I have read comments from posters that the Falcons and Steelers both have become more conservative with their play calling once they have a lead. Can anyone confirm if that is really true? Having watched the Broncos closely I know that they have played more conservatively both on offense and defense with double-digit second-half leads against the Chiefs, Redskins, Patriots, Giants? It cost them against the Giants and nearly did against the Skins and Pats.
It’s probably debatable whether playing conservatively with a lead is really the best strategy but it may explain in part why these teams’ rankings based on a play-by-play comparison system have not corresponded well (at times this year) with their W-L records.

241
by BillinNYC (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 9:24am

Wow, this is still going on and I've been to sleep already.

"Most dominate teams maintain a positive turnover ratio" - Dirk

Here is the mistake in your logic. Fumble recovery and Turnover ratio are two completely different things. What Aaron is referring to in "luck" is, among other things, recovering more than 50% of the fumbles that occur. That is lucky.

Turnover ratio is how many fumbles AND INTs I have vs. you.

Good teams often win the turnover battle, yes. Why, because 1. they make INTs, and 2. they CAUSE more fumbles. More forced fumbles means more opportunities to recover, not a greater recovery rate.

Finally, you criticize for a stubborness about the willingness to "fix" the system. Yet I read, FROM THE ARTICLE YOU LINK US TOO,

"This is the place where we need to improve our projection system in the future. A team as heavily dependent on the running game as Atlanta ... might not follow the usual trends."

Secondly, there's two different issues here. DVOA Rankings and pre-season predictions. DVOA, as I've mentioned, is based solely on past performance. The preseason prediction is much more falable. It is using past performace to make a stab at future results.

All the Atlanta section is saying in that article is, here is why we made the prediction we did and here's why we stand by the theory that generated it - but for a few exceptions that may need tweeking. That doesn't seem arrogant. To me, it says, I trust the way the model works. I recognize that Atlanta is outperforming, but given the same knowledge I'd make the same prediction. However, I probably need to evaluate a couple new factors going forward when making predictions next year. Why is that so egotisical?

242
by Andrew (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 11:14am

Fnor #218:

"Andrew, please stop talking about how Miami was blowing out Atlanta."

I didn't say that. Dirky claimed Miami hadn't gained any first downs in the game. They did. Miami also got itself into position to score at the end to tie it up, then blew it.

243
by Dave (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 11:30am

Re: #171: "it comes with being a Falcon - we thrive on disrespect and I should learn to welcome it."

All the Patriots fans that were here last year moved to Atlanta, too.

244
by Todd S. (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 12:04pm

#239 What that tells me is that Denver's offensive line was better than Washington's offensive line is now. It doesn't tell me anything about whether or not Portis is being used between the tackles.

245
by ChrisFromNJ (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 12:20pm

#240:

This is the third time this season we've seen one team with a DVOA ranking significantly lower than their record/reputation, and have had to deal with the "your stats suck!" homers.

First there was Washington, who was ranked at #18 or so when they were 3-0 against three decent teams. The claim was that they had been playing mediocre football and had just gotten lucky- the average winning margin was two points, and one can't expect to base a consistent record on only winning the close ones (the 2003 Panthers are of course the exception that proves the rule), especially in cases like the Dallas where all their production was on two plays. However, as the sample size increased, things evened out: Washington started to both perform better and lose games, and now at 5-3 and #10, it's hard to argue that DVOA isn't ranking them accurately.

Second, there was Denver, who was tearing through a difficult schedule but still being held to a low ranking. Here the culprit was clear: the "fluke" Week One loss to Miami, whose poor performance counted as much in the DVOA engine as all their impressive wins. (Well, impressivemore for strength of schedule than execution: poor fourth-quarter play had also dropped them a couple spots, as they tended to go soft in more crucial situations.) This, again, was remedied through the miracle of larger sample size- with more games, the Miami loss is less important (hence higher DVOA), and their fourth quarter loss to the Giants helped in the other direction. #7 and 6-2 synchs up fairly well.

Both these teams had record/DVOA discrepancies that were mainly a function of the error inherent in early-season small sample sizes, and have since mostly smoothed themselves out, regressing to the mean. I wouldn't be surprised if Atlanta eventually meets the same fate, eitherby putting up better stats or by losing games. On the other hand, I wouldn't be surprised if they don't: an easy schedule (don't forget they're ranked #10 before strength of schedule adjustment) could mean continued winning despite mediocre numbers.

(The NFC North and AFC East are indisputably poor; the NFC South may be good, but they have yet to play most of their in-division games. By contrast, the uniformly strong AFC West and NFC East have to play each other- I'd contend that it just takes a better team to get 5-6 wins in these divisions, a hunch borne out by common sense and DVOA.)

Also, as has been mentioned many times before, Atlanta is the perpetual thorn in the side of DVOA, winning games while putting up poor numbers in a way that no otherteam has really been able to do in such a consistent and not-easily-explainable matter. While this makes Atlanta an interesting study, it doesn't mean that DVOA is flawed: Aaron has gone on record as quoting Bill James that a good predictive/explanatory statistical model shouldn't work %100, or someone's probably fudging the scales. Perhaps Atlanta is the exception that proves the rule?

246
by Brandon (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 12:45pm

Hey Aaron...are you kidding me? The Falcons are ranked lower then the Miami Dolphins? Whom they would beat 10 out of every 5 times they would play? Almost beat the Pats without Vick? 2 losses by a combined total of 6 points away from being undefeated and you have them behind the Chargers who have lost 4 games and the Dolphins? You should be fired

247
by Drew (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 12:51pm

Re: 193

Falcons pass rush is excellent - they are second in the league in sacks.

I stand correcetd on that. It looks like they get 3 sacks per game, which is good. (Although it's actually 4th in the league.)

Their secondary is young and beat up but are making due. This is expected to improve as the year progresses.

I'm not sure how a computer model can be expected to account for that. I'm not even sure that a person could accurately account for it prior to it actually happening.

I have not tried to look into how the model calculates...

I thought that was the point of this whole exercise.

An open question to anyone who knows:

I'm still curious as to whether the system favors a quick-strike team or a slow-and-steady team. Let's say Team A starts at their 20 yard line, and then completes four straight 20-yard passes, scoring a TD. Now Team B starts at their 20 yard line, and executes 16 consecutive 5-yard runs, scoring a TD. Which drive generates a higher VOA, or is it all the same?

248
by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 12:52pm

242 - The Falcons let Miami have an opportunity to tie the game.

But our loses by three points each where blow outs in your mind - you are devoid of objectivity in the matter.

You did suggest the Falcons were outplayed.

And you are aware that I mis-spoke on the third down conversion - obviously Miami got first downs in the game - don't you know I watched the Game. But if you have to grasp on to a product of Falcons defending - sleep deprived miss-typing as a way to think your getting one up on me - knock yourself out.

249
by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 12:53pm

247 - they got no sacks last week - that is what hurt them - I believe they were second the week before.

250
by ChrisFromNJ (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 12:55pm

Brandon-

The Falcons are 0-1 against teams with winning records. If you haven't noticed, while beating the Eagles and playing the Pats close is nice, it isn't much of an accomplishment this year- injuries and departures have made them mediocre teams this year.

The Chargers, on the other hand, have played a grant total of one game against a team with a losing record, and have still managed to pull together a winning record with one of the toughest schedules in NFL history. Frankly, it's a no-brainer to put the Bolts ahead of the Falcons.

251
by TomC (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 12:56pm

Dear God, please tell me that #246 is a joke.

252
by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 1:02pm

241 - wow.

Yes I am aware that turnovers include both fumbles and interceptions. For all the reasons stated before - fumbles are not a 50/50 proposition. I still stand by the statement. It IS logical that dominate teams force more fumbles and recover more fumbles. Maybe Aaron is defining a fumble in a very specific context. But I assure you the teams that have been dominate in the past have tendenancy to recover more fumbles.

I think after that - you are basically agreeing with me though your tone is argumentative.

For the 1000th time - If Aaron did not invoke the "luck" of the bounce factor or that "injuries" have one-sidedly helped Falcons - I probably would not have a problem with anything else he said.

It seems like many of your points are circular.

253
by Todd S. (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 1:02pm

#251 While I cannot speak for the One with the Noodly Appendage, I think it's safe to say that it is a joke-one way or the other.

#248 But it's clear that we can also discount your objectivity, correct?

254
by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 1:08pm

240 - What I have gathered from the more helpful people on the board:

What we are really tracking hear is efficiency of play.

I can not say for sure, but teams that rely on flexibility and athletism to win games as opposed to a consistant skilled style of play seemed to get docked.

In other words - strong teams that play sloppy will be undervalued by rating system.

255
by T. Diddy (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 1:08pm

#247 Drew:

My understanding (keep in mind, I haven't actually been good at math in a long time) is that the four 20-yard passes will cause a bigger rise in VOA because each one is a really good play, while the 16 5-yard runs would cause a bigger rise in PAR, since while none of the 5-yard runs are that much more than you would expect in any one of the situations, added up they constitute a truly impressive drive.

Which is another point that nobody's really addressed - there are a wide variety of stats at play here, each one an attempt to look at things differently - estimated wins, VOA/DVOA, PAR/DPAR, etc. Each has something slightly different to say, since each measures different things.

PS Dirk: I'd really suggest you read the "Methods to Our Madness" essay at the very least (linked on my name). You may not agree with what FO is measuring, but people do respect your arguments more around here if you come with an argument along the lines of "I don't think you're doing specific thing X right" instead of "You geeks with calculators don't understand football at all." Just sayin'.

256
by james (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 1:17pm

Dirk,

As a fomerly "newbie" digruntled Redskin fan, I can remember being in the same spot as yourself. First thing you have to do is chill out a little. People are willing to discuss but you have to present your point without insulting everyone. Your problem is this being a stats site. You need stats to back up your argument and they can be found.

One poster found the falcons were a much better first half team than second half team and showed the win percentages according to quarter. He has a point that cannot be argued against. What DVOA is "screaming" is what will happen if the Falcons use their famous score first and then sit on it method when they face a top team. Atlanta's record against teams ranked ahead of them in DVOA is 0-2. DVOA only points out that they need to play better than they have previously if they want to beat the better teams.

Speaking of bad luck, Aaron's projection could very well have been "jinxed" by bad luck. Of the teams that the Falcons have faced thus far, only Seattle and Miami are not a far worse team then they were last year. Minnesota, Jets, Patriots, Saints, Philadelphia, and Buffalo are all in turmoil and most decent teams in the NFL would be 5-1 against those teams.

As far as everone being geeks, you are probably wrong. Alot of posters are ex-players and one can surmise that a few were quite good.

Here's something I found that may make you happy. In 2003 and 2001 a team with an 11-5 record with a DVOA rank about the same as the Falcons made the superbowl. One narrowly won and one narrowly lost. The Falcons last year also fit that mold but did not make the superbowl. Those previous two teams failed to make the playoffs the next year. I don't think Aaron can be faulted for hypothesizing that the same would happen to the Falcons this year. Aaron just wrote about the wrong luck. The luck that is going the Falcons way is the turmoil going on on the other side of the ball.

I'm a big Vick/Falcons fan and see him having all the ability to lead this team to the next level. His coaches need to let him play his way for 4 quarters. The NFC is ripe for a great quarterback to take over for the next 3-5 years.

257
by doktarr (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 1:19pm

Just to elaborate on what Bill said in #241:

The following things are skills, and if teams have been good at them, they will probably stay good at them:

- Getting interceptions
- Not throwing intercetions
- Forcing fumbles
- Not fumbling the ball

The following things, while being a skill that is taught and drilled, is a skill that all NFL players have to some degree. The inherent randomness of the situation means that where on the field it happens is a much better predictor of what will happen, than what the team has done in the past is.

- Recovering your own fumbles
- Recovering the other team's fumbles
- Returning fumbles and INTs for TDs

So, if Atlanta is good at the first set of things, then DVOA gives them their due credit for that. And that will lead to having a good turnover ratio. If they have good numbers on the second set of things, then DVOA will consider that to just be good luck.

258
by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 1:20pm

Todd - what a rude post.

I have now clearly stated my case - which is rarely what you guys think it is by the way.

I am now trying - like everyone else - to productively suggest reasons why some teams are under ranked. My only issues were two of the excuses Aaron gave that seriously puts HIS objectivity in question.

And while I am certainly a biased Falcon fan - it is Andrew that has no stake in this matter - his motivation is simply to maliciously bash the Falcons.

And while you guys sit back and ask if a newbie post is a Joke for questioning why Miami is ranked higher than Atlanta - of course it is not a Joke - it is because it is a wrong ranking.

Now you guys are frustrated because you probably know it is wrong - and why it is wrong (residual credit from Denver win) - and confidence it will correct itself in the future - but the fact is - it is wrong now - and to a newbie you would have to give a pretty big disclaimer to explain that away.

259
by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 1:26pm

AARON - for your own crediablity's sake - please remove the reference to Doug Johnson in your recent update.

Doug Johnson has not played for the Falcons for years.

Matt Schaub - who could start for half the teams in the NFL - is our back up QB - and probably has a higher passer rating then Vick.

260
by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 1:29pm

255 - all good points.

I intend to do just that - just found this board yesterday afternoon.

261
by Todd S. (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 1:37pm

#259 Why thank you, Dirk. Actually, I wasn't trying to be rude, but I know that this medium is particularly misleading as far as tone goes. My point was that you were questioning someone else based on their objectivity-so why shouldn't we question you based on same?

#251 was not a newbie post, it was a troll post. The current rankings are not "wrong," they are different from your (and apparently Brandon's) perception of things. Aaron includes a disclaimer above the rankings every single week. Your argument is that it does not stand out enough? I think that's a fair suggestion, but I don't think it's too much to ask that people actually read what they are posting about.

Dirk, your tone has improved greatly over the course of this thread, and I commend you for that. I would echo others and request that you provide more factual evidence for your argument that good teams consistently recover fumbles at greater than 50 per cent. Aaron included a study in FPF 2005 that contradicts your assertion.

262
by Se7en_Dust (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 1:38pm

You want to kow what's worse than the Falcons being ranked 17th in any Power Rankings? Aaron Schatz's comments on why they are. Since Michael Vick was named their starting quarterback, the Falcons are 29-15-1 when Vick plays and 3-11 when he does not. "This proves without a shadow of a doubt that Vick is a better quarterback than Doug Johnson. Atlanta fans angry about this ranking need to look at where Carolina and Tampa Bay are. The entire NFC South takes a strength of schedule hit because the NFC North, AFC East, and New Orleans are so bad. NEXT: vs. GB" Sounds like Aaron has no logical explanation, so he takes a shot at one of the winningest QBs in the game.

Now let's look at Chicago, who has a worse record in a worse division. "In the last five games, the best team Chicago has played is Baltimore, ranked 19th. Are the Bears ever going to have to play another good team? Not this week. NEXT: vs. SF" Yet, they are ranked 13th. This alone makes DVOA more of a comedy than anything.

If you want to use DVOA as predicting games, that's all fine, but using them for Power Rankings is ludicrous at best.

263
by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 1:46pm

256-

The last 80% of my posts have been good willed. There are some exceptions I grant you where I am responding to the one and half rude posters that I am still currently dealing with.

I even apologized for my earlier shrillness.

If someone looked to last year to say the Falcons do worse in the second have of the season - they would be looking at a irrelevant metric. The Falcons clinched early in the season and forfeited their last two games. Vick only lost one game in the second half.

To the luck point - there cannot be a 7 or 8 game disparity in the win column (going back to last year cause we were labeled lucky then too) - just because of luck.

Furthermore, the proposition that fumble recoveries will always normalize to 50% is a flawed notion. Teams that are more physical, quicker, swarming, get more sacks will all have a more favorable fumble recovery rate.

Sure we got some bounces in the Jets game. If we were ever in danger of losing that game – who knows how Vick and the Falcons would have responded. Just because the Falcons never needed to worry about a loss in that game - you can't assume that they would have lost if they did not get some favorable bounces.

But again that is just one game - and to assume that luck has to do with a 7 or 8 game deviation in the win column is a cop out - and furthermore - unnecessary.

264
by james (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 1:49pm

re The Bears vs. Falcons rankings,
The Bears are the second best defensive team in the league and 7th in special teams. The falcons are 25th in defense and 25th in special teams.

265
by RowdyRoddyPiper (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 1:50pm

"I can not say for sure, but teams that rely on flexibility and athletism to win games as opposed to a consistant skilled style of play seemed to get docked."

Dirk, may I first ask you to please quit lumping the PittsburgH Steelers in with the Falcons. The Steelers have not had the efficient and back breaking rushing attack this year that they have had in years past. They've done enough to win, but with a few exceptions (against weak run defense teams) they have not driven the ball down anyone's throat with any consistency. They have been reasonably good at throwing the ball well when they have to. This is what leads to nailbiters against the mighty Packers when Big Ben is on the bench. I'm not happy about it, but facts is facts. The Falcons on the other hand run extremely well but pass terribly, hell, baltimore is better through the air than Atlanta.

On defense the difference is even more striking. Teams have not been able to successfully run against the Steelers. The Falcons are near the bottom of the league in stopping the run. The Steelers are slightly above average against the pass, the Falcons are exactly average (in the sense that they are 16th in the league).

My point here is that teams that many would say are similar due to conventional wisdom, often times could not be further apart once you start to analyze the underlying components. Teams that play sloppy and win nailbiters may be fun to root for during the regular season. Once the competition steps up in the playoffs sloppy teams bow out quickly.

266
by Andrew (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 1:51pm

Dirky #249:

"247 - they got no sacks last week - that is what hurt them"

And Miami's O-Line is just horrible. No sacks? Really? See, its performances like that that can downgrade your rating.

267
by james (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 1:58pm

Dirk,

I sort of agree with the assertions of luck not contributing to wins. I am not a fan of luck as an explanation for winning.

There are many, many events on the football field each play and I contend that something lucky happens every play. Its what each team does with the "luck" that matters. Breaks will go for and against you on every play. Each team must overcome that.

What the Falcons have to overcome is their early season propensity for losing to .500 or above teams. Those teams tend to make their own luck as well and it will be interesting to see how the Falcons play against more teams that are creating their own luck. I hesitate to make any predictions, but Aaron seems to be right more than he is wrong. It will all make sense after the Falcons play 5 winning teams in their last 8 games.

268
by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 1:59pm

I would say the person is only a troll if he gets personal in expressing their displeasure.

One poster did say Aaron does account for different recovery rates based on fumble location. A fumble in the backfield due to applied pressure would essentially take into account the higher probability of dominate pass rushing teams of recovering the fumble. So I will need to first clarify if some of the other posters were wrong or if strength and aggression is at least indirectly accounted for in the recovery rates used.

50% would in anycase be correct for an average team - or as an effective average accross the league as a whole.

269
by Xian (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 2:04pm

Re: #235 Most dominate teams maintain a positive turnover ratio.

Are they good because they have a positive turnover ratio, or do they have a positive turnover ratio because they are good?

In other words, (not to bring the luck thing into the picture again, but...) random chance will always have an effect on games. On a somewhat related note, playing weak opponents will make your team look good in the wins department, but it doesn't necessarily mean that your team is elite.

Re: #225, past champions that had a biased offense for the ground game.

Let's try the Ravens, and look at a couple of years, just to get a good picture.

1999 - 1999 overall rankings, Baltimore offense is #27, team is #18 overall.

2000 - 2000 overall rankings, Baltimore offense is #20, but Baltimore is #2 overall. Interestingly, they won the Super Bowl that year.

2001 - 2001 overall rankings, Baltimore offense is #25, #12 overall rating.

2002 - 2002 rankings, Baltimore offense ranks #24, #17 overall rating.

2003 - 2003 rankings, Baltimore offense is rated #30, even though Jamal Lewis runs for over 2000 yards, #6 overall rating.

2004 - 2004 raknings, Baltimore offense is rated #16, team is #9 overall.

I dunno, maybe there is something to "DVOA doesn't rank ball control offenses high enough." Or maybe ball control offenses only work well when they're paired with a good defense, which it doesn't really seem like Atlanta has right now. They appear to have an okay defense with a good front 4.

Really though, if you're going to say that "just barely losing" isn't a big deal (or shouldn't count as much), tell that to the Packers. Lost to the Browns by 2 points. Lost to the Bucs by 1 point. Lost to the Vikings by 3 points. Pathetic loss to the Lions to open the season, but never really put away (by the score at least) by either the Steelers or Bengals. I don't know what that says. DVOA estimates 2.6 wins so far for the Packers, obviously they haven't even gotten 2. Someone else can figure out the Pythagorean projection for them for the year, but it's got to be better than 1 win.

Yes, yes, I am a Packers homer. Not really sure where I was going with all this. D'oh. Probably that stats provide correlation, not proof. DVOA (and its adjuncts) are a method of looking at the game, and refining them in order to increase their predictive power is a good thing. Try to figure out why it isn't working for Atlanta, don't just complain about it.

I'm looking forward to the ATL-GB game this weekend, if only to see Michael Vick's insane stunts.

P.S. I don't think the website likes Firefox. Oh well.

270
by Todd S. (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 2:05pm

#268 Well, we can reasonably disagree whether or not it was "troll" worthy. I saw a guy who stated something mathematically impossible, mentioned 1 team of 32 that had an incorrect ranking, and went on to suggest that Aaron should fire himself-which I'm not sure is possible. You saw something different. That's cool.

271
by Chris (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 2:11pm

Guys, its numbers. Don't blame Aaron for thinking he arbitrarily put the Falcons down there. You put numbers in, you get numbers out. The Falcons are where they are on the DVOA scale for at least three reasons that have already been discussed

1) They lose less then 50% of their fumbles. This means that statistically, that number will even out. However again, it doesn't mean that it necessarily will. If you flip a coin 5 times and it comes up heads 4 of them, from an averages perspective, the next few ones SHOULD come up as tails to even out - it doesn't however mean that they WILL. It's 50% every single time.

2) The Falcons have a weak schedule. So far they've only played one game in their division.

3) Their being hurt for not dominating the teams as well as they could be. Beating a bad team isn't enough as far as DVOA is concerned. The reason why the Bengals are ranked high despite an easy schedule is that they walloped their bad opponents, while the Falcons have squeezed them out.

And to Aaron's "Doug Johnson" comment, the point he's trying to make is that while the Falcons are 17-4 with Vick, is that you're applying a double set of standards there. You're giving Vick credit for when he's in, and you attribute the lack of wins with him not in on him not being in rather then how bad Doug Johnson sucks.

The point Aaron was going for is that the Falcons with Doug Johnson were a terrible team in large part of Doug Johnson being so bad. If they'd had a decent backup, they wouldn't have had that losing percentage to attribute to Vick's absense.

While we're talking about QBs who just win also - 37-23 is the record of a current QB as a starter who has since been cut from the team he garned those wins with. Anyone want to take a guess who the QB in question is?

272
by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 2:11pm

James - I don't know what your source is - or if you are just making it up.

Falcons defensive ranking is 18th (total).

Ofcourse the are ranked much higher then the Bears in total offense.

I believe you are very wrong about speacial teams (Atlanta has one of the best special teams in the league) - I know the are 7th in returns and probably even better on return coverage. But I don't have that handy - maybe someone else does.

Nice try though.

273
by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 2:15pm

265 - calm down.

I was not the first one to bring up the Steelers in the same sentence as the Falcons.

In some ways they are similar - and in other they are not. To the extent that they both are winning and yet they both can play sloppy and inconsistant - I am obiously correct.

They are also young and physical teams with good coaching.

And more importantly to the point - get under ranked by the model.

274
by Se7en_Dust (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 2:16pm

264. Let's compare offenses and defenses in regards to Points For and Points Allowed. I could care less about yardage. And is Chicago in arguable the worst division in all of football. Using DVOA as a sole basis for Power Rankings is comical at best. Those who watch the games would agree. Unfortunately for Fox, adhering to this system makes them a laughingstock in regards to their competitors.

275
by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 2:17pm

#266

They did not throw the ball genius.

276
by doktarr (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 2:22pm

Dirk -

I believe that DVOA uses league average fumble recovery rates for given situations. So fumbled snaps are usually recovered by the offense, downfield fumbles by wide receivers are usually recovered by the defense, and so on.

On a play where there is a fumble, the O is given a negative rating and the D is given a positive rating, but how negative and how positive is based on the probabilities of what usually happens with that sort of fumble, as oppose to what actually did happen.

Aaron, correct me if I'm wrong.

277
by Andrew (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 2:26pm

Dirky #274:

"They did not throw the ball genius."

Are you really sure we saw the same game? I would have sworn that Frerotte threw the ball a few times. Otherwise, he couldn't have had that game ending interception.

I'll take this assertion like your assertion that the Dolphins did not get a first down.

278
by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 2:28pm

Someone kinda agees with me? Amazing.

Listen guys - the Falcons can not help the records of their opponents - the league tried their best to give us one of the hardest schedules in the league.

What are the Falcon's really at fault at here? - losing to Seattle in Seattle by three points. I agree we had an off performance that day. All teams but one could have lost that game.

And the second loss - another three pointer with us starting our second string quarterback. Schaub had a great game - and those with myopia will say the Falcons offense played well enough to win - but what they are forgetting is that Vicks style of play keeps the chains moving, eats up the clock, and would keep Brady of the field that much longer.

If Vick had played that game - and we still lost - I would have been concerned.

We have won all other games - including beating teams that have beat top tier contenders.

The sad thing is that even if we beat Carolina twice - it will be because "Well I guess Carolina was not that good afterall".

279
by FizzMan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 2:33pm

Re: #273

Using DVOA as a sole basis for Power Rankings is comical at best.

Look, if you really believe this, then stop wasting your time and GO AWAY. If you don't really believe this, then don't say it.

280
by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 2:36pm

Yes - I am saying they did not throw the ball the WHOLE game genius.

So harp on that some more why don't you?

And if the concept that a team that runs the ball most of the time is going to sacked less eludes you...

Then I am sorry - I will refrain from such lofty concepts when responding to you in the future.

Are you French?

281
by FizzMan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 2:39pm

Can we all stop talking about fumbles until someone produces actual numbers that document ANYTHING related to them? For instance, do teams with consistently higher turnover differentials tend to recover more than the league average of fumbles that they cause? Or maybe someone cleverer than I will come up with a better question to answer. But this is not the site for unsubstantiated assertions. We all know that teams with a better turnover differential tend to be better teams, but this may simply mean that they cause more fumbles than average, or it could mean that they recover more fumbles than average (or something else entirely).

282
by Andrew (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 2:40pm

Se7en_Dust #273:

"Let’s compare offenses and defenses in regards to Points For and Points Allowed. I could care less about yardage."

Okay, using the Pythagorean Theorem, points scored to the 2.37 power/(points allowed plus points scored) to the 2.37 power * the number of games plays will approximate how many wins you should have.

Indianapolis 7.1
Cincinnati 6.7
N.Y. Giants 6.1
San Diego 5.9
Pittsburgh 5.8
Seattle 5.7
Chicago 5.6
Carolina 5.4
Atlanta 5.3
Denver 5.3
Dallas 5.3
Tampa Bay 4.7
Jacksonville 4.4
Kansas City 4.3
Green Bay 4.3
Washington 4.1
Oakland 4.0
Miami 3.8
Philadelphia 3.7
St. Louis 3.5
Detroit 3.3
Cleveland 3.2
Tennessee 3.1
New England 3.1
Buffalo 3.0
N.Y. Jets 2.4
Arizona 2.4
Baltimore 2.3
Minnesota 2.0
New Orleans 2.0
Houston 1.3
San Francisco 1.2

Atlanta is still #10 by this method and behind Carolina, and is predicted to have only be 5-3. Are you happier?

283
by Drew (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 2:44pm

RE 255,

That's pretty much what I figured -- that Team A's drive would score a higher VOA than Team B's. And I think that could possibly be hurting Atlanta's VOA. Of the two teams in the example Atlanta is more like Team B.

In any case, I wish someone could please explain to me why people get angry over a ranking system for pro football. It's not like college, where being slighted in the rankings can legitimately screw a team over. If I say "Atlanta should be 0-8", that doesn't affect anything. It all gets decided on the field eventually.

284
by MTR (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 2:47pm

If you look at the rankings you'll see Atlanta is ranked below the two teams it lost to and above all but one of the teams it beat. The one exception is Miami, which is ranked one spot higher. I can't see working up a lot of heat over 15th instead of 16th.

285
by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 2:47pm

Chris - you totally missed the "Doug Johnson" point.

1. It shows that Aaron is out of touch - Schaub is our back up QB - he does watch games - apparantly he watched the Jets game to make some subjective statements about luck. This speaks to a preception issue more then anything else. Someone strolling by a page with a blantant factual error on it might not take him seriously.

2. Aaron is contradicting himself in that he discounts the Falcons win/loss record because of statistical performance but then says Doug Johnson (Matt Schaub) is worse even with a technically superior rating but worse win/loss record.

Schaub will be awesome by the way.

286
by doktarr (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 2:47pm

The sad thing is that even if we beat Carolina twice - it will be because “Well I guess Carolina was not that good afterall”.

Not so. If you eke out a marginal victory against Carolina, and Carolina doesn't beat anybody good for the rest of the season, then yeah. But if the have a convincing win, then it will help them.

After all, look at the Bengals. Fairly weak schedule, but high DVOA, because their wins have been convincing.

287
by Jerry P. (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 2:51pm

"Can we all stop talking about fumbles until someone produces actual numbers that document ANYTHING related to them?"

This article from some obscure website talks about inordinate numbers of fumble recoveries masking an offense's problems with turnovers. http://www.footballoutsiders.com/ramblings.php?p=172&cat=3

The guy even talks about doing further research into turnovers. I hope he finds the time, what with all the idiotic emails he must get.

288
by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 2:51pm

280 - I think some of you are cloned - I already addressed this.

But as an aside - I will discuss anything I want.

289
by Se7en_Dust (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 2:53pm

281. I'd say that alone could improve the system, and make it better for predicting, *maybe*. It's still comical to use a formula for Power Rankings, though, when that formula does not take into account games missed due to injury and other factors that only humans use.

But even under those changes, Chicago ahead of Denver and Carolina! Ha! I know exactly what the formula lacks: common sense.

290
by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 2:57pm

286 - It's Aaron's article - we already know what he thinks.

291
by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 3:00pm

ONE LAST TRY - AARON - Doug Johnson does not play for the Falcons.

292
by Drew (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 3:01pm

Re 284,

Actually, I think you misunderstood. Schaub might be the backup now, but the "3-11 when Vick doesn't play" was compiled mostly by Doug Johnson in 2003. Thus, he's really the one being talked about when that stat is brought up.

I also agree that Schaub will be a good player. Unfortunately for Atlanta, it'll probably be with another team.

293
by james (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 3:05pm

Dirk,

Strictly by dvoa the falcons are 25th in defense and 25th in special teams. A question arised from someone else about how the falcons were lower than the Bears in DVOA though they have had similarly easy schedules.

Dust,
comparing offenses strictly by points for and points against you are telling everyone that Green Bay is an above average team.

Falcons fans,
Noone is here to say the Falcons are terrible. This site is about nothing but what each team has shown. If the Falcons DVOA doesnt improve they are going nowhere in the playoffs with 6 teams ahead of them right now in the NFC, and all likely headed to the playoffs. Unless you can point to reasons why the DVOA will improve you are basically driving into oncoming traffic.

The Falcons are playing well enough to win but not against anyone good. We should all be able to agree on that. The falcons defense is killing their value. Any decent offense is going to score above 20 pts. The same cannot be said about the Falcons offense against a decent defense. Without more conistent offense or a vast improvement in defense the Falcons may have a good record but will be in trouble later.

294
by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 3:06pm

Why refer to a player that has no bearing on current or future non-Vick performances?

295
by zip (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 3:07pm

#284

Chris - you totally missed the “Doug Johnson� point.

My friend, you are missing the Doug Johnson point. Specifically Doug Johnson is the only other QB to log siginificant playing time with Atlanta during Vick's tenure. Thus, the difference between 17-4 with Vick and 3-11 with Doug Johnson only shows conclusively that Vick is much better than Doug Johnson.

This comment was made by Aaron, I believe, in response to the "Vick just wins" argument. We do not know how another QB in Vick's position would succeed, and thus we do not know if Vick being 17-4 actually means he is very good. The fact that the Schaub-driven offense put up 28 points suggests that perhaps Vick is not the important to Atlanta, so I think you're actually weaking the "Vick Rulez" argument to bring up Schaub.

#279
Then I am sorry - I will refrain from such lofty concepts when responding to you in the future.

Are you French?

Oh man, I can't believe I wrote all that just to figure out you're an asshole. "Are you French?" Wow. You're not in high school anymore, dude.

296
by Mike B. (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 3:11pm

#273 -

Nah, Fox has plenty of other reasons to be a laughingstock. While we appreciate what Fox has done for Aaron's success, we'd really appreciate it if the parade of idiots from Fox really weren't here, either. I'd much rather go back to the comments being mostly by Pats homers. :)

(That's my one and only FO troll post. You don't like the rankings, GTFCTSWC.)

297
by Se7en_Dust (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 3:14pm

292. But here's where common sense comes in: At 6-2 DVOA is telling me that Atlanta is a below average team. I never said that PF and PA should soley be used, but they are a better measure than YF and YA in any system IMO.

Common Sense, folks. It what humans have and computers don't.

298
by Dirk Dugan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 3:14pm

James - you did a good job of explaining why the model will fail when predicting the Falcons performance.

Just to briefly address your premises, Phildelphia has a good offense - it actually was better than it is now. We helped make it worse mind you. And we played against it with TO. Miami, Jets, and Phillie all have good defenses.

However - what will happen is as the Falcons start to beat these higher ranked teams - your metrics will adjust - AFTER TO FACT - allowing for the model to keep pace, and for its supporters to save face. (sounded like Jesse Jackson there)

As a predictive tool - it seems to be utter bunk.

299
by Se7en_Dust (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 3:18pm

295. Too bad, but I'm not gonna hug all over Aaron for the worst Power Rankings I've ever seen.

Common Sense. It's why God gave it to soem of us.

300
by admin :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 3:18pm

Read number one on the link.