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07 Nov 2006

Week 10 DVOA Ratings

by Aaron Schatz

Here's a look at this week's DVOA ratings. This week's commentary is now available at FOXSports.com. You'll find there a fairly detailed argument against the Colts as the best team in football, despite their 8-0 record. Last year, we got in a lot of trouble when we played around with Indy's rating, but in that case we thought that the DVOA system needed fixing. This time, nothing needs any fixing. They really aren't as good as people think.

(By the way, wait until you see how different the DVOA ratings are from Peter Schrager's subjective FOX power rankings. It's almost impossible to believe that the two lists run on the same website. I understand that most people think that wins and losses are the best measure of a team's quality, and our ranking of Philadelphia is thus too high, but I honestly have no idea how anybody could put Philadelphia below four other 4-4 teams.)

In each of the DVOA comments you'll see the projected final win-loss record according to our infamous DVOA midseason projection system. Those win-loss projections go along with DVOA projections and midseason reviews that we've run every year since 2003. The rest of that material will go up on Football Outsiders this Friday.

There is one thing that I meant to mention a week ago, and I'm not sure where to fit it in at this point, so I'll just say it here. One of the common criticisms of Football Outsiders is that you can't analyze football stats in the same way that you analyze baseball stats because the season is only 16 games long. There's no doubt that an element of randomness exists in the NFL. We can't be sure that our ratings truly represent a listing of the best teams in their proper order, and unpredictable upsets often occur. The best team in DVOA doesn't always win the Super Bowl or even make it that far. But it turns out that even after 162 games and three rounds of playoffs, baseball is no different.

Our partners at Baseball Prospectus have a stat they call "third-order winning percentage." This is sort of their version of DVOA. People are used to advanced baseball analysis that looks at the expected winning percentage based on runs scored and allowed (i.e. the Pythagorean projection). Second-order winning percentage looks at expected wins based on the expected runs scored and allowed based on the team's specific totals of hits, walks, extra-base hits, and so on. Third-order winning percentage is then adjusted for opponent. Does this all sound familiar?

According to third-order winning percentage, the best team in baseball this year was the New York Yankees. It's not even close -- they have 97.4 estimated third-order wins and no other team is above 92. The Yankees, of course, did not even make it past the first round of the playoffs. Two of the top five teams in estimated third-order wins didn't even make the postseason (Blue Jays and Angels) while the Twins were swept in the first round by a team with fewer third-order wins, Oakland.

And what about the team that actually won the World Series, the St. Louis Cardinals? The Cardinals won the NL Central despite 75.8 estimated third-order wins, the 22nd highest total in baseball. Think about that for a second. Imagine if a team finished the season 22nd in DVOA, won a terrible division with an 8-8 or 9-7 record, and then went on to win the Super Bowl. Right now, the lowest team in DVOA to win the Super Bowl was New England in 2001; they were 12th overall and ninth in weighted DVOA.

The point here is that even after 162 games and three rounds of best-of-five or -seven playoffs, the best team doesn't always walk away with the championship. So of course weird stuff is going to happen in football. We can't tell you what is going to happen in the NFL. We can only try to predict the most probable outcome.

For example, the Indianapolis Colts are probably not going to win the Super Bowl this year. But we could be wrong.

* * * * *

Remember that you can always use the keyword "DVOA" to access the latest DVOA commentary at FOXSports.com. Also, someone asked me to post last week's rank in both regular and weighted DVOA; don't forget that "last week" on the FOXSports.com table is last week's weighted DVOA rank.

* * * * *

These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through Week 9 of 2006, 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 increase each week until they are full strength after Week 10. SPECIAL TEAMS DVOA is adjusted for type of stadium (warm, cold, dome, Denver/Mexico City) and week of season.

To save people some time, please use the zlionsfan template for all complaints:

<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>


TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
LAST
WEEK
W-L WEIGHTED
DVOA
RANK OFFENSE
DVOA
OFF.
RANK
DEFENSE
DVOA
DEF.
RANK
SPECIAL
DVOA
S.T.
RANK
1 CHI 36.0% 1 7-1 34.3% 1 -2.3% 21 -26.6% 2 11.7% 1
2 PHI 34.2% 2 4-4 33.0% 4 22.8% 2 -12.3% 7 -0.9% 20
3 SD 34.1% 4 6-2 34.0% 2 22.7% 3 -8.0% 10 3.3% 7
4 NYG 33.4% 3 6-2 33.1% 3 17.1% 4 -15.7% 6 0.6% 15
5 BAL 26.8% 5 6-2 26.3% 5 -7.3% 23 -29.0% 1 5.1% 3
6 JAC 23.9% 7 5-3 23.3% 6 -1.7% 19 -24.4% 3 1.2% 13
7 IND 18.9% 9 8-0 20.0% 7 32.7% 1 11.2% 26 -2.5% 28
8 NE 18.4% 6 6-2 19.8% 8 11.9% 7 -4.6% 14 1.9% 11
9 DEN 17.9% 12 6-2 19.7% 9 9.1% 8 -7.6% 11 1.2% 14
10 DAL 16.5% 8 4-4 17.4% 10 5.9% 11 -11.8% 8 -1.2% 22
11 KC 12.8% 10 5-3 14.5% 11 2.1% 14 -7.2% 12 3.5% 6
12 PIT 9.7% 11 2-6 10.1% 12 -0.2% 16 -16.1% 5 -6.1% 31
13 NO 9.5% 15 6-2 9.5% 13 7.8% 10 2.4% 20 4.1% 4
14 STL 6.3% 14 4-4 4.1% 14 14.2% 5 7.4% 24 -0.5% 19
15 CIN 3.0% 13 4-4 1.1% 15 8.2% 9 7.9% 25 2.7% 9
16 CAR -2.1% 17 4-4 -0.6% 16 3.3% 12 1.7% 19 -3.8% 30
TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
LAST
WEEK
W-L WEIGHTED
DVOA
RANK OFFENSE
DVOA
OFF.
RANK
DEFENSE
DVOA
DEF.
RANK
SPECIAL
DVOA
S.T.
RANK
17 MIN -2.5% 18 4-4 -2.5% 17 -18.8% 27 -16.2% 4 0.1% 16
18 ATL -4.6% 16 5-3 -6.9% 20 -1.3% 17 0.0% 17 -3.3% 29
19 WAS -4.7% 20 3-5 -5.0% 19 12.5% 6 19.5% 30 2.3% 10
20 GB -5.6% 19 3-5 -3.7% 18 1.0% 15 4.3% 22 -2.2% 26
21 MIA -10.0% 26 2-6 -9.7% 21 -18.3% 26 -10.2% 9 -1.9% 25
22 BUF -10.7% 23 3-5 -11.8% 22 -11.1% 25 3.7% 21 4.1% 5
23 SEA -12.5% 22 5-3 -12.9% 23 -6.2% 22 6.4% 23 0.1% 17
24 CLE -14.6% 21 2-6 -14.0% 24 -20.4% 28 1.0% 18 6.8% 2
25 DET -17.9% 27 2-6 -17.2% 25 -1.4% 18 15.3% 27 -1.3% 23
26 NYJ -18.0% 25 4-4 -18.5% 26 -1.8% 20 19.1% 29 2.9% 8
27 TB -23.5% 24 2-6 -22.8% 27 -21.4% 29 -0.2% 16 -2.3% 27
28 HOU -24.2% 28 2-6 -23.8% 28 3.2% 13 26.2% 32 -1.2% 21
29 SF -31.6% 30 3-5 -32.6% 29 -10.5% 24 21.0% 31 -0.1% 18
30 OAK -34.0% 29 2-6 -33.4% 30 -38.1% 32 -5.4% 13 -1.3% 24
31 ARI -35.1% 31 1-7 -34.9% 31 -27.3% 31 -1.4% 15 -9.2% 32
32 TEN -36.9% 32 2-6 -35.3% 32 -23.4% 30 15.3% 28 1.8% 12

  • NON-ADJ VOA shows what the rating looks like without adjustments for strength of schedule, luck recovering fumbles, or weather and altitude on special teams.
  • 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.
  • 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 NON-ADJ
TOT VOA
ESTIM.
WINS
RANK PAST
SCHED
RANK FUTURE
SCHED
RANK VAR. RANK
1 CHI 36.0% 7-1 52.0% 5.4 7 -15.7% 32 -1.2% 20 35.1% 2
2 PHI 34.2% 4-4 27.9% 6.7 1 -0.2% 18 2.0% 12 4.8% 31
3 SD 34.1% 6-2 42.9% 6.2 3 -6.8% 31 -5.8% 26 5.5% 30
4 NYG 33.4% 6-2 30.6% 6.4 2 0.3% 16 9.8% 3 9.0% 24
5 BAL 26.8% 6-2 37.1% 5.7 4 -1.2% 22 -4.0% 24 9.9% 20
6 JAC 23.9% 5-3 27.5% 5.0 9 3.0% 9 0.2% 18 35.4% 1
7 IND 18.9% 8-0 21.9% 5.7 5 1.2% 15 -0.3% 19 8.5% 25
8 NE 18.4% 6-2 24.5% 5.5 6 -1.5% 24 -6.6% 29 9.2% 22
9 DEN 17.9% 6-2 11.5% 5.2 8 5.5% 5 -3.7% 22 14.2% 11
10 DAL 16.5% 4-4 17.1% 4.7 11 2.6% 10 2.1% 11 11.3% 18
11 KC 12.8% 5-3 10.0% 4.8 10 -1.0% 20 1.3% 16 34.4% 3
12 PIT 9.7% 2-6 2.6% 4.0 15 5.4% 6 1.4% 14 16.5% 9
13 NO 9.5% 6-2 12.5% 4.7 12 -1.2% 21 2.8% 10 11.6% 15
14 STL 6.3% 4-4 14.9% 4.5 13 -4.7% 30 -10.8% 32 10.1% 19
15 CIN 3.0% 4-4 0.7% 3.9 16 2.5% 11 9.8% 4 6.9% 28
16 CAR -2.1% 4-4 -5.0% 3.7 19 1.3% 14 7.8% 5 7.7% 26
TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
W-L NON-ADJ
TOT VOA
ESTIM.
WINS
RANK PAST
SCHED
RANK FUTURE
SCHED
RANK VAR. RANK
17 MIN -2.5% 4-4 0.1% 4.4 14 -3.2% 26 -6.2% 27 11.5% 17
18 ATL -4.6% 5-3 3.7% 3.8 17 -2.9% 25 5.5% 7 27.1% 5
19 WAS -4.7% 3-5 -8.4% 3.8 18 5.7% 4 11.4% 2 12.9% 13
20 GB -5.6% 3-5 -8.6% 3.6 20 1.8% 13 -3.8% 23 12.4% 14
21 MIA -10.0% 2-6 -1.9% 3.0 23 -3.9% 28 3.1% 8 9.0% 23
22 BUF -10.7% 3-5 -12.0% 3.6 21 2.4% 12 1.8% 13 17.8% 8
23 SEA -12.5% 5-3 -11.0% 3.1 22 -0.1% 17 -8.6% 31 9.4% 21
24 CLE -14.6% 2-6 -19.4% 2.5 29 4.6% 7 1.2% 17 3.6% 32
25 DET -17.9% 2-6 -13.0% 2.7 26 -1.5% 23 -1.7% 21 5.9% 29
26 NYJ -18.0% 4-4 -13.1% 2.9 24 -3.6% 27 -4.1% 25 15.7% 10
27 TB -23.5% 2-6 -34.4% 2.4 30 10.1% 1 2.9% 9 7.1% 27
28 HOU -24.2% 2-6 -31.5% 2.7 25 9.7% 2 -6.6% 30 13.1% 12
29 SF -31.6% 3-5 -38.2% 2.5 28 6.7% 3 -6.2% 28 27.2% 4
30 OAK -34.0% 2-6 -37.8% 1.9 31 -0.7% 19 5.6% 6 11.6% 16
31 ARI -35.1% 1-7 -27.1% 2.5 27 -4.2% 29 1.3% 15 25.3% 6
32 TEN -36.9% 2-6 -33.5% 1.9 32 4.1% 8 17.5% 1 18.5% 7

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 07 Nov 2006

287 comments, Last at 14 Nov 2006, 3:48pm by Pat

Comments

1
by Greg (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 6:42pm

Looks like the gap between 20 and 21 is closing.

2
by dbt (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 6:44pm

Click my name for the sortable chart.

3
by Travis (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 6:45pm

Three of the top five wins in estimated third-order wins didn’t even make the postseason (Twins, Blue Jays, Angels).

The general point still holds, but Twins made the playoffs (and got swept in the first round).

4
by Ilanin (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 6:45pm

And Arizona are still beating out Pittsburgh for #32 in ST DVOA. Santonio Holmes is not pleased with this disrespect.

More seriously, Aaron, have you tried an escalating VOA penalty for turnovers after the first in a game? It occurrs to me that once you start getting several turnovers in one game you really are throwing it away, whereas an otherwise superior team can probably overcome a single turnover. Actually, thinking about it more this is probably something for the Forest Index rather than VOA, which doesn't really care about W-L particularly.

Yes, this is partly a suggested fix to the "Pittsburgh problem", but I think it has overall applicability.

5
by Moridin (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 6:46pm

Interesting to see the Vikings still at 17th in the middle (though their rating dropped some). I figured their offense would take a larger hit.

6
by donald (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 6:49pm

Ah, this crap again. I hope you don't really believe this shit means anything. For the love of God, there comes a time when you have to admit you're wrong. That time has come.

7
by donald (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 6:53pm

Look at Chicago and San Diego. Why are they ranked high? Because they run up the score on pathetic opponents. Wow, that's so meaningful. Clearly all the points they score in garbage time against inferior foe ought to be taken into account here. And teams who's coaches know when enough is enough and settle for a "mere" victory ought to be penalized because they don't see the point in rubbing it their opponenent's face.

8
by Becephalus (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 6:53pm

Every week someone has a better chart. By the end of the year I fully expect it to be 3D and interactive, with sprinkles as well.

9
by B (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 6:55pm

I'm surprised at the difference in Estimated Wins and DVOA for Chicago. I don't remember seeing a gap that large before. I wonder if this tells us something about how they can seem so dominating most of the time, but put up real stinkers against teams with good defenses and lousy offenses. I do feel that EW does a better job of indicating which of these teams are really good, however. It also moves Jacksonville below Indy and Denver, which I think is correct.

10
by Becephalus (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 6:56pm

way to make some rather worthless posts donald...

if you don't care about statiscal veracity why come here?

and if you do Aaron has stated oh idk 100,000,000 times that removing such "garbage time" points does not increase the predictive ability of the system. There are modifiers for situation, but gnoring chi or sd crush bad times makes the system worse not better. surely you can understand that? and if you don't just leave and never come back, because this type of anaylsis is over your 6th grade mind.

11
by jebmak (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 6:56pm

donald, I think that you are going to have to be more specific.

12
by Fnor (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 6:56pm

PIT... only... drop... one... wha?

13
by D (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 6:56pm

I have a feeling that once the ratings go up on FOXsports this message board is going to get blasted. Not as bad as the Atlanta incident last year, but people are not going to be happy with a 4-4 team at #2 and an 8-0 team outside the top 5.

14
by Tally (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 6:57pm

Teams would run up the score if they could. Remember guts and stomps.

15
by jebmak (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 6:57pm

Sorry, saw post #6 but not #7 when I typed that.

16
by Becephalus (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 6:57pm

9 A high variance is very hard on good teams. It also helps poor teams.

17
by admin :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 6:58pm

Super duh. Fixed Twins reference.

18
by John (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 6:58pm

With the Raiders Offensive DVOA being so bad, what would the Seahawks have had to do to improve their Defensive DVOA on Monday night?

Could this be a flaw in DVOA that puts too much emphasis on strength-of-schedule, essentially making it impossible for a team to improve their DVOA when playing a terrible team?

19
by Richard (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 6:59pm

8: No kidding. #2 has outdone us all.

In other news, is donald getting dumber or what?

20
by ABW (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 7:02pm

Re: 7

Hilarious. Someone is accusing the Marty Schottenheimer-coached Chargers of running up the score? If there's a God out there, please let a Chargers fan come on here and see this.

21
by Devin (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 7:04pm

RE: #6, you'll have to forgive Donald, he just has sand stuck in his vagina.

22
by DaveO (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 7:04pm

For example, the Indianapolis Colts are probably not going to win the Super Bowl this year. But we could be wrong.

Geez, Aaron, can't you give us a flippin' full week of irrational exuberance after slaying (or at least badly wounding) the damn monkey on our backs? Is that too damn much to ask? Man, you Pats fans are all alike...

PS just kidding. Keep up the tasty goodness - it's Lord's work you're doing here...

23
by donald (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 7:04pm

Classy response Becaphalus. Top notch.

My sixth grade mind knows this much-the rankings are seriously flawed, and yes, taking into account gargabe time is one of those flaws, no matter how good a job Aaron has done of convincing you that it's not.

I'd like to know if Aaron stands by his rankings so firmly that he would be able to pick Philly, or Chicago, or any of the "big four", to beat Indy more times than not on a neutral field. My guess is if he said he would he'd be full of shit.

Just for the record, I hate Indy, but they are the NFL's best team right now and it's not close.

23
by D (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 7:04pm

Alter my last comment to say a 4-4 team at #4 (I forgot that the FOX ratings were based on weighted DVOA).

25
by B (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 7:05pm

mmmmmmm, sprinkles.
(drools)

26
by Richard (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 7:06pm

Philadelphia leads the NFL in Estimated Wins. That's incredible. Have they really been that unlucky? It seems like there has to be something wrong there, but I can't imagine what.

27
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 7:06pm

I'm a Colts fan, and I know their weaknesses as well as anyone. I understand the logic behind DVOA. I don't think the Colts are the best team in football either. But I think Jacksonville over Indianapolis is just goofy. It seems to me like DVOA is probably crediting the Jaguars a little too much for pounding the Jets. Even to a FO-style fan, I think that just looks odd.

Jacksonville is one of those teams whose wild inconsistency screws up the ratings. Sure, they've pounded multiple teams, but they lost to the Texans, too.

I don't think anyone would take the Jags over the Colts at this point. I probably wouldn't take them over New England or Denver, either.

28
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 7:07pm

A few interesting goupings in there. I find it interesting that the "Big 4" are all within 1.3% (essentially equal). I also find it interesting that Indy, NE, and Denver are all within 0.3% of each other (essentially equal). And I also find it interesting that the "Abismal 4" are all with 2.7% (essentially equal).

And even though I'm an Eagles' fan, I'm pleased to see them dropped down to #4.

29
by DrewTS (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 7:10pm

For what it's worth, I don't think you should have to apologize for not having the Colts #1. 7th seems a bit low, but I'll freely admit they have flaws. I'm surprised to see NE as low as they are. My brain instinctively rejects the notion that the Colts and Patriots aren't both better than Jacksonville. But I don't want to draw the wrath of the FOMBC, so I'll drop it.

As for the Colts, the numbers basically say what everyone knows -- offense is excellent, defense... not so much. The low ST ranking surprises me a little though. To me, they seem to be better this year than in past years. What part of that is dragging them down?

So in summation...
Indianapolis is clearly ranked too low because I frickin' say so. Reading goat entrails, and then simply listing teams in descending order by record is way better than this. Go Horse!! Get Crunked!!1!1!!1

30
by Tom Kelso (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 7:12pm

Just to show DaveO and I can agree -- I get more decent football information out of this site than any other running. Kepp up the Good Work, Aaron!

Never thought I would see an Indy partisan defending current DVOA, and a self-professed Indy "hater" saying blow it up. Methinks donald doth protest too much.

31
by johnt (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 7:16pm

Normally I agree with DVOA, but I just don't think it's right here. Contrary to popular belief, there is no inherent reason DVOA is infallible. While it is common to jump on anyone who questions DVOA, just because it has shown a general predictive ability for teams on average does not mean certain teams are not poorly described by it.

Chicago pretty clearly seems like one of them. Chicago is not the best team in the league and I don't care what formula says otherwise. They have feasted on a creampuff schedule (well.. sometimes feasted and sometimes vomitted uncontrollably). This is one case where I favor Cold Hard Football Facts (pro-Pats homers that they are) idea of Quality Wins. I have noticed this as a consistent issue with DVOA, that it overvalues wins over pathetic opponents and weak schedules that seem to have very little predictive value when it comes to good opponents.

Anyway. Feel free to paste the standard accusation for people who question DVOA, but I would like to see a logically supported argument as to how Chicago is possibly the best team in the NFL considering their schedule and performances against Cards/Dolphins.

32
by admin :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 7:17pm

If you are reading the site regularly, you know the following:

1) I've noted, nearly every week, that blowouts tend to skew the ratings, and therefore teams like Jacksonville and Pittsburgh may be a little too high.

2) I've noted, nearly every week, that I've spent hours trying to figure out a way to account for this in the numbers without subjectively deciding which plays should not count just because I don't feel like it. I still can't come up with something that doesn't make the system LESS accurate. Until I can make the system better by changing how it treats blowouts, we don't change how we treat blowouts.

At a certain point, I hope people understand I can't remember to say this stuff every single week.

33
by Fnor (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 7:18pm

#23: It wasn't much convincing. To make a ridiculously obscure reference:

Aaron: "I'm making DVOA!"
Us: "YAY!"
--DEAD AIR--
Aaron: "DVOA doesn't discount late points entirely because that makes the system have a lower correlation with the end result!"
Us: "YAY!"

To be fair, DVOA is different from delicious cake, but the idea is the same. We don't need to know all the steps involved, only that the cake is the best it can be and is, in fact, delicious.

34
by John (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 7:21pm

johnt, I would read the guts and stomps article. Despite common football wisdom to the contrary, feasting on weak opponents--as you put it--is more indicative of future success than barely beating a good opponent.

35
by BB (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 7:21pm

I think looking at the combo of expected wins and DVOA is pretty enlightening. The Bears, when they are on, are clearly the best team, and it might not be close. But they're not always on (mainly due to the boom or bust offense) and so they rank 7th in estimated wins. Makes perfect sense to me. Thus, they have the #1 DVOA but one of the highest variances -- the great DVOA of their stomps is pulling up their two putrid performances, but estimated wins is not fooled.

I guess that means teams better cross their fingers in the playoffs and hope they can get pressure on Grossman, or hope that he doesn't start figuring out what he's doing wrong and fixes it.

36
by Adam (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 7:22pm

I took the estimated wins and made a linear adjustment based on the strength of each team's future schedule (1 win for 15.5% in DVOA) to predict The future win/loss of each team. Here are the results:

CHI 12.5
PHI 10.6
SD 12.6
NYG 11.8
BAL 12.0
JAC 10.0
IND 13.7
NE 11.9
DEN 11.4
DAL 8.6
KC 9.7
PIT 5.9
NO 10.5
STL 9.2
CIN 7.3
CAR 7.2
MIN 8.8
ATL 8.4
WAS 6.1
GB 6.8
MIA 4.8
BUF 6.5
SEA 8.7
CLE 4.4
DET 4.8
NYJ 7.2
TB 4.2
HOU 5.1
SF 5.9
OAK 3.5
ARI 3.4
TEN 2.8

37
by admin :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 7:22pm

The Bears are bad in estimated wins because they suck in the second half of close games (on both offense and defense) and have a variance that goes through the roof.

My last comment for the week before I go back to work: Please, everybody complaining about blowouts and quality wins needs to read Guts and Stomps. There is no evidence whatsoever that "quality wins" are actually an indicator of which team is likely to win the Super Bowl.

38
by MJK (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 7:22pm

I would pick Philly, or Chicago, or San Diego to beat Indy more times on a neutral field. Well, not San Diego if it counted...gotta take Marty Schottenheimer into account. Indy's offense is fantastic, but any of those three teams have the defense to slow them down a little, if not stop them. Meanwhile, all three have pretty good offenses in their own right, which against Indy's Defense would take on, well, Indy-like abilities. Yes, I think it is fair.

That being said, remember, DVOA isn't supposed to predict who would win more. It's supposed to tell us something about how well teams have been playing in each phase of the game, and hence how they're likely to match up. Chances are, games between Indy and some teams rated above them would probably be closer than DVOA implies, largely due to special teams. Indy has horrible special teams, which is probably weighing their DVOA rating down. However, to a team that has a potent offense and a lousy defense, special teams aren't as important, because their offense can overcome bad field position, and their defense is so bad that opposing offenses do just as well with good or bad field position. So in actual Indy games, special teams probably won't be as significant a factor as they would for say...Jacksonville versus Baltimore. But that doesn't change the fact that Indy hasn't played well on special teams.

39
by jebmak (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 7:23pm

Re #32

I don't see how "blowouts skew the rankings" and "changing it makes it less accurate" can both be true.

Are you saying that no formula makes it more accurate, but you could make it more accurate were you to subjectively lessen the effects of certain parts of games?

40
by Richard (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 7:24pm

If one were to do something stupid like say find the z-score for each team's Weighted DVOA and their Estimated Wins and then add them, they'd get this list:

Philadelphia
New York Giants
San Diego
Chicago
Baltimore
Indianapolis
New England
Jacksonville
Denver
Dallas
Kansas City
New Orleans
St. Louis
Pittsburgh
Minnesota
Cincinnati
Carolina
Washington
Atlanta
Green Bay
Buffalo
Miami
Seattle
New York Jets
Detroit
Cleveland
Houston
Tampa Bay
San Francisco
Arizona
Oakland
Tennessee

41
by C (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 7:24pm

#26: Yes, Philly has gotten very unlucky. NYG only won because of a "fumble forward" for a touchdown and TB won on a 62 yard FG. They laid an egg against JAX and lost a narrow one on the road against NO.

They have played sloppy at times and lethargic at others, but when the click, they are incredible. There has been some kind of strange Mojo on the team this year, however, and I need to see how they respond to the bye week. I still think 10 wins is probable for them.

42
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 7:26pm

Having watched the past two Vikings games, I find it hard to believe on first impression that there are five offenses that are worse. Certainly the Raiders, but four others is difficult to accept. Then again, they actually get decent line play and performance from their running backs, so maybe it isn't so off base, which indicates just how awful they are at the other ball handling positions, wide receiver especially.

43
by Richard (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 7:27pm

41: Y'know what? I know all that and it still troubles me. The fact that it makes sense doesn't seem to help me. Oh well.

44
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 7:28pm

Re: 26

Philadelphia leads the NFL in Estimated Wins. That’s incredible. Have they really been that unlucky? It seems like there has to be something wrong there, but I can’t imagine what.

Here's a quick recap of Philly's season:

They've only recovered 10 of 29 fumbles. That's VERY unlucky. They've also had at least 2 INTs returned for TDs, also unlucky.

They've convincingly defeated Houston, San Fran, Green Bay, and Dallas.

They lost to the Giants in OT in a game where Plaxico Burress lost a fumble that bounced 20 yards into the endzone where it was recovered for a TD by a fellow Giant and had the game tying FG setup by a mindnumbingly stupid personal foul on Trent Cole for kicking Kareem McKenzee in the nuts with just a few seconds left in the game. They had a 17 point lead at the start of the 4th and got sloppy. You can't just discount 3 quarters of superb play and only emphasize the last 17 minutes of the game (including OT). They should have won this game.

They lost to NO on a last second FG that was setup by a Too Many Men on the Field penalty on a 3rd down sack that would have resulted in a punt. They could have won this game.

They lost to TB on a the 3rd longest FG in the history of the NFL on the last play of the game. During the game there were 2 INTs returned for TD which are essentially random events. They should have won this game.

They got man-handled by Jacksonville. This is the only game this year that they clearly didn't play well enough to win.

45
by DrewTS (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 7:31pm

Looks like me and #27 had the same thought about Jacksonville. That's the only one that's a little too bitter to swallow.

Re 30

While you were writing that, two more Indy people showed up to more-or-less agree with the rankings. My hope is that maybe, finally, some of us have come to realize that rankings and respect and even W-L records aren't that important, so hopefully there won't be quite so much ire (but I know better than to wish for that).

After all, for teams like the Colts, Pats and Broncos, the regular season is mostly just jockying for position. It's like qualifying for a F1 race -- it's not really a question of if they'll be in, it's just a question of where. The Colts are currently P1, and that's good enough for me.

46
by Darrel Michaud (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 7:33pm

Donald -

And teams who’s coaches know when enough is enough and settle for a “mere� victory ought to be penalized because they don’t see the point in rubbing it their opponenent’s face.

It would seem as though you're talking about Indianapolis here, and indeed, you confirm this in a later post. If DVOA penalizes coaches that don't run up the score, shouldn't this appear as a year-in, year-out bias? Indy was first in last year's rankings, third in 2004's, and 5th in 2003's.

Furtheremore, if you examine the individual games, your premise that the Colts intentionally keep the score close when they're ahead falls apart. Look at the Houston game, where they won by 19. The game was 3-20 in the 4th quarter, yet Peyton was still throwing. He had passes of 37 yards (on 1st and 10), 18 yards (on 2nd and 6) and 27 yards (on 2nd and 11). Indy scored 13 points in a quarter they entered up 27. What is that, if not "rubbing it in their opponent's face?"

Indianapolis won by a combined 4 points to Tennessee (the 32nd ranked team by DVOA) and the Jets (26th) because Indianapolis played horribly for 3 quarters, not out of the goodness of their hearts.

47
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 7:33pm

Aaron: I noted in my "Jacksonville is too high" whine that I thought the Jets win was the cause of it. I think we're all acquainted with the phenomenon, and understand why DVOA hasn't been modified, so you probably don't need to go through the trouble of posting that every time.

Really, I think if we're going to rank what teams we think are "best," I think incorporating variance in some way would probably help. Good teams with high variance, I think, come out too high in the rankings.

The two teams most of us think are too high are the Bears and the Jaguars. They are also first and second in variance. I don't think it's a coincidence.

Rex Grossman scares the hell out of Bears fans because he's so erratic. I think most of us would prefer the consistency of the Chargers.

48
by MJK (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 7:34pm

I wonder if some of the strength of schedule tiltings would smooth themselves out more with more "D" adjusting iterations. I remember last year Aaron fixed the problem caused by Indy's pathetic schedule (just what IS Polian paying the league... j/k) by iterating the strength of schedule adjustment one more time. This made DVOA seem to make a lot more sense, and I assumed it improved its predictive capabilities because Aaron adopted it as standard practice. But theoretically, we still don't know if one extra iteration is enough to get near an equilibrium state--I think I remember Pat bringing that up last year? I wonder how much the ratings change if you keep iterating, and do they become more predictive?

I also wonder if that might do something about the blowout problem as well?

A question regarding the blowout situation. DVOA compares a team's performance on every play against the league average in a similar situation, which I assume includes the current score differential and the time remaining in the game. E.g. Being down by 10 with 2 minutes to go is not the same as being down by 2 with 2 minutes to go, or down by 40 with two minutes to go, or down by 10 with 25 minutes to go. Someone please correct me if this is wrong. But, given that blowouts do not happen very often, I would imagine the sample size for plays "when down by 40" or "when up by 40" is very small. So how does DVOA compare performance in these situations to the average, since there's probably not enough data to say what the "average" is? I would imagine this is a large part of the reason why blowouts tend to skew the ratings oddly. Teams play fundamentally differently once it is clear that a blowout has commenced, and the average or typical behavior and performance in these situations is probably unknown.

49
by James C (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 7:34pm

While people are producing super clever charts and tables of this stuff (and more power to them) can anyone with the technical know how produce a clever graph or other visual representation that shows DVOA as a team (or teams) progresses through the season (please).

As I have previously stated on this site I once got 8 out of 70 on a statistics exam and clearly shouldn't be trusted with as much as a histogram or I would try it myself. However as I am clearly inept I am asking others with clever programs and expert abilities to facilitate the visual rendering of all this excellent data. I for one would be tremendously grateful.

50
by Josh (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 7:41pm

Regarding the Bears and blowouts, I don't think their blowout wins are a result of running up the score. As the clearest example, their most recent blowout win over SF, they went up 41-0 by halftime, ended up winning 41-10. In my mind, there is no such thing as running up the score in the first half.
I'd be interested to see what the Bear 1st half and 2d half DVOA is in their blowout wins. I suspect that the 2d half is considerably lower, that the Bears are blowing many teams out in the first half and doing a little more than keeping it even in the 2d half of those games.

51
by jonnyblazin (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 7:41pm

Its interesting how big the difference in the AFC is between the haves and the havenots. Between PIT at 10% and MIA at -10%, there is only one 'average' team, the Bengals. Everyone besides them is either considerably above average and considerably below average.
Also its good to see the Ravens offensive DVOA% has substantially increased the past couple games (despite not shooting up the rankings), coinciding with Fassel's departure and McNair's increased familiarity with the offensive system. A couple weeks ago people were calling him washed up; now, not so much.

52
by chris clark (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 7:41pm

re 2: I hate to be critical of such excellent work, but could you increase the vertical scale of the chart? I'm trying to eyeball the chart to see if there are gaps or other "interesting" shapes in the chart, and that's most easily done if the 1st to last line is roughly 45% (rather than the 15% your chart now has). Well, actually you want the trend (regression) line to be 45%, not the 1st to last line, as they could be outliers. Acutally drawing in the linear regression line would be really cool--did someone say sprinkles!

For example, from your chart (using DVOA) I can make out that chi/phi/sd/nyg are tightly grouped and so are ind/ne/den--heavens to RPS, but I'm not sure I can discern much more, and I really want to.

BTW, by "playing" with the chart (i.e. showing different stats), I managed to a weird state where the boxes were kind of jumbled and didn't "connect" to the origin line (i.e. chi & ind had 0 high, with phi & ne having lower 0's). Hopefully, if I just start over it will work better (or maybe it's IE's fault).

53
by DrewTS (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 7:42pm

Re 48

I'd bet that the "up by 40" situation is more likely characterised as something like "up by 28 or more." You get more data points that way, and they're essentially the same situation.

54
by Peremptor (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 7:44pm

Re: #20

Exactly :). If not for overt martyballing in the @OAK game and @BAL game the Chargers would be #1 in DVOA right now ;).

55
by Brian G (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 7:45pm

Dear pals,

This ranking is absurd and doesn't mean jack squat. I'm sorry but this isn't baseball, people... games cannot predicted by computer... and this is by far the worst one their is. I would like to point out that this "vaunted" computer 7 and 7 this week. Keep wasting your time believing this garbage.

PS. I can't wait to Indianapolis mop the floor with "#2" Philly. What a joke.

56
by The Ninjalectual (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 7:46pm

The 2005 season was weird because, as I recall, there were few upsets. DVOA was magnificent at predictiong future results. In 2006, not so much. I used to think that it was the subjective DAVE screwing up the system, or an issue of small sample size. Now we're done with DAVE and we ought to have meaningful data on the season. I still don't know what's going to happen in any game.

How does Atlanta have a negative DVOA and a winning record? Craziness!

57
by johnt (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 7:47pm

Aaron: I don't necessarily think Quality Wins are predictive of the Super Bowl and I thought the article was interesting. But it's not testing the relevant issue: what you looked at was "whether it's better to have more close wins over quality opponents than blowout wins over easy opponents". My biggest problem with this is that it ignores the issue of schedule differentials. The Bears will wind up playing MAYBE 3 "quality" teams this year, while the Colts will play around 7. An absolute comparison of "stomps" versus "guts" for each team seems futile - it would be shocking if the Bears didn't have more stomps than guts with less than half as many chances for them. If anything it says "teams that play really easy schedules tend to do better".

58
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 7:47pm

56 - DAVE wasn't subjective.

59
by Sid (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 7:48pm

I agree. The Colts are not the best team in football right now and they will most likely not win the Super Bowl.

The Bears are easily the best at this point.

60
by johnt (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 7:50pm

That probably wasn't phrased so great. I meant "teams that play really easy schedules on average do better, regardless of the actual quality of the team". IOW, if you have the same team, getting the benefits of an easy schedule helps a lot in terms of setting up the playoffs to be a lot easier for you.

61
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 7:50pm

Re: 55

Probably the more amazing thing I've learned from coming the the site is that there is an astonishing ability for illiterate people to still be able to type. Please, before you make yourself look even more idiotic than you already do, go read Aarons commentary at the top.

62
by CA (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 7:51pm

Re: 55

Brian G, serious question: Is that your actual opinion or a parody? I honestly can't tell. Although it differs in form, it captures the spirit of the zlionsfan template perfectly.

63
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 7:53pm

59 - Really? "Easily" the best?

64
by Richard (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 7:54pm

62: I was wondering the same thing.

65
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 7:55pm

How likely is is that Grossman will go three consecutive playoff games without being awful in at least one. If he is awful in one, how likely are the Bears to beat a playoff-caliber team, to say nothing of a Super Bowl calibe team? If the Bears meet the Colts in the Super Bowl, what ends up being the more likely deciding factor, Grossman being terrible, the Colts' defense being terrible, or the Colts' o-line having "protection issues"?

66
by John (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 7:56pm

Damn, I don't want to harp on this, but it seems like unless you say something inflammatory no one pays attention...

So: DVOA is lamer than a two legged horse.
-and-
DVOA is dumber than Helen Keller's corpse.

Now, does anyone have any idea if outliers like Oakland's offense preclude their most recent opponents, for instance Seattle, who’s defense completely dominated Oakland on Monday, from improving their corresponding DVOA?

Seattle's Defensive DVOA declined after Monday night's performance, largely I assume because of SOS, but Seattle got 9 sacks and allowed only 185 net yards. I want to know what the Seahawk's D would have had to do to overcome such a large SOS adjustment, and if such a performance is really reasonable given one NFL team playing another NFL team?

Also, what was Seattle's defensive VOA?

67
by Peremptor (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 7:57pm

Re #32- If there is one sorry I even mentioned it, but I havent seen the link. Wouldnt a FAQs page for all the first timers on the major points of contention one would have with DVOA at first sight be ideal?

68
by MJK (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 8:01pm

I would like to point out that this “vaunted� computer 7 and 7 this week.

7 and 7 according to what? Just picking the higher ranked team over the lower ranked team every time? Or maybe the higher total DVOA? Weighted or non-weighted? Are taking home field advantage into account? How about allowing for the possibility that when two closely ranked teams play it's too close to predict? Are you predicting the game by comparing O-versus-D matchups according to DVOA? How about Running-O versus Running-D and Passing-O versus Passing-D? How much are you weighting each category?

DVOA gives us a number (actually a bunch of numbers) that indicates how well a team has played relative to some baseline. It's probably better than most numbers. It probably even predicts who is more likely to win on a neutral field between two stylistically similar teams (not who will win--the best team in the world probably only has about a 95% chance of beating the Raiders this year). But that doesn't mean you should pick whichever team has a higher DVOA, any more than you would pick a winner by picking whichever team has averaged more yards per game, or more points per game.

If you really want to see how good DVOA is at picking games, you should give it as a tool to intelligent analysts that understand football and see how they do. For example, if the Outsiders, using their knowledge of football and DVOA, picked teams every week, and did no better than 7-7 (i.e. random), then maybe you could argue that DVOA is useless (even that would not be conclusive--there is still the possibility that the Outsiders might just be dumb when it comes to using DVOA to predict games...;-) j/k). But all saying "DVOA was 7-7 this week" tells me is that you are too dumb to know how to use a statistical tool to predict games. It's like saying a rifle is a lousy rifle because if I just point it randomly and squeeze the trigger, it never hits the target. The best rifle in the world won't help you if you don't know how to aim.

69
by James C (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 8:05pm

#61

Blame it on spellcheckers. I once worked with an idiotic restaurant/function room manager who would rattle off letters on his computer, run his spelling and grammar checker and send off the letter assuming that it was fine (this was for functions for up to $5000 plus bar takings and quite often). He never seemed to grasp the difference between putting a booking 'in the diary' and 'in the dairy' and despite not having any vocation with the catholic church was constantly arranging for people's 'confirmation'. Some people are just so dumb that they fail to observe that other people are much more clever than them.

70
by milo (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 8:08pm

So, which gamma quadrant do you live in that computes the Redskins passing offense as better than ..... oh, say the Saints?

71
by Chicago, Dallas, Kansas City, New England, New York Giants, (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 8:09pm

66:
I'm going to guess the main factor is that they forced ZERO turnovers from a team that has averaged 2.6 per game (31st in the NFL).

72
by Richard (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 8:09pm

I don't know about the other readers, but I'd gladly pay some sort of fee to have access to sortable stats, splits, etc.

Is there any chance of such a thing happening in the future?

73
by DavidH (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 8:10pm

oops. I am not those 6 teams.

74
by We\'re the only teams better than 0% in offense, defense, an (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 8:13pm

San Diego
New York Giants
New England
Denver
Kansas City

75
by tunesmith (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 8:15pm

I do kind of wonder how DVOA would count things differently if it only counted plays that happened while the score was within a touchdown either way. But I seem to recall that Aaron looked into something like that and it made DVOA less accurate...?

76
by Sid (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 8:19pm

Wow, Chicago is like 7th in estimated wins. That's insane.

77
by admin :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 8:21pm

72, yes, we're just finishing up the technical parts of that. By December, I hope. It will go back to 1997, and include the current season as well.

78
by Kal (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 8:21pm

Okay, Aaron, this came up when talking about Guts/Stomps at another site I go through. You say that Guts are not a good indicator of who will win the superbowl, and that is fine - but how are Guts and Stomps as far as good indicators of regular-season performance? In general, is it better for a team in the regular season to have more Guts or more Stomps?

I guess you'd have to normalize it somehow, but I'd be curious to see how well that holds up.

The Bears haven't run the score up on anyone. They tend to score early and then sit on their lead. That's one of the dumbest arguments I've ever seen on this site.

I think a lot of the problems are skewed by how great Jacksonville is appearing here. For instance, Jacksonville beat Philly, so they look good. Teams that beat jacksonville look abnormally better - Washington's passing DVOA is going to look great after they put up 36 through the air, mostly. Their doing great against the Jets and Tennessee also doesn't hurt them. But DVOA doesn't do a good job of tuning down the variance - it never really has - and that's likely an issue.

79
by We\\\'re the only teams better than 0% in offense, defense, (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 8:25pm

70:
Again, I'm guessing it has mostly to do with turnovers.

NO - 0.028 INT/Att
Was - 0.013 INT/Att

Granted, NO is better in most other things, but then again who knows what happens if you go through and look at it play-by-play. Maybe NO has a lot of worthless 3rd and long yardage? Maybe Was threw more (and well) against Jax?

80
by underthebus (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 8:26pm

So does St Louis beat SEA on the road?

81
by Mnotr (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 8:29pm

Does anyone know how much regression to the mean DVOA uses? I know that an extreme performance in one area, like say 3rd down defense, doesn't boost a team's defensive DVOA much, but is that because extreme performances are regressed some or because 3rd down defense isn't considered very important to DVOA?

82
by Rick (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 8:30pm

What to think here? The Bears' D is so good, but their offense is so bad! The Colts are exactly the opposite! I can't see either team winning the Super Bowl. That leaves us with...Jake Plummer and the Broncos? Eli Manning and the Giants? The 4-4 Eagles? The Chargers, under Marty's tragic leadership? The Ravens, with Billick's expert offense? These are the reasons I still have hope for the Pats.

Poor Saints - 6-2 and still not getting respect. And the damned Steelers! Every week I pick them to win! At least I'm not wagering on them...

I still think the Pats' D is their better unit (by far) than their offense. Somehow that never makes it into the DVOA, though.

Well, to make an obligatory comment, since Aaron is dissing the Colts' chances in the Super Bowl...I'll take teams 6-10 even money over teams 1-5 for the Super Bowl. 40 quatloos - now that's serious!
(I think I'd even take teams 7-9 and toss out the Jags and Cowboys, FWIW.)

83
by The Ninjalectual (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 8:31pm

MLK: Very good response in 68. That is clearly the way to go about it.

84
by Pacifist Viking (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 8:32pm

"I understand that most people think that wins and losses are the best measure of a team’s quality"

When I read these types of comments on this site, I don't even really know what to say. The beginnings of many things to say sort of well up in my brain, and then seem empty. I had three or four different sentences to start a comment...and then couldn't legitimately continue.

85
by eblack (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 8:35pm

I would never suggest that the DVOA projected rating are bogus. But gut feeling tells me that Seattle is in for more than 3 wins. Line up (and my guesses):

St. Louis at home (Win)
S.F. away (Win)
Green Bay at home (Win)
Devner away (Loss)
Arizona away (Win)
S.F. at home (Win)
San Deigo at home (Anyones guess)
Tampa Bay away (Anyones guess)

Seattle should win against St. Louis at home, even without Hasslebeck. The St. Louis Rams have a pourous defense and indications are that Seattle may have gotten their team's defense in rhythm. The truth will be found out Sunday.

The two SF games and the Arizona game should be a lock for Seattle. That leaves a very good Denver team, a very bad Green Bay team, a San Deigo team which may be playing for a play off spot OR having locked up their division playing very soft and a very bad Tampa team.

Gut feelings are known to be wrong... but I don't think a 10-6 or 11-5 season is out of the cards yet.

86
by Pacifist Viking (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 8:36pm

31: I notice the same thing: some commenters blindly defend DVOA and question the intelligence of anybody who doubts it. Oddly, it seems like the FO writers are actually more willing to question it themselves and look for ways to make it better.

87
by turbohapy (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 8:38pm

IMO, Indy's special teams have gone from terrible (except for short, unimportant field goals) to wildly inconsistent. They've had some nice runbacks this year from Wilkins, but he also fumbled in the last game. Their coverage team has frequently been pretty good, but has also allowed a couple touchdowns. Vinateri missed a couple field goals in the last game. Etc.

BTW, as a Colts fan I wouldn't rank the Colts #1 either. However, they've gone 8-0 and still have a TON of room to improve. From what I've seen this year, none of the teams could win the Super Bowl right now. So we shall see who improves enough!

88
by navin (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 8:39pm

I wouldn't bet on any away game being a lock for Seattle, so that puts the Arizona and San Fran outcomes into question. A worse SF team almost beat a much better Seattle team last year. I wouldn't be surprised if Seattle lost to both Arizona and SF on the road.

89
by milo (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 8:41pm

Seriously. Comparing the Saints to the Redskins:
Saints>more attempts
Saints>more completions
Saints>more yards
Saints>better completion %
Saints>more yards/attempt
Saints>more yards/completion
Saints>more TD/attempt
Saints>more TD/completion
Saints>fewer sacks
Saints>fewer sacks/attempt
Saints>more FD/attempt
Saints>more FD/completion
Redskins>fewer INTs
Redskins>fewer INT/attempt
Redskins>fewer INT/completion

It seems as if the INT is more important than anything else. But the Saints have scored 6 more touchdowns while throwing 5 more INTs. Even if all INTs were returned for TDs (only two were), the Saints net pass scoring is higher than the Skins. Yet the Skins pass offense has a higher non-adjusted score. What is being measured? Consecutive completions?

90
by Polaris (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 8:41pm

Underthebus,

I don't think so. Even is Shaun Alexander doesn't play (and it looks like he won't), Seattle already beat St. Louis once at their place, and Seattle for whatever reason matches up well against St. Louis. In addition, Seattle just got 207 yards rushing which is bad news for St. Louis which can not stop the run (including against Seattle during the second half).

I am as big a fan as anyone for DVOA as a good baseline tool, but this year, the system just isn't a very good predictor. The 5-3 Seahawks are a spectacular case in point (as are the 4-4 Eagles the other way).

-Polaris

91
by Mnotr (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 8:42pm

#85

Estimated wins predicts how many wins the team would have so far with average luck.

92
by Pacifist Viking (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 8:42pm

While the Colts may not be the best team in football, I believe they have the best player in Peyton Manning. Furthermore, Manning's ability to put points and first downs on the board almost exclusively through the passing game gives them a great opportunity to beat teams that may be better.

They probably won't win the Super Bowl because there are 32 teams and 12 playoff teams and 1/32 and 1/12 make it easy to say they "probably' won't. But I think they have as good a chance as any team because Manning elevates them so much.

I realize Manning's playoff record doesn't justify this supreme confidence I have in him. I do think he's different this year, though the team is not as good as last year. I don't know what will happen in the playoffs, but Manning alone gives me the belief that they can beat teams that rank better than them.

93
by Rick (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 8:43pm

Re: 84
Thanks for trying.
?

94
by Pacifist Viking (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 8:44pm

93: expressing my speechlessness (as paradoxical as that is) seemed like the only way to express what I really felt.

95
by Mnotr (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 8:44pm

#89

Which FO stat are you referring to?

96
by Polaris (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 8:45pm

Navin,

You are forgetting that Seattle looks to be healthy for both SF games and for the Arizona game. Injuries are something that DVOA just doesn't account for very well (sorry but it doesn't).

It also doesn't handle big plays very well. Case in point is SB XL. By DVOA Seattle would have gained ground on Pittsburg going by DVOA, but we all know what the final score was.

-Polaris

97
by Rick (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 8:47pm

Re: 86
Actually I agree with you on this point. The small number of DVOA dogmatics get tiresome. DVOA is only one statistic, and any attempt to distill all of football into a single number is bound to be difficult. I think looking at the offense alone, or the defense alone, (or perhaps the special teams alone), DVOA does just fine. But by itself it doesn't pay the bills. (Just ask Steelers fans!)

98
by DavidH (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 8:49pm

89:
OK, you obviously need to read what DVOA is. Find the DVOA section on the page linked in my name. It's a long read, but there's really not much discussion possible until you know what the system is measuring.

99
by eblack (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 8:52pm

#88

I dunno about "much" better for S.F. Last year this time S.F. was 32 overall in offense, 31 overall in defense and 4 overall in special teams.

This year they are 24 overall in offence, 31 overall in defense and 18 in overall in special teams.

I am still saying it's a lock until S.F. can show me that they can string together 4 good quarters against a .500 or better team.

100
by eblack (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 8:54pm

#91

Thanks for the clarification. I thought it was predicting future wins. Good to know :)

101
by navin (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 8:54pm

Polaris, you're right about the injuries, but that's not my point. Arizona and San Fran are both teams that play well at home and poorly on the road. Just look at SF's variance, I believe it's in the top five.

Admittedly I am a Niners fan, but there's no way you can call a road game for Seattle a lock. I'm sure they'll be favored by about 3 points or something like that, but that's probably only about a 60% chance of winning, which means Seattle will probably drop one of two at Arizona and at SF. And if they're unlucky, they'll lose both games.

102
by navin (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 8:57pm

Re: 99
This is what I said. "A worse SF team almost beat a much better Seattle team last year. I wouldn’t be surprised if Seattle lost to both Arizona and SF on the road."

I said that Seattle was much better, not SF. And I'm sure we can all agree that SF is better, in fact you can probably argue they were much worse last year when they were historically bad.

Also, SF has beaten both Minnesota and Saint Louis at home. What are their records?

103
by admin :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 9:03pm

Commentary is now up at FOX. Yes, they forgot to change the New England comment. Yes, I've already e-mailed them about it.

104
by underthebus (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 9:04pm

Check out the NFC WEST remaining schedule ranks:

SEA 31
STL 32
SF 28

SF has a real shot of taking this weak division at 3-5 (w/ 1 a win over STL). A quick look at the schedules and it seems STL and SEA's future sked rankings are being skewed because they play SF. But other then those games, they have a tougher schedule. Unbelievable.

105
by D (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 9:07pm

I'm with #89, it isn't really fair to say that Indy will "probably" not win the Super Bowl. The better way to phrase what you are trying to say would be "Indy is not the team most likely to win the Super Bowl". I know it may seem like semantics, but in this case it seems important enough to note.

106
by Polaris (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 9:08pm

navin,

I never said any game was a lock. Just ask Chicago!

However, if you expect the 49ners who rank last in scoring defense (which is an official NFL stat that matters even here) against a healthy Seattle, you are .... well.... a fan and therefor not being objective.

Minnesota is another game that SF should have lost. They didn't but that doesn't prove that SF is a good team. It just proves that "Any given Sunday" is a good thing to bear in mind.

All that said, Seattle should beat the 49ners (twice), Arizona, and Greenbay at minimum...and probably Tampa Bay. That's 4-5 wins right there which is 10-6 territory and more than enough for the division crown.

-Polaris

107
by TG (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 9:10pm

How can a user analyze DVOA along with player value over replacement (forget the acronym) to see how a team may perform without certain key players (i.e. Strahan, Urlacher) or if certain key players were added back to the mix (i.e. Rothlisberg, Alexander, Hasselback)?

108
by Polaris (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 9:13pm

Underthebus,

I don't know what you are looking at, but St Louis still have to play Minnesota, Chicago, Carolina, Washington, and San Fransisco (who plays well against your Rams). That's IF you beat Seattle in Seattle which I don't think you will.

The Rams are another case where I think DVOA gets it wrong. The Rams have not been in any of the last two games, and imploded in the second half against Seattle, but the way the Rams score points (and get yardage) gives them an artifically inflated DVOA.

The Rams will finish 8-8 *maybe* (if they are lucky).

-Polaris

109
by Fnor (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 9:13pm

#96: We don't look at DVOA to tell us who "should have won the game." We look at DVOA to see "good" a team is, by looking at the parts of the game that predict future performance. Big plays don't do that. Big runs in particular are extremely rare and randomly distributed (20+ I know are .5 every game, 40+ I believe are around .2, I can't remember offhand).

As for commenters defending DVOA more than the staff, I think that's somewhat illusory. Aaron et al are just busy actually doing their jobs... it's often on the commenters to correct misconceptions and explain things that have been explained many times to those who weren't around or haven't figured it out yet. I can see how that may make a facial appearance that there are a bunch of DVOA-is-perfect zealots here, but that's really not the case.

Case in point: I'm a strong believer in DVOA, and thing it's pretty darn great. I disagree with a few things, such as whether or not forcing fumbles is random (or offence-determinative rather than defence-determinative) and whether or not long plays should be weighted by frequency to help "big play" teams. That doesn't mean I won't defend DVOA strenuously.

110
by Mnotr (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 9:14pm

#107

Without game-by-game DVOA, you have to guess.

111
by Mnotr (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 9:15pm

I like this new projected win total on the Foxsport's DVOA rankings.

112
by D (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 9:16pm

"Because this time, our ratings are right, and everybody else is wrong." True, but that is just begging for trouble Aaron.

113
by Polaris (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 9:18pm

#109

If you aren't using DVOA as a predictive tool to predict which team should beat another team, then what's the point?

Isn't that what "stength of team" is supposed to measure??!?!?

I lose patience real fast with those that forget that ultimately the only stat that matters is the final score....and that ultimately the only "real" measure of team "strength" is the win-loss record.

-Polaris

114
by MTR (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 9:31pm

If you rank the teams by projected W-L record they'd fit conventional wisdom pretty well.

Polaris, if you're a gambler then you only care about predicting next week's games. But not everybody is looking to place a bet.

DVOA is really nothing more than counting how often a team's plays have been successful. "Successful" is a slipery concept and that's where the complications come into the system but that's basically all it is.

115
by Kal (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 9:31pm

#113, I think #109 is actually saying what teams should beat what other teams. That is what DVOA measures, and it measures it better than a large number of other bits. But it can't predict things like injuries and their effect on teams, or weird weather, or just players playing really badly.

The final score is only useful for telling us what team beat what other team on that day in that circumstance; DVOA is useful in helping predict what team will beat what other team in the future, and more importantly how that team will beat that other team in the future. That being said, DVOA is simply an improvement on looking at conventional stats. It is not a be-all, end all way of deciding issues. It's better than looking at passing rating or raw rushing yards or TDs. But it doesn't always trump common sense.

This year, common sense seems to be winning, but it's still really useful.

116
by underthebus (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 9:31pm

Polaris,

Actually I am a 49er fan and that's my point. STL and SEA actually have a tougher schedule then SF (not counting NFC WEST games). SF has already been able to beat teams not in the top tier of DVOA. With wins against MIN, STL. If SF pulls off one upset against SEA, then there is a real chance they could make the playoffs. Plus their last game is against DEN, who could plausibly be resting their starters for the playoffs.

117
by MdM (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 9:33pm

"I lose patience real fast with those that forget that ultimately the only stat that matters is the final score….and that ultimately the only “real� measure of team “strength� is the win-loss record.

-Polaris "

Then why are you here?

118
by Mnotr (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 9:37pm

#113

He didn't say DVOA wasn't predictive. He said it's not retrodictive.

119
by David (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 9:42pm

I wonder a little bit about DVOA in that there is really no objective way to test it. It's a little more than a question of what's the point. I think an objective ranking of how teams have played is a valuable end in and of itself. With a subjective system they can be critiqued subjectively, however there is no objective standard for critiquing DVOA. What standard are you trying to achieve?

120
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 9:43pm

It is interesting that FO's projected wins for the Vikings now matches my preseason projection, 9, while I am starting to think that eight is the more likely number. Of course, it is harder for me to be to be objective in mid-season, following two games in which the Vikings offense has only had one scoring drive, and it was only for a field goal.

Of course, the Vikings estimated wins is 4.4, indicating that they have not had a ton of lucky breaks so far, but I think a major factor in their falling short of estimated wins is the number of penalties the right side of their offensive line and their wide receivers (and not primarily for PI!) have incurred, which I don't think gets reflected in DVOA.

In any case, whether the Vikings get to 9 wins is largely dependent (excepting injuries, of course) on whether their receivers play better. Johnson isn't going to get any velocity or mobility back. The receivers aren't likely going improve at getting seperation, which combined with Johnson's immobility and lack of a fastball, really limits what the offense can do. It is not extremely unlikely, however, that they could reduce their drops and penalties, and that might be enough to get them to nine wins, but I wouldn't bet the ol' IRA on it.

As to other teams, I do think Romo is going to end up being a significant improvenent over Bledsoe for the balance of the season, so I think there is substantial reason for optimism in Dallas, despite a relatively difficult schedule the rest of the way.

121
by Ilanin (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 9:44pm

89 - I'm mystified too, given the opponent adjustments. Pass defense DVOA given below.

Washington have played:
Minnesota (-4.4% 10th)
Dallas (-7.0%, 7th)
Houston (46.1%, 32nd)
Jacksonville (-27.3%, 3rd)
NY Giants (-17.6%, 4th)
Tennessee (16.4%, 26th)
Indianapolis (16.9%, 27th)
Dallas again (-7.0%, 7th)

Mean: 2.01%, 15th
(This is crude, because there is an assumption in taking the arithmetic mean that Washington passed equally against these offenses. Aaron's actual adjustment is rather cleverer).

New Orleans have played:
Cleveland (-0.6%, 15th)
Green Bay (9.3%, 21st)
Atalanta (-2.9%, 11th)
Carolina (13.4%, 23rd)
Tampa Bay (-2.7%, 12th)
Philadelphia (-15.2%, 6th)
Baltimore (-29.1%, 2nd)
Tampa Bay again (-2.7%, 12th)

Mean (see above for comment): (-3.81 %, 13th)

I'm using last week's data for Pass D as this week's hasn't appeared yet. Maybe there was a shift in the strength of the relative pass Ds.

It is distinctly possible that Drew Brees is the master of the pass for eight yards on 3rd and 9, but I've not seen enough of NO to be able to comment.

122
by Malene, cph (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 9:48pm

"ultimately the only “real� measure of team “strength� is the win-loss record."

I don't get it. The best way to rank teams is by w-l record. So you read a Power Rankings column because... uhm? ... you're too dumb to sort the teams by record yourself? or you don't know how this funny internet-thingie works so you can find a "standings" page on nfl.com?

What?

123
by Richie (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 9:48pm

Even though you say the Colts 'probably' won't win the Superbowl, at the moment surely they're more likely than any other team to win it?

124
by Holdie (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 9:52pm

dbt, you rock. You really rock. Thanks a lot for the sortable charts.

125
by Fnor (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 9:54pm

#119: I'd imagine points scored and final standings are pretty objective things to test DVOA against. That's what it is designed to corellate to, if I recall correctly.

126
by Kyle (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 9:54pm

Re: 44

Gimme a break.

They had plenty of opportunities to win the game against New York. Of course, the fumble being recovered in the end zone by Tim Carter was luck. Nothing else in that game was. Trent Cole's penalty, as you so perfectly put it, was mindnumbingly stupid. Not unlucky. Flat out undisciplined. Furthermore, they had multiple opportunities to put the game out of reach in both the 4th Quarter and to win the game in Overtime. In fact, in OT, they benefitted from multiple boneheaded penalties on the part of New York.

Furthermore, against New Orleans, your emphasis of the 3rd Down sack is too narrow a frame for the issue. That "last second FG" came at the end of an 8 minute drive. 8 minutes. Eight. Ocho. For one, a too many men on the field penalty isn't a judgment call, in the way a holding call is. That is pure mathematics. So it being called is not bad luck, nor is it happening bad luck. Its a lack of discipline. Of course, just like in the New York game, Philly had plenty of opportunities to end that drive beyond the sack negated by a stupid penalty. The last 2 minutes were kneels, but prior to that, there were 6 full minutes of plays to move the ball into field goal range.

I don't know. Its probably 50% Giants bias, but I really get annoyed at how people are so adamant about Philly's "should be" 6-2 record. A lucky play in the New York game put them in *striking distance* of tying the game, and from there on out they simply outplayed Philly. New Orleans, especially, irks me. People like to harp on the fact that the field goal was of the last second variety, but it did not come about from a frenzied 90 second drive. Instead, it came from a clock-killing 8 minute drive.

127
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 10:01pm

How many games has Bob Sanders missed? I don't follow the AFC as closely, but with him, the Colts can resemble a credible rush defense, while without him they are just hideous. This is one area where DVOA fails to capture team quality; the difference a key non-qb injury makes.

128
by BillWallace (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 10:01pm

re: 65 Will

Isn't this question easily quantified by extending the 'extended wins' formula through the playoffs to generate % chances of winning? Chicago would be the #1 DVOA but might have a smaller chance of winning it all due to the reasons you describe.

129
by BillWallace (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 10:03pm

This site would be significantly less interesting if we didn't have situations like Philly, Indy, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, etc.

130
by Kal (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 10:07pm

Heh. What I find really funny about this is that this is almost certainly going to inspire a slew of Indy fans to come swooping in and declare that DVOA sucks.

And then be struck down by the FOMBC.

It'll be interesting to see Indy and Philly. That's going to be, like, the best test of DVOA ever.

131
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 10:08pm

yeah, I agree Bill, but it seems to me, and I could be wrong, that Grossman in particular has more variability than normal for a qb on a team projected to go 13-3.

132
by B (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 10:14pm

The NFL in general would be less interesting if we didn't have situations like Philly, Pittsburgh, etc. The unpredictability of the game is one thing that makes it exciting.

133
by B (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 10:16pm

130: Indy fans, from what I have seen, are rather wary of their team this year. I think it's after-effects of watching their team collapse in the playoffs last year.

134
by milo (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 10:16pm

98 & 121:
I'm not complaining about DVOA for offenses here, at least I don't think I am. The non-adjusted numbers for the pass offenses are what I am looking at. I'm not saying that the Skins offense isn't any good. And I realize that each play is assigned a grade based on its particulars. But....the Saints have better efficiency for TDs, FDs, completion %, sack % and avg. gain. That should not translate into masters of 8 yards on 3rd and 9. I also realize that having a bad avg. rush is going to drag your overall offensive rating down faster than having an efficient passing game pulls it up. But in the end, the Saints raw passing numbers are about 75 yards/game and 5 points/game better than the Redskins. That doesn't sound worse on non-adjusted numbers (Skins 17.4%, Saints 14.1%).

135
by TBW (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 10:18pm

Re:126

The fact that Cole's penalty happened was not luck, the fact that it happened at such a critical juncture in the game was. If that penalty happened in the 1st half the Eagles win. Also, you are forgetting I think 3 fumbles,including Westbrook's deep in Eagles territory, none of which were recovered by the Philly which is also unlucky. Again the fumbles aren't unlucky, the fact that they all went to NY and all occurred in advantageous spots for NY is lucky.

As for NO, it wouldn't have been an 8 minute drive if not for the penalty. It would have been a two minute drive and a punt. Again, timing was everything. Had they had 12 men on the field earlier in the game would it have mattered ? The fact that it happened at precisely the worst time is bad luck. Also, don't forget the muffed punt at the end of the 1st half. That also was the difference in the game. Again stupid play by the Eagles, but if it happens at midfield with 30 seconds left it might not matter.

Bottom line, sure the Eagles have made lots of mistakes and seemed to lack discipline, but there is no denying the fact that when they have made these mistakes they have literally all been at the worst times possible. That last part is why I think it is bad luck. Sure, every team makes mistakes and dumb plays, but to have three losses completely dependend on about 5 unfortunately timed bad plays is a little hard to believe.

Maybe it really is a fatal flaw with this team, we'll find out in the coming weeks that's for sure. My money is one the Birds though.

136
by Stillio (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 10:19pm

SD 67-7 over Oak/Ten = impressive; Jax 78-7 over NYJ/Ten = wildly inconsistent? I'm just saying...

137
by BillWallace (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 10:19pm

By the way, I watched the SF Minny game, that was painful. At least Vick's receivers can claim that his 150mph throws are hard to catch, Brad Johnson throws the way you toss a ball to the secretary so you know she'll catch it and not break a nail.

138
by BlueStarDude (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 10:21pm

RE: " it doesn't realize that the new quarterback doesn't have a giant fork in his back"

I'm at work right now and this comment just made LOL and involuntarily spit my sip of coffee out (hey, at least it didn't come out my nose!). Thanks for that.

139
by Kal (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 10:29pm

My only guess on the Saints vs the Redskins is that the passing on the Saints has been largely huge plays, which do not translate as huge gains in DVOA, whereas the Redskins get a lot more short gains and whatnot.

But I honestly don't know; it does seem like a flaw to rank the Redskins passing attack as higher than almost anyone, much less the Saints, who appear to have a great passing attack this year.

Aaron et al - any idea as to why this discrepancy?

140
by donald (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 10:32pm

"It’ll be interesting to see Indy and Philly. That’s going to be, like, the best test of DVOA ever."

Oh yeah? What about Indy/NYG? Denver/Baltimore? SD/KC? I won't even bother getting into complete surprises like Chicago/Miami. But these are all examples of teams that are considerd top 10ish, and in each case, DVOA failed. I suspect it will fail too when Indy plays Philly and when Denver plays San Diego.

141
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 10:35pm

Bill, I don't think I am being hyperbolic when I say the Vikings' receivers are the worst receiving corps I've ever seen assembled by an NFL team. Marcus Robinson achieved the status of being somewhat sub-mediocre, but he has been hurt for several games, and the rest of them are just indescribably bad. I've yet to see even one above-average play on the ball, they usually get zero seperation, and the drops are a constant. Toss in the fact that they get flagged for key penalties (Sunday was really bad), and it gives some indication that the Vikings o-line and running backs have actually performed above average, for the Vikings' to only have the 27th worst offensive DVOA.

In hindsight, it is obvious (and should have been at least somewhat so at the time) that counting on Koren Robinson's sobriety was an error.

142
by Tally (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 10:37pm

Re Oakland commentary:

I think the full saying is: "Those who can, do. Those who can't do, teach. Those who can't teach, administrate."

143
by NF (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 10:38pm

On the Cardinals winning the World Series, a writer at Baseball Prospectus made an interesting point. He noted that some of the reasons that the Cardinals were so bad during the regular season, bad pitchers, bad batters, bad defensive players, actually didn't play that much at all in the playoffs after playing a lot in the rest of the year. So the Cardinals may have significantly improved the team in the postseason by replacing their worst starters with average backups.

Anyone know of any analogous events in football? Has as a bad QB gone down in a playoff-clinching game at the end of the season, and then a rookie started and played well in the playoffs, leading to the team advancing further than expected? Or a good QB going down at the start of the season, followed by a bad backup playing most of the season, but the team still makes the playoffs, and the good QB returns and leads what statistically was a bad team with a bad offense deep into the playoffs?

144
by Kal (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 10:39pm

#140: Most people believe that Indy/NYG was NYG's to win but they gave it away with stupid penalties and a couple stupid plays. SD/KC came with injuries, etc, but it wasn't the most ridiculous upset ever - and the game was almost won by SD. Also, win/loss and pretty much any other predictive system failed with KC over SD as well. Denver/Baltimore was in Denver and the two teams were close; DVOA basically gives that one to the home team in that case.

A better counterargument is Bears/Dolphins, which DVOA totally failed to predict. Then again, so does win/loss record or common sense.

The reason that Indy/Philly is so good is because DVOA strongly picks Philly in that case, whereas common wisdom would probably go with Indy easily. Especially if you go with W/L.

DVOA doesn't succeed all the time. The question isn't whether it is 100% successful (if it was, it wouldn't be on a website, and Aaron would make millions on gambling). The question is whether it is a better predictor than other stat systems.

145
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 10:39pm

To me, the most interesting numbers FO puts out are the preseason and mid season win projections, and I think FO does pretty darned well compared to anything else I've seen, on a league-wide basis.

146
by Duff Soviet Union (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 10:40pm

donald, you have come here 3 weeks in a row to say absolutely nothing except "Football Outsiders sucks". Seriously, what the fuck are you doing? Get a life loser.

147
by Subrata Sircar (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 10:53pm

I can't find this in the DVOA explanations, but I'm sure someone has asked this before:

Are penalties considered in DVOA? That is, if team X is in 3rd-and-4, and commit a holding penalty that is accepted, are they penalized for the difference between 3rd-and-4 and 3rd-and-15? are they penalized based on the difference between 3rd down at the 8 and 3rd at the 18? something else?

148
by Fnor (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 10:58pm

#147: Most aren't. The big one that is is Pass Interference. I think a few more are included, but I can't recall which.

149
by Kamiyu (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 10:59pm

If you don't like this ranking, no problem. Aaron never said "You gotta believe me! This is the KING of all the power rankings!", right? So it's up to you whether you believe it or not. It’s just one of maaaaaaany power rankings on the internet website.

BUT! If you want to say “This ranking sucks! It’s all BS!� or something similar, please come up with appropriate REASON not just “Well, because I feel like it� or “Everybody else doesn’t think so.� I’m just sick of reading those vague statements.

150
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 10:59pm

To be fair to the Vikings' receivers, however, Johnson is really limited in what he can do, which cuts down on opportunities for the receivers to make a catch after the qb extends the play a little. The fourth and seven at the end of the 49er game, after Williamson's Pop Warner-level drop, illustrates this. A qurterback with some mobility could have extended the play a couple seconds, which likely would have meant that Travis Taylor would have come free in the middle of the field, likely for a touchdown, given how the db covering him sold out on the short comeback pattern. Brad Johnson, however, knows he can't do that at all any more (not that he was ever great at it), and thus programs himself to throw within a set time, period, which in this case meant lofting a low percentage pass to Bethel Johnson down along the sideline. The result is another wasted fine defensive effort.

151
by Purds (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 11:03pm

Re: B 133:

You have part of that right. We Colts fans are in a tough spot -- if they win in the regular season and we get excited, everyone says, "So what?" MOST teams will not win the SB this year, but only INDY seems to get criticized for that possibility.

But, Colts fans have also clearly seen the problems on D. We're fans, but, okay ... I am a fan, but I am not blind. My hope is that Reagor will help a bit, and that Sanders stays healthy.

152
by donald (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 11:07pm

DSU, I sure wish I could, but my life is really lame and this is seriously the highlight of my week. What am I doing? I'm trying to feel better about my pathetic existence.

153
by TBW (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 11:11pm

The Indy/Philly game is at Indy. When you figure that in the game looks like toss-up right now, so it's hard to see how if Indy wins it will be a black mark against DVOA. Now if it was at Philly, and Indy won given their current DVOA ratings that would be a little more surprising, but I don't think a 7th ranked team beating a 2nd ranked should ever really constitue a failure of a ranking system.

154
by Fnor (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 11:16pm

donald/fake donald/others

Please, we've already had a thread today devolve into a flamewar. We should try to (in FO fashion) keep things congenial and pleasant. It helps a lot, and keeps the threads short and readable.

155
by donald (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 11:19pm

But seriously, for Aaron to say, "this time we're right and everyone else is wrong" is pretty bold. I can't wait for it to backfire when the Colts rip the Eagles a new one. Seriously, I wish I could turn time forward just to see how he handles it.

156
by Kamiyu (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 11:26pm

Re:153

Exactly. If 7th ranked team beating 2nd ranked team is considered as a failure of ranking, then every single power ranking in the world should be considered as a failure.

157
by TomC (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 11:31pm

Fnor - Which thread? How have I managed to miss the flaming?

158
by donald (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 11:33pm

Fnor, you're right, I apologize. Seriously. The bottom line is that I truly fail to see how DVOA is at all predictive, as I just don't think you can break football down into numbers in any meaningful way. There is just so much more going on that these numbers fail to take into account. I've been a dick. Consider me gone, fellas. Sorry again.

159
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 11:33pm

donald, before gettin your panties in a wad, you may wish to read the commentary on the Fox site, which plainly states that Sanders remaining on the field for the remainder of the season could well have a huge impact on how the Colts perform. In other words, Adam acknowledges that the DVOA numbers reflect the Colts without Sanders for most of the season to date. When the author acknowledges what is being missed, it's pretty silly to rip the author for being too bold.

160
by Marko (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 11:35pm

I think the projected records were interesting for Jacksonville and Kansas City. You have both of them projected at 10-5-1, with the tie obviously being head-to-head since no other team has a tie in its projected record. Then I looked at the Jaguars' schedule and noticed that their game against Kansas City is the last game of the season. Based on your projected records, they would tie for the last AFC wild card spot.

Of course, the odds of this actually happening are incredibly small. But it would be interesting if it happened. Presumably, the coaches (unlike Jim Mora last year in Atlanta's OT game against Tampa Bay) would know the effect of a tie on their playoff chances and would plan their OT strategy accordingly, with one team only needing to play for a tie and the other team having to win. But considering that Herman Edwards is Kansas City's coach and that Jack Del Rio, the original Mr. Keep Choppin' Wood, is Jacksonville's coach, I'm not entirely convinced that would be the case.

161
by Subrata Sircar (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 11:37pm

Re: St. Louis Cardinals and postseason
In a short series (or a single game), all that matters is the front-line talent. St. Louis had excellent front-line talent (the Tigers had perhaps one player in the same group as a healthy Rolen or Edmonds [Carlos Guillen], and no one in the same class as a healthy Pujols and Carpenter [not that this is a knock]) and didn't have to play the 4th and 5th starters, backup position players and long relievers who get a fair amount of time during a 162 game season. The disparity is not nearly as apparent in football, where most starters play 90% of snaps unless they're injured, including the single most important player (QB).

Re: Purpose of DVOA/DPAR

Any advanced statistic has two (putative) purposes: prediction (what does last week say about next week) and analysis (who gets which portion of credit/blame for last week). By and large, "adjustment" of the raw values speaks to prediction (i.e. Schmoe missed the field goal, and missing it in Florida makes it less likely, all else being equal, that he'll hit it next week in Buffalo, not that his miss was more or less contributory to the loss).

Adjusting for blowouts might make the system less accurate for prediction, but might make it better for analysis. For example, Pittsburgh was able to hit on all cylinders against the Chiefs, but that's been rare: offensive inconsistency and poor special teams play contribute heavily to their losses. In other words, yes, Santonio Holmes is really that bad.

162
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 11:38pm

donald's gone now, but I think he fails to grasp that the FO method deals in probabilities, and not Nostradamus-like soothsaying, which is most obvious in the preseason win projections, with the odds given of win ranges.

163
by Richard (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 11:40pm

162: Some people simply fail to grasp the concept of probabilities in general.

164
by Ben B. (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 11:42pm

136: Both were impressive in those games, part of the reason that they're both in the top 10. However, San Diego in their other games has: destroyed San Francisco, solidly beaten St. Louis, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland, outplayed Baltimore in Baltimore in a loss, and lost on a last second field goal in Kansas City (in a game in which they were outplayed). Jacksonville, on the other hand, lost by 20 to the Titans. Thus, San Diego consistently good, and Jacksonville good but inconsistent.

165
by Kamiyu (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 11:48pm

Re:155

So, if the Eagles rip the Colts, how will you handle the situation? "Well, it's just one game."? "Eagles were just lucky?" I'm very curious.

Honestly, having watched this year's Colts, I'm just amazed how people can put them as the best in the league. You don't need DVOA or something advanced stats to realize it. Their defense was pathetic. Their run defense was almost unwatchable. Yes, they have the best offense in football, but do you really think you can be the best in the league with just offense?

They are the best because they beat the Broncos and the Pats at their stadiums? Then what about the Jets, Titans games? If they are THAT good, they should've easily ripped them, right? They barely survived. Yes, I said SURVIVED. Against the Jets. Against the Titans.

How about the Jags game? If Jags didn't miss the EASY field goal TWICE, do you really think Colts could walk out as a winner? They were damn lucky that day.

I'm a Colts fan so please don't say you're just a pathetic anti-Colts guy. I really hope they can be the best in the league this year, but until this point, they're clearly not the best.

Still, I don't think Colts have no chance to be the best in the league. It's only halfway through, and if Colts can improve their D, they might have a chance. But if their D stays the same, there is no way they can be DA BEST in the league.

166
by Marko (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 11:50pm

TomC, the flaming came in the thread about the NFL forcing YouTube to drop "The Catch."

167
by Adam B (not verified) :: Tue, 11/07/2006 - 11:57pm

I'm curous why Cleveland's pass defense isn't rated much higher. Its yards/attempt and competion percentage are among the best in the NFL.

168
by donald (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 12:04am

Okay, I said I was gone, but before I go for good, I figured I'd clear up this misconception you all seem to have about me. I did take two college courses in probability and statistics and I've read the in depth descriptions of what DVOA is meant to do. I get it. I realize it is not meant to be perfect but rather provide a model that describes how successful each team has been on a play by play basis, adjusted for situation, opponent, etc. I understand. But if it is a solid model, it should be more predictive than any other system out there, whether it be some other statistical system or just a avid fan's analysis, and here is where I fail to see any merit. Perhaps FO could test the predictiveness of DVOA versus a random collection of avid football fans. I for one don't think DVOA would be any more predictive than this random grouping of fans, at least in a statistically meaningful way.

169
by donald (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 12:07am

And perhaps all you're really trying to do is provide a model for how successful teams have been thus far, with no intent on trying to predict what will happen in the future. But if this is the case, I guess I fail to see the point.

170
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 12:10am

164: Exactly.

171
by Frick (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 12:16am

I don't think Philly matches up well against the Colts. The Colts had a couple of big wins several years ago.

Philly can't rush the ball and the Colts can't stop the run. Philly blitzes a lot, the Colts are probably one of the best teams in picking up the Blitz/making a D pay for blitzing.

Aaron, you should put your comment in 32 as the "First" post in every DVOA comments section.

172
by NF (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 12:22am

#140: I don't recall exactly how the game went, but I've read some remarks that the Giants should have won that game. For the Denver-Baltimore game, Baltimore was on the road, and Denver's red-zone defense was still freakishly good. That was a very close game though, and what ultimately gave Denver an edge was the great performance by Tatum Bell against the Baltimore run D. The only starting RB who came close to averaging against Baltimore what Tatum did in that game was Rudi Johnson.

Also, DVOA is more accurate later in the season, and the win by Kansas City over San Diego in Arrowhead doesn't look nearly as surprising now, after the Chiefs have won 3 straight and Damon Huard has played like a franchise QB, than it did then, after a blowout at the hands of the Steelers.

Also, DVOA didn't predict the Dolphins beating Chicago, but who or what did? Surely not the standing. Aaron Schatz has a saying he learned from his father, "The best is the enemy of the better."

The Eagles@Colts game may not turn out to be such a great test of DVOA due to the game being in Indy and the teams not being that far apart. However, looking at adjusted line yards, that game could be won or lost in the trenches. I'm not trying to be cliched, that is how it looks. Both teams have some of the best run-blocking lines, but Indy has great pass protection and Philly doesn't. However Philly has a great pass rush, while Indy doesn't, and while Philly's run-stopping by the front 7 is bad, the Colts' is worse. Still, the Eagles will have to actually run the ball to take advantage of this, and calling lots of run plays is not something Andy Reid is known for.

Good test cases for DVOA in Week 10:

NO@PIT: The records say that New Orleans should roll. DVOA says the teams are even, and the homefield edge could push the Steelers over the top. That's if the team hasn't given up yet.

WAS@PHI: I know the conventional wisdom here is that Washington is dead, which is still an exaggeration, and expect Philadelphia to win unless people expect Philly to keep screwing up. However, DVOA says this could be an absolute mismatch in Phillies favor even before accounting for home-field.

CHI@NYG: If the New York Giants are as good as DVOA says they are this should be a close game. On second thought, forget that, if this is close then either the Giants aren't as good as thought or the injuries to the defense are far past the Giants ability to compensate. On third thought, Chicago's variance is off the charts. Anybody gambling on this game is an absolute moron.

173
by MDZ (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 12:33am

-168

Read King Kaufmann's article linked in my name. Aaron and the FO staff have made the best preseason predictions for the last two years. There doesn't appear to be another quantitative ranking, but the list of national writers is extensive. To me this shows that DVOA is fairly predictive compared to the subjective analysis of NFL writers. More so the top predictors don't appear to be the same over these past two seasons, except for Aaron and FO. I know this is a small sample size, but it at least is a comparison that gives some evidence that DVOA is a good predictor when compared "experts".

174
by Ben (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 12:46am

re:133 I'd agree with that. I suspect you'd be hard pressed to find an Indy fan who thinks this years team is better then last years team. And since that team wasn't good enough...

As with some other Colts fans, I'm hoping that getting Sanders and Reagor back will shore the defense up to at least NFL quality. That being said, at this point, I can certainly see SD, Denver, NE, and maybe even KC winning in the Dome in January. Of course, I can see the Colts winning those games too, especially if Manning keeps up his level of play. This team is 8-0 because Manning is playing the best football of his career. I just have a hard time seeing a team that requires other-worldly play from the QB to win games as a strong Super Bowl contender.

175
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 12:48am

Perhaps FO could test the predictiveness of DVOA

Click on FO FAQ. "Does it really work?" See the correlation coefficients between DVOA and wins.

They have tested its predictiveness.

If you're talking about on a game-by-game basis, well, that's different. And it's not something that's particularly interesting, given that each individual game could be ultimately decided by a coin flip.

One of the things that's annoying about people crowing about predicting games is that if a system believes a game is a toss-up, what's the point in picking it?

And perhaps all you’re really trying to do is provide a model for how successful teams have been thus far

Again, look at the same as above. Look at what DVOA is being compared to (and note that it's significantly better): yards, yards per play, points scored, points allowed, etc.

DVOA is a metric. It's a replacement for yards, yards per play, yards per point, etc.

162: Some people simply fail to grasp the concept of probabilities in general.

No kidding. I think the other thing people don't realize is exactly how many tossups there are in the NFL each year. I don't get it. The NFL is actually easier to predict than baseball - the true strengths are farther apart - but the problem is that no one is impressed when a system says "Seattle will beat Oakland." They want to predict Denver versus Pittsburgh. Of course, no system would touch Den vs Pitt with a ten-foot pole.

I think one of the more interesting things to look at is the study I did on preseason/regular season performance. Take a look at the first graph. That's a graph of the point difference in the first game of a divisional series versus the point difference in the second game. What that graph says is basically this: every game that's decided by less than 7 points might as well be a coin flip. A win by, say, 3 tells you absolutely nothing about whether or not that team will win versus the same team again.

176
by Stillio (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 12:50am

164: I think you missed my point a little, but that was probably my fault for not elaborating. A lot of people earlier in the thread were all over Jax as a prime example of blowouts skewing DVOA, but nothing was said about SD having blowouts that were skewing DVOA. The fact is that all good teams get a blowout here and there in the course of a season and that's part of what makes them a good team. It seems like a lot of the posters want to call the Jags blowouts outliers but give other teams full credit for their blowouts all because of one game that 'proves' Jax isn't really that good. Jax has solidly beaten the #2, 10, and 12 DVOA teams and outplayed Indy in addition to their 2 blowouts. Basically, people are crying about how much the one game (NYJ) is boosting Jax, but they want one game (Hou) to ruin them. Seems a bit hypocritical to me.

177
by Andrew (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 12:53am

Kyle #126:

They had plenty of opportunities to win the game against New York. Of course, the fumble being recovered in the end zone by Tim Carter was luck. Nothing else in that game was.

Not only did the Giants recover their own fumble in the endzone after it bounced forwards 20 yards, they also recovered an Eagles fumble about 25 yards from the endzone which they turned into another 4th quarter touchdown. And since they didn't cause Trent Cole to kick McKenzie in the nuts, it was LUCKY FOR THEM to have it happen, even if it was not a matter of luck for the Eagles. It was also lucky for the Giants to have Rod Hood injured in the 4th quarter, and replaced by Joselio Hanson and Dexter Wynn playing their first bit of real coverage in about a year. It was also lucky for New York to recover ALL FOUR of their offensive fumbles during the game. It was also lucky for New York for Akers to miss a 49 yard field goal in the second quarter, something the Giants really had nothing to do with. Finally, they benefited from the lucky development of Stallworth and LJ Smith suddenly developing little hands of concrete in overtime and dropping passes put right on the money to them.

Furthermore, against New Orleans, your emphasis of the 3rd Down sack is too narrow a frame for the issue.

That's correct. People seem to forget New Orleans fortuitous recovery of a muffed punt return when Ryan Moats was blocked into Dexter Wynn in the late second quarter which lead to another Saints touchdown. That was an unlucky development.

A lucky play in the New York game put them in *striking distance* of tying the game, and from there on out they simply outplayed Philly.

Did we watch the same game or not? Are you aware of all of the factors I listed above, every single one of which had to break New York's way for them to barely win?

New Orleans, especially, irks me. People like to harp on the fact that the field goal was of the last second variety, but it did not come about from a frenzied 90 second drive.

But that wasn't what sunk the Eagles really. They were sunk by losing their special teams fumble in the 2nd quarter to go down 17-3. In addition, the Eagles failed to recover the Saints one offensive fumble. The 12 men on the field to negate the sack and force a punt with 3 minutes left would have helped, but the score was already tied at that point. Not giving up the short field fumble recovery touchdown was much more important.

178
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 12:55am

Still, the Eagles will have to actually run the ball to take advantage of this, and calling lots of run plays is not something Andy Reid is known for.

Aaron actually picked Philadelphia to win the Super Bowl in 2005. Why? Because Philly is a team that's basically built to attack linebackers, and Indianapolis does not have good linebackers. Now, granted, they've been far more down-the-field than they usually are (what the hell is up with that, Andy?!) but they've had multiple games this year where passes to RBs and TEs are a large component of the offense.

And while Indy's clear weakness is in run defense, they aren't too good at defending passes to tight ends and running backs, either. Or #2 WRs, either. Or #3 WRs. In other words, their defense looks like it can cover a grand total of 1 receiver.

This is not a good matchup when you're going against a team with 6 different receiving leaders in the first 6 weeks.

I'm desperately hoping Philly pulls itself together versus Washington and Tennessee, because Philly could easily be the one to bring down Indianapolis.

179
by SJM (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 1:15am

This comment was inspired by some Pats fan halfway down the page that I'm too lazy to check and cite:

Who will win the Super Bowl, based on current top 10 rankings?

Chi: Shaky QB
SD: Marty, need I say more? OK, I'll say it. 5-12 career playoff record, 0 SB appearences.
NYG: Shaky QB, D is hit hard by injuries
Phi: Might have the best chance (but are 4-4 and bad ST)
Bal: Poor O, McNair is old, Jamal sucks
Jax: Come on, get real
Indy: Lousy D and ST
NE: Flawed all-around, but have a shot
Den: Shaky QB
Dal: Romo looks solid, poor ST

Here are my totally subjective rankings for teams with a prayer of winning the Super Bowl:

1. Bal: Pretty much a toss-up with the Eagles. Would be better if they used Jamal less and his backups more.
2. Phi: Would be #1 except for .500 record so far (no home field)
3. NE: Belichik and Brady earn this
4. NYG: Best of the shaky QBs
5. Den: Virtual tie with #4
6. Dal: Romo looks like the real deal so far.
7. Chi: Come on, Grossman in the playoffs?
8-10: SD, Ind, Jax: No chance. SD can't overcome Marty, Ind can't overcome their D, Jax can't overcome themselves.
Everybody else: Right now, no chance. Some teams could jump in with major improvements.

OK I'm throwing this out there. (Interesting note: Three NFC East teams in my top 6.) So, am I wrong? Is it scary that Dallas is #6, and Bal and Phi are #1 and #2? I think so, but maybe it's just parity at work. Somewhere, Pete Rozelle is smiling.

180
by Kal (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 1:18am

#179: You've seen Romo go up against who, exactly? Dallas still has a shaky defense, Romo is an improvement but they still have not the best line, and they may not even make it to the playoffs. It's a small sample size. Take Romo's performances with a big grain of salt.

Also, Dallas has the TO factor combined with the Idiot Kicker. Good luck with that.

I'd take NO over Dallas easily. Much less Carolina.

181
by jonnyblazin (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 1:24am

Re: 179
At this point I've rationalized Billick's love of Jamal Lewis as a great strategy: work him like a horse this season until he gets injured, and then he gets a fresh Mike Anderson and Musa Smith for the stretch run and playoffs. Brilliant!

182
by kevinNYC (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 1:33am

As a Giants fan, I get a bit upset reading ANOTHER sob story about how the Giants were LUCKY to beat the Eagles. Where is the luck involved in Eli Manning completing his last 12 passes of the game, 13 of his last 15, and 16 of his last 19 attempts? After getting a 24-7 lead, how lucky were the Giants to hold the Eagles to 14 yards on their last 12 carries, including a stop on 4th & 1 and the Westbrook fumble?

I've yet to read anyone say "the Colts were lucky to beat the Giants". Did the Giants drop possible INTs on each of the Colts first three scoring drives which led to 13 points? Sure. Were the Giants on the bad end of an awful pass interference call late in the 4th quarter. Sure. That's football. You make your own "luck".

183
by david mazzotta (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 1:37am

The current spread on NO/PIT is PIT -5. Even considering the roughly 3.5 point home team adjustment, that still inidcates folks think PIT is the better team.

The betting public must be looking at DVOA or at least looking at something else that tries to compare quantitative performance versus won-loss/conventional wisdom/general impression.

184
by brian (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 1:49am

you guys have to be retarded. i thought the 2006 prospectus was refreshing and new, now i look at this and i just want to burn it. Indy has beat Jac, 5 times in a row maybe more. They have beat 3 out of the top 5 teams in the league all on the road. Indy is head and shoulders above every one. They're winning games against the best teams at 3 quarters strength without playing their best. And Chi town( talk about over rated. sorry grossman is not an elite quarterback in the weakest conference in the nfl) i am no longer visiting your site. Id like to see you guys put your money where your mouth is, but you guys couldn't do that because everyone of ya would be in a fuckin cardboard box

185
by Marko (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 1:50am

And consistent with the Steelers' disappointing season, Lynn Swann is going down in flames in the race for Governor in Pennsylvania.

186
by MdM (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 1:51am

Kevin,
easy answer to that one: The Giants were lucky to beat Philly, and unlucky to lose to Indy. Where's the conflict?

187
by TomC (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 1:54am

#166 - Ah, so it did. I love a site where people can talk in a rational and civilized manner about football but degenerate into raving, spittle-flecked zealots when the subject of copyright law arises.

(Come to think of it, didn't the same thing happen with contracts a while back? Better hope no one posts an Extra Point on Trusts and Estates.)

188
by admin :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 2:00am

All the individual stats pages should now be updated through Week 9. I really do wish I could actually respond to all the serious questions in these threads, but it's hard to sort through them and take the time to give fully-explained answers. I do appreciate the long-time readers who try to answer the basic questions about DVOA and the other stats, or point people to the FAQ or stuff like Guts and Stomps.

189
by SJM (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 2:01am

Re: 180

You are correct, I totally forgot about Dallas's OL and about TO, plus Romo has barely played. Put Dallas in the "no chance" category, at least until Romo puts together a resume.

I thought about including NO but they are only 13th in weighted DVOA (also 13th unweighted) and 20th in defense, and it's not like they have an unstoppable O. Put them and Car in the "Could make it with big improvements" category.

So that knocks it down to only 6 teams, including Chi, who could realistically win the SB at this point. Scary.

190
by Andrew (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 2:27am

KevinNYC #182:

As a Giants fan, I get a bit upset reading ANOTHER sob story about how the Giants were LUCKY to beat the Eagles. Where is the luck involved in Eli Manning completing his last 12 passes of the game, 13 of his last 15, and 16 of his last 19 attempts?

Why was he able to do this? Maybe because Philadelphia's #1 CB was out for the game, and the #3 CB (Hood) was knocked out of the game in the 4th quarter, leaving Manning to pick on the #'s 4 and 5 (Hanson and Wynn) when NY needed some last minute movement. And perhaps because on the last drive in overtime, Kearse had been knocked out of the game, disrupting the Philly D-line.

After getting a 24-7 lead, how lucky were the Giants to hold the Eagles to 14 yards on their last 12 carries, including a stop on 4th & 1 and the Westbrook fumble?

Well, my addition has 19 yards. Its not so much that the fumble was lucky, but the recovery of the fumble, and the fumble occuring in scoring position for the Giants. Its not like the Giants had shown any ability to move the ball consistently short of fumbling it into the endzone or recovering the ball in field goal range.

191
by Stillio (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 2:34am

179: "Come on, get real" is not football analysis. Last time I checked the only teams that have no chance of winning the Super Bowl are the 20 teams that don't make the playoffs. Jax should make the playoffs, therefore they have a chance. Now if you want real analysis of why they won't win the big game then here you go: they will need to win 3 in a row on the road in the AFC Playoffs and all of their inconsistency (1-3, Hou loss) has been on the road this year. That's analysis.

192
by Bobman (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 2:35am

Kevin,
Indy fan here, and I heard quite a bit how Indy was lucky to win that NYG game; I suspect I noticed it more because I am sensitive to it, like you are about the Philly game (though in all honesty, I've heard about that NYG/Phil game 1,000 times--sheesh! enough already!)

Regarding Indy's status, my gut tells me that #7 is too low and #1 or #2 is too high. The estimated wins rank at #5 looks about right, though I'd probably put them ahead of Bal at #4. I guess that's why they play them. But including their luck vs a past scehdule ranked #15 (8-0) and a future schedule ranked #19 (with an injured Pro-Bowl safety, a 1,000 yd WR, and maybe a starting DT returning to improve the team), it's safe to say they'll be better and finish with 14 wins and HFA. Probably not too many arguments there.

So what does that mean? Slightly more than a hill of beans. The teams most likely to be regular-season defeats IMHO are Philly (no true matchup advantage but a quality team that has had some unfortunate bounces against them and a shootout is not out of the question), and Jax (stout D, always plays Indy tough, in Jax, except missing Mike Pete, who always played his best vs Indy may spell the diff there). No D on the schedule really concerns me, so it's a matter of whose up-the-gut rushing is a threat. Jax's guys put a hurt on Indy once, and are a threat. Dal does not look like it. McGahee's hurt. Travis Henry? No. Rudi? Maybe, but his OL seems to be in a shambles. Wali Lundy? Unh-unh. Miami... mmmmaybe. So assume 13-14 wins and HFA.

Then we get to the playoffs: Teams with favorable matchups; SD, Den, NE. Indy has beaten two of them on the road (and has better DVOA), so at home I'd have to assume it'd be a slight favorite to both conventional prognosticators and FOers. SD and Juice-boy Merriman remain a nightmare for me. I have not seen enough of them--if Manning gets a little time can he light their secondary up?

Will their ST coverage failures kill them? Maybe. Wilkins has proven to be able to even things out, so far. AV is a fine kicker and Hunter Smith an unheralded but VG punter. (At his rate, about 20 punts per season, he might be punting into his 80s! If it comes to a field position war of trading punts, Smith is probably top 5 in the AFC for that and Shane Lechler ain't making the post season!)

If Indy has learned anything from last year's post-season home failures and improves so that its second half YPC against is under 5.0, I say they have a legit shot at reaching the SB--certainly as good as anyone else, and probably better. And I don't see anyone in the NFC beating them there.

Even other Indy fans are being wisely pessimistic. I was three days ago, but I'm finally allowing myself to enjoy their season. Okay, I set myself up as an easy target. Let the pummeling begin.

193
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 2:49am

I think there are six teams where conventional football fandom and DVOA would disagree significantly.

Philly, Pittsburgh, and Jacksonville might seem too high. Indianapolis, New Orleans, and Atlanta might seem too low.

The Eagles are obviously way better than their record. Let's not beat a dead horse.

Jacksonville has the "blowout problem." I just wonder why their loss to the Texans hasn't hurt their DVOA more.

Pittsburgh and New Orleans, I think, can be addressed together. Suppose your favorite team had to win the next game to get into the playoffs. Would you want them playing 6-2 New Orleans or 2-6 Pittsburgh? It's a hard question. The truth is these teams are about equally dangerous.

Indianapolis and Atlanta have some pretty glaring weaknesses that I think should be readily apparent to anyone who wants to see them.

All in all, I feel like DVOA's only pdd result is Jacksonville. Even the strange Pittsburgh rating isn't as crazy as it looks.

194
by Bobman (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 2:52am

Woah, am I reading the DL stats page right? In the second table, the ALY against the DLs, Indy's Right DE (Freeney) is ranked #1 in ALY at 0.23. When the second ranked team at that position, Oakland, is 2.00. Can this be right, or a typo? Does this mean other teams are just flat-out avoiding his sector of the field? Julius Peppers is ranked #10 at 3.09 ALY.

If these numbers are right, that is amazing and certainly indicates Freeney is a monster DE--the most valuable in teh league, despite only a half sack this season. I'd love it to be true, but it just doesn't look right to me.

Help!

195
by Bobman (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 2:59am

Yaguar,
Using your logic above, and nothing else, can you rank the top ten teams? If you were a generic football team landing here form another planet, whom would you least like to face?

I have an Indy bias that you seem to have overcome (you damn, rational Vulcan! I'm a doctor, Jim, not a statistician!), but I'd probably say:

SD, NE, Indy, Chi, Den, Bal, Philly, NYG, NO and maybe Jax/Atl for #10. Pitt doesn't make my cut.

How close are we?

196
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 3:03am

194: Bobman, they're a league best at runs listed as "left end." If I understand correctly, those are runs that try to go around Freeney. As you can imagine, that's not a good idea; with June and Freeney on that side, the Colts have too much speed for effective running. Much better would be to run directly at Freeney (left tackle). On those runs, the Colts rank a poor 23rd.

Also, Freeney's a liability on runs up the middle, where the Colts are the league's worst. Some DEs are much more helpful against the run up the middle.

197
by Stillio (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 3:03am

193: see my post at 176. Jax hasn't had just one blowout that's distorting things. They've had 2 blowouts and 4 other good games against pretty good competition. How much do you want one game to penalize them? Seriously, I'm curious at this point.

198
by centrifuge (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 3:06am

183: I think there might be a significant bit of Gambler's Fallacy floating around, whispering that Pittsburgh is "due." "Due" for what, I couldn't say -- due to run out of bullets in the gun pointed at its collective feet, perhaps.

199
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 3:13am

195 - I think the teams to watch are the first eight you listed. There's a decent gap between the eight very good teams and everyone else. They comprise eight of DVOA's top nine.

New Orleans, Kansas City, Jacksonville, and Dallas are the best of the rest.

200
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 3:23am

197: It's not just the Houston game. (Which really was terrible.) The defense fell apart in the Redskins game. In the Dallas game, the Jags got a lot of help from magic self-destructo-Bledsoe, although credit is due for triggering his self-destruct mechanism. In the Pittsburgh game, the offense was nowhere to be found.

The win against Philly and the loss to Indy were both fairly impressive to me.

Good football team? Yes. Consistent? No. Top six in the league? No.

201
by Bobman (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 3:29am

196 Okay, thanks. But the sheer numerical disparity is monstrous. Wait.. just as I was about to say no other #1 ranking is below 2.00, then I see Baltimore's LDE ranked #1 at a NEGATIVE 2.94 ALY.

Okay, I love Dwight and all, but -2.94 so thoroughly kicks the ass of its next closest competitor (Freeney's 0.23), that I am in awe. It is 172% better than the NFL mean for LDE. Freeney's is merely 94% better the mean.

Those two rankings aside, only two others on the whole chart are below 2.00 for ALY anywhere.

202
by Richard (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 3:31am

192: If Manning got some time, I imagine he could pick the Chargers' secondary apart, but the secondary is improved from last year and I'm not terribly confident he'd get the time.

203
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 3:34am

I think some of those ALY rankings must have microscopic sample sizes.

204
by Stillio (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 3:41am

Fair enough, Yaguar. But allow me to rebutt. Magic self-destructo Bledsoe only threw 3 INT in that game, which is a lot less help than some teams have had from quaterbacks like Tom Brady and Big Ben this year. The offensive struggle in the Pit game probably had something to do with the #4 DVOA defense on the other side of the field. (side note: I was there for that game and it was an absolute classic if you like defensive football) As for the defensive breakdown in the Was game: I have no explanation, but as a team it wasn't a bad game and we woulda/shoulda/coulda won so I don't see how Philly gets a pass for it's bad luck but Jax doesn't. Indy has had two very close games against less than stellar competition, and so has Chicago. How is the Hou loss for Jax any worse than Chi losing to Mia like it did in Chicago? I'm certainly not arguing that Jax deserves to be any higher than sixth, but I can't understand all the apologizing for teams like Philly, Indy and Chicago while the Jags get dismissed.

205
by stan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 3:45am

69,

"Some people are just so dumb that they fail to observe that other people are much more clever than them."

should be " more clever than they"

Sorry. Just couldn't help it.

206
by randplaty (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 3:52am

#202 #192 According to adjusted sack rate, the SD pass rush is even better than last year which means Manning may get less time than last year. Couple that with a better secondary?

207
by Richard (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 4:01am

206: As a Charger fan, I refuse to believe we're the favorite to win any game. Not because I think the team isn't good, but because our teams have always lost and I'm used to it.

Unrelated: Pit, ATL and Philly have gotten a lot of attention for their DVOA not being in line with public perception (read: mainstream power ratings), but I haven't noticed anyone discussing that DVOA is far less fond of Seattle than the aforementioned mainstream power ratings.

208
by Richard (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 4:04am

206: Perhaps they could run on us?

209
by dbt (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 4:19am

For those of you still reading, I updated the chart somewhat. The url is less retarded and the baseline/scale changes to according to the data so you can see groupings a little more.

Bears still #1! In special teams...

210
by hector (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 4:23am

The Eagles have clearly played better than their 4-4 record, no doubt. But 10 projected wins looks very optimistc to me, given the remaining schedule, mainly the final six games (at Indy, Carolina, at Washington, at NYG, at Dallas, Atlanta). The Eagles should beat Washington at home this week but I wouldn't consider it the lock of the century. This looks like 9-7 or 8-8 to me, no playoffs.

211
by randplaty (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 5:23am

#208 The Chargers run defense is worse than last year according to DVOA, but the Colts run offense is also worse than last year.

But the Colts pass offense is way better than it was last year according to DVOA.

Of course according to DVOA this year the Chargers are a significantly better team than the Colts, but who knows. This matchup may never happen this year.

212
by RecoveringPackerFan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 6:43am

Probably been tried, but does adding a "finishing factor" in addition to the close second half factor of Forest Index seem like a possible improvement? Indy brings this up; their two-minute drill is superb, and they have, off the top of my head, won at least two games (NYJ and DEN) with Manning setting up last-minute scores. Some sort of further adjustment for performance at the ends of close games, in both scoring with limited time and stopping opponents/running clock and forcing TOs, seems like it might provide a further refinement of the estimated wins system. Of course, the sample here is absolutely miniscule and probably fairly random (although no-huddle teams would presumably be better offensively).

213
by Bobman (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 6:54am

205
Stan, that is so excellent. I keep harping to my 6 and 4 year-olds that it's "more clever than they ARE" (well, son, you wouldn't say more clever than THEM are, would you?) but I suspect even their teachers mangle it and in 25 years, common usage will essentially trump the old rules in that regard. (i.e. if you speak by the rules but nobody understands you, you are not communicating effectively. ugh.)

Also, recognizing that kids in the playground have their own speech patterns and vocab, I gave them permission to tak to their friends whatever way works best, but to talk to adults "right." I hope that during FO's 15th anniversary season, I don't find myself correcting the discussion thread grammar of Markman16 and Lukeman14! (Their responses will be "Dad, it's two in the freakin' morning, go to bed already!" which I am now doing. buenos noches.)

214
by James C (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 8:43am

#205

Well I left myself wide open for that.

215
by Sergio (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 9:31am

Um... Aaron...

Why do you say there is no second-round pick for the Phins next year? Culpepper was charged *this* year...

216
by Malene, cph (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 9:48am

Hey Bobman and Yaguar; well, Baltimores sort of the same issue as Ind there, isn't it?

Suggs/Scott looks like sort of the same combo as Freeney/June to me; lots of speed, committed to the pass rush = in the backfield quickly.
Also I bet it helps that they know they HAVE to tackle behind the LOS, otherwise Ray Lewis will come and claim their tackles as his own...

217
by Paralis (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 10:06am

205:

Should it? Shakespeare, Samuel Johnson, and (for something more contemporary, the 2006-published) Cambridge Grammar of English all disagree.

wikipedia takes a limited, neutral stance on the issue but has a listing for the question under Disputes in English Grammar: Comparison.

218
by Paralis (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 10:08am
219
by Parker (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 11:01am

Okay, I stopped reading at post 36 but I will make the same comment that I have made before.

Wasn't DVOA originally designed to give us a better sense of what had already happened, and not so much to predict what will happen?

So DVOA doesn't really say that the Bears are, right now, the best team in the league. It says that the Bears, up to now, have been performing the best, on a play by play basis, adjusted for opponent strength.

220
by Brooklyn Bengal (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 11:21am

"championship teams are generally defined by their ability to easily win games over inferior teams."

let me get this straight...Philadelphia and Jacksonville are ranked so high -- in part -- because of their abilities to blow out inferior opponents.

*snicker*

i do like the dvoa rankings a lot, and i understand the ideas behind them. however, it seems to me that teams like pittsburgh, atlanta, cincinnati, jacksonville and philadelphia are all performing around the same level. it's tough for me to believe that pittsburgh has played at 15% higher dvoa level than atlanta when the two teams played to a statistical standstill. add to that w-l over common opponents...

221
by Andrew (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 11:38am

Hector #210:

The Eagles have clearly played better than their 4-4 record, no doubt. But 10 projected wins looks very optimistc to me, given the remaining schedule, mainly the final six games (at Indy, Carolina, at Washington, at NYG, at Dallas, Atlanta).

The record of the Eagles opponents up till now - 31-33. The record of Eagles opponents to come not named the Colts - 27-29. I don't see the 2nd half schedule as anymore particularly difficult than the first half. There is no reason they couldn't go 7-1 through that schedule if they put their minds and bodies to it, just like if they had been concentrating and had ordinary luck, they'd probably be 7-1 right now.

222
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 11:42am

#220: Atlanta's variance is huge. They've got a tremendous ability to look like a great team (vs Pittsburgh) and then they lost to the freaking Lions. Atlanta, when they're "on", are definitely a good team. Probably a top 10 team. When they're off, though, they're one of the worst teams in the league.

And is it just me, or are there a ton of bipolar teams this year? Atlanta, Jacksonville, Chicago, Kansas City, and Pittsburgh can alternately look like world-beating teams one week and look like they're fighting for the top draft pick the next.

223
by Charlie (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 11:49am

Surely it should be "Some people are just so dumb that they fail to observe that other people are much cleverer than they are" rather than "more clever"?

224
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 11:51am

What I find puzzling has nothing to do with DVOA which I find straightforward and extremely useful.

Instead, it's folks both in the national media AND here who keep referring to the Packers as "awful", "horrible", and "really bad".

eblack's comment earlier in this thread is a quick example of the adjectives used. And I don't understand since the Packers have been below average but NOT "awful", etc.

Do people just not use the language correctly? Or is there something about the team that is obvious to everyone else but not me wearing my green tinted glasses?

Because I see a team that has made real strides on offense, has been a bit unlucky with the turnovers, has played an above average schedule, and overall is a competitive team.

Maybe it's all a house of cards. And the Buffalo game is a precursor of the rest of the season where GB marches up and down the field only to gack away games by giving the opposition easy points.

If I AM missing something I would appreciate the insight.

225
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 11:52am

Oh, and the reason why most power rankings have Philly low is simple. Philly's lost their last three games, and for some reason, people think that's worse than, say, Dallas, which has alternated win-loss over the entire year.

That'd be a really neat study for someone to do, too: show that there's no difference between a team winning three, then losing three, and a team who alternates win, loss, win, loss. And for those who think that it is worse to lose three in a row due to the "emotional drag" or whatever, I think you'd be very surprised about the results. I really, really doubt it will matter.

226
by chris clark (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 12:48pm

re: dbt

Thanks! The chart works better for me now, and I can clearly see the clusterings! Also, it doesn't become a jumble, although now it loses the colors after the redisplay. As a software person myself, I know how hard it is to get *all* the details to line up, especially when you can't see the symptoms yourself. (Moreover, it's probably just as good that I can't have too much fun with it, as I do have a job....)

227
by SJM (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 12:54pm

Re: 191

In looking at 10 teams on a spur-of-the-moment analysis, I'm not going to be able to say brilliant things about each one. So:

Along the same lines as your correct analysis of Jax's struggles on the road, they are #1 in variance (meaning they are very inconsistent). They don't know who their top QB or top RB are. They essentially have an identity crisis on both sides of the ball. I just can't see a team with that kind of inconsistency going deep in the playoffs.

Frankly, I'm shocked that no one seems to disagree that Bal and Phi have the best chance to win the SB of anybody in the league. I have trouble believing it myself.

228
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 1:35pm

Re: 224

I think you probably right that it's a language thing. They're clearly not in the same catagory of garbage as Tennessee, Arizona Oakland & San Fran. But I think subjectively, most people look at GB as being in the same tier as the Buffalos and Clevelands of the world.

Here is my COMPLETELY subjective 'tiering' at the midway point (in no particular order within the tiers).

Unwatchable:
Tennesee, Arizona, Oakland

Slightly Better Than Crap:
SanFran, Houston, Miami, Detroit

Only Pretty Bad:
Tampa, NYJets, Cleveland, Buffalo, Washington, and GB

Meh:
Seattle, Atlanta, Minny, StLouis

Dangerous But Still Not All That Good:
Cincy, Pit, KC

Very Good But Not Quite Great:
Carolina, NO, Dallas, Denver, NE, Jax, Baltimore

Men-Among-Boys:
Chicago, SD, Philly, NYGiants, Indy

229
by Jim Maron (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 1:39pm

Can someone provide me with some historical perspective as to the strength of the top teams this year in terms of their DVOA ratings in the mid thirties?

Thanks,

230
by Sid (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 1:50pm

RE: 63

Yes. San Diego and Baltimore are also pretty good, but they don't match what the Bears have done.

The argument against them is "Look how they played against Arizona and Miami. They must not be much good."

Every team has bad games, especially when flying out to the West. Every year their are a number of games where NFC West teams play well over their heads at home (and way below their potential on the road). I expected Arizona-Chicago to be close, and not because I didn't think Chicago was good.

The Colts played poorly against the Titans and Jets, and have not been as good otherwise as the Bears. I don't know if the Colts are 7th, but they definitely wouldn't be in my top 3.

231
by Rick (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 2:27pm

Re: 228
Very weak: Oak, Ten, Hou, AZ, Buf, Cle
Occasionally dangerous: Mia, SF, Det, TB, GB
Mediocre: Jets, Was, Pit
Inconsistent: Dal, Min, Sea
Good: Atl, Jax, NYG, NO, Car, KC, Cin, StL
Very good, but flawed: Chi, Den, SD, NE, PHI, Bal
Best, but not that great: Ind

So yeah, _somebody_ should beat the Colts and their historically weak defense. But nobody really sticks out as the team to do that. My gut feeling is that the Chargers are the best candidate, but there's good ol' Marty on the sideline.

232
by hector (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 2:59pm

Re: 221

I did a very quick and dirty strength-of-schedule calc for the Eagles, then and now, using just the weighted DVOA rank. First eight games comes out to a total of 134; second eight games is at 126 (with the Colts grossly placed at 7, okay I'll stop now ; )

Maybe I need to trust the numbers more and not rely on what the common sense in my head tells me. I look at Philly's schedule and think they probably lose at Indy, and they probably at best split the road games with the Giants and Dallas. Then to go to 6-2 you're asking them to sweep Washington and take care of home business with Atlanta and Carolina. I'll give them the Tennessee game. I guess I just view three straight division games on the road as a daunting thing, not to mention the Indy trip and very losable games with the Falcons and Panthers.

Am I nuts to think that the Panthers and Cowboys also could be sleepers with respect to what the numbers spit out since Carolina is taxed for the non-Smith games, and the Cowboys are weighed down by the Bledsoe starts? I have no emotional ties to either team, but these are clubs I don't think anyone wants to play, 4-4 record by damned. Mind you Philly is in the same file.

233
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 3:02pm

Re: 229

You can go to "Just the Stats" and check "Team Efficiency" back until 1998.

Just to recap:

2005
Ind 33.50%
Den 30.70%

2004
NE 35.70%
Pit 34.80%
Ind 33.80%
Buf 29.80%

2003
NONE

2002
TB 34.00%

2001
StL 38.50%

2000
Ten 37.40%
Bal 30.20%

1999
StL 45.80%
Jax 34.80%

1998
Den 29.80%

234
by Andrew (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 3:35pm

SJM #227:

Frankly, I’m shocked that no one seems to disagree that Bal and Phi have the best chance to win the SB of anybody in the league. I have trouble believing it myself.

Of the teams with a realisitic shot of making the Super Bowl, only the Ravens, Eagles, Patriots, Panthers, and Giants have any depth of personnel experience doing so in the playoffs (I don't thik the Seahawks are strong enough as is to make it through the playoffs). So saying the Eagles and Ravens look like good shots to do so isn't unreasonable.

235
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 3:37pm

I look at Philly’s schedule and think they probably lose at Indy

I can't figure out why in the world people think this. Philly matches up extremely well with Indy. It's one of the great travesties of the recent NFL that we haven't gotten this game since 2002 (when they were both very, very different teams).

236
by hector (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 3:43pm

235, you are probably right, I'm probably not giving the Eagles their realistic shot at this game. They have the right puzzle pieces to challenge the Colts anywhere. Not that I'm going to assume the Eagles win or anything, but they have a shot.

237
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 3:54pm

Everyone always treats the Patriots as the great matchup for the Colts, because, well, they've played them every year. But Philly's defense is just as complicated (and Peyton Manning hasn't seen it like what, 6 times now) and easily capable of putting pressure on Indy, and their offense is built to attack Indy's defense, which is predicated on turnovers - and regardless of what people remember from the Tampa Bay game, McNabb rarely throws interceptions.

Plus Indy's bread and butter - play-action - is designed to draw safeties in to open up deep passes. If Philly's not retarded, the deep safety will be Brian Dawkins, who won't be so easily fooled.

Like I said, Philly matches up very well with the Colts. That should be a great game. Manning's a lot of fun to watch in games when he's down, regardless of what people think.

238
by Mnotr (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 4:04pm

#237

If real-life is anything like Madden and Jim Johnson has a good gameplan, be prepared to see Manning get rocked a few times just as he's finishing his play fake.

239
by jonnyblazin (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 4:06pm

re: 230
I'm not sure how you can put the Bears in the top three, if you take as a given that their special teams play will come back to earth (+11.7% is unsustainable), they aren't going to be in the gang of 4 at the end of the season (especially considering Grossman's weaknesses are starting to be exposed).

240
by Bobman (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 4:07pm

Rick, #231, I feel about the same way as you do. But MartyBall and their LBs do match up well against Indy. Ahem, too well for my taste.

Wanker79, Love your categories.

I don't think Philly matches up that well against Indy: Indy's glaring weakness is against power rushing up the gut. Westbrook? I don't think so. Indy is pretty good against opposing RBs catching the ball, and okay against the pass in general (VG against #1WRs, and a bit below avg on the rest). I'd call it roughly even, assuming Bob Sanders is in the lineup. I won't bother comparing anybody's D with Indy's O because I don't think it matters. It may sound arrogant, but Denver and NE were both good D's that got more or less lit up (benefitted by TOs in one case and Darrent Williams in another). Indy did well against NYG what seems like eons ago too.

It looks like the edge goes to Indy, about the same as it might have against Den or NE--not to say a blowout, but an Indy 3-7 pt win is a pretty high probability. I don't think it looks terribly hopeful for Philly. They have as good a shot as anybody and better than most, but the odds aren't great.

241
by Mnotr (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 4:26pm

#239

The Bears O ranks #21st. Is that too high? I don't think so, not with a decent O-line, decent RBs, decents wideouts, and a QB who can make a few throws. Their place in the top 4 looks merited.

242
by jonnyblazin (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 4:50pm

Even if the offense maintains their ranking, when the special teams % dips 5 points, they'll be closer to BAL then to SD, NYG, PHI.
Their offense can certainly improve, but also regress. I agree that most of the offense is competent, but Grossman has very poor fundamentals, which is fine against bad teams, but he wildly slings the ball off his back foot much too often. The fact that MIA and ARZ took advantage of this suggest real NFL teams probably will in the future as well.

243
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 5:04pm

It may sound arrogant, but Denver and NE were both good D’s that got more or less lit up

What do Denver and New England have in common, that Philadelphia does not? Both of them have a weaker-than-average pass rush this year.

244
by Bobman (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 5:20pm

Pat,
Ahhh, I am beginning to see.

Is Philly's pass rush from the DL or LBs? (Showing my NFC cluelessness, do they run a 3-4 or 4-3 or hybrid?). If they run a 4-3 and only use their DL, they're in good shape to defend the pass vs Indy with 7 men. If they rely on blitzes, I wouldn't count on too much success. If they run a 3-4 with crazy LB stunts and movement, history says they'll do well, but then again, it could be a toss-up. Indy faced that scheme a handful of times in the past 18 games: NE last year (W), Pitt reg season last year (W), SD (L), Pitt in playoffs (L), NYJ (W), and NE this year (W). Call the NYJ game a tie, and the others are offsetting as well.

You saw what he did to Denver with time in the pocket, and even what he did to NE with very little time.

I am sure a lot of key players have changed, but Manning had a perfect game vs Philly on the road in 2002 (I think), with James Mungro at RB. Freeney had a few sacks and a couple FFs in the mix. It would be the same Indy O, more or less, with an improved Manning and Wayne, against a Philly D that is similar(?) better(?) worse(?) I don't know.

245
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 5:27pm

If they run a 4-3 and only use their DL, they’re in good shape to defend the pass vs Indy with 7 men.

Ding ding. That's exactly it. In fact, virtually all of Philly's sacks this year have come from their defensive line, and Philly is one of the teams leading the NFL in sacks. Philly had 8 sacks versus the Giants for instance. All of them came from defensive linemen.

246
by Kal (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 5:32pm

What do Denver and New England have in common, that Philadelphia does not? Both of them have a weaker-than-average pass rush this year.

Indy isn't bad against a good pass rush. They're bad against a team that can get pressure with 4 or 5 guys. Or at least they had been; this year, I'm not so sure that's the case.

Now, where Philly does match up well is on their total wacky blitz packages that may confuse the Colts, but where they fail is on pass coverage, particularly on covering more than one good receiver. And it's in Indy. I think it'll be a shootout and primarily decided on Westbrook's running and long passes by McNabb.

247
by Kyle (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 5:44pm

Andrew, now you're simply pointing to any and every occurrence that happened in these Philadelphia Eagles losses that can be excused as luck. How about Philly getting lucky that they wound up benefitting from the single worst game the New York offensive line played all year? The other 7 games are stark contrasts to the game they played against Philly.

I assume, however, you claim this solely to be a testament to Philly's ability to dominate with their defense, rather than catching a team playing poorly. Of course I'm not claiming that pure fortune alone gave Philly such a tremendous rush from the edges against McKenzie and Petitigout, but I find to be as absurd as your arguments.

Being perfectly honest, its appalling that you excuse the poor execution of your football team as simply poor luck, and rather than giving any team you've lost to credit, its simply Philly beating themselves. Fandom should never blind someone to the truth.

248
by DavidH (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 5:50pm

239, 241, 242:
Grossman's passing lines sorted by opponent DVOA:

Opp DVOA Score QBRat Comp Att Yds TD Int Sack Fum
@ MIN -5.6 W 19-16 64.9 23 41 278 1 2 1 0
BUF 0 W 40-7 101.2 15 27 182 2 0 1 0
@ ARI 0.5 W 24-23 10.2 14 37 144 0 4 2 2
MIA 0.9 L 13-31 36.8 18 42 210 1 3 3 1
@ GNB 7.2 W 26-0 98.6 18 26 262 1 1 1 0
SEA 13 W 37-6 100.5 17 31 232 2 0 1 0
SFO 24.3 W 41-10 137.4 23 29 252 3 0 0 1
DET 30.1 W 34-7 148 20 27 289 4 0 0 1

Sorry if that is hard to read, but here's a quick summary that makes johnnyblazin's point:

Against teams with pass defenses worse than 1.0%: 10 TD, 1 INT
0% to 1%: 3 TD, 7 INT
better than 0%: 1 TD, 2 INT

Now look at the teams Grossman faces the rest of the year:
NYG -14.7
NYJ 17.3
NE 9.4
MIN -5.6
STL 7.6
TB 7.7
DET 30.1
GNB 7.2

Looks like he should have a couple terrible games, the Bears will still win a lot, then once he faces another good pass D in the playoffs, the season will be over.

Also, I think I just convinced myself to put some money on the Giants this week.

249
by dbt (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 5:54pm

The bears offense is ranked 21st and the defense has lost one of their major playmakers and a second is at least walking wounded if not going to miss a couple games. They could well crash and burn in the next couple of weeks in DVOA.

#226: Fixed. I usually only test stuff on firefox before I push, so IE bugs aren't found as quickly. Thanks for the report.

250
by DavidH (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 5:57pm

OK, maybe it makes more sense just to do an even split, instead of that stupid 0%-1% category.

vs worse than 1%
78/113 (69.0%) ... 1035 yds (9.2 YPA), 10 td, 1 int ... 123.6 rating

vs better than 1%
70/147 (47.6%) ... 814 yds (5.5 YPA), 4 td, 9 int ... 48.4 rating

251
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 5:58pm

Now, where Philly does match up well is on their total wacky blitz packages that may confuse the Colts,

Philly won't go blitz-happy. There's no point - you won't sack him, he's got too fast a release. They'll play Peyton as they played Brett Favre. Let the DL do its job, and the LBs and safeties will drop in coverage.

How about Philly getting lucky that they wound up benefitting from the single worst game the New York offensive line played all year?

I don't think it's a coincidence that New York's offensive line's worst day came against the best defensive line they faced.

252
by DavidH (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 6:27pm

I wanted to see if other QB's had huge differences in their performance vs good and vs bad defenses, so I looked at the QB's just better and just worse than Grossman in DPAR (15th) and DVOA (17th):

(btw, 1% happens to be the dividing line between top half and bottom half of the passing defense DVOA's)

Pennington (16th in DPAR, 19th in DVOA)
vs top half:
57/103 (55.3%) ... 537 yds (5.2 YPA), 3 td, 5 int ... 59.4 rating
vs bottom half:
19/115 (68.7%) ... 1021 yds (8.9 YPA), 6 td, 3 int ... 102.1 rating

Carr (14th in DPAR, 16th in DVOA)
vs top half:
101/147 (68.7%) ... 966 yds (6.6 YPA), 4 td, 3 int ... 87.3 rating
vs bottom half:
56/76 (73.7%) ... 540 yds (7.1 YPA), 5 td, 2 int ... 104.1 rating

Plummer (19th in DPAR, 18th in DVOA)
vs top half:
60/110 (54.5%) ... 644 yds (5.9 YPA), 5 td, 3 int ... 75.7 rating
vs bottom half:
57/107 (53.3%) ... 741 yds (6.9 YPA), 3 td, 4 int ... 69.1 rating

So Grossman is the most extreme out of these. I think that would worry me come playoff time, since he has shown no ability to play against a good defense.

Of course, he's only played one pass defense rated better than 0 by DVOA, so it's not like he's had a lot of chances.

253
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 6:36pm

#250: That's the most damning statement I've seen regarding Grossman yet. Man. That's just awful.

Why wasn't anyone noticing this when people were touting him as the next Tom Brady/Peyton Manning?

254
by chris clark (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 6:58pm

re 249: bug free

255
by Jim (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 7:22pm

233 - thanks for the info. Teams don't seem as dominant to me as they did when I first started watching in the 70's. I wonder how those teams would have stacked up in DVOA?

I do remember thinking the Rams in 1999 were about the scariest team I ever saw.

256
by Peter (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 7:31pm

So we're predicting a Jaguars/Chiefs tie?

257
by BillWallace (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 7:34pm

DVOA is right on all counts in my opinion.

Jacksonville is really that good.
Seattle is really that bad, etc etc

258
by Kal (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 8:05pm

#256: he's saying that it's too close to call right now. I think he says that in both the commentary at Fox and here.

#253: people actually compared Grossman to Brady and Manning? Okay, that's fair. I could make a comparison like "Brady and Manning, like Grossman, are QBs in the NFL". But actual, say, talent? Ugh. He's just not that good.

259
by Andrew (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 8:15pm

Kyle #247:

Andrew, now you’re simply pointing to any and every occurrence that happened in these Philadelphia Eagles losses that can be excused as luck.

Not at all. Things like injuries, fumble recoveries and length of field goals made or missed by opposing kickers are essentially non-skill related and are blind luck or cannot be affect by the opposing team. Similarly, if a player drops a catchable pass without being touched, generally the other team had nothing to do with it - its lucky for the other team, but poor skill by the drop team.

How about Philly getting lucky that they wound up benefitting from the single worst game the New York offensive line played all year?

You are confusing luck with skill here.

Being perfectly honest, its appalling that you excuse the poor execution of your football team as simply poor luck, and rather than giving any team you’ve lost to credit, its simply Philly beating themselves.

Not so at all. Opposing teams that took advantage of Michael Lewis in coverage, for example, deserve all the credit they should get for the touchdowns they scored.

OTOH, the bounce of a fumbled football is essentially random. For Philadelphia to recover only 1/3 of the fumbles it and its opponents have had is poor luck. In the Giants game, to have the Giants recover every single one of 5 fumbles which occurred is very bad luck for the Eagles. If just one of those fumbles was recovered by the Eagles (let alone two or three), the Giants lose.

For the Giants to beat the Eagles it took a confluence of bad luck for the Eagles (not recovering any fumbles), as well as good luck for the Giants that involved poor skill play by the Eagles (Eagles missing a field goal, Eagles dropping passes), and good luck for the Giants with respect to injuries (Hood and Kearse being injured in the 4th quarter and overtime), and good luck for the Giants on Eagles mistakes (the kick to the nuts). All of these things had to break the Giants way for them to win. If any one or two of these things went the other way, they lose.

260
by dnm (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 8:43pm

Hey Aaron,

I understand the desire to defend the seemingly counter-intuitive ranking for the Colts, but the way you use Pythagorean projections in your commentary for the Fox version of DVOA this week seems a little disingenuous. It makes little sense to compare Indy's PP after 8 games (and right after what should be the two toughest games on their schedule) to the '72 Dolphins PP for the whole season. If, for example, you compared the 2006 Colts after 6 games (i.e., before Denver and NE) to the '72 Dolphins after 6, you get a PP of .68 for the Colts and a PP of .71 for the Dolphins. The Dolphins still look better, but it's a lot closer. And, if we are talking not about the likelihood of a perfect season, but of a Super Bowl win, a more reasonable comparison might be between the 2006 Colts after 8 games (.67) and the 2001 Pats after 8 (.56), or between this year's Colts after 8 games and last year's Super Bowl champion Steelers after 8 (.68).

261
by Rollo (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 8:51pm

My 2cp on Jax - if you give them one mulligan (Houston) then suddenly they look like a top team. The Texans always play the Jags well, and Jacksonville consistently blows them off. I think the Jags are a relatively young team with a young coach, who have really taken on the fanbase's need to be thought of as a contendor. Until the team convinces themselves they are the team to beat instead of chippy underdogs, Del Rio won't be able to prevent some severe rollercoaster emotional ups and downs (which is partially his fault as well). Real posteseason success requires a more established passing game, less key injuries, and at least a game at home I think, although if Garrard and Jones get hot they could be plucky this year.

262
by NF (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 9:50pm

I think in the end, unless the Jacksonville passing offense gets really bad or the defense collapses, it will turn out not to matter if the Jaguars are as good as DVOA says they are. They are not that far from #10 in the ranges of DVOA, and they are the least consistent team in the league by DVOA. It is unlikely that they'll amount to much this year beyond a wild card spot unless they can play more consistently.

263
by Erik Smith (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 10:01pm

Re: 40, Richard. Thanks for that!

264
by Sid (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 11:54pm

RE: 140

DVOA didn't "fail" because a lower-ranked team won. However, you have officially failed the Football Outsiders comprehension test. Good day, sir.

265
by NF (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 1:12am

I just did a quick check of teams that finished in the top 7 of DVOA and the top 5 of variance

2004:

Buffalo (9-7) 4th in DVOA, 2nd in variance
Philadelphia (13-3) 6th in DVOA, 4th in variance
[Denver (10-6) just misses with 7th DVOA and 6th variance]

2002:

Miami (9-7) 4th in DVOA, 3rd in variance
Kansas City (8-8) 5th in DVOA, 4th in variance
[Atlanta (9-6-1) was 7th in DVOA and 6th in variance]

2000:

Pittsburgh (9-7) 7th in DVOA, 4th in variance

1999:

Buffalo (11-5) 6th in DVOA, 3rd in variance

1998:

New York Jets (12-4) 4th in DVOA, #1 variance
Miami (10-6) #6 DVOA, #5 variance

Looking at that list, you have the 2004 Buffalo team that became world-beaters down the stretch then missed the playoffs because they lost to Pittsburgh's second-stringers. You also have the 2004 Eagles that rested its starters for 2 games. The 2002 Dolphins missed the playoffs because they lost their last game of the season to the Patriots. The Chiefs missed the playoffs but played well in 2003. 2002 Atlanta defeated Green Bay on the road before being destroyed by the Eagles in Philadelphia. The 1998 Jets and Dolphins both lost to Denver in the playoffs. 3 of the Jets regualr-season losses were against teams that finished below .500. Two of those teams, the Rams and Colts, were great teams the following year. All of the Dolphins losses were against teams that finished over .500.

I feel like there is a pattern here that I am missing. The only one of these teams to make the Super Bowl was Philadelphia. Maybe a comparison between these teams and teams that finished in the top 7 of DVOA and bottom 5 of variance might help: 1998 Bills, 1999 Titans, 2001 Raiders, 2002 Broncos, 2004 Colts, 2005 Colts, 2005 Chargers.

I think I'm on to something, but I also think I am making a mistake using rankings instead of values. I don't know what I'm on to, but let's take a quick look using the following semi-arbitrary criteria:

DVOA greater than 19.0%, variance greater than 19.0%: 2005 Chiefs, Redskins; 2004 Bills, Eagles, Broncos; 2003 Packers; 2002 Dolphins, Chiefs; 2001 49ers; 2000 Ravens, Buccaneers, Colts; 1998 Jets.

DVOA greater than 19.0%, variance less than 13.1%: 2005 Colts, Chargers; 2004 Colts, Jets, Chargers; 2001 Eagles; 1999 Rams; 1998 Broncos, Vikings.

Forget about it, these data sets are basically the same. If we had DVOA for every season since 1979 then there might be a large enough data set to look at the extremes and learn something.

I don't think the Jaguars or Bears variance will stay so high. This could be a small sample-size phenomenon, in which all the values taken out of a set of numbers are the extreme values. I took a look at the past post-week 9 rating, which are not strictly comparable because of changes in DVOA. The last team to be about as good as the Jaguars and Bears after week 9 and have a variance over 30% was the 2003 Bucs, but that was from DVOA 1.5, and I wouldn't trust it. Last season, the NYG met that criteria after 7 games, but became more consistent with the following game. It feels a little goofy saying this, but after adjusting for opponent, this year's Eagles through 8 games looks very similar to the 2005 Colts through week 8, right down to the very low variance.

266
by Mnotr (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 2:59am

The Sagarin pure points ratings have Indy at #3. The ratings are pretty close to DVOA. Click my name for the link and remember that pure points is Sagarin's "best" rating.

267
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 11:30am

And, if we are talking not about the likelihood of a perfect season, but of a Super Bowl win, a more reasonable comparison might be between the 2006 Colts after 8 games (.67) and the 2001 Pats after 8 (.56), or between this year’s Colts after 8 games and last year’s Super Bowl champion Steelers after 8 (.68).

I think all that really says is that the Pats and the Steelers went on a tear on the latter half of the season (and that statement surprises... no one). So if the Colts want to win the Super Bowl, they better start playing a whole lot better than they are now.

Unfortunately for the Colts, the Steelers and Patriots late-season tear could be expected (Brady improving, and Roethlisberger returning). There's no real reason to expect it from the Colts.

268
by Ian (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 11:50am

Perhaps part of the problem is confusing 'predictive ability' with overall team quality? For example, if the Colts play Arizona last week instead of NE, Bob Sanders doesn't play. The Colts likely register a 'STOMP' instead of a 'GUT' AND they don't risk their most valuable defensive player to further injury. Teams that play a lot of STOMPs 1) play more weak opponents and 2) have more chance to avoid injury and fatigue to key players. It doesn't mean that they are necessarily a better team, but it does mean that might be better prepared for the playoffs.

I believe that the Colts have been stronger than their DVOA indicates because they have been fatastic at second-half adjustments. Because of the nature of their offense, teams have been throwing a diverse array of offensive and defensive schemes at the Colts which have kept games close. In the second half the Colts have consistently made adjustments to exploit weaknesses in their opponents schemes and been a much stronger team. While I think THIS is an indication of quality that doesn't show up in DVOA, it doesn't necessarily mean it's predictive of the playoffs. All those come-from-behind wins means a lot more high pressure situations, a lot more situations where banged up key players might be playing when they wouldn't be playing in a blowout, and a lot more mental fatigue on the team in general.

By distinguishing STOMPS and GUTS from 'team quality' I think you can appease both fans of DVOA's predictive powers and those who feel that consistently beating quality opponents should have a higher indicator of team quality than blowing out bad ones.

269
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 12:24pm

For example, if the Colts play Arizona last week instead of NE, Bob Sanders doesn’t play.

What team does this? I can't honestly imagine that any team in the NFL would rest a starter for any meaningful game due to your opponent. That's a recipe for getting bit in the ass.

Teams that play a lot of STOMPs 1) play more weak opponents

It doesn't really matter how many weak teams you play. It's not really about "total number of stomps" - only two teams in the past decade have even made the Super Bowl with more Guts than Stomps (and Guts and Stomps are agains the same type of opponent, so like I said, it doesn't matter how many weak teams you play). Good teams beat weak teams. Teams that win close games versus weak teams simply aren't as good as you think they are.

We don't know which of Indy's wins will look bad/good by the year's end (who knows, the Jets could go on a tear) but using Aaron's projections, so far Indy's played 4 teams that will end up below 0.500, and stomped two of them, and gutted out two of them.

For reference, in the past 11 years, only 1 Super Bowl winner had more than 2 guts. Only 1 Super Bowl loser had more than 2 guts as well. Indy's got 4 more games against teams projected to go under 0.500. If they're a Super Bowl team, they should squash them all.

270
by Shawn (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 12:43pm

I would just like to point out Upstate New York is probably just as uninterested as the rest of the country about the Buffalo Bills. Your commentary should read "Is there anybody outside of Western New York actually paying attention to the Bills?" Upstate and Western New York are two very different areas, geographically and culturally.

Not that anyone will read this, as it pertains to the Bills and should be ignored.

271
by B (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 12:47pm

269: Guts and Stomps arn't against the same type of opponent. Guts are close wins over teams with winning records. Stomps are blowouts over teams with losing records. Stomps and Skates (close wins over teams with losing records) are wins over the same types of teams. And the Colts have way too many skates so far this year.

272
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 12:48pm

What team does this? I can’t honestly imagine that any team in the NFL would rest a starter for any meaningful game due to your opponent. That’s a recipe for getting bit in the ass.

*cough*Philly/GB*cough*Sheppard*cough*Westbrook*cough*

273
by dnm (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 12:55pm

"Unfortunately for the Colts, the Steelers and Patriots late-season tear could be expected (Brady improving, and Roethlisberger returning). There’s no real reason to expect it from the Colts."

I can think of a few. Addai coming into his own as a featured back, Sanders' return last week, Stokley's this week, and the fact that the toughest part of their schedule by far is behind them. I would be surprised if their PP doesn't look a lot better after next week's matchup against the Bills (particularly with McGahee out).

274
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 12:57pm

Whoops, you're right. Got that backwards.

So change that to "only 2 Super Bowl winners have more than 2 skates", although a ton of Super Bowl losers (about half) have more than 2 skates (though I doubt that will make Indy fans happy - you might get to the Super Bowl, though you'll probably lose it).

And only 1 Super Bowl winner has more Skates than Stomps, though about half the Super Bowl losers do.

And the Colts have way too many skates so far this year.

Woah, woah, they only have 2. Given it's halfway through the year... okay, that is a bit much, but if Indy's really a Super Bowl team, they'll kick the crap out of Buffalo, Tennessee, Houston, and Miami. Granted, for the last two, they'll probably be resting starters.

275
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 1:00pm

*cough*Philly/GB*cough*Sheppard*cough*Westbrook*cough*

Except they tried to play Stallworth that game as well, and he ended up reinjuring his hamstring. You'd think if they were holding out, they would've held out all of the iffy guys.

276
by Travis (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 1:17pm

What team does this? I can’t honestly imagine that any team in the NFL would rest a starter for any meaningful game due to your opponent. That’s a recipe for getting bit in the ass.

Kareem McKenzie was a late scratch for the Giants' game against the Texans with a migraine, but was back at practice the next day. I can't confirm it, but I believe McKenzie would have played had it been a more critical game.

277
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 1:19pm

and the fact that the toughest part of their schedule by far is behind them.

Indy's past and future schedule are virtually identical. They faced 4 teams which will likely end above 0.500, and 4 which will end below. In the second half, they'll face 4 which will likely end above 0.500 (Dallas, Philadelphia, Jacksonville, Cincinnati) and 4 that will end below.

I would be surprised if their PP doesn’t look a lot better after next week’s matchup against the Bills (particularly with McGahee out).

Well, yeah. If the Colts win by 3 touchdowns, sure. Then again, the Colts haven't won by 3 touchdowns ever this year, so maybe you should be a bit surprised if that happens.

It's certainly possible for the Colts to seriously improve in the second half, for the reasons you gave. But all of those reasons are pretty minor compared to the reasons that the Patriots and Steelers improved, so it might be a bit much to ask.

278
by DavidH (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 4:39pm

Unfortunately for the Colts, the Steelers and Patriots late-season tear could be expected (Brady improving, and Roethlisberger returning). There’s no real reason to expect it from the Colts.

Except that Brady improving and Roethlisberger returning don't seem to be the reasons their teams improved.

Brady:
Patriots' first 8 games:
125/200 (62.5%) ... 1319 yds (6.6 YPA), 10 td, 4 int ... 89.1 rating
Patriots' last 8 games:
139/213 (65.3%) ... 1524 yds (7.2 YPA), 8 td, 8 int ... 83.1 rating

I realize that QB rating isn't that great of a stat, but it's not like I have his game-by-game DPAR breakdown at my disposal. Anyway, first half of the season he had SIX 0-interception games, and ONE multiple-interception game. Second half he had THREE 0-interception games, and THREE multiple-interception games.

OK, I just checked the quality of the defenses, and he played better pass defenses in the 2nd half (average DVOA -7%) than in the 1st (average DVOA 1%). So, his DVOA was probably better in the 2nd half. But it sure doesn't look like a huge improvement that would make the team go on a tear.

Roethlisberger:
He missed 4 games, 2 in each half of the season. His ratings in the games he played...
1st half:
19/130 (60.8%) ... 1183 yds (9.1 YPA), 11 td, 2 int ... 112.4 rating
2nd half:
89/138 (64.5%) ... 1202 yds (8.7 YPA), 6 td, 2 int ... 85.5 rating

Of course, we have to take into account his backups. So here are the combined lines for Roethlisberger, Maddox, and Batch.
1st half:
99/174 (56.9%) ... 1402 yds (8.1 YPA), 12 td, 6 int ... 91.7 rating
126/201 (62.7%) ... 1635 yds (8.1 YPA), 8 td, 8 int ... 84.9 rating

**** Whoops. I just checked the opponents for the Steelers, and the average pass D for the first half was 10%, while in the 2nd it was -4%. I'm gonna guess that pretty much makes up for the differene between the 1st and 2nd half performances of Ben. Still, it doesn't looks like his return sparked late season tear.

Steelers' record in first 8 games: 6-2
Ben's record once he returned: 4-2

--------
Anyway, my point here is that it would have been pretty silly to expect Brady to play better (and he didn't). And yes, it was obvious getting Ben back would help the Steelers, but he only missed 2 games, and he didn''t really do any better in the 2nd half than the 1st.

Also, 273 makes a good point about Sanders's return. I think that's a decent reason to expect their offense to improve.

279
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 5:07pm

So, his DVOA was probably better in the 2nd half. But it sure doesn’t look like a huge improvement that would make the team go on a tear.

You're not talking about turning the Lions into Super Bowl champions here. You're talking about adding one blowout game or so. In the Patriots case, it was the Carolina game, in the Pittsburgh case it was the Browns game.

But I think people are talking across purposes here. I mean, do any Indy fans think that Indy shouldn't win by more than 3 touchdowns over Buffalo this week? Sure. They should. Based on previous years, they should. But they haven't been this year. If you think that Addai, Sanders, etc. will bring them back to that level, cool. But until they start performing at that level, they're just not as good as they look.

If the Colts go in and beat Buffalo 34-10, they'll look like the old Colts, and everyone will be happy. But then again, everyone thought they'd go in and beat the Titans 34-10. And the Jets. And that's all this is telling us.

280
by DavidH (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 5:30pm

3 TD's is a LOT to expect a team to win by, but point taken.

281
by Ilanin (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 10:55pm

Pat - I don't think the Colts are that far off a superbowl team. The comparison is the 2000 Ravens, of course. The 2006 Colts have, currently, a worse defense than the 2000 Ravens offense according to DVOA, but I can see Sanders and McFarland making a difference there (and certainly the Indianapolis D has been making improvements in recent weeks, if only minor ones). The 2006 Colts offense is currently slightly better than the 2000 Ravens defense (The 2006 Colts are also worse on special teams, but seriously, how often do the Colts end up punting anyway?). Against New England and Denver the Colts showed that they can beat teams with a good running game that ought to match up well against them. Equally, this year has no team that would be a clear Superbowl favourite - Chicago are erratic, Philly appear to be affected by the radiative effects of the curse on Pittsburgh, Baltimore are as convincing on O as Indy are on D, San Diego have issues with injury, suspension and a coach with a really bad playoff record, and so on.

The 2006 Colts wouldn't have had a chance last year. This year...I really don't think this year's teams are as good. Maybe it's just me. But I'm not counting the Colts out.

282
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 11:35pm

The 2006 Colts offense is currently slightly better than the 2000 Ravens defense.

What I've always found surprising is that the conventional wisdom of "defense wins championships" still holds up under DVOA, even though better offense leads to more wins. There have been multiple negative-DVOA offense teams who have won the Super Bowl (every Super Bowl winner from 2000-2003!), but the only team with a positive defense DVOA who's ever won the Super Bowl was Denver in 1998. And the only reason Denver's defense DVOA was positive was because they faced worse-than-average offenses.

In other words, no team has ever played worse-than-average on defense and won the Super Bowl in the DVOA era. And that's the trend that the Colts are trying to buck, because they're playing well worse than average on defense.

(The 2006 Colts are also worse on special teams, but seriously, how often do the Colts end up punting anyway?)

Before the past 3 weeks, quite often actually. They basically haven't ever in the past two weeks, which is actually uncommon this year.

You also might want to take a look at this article. Unbalanced teams (which Indy is) seem to do worse than average in the playoffs.

283
by DavidH (not verified) :: Fri, 11/10/2006 - 12:04am

I think it's interesting that the 3 bad-offense/good-defense teams that won the SB all had top-10 special teams. And that the "offensive" part of special teams (FG/XP, kick ret, punt ret) combines to be positive for each of them:

Team ... ST rank ... FGXP/kickret/puntret ... sum
2000 Bal ... 3rd ... 15.4/0.5/18.4 ... 34.3
2001 NE ... 6th ... 3.6/-1.4/12.2 ... 14.4
2002 TB ... 8th ... 4.2/-0.6/2.7 ... 6.3

Whereas the Colts this year are 28th, and at their worst in the "defensive" aspects of special teams (kickoffs, punts).

284
by DavidH (not verified) :: Fri, 11/10/2006 - 12:39am

Just for the halibut, I looked at the ST of the other SB winners:

Team ... ST rank ... "offensive" ... "defensive"
1998 DEN ... 9th ... 12.4 ... 0.4
1999 STL ... 9th ... 13.2 ... 2.9
2003 NE ... 17th ... -7.2 ... 7.1
2004 NE ... 16th ... 6.8 ... -5.7
2005 PIT ... 9th ... 13.2 ... -4.8

285
by dnm (not verified) :: Fri, 11/10/2006 - 6:26am

Pat,

"Indy’s past and future schedule are virtually identical. They faced 4 teams which will likely end above 0.500, and 4 which will end below. In the second half, they’ll face 4 which will likely end above 0.500 (Dallas, Philadelphia, Jacksonville, Cincinnati) and 4 that will end below. "

The second half has Philly at home instead of the Giants on the road, and Dallas and the Bengals instead of Denver and NE. Jacksonville on the road is tougher than Jacksonville at home, I'll give you that, but otherwise its obvious that the second half looks easier than the first.

286
by Ian (not verified) :: Fri, 11/10/2006 - 12:39pm

Pat, this comment:
For example, if the Colts play Arizona last week instead of NE, Bob Sanders doesn’t play.

What team does this? I can’t honestly imagine that any team in the NFL would rest a starter for any meaningful game due to your opponent. That’s a recipe for getting bit in the ass.

Makes me wonder if you are paying attention to anything other than the stats put up on this site. Sanders has missed all but one game this season, and he was listed as doubtful going into the Patriots game, recovering from knee surgery. It has nothing to do with resting starters, it has to do with giving a key player more time to come back from injury. I am sure if they were playing the Cardinals, the Colts would have had Bob inactive for the game just for insurance reasons. Remember not only was the Patriots game a key rivalry game but had pretty serious homefield advantage ramifications as well.

Sow what I'm looking for is the Colts to gut out a close game against Buffalo (a letdown after the Pats game) and for Denver and the Patriots to win next week. We'd then have a potential for the Colts to be 9-0, and have beaten four teams ranked ahead of them. Then we'll see this board overwhelemd with bickering!

Going back to STOMPS and GUTS for a moment does this analysis take into account game sitaution at all? For example, a team putting up a 44-0 beatdown on an opponent in the first half (much like Chicago did two weeks ago) is arguably meaningful since the 1) the game is not decided in the first half and 2) the other team is presumably still putting in full effort. On the other hand, a game that is say, 20-14 going into the 4th but ends up 37-14 after the trailing team makes a number of mistakes in an effort to come back (desperation heaves turning into int's returned for TDs, 4th down attempts failing deep in their own territory), it seems to me those sorts of conditional late points say little about the strength of the winning team, and more about how situations play out in the NFL. Likewise, a team winning 34-19 who gives us a meaningless TD and two point conversion in the final seconds suddenly goes from a STOMP to a GUT, even though the final score is not in any way indicative of who controlled the game.

In summary I guess I'm saying I find the methodology behind the GUTS and STOMPS article not very comprehensive, and before we start looking at it as some kind of difinitive statement about team quality I'd like to see a little more detail go into it's proving.

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by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 11/14/2006 - 3:48pm

It has nothing to do with resting starters, it has to do with giving a key player more time to come back from injury. I am sure if they were playing the Cardinals, the Colts would have had Bob inactive for the game just for insurance reasons.

I know. And I just don't buy it. It's all speculation: I can constantly think of counterexamples for most examples that people give - Donte Stallworth playing at Green Bay, for instance. I think it's just cherrypicking the data.

Unless someone comes out and says "I would've played had our opponent been better," it's just speculation, and I think it's silly fan belief rather than reality.

The second half has Philly at home instead of the Giants on the road, and Dallas and the Bengals instead of Denver and NE.

It's marginally worse, right now. It's not clearly worse - you don't know how Denver's going to finish the year, etc, etc. Dallas/Cincy could end up looking better than Denver/NE by the end of the year.

Going back to STOMPS and GUTS for a moment does this analysis take into account game sitaution at all?

No. Why would it? All the "Stomps" bit tells you is really one thing: "This team is capable of beating the utter crap out of a team." What STOMPS vs GUTS is telling you is "confirmation that the team is capable of beating the crap out of someone - anyone - is more valuable than close wins over opponents, regardless of quality."

And that's kindof the point now: right now we still believe the Colts are capable of blowouts. But ... they haven't. Not this year. It hasn't happened yet. Maybe it will - who knows? But up to right now they do not look like the same kind of team as they were last year.