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12 Dec 2006

Week 15 DVOA Ratings

by Aaron Schatz

Here are the latest DVOA ratings, commentary is now available at FOXSports.com.

One small change this week in the ratings themselves: I've adjusted the baselines for kickoffs and punts. It seems like every year, kickoff distance gets longer and longer, and this year it's even longer than before. On the other hand, punt returns were far shorter than earlier years in 2005, and this year they've bounced back a bit. Last week, according to our numbers, the 32 teams combined to be 115 points over average on kickoffs, and 80 points above average on punt returns. That's sort of silly. This week, by changing the baselines, I've got that down to 33 points above average on kickoffs, and 11 on punt returns.

Pages are up now for offense, defense, and special teams. Individual stats and adjusted line yards will be updated later. You can also check out the Mike Harris Playoff Odds Report. Since the Eagles have won twice since we started that special "McNabb injury version," we got rid of the special McNabb injury version.

Don't forget to check out the Football Outsiders swag shoppe -- featuring ROBO-PUNTER shirts! They have our logo on the front, ROBO-PUNTER on the back with uniform number 1. Buy $50 worth of CafePress items before December 20, and get free shipping.

At this point the phrase "we've solved our server slowness" is like the phrase "Michael Vick finally gets it as a passer." I'm never going to use the phrase again until I'm absolutely, positively sure we're finally over the hump. If some of our funky comment features or comments on articles from two years ago disappear temporarily, don't be upset. That's part of our attempt to solve things.

* * * * *

These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through Week 14 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. SPECIAL TEAMS DVOA is adjusted for type of stadium (warm, cold, dome, Denver/Mexico City) and week of season.

WEIGHTED DVOA is based on a formula which discounts games more than eight weeks ago in order to get a more accurate picture of how teams are playing now. This is the formula used for the rankings at FOXSports.com.

Remember that you can always use the keyword "DVOA" to access the latest DVOA commentary at FOXSports.com.

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 WEI.
DVOA
RANK OFFENSE
DVOA
OFF.
RANK
DEFENSE
DVOA
DEF.
RANK
SPECIAL
DVOA
S.T.
RANK
1 CHI 33.2% 1 11-2 31.1% 1 -2.2% 17 -25.6% 1 9.8% 1
2 SD 32.8% 2 11-2 29.3% 3 27.1% 2 -2.3% 13 3.5% 5
3 BAL 30.8% 3 10-3 31.0% 2 2.5% 12 -24.9% 2 3.5% 4
4 JAC 27.8% 5 8-5 26.2% 4 5.1% 11 -21.0% 3 1.7% 10
5 PHI 19.5% 9 7-6 12.4% 11 14.7% 6 -7.8% 9 -3.0% 24
6 DAL 17.6% 4 8-5 17.8% 5 14.8% 5 -3.9% 12 -1.1% 20
7 NYG 16.6% 8 7-6 15.3% 10 12.2% 7 -4.4% 11 0.0% 16
8 CIN 15.9% 10 8-5 15.6% 8 19.8% 3 5.0% 24 1.1% 13
9 NE 15.5% 7 9-4 17.7% 6 6.5% 8 -6.9% 10 2.2% 8
10 IND 15.4% 6 10-3 15.5% 9 31.8% 1 12.1% 26 -4.4% 29
11 NO 15.0% 11 9-4 17.6% 7 18.7% 4 4.2% 21 0.6% 15
12 CAR 5.9% 13 6-7 8.9% 12 -2.5% 18 -10.3% 8 -1.9% 22
13 PIT 5.7% 14 6-7 3.9% 15 2.4% 13 -10.3% 6 -7.0% 32
14 KC 4.0% 12 7-6 6.1% 13 6.4% 9 3.8% 19 1.4% 12
15 MIA -1.1% 18 6-7 4.5% 14 -9.4% 22 -10.3% 7 -2.0% 23
16 MIN -3.2% 16 6-7 -2.5% 16 -11.7% 27 -12.8% 4 -4.3% 28
TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
LAST
WEEK
W-L WEI.
DVOA
RANK OFFENSE
DVOA
OFF.
RANK
DEFENSE
DVOA
DEF.
RANK
SPECIAL
DVOA
S.T.
RANK
17 BUF -6.3% 20 6-7 -7.8% 19 -9.7% 24 1.6% 15 5.0% 2
18 DEN -6.7% 15 7-6 -7.1% 18 -4.9% 21 1.2% 14 -0.7% 17
19 NYJ -10.2% 17 7-6 -10.8% 21 -0.4% 16 13.2% 27 3.4% 6
20 ATL -10.3% 21 7-6 -14.4% 24 -4.3% 20 1.9% 16 -4.0% 27
21 GB -10.4% 26 5-8 -8.8% 20 -3.2% 19 3.5% 18 -3.7% 25
22 WAS -11.8% 19 4-9 -14.4% 23 2.2% 14 14.7% 28 0.7% 14
23 TEN -13.3% 25 6-7 -3.3% 17 -9.5% 23 6.3% 25 2.6% 7
24 SEA -14.5% 23 8-5 -16.2% 26 -12.4% 28 4.1% 20 1.9% 9
25 CLE -15.1% 22 4-9 -15.1% 25 -13.9% 29 4.9% 23 3.7% 3
26 STL -15.8% 24 5-8 -20.8% 28 5.4% 10 16.7% 30 -4.5% 30
27 HOU -17.9% 27 4-9 -13.1% 22 0.8% 15 17.8% 31 -0.9% 19
28 ARI -23.7% 29 4-9 -20.6% 27 -13.9% 30 4.4% 22 -5.3% 31
29 TB -24.3% 31 3-10 -24.5% 30 -21.3% 31 2.2% 17 -0.9% 18
30 OAK -26.7% 28 2-11 -21.7% 29 -33.6% 32 -10.7% 5 -3.8% 26
31 SF -26.9% 30 5-8 -29.6% 32 -9.7% 25 15.4% 29 -1.8% 21
32 DET -28.4% 32 2-11 -28.7% 31 -10.8% 26 19.1% 32 1.5% 11

  • 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 33.2% 11-2 40.3% 10.0 2 -8.6% 30 -21.0% 32 22.7% 2
2 SD 32.8% 11-2 39.2% 10.2 1 -6.7% 28 -11.4% 27 9.1% 26
3 BAL 30.8% 10-3 33.2% 9.5 3 -0.1% 18 -5.2% 22 18.3% 10
4 JAC 27.8% 8-5 27.8% 8.5 5 1.9% 12 2.1% 14 35.8% 1
5 PHI 19.5% 7-6 14.7% 9.1 4 -1.4% 19 8.0% 6 13.4% 18
6 DAL 17.6% 8-5 17.5% 7.8 11 1.1% 13 -6.4% 24 17.9% 12
7 NYG 16.6% 7-6 14.3% 7.9 9 3.4% 8 7.6% 7 10.5% 22
8 CIN 15.9% 8-5 11.4% 7.8 10 3.8% 6 4.8% 11 10.4% 23
9 NE 15.5% 9-4 19.1% 8.0 7 -1.5% 20 -1.1% 20 18.9% 9
10 IND 15.4% 10-3 14.2% 8.4 6 3.5% 7 -1.1% 19 15.6% 15
11 NO 15.0% 9-4 16.5% 7.9 8 -2.0% 22 3.6% 12 11.9% 20
12 CAR 5.9% 6-7 2.1% 6.6 15 0.8% 15 3.5% 13 8.2% 29
13 PIT 5.7% 6-7 2.7% 6.8 14 2.1% 11 17.5% 1 17.6% 13
14 KC 4.0% 7-6 4.6% 7.0 13 -4.0% 25 11.3% 5 22.0% 3
15 MIA -1.1% 6-7 3.5% 6.1 16 0.9% 14 -0.4% 18 13.8% 17
16 MIN -3.2% 6-7 1.7% 7.0 12 -4.9% 26 -12.1% 29 6.7% 30
TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
W-L NON-ADJ
TOT VOA
ESTIM.
WINS
RANK PAST
SCHED
RANK FUTURE
SCHED
RANK VAR. RANK
17 BUF -6.3% 6-7 -8.8% 6.0 17 4.5% 5 5.5% 8 16.0% 14
18 DEN -6.7% 7-6 -6.3% 5.4 23 3.3% 9 -11.6% 28 19.4% 7
19 NYJ -10.2% 7-6 -8.1% 5.7 19 0.7% 17 -10.3% 26 14.7% 16
20 ATL -10.3% 7-6 -1.6% 5.9 18 -1.7% 21 14.3% 2 21.8% 4
21 GB -10.4% 5-8 -12.2% 5.5 21 -3.6% 24 0.6% 16 19.3% 8
22 WAS -11.8% 4-9 -17.3% 5.5 20 5.4% 4 5.3% 9 9.1% 27
23 TEN -13.3% 6-7 -17.1% 5.4 22 9.0% 1 12.3% 4 18.3% 11
24 SEA -14.5% 8-5 -8.4% 5.0 25 -9.8% 32 -6.1% 23 10.3% 24
25 CLE -15.1% 4-9 -23.9% 4.6 28 6.0% 3 -3.8% 21 8.9% 28
26 STL -15.8% 5-8 -6.0% 5.1 24 -7.7% 29 -13.9% 30 10.9% 21
27 HOU -17.9% 4-9 -18.6% 4.8 26 3.2% 10 5.3% 10 12.5% 19
28 ARI -23.7% 4-9 -14.2% 4.7 27 -8.6% 31 -0.3% 17 20.7% 5
29 TB -24.3% 3-10 -34.8% 4.0 30 7.9% 2 1.2% 15 6.1% 31
30 OAK -26.7% 2-11 -32.2% 3.5 31 0.8% 16 -7.3% 25 9.7% 25
31 SF -26.9% 5-8 -26.7% 4.3 29 -2.6% 23 -15.0% 31 20.0% 6
32 DET -28.4% 2-11 -25.0% 3.4 32 -5.9% 27 13.5% 3 5.9% 32

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 12 Dec 2006

254 comments, Last at 18 Dec 2006, 10:55pm by Jason

Comments

1
by Ali Nagib (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 8:15pm

Interesting that the Bears ST is still off the charts, even though Gould missed 2 in the game last night. Not surprising given the game Hester had, just interesting.

2
by Lincoln (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 8:26pm

That crummy game really knocked my Cowboys down a few pegs

3
by dbt (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 8:30pm

Clickable charts updated. Click my name to see 'em.

Love the Jags variance. Again. :)

4
by underthebus (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 8:31pm

SD 3rd? Why because Baltimore beat them? I find it interesting how conventional these "unconventional" rankings are becoming.

But seriously, is a high variance (Jax) a sign of poor coaching? Or rather poor coaching decisions?

5
by Rick (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 8:35pm

Wow, that Jag variance is something else!

Doesn't bode well for their playoff run. (I'm mentally awarding the wildcards to them and Cincy.)

6
by Jeremy Billones (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 8:37pm

Re #4

By 3 points at home. That means they're esentially tied, and a DVOA difference of 2% (either way -- pick your favorite chart) is saying the same thing.

7
by David B (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 8:39pm

I'm curious about the Charger's defense. All the pundits are raving about how Merriman's return has made their defense "awesome." Is there a noticeable drop in Denver's defensive DVOA while Merriman was out (or a notable jump since his return)?

8
by underthebus (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 8:40pm

#6 sorry, that was a joke.

Re Variance and Coaching - I should add that I'm really talking about a High Variance for good teams. Like the JAC, DEN CHI's QB decisions.

9
by Lions (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 8:41pm

Now that Kevin Jones is injured for the next year or so, you should consider dropping the Lions in your rankings.

Oh wait...

10
by admin :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 8:44pm

People may have missed my FOX blog post last week on the Jaguars vs. the highest variances of the DVOA era. (Click name for link.) As of last week, they were #2. This week, they move to #1 as the least consistent team of the decade. Huzzah! (And no, I can't take them seriously as a Super Bowl contender either because I can't imagine them putting four straight good games together.)

11
by Rick (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 8:44pm

I wonder how much of that Jag variance would disappear if you partitioned the data between their road efforts and their home efforts.

Jags@home
beat Dallas 24-17
beat Pittsburgh 9-0
beat Jets 41-0
beat Tennessee 37-7
lost to Houston 10-13
beat Giants 26-10
beat Colts 44-17

Jags on road
lost to Indy 21-14
lost to Redskins 36-30
lost to Houston 27-7
lost to Philly 13-6
lost to Buffalo 27-24
beat Miami 24-10

The inability to deal with the woeful Texans also contributes to their variance.

Unfortunately for the Jags, they are not likely to have any home games in the playoffs.

12
by Colts alleged run defense (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 8:46pm

11
They definitely have a shot at a home game.

13
by Matt (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 8:47pm

#7

I am curious about the same thing, but maybe in some broader terms. What is the Chargers defensive DVOA in games with Merriman vs games without?

14
by throughthelookingglass (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 8:47pm

Are the estimated wins out of 14 games, or 13?

15
by Kal (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 8:49pm

One of the things that's very interesting to me is how much defensive DVOA matters in total DVOA. It seems like the teams with great defenses but okay to bad offenses come off hugely better than the one the other way around. I don't know if this is based on actual predictive qualities (IE, teams with good defense win are better than teams with good offenses) or just how the system works this year.

Also, wow, is the Chicago ST huge. Which...seems about right; is there any other team out there that is more scary?

#4: SD is third because Baltimore is much better at defense and not horrible at offense, and is better at ST. They're pretty close to each other. In terms of weightedness, I'm a bit surprised given that Baltimore lost a bad one against Cinci, but I guess beating the hell out of the Chiefs made up for that - but SD's wins over Denver aren't looking as hot right now, and their early wins don't matter as much.

16
by Travis (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 8:50pm

StLouis - Div: 0.2%

Do the Mike Harris Playoff Odds reports include tiebreakers? I can't think of any scenario where St. Louis wins a tiebreaker at 8-8, thanks to their 2-4 divisional record and their head-to-head sweep by Seattle.

17
by David B (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 8:50pm

And RE #7 myself - ... I meant San Diego's DVOA. Apparently trying to plan a trip to Denver while typing a message about San Diego is a bad idea.

18
by throughthelookingglass (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 8:52pm

Pit has taken a commanding lead in the race for the worst S.T. DVOA

19
by NF (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 8:53pm

11:

They actually beat Philadelphia in Philly. That was when the Eagles still had McNabb.

20
by ZS (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 8:53pm

Brady Quinn: Raider... or Lion? I wish they played each other. "Quinn Bowl" sounds cool.

Another question: Does Devin Hester's TD returns last night count towards the team's DVOA, or is it still considered a "random event"?

21
by Moridin (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 8:53pm

re: 11
Damn, does JAX chloroform the players on the plane ride to their road games or something? Only PIT is close on that home/road disparity (and GB is interesting as the winner of the better road than home team disparity).

22
by ChrisFromNJ (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 8:54pm

#4:

That Jags variance is mostly a matter of the crazy black magic voodoo that evil wizard David Carr has worked on the Northeast Florida region.

He may not be much of a quarterback, but he's a top-notch sorcerer.

23
by rollo (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 8:56pm

On Jags variance, I'm not sure its the result of coaching, as last years team was exactly the opposite, beating bad teams and losing to better ones except where extenuating circumstances came into play (Tommy Maddox, Seahawks meet FL heat and humidity in September). I think part of the reason is the supbar pash rush - Hawyard's out, and Stroud and Henderson seem to get no push anymore (which may be by design, they really look to bat balls). When pressure isn't there, more big plays result. The rush was excellent last year and seems the major difference on defense, which is accounting for most of Jax's variation.

24
by Kal (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 8:56pm

#20: Those aren't random events - kick & punt returns are skill. It's just returning FG misses for TDs that's a random event.

/still bitter about that being 'random'. Random my heiny

25
by Rick (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 8:56pm

Re 12
I think the Colts would have to lose 3 in a row and the Jags win three in a row for the Colts to not win the AFC South.
(checks)
ayup

26
by Kal (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 8:57pm

#23: Remember - the Jags now have Mike Tice. He alone is responsible for about 50% of the variance.

27
by Rick (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 8:58pm

re 19
yeah, my bad on the Philly win

28
by Moridin (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 9:00pm

The Jets have a worse run D than Indy huh (though I'm assuming if things stay much the same, that will probably reverse). Well hopefully that means the Vikings can just run the ball for 3/4s of the game again and avoid Brad having to do much.

29
by Jim M (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 9:02pm

I noticed Chicago's defensive DVOA dropped from -30.3 to -25.6. Is that a significant drop? It seems to me that since the loss of Mike Brown and now T. Harris they just aren't the same defence.

30
by James C (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 9:03pm

#26

and 70% of stub hub ticket sales.

31
by Stillio (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 9:04pm

@23: Not that I disagree with you overall, but how do you call homefield advantage an extenuating circumstance? They also beat a healthy Cincy team last year, btw.

32
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 9:06pm

Do the Mike Harris Playoff Odds reports include tiebreakers?

Yeah, it does (was mentioned previously).

Keep in mind only the division leaders have 8 wins. That 0.2% chance is probably St. Louis being one of two teams at 8-8.

I'm actually surprised by that report, though - namely, Dallas having a 98% chance of making the playoffs. If Dallas loses to Atlanta and Philly, they have a very, very good shot at being knocked out of the playoffs entirely, due to the fact that their tiebreakers suck. I would've thought this has a higher than 2% chance of happening.

33
by Jim M (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 9:11pm

32. I was surprised by the same thing about Dallas. I'm also kind of surprised that Philly and NY odds are so good.

34
by Chris (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 9:17pm

New Orleans blows out the #4 team, doesn't budge an inch. DVOA Ratings are never a suprise, just embarrassing.

35
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 9:22pm

#34: if by "not an inch" you mean "went from 9.6% to 15%", sure, not an inch. There was a large gap from 10 to 11 last week. That gap is now even larger, and from 11 to 12.

And in weighted DVOA, they went from 11 to 7.

That win also basically completely destroyed the Cowboys ranking. Well, that, and the demolition of Indy.

36
by LLG (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 9:27pm

In noticing that the Seahawks have the best record of anyone in the bottom half of the DVOA rankings, does not say that their is anything wrong with the DVOA system as many people have argued. It actually says a lot about the Seahawk's ability to overcome diversity and still find a way to win. I know some will quickly point out that the Seahawks won four just by a hair, and should be 4-9; but at the same token, they lost three by less than a TD too, so they could of been 11-2, so 8-5 is about right. This should actually be something to be proud of if you are a Seahawks fan. So will they choke in the playoffs? DVOA tells me that this is very likely, but you never know... that is what is so great about this game. Good job FO, keep up the great work.

37
by Travis (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 9:28pm

Keep in mind only the division leaders have 8 wins. That 0.2% chance is probably St. Louis being one of two teams at 8-8.

If St. Louis and Seattle tie at 8-8, Seattle wins the tiebreaker due to their head-to-head sweep. If St. Louis, Seattle, and San Francisco all tie at 8-8, San Francisco wins the tiebreaker due to their 3-1 record in games among the group (Seattle 2-2, St. Louis 1-3).

As far as I know, those are the only two possibilities of St. Louis even tying for the division lead. Am I missing something here?

38
by David (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 9:29pm

34: Well, except that they're now at 15%, in a virtual tie with New England, Indy, and Cincinnatti, and very close to NYG. Last week they were at 9.6% - a jump of 5.4% is very significant, but they were staring at a big gap between #11 and #10. That's why you shouldn't just look at the heirarchy.

Oh, and in weighted DVOA (i.e. "what have you done lately), they're ranked 7th overall, and effectively in a dead heat for 5th place (within .2%), which ties them for the title of second-best team in the NFC. That score improved 7% this week, and four places in the heirarchy. Yeah, no movement there.

39
by Travis (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 9:30pm

It actually says a lot about the Seahawk’s ability to overcome diversity and still find a way to win.

Make your own joke here.

40
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 9:31pm

I’m also kind of surprised that Philly and NY odds are so good.

Philly's playoff odds are pretty good, actually - there's a whole lot of combinations where they can get in at 8-8, and they automatically get in every which way at 9-7, regardless of who they beat/lose to (*).

Plus, for both Philly and New York, the Dallas/Atlanta game is a win-win situation - their playoff odds are actually better than you might think, because either of those teams winning improves Philly and NYG's playoff odds significantly. Hell, a tie would be the worst thing that could happen for them that game!

(*: Assuming no ties by other teams.)

41
by Chris (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 9:32pm

Have the Saints broken the top 10 yet? Strength of wins doesn't fly. The Bears have a victory over the #7 NYG, but following that nothing until #16 MIN. The Saints on the other hand have blown out #6 Dallas and that juggernaut #5 Philly.

As a prediction of a teams success DVOA has been an abject failure almost the entire season. If the ratings to demonstrate which teams are better then other teams, what purpose do they serve?

42
by admin :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 9:34pm

I think somebody is not properly respecting the zlionsfan template.

43
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 9:36pm

It actually says a lot about the Seahawk’s ability to overcome diversity and still find a way to win.

It also says that the Seahawks have played the easiest schedule in the league.

44
by rollo (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 9:37pm

31: Early September games in FL have a pretty big effect on teams not used to the heat and especially humitidy. Both Seattle last year and Dallas this year were noticeably gassed in the second half. The Jags have the best record in the league on opening day, in large part because of this. Its similar to the cold weather effect on warm-weather teams late in the season.

45
by Chris (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 9:38pm

At some point shouldn't you break down the very critical errors your own system makes? Such as early in the season when you included ratings from the previous season and allowed them to influence current ratings. The Saints hire a new coach, turn over half their roster, and somehow the play of Aaron Brooks and Haslett influence the ratings?

You would deserve less criticism if there was an actual discussion on some of the formula's total failures.

46
by Travis (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 9:45pm

Philly’s playoff odds are pretty good, actually - there’s a whole lot of combinations where they can get in at 8-8, and they automatically get in every which way at 9-7, regardless of who they beat/lose to (*).

There's at least one scenario where they don't:
1. Giants, Philly, and Minnesota all tie at 9-7. No other contender has more than 8 wins.

2. The Giants lose to Washington, but beat Philly and New Orleans.

3. Philly loses to the Giants, but beats Dallas and Atlanta.

4. Dallas wins the NFC East at 10-6.

5. Because division ties are broken first, the Giants win the NFC East tiebreaker over Philly due to their head-to-head sweep. Minnesota gets the first wild card over the Giants because of a better record against common opponents (Washington, Chicago, Carolina, Seattle), 3-2 vs. 2-3. The Giants get the second wild card.

47
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 9:50pm

Two weeks ago, the Vikings had a 60% chance of getting to the plyoffs if they went 8-8, but won the rest of their conference games, giving them an 8-4 NFC record. I know the Giants play the Eagles, and the Eagles play the Falcons, so that helps, but the Vikings will have a much easier time, obviously, at 9-7 than they will at 8-8. The Vikings really need Dallas and the Saints to finish well. I'm not sure who to root for in this week's Eagles/Giants game.

Luckily, the Vikings remaining three are all winnable, but none are easy, of course. Green Bay in eight days will be a tough game, because the Packers and Vikings are nearly always close games well into the fourth quarter, and a team with a top flight qb, as Favre can still be, is the toughest match for the Vikings defense. I feel better now about the Jets on Sunday, given how porous their run defense can be, which goes as well for the Rams, who may not have much to play for come week 17.

Well, win this weekend, and stay alive for bit longer, I guess.

48
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 9:51pm

Good point. I forgot about breaking divisional ties first.

49
by Stillio (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 9:53pm

@44: You're winning my argument for me. If cold weather teams get an advantage late in the year and Denver gets an advantage from the altitude, then what's the difference with the Florida heat and humidity? It's all just homefield advantage, not an extenuating circumstance; unless you're arguing that no win by the Jags at home in September counts. In that case, then none of those Pats wins in the snow count either. Heck, we should all just play in a dome and crown Indy the Super Bowl champ right now. (that's sarcasm, folks)

50
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 9:53pm

I’m not sure who to root for in this week’s Eagles/Giants game.

Giants. The Eagles have the common opponent tiebreaker over Minnesota.

51
by Travis (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 9:59pm

The scenario would be the same if Carolina also went 9-7 (they'd get knocked out of the three-way tiebreaker because of their head-to-head losses to both Minnesota and the Giants), and the remaining steps would be the same.

Also, Atlanta could beat Philly in Week 17, which might knock out a 9-7 Philly if they are the only two 9-win teams left (say, Dallas and the Giants each win 10).

Any update on whether the Odds Report includes tiebreakers?

52
by Flux (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 10:00pm

Let me help you, Chris.

DVoA is clearly suxor because one team playing under extremely unusual circumstances is greatly under/overperforming. You idiots should therefore scrap the whole thing and rank teams based on wins and losses, weighted by yesterday's results, and mojo. Just like every other power ranking on the internet.

53
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 10:03pm

Also, Atlanta could beat Philly in Week 17, which might knock out a 9-7 Philly if they are the only two 9-win teams left (say, Dallas and the Giants each win 10).

Except that can't happen if Philly's 9-6 in Week 16. :)

54
by Opiegrey (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 10:04pm

Chris, could you clarify which team you support? It's important for me to know who to bet against due to the impending doom of the FOMBC.

Thanks in advance...

55
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 10:04pm

Chris, calm down. The Saints only have four teams ahead of them in weighted DVOA by substantial amounts, and two of them have a huge amount of variability. Right now, the only teams that one would say are clear cut favorites over the Saints are San Diego and Baltimore, which is hardly an gross underestimation of New Orleans.

56
by Travis (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 10:05pm

I’m not sure who to root for in this week’s Eagles/Giants game.

Giants. The Eagles have the common opponent tiebreaker over Minnesota.

Just to clarify, if the Giants beat Washington but lose one of their other two games, they'd tie Minnesota in common opponent record, and almost certainly have a higher strength of victory.

Boy, are the potential wild card scenarios complicated this year. A far cry from last year.

57
by Tally (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 10:05pm

SD's defense is going to go up again (it already has) with both Roid Warriors back in action and the defense getting somewhat healthy again. It still has to deal with the ho-hum to terribly performances against Cincy, Denver part 1, etc., but I expect the unit to be top 10 by the end of the season, to complement their top 5 offense and ST. Chicago, Baltimore, and San Diego are going to stay very close, I think.

58
by milo (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 10:06pm

Well at this point, Indy still soars over the league in passing DVOA. Why? A few weeks ago, one could compare Manning and Brees and see that DVOA saw more Ints, fewer TDs, and lower YPA for Brees and it made sense. Now Brees has higher YPA, higher TDs, and only one more Int on more attempts. I don't know what VOA is measuring that says Indy has a significantly better passing offense than the Saints.
Pat, got a clue? Can anyone help me out?

59
by Jim (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 10:07pm

Travis, your last scenario doesn't work. If the Giants win 10 and Atlanta beats Philly, Philly can't win 9.

60
by Travis (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 10:08pm

Except that can’t happen if Philly’s 9-6 in Week 16. :)

Ugh, you're right. I can't believe how many big head-to-head games there are left in the NFC.

61
by Todd (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 10:08pm

Re #45

He's right, really. If you're going to tout your statistics as "innovative," you would also do well to demonstrate statistically that they are more likely to predict the outcome of games than, say, comparing win-loss records. Or using a trained monkey.

Come to think of it, screw it - no need to waste time on training.

62
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 10:08pm

Gee whiz, Pat, I HATE rooting for the Giants! Thanks for ruining my weekend!

63
by Bill (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 10:10pm

Wow. I think the most impressive performance might be the alleged Indy defense staying at #26 after last week's showing.

64
by Chris (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 10:12pm

I understand the cute reference to the zlionsfan template. If you want, we can stop discussing the Saints.

For example Seattle's weighted DVOA is -16.2%, significantly below Green Bay's -8.8%. Green Bay

You guys should go back and revisit your first 4 weeks DVOA (and in particular the infamous DAVE) ratings and really think hard about what DVOA is supposed to accomplish.

Because, as I said, as predictor of team success it's terrible.

65
by Todd (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 10:12pm

Re # 58:
I can't remember offhand if it's included, but making an adjustment for what percentage of throws actually gain a first down would be a differentiator. Also, de-emphasizing statistics earned during "garbage time" with either team effectively out of contention for the game. There are lots of others, I'm sure - just naming a couple of possibilities.

66
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 10:14pm

Todd, FO has done a well above-average job of predicting playoff teams in the recent past. I don't know how things look this year; I can't remember who Aaron picked.

67
by Chris (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 10:14pm

As a huge Jaguars fan, I would like to explain their variance. They suffer under the Boselli curse and will always and forever lose games to the Texans. The football gods do not smile on breaking the best left tackle in the league then dropping his cap hit on an expansion team.

68
by Travis (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 10:14pm

Well at this point, Indy still soars over the league in passing DVOA. Why? A few weeks ago, one could compare Manning and Brees and see that DVOA saw more Ints, fewer TDs, and lower YPA for Brees and it made sense. Now Brees has higher YPA, higher TDs, and only one more Int on more attempts. I don’t know what VOA is measuring that says Indy has a significantly better passing offense than the Saints.

I can spot a few small differences, which might explain some of the gap:

1. Brees has fumbled 7 times, Manning 2.

2. Brees has 17 passes for 40+ yard completions, Manning only 7. I think the extra yardage is somewhat discounted in VOA.

3. Other passers for New Orleans are 0 for 2 with an interception, Manning's thrown every pass for Indy.

69
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 10:17pm

Chris, describe the standard you employ to define the term "terrible".

70
by ZS (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 10:20pm

I'm going to do a personal zlionsfan here.

The G-Men are clearly ranked too low because the Colts suck right now, and the Bengals might not make the playoffs, durn it. This Is Our Country is way better than this. ELI IS THE NEXT PEYTON!!! BRANDON JACOBS IS THE NEXT BUS!!! COWBOYS SUCK!!! METS WORLD SERIES 2007!!!

71
by Stillio (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 10:21pm

@67: Noooooooooooooooooo!!!!! The Jags already have the highest variance, we can't take a hit from the FOMBC, too.

72
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 10:23pm

Also, Green Bay is 5-8 against the 24th hardest schedule to date, and Seattle is 8-5 against the 32nd hardest schedule to date. Given the amount of luck in a football game, it is not all that outlandish to think of two such teams, without knowledge of their recent past or injury status, being reversed in terms of actual quality.

73
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 10:25pm

I think the extra yardage is somewhat discounted in VOA.

It's nonlinear - think about it. Yay, you got a 40-yard TD. If you had been on your own 20, it would've been an 80-yard TD. The 40-yard TD is clearly not twice as good as an 80-yard TD.

Most of that should be compensated for, though - it should show up in the conventional stats some. That's definitely a question for an FO Mailbag.

74
by Chris (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 10:30pm

Re: 66

http://www.footballoutsiders.com/2006/09/06/ramblings/dvoa-rankings/4194...

the percentages for the current division leaders (division win/playoff)

Dallas: 16.3%/33.9%

Chicago: 59.4%/69.0%

New Orleans: 1.3%/3.5%

Seattle: 79.5%/79.8%

-----

New England: 49.4%/56.5%

Baltimore: 14.1%/25.8%

Indianapolis: 66.0%/72.6%

San Diego: 37.7%/59.2%

It's 5 out of 8. The issue is 10 out of 10 people would have picked Seattle, Indy, and Chicago. Likely New England as well despite some of the hype surrounding Miami.

Only San Diego represented a remotely unique prediction. And even if you discount New Orleans as remarkable, completely missing the boat on Dallas (predicted 4th in the division) and Baltimore (predicted 3rd) is pretty bad. It's not that they were obvious. It's that your percentages for them were roughly the same chance any other random person would have given.

Unless DVOA ratings can predict something unique that few others would do, what purpose do they serve?

As for wild cards DVOA predicted Washington (53.9%) and Atlanta (56.4%). While Atlanta has justified it's percentage, Washington certainly hasn't. And in the AFC? Roughly a 3-way tie between Pittsburgh (52%), Denver (52.2%) and Kansas City (54.4%).

Roughly speaking, DVOA will likely have gotten just above a 50% accuracy rate when the playoffs begin, all put together. Frankly that's pretty sad. You can go to most any NFL message board and ask for a preseason power ranking and get something around 50%.

Your during the season rankings aren't much better, particularly DAVE which doesn't make much logical sense anyways.

I'll be interested to see if FO does a retrospective and really, critically, examines it's success.

75
by thad (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 10:34pm

re 58
the colts get a FD 4 times for every 10 pass atts(inc sacks)
the saints are at 3.6
NFL average
3.1

76
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 10:36pm

Indy also has a collosal lead over the entire rest of the league in 3rd down conversion percentage (55.5% to 47.1% for New Orleans, which is third).

Some of that's going to be rushing as well, but that's just demonstrating an insane ability to sustain drives. Again, I'm a little surprised that wouldn't show up in a yardage stat, but Drew Brees does have fairly lopsided games (~400 yard games - about 4) mixed with much more reasonable games (~200 yard games - about 4).

Manning, in contrast, only has 3 sub-200 yard games. So there's probably a distribution effect in there as well.

77
by Kal (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 10:37pm

So Chris - because the Saints weren't shown to be amazing after week 1 or in the preseason, DVOA is clearly a failure - despite it's ability to correctly predict that Denver wasn't that good, Indy wasn't that good, the Pats were fairly good even though they didn't traditionally look it, that the Jaguars are going to be tough, that Baltimore and SD are very, very strong, that Chicago is great but hugely unpredictable, but it doesn't matter because of defense and special teams, that Oakland's D actually is decent, that Seattle is not a great team (and that which loses to Arizona...comparing it to Green Bay)...

So, what are its failings? That Green Bay shows up as a better team than Seattle? I'm not sure that's a failing, even with the head-to-head matchup (at Seattle, which often gives the edge). Seattle's been lucky, they've been good at special teams, and they've often looked just plain bad. I'm even a Seattle fan, but the team...isn't great, and no amount of saying 'but look at the W-L!' is going to change that.

78
by Travis (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 10:40pm

The 40-yard TD is clearly not twice as good as an 80-yard TD.

Clearly not. Some might even argue it's less good. :)

From the link in #74:

DET 19.6% 36.1% 7.7 1.93

Just wondering - what did DVOA see in Detroit? An easy schedule and division? Something else?

79
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 10:40pm

completely missing the boat on Dallas (predicted 4th in the division) and Baltimore (predicted 3rd) is pretty bad.

1) Dallas has a one-game lead on the division, with no tiebreakers, with three games to go. They haven't won the division yet.

In fact, if they lose to Atlanta, they won't be the division leader.

2) The prediction basically had the entire NFC East at 8+/-1 win. The only team the NFC East prediction missed on was Washington.

Roughly speaking, DVOA will likely have gotten just above a 50% accuracy rate when the playoffs begin, all put together. Frankly that’s pretty sad.

Are you sure? Go look at King Kauffman's playoff prediction results over the past few years. 50% is pretty darned good.

80
by Greg (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 10:41pm

Exactly what kind of retarded projection system included estimated wins in determining rankings WHEN THE TEAM HAS ALREADY GOTTEN MORE WINS THAN THE ESTIMATE? Also, any system that doesn't weight the last 7 or so games heavier than the first game in the season is horribly broken. Teams get hot and teams go cold. Teams gain focus and lose focus. And as important as anything else, teams lose players or get them back from injury.

81
by David (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 10:43pm

Greg: please examine the definition of "weighted DVOA".

82
by jim m (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 10:43pm

I was looking at special teams ratings and I noticed that Oakland is listed 28th or so in the punting category - how does that happen when there punter is averaging 48 yards a kick?

83
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 10:44pm

Chris, as I said, in previous years, FO has been well above average in predicting playoff teams. Now, we still are working with a very small sample size, so it is hard to say whether this year will be more aberrant than previous years, but if your standard for "terrible" is having one single year where the success rate is 50%, then I would suggest to you that there will probably never, ever, be a non-terrible method of predicting playoff participants.

Your standard of what constitutes "terrible" encompasses predictions which get 50% in one year, or 50% in every year, which renders the term "terrible" fairly devoid of meaning. It would be akin to saying, in 1998, that Warren Buffett was a "terrible" investor, because his performance far lagged many during the tech bubble, and, no, I'm not saying that Aaron's track record in picking playoff teams can be considered equal to Buffett's in picking companies, just that your broad definition of "terrible" has little value.

84
by Travis (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 10:49pm

I was looking at special teams ratings and I noticed that Oakland is listed 28th or so in the punting category - how does that happen when there punter is averaging 48 yards a kick?

16 touchbacks (the next highest team is at 12) and lots of returnable kicks. Oakland's net punting average is more than 11 yards less than its gross average.

Compare the rest of Oakland's punting stats with the league's, and you can see why they rank near the bottom.

85
by Chris (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 10:49pm

Re: 83

I admit, never kept up with DVOA before this year so clearly I could be wrong long-term. This has not been a kind year to you guys however.

86
by Spoilt Victorian Child (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 10:50pm

Chris, I'm not sure whether you don't understand the limits of statistical analysis, or just think that Aaron doesn't. He has explained countless times that the Saints preseason projection was basically irrelevant -- many of these times were before the season began. Similarly, there is no way to predict injuries, or the influence of coaching changes and getting hit by a car. I guarantee that no one who writes for FO would tell you otherwise.

The idea that the average NFL fan predicts playoff teams with 50% accuracy is, of course, absurd. The FO FAQ (click my name, scroll down to "Does DVOA really work?") compares the success of DVOA vs. other statistical measures.

87
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 10:52pm

Also, Aaron has repeatedly said that the Saints have so many unusual features that DVOA has a hard time with them. Guess what? So did everybody else. If the Cowboys do go on to win, it will be attributable to a qb, who had hardly ever taken a snap, coming in at midseason and reversing their course. Now, show me one prediction that said the Cowboys would make the playoffs by benching Bledsoe and starting Romo. Aaron's prediction for the Bledsoe-led Cowboys was more accurate than many.

88
by jim m (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 10:57pm

87. There was plenty of talk about Romo taking over for Bledsoe even in the pre-season. Certainly Parcells was actively preparing for such a scenario in pre-season. Regarding most pre-season predictions - most "expert" sites simply predict the teams that won the year before with maybe a change or two based on some high profile free-agent signing.

89
by Chris (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 10:57pm

Re: 79

The additional way of comparing is to look at the predict wins-vs-expected wins. It's not very kind their either. A cursory glance yields (for the season)
Dallas - 7.5
Detroit - 7.7
Tampa Bay - 7.5
New Orleans - 3.6
New York - 5.2
Baltimore - 7.4
Pittsburgh - 9.6
Kansas City - 10.0
Oakland - 7.9

All multiple games off the expected already with numerous others threatening easily to veer way off as well (Carolina - 9.9, Buffalo 5.4, Jacksonville - 8.5, etc)

The most significant successes DVOA had were SD over Denver, Tennessee as a 7 win team, Miami as an 8 win team, Tampa as not a playoff team. Beyond that it's mostly been the unremarkable or significant misses. Even if you throw out suprises you probably couldn't be expected to anticipate (New Orleans and NYJ's primarily) the bad certainly out-weighs the good, this season at least.

Will Allen says that they have had success in the past so *shrug*.

90
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 11:01pm

The most significant successes DVOA had were SD over Denver, Tennessee as a 7 win team,

Find me someone else who thought Oakland's defense was going to be one of the best in the league. Really. I'd love to see even one.

91
by milo (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 11:02pm

#87 Will:
Did you see Romo against the 'hawks in the pre-season? I was there, back when I thought the 'hawks defense was going to be really good and he tore them up. I guess that before the pre-season, before I had ever heard of him, I would have been surprised. But even after I realized the 'hawks defense was worse than last years, Romo's pre-season game was still impressive.

92
by Spoilt Victorian Child (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 11:07pm

87. There was plenty of talk about Romo taking over for Bledsoe even in the pre-season. Certainly Parcells was actively preparing for such a scenario in pre-season.
That is true. If you have a suggestion for accounting for that talk statistically, I think everyone would be very interested in hearing it.

93
by Todd (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 11:07pm

Week 1 predicted playoff teams:
AFC - Colts, Chargers, Bengals, Chiefs, Broncos, Patriots
NFC - Seahawks, Bears, Eagles, Falcons, Panthers, Redskins

As of now, actual playoff teams:
AFC - Colts, Chargers, Bengals, Ravens, Jaguars, Patriots
NFC - Seahawks, Bears, Eagles, Cowboys, Giants, Saints

Not terribly impressive - 50% in one conference, 67% in the other. You could argue fairly that everyone was blindsided by the Saints - too many variables on a previously awful team. But if you're going to dismiss this as an impossible-to-predict aberration, then you should also take away credit for predicting the obvious - no points for correctly saying that the Seahawks and Bears (and to a lesser degree, the Patriots) would win their abysmal divisions. After that, it looks a bit ugly for the beloved DVOA.

The Cowboys at 20th? Only mildly more bizarre than the Redskins as a playoff team. The Jets at 31st doesn't look quite as dumb as the Raiders at 17th. The Ravens dead last in their division and 15th overall? You can say all you want about the Ravens surprising everybody, but shouldn't your statistics be a little closer to the mark if they are so "innovative?"

94
by Chris (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 11:07pm

The Saints talk mostly had to do with DVOA at this point. I realize preseason no one would have expected the Saints to be as good as they are now, including many Saints fans. The issue is adjustments should have occured by now.

You can/will point to the weighted DVOA of course, but even that begs the question why the discounting of the Saints 5-1 record to begin the season somehow yields a higher rating.

As far as 50% being a high rate of success, please. The easiest way to solve this would be to find a pre-season fan poll. ESPN conducts one but unfourtantly doesn't keep the results.

http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/powerranking?week=0&season=2006
The page containing the link however does contain ESPN's preseason poll which, not shockingly, predicts 4 of the 8 division leaders (Indy, Chicago, and Seattle, the 3 I said were incredibly blatant, and Dallas, which DVOA missed the boat on).

95
by Todd (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 11:10pm

Forgot to mention: those Seahawks were #1 overall as of the first week of the season. How the mighty have (at least as presented by statistics) fallen!

96
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 11:10pm

DVOA ratings threads are never fun to read anymore.

97
by Chris (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 11:11pm

Re: 92

Which supports what I was saying. If DVOA can't account for even basic things such as rookies starting, injuries, head coaching changes, etc...doesn't that only lend credence to the charge that DVOA is fundamentally doomed to not be particularly effective?

But all of this is moot. Will Allen says DVOA has had higher rates of success in the past, i'm not going to research it, so, maybe this year is just a fluke.

98
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 11:13pm

No, Chris, it isn't that I said it. It is because it's true. Tell me, would you evaluate a mutual fund manager by one year's results. Would you evaluate him by one year's results, without examining a standard to compare it to? If not, one could well say "Stockpicker Jones sucks; he has made nine incorrect predictions!", which is a pointless statement, because it lacks context.

If you are going to say "A has not predicted well", and have the statement be meaningful, it is incumbent to demonstrate that B,C, and D have done worse, or at least no better, for a meaningful length of time.

Frankly, given the amount of luck contained in a football season, I think only having nine projected wins, out of 32, off by multiple games is pretty good. Are you seriously suggesting that the average fan could do as well?

99
by thad (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 11:15pm

Chris,
the Saints are giving up 5 yards per carry.
Opposing qb's have a rating of 85 against the Saints.
Their defense is pretty lame.
playoffs?
sure
One and done, yup.

100
by Chris (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 11:18pm

Re: 98

No I agree, seriously. I'm not going to look up the results and I trust you aren't misrepresenting them. Apparently this year was just "out-there" in terms of DVOA.

101
by Kal (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 11:19pm

#94: Because that 5-1 record was not that great both in comparison to who they played, and in comparison to how they played. They were winning games ugly. Brees wasn't performing anywhere close to what he's doing now, they had beaten the mighty Buccaneers, Packers and Browns in close games, had lost to the Panthers (who didn't look all that hot and in which they gave up, like, a zillion yards), and their one amazing win was against Atlanta in their homecoming game - and even then, they didn't look that great in a win.

Since then they've been on something of a rampage, losing to what would be called good teams and winning big against bad ones. And their weighted DVOA has improved since as well.

The point of DVOA is to point out that just because a team wins does not mean that it is that great of a team; whether a team wins is not as good an indicator of future success as how that team plays. NO early on won close games against bad teams; that doesn't indicate a good team.

Now that they're winning blowout games against good teams, DVOA says 'hey, this team r0xors' and adjusts appropriately.

At this point in the season, DVOA is good for two things: who is going to get into the playoffs, and who is going to beat who in the playoffs. It's been very good in the past on this (the Pittsburgh anomaly being an interesting but not insane exception). But it's not perfect; it isn't going to predict wins/losses better that points for/against.

It does predict _why_ teams will win against other teams better than almost any other statistical tool I've seen. But at the end of the day, it's just a statistical tool; it can't tell you what the effect of shoulder surgery and a hurricane will be, nor can it tell you how good a QB that hasn't played a snap will perform, nor can it gauge the effect a backup veteran QB will have on the team's defense. If you expect it to...well, that's a bit silly, doncha think?

102
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 11:20pm

doesn’t that only lend credence to the charge that DVOA is fundamentally doomed to not be particularly effective?

Wait, what are you expecting?

Seriously, how predictable do you expect a sport to be?

A completely objective projection system that's ~50% effective at picking playoff teams is pretty good. Especially when it contains no information like "this team has replaced half its players". Why? Because you can always add that information in yourself subjectively.

DVOA ratings threads are never fun to read anymore.

I really do wonder what people expect from an objective rating sometimes, really. What, you expect 75% success rate? It's an objective rating. Find another one that does better. No, not a fan poll, which has access to lots more information. An objective rating.

103
by Spoilt Victorian Child (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 11:21pm

Which supports what I was saying. If DVOA can’t account for even basic things such as rookies starting, injuries, head coaching changes, etc…doesn’t that only lend credence to the charge that DVOA is fundamentally doomed to not be particularly effective?
Well, apparently not. Regardless, the point isn't that DVOA specifically can't account for those things -- it's that no statistical analysis can. DVOA can only be concerned with being the best statistical model.

104
by Spoilt Victorian Child (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 11:25pm

Because you can always add that information in yourself subjectively.
This should be highlighted further. DVOA is not meant to be the final word. It's supposed to be interpreted.

I will try to stop spamming this thread now.

105
by DGL (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 11:26pm

According to the Mike Harris Playoff Odds Report, the Bears are 34.9% likely to win the Super Bowl. (Am I allowed to use that term without having paid my royalty to the NFL?)

bodog.com's current odds for a SB win bet on the Bears are 4:1.

Just sayin'.

106
by Todd (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 11:27pm

I think that to judge whether DVOA predicts success "significantly better than average," a good starting point would be a definition of "average." Fan polls? An average of other publications' predictions? Throwing darts at a big poster of NFL logos? Not an informative claim without specifics and numbers.

It appears to me that a large part of the burr under Chris's saddle is the consistent smugness of the columns, even when they are wrong. It's always explained away with a reassuring "don't believe your eyes, the statistics tell the real truth." I doubt he would be as annoyed if there were just occasionally an admission that sometimes a team's success is not quantifiable in numbers.

107
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 11:28pm

It is one thing to see Romo in preseason, and say he should start. I saw him, and thought that might be the case. It is another thing entirely to say that the Cowboys with Bledsoe starting will fall well short of the playoffs, but the Cowboys with Romo starting will have a very good chance to win the division, I know of no one who made such a statement, but maybe I missed it.

Look, I don't worship at the DVOA altar. I was on record as saying that the Vikings win projection of 5.9, with a 30% chance of winning 4 or less, was missing some serious elements, and their current estimated wins of 7, with three games left, indicates that the DVOA projection was off. That's a long way from saying that the DVOA method lacks value, however, in my opinion, tremendous value. I think a statistical system which is even 10% better, maybe even just 5% better, over traditonal "expert" opinion, or the general consensus of fans, over an extended length of time, at predicting which teams will make the playoffs, is very powerful. I think FO is well on it's way to getting to that point.

108
by Todd (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 11:28pm

Or, maybe just a "hmmm, maybe we don't have this right just yet."

109
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 11:31pm

Actually, Todd, Aaron has repeatedly stated that there are occasions in which a team's success is not quantifiable in numbers.

110
by admin :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 11:32pm

And now, the deadly secret as to why Football Outsiders tries to promote its successes...

I have a mortgage and a daughter.

111
by Bill (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 11:32pm

105 - I wonder if that takes into account 1) potential seedings 2) home field 3) sub-total-DVOA matchups (offense vs. defense, pass vs. run, etc.)

112
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 11:33pm

#104: Exactly.

Aaron pointed this out in a previous thread, pointing out the Oakland prediction. DVOA said "Oakland's offense is going to be pretty bad next year." FO writers saw that, saw that Art Shell was bringing a bed and breakfast coordinator in as OC, and was bringing in Aaron Brooks as quarterback, and immediately said "oh, God, Oakland's offense is going to be utterly ungodly horrendous."

DVOA is great for giving you a starting point that's sane, and then letting you adjust up and down based on any additional information you have.

Like for Detroit, you just throw out that prediction every single year. In some sense, DVOA expects the front office/coaching staff to not be as god-awful bad as Detroit is.

113
by Matt Weiner (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 11:39pm

Sometime last offseason I looked at ESPN's expert predictions of who would make the playoffs in 2005-6 versus who did make the playoffs in 2005-6. IIRC the results were exactly as good as chance.

114
by Jason Mulgrew aka The Mul Dawg aka J-Rocka (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 11:41pm

read in Borat voice:

I like the football very much. It nice. Very nice.

Eags 5th in DVOA. High five!

115
by thad (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 11:43pm

"I think a statistical system which is even 10% better, maybe even just 5% better, over traditonal “expert� opinion, or the general consensus of fans, over an extended length of time, at predicting which teams will make the playoffs, is very powerful."

And if this was a visa card commercial I would add that any website that's better than the crap I hear on tv every week from Maas, Cross, and Dierdorf is priceless.

116
by Signor Sack (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 11:45pm

That's just what this thread needed... the "Borat guy". :-)

117
by b-man (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 11:47pm

Updated DVOA Charts:
Week 14
Week 13
Week 12
Check out STL Game.

118
by zip (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 11:49pm

#114

At this point, I'm hoping you're a bot waging a war against Jason Mulgrew.

119
by NF (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 11:52pm

DVOA projections do have variables for things such as changes in offensive system, injury risk at QB, and recent highly-drafted rookies on offense or defense. Aaron has admitted the Washington projection was off because he thought the Redskins were not introducing the full Saunders offense because they did not use any plays with motion in the preseason, and thus the offense was not projected lower due to the learning curve. It turned out that a major problem with the offense at first, which probably lost them 2-3 games before the defense started to collapse from injuries, was that the team was struggling to learn the offense.

Dallas does demonstrate something that has been a subtle significant finding of FO, which is that QBs have a significant responsibility for the number of sacks they take. Dallas's achilles heel that was keeping its projection low was that the Dallas pass protection was horrible in 2005, and they did nothing to improve it during the offseason. However, by replacing the immobile Drew Bledsoe with the somewhat more mobile and quicker reacting Tony Romo, the pass protection is no longer a major problem. None of that would have mattered, however, if Romo was awful, and there was a lack of statistics from real games to predict how he would do.

120
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 11:56pm

Regarding sane starting points, that is an excellent way of looking at it. Where Aaron was spot-on regarding the Vikings, when many "experts" were touting the virtues of "game managers", was how vulnerable the Vikings were due to bad qb play, and this has certainly been borne out. I was slightly overconfident in Brad Johnson, but where I had an advantage in DVOA regarding the Vikings preseason projection was that I could account for how weirdly dysfunctional their management and coaching had been in previous years, and that just having normal capital invested in a coaching staff would likely prevent a season of four wins or less.

Then, the more I found out about incoming defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin, the more I became confident that the defense would be well above average, which helped balance out my slight overestimation of how much production the Vikings would get from the quarterback. Toss in Koren Robinson faling off the wagon, which shouldn't have surprised me (or the Vikings), which led to the wr production falling into the abyss, and the Vikings will likely slightly fall a little short of my esitmate of nine wins, and Aaron's esitmate of 5.9 wins will likely be a little more off the mark. I have no illusions, however, that I could match Aaron for the rest of the league; I just can't know those other teams as well.

121
by Bionicman (not verified) :: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 11:59pm

Todd made an absolutely vital point that nobody seems to ever have thought of for any length of time, so I'll repeat it.

"I think that to judge whether DVOA predicts success “significantly better than average,� a good starting point would be a definition of “average.� Fan polls? An average of other publications’ predictions? Throwing darts at a big poster of NFL logos? Not an informative claim without specifics and numbers."

I think that neither the people who think DVOA is worthwhile nor the people who think it's broken can make a truly strong argument without a baseline defining what 'average' is. Will Allen used the analogy of how many picks a stockbroker gets right compared to how many most people get right; using that analogy, the only way to evaluate the success of DVOA is to find out how accurate other predictions are. It's one of the fundamental ideas behind most endeavors, especially in science: if there's a way to compare how well you're doing to how well others are doing, you should use it.

122
by Signor Sack (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 12:10am

Here's Peter King's predictions for this year. Linked in my name for verification.
NFC Playoffs Seeds: 1. Seattle. 2. Dallas. 3. Carolina. 4. Detroit. 5. Giants. 6. Philadelphia.
AFC Playoffs Seeds: 1. Indianapolis. 2. New England. 3. Cincinnati. 4. Denver. 5. Miami. 6. San Diego.

123
by jonnyblazin (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 12:19am

All of this DVOA criticism is getting pretty tired. As a football fan, I used to look in the paper at the box scores on monday mornings to get a read on how the other teams were doing. Yardage stats, turnovers, first downs were pretty much all I could go on, and make an estimate from there as to how good teams were. Of course I knew this was flawed, because my football viewing experience told me that the better team is usually the one who moves the ball more effectively and consistantly down the field, not the team who makes a big play to score. Now thankfully DVOA is around, so instead of using flawed stats to base my judgements on, I have a statistical system that takes into account all of my common sense objections to the raw statistical data that the box score provides. Since the only way to fully evaluates teams is to watch every single NFL game, DVOA is then the second best way to gain an understanding of whats happening in the NFL, which is not bad at all.

124
by Fiver (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 12:32am

The Ravens have played the #2, #3, and #4 ranked DVOA offenses. They gave up 13, 20, 22, and 13 points in their 4 games against those offenses. They also played the #9 offense last week and gave up just 10 points.

Meanwhile, the best offenses the Bears have played are the #7, #8, and #10 ranked DVOA offenses. Those teams scored 20, 17 and 27 points against Chicago.

And yet, all I hear is how the Bears are the best defense in the league this year.

125
by admin :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 12:34am

Re: 105/111. The algorithm in the Harris odds report considers home-field advantage. There is also an adjustment for warm/dome teams on the road in cold cities, and a bonus for the home teams in round two of the playoffs (i.e. teams with a bye). Home teams in rounds one and three get the normal home-field advantage. There's no home-field advantage in the Super Bowl. More intricate splits (pass/rush) are NOT considered at this time.

126
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 12:40am

It’s one of the fundamental ideas behind most endeavors, especially in science: if there’s a way to compare how well you’re doing to how well others are doing, you should use it.

DVOA's real competition isn't experts, though - that would be Aaron's competition. It's unfair to compare a pure DVOA projection to an expert's prediction, for two reasons:

1) The season DVOA prediction is giving probabilities. With 8 divisions, and 12 wild cards, you're going to get fluky answers even if your original estimate was right. The predictions are absolutes. You're going to be totally limited by the granularity of the prediction (i.e. you've only got 12 things to predict).

2) The experts have access to more information than DVOA does. They should do better.

If you want to compare apples to apples, you'd compare DVOA (which is a metric) to another metric. Like yards, for instance. Or points. Or wins. And that's what's done in the FO FAQ up above. And the preseason DVOA is ridiculously good at predicting full-season DVOA compared to other stats.

127
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 12:43am

And yet, all I hear is how the Bears are the best defense in the league this year.

Fiver:

I've been saying exactly the same thing to other fans in the sports bar around here for weeks. I utterly do not understand why people are discounting the Ravens this year.

128
by D (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 12:48am

I think alot of the reason the Bears rank as high as they do is that they have forced an enourmous number turnovers.

129
by jonnyblazin (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 12:48am

re: 124
As a Raven fan the thing that worries me about their defense is being beat deep. If they are ever caught in a situation with a reciever running a deep pass being covered one on one by Samari Rolle, it means big trouble. Chicago isn't as good against the run, but can bring more pressure than the Ravens with just their front 4 and cover the hell out of the recievers. The Ravens have much more complex blitzing schemes, which means more pressure, but more oppurtunities for big plays against them.

130
by D (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 12:49am

That was in reference to #127.

131
by NF (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 12:55am

127:

People are tired of Ray Lewis and other people think the management and/or the coach have rocks for brains.

Was Kyle Boller really that bad?

132
by Kal (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 1:08am

#124: it's because they've done things like that atrocious game against Carolina where they allowed ridiculous big plays to happen, and games against Cinci where they scored, like, no points until the very end. It's not that they're not a good defense - they're excellent, as good as Chicago's in most categories - it's that they're not able to just win games the way that the Bears D/ST can, seemingly.

Though I am concerned about Chicago's D after watching STL plow it hard. Not enough of a pass rush, bad coverage against good receivers (Holt should've been better than he was, and he was great), and not the best coverage of RBs in dumpoff or even running. It's not the best game for the Bears, and I'm not sure we'll even get a good idea of how much Harris's being gone matters.

133
by Will T (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 1:17am

Can someone comment upon the fact that the NFC hold about half of the top 16 teams? Yet everyone nags about how bad the NFC is.

So is the NFC [top three East teams plus Chicago] really that good, are the ratings incorrect, or is my observation misinterpreted?

134
by Scott de B. (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 1:17am

There was plenty of talk about Romo taking over for Bledsoe even in the pre-season. Certainly Parcells was actively preparing for such a scenario in pre-season.

The talk was that Parcells' choice was to punt this season to develop Romo, or start Bledsoe. Early on it was clear Romo wouldn't start this season.

From NFL.com:

But Romo is the only quarterback who took snaps in the Cowboys' preseason opener -- the first time coach Bill Parcells has ever used only one quarterback in a game before the regular season. And Parcells plans to give Romo more extended playing time this preseason.

"There's an indication that maybe he's on the right track. This is not in cement here," Parcells said. "I need more information. I think we're going to get it. And I'm hoping it will be as a starter someday."

In the future, not this season. Parcells said there is no quarterback controversy.

135
by John Gach (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 1:25am

#74, Chris. DVOA doesn't predict future success -- if it did, Aaron Schatz should close up shop and make his fortune wagering on football games. It predicts the probability of future success based on past performance, sort of like the difference between estimated and actual wins. This probability is (or so it strikes me) a bit like the wave function in quantum physics. Just as a particle can materialize anywhere, so can any possible result actually happen. As the games are played, the significance of prior probabilities diminishes in predictive power.

And then there is the unpredictable and unforeseeable. I believe all the FO writers but one completely missed the benign change in quality of this year's Ravens team. In his rankings for Fox after the Steelers game (http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/story/6217244) Aaron gave five reasons why the Ravens turned out to be much better than FO thought they would be. All were right on target and several were not so obvious, especially the importance of their completely unknown fullback, Ovie Mughelli, and of the high quality play of Dawan Landry at safety. One thing he didn't mention was the fine play of defensive end Trevor Pryce, whose signing by the Ravens was pooh-poohed by FO as a waste of money. He also didn't mention that, especially on defense, the Ravens have this year (and unlike last year) been very lucky with injuries. FO expected the Ravens defense to regress (which was the statistical likelihood) and expected McNair to be injured by now. PFP specifically mentioned that the Ravens were very thin in the defensive backfield. They still are, but have managed to avoid any significant injuries. [See http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=hruby/061212 for Billick's QB depth chart).

136
by Stillio (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 1:34am

@124: I'll see your #2,3,4 and raise you #1,5,6,7 with points given up of 21,17, 17, 6 and 10. That defense would be Jacksonville. Now if only they could show up against the Texans...

137
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 1:52am

it’s because they’ve done things like that atrocious game against Carolina where they allowed ridiculous big plays to happen,

You mean, like the game Arizona had against Chicago?

and games against Cinci where they scored, like, no points until the very end.

Well, that's their offense, not their defense.

it’s that they’re not able to just win games the way that the Bears D/ST can, seemingly.

That part I definitely agree with: the Ravens special teams is nowhere near as good as the Bears special teams.

138
by Fiver (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 1:53am

Re #136
That is impressive. Even moreso when you consider all the injuries to highly-regarded players that the Jags have suffered on D. John G makes a good point about the Ravens injury luck this year. The Jags have had bad injury luck and they still field a great D every week. Except Texans week. Twice a year. For some reason.

139
by Kal (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 2:13am

#137: Arizona against Chicago wasn't that bad from a defensive standpoint; Arizona had an insane 19 drives that game that gained a total of 300 yards or so. 20 yards/drive is not that bad. Even giving up one big drive and one medium drive, it was a good defensive effort. When your offense turns it over 6 times, the defense giving up 20 points is not actually that bad.

The Bears performing against the Rams is more indicative and more scary of what the Bears defense could (or more accurately, could not) do.

As to the Ravens' offense, you asked why people don't talk about them the way they do the Bears. Well, it's because of the offense, not the defense. The Bears - when they have it going - have it going on all fronts. The Ravens have a glaring weakness, and that is their offense.

Strangely, both defenses do not feature particularly good secondary, and both defenses don't care that much.

The Ravens are better right now if only because of injuries to key Bears. I don't know if they're absolutely better, but I do know that I'd rather face the Bears if only in the hopes that Grossman would suck it hard. If he doesn't suck...well, it might as well be game over.

140
by Peter (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 2:33am

Re 123:

I agree that the value of DVOA lies in refining some of the broad strokes that traditional box score statistics make.

But when it belies what you're seeing on the field, and you persist in touting its virtue, you're going to cultivate some animosity for your smugness (sorry Aaron).

For instance, take what DPAR says about LaDanian Tomlinson's season. FO understates the value of a rushing TD with the argument that most backs reap the reward of a score despite the fact that the rest of the offense did all the work to get them into position to cross the goal line. This is a reasonable statement, generally speaking (especially for the Brandon Jacobs' of the world).

But to anybody who watches a Chargers game, it's obvious just how focal Tomlinson is to the Chargers offense. He has single-handedly won games for them (Oakland II) and even in his high percentage situations (TD #29) he literally sees 10 defenders in the box keying on him.

DPAR values those runs the same as an Indianapolis days Edgerrin James red zone TD where the defense is on its heels defending the pass and so you'll see a runner like that get similar Above Replacement value.

You can argue that Tomlinson benefits from Rivers/Gates in the same manner as Edge did Peyton. But actually watching the game makes this unclear. Is Tomlinson the beneficiary of a great TE and QB or vice versa?

141
by lastchance (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 2:41am

As a Seahawks fan, I love the 49ers, Cardinals and Rams.

142
by John Gach (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 2:48am

#138, Fiver. Jacksonville's ability to compensate for the loss of first-rate defensive players has astounded me. If Indy could have started the Jax secondstring defensive unit, they'd probably be on their way to their first Manning era Super Bowl win. I guess they'd need to bring with them some Jacksonville coaches and defensive schemes as well.

#129, Mike Preston has been pointing out in his Baltimore Sun column much of the year that the Ravens secondary hasn't really played very well. There are signs that the secondary is beginning to play with more discipline. If the DBs stop giving up the big pass plays that result from their gambling on making ESPN highlight plays, this defense might be close to 2000's in quality. Few people now remember that for the first half of the year (and in the final season game against the Jets) the Ravens 2000 secondary wasn't the shutdown unit that it became in the playoffs. And who now remembers the real 2000 Super Bowl, which was the Ravens-Titans second round game in the playoffs. A tense and great game between two terrific teams. The Ravens beat a team that was better balanced and maybe even a bit better than they were with unlikely special teams play and one hard-to-believe play by Ray Lewis, where he took the ball away from Eddie George and ran it back for a touchdown.

#131. Boller was pretty bad. Think Joey Harrington and I think you'll have it about right. Might be a pretty good backup QB though (see Huard, Damon, and [this year] Harrington, Joey). Even a McNair whose skills have seriously declined is worlds better than Boller was last year. It's not that he's been great -- until the last few games he's been below average until about the last three minutes of the 4th quarter. But, except possibly for the Cincy game played on four days rest, he hasn't lost a single game for the team. He's rarely fumbled (a particular curse of Boller's); he doesn't trip over his own feet two or three times a game; and lots of other "he doesn'ts." He was awful in the game in Cincy -- but so was the whole team. The Ravens didn't even try to make any downfield throws, so the not-exactly invincible Cincy secondary [see the SD game] just sat on the short routes and didn't even bother playing the Ravens receivers deep.

Meantime the Ravens offense has been slowly but inexorably rising from about #26 to this week's #12 ranking. With their defense & special teams play, I figured they needed to get to average (ca. #15-16) on offense to be a SB threat. Well they're there. I expect that they will be a scary team in the playoffs. This is a team that hasn't peaked yet. As noted above, the secondary can play much better (and might need to if they play Cincy or SD).

One other thing worth mentioning, not worth a farthing statistically: this team is tremendously motivated and has a singleness of purpose that very much reminds one of 2000. The Lewises (Ray & Jamal), Jonathan Ogden, and a number of other elderly players know that this is almost certainly their last chance for another Super Bowl ring. They don't need FO to tell them that next year's defense won't likely compare to this year's. This is their window of opportunity and they know it. So far as I can tell, there are no T.O's more interested in self-aggrandizement than team success. I don't know how much to count this kind of team unity for, but I do know that I've seen it before -- in three Patriots teams that won Super Bowls.

143
by NF (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 2:55am

140: You raise an important point that is a factor to consider when comparing DPAR across teams. The replacement-level baseline assumes that the rest of the pieces of the offense are average. So DPAR will overvalue a player when he plays in a very good offense (Edge in Indianapolis)and undervalue him when he plays in a very bad offense (Edge in Arizona, actually just a very bad line).

144
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 2:55am

I think that at this point in their respective careers, Gates and Tomlinson are pulling Rivers along. Gates emerged in late 2003 despite a struggling Brees, and then he was the best in the league the next two years. Tomlinson was great as a rookie, with Doug Flutie, and he was great when Brees was struggling.

The Manning/Edge relationship was so hard to evaluate because it lasted so long. They both broke out in 1999, they were together for seven years, and they always did well.

The Chargers don't have that really long-term stability, so we know Gates and Tomlinson were great without Rivers.

145
by jonnyblazin (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 2:57am

re:134
The Ravens secondary depth is being understated here, I think. At the beginning of the season, yeah, there were a lot of question marks, but Ivy has played very well, as has UFA (LSU) Ronnie Prude, who was even mentioned as a possible starter due to Rolle's struggles. On top of that they have 3rd and 6th round picks (Pittman and Martin) watching and learning. Lesson: never doubt Newsome's scouting of defensive players, he completely made over the entire secondary minus Reed, Rolle, McCalister with complete success in a year.
re: 139
Would anyone take the Bears offense over the Ravens? Ever since the bye week the Ravens passing offense has been very potent (save the Cincy game, which they treated as a bye week and didn't practice). They've only given up 16 sacks and hardly ever turn the ball over. While the title 'Captain Checkdown' is deserved for McNair, he showed last game that if teams press too close to the line of scrimmage he'll go deep. The offense isn't great, but it doesn't have an obvious weakness (like, say, a QB who wildly slings the ball in random directions when pressured, or who can properly read a LB dropping into zone coverage).

146
by doktarr (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 2:59am

RE: 140,

Given that the beginning of Tomlinson's historic tear coincided with Rivers breaking out as a QB, I would say he is benefiting from the QB and the TE. Surely it works both ways; Rivers would not be the same without Tomlinson.

I agree that TD #29 was a great run (classic LT turning the corner), but I think most starting RBs in the league would have gotten the other two.

147
by jdb (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 3:06am

well, first for chris/todd and DVOA detractors:

I've never seen any claims that DVOA has been perfected. I'm not going to pretend I've studied enough about statistics to understand its' nuts and bolts, but I do know that the beauty and flaw of statistical systems is that they only take into account things that can somehow be quantified. FO is doing something that no one else did before; analzying data from football and examining it for trends.
Bill James started developing sabrmetrics for baseball more than 30 years ago and sabrmetricians are still tweaking their various systems of analysis every year to improve accuracy. I would assume that it would take much longer to develop accuracy with football, which has a much smaller sample size to work with every season. If you feel like DVOA is so seriously flawed, why don't you create your own, more accurate system to project how NFL teams and players will perform?

Also, for FO people, is Devin Hester in the midst of the greatest season of kick returning since the inception of DVOA?

148
by NF (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 3:07am

146:

Yeah, they are definitely feeding LT the ball at the goal line since they realized he could break the record, but when he keeps on getting the TDs how do you justify not giving him the ball at the goal line? Seriously, Marty must be in some sort of Zen state of tranquility.

149
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 3:16am

I think the monster touchdown numbers come from the combination of a great halfback and a great offense. Tomlinson gets to finish off a lot of drives because the Chargers are pretty good at putting drives together. They have (all these are arguable) the best TE, the best FB, the best QB under 25, and a defense with some solid strengths. They'll have more scoring drives than average.

Shaun Alexander had great blocking and a very well-coordinated passing game. Priest Holmes had Roaf, Shields, Green, and Richardson. Faulk had the Greatest Show on Turf.

I think the great halfbacks get lots of yards no matter what, but a good quarterback helps them get lots of touchdowns. For example, here's a Chargers drive with the struggling 2003 Brees: Four good runs by Tomlinson, then an incomplete on 3rd down that kills the drive. In 2006, let's have another drive where Tomlinson gets four good runs. However, this time, they're mixed in with five complete passes. Tomlinson's final run takes it in for the score. Tomlinson's not any better in the second example, and he still gets good yardage either way, but he gets a touchdown in the 2006 drive.

150
by Travis (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 3:28am

Also, for FO people, is Devin Hester in the midst of the greatest season of kick returning since the inception of DVOA?

I'd guess the previous record holder in the DVOA era (1997-2006) has to be Dante Hall, 2003. Extend it to 1996, maybe Desmond Howard tops the list.

151
by throughthelookingglass (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 3:49am

is it just me, or can most of the objections be answered by reading the article before the numbers, the explanation of how DVOA/DPAR works, and the FAQ page?

152
by Bill Barnwell :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 4:26am
153
by Richard (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 4:31am

151: No, you're right.

154
by Richard (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 4:35am

Yes, fear Aaron's psychic powers. haha

That just struck me as particularly funny.

155
by Richard (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 4:38am

Jermaine Fazande... wow. Dark days.

156
by the other Chris (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 4:38am

Regarding the surprisingly high playoff odds of the Cowboys, Giants and Eagles: my system (which differs only in estimation of individual game odds) has predicted slightly lower odds than the DVOA report all season long, and I subjectively believe that bit of bet hedging is realistic. However, this season, these teams, along with some other DVOA-favorites in the AFC, keep getting closer and closer to making the playoffs, making DVOA look really, really good from my perspective. It's one year, and things aren't over yet, but I've been very impressed with DVOA's ability to identify strong teams that don't have the W-L record to match and weak teams that may have a won a few games they shouldn't have.

I'll try to get to the graphical comparison tomorrow. I've been on business travel this week.

157
by D (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 4:45am

"Unfrozen Caveman Rookie"
I miss Phil Hartman.

158
by Maltodextrin (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 5:57am

I counted eight DC punk rock references in the Redskins comment. Nice job!

159
by Subrata Sircar (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 7:14am

"The Jets rank second in special teams because Justin Miller has now passed Josh Cribbs of Cleveland as the year's best kick returner ..."

Where does Hester rank? Scoring touchdowns and keeping the Bears offense off the field should be worth quite a bit.

On a theoretical note, it seems like kick returns are a case where touchdowns are more relevant than yardage; that is, a kick returner averaging 20 yards/return but never scoring is not as valuable as a returner averaging 15 yards/return but scoring on quite a few.

Avoiding an entire drive has to be worth quite a bit, when even the best offenses don't score TDs on half their possessions; that's one less chance for the offense to stall.

Do the DVOA formulations agree?

160
by Dan (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 7:44am

If you look at the preseason projections, you'll see that FO only expected the projection system to correctly pick 4.2 out of the 8 division winners. They're also the only people I know of who report a standard deviation when they predict each team's record. In other words, they know that the projections are nowhere close to perfect.

The thing to do, as others have said, is to compare them with other predictions, preferably of records or rankings within each division so that there's a decent amount of data. Even with all of the things that the statistical projections don't take into account, I wouldn't be surprised if there's no person who consistently does better.

161
by Not saying (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 8:26am

Miami's special teams rank is wrong in the Fox Sports version. It's listed as 32 when it should be 23.

I thought for a second the Steelers had lost their spot, but I quickly realized that was crazy.

162
by Jim M (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 9:40am

134. Of course Parcells is going to say there's no QB controversy, otherwise he's undermining his starter. One can use insight effectively. I think there were many people who thought Bledsoe was done and that Romo looked like he really had something from watching the pre-season games.

The statistical analysis on this site is very good. But uses observation and instinct is also a valuable tool for evaluation.

163
by Darrel Michaud (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 9:41am

Chris, to answer you question about why the weighted DVOA for the Saints is going up when it's discounting the 5-1 start -

While the second best NO game (week 3) is less important (gone?) so is the worst game (week 4). It also moves away from week 5, the 3 point win at home over Tampa Bay. Meanwhile the most weight is given to their hot last 3 weeks and one of their bigger wins, week 9.

Does anyone else find it funny that the measuring stick for accuracy is playoff predictions? Why are we focusing only on the top 12 teams, especially when so little separates who gets in? If DVOA after Week 1 says Team A is in the playoffs but misses it to Team B on a tiebreaker, is that such a bad thing? Furthermore, it tells us nothing about the strengths of the teams among those 12. FO's said all along in the season that the Colts were overrated, but everyone and every statistical measure had them at #1 5 weeks ago.

Also, just a general comment, it's a good idea to look at not just the rankings, but the actual number (or, the bar graph). Really, when you consider variability into it, the rankings really look something like:

Tier 1: Baltimore, San Diego, Chicago
Tier 2: Jax, Dallas, New Orleans, New England, Indianapolis, Cincy, NYG, Philly
Tier 3: Carolina, KC, Miami, Pittsburgh

And so on.

Is that really so unreasonable? There isn't much separating these teams in the tiers - and you could probably throw Tennessee and Buffalo in Tier 3. What's separating them is probably less than one on-the-field point per weighted DVOA. We can tell whose trending upwards, injury situations, qb changes, and all that. Bickering about a team ranked 11th when it could be ranked 4th without it really mattering is just a bit silly given the nature of the game and the nature of statistical analysis.

164
by MCS (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 9:58am

Hey Calvin,

My house in Clarkston is for sale.

MCS

165
by kleph (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 10:22am

gotta admit, the ian mckaye reference is almost as cool as the pylon one a few years back. almost.

166
by BlueStarDude (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 10:45am

RE: Saints turnaround - they said something during the broadcast about the team having 35 (or something close to that) new players from last year. That's an amazing number. Anyone know if that's the biggest roster turnover ever?

RE: Marion Barber only getting 2 carries - the Cowboys only had 6 offensive plays in the first quarter. Jones ran the ball well on his 10 carries. Romo and the poor blocking couldn't keep the offense on the field. The Cowboys scored on their first two drives of the second half, at which point Barber normally starts to get the ball more, but the Saints coudn't be stopped, did the onside kick thing, and soon it was a blow out and bye-bye running game. Unless Barber was going to cover the RBs out in the flat, or successfully replace one of the safeties, using him more would not have made a difference in that game.

167
by admin :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 11:02am

Re: 159. Devin Hester is the season's best punt returner, but not the best kickoff returner. He's behind Miller and Cribbs (and the combined efforts of Faulk and Maroney in New England).

Re: Predictions. We had the most accurate predictions in 2004. We had the most accurate predictions in 2005. I'm telling you right now that we're not going to make it three straight. Honestly, I didn't expect to make it two straight last year. Nobody's perfect. But if you look over the three-year period, or even four years going back to the first season of the site back in 2003, I would be shocked if we didn't pick more playoff teams than any other site/pundit.

168
by princeton73 (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 11:05am

But seriously, is a high variance (Jax) a sign of poor coaching? Or rather poor coaching decisions?

make a bar graph of the variances and you'll see how much Jax stands out

quite amazing

169
by paytonrules (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 11:05am

Monday was only the second or third time Hester has actually returned kicks. Up until now it's only been punts - so I doubt his KR numbers beat Dante Hall.

170
by young curmudgeon (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 11:19am

A Eurythmics reference on a football site! (Titans comment) You make me proud to be a Brunonian.

171
by Jerry P. (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 11:19am

"is it just me, or can most of the objections be answered by reading the article before the numbers, the explanation of how DVOA/DPAR works, and the FAQ page?"

Send this man a ROBO-PUNTER shirt.

172
by JasonK (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 11:21am

From the FOX Commentary:

What is it about the Rams and their horrible kickoff returns? Even signing Willie Ponder didn't help.

The guy has a couple of lucky runbacks for TDs and now he's expected to be a savior for lousy KR teams? He's not that good a player. The TDs he got with NYG were almost entirely a function of the blocking & crappy opponents.

173
by im_no_playa (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 11:32am

WARNING - non-DVOA related rant forthcoming, but this is the place to present complaint in zlionsfan format:

NFL is clearly ranked TOO HIGH because GREED (publicly funded stadia), POOR REFEREEING (roughing QB, various Pass Interference) AND SHRINKING AVAILABILITY (ie NFL Network, Sunday Ticket) have marked the apex of NFL popularity, and "down" is the only way to go from here.

5-day cricket test matches is way better than this. Tha eNFL haz dun poopied on a reely guud prawduct. Wellcom tha re-emurgance of di NHL!

Okay, seriously, I know someone brought it up in the past, but I am fearing that this season is just the start of some bad bad things in the NFL. I hope it is not so.

174
by Not saying (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 11:32am

Just had a thought from Any Given Sunday that seemed to apply more here. Ned wrote: "Overall, penalties do not correlate at all with wins and losses, but in a given day, penalties can kill."

There was an a few months ago (here) about how referees have tendencies in throwing flags. I know penalties don't correlate in general to wins (from ), but I wondered if they might when factoring in the referees' tendencies.

You might have already thought of this, and I have no idea how to do it, but it seemed like a possibility, since it does seem like undisciplined teams get penalized more and it hurts them more. Could be just perception, though.

It's also possible tendencies change from year to year (referees do to, I suppose), but maybe it could be something added to DVOA late in the year. Not this year.

175
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 11:35am

The Bears - when they have it going - have it going on all fronts. The Ravens have a glaring weakness, and that is their offense.

How much of that is real, and how much of that is the fact that the Bears have gotten to play the worst defenses in the league much more than Baltimore?

The weakest defense that Baltimore has faced so far has been ranked 25th in DVOA - the weakest 4 defenses they've faced have been 25th, 24th, 23rd, and 21st. You get the basic range.

The weakest defense that the Bears have faced is ranked 32nd. The 4 weakest defenses they've faced are ranked 32, 30, 29, and 27.

The sole edge I would give (and it's a big edge) to Chicago over Baltimore is their ungodly awesome special teams. Chicago's offense has never really impressed me - it always looked like they were exploiting breakdowns in coverage and poor tackling. Anyone can throw to wide open receivers.

176
by Not saying (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 11:35am

Oh crap, I must have messed up the tag on that one. It was supposed to read: (from MDS's article)

Thought I checked that one.

177
by Sophandros (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 11:38am

Haven't gone through the comments yet, but I think that a huge factor for the Saints' improvement is that something like 34 players on the roster were not on the roster last season. Obviously, some of these were touched upon in the commentary, but one way to get rid of the attitude of losing is to get rid of the people who are a major part of the problem.

178
by JonL (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 11:44am

I don't feel like reading 170 comments, but someone obviously knows their DC post-hardcore. Fugazi, sure, but Rites of Spring? Kudos.

179
by Becephalus (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 11:45am

Well here is my attempt to perhaps give Chris a little perspective on how hard it is to make preseason predictions of wins.

Every year the guys from my oldest fantasy league and I make an attempt to predict every teams wins. The we keep track of what happens and the winner gets their buy-in back. Its like a side game.

Now I just ran NFL forcast to give me the best projections for end of year wins I know how to simply accquire. The results are as follows.

In our league the number of games off total is how we score thigns. I am always in the top 3 and this is probably a function of me being the largest NFL fan in the group.

Assuming those projections are fairly accurate I am in a very strong 2nd with 84. (for example if I predcited a team gets 10 wins and it gets 8 I get a two).

The leader has 82 right now. one other guy is at 90 and the other 5 are all above 100. Keep in mind anythign over 96 is +/- 3 wins which is a huge range.

DVOA projections got a 72. Which is quite good. Good enough that it would have won this little game all four years we played it (I got 1st 1st 3rd and look to get second this year with 79, 85, 87, and 84).

Now maybe we are all idiots who know nothign about football this is obviously just an anecdote. But I encourage you to next year predict every single teams number of wins and see how you do. Or ask some guy from ESPN. I would be amazed if someone got under 64, completely mind blowingly amazed. Picking each team +/- 2 wins might seem easy, but its not. Particularly if you make honest predictions and don't predict everyone to have say 7-9 wins (which I worry might be statistically better?)

Teams I missed on badly (over 3): 10
CAR 5 WAS 5 ARI 4 TB 5 DET 4 NO 8! PIT 4 BAL 5 BUF 4 NYJ 4

Teams FO misse don badly: 7
SEA 4 WAS 4 DET 6 NO 7 BAL 5 OAK 5 NYJ 4

I am particularly impressed by FOs predictions on TEN DEN SD TB and CAR

Like I said all this might not mean much, but I think the whole NFL is MUCH MUCH MUCH more random than you or most fans are willing to admit and thus making accurate statistical projections is really really hard.

Now that i actually see how well DVOA did I will make sure to use that as my base next year.

180
by chris clark (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 11:49am

126: Pat's right--DVOA's competition isn't the experts picks; that's Aaron, Mike, Ian, Bill, Ned, MDS, et al's competition.

However, I think Chris's (at times I hate sharing my first name) point is that the DVOA ratings aren't adjusted by FO's judgment. But that is actually the strength of the DVOA numbers--they are objective. They don't go with the whims of the FPO writers. And, even that is not true, DAVE was an experiment to better account for outside knowledge, last year's Indy adjustment, the McNabb stat's in Mike Harris's odds, the new kicker stats. There is actually a lot of subjective judgment being injected. However, at the same time, there are some bedrock things which are held relatively constant. And, contrary to Chris's opinion, some of think that's a good thing.

Moreover, FO is not just DVOA. Each of the writers have their own facts and features they bring to the table. AGS, EPC, SFTB, TWIQ, etc. are each different perspectives on the topic, not to omit QR which seems like DVOA to me. (There are even sections of FO I don't read.) I do miss the BNB report, although I think it is hard to get enough info to make that worthy of a whole column every week.

181
by Not saying (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 11:53am

Re: 175 How much of that is real, and how much of that is the fact that the Bears have gotten to play the worst defenses in the league much more than Baltimore?

I think it has something to do with that, but also the part about "when Chicago has it going". The offense played well at the Giants, 11th ranked in DVOA (5th before the game happened, 6th after). Rex had a good day: 6.6 DPAR.

It's worth noting that Chicago is number 1 in variance on offense (in DVOA, which would seem to take into account the defenses they've played). Baltimore is 23rd.

182
by DB (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 11:56am

Rites of Spring, Shudder to Think, Minor Threat, and Fugazi all in one short Redskins comment? Genius.

Are you a DC music fan Aaron? Or did someone help you with that?

183
by Sam! (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 11:59am

As I understand it, DVOA is not supposed to be the ultimate tool in comparing entire teams against one another. To me, what it is supposed to do is provide more meaningful facts and stats to make comparisons against team components, right? In other words, DVOA's primary goal is not to predict playoffs contenders at the beginning of the season. What is supposed to be is a replacement for NFL-standard measurements, like rating an offense or defense by total yards per game. When a team plays Indy twice a year, or Oakland twice a year, their defense and offense are going to get skewed in the raw yardage. Or when a team has a handful more sacks than another, but teams pass against them twice as much, you begin to realize that maybe that "#1 sacking team" is not really the best pass-rushing team. It's a tool in analyzing teams, and a more objective measure of rating teams.

Tell me what "power ranking" or "power poll" does a better job of predicting the outcome of games? If ESPN 'analysts' simply went down their power rankings and picked the higher ranked team to win every time, do you think they'd be more successful than DVOA? Would you call that analysis? No, and no. But if you use DVOA's more meaningful statistics to analyze games, you should do a better job in picking games when you factor in injuries, home field advantage, coaching, upward/downward trends, regression to the mean, etc.

Who else is willing to say that defensive fumble recoveries are not, in fact, a sign of an amazing defense? That fumbles forced is more important, since recoveries are mostly random luck? Who else said that Dallas' passing attack was not going get catapulted to the top tier of the league just because of Terrell Owens signing and had the stats to prove it?

184
by DGL (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 12:00pm

OK, Aaron, did the Fox people throw in the "and only on Fox!", are you being ironic with us, or was it pure pandering to ensure you continue to get a paycheck?

Not that I have a problem with any of those; just wondering...

185
by Sam! (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 12:02pm

I guess you could some up my somewhat lengthy post by saying make sure you compare apples to apples. Different things at FO are to be used in different ways and are 'competing' with different things. DVOA ratings are not competing with your personal picks, they are "competing" with other power rankings. DVOA statistics are competing with traditional stats as a true measure of performance. Etc. So let's not force a hammer into being a screwdriver, and then condemn it for not being a good screwdriver.

186
by MWH (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 12:04pm

I'm a Saints fan, and while frustrated early on in the season that every pundit on the web kept saying Carolina was going to win the division and the Saints wouldn't make the playoffs, I think the 7 ranking on Foxsports is dead on.

The Saints are an accomplished offensive team with an inconsistent defense that depends on good game planning and the offense holding on to the ball for around 35 minutes of the game (not to mention, the offense CANNOT turn the ball over, as it causes the defense to roll up in a tiny ball and whimper helplessly).

187
by Sam! (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 12:10pm

163:
Jacksonville is much closer to Baltimore/SD than it is to Philly/Dallas (depending on WEI or full-season). Did you put them in the 2nd tier solely because of VAR? Because Chicago's Variance isn't exactly stellar...

188
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 12:14pm

Who else is willing to say that defensive fumble recoveries are not, in fact, a sign of an amazing defense? That fumbles forced is more important, since recoveries are mostly random luck?

I wish people realized the second part more than the first - I don't really think it's that defensive fumble recoveries should be discounted. I think it's more that all fumbles should be counted, not just the ones where the defense recovers. So if you've got one defense that's forced 50 fumbles and only recovered 10, and another that's forced 15 and recovered all of them, the one that's forced 50 really is the better defense, even though the one that's recovered all of them might look a bit better.

189
by admin :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 12:29pm

I was listening to Unrest's Isobel Bishop EP in the car on the way to the grocery store the other day and my mind started wandering and I realized the Redskins season was fugazi-ed and that's where the idea came from. Glad people enjoyed it. There are nine mentions in all including the TeenBeat band Eggs who I think were from northern VA. I tried to get Bad Brains in but couldn't figure out a good way to make the flow work.

190
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 12:34pm

re167

Watching the Bears/Rams game the other night, I wasnt all that impressed with Hester. What I was impressed with was the huge gaping holes that Bears special teams unit was consistenly opening up. In both the TD runs, I dont think anyone ever touched Hester, and thats a testament to the quality of the blocking he was getting.

191
by Jeff (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 12:47pm

I want to emphasize a point about NFL predictions. 16 games is not a large sample and there is a lot of flux. Suppose a given team has a 50% chance of winning each and every game it plays. And suppose you know that percentage going into the season and you predict 8 wins for that team. The team will get exactly 8 wins less than 20% of the time (~19.64%).

If you know the exact and true level of ability of a team, you will only be able to predict their wins exactly ~20% of the time. On average, you will miss by about a game and a half.

If a prediction system knows the exact ability of every team prior to the year, and each team plays at that ability for the entire year, the system will be wrong, on average, by about 48 games. It will accurately guess only 6 teams.

192
by MRH (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 12:59pm

"By the way, just because it worked doesn't mean it was a good call. What was with that Devery Henderson end around on fourth and 1?"

1st point is excellent. If the implied 2nd point is that it was a bad call, I guess I'd disagree. This is an area where a Football OUTSIDER can only speculate, and a Football INSIDER must answer. If in film study, breaking down tendencies, and preparing the calls for 3rd or 4th and short, the Saints staff felt they could beat the Cowboys on misdirection and going outside, then this was a great call. If the water boy came up to Payton and said, Henderson looked great on that end around play in training camp, why don't you try that coach and Payton did, well then that's a bad call - successful or not.

Loved the "why the Saints improved" commentary. For all you Bill James fans out there, do you remember his analysis of how the the '61 Reds went from 67-87 and 28 GB to 93-61 and league champs? I think it's in his 1st historical abstract. Well worth a look.

193
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 1:01pm

Boy, Bruce Allen's remarks about expectations and enjoying football are apt. Here in the Vikingville, where mediocrity, occasionally spiced with above-average performance, has been the rule for thirty years, managing expectations has been the key to enjoying the football seasons.

Going into this year, I had two hopes for the Vikings. One, that they would play a very physical style of football, because I enjoy that sort of game, and the Vikings really haven't been able to do it consistently since the Super Bowls of the '70s. Two, that they would not be mathematically eliminated from playoff contention prior to playing the final game. Well, it's conceivable that they could be eliminated prior to playing the Rams, but with a 20-30 percent chance of making the playoffs, they have a decent chance of being in contention until the end, and they definitely have smacked some people around this year. In fact, that is the one thing they can do pretty well; it's the rest of the game they have trouble with.

Also, it was good to see the Jaguars o-line get some recognition in the commentary, and by extension give some recognition to Mike Tice. The guy has received a ton of ridicule for the past couple years, and I understood why he was fired last season, but all of that overlooks that, in some respects, he is an outstanding football coach, and he really didn't get a fair shake in Minnesota

194
by dbt (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 1:06pm

Just a reminder that if you click my name, you can see such a bar graph of team by team variance.

195
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 1:22pm

Thinking of Tice again (hey, it beats working, barely), I think the guy, if he ever had a willingness to work on the collegiate level, could be a terrific college head coach, and at the right school, could have a near-Pete Carroll experience. The guy can flat-out recruit. I remember when Antione Winfield was going to sign with the Jets, and was in Manhattan, and Tice got ahold of Winfield on the phone while the contract was being finalized, and stole him away, without really giving up more money. He would do very, very, well on the recruiting trail, and that's about 75% of the battle on that level. He may not quite be Carroll's equal as an x and o guy overall, but he is pretty damned good by NFL standards, especially when it comes to offensive line play, and that would put him far ahead of most college coaches in that respect. Give him the resources, and he would be terrific at the right BCS school.

196
by Travis (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 1:41pm

I think it has something to do with that, but also the part about “when Chicago has it going�. The offense played well at the Giants, 11th ranked in DVOA (5th before the game happened, 6th after). Rex had a good day: 6.6 DPAR.

DVOA/DPAR doesn't account for the fact that the Giants had 4 defensive starters injured going into the game, plus Pierce and Madison injured midgame. (In fact, when "Chicago got it going" nicely dovetails with the Pierce and Madison injuries in the late 2nd quarter.) Speculation, of course, but I think that the Giants' pre-game DVOA rank didn't really reflect the true opponent adjustment.

197
by kevinNYC (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 1:42pm

Jeremy Shockey's use under the Coughlin regime is very interesting. Under Fassel, Shockey was a major force in the offense leading all TEs in passes targeted at him in 2002. He was 1st team All-Pro as a rookie. In 2003, he still had more passes targeted than 12 of the 15 TEs ahead of him in DPAR. That was despite playing only 9 games. However, he wasn't a major focus in the red zone.

Since Coughlin and Huffnagel joined the Giants, there's seems to be a school of thought he's not involved in the offense enough/as much. In 2004, he was 6th in passes targeted. In 2005, Shockey was 2nd. So far this season he's 5th. Under Coughlin, he's a much bigger force in the red zone as he's set a career high in TDs each of the last three years.

As Aaron mentioned, the biggest difference in 2006 from last year is Shockey is no longer used vertically in the offense. In 2005, he averaged more YPC than any of the top 20 TEs in the league. This season he's 15th. Most of that is due to the fact the Giants wanted to improve Eli's completion percentage with more high percentage passes.

Even with all those numbers, I still don't think they use him enough or even know how to use him. Even Shockey has admitted he misses Fassel's offense. Perception vs. reality.....

198
by Sam! (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 1:49pm

re: use of shockey

Is he blocking more/better under Coughlin? Because that is part of a TE's job too. In addition, do Giants fans really want Eli throwing more over the middle?

199
by Travis (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 2:04pm

In addition, do Giants fans really want Eli throwing more over the middle?

I have no idea how accurate these are, but Yahoo breaks down Eli's 2006 passes like this:

Wide Right: 56 of 109 (51.4%), 608 yards, 6 TD, 8 INT
Right: 60 of 99 (60.6%), 670 yards, 1 TD, 4 INT
Middle: 29 of 47 (61.7%), 371 yards, 4 TD, 0 INT
Left: 53 of 84 (63.1%), 485 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT
Wide Left: 54 of 92 (58.7%), 653 yards, 9 TD, 1 INT

The differences are striking (I'm not quite sure why), so right now, I think most Giant fans would want more passes across the middle.

Shockey's catches are spread all over the field (no less than 10 and no more than 12 in any area).

200
by Paulo Sanchotene, Brazil (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 2:10pm

I just can't wait for the playoffs! I just love it. Since the brazilian soccer league changed for a round-robin-single-table-european-like tournament after 2002, I think something is missing.

This is going to be fun...

201
by im_no_playa (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 2:17pm

199 - Travis

Side to which Eli scrambles when under pressure? (concentrating on 8 picks)

202
by Aaron Boden (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 2:26pm

Just to weigh in on the Defense issue. I think that the Bears defense has really benefitted from the turnovers and scoring that they have had this year. But I see the Baltimore D as the more dangerous one in the playoffs. The Bears are starting to drop off, mainly due to injury, but Baltimore is staying strong. Combine a stable strong D, with an offense that, while not spectacular, seems quite consistant, you have got a scary team. The Bears will go in the playoffs as Grossman does, which is scary to me.

203
by Paulo Sanchotene, Brazil (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 3:04pm

DVOA Playoffs:
AFC #1 - SD (uw); BAL (wD)
AFC #2 - BAL (uw); SD (wD)
AFC #3 - JAC (uw); JAC (wD)
AFC #4 - NE (uw); NE (wD)
AFC #5 - CIN (uw); CIN (uw)
AFC #6 - IND (uw); IND (uw)
---
NFC #1 - CHI (uw); CHI (wD)
NFC #2 - PHI (uw); DAL (wD)
NFC #3 - NO (uw); NO (wD)
NFC #4 - SEA (uw); SEA (wD)
NFC #5 - DAL (uw); NYG (uw)
NFC #6 - NYG (uw); PHI (uw)

(uw) Unweighted DVOA
(wD) Weighted DVOA

204
by Paulo Sanchotene, Brazil (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 3:16pm

Mike Harris Playoff Odds Report:

AFC
Bye:
#1 SD
#2 BAL
WC Playoffs
#6 JAC @ #3 IND
#5 CIN @ #4 NE

NFC
Bye:
#1 CHI
#2 NO
WC Playoffs
#6 PHI @ #3 DAL
#5 NYG @ #4 SEA

205
by Jim Maron (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 3:27pm

195. Will Allen, I'm glad to see someone supporting Tice. I always thought the job he did in Minnesota was quite good considering the lack of resources and support.

206
by Jim Maron (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 3:43pm

I've been looking at the offensive line numbers. Can anyone provide me feedback as to how meaningful they are. I noticed that the Vikings have a lot better stats running right (2nd in league over right end, 27th over left end). Can I conclude the right tackle if doing a great job run blocking in this case? Confentional wisdom seems to be that left side of the line is the better side.

207
by Kal (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 4:27pm

#206: The same was true with Seattle last year - while Walter Jones was by far the best left tackle in the league, and he was joined by Hutch, the Hawks had more success running to the right than to the left. Part of it could be pulling plays - counters and whatnot - where the LT and LG are actually the primary attackers in the scheme. Part of it, I suspect, is because defenses put the better players against the better linemen - and the second best linemen on the Vikings are much better than the second best DLs on the opposing side.

208
by Andrew (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 5:19pm

#204:

WC Playoffs
#6 PHI @ #3 DAL
#5 NYG @ #4 SEA

Only thing is, this doesn't work. For the Eagles to make the playoffs, they probably must go 2-1, which means beating either Dallas or New York. If they beat New York, they go a game up on them. New York is probably going to lose to New Orleans the following week, then they get the Redskins in DC, who they should beat. If New York goes 1-2, they may very well lose the conference record tie-breaker to Minnesota, with both finishing an identical 8-8.

So for New York to make it in, Philly must lose this weekend. But if Philly loses this weekend, they must beat Dallas to make the playoffs, and if they beat Dallas, that means Dallas probably is in the midst of a collapse to a 9-7 finish which puts either Philly or New York in as division winner.

The only way the above works is for Dallas, Philly, and New York to all go 2-1, with Philly losing tie-breakers to New York regarding strength of victory.

209
by Travis (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 5:47pm

The only way the above works is for Dallas, Philly, and New York to all go 2-1, with Philly losing tie-breakers to New York regarding strength of victory.

It would never get that far. The Giants went 0-2 against uncommon opponents (Chicago, Seattle), while Dallas is 1-0 (Arizona, with a game left against Detroit) and Philly is 2-0 (Green Bay, San Francisco). Thus, the Giants would win any NFC East tiebreaker that gets below divisional record.

210
by Paulo Sanchotene, Brazil (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 5:48pm

Andrew, I just considered the odds. The most important is that I still think three NFC East teams will make the playoffs.

Those matchups are possible if Dallas lose only to PHI, Eagles beat DAL and ATL, and Giants beat PHI losing only one game between NO and WAS.

211
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 6:25pm

So for New York to make it in, Philly must lose this weekend. But if Philly loses this weekend, they must beat Dallas to make the playoffs, and if they beat Dallas, that means Dallas probably is in the midst of a collapse to a 9-7 finish which puts either Philly or New York in as division winner.

If Dallas, the Giants, and Philly all go 2-1 (NYG: WLW, PHI: LWW, DAL: WLW), all Minnesota has to do is lose to someone, anyone, and it's exactly as #204 lists.

And other than Philly beating Dallas, all of the other wins on there are likely (NYG over WAS, DAL over ATL, NO over NYG, DAL over DET, PHI over ATL).

212
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 6:27pm

Jim, Mckinnie made his contract by pass blocking, which isn't to say that he is a bad run blocker. I'm not entirely comfortable with that stat as a means of determing which side of an o-line is run blocking better, as there are additonal factors to be considered, like defensive scheme. If a defense is consistently scheming to prevent runs to the left, where it is perceived that dominant players are at, the right side should have good stats. I'm not saying this explains a majority of it, but when it comes to evaluating offensive line play, there just is no substitute for grading out each player on each play. Too bad the information each team acquires from that exercise isn't made public.

Regarding Tice again, I really do think the he could make huge improvements to the University of Minnesota's football program, which, to be sure, is likely a job he would not want under any but the most far-fetched circumstances. I guarantee you he could improve on the situation which results in Notre Dame's highly ranked tight end, Ohio State's best linebacker, Wisconson's starting qb, and still others at ranked football schools, leaving a Twin Cities or Minnesota High School without hardly considering the University of Minnesota as a place to prepare for the NFL. No , Tice wouldn't get them all, but he'd get some, and better recruiting in the backyard with a two million plus metropolitan area population base is the first step to Minnesota becoming a team which can dream of getting to a BCS Bowl every once in a while.

Fire AD Maturi, who is completely overmatched, move Mason into the AD job, since it would avoid a huge buyout, and because Mason's strength is that he is a well-organized administrator, and let Tice make the most of his sales skills, which are considerable. Anybody who spends time with the guy ends up liking him enormously; Tice could be sorta like a Barry Switzer with real technical football knowledge.

213
by Criminal Appeal (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 6:39pm

#41: I did an entry in ESPN's Pick 'Em pool in which I took the team with the higher weighted DVOA in every game, unless the teams were within 3% and the lower ranked team was at home. The entry is in the 97th percentile. Weighted DVOA has, as usual, been highly succesful as a predictive tool this year. Combine it with a little bit of injury and match-up related reasoning and you'd have a tremendously accurate system.

214
by Peder (not verified) :: Thu, 12/14/2006 - 2:02am

First a little background. For the past three years I've been tracking DVOA's performance against a few other systems. I play in a Pick 'Em league so I translate the power rankings into winners and losers with confidence ratings 1-16. To do this I subtract the difference and add five to the home team. Certainly not an exact translation but my hope is that the overall picture is clean enough.
This year I tracked the some of the network power rankings for awhile to see how they fared against each other. I gave up after nine weeks (because there wasn't enough difference to make it interesting) but that does mean I can compare their picks with DVOA's DAVE period.

DVOA 87-57 for 744 points.
ESPN 88-56 for 750 points.

Pretty much the same. Since then DVOA has gone 39-25 and has a grand total of 1104. For comparison, in the three season I've been looking at this, DVOA is about .5 games per week better than straight point differential with much better confidence scores. (The betting line beats DVOA by similar margins. The wisdom of crowds or something.)

215
by Andrew (not verified) :: Thu, 12/14/2006 - 4:40am

Pat:

Lets look at scenarios.

If the Saints win at least 2 games, they get the #2 seed, regardless of whether or not Seattle and Dallas win out. Its hard to see how they do not win hosting the Redskins and @ New York (mega revenge factor at work).

If Dallas goes 3-0, they win the division and the #3 seed, because Dallas has the Strength of Victory tie-breaker over Seattle if Seattle were to also go 3-0 (they both would have 8-4 conference records, and 4-0 records against common opponents - Detroit, Tampa, Arizona). I think there is no way Dallas loses to Detroit, so they are at least 9-7.

To make the playoffs, Philly must go 2-1 or 3-0. If Philly goes 3-0, they win the Division AND probably the 3rd seed with a 9-3 conference record because Seattle can do no better than finish 10-6 with an 8-4 or 7-5 conference record if they go 2-1 - they must also go 3-0 and end up 11-5 to get the 3rd seed, which means beating San Diego - I don't think they are up to that.

If New York goes 3-0, they win the division unless Dallas also wins out. If Dallas does not win out, and Seattle loses to San Diego, New York going 3-0 also means New York could get the #2 seed unless the Saints beat both the Redskins and Panthers. But if the Saints lose to the Giants, will they really be up to beating the Panthers? I think not. But I think the Saints beat the Giants, so this is moot.

Atlanta gets a wild-card if they go 2-1, because they would beat either Dallas or Philly. Beating Philly probably knocks Philly out (unless Philly has already beaten Dallas and New York, which would knock New York out). Beating Dallas puts New York or Philly in control of the NFC East pending outcome of that contest, and gives Atlanta the head to head over Dallas, meaning Dallas is probably knocked out.

Lets make some assumptions. Almost certainly, Dallas beats Detroit, Giants and Saints beat Washington, Seattle beats Bucs and 49ers, Falcons beat Panthers, Saints beat Giants, and Eagles beat Falcons.

Saints go 2-1 (lose to Panthers in meaningless game) or 3-0 and gets #2 seed @ 11-5 or 12-4
Seattle goes 2-1 (lose to Chargers) and gets #4 seed @ 10-6.

Then ...

1) New York is 9-7 (beat Philly, lose to Saints)
2) New York is 8-8 (lose to Philly and Saints)
3) Dallas is 11-5 (win out, #3 seed)
4) Dallas is 10-6 (lose to Atlanta, #3 seed)
5) Dallas is 10-6 (lose to Philly, #3 seed or WC)
6) Dallas is 9-7 (lose to Philly and Atlanta)
7) Philly is 10-6 (win out, #3 seed)
8) Philly is 9-7 (lose to New York)
9) Philly is 9-7 (lose to Dallas)
10) Philly is 8-8 (beat Atlanta, lose to New York and Dallas)
11) Atlanta is 9-7 (beat Dallas, lose to Philly)
12) Atlanta is 8-8 (lose to Dallas and Philly)

This then gives 6 scenarios:

1) Dallas 11-5 (#3)
Philly 9-7 (#5)
New York 8-8 (#6)
Atlanta 8-8 (out)

2) Dallas 10-6 (#3)
New York 9-7 (#5)
Philly 9-7 (#6)
Atlanta 8-8 (out)

3) Philly 10-6 (#3)
Dallas 10-6 (#5)
New York 8-8 (#6)
Atlanta 8-8 (out)

4) Philly 10-6 (#3)
Atlanta 9-7 (#5)
Dallas 9-7 (#6)
New York 8-8 (out)

5) Dallas 10-6 (#3)
New York 9-7 (#5)
Atlanta 9-7 (#6)
Philly 8-8 (out)

6) New York 9-7 (#4 only scenario where Seattle gets the #3)
Philly 9-7 (#5)
Atlanta 9-7 (#6)
Dallas 9-7 (out)

So barring an upset in one of the games I listed above, there isn't a scenario which readily produces Dallas as #4, New York as #5, and Philly as #6.

Assuming the outcome of the Dallas-Philly, Dallas-Atlanta, and Philly-New York contests are equally likely, Dallas is most likely to be the #3 (3 of 6), the Eagles either the #3 (2 of 6) or #5 (2 of 6), the Giants either the #5 (2 of 6) or #6 (2 of 6), and Atlanta to be the #6 (2 of 6) or out (3 of 6).

In this simplistic model:

Dallas #3-50%, #5-17%, #6-17%, out-17%
Philly #3-33%, #5-33%, #6-17%, out-17%
New York #3-17%, #5-33%, #6-33%, out-17%
Atlanta #3-0%, #5-17%, #6-33%, out-50%

The most common prediction is then:

Chicago
New Orleans
Dallas
Seattle
Eagles
Giants

216
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 12/14/2006 - 10:49am

and 4-0 records against common opponents - Detroit, Tampa, Arizona

Nope. You forgot the Giants, whom the Seahawks beat (so 5-0), and Dallas split with (so 4-1). The Seahawks get the #3 seed if tied with Dallas.

217
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 12/14/2006 - 10:51am

... except I forgot the Seahawks just lost to Arizona, making it 4-1 and 4-1. I mean, c'mon, who the hell expected that?

218
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 12/14/2006 - 11:00am

And correcting myself again, that still doesn't matter, as if the Seahawks go 2-1 losing to the Chargers, and then Dallas takes the division going 2-1, so they're both 10-6, the Seahawks get the #3 seed based on conference record (8-4 vs 7-5).

So based on the examples you have, and assuming the Seahawks go WLW, every single scenario except Dallas going 11-5 puts Dallas in the #4 slot, since Dallas going 10-6 has them with a worse conference record than the Seahawks, assuming they only lose to the Chargers.

Dallas needs to win out to beat Seattle on tiebreakers. Dallas is in really bad tiebreaker shape right now.

219
by Andrew (not verified) :: Thu, 12/14/2006 - 11:20am

Pat:

So based on the examples you have, and assuming the Seahawks go WLW, every single scenario except Dallas going 11-5 puts Dallas in the #4 slot, since Dallas going 10-6 has them with a worse conference record than the Seahawks, assuming they only lose to the Chargers.

You're right. I meesed up on the Dallas conference record. However, that can all change by Seattle losing 2 games. Frankly, I think they might rather first face Chicago as the #4 than New Orleans as #3, and it is within their power to purposefully lose out if they win this week to take the division. I think they are likely to lose the last game by sitting starters if they win this week and lose to the Chargers the following week and thus lock themselves out of the #2 seed from New Orleans winning 2 more games.

But if the Eagles or Giants take the division by winning out (and the Giants need help with Dallas losing once to do so), they take the #3 seed on the basis of a better conference record unless Seattle goes 3-0 and the Saints lose twice (which would allow Seattle to creep up to #2), which seems highly unlikely with the Chargers motivated to win at least the next two weeks to keep the #1 seed, and the Saints in the drivers seat and playign really well.

220
by Brad (not verified) :: Thu, 12/14/2006 - 11:35am

If you are doing predictions of predictive ability on wins and losses isn't expected wins a better measure of team quality than DVOA.

DVOA measures how much better at team is on average, expected wins measures how much better a team is in the areas that really count win it comes to wins and losses.

Also expected wins agrees with Aaron's statement that he believes SD is the best team in the league.

221
by chris clark (not verified) :: Thu, 12/14/2006 - 1:12pm

213, 214: These are interesting numbers. The beatpath site posts similar (in style, not in value) stats about how his purely W/L based system ranks. It would be nice to see a weekly measurement of DVOA based winner predictions each week with comparisons to other predictions--I get the impression King Kaufmann runs such a tourney.

I was particularly interested in how picking just with the spread worked even better. I presume you are measuring non-spread wins (perhaps that's the definition of pick 'em). Unfortunately, I haven't seen recently a site that lists the "Vegas" lines for games.

I think doing such comparisons would be a good way to "tune" ones stats, since one of the goals of stats is to be predictive of what will happen. It would help provide some insight into things that DVOA is "missing". Perhaps, for example, it might help point out when certain playes being out (injured, suspended, etc.) are having a big impact on a team. It might even help one quantify "luck".

222
by Travis (not verified) :: Thu, 12/14/2006 - 1:55pm

You’re right. I meesed up on the Dallas conference record. However, that can all change by Seattle losing 2 games. Frankly, I think they might rather first face Chicago as the #4 than New Orleans as #3, and it is within their power to purposefully lose out if they win this week to take the division. I think they are likely to lose the last game by sitting starters if they win this week and lose to the Chargers the following week and thus lock themselves out of the #2 seed from New Orleans winning 2 more games.

Would Seattle really prefer to play Chicago over New Orleans? I know Rex Grossman is no longer the player he looked like early and the season, and Shaun Alexander missed the game, but Chicago crushed them 37-6 in Week 4.

223
by Peder (not verified) :: Thu, 12/14/2006 - 2:06pm

221, If you ignore the point spread the most consistent way of picking winners that I've found is to go with the favored team. Boring, but true.

224
by Disco Stu (not verified) :: Thu, 12/14/2006 - 2:08pm

Love the Deadspin reference... Go Buzzsaw Go! but des this mean the two sites I check at work are in cahoots? Oh no, worlds colliding! worlds colliding!!!

225
by mactbone (not verified) :: Thu, 12/14/2006 - 2:26pm

Re 224:
I know I found Deadspin when FO linked to it in Extra Points and Deadspin has referenced FO a couple of times. I think it's more about two sites that appreciate each other's work.

226
by chris clark (not verified) :: Thu, 12/14/2006 - 2:32pm

While playing with Chris Cox's playoff prediction software, I discovered a suprising fact (that may only interest me), but I thought I'd mention it in case others were interested.

Each conference in the AFC could (in theory, I was able to find win combinations that made it so) still send 3 teams to the playoffs:

AFC East: NE, NYJ, BUF or NE, NYJ, MIA
I can't recall whether I found a NE, BUF, MIA combo (as in the process I latched onto a lot of PIT combos), in fact I think the MIA/BUF game eliminates one of them from contention, because neither can get in with 8 wins (over DEN at 8 wins and unless DEN beats CIN giving DEN 8 wins, CIN has 9 wins also cutting the 1 of them with 8 wins out)
AFC North: BAL, CIN, PIT (PIT can make it as either a 9 or 8 win team--the last only on strength of schedule v. AFC East)
AFC South: IND, JAC, TEN
AFC West: SD, KC, DEN

Note, the order I listed the teams does not imply strict orders of the teams in the seeding. For example CIN could win the AFC North of over BAL and there is still a scenario where PIT makes the playoffs.

Most of the scnearios involve tremendous collapses of some teams and equally tremendous runs of others, so the possibilities aren't likely. However, if you want to see the AFC playoff race stay interesting this week, you want IND over CIN and TEN over JAC, and that is within the realm of possibility, what you want after that depends on which teams or conferences you root for. That agrees with the fact the CIN and JAC are in cotrol of their own destinies and will make the playoffs if they keep winning. Thus, if you want someone else in the playoffs, they need to lose.

227
by Disco Stu (not verified) :: Thu, 12/14/2006 - 2:44pm

Re 224- Deadspin = quality work... I know a few Barbaro message board posters who would disagree...

But yeah, these are my two fav sites to check during the work day.

228
by the other Chris (not verified) :: Thu, 12/14/2006 - 2:55pm

#215 Andrew
I just entered all of your assumptions into NFL-forecast.com and got the same most common seeding order that you did. Took me less than 5 minutes. :)

Scenarios are fun, but only one thing has to go wrong to upset the whole apple cart. That is an awfully long list of games where you've assumed the outcome is "almost certain". I'm "almost certain" there will be a few upsets in your list.

That is where the full MC simulations that Mike Harris and I do come in handy. Both of us predict the same NFC seeding order as most likely, and it matches your list except NYG and Phildelphia are switched for the 5 and 6 seed.

229
by the other Chris (not verified) :: Thu, 12/14/2006 - 3:08pm

#226 Chris Clark - very cool! What is interesting is that it is possible for more teams to control their own desitny than there are available playoff spots. For example if Jax, Cin, and KC won this week and the Jets lost, all three teams would control their own desitny for only two open playoff spots. Of course the key to this is that Jacksonville and KC play each other on the last week of the season. I still have fading hope that game will be meaningful for KC.

230
by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Thu, 12/14/2006 - 3:14pm

You must respect my template's authorit-ah!

Let's see, according to DVOA, the Lions have a bad offense, a really bad defense, and decent special teams (somehow). They're one of the worst teams in the league, they've been playing poorly all season, doing worse than expected against a comparatively easy schedule, and it looks to get worse from here.

Yep, that's pretty much spot-on.

Will you guys do DVOA for 1957 if I can get you the play-by-plays?

231
by chris clark (not verified) :: Thu, 12/14/2006 - 4:47pm

re 229: yes, I think as many as 4 AFC wildcard teams can control their own destiny as KC/JAC and DEN/CIN are on the upcoming schedule. I would like to see both of those games be meaningful.

If somehow both teams got into the playoffs, that would go a long way toward validating the PFP prediction that 3 of the 5 best AFC teams come from the west--I think that's how it was phrased. It would still be an uphill argument, but one could make it.

Sadly, if both DEN and KC are out of playoff contention the last week, it is easy to argue that both were overrated, perhaps vastly so. That's not difficult to envision either--in fact, easier to envision than both making the playoffs.

232
by the other Chris (not verified) :: Thu, 12/14/2006 - 5:03pm

Yeah, about a month ago I was dead certain that at least one WC would come from the West. It still might happen, but even if it does, the fulfillment of that prediction would be more by chance than by the undeniable momentum that seemed to be operative at the time.

233
by Travis (not verified) :: Thu, 12/14/2006 - 5:13pm

re 229: yes, I think as many as 4 AFC wildcard teams can control their own destiny as KC/JAC and DEN/CIN are on the upcoming schedule. I would like to see both of those games be meaningful.

Denver doesn't control their own destiny, because if they wind up with the same record as KC, they lose the head-to-head tiebreaker due to division record (unless KC loses to both SD and OAK), and division ties are broken first. Sample scenario (I think there are others) where DEN wins out and doesn't get in:

1. DEN wins out.

2. KC wins out.

3. CIN loses to DEN, but wins its other two games.

4. (JAX and NYJ are irrelevant here, because both can finish no better than 10-6, and will not be the first wild card due to conference record.)

All 3 have 10-6 records, and KC has the tiebreaker over DEN due to their 5-1 division record. CIN becomes the first wild card based on their Week 1 victory over KC, and KC becomes the second wild card.

234
by chris clark (not verified) :: Thu, 12/14/2006 - 8:41pm

233: DEN doesn't control their destiny now, but they could be in control of their destiny next week. Same thing is true for KC. There are atleast 3 games of interest in putting one of DEN or KC in control of their destiny (including the teams themselves winning).

IND/CIN
NYJ/MIN
JAC/TEN

Now, it may be that all 4 teams can't simultaneously be in control, but I know that either CIN|DEN+JAC or CIN+JAC|KC is possible for next week. I also know there are scenarios when only 1 of them (either CIN or JAC is in control of their own destiny). I have to go eat dinner now, but I'll work out the scenarios either tonight or tomorrow.

235
by Travis (not verified) :: Thu, 12/14/2006 - 9:31pm

Now, it may be that all 4 teams can’t simultaneously be in control, but I know that either CIN|DEN+JAC or CIN+JAC|KC is possible for next week.

If CIN, JAX, and NYJ all lose next week, then all four of CIN, DEN, JAX, and KC are in control of their own destinies at 8-6. Any of the four make the playoffs by winning their last 2 games in that scenario, because only two can finish with 10 wins since each plays one of the others.

236
by chris clark (not verified) :: Fri, 12/15/2006 - 1:31am

235: exactly (I just finished calculating that myself).

MIN beating NYJ allows CIN to lose to IND but still be in control of their destiny. MIN and TEN winning puts KC in control of its destiny. MIN and IND winning put JAC and DEN in control of their destiny. MIN, IND, and TEN winning, put all 4 teams CIN, DEN, JAC, and KC in control of their respective destinies.

SD winning over KC, puts DEN in control of its destiny, but all but eliminates KC from contention. However, even if KC loses to SD next week (and DEN makes the playoff as 5th seed), there is still a scenario where KC makes the playoffs, but it requires a ton of different things to happen, so it is a remote possibility at best.

237
by Stillio (not verified) :: Fri, 12/15/2006 - 1:46am

KC and Den don't control their own destiny at this point. Easiest situation to highlight is if all five top AFC WC teams (Jax,Cin,KC,Den,NYJ) finish 10-6, the two WC teams would still be Jax and Cin despite those two losing to KC and Den, respectively. In that scenario: Den drops due to division record, KC drops due to conference record, and NYJ drops due to head to head with Jax. It could, and probably will, all change next week but for now the ball in is Cin/Jax's court.

238
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Fri, 12/15/2006 - 1:56am

Seattle's just lost another game to a terrible team.

Does that mean the angry Seattle trolls will go away now?

239
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 12/15/2006 - 2:10am

All through that game, I kept thinking "God, DVOA's not nuts. Seattle is just nowhere near the same." The deluge of less-than-two yard runs by Alexander was just completely unending.

I'm guessing Alexander is the worst running backs by DPAR this week. 23 carries, 73 yards: which came in 3 carries of 17, 9, and 18 yards, a TD carry for 3 yards, and nineteen carries for 26 yards. Oh, and one of those long carries, he fumbles at the end of.

Seriously! How do you suck that bad against the 49ers?

240
by Kal (not verified) :: Fri, 12/15/2006 - 4:34am

Does that mean the angry Seattle trolls will go away now?

Were there any? Most Seattle fans I know recognize that the team isn't any good but had some hope for the team being fully healthy. And that hope...is gone now.

241
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Fri, 12/15/2006 - 11:27am

Re: 240

You're probably right. In all fairness, it seems like they were just the usual run-of-the-mill trolls who were just using Seattle to argue their points.

242
by chris clark (not verified) :: Fri, 12/15/2006 - 2:36pm

237: perhaps we are violently agreeing and it is just the way I'm presenting it that makes you want to challenge what I am saying, and I apologize for that.

CIN and JAC in control of their destiny and will be as long as they continue winning. In addition, NYJ needs to lose at least 1 game before DEN and KC are in control of their destiny. Alternately, KC needs to lose to SD for DEN to be in control of its destiny. So, if any one of CIN, JAC, or NYJ wins on Sunday, then KC is not in control of its destiny, even if KC wins. If KC and NYJ win, DEN is not in control of its destiny even if both CIN and JAC lose and DEN wins.

By the way, if MIN beats NYJ, CIN is in control of its destiny even if they lose to IND. And, I haven't calculated, which scenarios allow NYJ to be in control of its destiny (and they didn't come up in the scenarios I tried so far).

243
by Sophandros (not verified) :: Fri, 12/15/2006 - 3:11pm

FWIW, today was the first day that I received a "If the Saints make it to the Super Bowl, do you want to go to Miami" message for the first time this season. There are two things at work here:

1) The Saints actually have a chance to make it to the SB,
2) Someone (in this case, my usually more intelligent than this kid brother) actually thinks that I would say, "no".

244
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Fri, 12/15/2006 - 3:27pm

241: That's probably a better description.

245
by Bad Doctor (not verified) :: Fri, 12/15/2006 - 4:55pm

Washington is clearly ranked too low because Ian MacKaye says so. Ranking team's based on the indie cred of their home city's record labels is way better than this. But at least FO's ----ing trying. What the ---- have you done?

246
by Travis (not verified) :: Fri, 12/15/2006 - 7:11pm

And, I haven’t calculated, which scenarios allow NYJ to be in control of its destiny (and they didn’t come up in the scenarios I tried so far).

There isn't one based on just Week 15 games, because the Jets would lose tiebreakers at 10-6 to both current 8-win teams (Cincinnati on conference record, Jacksonville on head-to-head). The only teams they could beat out at 10-6 would be Kansas City (based on conference record) and New England (also based on conference record).

247
by Jordan (not verified) :: Fri, 12/15/2006 - 7:41pm

The best scenario is Seattle goes 0-2 and the 49ers go 2-0 to put an 8/8 team in the playoffs. It will cement the NFC west as the worst conference in football.

248
by jetsgrumbler (not verified) :: Fri, 12/15/2006 - 7:59pm

Do the outsiders have o-line stats for 06 yet? Sorry for not knowing. The Mangold discussion on ROY thread made me wonder about run success up the middle as opposed to outside.

249
by chris clark (not verified) :: Fri, 12/15/2006 - 8:54pm

247: And, if that happens, DEN will either be 1-3 or 0-4 against NFC west teams, uggh.

250
by Andrew (not verified) :: Fri, 12/15/2006 - 10:23pm

the other Chris #228:

That is where the full MC simulations that Mike Harris and I do come in handy. Both of us predict the same NFC seeding order as most likely, and it matches your list except NYG and Phildelphia are switched for the 5 and 6 seed.

Especially with Seattle choking it up last night! #4 seed here we come baby!

But like I said, the only way that Eagles as #6 seed happens is for Philly to lose to the Giants but beat Dallas and Atlanta. I can't believe losing both NFCE games and going 8-8 is going to get them in, while beating Dallas but losing to Atlanta makes them probably lose the tie-breaker to Atlanta, if Atlanta even loses enough to go 8-8 while beating Philly. But beating the Giants this week looks much easier than beating the Cowboys.

Actually, the more I look at it, the more important the Cowboys-Falcons game appears. If the Falcons win, not only does Dallas really get a hurting, since the winner of Eagles-Giants is almost assuredly then the Division winner, but if the Eagles lose to the Giants but beat Dallas and Atlanta, Dallas is out of the playoffs by head-to-head elimination with Atlanta and Philly.

251
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 12/15/2006 - 10:25pm

#248: Yeah, it's under "just the stats", down at the bottom. Jets run best when running behind right tackle. They have the highest ALY behind RT of any team in the league. They're awful running left end (second worst in the league) and pretty much average every other direction.

Jets run a crapload up the middle, though: 61% of the time, behind only Baltimore, Carolina, Tampa Bay and Jacksonville in doing so. Kinda strange they don't run whatever play has them running of RT more (they run it as often as they do behind LT) given that one has succeeded so dramatically better than the other.

252
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 12/15/2006 - 10:30pm

But like I said, the only way that Eagles as #6 seed happens is for Philly to lose to the Giants but beat Dallas and Atlanta. I can’t believe losing both NFCE games and going 8-8 is going to get them in

Who do you think will get in over them? I'm betting Dallas beats Atlanta, which means if Philly goes LLW, they're in over Atlanta, and I don't see Carolina or Minnesota winning out, and Philly's in over either of those two if they're all at 8-8 (and every other possible team who could get to 8-8, in an interesting situation).

253
by hmmm... (not verified) :: Mon, 12/18/2006 - 3:44am

re comment 41: "Have the Saints broken the top 10 yet? Strength of wins doesn’t fly. The Bears have a victory over the #7 NYG, but following that nothing until #16 MIN. The Saints on the other hand have blown out #6 Dallas and that juggernaut #5 Philly."

Then *boom*, New Orleans loses to Washington(!). This message board curse thing is becoming Madden-ish.

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by Jason (not verified) :: Mon, 12/18/2006 - 10:55pm

Question:

For a home advantage of 3 points, how much of the DVOA percentage is equal to 3 points? I have read somewhere that home advantage is around 17% but I am not sure.