Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

13 Nov 2007

Week 10 DVOA Ratings

by Aaron Schatz

The biggest development of Week 10, of course, is the tsunami of injuries that has hit the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts remain number two for 2007, but they are just barely ahead of the Cowboys, and the Patriots and Colts are no longer the two best teams of the DVOA era. The Colts have fallen back into the pack, although they are still the sixth-best team in history. (They've fallen behind Dallas and into third place in WEIGHTED DVOA.)

The other big news of the week is Green Bay's destruction of Minnesota, which moves the Packers up into fifth place. I think logically we would all agree this makes sense. The five teams that are 7-2 or better are now the top five teams in DVOA, and all five are in the Top 10 for both offense and defense. The Vikings, meanwhile, have been jerked around wildly because of two games at opposite sides of the spectrum. The Week 9 win over San Diego currently has a DVOA of 101.2%, which is the fourth-best single game of 2007. The Week 10 loss has a DVOA of -71.4% -- that doesn't qualify for the ten worst losses of the year, but it is pretty close. So the Vikings have gone from 16 to 8 to 15 in the space of two weeks. (Last week's rating actually was artificially high due to an error in special teams, but even the corrected Vikings were eighth overall.)

Oh, and because I know you will ask, the other top single games of the year, based on current opponent adjustments, are Arizona's upset of Pittsburgh, New England's demolition of Washington, and two Pittsburgh games: Week 1 against Cleveland and Week 9 against Baltimore. Let's hit the numbers...

* * * * *

Here are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through 10 weeks of 2007, 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 for opponent and consider all fumbles, kept or lost, as equal value. SPECIAL TEAMS DVOA is adjusted for type of stadium (warm, cold, dome, Denver) and week of season.

As of this week, opponent adjustments are at full strength, although they will continue to change throughout the season as we get more information on how good each team really is.

To save people some time, we request that you please use the following format 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
NON-ADJ
TOT VOA
W-L OFFENSE
DVOA
OFF.
RANK
DEFENSE
DVOA
DEF.
RANK
S.T.
DVOA
S.T.
RANK
1 NE 73.2% 1 68.6% 9-0 48.5% 1 -18.5% 3 6.3% 5
2 IND 42.1% 2 34.6% 7-2 30.6% 2 -17.4% 4 -6.0% 31
3 DAL 41.6% 3 39.0% 8-1 28.3% 3 -12.8% 6 0.5% 14
4 PIT 32.8% 4 39.1% 7-2 12.6% 9 -23.8% 2 -3.6% 25
5 GB 23.7% 7 28.3% 8-1 17.0% 4 -6.4% 9 0.2% 15
6 TB 18.1% 6 13.1% 5-4 15.5% 6 -4.5% 12 -2.0% 18
7 SD 14.7% 13 8.5% 5-4 0.3% 16 -5.1% 11 9.3% 1
8 JAC 13.8% 9 11.0% 6-3 10.6% 10 0.5% 15 3.7% 9
9 SEA 12.1% 10 21.9% 5-4 -1.1% 18 -5.5% 10 7.7% 2
10 TEN 11.2% 5 11.6% 6-3 -11.0% 25 -25.6% 1 -3.5% 24
11 NYG 6.7% 11 9.8% 6-3 7.6% 12 -3.8% 13 -4.7% 29
12 CLE 5.3% 15 -0.5% 5-4 13.3% 8 15.3% 27 7.3% 3
13 PHI 4.9% 12 2.9% 4-5 15.9% 5 8.1% 22 -2.9% 22
14 WAS 3.3% 14 -4.7% 5-4 -4.9% 22 -7.4% 8 0.9% 13
15 MIN 2.6% 8 0.9% 3-6 2.5% 15 1.6% 16 1.7% 11
16 CIN -0.3% 17 3.5% 3-6 15.5% 7 14.9% 26 -0.9% 16
TEAM
TOTAL
DVOA
LAST
WEEK
NON-ADJ
TOT VOA
W-L OFFENSE
DVOA
OFF.
RANK
DEFENSE
DVOA
DEF.
RANK
S.T.
DVOA
S.T.
RANK
17 BUF -2.4% 16 -6.1% 5-4 -9.1% 23 0.0% 14 6.7% 4
18 ARI -3.3% 21 4.5% 4-5 -2.8% 19 1.8% 17 1.4% 12
19 DEN -6.0% 24 -8.3% 4-5 6.3% 13 11.1% 23 -1.2% 17
20 BAL -9.8% 20 -5.4% 4-5 -22.6% 29 -15.4% 5 -2.6% 21
21 NO -12.4% 19 -13.0% 4-5 8.7% 11 16.6% 29 -4.6% 28
22 DET -13.8% 18 -4.1% 6-3 -4.0% 20 3.5% 20 -6.2% 32
23 HOU -14.4% 23 -11.7% 4-5 -0.8% 17 15.3% 28 1.8% 10
24 KC -16.4% 22 -11.8% 4-5 -22.6% 30 -8.2% 7 -2.0% 19
25 ATL -17.6% 26 -7.4% 3-6 -10.1% 24 5.1% 21 -2.4% 20
26 MIA -19.8% 28 -28.5% 0-9 2.5% 14 18.6% 31 -3.7% 26
27 CAR -20.4% 25 -15.1% 4-5 -12.9% 26 2.1% 18 -5.4% 30
28 CHI -20.7% 27 -17.2% 4-5 -24.0% 31 2.1% 19 5.4% 7
29 NYJ -25.6% 29 -27.9% 1-8 -4.8% 21 26.9% 32 6.2% 6
30 STL -34.0% 31 -34.9% 1-8 -16.7% 27 13.4% 25 -4.0% 27
31 OAK -35.3% 30 -28.1% 2-7 -19.1% 28 13.1% 24 -3.1% 23
32 SF -51.6% 32 -46.0% 2-7 -38.0% 32 17.8% 30 4.2% 8

  • 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.
  • PAST SCHEDULE lists average DVOA of opponents played this season, ranked from hardest schedule (#1, most positive) to easiest schedule (#32, most negative). It is not adjusted for which games are home or road.
  • FUTURE SCHEDULE lists average DVOA of opponents still left to play this season, ranked from hardest schedule (#1, most positive) to easiest schedule (#32, most negative). It is not adjusted for which games are home or road.
  • VARIANCE measures the statistical variance of the team's weekly DVOA performance. Teams are ranked from least consistent (#1, highest variance) to most consistent (#32, smallest variance).


TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
W-L ESTIM.
WINS
RANK WEIGHTED
DVOA
RANK PAST
SCHED
RANK FUTURE
SCHED
RANK VAR. RANK
1 NE 73.2% 9-0 9.0 1 73.9% 1 5.8% 5 -2.3% 19 2.7% 32
2 IND 42.1% 7-2 8.5 2 40.3% 3 7.8% 1 -11.4% 26 10.4% 15
3 DAL 41.6% 8-1 7.2 3 41.8% 2 1.5% 14 -4.1% 20 8.1% 22
4 PIT 32.8% 7-2 6.0 5 29.0% 4 -5.1% 26 -0.5% 15 31.6% 2
5 GB 23.7% 8-1 6.4 4 23.7% 5 -1.0% 18 -16.4% 27 8.4% 21
6 TB 18.1% 5-4 5.7 7 18.2% 6 -0.5% 17 -21.8% 32 21.9% 6
7 SD 14.7% 5-4 5.2 9 17.0% 7 4.7% 10 -9.4% 23 30.6% 3
8 JAC 13.8% 6-3 5.9 6 14.3% 8 1.6% 13 2.9% 14 7.1% 23
9 SEA 12.1% 5-4 5.1 11 11.2% 9 -9.7% 32 -17.1% 29 13.4% 11
10 TEN 11.2% 6-3 5.2 10 11.1% 10 -1.2% 19 -1.0% 17 8.4% 20
11 NYG 6.7% 6-3 5.0 14 8.5% 11 0.0% 16 7.5% 10 5.7% 28
12 CLE 5.3% 5-4 5.2 8 7.6% 12 5.2% 8 -18.0% 30 9.0% 19
13 PHI 4.9% 4-5 5.1 12 3.0% 13 1.9% 12 16.5% 3 17.6% 8
14 WAS 3.3% 5-4 4.6 17 2.9% 14 5.1% 9 14.3% 6 9.7% 17
15 MIN 2.6% 3-6 4.9 15 2.2% 15 3.8% 11 -19.9% 31 23.3% 5
16 CIN -0.3% 3-6 5.1 13 -0.6% 17 5.9% 4 -9.9% 24 3.8% 31
TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
W-L ESTIM.
WINS
RANK WEIGHTED
DVOA
RANK PAST
SCHED
RANK FUTURE
SCHED
RANK VAR. RANK
17 BUF -2.4% 5-4 4.7 16 1.0% 16 6.0% 2 14.6% 5 10.8% 14
18 ARI -3.3% 4-5 3.8 21 -3.4% 18 -6.3% 29 -16.4% 28 33.3% 1
19 DEN -6.0% 4-5 4.3 18 -8.1% 19 5.9% 3 -10.0% 25 19.2% 7
20 BAL -9.8% 4-5 3.5 23 -10.5% 21 -8.0% 30 26.7% 1 6.4% 26
21 NO -12.4% 4-5 4.0 20 -8.7% 20 -2.7% 23 -9.2% 22 10.1% 16
22 DET -13.8% 6-3 4.2 19 -14.2% 22 -6.1% 27 16.1% 4 24.4% 4
23 HOU -14.4% 4-5 3.6 22 -18.0% 25 -2.8% 24 12.0% 9 11.1% 13
24 KC -16.4% 4-5 3.4 25 -15.0% 23 -2.4% 22 -2.2% 18 9.5% 18
25 ATL -17.6% 3-6 3.3 26 -16.4% 24 -8.5% 31 6.7% 12 6.7% 25
26 MIA -19.8% 0-9 2.9 28 -21.1% 28 5.2% 7 12.1% 8 5.9% 27
27 CAR -20.4% 4-5 3.4 24 -19.2% 26 -2.8% 25 7.5% 11 14.0% 10
28 CHI -22.5% 4-5 3.3 27 -20.2% 27 0.8% 15 5.0% 13 4.7% 30
29 NYJ -25.9% 1-8 2.6 29 -24.0% 29 5.3% 6 21.3% 2 5.1% 29
30 STL -34.0% 1-8 1.9 30 -33.5% 30 -2.1% 21 -0.7% 16 14.3% 9
31 OAK -35.3% 2-7 1.6 31 -34.1% 31 -6.2% 28 12.4% 7 12.1% 12
32 SF -51.6% 2-7 1.1 32 -53.4% 32 -1.4% 20 -5.4% 21 7.0% 24

Our feature on the best teams of the DVOA era changes again this week. First of all, we'll say goodbye to our "best defensive teams" table. Tennessee is still number one for 2007 after their loss to Jacksonville, but they are no longer near the top teams since 1996. However, and it really pains me to have to bring this up, San Francisco has finally reached the level of incompetence that forces us to look both ways: the best and worst DVOA ratings ever.

Best and Worst DVOA Ever Watch

BEST TOTAL DVOA
AFTER WEEK 10
  BEST OFFENSIVE DVOA
AFTER WEEK 10
  WORST TOTAL DVOA
AFTER WEEK 10
  WORST OFFENSIVE DVOA
AFTER WEEK 10
2007 NE 73.2%   2007 NE 48.5%   2005 SF -63.0%   2005 SF -48.2%
1996 GB 48.6%   2004 IND 41.2%   2000 CIN -54.4%   1996 STL -39.7%
2001 STL 47.5%   2000 STL 39.7%   2007 SF -51.6%   2002 HOU -39.3%
2001 PHI 46.2%   2000 IND 38.1%   1996 STL -49.8%   1999 ARI -38.3%
1999 STL 45.7%   2006 IND 34.4%   2005 HOU -48.4%   2007 SF -38.0%
2007 IND 42.1%   1999 WAS 31.2%   2002 HOU -47.2%   2006 OAK -36.9%
2000 TEN 41.8%   2001 STL 31.0%   1999 CLE -47.2%   1997 NO -35.2%
2007 DAL 41.6%   1998 DEN 30.7%   2000 CLE -47.2%   2004 MIA -35.0%
2002 TB 41.6%   2007 IND 30.6%   2000 ARI -45.5%   1999 SD -34.0%
1998 DEN 38.7%   2002 KC 30.3%   1999 CIN -42.7%   2000 CLE -33.8%

Yes, they are that bad, although they are not as bad as... themselves, two years ago. I doubt that this year's 49ers are going to get down to that level of ineptitude. The 49ers have pulled away from the bottom of the pack, but it really doesn't compare to the way the Patriots have pulled away from the top of the pack. Two teams from the "DVOA Era" are listed in Eddie Epstein's book on the best NFL teams ever. He ends up ranking the 1999 Rams tenth and the 1996 Packers sixth. Notice how much the Patriots are blowing away those two dominant teams. Also notice that they are the most consistent team in the league this year. Wow.

Speaking of players who make you say "Wow," how about that Devin Hester. It's been a very popular question around here: How is Chicago's DVOA affected by teams trying short kicks or squibs to avoid Hester. The short answer, prior to this week, was "about two percentage points."

The long answer actually addresses three questions:

  • 1) Are teams treating Hester differently compared to the other good kick returners of recent years?
  • 2) Is this a winning or losing strategy for Chicago's opponents?
  • 3) If the answer to number one is "yes," how does that affect DVOA?

To answer the first question, take a look at this table showing the teams with the lowest average gross kickoff distance AGAINST, since the introduction of the K-ball in 1999.

Year Team Avg Kick Main Returner
2007 CHI 56.5 Devin Hester
2000 CIN 58.5 Tremain Mack
2001 CLE 59.8 Ben Gay, Andre King
2004 CLE 59.9 Richard Alston
2003 NE 60.2 Bethel Johnson
2001 NYJ 60.3 Craig Yeast, Chad Morton
2005 CLE 60.4 Josh Cribbs
2003 PIT 60.4 Ike Taylor, Antwaan Randle El
2001 CHI 60.5 Autry Denson, Leon Johnson
2004 KC 60.5 Dante Hall

OK, so Hester is truly unique. The average kickoff to the Bears this year is shorter than to any other team in the last eight years, and there are extenuating circumstances with the other teams below 60.0.

The 2000 Bengals are just weird, because Tremain Mack was one of the worst kick returners in the league that year. It looks like the Bengals were getting blown out so often that teams were constantly kicking short in the second half, to prevent the rare touchdown return that would launch the surprise comeback.

There is clearly something going on with Cleveland that I never noticed before. Two other Cleveland years just miss this list: 1999 (60.5 -- it misses by hundredths of a yard) and 2006 (61.0). A stadium near the water affects San Francisco's punting numbers, and I have an adjustment for that. Perhaps the winds affect kickoffs in Cleveland rather than punts, and I need to add an adjustment for that too.

It turns out teams didn't really treat Dante Hall the way they are treating Hester. Even in 2003, the year Hall was allegedly an MVP candidate, the average kickoff to Kansas City went 63.4 yards. In fact, the average kickoff distance in Weeks 1-8 (63.4) was no different from the average kickoff distance in Weeks 10-17 (63.3), after Hall had established himself as a major threat.

OK, second question: Is this a good idea? I just looked at this for an upcoming issue of ESPN the Magazine, and here's what I found.

Hester did not take over as Chicago's main kickoff returner until Week 13 of last year, and teams generally kicked to him during last year's regular season and for the first four weeks of this year. Overall, from Week 13 of 2006 through Week 8 of 2007 teams kicked away to Hester 46 times and tried to avoid him 35 times. (This is my best estimate, obviously I may be wrong about the intention of a couple of those kicks.)

  • The net gain from kicking to Hester averaged 37.8 yards. The net gain from avoiding Hester averaged just 34.0 yards.
  • Chicago's averaging starting position was their own 31.7-yard line when the other team kicked to Hester, and their own 36.9-yard line when the other team avoided Hester.
  • On average, kicking deep to Hester was worth -.29 points of field position compared to the league average for kickoffs. The average kickoff which avoided Hester was worth -.42 points of field position.

The stats for kicking deep to Hester would be even better if we included this week's game against Oakland. The numbers seem to say that it is better to kick to Hester, and don't even consider two other issues: fumbles and penalties. Hester may be Mr. 100 Speed, but the guy has butterfingers. Four fumbles is an astonishing number for a guy who has only fielded 50 kickoffs in his career. Two of those fumbles were recovered by the kicking team, giving them the ball deep in Chicago territory. (On punts, the problem is even worse: 11 muffs or fumbles in a year and a half, twice as many as any other player in the NFL.)

Every great Hester run is also one block in the back away from disappearing into thin air. Hester lost a touchdown to a penalty against Seattle in the playoffs, and he lost another one against Kansas City in Week 2. Even a shorter Hester return could be docked 10 yards on a penalty, and that's not going to happen when Israel Idonije is fair catching a short kick.

Hester is a good kickoff returner, not a great one. He's a great punt returner (despite the muffs) but kickoff returns and punt returns use different skills. Late in the half or nursing a lead, it makes sense to avoid Hester. Otherwise, teams are just handing Chicago the ball 20 yards from field-goal position, and even an inept offense like Chicago will gain 20 yards on a lot of drives. Avoiding Hester is a losing strategy.

However, it is a strategy people are using, which means that we need to start accounting for it. The Bears seem to be an exception to the general rule that the receiving team has no control over opposing kickoffs. Therefore, beginning this week, the 2007 special teams ratings include an "avoid Hester" penalty. In general, squib kicks at the end of a half are left out of DVOA. If Stephen Gostkowski squibs it 30 yards with five seconds left in the first half, that doesn't really say anything about Gostkowski's kicking ability. The squibs to Hester which came earlier in the game were being counted as bad kicks for the kicking team but were showing up in Chicago's ratings as very short returns.

Now, based on my subjective decision, I've also coded a number of kickoffs to Chicago as "Hester squibs." On these kicks, I will be giving Chicago value based not on the return of the kickoff, but the net value of the kickoff compared to all NFL kickoffs. It's a temporary solution, and it is not exact, and I'm sure people can criticize it and pick it apart, but it seems to work for now. Overall, this raises Chicago's special teams DVOA from 3.5% to 5.4%, and the Bears go from 23rd in kick returns to 11th. I also marked a couple of Leon Washington returns as "Hester squibs," and looked for them for other guys (Cribbs, for example) but couldn't find anything that clearly qualified.

In the off-season, we can go through and look to see if there is a pattern to squib kicks in general, and figure out how to handle short kicks of all kinds: the end-of-half squibs, the "we have a 28-point lead so who cares" squibs, and the "Devin Hester scares me" squibs.

Housekeeping: The premium database is updated, the team stats pages are updated, the playoff odds are updated, and the Loser League is updated with the first week of the second contest. Note that the premium data and playoff odds were both computed prior to installing the "Hester fix" to special teams, so numbers may differ slightly from those here. I'll get to updating all the individual stuff tonight when I get some free time.

For (short) comments on every team, remember to look for DVOA on AOL, every Wednesday. (This will be linked on the FO Goes Mainstream page.)

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 13 Nov 2007

186 comments, Last at 23 Apr 2008, 12:24pm by John Kapica

Comments

1
by Nathan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 6:54pm

Colts picked up Simeon Rice off waivers to replace Freeney who is seriously hurt.

2
by kevinNYC (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 6:59pm

San Diego jumped 6 freakin' spots?!

I can't wait to see the Giants-Detroit game... how can any team have worse special teams than the Giants? What does that look like?

3
by James, London (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 7:01pm

#1

Nathan, correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't that mean that every team with a worse record than the Colts had the opportunity to claim him and didn't?

I know Rice was the proto-Freeny, and played in the Dungy Defense in Tampa, and from what I read, he's cheap, but how much does he really have to offer the Colts at this point?

4
by Aaron (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 7:01pm

With the way the Colts are messed up right now, I have a feeling my Chiefs can rise up and avenge the playoff loss last year. It'll be all defensive though. 6 picks last week for Manning 8 this week!

5
by Mike Leach (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 7:01pm

1st?

6
by Nathan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 7:04pm

re: 3.

"Nathan, correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t that mean that every team with a worse record than the Colts had the opportunity to claim him and didn’t?

I know Rice was the proto-Freeny, and played in the Dungy Defense in Tampa, and from what I read, he’s cheap, but how much does he really have to offer the Colts at this point? "

Really, we have no idea if he will help. The positive here is that guys like Rice and Freeney don't actually work well under other defenses that require the DEs to do more than just rush the QB.

It ends up being the best situation for Rice. The best situation for the Colts.

If Rice is better than a replacement DE the Colts have is hard to say, but at the price tag they are getting him for, I don't think it matters.

Make sense?

7
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 7:05pm

One thing you may want to look at in the offseason (in regards to the Hester squib adjustment) is Chicago's offense. Teams conceding some field position value to Chicago is alot different than conceding some field position to a team who's offense more closely resembles a professional football team.

8
by Rex\\\'s Evil Twin (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 7:06pm

2: Looks like Indy's special teams, Detroit's special teams or Carolina's special teams.

In other words...just plain ugly.

9
by thestar5 (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 7:06pm

And only days ago the Colts were miles ahead of te rest of the league. Interesting.

10
by JasonK (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 7:10pm

#2

The big difference between NYG & DET special teams is in punting and punt returns. Picture the Giants without Jeff Feagles, and with a few muffed returns. (Say what you will about R.W. McQuarters, but he does field the ball cleanly.)

11
by M (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 7:10pm

Where do the Colts & Chargers special teams DVOA from this past game compare to the all time worst and best, respectively?

12
by James, London (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 7:11pm

And to my astonishment after the NYG and Buffalo games, Miami still have a positive offensive DVOA.

Ah, the split explains it; Passing -6.0%, rank 22 Rushing 12.0% Rank 6.

13
by citizen jason (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 7:13pm

After watching the game last night, it's hard to believe there were worse offenses than San Francisco's.

On a related note, does anyone know if that "non-catch" at the end of the half will be reviewed or changed eventually, or does it just stay in the books? Doens't matter, obviously (although that single play represents almost half of the 49ers' net passing yards)--just curious since no one but the refs seem to think it was a completion.

14
by Cosmos (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 7:14pm

So Dallas has closed the gap on Indy but I was wondering, is there any way to predict what that 30% extra DVOA that New England has over them, means in repeated head-to-heads against those two teams?
Dallas and Indy each had a lead on New England at one point but blew the lead. Hypothetical situation: New England plays Indy/Dallas tens times in a row, what is the percentage that either one of those teams wins given 10 chances? 1 in 10?
Also, if New England loses to tomorrow, how badly would New England have to play to bring such a huge DVOA do to the Indy/Dallas level at this point?

15
by zip (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 7:15pm

#5:

Wow, that's gotta hurt.

16
by JJcruiser (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 7:16pm

Not having seen a Detroit game this year, I can only ask others:

Is their special teams deficiency a result of poor coverage or poor returns or both?

One thing I always find misleading about special teams is the issue of return yardage -- in terms of defending against returns, there can be an extremely fine line between giving up a 30 yard return and giving up a 90 yard return -- just one missed tackle. Accordingly, two missed tackles can really blow the yardage given up statistic out of the water. That's why Bethel Johnson, for example, who had a few great runbacks and otherwise sucked, (at least in my memory) had good overall numbers. Someone (coincidentally on the Colts) missed one tackle, and boom, 100 yard return. Contrast that with the average running back or wide receiver, where the defense misses one tackle, it rarely results in 100 yard plays.

17
by throughthelookingglass (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 7:18pm

It's really a shame that the Colts' (or any other team in their position) opportunity for an all-time great season is being destroyed by the whole team getting injured.

18
by doktarr (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 7:18pm

#31 special teams, #32 weighted. I think Bobman called that.

19
by Nathan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 7:19pm

re: 17

agreed. It'd be a shame if it happened to the Pats as well. If it's not going to happen, it should over another team's superb play/gameplan. not injuries.

20
by Todd M. (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 7:22pm

16 - The concept of covering a kick or punt is completely alien to the Detroit Lions. That sound you hear is the Lions falling back to earth.

21
by Brooklyn Bengal (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 7:23pm

I'm surprised to see PHI at #5 in offense. McNabb has looked horrible in the games I've watched. Westbrook, of course, has looked like a freaking superstar. Have I just had bad luck in catching PHI on off-days?

22
by Herm? (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 7:24pm

Wow. Indy is still first in run blocking and 4th in pass protection.
Take a picture, it will last longer.

23
by Jake (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 7:30pm

#14 - Think sample size is the problem there. IIANM DVOA doesn't translate directly to points. We don't know if a 10% gap between NYG and ARI is the same as a 10% gap between Indy and Pitt or if its 1/3 as big as the gap between NE and Pitt. The relationship could be non-linear and it could be based on multiple variables more than just the gap (distance from 0%, variance, component DVOA, etc). Even if you set up a chart and brute forced the closest match, variance and small sample size would likely invalidate it.
#17 - Injuries are part of football. Maybe the 2004 Patriots would have been an all time team if they weren't hit by injuries much worse than the current Colts. Maybe Cleveland would have been a playoff contender last year if not for injuries.

24
by Nathan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 7:31pm

Ranked so high with Charles Johnson?

He's single handedly turned the O-Line into a nightmare.

25
by dbt (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 7:32pm

it's mind-boggling to me that the Bears are ranked worse than Miami or Atlanta....

26
by TomC (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 7:32pm

Wow, the Bears hold a team under 200 yards, 3/15 on 3rd downs, and 2.6 yards per pass attempt, and their defensive DVOA gets worse (or, at least their ranking does). Sucks when the computer actually recognizes that you faced Josh McCown.

27
by Matt (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 7:33pm

Haven't you heard that Bill Simmons is tired of hearing about the Colts' injuries?

28
by Toxikfetus (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 7:33pm

21:

Part of your perspective might be skewed by the fact that McNabb has stunk up the joint in every nationally televised game this season. In the non-Sun/Mon night games, he's looked pretty good.

Of course, if you lived in Philly, McNabb could walk on water and you'd still boo him :)

29
by Nathan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 7:33pm

"Maybe the 2004 Patriots would have been an all time team if they weren’t hit by injuries much worse than the current Colts."

Can we just avoid comparing injuries please? There's no way to do it reasonably, so let's just stop it. Or continue the one on extra points about it.

30
by Thinker (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 7:36pm

Can we assume that the increase in NE's ratings during this bye week are a result of opponent adjustments?

This question makes me wonder how those adjustments are applied.

1. Does NE get credit for last week's Bolts and Colts or do they include that "horrible in every way" game, too? Seems like including the current week would require some circular calculation suitable only for US tax code. That one game seems to have dramatically lowered both Indy and SD ratings.

2. Does opponent adjustment get deeper than just overall DVOA? For instance, do we use Offensive DVOA for the Defensive adjustment, etc? Better yet, do individual DPAR ratings come into play such that the injuries to Marvin Harrison and the others reduce the "expected" results for Indy's offense?

BTW - DVOA and the ensuing discussions have become a "never miss" Tuesday read. Thanks for the effort it takes.

31
by TomC (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 7:36pm

it’s mind-boggling to me that the Bears are ranked worse than Miami or Atlanta….

Yeah, it boggles my mind (and breaks my heart) as well, but when you're 3 minutes away from losing to Oakland, it's hard to argue that you should be any higher.

32
by Richard (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 7:37pm

2: Well, there defense did snag six picks against Peyton Manning and their special teams did return two kicks for touchdowns on Sunday.

33
by Otis Taylor 89 (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 7:37pm

The Lions are who we thought they were!

A couple of things I notice. If the top 12 teams, the Giants have the hardest remaining schedule at #10, otherwise most have it pretty easy. Does this mean that if you qualify for the playoffs as of week 10 then you are probably in?

Also, who has the Steelers played? It looks like their past schedule is of teams that have no offense or no defense or both or Seattle.

34
by B (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 7:38pm

What does it mean that Pittsburgh was involved in 3 of the worst 5 losses of the season, twice as victor, and once as vanquished?

35
by David Mazzotta (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 7:38pm

It's clear that for the sake of field position, a squibb away from Hester is sub optimal. But does Hester's touchdown threat make up for that. That is to ask, What are the chances of the Bears scoring on a drive started by a kick to Hester versus a squibb away from him?

36
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 7:39pm

That's a pretty big gap between the Cowboys and Packers, but I think I like the Packers chances in a couple weeks. Excellent corner play seems to be the key to matching up with the Cowboys, although Whitten will certainly have an opportunity for a big game. I think the Packers will have to compensate less than other teams in regards to Owens and the other wide-outs, which perhaps means the safeties can pay more attention to Whitten. On the other side, I think the Packers' receiving corps matches up pretty well with the Cowboys secondary.

Oh, and there is no way that there are 17 worse offenses than the Vikings'.

37
by B (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 7:43pm

36: Those 17 offenses don't have Adrian Peterson. Or Steve Hutchinson. There probably aren't 17 worse pass offenses, though.

38
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 7:43pm

This week's Frankenstein inquiry; if you sewed together the rosters of the Niners and Raiders, how many victories would accrue to the Bay Area?

39
by Nathan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 7:46pm

Niners/Raiders Hybrid

QB: Alex Smith
RB: Frank Gore
WR: Jackson ??
WR: Curry ??
WR: Battle ??
TE: Vernon Davis

The defense would probably be pretty good though. ;)

40
by Herm? (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 7:47pm

My favorite this week is the rank difference between Detroit (#22) and Miami (#26)
I also like 0-9 Miami ranked above 6 teams, two of which are 4-5.

41
by B (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 7:47pm

38: According to my calculations, if you combined SF and Oakland's rosters, they would still be he worst team in the league.

42
by Paul (London,UK) (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 7:48pm

#36 Will, I think we can both agree that San Francisco is worse. God, it's tough being a Niners fan.

43
by bsr (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 7:49pm

#29 - Maybe we should just stop with the constant mentioning of injuries period. The colts aren't the first team to be riddled with injuries and they won't be the last. I think the more notable fact is how relatively injury free they have been over the past several years.

44
by Tom (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 7:50pm

Re 36:

Owens may be more likely to get pass inference calls then other receivers. Really, I doubt there is a play were a packer DB doesn't commit interference, illegal contact or holding.

45
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 7:53pm

Yeah, B, the offensive line is actually significantly better than average, I think, but the NFL has become so pass dependent that having an above average line and a HOF quality running back cannot balance out personnel at qb and receiver which do not belong on an NFL roster.

Actually, I think the qb position becomes increasingly important as passing becomes more important. Yes, I know such a statement seems pointlessly obvious, but given the huge disparity between the best qb play, and even the average qb play, to say nothing of the worst, it seems to me that parity may be receding.

46
by David (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 7:53pm

Oh, and there is no way that there are 17 worse offenses than the Vikings’.

That picture would probably look different if they adjusted for Adrian Peterson's ligaments.

47
by Nathan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 7:54pm

Niners/Raiders Hybrid

QB: Alex Smith
RB: Frank Gore
FB: Justin Griffith
WR: Jackson ??
WR: Curry ??
WR: Battle ??
TE: Vernon Davis

LT: Adam Snider
LG: Larry Allen
C: Jake Newberry
RG: David Baas
RT: Joe Staley

--

Defense

3-4

LE - D. Burgess
NT - Sopaga (because I like him.)
RE - Bryant Young

OLB - Haralson
ILB - Derrick Smith
ILB - K. Morrison
OLB - T. Howard

CB - Nate Clements
CB - Nnamdi Asomugha
CB - Walt Harris

SS - M. Huff
FS - S. Schweigert

I don't know even if I agree with this team. Just.. wow. I hate both of these teams so much.

48
by Drew (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 7:57pm

Aaron, as always, thanks for the stats and insight.
But I think you miss a point on the Hester analysis. The difference in average field position does not take into consideration the variance. If you kick to the guy, you average the 31.7 yardline, but that is probably a lot of 20 yardline stops mixed with some returns that are deep into enemy territory or scores. And the vast majority of squib kicks are probably close to the 36 yardline average. Add to that an inept offense, and the handful of long returns he breaks might hurt more than the handful of times the Bears actually gain 30 yards and kick a field goal.
Wouldn't a better way of looking at it be the average points the Bears score on the drives folling squibs v. the average on drives following Hester returns?

49
by Nathan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 7:59pm

Maybe I should have taken Trent Dilfer. Or Josh McCown. Wow. That's pretty sad.

50
by slo-mo-joe (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 8:00pm

Surprising how much variance the Steelers have, especially comsidering their cupcake past schedule. After all, their 2 losses are by small margins, away, and against average-ish, not entirely horrible teams.

51
by Jake (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 8:01pm

#29 - "Can we just avoid comparing injuries please? There’s no way to do it reasonably, so let’s just stop it. Or continue the one on extra points about it."
Only if people will stop the excuses for the Colts because of injuries. Everyone gets injuries. If there's no way to compare injuries reasonably, then its not reasonable to make the implied comparison between Indy and the normal number of injuries.

52
by Nathan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 8:04pm

re:51

I think it's reasonable to notice a team losing half their starters in a two week span, but if it stops the meaningless Pats/Colts injury comparisons, then whatever.

53
by Nathan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 8:05pm

Would anyone make different picks on my Niners/Raiders hybrid.

I'm surprised how many Niners I took. That can't be right can it?

54
by Riceloft (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 8:10pm

Teams have been kicking away crom Josh Cribbs for a few weeks now as well. After he burns them once for a long return, they kick away from him.

His return TD this week was meant to be a short kick. It travelled just a bit too far.

55
by Nathan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 8:13pm

RE:54

Shouldn't we have a special Cribbs rating for when a short kick goes to far and is actually returned? ;)

56
by JMH (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 8:15pm

The good news for the Colts - and they need some - is that they have gotten their injuries at the right time (if there is such a thing). With 7 wins (including wins visiting each of their divisions teams), they are almost certain to make the playoffs.

With 7 weeks still to go, they have an excellent chance of getting their people back before playoff time.

57
by B (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 8:15pm

There was a short kick against the Patriots this year that was returned for a TD by one of the up men. It takes a special kind of skill to squib-kick and still give up the TD.

58
by RickD (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 8:15pm

re: 49
or Joe Montana. Or Jim Plunkett.

59
by rk (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 8:15pm

Nathan,
I think you've got to move Burgess to OLB in place of Haralson and put Marques Douglas at DE.

60
by B (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 8:17pm

56: I think we need more information on the severity of the injuries, specifically the ones to Clark and Freeney. I think those guys are the key to the Colts going anywhere in the playoffs.

61
by Andrew (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 8:19pm

David Mazzotta #35:

That is to ask, What are the chances of the Bears scoring on a drive started by a kick to Hester versus a squibb away from him?

The Bears have received 46 kickoffs and Hester returned one for a touchdown this year. I don't know how many drives after the other team scored have resulted in Bears scores.

62
by Nathan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 8:20pm

RE:59

Much better idea! Agree with your changes.

Any others?

63
by Joe in Seattle (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 8:25pm

#53

I honestly think I'd put Dilfer as the QB for the "all Bay Area team". Actually I'd probably just put Russell at QB and see what he can do. Anyone but Alex Smith.

I'd also take D-Jack out of the lineup. He looks completely finished, although there aren't much better options at receiver.

How about the coach? I'd probably give the nod to Kiffin, the Niners have completely regressed under Nolan.

64
by chuck (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 8:26pm

San Francisco is clearly ranked too low because they are dealing with lots of adversity. My current Madden08 season is way better than this. With injurys and penaltys and deaths turnd off Alex Smith has a paser rating of 72.8, and Frank Gore is averaging 91.9 yards per game. Venon Davis has 4 TDs thru 9 games and we are 6-2-1... aslo Nate Clemmens had 4 interceptions aganst Eli Manning and returned them all for scores. Eat that!

65
by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 8:26pm

What's funny about Detroit's bad special teams is that they actually block kicks pretty well. (I think that's partly covered by opponent field goal efficiency in the w/HIDDEN column.) So the actual effects could be even worse.

kevin, it's like gouging out your eyes, but with sharper spoons. The worst part is actually kickoffs. My guess is that it's partly Hanson's aging leg and partly bad coverage. The aging leg wouldn't be so bad if Hanson hadn't also missed an XP and a FG inside 30 this year; in his defense, that's about all he's missed, so Detroit's FG/XP is just about average.

The Lions aren't pinning people inside the 20 (30th overall, ahead of Jax and Mia), which may be from all the three-and-outs inside their own territory.

We don't chart special-teams plays, although I wonder if there might be something we could note about them. (I've charted all the Lions games so far, but only have the last 4-5 on DVR. Maybe I need a bigger hard drive.)

I did pick Alex Smith for this LL team. Now if Shaun Alexander can only get healthy ...

66
by Matt (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 8:28pm

33, 34 --

It means that the Steelers continue to (almost) lead the league in variance; but, as 50 points out, that surprises me on an intuitive level because both Steeler losses have been pretty close and on the road and came against the current No. 18 and No. 19 teams. Guess my intuition is wrong.

As for whom the Steelers have played and beaten, well, who has anybody played and beaten? The Pats have obviously handled all comers, including Indy and Dallas and SD. The AFC South teams have some quality wins against each other. The NFC East teams can say the same, and like the Cowboys (twice) the Packers have beaten the Giants (once) -- but DVOA shows that people putting Big Blue at the top of their "power rankings" were suffering from pretty low wattage power. The Packers also handled SD and PHI at Lambeau.

Meanwhile, the Steelers have yet to face any great teams, to be sure; but their past schedule rank is dragged down by SF, and they have beaten pretty soundly the teams currently at Nos. 9, 12, 16, 17, and 20.

67
by Nathan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 8:37pm

RE:63

I'd go Kiffen. Obviously we have to have the Raiders D coordinator.

I'd want to keep Tom Rathman as RB coach though.

QB, Russel would be fine. Dilfer as well. You can't really go right with the options available.

I didn't want to keep Jackson, but who else is there? ;)

68
by PatsFan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 8:39pm

Given the Hester/squib discussion, you might want to read TMQ this week (since it looks like no link this week). He has a long section on a high school team that hasn't punted since 2005 (when the coach read the "teams punt too much" study). They've even gone for it on fourth down from their own six.

69
by Joe in Seattle (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 8:40pm

#67

Agreed on Jackson, there really isn't a better option. Can we convert Alex Smith to WR? He seems athletic enough (even with his baby hands).

Actually Kiffin is only 32, he could have some game in him.

70
by chuck (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 8:40pm

you forgot the most important element of this team.... andy lee. shane lechler can hold for seabass's 58-yard FGs.. and we'll let nedney do the onside kick at the onset of the 2nd half..

71
by Matt (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 8:41pm

I still have the same questions about variance too, which puzzles me every week. Are the Steelers so high up the chart in variance because they have had many dominant performances but then came crashing back to earth in their two losses?

Again, intuitively speaking -- which is a euphemism for my own ignorance -- it seems that a team like Jacksonville or Philadelphia "varies" more from week to week, either blowing people out (PHI over DET) or getting blown up (DAL over PHI); or else losing by bigger margins and/or to worse teams (JAC at NO, IND at JAC). Yet the Eagles are 8th and Jacksonville 23rd in terms of variance.

72
by Nathan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 8:43pm

On Madden, I always made Andy Lee punter and Kicker. It was a good use of a roster spot, but since we have Seabass, might as well take him.

We could always use Michael Robinson at wideout ;)

73
by Joe in Seattle (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 8:45pm

The punting unit would totally rock on this team. Lee is awesome and so is Lechler.

ROBINSON AND BATTLE FOR QB!!!

74
by B (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 8:53pm

45: Will, there are 10 teams that can't do either. Even more shocking, there are 8 teams with a worse pass DVOA than the Vikings. I think the Vikings are getting some passing benefit from having a good running game, because objectively, there's no way their passing game is better than any team outside of Miami or the SF Bay area.

75
by Matt (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 8:54pm

Why didn't the Niners keep Rasheed Marshall too, and deploy Smith, Robinson, Battle, and Marshall in a classic single wing?

How much worse could that have been for them?

76
by Slo-mo-joe (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 8:56pm

Freeney may be out for good:
http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=3108696

It seemed a little fast how they jumped on Rice. Too bad.

77
by Nathan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 8:58pm

Eric Crouch is surely looking for work...

We could line up an entire field of QB hybrids with an O-Line.

They could run Basketball like plays in the backfield as randomly several of them start rushing out. Who will get the ball? who has the ball? Whose throwing the ball?

Will they run with the ball?

And a QB/Punter as well to completely confuse if we go for it on 4th, which we most often will.

78
by Matt (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 9:00pm

77 - If you need a QB slash punter slash WR hybrid, the original Slash looked to be in easonably good shape during his "Deal or No Deal" appearance.

79
by Nathan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 9:00pm

Rice, Dungy, Freeney out, it all makes sense. This is one of those moves that's so obvious, it almost never happens.

80
by Temo (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 9:01pm

Last week I made the comparison between "conventional wisdom" and DVOA in regards to the Dallas-NY game, and I think DVOA won that match up. That was good to see (from more than one viewpoint).

Also, it's good to see Miami with 3 expected wins. I'd say they're in the early running for surprise team of the year next year, especially with Ronnie Brown coming back. Yes, it's way too early in the season for that.

81
by McGaytrain (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 9:02pm

Roscoe Parrish leads the league in punt return average. He also has just 2 fair catches. Does he get a negative adjustment because of how Ralph Wilson Stadium's swirling winds affect punters? Or is it just his lack of publicity?

82
by Brian (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 9:03pm

Is the 'variance' stat adjusted for opponent? In other words, if my team plays NE then NYJ then IND then SF, is the variance going to be astronomical just because of the schedule?

83
by Jerry (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 9:03pm

Re #30:

Can we assume that the increase in NE’s ratings during this bye week are a result of opponent adjustments?

Yes.

Does opponent adjustment get deeper than just overall DVOA? For instance, do we use Offensive DVOA for the Defensive adjustment, etc? Better yet, do individual DPAR ratings come into play such that the injuries to Marvin Harrison and the others reduce the “expected� results for Indy’s offense?

It's offense vs. defense and vice versa. Getting down to individual players would be beyond the system; how would you quantify lost offensive linemen? Also, the play-by-play doesn't identify which players are in the game, and charters can't pull it off the telecast, so no such adjustments could be made mid-game. We have to live with the occasional Charlie Frye start or game full of backups skewing the numbers a bit, but it's not too bad over 16 games. And as you can see from the Hester discussion, Aaron will look at ways to adjust if circumstances seem to warrant it, although it often turns out that those proposed adjustments don't make things more accurate.

84
by RickD (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 9:05pm

re: 76 Wow.

That's really too bad about Freeney. In my mind, that's the straw that breaks the back of the Colts' playoff hopes. Simeon Rice just is not at Freeney's level any more.

Now I'm wondering if they'll be able to stay ahead of the Titans and Jags.

*shakes head, snaps out of it*

Wait - they still have Manning, Addai, and Wayne. They're still dangerous.

I expect they'll wax the Chiefs next week.

(Am I tryiing a reverse jinx or a double-reverse jinx? I cannot tell.)

85
by Bobman (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 9:06pm

#52 Hear! Hear! As a Colt fan, I personally feel that injuries have killed our season (which means SB chances) but that is not unique by a long stretch and certainly not worth using as excuses. Having it all come apart in 2 weeks is newsworthy--since teammates and staff can work a new guy or two into their plans every week, but 6 new guys in one week, not so much. So for a week or two it might be a legit excuse, but it "is what it is" and everybody has to deal with it eventually. Time to move on. So no more injury excuses, please, and let us just gnash our teeth in private.

Maybe they get healthy or the newbies improve by week 17, but probably not enough to make a difference. Worst case scenario is they recover enough to win the division, beat other AFC teams in the playoffs, and stand punch drunk at midfield while the Pats dismantle them in the AFCCG. Some Pats fans would gloat, most would just be embarrassed, and casual fans would say "gee, why do they suck so much?" [joke] And for the record, BB WILL run up the score and will NEVER be able to defend putting in Brady at DB so he could get the record 12th pick against Manning. Quoth TB after the game "My arms were tired after throwing 6 TDS each both lefty and righty, but I needed to get my legs a little workout, so playing corner seemed like the right move for the team's sake. Nothing against Peyton, but we're just trying to win a football game here." [/joke]

#18 Doktarr, I actually posited somewhere in the 28-30 range, IIRC, but truly feel that even 32 would be too high. Thanks for remembering.

To all FO regulars whose teams feature good coverage units, what the hell does it take? 1 or 2 good gunners who command more than league minimum? I assume a large part of Indy's precipitous decline was the same malaise that affected the rest of the team--new guys doing new things with no game experience and only a couple practices under their belts--and that in following weeks, when Inanimate Carbon Rod has covered more than just two kickoffs in his lifetime, he'll actually improve to merely bad, up several steps from sucktacular. He aspires to ordinary.

Will Allen, Nathan, and others, keep positing the hybrid Frankenteams--it's fun. And I could use some fun about now. I was surprised how good the NFCN hybrid team looked on paper last week.

86
by Temo (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 9:07pm

Brian- No, because theoretically, if you lose by 14 to NE, win by 10 against NYJ, lose by 10 to Indy, and then win by 14 against San Fran then your variance should go lower. IE, you should be playing very poorly against the good teams and very well against the bad teams. If instead you played the good teams close (and got a high VOA) and then got blown out by the bad teams (and got a low VOA) then your DVOA would be jumping all over the place.

87
by Joe in Seattle (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 9:07pm

#77

With Curry, Robinson and Battle we have a lot of options for a hybrid type QB.

This offense could be a lot of fun. I'd probably just line Vernon Davis up at WR and have Curry/Battle toss him the ball and let Davis run. It allows Davis to use his freakish athletic skills and it's a simple pass that even he can't drop.

Actually, just getting McCown and Smith off the field makes this offense worlds better.

88
by Nathan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 9:11pm

I wonder if we could make a better team than the Niners or Raiders from free agents....

QB: Doug Johnson
Backup: Rob Johnson

(Just because.)

RB: Kevan Barlow
Backup: Shaud Williams

FB: Cory Schlesinger

WR: Mike Williams
WR: Antonio Bryant
WR: David Boston

TE: Ernie Conwell
TE: Jermaine Wiggins

LT: Zach Wiegert
LG: Toniu Fonoti
C: Cory Raymer
RG: Marco Rivera
RT: Adam Meadows

Kicker: Mike Vanderjagt
Punter: Dirk Johnson

And on to the Defense. Could we score on anyone?

89
by Temo (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 9:15pm

91. Would this be the truly "replacement level" team? And also, can we use people who are in prison on the defense?

90
by Joe in Seattle (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 9:15pm

If the Colts didn't pick up Simeon Rice or the Jags didn't pick up Grady Jackson we could put together a halfway respectable defensive line.

Is Chad Brown still out there? Mike Rumph? Tony Parrish?

91
by Temo (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 9:16pm

93. Same with Tank being picked up by the Cowboys.

92
by Nathan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 9:18pm

4-3

DE: Grant Wistrom
DT: Dan Wilkinson
DT: Johnathan Sullivan
DE: Kenard Lang

OLB: Ed Hartwell
ILB: Al Wilson
OLB: T.J. Slaughter

CB: Ahmad Carroll
CB: Lenny Walls
CB: Derrick Strait

SS: Donovin Darius
FS: Tony Parrish

93
by Nathan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 9:19pm

I thought about Chad Brown. Maybe replace T.J. Slaughter.

I couldn't stand putting Rumph on the team.

94
by Nathan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 9:20pm

Dline isn't our problem. CBs are.

Can we immediately make some trades here? ;)

95
by Nathan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 9:21pm

Oh, probably want to switch Tony Parrish and Darius around.

96
by Nathan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 9:27pm

Actually, Corey Dillon at RB.

97
by Joe in Seattle (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 9:28pm

Bobby Taylor for CB. That's all I've got. This defense is going to surrender 40 points a game.

98
by Nathan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 9:34pm

Backups

QB: Rohan Davey or Aaron Brooks
RB: Wali Lundy or Stephen Davis
WR: Corey Bradford, Doug Gabriel, or Charles Rogers.
TE: Courtney Anderson
O-Line: Chukky Okobi, Jeno James, Rex Tucker, Kenyatta Walker

D-Line: Jason Fisk, Willie Whitehead, Seth Payne
Linebackers: Rocky Calmus, Ronald McKinnon, D.D. Lewis, Hannibal Navies
CBs: Rumph, Tory James, Tyrone Poole
Safety: Willie Middlebrooks, Bahwoh Jue

I think we could beat the Niners or Raiders!

99
by Nathan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 9:36pm

The defense can only give up 40 points if the team they are playing can score them.

Alex Smith vs. our defense doesn't scare me. ;)

100
by Temo (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 9:39pm

You know, it's even scarier if you think that as a true start up team, you'd be able to sign people from other team's practice squads.

101
by Nathan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 9:40pm

If only we could pry Brad Johnson from the Cowboys, we could have an all Johnson QB group. (and probably increase our chance of scoring quite a bit)

102
by Nathan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 9:41pm

"You know, it’s even scarier if you think that as a true start up team, you’d be able to sign people from other team’s practice squads."

Free John Standeford!

103
by Temo (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 10:19pm

"Standeford majored in Elementary Education and did his student teaching at Attica High School in Attica, Indiana."

Lets give him a call for our imaginary team.

104
by Nathan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 10:21pm

Aaron needs to pull some strings to get one of those simulation firms to have our team play the Niners and Raiders 100 times.

:)

105
by Nathan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 10:26pm

What would be our priorities for the draft?

QB / DL / CB ?

106
by Ben (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 10:30pm

#105: You can sign players from other teams practice squads anyways. You just have to keep them on your 53 man roster for at least 2 weeks.

107
by Nathan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 10:32pm

Free Agent Targets for 2008

RB: Michael Turner
OL: Alan Faneca, Ryan Lilja, Max Starks
DL: Albert Haynesworth, Mike Rucker, Terrell Suggs
LBS: Lance Briggs, Karlos Dansby
CBS: Asante Samuel
Safety: Mike Doss

Draft a QB, and actually, a wideout, and we make the Superbowl next year!

108
by Nathan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 10:32pm

Ok, the playoffs...

109
by Temo (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 10:36pm

Ben- Yea, I know. My point was that practice squad talent is close to the talent of the 49ers and Oakland. It's hyperbole, I know, but it was really a joke!

110
by Matt (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 10:39pm

I thought Wistrom retired. Why is he still eligible for the all-street free agents all-stars?

111
by Kyle, Glasgow (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 10:42pm

If you put this street free agent team into the NFC West they would probably have a decent shot at a division title.

Who would be the street free agent coach?

112
by Temo (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 10:58pm

116. Why, Bill Cowher of course. They can play their home games on his front lawn so he can be with his family for all I care.

113
by ChrisFromNJ (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 11:07pm

#91:

What about Jeff George as the QB instead?

(Jason Whitlock, paging Jason Whitlock...)

114
by SomeDude (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 11:38pm

91: Scott Player for punter

5: I hate you.

115
by Nathan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 11:46pm

re:115 I was betting that he'd come back for a chance to prove that the all street all stars could beat the Rams. And we'd over pay for 1 year. ;)

116
by B (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 12:00am

Oh, on the never-punting part of TMQ, not punting is a better strategy at high school level football because it's the punters can't punt the ball as far, so you're sacrificing less potential field position.

117
by hwc (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 12:39am

So let me see if I've got this right?

We have a shot at seeing the best ever DVOA team this year?

We have a shot at seeing the worst ever DVOA team year?

And the best ever DVOA team has the worst ever DVOA team's first round draft pick in the April draft?

Sorry, Roger.

118
by MarkV (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 12:41am

Nathan I just dont think the Lines have the talent to do anything... plus CB still sucks after signing samuel.

119
by admin :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 12:50am

No. No, no, no. We are not going to turn this into a political discussion about TMQ. No. If you have a PhD, don't use it to discuss genetics, use it to understand that we have a rule around here: NO POLITICS.

120
by Temo (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 12:56am

122. I think his point isn't that NFL team should never punt, but more that they should punt much less frequently. Basically, he wants to eliminate punting on 4th and short on your opponents side of the field and even in midfield.

121
by B (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 2:09am

120: If so, then I agree. Less punting is the key to success in the NFL, as opposed to never punting or always punting unless trailing late, which is how most NFL teams think.

122
by Bobman (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 2:37am

#119 and thus I see why the numbers are all f-ed up. Probably should blame the Republicans. Or the Democrats. Damn Libertarians....

Kidding aside, your pasted together teams are awe-inspiring. I am really not worthy! #113, I was thinking the same thing about Jeff George. I bet Ditka would love to coach this team--he seemed to enjoy coaching in 1987! oooh, Marty is available as coach, no? Thanks Mister Smith!

123
by Richard (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 2:47am

122: That's Mr. Spanos you ought be thanking.

124
by Jimbohead (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 2:53am

why no love for mariucci? it's not his fault he got stuck coaching the lions....

125
by patriotsgirl (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 2:53am

88, 98: How about Drew Bledsoe? Despite his deteriorated skills, he may be better than Doug Johnson.

I echo Bobman: I am not worthy.

126
by Temo (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 3:02am

I bet Marty ball could get us a 13-3 record and an exit in the first round of the playoffs easy! Lets go with him, then fire the coach the day before the playoffs. It'd be unprecedented, and I think Schottenhiemer would have to finally retire for good following that debacle.

127
by navin (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 3:16am

The SF-Oak defense would be really good. Also, I might slot in Patrick Willis instead of Derek Smith.

The offense would still suck. The problem is neither team has a QB. Culpepper is okay in his throws, but he has no idea how to protect the football. But if they could cobble an offensive line out of the two teams (I doubt it), Culpepper might be okay.

Darrell Jackson is not that bad. The problem is that even if he's open by ten yards, the football is delivered somewhere within a 10 yard radius of him, and usually not at the center where the receiver is.

128
by Alex (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 5:38am

The SF-Oak defense would be really good.

Yeah, and even with the QB/O-line issues, the WRs and RBs would be pretty good, so you could cobble together a mediocre offense from those pieces. And with a really good defense and a mediocre offense, you'd probably win the division in the NFC West, or at least get a wildcard.

129
by thestar5 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 7:01am

Nathan, you ofrgot Patrick Willis on defense. He's looked really good.

Temo, the real question is whether we could get guys in prison for the offense. You know, Vick? The fans would boo but since we're playing on Bill Cowhers lawn, there will probably only be like ten fans! And then we will really be able to run the single wing! ;)

130
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 11:58am

Again, intuitively speaking — which is a euphemism for my own ignorance — it seems that a team like Jacksonville or Philadelphia “varies� more from week to week, either blowing people out (PHI over DET) or getting blown up (DAL over PHI); or else losing by bigger margins and/or to worse teams (JAC at NO, IND at JAC). Yet the Eagles are 8th and Jacksonville 23rd in terms of variance.

The key is that variance is opponent adjusted. Do Philly destroying Detroit is an expected outcome and Philly getting destroyed by Dallas is also an expected outcome. So the variance between those games is fairly small.

OTOH, Pittsburgh killed the #9 ranked team and lost to the #18 and #19 teams.

131
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 12:00pm

" Do Philly destroying..."

Lousy editing skills. *grumble grumble grumble*

132
by Temo (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 1:02pm

129. It just occurred to me that we're basically constructing the "misfit" archtype team from movies like "Replacements" (or the football version of Major League).

133
by Fnor (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 1:25pm

131: Variance is a secret to everyone.

134
by azibuck (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 1:51pm

#48, Drew, a DVOA thread is no place to start making sense.
And teams should always pitch to Barry Bonds. Stop walking him! It's a losing strategy!

135
by Temo (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 2:01pm

Devin Hester is not to Kick Returns as Barry Bonds is to At Bats. Punt returns, sure. But not kicks.

136
by Nathan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 2:16pm

"Nathan, you ofrgot Patrick Willis on defense. He’s looked really good."

I didn't forget him. Several people have mentioned him, but I choose Smith over him, and I just couldn't get him on the field. He'd be switched out in rotations obviously.

Maybe I'm wrong on this. :)

137
by Nathan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 2:19pm

I like the Free Agent team better than the Niners/Raiders team.

I think Doug Johnson could get us some wins if Dillon signed on.

I don't hate the WR core either.

WR: Mike Williams
WR: Antonio Bryant
WR: David Boston

I'd probably put Boston at #1 WR, and rarely throw to him hoping to take out the #1 CB.

Williams in the Slot. Bryant at #2.

The O-Line doesn't look that bad,

LT: Zach Wiegert
LG: Toniu Fonoti
C: Cory Raymer
RG: Marco Rivera
RT: Adam Meadows

Can't be any worse than the O-Line the Cardinals used for several seasons.

138
by Scott de B. (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 2:20pm

No. No, no, no. We are not going to turn this into a political discussion about TMQ. No. If you have a PhD, don’t use it to discuss genetics, use it to understand that we have a rule around here: NO POLITICS.

I'm confused. None of the genetics discussion here has anything to do with politics. Were some posts deleted?

139
by Nathan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 2:24pm

We'd run a scheme similar to the Colts on offense (Zone Blocking, misdirection in the hopes our O-Line will hold up.)

That makes me think, can those Wideouts block? Maybe blocking wideouts are more important because catch levels between free agent wideouts aren't really that different.

If you needed blocking wideouts, which of these guys would you choose.

Mike Williams - The former disappointing first-round pick of the Detroit Lions was recently let go by the Oakland Raiders.
He had a tryout for the Tennessee Titans recently.

Antonio Bryant - Played most recently with the San Francisco 49ers in 2006.

Charles Rogers - Yet another disappointing former first-round pick of the Detroit Lions yet is very talented. He has yet to have a tryout for a team this season.

Corey Bradford - Journeyman receiver could fill a No. 3 or No. 4 role for a team.

Az-Zahir Hakim - The oft-injured veteran could fill a slot role or return punts.

Doug Gabriel - The once promising receiver offers size at the position and the ability to stretch the field. Had tryouts with the Buffalo Bills, Oakland Raiders, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers this season.

David Boston - The troubled receiver still is only 29 years old.

Rod Gardner - The journeyman receiver offers some size at the position but has been with four teams since 2004. Had a tryout with the Oakland Raiders this season.

Todd Pinkston - Was once a promising receiver who could get down field well before he suffered a torn Achilles back in training camp of the 2005 season with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Billy McMullen - Has played in the West Coast offense previously and offers value for depth due to his size. He had a tryout for the Tennessee Titans recently.

Clarence Moore - Tall receiver who is a red zone option and could fill a No. 4 role for a team.

Courtney Roby - Was waived by the Cincinnati Bengals recently but could fill a No. 4 role for a team. Had tryouts with the Buffalo Bills, Houston Texans, Kansas City Chiefs, and Oakland Raiders this season.

Kevin Kasper - The journeyman receiver had a tryout with the Cleveland Browns this season. He can return kicks and fill a No. 4 role.

Jeremy Bloom - The former second day selection of the Philadelphia Eagles in 2006 has value as a punt or kick returner. He's had tryouts with the Carolina Panthers, Cleveland Browns, Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers this season.

Bethel Johnson - The former second-round pick has bounced around over the last few years but offers value as a kick returner. He had tryouts with the Cincinnati Bengals, St. Louis Rams, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers this season.

Peter Warrick - Was once one of the better slot receivers but injuries have curtailed a once promising career.

David Terrell - An underachieving former first-round pick who still offers a team value as a No. 4 or No. 5 receiver.

Tyrone Calico - Knee problems have limited his once promising career.

Randy Hymes - Good sized receiver who has some upside as a No. 4 receiver.

David Kircus - He had a tryout with the Baltimore Ravens recently.

Alex Bannister - Very solid special teams player and former Pro Bowl player in that role.

Charlie Adams - Offers value as a No. 4 receiver.

Cortez Hankton - Solid special teams player but offers little else. Had tryouts with the Houston Texans and Tampa Bay Buccaneers this season.

Rashaun Woods - The former first-round pick of the San Francisco 49ers is running out of chances to play.

Jerome Pathon - Veteran receiver who could fill a No. 4 role for a team but hasn't played since the 2005 season.

Terrence Wilkins - Could return kicks or punts. He had a tryout with the Baltimore Ravens recently.

140
by Nathan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 2:26pm

We probably need 5 Wideouts, might as well have them block well if possible so we can run the stretch (to help our o-line out)

One guy needs to have excellent hands for 3rd down. Another should be a burner. The third can be whatever.

We probably need a kick returner out of the 5 as well.

141
by slo-mo-joe (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 2:29pm

#138:
I think it was about my reference to intelligent design, which indeed has more to do with politics than science. Fair enough - I apologize.

Although in GE's case I think this example is indicative of a larger issue that affects his judgment on football-related issues, it really was just a peripheral comment on a sidetrack in a football commentator's column. Let's move on.

142
by Nathan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 2:37pm

Less random talk, more picking wide receivers for our street team. :)

143
by Digit (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 2:42pm

re: 139

I'd probably go with Antonio Bryant, Corey Bradford, Randy Hymes, Doug Gabriel, and Terrence Wilkins out of that lot.

144
by James C (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 2:46pm

Hey Nathan, slow day at work?

;)

145
by Nathan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 2:47pm

James C,

Pretty much ;)

146
by Nathan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 2:58pm

I second Bryant, Gabriel, and Wilkins

Bradford and Hymes I could be convinced into. Any other opinions?

147
by mawbrew (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 3:02pm

I just noticed that the Raiders are now officially under the raiderjoe line for 2007. Has anyone issued a suicide watch?

148
by Kaveman (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 3:17pm

Despite a win this week, Broncos fans seem to be sitting silent and gloomy. Not surprising, considering the Chiefs without Larry Johnson aren't what you'd call a dominant team... even with him, they haven't exactly been lighting up the scoreboard.

Even less surprising when you realize that Mallard, who played 42 snaps at DT and DE, was signed last week, along with 2 other D-line players. In Week 9! What are the chances of making the playoffs when you're still assembling your defense after midseason?

And how about them safeties? Lynch has a scary injury... a stinger which has him still unable to feel his fingers properly two weeks later. Ferguson has played so well that he was benched for the last game. And we cut a backup safety last week.

Sort of like a dark comedy of personnel management.

More gnashing of teeth and tearing of hair is feared, as we place our tattered and raggedy defense in front of Tennessee next Monday night... nothing like a national stage for dark comedy. If Haynesworth and Laboy are back and perhaps even if they aren't, I fear for Cutler behind this offensive line; he's been knocked out of the last couple of games. Walker won't be ready for this game, and if Henry plays, it could be his last game.

All is not dark... there're reasons for hope, and a lot of bright spots for the future, but as a fan it is hard to love this season. :-/

149
by Digit (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 3:24pm

re: 146

I went with Bradford because he strikes me as a good enough possession receiver with some burst, and Hymes for the potential and the leaping ability. May as well take a flyer on someone who might find that second level.

Although I would seriously think about getting a list of the practice squad WRs and see who's got better potential there to be signed. Or for that matter, anyone on practice squads should also be fair game for roster construction.

150
by patsfandan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 3:35pm

Aaron, is there sufficient data showing home vs. road DVOA? I get the feeling that Detroit, in particular is much more competitive at home, where they are undefeated, vs. road, where they have had some horrible losses.

151
by admin :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 3:37pm

Apologies to everyone. I got busy last night working on a piece for ESPN The Magazine and forgot to put together the individual stats pages to go online. I will take care of that tonight.

By the way, the Lions at home vs. the Lions on the road is actually the Detroit comment in today's AOL commentary. I don't know if the difference is statistically significant, but it certainly is ridiculous.

152
by AndyE (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 3:38pm

The Hester adjustment effectively comes down to a coaching VOA - if a coach alters their strategy, which might look like a VOA change, but causes a better matchup (think Patriots/Vikings last year) how should that impact VOA, if at all?

153
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 3:40pm

Here are some comparison charts (Conference and Divisional comparisons for both DVOA and Weighted DVOA).

The last chart is the difference in each team's offensive and defensive ranking. Teams with positive bars are being carried by their offense and teams with negative bars are being carried by their defense. It says nothing of the quality of the team.

Enjoy!

154
by M (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 3:48pm

Re: #11. - I am don't know why this hasn't gotten more attention than an idle comment in the "Audibles" thread, but it seems that Indianapolis' special teams were unbelievably bad this last game. They went from -0.8% to -6.0% IN ONE GAME. Backing into the score computationally gives an implied DVOA score of -47.6%. Alternatively, San Diego's score rose from 6.3% to 9.3%, implying a DVOA of 33.3%. In PFP 2006, I think the maximum/minimum for special teams DVOA was plus/minus 15%; both scores would blow away the old marks. Any thoughts on this?

155
by M (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 3:52pm

#151 - Aaron, if you still have your copy of "The Hidden Game of Football", in that book they provide HFA's for all the teams. I think Detroit had the highest HFA of any team over the period analyzed. For instance, in 1981 they went 7-1 at home & 1-7 on the road, in 1985 they went 6-2 vs. 1-7. In 1986 they went 1-7 vs. 4-4 (????). They have historically had some crazy splits. Plus, aren't they the same team that went 0-8 on the road 3 consecutive years (2001-2003)?

156
by mshray (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 4:04pm

Here's another take on how lousy the Niners' offense must be. Seattle has beaten them twice and held them to 2-game totals of 3 pts, 357 yards, 15 1st downs, 3-26 3rd down conversions and 0-4 4th down conversions. The 'Hawks are second in the league (narrowly) in points allowed. Their non-adjusted defense is -9.5%, good for 5th, but their weighted defense is only 10th.

Just wondering out loud, but how much difference would there be in Seattle's ranking if we could swap Chicago (the 31st offense but 14% better than SF) for SF. Or better yet Houston (17th overall, closest to average at this point). I'm not saying Seattle's defense would actually do that against anyone else, just wondering how much difference the adjustment would be.

157
by Mike (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 4:05pm

After watching Monday's Niners/Hawks game, it proves that the Low DVOA score the Niners currently have is well deserved. They are the worst team, espiecally on offense, that I've ever seen.

158
by George O. (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 4:45pm

141 -

It is good for you to feel ungood, but your plusungood unposts no longer trouble me.

Football Outsiders is allied with ESPN and at war with Fox Sports. We have always been at war with Fox Sports.

159
by Nathan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 4:55pm

re:158

*clap*

160
by Brian (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 4:58pm

Wow, those Niners weighted total offense and individual passing are 32nd, and wayyy below the #31 team in each category.
The Niners regression would SEEM to have hints of Oden/Durant type tanking...if only they had a first round draft choice...
Anyways, where do you start with that team? Owner/GM/Coach? Are Gore and Smith still the future of this franchise?

161
by dcmtx (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 5:09pm

I have always been a big fan of these ratings, but I was wondering if you could give some detail to something that looks out of place. Tampa Bay has a higher Offensive DVOA than Pittsburgh, but I can't find any statistical reason for this, and I have seen both of them play quite a bit this year. The QB play is better (both rating and yds/att), the RB play is better (higher yds/att), more points, better 1st down pct., less turnovers. My first thought is weak schedule for Pitt, but 4 of their 7 wins are against teams over .500, and 1 win is against a great defense just under .500 (Ravens), so this didn't seem to fit either. Curious to know the answer...

162
by George O. (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 5:14pm

159 - Thank you. Now please join me for the Two Minutes Hate against the Two Minute Warning, followed by a discussion of the infallibility of the 1984 San Francisco 49ers.

163
by Frank (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 5:27pm

Chicago is clearly ranked too high because stupid Rex Grossman is back at the helm and we almost lost to the damn Raiders. And we won't even get our consolation prize on draft day cause goddamn Jerry Angelo will trade down for another Grossman/Mike Haynes combo, or draft another Benson!

164
by nat (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 5:42pm

161:
Take a look at their unadjusted stats. That will better match what you see on the field. The adjusted (DVOA) stats may be a better predicter of what you will see in the future.

As for the strength of schedule, DVOA is a better measure of that than wins and losses. This is especially true when judging just offense.

165
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 6:01pm

VOA Passing Rushing
Pitt 35.4 1.0
TB 14.0 10.0

Pitt HAS been passing better than TB, although Tampa has been running better.

The difference is, Pitt has played REALLY BAD pass defenses, so its not impressive.

166
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 6:32pm

Re: 161

My guess is that you're undervaluing strength of schedule (with respect to defensive DVOA, not win/loss record). If you go through and match up similar opponents (granted, this is highly unscientific, but fairly illustrative), they've both played Arizona (#17) and Seattle (#10). Baltimore and Indy are comparable (#5/4). Buffalo and Jacksonville are comparable (#14/15). Detroit and Denver are comparable (#20/23). Cincinnati and St. Louis are comparable (#26/25). And San Francisco and New Orleans are comparable (#30/29).

Pittsburgh's remaining 2 games were both against Cleveland (#27), and Tampa Bay's were against Carolina (#18) and Tennessee (#1).

If you do a similar comparison between opposing Pass Defense, the difference comes down to Pittsburgh playing San Fran and Cleveland (#29/30) and Tampa Bay playing Indy and Tennessee (#2/1).

Rush Defense isn't as cut and dry, but it's basically the difference between Pittsburgh playing Cleveland & Denver (#16/29) and Tampa Bay playing New Orleans & Carolina (#8/21) with a couple of the "matching pairs" being more difficult for Pittsburgh.

On top of the strength of schedule argument, if you look at a graph of offensive DVOA, GB/Phi/TB/Cin are basically dead even and then there's only a tiny step down (2.2%) before you get to Cle/Pit.

So DVOA is basically saying that Tampa Bay's offense has performed slightly better than expected against a more difficult set of opponents (relative to Pittsburgh). If you look at the Non-Adjusted Total Offensive numbers (which doesn't include strength of schedule or an average percentage of fumble recovery), Pittsburgh's offense is actually 4.3% better than Tampa Bay's.

167
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 6:36pm

Well sure, nat, take the easy way out why don't you. ;-)

168
by zenbitz (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 6:37pm

No 157., the 05 Niners offense was, somehow, worse. I think basically they didn't have Gore who if the defense guesses pass can pop through for 8-12 yrds still somehow.

And not to defend Alex Smith, but the team was actually worse with Dilfer in there.

Sucks to be a Bay Area sports fan right now... go Sabrecats?

169
by nat (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 6:57pm

166:
Or, you could look at post 166 for more detail.

One thing of note about Pittsburgh: They have the most run-heavy offense in the league, despite an average run DVOA. My guess is that this is a strategic decision to control the pace of the game. But is it a good decision? Do they control the clock better with a less efficient run-based offense than they would by using their more efficient passing offense? Every additional first down would consume more than a minute of extra time.

170
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 7:10pm

I just put together a couple more charts similar the "Offensive/Defensive Differencial" one I posted eariler. This time, instead of looking at which unit was carrying each team, I wanted to see how each team's offenes and defense faired with respect to run/pass. Just a little more food for thought.

171
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 7:13pm

That should of course be "...Differential". *more grumbles*

172
by dcmtx (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 7:28pm

165: Thanks for the breakdown, makes more sense now.

168: It must be a strategic decision, but sometimes I think to their detriment, as they become predictable. In the Steelers last 2 games, it seemed like the ran on the first 2 plays, then had a 3rd and 5 or greater a majority of the time. Big Ben making plays despite a weak pass-blocking offensive line have bailed out this strategy recently, but I wonder whether it will be successful on a consistent basis, especially against better teams. You don't want a bunch of highlights of your QB escaping heavy pressure to make a play, because it is not sustainable.

172
by dcmtx (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 7:28pm

165: Thanks for the breakdown, makes more sense now.

168: It must be a strategic decision, but sometimes I think to their detriment, as they become predictable. In the Steelers last 2 games, it seemed like the ran on the first 2 plays, then had a 3rd and 5 or greater a majority of the time. Big Ben making plays despite a weak pass-blocking offensive line have bailed out this strategy recently, but I wonder whether it will be successful on a consistent basis, especially against better teams. You don't want a bunch of highlights of your QB escaping heavy pressure to make a play, because it is not sustainable.

174
by Tom (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 9:11pm

Re 172:

Isn't that what Favre made his career doing?

175
by admin :: Thu, 11/15/2007 - 2:45am

Individual stats now posted.

176
by Thinker (not verified) :: Thu, 11/15/2007 - 2:53am

Great charts Wanker. The first couple pretty much solidify the AFC over NFC strength argument.

The pass to run balance is very interesting and counter to conventional wisdom about several teams. Very cool.

I'm still hoping for DVOA trend charts over the weeks of the season, since I have not saved each week's results.

177
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Thu, 11/15/2007 - 1:41pm

Re: 176:

Actually I've been continually arguing that the conference comparison charts point towards less of a divide than conventional wisdom assumes. The top 3 spots strongly favor the AFC (and actually with Indy falling and Pitt bouncing between "much better" and "a little better" from week to week that may not be true for long). But the rest of the conferences (although still slightly favoring the AFC) are pretty evenly matched.

Conventional wisdom says that the NFC is crap and the AFC is far superior from top to bottom, when in reality it's just the very best of the AFC being far better than the very best of the NFC. Of course it's easy to see how that would skew public opinion, but the majority of the two conferences are actually pretty comparable.

178
by AndyE (not verified) :: Fri, 11/16/2007 - 3:13am

See Wanker, this is a classic case of people looking at the same data set and drawing a different assessment. I look at your data, and see that the average AFC team is better 8.9375 NFC teams, and the average NFC team is better than 7.0625 AFC teams. That totally disregards how much better - so even if the Patriots dropped to a 41.7% DVOA, these numbers don't change. (Another way to look at that is that each AFC team is effectively equivalent to the NFC team ranked in conference one higher than it). That may not be "dominance", but it is certainly significant. It is more accentuated at the edges as you point out; the top AFC teams are bettered by 0,0,1,3,3,4 NFC teams, respectively.

In other notes:
* A division is "carried" by one team if only one team has a higher DVOA than the division average. Carried divisions: AFC East, AFC North, NFC East, NFC South. No division is dragged down by only one team.

* The 2006 AFC loser division (MIA, CLE, HOU, OAK) at -16.1% DVOA is still better than the NFC West at -19.2 DVOA.

* With the downfall of the Colts, the AFC South deviation (10.7%) is almost in the "normal" range of 7.8 - 9.0 exhibited by the 5 sane division (AFC East at 20.1 and NFC West at 12.5 excepted). The AFC South also dips below the NFC East (13.2 to 14.1), ceding best division average to the NFC.

* The conferences slipped a little apart again, with four-tenths of a percentage point adding to their average difference (AFC 3.9% over NFC -3.8%). Swapping the Patriots and the 49ers would reverse this difference.

* The 2006 AFC division 3rd place teams are all outperforming the 2006 2nd place team in their division.

179
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Fri, 11/16/2007 - 12:15pm

Re: 178

The more I think about it, the more it starts to seem like I'm arguing semantics with my own perception of other people's perception. Which really makes the whole thing pretty pointless, but since I still think it's an interesting topic to discuss I'm just going to ignore the insanity of that statement.

It seems to me that the general public's perception of the two conferences is that since the top two or three teams in the AFC are so much better than the top 2 or 3 teams in the NFC that correlates to the absolute dominance of the AFC over the NFC. My point is that if you discount that small handful of teams, the rest of the conferences are fairly comparable. The average difference between teams 4-16 in each conference in less than 5% (4.55% to be exact, and it drops down to 3.58% if you also ignore the historically miserable season the '9ers are having). A 5% advantage is negligible.

There are two ways to look at the relative conference strength. If you believe that the relative quality of the two conferences is based on the superiority of the top 2 or 3 teams, then of course you're going to believe that the AFC is vastly superior to the NFC. But the reality is that once you get past those top 2 or 3 teams, the balance of the AFC only has a very slight (and I'm going to guess statistically meaningless) advantage over their NFC counterparts.

The one exception is Oak/SF, but if you're going to hand your hat on Oakland's supremacy over San Fran I think you're proving my point. ;-)

180
by AndyE (not verified) :: Fri, 11/16/2007 - 1:46pm

Wanker, I think there are a couple of factors, all of them smallish, that build to put in people's perception of the AFC dominance:

* Dominance at the top.

* Marginal superiority across the board. Effectively, the AFC N+1th team is equivalent to the NFC Nth team. Or as you say, 5% across the board, except for the 25% outliers, where the AFC dominates.

* Consistency across years. There are a small handful of AFC teams that have consistent superiority across a few years (NE, PIT, IND); the NFC's dynastic team appears to tbe the Seahawks. Or maybe the Eagles..

* Strong Playoff positioning. This is an odd year with the AFC West so weak, but in most years, it seems like the NFC has a joke division or two, with a 9-7 team taking the divisions. (Although a quick scan at the last 8 years makes this seem like more of an outlier case; although the worst AFC record in the postseason has been better than the worst NFC record, generally).

This year, there are some things that factor into a perception of NFC resurgence:

* Intraconference play. The schedule this year is a bit wonky. If every team played every other cross-conference team, the AFC would be favored in 56% of the games (ignoring homefield). The conference lineups, however, have reduced that to a mere 53%. That's only a two game difference in expectation, granted. While the conferences are currently tied 20-20, the remaining games are interesting, and seem to favor the AFC more than the NFC after a cursory glance.

(As a thought experiment, if this years's matchup was AFCvNFC: EvS, NvN, SvE, WvW, on a fair field, DVOA would favor the AFC 38-26 instead of a mere 34-30. Such is the effect of a random schedule).

* Dallas and Green Bay's resurgence. Unfortunately, interconference play tells us nothing useful about Dallas, as they match up against the AFC East; we'll know that they are worse than NE, and better than NYJ, MIA, and BUF. Although that Buffalo game was oddly close. Green Bay's in the same boat, matching up against the AFC West; they beat a San Diego team at a time when they were worse than bad, and KC and DEN. (Note than I'm not denigrating these two team, but it is interesting to me that the two best NFC teams have matched up against the most unbalanced AFC division and the worst AFC division; while the best AFC team is playing against the best and (second by a hair) most balanced NFC division.

181
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Fri, 11/16/2007 - 3:12pm

I agree with everything you just said, Andy. So I'm not really sure if we're actually debating or not. I look at all of that and go "See, the NFC has really closed the gap between the two conferences." The AFC is still clearly the stronger conference, but I think it's closer than it has been in the past few years. I just get the sense that the general public still thinks it's 2004.

182
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Fri, 11/16/2007 - 4:51pm

I decided to put together "Conference Comparison" charts for every year of DVOA that I have access to (back to 1998). I think they came out even more interesting than I had hoped. It really puts some perspective on things. I'll probably post this agian in next week's DVOA thread since I think it may just be me and AndyE who are still reading this one.

I scaled everything to the same min/max which correspond with this year's min/max (NE and SF really ridiculous). The charts go from 2007 (at the top) to 1998 (at the bottom), but when I was trying to write about them it just made more sense to start at 1998 and work forward from there. But I didn't feel like making the charts over again, so you're just going to have to deal with it. ;-p

Back in 1998, the two conferences were pretty much dead-even from top to bottom.

In 1999, the top half of the leagues was basically a wash, and the bottom half was pretty heavily in the AFC's favor.

In 2000 the AFC had a pretty decent advantage in the top 7 pairings and the rest of the league was basically overlapping with the exception of a couple outliers in the AFC's favor at the 11th and 12th spots.

You have to go all the way back to 2001 before you could make an argument for the NFC's superiority. The top pairing gives a pretty heavy edge to the NFC, and the next 5 pairings show a slight, to borderline decent, advantage for the NFC. The 7 spot is a wash, and then the rest of the pairings favor the AFC by about the same gap the 2-6 (only in the opposite direction obviously).

2002 was a year without any significant outliers. The AFC looks to have a slight advantage pretty much across the board with the top 6 pairings being basically dead-even.

2003 wasn't much different from the previous year, except the AFC's top teams pulled away a tiny bit more from their NFC counterparts than in 2002.

2004 was ridiculous. Philly wasn't too far behind the AFC, but the NFC's next best team would have been 12th in the AFC. Yikes. The bottom half was a little closer, that is until you come to one of San Fran's historical suckiness.

In 2005, the top 3 pairings were slightly in the AFC's favor, there was a pretty big gap in the AFC's favor from 4-7, and then it was almost overlapping until you come to the bottom pair where San Fran's other historical suckiness strikes again.

Last year, there really weren't any outliers. The AFC was just a little better than the NFC across the board, but that slight gap was a little bigger than this year's slight gap.

This year, there's a big gap at the top 3 all in favor of the AFC. All the rest of the pairings are basically a draw until you come to San Fran's most recent historical suckiness.

183
by AndyE (not verified) :: Fri, 11/16/2007 - 4:54pm

I think we're exploring the topic. I think we would both agree that the gap may be closing; I think you think the closure is more significant than I think it is. I also think you discount the meaning of the top three teams a little too much - if you consider that the purpose of each conference is to win the SuperBowl, then really, shouldn't the only thing you consider be the top few teams?

Besides, I think that there is a lot more analysis that could be done in the world of DVOA, and we're just scratching the surface here.

184
by Sid (not verified) :: Fri, 11/16/2007 - 5:40pm

a combination of the raiders and 49ers would definitely be better than the Rams.

Offense would still be ugly but the defense and special teams would be better.

185
by Sid (not verified) :: Fri, 11/16/2007 - 5:44pm

With injurys and penaltys and deaths turnd off Alex Smith has a paser rating of 72.8, and Frank Gore is averaging 91.9 yards per game.

That line just cracks me up. With deaths turned off? Hahahaha.

186
by John Kapica (not verified) :: Wed, 04/23/2008 - 12:24pm

Follow up on e-mail from last week

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