Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

18 Sep 2007

Week 2 DVOA Ratings

by Aaron Schatz

How 'bout them Cowboys? More importantly, how 'bout them Texans?

Actually, in the long run, those Cowboys and Texans may not be quite as wonderful as you think, but more on that in a bit.

Note as of Wednesday night: Due to an error, the original numbers published on Tuesday for Denver, Oakland, Philadelphia, and Washington were incorrect. They are now fixed. This error only effected team ratings, not individual numbers.

* * * * *

These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through two 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 VOA are adjusted to consider all fumbles, kept or lost, as equal value. SPECIAL TEAMS DVOA is adjusted for type of stadium (warm, cold, dome, Denver/Mexico City) and week of season.

There are no opponent adjustments in VOA until the fourth week of the season, which is why it is VOA right now rather than DVOA. Instead, we use DAVE, which combines the preseason projection with the results of early games to give us a better prediction of how each team will rank at the end of the year. In this week's DAVE ratings, the preseason projection counts for 75 percent, and the current VOA counts for 25 percent. (Last week, the ratio was 90/10.)

Offense, defense, and special teams pages are updated through Week 2. We also have updated all the individual stats pages for the first time: quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends. Loser League stats are updated, with some Week 1 mistakes now fixed. Here is the schedule for updating our other numbers:

  • 2007 will be added to the DVOA Premium Database by Thursday night.
  • Adjusted Line Yards and Adjusted Sack Rate will be updated beginning after Week 3.
  • Defense vs. Types of Receivers will be updated beginning after Week 4.
  • The Playoff Odds Report will debut for 2007 after Week 4.

To save people some time, 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
DAVE RANK NON-ADJ
TOT VOA
W-L OFFENSE
DVOA
OFF.
RANK
DEFENSE
DVOA
DEF.
RANK
S.T.
DVOA
S.T.
RANK
1 NE 88.3% 2 47.2% 1 88.4% 2-0 57.6% 1 -28.7% 3 2.0% 14
2 PIT 82.3% 1 28.2% 2 84.9% 2-0 28.6% 4 -50.0% 1 3.6% 10
3 DAL 48.5% 5 4.8% 11 52.7% 2-0 50.2% 2 7.0% 20 5.3% 7
4 HOU 46.0% 8 -1.5% 16 44.2% 2-0 15.2% 7 -19.8% 5 11.0% 4
5 IND 41.4% 3 15.6% 6 45.2% 2-0 35.5% 3 -10.2% 11 -4.3% 23
6 DEN 35.5% 10 9.0% 9 33.4% 2-0 15.6% 6 -39.2% 2 -19.2% 30
7 BAL 26.8% 20 15.7% 5 19.5% 1-1 -15.6% 23 -26.4% 4 16.0% 1
8 DET 25.3% 6 -0.8% 15 21.7% 2-0 10.8% 11 -13.0% 10 1.5% 15
9 GB 23.5% 16 10.1% 8 19.1% 2-0 3.0% 16 -14.0% 9 6.4% 6
10 MIN 16.6% 4 -2.6% 19 13.3% 1-1 -6.5% 19 -18.2% 7 4.9% 8
11 ARI 16.2% 14 -9.9% 23 20.9% 1-1 13.0% 9 -5.2% 15 -2.0% 20
12 TB 13.0% 24 11.1% 7 7.8% 1-1 5.1% 15 -5.3% 14 2.6% 13
13 WAS 8.2% 13 6.9% 10 18.1% 2-0 6.5% 13 -1.4% 17 0.3% 18
14 SEA 7.2% 7 1.8% 13 9.1% 1-1 11.1% 10 8.1% 22 4.3% 9
15 CIN 4.1% 15 -1.6% 17 5.8% 1-1 23.2% 5 -2.1% 16 -21.2% 31
16 JAC -1.3% 21 18.2% 3 0.6% 1-1 2.3% 17 4.3% 19 0.8% 17
TEAM
TOTAL
DVOA
LAST
WEEK
DAVE RANK NON-ADJ
TOT VOA
W-L OFFENSE
DVOA
OFF.
RANK
DEFENSE
DVOA
DEF.
RANK
S.T.
DVOA
S.T.
RANK
17 STL -2.2% 22 -19.2% 29 -1.6% 0-2 -4.4% 18 -0.9% 18 1.4% 16
18 CHI -5.0% 25 1.6% 14 -4.3% 1-1 -36.9% 32 -18.9% 6 13.0% 3
19 PHI -6.2% 17 18.0% 4 -2.3% 0-2 -8.1% 21 -9.7% 12 -7.8% 24
20 TEN -8.1% 12 -7.0% 21 -9.7% 1-1 6.9% 12 12.0% 26 -3.0% 22
21 SF -14.1% 19 -4.7% 20 -13.6% 2-0 -28.0% 29 -6.2% 13 7.7% 5
22 CAR -15.5% 11 3.9% 12 -10.2% 1-1 6.4% 14 7.2% 21 -14.7% 29
23 MIA -21.9% 18 -16.2% 28 -32.0% 0-2 -13.4% 22 11.3% 25 2.8% 12
24 SD -35.4% 9 -2.2% 18 -40.2% 1-1 -26.2% 28 8.8% 23 -0.4% 19
25 CLE -36.5% 31 -13.4% 24 -34.6% 1-1 -7.2% 20 32.1% 29 2.9% 11
26 ATL -38.6% 29 -9.5% 22 -38.8% 0-2 -20.0% 24 9.2% 24 -9.5% 27
27 KC -38.6% 26 -28.8% 32 -32.0% 0-2 -31.4% 30 -14.4% 8 -21.7% 32
28 NYG -45.7% 28 -14.1% 26 -41.7% 0-2 13.1% 8 56.7% 32 -2.2% 21
29 BUF -47.6% 23 -15.4% 27 -43.7% 0-2 -32.4% 31 28.8% 28 13.6% 2
30 OAK -50.1% 27 -21.7% 30 -32.8% 0-2 -22.4% 25 19.1% 27 -8.6% 26
31 NYJ -78.1% 32 -13.7% 25 -71.2% 0-2 -25.8% 27 39.9% 30 -12.4% 28
32 NO -78.2% 30 -22.9% 31 -69.6% 0-2 -23.0% 26 47.3% 31 -7.9% 25

A note on DAVE: Like I did a year ago, I am tweaking the projections used in DAVE to account for major early injuries and quarterback changes. The main impact here is to drop the offensive projection for St. Louis (Orlando Pace) and Washington (Jon Jansen). I decided not to mess with any of the injured quarterback situations and the change to Derek Anderson doesn't end up affecting the Browns projection.

For this week's commentary, I'm going to take a look at the teams since 2001 whose DVOA after two games differed most from preseason projections. We don't care about situations like this year's Steelers, where there's a big difference simply because a team that already had a good projection blows out its first two opponents. So we'll leave out any team that starts well with a projection above 3.0% or starts badly with a projection below -3.0%. We also want teams that looked good or bad in both games, not teams that started 1-1 with one close game and one blowout. We'll grade each team as either poor projection or early fluke. Note that the projections are by the current system, not by the system used that year.

STRONG STARTS

2002 Chargers
Projection: -1.6% DVOA
After 2 Games: 84.0% DVOA

The Chargers started out 6-1, then had a bye week, and then ended 2-7. It was one of the great second-half collapses in recent memory. They won their first two games 34-6 at Cincinnati and then 24-3 against the expansion Texans at home. Of course, by the end of the season, with opponent adjustments in place, the DVOA for these games went from 84.0% to 51.4%. The third win came in Arizona, 23-15. That's three wins to start the season -- against three of the bottom four teams in the league. Verdict: Early fluke.

2001 Chargers
Projection: 1.9% DVOA
After 2 Games: 70.3% DVOA

Honestly, what was with the Chargers at the turn of the century? They had those years with great defense and the worst quarterbacks in history, then these two years where they started strong and collapsed. The 2001 Chargers started 5-2 and then lost nine straight to finish the year. Their two biggest wins of the year according to DVOA were the opening 30-3 stomping of Washington and a 28-14 Week 3 win against Cincinnati. In between, they won 32-21 at Dallas. The 5-11 Chargers ended the year 11th in DVOA (6.8%) and 17th in weighted DVOA (-5.1%) because they were so bad after Week 7. Verdict: Early fluke.

2003 Bills
Projection: -4.4% DVOA
After 2 Games: 58.3% DVOA

One game will forever be used to caution people who get carried away after surprising Week 1 results: Buffalo 31, New England 0. In their second game, the Bills went on the road and beat the Jaguars 38-17. However, the Bills lost their next two, and by the time the Chiefs stomped them 38-5 on Sunday night of Week 8, nobody was talking about them as a serious contender. Verdict: Early fluke.

2005 Bucs
Projection: 2.1% DVOA
After 2 Games: 57.8% DVOA

This was the third year of Football Outsiders and by now it seemed we were stuck with the Bucs as the team that never had a record to match their DVOA. In our first Pro Football Prospectus, we wrote that we didn't believe the Bucs' somewhat positive projection. Whoops -- sort of. Although the Bucs ended up 11-5, they didn't end up with one of the top DVOA ratings in the league. They were actually 16th at 1.3% -- slightly below the projection, and far below their first two games. Verdict: Early fluke.

2004 Falcons
Projection: -11.8% DVOA
After 2 Games: 39.3% DVOA

This is a strange one. The Falcons started the year with a 21-19 victory in San Francisco that barely registered as positive (2.6%) and then beat St. Louis 34-17 with a much larger rating than that score indicates (76.0%). Remember, both of those ratings do not include opponent adjustments, because we're talking about what things looked like after just two weeks. The Falcons ended up winning the division at 11-5 but actually ranked 17th with -2.7% DVOA, in large part because this was the year with the biggest discrepancy between the two conferences. Philadelphia was the only NFC team in the top 11, and the Falcons, if I remember right, had the second-highest DVOA in the NFC before they started resting guys for the playoffs in Week 16. Verdict: (Mildly) poor projection.

2002 Panthers
Projection: -2.2% DVOA
After 2 Games: 47.1% DVOA

Coming off a 1-15 season, the Panthers won their first three games, including a 31-7 drubbing of Detroit in Week 2. Then they lost eight straight and ended up 7-9 with a -9.2% DVOA, which ranked 24th. Verdict: Early fluke.

WEAK STARTS

2006 Bucs
Projection: 15.8% DVOA
After 2 Games: -57.6% DVOA

Dammit, Tampa, what is your problem? Coming off a wild card season, the Bucs got stomped at home by Baltimore, 27-0, then lost 14-3 in Atlanta. This one is blatantly obvious: Poor projection.

2006 Raiders
Projection: -2.3% DVOA
After 2 Games: -72.6% DVOA

Look, we had to convince everyone that the Raiders had defensive talent, but we all knew that the Raiders' offensive projection for 2006 made no sense whatsoever. Verdict: Poor projection.

2005 Ravens
Projection: 9.7% DVOA
After 2 Games: -58.7% DVOA

People in Baltimore were a bit worried when the Ravens lost to the Colts at home, 24-7, but it isn't like Indianapolis was a bad team. It was a bit more worrying when the Ravens dropped their second game in Tennessee, 25-10. By the 35-17 loss in Detroit in Week 5, it seemed clear the Ravens were not the team they had been in previous years. Their offense went from bad to miserable and their defense went from spectacular to merely very good. The projection system didn't see this coming at all. Verdict: Poor projection.

2003 Eagles
Projection: 6.1% DVOA
After 2 Games: -52.1% DVOA

Hey, everyone remember how weird this was? The Eagles lost to Tampa Bay 17-0, setting up a Week 2 meeting between two teams that were shut out in Week 1 despite high expectations: Philadelphia and New England. The Patriots won 31-10, and then the Eagles went on bye week. I'm sure Mike Tanier has a million stories about how Philly sports radio was freaking out during that week. Of course, the Eagles were fine, going 12-2 the rest of the way. This is a good example of why it is important to consider opponents in the first two weeks, even if our ratings do not -- once the full-season opponent adjustments were applied, the Eagles' DVOA for these two weeks was -31.6%, not -52.1%. The Eagles ended the season seventh in the NFL with a 15.6% DVOA, much higher than their preseason projection and way, way beyond what they did in the first two weeks. Verdict: Early fluke.

2002 Ravens
Projection: 1.9% DVOA
After 2 Games: -46.3% DVOA

At a certain point, this "hey, let's play without a quarterback" thing was going to come back and bite them. Baltimore started the year by losing 10-7 to Carolina. Remember how surprising that was, the 1-15 Panthers of 2001 beating the Super Bowl champions from just two years earlier? Then in Week 2, the Ravens were slammed 25-0 by the eventual champion Bucs. This signified that the Ravens were worse than the year before, but they weren't this much worse. After their bye in Week 3, the Ravens went 7-7, an inconsistent team that ended up with an average record and a relatively average -1.5% DVOA, much closer to their projection. Verdict: Early fluke.

2002 Steelers
Projection: 9.1% DVOA
After 2 Games: -32.8% DVOA

The Steelers opened with a rematch of the AFC Championship game and lost to the Patriots, 30-14. Then they hosted the Raiders and lost at home, 30-17. Again, consider the opponents. The Steelers were 0-2 but had lost to the defending AFC Champion and the eventual AFC Champion. Like Baltimore, Pittsburgh had a bye in Week 3. Unlike Baltimore, the Steelers weren't average after the bye -- they were very good, finishing the year 10-5-1 with a 7.3% DVOA. Verdict: Early fluke.

2006 Dolphins
Projection: 8.3% DVOA
After 2 Games: -32.8% DVOA

Oddly, the 2006 Dolphins end up with a much higher projection in the current system than they had with the earlier version of the projection system I was actually using before the 2006 season. Then, of course, they blew chunks. Verdict: Poor projection.

OK, WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED?

First of all, understand that this is a production of Small Sample Size Theatre, and no trends here guarantee the future for any teams in 2007.

However, the trend seems to be really strong for teams which start strong despite a bad projection. It goes past just the teams listed above. Think back just one year. TheBills and 49ers began 2006 with two games with positive VOA ratings after terrible projections, although each team was 1-1, not 2-0. The 2006 Vikings started 2-0, although the wins were too close for the Vikings to show up on the list above. For all three teams, the good start turned out to be a fluke, and the DVOA by the end of the year was much closer to the preseason projection.

But wait, there's more. The 2004 Lions, the 2001 Bengals... After the 2004 Falcons, to find a team with a bad projection whose fast start showed that the projection was wrong, the best we can do is the 2003 Vikings, who had a preseason projection of -5.6% and a DVOA after two games of 27.0%. They ended the season with a 7.7% DVOA. Of course, they also blew a 6-0 start and missed the playoffs.

Now think about the opponents of the three teams that are 2-0 despite poor preseason projections. Houston beat the Chiefs, who are going to be terrible, and the Panthers, who are better but constantly seem to play below their talent level. Detroit beat the Raiders and Vikings, two teams we expected to be bad. Dallas beat the Giants and Dolphins, two teams we expected to be bad. There are strong, strong indications that this early success will not hold up over the long haul.

(That being said, Dallas isn't in quite the same boat as Detroit and Houston. Many of the FO writers felt the statistical projection for the Cowboys was suspiciously low, so the fast start isn't as much of a surprise.)

What about the teams with good projections and poor starts: the Eagles, the Jets, and -- although they managed to escape with a win Sunday -- the Jaguars? Similar teams since 2001 are a mixed bag. Some of them do right the ship and end up playing well the rest of the year. For others, the early losses showed that the projection was completely off-target. If there is any trend here, it is that up-and-down teams seem to keep losing, while the teams that have been consistent in recent years tend to rebound from early failure. (The 2005 Ravens are an exception.) To be frank, this trend fits with common sense. I think the chances that our projections were wrong for the Jaguars and Jets are much higher than the chance that our projection was wrong for the Eagles. Don't jump off the bridge yet, Philadelphians. Remember 2003!

Finally, in the Quick Reads comments, someone asked about Josh McCown's performance in the Oakland-Denver game that the data parser originally didn't process correctly. Yes, it was as bad as you thought it was. McCown was 8-for-16 with just 73 passing yards, one touchdown, three interceptions, four sacks, and two fumbles (both recovered by Oakland). That day was worth -17.5 PAR passing, although he did earn 1.7 PAR rushing with two scrambles for 28 yards. It doesn't quite reach the level of the really atrocious games of history, stuff like Rex Grossman's Monday night in Arizona last year, but it was pretty bad.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 18 Sep 2007

155 comments, Last at 22 Sep 2007, 12:57pm by Starshatterer

Comments

1
by Deryl (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 2:48pm

Not that it changes the meaning of the sentence, but Detroit beat Oakland not Atlanta.

2
by Flounder (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 2:51pm

Detroit beat the raiders. the vikings beat the falcons. That is all :)

3
by Scott (formerly BSD) (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 2:52pm

The people who think the Cowboys look great for beating up on the Giants and the Dolphins are the same ones who will say they suck when they get smacked by the Bears this week. Oh well.

I predict FO gets a lot of hate from Boys fans this year: they'll probably go 10-6 or even 11-5, but with a DVOA that's no better than middle of the pack.

I'm just happy they're in the NFC, where they could find themselves not only in the playoffs, but with homefield advantage as well. And from there, anything can happen.

4
by Rick (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 2:55pm

Philly's 2 losses still appear, to me, to be outlying incidents. Green Bay is good and their defense is very good. Even so, that was a Philly win if 2 punts get caught. Hell, if 1 punt got caught.
The loss to Washington is more worrisome, but Philly lost to the Giants in game 2 last year...also, MNF showed that Reid is not a particularly fast starter, going 9-11 over his tenure at Philadelphia, in the first 2 games. 6 of those losses come from this year, 2003, and his first year. Still, it's indicative of a trend that surprises me he hasn't picked up on yet - his teams take way too long to gel because he doesn't play them much in the preseason.

I'm an amateur, so I know there's alot more to this than what I see. But I've never liked how Reid manages his teams prior to the season.

5
by tunesmith (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 2:56pm

denver's really ranked 28th on offense with over 900 yards...?

6
by DK (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 2:58pm

How was the Jon Jansen adjustment calculated? It looks like it cost the skins 4.6% DAVE.

That seems extreme, although it's probably accurate if Randy Thomas is really done for the season.

7
by Andrew Foland (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 3:00pm

So this seems like an numerical question rather than an anecdotal one. Couldn't one simply look at the RMS (or trimmed RMS) of the DAVE projection minus the final season DVOA, and the RMS of the first two games' DVOA minus the final season DVOA, and whichever is smaller is the better guide?

One could also make the same numbers as a function of the number of games to see when the DVOA data outweighs the DAVE.

(As a flourish, if DAVE is a better indicator early on, it might be better to use DAVE for, for instance, the opponent corrections).

(As another flourish you could combine them weighted by the inverse squares of the RMS's to form the optimal indicator.)

8
by B (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 3:02pm

Are you trying to tell me the Falcons and the Raiders aren't the same team?

9
by ebongreen (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 3:12pm

I guess my question remains: how does this explain the Chargers? I know they played Chicago and NE in the first two weeks, and yet I remain surprised that they're in such a level of suck - ranked 24th in both offense and defense after two weeks. What gives?

10
by ammek (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 3:13pm

VOA (without the D) is always a little confusing since it treats all opponents as equal - and on this site we've become accustomed to thinking otherwise. I'd guess when the adjustments begin, the main riser in the top ten will be (yikes) New England, while the numbers could fall for the defense in Denver (Losman and McCown!?), Houston and Detroit.

It's great that you now have enough seasons of DVOA to be able to go through the history and find comparisons. For what it's worth, I don't agree about Philly, I think they're headed for another 2005-type season, where the numbers exceed what goes on on the field.

11
by Kaveman (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 3:15pm

#5: Just goes to show that yards are a pretty meaningless stat. I do have to admit some surprise though, because besides the yards, the Broncos are ranked 17th in points scored. Couple those two items and it shouldn't equal 28th on offense in VOA. I mean... Kansas City has better offensive VOA?

12
by ammek (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 3:17pm

9: The Bolts' numbers aren't that big a surprise. The offense has been inept; the defense is better but the Pats' game is distorting the figures.

NB Even without the opponent adjustments, the AFC has six of the top seven teams.

13
by sam (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 3:18pm

Let me tell you why you don't have to be too down on the Jaguars just yet.

1. DVOA likes their passing offense (top-10, a vast improvement over last year) even though perhaps their best receiver is a rookie who hasn't seen the field much but who likely will as the season progresses.

2. Their rushing offense has gotten off to a slow start this year. They have 188 yards in two games. However, as Vic Ketchman pointed out today, the Jaguars had exactly 188 yards after two games last yera. They were 21st last year after two games in rushing offense, they are 19th this year (conventional stats). They ended the year with a very good rushing offense.

3. They are still installing a first-year offense.

4. Brad Meester will come back at center, sometime around the bye week.

5. The defense showed marked improvement over Week 1. They are still missing an OLB who will return hopefully. Marcus Stroud missed a lot of time last year and is still working his way back. Before last week, Hayward hadn't played since week 1 last season. Mike Peterson missed a big chunk of last year. I think they have a good chance of getting a better defensive effort over the next few games, especially as Reggie Nelson progresses.

14
by D (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 3:21pm

I noticed that Dallas Clark is now listed on the wide receiver stats page. Have you officially decided that he is actually a wide out?

15
by Bobman (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 3:23pm

Well, I guess we'll see how this pans out this week, with Hou hosting Indy. Is DAVE (rankings of 16/6) more accurate than VOA (4/5)? Plus these items not captured in the above anaylsis: Subtract Andre Johnson and I suspect Hou's VOA drops a bit. Add back in Indy's injured LBs (one of their thinnest positions) and I suspect VOA rises there. Stay tuned.

Wow, somebody in one of the discussion threads asked "is there a weaker 2-0 team than SF?" and looks like VOA and DAVE agree!

16
by fracguru (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 3:24pm

Although I agree that the Texans will not end the season as the 4th ranked DVOA team, I still think they will end up much better than the pre-season projection from this site. I projected 8-8 or 9-7 with a 10-6 possible if the defensive line played up to potential. The defense is looking good and I think 10-6 is looking very attainable. The schedule is weak, as it generally is for most bottom of the league records from the previous year.

That OVER bet on the 6.5 win totals I made is looking VERY good.

17
by ElJefe (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 3:28pm

One reason to be more pessimistic about the Eagles:

They don't have a healthy quarterback. The projection at least implicitly assumed McNabb would be back at near full strength, but that hasn't happened.

After watching both games I can see that he is not able to accurately throw any passes he has to step into, as though he isn't yet confident or comfortable on his knee. Until he can throw the ball accurately more than 15 yards, the Eagles might as well be playing Koy Detmer at QB.

Functionally, you'd defend the current McNabb the same way you would Koy: jam the underneath zones and dare him to throw over your heads or the deep sideline routes. After the knee injury, McNabb is just about as likely to hurt you running as Koy would have.

McNabb should eventually get back to where he was last year before the injury, but the Eagles may lose 3-4 more games before that. :(

18
by ammek (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 3:30pm

Categorizing the unbeaten teams:

Apparently 65 percent of 2-0 teams make the playoffs; that's six or seven of the ten teams currently unbeaten.

Perennial sure things: Pats, Colts. Will New England win its division before or after week 11?

Looking solid: Steelers, Packers.

Lucky plus easy division: Denver, Niners (who are actually the worst team in the NFCW in VOA).

Young quarterbacks, savvy coaches: Redskins, Cowboys.

We have no idea if they're for real because they've only played guys named Mccown, Huard, Tarvaris...: Lions, Texans.

And lurking in the VOA shadows: grizzled old campaigners Seattle and Baltimore.

19
by Yinka Double Dare (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 3:36pm

14: I want to say this was discussed on the site in the last two weeks somewhere, but given how he is used in Indy's offense and where he lines up, he's a WR. He sometimes lines up as the wide out with Wayne or someone else in the slot, and rarely lines up with the offensive line like a TE does.

20
by ammek (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 3:38pm

"The schedule is weak, as it generally is for most bottom of the league records from the previous year."

Nonsense. Only two games per season vary according to the previous year's finish. Last year the Packers, for instance, faced New Orleans and Philadelphia in these games, both eventual division winners.

Right now I'd be happier as top-placed Chicago, taking on the Saints and Seahawks, than as bottom-placed Tampa, who face Detroit and Washington.

The Texans' (and Colts', and Titans') easy schedule is due to the collapse of the AFC West and the ineptitude of the NFC South.

21
by Catfish (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 3:44pm

Denver's pass defense VOA is -143%. Granted, they haven't been up against Peyton Manning or anything, but I think this Champ Bailey and Dre Bly combination is working out alright so far.

22
by David (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 3:44pm

There is clearly an error regarding Denver. Minus 34.1%??? for offense VOA? I'm pretty sure it should be plus 34.1%. They've been racking up the yardage. Please correct.

23
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 3:46pm

#17: That's actually a reason to be optimistic about the Eagles, not pessimistic. He'll get better.

The reason to be pessimistic is simple. None of the receivers are getting open. If you remember last year, the Eagles were a bit "touchdown or three-and-out" early on. Gee, if your receivers can't get open, that's what's going to happen. Eventually one will break the coverage when some dopey corner/safety makes a mistake, and then, with an accurate deep ball (which McNabb has), it's an easy TD. But right now, McNabb doesn't have that accurate deep ball because of his knee.

Personally, I'm mind-blowingly amazed at that negative offensive DVOA. I didn't think they looked that bad, but certainly they looked bad. But last in the league? 2004-2005 49ers bad? Raiders bad? Really?

24
by mawbrew (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 3:50pm

I don't think Jamal Lewis really has 11 fumbles already this year. I'm guessing that may be depressing his FO metrics.

25
by BUddy Ryan (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 3:51pm

9... The Chargers are explained by Norv Turner. He had a losing record against Rich Kotite.

26
by sam (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 3:55pm

#22:
There is clearly an error regarding Denver. Minus 34.1%??? for offense VOA? I’m pretty sure it should be plus 34.1%. They’ve been racking up the yardage. Please correct.

If they had a +34.1% that would give them a total VOA in the 118% range, which obviously does not make more sense. Yardage does not always equal a good offense.

27
by admin :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 3:56pm

Re: 24. That might be the weirdest thing I've seen. No idea how the HTML macro turned 1 and 1 into 11 instead of 2. It is not reflected in his ratings.

Re: 14/19. Yes, I made a decision that Dallas Clark plays wideout more than twice as often as he plays tight end, he is a wideout. I discussed in the Week 1 Audibles.

Re: Denver. Top offenses by number of plays run so far: Denver 144, New Orleans 140, Detroit 139, St. Louis 133.

28
by LooseOnTheLead (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 3:56pm

Can someone please justify this for me? Jason Campbell's VOA is +3.8%, but the Redskins' passing VOA is -83.8%. I realize they don't have to be the same, but...man...that's a huge discrepancy.

Besides that, I would have expected the Skins' offensive and defensive VOAs each to be mildly to moderately negative, as opposed to how ferociously negative they are. But that's more of a feeling, so I'm not really questioning it the way I am the thing with Campbell vs. the passing offense.

29
by Israel (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 3:57pm

the Steelers weren’t average after the bye — they were very good, finishing the year 10-5-1 with a 7.3% DVOA

Funny how other folks look at 2002 as a successful year for the Steelers.

We local folk tend to remember those two early losses and almost a third (against the Browns, until Maddox entered), the sudden need for an untested kicker, the infamous loss to the Texans, the Falcons tie (the "-1" in that Cowher's eleven point stat), a near loss to the Browns in the playoffs, and some really bad play to lose to the Titans and their thespian kicker to end it all.

I guess "success" is relative.

30
by chip (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 4:00pm

The NFC North is no longer the weakest division in football. It looks like a cat fight between the NFC South and NFC West.

31
by Tracy (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 4:06pm

Denver's non-adj offense voa is 35.6%, and their voa is -34.1%. What are the adjustments made to get from non-adjusted voa to voa? Does this mean adjusting plays for game situation? I haven't gotten the sense from watching the games that this team was among the worst in offensive value. The team is at the league median in scoring and at the top of the league in yardage, and hasn't been reliant on the big play, so I'm not sure what to make of this metric rating them at the bottom of the league.

32
by mawbrew (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 4:07pm

Re: 30

If I had to choose which division to play (all four teams), I think I would go with the AFC East. Other than the Pats the rest of that group seems pretty bad right now.

33
by Richie (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 4:07pm

Check out the circular isolation of GB, Phi, NYG, Was, Dal and Mia on www.beatpaths.com

34
by admin :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 4:09pm

The answer to a lot of these questions is that weird things happen with only two weeks of data. Wait a couple weeks, then see if things look so odd.

35
by Cisco (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 4:15pm

Not to beat a dead horse here, but this broncos offensive DVOA is confusing me. Is it being affected by the very low success rate for Travis Henry? I'm curious where that stat is coming from because as I watch the games I don't see henry as a boom or bust back that a 48% success rate would indicate. Other that that his DPAR is solid. Cutler's stats look pretty good too. So how does denver have one of the worst offenses in the league?

36
by Not saying (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 4:15pm

Re: 31 Denver’s non-adj offense voa is 35.6%

Actually, it's their total non-adjusted VOA. It includes the defense. Which is amazing good, and probably the reason their offense looks better in conventional statistics. The adjustment is from 35.6% to 30.7%.

37
by chip (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 4:17pm

#32 Why accept that one loss to NE, when you could have four wins against mediocre teams at best? If I am a top 5 team, I would play the NS then NW and be favored by at least 7 points in all contests.

38
by mawbrew (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 4:23pm

Re: 37

Well, sure if you're a top five team. I'm a Browns fan. The thought never occurred to me.

39
by MDZ (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 4:30pm

#31
That's Non-Adj total VOA, there is no adjustment yet. The Broncos seem low because they have a lot of plays, but have fewer points than what you'd expect from a team with their yardage (19 points on 455 yards or 72 plays a game). They haven't played well on third down with only 13 conversions out of 30 attempts. They also have two fumbles that they recovered, so DVOA treats them as turnovers but the drives continued. Jay Cutler has 3 interceptions as well. They have just 3 TDs compared to 9 FGA. Since this is a small sample size, the OFF VOA is being skewed by penalties because the Broncos have been a poor 3rd down team and haven't scored as many points as you'd expect from a team with as many plays as they've had. The -34.1 is lower than I would have guessed from watching the games, but I can believe it and there's no way that offense should have a +34.1 VOA. The good news for the Broncos is that they are 2-0 and the offense should improve.

40
by Archimedes Owl (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 4:31pm

That Denver offensive stat is mind boggling.

It wouldn't surprise me in the least to find out that the ranking isn't as good as the performance would appear according to traditional per game stats, but it's still pretty strange. I mean, Denver was top ten after the Bills game, so this ranking suggests that Denver played WAY below average against the Raiders.

Yet, Denver's average drive was over 40 yards. They sustained a lot of first downs and looked to have some good successes. They simply didn't look like a team that was having anywhere near even below average success rates.

Sure, Cutler threw two picks and they had a safety, so the ranking doesn't utterly shock me, but it still does surprise me quite a bit.

Usually teams that are able to have a good number of long drives end up with good DVOAs because DVOA basically measures how successfully teams are able to keep drives going.

It would be nice to see some elaboration. I mean, Denver has taken a lot of snaps overall, but of the traditional per attempt stats which are the more reliable of traditional stats because they aren't skewed by how often teams pass or run because of being behind or ahead, Denver ranks 10th in yards per completion and fifth in yards per carry.

I can only think that the negative result came from the fact that the running game was stuffed relatively often and that the yards came on a few big plays, but that still doesn't mesh with ranking quite THIS poorly.

41
by jim m (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 4:37pm

NFC North in DAVE GB 8, Chic 14, Det 15, Minn 19...pretty respectable for this division.

42
by B (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 4:38pm

40: Well, ignoring the turnovers for a moment, if Denver is failing on a lot of first and second downs and then converting on 3rd and long, that could explain the discrepancy. I haven't actually watched any Denver games, so I don't know if this is the case.

43
by Archimedes Owl (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 4:43pm

Ok, some other things about Denver look sketchy. I mean, Denver has been stellar against the pass. That's pretty obvious, but Denver hasn't looked very good against the run ranking 30th in the league in yards per carry allowed, but then they rank fourth in defensive DVOA against Oakland. That's pretty shocking.

This all is more than just a little counter intuitive.

44
by Archimedes Owl (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 4:46pm

I mean that they rank fourth in defensive DVOA against the run overall. Not just against Oakland.

Now I really want to see a breakdown of this game. These results are nuts.

45
by Damon (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 4:48pm

still trying to conceptualize the Broncos terrible offensive rating. Lets say that the defense was just overwhelmingly good and the Broncos were just getting a ton of extra possessions to rack up the extra yardage. If that were the case then you would think the Broncos would be leading the league in number of punts. But actually Denver has only punted 5 times in 2 games. (New England has punted just twice- wow)

Looking at Drive Charts- The Denver offense has driven the team into scoring position 12 times vs only 8 times that they did not. (3 INT, 5 Punts) The 2 recovered fumbles have an effect. Does the fact that Denver has missed 4 fieldgoals have an affect on the offensive numbers?

Still just odd to me that a team that is consistently moving the ball like this is rated so poorly on offense. Not a criticism of the system- obviously the offense hasn't been good since they have almost lost 2 games that the defense has played great in but its just surprising all the same. Or maybe this is just reinforcing how much better it is to score TD's instead of settling for FG attempts.

46
by david (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 4:49pm

I'm thinking that the Broncos bad, recurring habit of failing to get in the end zone in goal-to-go situations doesn't help matters. Honestly, I'm still grinning about the -84% defensive VOA. I know it's a meaningless number since it's unadjusted and it's just for two weeks, but it still looked prettty nice to me. Hopefully when the adjusments are added in it doesn't get completely ruined. (also hoping the Broncos don't completely ruin it by themselves when they start seeing better opponents)

47
by Archimedes Owl (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 4:49pm

Re40:

I didn't mean yards per completion. I mean yards per attempt.

48
by MDZ (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 4:51pm

#43
I think you're on to something. To correct my previous point, they have been above average on 3rd down (43%). They also haven't been efficient in turning plays and drives into points.

49
by Damon (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 4:52pm

Maybe the fact that Denver is 3 for 3 on 4th down has something to do with this as well.

50
by TheDudeAbides (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 4:57pm

See, this is an example of Aaron's stats being so much more valuable than traditional stats. Oakland dominated the game and would/could have won if not for sketchy officiating on Janikowski's winning field goal.
When a team (Oakland) dominates and is in position to win a game when their QB has one of the worst non-Grossman games in recent memory (McCown), that's a pretty good indication that the Raiders defensive VOA was really high and the Broncos offensive VOA was really, really low.

51
by Andrew (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 4:58pm

Pat #23 and Aaron #27:

How is Philadelphia the 32nd ranked rushing offense and Pittsburgh the 5th?

Westbrook is ranked one step above Parker in VOA and Buckhalter is one above Davis!

The VOA numbers make no sense at all. Are you sure there isn't an error?

52
by cjfarls (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 5:00pm

Re: 43

Could it be the run yards were racked up when Oak was down by 2 TDs in the second half (I believe Denver was up big at halftime, that let Oak back in)? The VOA then isn't hurt as much because teams generally playing loose run D to stop the pass? Then, after Oak closes the score, they finish catching up with a safety and turnovers, which don't hurt the Def VOA?

Thats all I can think of... and like others, would love some further elaboration on the really strange Denver ratings (both Off & Def).

53
by hooper (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 5:03pm

Well, at least we're not getting the "FO-is-biased-against-the-Broncos" noise. Chalk that up as one more reason to love this site.

My 2 cents: Denver must be underperforming on a lot of plays, relative to league averages, particularly high-value plays. The inability to get touchdowns strikes me as a strong factor. Perhaps they're running a lot of plays that other teams in the league do better at? (In other words, are they underperforming, play-by-play, relative to how other teams are performing on those same plays?)

Lastly, it might just be an aberrant factor of the lack of data, given only 2 games into the season. If it's still kooky in week 7, then things will get fun.

As a Broncos fan, though, let me enjoy this moment with the #1 defensive VOA, no matter how fleeting the moment is.

Aahhh...

54
by oljb (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 5:04pm

Andrew,
I don't claim to know the technical explanation, but from my observations (I watched both games of both Pennsylvania teams), Pittsburgh's rushing has gotten first downs way more consistently than Philly's. Also, Davenport has gotten a lot more carries than Davis, so you may be overlooking that. Not to mention a long first-down rush by Cedric Wilson and another first down rush by Big Ben.

55
by Cisco (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 5:07pm

Ok I'm gonna betray my Bronco homerism a bit here, but this situation begs one question to me. Last year DVOA (accurately) showed that the Bronco D was not nearly as good as the conventional wisdom suggested in the early season because they were surrendering a tremendous number of yards but essentially getting lucky in the red zone to prevent scoring. Now DVOA is saying that the Broncos Offense stinks in spite of gaining a tremendous number of yards because it is failing to score points in the red zone. I know I'm oversimplifying, but it seems to me that there is a contradiction here.

56
by Tracy (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 5:07pm

Looking at the Denver offensive VOA in further detail yields even more surprising results. T. Henry has a rush voa of 24.6%, Young's at 69.8%, M. Bell's at 21.4% and C. Sapp's at 45.1%. But Denver's Rush VOA is -38.8%. I think that running backs are only compared to other running backs and teams rush attempts are compared to all plays (pass or rush). Does this suggest that Denver's playcalling has been miserably poor?

57
by Tracy (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 5:21pm

Denver's pass offense has similar wierd splits: Cutler has a 18.3% pass voa and a 5.5% rush voa, but Denver has a -29.6% pass voa. Same caveat applies as in 56. But I'm surprised that the parts can perform so far above average while the whole performs decidedly below average.

58
by Andrew (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 5:26pm

ojb #54:

Westbrook, Tapeh and Buck have 9 first downs on 44 runs. Parker and Davenport and Davis have 16 in 68 runs. So 20% vs. 25 first downs. Westbrook is getting more yards per carry though, and more consistent moderately long runs while Parker has gotten a lot of his yards on 4 long runs. Yes the two wideout runs help Pittsburgh, as does Rothelisberger's couple of scrambles. But is that really the difference between #5 and #32???

59
by Cisco (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 5:28pm

How does a team drop from 7th to 29th over all in one game? I would expect even an epically lousy performance to only bring them down to mediocrity, not the depths of suckitude. I hesitate to suggest that the data is bad, but was raiderjoe the game charter for this one?

60
by Archimedes Owl (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 5:31pm

Ok, all of this and the fact that Denver v. Oakland game was the one with that parsing error suggest to me that something is funny.

I thought that maybe Denver's offensive DVOA would be slightly negatively affected by four down situations because a 3rd and 23 that gains 21 yards is normally a failure, but with two down territory, that's a terrific play.

Still, Denver ranked 7th in the league after the Buffalo game on offense, so this negative rating can only be coming fromt he Oakland game. And it had to truly be terrible to bring the VOA down this far after a far above average performance in the first week.

I have no idea, but I do know that it makes no sense for every rusher on a team to be above average in DVOA and then the total to be below average. I am not a DVOA expert, but I'm pretty sure that's impossible.

61
by rk (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 5:32pm

51. I don't know if this explains all of it, but Najeh Davenport is #3 in VOA, Cedrick Wilson (WR) has a 37 yd carry, and Roethlisberger is 4th is QB rushing VOA.

62
by rk (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 5:36pm

And I'm pretty late to the discussion on that one, sorry.

63
by kevinNYC (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 5:38pm

Like I really needed something else to show me how bad the Giants defense is. Their offense is twice as good as anyone else's in the bottom 10. I think Eli Manning's numbers (passing DVOA) would be even better if not for the meaningless (bad) numbers he got after the Packers game was already over. If they could get that defense between 20-25, they could make something happen. That's probably wishful thinking, I'd settle for better kickoff coverage at this point.

64
by hooper (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 5:39pm

Maybe the computers applied an "Ultimate Leader" penalty because Denver didn't do as well as the computers thought a Shanahan-led team should do. ;)

65
by A for Anonymous (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 5:40pm

29)
the key words: "we local folk"

"we local folk" here in Dallas think of 2006 as a dissapointment. However, even after four or five games of Romo, the best Cowboys DVOA projection was 3rd in the East.

In 2002, after the PITT early fluke, consistent play around the 9.1% projected DVOA compensated for the horrible start so that they finished very close to the projection - a successful 7.3%. coincidence?

you're right: your subjective expectations were high "relative" to the formulated projections.

66
by morganja (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 5:42pm

There is no possible way that any team is worse than the Panthers Special Teams right now. They are pathetic. I don't know what KC did to get 32nd, but it is just an anomaly. The Panthers have the worst special teams I have ever seen in the NFL. I watch their kickoff and punt returns over and over and still can't figure out what they are trying to do. Whatever it is, the results are five guys tackling the ball carrier without a blocker in sight.

67
by Archimedes Owl (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 5:43pm

As per Denver's close scores in both games, I thought I'd talk about that a little.

I mean both Oakland and Buffalo have defenses that allow few yards per completion and don't give up the big play to force long drives. Last year they ranked 1st and 4th in yards per completion allowed, so that helps explain why Denver has had a hard time getting touchdowns. That and the fact that Denver has started inside of their own 25 on average so far this year. Other than after the Champ Bailey interception, Denver has had to sustain very long drives to attempt to score points.

Combine that with a couple of somewhat fluky plays like an Oakland onside kick (Which was a great call by Kiffin) and a touchdown returned for a touchdown after an int and you have a close game despite mostly dominating the game.

Considering the shear number of stats that go completely counter to this offensive rating, this really makes me scratch my head.

I wouldn't claim an anti-Denver bias in the stats, but I think it's worth looking into a potential error in the compilation.

68
by B (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 5:46pm

67: Let's wait until at least week five before we make any conclusions about errors in the compilation of the stats, okay? We just don't have enough data in the first two weeks.

69
by JJcruiser (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 5:47pm

Does DVOA have a component for "inept but lucky"? Did you guys see this series last night? It set the NFL back 20 years:

Washington has the ball, 1st and ten at Philly's 49 with 46 seconds left. They have just meaninglessly burned their third and final time out.

:46 Pass to Moss for 11 yards, Moss wisely gets out of bounds (you watching, Randel El?)

:41 Campell scrambles for a big run, and makes it out of bounds after sidestepping the line, for 20 yards (you watching, Randel El?).

:32 Pass to Randel El, beautifully done up the sidelines (why aren't you covering the sidelines, Philly), but Randel El, in trying to get an extra two yards, allows himself to be tackled in bounds. He gets 17 yards. He could have had 15 and stopped the clock. Instead a full 18 seconds runs off the clock before Campell makes it to the line to spike the ball with 14 seconds left.

Skins have 14 seconds left, no timeouts, and they are on the Philly 1 with first and goal. You can call about sixteen hundred different pass plays, but you only need one. This isn't rocket science, people.

Unfortunately, the players stand around, ignoring the play clock, as do the coaches, until someone warns Gibbs and he starts frantically waving his arms as ESPN finally notices this and pans to the playclock, which reads 4....3....2....1...0.

Delay of game. 5 yard penalty. No time runs off. 14 seconds, first and goal from the six. You've still got about fifteen hundred different pass plays you can call that give you the opportunity to take a couple shots before having to kick a field goal. But that's all irrelevant, because on the next play:

False start. 5 yard penalty. no time off the clock, but now it's first and goal from the 11. And then, ANOTHER false start from the same player. Amazing. You'd think it was the Giants or something.

Now it is first and goal from the 16, still with 14 seconds on the clock.

In comes the kicking unit, because the Redskins say, oh crap, we've only got fourteen hundred pass plays we can run, better kick the field goal even though we were going to throw before, because the 16 yard line is an insurmountable distance to try, for example, a corner route, and a field goal will tie it on a game where this is our deepest penetration of the night.

Eagles call a time out to ice the kicker (I hate "icing the kicker").

Someone on the Redskins wakes up during the ensuing break and says "hey, if we were going to try this from the 11, why not try it at least once from the 16?" Cooley runs a corner route, and despite the fact he is tripled covered, Campbell makes a beautiful throw and connects for an amazing touchdown.

And the rest of the NFL winced as stupid penalty after stupid decision after stupid decision results in a touchdown.

70
by OMO (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 5:53pm

I very much disagree morganja.

The Colts special teams could out suck the Panthers special teams any day of the week.

They are so bad...they've even infected AV...his kicking was beyond terrible against the Titans and the incubation period for the "Colts Special Teams Suckiness Virus" is one-year.

Coincidence? I think not.

71
by Kaveman (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 5:53pm

#43, #44: That's an interesting catch. 4th in rush defense VOA with 30th in YPC allowed just can't be right.

Sidenote: so glad to see more Broncos fans. :-)

72
by elhondo (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 5:55pm

Man, I loved that ending to the half. Making them pay for icing the kicker was such a momentum turner.

When Randle El was tackled in bounds, I got the feeling that if he didn't hit his own guy, it would have been a touchdown. Tough not to gamble right there, no matter who you are.

73
by Tracy (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 6:00pm

The more I think about it, the more unlikely it seems that the data for DEN-OAK was parsed correctly. Denver put up 400+ yards of total offense and scored 20 points and their voa went from 16.5% to -34.1%. All of their running backs, and their qb have individual voa well above average, and their team rush voa and team pass voa are both pathetically bad.

Has there ever been a 400+ yard, 20 point effort that produced something on the order of -80% voa before? The OAK only calculation must be that bad to produce -34.1% when averaged against a 16.5%. Along the same lines, I'm not sure that the Denver defense performed as well as it would have had to in OAK to produce the move from -36% to -80%. That's like a -120% effort for the game!

74
by cjfarls (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 6:03pm

Re: 69
I too watched that series of plays last night in complete disbelief... but gotta love Cooley ;-)

75
by tunesmith (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 6:04pm

Hm... if Denver's parser *appeared* to fix itself but instead just silently threw away all the data after the lightning break, then that could explain a lot - throwing out most of a game's data could make Denver's defense appear unnaturally good, and Denver's offense unnaturally bad. The Raiders' defense is also ranked #5 right now, which seems odd.

76
by Kaveman (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 6:05pm

#68: That doesn't make any sense. Why can there not be an error in the collection of the data used to create these stats before week 5? As Aaron noted (and Archimedes Owl repeated), there was a parsing error that caused this game's data to not make it to Quick Reads. It is not impossible that something went wrong even after that error was corrected.

Look at the team offense page. 7th last week, 28th this week? 29th in rush offense with Henry leading the league in yards? Look at team defense. 4th in rush defense after giving up 6.7 YPC to Lamont Jordan?

#67: The points about the quality of the Raiders and Bills defenses are well made, but don't affect VOA. When the defense adjustments come in around week 5 and we see DVOA, the Broncos offense should look better.

77
by Yinka Double Dare (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 6:08pm

66: What KC did was play against Devin Hester.

Ok, it wasn't just his TD return. The Bears had another 70 yards in return yardage on 4 other returned punts and a 42 yard punt by the Chiefs that went 8 yards deep into the end zone, yielding a net of about 22 yards per punt on 8 punts for the Chiefs. Ouch. Add in a kickoff out of bounds, a blocked FG, and one Bears punt where KC had 3 penalties on the return, and mostly bad returns by KC, and it was a pretty wretched day for KC's special teams. KC also fired their kicker after Week 1 after a bad kicking game that week.

78
by putnamp (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 6:15pm

Seattle's rushing offense has apparently fallen off the radar, which should come as no surprise given the Shaun Alexander situation we all talked about prior to him signing his monster contract. I didn't want to believe it but I'm starting to wonder.

On the other hand, I'm not really sold on the Seattle offensive line, either, especially on the right side.

79
by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 6:16pm

Yards per carry is a particularly bad indicator of success for games like Denver-Oakland (see 33, 20, 19, and 13 for evidence - the four longest runs during the game).

However, it looks to my untrained eye as if Oakland's success rate on running plays was .394 (13 for 33), and that does seem to suggest that Denver's run defense was not fantastic in that game.

79
by Archimedes Owl (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 6:16pm

#68:

I don't know what you mean. I am suggesting that there was some sort of error in calculation DVOA based on the splits that Tracy brought up in which ever running back and the QB had positive DVOAs in passing and rushing, but the team has a negative DVOA.

The fact that Denver has a way better rushing VOA than would seem likely after their two performances in which they now rank 30th in yards per carry allowed while ranking fourth in defensive VOA against the run.

Like Tracy said, for Denver to go from ~16.5 DVOA to -34.5 would mean that Denver had an exceptionally terrible offensive game against Oakland. You'd expect that Denver must have at least had a -40 VOA performance based off that much of a change.

But that doesn't really jive with the fact that Denver averaged 40+ yards per drive against Oakland and did it without many big plays meaning they were able to sustain some drives.

Now, I can understand that if they were terrible on first and second down, but dominated third down, they could still have a somewhat lower ranking than expected while maintaining long drives, but not on the tune of a -40 VOA performance.

It would interest me to see what Denver and Oakland's VOA for this particular game actually was. Since I didn't get to check it out in quick reads.

81
by B (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 6:22pm

If none of the data after the lightning storm was collected, than Denver and Oakland's rating would be about the same as they were last week, as VOA is a per play stat. ON the other hand, if the data got reversed and Denver's data was credited to Oakland and vice versa, that would explain the apparent discrepancy in their respective VOAs. Of course, that would mean Cutler and not McCown had a -17.5 PAR rating for the week, and that seems rather unlikely.

82
by admin :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 6:28pm

Hey. I've got the data from after the lightning storm now. That's not the issue. (It was the reason why I couldn't do the game in Quick Reads, but we figured out the issue last night.) Don't have time now to figure out all the specifics about Denver. Things sort themselves out after a few weeks.

83
by oljb (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 6:28pm

Andrew,
Those few factors may be enough to explain the difference solely because it's a small data set to this point. Not sure.

I do know, however, that Pittsburgh's offense in general has dealt with considerably less futility than Philly's so far this year, and the difference in ranking doesn't seem that shocking, although last place does seem a bit off, intuitively.

84
by Archimedes Owl (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 6:34pm

Re:81 I understand that.

Honestly, I have no explanation, but if this DVOA data just happens to be correct of Denver's offensive performance and Oakland's defensive performance, it looks like it might just be one of the biggest discrepancy between traditional per attempt stats and DVOA ever.

And it's not just the poor Denver offensive performance. It is shocking that Denver now has one of the best defensive rushing VOAs in the league. I could have sworn that Denver was not above average last week, but then we give up a huge game with 6+ yards per carry and we have one of the best rushing defensive VOAs in football.

I don't know. Maybe I'm just wrong, but I have trouble believing this.

85
by DolFan 316 (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 6:36pm

The Dolphins are CLEARLY ranked too high. That is all.

86
by Cisco (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 6:37pm

I wonder if the denver-oakland data might be excluding the 1st quarter. Pre-lightning storm. That would actually make more sense than the idea that everything after the storm is missing.

87
by tunesmith (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 6:42pm

Great article examining all of the Denver drives into opponents' territory that didn't lead to touchdowns. In short, tipped passes and conservative playcalling have a lot to do with it.

88
by cjfarls (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 6:43pm

Re: 82
I hate to sound like a whiner, and yes, I'm sure after we have 5 weeks data any errors in wk2 will average out... I also feel for Aaron who doesn't have time to do a big search for errors. However, just saying "they will work themselves out" doesn't give me a lot of faith that the system is accurately reflecting the game, when they look this screwy. If ANYONE came up with a decent explanation for it, I'd be fine with it, but we haven't thought of a good one yet. This is a very different case than last year when we could easily see why Denver's DEF rating was far below "conventional wisdom".

At this point, I just have to assume the data for the game is broken, and can't trust any analysis that will be heavily effected by the game (basically any DEN or OAK ratings 'til week 6 or 7, or any opponent adjustments based on them as opponents).

89
by jd (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 6:49pm

Wow the Giants offense sure misses Petitgout and Tiki huh?

90
by hooper (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 7:09pm

Re: 88

I'd agree that something is fishy. Even if there is a valid explanation, at this point it's safe to say that it's worth figuring out what that explanation is. I'd also agree that FO is probably pretty busy at the moment, especially with the screwup that the lightning delay caused. (They haven't even posted TMQ yet!)

Still, I'm pretty sure that FO will eventually get to investigating the problem. After all, VOA and DVOA are pretty much the cornerstone of the whole FO venture, and a huge discrepancy is too fundamental to ignore. Even given the problem of sample size, the errancy of Denver makes comparisons between Denver and other teams extremely diffcult. This would limit the usefulness of the data, and I'd predict that they'll attack the problem if for no other reason than to resolve this.

For now, I'll assume that the business of the day has been a bit taxing.

91
by coldbikemessenger (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 7:27pm

I am guessing its a few things.
1. Plays
72 plays a game is unheard of, seriously.
From 1996 to 2006 nfl teams averaged about 63 plays per game.
The highest was 1128 by the 1997 bears.
Denver is on a pace for 1152.
Remember, VOA is about efficiency, not totals.
2. The red zone, as other folks have noted, Denver sucks in the red zone.
3. Third down, 13 for 30 is not great, as I understand it teams get a bonus for strong 3rd down performance.
4. PASS TD/INT ratio.
2 passing td's and 3 int's suck, I am guessing Denver is taking a hit for that.
I am no VOA expert so please feel free to correct me if I am wrong.

92
by Kyle (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 7:36pm

You know what makes the Giants defensive DVOA rating so awesomely bad? I bet their run defense is ranked somewhere from 10th-14th in the NFL. The pass defense thus far is truly that bad.

93
by Kyle (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 7:40pm

Update: I am a moron.

Completely missed the link atop the page for offense/defense breakdowns. Somewhat surprised to see the run defense ranked 25th, they've been stout minus two "big plays" (one each by Dallas and Green Bay).

94
by Kaveman (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 7:48pm

#90: TMQ is up, just not linked from the ESPN NFL page for some reason. Click my name.

#91: Yes, that's what Aaron pointed out in #27. It's possible that what you suggest is the explanation, but how does that explain the rush defense VOA? That both offense and defense VOA are surprising is what makes me suspicious.

95
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 7:54pm

I am stunned that the Vikings offensive VOA is ranked as high as it is, and it makes me wonder if offensive VOA typically starts out a little low, which may have been a question recently adressed, if I remember correctly. To think that 15 offenses have performed worse on a VOA basis makes be believe that there has been a lot of crappy offensive performances.

96
by Archimedes Owl (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 8:15pm

#91:
There is a reason that I spoke of the discrepancy between per attempt stats and DVOA and not per game stats and DVOA. Because Denver has been above average in per attempt stats across the board as well which aren't skewed by having more plays.

DVOA does dock for turnovers and Denver had two picks and a safety in the game, so I'm thinking that some of that came from those errors, but I'm still surprised by the results considering such a strong day sustaining drives.

The results of the run defense ranking actually surprised me even more than this offensive ranking.

97
by Kaveman (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 8:35pm

Not sure where my comment went. But yeah, TMQ is up, just not on the ESPN NFL page. Click my name.

And #95 said the other thing I wanted to say... the rush defense VOA is the really surprising thing, because you can sorta explain the offense VOA. It is the combination of the two weird numbers though, that makes me suspicious.

98
by Adam (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 9:01pm

@ #50
How do you figure Oakland dominated the game? If not for Lepsis having a rough time on one play and getting pushed back into Cutler which causes a tipped pick six, Oakland is never in the game to begin with. Denver completely dominated Oakland from start to mostly finish with only two or three lapses in judgement the whole game. That does not constitute Oakland domination. Denvers defense isnt that good and their offense is fantastic. Their problems stem from one thing, red zone failures. WHEN they get that figured out with all THEIR new toys as well, they will be nigh unstoppable offensively.

Their run defense might be the worst in the league though. Teams can kill them just running the ball.

99
by LooseOnTheLead (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 10:14pm

The more I see the numbers others bring up, the more I think something really is screwy. Again...

Jason Campbell passing VOA: +3.8%
Redskins passing VOA: -83.8%

That can't be possible, can it?

100
by hooper (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 10:18pm

Re: all the questions about this week's stats

Maybe Goodell confiscated FO's videotapes as part of the Patriots investigation...

(I kid because I love, Aaron.) :)

101
by hooper (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 10:24pm

Hey, I just remembered - didn't FO get into some huge Fantasy Football league with other media types? I seem to remember something about 20+ rounds of drafting players. How's that going? I looked at the FF discussion boards and couldn't find anything on it.

(And sorry for the double post - particularly for something slightly off-topic.)

102
by Nate (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 11:24pm

77 - Beyond the official special teams plays (i.e., the ones that count), the Bears had another return for a touchdown called back on a penalty. So, it could have been even worse.
By the way, it's incredibly early in the season, but Hester looks even better this year. The guy is unbelievable.

103
by admin :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 11:28pm

Hey all. We had an issue with the macro that builds the premium database, and because the various schedules of the people involved don't sync up well, it looks like we won't have the premium database updated with 2007 until Thursday. I apologize for this. Much like the Week 1 Loser League errors and the weird Jamal Lewis "1+1=11" thing, it just seems to be one of those bugs we always don't find until the season actually starts.

104
by morganja (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2007 - 11:33pm

Game on. Carolina will out-suck the Colts and KC's Special Teams combined by the end of the year. Giving up a TD to Hester is nothing. The Panthers are going to give up a 109 yard TD kickoff return to Andy Reid before this season is over.

105
by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Wed, 09/19/2007 - 12:03am

My two cents on the Texans:

Obviously, we suspect that Carolina are middling and Kansas City awful, so opponent adjustments, were they possible at this stage, would undoubtedly drop them.

Equally obviously, while both games would presumably be positive after opponent adjustments, the sample size is small enough for that not necessarily to be meaningful - as illustrated only too clearly by all the fast start teams listed in the comments.

The Texans' greatest area of weakness (contrary to popular belief) is and has for some time been the secondary. Dunta Robinson is good, but the others are very, very bad, and to make matters worse, three of the top four safeties going into camp are now on IR. Fortunately, they have yet to play a team with more than one competent receiving option. Unfortunately, that is about to change (and how) with the visit of the Colts. Fortunately, aside from the two games with Indy, their schedule is largely devoid of teams with more than one receiver.

It's worth noting that the projection system finds it hard to account for major offseason personnel changes. I imagine this is doubly true when one of the changes is the addition of a new starting quarterback who isn't covered by Lewin's system and who has next to no NFL statistical history. Schaub is not going to challenge Manning, Brady or Palmer for their pro-bowl slots, but he is (and I feel confident in saying this even after only two games) a major upgrade on Carr. In particular, some combination of improvement by the offensive linemen and the change in QB has obviously made a huge difference to the frequency of opposing rushers getting sacks or pressure. KC and Carolina are both better at rushing the passer than they are at anything else, so I don't think this is a phantom improvement. Having watched both games, I'm going to go out on a limb and say the change is mainly attributable to Schaub.

On defense, the front seven has looked very good. Williams is commanding double teams, and that's creating space which the tackles are exploiting. Danny Clark, one of several low-rent veteran linebackers brought in to camp, has been a very pleasant surprise with his play against the run.

Overall, I'd say that the Texans still have a way to go, but are likely significantly better than their projection. My best guess is that they will end the season with a middle of the pack DVOA, but 8-10 wins thanks to what now appears to be a very soft schedule. If that turns out to be good enough for a wild card, I will be a very happy bunny, DVOA be damned.

Of course, if the Andre Johnson injury is more serious than it appears, or if it lingers and substantially affects his play, you can go right ahead and cancel all that, and peg the team as the 2004 Bears.

106
by Bobman (not verified) :: Wed, 09/19/2007 - 1:02am

102 I am officially wetting my pants at the thought of Andy Reid scampering for 1 09 yard rtn. Doesn't that fat bastid know to take a knee 9 yards deep in the end zone? Who the hell is coaching him? Who the hell does he think he is... Dennis Green? Charlie Weiss? I'm tellin' ya, though, Indy's D and ST are okay with the fast guys, it's the bruisers who cross them up. If Reid rtns one for 109 on Carolina, he'd get 110 yards on Indy.

103 Mr Shush, how dare you spread your well-reasoned and cogent analysis on this rant-filled fan-site! I'm glad the Texans finally seem to have their ship righted. Afraid that AJ's ankle will really upset the apple cart (to mix metaphors) for a few games--those things don't heal too fast and I suspect are particular problems for WRs, CBs, and RBs.

I think you're right about multiple WR threats; if Dunta can shut down #1 more or less and the DL gets good pressure, they'll be able to contain most teams on their schedule. I liked Carr and used to think the problem was the OL (the curse of Boselli?); now I am not so sure.

Looking fwd to Sunday's game. The Colt fan in me wants a 72-0 game (every week), but the football fan would be happy with what an objective observer might call a "good game." Which I think it will be.

107
by Raiderjoe (not verified) :: Wed, 09/19/2007 - 1:37am

Raiders 24 and moving up after beat Browns on Sunday. Playoffs please Get here now. Raiders in them.

108
by Dutch (not verified) :: Wed, 09/19/2007 - 2:07am

It makes no sense for FO writers to diss the cowboys when Romo averaged 8 YPA last year. He's averaging over 10 yards per attempt this year.Since 1982 QB's who averaged 8 YPA or more for a season (QB"s who played in at 9 games in that season) their temas record for making the playoffs is 47-7. And many of those went on to the SB. Yards Per attempt is stil the most important stat in football.

109
by gasman (not verified) :: Wed, 09/19/2007 - 2:18am

I agree that Denver's offensve stats are too low. From a yardage standpoint, I would imagine that denver is one of the best in the league, but in the red zone they have had poor execution or bad luck (missed FGs, close offensive PI call that reverses a TD). Denver's offense is absolutely better than 24th. As a Bronco fan I have to also admit that their defense is not the best in the league. I think their pass defense is great. Champ and Bly allow them to do a a lot of things and their pass rush is better than I expected. Run defense is what brings this team down. Denver's DL is not good enough and DJ Williams does not get off blocks well enough for denver's D to be great. Quality teams will run on Denver.

I see Denver having a top 5 offense and a middle of the pack defensive ranking this year.

110
by gasman (not verified) :: Wed, 09/19/2007 - 2:42am

Something else about Denver that is Interesting as I have watched every snap this year. Due to a combination of Denver's great DBs, their opponents shaky QBs and Denver's questionable run defense, both Buffalo and Oakland were running routinely on 3rd downs, regardless of the distance required.

With Denver playing Jax this Sunday, they could legitimately have a pass defense allowing less than 100 yds a game thgrough the first three weeks.

111
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 09/19/2007 - 3:18am

#97: Campbell doesn't get blamed for the receivers' fumbles (there've been two) - he also gets credit for that bizarro deep completion. Welcome to Small Sample Size Theatre - the Redskins have barely been passing, so yeah, a few plays can screw up the whole thing.

112
by ammek (not verified) :: Wed, 09/19/2007 - 4:40am

Will Allen: "it makes me wonder if offensive VOA typically starts out a little low"

Yep, I'm surprised that the 13th defense has -13 VOA while the 14th offense has just +3. I guess everything's extreme at the start of the year, there aren't many teams between +10 and -10. Equally there are ten 2-0 teams, which seems a lot.

113
by LooseOnTheLead (not verified) :: Wed, 09/19/2007 - 8:16am

Re 109:
#97: Campbell doesn’t get blamed for the receivers’ fumbles (there’ve been two) - he also gets credit for that bizarro deep completion. Welcome to Small Sample Size Theatre - the Redskins have barely been passing, so yeah, a few plays can screw up the whole thing.

Both Campbell and the team get credit for the bizarro deep pass, so that's a wash. And Randle El, Moss, and Cooley all have VOAs no worse than -3% or so, so that's not it, either. Small sample or not, I don't see how you get from +3.8%, -3%, etc., to -83.8%.

114
by mawbrew (not verified) :: Wed, 09/19/2007 - 8:56am

Re: 94

Yeah, the Vikes offensive numbers are surprising. Especially when you consider the team ranked immediately behind them just had a stunning offensive game and put up 51 points.

115
by Quincy Magoo (not verified) :: Wed, 09/19/2007 - 8:57am

I don't understand all this whining about the numbers. Everything looks fine to me.

116
by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Wed, 09/19/2007 - 10:04am

Bobman (#104) - It's not like the complaints against the offensive line were groundless, and I do believe that Carr was and is capable of being a competent NFL starter, under the right circumstances. What I would say is that quarterbacks who tend to hold onto the ball for too long, like Carr, Culpepper and Kurt Warner, are far more affected by the quality of pass-blocking they receive than those who get rid of it quickly. As a result, the value and likely standard of play of these players varies far more with changes in offensive environment than that of players like Peyton, Schaub or Tony Romo. Unfortunately, on Sunday's evidence, it doesn't look like the Panthers O-line is much good at pass-blocking at the moment either.

117
by keith (not verified) :: Wed, 09/19/2007 - 11:13am

Isn't it encouraging that Dallas' two wins were STOMPS? Thats what "good" teams are supposed to do to "bad" teams, right?

118
by Andrew (not verified) :: Wed, 09/19/2007 - 11:18am

oljb:

I can believe the Eagles as the last place offense. I can't see the rushing attack as last place though.

119
by Andrew (not verified) :: Wed, 09/19/2007 - 11:20am

Keith #115:

A 10 point win over the Giants is not a STOMP. I thought a STOMP had to be a 14+ point win.

120
by Teximu (not verified) :: Wed, 09/19/2007 - 12:58pm

#106, you're doing it wrong. It should be more like:

Tony Romo is clearly ranked too low because his YPA is 10 this year. Yards per attempt is way better than this. Since 1982 QB’s who averaged 8 YPA or more for a season (QB�s who played in at 9 games in that season) their temas record for making the playoffs is 47-7. And many of those went on to the SB. Yards Per attempt is stil the most important stat in football.

Okay, so you were on the right track with that last part there.

121
by Sid (not verified) :: Wed, 09/19/2007 - 1:17pm

How is there no commentary on the Saints, who are in last place by a wide margin? I know the projection was 7.4 wins, but isn't it worthy of mention that one of the league's top offenses last year has collapsed?

122
by Admore (not verified) :: Wed, 09/19/2007 - 1:31pm

@103

I'LL talk to you about the Texans, and we can have our own dialog, as no one else seems interested.

First, I pretty much agree with all your points. I, too, look at the schedule and see a lot of games we can win. (FWIW I think Sunday's won't be one of them. But the Titan's secondary isn't anything special without Pacman, so I have hope.)

And for now we're #4! #4 Baby!

123
by Alex (not verified) :: Wed, 09/19/2007 - 1:36pm

#118:
Actually, that still wouldn't be right. Yards per attempt is not a subjective ranking system. Also, the last part in bold is supposed to have poor spelling or chat-acceptable spelling, but yours only has 2 or 3 spelling/grammar mistakes in 3 sentences. Still, not a bad try.

124
by elhondo (not verified) :: Wed, 09/19/2007 - 2:10pm

man, raiderjoe just doesn't disappoint. It's week 2, they're 0-2 and he links beating the browns with the playoffs.

125
by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Wed, 09/19/2007 - 3:18pm

Right. It's almost miraculous how many of the teams on our schedule appear to have collapsed: the Chiefs, Chargers, Jaguars and Saints all look significantly worse than last year, while only the Bucs seem particularly improved. Well, maybe the Raiders have improved from abysmal to rubbish. But the only games in which I currently feel the opposition should be heavily favoured are the two with Indy. Denver or San Diego could be added to that list - both have the potential to be very good, and it's too early to say for sure they won't live up to that. But praise be to Jack Del Rio, Herm Edwards, Norv Turner and Pacman Jones: we might actually have a shot at the playoffs.

126
by Bobman (not verified) :: Wed, 09/19/2007 - 3:35pm

Mr Shush, Not to throw a wet blanket on things, but the AFC N might well put three teams in the playoffs if Cincy can manage to outscore its opponents despite it's D (which Indy has traditionally done, so we know it's possible). There will be 4 Div champs and then the second tier teams will include at least 1 from AFCW, AFCN, maybe more. That leaves NYJ and Jax out in the cold. Do you think the Texans will surpass either Denver or SD? Balt or Pitt? Then Cincy, NYJ, Jax? Will Hou have more wins than 4 of those 7 (assuming Ind and NE are clear Div winners)?

They might be in the same Second Tier Club, but getting 10 wins will still be pretty damn tough. And MAY not even be enough, which is always frustrating (esp when a 6-10 NFC team makes it)(exaggerated for effect). I'd love to see them make it to the postseason, so long as it's not at the expense of the Colts.

127
by Admore (not verified) :: Wed, 09/19/2007 - 4:18pm

@124

You make some good points. I'll give my answer about the Texans. As long as we keep winning, we'll be fine.

The longer version: I think we're about a year or so from the team that Kubiak is aiming for (honestly, does Ron Dayne have compromising photos of Kubiak or what?). Having lost your top 3 safeties and starting a nickleback at one corner doesn't bode well long term. But it's not us so much as some other teams are leaving the field open.

I think you're right, that 10 wins may not do it. But it may. Some teams that seemed unstoppable in the preseason are looking vulnerable just now.

Not too many rational people in Houston were thinking playoffs, so if we're in the hunt down to the last couple of weeks then it's a successful season for us, whether things break for us to get in the postseason or not.

Honestly, .500 or better would be a success down here. Anything else is gravy. It's very early days, and I think Texans fans are just happy to be mentioned with the top contenders at this point.

Still, I see a lot of games that were sure losses when they made the schedule looking winnable. After all, who thought Texans-Colts would be one of the best matchups of week 3?

128
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 09/19/2007 - 5:42pm

Both Campbell and the team get credit for the bizarro deep pass, so that’s a wash.

No, the team doesn't. It was fumbled away. So it goes from a massively impressive play to a bad play. But yeah, Randle El's being normal is a weirdo thing too. Someone should ask about that. It's probably a screwup.

129
by LooseOnTheLead (not verified) :: Wed, 09/19/2007 - 5:51pm

No, the team doesn’t. It was fumbled away. So it goes from a massively impressive play to a bad play.

Oh, that's right.

However, Randle El's VOA for the season is +26.2%, so that fumble isn't what's causing the -83.8% passing VOA for the entire offense. Like I said, none of the Redskins' receivers have ultra-low VOAs.

130
by LooseOnTheLead (not verified) :: Wed, 09/19/2007 - 6:12pm

I take that back. Brandon Lloyd is at -100.0% on three passes. But no one else is below -3.4%, and Campbell and Randle El are positive...not to mention that Betts's +129.6% for three passes should offset Lloyd.

I'm not suggesting that the Redskins' passing VOA is some sort of weighted average of the VOAs of the individual players. But if it's going to be THAT negative, you'd think many of the players behind it would be pretty negative, too.

131
by Andrew (not verified) :: Wed, 09/19/2007 - 6:24pm

It seems like a lot of fans of different teams are seeing strange things in the VOA numbers for their and other teams.

I think we'd all appreciate an explanation of how, for example, a Minnesota offense with many more fumbles and interceptions than a Philadelphia offense, is rated so much higher, or how offense like Pittsburgh with a bunch of relatively mediocre players ends up tops in the league as a whole, or how Washington is a negative VOA offense with almost all positive VOA players.

What gives with these strange numbers? It can't possibly be small sample size when the numbers simply don't make any intuitive sense for so many teams.

132
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Wed, 09/19/2007 - 9:25pm

Belichick's been at the database. He's trying to get fans of all the other teams to call the FOMBC down upon those franchises.

133
by kibbles (not verified) :: Wed, 09/19/2007 - 10:25pm

Re #27: Re: Denver. Top offenses by number of plays run so far: Denver 144, New Orleans 140, Detroit 139, St. Louis 133.

How on earth is this an indicator of a bad offense? Denver has had 22 offensive drives- only 9 teams in the entire NFL have had fewer. The fact that Denver has run 144 plays means unequivocably that Denver is simply sustaining drives better than any other team in the entire NFL by a pretty substantial margin. How on earth is this a bad thing? If I saw a team that was averaging 25 offensive plays per drive, I would say that that was an absolutely OTHERWORLDLY offense, absolutely and unequivocably the best in the history of the league. Using Denver's high number of offensive plays as a means of justifying their putrid offensive DVOA is... counterintuitive, to say the least.

134
by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Wed, 09/19/2007 - 10:38pm

Do I expect the Texans to beat Indy to the AFC South title? Hell no. I see Indy and NE as in a completely different class to the rest of their divisions. Sunday, with AJ out, could get truly ugly. Hell, it could have got pretty ugly even if he was playing. I don't even expect us to get a wild card. I just think it's plausible. Maybe a 20-25% chance. That is contingent on Jacksonville massively underperforming their prediction, but I think the apparent drop-off in their run defense and their own running game makes that likely. Genuine contenders do not struggle to beat Joey Harrington's Falcons. I also fail to share your optimism on behalf of the Bengals. Their offense is not Indy's, their defense is awful, and their schedule, while it features plenty of patsies, also includes four games in which I expect the opponent to be strongly favoured (PIT twice, @BAL and NE), alongside their existing loss. The Steelers look like their 04 and healthy-Roethlisberger 05 teams, and should win that division, and I agree that the Ravens are a likely wild card, barring complete offensive meltdown. The Jets I simply don't think are any good, and they won't be as lucky as they were last year. The big x-factor, to my mind, is the AFC West. How good are Denver, and how badly can Norv screw up San Diego? I think the most likely AFC playoff picture is NE, IND, PIT, one of SD and DEN (division winners) and BAL and the other AFC West team as wildcards, but I think it's far from inconceivable that Houston could pinch one of the wild card spots from a better team with a harder schedule, much like last year's Jets. I also think that unless Philly start playing up to their potential pretty soon, we could see one of the most one-sided Superbowls in recent history, regardless of which AFC team gets there.

In the end though, I have to echo Admore above. If the Texans even finish 8-8, I will be ecstatic. All our good players are young. We have a ridiculous amount of dead money counting against the cap from Casserly's mistakes this year (well north of $20m), which ought to fund a significant splurge next off-season to address the secondary. If we can even remotely contend this year, Indy had better start watching their backs in 2008. As this is the first time I have ever had reasonable grounds for homeristic optimism, and could yet be the last for a while (how 'bout them 2003 Bills), I mean to enjoy it.

135
by admin :: Wed, 09/19/2007 - 10:55pm

Guess what? After going back to look, it turns out that the numbers were, in fact, incorrect for Denver, Oakland, Philadelphia, and Washington. They are now fixed above. Sorry about that.

136
by Dan (not verified) :: Wed, 09/19/2007 - 11:46pm

Don't forget to update the top 5's in the front page sidebar, Aaron.

137
by kibbles (not verified) :: Thu, 09/20/2007 - 12:43am

Awesome guys, you really are the best. These numbers are much more in line with reality, and as a homer, I'm glad to see that Denver's pass defense is still operating at a mind-bogglingly-unsustainable-but-awfully-fun-to-look-at number.

Out of curiosity, what was it that was throwing the numbers so far out of whack?

138
by Arik (not verified) :: Thu, 09/20/2007 - 1:08am

OK... so you fixed the numbers for Washington, Philadelphia, Denver,etc. Can you fix the charts on the left side of the page as well?

139
by admin :: Thu, 09/20/2007 - 10:15am

What was the problem? An Excel pasting error. Yes. That is as stupid as it sounds.

140
by Andrew Foland (not verified) :: Thu, 09/20/2007 - 10:37am

Three words: macros, cygwin, scripts

141
by Matt (not verified) :: Thu, 09/20/2007 - 11:23am

This was all a good example of people intuitively and correctly realizing that the final stats were wrong, but then offering up all sorts of bad theories as to why they must be wrong.

For instance, Kibbles at 131 -- would you really think that an offense running 25 plays per drive was the most phenomenal offense ever? Really? At less than 4 yards per play? And even if it averaged 19 points per game? I know some of Denver's empty drives have been due to Elam missing FGs before he makes the game-winner, but while the traditional rate stats people laud above are good indicators at times, they too can be meaningless out of context.

YPA passing, for example. Let's say that a QB goes 4 for 5 on a drive for 80 yards. That's 16 YPA. Brilliant! But I'm sure that in an FO thread I hardly need to spell out what might be wrong with that conclusion. The 5th pass might be an interception. The completions may have gone for 75 yards, 3, 1, and 1. The drive might result in no points (missed FG, failure to pick up a 4th down, etc.) The team might be down by 21 points in the 4th quarter and facing an incredibly soft prevent. And on and on.

142
by cjfarls (not verified) :: Thu, 09/20/2007 - 3:53pm

Thanks Aaron... these numbers look much better and inline with what I've seen the 1st 2 weeks.

I think this shows that for those here on FO's boards, we trust the DVOA numbers so much that we are much less willing to accept screwiness in these numbers than in traditional stats.

I expect to see screwy traditional stats that dont reflect actually watching the game. Because VOA does a great job with showing those flukes, I expect it to reflect the performance I see watching a game. Once again, many kudos to Aaron for giving me a tool that I think is INVALUABLE in showing the game "behind the numbers".

143
by chris clark (not verified) :: Thu, 09/20/2007 - 5:08pm

140: Agreed. These stats are so useful and insightful, that errors in them are truly magnified, even early in the season like this when the small data effect is in full play and all numbers are suspect. So, thank you very much for correcting them. BTW, I'm hoping that you will eventually get the time to do per team commentaries like you used to do for Fox. Even when I don't like what you say, I find it worth reading and I learn alot from it. (Almost as much as I get from reading the feedback of the other readers, which is truly awesome here, especially when compared to other football sites.)

144
by kibbles (not verified) :: Thu, 09/20/2007 - 5:38pm

Re #139: For instance, Kibbles at 131 — would you really think that an offense running 25 plays per drive was the most phenomenal offense ever? Really? At less than 4 yards per play? And even if it averaged 19 points per game?
Yes, really. Assuming a team doesn't go for it on 4th down, the only way to run 25 plays on a drive is to get 8 first downs. The only way to get 8 first downs is to get 80 yards. If you're *AVERAGING* 80 yards a drive, I don't care what your per-play numbers are, you are the greatest offense in the history of the game. Seriously, that's INSANE. 80 yards per drive, at the very least- and that's if you're only getting exactly 10 yards on every 3 downs. In all likelihood, if you're running 25 plays per drive, you're averaging MORE than 80 yards per drive. Seriously, greatest offense ever.

By the same token, if there was ever an RB that got 3 yards on every single carry without fail, without injury, and without fumble, he'd go down in history as the single most dominant player in the history of the game. You'd just give him the ball on every single down, go for it on every 4th down, and you'd score a TD every time you touched the ball, all as a result of this one player. Sure, his per-carry average might be a PATHETIC 3.0, one of the worst averages in the history of the league, but any offense that featured him would quite literally be unstoppable.

145
by hooper (not verified) :: Thu, 09/20/2007 - 6:51pm

Re: 139

Perhaps I'm reading too much into your first statement, but you make it sound like throwing out bad theories is a bad thing in itself. In any 1st-stage brainstorming session to tackle an unknown, you try to come up with and keep everything you can think of. Your first round of inspection will quickly toss out the worst offenders to sanity, but those offenders might be the trigger that gets somebody else to hit upon the potential winning idea.

The difference here is that people tended to offer some support to their argument. Even if the argument was weak (as all except the "screwy-spreadsheet" proved to be), at least there was a reason the argument was proposed. That gave everybody a chance to analyze the argument and judge it on its own weight of merits. For example, my own arguments of post #53 were basically that Denver's offensive failures were weighted more strongly than their offensive successes. Obviously, it turned out to be wrong. But by putting it out there, it was available for others to defeat or support as they saw fit.

In short, there were indeed a lot of bad hypotheses. But, that was a good thing, especially because they weren't based on the merits of caps-lock typing, multiple exclamation points, and prophecies of winning the next 47 Super Bowls in a row.

146
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 09/21/2007 - 12:05am

For instance, Kibbles at 131 — would you really think that an offense running 25 plays per drive was the most phenomenal offense ever? Really? At less than 4 yards per play? And even if it averaged 19 points per game?

You're mixing a pace-free stat and comparing it to a paced stat (per drive is pace-free, per game is paced). If they're scoring an average of 3 points per drive, that's a phenomenal offense, regardless of the per-game numbers. No offense in the NFL would come close to that.

An offense's job is to continue a drive. The extra yardage is bonus, but unneeded. Keeping the drive going is the most important thing.

147
by Brooklyn Bengal (not verified) :: Fri, 09/21/2007 - 2:50am

THE BENGALS are clearly ranked TOO HIGH because THEY GAVE UP 51 POINTS TO THE FREAKING BROWNS. SERIOUSLY. THE FREAKING BROWNS. AND THEY STILL HAVE A NEGATIVE DEFENSIVE DVOA? SUICIDE is better than this. FLJSLMASF:OWIEWNFLK!@!!

148
by David (not verified) :: Fri, 09/21/2007 - 1:28pm

ROBO-RUNNINGBACK could still be undone by penalties. A single false start would doom the drive, or at least force the team to use its out-of-practice passing game to pick up the extra five yards. But yeah, best RB ever.

149
by Matt (not verified) :: Fri, 09/21/2007 - 2:04pm

142 - yes, 3 yards guaranteed every carry from Robo RB would be unstoppable. Back here in the real world, where there are no guarantees and 3 YPC is an average rather than a certainty, it's not so hot.

144 - the excess yardage is not needed in the same instances in which the excess over 3 yards per carry isn't needed -- i.e., in counter-factual examples where averages are turned into guarantees.

My point was not to dispute the fact that racking up 80-100 yards per drive would be a good thing. I wanted to compare a pace-free stat to a paced stat because I was trying to understand why the Broncos offense would necessarily *need* to be ranked higher in DVOA if their efforts thus far had produced only 19 points per game despite their high number of plays and the low number of drives.

I understand that DVOA measures the success of each play, and you can't fault Jay Cutler & Co. for Jason Elam missing a FG; but you can fault Cutler & Co. for not finishing off the drive and scoring a TD, can you not? (Such as for being unsuccessful on that final 3rd or 4th down prior to any FG attempt other than the game-winners.)

Now as it turns out, the Broncos efforts thus far were deserving of a much higher ranking than the initial, incorrect tabulation had assigned to them. So you are right of course, and sustaining long drives is a good thing under DVOA and a good thing in real NFL games too.

Yet you don't win simply by holding onto the ball unless you score points too. I'm sure the stats show that the longer you hold it each drive, the more likely you are to score. My hypothesis, however, was that length of drive alone is not enough to assure the team of a high offensive DVOA if the scoring rate is low -- e.g., 19 points per game in the case of the 2007 Broncos thus far, or 1.72 points (but not 3) per drive -- because there must be some failure to convert at some point and because the team loses out on touchdown and red zone bonuses, etc.

143 - So no, as you an see from my blathering, I'm not opposed to hypotheses, brainstorming, or the scientific method more generally. I too find them to be more productive than caps-lock typing. I don't know how anyone could think I favored the latter over the former based on my post, despite the fact that I (fairly or unfairly) criticized certain hypotheses as bad.

150
by hooper (not verified) :: Fri, 09/21/2007 - 2:24pm

Re: 147

I certainly didn't think you favored caps-lock guy over hypothesis guy. I just wasn't sure how you meant the criticism in 143. Now I understand that I was reading a bit too much into 143. I tend to rely very heavily on conversational cues, and I needed to make sure I was following you correctly. Thanks for the clarification.

Other than that, I'm with you in your response to 144. Sustaining drives is a metric used to correlate to scoring, but it is obviously not scoring in itself. The two are linked, but not perfectly so. The hypothesis that Denver simply earned that low ranking was certainly on the table. As a Broncos fan, I'm glad it was incorrect, but it was worth looking at, especially since we couldn't validate an on-field explanation.

151
by Matt (not verified) :: Fri, 09/21/2007 - 2:34pm

And none of what I was saying back at 139 was to say that 25 plays per drive or even 16 YPA passing would yield a bad VOA -- just that in context those numbers might yield a lower VOA than expected because of game situations, etc. and hence not be the greatest ever (absent some sort of guarantee that the average result would be the only result on a going-forward basis.)

152
by Sid (not verified) :: Fri, 09/21/2007 - 4:55pm

Cincinnati has a negative pass defense even after getting shredded by Derek Anderson.
They have a negative rush defense after getting trampled on by Jamal Lewis.

153
by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Fri, 09/21/2007 - 9:53pm

Cincy's defense, as far as the system can understand it, has had one fantastic game and one awful game and therefore comes out pretty much average. The system doesn't know that both opposing offenses were bad, because the opponent adjustments don't come in until after week four. It also doesn't, like us, suspect that the good game will turn out to have been a fluke, but as more data comes in, the significance of that performance will decrease.

154
by deltadave (not verified) :: Fri, 09/21/2007 - 10:16pm

I don't know if this has been asked before. Is the result of a two-point conversion try attributed to special teams DVOA or to offense/defense?

155
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Sat, 09/22/2007 - 12:57pm

Is the result of a two-point conversion try attributed to special teams DVOA or to offense/defense?
Offense/defense.

I suppose it's possible that special teams could be considered in something like a botched-snap-run-in-for-two, but has that ever happened in the modern NFL?