Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

02 Oct 2007

Week 4 DVOA Ratings

by Aaron Schatz

New England continues to dominate the NFL in the fourth week of Football Outsiders' DVOA ratings. Surprised? We didn't think so.

A few things new this week, both on the site and elsewhere. First, we have the "secondary table" for the first time this season, with schedule ratings, variance, and estimated wins. Despite New England's dominance, the Colts actually lead in estimated wins, but the reason is a little weird. The Colts have an awesome record this year in the second half of close games, the best offensive and defensive DVOA in the league. The Patriots have a 0% DVOA in the second half of close games because they have not had any close games.

You also might notice that the Patriots aren't just dominating -- they are dominating consistently. So are the Cowboys. The Pats have the lowest VARIANCE in the NFL, and the Cowboys rank 30th. Man, that is going to be one hell of a good game in two weeks.

There's one other stat updated this week for the first time in 2007: "Defense vs. Types of Receivers" is now available on the team defense page.

All individual stats pages are now updated, as are offensive line and defensive front seven. Each of these other pages will be updated through Week 4 later today or tonight, and we'll let you know when the updates are finished:

As for Football Outsiders appearing elsewhere, we are proud to announce that we're reached an agreement to provide content to AOL Sports this season. Both Any Given Sunday and DVOA will be appearing on AOL beginning this week. The DVOA ratings on AOL will be in a format closer to what we had on FOX the last two years, although the comments will be a bit shorter. (I know people miss the long comments every week about all 32 teams, but it was really hard to come up with something good for every team every week. I'm a lot more relaxed now.) Football Outsiders will continue to provide three columns per week to FOX, and there's one other deal in the works, but we'll get to that one when it happens.

More commentary in a bit, first let's get to the numbers.

* * * * *

These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through four 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.

Opponent adjustments are currently set at 40% and will increase each week until they are full strength after Week 10.

DAVE is an early-season formula that combines early-season performance with our preseason projection to get a more accurate picture of how well teams will play over the course of the entire season. (DAVE stands for "DVOA Adjusted for Variation Early.") In this week's DAVE ratings, the preseason projection counts for 40 percent, and the current VOA counts for 60 percent, except for the four teams that have only played three games. Those teams are still split 55/45.

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 72.4% 1 56.8% 1 80.2% 4-0 46.7% 1 -20.9% 2 4.7% 9
2 DAL 52.1% 3 27.3% 4 63.7% 4-0 44.7% 3 -8.8% 10 -1.4% 18
3 IND 48.4% 4 31.8% 2 51.5% 4-0 46.1% 2 -8.9% 9 -6.7% 25
4 TB 38.6% 5 27.3% 3 43.6% 3-1 14.8% 6 -19.5% 3 4.3% 10
5 PIT 34.0% 2 24.4% 5 46.2% 3-1 8.9% 9 -22.8% 1 2.3% 14
6 SEA 27.3% 14 16.4% 7 24.3% 3-1 10.0% 8 -11.2% 5 6.0% 7
7 ARI 22.8% 13 6.3% 11 21.0% 2-2 17.0% 5 -5.4% 12 0.4% 16
8 GB 21.9% 7 15.4% 9 21.7% 4-0 12.3% 7 -2.6% 14 7.0% 5
9 BAL 14.1% 8 13.2% 10 14.0% 2-2 -3.7% 23 -10.4% 7 7.5% 4
10 TEN 14.1% 11 2.7% 13 15.3% 2-1 5.0% 13 -11.2% 6 -2.1% 19
11 PHI 11.0% 6 17.0% 6 12.2% 1-3 3.6% 15 -9.6% 8 -2.2% 21
12 MIN 9.0% 10 1.8% 14 7.2% 1-3 -8.1% 25 -11.3% 4 5.8% 8
13 HOU 5.5% 12 -3.6% 17 5.0% 2-2 -2.8% 20 2.3% 17 10.6% 1
14 JAC 4.5% 15 15.6% 8 4.2% 2-1 2.9% 16 1.1% 16 2.7% 12
15 WAS -1.3% 17 3.0% 12 10.5% 2-1 -5.5% 24 -3.1% 13 1.2% 15
16 NYG -1.6% 23 -2.4% 15 -10.6% 2-2 7.6% 11 5.4% 20 -3.8% 23
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 CIN -2.6% 16 -3.0% 16 -9.6% 1-3 17.3% 4 7.2% 22 -12.8% 32
18 DET -4.7% 19 -6.7% 19 -2.6% 3-1 6.6% 12 4.4% 18 -6.9% 26
19 DEN -9.1% 9 -5.4% 18 -5.1% 2-2 8.1% 10 4.8% 19 -12.4% 31
20 CLE -10.9% 21 -8.8% 21 -12.9% 2-2 -1.1% 19 19.6% 27 9.7% 2
21 ATL -16.5% 26 -9.9% 22 -14.3% 1-3 4.0% 14 15.6% 25 -4.9% 24
22 KC -18.3% 22 -21.2% 28 -5.5% 2-2 -17.3% 28 -7.9% 11 -9.0% 29
23 SD -19.9% 25 -8.4% 20 -29.7% 1-3 -8.5% 26 14.3% 24 2.9% 11
24 OAK -20.7% 28 -17.3% 25 -10.3% 2-2 -3.0% 21 7.6% 23 -10.1% 30
25 CAR -23.8% 18 -10.1% 23 -15.8% 2-2 2.7% 17 18.1% 26 -8.3% 28
26 MIA -23.8% 20 -20.0% 26 -28.7% 0-4 1.3% 18 22.4% 29 -2.7% 22
27 CHI -30.1% 27 -16.5% 24 -29.8% 1-3 -41.7% 32 -2.5% 15 9.2% 3
28 BUF -33.3% 31 -21.9% 29 -39.5% 1-3 -15.0% 27 24.5% 30 6.2% 6
29 NYJ -39.7% 30 -20.7% 27 -36.5% 1-3 -3.5% 22 34.0% 32 -2.1% 20
30 SF -40.6% 24 -25.0% 30 -38.5% 2-2 -36.8% 31 6.2% 21 2.5% 13
31 STL -45.2% 29 -37.1% 32 -46.1% 0-4 -23.5% 30 21.9% 28 0.3% 17
32 NO -53.8% 32 -26.7% 31 -65.1% 0-3 -21.9% 29 24.9% 31 -7.1% 27

  • ESTIMATED WINS uses a statistic known as "Forest Index" that emphasizes consistency as well as DVOA in the most important specific situations: red zone defense, first quarter offense, and performance in the second half when the score is close.  It then projects a number of wins adjusted to a league-average schedule and a league-average rate of recovering fumbles.  Teams that have had their bye week are projected as if they had played one game per week.
  • PAST SCHEDULE lists average DVOA of opponents played this season, ranked from hardest schedule (#1, most positive) to easiest schedule (#32, most negative). It is not adjusted for which games are home or road.
  • FUTURE SCHEDULE lists average DVOA of opponents still left to play this season, ranked from hardest schedule (#1, most positive) to easiest schedule (#32, most negative). It is not adjusted for which games are home or road. (Note: This is based on 2007 performance only. In other words, DVOA, not DAVE.)
  • VARIANCE measures the statistical variance of the team's weekly DVOA performance. Teams are ranked from least consistent (#1, highest variance) to most consistent (#32, smallest variance).


TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
W-L ESTIM.
WINS
RANK PAST
SCHED
RANK FUTURE
SCHED
RANK VAR. RANK
1 NE 72.4% 4-0 3.9 2 -23.9% 31 2.1% 11 0.3% 32
2 DAL 52.1% 4-0 3.4 3 -25.2% 32 1.6% 13 1.0% 30
3 IND 48.4% 4-0 4.0 1 -10.8% 27 4.5% 6 7.8% 22
4 TB 38.6% 3-1 3.1 4 -23.9% 30 -5.2% 26 25.7% 3
5 PIT 34.0% 3-1 2.3 11 -15.5% 29 -0.1% 16 46.5% 1
6 SEA 27.3% 3-1 2.7 6 4.6% 11 -15.3% 32 17.5% 10
7 ARI 22.8% 2-2 2.7 7 8.7% 7 -14.9% 31 22.1% 6
8 GB 21.9% 4-0 2.9 5 -0.4% 16 -10.6% 30 2.0% 27
9 BAL 14.1% 2-2 2.4 9 -7.6% 24 3.3% 9 6.3% 23
10 TEN 14.1% 2-1 2.4 8 -0.2% 14 -4.0% 25 1.6% 28
11 PHI 11.0% 1-3 2.3 10 3.6% 12 2.4% 10 31.6% 2
12 MIN 9.0% 1-3 2.2 13 -4.4% 23 -6.1% 27 9.2% 19
13 HOU 5.5% 2-2 1.8 20 -2.6% 19 -1.2% 19 14.7% 13
14 JAC 4.5% 2-1 2.3 12 -2.9% 20 2.0% 12 0.7% 31
15 WAS -1.3% 2-1 2.0 17 -3.6% 21 14.2% 1 1.5% 29
16 NYG -1.6% 2-2 1.9 18 20.9% 3 -3.8% 23 17.4% 11
TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
W-L ESTIM.
WINS
RANK PAST
SCHED
RANK FUTURE
SCHED
RANK VAR. RANK
17 CIN -2.6% 1-3 2.1 15 25.7% 1 -7.7% 29 2.7% 26
18 DET -4.7% 3-1 2.2 14 -7.7% 25 7.2% 4 25.1% 4
19 DEN -9.1% 2-2 1.6 21 -0.3% 15 -4.0% 24 16.5% 12
20 CLE -10.9% 2-2 2.0 16 6.2% 10 -0.8% 17 19.4% 8
21 ATL -16.5% 1-3 1.4 23 -1.2% 17 -2.4% 20 8.1% 21
22 KC -18.3% 2-2 1.9 19 -8.8% 26 -3.2% 21 12.8% 16
23 SD -19.9% 1-3 1.4 24 11.5% 5 1.1% 14 12.9% 15
24 OAK -20.7% 2-2 1.2 26 -12.1% 28 -1.0% 18 19.5% 7
25 CAR -23.8% 2-2 1.6 22 -4.4% 22 5.4% 5 9.5% 18
26 MIA -23.8% 0-4 1.1 27 -2.4% 18 7.3% 3 3.8% 25
27 CHI -30.1% 1-3 0.8 28 2.3% 13 0.7% 15 18.9% 9
28 BUF -33.3% 1-3 1.4 25 14.4% 4 4.2% 7 6.2% 24
29 NYJ -39.7% 1-3 0.7 30 7.3% 8 7.6% 2 10.7% 17
30 SF -40.6% 2-2 0.8 29 9.7% 6 -3.5% 22 14.1% 14
31 STL -45.2% 0-4 0.4 31 6.6% 9 3.8% 8 24.3% 5
32 NO -53.8% 0-3 0.3 32 25.3% 2 -7.2% 28 8.1% 20

Check out the offensive numbers, and how much space separates New England, Dallas, and Indianapolis from the rest of the league. Wow.

Conventional wisdom says that New England is completely dominating the league after four weeks, and DVOA doesn't disagree. We went back to previous years and re-did DVOA for Week 4 as if we were replaying the season a week at a time -- in other words, the opponent adjustments were only 40% strength and were only based on the four games played to that point. Based on this method, no team has ever had a higher DVOA after four weeks. The Patriots are nearly ten percentage points better than the 1996 Packers, who had the best DVOA ever after three weeks but lost in Minnesota in their fourth game.

Here is a look at the top teams ever after Week 4, with DVOA for each game as it would have looked at the time. Shaded games represent losses. You'll notice the two things most likely to stop the Patriots from enjoying a perfect season -- the two other 2007 teams on this list, both of whom face the Patriots at home during the next few weeks.


Best DVOA as of Week 4, 1996-2007
TEAM DVOA YEAR Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4
NE 72.4% 2007 at NYJ 75.9% vs. SD 77.4% vs. BUF 68.8% at CIN 67.1%
GB 63.6% 1996 at TB 102.4% vs. PHI 83.9% vs. SD 99.9% at MIN -49.2%
STL 58.8% 2001 at PHI 13.0% at SF 47.6% vs. MIA 117.6% at DET 66.4%
IND 57.9% 2000 at KC 39.3% vs. OAK 11.8% BYE vs. JAC 125.8%
STL 56.4% 1999 vs. BAL 46.9% BYE vs. ATL 61.9% at CIN 65.2%
DAL 52.1% 2007 vs. NYG 62.6% at MIA 47.8% at CHI 69.2% vs. STL 51.9%
CHI 51.4% 2006 at GB 61.0% vs. DET 53.6% at MIN 22.7% vs. SEA 68.4%
SD 50.5% 2006 at OAK 43.3% vs. TEN 79.0% BYE at BAL 26.9%
JAC 50.3% 1999 vs. SF 118.5% at CAR -7.4% vs. TEN 9.8% at PIT 55.7%
DEN 49.9% 1998 vs. NE 28.8% vs. DAL 59.8% at OAK 54.8% at WAS 67.1%
IND 48.4% 2007 vs. NO 59.7% at TEN 9.1% at HOU 47.3% vs. DEN 74.3%
SD 47.1% 2001 vs. WAS 75.8% at DAL 27.3% vs. CIN 82.1% at CLE 9.5%

The Patriots also have the best DVOA ever after four games, but only by the smallest margin. The 1999 Rams had their bye week in Week 2, and their fourth game was actually Week 5, when they stomped the 49ers 42-20. So their DVOA after four games was 72.3%.

(By the way, these "as if" weekly DVOA ratings are not yet in the Premium Database, but they will be as soon as we can finish going back and doing every week from every year.)

The Patriots may have the best four-game DVOA to start a season, but do they have the best DVOA over four games at any point in the schedule? Probably not, although they are close. This is a hard question to answer at midseason because the opponent adjustments will change each week. However, I went back and looked at DVOA ratings for each game based on the adjustments for the full season. (These are numbers available in the Premium Database, by the way.) Only one team has ever had a DVOA rating above 60% for four straight games: Indianapolis in Weeks 10-13 of 2004. That was the stretch where the Colts beat Houston, Chicago, Detroit, and Tennessee -- winning each game by 27 points or more. The only way this Patriots streak could match that would be if San Diego and Cincinnati become top 10 teams again by the end of the season. That probably won't happen. (The Cowboys could match the 2004 Colts, but that's even less likely, because it would require the Dolphins and Rams to become above-average teams by the end of the season.)

The only other team to have a DVOA rating above 50% in four straight games was the 1999 Rams, in Weeks 11-14. Those were wins against San Francisco, Carolina, and New Orleans twice.

Actually, we'll have to see what happens with the opponent adjustments, but the Pats may become only the fourth team to put up a single-game DVOA over 60% in just three straight games. The 2004 Colts did it, as did the 1996 Packers in their first three games of the season, and one other team that seems completely out of place -- the 1997 Lions. The Lions finished 9-7, but in Weeks 12-14 they beat Minnesota 38-15, Indianapolis 32-10, and Chicago 55-20, with a DVOA rating over 70% in each victory.

There are interesting things happening below the top three, of course. Perhaps the most interesting development is that DVOA seems to believe the Cardinals may actually be for real this year. Arizona's offense is in the top five, and their rating should actually get better as the opponent adjustments get stronger, because they've played two difficult out-of-division games against two good defenses, Baltimore and Pittsburgh. Instead of the entire NFC West being a bunch of losers, like last year, it looks like there's some separation now between the Seahawks and Cardinals on the top and the 49ers and Rams on the bottom.

Actually, the division that looks like a bunch of losers is the AFC West. The idea that Kansas City and Oakland share first place with Denver is absurd, but it isn't like any of these teams are actually playing well. All four AFC West teams rank between 19th and 24th after four weeks.

Finally, something from the Department of Unabashed Nepotism. If you like the rock and roll music, I encourage you to check out the second full-length record from Mobius Band, "Heaven," which hits stores today. (Note that by "stores," I mean not only a few random buildings that still contain compact discs, but also iTunes and eMusic.) Why is Football Outsiders promoting a record, you may ask? The answer: 1) My brother is in the band and 2) It is very, very good. They're on a new label, Misra Records, best known as home of The Mendoza Line. The official bio here has links to listen to a couple of the tracks. Great stuff if you like indie rock with electronic experimentation. All the reviews will probably still compare them to Postal Service, but this record is a bit harder-edged. (Actually, here is a review that doesn't compare them to Postal Service.) Anyway, do me a favor, give it a listen and perhaps a purchase. Thank you.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 02 Oct 2007

220 comments, Last at 07 Oct 2007, 11:53pm by Alex

Comments

1
by PatsFan (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 5:00pm

Looking at the individual WR stats, we have the answer to the question that I think someone asked last week -- Moss's receiving yards from the received lateral from Welker don't count (which is fair).

And Moss is blowing away the competition in both DPAR and DVOA. Not that he'll stay that far ahead all season.

2
by tunesmith (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 5:01pm

Meanwhile, beatpaths has New England ranked 13th. :)

3
by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 5:03pm

So, that Moss guy, doing pretty well this season, I guess.

4
by sam (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 5:03pm

Dave Garrard is the 5th ranked quarterback according to DVOA. I hereby eat all of my words concerning the recent QB decision in Jacksonville. Garrard has, through three games, shown that he is the right quarterback. Perhaps the Jags FO got this one right, after all.

5
by Costa (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 5:05pm

T-Bay top 10 in all three categories. Obviously Gary Kubiak knows his stuff. :)

6
by David Mark Waterman (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 5:05pm

this just goes to prove that the "spygate" was the most overhyped, overplayed BS since The birth of George W Bush

6
by sam (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 5:05pm

Oh, and if I may... Jacksonville is 31st in variance. Which is a huge variance from last year's ranking... which makes me happy. I wonder how long they can keep that up? Although, given that they are #14, I suppose I'd like the variance to increase in the short term as a result of playing better, than go back down as they continue to play well.

8
by jonnyblazin (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 5:07pm

"Arizona’s offense is in the top five, and their rating should actually get better as the opponent adjustments get stronger, because they’ve played two difficult out-of-division games against two good defenses, Baltimore and Pittsburgh."

Baltimore has a good defense? They sure fooled me.

9
by kevinNYC (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 5:07pm

Nice to see the Giants "break on through to the other side".

From 32nd to 20th on defense in 4 weeks? Is Spags' inability to make Dhani Jones a better player an issue now? I hope those rankings at the bottom are accurate with NYJ, ATL, SF, and MIA the next 4 weeks.

10
by Cosmos (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 5:07pm

So Dallas and New England have had the easiest schedule so far? Sooooo thats makes their meeting their first true test?

11
by Costa (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 5:07pm

"Jacksonville is 31st in variance. Which is a huge variance from last year’s ranking"

nyuk!

12
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 5:08pm

The Cowboys will benefit from home field advantage when they meet the Pats, but Randy Moss loooovvveeeesss Cowboys Stadium, and loves to outperform T.O. when their teams meet. If Phillips thinks too much about Raider Randy Moss that he saw with the Chargers, and tries to have Newman match up without help with any frequency, Moss will have another huge day in Dallas. Then again, Romo's mobility will present special problems for the Pats. I'll guess, however, that Belichik will cook up some unique looks for what is still a fairly inexperienced qb, and the Pats prevail.

13
by Charles Jake (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 5:10pm

#3

Nah, that guys a cancer. He's lost a step and he doesn't really want to play anymore.

(They have to use some variant of that for this year's NFL Network commercial.)

14
by David Mark Waterman (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 5:10pm

re 10 strentgh of schedule dont tell much yet cause NE/DAL strenght be weighed down by the fact they Whup up they oppents you here

15
by David Mark Waterman (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 5:14pm

OH YEAH....like the guy in the 4400 dollar suit is gonna hold the door for the guy who doesn't make that in THREE MONTHS.....COME ON

16
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 5:16pm

Jacksonville, 31st in variance? WTF?

17
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 5:18pm

Regarding teams that don't matter, if you had told me that the Vikings' special teams had improved to the point where they had a top ten DVOA score, and they hadn't managed to go 2-2 in their first four games, I'd be doubtful. Sigh. I guess I'll take solace in the fact that the schedule actually appears to get easier from here on out.

18
by Gailon (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 5:19pm

I'm hoping someone here help me find some stats?

I'd like to do some breakdowns on play calling but don't know where to look for the info.

If I want to know how often a run or a pass is called in a situational breakdown (1st down, 3rd quarter, behind, ahead) where could I find those numbers? Thanks

19
by citizen jason (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 5:19pm

Speaking of Tampa Bay (back at #5), I know the projection system loves them, but I'm not sure I understand why they are ranked so highly. They've beaten the numbers 25, 31, and 32 teams (two of which are winless), and lost by 2 touchdowns to the only decent team they've played. Shouldn't their ranking be lower since they only beat bad teams? I'm confused.

20
by Brian (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 5:23pm

Shouldn't opponent adjustments be full strength starting from week 2 on? I would think oppenent adjustment is most important early in the season when 1 blowout against a weak team would skew the final results far worse than 10 or games into the season.

20
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 5:23pm

Marvin Harrison owns the DPAR receiving record with 51.4 in 2001.

Randy Moss has 24.9.... In 4 games.

22
by doktarr (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 5:24pm

RE; #2,

No conflict there, really.

DVOA is saying that the Pats have destroyed all their early opponents with ease. Nobody would argue with that.

Beatpaths is saying that none of the Pats' opponents have any quality wins of their own. The only reasonable counter-argument is the Bengals over the Ravens.

Once the Pats get through the Colts and the Cowboys, it's likely that the two sets of rankings will be much closer to one another.

23
by RandomInsanity (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 5:25pm

New Orleans is clearly ranked too high because they've managed to ruin a perfectly good followup season. Adding an extra category for them is way better than this. My eyes, my eyes, I need bleach to get their performance gone!

24
by MJK (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 5:25pm

Will,

The Pats have a history of being able to handle mobile QB's, so I don't see Romo's mobility presenting that much of an issue (I think the Pats front seven are a little more disciplined at staying in their lanes than many teams). More relevant to the matchup is who will be playing WR#2 for the Cowboys, given the Patriots' well documented weakness against #2 wideouts (case in point--look at how much more damage TJ Houshmanzadeh did last week than Chad Johnson). Also, how the Cowboys pass rush is looking. The Patriots O-line has been playing amazingly well this season, but the only team that had a good pass rush that they've faced so far was Cincy, and they struggled a little there. If the Cowboys can pressure Brady consistently and be multi-dimensional in their own passing game, then it will end up being a tough game for the Pats...

25
by Lou (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 5:25pm

15
nice

26
by Owl Jolson (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 5:25pm

Did anyone else notice the poor time keeping in the Monday night game. I did't notice until the second half that plays going out of bounds were not stopping the clock. It obviously had no effect on the outcome other than keeping the Patriots from running up the score even more. Sorry for the non dvoa related question just curious.

27
by sam (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 5:26pm

19:

It's not just about who beats who (check out the previous link to beathpaths for that). It's also about how they've done in those games. Their overall performance has been quite good--DVOA without the preseason projection still puts them very high.

28
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 5:27pm

20

The problem is, we don't know who the weak teams are until about week 8.

San Diego looks bad right now, but they've played 1,8, and 22. Theres no way they're a -20% team, which most years is like 4-12. Theres also no way Dallas or NE stay that high. Because theres so few games, the opponent ratings aren't accurate, so adjusting with them would make the data less accurate. At this point in the season, DAVE is much more accurate than DVOA

29
by R. Goodell (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 5:28pm

18: Nice try Belichick. We've got our eye on you.

30
by mawbrew (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 5:28pm

Hard to believe there are really ten worse defenses than Cincy. Guess they are still living off all those Ravens turnovers in the first week.

31
by Andy P (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 5:28pm

I can't believe it. Seattle is one of only three teams, the others being NE and TB, that are ranked in the top ten in offense, defense and special teams.

It's nice to see the 'Hawks doing well, but I have to admit that I'm extremely surprised to see that they're one of the most well-rounded teams in the entire league.

32
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 5:28pm

I knew Marvin Lewis had officially surrendered last night when he had a single db matched up with Moss in the slot, in the red zone. Talk about clubbing baby seals! As soon as they lined up, I stated that Moss was going to run straight ahead, and catch a touchdown, and it wasn't because I'm so knowledgeable. Sheesh.

33
by Packman Jones (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 5:29pm

Green Bay's turnaround on special teams is pretty astounding. Weren't they dead last in 2006, and now ranked they're ranked fifth? That fact probably doesn't get enough credit in GB's 4-0 start.

34
by MJK (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 5:30pm

Maximum Likliehood Estimation (which looks only at W/L, not at how well teams play in those games) thinks that, while NE and DAL are good, their wins haven't been impressive, whereas Green Bay and Indy HAVE beaten impressive teams and hence are likely to be better.

Strength of schedule really does play havoc with early ratings...

Our of curiosity, how many times does the current version of DVOA "iterate"? I know when the Colts broke it a few years ago, Aaron re-did DVOA so that it would iterate to better reflect results for teams that had played extremely tilted schedules so far. How far did he go? Does it just iterate once, or till it achieves some kind of convergence?

35
by B (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 5:31pm

Will a link to the AOL rankings be provided?

36
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 5:32pm

"look at how much more damage TJ Houshmanzadeh did last week than Chad Johnson"

That had nothing to do with the #2 thing, and everything to do with Asante Samuel not being able to cover ANYONE right now.

hes making a really poor case for not signing the Pats deal at this point. He's routinely getting burned.

For most of the game, Samuel played right, hobbs played left, with Johnson playing against hobbs, and TJ against samuel.

Hobbs pretty much shut down Johnson, and Samuel got burned all day.

He's got 2 picks, but one was on a player running the wrong route (johnson) and the other was on a WR falling down after he'd beat Samuel.

37
by Andy (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 5:32pm

TB did lose that game to Seattle but they were very competitive in that game until they lost both their starting RB and QB to injury in the second half.

38
by putnamp (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 5:33pm

3 of the top 4 teams in DVOA right now have the 3 easiest schedules up to now.

4 of the top 8 teams (only one of which intersects) have the 26th, 30th, 31st, and 32nd-ranked schedules remaining.

Indianapolis does have the 27th-easiest schedule so far, but the difference between 27th and 30th is bigger than the difference between 27th and 13th.

The Patriots and Cowboys look like strong contenders who've benefited from a cupcake schedule, but certainly not world beaters.

39
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 5:34pm

Oh, I'm not predicting an easy victory MJK, and I know the Pats are disciplined, but Romo may be the most effectively mobile qb I've seen in a very, very, long time, which is where the Pats' problems with #2 receivers may really come into play.

40
by putnamp (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 5:35pm

Sorry, I posted before reading comments, and my earlier comment looks fairly redundant - it also makes a case for who to expect to continue rising. Seattle's schedule looked pretty tough at the end of last season, but it's looking pretty damn easy now, especially with Chicago coming to Seattle to play this time.

41
by doktarr (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 5:36pm

RE: 20,

I think you could get some very odd results if you turned opponent adjustments to their max value before you have a lot of interconnected games. Given a string of wins early on, you could end up drastically overestimating a team's strength. For example, after two weeks, you had SF>ARI>SEA>TB>NO. Full opponent adjustments could "overfit" this data by drastically inflating the ranking of the 49ers.

I tend to think the DAVE rankings are still more reliable at this stage of the season. The approach of gradually turning down the impact of preseason projections while turning up the impact of opponent adjustments seems reasonable, albeit heuristic.

42
by PatsFan (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 5:36pm

Re: #26

That's how the game is timed this days (and has been for what? 10 or 15 years?). Games were taking too long, and instead of cutting back on commercials, the NFL decided to cut back on actual football.

A ballcarrier going out-of-bounds does not stop the clock, unless you're in the last two minutes of the 2nd quarter or the last five minutes of the 4th quarter.

43
by b-man (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 5:37pm

Yikes! Look at the defensive splits against the pass for NE? Which one of those numbers is not like the others?

44
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 5:38pm

Green Bay has the 30th ranked future schedule?

Yup. That's what is written. Hard to believe.

Here's hoping the defense hikes up its britches for when Number 4's legs get tired and the ball starts spraying all over the place. Somebody has to contain the damage............

45
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 5:39pm

"The Patriots and Cowboys look like strong contenders who’ve benefited from a cupcake schedule, but certainly not world beaters. "

Part of the reason the cowboy's and Pats schedules are so weak is that the teams they've beat have been beaten so badly by the pats and cowboys.

The pats also played buffalo, who has had the misfortune of getting thrubbed by NE, and PIT. Theres no way at this point to tell if Buf is abysmally bad, or just average. They've been killed by 2 great teams, and they beat one bad team.

The adjustments at this point just aren't that useful. Give it a couple more weeks.

46
by Jin (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 5:40pm

Wow, the Vikings have a top 5 D and a top 10 ST and they're 1-3. C'mon Eagles fans, turn on McNabb!

47
by Len (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 5:42pm

I put this info at the tail end of a previous thread which no one will see, but feel compelled to ping it because I'm still hearing the same stuff:

Let's drop with the cupcake schedule talk. It looks cupcake because, well, they're winning. Take the Giants for example. If they had beaten Dallas, they'd e on top of the NFC East right now at 3-1 with tie-braker advantage. And when Dallas went to Soldier, no one was saying Chicago was a bum team.

Personally I am tired of the schedule comparison talk. There are way too many people saying that Dallas is puffed up on bad opponents' schedules. They both are, and so what. It's because NE and Dal are dominating.

I love me some actual DVOA facts on the whole Patriots-Cowboys schedule comparison. Here's some more tale of the tape:

Patriots: 4-0, PF 148, PA 48
Opponents' Record: 4-12
Average margin of victory: 25.0
06 Playoff teams defeated: 2
YPG Offense: 431.8
YPG Defense: 226.0
Average Opponent Defense: 26th DVOA
Average Opponent Offense: 21st DVOA

Cowboys: 4-0, PF 151, PA 72
Opponents' Record: 3-13
Average margin of victory: 19.8
06 Playoff teams defeated: 2
YPG Offense: 440.8
YPG Defense: 299.5
Average Opponent Defense: 22nd DVOA
Average Opponent Offense: 22nd DVOA

Looks pretty close to me. If you pulled the NE and Dallas wins out of the mix, those opponent rankings would go WAY up. Opponents' schedule is a stupid way to measure a team in general, and especially this time of year. Can we say, small sample size.

48
by B (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 5:45pm

43: Isn't that why they signed Adalius Thomas? Also, check out SF's splits vs #1 WRS compared to the rest of their defense. Clearly signing Nate Clements was the right move.

49
by Stereochemistry (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 5:45pm

The other thing with TB that I imagine DVOA takes into account is that the offense has basically shut down in the second half of almost three games now, because they jumped out to early leads. I think that's why they have ~180 yrds rushing in each of the last two games.

50
by Costa (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 5:45pm

Ouch to Washington's future sched. Light years ahead of anyone else.

51
by Scott de B. (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 5:46pm

The Patriots and Cowboys look like strong contenders who’ve benefited from a cupcake schedule, but certainly not world beaters.

If you are regularly beating opponents by three touchdowns, you're a world beater, no matter who those opponents are.

52
by MJK (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 5:46pm

Wow, that's weird. Why is NE's TE pass defense so horrid? Granted, Antonio Gates shredded their secondary, but that was almost garbage time--the Pats were way up at that point and were more than willing to surrender 10 yard crossing patterns to the TE that ate up the clock. I don't remember the Jets, Bills, or Cincy even passing to their TE's... is it just an issue of small sample size--the only TE who has been passed to versus NE was Gates, who had a huge day?

53
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 5:46pm

Yeah, iggles fans; don't you know that McNabb is just a whiner!? Run that bum out on a rail!! What are you waiting for!?

54
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 5:48pm

Romo's favorite target when buying time is his TE.........just sayin'.......

55
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 5:48pm

I noticed on the defensive line analysis that stuff in the direction of "Right End" for GB was at -.43. I believe that was the only negative number on the board.

Kampman just continues to amaze.

56
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 5:49pm

MJK

Reggie Kelly (I think) last night had a pretty big night.

57
by Jin (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 5:49pm

Will: We should start a movement for Viking fans to go troll Eagles message boards to instigate McNabb hate in Philly.

58
by Owl Jolson (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 5:51pm

Thanks Patsfan. I never really pay attention to the clock until the end of close games. Shame on me.

59
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 5:55pm

Am I the only one that noticed how even the AFC/NFC distribution? (I haven't read the comments yet, so I'm hoping I don't look like an idiot right now). In both DAVE and DVOA the top 6 and the top 10 are both dead even spits.

60
by B (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 5:57pm

57: I don't think it's necessary to do anything to instigate McNabb hate in Philly. Although if you really need to, the most effective method is to do push-ups in front of a camera crew. Note, this works best if you're T.O. Your results may vary.

61
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 5:57pm

Jin, after the brilliant acquisitions of Mike McMahon, Brooks Bollinger, Kelly Holcombe, and trading up to draft Tavaris Jackson, this is what we are reduced to.

62
by sam (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 5:58pm

Those Defense against XX receiver stats can be easily skewed this time of the season. Jacksonville's 28th ranking against TE for examlpe is based on six tight end receptions...3 to Alge Crumpler. I don't think six passes is enough to say "yep, they suck against the TE."

63
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 6:01pm

#20: You can't do full opponent adjustments until the league closes (i.e. there are no sets of team A, B, C etc. that have only played themselves). I've always thought Aaron's a bit slow in turning on the opponent adjustments, but week 2 is waaaay too early.

From a theoretical point of view, you want to wait until the strength of all opponents is at least as well known as the strength of the team itself (so you're not using a correction which is less precise than the original measurement), which would imply probably week 4 or so.

64
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 6:04pm

regarding patriots and TEs.

Went back and looked at the numbers

Baker(NYJ) 2 for 29 yds
Gates(SDC) 7 for 77 yds, TD
Neufeld(BUF) 1 for 6 yds
Kelley(CIN) 2 for 41 yards

One thing to note here is that DVOA doesn't notice when a player is covered so well that hes not an option. For NYJ, BUF, and CIN, the TE was all but useless.

Gates kind of gashed them, but he was gashing them in the 3rd quarter, with his team down 20+ points, playing against a prevent D. (YES, the patriots were playing prevent in the 3rd quarter...silly). DVOA would take care of this, except no one plays prevent in the 3rd quarter, so theres probably not a real adjustment for increased passing performance at that point. The "playing against prevent" modifiers (AFAIK) don't kick in until the 4th quarter.

The score was 17-7 when Kelly caught his first pass in the 3rd quarter, and 27-13 when he caught his second one.

I would chalk it up to Gates/Small sample size at this point.

65
by CA (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 6:05pm

Re: 13 Nah, that guys a cancer. He’s lost a step and he doesn’t really want to play anymore.
(They have to use some variant of that for this year’s NFL Network commercial.)

In all fairness, Moss has indeed lost a step. That just makes what he has accomplished so far this year all the more impressive.

66
by Jim (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 6:07pm

50: Washington has the following on their schedule:

DAL
@DAL
@NE
@GB
@TB
ARI

The last two games on that list are their reward for finishing last in the division last season. As a Cowboy fan, that makes me smile (we already took care of STL and get CAR as the other one, plus NE and GB at home).

67
by Eric P (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 6:08pm

47) That's pretty good analysis, I guess. I could certainly see it's usefulness if anyone was trying to claim that NE was 1 and Cowboys were 5 or something. But, is anyone claiming that? The 'Boys are ranked at 2 and the team at 1 is in the top 10 of many all time DVOA ranking categories. Surely you see enough of a difference even in what you posted to justify ranking NE over Dallas, right? What more do you want?

68
by sam (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 6:09pm

Another statistical oddity... JAX D-Line ranked dead last against the run, first against the pass. So much for "we know their run defense will be great, but can they generate a pass rush?"

69
by Bobman (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 6:10pm

So if Dallas Clark torches NE, does that count against their TE defense or their 3rd WR defense...?

I understand that FO officially reclassified him as WR#3 in Indy, but if he plays off the line and Gonzo is in the slot, the Defense has to play him like a TE and Gonzo like WR #3, no?

Or like Denver, just have random guys milling about the secondary with your top corner covering Aaron Moorehead instead. (I mean, you CANNOT put a LB on even a 3rd WR, can you? Too much speed differential?)

70
by Lou (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 6:12pm

Will Allen, Jin

I have no idea what you guys are talking about. He's coming to Chicago

71
by PatsFan (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 6:13pm

In all fairness, Moss has indeed lost a step.

Indeed. There have been a number of times, especially on downfield plays, where the "old" Moss would have taken it for a score, but today's Moss couldn't get away from the defender.

72
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 6:15pm

70.

hes not going to chicago. Lovie says Griese is the starter, which means you have to suffer through 2 years of him before he gets pulled....

not that I'm convinced McNabb won't fall into a vortex of suck if he goes to chicago.

73
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 6:18pm

Get in line, Lou. Our man Chilly already has a bond with McNabb, our Adrian Peterson is a lot better that your Adrian Peterson, and the Vikings' defense is better than the Bears' defense this year. Don't be tryin' to out-poach us!

74
by b-man (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 6:18pm

TE against NE:

13 Completes, 158 Yards, 12.1 YPC, 8 1st downs, 1 TD

C.Baker 2 29 14.5 2 0
A.Gates 7 77 11.0 3 1
R.Neufeld 1 6 6.0 0 0
M.Gaines 1 5 5.0 1 0
R.Kelly 2 41 20.5 2 0

75
by Maxpower179 (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 6:24pm

Do you think the fact that the top 5 DVOA teams are all in the bottom 6 in Strength of Schedule, and the bottom 5 DVOA teams are all in the top 10 in SoS means anything? It seems like if DVOA and SoS are strongly negatively correlated, that would be evidence that a stronger opponent-adjustment is warranted. Right now, it looks as if DVOA is telling us almost as much about the quality of the opposition a team has faced as it is about the team's performance.

76
by Lou (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 6:27pm

McNabb is FROM Chicago, he'd just be going home.

77
by Fisher (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 6:28pm

To paraphrase- Moss is who we thought he is - an exceptional talent and front-runner. He was great in his debut with the Raiders and slowly became the pass-dropping, alligator-arming, half-ass route runner that had pundits nodding their bobble-heads about his ethic.

I, for one, enjoy seeing him PLAY. The Raiders were ill-equipped to take advantage of his talents. His resultant poor-play did not (by many accounts) make him a "cancer" in the locker room. He also played hurt - commendable. But to say he gave his all game-in game-out?The Raiders had little choice but to trade him. They may have gotten too little in return, but he didn't show much to bolster his value.

That he is shining on an exceptional team is no surprise to many. It isn't really as much a reflection on the Raiders' decision to trade him as it is to the quality of his character. Winning is amazing rehab!

78
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 6:29pm

Baker caught 2/3 balls, both when the score was 28-14. (junktime)

Neufeld and Gaines both caught balls in the part of the game where the score was still close, and were both 1/1.

Kelly caught both balls in Junk time.

I'd say Gates is what they need to worry about.

79
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 6:30pm

Ah, hell, goin' home is overrated, especially if you're already rich; every mooch from the neighborhood who you've not heard from in 15 years will be hangin' around the player's parking lot with his hand out.

80
by Eddo (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 6:32pm

75:...or that it's too early to use opponent adjustments. Imagine the simplest metric, where for each game you get +1 or -1, if you outplay your opponent or vice versa. A +4 team like NE or DAL that has outplayed every opponent has the guarantee that none of their opponents has a score over +2 (+1+1+1-1). The goodness of NE or DAL currently affects 1/4 of their opponents' quality. At the end of the season, it will only account for 1/16 (or possibly 1/8). So right now, being a good team critically hurts your SOS, whereas being a bad team drastically improves your SOS.

81
by Jim (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 6:32pm

Re: 59
Average DVOA
NFL: -0.63%
NFC: -2.18%
AFC: +0.92%
NFC vs. AFC: 8-8

Discuss.

82
by Eddo (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 6:34pm

To expand on my #80...I hate when people say "3-0 Team X" hasn't played anyone, their opponents have a 2-7 record. However, that record improves to 2-4 if you discount the games that Team X played in. Essentially, some pundits (not accusing FO) use Team X's strength to prove they aren't that strong!

83
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 6:34pm

Definitiely, Fisher. I've never seen a exceptionally talented player whose performance was more dependent on his surroundings than Randy Moss. If was a gift-wrapped situation for the Pats.

84
by Brian (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 6:37pm

Re: 63 By that logic, it's too early to post any team ratings until week 4 or so. We don't know the strength of a team itself any better than the strength of its opponents--ever. We know them equally in all weeks.

On a different point, it might be time to re-evaluate the DAVE thing. With BAL, SD, CHI, and NO playing as poorly as they are, why continue to cling to pre-season notions of how good a team should be? I would suggest seeing if the DAVE helped or hurt early season estimations of team strength in previous years. It's definitely worth a look.

85
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 6:40pm

Will,

have you had a chance to watch many of the pats games this year? You seem to be a huge proponent of Moss, and so far, I think hes absurd.

Its been like watching a pro play against amateurs... hes just open all the time. I didn't get to see much of Moss in Minny (being from NE, we don't get much vikings), but I've never seen anything like him.

I don't think I've ever seen a football player be as dominant at his position as Moss has been these first 4 games.

His first touchdown last night was one of the nicest catches I've seen in a long time..., not the catch itself, but how he came down, and twisted his body around to make sure both feet came down well inbounds... it probably would have been ruled a push-out if he hadn't, but I've just never seen a WR in New England do anything like that.

86
by Dev (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 6:41pm

McNabb is old and busted. When you get sacked 12 times, you hope that means that there were several others who you avoided, but i saw McNabb only evade one rusher the entire game. Without his escapability, he's a nonfactor.

Fortunately, the smart Eagles staff drafted a QB.

87
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 6:42pm

I can't really tell precisely how much speed Moss has lost, but one should note that he was never a great YAC receiver; his huge plays were almost always catches well downfield , or, like last night, red zone plays where he makes dbs look futile. The Vikings' favorite place to use him was somewhere between the opponents' 40 and midfield, when he would get to the end zone more quickly than anyone, and then use his ball skills to make the big play, often with two defenders around him.

88
by Jin (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 6:44pm

#86: That's the spirit!

89
by Kal (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 6:44pm

I think the splits by receiver are a bit too early no matter who you're talking about, at least to make any real judgments. Especially for TE/RB passes, which don't tend to be particularly common in any game. That isn't to say that the Pats don't have a weakness there - I bet that Thomas isn't doing only coverage, and I suspect that Bruschi/Vrabel are still weak there, but it's not as horrible a weakness as you might think.

Still, start Witten in FF.

I'm still shocked at how good TB is appearing. That can't be right, can it?

90
by AD (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 6:45pm

#52
Bengals typically have an allergy to TE. However, against NE the long stuff was being taken away. There were several good (at least 1 long 3rd down conversion) passes to Kelly. Again very unBengal. So that is part of the NE low rank against TE.

91
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 6:48pm

84:

SD has played CHI, NE, GB, KC
CHI has played SD, DAL, DET, KC

They've both been beaten by a very good team(NE/DAL), played each other, and been beaten by a bad team (KC). San Diego got beat by another very good team (GB), while Chicago got beat by a team that might be decent (DET) while at their absolute worst.

I would guarantee that the current DAVE rating is MUCH closer to the final season DVOA of these two teams than the current DVOA is. They're getting hit too badly at this point for playing NE/GB/Dal

92
by Jin (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 6:49pm

Yes Moss is not a YAC guy; he's not a overly quick and agile guy in the sense of make you miss by quickly changing directions. Probably because he's a long strider due to his long legs.

93
by Purds (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 6:49pm

Re: #47

I think those folks are not comparing New England to Dallas, but New England AND Dallas to the rest of the field (Colts, Packers, etc.). For example, here's the Colts in your metrics:

Colts: 4-0, PF 131, PA 74
Opponents’ Record: 6-8
Average margin of victory: 14.25
06 Playoff teams defeated: 1
YPG Offense: 403.5
YPG Defense: 303.5
Average Opponent Defense: 18th DVOA
Average Opponent Offense: 18th DVOA

I replaced yours to compare:

Patriots: 4-0, PF 148, PA 48
Opponents’ Record: 4-12
Average margin of victory: 25.0
06 Playoff teams defeated: 2
YPG Offense: 431.8
YPG Defense: 226.0
Average Opponent Defense: 26th DVOA
Average Opponent Offense: 21st DVOA

Cowboys: 4-0, PF 151, PA 72
Opponents’ Record: 3-13
Average margin of victory: 19.8
06 Playoff teams defeated: 2
YPG Offense: 440.8
YPG Defense: 299.5
Average Opponent Defense: 22nd DVOA
Average Opponent Offense: 22nd DVOA

So, what does it all mean? Does it mean the Colts are better than the Pats or Cowboys? Nope. It says to me, that all three have yet to play anyone good. Taking out games against those three, their opponents have a combined record of 13-19. It's even worse when you realize some of those opponent wins were against each other (Bills vs Jets).

But really, the teams that NE and Dallas have played are particularly weak. Take out games vs NE and Dallas, and those opponents are still 7-17. I don't care if they have lost to NE or Dallas once, those opponents have not played well against anyone.

Does that mean NE and Dallas are not good? Of course not. I am just explaining what people think about those opponents.

94
by Richie (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 6:53pm

Hey, any news on the Patriots?

95
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 6:54pm

Rich, when Moss is healthy and wants to play, well, I will tempt the Football Gods and say he is every bit as good as Jerry Rice in his prime, although they are quite different in style. He just destroys dbs who a coordinator is so silly to not give help to, and it really isn't even a contest. The team which consistently played him best in his Vikings days were the Dungy Bucs, and even that was mostly in Tampa, when they used a well conceived cover two, with, of course, tons of pressure on the qb. However, Brady's skill set far outclasses that of any qb who has previously thrown to Moss, and the Pats' overall offensive sophistication, if not talent, is far greater than what the Vikings did in their offensive prime. I don't think the Pats have scratched the surface yet in what they can do to exploit matchups. Wait until opposing coordinators get completely paranoid about Moss, leaving other receivers completely open, or vulnerable to complete gashes via the ground game. We've seen this a little already, but if everybody stays healthy it's only just beginning.

96
by MJK (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 6:56pm

Just like we New England fans have been spoiled in our expectations of a QB, because of Brady, we've been ANTI-spoiled in our expectations of a WR. As well as Moss is playing, I think some of the awe that people in general, and New England fans specifically, feel for him is due to the fact that the Pats have had at most one (and I'm being generous to Deion Branch here) WR that is even in the same league as Moss talent-wise in the last four or five years or so.

97
by Costa (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 6:58pm

I find it odd how this "strength of schedule" topic has become such a volatile issue.

98
by Alex (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 7:02pm

I would suggest seeing if the DAVE helped or hurt early season estimations of team strength in previous years. It’s definitely worth a look.

A look which has already been made. You do realize that the only reason they post DAVE ratings is that they would have been a better indication of team strength early in the season in previous years, right? It's not like Aaron just sits there and thinks, "Hey, maybe we should create some crazy combination of preseason projections and DVOA and post that with the DVOA ratings early in the season. No need to check if it actually provides better predictive accuracy, we'll just post it and assume it works. What should we call it? BOB? JIM? No, I've got it. DAVE!"

99
by The Jiddish98 (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 7:08pm

Any update on RB stats? I still see week 3. Thanks.

100
by MC2 (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 7:10pm

#96: I think that's the reason for the myth that Brady is obsessed with "spreading it around". He's always been forced to, because he's never had a true "go-to" receiver. All great QBs try to get the ball to the guy with the best chance to make something happen on that particular play, and Brady is no exception. If it happens to be the same guy most of the time, fine. If not, that's OK, too. I found it a little silly that some people were projecting that Moss's numbers wouldn't be that good, not due to injury or age or loss of effectiveness, but simply due to Brady's determination to "spread it around". They acted as if Moss would be open, but Brady would make a conscious decision to go somewhere else with the ball, just to keep the other receivers happy. That's not how a great QB's mind works.

101
by Jin (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 7:12pm

That's true Will, if D-coordinators start treating Moss with the same fear as when he was in Minny, Pats fans will see why when anybody said: "A receiver can't be an MVP since he only touches the ball 10 times at most"; I banged my head against the desk and pointed to how Randy Moss made everybody's job on offense so much easier because he drew so much attention to himself. No 8 man fronts, dbl teams as the standard coverage with occasional triple teams and single coverage for everybody else or guys sitting wide open in a zone. Playing QB for the Vikings back then was like playing on Veteran while every other QB was playing on the All-Madden difficulty level. You didn't have to be good at reading coverages because everything was very basic.

102
by kevinNYC (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 7:14pm

#93... Don't lump the Giants in with those bad teams.

#97... Fans of those 2 teams don't want the fact that their opponents haven't been any good (except NYG, who might be average at best) to sully what they've done so far. Both teams deserve a LOT of credit because they've beaten the hell out of those bad teams. However, an unbiased look shows that the overwhelming majority of the teams they've played have been AWFUL so far this year.

103
by Richie (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 7:15pm

If you are regularly beating opponents by three touchdowns, you’re a world beater, no matter who those opponents are.

The 1997 Detroit Lions agree.

103
by Tim Harrigan (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 7:15pm

Why not score 2nd half/close games % according to who is blowing out whom?

ex:

Pats win 4/4 blowouts = Close game dvoa = 100%

Pats win 2/4 blowouts = Close game dvoa = 50%

Pats lose 4/4 blowouts = Close game dvoa = 0%

Would that work around the anomoly?

TH

105
by David (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 7:15pm

100: I always figured that it was as opposed to a Delhomme-like fixation on getting the ball to one guy even when there are better options on the play.

106
by Omar (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 7:20pm

Re #97

I think the issue has more to do with the fact that while both teams (NE & DAL) are at 4-0 and have played relatively weak opponents, the questions are "Can NE run the table?" vs. "Who has Dallas beaten?"

107
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 7:27pm

Kornheiser was doing his best idiot sportswriter act last night, with the "Will the Patriots go unbeaten?" shtick. Sheesh, he's funny sometimes, but just as frequently he's a dunce.

108
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 7:31pm

As a Packer fan I am happy that Randy has found a home with the Patriots. In the AFC. Far, far away.

Phew........

109
by MC2 (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 7:32pm

#105: Well, compared to Delhomme, every QB "spreads it around", but it seems that trait has always been ascribed to Brady with a particular zeal. In any event, my main point was that if Brady sees that Moss is open on 15 consecutive plays, Brady is going to throw it to him 15 consecutive times. Anyone who believes otherwise is overthinking things.

110
by Unshakable Optimist (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 7:44pm

As a Packer fan I am happy that Randy has found a home with the Patriots. In the AFC. Far, far away.

Phew……..

About a week ago this thought popped into my head:

What will Brett Favre do if the Packers end up losing to the Patriots in the Super Bowl because no one can cover Randy Moss?

I don't think the Packers will make it quite that far, but at this point it's a possibility.

111
by jebmak (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 7:53pm

I think that something is screwed up because Jacksonville is 31st in varience.

112
by Insancipitory (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 8:14pm

re 111, et al:

They maybe 31st in variance, but they're 1st in meta-variance.

They're a very cerebral team. They probably read FO, or better yet just posit the existance of its ilk, and look to further confound those who've manage to grasp and appreciate their more fundemental nature.

113
by jonnyblazin (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 8:16pm

re: 84
Baltimore's 2007 DVOA is actually higher than its DAVE, so actually their DAVE is dragging down their DVOA, not the other way around.

114
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 8:30pm

Holy Cow, the Vikings lost but their odds of going to the playoffs rose from 21% to 25%! Here's to another loss when they play the Bears!..... What?......No?....Oh.....

Never mind.

115
by PatsFan (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 8:52pm

Re: Playoff Odds tables

Ummmm...how do you have a greater than 100% chance of making the playoffs?

116
by cdcox (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 8:58pm

Wow! I knew NE was good but to have a 122.8% chance of making the playoffs is taking it to another level. :)

117
by Scott de B. (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 9:00pm

The 1997 Detroit Lions agree.

You're not seriously comparing what the Lions did in 1997 with what the Patriots and Cowboys have done this year, are you?

118
by putnamp (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 9:01pm

The more I read FO the more I start to notice how distinct the split is between statistics and analysis. Two years ago, Seattle was "the team to beat" in the NFC, but there were constant reminders about their strength of schedule and playing in the NFC West. I've been harping on strength of schedule for the Patriots and Cowboys for the last 2 weeks, and it's yet to show up in any sort of comments from FO staff. No, I don't think this is because Aaron is a Patriots fan, and no, I don't think this is "East Coast Bias". I do think that as human beings, the FO staff is just as susceptible to their own brand of hype as anyone else might be.

And of course, that brings us back to the site's disclaimer - take this stuff with a grain of salt, and don't try to interpret it without your own dose of common sense.

The point is, let the statistics speak for themselves. *Right now*, the Cowboys and the Patriots have played cupcake schedules. If the two EASIEST schedules of the year so far don't count as cupcake I don't see what does. Whether these schedules will look this soft at the end of the season is anyone's guess, and of course you have to re-analyze these things from time to time.

I said it earlier and I'm going to say it again - right now the Cowboys and Patriots look like strong contenders that have benefited from very easy schedules. That puts a limit on how high we can objectively be on these teams. Adding to that, they've done what good teams are expected to do against bad teams - blown them away - and that puts a limit on how down we can really be on them, also.

Personally I'd put my money on the Colts right now, though.

119
by DolFan 316 (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 9:10pm

So the Pats are playing really really well, as well as anyone in the last 12 years. Didn't really need DVOA to figure that one out :-)

I'm still trying to figure out how the hell the Dolphins are as high as 26th when they are CLEARLY the worst team in the AFC if not the entire league and have a legit shot at 0-16.

120
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 9:10pm

"They own more land and have more clout in Boston/Cambridge then the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. That endowment is well managed to be sure. For the record.. I have no problem with this."

Putnap, its because we're 4 games in, and theres no way to tell what are the easiest schedules. The DVOA and Win/Loss methods are so heavily distorted because of small sample size, and the Pats/Cowboys. You really can't determine strength of schedule until about week 8.

121
by crack (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 9:12pm

#114 Will,

I'm wondering how it is that the Vikings win 1 game against atlanta, lose to KC and still manage to be significantly above KC in DVOA. Have they really looked like the 12th best team in the league? I haven't been paying that close of attention to their games since I live in Detroit now and when I have watched I've felt like gouging out my eyes.

122
by B (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 9:12pm

104: How teams behave while protecting large leads isn't the same as how they play in close games, so equating the two wouldn't help the situation at all. Besides, the anomaly really isn't a problem, it's just a lack of data that will resolve itself in a few weeks. Well, by the end of the season, at least.

123
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 9:16pm

re:120

Apparantly I still had in my clipboard stuff from the other thread.

124
by Alex (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 9:19pm

Well, compared to Delhomme, every QB “spreads it around�, but it seems that trait has always been ascribed to Brady with a particular zeal.

True. I think it's more a function of the offense that Brady's in than Brady himself. When you line up with 3+ WRs (all of whom have a similar talent level), then when the defense double covers your #1 WR, you still have at least two other WRs running routes to choose from, plus a TE/RB or two, and no reason to favor the #1 option. And since the Patriots had more than 5 blockers on only 42% of their pass plays in 2006, that leaves 58% of their pass plays where 5 guys were running routes. It's a lot easier to spread the ball around when you've got 5 guys to choose from, and none of them are much better than the others.

On the other hand, if you line up with a TE and 2 RBs, and your #1 WR is light-years ahead of your #2, then you're best bet when you think your opponent is going to double cover your #1 is to either throw it to him anyway or audible to a run. And if you're running game isn't any good, then you pretty much have to pass to the star WR. The tradeoff of having fewer guys running routes is that you've typically got more time to wait for your #1 WR to get open, because all those would-be route runners are blocking.

I think the whole "Brady spreads the ball around a lot" is more a reflection of the team's coaches, and their approach to building an offense. It's not a coincidence that the complete list of 1000+ yard receivers in NE in the 7 years Bill Belichick has been HC reads: Troy Brown in 2001.

And that's despite Tom Brady throwing for 3500+ yards a season for the last 5 years.

In any event, my main point was that if Brady sees that Moss is open on 15 consecutive plays, Brady is going to throw it to him 15 consecutive times.

Yes, but if, after the first handful of plays, the defense decides to double/triple cover Moss, he's going to throw it to someone else, because there's almost certainly going to be someone running routes that's in a position to take advantage of the defense paying so much attention to Moss.

If Delhomme sees Steve Smith double covered, and Keary Colbert (or whoever their #2 WR is nowadays) is single covered, and everyone else is blocking, what's he going to do? Throw it to Smith anyway, because all those extra blockers will give him plenty of time to wait for Smith to beat the double coverage Smith will probably catch the ball anyway, and be more productive than the rest of the team's receivers combined.

125
by crack (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 9:20pm

#98, actually that is very close to how they named it.

126
by Unshakable Optimist (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 9:25pm

Regarding the Patriots, I think it's more of a case of the stats confirming what we've all thought subjectively since the offseason: the Patriots are the team to beat this year. It doesn't get questioned as much because it's not a surprise. It's also a matter of how they're winning. The writers here have stated many times that a sign of a great team is total domination of inferior opponents. The Patriots are merely winning against pushovers, they're destroying them. This is a championship caliber team if ever I saw one.

I'm not quite as eager to annoint the Cowboys, mostly because I'm still not convinced that Tony Romo isn't just on a hot streak. I think the comment that best sums up my thoughts about these teams was #106:

I think the issue has more to do with the fact that while both teams (NE & DAL) are at 4-0 and have played relatively weak opponents, the questions are “Can NE run the table?� vs. “Who has Dallas beaten?�

127
by putnamp (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 9:27pm

#120

Basically, the statement is that we can't crown their asses yet. The justification is that there are valid questions about their strength of schedule, which has not yet been proven but so far looks questionable. If you disagree with either of those statements, please speak up and explain to me why.

128
by Maxpower179 (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 9:41pm

80,82 - I guess I thought part of the reason for adjusting for defenses was to avoid elite teams weakening their own SoS by beating their opponents badly.
For (an oversimplified and fictitious) example, let's say NE's 4 opponents came away with unadjusted VOA of -20%,-20%,-30%,-30%. Since teams averaged -25% VOA against NE, wouldn't the 4 adjusted DVOA look something like 5%,5%,-5%,-5%? Meaning, since NE creamed everyone, getting creamed by NE doesn't hurt your DVOA, unless they beat you even worse than their average opponent?
I guess I would be curious to see what the numbers look like with full opponent-adjustments vs. the 40%.

129
by Eddo (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 9:50pm

128: Good point, I believe that is how the adjustment works, more or less. And by the same token, NE is downgraded for each weaker win.
However, I don't know where the SOS is determined. Is it pre-adjustment? Post-adjustment? A more complicated answer? Probably the third choice, but I'd be interested in a little better explanation.
My general point was the same that Rich Conley was making recently: the sample size is too small to have a whole lot of confidence in the opponent adjustments and SOS numbers.

130
by Purds (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 10:04pm

re: #126

Yes, NE is getting more "stomps," but as a Colts fan, I have to say I think it matters what the Pats do during those future stomps that will determine their fate.

My reasoning: The Colts spent many years racking up stomps against bad teams, with lots of pundits talking about 16-0 potential, but in my opinion, they rarely worked on new offensive or defensive strategies, and when they faced the best (usually NE), the Colts struggled for a number of reasons, but one was they had no Plan B if Plan A didn't work (because of snow, or aggressive/good DB's, etc).

Last year, the Colts played many close games, and they had to find different ways to win, both on offense and defense. Ultimately, that variety helped the Colts in the playoffs against very different opponents.

If NE simply keeps doing the same offensive and defensive things in stomping opponents, I as a Colt fan won't worry nearly as much as if I see the Pats working on different strategies while still stomping opponents.

Does that make sense?

131
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 10:11pm

#114, crack, I'm no DVOA expert, and a lot of luck-related stuff, like fumble recovery %, can aid or hurt win-loss records without affecting DVOA, but I'll also note that the Chiefs lost by more than a touchdown to the Bears, who have a low DVOA, and got blown out by the Texans, whereas the Vikings essentially tied in their 3 point road losses to the Chiefs and Lions, and the loss they have to a team with the #8 DVOA was by less than a touchdown, and truly was a close game.

As far as how good I actually believe the Vikings to be, I'm still holding at 6 projected wins, although the schedule for the balance of the year looks easier than I thought a month ago, and there are some glimmers of hope with the offense besides Adrian Peterson, like Sidney Rice appearing to have useful skills.

132
by coldbikemessenger (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 10:22pm

If Phillips thinks too much about Raider Randy Moss that he saw with the Chargers, and tries to have Newman match up without help with any frequency, Moss will have another huge day in Dallas.

Will, Newman's right ankle is still bothering him. The Cowboys are only going to play him at RCB.
So assuming Henry is still out with a high ankle sprain, Reeves will line up at LCB.
Reeves had a poor first game against the Giants, but I think he has improved over the past few games from bad to mediocre.
He does fine against mediocre teams but if the Pats put Moss wide right that would obviously be a very bad matchup for Dallas.
Compounding this problem is the fact that Roy Williams plays behind Reeves. Now Williams makes some really good big plays, but he makes some pretty bad ones as well. There are times when he takes some, lets just say, baffling angles on deep balls.
I hope Phillips comes up with some diabolical plan to stop the Pats uber efficent passing game or it could be a very long day for the Dallas defense.

133
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 10:24pm

Purds, I think better explanations for the Colts' improved playoff outcome last year was 1)randomness, and more importantly, 2)Peyton Manning. Manning was always great, but I think, starting last year, Manning took up residency on a different, and superior, planet. Right now, he is as close to the perfect quarterback as I've ever seen. No, he still isn't a great runner, but his accuracy while being pressured has improved markedly, and really has greatly reduced the efficacy of the best method of degrading his play. Unless you keep the ball out of Manning's hands for huge stretches, you aren't going to best the Colts, and now Manning has become extremely good at keeping the ball out of his opponent's hands for long stretches, and not just moving down the field quickly.

134
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 10:28pm

Yeah, I like Roy Williams too, but if the Cowboys scheme to have Williams giving help over the top with Moss, ol' Randy is likely to put on a clinic on how to torture double coverage. Hell, they might be better off having Williams apply the jam on the line of scrimmage, with help very near by, but that sure opens up the rest of the field.

135
by Unshakable Optimist (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 10:35pm

You can also tack on suddenly improved tackling on defense to the Colts playoff run, denying opponents the opportunity to keep the ball out of his hands.

Interesting, the Colts have a better chance than New England of both appearing in and winning the AFC Championship game according to the playoff odds report, yet somehow New England is favored to win the Super Bowl.

136
by PatsFan (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 10:39pm

Hmmm....

Now the Patriots are down to having only a 107.0% chance of appearing in the playoffs.

137
by Jake (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 10:41pm

Looks like the Pats have a better chance of taking two playoff spots than the rest of the division has of getting one.... Wait... is that legal?
NE 4-0 56.8% 12.3 0.94% 6.36% 48.6% 27.8% 20.6% 2.5% 0.0% 0.0% 99.6% 76.5% 0.1% 107.0%

138
by PatsFan (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 10:41pm

Re: #135

Presumably because while (according to the simulation) the Colts have a better chance of getting to the SB, the Patriots (if they reach the SB) have a better chance of beating the NFC participant than the Colts do, leaving the Patriots with better odds of winning it even though the Colts have better odds of appearing in it.

139
by PatsFan (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 10:44pm

It looks like the TOT column is mistakenly adding in the chances of going 16-0 and 15-1 to the chances of being the 1-6 seed.

140
by putnamp (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 10:49pm

It doesn't take a lot of analysis or hard thinking to look and see that the Dallas and New England opponents have not played that well so far, even excluding their games against these two teams. What this means to me is that strength of schedule is a viable QUESTION. A question without an answer is an uncertainty. I see a -25% SOS for both teams and I say "I can't be sure, but it looks like their strength of schedule may be a knock for these teams. Let's wait and see how things pan out."

It doesn't mean "These teams are awful because they've been beating up on bad teams."

I can make this statement, right? We all agree here? I'm being somewhat rhetorical in asking but do we at least agree that it's a valid QUESTION (is not too early) even if it's not a valid CRITICISM (is too early to)?

I said before, I've been harping on strength of schedule for 2 weeks - I haven't been saying the Cowboys or Patriots are flukes because of SoS, I'm saying that we have to temper our enthusiasm until we see if the SoS values even out to a less lop-sided number, because right now they definitely don't.

141
by cdcox (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 11:01pm

135,138

Something definitely seems wrong there. The Pats have a 76.4% chance of getting a first round bye, thereby needing only one victory to make the conference championship game. In comparison, Indy has only a 55.5% chance of a first round bye. And no matter what the match up, NE's higher DAVE should give them a better chance of winning it's games than Indy. Also the Pats have a higher chance for HFA in there games, even increasing their chances even more.

142
by Athelas (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 11:05pm

#130:
That's an interesting analysis. If that is the case, I think the Patriots have a better chance than most teams of not succumbing to it while 'stomping' because of Belichick's approach of changing the game plan every week to take advantage of opponents' weaknesses vs. others'(Cowher, et al) approach of 'doing what we do best'

143
by Richard (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 11:08pm

When do we get this week's KUBIAK update, or are we no longer getting updates?

144
by Yosi Scharf (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 11:08pm

Looking at the playoff odds report.

How do the Patriots have a 107% chance of making the playoffs?

145
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 11:15pm

How do the Patriots have a 107% chance of making the playoffs?
Probably a math error. Either that, or they made the playoffs in 5,350 of the 5,000 simulated seasons...

146
by PatsFan (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 11:17pm

Re: #145

Actually, I think it's a spreadsheet auto-sum error (too many columns included).

147
by hwc (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 11:21pm

"I banged my head against the desk and pointed to how Randy Moss made everybody’s job on offense so much easier because he drew so much attention to himself."

Amen. One of Randy's best plays this year was a TD to Jabar Gaffney. Moss lined up on the left wing, Gaffney in the left slot. At the snap, Moss ran a post pattern, drawing all three DBs with him. Gaffney was left totally unguarded, slipped out into the left front corner of the endzone, and it was a simple game of pitch and catch with Brady.

148
by killjoy (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 11:22pm

I think people arguing strength of schedule are ignoring a 'Patriots effect' that's been around for a few years. Decent teams that really get hit hard by them tend to have a lot of trouble the next two or three games.

It's probably that opposing coaches pop the Pats game tape in the VCR and look at what Belichick & Co did to stop the other teams' best plays, and maybe a hidden weakness or two they found and exploited. The classic was the opening game against Pittsburgh in 2002 iirc. It took the Steelers a lot of games, five or so, to fix their secondary and recover.

149
by deltadave (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 11:28pm

It looks like the TOT column for all teams includes too many columns. Should be limited to the sum of the chances of finishing 1 - 6.

150
by MC2 (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 11:41pm

#124: "It’s a lot easier to spread the ball around when you’ve got 5 guys to choose from, and none of them are much better than the others."

I agree completely. The big difference this year, obviously, is that one of those 5 guys is far superior to the other 4. I also agree with your comment that things are likely to change once opposing defenses start to give Moss the same treatment he used to get in Minnesota. I expect Brady to make them pay by going to his other guys, which will open things up again for Moss, and so on, in a vicious cycle. Also, having a dominant WR like Moss makes the Patriots less dependent on spread formations, since he can get open in any formation, even ones where he's the only receiver. That, in turn, makes it easier for them to run the ball. In short, at the risk of stating the obvious, I would sure hate to be a DC trying to gameplan for the Pats right now.

151
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Tue, 10/02/2007 - 11:56pm

"doesn’t take a lot of analysis or hard thinking to look and see that the Dallas and New England opponents have not played that well so far, even excluding their games against these two teams. What this means to me is that strength of schedule is a viable QUESTION. "

Yes, it is a QUESTION, but so is everyone else's SOS. The Pats/Dallas opponents are too incestous. Theres too many of them playing each other, and too many of them playing NE, Dallas, Pittsburgh, and GB. We can't tell how good Chicago, San Diego, NYG, etc are until they start playing outside of the small loops they've been in. I GUARANTEE you that neither Chicago, NYG, or San Diego are sub 6 win teams, but SOS is counting them as that now.

SOS is worse than useless right now, its downright misleading.

152
by Waverly (not verified) :: Wed, 10/03/2007 - 12:10am

How do you get a 107% chance to win something? You cheat, of course! :-)

153
by Bobman (not verified) :: Wed, 10/03/2007 - 12:47am

I think Purds and Will are saying more or less the same thing in 130/135. In years past, Manning and his lifelong outsized talent took on a little too much during the games. They won some and lost some and when they lost, it seemed as if he choked. More recently, they have lost very few and it's been more of a rounded effort.

Past two years, PM seems to have achieved some sort of universal wisdom (I'm thinking of Luke Skywalker closing his eyes or Eragon listening to ants communicate)--if he needs 40 yards in 30 seconds and the D is showing a 3 man rush, he now feels okay about getting an 8 yd run rather than taking a shot to the endzone every time. The team's D has improved over the past 5 seasons as well, enough so that as a whole team, they have won more games in the past two seasons than they had in the previous five. And as a whole team, they are more seasoned, rather than just a "let's hope PM can bail us out" outlook. (Simplifying and exaggerating, I know.)

I too was happier to see them winning some close ones--closer than I wanted to see the games, but I felt getting their noses bloodied was a good thing. They NEVER panic now, whereas 4-5 years ago, they might have when down 14. You hardly ever hear them called a finesse team anymore--a speed team, yes, but finesse, not so much. Part of that is Bob Sanders and his carryover effect, but part is also when the going gets tough, they are just as happy to run run run. BTW, look at their running stats and ask youself if Tony Ugoh was worth the trade-off of next year's 1st rounder. Nice going, Mr. Polian. Looking forward to more run, run, run the next few years.

154
by throughthelookingglass (not verified) :: Wed, 10/03/2007 - 12:59am

Am I the only one who thinks it's frightening that Indy's offense is 12th in 3rd/4th down offensive DVOA and is still this good?
At least Dallas' 85% DVOA on 3rd/4th downs shows they can't sustain their current production. And New England's 3rd/4th down offensive DVOA is within a couple points of their overall offensive DVOA.

BTW, Philly is 4th in 1st down off. DVOA, 16th on 2nd down, and 29th on 3rd/4th down.
Also, Det, KC are 1-2 on 3rd/4th down defensive DVOA.

155
by putnamp (not verified) :: Wed, 10/03/2007 - 1:36am

#151,

What I'm saying is that I think deciding on how good the Patriots and Cowboys are this early is a dubious practice. I point to Strength of Schedule as one potential indicator - it is. It's a *potential* indicator. It's something we should watch.

What you're saying is that assuming ANYTHING AT ALL is REALLY DANGEROUS and I should STOP because these figures are just so wild and unpredictable. I say I'm not assuming anything, though, so I think that leaves us at the point where you just realize that you're basically arguing the other side of the same coin I'm on.

156
by Alex (not verified) :: Wed, 10/03/2007 - 2:37am

Also, having a dominant WR like Moss makes the Patriots less dependent on spread formations, since he can get open in any formation, even ones where he’s the only receiver. That, in turn, makes it easier for them to run the ball.

While he is a dominant WR, or at least he's been playing like one, he's not good at beating a jam at the line of scrimmage, so it's usually a good idea to have him in the slot or going in motion, at least if the other team has a good, physical CB to jam him. I wouldn't put him out there as the only WR unless I knew the other team's secondary didn't have such a player. Also, his blocking sucks, so he is to some extent a liability for his team's running game (although drawing away multiple defenders is not without value on running plays).

Also, let's not forget that Moss has only played 4 games so far, and a lot of funny things can happen to aging, injury-prone WRs in 12 weeks. To put his start with the Patriots in perspective, here was his stat line after his first four games with the Raiders: 19 receptions, 466 yards, 2 TDs. That's over 24 yards/reception, over 115 yards/game. And Kerry Collins was his QB. And yet, after this unbelievably fast start with the Raiders in 2005, he went on to have a pedestrian, though productive, season, gaining a little over 1000 yards, and ranking 25th in DPAR. Not bad, but hardly dominant. So, I guess what I'm saying is, let's not crown his ass just yet.

Also, as a reminder that teams that appear dominant, even to DVOA, in the first 4 weeks might not be so great once we find out more about them, I offer this excerpt from the link to the Week 6 DVOA ratings from last year:

"If Rex Grossman played da Packers by himself, how many points would he win by?"

The next week, he threw four interceptions and fumbled twice as his offense only scored three points against the lowly Cardinals. By the end of the year, people were clamoring for Brian Griese.

157
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 10/03/2007 - 7:34am

Re: 63 By that logic, it’s too early to post any team ratings until week 4 or so.

No, it's just too early to post any team ratings that are bias-free. Why is this a surprise?

We don’t know the strength of a team itself any better than the strength of its opponents–ever. We know them equally in all weeks.

No.

The result of "Philly versus Green Bay" is fixed. It happened. It's done. That's all we ever get is the results from Week 1. If you want to extract Philly's performance from it. you need to correct for Green Bay. To do that, you need to know Green Bay's performance. In Week 1, you know nothing. In week 2, you have one first-order game, and one second-order game. In week 3, you have 2 first order games, and 4 second-order games defining Green Bay's performance.

You might have misunderstood that statement to mean "any one opponent" rather than "all opponents in aggregate."

158
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Wed, 10/03/2007 - 10:46am

"While he is a dominant WR, or at least he’s been playing like one, he’s not good at beating a jam at the line of scrimmage, so it’s usually a good idea to have him in the slot or going in motion, at least if the other team has a good, physical CB to jam him. I wouldn’t put him out there as the only WR unless I knew the other team’s secondary didn’t have such a player. Also, his blocking sucks, so he is to some extent a liability for his team’s running game (although drawing away multiple defenders is not without value on running plays)."

Alex, I'd agree, but this year has been different. Hes been having no trouble getting off of jams. The 2nd TD in the Bengals game has been pretty much exactly what every CB who has tried to jam him has looked like.

The patriots have frequently been putting him out there alone, and usually its a 7-10 yard slant that comes off of it.

Randy has led to the patriots, like the other poster said, running less spread. They've been running a LOT of 2/3 TE sets. Moss may not be a great run blocker, but it allows them to put Kyle Brady back on the field, and he IS a great run blocker.

159
by ernie cohen (not verified) :: Wed, 10/03/2007 - 11:03am

Using the componentwise DAVE numbers, the NE chance of 16-0 is up to 4.5%

160
by MRH (not verified) :: Wed, 10/03/2007 - 11:17am

Re the Pats vs. TE

Right now, it's really not knowable if the Pats are good against TEs or not.

So far, the Pats have played one team that routinely throws to their TE and he had a good game.

The other three teams were near the bottom of the league last year in passes thrown to their TEs, so it's more like they shut themselves down in using their TE than the Pats D did.

Last year, the NFL as a whole threw 19% of its passes to TEs.

SD - 30%, behind only KC (32%) and CLE (34%)

BUF - 11%
NYJ - 11%
CIN - 10%

STL at 7% and ARI at 9% were lower; DET at 11% was tied with two of those teams (note the Martz influence - the Rams had no pass-catching TE that's why they drafted two last year and acquired one this year; Fairchild in BUF was Martz' former OC; and Martz in DET.)

My guess is that the Pats are OK against the TE, not as good as the traditional stats vs. BUF/NYJ/CIN look and giving up a good game to Gates while shutting Tomlinson down makes perfect sense to me.

161
by Drav (not verified) :: Wed, 10/03/2007 - 11:31am

Did you forget to update the RB and Special Teams pages? Still showing Week 3 for me. (Hope this hasn't already been answered.)

162
by MC2 (not verified) :: Wed, 10/03/2007 - 11:36am

#156: I certainly agree with your point about injury. Any predictions concerning Moss have to include the caveat "if he stays healthy...", and that's a big "if". However, I would caution against using his numbers in Oakland as any sort of relevant precedent, since his production there seemed to have a direct correlation with the team's winning percentage, which should stay relatively high in New England.

Having said that, however, I would also agree with your point about not crowning anyone's ass at this point. All this talk about 16-0 has me on the verge of throwing something through my TV screen. In fact, simulations aside, I think even 15-1 is highly unlikely, considering that: a) the Patriots have some very tough games -- at DAL, at IND, even at BAL -- to get through, and b) if they do win all those games, they're likely to have their division wrapped up by the middle of December, so they'll probably be resting guys, especially veterans like Moss.

163
by Alex (not verified) :: Wed, 10/03/2007 - 12:33pm

Alex, I’d agree, but this year has been different. Hes been having no trouble getting off of jams. The 2nd TD in the Bengals game has been pretty much exactly what every CB who has tried to jam him has looked like.

Well, sure, but how many good, physical CBs do the Bengals have? For that matter, how many do the Bengals, Bills, Chargers, and Jets combined have? I mean, it's not like just anyone can shut him down. Let's see if he continues to do this against better defenses.

However, I would caution against using his numbers in Oakland as any sort of relevant precedent, since his production there seemed to have a direct correlation with the team’s winning percentage, which should stay relatively high in New England.

They started out with three straight losses, yet he was still playing well throughout the first four games. In week 9, when the team was 3-4, their best W-L record at any point that season, he had 1 reception, a 7 yard TD. In the last game, when the team was 4-11, he had 7 receptions for 116 yards and 2 TDs. That was his only 2+ TD game of the season.

So, he had some of his best games when the team's W-L record was terrible, and had one of his worst games when their record was only slightly below average. He didn't seem to quit on the Raiders until after the 2005 season, so I see no reason not to use his performance then as a relevant precedent.

164
by MC2 (not verified) :: Wed, 10/03/2007 - 1:12pm

#163: After going back and looking at the numbers, I'll admit that "direct correlation" is a bit of a stretch. But I still think you can make the case that Moss was not playing his "A-game" for most of that year.

As you point out, he got off to a fast start, with 3 100-yard games out of the first 4. Then, after the bye, everything fell apart in Week 6, when Moss had zero catches and the Raiders lost to fall to 1-4. I think that this is the point at which Moss really started to realize just how bad this team was. After all, there haven't been many (if any) teams to come back from 1-4 to make the playoffs. In any event, Moss failed to crack the 100-yard mark again, until that Week 17 game that you mention. If anything, I see that game as an advertisement by Moss, who by then, IIRC, was openly lobbying for the Raiders to trade him.

As I mentioned in my previous posts, there are a number of things -- such as injuries, increased defensive attention, etc. -- that could curtail Moss's production this year. I just don't think we'll see him givng the kind of half-assed effort that curtailed his production in Oakland. The situations are just too different.

165
by Rick (not verified) :: Wed, 10/03/2007 - 1:14pm

It's tough making excuses for McNabb every week, but the fact is he's got some good ones this year. A lousy Special Teams effort overwhelms an adequate enough performance in Game 1. Lousy receiver work in Game 2 keeps McNabb silenced. Game 3, everything works, OMG he's back! Game 4, missing 4 key players, receivers not getting loose, and sleeping coaching staff.
It's hard to really look at the 3 losses and say each one is McNabb's fault. Perhaps Washington, of all, was 60% his. After all, he showed signs of life in the 4th quarter.

But then again, the one thing that bothers me was releasing Garcia. McNabb should be working his way into the lineup slowly just now...and Garcia should be the starter. Philly would have a better shot at winning early and bringing McNabb along. Instead, with performances like Monday they risk really screwing him up totally.

McNabb is not old and busted, he's doing what he can with what he's got. His missing a step, which he surely is, is not a problem, though it does reduce the number of things the defense has to worry about. What he has to work on is not that quick step, but sensing a collapsing pocket better. Before, his speed saved him, now he needs his smarts to save him. He'll get there. Hopefully before the media in Philly crushes him.

166
by MarkB (not verified) :: Wed, 10/03/2007 - 1:15pm

It's nice to see the Pats doing well early in the year. What's REALLY nice is to see San Fran rated so low. The value of that 1st round draft choice is going up, boys! And seeing the Jets lose is icing on the cake. Karma, baby! You mess with the Hoodie, it comes back on you.

167
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Wed, 10/03/2007 - 1:19pm

"He didn’t seem to quit on the Raiders until after the 2005 season, so I see no reason not to use his performance then as a relevant precedent."

You mean, other than that the entire offense sucked ass? Kerry Collins was the QB, the line was a mess, and they were trying to play a vertical offense. The only other player on the offense with a positive DVOA was Doug Gabriel.

Randy Moss wasn't the predominant problem with Oakland's offense.

168
by Jin (not verified) :: Wed, 10/03/2007 - 1:25pm

Kinda funny, just noticed that Shiancoe (Shockey's backup last year, now with Min.) has a higher DPAR and DVOA than Shockey.

169
by Jin (not verified) :: Wed, 10/03/2007 - 1:41pm

Also why isn't Mewelde Moore returning punts? He's a very PR and was the only bright spot in our abysmal ST last year and Bobby Wade's PRs are the weakness of the STs.

170
by Alex (not verified) :: Wed, 10/03/2007 - 1:59pm

But I still think you can make the case that Moss was not playing his “A-game� for most of that year.

Right, but I don't think you can make the case that this was a result of a poor W-L record alone. Randy Moss chooses when to play hard and when not to, but he doesn't just make that choice based on whether the team has a winning record. I'm sure he has his reasons, but whatever they are, there's no guarantee they won't show up here.

But then again, the one thing that bothers me was releasing Garcia. McNabb should be working his way into the lineup slowly just now…and Garcia should be the starter. Philly would have a better shot at winning early and bringing McNabb along.

You can't have two QBs that are paid like starters. It kills your salary cap. Garcia made it clear that he wanted starter money, so it was either him or McNabb, and McNabb's a better QB. They didn't have much of a choice. Keeping Garcia wasn't a viable option. If Garcia had been willing to accept backup money, or even something slightly more than that, he'd probably still be in Philadelphia.

171
by jim m (not verified) :: Wed, 10/03/2007 - 2:16pm

Jin. I agree with you - I don't understand why Childress doesn't use Moore more often. Personally I like him a RB a lot more than Chestor Taylor.

Also regarding Shiancoe, looks to me like they personnel people made a nice little signing there. The move was pretty much panned by all including the Football Outsider people.

172
by jim m (not verified) :: Wed, 10/03/2007 - 2:19pm

Jin. Shiancoe also came at a far lower price than Graham - who he is also outperforming. He's doing so on one of thw worst passing teams in the league. It's only 4 weeks in, but he's played well to this point.

173
by AngryBearsFan (not verified) :: Wed, 10/03/2007 - 2:27pm

KAAAAAAAAAAAAHNNNNNNN!!!!!!!!

174
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 10/03/2007 - 2:42pm

Mewelde Moore is a poor blocker, and you shouldn't discount the value a running back who is decent at it, which Chester Taylor is. Look, two successive coaching staffs have found Moore's performances such that he couldn't get on the field consistently, and, no, neither Tice or Childress are going to be confused with Bill Walsh anytime soon, but they both have good track records as assistants, so it isn't as if they are both devoid of football evaluation skills. Having said that, I am surprised that he isn't returning punts.

175
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 10/03/2007 - 2:45pm

Oh, and Shiancoe has definitely been one of the few pleasant aspects of the Vikings offensive performance this year.

176
by Athelas (not verified) :: Wed, 10/03/2007 - 2:46pm

Will Allen-
Do you write anywhere except FO threads? I find your posts to be consistently well-written and well-reasoned--not common in the world of football fandom.

177
by dryheat (not verified) :: Wed, 10/03/2007 - 2:47pm

Well, the easy answer is that Mewelde Moore has spent half the season as a gameday inactive (IIRC), so it makes no sense to have a guy practice punt returns if the coach plans on deactivating him for certain matchups.

Which leads us to the next question....who is being kept active instead of a guy who, at the very minimum, is a very good returner, and what's more, can contribute in the running game? I seem to remember DVOA always liking Moore.

178
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Wed, 10/03/2007 - 2:47pm

re:172

"Jin. Shiancoe also came at a far lower price than Graham - who he is also outperforming"

Daniel Graham is a BLOCKING TE with decent receiving skills. Hes blocking perfectly well, something that doesn't show up in DVOA

179
by Athelas (not verified) :: Wed, 10/03/2007 - 2:51pm

But Rich, did you see him drop that pass to lose that game(was that last week)? I think I have never been more surprised than when he CAUGHT that TD to tie that Houston game.

180
by TomC (not verified) :: Wed, 10/03/2007 - 2:59pm

McNabb is old and busted. When you get sacked 12 times, you hope that means that there were several others who you avoided, but i saw McNabb only evade one rusher the entire game. Without his escapability, he’s a nonfactor.

Fortunately, the smart Eagles staff drafted a QB.

That's the spirit, Philly fans! Run that bum out of town the year before he gets healthy.

Vikings fans: The Minny-ChiTown McNabb Schmooze-off is officially on. I just sent a string of pearls each to Donovan's real mom and his Campbell's soup mom.

181
by jim m (not verified) :: Wed, 10/03/2007 - 3:06pm

Rich - thanks - didn't know much about Graham, just that he was considered the top TE in free agency. That being the case I'm glad the Viking went for a more athletic pass catching TE.

Will - whatever Tice and Childress's reasons for not playing Moore are don't seem to jive with the effectiveness of the offence when he plays. When Tice liked Onterrio Smith over Moore I could see his point, but for the life of me I don't see what Childress does in Taylor.

182
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 10/03/2007 - 3:41pm

jim m, again, Moore is a poor blocker, and unless a guy is a HOF quality runner, you simply can't have poor blocking rb on the field a lot, unless you want to get your qb killed. It simply won't work, given the speed of today's defenses. What's more reasonable; that we, in the few times we get to evaluate Moore's skills, have gained a more insightful view of Moore's strengths and weaknesses, or that two successive coaching staffs, with head coaches who do have a good record as assistants, have, in the course of seeing Moore in every practice from August to January, have missed what we see? No, I'm not saying that a fan can never legitimately second guess a coach. I am saying that when you observe obvious deficiencies in a player's game, like Moore in regard to blocking, and not just one, but two successive coaching staffs have decided to keep a guy off the field, there is a pretty good chance that there is a good reason why he isn't playing.

Regarding Taylor, I thought his performance as an every down back last year was pretty good, considering there were eight and nine in the box nearly all season.

Thanks for the complement Athelas, but this place is pretty much it, since this place is among the most rational in the sports website world.

183
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Wed, 10/03/2007 - 3:42pm

"That being the case I’m glad the Viking went for a more athletic pass catching TE."

If the Broncos really want to use Graham, they'll start throwing him TE screens. He's pretty much impossible to tackle with a full head of steam. He's just not fast enough to get a ton of separation on typical passing plays.

184
by Al 45 (not verified) :: Wed, 10/03/2007 - 3:48pm

Well, sure, but how many good, physical CBs do the Bengals have? For that matter, how many do the Bengals, Bills, Chargers, and Jets combined have? I mean, it’s not like just anyone can shut him down. Let’s see if he continues to do this against better defenses.

How many physical CB's are there in the league? Who's going to do that when they play Dallas? The Colts? The Steelers?

I see one CB in the NFL who has a chance of covering him one on one, and that's Bailey.

Moss hasn't had any trouble coming off jams at all, and I don't expect that to change.

185
by Eddo (not verified) :: Wed, 10/03/2007 - 4:10pm

185: Charles Tillman on line one...
(Granted, the Patriots don't play the Bears this year, but Tillman used to contain Moss quite well (think of the famous game-saving play where he ripped the ball out of Moss's hands).)

186
by b-man (not verified) :: Wed, 10/03/2007 - 4:10pm

179: I remember when he first started with NE my brother and I called him stone hands. Really awful receiving the first season. He would drop stuff that hit him right in the stomach/hands. His blocking the past few seasons had been tremendous, however, and his pass catching had gotten better. Not suprised that he still drops important catches now and then though.

187
by QBeam (not verified) :: Wed, 10/03/2007 - 4:28pm

Regarding the mini-controversy over stength-of-schedule corrections early in the season, a relatively straitforward approach would be to calculate DAVE for the opponents while excluding the games against the team in question. (That is, to calculate NE's SoS, calculate DAVE for it's opponents, excluding the games against NE.) Presumably, DAVE is the best measure of the strength of a team FO has yet devised, giving the appropriate weight to pre-season projections and actual (but small sample set) performance. Note that this would involve using the pre-season/DVOA weights for the previous week, since you're excluding one data point.

This doesn't solve the problem of "incestuous" data, but it completely solves the problem of a team's own strong performance undermining its own statistical ratings by pushing down it's SoS.

On the other hand, though, I've never worried about that problem much, precisely because I have observed there to be so much of a "bully team" effect. Teams that dominate too easily during the regular season seem, more often than not, to do poorly in the playoffs, when they're forced to play quality teams. I'm thinking here of, for example, the Moon-era Oilers, some past Denver teams, etc. It was a problem in the AFC for a long time, where the overall quality just wasn't up the the NFC standards. A few teams were pretty good, and would rack up a lot of wins, and a whole lot of points along the way, but then they'd run into NFC teams that had had to fight fang-and-claw every step of the way. I'm not convinced it has to do with "trying out different offenses." I think it has more to do with mental toughness. But whatever the reason, in a Superbowl between a 10-6 team and a 13-3 team with a statistically significantly weaker SoS, I'll generally take the 10-6 team.

188
by dryheat (not verified) :: Wed, 10/03/2007 - 4:31pm

Graham has always been one of those guys who catch the ball very well in traffic, and drop a lot when they're open. If he went to a team like Seattle, where they have a left tackle that doesn't need help pass blocking, he could have been a weapon in the passing game.

189
by Al 45 (not verified) :: Wed, 10/03/2007 - 4:35pm

If I remember correctly, Graham was touted as a great hands, poor blocking, TE coming out of college. When he got to NE, those two reversed themselves, and he became a bad hands, great blocking TE.

190
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Wed, 10/03/2007 - 4:53pm

185: Charles Tillman on line one…

Tillman isnt NEARLY fast enough to cover Moss. They'll just line him up off the line.

191
by bravehoptoad (not verified) :: Wed, 10/03/2007 - 4:59pm

...the Pats have had at most one (and I’m being generous to Deion Branch here) WR that is even in the same league as Moss talent-wise in the last four or five years or so.

In fact, all of the Pats' receivers have been in the same league as Moss. It's called the National Football League.

They show some games on T.V. from time to time. You might want to check them out--they're pretty good.

192
by jim m (not verified) :: Wed, 10/03/2007 - 5:04pm

Will - I think the point you make regarding two coaches treating him essentially the same way are valid. I do think it points out a lack of imagination you see in NFL coaches. Having a player like Moore sitting while guys like Williamson and Ferguson see tons of snaps strikes me as a poor utilization of resources. Surely some creativity could get Moore 5-10 touches a game while not exposing his blocking shortcomings.

193
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 10/03/2007 - 5:15pm

jim m, it's harder that you might think. When you have a guy who can't block on the field, you tend to to tip off where the ball is going. That's one reason why it is so important that Adrian Peterson gets up to speed with his blocking. He may be a guy who has HOF running ability, and thus his blocking deficiencies are much more easily overlooked than Moore's, but if he can become a competent blocker, the Vikings offense will be a lot less predictable when he is on the field. This is what helped to make Emmitt Smith and Walter Payton even more valuable. The fact that they were devastating blockers really made scheming for the great Cowboys and Bears teams more difficult.

194
by crack (not verified) :: Wed, 10/03/2007 - 5:28pm

184:

The Bears used to bring a linebacker over to bump Moss at the line, then cover him with a corner and safety. It would leave the center wide open for running, which is part of the reason Bennett made the pro bowl in MIN.

195
by jim m (not verified) :: Wed, 10/03/2007 - 5:32pm

Will - I'm talking more about the fact that every team runs the same formations, and players are for the most part are slotted accordingly. Why not do something completely original, put 3 backs in - keep one out wide or in the slot, whatever. My point is having Williamson or Ferguson on the field on almost every down just because your plays are designed to require two WR's seem limiting and unimaginative. If you don't have a good QB or wide receivers but you've got 3 playmakers in the backfield - change your plays to accommodate the talent.

I think NFL coaches don't have the job security necessary in order to be imaginative and different. People who don't feel secure, don't take chances.

196
by Jin (not verified) :: Wed, 10/03/2007 - 5:40pm

Chester Taylor is a better blocker than Mewelde Moore, but I remember Moore being on the field on many 3rd down passing situations last year, besides they can still have him out there returning punts, you can't tell me that having say Jayme Mitchell (5th DE) is more valuable than having a good PR. Especially on a team with a great defense but with an offense that can't score.

197
by MRH (not verified) :: Wed, 10/03/2007 - 5:54pm

I can't speak to Moore's blocking but he was on the field for at least 63 pass attempts last year (the ones thrown to him), caught 46, averaged 10.2 ypc, had a mediocre receiving DPAR and DVOA but better than names like Larry Johnson, Frank Gore, and umm, Chester Taylor.

I realize that blocking is important and under-rated. But unless he's gotten worse at blocking, it seems like he could play a role here - like last year. That would allow him to be a returner and situational back, maybe improve the Vikings' return game and keep Peterson from being put at risk on returns.

I think sometimes coaches focus too much on what players can't do and not enough on what they can do.

198
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 10/03/2007 - 6:25pm

The Vikings already have a rb who doesn't block competently on the field for a substantial number of plays. His name is Adrian Peterson. I just think it is unrealistic to think you can run an NFL offense a subtantial majority of the time with rbs who don't block, and keep your qb from getting killed.

I will say again, however, that I'd like an explanation from Childress as to how the team is best served by having someone else return punts.

199
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 10/03/2007 - 6:30pm

Jim M, I missed your point above. I do think that the Vikings should explore having Taylor and Peterson on the field at the same time more often. I don't think the Vikings have a good enough receiver to make a one receiver set a viable option. The Pats did it well the other night because they have a certain fellow named Moss to empty the box.

200
by jimm (not verified) :: Wed, 10/03/2007 - 6:46pm

Will - getting two backs on the field at the same time is certainly a start for this team. What I'm getting at is the sameness of the league. Every team runs the same type of offence. In the 70's it was two backs split and everyone did it. Now no one does it.

I remember a game way back when Minnesota went into Dallas as a big underdog (must have been late 70's in the decline phase). Grant had them come out in a one back set. No one had seen that. The overmatched Vikes took a big half time lead and held on for an upset win. That's what I'm getting at - outside the norm formations and strategies, like you see in college programs.

201
by jimm (not verified) :: Wed, 10/03/2007 - 6:51pm

Will - I believe the game I'm was referring to was 1978 - Vikings won 21-10. Dallas was 12-2, the Vikes were 9-5. Dallas of course won the Super Bowl. The Vikes lost to Dallas 23-6 in the NFC Championship.

I don't know if my memory is faulty, but I remember thinking what a genius the coaches were in the game in Dallas.

202
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 10/03/2007 - 7:07pm

Yeah, if you have Taylor and Peterson on the field at the same time, you still have two wrs to keep the corners out of the box, you keep the option of having your best-blocking rb in for pass protection, and your best playmaker remains on the field. I'm tellin' ya', dropping the strong safety into the box against such a formation could be a risky proposition, given Peterson's ability to make the first tackler miss, if Taylor can throw a decent lead block; he wouldn't have to be Tony Richardson with Peterson's skill set, and you could do stuff like have Peterson go in motion into the slot, and defense would have to defend against Taylor rushing the ball, or a pass with Taylor in pass protection.

203
by Raiderjoe (not verified) :: Wed, 10/03/2007 - 9:19pm

Raiders still too low on list. Maybe computer messed up?

I told you what would happen. Raiders better than Chargers.

Here is prediction of me from August-
Difference bettween Vanerdbilt and Florida much greater than difference between Raiders and Chargers. Raiders almost beat Chargers in second game they played in 2006. Raiders easily could have been 6-10 or 7-9 last year with a couple of breaks. Really played most of their opopnents tough, just some bad breaks here and there,. Didn’t even try in final game against Jets. Raiders at that point wanted to secure #1 pick so they could draft LSU QB Jamarcus Russell who Al Davis said going to be next John Elway.
Jets wouldn’t have made playoffs if Raiders tried in week 17 last year, cause Raiders were better team than Jets last year.
Final word for this post is that difference between Raiders and Chargers not great. Difference between Vanerd ilt and Floirida pretty big.
:: Raiderjoe — 8/28/2007 @ 10:26 pm

204
by Eddo (not verified) :: Wed, 10/03/2007 - 10:04pm

190 (Rich): Yes, you're right that Moss is much too fast for Tillman to handle in man coverage. However, I was responding more to the bumping-at-the-line portion (and in the red zone, for that matter), at which Tillman generally did a good job on Moss. He's a big, physical corner, a great asset in the cover-2 and in the red zone. It's only when the coaching staff stupidly uses him in one-on-one coverage against quick receivers that he has trouble.

205
by navin (not verified) :: Wed, 10/03/2007 - 10:19pm

Will,
what do you think of Sidney Rice so far? I followed him when he was in college and he was an excellent route runner with a knack for getting open. He wasn't fast but he had a good burst off the line so he was great in short/intermediate routes. I thought he was really good value in the second round.

206
by coldbikemessenger (not verified) :: Wed, 10/03/2007 - 10:48pm

re 187
from the aol rankings
"The Packers rank lower than the other unbeaten teams because three of their wins have been very close. We've learned that Super Bowl teams are defined by their ability to dominate inferior opponents, not their ability to win close games."
Also, only one 10-6 team has ever won.

207
by tic toc (not verified) :: Thu, 10/04/2007 - 12:58am

raiderjoe = drunken revisionist

208
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 10/04/2007 - 3:55am

Teams that dominate too easily during the regular season seem, more often than not, to do poorly in the playoffs, when they’re forced to play quality teams.

That pretty much goes completely counter to the GUTS vs STOMPS article, which showed that the teams that win in the playoffs are, in fact, the ones who beat the crap out of weaker teams. (Or, more correctly stated: good teams don't play close versus inferior opponents.)

With regard to only playing inferior opponents, though, yeah, there's some truth there.

209
by Gerry (not verified) :: Thu, 10/04/2007 - 9:05am

"Didn’t even try in final game against Jets."

A Raiders fan uses the most damning comment about last year's Raiders as a defense of the team? Wow.

210
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 10/04/2007 - 10:26am

Sidney Rice appears to have above-average ball skills, which certainly makes him stick out among Vikings' receivers.

211
by Oswlek (not verified) :: Thu, 10/04/2007 - 10:34am

Purds #130

If NE simply keeps doing the same offensive and defensive things in stomping opponents, I as a Colt fan won’t worry nearly as much as if I see the Pats working on different strategies while still stomping opponents.

Other than seeing it happen in close games, you have already seen this. You just don't realize it because NE continued to dominate the opposition.

Against Cincy, NE ran a completely different run blocking scheme than they had all year. Their preference with Maroney is zone blocking, but they switched to power blocking because that suits Morris better. Also, other than the final TD pass, Moss ran significantly less deep patterns than he did in the previous three games. In fact, up to that point, all of Moss' yardage came on slants and comeback routes.

Cincy was also the first team to double Welker for most of the game, and NE reacted by running more and by working Stallworth into the passing game a little more.

On defense, they ran essentially a 4-2-5 defense for much of the game, with AD putting his hand down and acting like a DE.

Frankly, that was probably the best game Cincy played all year, it is just that they went up against a team that was much better than them.

NE will never "keep doing the same offensive and defensive things in stomping opponents". The end results may have looked the same, but the process was substantially different.

212
by Alex (not verified) :: Thu, 10/04/2007 - 12:35pm

It was a problem in the AFC for a long time, where the overall quality just wasn’t up the the NFC standards. A few teams were pretty good, and would rack up a lot of wins, and a whole lot of points along the way, but then they’d run into NFC teams that had had to fight fang-and-claw every step of the way.

If the AFC was an inferior conference at the time, then you'd expect good teams to be able to dominate it without being as good as the best NFC teams. There's no reason to expect such a team to beat the NFC Champion just because they have more wins, even if they have all the mental toughness in the world. If those teams had been in the NFC at the time, they likely wouldn't have won as many games, mentally tough or not.

But whatever the reason, in a Superbowl between a 10-6 team and a 13-3 team with a statistically significantly weaker SoS, I’ll generally take the 10-6 team.

Well, in Super Bowls where the two teams are 3+ wins apart (i.e. 13-3 vs. 10-6, 14-2 vs. 11-5, etc.) and the team with more wins had a weaker SoS, the teams with more wins and a weaker SoS are 4-1, with the only loss coming in SB II. So you can take the 10-6 team, but you'll usually be wrong.

#208: With regard to only playing inferior opponents, though, yeah, there’s some truth there.

Not much. The 1999 Rams had one of the easiest schedules in the NFL, facing only three winning teams the entire year, losing to all three of them. They were dominant in their other 13 games, and then went on to win the Super Bowl, despite playing almost exclusively inferior opponents in the regular season.

213
by Purds (not verified) :: Thu, 10/04/2007 - 2:13pm

Oswlek:

I'll confess: I didn't watch the Cincy game because I was working. The other games seemed similar to me.

And, this year with Moss, are the Pats actually going to hope that they play Indy in the dome during the playoffs, so they don't have to try to pass deep in a snowstorm? (I love the delcisious irony of it all -- the Pats a passing, high-scoring team playing on artificial turn, just a handful of years after Pats fans made a living chiding the Colts for doing the same and not being tough enough to play on real grass in the snow!)

214
by Oswlek (not verified) :: Thu, 10/04/2007 - 3:03pm

No problem. I just wanted to point out that NE was already switching things up.

I think NE would be perfectly fine playing at home in a snowstorm, but that's just me ;-}

I have seen the comparison to Indy's prior teams but I don't see it. NE's power run game is better than Indy's was then (although Indy has improved greatly now) and NE's defense is dramatically better than any of the defenses Indy put out there from 2003-2006. The only component of defense that those Indy defenses had an edge on this NE team is pass rushing.

JMO, of course.

215
by Oswlek (not verified) :: Thu, 10/04/2007 - 3:18pm

Oh, I forgot, The Razor now has a turf surface. Snow? Possibly. Real grass? No.

216
by B (not verified) :: Thu, 10/04/2007 - 3:20pm

213: It's more than that. Right now the Pats are blowing out lousy competition, while the Colts are having close games against good teams.

217
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Thu, 10/04/2007 - 4:02pm

"while the Colts are having close games against good teams."

Thats a bit of a stretch. I'm more like to trust DAVE than DVOA, and DAVE says the colts have played teams of

-26.7
2.7
-3.6
-5.4

So the colts have blown out one bad team, and played close games against three mediocre opponents.

If you use DVOA, the Tenessee win is over a good team, but the Denver win drops from mediocre to bad.

218
by Chris (not verified) :: Fri, 10/05/2007 - 6:03pm

How are the New York Giants rated 16th in DVOA when they lost to 2 undefeated teams, and beat the Redskins and Eagles who both have higher DVOA than them as well?

The Giants played 4 teams with a higher DVOA than them, and are rated below the 1-3 eagles and 1-3 Vikings.

I would find it hard to believe the FO staff hasn't added an "objective" element to their darling Eagles and Redskins, and mean while kicked down that Giants team they predicted would go 5-11.

219
by Ted Thompson (not verified) :: Sat, 10/06/2007 - 5:33pm

Who is Randy Moss?

220
by Alex (not verified) :: Sun, 10/07/2007 - 11:53pm

How are the New York Giants rated 16th in DVOA when they lost to 2 undefeated teams, and beat the Redskins and Eagles who both have higher DVOA than them as well?

Well, they played very poorly against the Packers, losing by 22 points. The Packers won their other three games by 7 points or less, so it's not like the Giants get a free pass for losing to them. If the Giants had played well enough to stay within 7 points of the Packers, they'd probably be rated higher.

Also, the Giants only beat Washington by 7 points, and the Redskins had the ball with a chance to win the game in the final minute. That's a sign that they probably didn't outplay the Redskins by much, if at all. If they'd played well enough to win that game by a more convincing margin, they'd probably be rated higher.

Also, their opponents have gone 3 of 6 on field goals, which is both well below the NFL average, and not something the Giants caused. DVOA doesn't give them credit for it, because research has shown that teams can't really affect the field goal % of their opponents.

And really, they're only 1 spot below Washington, and 5 spots below Philadelphia. It's not like there's some huge gap between them.

I would find it hard to believe the FO staff hasn’t added an “objective� element to their darling Eagles and Redskins, and mean while kicked down that Giants team they predicted would go 5-11.

Yeah, they totally fixed things to make the Eagles look better, and the Giants look worse. That must be why the Eagles fell from 6th to 11th this week, and the Giants rose from 23rd to 16th. Makes perfect sense.