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06 Nov 2007

Week 9 DVOA Ratings

by Aaron Schatz

In the end, the Game of the Century came out pretty much exactly how DVOA said it would.

Last week, New England led Indianapolis 70.6% to 57.0%.

New England's DVOA for the Game of the Century was 79.8%, only slightly higher than their season DVOA to that point. Indianapolis's DVOA for the Game of the Century was 31.9%, a little bit lower than their season DVOA to that point.

One week later, New England's lead over Indianapolis is only slightly higher: 70.9% to 53.9%. The biggest effect that this game had on DVOA is that New England and Indianapolis are now listed with two of the six hardest schedules in the league so far, and both teams now have higher DVOA than VOA. (Last week, only Indianapolis did.)

Then, as if they had to prove to the Colts and Patriots that they still existed, the Cowboys and Steelers went on national television and opened up a gigantic can of whup-ass on two hated division rivals. The result: A gap between the top four teams and the other 28 teams that is like nothing we've ever seen before. But we'll get to that after I run the numbers...

Here are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through nine weeks of 2007, measured by our proprietary Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) system that breaks down every single play and compares a team's performance to the league average based on situation in order to determine value over average. (Explained further here.) OFFENSE and DEFENSE DVOA are adjusted for opponent and consider all fumbles, kept or lost, as equal value. SPECIAL TEAMS DVOA is adjusted for type of stadium (warm, cold, dome, Denver) and week of season.

Opponent adjustments are currently set at 90% and will increase each week until they are full strength after Week 10.

To save people some time, we request that you please use the following format for all complaints:

<team> is clearly ranked <too high/too low> because <reason unrelated to DVOA>. <subjective ranking system> is way better than this. <unrelated team-supporting or -denigrating comment, preferably with poor spelling and/or chat-acceptable spelling>


TEAM
TOTAL
DVOA
LAST
WEEK
NON-ADJ
TOT VOA
W-L OFFENSE
DVOA
OFF.
RANK
DEFENSE
DVOA
DEF.
RANK
S.T.
DVOA
S.T.
RANK
1 NE 70.9% 1 68.7% 9-0 47.0% 1 -17.6% 3 6.3% 4
2 IND 53.9% 2 46.7% 7-1 40.5% 2 -14.1% 4 -0.8% 17
3 DAL 44.0% 3 41.5% 7-1 29.9% 3 -13.8% 5 0.4% 13
4 PIT 36.1% 4 45.5% 6-2 13.6% 6 -23.0% 2 -0.5% 16
5 TEN 20.9% 8 20.9% 6-2 -6.5% 22 -30.7% 1 -3.3% 26
6 TB 19.0% 6 13.1% 5-4 15.8% 4 -5.1% 10 -2.0% 18
7 GB 16.1% 7 22.2% 7-1 11.1% 9 -4.7% 12 0.3% 14
8 MIN 13.7% 16 13.2% 3-5 4.4% 14 -5.2% 9 4.1% 9
9 JAC 10.4% 9 5.8% 5-3 8.6% 11 3.0% 17 4.8% 6
10 SEA 10.1% 10 17.0% 4-4 -2.8% 19 -3.1% 13 9.9% 1
11 NYG 6.3% 12 13.3% 6-2 6.7% 12 -5.0% 11 -5.4% 29
12 PHI 5.0% 11 3.4% 3-5 12.7% 8 5.3% 20 -2.4% 22
13 SD 4.8% 5 4.9% 4-4 3.6% 15 5.1% 19 6.3% 3
14 WAS 0.6% 13 -5.3% 5-3 -10.3% 26 -9.9% 7 0.9% 12
15 CLE -0.9% 15 -2.3% 5-3 13.1% 7 18.5% 30 4.5% 8
16 BUF -2.1% 18 -7.5% 4-4 -7.1% 23 1.4% 14 6.4% 2
TEAM
TOTAL
DVOA
LAST
WEEK
NON-ADJ
TOT VOA
W-L OFFENSE
DVOA
OFF.
RANK
DEFENSE
DVOA
DEF.
RANK
S.T.
DVOA
S.T.
RANK
17 CIN -3.8% 17 -3.5% 2-6 15.7% 5 17.4% 29 -2.1% 20
18 DET -7.0% 22 2.0% 6-2 1.5% 17 2.8% 16 -5.6% 30
19 NO -7.8% 23 -13.5% 4-4 9.2% 10 11.0% 23 -6.0% 31
20 BAL -8.3% 14 2.0% 4-4 -19.9% 29 -13.7% 6 -2.1% 19
21 ARI -9.5% 19 -2.0% 3-5 -3.5% 20 5.9% 21 -0.1% 15
22 KC -13.0% 21 -5.8% 4-4 -17.3% 27 -6.6% 8 -2.3% 21
23 HOU -13.6% 24 -11.7% 4-5 -2.7% 18 12.7% 25 1.8% 11
24 DEN -14.1% 20 -18.9% 3-5 4.7% 13 16.4% 27 -2.4% 23
25 CAR -15.7% 25 -12.4% 4-4 -7.5% 24 1.7% 15 -6.5% 32
26 ATL -20.6% 28 -13.3% 2-6 -8.4% 25 9.4% 22 -2.8% 24
27 CHI -22.3% 26 -26.2% 3-5 -23.4% 31 3.6% 18 4.7% 7
28 MIA -23.2% 27 -30.7% 0-8 2.8% 16 23.0% 31 -3.1% 25
29 NYJ -25.7% 30 -27.5% 1-8 -5.1% 21 26.4% 32 5.8% 5
30 OAK -35.1% 29 -27.2% 2-6 -17.8% 28 12.5% 24 -4.7% 28
31 STL -41.1% 31 -41.5% 0-8 -22.3% 30 14.5% 26 -4.4% 27
32 SF -50.4% 32 -42.7% 2-6 -36.2% 32 17.3% 28 3.1% 10

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


TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
W-L ESTIM.
WINS
RANK WEIGHTED
DVOA
RANK PAST
SCHED
RANK FUTURE
SCHED
RANK VAR. RANK
1 NE 70.9% 9-0 9.0 1 71.2% 1 5.3% 6 -1.7% 17 2.9% 31
2 IND 53.9% 7-1 9.0 1 53.1% 2 7.8% 3 -7.8% 23 5.9% 22
3 DAL 44.0% 7-1 7.4 3 44.5% 3 0.8% 14 -2.8% 19 10.2% 15
4 PIT 36.1% 6-2 5.9 6 33.4% 4 -8.8% 31 -3.1% 20 34.1% 1
5 TEN 20.9% 6-2 5.9 5 21.4% 5 -1.1% 19 -0.2% 15 5.2% 28
6 TB 19.0% 5-4 5.8 7 19.2% 6 1.6% 13 -18.3% 31 22.7% 4
7 GB 16.1% 7-1 5.9 4 15.6% 7 -2.1% 22 -10.1% 25 3.8% 29
8 MIN 13.7% 3-5 5.6 9 13.8% 8 0.8% 15 -15.1% 29 18.0% 8
9 JAC 10.4% 5-3 5.6 8 10.3% 9 2.7% 12 7.0% 10 5.6% 24
10 SEA 10.1% 4-4 4.9 12 9.2% 10 -6.5% 30 -23.3% 32 13.7% 11
11 NYG 6.3% 6-2 5.1 10 7.7% 11 -6.0% 28 14.7% 4 6.2% 21
12 PHI 5.0% 3-5 5.1 11 2.7% 13 2.9% 11 14.1% 5 18.4% 6
13 SD 4.8% 4-4 4.6 17 5.6% 12 0.3% 17 1.1% 14 25.0% 3
14 WAS 0.6% 5-3 4.4 18 0.2% 16 3.7% 9 15.4% 3 9.9% 16
15 CLE -0.9% 5-3 4.8 16 0.8% 15 0.6% 16 -11.0% 27 5.5% 25
16 BUF -2.1% 4-4 4.8 14 1.0% 14 8.2% 2 6.6% 11 11.8% 13
TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
W-L ESTIM.
WINS
RANK WEIGHTED
DVOA
RANK PAST
SCHED
RANK FUTURE
SCHED
RANK VAR. RANK
17 CIN -3.8% 2-6 4.9 13 -4.7% 18 7.5% 4 -10.9% 26 1.8% 32
18 DET -7.0% 6-2 4.8 15 -6.0% 19 -6.2% 29 11.2% 7 19.9% 5
19 NO -7.8% 4-4 4.3 19 -4.5% 17 3.1% 10 -14.1% 28 9.2% 17
20 BAL -8.3% 4-4 3.6 24 -8.3% 20 -10.8% 32 21.1% 1 6.2% 20
21 ARI -9.5% 3-5 3.6 25 -9.9% 21 -5.5% 27 -17.4% 30 28.4% 2
22 KC -13.0% 4-4 3.8 21 -11.6% 22 -3.3% 23 -2.3% 18 8.9% 18
23 HOU -13.6% 4-5 3.6 23 -16.3% 24 -2.0% 21 11.6% 6 14.5% 10
24 DEN -14.1% 3-5 3.7 22 -16.5% 25 8.6% 1 -8.2% 24 18.4% 7
25 CAR -15.7% 4-4 3.9 20 -14.5% 23 0.1% 18 3.0% 13 11.6% 14
26 ATL -20.6% 2-6 3.0 27 -19.9% 26 -4.0% 25 4.0% 12 3.2% 30
27 CHI -22.3% 3-5 3.1 26 -21.5% 27 6.3% 5 -1.4% 16 5.6% 23
28 MIA -23.2% 0-8 2.6 28 -24.5% 28 5.2% 7 10.0% 8 5.4% 26
29 NYJ -25.7% 1-8 2.6 29 -24.6% 29 4.8% 8 19.3% 2 5.4% 27
30 OAK -35.1% 2-6 1.5 31 -34.7% 30 -5.1% 26 7.1% 9 15.0% 9
31 STL -41.1% 0-8 1.6 30 -41.1% 31 -1.3% 20 -4.3% 22 13.1% 12
32 SF -50.4% 2-6 1.2 32 -51.9% 32 -3.9% 24 -4.0% 21 8.9% 19

Every week, I've been running a little feature tracking how the Pats and Colts were doing compared to the best teams ever in DVOA, going back to 1996. This week, we're going to change it a little bit. First of all, we'll do just one list -- the best teams through Week 9, not nine games. After next week, the bye won't mean the Pats and Colts have played a different number of games. We're also going to extend the lists a bit past the Top 10 to demonstrate just how incredible this season is. We're also adding a third list, because while nobody was looking, the Tennessee Titans have built what might be a 2006 Bears/2000 Ravens-level defense. Really.

Best DVOA Ever Watch

BEST TOTAL DVOA
AFTER WEEK 9
BEST OFFENSIVE DVOA
AFTER WEEK 9
  BEST DEFENSIVE DVOA
AFTER WEEK 9
2007 NE 70.9%   2007 NE 47.0%   2002 TB -41.2%
2007 IND 53.8%   2000 STL 43.7%   1996 GB -38.4%
1996 GB 49.4%   2000 IND 43.1%   1998 OAK -32.7%
2001 STL 46.8%   2007 IND 40.5%   1999 JAC -31.3%
1999 STL 46.5%   2004 IND 40.3%   2007 TEN -30.7%
2001 PHI 46.5%   1999 WAS 36.3%   1997 SF -29.9%
2007 DAL 44.0%   1998 DEN 33.0%   2006 BAL -29.0%
2000 TEN 43.7%   2006 IND 32.7%   1996 DEN -28.7%
1999 JAC 43.1%   2002 SF 32.1%   2000 BAL -27.1%
2002 TB 42.6%   2004 KC 30.9%   2003 MIA -27.0%
2005 IND 40.1%   2005 DEN 30.4%   2000 TB -26.9%
2003 KC 39.9%   2002 KC 30.3%   2006 CHI -26.6%
1997 SF 39.1%   2001 STL 30.2%   2000 TEN -25.6%
1998 DEN 38.7%   2007 DAL 29.9%   2001 PHI -25.2%
2007 PIT 36.1%   1998 MIN 29.7%   2003 TB -25.1%

How good is the Tennessee defense? Only two teams have ever had a defensive DVOA of -30% or better for a full season: the 2002 Bucs and the 2000 Ravens. I don't know if the Titans can keep this up. This is the first week all year where they've had a rating better than -30%. Still, it is amazing that we even have to start the conversation. Nobody is talking about Tennessee. Even hardcore fans like those who read FO probably can't name more than three members of their starting lineup. You all know Keith Bulluck and Albert Haynesworth. Maybe you said Chris Hope? Nick Harper? Kyle Vanden Bosch? If you read the Top 25 Prospects list in PFP 2007, you may remember Cortland Finnegan and Stephen Tulloch (although Tulloch is not starting). Even more incredible, the Titans are doing this with their most talented defensive player suspended for the season! And yes, Pacman Jones is that good, and I do not doubt that this team would be even better on defense with him around.

The Titans defense does not stand out in any one area. The Titans rank fifth or better against the pass, against the run, on first down, on second down, on third down, in the first quarter, in the third quarter, and in the fourth quarter. They are seventh in the second quarter and eighth in the red zone.

And yet, despite having a defense that good, the Titans can't even sniff the top four teams in overall DVOA because a) the Tennessee passing game is so bad and b) the other four teams are so good. Which brings us to the next issue on our agenda...

All year long, I've been trying to get across the idea that the Patriots were not the only team enjoying a season of historical greatness. I've talked a lot about the Colts. Now it is time to talk about the Cowboys and Steelers as well.

Despite losing to the Pats in the Game of the Century, the Colts are still the second-best team we've ever measured through Week 9. No team had ever put up a DVOA over 50% through Week 9, but the Colts are doing that and the Pats are going far beyond just doing that. Right below them are Dallas and Pittsburgh. This year we are seeing four of the top 15 teams ever measured by DVOA through half a season.

The 2007 Cowboys would have led the league in DVOA at midseason any of the past five seasons, and are the best team ever ranked third through Week 9. The 2007 Steelers would have been leading the league in DVOA last year at this time, and they are the best team ever ranked fourth through Week 9. (Ironically, because the top of the league was so bunched up at midseason last year, the second-best teams ever ranked third and fourth through Week 9 are the 2006 Chargers and 2006 Giants.)

There's a colossal gap between that and the Titans. The 2007 Titans are the NINTH-best team to be ranked fifth after Week 9. (The best was the 2005 Bengals.) The Bucs and Packers are the seventh-best teams to ever be ranked sixth and seventh after Week 9.

In any other year, where the Pats and Colts were just regular ol' good teams, the main conversation in football would be whether any team other than Green Bay could derail yet another classic Dallas-Pittsburgh matchup in the Super Bowl. NFL Network would be digging out tape from Super Bowl XIII and Super Bowl XXX. Terry Bradshaw would be razzing Jimmy Johnson about having "only" two rings. ESPN would be interviewing Tony Dorsett and Lynn Swann and even Neil O'Donnell.

This domination by four teams does not seem to signify an overall decline in parity across the league. The whole NFL hasn't spread out, away from 0% DVOA. At the bottom, only the 49ers are jousting with historical ineptitude. The Jets, the Dolphins, and even the Rams are just run-of-the-mill bad teams, no worse than the worst teams of past seasons (or at least, past midseasons).

Just to show the domination of the top four in one other way, here is a table giving the average DVOA rating of the teams ranked 1-4 and the teams ranked 5-8 after Week 9 of every season for which we have the play-by-play breakdowns.


YEAR TOP 4 NEXT 4 DIF   YEAR TOP 4 NEXT 4 DIF
2007 51.2% 17.4% 33.8%   2003 29.4% 16.7% 12.7%
1996 36.0% 16.9% 19.1%   2000 35.0% 22.4% 12.7%
2001 33.9% 15.4% 18.5%   2006 34.4% 22.0% 12.4%
1997 27.7% 12.8% 15.0%   1998 29.9% 18.4% 11.6%
1999 35.4% 20.5% 14.9%   2002 30.3% 19.0% 11.3%
2004 30.9% 16.2% 14.7%   2005 32.9% 26.8% 6.1%

The greatness of the top four teams is screwing with our perceptions of the rest of the league. Let me give you an example: the Philadelphia Eagles. Every week, the Eagles seem to look worse and worse and yet they stay high in DVOA. This is the second straight year this has happened, but all the declining veterans are a year older now and it sure doesn't seem like there is a late-season surge coming. DVOA ranks the Eagles 12th, and that team I saw on the field at the Linc Sunday night sure didn't look like one of the top dozen teams in football.

However, the Eagles looked that bad in large part because the Cowboys are so good. The middle of the league is pretty bunched together right now. It seems ridiculous to have them 12th, but look at the teams ranked below them and ask yourself: which of these teams would you really favor to beat the Eagles on a neutral field? The Chargers, maybe... but the Chargers are ahead of the Eagles in weighted DVOA anyway. The Redskins? Jason Campbell is struggling as much as Donovan McNabb lately. I don't think the Eagles are really better than the Browns. Brian Westbrook is the kind of player who should kill the Bills defense. The Bengals don't even have a defense. The Lions? Didn't the Eagles totally beat them down a few weeks ago? Remember, that game counts in the ratings too.

Once you look closer at the rest of the league, Philadelphia being 12th in regular DVOA and 13th in weighted DVOA really isn't that strange.

Housekeeping: The premium database is updated, the team stats pages are updated, the individual stats pages are updated, and the playoff odds are updated (Pats: 22.8 percent chance of going undefeated). The Loser League will be updated after we announce the winner of Loser League Part I in tomorrow's Scramble for the Ball. You can also now register your team for Loser League Part II.

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

(And people doubted me when I said that eventually I would go back to writing the really long, rambling DVOA commentaries...)

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 06 Nov 2007

153 comments, Last at 10 Nov 2007, 6:28pm by Andrew

Comments

1
by PatsFan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 9:18pm

Aaron,

A Pats website elsewhere said that excluding kneeldowns, the Pats have only had 32 negative plays in 602 offensive snaps.

Can you give some context on how that compares to the league in general?

2
by PatsFan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 9:22pm

Also, the Playoff Odds page still has a column called "DAVE". Shouldn't that be changed to DVOA now?

3
by Nathan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 9:28pm

This is one of those years where it would be nice to have DVOA back even farther to see just how crazy this is. What about Niners/Cowboys level crazy?

4
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 9:32pm

Damn you, Schatz, for tormenting me with 5.6 estimated wins for the 3-5 Vikings!!!

A few, non-hysterical, observations....

Dallas just doesn't intuitively seem that much better than the rest of the NFC to me, probably because the Vikings and Bills intuitively don't seem to me to be as good as DVOA ranks them.

Amazing what rushing for 378 yards against what was a highly ranked defense will do to a team's offensive ranking. I'll believe that the Vikings' offense is ranked in the upper half when a team completely sells out to stop Peterson, and the Vikings do something about it. Of course, if they do, the Vikings may become a top ten offense. Peetrson is that good.

Jeff Fisher can coach.

5
by Jin (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 9:37pm

Holy crap, the Vikings are 8th?!?!?!?! Vikings offense 14th?!?!?!?! Adrian Peterson for MVP. For the love of the football gods, get McNabb in the offseason.

6
by Oswlek (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 9:45pm

DVOA totally nailed it on the Pats/Colts.

*Offenses that moved well at times? Check.
* Defenses that despite allowing some yardage made big, drive stopping plays? Check.
* Game essentially decided due to NE's superior special teams coverage and punt returns? Check.

Job well done.

7
by the K (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 9:52pm

Detroit Lions: The Phantom Menace

And it's almost as good to see the Bills crack the top half as it was to see them all in Quick Reads.

8
by turbohappy (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 9:54pm

Indy still 9.0 estimated wins? Interesting. I guess that's assuming an average schedule and they have the 3rd hardest schedule, so I guess it does make sense.

9
by Bobman (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 10:00pm

Am I missing something on past/future schedules? Everyone has been saying that Indy's past and future sked is tougher than NE's.... but above Indy's past/future skeds are ranked 3 and 23, while NE's are 6 and 17.

What gives? Does Indy's load really lighten up that much? Did this weekend's "other" games featuring SD and Pitt affect the skeds that much (Indy faces SD, which lost soundly to a mediocre team and NE faces Pitt, which thrashed a mediocre team). Still, Ind faces Tenn and Jax, while NE faces... the AFC East.

Any insights on SOS in general are appreciated.

10
by johonny (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 10:00pm

It's nice to see Sage Rosenfels playing well. I always wondered why Sage Rosenfels never got much of a chance in Miami? He's not a great QB but seems like a competent back up.

11
by jimm (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 10:00pm

Seeing the Vikings ranked 8th gives me great hope, because I think these ratings are likely as accurate as anything out there. It also makes me aware of just how precarious being a coach in the NFL is. Brad Childress is largely considered a bust as a coach, but as per these rankings he and Spielman have improved the team substantially while making them quite a bit younger at many positions.

I said this 2 or 3 weeks ago on this site that I felt Minn will catch Det. These rankings make me feel a lot more confident about that happening.

I'm not sure I'd take another team in the NFC going into 2008 than the Vikings. If they are 8th with absolutely no decent QB than where might they be with an upgrade at that position?

12
by Dr. Mooch (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 10:03pm

The Ravens might want to just find a dark corner to cry in. Their first half schedule was a league-easiest -10.8% DVOA. Their second half is a league-hardest 21.1%. Ouch.

13
by jebmak (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 10:04pm

I don't see how to get the playoff odds page?

14
by D (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 10:05pm

Aaron, you said something a few weeks ago about how you are dealing with teams playing keep away from Hester. Anything about that?

15
by vanya (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 10:06pm

I'm just glad to see the Bills leapfrog the Ravens. For all stray comments for a few weeks around here about the Ravens being "a good team" and the Bills being "a bad team", DVOA now seems to bear out my prejudices.

16
by Josh (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 10:06pm

Even hardcore fans like those who read FO probably can’t name more than three members of their starting lineup

Come on!

Antwan Odom, David Thornton, Ryan Fowler, Michael Griffin, Tony Brown, Nick Harper.

And Travis LaBoy rotates in a lot. Randy Starks also gets in a good bit.

17
by coldbikemessenger (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 10:08pm

Aaron,

A Pats website elsewhere said that excluding kneeldowns, the Pats have only had 32 negative plays in 602 offensive snaps.

Can you give some context on how that compares to the league in general?

Do you mean sacks + stuffs?
If that is so the top 5 teams from 2002-2006 were
1. 2002 Lions 68
2. 2004 Raiders 69
3. 2003 Jags 69
4. 2006 Colts 70
5. 2003 Saints 70

bottom 5
1. 2002 Texans 143
2. 2004 Bears 130
3. 2005 Vikings 130
4. 2003 Rams 127
5. 2002 Cowboys 126

18
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 10:10pm

jimm, if I were Childress, I'd certainly figure out a way for Zyggi Wilf to discover the FO website. Maybe Chilly can't get incentive language in his contract for estimated wins!

19
by louis (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 10:12pm

Yeah, sure DVOA is great -- if you're the kind of person who likes staring at giant charts crammed with soulless, impassive numbers. (At least, that's why I love it.)

It seems to me though (and perhaps someone who understands DVOA better may clarify) that since DVOA is calculated by breaking down individual plays, the one thing these stats cannot reflect is the effect of a team's overall strategic propensities.

By "strategy" here I'm referring to things like clock management, aggressiveness on key downs, and the evolution of the (both offensive and defensive) play-calling throughout the game.

To examine the extremal situation, suppose Bill Belichick (ostensibly now in command of The Greatest Offense in the History of DVOA or something like that) decides to adopt the following strategy: From now on, if the Patriots pick up a first down beyond their opponent's 30-yard line, the offense will do nothing but come out 5-wide and attempt shot after shot into the end zone on 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th downs.

Hopefully one can safely assume that the Patriots would lose most of their remaining games with this approach. (And not least because, uh... it would be a pretty easy tendency for opposing teams to pick up on -- hello, seven-man blitz!) But, just as a thought experiment: What effect would this have on their DVOA? I mean I realize that DVOA somehow gives more weight to plays in the red-zone, etc. But even so, if it remained the case that the majority of Patriots plays were successful, but their drives consistently crapped out due to this strategy, wouldn't their DVOA remain almost as high?

My point is simply that somewhere between this scenario and anything that a team would actually do lies a great deal of what happens to bring about a disparity between a team's record and its DVOA.

20
by Waverly (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 10:13pm

If Viking fans are chagrined by having 2.6 less wins than estimated, Bengals fans probably feel worse.

But don't feel too bad, because the estimated wins calculation assumes having played 9 games.

21
by Joe (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 10:14pm

Doesn't it just mean that the top four teams are just that much better than a lot of pretty bad teams? So when you say "Best Ever" it's really just because of the remaining mediocrity isn't it?

22
by MC2 (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 10:15pm

I've seen the Titans play a couple of times this year, and I agree that their defense is excellent. However, having said that, there should probably be some kind of adjustment for playing teams quarterbacked by David Carr, who has no business still being employed by an NFL team.

23
by coldbikemessenger (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 10:17pm

Patsfan,
if you mean sacks + stuffs as a percentage of plays its a little different.

top 5
1. 2003 Jags 14.84 plays per neg play
2. 2004 Denver 14.67
3. 2003 Saints 14.56
4. 2004 Colts 14.44
5. 2002 Lions 14.06

bottom 5
1. 2002 Texans 6.62
2. 2005 Vikings 7.26
3. 2004 Bears 7.44
4. 2002 Cowboys 7.52
5. 2002 Panthers 7.87

24
by Matt (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 10:17pm

The thing about the Steelers too is that conventional wisdom said they hadn't beaten anybody when they handled the reeling Browns and Bills so easily in weeks 1 and 2, and now both of these teams are in the top half in DVOA, with the wounded Bengals just slightly behind. Add in the Seahawks at #10, and the Steelers have beaten 4 uneven but reasonably competent teams -- not just the hopeless cases that the Bills and Browns seemed to be way back when the Browns dumped Frye and the Bills lost their entire defense to injury.

Whereas most people would be more impressed by the thrashing of a Ravens team that so thoroughly dominated the Steelers just a year ago, but it turns out that the Ravens are the biggest patsy on the Steelers' victory list thus far other than lowly San Francsico.

25
by Joe (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 10:18pm

Sorry...got ahead of myself reading.
Great stuff! ;)

26
by justin (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 10:22pm

as a die hard seahawks fan i fail to see how their 10th.

27
by Matt (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 10:27pm

26 - Special Teams #1 helps.

28
by Andy (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 10:29pm

#26: Agreed.

More than an indication of how good Seattle is, it seems to me that the Seahawks' ranking shows how awful the rest of the league must be.

Thank god for Burleson. Go Hawks!

29
by Tom (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 10:30pm

DVOA doesn't seem to capture how bad the Bengals defense is.

30
by Joe in Seattle (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 10:33pm

#26

An awesome special teams unit, a pretty solid defense and despite begin .500 they do have a +27 point differential.

They've lost 2 games on last second field goals that probably could of gone either way (at Cleveland, at Arizona).

I don't think Seattle is great or anything, but I do think they are decent overall.

31
by Kurt (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 10:38pm

Philadelphia is clearly ranked too high because it's apparent just watching them play that they're embarrassingly awful. Alphabetizing my sock drawer is way better than watching Donovan McNabb throw checkdown after checkdown when he's down by 28 points. If I get stuck with the Eagles on Sunday night one more time I may have to gouge my own eyes out, or switch to watching Cold Case and Shark.

32
by justin (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 10:39pm

yea we got a great special teams, and a pretty good defense, and our passing game is ok

our oline is HORRIBLE, run game non existent

we've played the 3rd easiest schedule, and are only a .500 team. don't get me wrong we will make the playoffs, not because were good because the rest of the division sucks.

33
by Temo (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 10:40pm

It's interesting that you have the Giants behind the Bucs, seahawks, and packers whereas "conventional thinking" power rankings largely have them as the 2nd best in the NFC, and some even have them above the cowboys.
This could be a classic case of human intuition being wrong because we only remember what we saw last (ie the giants winning the past 6, that defensive show against Philly in prime time, etc.) and not being entirely objective.
Or on the other hand, it could show DVOA's weaknesses in not being able to measure intangibles (which is fair, exactly how would you do that?). Everyone's talking about the giants are happier now with their coach and all that and how that could have affected their early season performance.
Anyway, it'll be interesting to watch this play out in the second half of the season.

34
by Sunil (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 10:41pm

Re: 22
Regardless of QB, the Titans DL has simply shredded every offensive line. Against CAR, Haynesworth was seen tackling the QB when Carr was handing off to the RB. Think about that for a second ... in the time it took CAR to drop back, Haynesworth beat a double team and dropped Foster for a loss just as he was getting the ball.
It's back to the days of the Tennessee Tyrants. Jim Schwartz will be polishing his resume soon.
PS: Titans homer here.

35
by Gus (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 10:44pm

Kurt - don't do it. In terms of football that's worse to watch than Cold Case, there's the Jets defense and the Ravens offense and that's it.

36
by Joe in Seattle (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 10:49pm

#32

I wonder how much of it is the O-line and how much of it is Shaun Alexander sucking?

Weaver finished 8th and 9th in DPAR for weeks 6 and 7 and Morris finished 5th this past week. Both of them running behind the same line that Alexander runs behind.

The O-line has its problems, but the running game could improve greatly with Morris and Weaver carrying the load and 37 hitting the bench.

37
by The Boilermaster (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 10:57pm

My theory on why Alexander sucks so bad....remember when he claimed that he prayed so hard that "God" healed his broken foot? Turns out that "God"=Satan, and in exchange for coming back a teensy bit early, Satan stole his football-soul.

38
by patriotsgirl (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 11:05pm

9: It's not necessarily a particularly helpful "insight," but looking at it crudely, the schedule strength seems about right.

Indy and NE each still have to play two awful teams: ATL/OAK and NYJ/MIA, respectively. (OAK is by a decent-sized margin the worst of all of those teams.)

Indy/NE each play one top-5 team (Tenn and Pit) and some slightly above average teams that are clustered together (SD, NYG/PHI). Although Indy also plays Jax, it plays a whole lot of mediocre-to-bad teams (Den/KC/Hou) that are worse than NE's average-to-below-average combo of Buf/Bal. And, as you say, the gap between Pitt and Tenn is fairly substantial.

31: While what you say is true, I have no problem watching Philly checkdowns while down by 28 when I have Westbrook in a PPR league. (I know I'm going to rue that comment when he inevitably gets injured *knock on wood*, but I'll enjoy it while it lasts.)

39
by nat (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 11:14pm

37:
Jeez, you guys blame Belichick for everything.

40
by The Boilermaster (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 11:18pm

@39:

nice response. i lol'd irl.

41
by dmb (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 11:20pm

33: It's not exactly an "intangibles" proxy, but using weighted DVOA would, to some extent, take into account the possibility that some early-season change (in this case, a better locker room atmosphere, etc.) results in performances that should not be considered as valid as later ones.

39: In light of what happened to last week's threads, I was hoping that He Who Should not Be Named would . . .well . . not be named. But that was too funny for you to pass up. Kudos!

42
by KevinNYC (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 11:21pm

#33... It's neither IMO.

Look at the Giants offensive passing rating before and after the Miami game. They had a dreadful game against a dreadful defense. They fell from 7th overall offensively to 13th. That's why they've been passed by a few teams and have remained stagnant recently. DVOA doesn't care about London or the Wembley Field conditions (I'm NOT complaining). Being 29th on special teams doesn't help either... especially when the team right before them is 1st.

Before opponent adjustments, Brandon Jacobs is the top RB in the league per play.

43
by dbt (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 11:22pm

#35:

Gus, I suggest you watch some Bears offense.

44
by raffy (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 11:23pm

I need a little help here from the experienced FO followers. I am a big fan of the game, FO and DVOA, not any one team. I do not understand the formulas and assumptions that if you go from 80% strength of schedule to 90% strength of schedule, SD and MIN move eight places after one game and "magically" the interior numbers (line adjusted, offense, defense DVOA) now reflect what was seen on Sunday, whereas before Sunday's game one would have expected a vastly different result. Would any FO follower in their right mind have thought that SD had a chance to win the game if they saw what DVOA says today, vs what was there at kick-off? If my lack of FO experience is causing me to miss something, please let me know.

45
by jonnyblazin (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 11:28pm

Woohoo! Ravens top Vikings for the top spot in rush defense DVOA. I'm trying to stay positive here.

Remember how when the Ravens drafted Ngata some people said they did it to placate Ray Ray? At this point one could make the argument he's one of the best interior defensive lineman in the league at the tender age of 23-certainly the most dominant one that young. It was a great pick.

Now that the season is effectively over for the Ravens, its rebuilding time! Actually, they should be fairly competitive next year, provided they draft a quality QB (in a very QB-deep draft) and get younger at CB. Maybe DeAngelo Hall? His trade value is probably pretty low at this point, and he's not a great player, but he's young, aggressive, and a loudmouth-a perfect Raven. My concern would be that he would want an extension that matches his hype but not production.

46
by AndyE (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 11:39pm

For the Playoff Odds report, is it fair to assume that, effectively, each game is played independently? That the postseason odds wouldn't take into account any possible impact to certain teams who might choose not to rest their starters in Week 17?

47
by Matt Weiner (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 11:47pm

jebmak #13, if you're still looking for the playoff odds -- go to the top of the page and rollover "Just the stats," a menu should pop up and the playoff odds report is near the bottom.

48
by oljb (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 11:48pm

I notice that Pittsburgh and Arizona are 1 and 2 in variance respectively. How much of those rankings have to do with the game they played against each other? Or have they both been unusually variable beyond that?

49
by throughthelookingglass (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 11:49pm

16: Josh, aren't you a Titans fan?

Anyway I could have named Bulluck, Thornton, Haynesworth, Vanden Bosch, LaBoy, Harper, Hope. (pats self on back)

50
by Temo (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 11:50pm

42. That's a great point, I didn't think of that. At some point in the future it might be feasible to get a "weather effects" variable in the style of baseball's "park effects". It'd be a lot harder since the sample size for that is so much smaller in the NFL, but it should probably be studied at some point. I may try it out in the off season just for curiosity's sake.

51
by Dev (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 12:12am

Re: #5
Indeed, Adrian Peterson for MVP. He's doing all that on a team that has no passing offense to worry about!

But no way should they get McNabb, who is old and busted. I wish they could get Rothlisberger somehow.

52
by Temo (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 12:23am

51. Well if you're going for Roethlisberger, why not just say screw it and go for Manning or Brady? I mean, you have about the same chance to get one of those guys. You don't just go out and get yourself a franchise QB who hasn't even hit his prime years yet.

53
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 12:25am

Gee, Dev, why don't you just wish for Peyton Manning or Tom Brady instead?

54
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 12:29am

Sorry, temo, I should have suggested they pick up Moss, Welker, and Dallas Clark while they were at it.

55
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 12:33am

33, 42: I think the Giants are ranked just fine.

33 said that "conventional thinking" has them over the Bucs, Seahawks, and Packers, and maybe even above the Cowboys. I'm not sure this is actually true of conventional thinking, but if so, the conventional thinking is wrong. (At least as far as the Bucs, Packers, and Cowboys go. I think DVOA's love for the Seahawks is a little bit puzzling.)

Essentially, the Giants started out 2-2, and then they were given four gift games, vs New York, at Atlanta, vs San Francisco, and "at" Miami. Those four teams have fewer wins put together than the Giants have. Obviously, I'm making a considerable strength of schedule argument. The Giants did go 4-0 in their gift stretch, which certainly suggests they're pretty good. Also, they didn't make their schedule, they just beat most of the teams on it. Nonetheless, we should consider that DVOA has the Giants with the 28th ranked past schedule.

For the Packers and Cowboys, I could make the simple argument that both teams are 7-1 with more difficult schedules, and they both beat the Giants head-to-head.

As for the Bucs, it's obviously not as clear-cut. They can put away bad teams very easily; they've blown out every team in their division, outscoring those opponents 75-24. In comparison, the Giants weren't able to similarly put away the hapless Dolphins, even though they had just lost Ronnie Brown.

Other than their weak division, though, the Bucs have had a very rough schedule. While the Giants were taking their four free games against opponents who were a combined 5-28, the Bucs played the Colts, Lions, Titans, and Jaguars, who are a combined 24-6. Their schedules lately couldn't be more markedly different.

I don't need DVOA to tell me that the Giants haven't really beaten anyone who's very good.

Nonetheless, DVOA does seem to think the Giants are much better than the 6-2 Lions. Apparently not even DVOA believes that the Lions could actually be good.

56
by Josh (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 12:42am

16: Josh, aren’t you a Titans fan?

Yes.

I thought Aaron was referring to hardcore Titans fans, not hardcore fans in general.

While I like our defense, I'm bummed about Pac not being reinstated by Roger Putin Goodell, LenDayne White sucking, and Vince Young regressing.

57
by Matt (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 12:43am

I posted this question in another thread, but no one bit. (Probably means I shouldn't bother again, but here goes anyway.)

Speaking of variance, but looking at it year-to-year, has any other team in anyone's memory ridden the kind of roller coaster that the Jets are riding?

2004: 5th in DVOA (26.4%); 10-6 record; playoffs

2005: 27th in DVOA (-20.0%); 4-12 record; top 5 draft pick

2006: 19th in DVOA (-4.7); yet a 10-6 record, and playoffs

2007: (through 9 games) 29th in DVOA (-25.7%); 1-8 record; top 5 draft pick (for now)

The 2006 DVOA number shows that DVOA wasn't fooled by the Jets record and post-season appearance, so maybe the variance year-to-year is not that great; but mostly I was impressed by this pattern of playoffs one year, top 5 pick the next.

58
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 12:48am

It'll be interesting this week to see if the Lions can bring some of their Ford Field competence on the road, although the Cards are probably not the best test of that.

59
by The McNabb Bowl Game Anomaly (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 12:51am

I really appreciate that there are no Redskins fans on here complaining about how they are only 14th (16th weighted) despite a record of 5-3.

We Skins fans know that the team is not really very good.

60
by jimm (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 12:55am

Will - DVOA suggests a pretty close matchup but for the Lions and Arizona. The Lions better win that one because after that game they would be an underdog in every game the rest of the season save the KC at home game.

Det schedule After Arizona

NYG
GB
@Minn
Dall
@SD
KC
@GB

61
by KevinNYC (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 1:11am

#55... I'm certainly not saying the Giants have played a good team (DVOA-wise) the past 4 weeks.

However, it's certain that they would be ranked higher overall if they just maintained the offensive ranking they had prior to the Miami game. Losing nearly 5 percentage points off their offensive DVOA (dropping 6 spots in the process) after one game rife with abnormalities hardly presents a clear picture of how the Giants have played.

62
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 1:18am

jimm, it appears as if the Lions may have some serious home field mojo going on this year, especially on defense. I think they will likely be competitive with anyone on their schedule at Ford Field, with the possible exception of Dallas.

63
by Matt (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 1:25am

55, 61 et al.

The Giants are clearly ranked too low because Vic Carucci says they are way better than the Steelers. Vic Carucci saying you are way better than the Steelers is way better than this. Eli M #1 pick in draft, Big Ben Worthlessburger #11 baby!

64
by jimm (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 1:27am

Vikes sign Koy Detmer. Given the state of the Vikings QB situation it wouldn't be surprising to see him actually play.

I'm actually cautiously optimistic about Bollinger. I think he played very well against Philly and SD. But I fear Childress will put Jackson back in as soon as he is healthy enough to play.

65
by jimm (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 1:30am

Will - they sure seem to have some things going there way at home, but I think that has a lot more to do with fortune than good football. I think if the Vikes do make a late season run Det will be a main competitor for the Wild Card spot, so I'm really hoping I'm right that they are about to implode.

66
by Matt (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 1:34am

55, 61 et al.

The Giants are clearly ranked too low because Vic Carucci says they are way better than the Steelers. Vic Carucci saying you are way better than the Steelers is way better than this. Eli M #1 pick in draft, Big Ben Worthlessburger #11 baby!

67
by Jason Bates (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 1:40am

Titans:
Antwan Odom, Tony Brown, Albert Haynesworth, Kyle Vanden Bosch, Keith Bulluck, Ryan Fowler, David Thornton, Nick Harper, Michael Griffin, Chris Hope, Cortland "Blaine Bishop, Jr." Finnegan

I must disagree with my fellow Titan's fans displeasure with Roger Goddell's decision to maintain Adam Jones' suspension for the full season. I believe that his presence in the locker room brings with it an intangible uneasiness that we do not see with Titan's defensive unit this year. I am personally glad that Jones is not currently on the field, and this is coming from someone that thought the world of his playing ability and what he has brought to the Titans in terms of skill set and potential.

Offensively I think that Coach Chow has beat the idea of always looking for the throw and to ignore the run instinct into Vince Young, and I think the offense is suffering for it. Last season the effective running tandem of Young and Henry was able to set up Vince's passing opportunities. This season has seen Vince sit in the pocket for much longer, constantly looking for the pass when he has a solid running play in front of him. I have seen multiple times this season that Vince is trying to force a shaky throwing game when he has a solid running game. Much ado has been made about the loss of Drew Bennett and Bobby Wade, but I believe that the change in Vince's approach to the quarterback position is to blame for the Titan's lack of offensive production thus far.

68
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 1:43am

Me too, Jimm, but I think they are actually getting better. They may be as well coached as they have ever been, or at least in 50 years, although Bobby Ross was decent.

69
by thestar5 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 1:43am

I'm glad to see the 'Boys are finally getting some props. I am thrilled with their season thus far. They are truly an elite team IMO. And I'm also glad to see that despite what people say, Indy isn't miles ahead of the rest of the league, or at least Dallas. :)

And I could only get Haynsworth, Bullock, Vanden Bosch, and Hope. ;)

70
by Temo (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 1:48am

55. I think of "conventional thinking" as whomever Vegas makes the favorite. I can't see them making the Bucs or the seahawks a favorite over the giants. And I think the Giants would be a slight Vegas favorite on a neutral field against the Packers.
As for the lions, well conventional thinking doesn't think the Lions are very good either. We're all skeptical of the Lions this year, and DVOA is no different.
And I wasn't making any judgments as to whether I think the Giants are underrated (as a Cowboys fan, I hope they're exactly as average as DVOA says they are). It's just that other than maybe the Eagles, I think the Giants have the largest differential between "conventional thinking" and dova ranking (not so much in actual ranking, but in the degree to which Dvoa says they're behind the league's elite), so it's interesting from that point of view to gauge Dvoa's worth as an alternative statistical evaluation tool.
And if it turns out that they are underrated, then Kevin already pointed a potential reason why their DVOA would be significantly worse than it should be.

71
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 1:50am

#62

Detroit is not afraid of Dallas. Knocked them off last year with a much worse roster. Lions making two trips to Arizona this year.

72
by Matt (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 1:51am

55, 61, 68 et al.

The Giants are clearly ranked too low because Vic Carucci says they are way better than the Steelers. Vic Carucci saying you are way better than the Steelers is way better than this. Eli M #1 pick in draft, Big Ben Worthlessburger #11 baby!

73
by Jason Mulgrew aka The Mul-Dawg aka Fantasy Football Legend (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 1:52am

Uncle Jase is back.

The Eagles being 12th on that list really truly warms my heart.

Pause.

Not!

12th in DVOA is nice and all, but give me wins.

The Eagles are really killing Uncle Jase this year.

74
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 1:55am

As a pessimistic Lions fan, I got to say I can see this team going to the playoffs. They have holes, but the past couple of weeks a healthy Kevin Jones has led to a more balanced offense. The defense has been turnover machines. They very well might be the 2005 Bengals.

75
by Temo (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 2:04am

70. One, I don't know who Vic Carucci is. Two, I specifically said I wasn't making judgments on whether the Giants should be ranked higher.

76
by Matt (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 2:08am

73 -

Vic Carucci is a football expert at NFL.com. I tried to link to the story, but every time I tried to put the link in my name the dog ate my homework.

Sorry -- I wasn't making fun of you or suggesting that you were the one(s) complaining about DVOA. I just liked Carucci's article in light of Aaron's explanation that the Steelers thus far are clearly at the back of the 4-team pack, but in it at least, and your talk about the Giants and "conventional wisdom" was neatly backed up by Carucci's column.

77
by Miles (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 2:12am

The whole NFL hasn’t spread out, away from 0% DVOA.
It seems like DVOA might have that as a mathematical property-- if the opponents succeed at some percentage, you'd fail at the inverse percentage.

78
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 2:13am

If the Giants' offensive performance was affected by the crazy conditions, so was the Dolphins'. No matter how you cut it, the Giants escaped with a narrow 3 point win over the least talented team in the league.

79
by Temo (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 2:13am

Oh, sorry... I would have probably got it more if I had ever read his stuff.

80
by Temo (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 2:16am

76. Well, bad weather and (especially) bad footing makes games much closer than they should be, because both offenses are severely hampered. I know the Dolphins actually had the choice of whether they wanted to open or close the stadium roof (being the home team) and they left it open. It's not conclusive, but they could have been thinking to hopefully make it a messier game and keep it close, hopefully win on a late turnover or something.

81
by KevinNYC (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 3:06am

#76... I would expect that reaction from someone just reading the scoresheet at the end of the game without actually seeing it. I would expect that same person to also recognize that 7 combined fumbles from the 2 teams might not be a normal occurrence in an NFL game.

82
by navin (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 3:17am

Let's hope SF hires the coach they should have last time--Titans DC Jim Schwartz.

83
by Josh (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 3:19am

but I believe that the change in Vince’s approach to the quarterback position is to blame for the Titan’s lack of offensive production thus far.

I completely agree. Kerry Collins has stepped into the same system with the same personnel and has a DVOA 50pts higher than Vince Young. Hmm, that might mean something?

84
by Josh (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 3:20am

Let’s hope SF hires the coach they should have last time–Titans DC Jim Schwartz.

Please, please no.

Schwartz needs to remain within the Titans org. So he can be groomed to take over for Fisher.

85
by Temo (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 3:29am

All things considered, Kevin, I wish your giants all the worst this Sunday and I hope Tom Caughlin has that disbelieving "wtf" expression on his face for the rest of the season. :)

86
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 3:40am

79: I admitted the conditions were crazy. I don't think they only affected the Giants.

87
by Scott de B. (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 3:49am

What performance baseline is DVOA using nowadays? Aggregate 2002-2006 still, or is it 1996-2006?

88
by Dutch (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 4:14am

#29 "DVOA doesn’t seem to capture how bad the Bengals defense is."

Actually the Bengals offense had numerous opportunities to take charge and put games away. But Carson Palmer , other wise known as God to people like jaworski, is dead last in the AFC in 3rd down passing with a measly 5.35 yPA and a lousy 53% completion percentage. Palmer was unable to finish off the bills. u nable to take charge against Seattle. Numerous games. He's overated.

89
by Dutch (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 4:16am

I can't wait until T.O. and league MVP Moss hurt their knee and miss abotu 4 games. We will see how good those defenses are.

90
by Jeremiah (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 4:33am

87:

Man, if Moss gets hurt, NE's going to be hurting bad. Especially since Brady seems to expect Moss to bail him out on some inaccurate throws and bombs into double coverage. No way they make the superbowl without him this year.

91
by Shawn (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 4:55am

Lions are clearly ranked too low because opponents only converting 35% of field goals against is an obvious sign of destiny. BCS is way better than this because at least they have the good sense to have the undefeated team with the most impressive resume ranked #4.

Minnesota and SD may be the most overrated teams in DVOA history (DVOA era?). That was the most poorly coached game not involving Art Shell and Herm Edwards in NFL history. When will teams realize that stacking against the run with AP in the game only sets up for long TDs. Unless teams start playing soft he may rush for 3000 yards this year.

92
by RickD (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 8:51am

re: 87
Could we please stop with wishing injuries on football players?

93
by Levente, Hungary (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 8:58am

Re: Vic Carucci
That reminds me, the commentator on the Hungarian broadcast refers to him as "chief analyst" of the NFL and every week brings up his observations. Or Brandt's.

Yes, the Hungarian broadcast is sooo good :-)

When LJ reached his season carries record, the booth simly was ecstatic about it. Oh, and the guy is a KC fan. I guess he is not that happy now.

94
by Josh (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 9:34am

88: They came pretty close to making the Super Bowl last year with Reche Caldwell as their first receiver. Granted, their defense isn't as good as last year's, and the Colts are looking even better than their Super Bowl team, but a Moss injury, while incredibly damaging, wouldn't mean an end to their season; they'd still be a Super Bowl-quality team, just not nearly as dominant as they have been over the first nine weeks.

95
by Ben (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 10:11am

I'm sure that Brady is going to win MVP as a combo season/lifetime achievement award, but I think a reasonable argument can be made for Moss as MVP. I really think he is what makes that offense go. Not just his catches, but with how the defense has to adjust for him and how he pulls coverage downfield and opens up the underneath routes.

96
by Theo, Holland (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 10:17am

re 87.
Football would be a lot more fun if you appreciate players like that instead of wishing them to get hurt.

97
by Eric P (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 10:24am

92: Because of the Pats passing prowess there seems to be a perception that the Pats can't run the ball and have a suspect defense. According to DVOA, their defense is considerably better than last year (-17% to -8%), as is their rushing offense (+15% to +4%). While you could argue that Moss' presence is helping out both areas, there's no reason to believe that either unit is actually any worse than last year and everyone knows how close they were to going to the superbowl last year.

98
by Ben (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 10:36am

re:95 I guess that is kind of my point. No one considered the Pats a dominating offense last year. I don't think Brady is playing amazingly better this year then previous years (as in his accuracy or decision making isn't markedly improved, it was always this good), or the running game in and of it self is decidedly better. I think the difference in the Pats offensive performance is due to the better receivers, and most specifically Moss (and with respect to the run game, the threat of Moss).

99
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 10:49am

I think the difference in the Pats offensive performance is due to the better receivers, and most specifically Moss (and with respect to the run game, the threat of Moss).
True, but (Donte' Stallworth + Wes Welker) are still better than (Doug Gabriel + Reche Caldwell).

And if injuries are a problem, Chad Jackson is coming off the PUP list now, and Troy Brown will in a few weeks. (Neither would make the Patriots forget Moss or Stallworth, but they sure beat scouring the waiver wire and practice squads for warm bodies.)

100
by mawbrew (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 11:33am

Re: the Lions

The Lions opponents FG% isn't just a fluke. The Lions have a very effective scheme (and personel) for disrupting opponents FGs. They line up about eight guys to the right of the center and create tremendous pressure on the blockers on that side. Now, to me, it's an unsound scheme that will eventually be exploited by a fake FG. But as long as folks don't try a fake it's a great approach.

The Lions do look an awful lot like the 2005 Bengals, but turnovers aren't the only reason for their success. Their last three games have been very solid and they have demonstrated much more commitment to offensive balance. If they can avoid panicking when they get behind (and abandoning the running game) I think they will be fine in the second half of the year.

101
by mawbrew (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 11:45am

I usually like to look at these ratings and note where they differ significantly from my subjective evaluations. The most obvious difference continues to be Tampa Bay. Subjectively, they just seem not nearly this good. I'd rate them close to the Redskins. Otherwise, the Vikes seem a little high (but they are tough to get a handle on) and the Saints a little low but not hugely out of whack.

102
by Eric P (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 11:58am

96: I don't think there's any doubt that the upgrade at receiver is primarily responsible for the upswing in the Pats O this year. However, given just how incredibly poor the talent at WR was for them last year, I think this year really shows that Brady should have gotten more consideration last year, not less this year. I just don't see too many voters voting for Moss if Brady and the entire offense are breaking records this year. I don't remember too many arguments against Manning the year he set the TD record, yet it's obvious that his supporting cast was just as instrumental and necessary to his performance as Moss and company is to Brady's.

103
by AndyE (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 12:02pm

While we wait for Wanker's pretty chats, some observtions:

* The AFC and NFC edge closer to parity (+3.6/-3.7) than in the prior two weeks. We can blame the AFC West, going from -6.8 to -14.3.

* It's almost like the two West divisions are competing to see who can play worse (every team in those divisions got worse this week).

* The AFC East is the only division in which every team improved this week. Even the team that didn't play.

* The NFC East, formerly the tightest division, is now firmly in the pack. Their are five close divisions, two spread divisions (AFC South/NFC West), and one division with a gap the size of an average team (AFC East).

* The AFC loser division (MIA/CLE/HOU/OAK) still beats the NFC West. It almost beats the AFC West.

104
by White Rose Duelist (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 12:30pm

#75 Miles

DVOA does not need to add up to 0% league-wide. There are certain aspects that only affect one team's rating - such as kickoff distance (pending potential Hester adjustment) and FG accuracy.

105
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 12:32pm

The throw it up for grabs and expect Moss to catch has been the approach of every decent qb to play with the guy since he came into the league. He made Randall Cunningham look like an All-Pro qb, Dante Culpepper got to the Pro Bowl and it took Tom Brady about five nanoseconds to figure out what works.

I am oversimplifying to some degree as those other quarterbacks had other skills. But I saw this schtick play out too many times during Moss' tenure with the Packers. It's wonderful and infuriating. Quarterback throws a rainbow, guys collect around the ball and that gangly, scrawny cocky mofo comes down with it.

Ok, I am getting annoyed just writing about it. I will stop now......

106
by Marty (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 12:47pm

Aaron- I read this every week and i'm in 1st in my weekly cumaltive so thanks. Can you add a catagory of last 4 games DVOA? That's kind of like how game films are exchanged.

107
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 12:49pm

#89, Shawn, you do realize that Cottrell only had six in the box on Peterson's first long td run, and only seven on his second one, don't you? In contrast the Eagles kept the box filled, and were able to contain Peterson.

108
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 1:00pm

I know it is common knowledge, but I still don't think enough has been made of how good and lucky Patriots management was to acquire THREE receivers in the off season of Moss', Welker's, and Stallworth's caliber. I mean, there are more than a few teams DESPERATE for receiver talent, and these guys all end up with the Patriots.

Also, I know it's sacrilege, but I'll say it; Moss at his peak is better than Jerry Rice at his peak. The key, of course, was that Rice cared enough to maintain his peak consistently for well over a decade.

109
by Brooklyn Bengal (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 1:02pm

How, pray, tell, are the Bengals ranked so high? They have the #5 offense in the league? Are you kidding me? They put up a mere 14 points on Buffalo, a mediocre defense.

110
by John Kim (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 1:05pm

16: You're forgetting Vincent Fuller who's been pretty nice playing the Nickel and Calvin Lowry, who was doing a decent job until we moved Michael Griffin back there.

No more days of Colby Buckwoldt starting on our Defense!

22: It's not just the Panthers. It's every team we're facing, that we're getting pressure on the QB. Peyton Manning had one of his worst outings this season against us. Albert Haynesworth is getting pressures/hurries/sacks from the DT position against double teams. The Corners and Safeties are doing a fantastic job on a mish-mash of zone coverage and man coverage. Cortland Finnegan, IMO, is playing just as good, if not better than Pacman Jones. We give up a little bit of coverage skills with him, but he's just phenomenal in providing run support.

65: I agree fully. Vince is just trying to force way too many passes, and is not letting the game come to him. He's making passes into double coverage, even when there's a wide open lane for him. Hopefully the first drive vs. Carolina was a sign of things to come, and not the rest of the game. I know the WRs havn't done too good of a job in getting separation, but Vince needs to take the open running lane when there is one.

56: Hopefully Chris Henry isn't suspended and starts to get some more burn in the offense. He's doing a far better job than LenDale, and just hits the wide open holes that the o-line creates a lot faster.

111
by Temo (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 2:38pm

Will- I agree with you fully if you mean total value, irregardless of system. But I think you'll agree that as a fit for the west coast offense and the run after the catch importance, that Rice was a better fit for Walsh's system than Moss would be. Not that Moss would be useless in that style, but he'd be just very good and not the legend he's fast becoming in the more vertical passing game.

112
by jimm (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 2:42pm

Some interesting A. Peterson stats

He average 6.6 per rush
When anyone else runs 4.6
When they pass 5.1

The Vikings actually gain more yards on an average AP rush than they give up on a average pass play 6.6 to 6.42.

This strikes me a truly remarkable.

113
by Al 45 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 3:01pm

re: 103

The throw it up for grabs and expect Moss to catch has been the approach of every decent qb to play with the guy since he came into the league.

I'm pretty sure it has been said here, but I'll repeat it.

Yes, Brady over the past few weeks has thrown a few 'jump balls' to Moss. The reason for that is, during the Dallas game, Brady had Moss wide open on a couple of deep plays and over threw him. Up to that point, Brady had consistently hit Moss in stride, so there was no problems throwing the ball with less arch.

However, after those over throws, it appears that Moss basically told Brady, "Just don't over throw me... throw it up and I'll get it."

I think Brady is purposefully under throwing Moss knowing that he at least still has a chance to catch the ball if it's under thrown... if it's over thrown, there's no chance.

This will limit some of the after the catch runs, but when the ball is traveling 50+ yards in the air, who cares?

To me, there's been a noticeable change in how Brady has been delivering the deep ball to Moss since the Dallas game. I have to believe it's deliberate.

114
by JMM (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 3:03pm

Re #103:

On the other hand, Moss also got the "offensive genius" moniker awarded to Brian Billick. As a Steeler fan, I am forced to grant him (Moss) credit against this year’s activity on behalf of the Pats.

115
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 3:12pm

Oh, of course, temo,

116
by Kopi Luwak (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 3:36pm

Any Pats fans still miss Branch?

Moss, Stallworth, and Welker all currently lead Branch in both DPAR and DVOA.

All three are also currently ahead of Branch's 2005 full season DVOA (when he was with the Pats).

117
by Cyrus (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 3:54pm

RE: 114

I never missed Branch, I just wished they could have handled it better. I didn't understand why Branch was expecting that sort of money either-- being the best on the Patriots doesn't mean he was elite.

What I do miss is the thought that we could have traded for Moss last year, instead of Gabriel. I am guessing the Raiders were expecting way too much, but just think-- even if they gave up that 2nd round pick they gave up for Welker, they probably would have won the Super Bowl.

All "What ifs" and whatnot... but Moss >> Caldwell.

And back to Branch, seeing as how he was traded for a 1st round pick, which was traded for SF's first round pick, I am completely fine trading Branch (and two years wait) to get a top 10 pick :)

118
by Cyrus (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 3:56pm

Well... directly he was traded for Meriweather, and we traded our own pick for SF's.

But indirectly, I would say we traded Branch to move up 4 spots in the 1st round and also get a top 10 pick in 2008.

119
by Matt (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 4:23pm

101 -

Can you explain how "the AFC loser division (MIA/CLE/HOU/OAK)" includes Cleveland? Do you mean CIN?

120
by Cyrus (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 4:45pm

RE 117: He means last year's losers.

Interesting that apart from Cleveland, they all remained the same.

In the NFC, none were the same.

PHI dropped from #1 to #4 and the others bumped up one.

CHI dropped from #1 to #4 and DET jumped to #2 from #4.

ATL fell from #3 to #4 and TB jumped up from #4 to #1.

STL and ARI swapped places.

121
by RMoses (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 4:46pm

'nuf said Aaron - DVOA loves Philadelphia!!!

122
by anotherpatsfan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 4:58pm

Re the Pats receivers, I haven't seen the usual Colt fan straw man argument from years past, to the effect that the Pats receivers aren't all that bad and that Brady should get no credit for working with such below par receivers. Amazingly, this persisted last year. This usually ends in a comparison of Brady to some Texas Tech 5th year senior system QB, who would be lost on another lesser team with a different system -- this argument is as silly as one from this weekend, that Marvin is average and only looks good because of Manning.

This year's Pats receiving corps is obviously Brady's best, and he is making the best of a good situation. It is the first year that the Pats even arguably have better receivers than the Colts, and it is the first year in the Wayne-Harrison era that the Pats have ANY guys that could even arguably start at WR for the Colts (Moss for someone (likely Marvin)and Welker over Clark/whoever in the slot). Smurph-like Branch was competent, but he never could have started for the Colts.

Not to spark the Brady/Manning dementia, but Manning likely the best QB in history, but Brady is developing into an excellent QB, and headed towards an amazing season, and despite overvaluation based on Super Bowls, he is potentially the second best QB of his generation. This receiving corps will help him get there.

123
by BigB (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 5:47pm

It would be interesting to see an AFC playoff that pits (4 seed)TEN vs. (1 seed)NE outdoors in the dead of winter. TEN might fare better than IND in that type of climate.

124
by Cyrus (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 6:14pm

RE: 121

It could happen, but it would be #5 seed instead.

Patriots-- #1 seed
Colts-- #2 seed
Steelers-- #3 seed
AFC West-- #4 seed
Titans-- #5 seed
Somebody-- #6 seed

I think the Chargers should come from the West, and the Bills have a chance for the #6 seed, but realistically JAX or CLE.

If the Titans beat the Chargers, they would face the Patriots. And they have a great defense (top in the league, in my opinion) and a good running game-- but the Patriots know how to beat them. Look at last year's win for proof of an effective game plan.

125
by John (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 6:16pm

BigB,

I'd be interested in seeing how the Tennessee defense fares against the New England offense, and the epic battle that would be Albert Haynesworth vs. Logan Mankins (Though he lines up often on the other side with Vanden Bosch)

126
by John (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 6:22pm

As an addenum to my post, 123: We all know that the Titans offense would get wrecked by the Patriots' Defense. Patriots O-Line covers interior gaps effectively, and the in between the Guards run is the Titans' Bread and Margarine (A less than effective substitue of Butter).

127
by PatsFan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 6:25pm

Re: #122

Not quite. In your scenario, if the #6 team were to beat PIT, the #6 would play NE, rendering the TEN/whatever game moot. Remember, the playoffs are re-seeded at each round with the highest remaining seed always playing the lowest remaining seed. There are no brackets.

128
by John (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 6:30pm

Correction to 124: I meant the Patriots' D-Line of course, not the O-Line, as they would not be facing the Titans' O-Line.

129
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 6:35pm

124. My thought would be, similar to the Redskins game. (although the score wouldn't probably be that bad).

The great Titans D would slow down but not completely shut down the Pats O, but the Titans Offense would get destroyed. The game would look decent until NE got a 10 point or so lead, Tenn would be forced to throw all the time, and then the game would get totally out of hand.

For a team to have a shot of beating NE (barring something freaky-deaky), they're going to have to be like Indy: really good on one side, and good on the other. There were only 3 teams on the Pats schedule like that (for the regular season) and they've beat two of them. Pittsburgh is the last one.

130
by anotherpatsfan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 6:47pm

Playing No. 6 seed would be better but Titans would be fine (or Titans at No. 6 beating Steelers would be best of all). Can't imagine the Titans get within 14 points of Pats despite defensive prowess -- unless Young starts running again wild again.

131
by slo-mo-joe (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 7:00pm

#121 etc:
As a Pats fan, I would fear that game not much for the match-ups (I think the Pats would be able to handle the Titans on defense, and NE's offense has way too many weapons not to outscore them in the end), but because it is very likely to end up in a nasty brawl with almost certain injuries, given the bad blood between the two teams and their coaches. Last year's game was simply brutal.

132
by PatsFan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 7:11pm

Re: #129

Good point. Pats players are still PO'd at Fisher ordering the hit to take out Harrison's knee.

133
by Fat Tony (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 7:38pm

re 130: Titans still pissed Belichick sent Vinny out for the run-it-up touchdown in the last minute, just to get Vinny an obscure "record."

Yeah, that would be a war.

134
by John (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 7:42pm

130, Fisher ordering to take out Harrison's knee? You mean Bobby Wade's legal block on Harrison?

Though I don't necessarily agree with the rules, I don't think there was any malicious intent by Bobby Wade. What Rodney Harrison said about him not being near the play is BS. Travis Henry was heading towards his direction, and the low block was a couple yards away from Henry.

135
by B (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 8:09pm

Do teams need some special motivation to win a playoff game now? Isn't the fact that if you don't win, you're out of the playoffs enough of a motivator?

136
by Josh (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 8:09pm

If the Titans beat the Chargers, they would face the Patriots. And they have a great defense (top in the league, in my opinion) and a good running game– but the Patriots know how to beat them. Look at last year’s win for proof of an effective game plan.

Well, we will not have a chance against the Patriots unless our offense turns around--which it currently isn't. There are only three offensive skill players who are playing at an above average level (K. Collins, C. Brown, R. Williams), and only Roydell starts. Our offensive line is pretty good, except for power situations (which is weird) and runs +10 yds (because LenDayne is fat and slow).

However, if we regress to our offensive mean of last year, when VY was still mediocre but a good runner, we will have a better offense. Hopefully, Chris Brown can remain uninjured, and LenDayne will no longer be given any carries while the game is close.

137
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 8:21pm

132

I don't think Harrison ever claimed that the play wasn't near him. What he claimed was that Wade's block was delivered in such a way as to try to hurt him.

What he said was that when players go to block high, you basically plant your feet, lock your body, and push off. When players try to block low, you go to your toes and try to go over/around them.

He said that Wade faked high, and then went low, guaranteeing that Harrison's knees would be locked when he hit his legs. Harrison said that players never fake high first because the risk of injury is so high. He said its one of those unspoken rules that keeps people healthy.

based on the reaction from pretty much everyone on the field before they even knew Harrison was hurt, I'm like to think his explanation is atleast close.

138
by Not Rich Conley (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 8:59pm

130 - What is this, Karate Kid? Are you sure Harrison's knee wasn't trying to lay a cheapshot on some Titan before the guy flipped the script on the dirtiest knee in football?

139
by anotherpatsfan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 9:26pm

135, as a Pats fan, I hate to admit that Harrison would definitely be a Cobra Kai disciple -- no wax on, wax off for him...

140
by Mentos Fillapeedios (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 10:55pm

Re: 130

Fisher did not order a hit on Harrison's knee.
Harrison took a cheap shot on Bobby Wade. On the very next play, Wade went after Harrison and blocked him low. Harrison deserved it, he really did.

You call yourself "PatsFan" but I don't think you're much of one. Obviously, you weren't watching the game. If you were watching the game you would have seen why Wade was pissed off.

141
by slo-mo-joe (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 11:58pm

Regardless of who did what to whom, who "ordered" and who "executed", it was a nasty, nervous game. The Titans were clearly pissed the Pats had come out to play in an otherwise meaningless game for them, and the Pats felt the hard hits (legal or borderline legal as they were), including a later one on Brady, were meant to intimidate them into taking out their starters. By taking Harrison out of an already depleted defense, that game may well have contributed to some extent to the Pats' AFCC loss. Of course, in that game the Pats wiped out any chance for the Titans to make the playoffs, and tacked on the Vinny garbage TD as a final bitch-slap. If the 2 teams meet again in the post-season, there certainly will be no waste of pleasantries.

142
by AndyE (not verified) :: Thu, 11/08/2007 - 12:08am

slo-mo-joe 137 - I might concede some of your other points, but why is Vinny Testaverde's garbage time TD pass a bitch slap? At that point, the game didn't matter, and it was classy of Belichick to let Testaverde "go out" that way (well, until he came back this year), just like Flutie's dropkick the year before.

As for the last game of the season being "meaningless" for a team, the Pats were playing for 3rd seed - the Pats and the Colts were 11-4 going into the day, with the Colts holding a tiebreaker. Had the Colts lost, the Pats win would have moved them up a seed, and the AFC postseason would have looked very different; and the SuperBowl might have been different.

143
by Purds (not verified) :: Thu, 11/08/2007 - 1:37am

Not sure how the playoff seeds will work out, but I will note this: the Titans are a nasty team, and not just against the Pats. The Colts (my favorite) play them twice a year, and Tennessee always gets a few legal/borderline illegal big hits in by their defense. This year's was the late hit on Manning that got Tenn. fined. It was a classic pile-drive shot.

It would be interesting to see if NE tried the "run it up" (or, being polite, "work your best offensive plays") strategy late in a game with the Titans. I fear that team would not hesitate to take a cheap shot.

On a side note, I think the rest of the NFL's best chance at beating NE is for NE to take a few injuries to starters. Right now, they're on a roll, going into the bye, and look very good.

144
by B (not verified) :: Thu, 11/08/2007 - 2:00am

The Titans were mad because the Patriots didn't just roll over and let them win, which would have given the Patriots the 4 seed. It sounds unreasonable, except that's exactly what the Patriots did with the Dolphins the previous year. The difference being, last year the #4 seed didn't come with a game against the Jaguars.

145
by B (not verified) :: Thu, 11/08/2007 - 2:04am

139: Well, any team with Haynesworth on it is going to be guilty of taking cheap-shots.

146
by panthersnbraves (not verified) :: Thu, 11/08/2007 - 3:06am

Panthers at 32 for Special Teams? What a surprise!

Can't return the ball, can't cover kickoffs.

At least Baker the punter might be heading for some kind of record -'First punter to encircle the earth?'

Although no one seems to be ready to say this "Mr. Kasay, I think it is time to hang up your cleats." I have always had a special place for him as the 'Last Original Panther,' but it is such a huge difference on the lack of touchbacks, as well as not being able to execute the whole 'Just get 3 first downs, and Kasay will get three for us.' Maybe they could keep him on the coverage team though - he seems to be the only person who can tackle.

147
by Thinker (not verified) :: Thu, 11/08/2007 - 10:22am

Aaron,

Regarding DVOA comparisons from year to year: Isn't DVOA a comparative measure? (think pie chart) When the ratios change, the effect is magnified, so a team that is a little further ahead of the current competition will look like they are stellar even if this is undeserved. Imagine the infamous strike year, only all players on one average team don't strike (hypothetical only). It is safe to say that that team would be substantially better than the replacements other teams floated onto the field. That (actually average) team would look like one of the best teams of all time in every DVOA facet. Is fun to consider, but (as great as it is within a season) DVOA seems like a blunt instrament for measuring historical greatness. Maybe there aren't better choices.

On another topic, I would very much like to see a graph of weekly DVOA and DPAR movement. As mentioned above, things like major injuries, locker room accord, changes to who calls the plays, etc can have a dramatic effect on all future ratings. Trending would pinpoint those critical moments and may also help us see who is improving and who is declining as the season progresses. It would be easy to do, although not necessarily easy to put into one picture.

148
by ZasZ (not verified) :: Thu, 11/08/2007 - 2:42pm

143,

DVOA's baseline is calculated from the 2002-2005 seasons. Therefore, when the Outsiders say that a team has a DVOA of, say, 25%, that means that, roughly, they are playing 25% better than the imaginary average team from 2002-2005. In-season dominance (such as the Patriots' and the Colts' this year) has no effect on DVOA's baseline.

Click my name for a further explanation.

149
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Thu, 11/08/2007 - 3:56pm

145.

The fact that its computed from a baseline only means that everything doesn't necessarily have to be 0-sum. It doesn't mean that a drop in league quality won't make a good team look great.

Using the baseline essentially assumes that the talent level of the league is staying static.

I don't know what I believe more at this point: that theres 4 historically dominant teams this year, or maybe the middle of the league isn't as good this year, and is making these teams look better than they actually are.

I guess my point is Historically Dominant doesnt necessarily mean Historically good.

The "average" team for DVOA is supposed to be 0%. What happens if the "average team" thats being used at 0% is really a -10% team? What happens if the average team doesn't fit the baseline? Teams get more credit for playing them than they should.

150
by Andrew (not verified) :: Thu, 11/08/2007 - 4:22pm

Patsfan #130:

The very thought of "Mr. Dirty Late Hit Harrison" getting upset about a possible dirty play is hilarious. Isn't Harrison the most fined player in NFL history for his dirty play?

151
by Andrew (not verified) :: Thu, 11/08/2007 - 4:28pm

kevinNYC:

The weather effects of the Miami game are karmic payback for the huge benefit to the NY Giants DVOA of playing the Eagles with Winston Justice and without Westbrook and LJ Smith. Don't complain for FOMBC will strike!

In reality, if we ignore those helps to them, their offense is a bit better than DVOA shows, and their defense is a bit worse, with the net effect essentially a wash. Doesn't Umenyiora have just 2 sacks when not playing against Winston Justice this year? Kiwinuka has just 1.5 in 7 games not against the Eagles. Why not ask Aaron how their DVOA looks without the Eagles and Dolphins games? I doubt it is very different in aggregate.

152
by Thinker (not verified) :: Sat, 11/10/2007 - 1:50am

Rich: That is exactly where I was going. It seems that the NFL adopted a number of policies promoting parity over a few years. Most of those PPPs have been in place for long enough for a few teams to have figured them out. Until their peers get aboard, those teams such as Indy, NE, Pitt, Dal, Tenn have a bigger advantage than the vagaries of fortune (injuries, picks that "should've worked", draft depth, etc) will normally provide. Those who are already ahead and also are awarded above average fate appear accelerated and are ascribed additional acclimation/awards against prior years teams. (sorry, got that alliteration rolling and couldn't stop it).

I look at this season and it just "feels" like the overall quality is lower than a handful of years ago, and that a few teams are subverting the intent of the league to have it approximate "any given sunday" for every team.

153
by Andrew (not verified) :: Sat, 11/10/2007 - 6:28pm

Thinker #150:

What in the world do you feel Dallas has done in the past 10 years to support the idea that they are busting the parity paradigm?