Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

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» OFI: SEC Surprises

In an opening week where even the elite teams in college football looked mortal, the SEC had two big surprises in Texas A&M and Georgia defeating their South Carolinian opponents by big scores.

16 Sep 2008

Week 2 DVOA Ratings

by Aaron Schatz

The Giants are on top of the latest DVOA ratings, thanks two huge wins over the Redskins and Rams. How good will those games look after we apply the opponent adjustments during the course of the season? Probably not quite this impressive, but we'll have to see.

Actually, what stands out after two weeks is not how good the Giants have been (or the Cowboys, or surprising Bills) but rather how bad the Rams have been. They've been monumentally, historically bad, only the second team since 1995 to have a VOA rating below -100% after Week 2. The other was the expansion Browns in 1999.

The Rams had a VOA below -100% in both Week 1 and Week 2. Unfortunately, I don't have a spreadsheet handy with VOA (i.e. no opponent adjustments) for every single game going back to 1995, and we won't know for a while how strong the adjustments are for playing the Giants and Eagles. However, there is only one team since 1995 that had two straight games with DVOA below -100%: The 2003 Arizona Cardinals, in Week 13 (28-3 loss to Chicago) and Week 14 (50-14 loss to San Francisco). Two other teams came close: the 2007 Dolphins (Weeks 13-14) and the 1996 Cardinals (Weeks 2-3).

One of the reasons we have not yet been able to update the Premium section with the 2008 stats is that the macro crashed while we were running the data output. Why the crash? Because the Rams have not had a single play in the red zone yet this year. That's right: The Rams suck so bad that they broke our programs.

Apologies for a short commentary again this week, but obviously I've been spending time trying to smooth out issues with the redesign launch. The good news is that we haven't had our usual Monday/Tuesday server issues, which means that the most important part of the redesign has proven successful.

* * * * *

Hey Boston FO readers! Come see me on the final stop of the PFP 2008 book tour, Wednesday at Northeastern's Snell Library at noon. I won't be there alone -- there will be two authors, and the other is former Giants tight end Mark Bavaro, who will be there to talk about his new novel. That should lead to some interesting conversation, eh?

* * * * *

Obviously, things aren't getting updated quite as quickly because of early season/relaunch hiccups, but all the team and individual stats pages are now updated through Week 2. Premium and playoff odds should be updated by tomorrow morning. Drive stats, ALY/ASR stats, and Loser League standings should be ready in a day or two. We're hoping to have all the past stats pages (non-Premium) imported within the next week.

DVOA vs. the spread listings in the Premium section will be updated weekly by Wednesday morning, although it might not get updated until Wednesday afternoon this week. Beginning this week, I will be listing both picks against the spread and straight picks of winners, from most confident to least confident.

* * * * *

These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through two weeks of 2008, 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 VOA is adjusted for type of stadium (warm, cold, dome, Denver) and week of season.

There are no opponent adjustments in VOA until the fourth week of the season, which is why it is VOA right now rather than DVOA. As always, positive numbers represent more points so DEFENSE is better when it is NEGATIVE.

DAVE is a formula which combines our preseason projection with current VOA to get a more accurate forecast of how a team will play the rest of the season. Right now, the preseason projection makes up 75 percent of DAVE (90 percent for Baltimore and Houston).

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 W-L OFFENSE
VOA
OFF.
RANK
DEFENSE
VOA
DEF.
RANK
S.T.
DVOA
S.T.
RANK
1 NYG 70.0% 9 22.1% 6 2-0 36.7% 4 -27.4% 3 5.9% 8
2 BAL 69.6% 6 9.8% 12 1-0 13.6% 12 -58.0% 1 -2.0% 22
3 BUF 56.1% 5 3.1% 16 2-0 19.8% 7 -26.3% 5 10.0% 3
4 DAL 50.4% 4 21.3% 7 2-0 48.9% 2 3.3% 16 4.8% 10
5 PIT 47.4% 7 16.8% 9 2-0 18.8% 8 -26.6% 4 2.0% 14
6 GB 43.3% 11 38.2% 1 2-0 28.3% 6 -7.1% 9 7.9% 6
7 ARI 42.6% 10 9.7% 13 2-0 18.4% 9 -22.0% 6 2.2% 13
8 PHI 40.1% 1 35.0% 2 1-1 40.0% 3 0.1% 14 0.2% 17
9 NE 37.7% 8 27.6% 3 2-0 15.7% 10 -13.8% 8 8.2% 5
10 TB 34.4% 18 23.5% 5 1-1 10.0% 14 -20.3% 7 4.1% 12
11 TEN 31.3% 15 5.9% 14 2-0 -2.7% 22 -47.5% 2 -13.5% 31
12 DEN 30.4% 3 9.8% 11 2-0 51.5% 1 10.8% 22 -10.3% 29
13 SD 15.7% 13 23.8% 4 0-2 31.0% 5 28.1% 28 12.8% 1
14 CHI 8.5% 12 0.5% 19 1-1 0.7% 17 -6.3% 10 1.5% 15
15 WAS 1.6% 24 -6.6% 22 1-1 15.4% 11 -0.3% 13 -14.1% 32
16 OAK -0.6% 30 -17.9% 24 1-1 -0.3% 20 10.0% 21 9.7% 4
TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
LAST
WEEK
DAVE RANK W-L OFFENSE
VOA
OFF.
RANK
DEFENSE
VOA
DEF.
RANK
S.T.
DVOA
S.T.
RANK
17 ATL -1.7% 2 -30.9% 30 1-1 10.4% 13 16.4% 25 4.3% 11
18 MIN -1.7% 22 17.2% 8 0-2 0.4% 18 -5.8% 11 -7.9% 28
19 CAR -2.0% 17 2.7% 17 2-0 1.4% 15 3.4% 17 0.0% 18
20 NYJ -8.7% 14 -5.9% 21 1-1 1.0% 16 -1.6% 12 -11.2% 30
21 SF -13.8% 21 -24.3% 27 1-1 -12.7% 24 0.5% 15 -0.6% 19
22 IND -17.5% 19 10.2% 10 1-1 -7.4% 23 5.1% 19 -5.0% 23
23 NO -18.0% 16 -3.8% 20 1-1 0.3% 19 25.4% 27 7.2% 7
24 JAC -27.3% 20 1.0% 18 0-2 -28.8% 29 3.4% 18 5.0% 9
25 SEA -32.7% 29 3.5% 15 0-2 -19.6% 26 5.7% 20 -7.5% 27
26 MIA -45.3% 23 -27.3% 29 0-2 -18.0% 25 21.3% 26 -6.1% 26
27 CLE -48.3% 28 -22.0% 26 0-2 -23.5% 28 37.2% 30 12.4% 2
28 KC -52.5% 25 -25.7% 28 0-2 -37.3% 30 14.0% 24 -1.3% 21
29 HOU -59.6% 26 -8.5% 23 0-1 -22.1% 27 32.2% 29 -5.3% 24
30 DET -64.1% 31 -32.3% 31 0-2 -2.6% 21 63.0% 32 1.5% 16
31 CIN -70.8% 27 -19.2% 25 0-2 -53.2% 32 11.6% 23 -5.9% 25
32 STL -101.6% 32 -46.0% 32 0-2 -37.9% 31 62.8% 31 -0.9% 20

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 16 Sep 2008

136 comments, Last at 21 Sep 2008, 11:08am by Sid

Comments

1
by andrew :: Tue, 09/16/2008 - 7:55pm

So last week Indianapolis was 19, and Minnesota was 22. After Indy beats the Vikings, they are now 22 and 18, respectively, almost swapping rankings.

I figured this might be the case. The Colts were consistently bad on offense most of the day then hit a couple big plays to win it, while the vikings were the the opposite. Prior to that the vikings sustained a lot of drives before bogging down.

52
by Kulko :: Wed, 09/17/2008 - 1:37am

I think its also about the lesser effect of the better Colts Preseason projection.

91
by Not Saying :: Wed, 09/17/2008 - 2:59pm

It's just a comment about VOA, not DAVE, so the projections don't affect it.

2
by JoeSkolnik :: Tue, 09/16/2008 - 7:59pm

Looking back, I feel we just saw the 2 best teams in football last night, in the eagles and cowboys. I feel both teams will have dominant offenses and defenses this year

16
by countertorque :: Tue, 09/16/2008 - 9:15pm

Where's the evidence for them having dominant defenses?

19
by Josh :: Tue, 09/16/2008 - 9:21pm

Um, they both have swagger, and um, facemasks?

37
by Matt (not verified) :: Tue, 09/16/2008 - 10:47pm

You guys are reading it wrong. He clearly said that both teams will dominant offenses AND defenses. I agree that both have dominant offenses, and that both have defenses (after a fashion).

47
by thestar5 (not verified) :: Wed, 09/17/2008 - 12:17am

I agree with the original post. I think that was more of a case of great offensive play than bad defense. I look at this like the Giants-Boys game in week 1 last year. A shootout between two normally good defenses. I would bet both defenses are top 10 in DVOA at the end of the year. Also, I would bet these two teams meet a third time this year (in the playoffs), because I think they're the best two teams in the NFC, and maybe the NFL. Time will tell.

131
by daveInSactown (not verified) :: Fri, 09/19/2008 - 2:31pm

dominant defenses? based on what? their week one opponents (the browns and rams respectively)??? while the browns are a very good offense on paper I think we can all agree there are some real problems in Ohio right now. and as for the Rams... well anyway. the Eagles Offense will get tested this week and we'll know quite a bit more about their defense too. The Steelers a very solid on both sides of the ball and will put your "dominant offense and defense" theory to the test as far as the eagles go. as for the cowboys, I think the steelers eagles game will tell us a little something about them as well, if the eagles can't move the ball well against pittsburgh we will know Dallas's D is suspect (which is what I believe at this point)

3
by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Tue, 09/16/2008 - 8:03pm

Ha, the Skins' special teams are in last place. I guess that's what happens when you can't punt, cover punts, return punts, or placekick. But at least Suisham's kickoffs are a little better than before. (He's on pace to set career highs in kickoff distance and touchbacks.)

(Formerly "The McNabb Bowl Game Anomaly")

13
by Fergasun :: Tue, 09/16/2008 - 9:10pm

Yeah, but you gotta love that kickoff distance!

We've got the Mike Nugent of punters! (Well not quite...)

24
by Telamon :: Tue, 09/16/2008 - 9:48pm

Can anyone explain why we replaced our punter instead of our kicker? This seemed like a bad choice even before the new guy started botching holds.

Oh well, at least we have Rock Cartright.

33
by dmb :: Tue, 09/16/2008 - 10:31pm

Well, there was rampant speculation that Suisham's kickoff distances last year were a product of Danny Smith's instructions to focus more on hang-time than on distance. Now, I have no way of knowing whether or not that was true, so take it with a grain of salt.

As for field goals, Suisham wasn't great, but he wasn't horrendous, either; in fact, he was just a smidge below league average. Considering his relative youth, I'm not sure they would be better off with any of the available replacements.

82
by EorrFU (not verified) :: Wed, 09/17/2008 - 1:36pm

I attended the NO game and had a great close up view of suisham's first miss. It was a good kick then the freakiest random gust caught it in the air. The ball seemed to float in one place and start to go wide. I had assumed he just shanked the second one he missed but on the radio the announcers said that the holder was at fault. I don't think Suisham's been that bad really, and he is booming the kickoffs nicely this year.
The Skins Special Teams ratings are probably a function of the kick return fumbles more than anything.

4
by My <3 is Ailin for Palin (not verified) :: Tue, 09/16/2008 - 8:04pm

More proof that the Chargers D is killing them.

10
by Richard :: Tue, 09/16/2008 - 8:55pm

As if we needed it. The Broncos were successful on over 60% of their plays against them on Sunday.

106
by Neoplatonist Bolthead (not verified) :: Wed, 09/17/2008 - 11:27pm

Yeah. With the injury to Merriman and Williams's decline, I think they need to rethink the 3-4. They don't have a great NT anymore, and they don't have good ILBs, but they have several solid DL players (just no full-time 3-4 noses) and even without Merriman they have better-than-average OLBs... as long as they don't have to carry the 3-4 load.

5
by Possuum (not verified) :: Tue, 09/16/2008 - 8:06pm

I may have missed this, but were the weighting percetnages for the preseason tested for predictive power? It seems that it would be a number with some decimal places like 91.4% and 72.9% for a more accurate adjustment.

6
by BucNasty :: Tue, 09/16/2008 - 8:08pm

Wow, I can't believe how bad New Orleans looks. I figured they were at least average.

11
by Who Dat (not verified) :: Tue, 09/16/2008 - 9:05pm

BucNasty, playing without a full D will do that. But it's the O that's really underperforming. Deuce M looks like a major missing link -- that or the O line. Was D figured out that Brees height + bull rush = tips->int.

I'll bite on the CAR bait:
pnathers is clearly ranked too low because they beat TOW teams ranked above them!!! SCOREBORD is way better than this. ur stupid model forgot the way it works IRW. forest gump dumb. also, denver is cheats. can't u fix dumb calls into the stats?

132
by DaveInSactown (not verified) :: Fri, 09/19/2008 - 5:05pm

couldn't have said it better myself, awesome

7
by ninerfan (not verified) :: Tue, 09/16/2008 - 8:12pm

You've got our W-L at 0-2.

14
by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 09/16/2008 - 9:10pm

I thought that Aaron didn't like the niners but that is going a little far;-)

20
by Temo :: Tue, 09/16/2008 - 9:27pm

There's something awesomely appropriate about seeing "ninerfan (not verified)"

25
by Telamon :: Tue, 09/16/2008 - 9:57pm

I had a similar reaction, but convinced myself they really did lose, since it seemed more in line with my expectations. I mean, J.T. O'Sullivan? Really?

48
by navin :: Wed, 09/17/2008 - 12:26am

Sounds like "You mean Kurt Warner, really?" or "You mean Marc Bulger, really?"

JT O'Sullivan looks good passing the football. I stress "passing the football" because he has horrible pocket presence. Five or six of his sacks were caused because he didn't throw the ball away and just ran around the pocket until someone got him.

65
by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 09/17/2008 - 9:59am

He does love to hold that ball in his hand doesn't he? He coos softly to it as he clutches the rubberised polyeurethane to his bosom, telling it he will never let it go and that the pass rushers are simply jealous of what they have together.

What's really scary is that he hears the ball reciprocate and flutter its laces at him.

90
by navin :: Wed, 09/17/2008 - 2:43pm

I spent half the game yelling at O'Sullivan to "throw it away! throw it away!"

If the 49ers end up playing someone else at QB this year, I really think you could do a great concrete case study on just how much a QB can affect the adjusted sack rate. (I know FO has already been saying this, but it could be the opening line to the 49ers chapter in the 2010 book.)

Looking forward to this weekend: the Lions have a pretty bad pass rush, correct? It should be interesting to see how O'Sullivan fares in the pocket.

8
by Bronco Jeff :: Tue, 09/16/2008 - 8:19pm

Validation that the Broncos' offense is badass while their defense and special teams are not.

Also, Kansas City ranked 30th in Offensive DVOA is a huge overestimation of their capabilities. I saw their game against the Raiders, and I have rarely seen such a pathetic display of offense.

93
by The Hypno-Toad :: Wed, 09/17/2008 - 3:40pm

Gotta say I wasn't really looking for that validation. That was quite a display of ineptitude by the defense and special teams. I've asked this before, but how do the Broncos never get any better on special teams? Shouldn't there be some sort of occasional variation that could give me cause for... Well, not hope that they'l' be good, that's going too far. But maybe a cause for less certainty that they will be totally awful?

9
by Pantherfan (not verified) :: Tue, 09/16/2008 - 8:52pm

Wow...TB at 5 (Dave). That means they're better than the Giants, Dallas and the Steelers. Who'd of thought it.

40
by Matt :: Tue, 09/16/2008 - 11:00pm

DAVE loves him some Joey Galloway.

12
by Anonymous (not verified) :: Tue, 09/16/2008 - 9:06pm

How did the Ravens rise from 6 to 2 without even playing this week?

15
by JasonK :: Tue, 09/16/2008 - 9:15pm

Teams like Philly and Atlanta that had dominant games in week 1 didn't maintain that pace. A 1-game sample is always going to have more very high and very low performances than a 2-game sample will.

17
by Josh :: Tue, 09/16/2008 - 9:16pm

Because DVOA is a rate stat, not a counting stat. Baltimore had a really, really, good game last week. They didn't do anything this week to screw up that average, although Ray-ray might have stabbed someone...

21
by BucNasty :: Tue, 09/16/2008 - 9:28pm

Week 1: 69.6%
Week 2: 69.6%

It's tough to sustain a DVOA of 70%, so all of the teams that were above them fell while they stayed the same.

26
by Telamon :: Tue, 09/16/2008 - 9:58pm

You can't regress to the mean if you don't play, baby!

70
by Jimmy :: Wed, 09/17/2008 - 10:50am

Rex Grossman could. He can do anything he wants to.

74
by RickD :: Wed, 09/17/2008 - 11:20am

I guess he doesn't want to start, eh?

94
by The Hypno-Toad :: Wed, 09/17/2008 - 3:47pm

What's even funnier is when crap like that happens in the subjective power rankings around the webs. A few years ago, pretty early in the season the Broncos beat the Patriots, then had a bye. Over the bye, New England beat the Bengals. Which according to whoever made these rankings proved that New England was a great team, and that made Denver even better!!!!111!!one!!!. Long story short, Denver moved up like 4 spots (10th to 6th, I think) for not playing. I actually wrote Aaron an email thanking him for having sensical rankings that had the Broncos much lower when I saw that.

109
by Hummingbird Cyborg :: Thu, 09/18/2008 - 4:38am

Well, that isn't exactly the same. Instead, it was subjective opponent adjustments which FO does except without the subjective part. Still, if Denver dominates New England and New England turns around and dominates a third team, FO will reward Denver for having dominated what turned out to be a tougher than expected opponent.

18
by BigDerf :: Tue, 09/16/2008 - 9:18pm

I have been waiting a long time for the Giants to be atop the DVOA rankings. Now, post Super Bowl plus a few weeks to prove it wasn't a fluke, we finally are respected.

Heh. In all seriousness it's nice to be number 1 somewhere.

22
by The ninjalectual (not verified) :: Tue, 09/16/2008 - 9:33pm

Why don't you go home and brag, maybe your parents will let you stay up extra late.

You won the super bowl and you're whining about "not being number one." Good freaking job. Go be happy somewhere.

36
by Quincy :: Tue, 09/16/2008 - 10:41pm

Lay off him. I assume his "in all seriousness" comment implied he was being slightly sarcastic about "respect" and doesn't believe two weeks actually prove anything. It's nice to see your team #1 whenever it happens.

Looking ahead to the Giants' next 4 games, their DVOA rating might suffer more from the opponent adjustments than anything that happens on the field.

56
by BigDerf :: Wed, 09/17/2008 - 3:19am

Yes. Sarcasm. A bit hard to communicate over just text but yes.

It's just nice to be on top of the DVOA list. I mean honestly... Do you expect the Giants to be back there any time soon? I do but I'm a Giants fan thinking with my expectations that we will start the season 6-0 and not lose any winnable games. My rational side says the Giants will be back to diddling around #10 especially once Defensive adjustments kick in.

I think the two games are a sign that maybe we weren't just good in the playoffs. I won't really know until we play a good team whats what.

Hell for all we really know the Rams are a hella good football team. Maybe the Giants and Eagles are just that much better than them..... I'll note the sarcasm right now just to avoid any future confusion.

60
by Quincy :: Wed, 09/17/2008 - 8:06am

For me, it was just nice to see them blow somebody out. One of the reasons their DVOA never got too high last year was that they rarely (if ever) dominated supposedly inferior teams. Hopefully they are a better team this year. Or maybe the Rams really are some new kind of awful.

64
by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 09/17/2008 - 9:54am

Are you the real Quincy, off the telly? Can you explain how an elderly pathologist gets so much hot tail?

75
by RickD :: Wed, 09/17/2008 - 11:22am

I'm afraid Quincy's dead.

As for how he got so much tail - it was the 70s!

78
by Quincy :: Wed, 09/17/2008 - 11:55am

No just Quincy, not Quincy M.E. I'm also not the producer of Thriller or the 6th president.

Considering that I spend my downtime posting comments on a football statistics discussion board, I probably can't explain how anyone gets tail. Although I might be able to diagram it.

98
by The Hypno-Toad :: Wed, 09/17/2008 - 5:50pm

"Considering that I spend my downtime posting comments on a football statistics discussion board, I probably can't explain how anyone gets tail. Although I might be able to diagram it."
I believe we have a winner. The first bit was fantastic, but the last sentence really put it over the top. I salute you, sir.

104
by armchair journe... :: Wed, 09/17/2008 - 9:07pm

Nice.

69
by wbenetti :: Wed, 09/17/2008 - 10:47am

Yeah, the PFP chapter on Guts and Stomps came to mind while I saw the results of this game. I'm hoping that the team has taken a step forward.

23
by JasonK :: Tue, 09/16/2008 - 9:41pm

It's way to early to conclude anything based on this, but it is interesting how steep the drop-off is between #12 (DEN at 30.4% VOA) and #15 (WAS at 1.6%)

27
by justanothersteve :: Tue, 09/16/2008 - 10:00pm

Much as I love the Pack, I find it difficult to believe they have the #6 Special Teams. They had a FG blocked against Minnesota and the ball went thru the punter's hands for a safety against Detroit. The punting is average. But maybe I'm just confused.

35
by Arkaein :: Tue, 09/16/2008 - 10:37pm

You've mentioned 2 mistake plays, but that is largely ofset by the huge punt return TD.

They've also had great kickoffs, with lots of touchbacks and good coverage, solid kick returns, and the punts they have made have had great sideline placement and good coverage to prevent any significant returns. Plus they've made their other FGs.

43
by Flounder :: Tue, 09/16/2008 - 11:09pm

I can believe. Besides those two notable gaffs, I've thought their special teams have been excellent. My impression has been that the punting has been good. Nice directional kicks with little to no return. Lots of solids returns, with of course the spectacular punt return TD.

79
by S :: Wed, 09/17/2008 - 1:17pm

Without knowing the exact formula for special teams rankings, I'd say Mason Crosby's kickoff (plus the Blackmon return in the Vikings game) have gone a long way to balancing out GB's ranking.

I haven't seen every team yet, but it sure seems like Mason Crosby has more touchbacks from kickoffs than just about any kicker this year.

92
by tally :: Wed, 09/17/2008 - 3:21pm

According to the stats page, GB has only slightly below positive values on FG/XP, punts, and kick returns while being very good on kickoffs and punt returns. There you go.

28
by Anonymous (not verified) :: Tue, 09/16/2008 - 10:08pm

Opponent adjustments don't go into effect for another few weeks, right? In which case, I think the tables are supposed to say VOA instead of DVOA.

29
by Aaron Schatz :: Tue, 09/16/2008 - 10:11pm

SF and MIN W-L records now fixed.

30
by Yaguar :: Tue, 09/16/2008 - 10:12pm

Remember those 1-15 Panthers from a few years back?

The Rams' DAVE projection is TWICE AS BAD as them.

31
by MJK :: Tue, 09/16/2008 - 10:23pm

OK, Buffalo is officially scary. The seventh ranked offense, fifth ranked defense, third ranked special teams. And the two teams they beat ought to end up being pretty decent over the year (unless we were all really wrong about JAX), so opponent adjustments probably won't knock them down that much.

On the other hand, New Englad probably will get knocked down once opponent adjustments get better.

Maybe all the talk about New England not winning the division isn't premature...most pundits just had the wrong team!

(Not to brag, but I didn't. I didn't, and still don't, think much of the J.E.T.S., but even before the season I was talking about how Buffalo should be an above average team).

38
by Possuum (not verified) :: Tue, 09/16/2008 - 10:56pm

I think that Seattle and the Jaguars will end up lower than anticipated because of the depth of injury at WR and O-Line. Those scenarios would be what produces the lower end of simulations. I think the Bills are good, but I am still not completely convinced that their defense is as good as advertised having faced teams with serious injury problems. It would seem that their corners could be abused by big, tall receivers that don't suck (Matt Jones). I think that their pass rush is good enough to compensate, but if Stroud goes down, they will have problems.

Their offense has surprised me. Edwards has shown greater accuracy and decision making skills. He holds on to the ball longer than last year when he has time, the prime example being where he hit Lee Evans for the big gain right before the TD. He showed excellent feel for the rush, moving to the safest place in the pocket to let the route develop. Last year he would ditch the ball at almost any sign of trouble, the anti-JP. Now, he adjusts well for the rush.

39
by Possuum (not verified) :: Tue, 09/16/2008 - 10:57pm

To be clear, Matt Jones is a big tall receiver that sucks. That could have been confusing.

52
by Josh :: Wed, 09/17/2008 - 1:37am

True, he does suck. Not only that, he also does blow!

68
by Timmah! (not verified) :: Wed, 09/17/2008 - 10:08am

Don't forget that the Bills could very well start 5-1 or 6-0 - their next six weeks are Oakland, at St. Louis, at Arizona, bye, SD (at home) and at Miami. Other than SD, that's a completely creampuff schedule.

After that, their schedule gets harder (NEx2, NYJx2, @Denver), but they also have KC, SF and Miami again. After getting through the first 2 games 2-0, they should be in drivers seat for a wild card, if not the division, depending on how those games vs. NYJ and NE go.

66
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Wed, 09/17/2008 - 10:01am

I don't think we were wrong about Jax, but I do think that this is not the team that was predicted. I've always thought that Garrard's numbers were inflated because he constantly had the benefit of passing against teams gearing to stop MJD and Taylor. Losing those lineman means losing a dominating run game, and that means more nickle and dime.

I agreed with you that Buffalo was going to be pretty good, and i had them penciled in as #2 in the division. (I didn't think Favre was going to make a huge difference...he can't play defense). Now, with the Pats losing Brady, who knows.

Still, I think Buffalo's numbers are inflated by playing a Seattle team that, despite continued projections, just isn't that good, and a Jax team that isn't the same team the projection was for.

76
by RickD :: Wed, 09/17/2008 - 11:30am

Neither Seattle nor Jax is as good as their DAVE numbers would suggest, simply because of injuries. Jax in particular is in deep shit, as they have a very difficult schedule and they have no O-line. They have a lot of tougher games coming: in addition to the AFC South, they have the AFC North and the NFC North, which means games with Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Cleveland, Minnesota, Chicago, and Green Bay. And they have to go to Denver.

I would not be surprised to see them finish 6-10 or worse. The NFL is too competitive for a team to get by with that many injuries.

(Yes, I ignored the Bengals and Lions, which is what we should all do until the Humane Society is called to put them down.)

77
by RickD :: Wed, 09/17/2008 - 11:39am

And yeah, Buffalo could well get into the playoffs with their light schedule. I think it's clear they are stronger than the Jets and Dolphins, so the question is how they match up against the Brady-less Pats.

10 wins is very realistic for this Bills team. Maybe 11. With all the injuries to the top AFC teams, the Bills are a legitimate playoff contender.

32
by Rocco :: Tue, 09/16/2008 - 10:25pm

Odd to see the Steelers ST rated 14th. I'm sure that will change for the worse by the end of the season, probably after this week's game when DeSean Jackson runs back 4 punts for TDs.

44
by Matt :: Tue, 09/16/2008 - 11:20pm

No offense, but do you watch or follow any games? All they've done so far is shut down Andre Davis and Josh Cribbs, who were the top 2 KR in the league last year. I guess that could have been done with nothing but smoke and mirrors, or maybe they've improved their coverage units with an infusion of new guys (like Keyaron Fox, Donovan Woods, William Gay, Anthony Madison, Timmons, et al.)

Maybe it all falls apart this week, but so far it's looked much better and I don't know how they could have done any better. Also, the return game is still mediocre at best, but Jeff Reed is money -- as shown by his 48-yard FG in the hurricane remnants the other night.

61
by Rocco :: Wed, 09/17/2008 - 8:14am

I do watch games. I'm not commenting on their play this year, but more on the fact that special teams have been a mess for the last few years. Maybe they've finally got some competency on special teams now but I'm not ready to believe it yet.

49
by navin :: Wed, 09/17/2008 - 12:28am

Not if Jackson throws the ball away before he scores.

Yes I'm still bitter about that play.

88
by Roscoe (not verified) :: Wed, 09/17/2008 - 2:20pm

Tell me about it. I am one of the mugs that had Donovan on his FF team. Lost the head-to-head by one point.

51
by Mystyc :: Wed, 09/17/2008 - 1:36am

I am definitely surprised to see Pittsburgh with a positive ST DVOA, but only because of previous years. Watching them this year, it seems pretty justified. The coverage teams have improved immensely, mostly because they have better ST/backups than last year, and some starters even play on coverage (James Harrison, for one). Tomlin figured out it was more about personnel than practice.

Seriously, I couldn't be happier about this. That +2% even includes the five 50+ yard punts by Cleveland due to the crazy wind this week. That's not going to happen every week. My cup runneth over!

34
by TomC :: Tue, 09/16/2008 - 10:36pm

So Carolina won despite lower VOA than their opponent again? Great coaching? Extra swagger? Voodoo?

55
by Josh :: Wed, 09/17/2008 - 1:46am

Cheerleaders.

41
by tylerdolphin :: Tue, 09/16/2008 - 11:02pm

After watching the Fins on Sunday, I'm in shock that they are ranked all the way up at 26. I cannot even begin to describe how horrible they were.

45
by Matt :: Tue, 09/16/2008 - 11:23pm

Yes, but they played close to the Jets; and look at the teams behind them. KC lost at home to the Raiders. Cincinnati looks like utter garbage. Detroit is giving up 1000 points a game. And the Rams . . . .

42
by isaiahc :: Tue, 09/16/2008 - 11:07pm

So Carolina is the worst 2-0 team out there? I haven't seen their games, but are they really worse than washington? amazing.

Everybody dies, but not everybody lives.

73
by Jimmy :: Wed, 09/17/2008 - 11:10am

Yes they won both their opening contests, but the Chargers are probably pretty pissed that they didn't put them away, and the Bears will probably feel the same way (damn you Olsen). They played well at times (especially late) but also got smacked up and down the field for worryingly long periods of both their opening games.

Having said that Stewart looked very good and this team is still waiting for the return of its best player. Trying to account for Stewart and Smith at the same time is going to make defensive coordinators dizzy, and Delhomme looks back to normal after his surgery so the offense could be pretty handy. I still have concerns about their defense, mainly caused by only having one lineman teams have to worry about double teaming. Peppers played well against the Bears but couldn't get to Orton because the rest of the line wasn't generating enough pressure to force the Bears to change their blocking scheme.

86
by pantherfan (not verified) :: Wed, 09/17/2008 - 2:12pm

Did you watch the games? If anyone's pissed about not putting them away, it should be Carolina. Against the Chargers, they controlled the line and TOP. It was only in the fourth quarter that the Chargers were able to do anything. And as far as being smacked "up and down the field", the Bears first two drives were decent but only resulted in 3 points. After those two drives, they were pretty much done for the day.

The Panther's certainly have some areas that need work but I would hardly say they were smacked around for long periods of time in either of those games.

100
by Jimmy :: Wed, 09/17/2008 - 6:39pm

Maybe the Chargers aren't as applicable to my original point, but the Bears were cruising until Olsen decided he didn't care too much for holding the ball. My point is more that the Panthers didn't look like a good team at all for most if not all of a whole quarter, if not more. Better teams than the Bears will have beaten them before the Panthers get their game together.

As for the Chargers game, Tomlinson and Gates are both clearly not the same players while trying to play throught turf toe and Merriman was hardly a factor. Top teams missing top talent aren't top teams anymore. And lets face it the Chargers played like crap.

I saw some good things from the Panthers (see earlier post), but to answer your original question, yes I do watch the games.

111
by jpo287 :: Thu, 09/18/2008 - 8:26am

Tomlison wasn't playing through turf toe in that game as he didn't hurt it until the final drive. "Top team's missing top players" - don't forget Smith didn't play and the Panthers also lost their left tackle so they had their own personel problems to deal with. Also don't forget that while the Chargers did score 24 points, that is still far less than what the Chargers scored against Denver (38) and that was without a healthy Tomlinson.

The Bears had drives of: 62, 84, -8, -2, -1, 26, 23, 9, 7, 15, 3, -4 and 9. Two good first drives is hardly cruising.

116
by Jimmy :: Thu, 09/18/2008 - 11:48am

Two good first drives is hardly cruising.

It is when they are consecutive and split only by a 3 and out.

The Bears had drives of: 62, 84, -8, -2, -1, 26, 23, 9, 7, 15, 3, -4 and 9.

The Bears outgained the Panthers 146 yards to (guess what) zero yards in the first quarter and they blocked a punt which they returned for a touchdown. That is pretty much a definition of getting your arse handed to you. That is what I meant by getting slapped up and down the field, and there isn't really a cogent argument against it. If a team plays like that for more than a quarter they will lose every game they play. Fortunately for the Panthers they woke up and the Bears started making stupid mistakes (12 penalties, two fumbles, several dropped balls that killed drives).

I also thought the officials did the Panthers a few favours, especially the 25 yard completion down to the goal line where the only contact Wharton had with Tommie Harris was having his forearm around Harris' neck as he ran straight past him. I suspect however that you can probably think of a few calls that cost the Panthers so maybe that one is a wash.

122
by jpo287 :: Thu, 09/18/2008 - 4:49pm

Yes, the Panthers did get their arses' handed to them in the first quarter. All I can say is it's a good thing games last 4 quarters instead of one!

The Bears did start making stupid mistakes but then the Panther's did for the first half as well. Here's how their possessions went in the first half: False start; False start and illegal procedure; false start and illegal formation; false start; illegal formation and false start. That was just the first half. And then in the second half, they had a TD called back for holding. Needless to say, they had as many, if not more stupid mistakes as Chicago - and yet they still one.

Can't comment on the calls as I think it's impossible to prove calls cost a game - unless it was the Chargers game of course.

130
by Jimmy :: Fri, 09/19/2008 - 11:25am

and yet they still one. Only just, against a Bears team that as you point out didn't exactly get a lot done after the first quarter. That is why the Panthers don't have an amazing DVOA rating. Do you still think they should be ranked much higher?

46
by Anonymous (not verified) :: Tue, 09/16/2008 - 11:23pm

Why is Bal listed as having only played one game - did they get a bye already?

50
by tally :: Wed, 09/17/2008 - 12:36am

Whoa, what rock were you hiding under?

BAL-HOU was postponed to Nov. 9 because of Hurricane Ike.

54
by Josh :: Wed, 09/17/2008 - 1:42am

Ike for President. Ike for President. Ike for President.

You like Ike, I like Ike, everybody likes Ike for President.

You like Ike, I like Ike, everybody likes Ike for President.

You like Ike, I like Ike, everybody likes Ike for President.

57
by moe :: Wed, 09/17/2008 - 3:47am

So the Vikings are second best of the worst (teams that are 0-2). After losing to Carolina next week we will see if they can hold on to that position.

When Gus Frerrotte is the only possible answer, the question has to be very, very ugly.

58
by JasonK :: Wed, 09/17/2008 - 7:16am

You mean like "What quarterback is most likely to injure himself by head-butting a stadium wall?"

59
by zlionsfan :: Wed, 09/17/2008 - 8:04am

So ... the good news for the Lions is ... um ... well, special teams aren't quite as bad ... er ... the offense ... um ... yeah.

The bad news is that they'll have to play the remaining games.

The loss to Atlanta probably won't look very good once DVOA comes out. Not sure about the coming loss to SF, but that could fall into the same category.

On the bright side, the worse the Lions play, the more the value of the franchise will sink, and thus the more attractive it will be to potential buyers, one of whom will step forward and make Mr. Asleep-at-the-wheel-since-the-'60s an offer he can't refuse.

Right? Right?

Darn these cross-ownership rules. I was hoping Cuban would take an interest in football.

72
by jebmak :: Wed, 09/17/2008 - 11:10am

Interest in a football franchise isn't the problem, the owner ever being willing to sell it is.

62
by Wanker79 :: Wed, 09/17/2008 - 9:19am

After that MNF game, I'd just like to clarify that I'm completely committed to National Jump to Conclusions Week: Part Deux. And as a result I'd like to ask if anyone remembers the last time the two best teams in the league came from the same division? Or even broader, when was the last time the best two teams came from the NFC?

As an Eagles fan, I'm kinda disappointing in myself that I didn't take a loss to the stinking Cowboys harder. But I'm even more excited for this season than I was before hand. In my heart, I felt this team was good enough to be a force but my brain just kept telling me my heart is a hopeful idiot. Well take that brain! How you like me now?!?

63
by panthersnbraves :: Wed, 09/17/2008 - 9:21am

Carolina is clearly ranked too low because of their Win/Loss Record. The Playoff Tie-Breaker System is way better than this.

Please explain how the 2-0 Panthers are ranked below two 0-2 teams, including six places below the team they already beat?

71
by TGT (not verified) :: Wed, 09/17/2008 - 10:53am

Was that a real question? They played poorly and sneaked by a couple teams that played worse. You don't get rewarded for wins in DVOA, just playing well.

87
by pantherfan (not verified) :: Wed, 09/17/2008 - 2:18pm

Apparently you didn't watch the games.

67
by SoulardX (not verified) :: Wed, 09/17/2008 - 10:04am

I think that was the most depressing introduction ever.
Save us Marshall Faulk!

-Rams fan SoulardX

80
by morganja :: Wed, 09/17/2008 - 1:24pm

That's the thing. They didn't play poorly at all. They beat two good teams, two teams which will most likely finish the year in the playoffs, two teams with bruising defenses.Most likely the adjustments will raise them quite a bit.

But it brings up another point. Does the definition of success favor one style of play over another?

85
by TomC :: Wed, 09/17/2008 - 2:05pm

Agreed (except maybe for the Bears-in-the-playoffs bit). I'm actually surprised that the Panthers ended up on the wrong side of the VOA ledger on Sunday, but my memory is heavily weighted by the 4th quarter, where Jonathan Stewart was having his way, and the Bears couldn't convert a 2nd-and-1.

97
by tuluse :: Wed, 09/17/2008 - 4:35pm

They were also the beneficiary of fumble luck. They recovered two fumbles when the Bears were driving and in field goal range.

123
by jpo287 :: Thu, 09/18/2008 - 4:58pm

I know I keep reading here that fumble recovery is a matter of luck but I'm not too sure. I would guess that the defense has better odds of recovery as there are more defensive players around the ball as it comes out - at least once its crossed the line of scrimmage. In both of Olsen's fumbles, there were two to three Panthers around him as the ball came out. I would think that would give the defense a better chance of recovery wouldn't it?

128
by Eddo :: Fri, 09/19/2008 - 10:40am

I know I keep reading here that fumble recovery is a matter of luck but I'm not too sure. I would guess that the defense has better odds of recovery as there are more defensive players around the ball as it comes out - at least once its crossed the line of scrimmage. In both of Olsen's fumbles, there were two to three Panthers around him as the ball came out. I would think that would give the defense a better chance of recovery wouldn't it?
When Aaron says something was a result of "luck", he really means it has no predictive value. I remember asking the same question as you when I first started reading FO. Basically, FO has done studies that show that the defense has roughly a 50% chance of recovering any fumble, and that a history of recovering fumbles at a greater than 50% rate does not mean a team is more likely to recover fumbles in the future.
Basically, the recovery of a specific fumble is skill - the player has to fall on the ball or have good enough hands to pick it up. But for the player to even be in the position to recover the fumble is sort of random chance.
For example, take Olsen's second fumble, which happened near the sideline. Let's say that when it hit the ground initially, it kicked right, and went out of bounds. Would that mean Carolina's defense was worse, because they didn't recover that fumble? Of course not, which is why DVOA treats all fumbles as 50/50 propositions - the defense gets credit for the forced fumble (a repeatable skill, by the way) and half of a fumble recovery for every fumble, regardless of who actually recovered it.

135
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Fri, 09/19/2008 - 10:22pm

Actually, some types of fumbles are recovered more by the defense than the offense. The type of fumble (aborted snap, distance from the LOS, etc.) are all taken into account.

Basically, the simple way to think about it is this: there is no evidence that certain teams are 'better' than others at recovering fumbles. Therefore, it makes sense to adjust for the league-average fumble recovery rate, rather than the team-specific fumble rate.

The percentage of fumbles which are recovered by the defense isn't important. The important thing is that it's the same for all teams.

89
by pantherfan (not verified) :: Wed, 09/17/2008 - 2:25pm

The FO definition of success favors the West Coast Offense style. They look for long, slow yardage pickup drives which is pretty much the exact opposite of what Carolina does. Accordingly, teams like Tampa will almost always look better than what they really are and teams like Carolina will almost always look a little worse than what they really are. At least that's my take on it. I am sure I will be corrected if I'm wrong!

102
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Wed, 09/17/2008 - 7:25pm

I hate, hate, hate this comment. The idea that DVOA "likes" West Coast offenses is really pervasive, and just flat out silly.

You know what DVOA likes on offense? Drives that continue. Doesn't care how. Score a touchdown on the first play? Awesome. Nine play drive resulting in a touchdown? Cool. Guess which drive will probably have the higher DVOA? The latter? Nope. Probably the former - the nine-play drive almost certainly has a few failures in it, but even if it doesn't, it can't possibly average the same as the 1-play drive which scored a TD. Likewise, on defense, DVOA likes drives that stop.

The only reason some people think that DVOA likes long drives is because "they contain lots of first downs." So what? DVOA is a rate stat, not a counting stat! Doesn't matter if they contain "lots" of first downs. A 3-play drive with 1 first down and a TD can end up with exactly the same DVOA average per play as a 12-play drive with 5 first downs and a TD.

So why is Carolina average? Well, let's take the Simplest Rating System in the NFL that's directly correlated to winning - points - and see how Carolina does.

Carolina won 26-24 and 20-17. Do you know what an average team gives up in the NFL? Usually 21 points per game. So in the first game, Carolina's offense was slightly below average (scoring only 19 points), and their defense was about average (giving up 24 points, but scoring 7 on their own). In the second game, Carolina's offense was slightly below average, and their defense was slightly above average.

Combine the two, and what do you get? Hey, a "roughly average", maybe even below average, and that's what DVOA says they are. Gasp. No opponent adjustments, so that's pretty much the end of the day.

Chicago, for instance, is easy to explain. They won their first game 29-13. Their defense was way above average that game, holding the opponent to 13 points, and scoring 9 points on their own. Their offense was average, scoring 20 points. In the second game, their defense was average, and their offense was a little below average. Combine all of those, and what do you get? A slightly above average team.

and teams like Carolina will almost always look a little worse than what they really are

How does this even make sense to you, honestly? The Panthers in the Chargers game had 5 drives of 10 plays or more. If DVOA "liked long, slow yardage" drives, the Panthers would be way up there.

I'm not trying to say the Panthers are bad. But the Panthers have had two close wins - wins which were essentially tossups. Bully for the Panthers for winning them, and it'll surely help them come playoff times, but playing 2 tossups only means that you're an average team so far.

112
by jpo287 :: Thu, 09/18/2008 - 8:54am

First, when you state: "Nope. Probably the former" doesn't that imply your argument is just your opinion. Secondly, how can you use conventional metrics for an argument that uses proprietary metrics. But even then, your argument is weak. First, the average of Carolina's wins is 23 not 19 so that would mean they are above average - at least by your gauge. And by those same metrics, Tampa would be also be average (20, 24) but still worse than Carolina. And yet they are ranked as the 5th best team with the 14th best offense. Both are higher rankings than Carolinas. Looking up Tampas first game, they only had 3 drives over 50 yards while Carolina had 5 over 50 against the Chargers. Yes, Tampa did well against the Falcons, but that is against the Falcons. I don't think anyone will confuse the Falcon's defense with Chicago's. And still, Tampa is a better team with a better offense than Carolina according to their system. Sorry, I don't buy it.

I can't prove it because I don't know the formula but seeing Seattle, the Eagles and Tampa regularly ranked higher than what I believe they deserve leads me to believe the formula rewards their style of play. Nothing wrong with that as no formula or model will ever be perfect.

115
by Eddo :: Thu, 09/18/2008 - 10:37am

First, when you state: "Nope. Probably the former" doesn't that imply your argument is just your opinion. Secondly, how can you use conventional metrics for an argument that uses proprietary metrics. But even then, your argument is weak.
Pat has a tendency to know these things, somehow. If you've been reading his comments over the past few years, you'll see he has a very good understanding of the way DVOA is computed and an obvious background in statistics.

First, the average of Carolina's wins is 23 not 19 so that would mean they are above average - at least by your gauge.
Pat calculated using offensive points only. Remember, in the game against the Chargers, the Panther defense was directly responsible for 7 points.

And by those same metrics, Tampa would be also be average (20, 24) but still worse than Carolina. And yet they are ranked as the 5th best team with the 14th best offense. Both are higher rankings than Carolinas. Looking up Tampas first game, they only had 3 drives over 50 yards while Carolina had 5 over 50 against the Chargers. Yes, Tampa did well against the Falcons, but that is against the Falcons. I don't think anyone will confuse the Falcon's defense with Chicago's. And still, Tampa is a better team with a better offense than Carolina according to their system. Sorry, I don't buy it.
Tampa being rated that highly has everything to do with their preseason projection. The preseason projections tend to love the Buccaneers, for some reason.

I can't prove it because I don't know the formula but seeing Seattle, the Eagles and Tampa regularly ranked higher than what I believe they deserve leads me to believe the formula rewards their style of play. Nothing wrong with that as no formula or model will ever be perfect.
Over the last few years, there have been plenty of Seahawks fans who complain that the Seahawks are rated lower than their record would indicate. The Eagles, especially last year, were a very good team that had some bad luck. Tampa is a DVOA darling, that's true, but FO is also the only organization that has predicted their recent ups-and-downs with any consistency.

Does anyone else feel the FOMBC lurking in Carolina?

124
by jpo287 :: Thu, 09/18/2008 - 5:26pm

Does anyone else feel the FOMBC lurking in Carolina?

Hardly. First I am not saying Carolina is an elite team. I do think they rank somewhere in the top third though. I also think they will improve as the season continues so long as they can stay healthy. Also, I would hardly get excited over a couple of Carolina post as I believe I am the only one who has commented that their ranking look a little low.

Now if you sense that the curse really is lurking in Carolina, then I can only guess that deep down, you know they are better than what the rankings would indicate and are anticipating their fans reactions! Which means that deep down, you actually agree with me!

129
by Eddo :: Fri, 09/19/2008 - 10:44am

Eh, I was responding less to you with that comment and more to the poster who kept asking if people actually watched the game. That sort of talk tends to wake the curse from its slumber.

125
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Thu, 09/18/2008 - 9:13pm

Tampa being rated that highly has everything to do with their preseason projection. The preseason projections tend to love the Buccaneers, for some reason.

That's another meme that I don't really understand, and also isn't true. Aaron used to say "I don't know why Tampa Bay is constantly predicted to do so well" but honestly, he shouldn't, anymore. Tampa Bay's predictions have pretty much been spot on, and considering Tampa Bay's been bouncing from bottom of the league to top of the league, that's amazing.

2005: Tampa Bay predicted well above average (8th in the league). Finished with an 11-5 record. (this was the year of the "none of us think Tampa Bay will be this good..." prediction. Whoops. Trust the numbers). Prediction correct.
2006: Tampa Bay predicted average, maybe a bit below (17th). Keep in mind, this is predicting a decline. Finished 4-12. Decline was larger than expected (due to quarterbacking disaster), but was basically correct. The QB disaster took them from an average team to a very bad team.
2007: Tampa Bay predicted well above average (6th in the league). Finished 9-7 (division champ - DVOA was 7th in the league). Prediction correct.

118
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Thu, 09/18/2008 - 2:41pm

I can't prove it because I don't know the formula but seeing Seattle, the Eagles and Tampa regularly ranked higher than what I believe they deserve leads me to believe the formula rewards their style of play.

Go back and look, historically, at those two teams. Well, do so when they have the stats pages updated. There's nothing "regular" about their offense being ranked highly, and yet all of those teams have been using a West Coast offense for years.

(Also, "Seattle regularly ranked higher"? Seattle was ranked 29th in Week 1, and 25th this week.)

Secondly, how can you use conventional metrics for an argument that uses proprietary metrics.

Because DVOA correlates extremely highly to points, so I can use points as a (weak) proxy for DVOA as well. Just use points per drive, tweak for fumble luck a bit, and don't forget about special teams. If you do that for each team, and rank them, you'll end up "not that far" from DVOA.

It's pretty much a universal truth that when someone says "how can team X be so poorly rated in DVOA?" if you just go back, and work it out from a pure points perspective, the team usually ends up much lower than the person would think.

Tampa ranks 10th, not 5th (they rank 5th in DAVE, but that's due to the high preseason projection). Their main strength is in defense, not offense, and it's entirely due to the domination in Atlanta.

Again, it's early season. Tampa lost a close game (24-20) and dominated its second game (24-9). Carolina won two close games. Give Carolina a chance to dominate a game, and they'll jump. If they don't? Well, then they're not that good a team.

120
by Eddo :: Thu, 09/18/2008 - 4:18pm

(attempt to stop the italics madness)

121
by Dales :: Thu, 09/18/2008 - 4:35pm

Please always remember to close your italics tags!

95
by The Hypno-Toad :: Wed, 09/17/2008 - 4:10pm

Don't get me wrong, they'll probably come around eventually, but it's hard to classify the Chargers as a "bruising defense" at this point. As god-awful as Denver's defense looked on Sunday, I'm not particularly convinced they were the worst defense out there. Yes, San Diego had an actual, for realsies interception, which the Broncos can't claim, but neither team seemed to have any interest in preventing gains of yardage or points.

103
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Wed, 09/17/2008 - 8:05pm

That's the thing. They didn't play poorly at all.

They didn't play poorly, but they didn't play well. They played average. In 24 drives on offense, they've scored 37 points. At 1.54 points per drive, that would put them 21st in the league last year. In 24 drives on defense, they've allowed 34 points. At 1.42 points per drive, that would put them 5th in the league. That ends up being "about average." Tweak it a bit for fumble luck (remember, it's early in the season with small sample size, so even 1 or 2 fumbles is a big change), and poof.

It's not a big deal. Early in the season, the "DVOA leaderboard" consists of the teams that win big, because every week there's a team that wins big. Playing average two weeks doesn't exactly make you favored over teams like Green Bay or the Giants, who decimated their opponents. It doesn't even win you over a team you beat (Chicago) who won big enough their first game to compensate for a close loss in the second.

But it brings up another point. Does the definition of success favor one style of play over another?

No. I don't know why people think that it does. There seems to be this pervasive "West Coast offenses are favored," idea, but that's just crazy. DVOA is a rate stat, not a counting stat. It doesn't care if there were 6 first downs in a 12 play drive or 2 first downs in a 4 play drive.

The idea of "success" in football isn't arbitrary. A play is successful if the team is more likely to gain a new set of first downs (or a touchdown) than before. That's it. There is no style of play where not keeping the ball makes you score more. You always want to keep the ball. Always. Even a draw on 3rd and long still indicates a desire to keep the ball - otherwise, they'd just kneel, then punt. (A draw on 3rd and long usually indicates that the team realizes that their chances of keeping the ball are virtually zero anyway, so it's better to run the safer play.)

If a team, on every drive in a game, goes rush for 0, rush for 0, pass for 80 and a TD, will they have a worse or a better DVOA than a team that goes rush for 4, rush for 4, rush for 4, straight down the field, on every drive?

It's frequently stated that DVOA would "prefer" the latter. I doubt it. I think it'd prefer the former. You can just ballpark it. Just measure "yards above success," where success is the standard 40%, 60%, 100%. The first is -4, -6, +70, or an average of +20 per play. Even cutting off the pass for 80 at 40 yards still gives you +6.67 per play. For the second, it's +0, +0.4, +2, or +0.8 per play.

Even the oft-cited argument that a West Coast teams gives you more data points isn't that great. West Coast teams don't really run more plays per game than a normal team, and gaining data points won't make you better (again, DVOA is a rate stat). It'll just make your error bar smaller, quicker. So yeah, DVOA will figure out that you're good, fast, but if you suck, it'll also figure out that you're bad, fast.

81
by The Powers That Be :: Wed, 09/17/2008 - 1:34pm

Ok, time for prediction challenges!

Prediction Challenge #1: What week will the Giants fall out of the #1 spot in DVOA?

Here's their schedule for the next few weeks:
CIN
bye
SEA
@CLE
SF

My pick is week 8, when I think the combination of a trip to Pittsburgh and adjustments for strength of opponents will be enough to knock them off.

Prediction Challenge #2: What will be the first (non-NFC East) team to beat an NFC East team? Right now, the NFCE is the only undefeated division, having gone 2-0 against other NFL teams and 2-0 against the Rams.

I'm a gambling man, so I'll say it won't happen this week (DAL@GB, PIT@PHI, AZ@WAS). The NFCE should easily be favored in every non-divisional game in weeks 4-6. My pick is that CLE gets their act together and beats WAS in week 7.

83
by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 09/17/2008 - 1:38pm

Dallas, Philly and Washington could all lose this weekend and I'd expect the Cards to win, even on the road. Green Bay and Pittsburgh are hardly cream puffs.

101
by Dales :: Wed, 09/17/2008 - 6:53pm

"What week will the Giants fall out of the #1 spot in DVOA?"

My guess is the first week that opponent adjustments hit full-force.

"having gone 2-0 against other NFL teams and 2-0 against the Rams."

That is highlarious.

I have a sneaking suspicion that GB will take Dallas this week. But you might be right that it could be a few weeks.

114
by Quincy :: Thu, 09/18/2008 - 9:11am

#1: I think the Giants slide out of the top spot this week or next. Despite my earlier crack about their schedule, I would expect a less-than dominant performance this Sunday. If that doesn't happen, I believe the opponent adjustments kick in the week after.

#2: If all of the NFC East teams win this week, I'll be impressed. After that, CLE-NY week 6, CLE-WAS week 7, and PIT-NY week 8 look like the next likely possibilities. They have a lot of games against the NFC West in there, which helps a lot.

84
by Clueless in Chicago (not verified) :: Wed, 09/17/2008 - 2:04pm

First, Oakland's jump was so big I had to go look at the cause in the offense and defense ratings. Expecting to find a dominant running DVOA I found ... a below-average run offense DVOA.

Now, having watched two Raider's games, I have to say that the only part of their game I was sure was above average was the run offense. According to the breakdowns, nothing is above average, but their run game is about as good as their pass defense and their pass offense, but no better?

Granted, there should not have been a big jump. KC had an OLB sometimes blocking the DE on run plays. Seriously, on one play Cornell Green was running around looking for a safety to kill (SPLAT!). They had an off-the-street quarterback practically (a backup WR played some QB). Gaining DVOA against such a team should be impossible.

107
by Yaguar :: Thu, 09/18/2008 - 12:27am

DVOA is pissed off at McFadden for fumbling a lot. He has also been super-boom-and-busty, which is probably because people crowd the box and don't fear Oakland's passing "offense." I don't think anyone would dispute that Oakland is extremely talented at RB.

96
by Kellerman (not verified) :: Wed, 09/17/2008 - 4:19pm

Bengals are clearly too low because no opponent adjustments exist! Something with a snappy title like "Defense Adjusted Value Over Average" is way better than this! FO Ruullzz!

Seriously though, when Cincinnati beats the Giants this week will it be the biggest VOA upset ever? If not, what was?

99
by Dales :: Wed, 09/17/2008 - 6:06pm

Giants over Patriots?

I kid. I kid. I kid because I love.

105
by Aaron Schatz :: Wed, 09/17/2008 - 9:50pm

Playoff odds and this week's Premium picks against the spread are now online.

108
by Yaguar :: Thu, 09/18/2008 - 12:31am

I'm amused at the fact that there were some Playoff Odds simulations in which the Rams won the NFC West and hosted a playoff game.

110
by Boston Dan :: Thu, 09/18/2008 - 5:20am

Isaac Bruce with a 50% catch rate through two games. A factor of age, the QBs, a mixture of both?

What is up with Roy Williams also at 50%? I am curious if that lines up with his historical numbers.

Chris Chambers at 33% on 15 passes, nothing new there, but teammate Vincent Jackson - a 75% rate on 12 passes.

Cotchery at 44% and Coles at 40%? Is that more on them or Favre?

For the Jaguars, Northcutt is at 71% and Matt Jones at 55%, but Jones has been thrown 20 passes to Northcutt's 7.

Panthers offensive VOA is ranked 15th, at the top of the middle of the pack through the two games. But the rush voa is 6.4% to -3.8% pass voa. And that is with Mushin Muhammed and his 52% catch rate on 21 passes.

LJ Smith a 46% rate on 13 passes, the worst amongst the heavily thrown-to TEs thus far.

113
by Wanker79 :: Thu, 09/18/2008 - 9:08am

LJ Smith a 46% rate on 13 passes, the worst amongst the heavily thrown-to TEs thus far.

In other news the sky is blue, water is wet, and LJ Smith still has stone hands.

117
by ammek :: Thu, 09/18/2008 - 12:24pm

"Cotchery at 44% and Coles at 40%? Is that more on them or Favre?"

Well whoever C. Stuckey of the Jets might be is leading the league in DVOA. So perhaps Cotchery and Coles just aren't accustomed to those sportswriter-infatuating high-velocity Favre bullets.

119
by Chet (not verified) :: Thu, 09/18/2008 - 2:47pm

I'm an idiot so there's that, but I was wondering if FO still does the rankings vs #1 WR's, #2 WR's, TE's and RB's? Does that data need more games behind it or am I just not finding it? Thanks for any help!

126
by Raiderjoe :: Thu, 09/18/2008 - 10:40pm

Raiders moving on up to the east side. Last week 28 or 29t, now 16 on list. soon to be int top 110.

wewek 1 game just blimp on the rradar screen. Raiders going to smakc aorund Broncos in denver later in season. passing attack goign to come around in the next month, in the meantime Raiders goingt o destroy teams with 3 headedd beatst running game. D McFadden,. M Bush, and Fargas all good

127
by Wanker79 :: Fri, 09/19/2008 - 8:55am

Raiders moving on up to the east side. Last week 28 or 29t, now 16 on list. soon to be int top 110.

Really setting your expectations high this year, huh Raiderjoe?

133
by Miguel (not verified) :: Fri, 09/19/2008 - 7:19pm

To see the Giants top the DVOA rankings is not a surprise to me considering the play of their defense. The G-Men are one of a very small handful of teams that has had good defensive play in back to back weeks; even if it was against an indecisive Redskins offense, and a pathetic Rams team.

The Giants currently own the top DVOA spot by simply taking care of its business, although I eagerly await its first real test. This weekend WON'T be it unless the Giants look ahead, or O-D on Nyquil.

Miguel

134
by Miguel (not verified) :: Fri, 09/19/2008 - 7:20pm

To see the Giants top the DVOA rankings is not a surprise to me considering the play of their defense. The G-Men are one of a very small handful of teams that has had good defensive play in back to back weeks; even if it was against an indecisive Redskins offense, and a pathetic Rams team.

The Giants currently own the top DVOA spot by simply taking care of its business, although I eagerly await its first real test. This weekend WON'T be it unless the Giants look ahead, or O-D on Nyquil.

Miguel

136
by Sid :: Sun, 09/21/2008 - 11:08am

Will there be defense vs. TE, WR1, etc. after Week 3? I don't see it up right now. Is this discussed somewhere.