Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

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04 Nov 2008

Week 9 DVOA Ratings

by Aaron Schatz

The Giants are back on top of the Football Outsiders DVOA ratings this week, and no matter how many games the Tennessee Titans keep winning, DVOA still thinks the beasts of the NFC East (New York and Philadelphia) are superior teams. There's some shuffling -- those surprising Arizona Cardinals are all the way up to fourth overall -- but the top dozen teams this week are the same as a week ago.

At the bottom of that top dozen you'll find the surprising 4-4 Miami Dolphins. Even more surprising, this is a team being driven by its offense. I've received a number of questions over the last week about the Dolphins -- mostly along the lines of "Come on, is Miami really the second-best offense in the league?" That was their ranking a week ago -- although they beat Denver, they did it without a lot of scoring, so they've dropped to eighth in the tightly-packed offensive rankings this week.

Are the Dolphins getting a bump from the adjustments in DVOA? No -- in fact, the opposite. Miami's non-adjusted VOA is far above its DVOA. The offense has lost only one out of seven fumbles, while playing the 27th-ranked schedule of opposing defenses. Yet conventional stats certainly don't think the Dolphins have a strong offense. Miami has scored 171 points, tied for 18th in the NFL, and gained 2,792 yards, 11th in the NFL.

Miami's offensive surge began -- no surprise -- with the introduction of the Wildcat in Week 3's big victory over New England. Believe it or not, since Week 3 -- and including this week's subpar performance against Denver -- the Dolphins have the best offensive DVOA in the NFL, narrowly ahead of the Saints, Giants and Cardinals.

On the other hand, Miami's high DVOA isn't quite as high as the sentence "Miami has the second-best offense in the league" might make you think. The offensive environment of 2008 has been quite strong -- the overall DVOA of the league, compared to the baseline of the past five years, is a whopping 3.8% -- but there are no teams with historically standout offenses. Right now, the Giants lead the league in offense with 25.0% DVOA. Twenty-one different offenses since 1998 were higher than that after Week 9; the only year without an offense above 25.0% DVOA was 2003. Miami's offensive DVOA since Week 3 -- the highest in the NFL, remember -- is 24.7%.

Obviously, whether they are second or eighth, Miami's offense is still much better than anyone would have expected, and some of you would probably like to know what the hell is going on. Looking at the DVOA splits, the answer would not seem to be "the Wildcat." The Dolphins rank 19th in rushing offense, but fourth in passing offense. That's strange. Even stranger: the Dolphins rank fourth in passing offense despite the fact that the only wide receiver with a positive DVOA is Derek Hagan, who has a grand total of SIX pass targets. Most of the receiving value belongs to the running backs and tight ends, who all have high DVOA ratings with the exception of Ricky Williams.

Despite all those big surprise plays from the Wildcat, like the touchdown pass to a wide-open Patrick Cobbs, the Dolphins do not have a lot of plays over 20 yards. What they do have is a ton of plays of intermediate length -- no offense has gained 11-20 yards on a higher percentage of plays. Check out Miami compared to the rest of the NFL:


Dolphins Offense by Distribution of Yardage Gained
(compared to NFL Average)
Play Length Dolphins NFL Rank NFL Average
Loss 7.4% 18 7.8%
0-5 yards 44.1% 28 49.4%
6-10 yards 18.1% 20 18.9%
11-20 yards 22.2% 1 16.8%
21+ yards 8.1% 11 7.1%

The Dolphins have also been extremely good at avoiding turnovers. Dolphins have only four interceptions and seven fumbles -- and, as noted above, they've only lost one of those to the defense. Only three teams have fewer combined interceptions and fumbles: Atlanta, Seattle, and Washington.

Finally, one other issue contributes to the confusion about the Miami offense: special teams. The Dolphins special teams are terrible this year, ranked 31st in DVOA. They are average in field-goal kicking and pretty bad at everything else. That means the offense constantly starts with more yardage to make up in order to score -- I don't have drive stats through Week 9 yet, but through Week 8 Miami's average starting line of scrimmage was the 27.4-yard line, which ranked 29th in the league.

Subjectively, I do think that our ratings are overstating the importance of the Miami-New England blowout. The DVOA playoff odds report thinks Miami actually has the best chance to win the division and New England has the worst chance, but that one game is the main reason Miami has the highest DVOA rating in the division while New England has the lowest. I still think the Patriots are the team that will claw its way out of the AFC East, but you are welcome to believe this opinion is coming from the "Patriots fan" part of my brain rather than the "objective analyst" portion.

As long as we're talking about offenses that are better than conventional wisdom, how about the San Diego Chargers? Yes, the Chargers are struggling this year, but it isn't because of the offense. We keep hearing about how the Chargers' stars are struggling with injuries -- LaDainian Tomlinson, Antonio Gates, Chris Chambers -- but San Diego ranks fourth in DVOA, third in points scored, and first in yards per play. They rank only 12th in total yardage, but that's because they rank 31st in offensive plays, ahead of only Pittsburgh. The Chargers have run 440 plays compared to an NFL average of 497.

Nope, the reason the Chargers are 3-5 -- other than bad officiating -- is defense. The San Diego defense was fifth in DVOA last year, and ranks 29th this year. Some of it is the pass rush, with the loss of Shawne Merriman playing an obvious role. The Chargers have gone from 12th in Adjusted Sack Rate to 23rd this year. However, that's not all. Quentin Jammer and Antonio Cromartie aren't playing at the high level of a year ago. In 2007, the Chargers ranked 11th in DVOA against number-one wideouts and first in the NFL against number twos. This year, those ranks are 25th and sixth, respectively.

A few other tidbits emptying my brain:

  • Running the numbers used in the Miami analysis above also gave this fun little tidbit: San Francisco has the highest percentage of offensive plays for a loss (14.2 percent) and the highest percentage of offensive plays for 21+ yards (11.4 percent). No other offense ranks in the top dozen in both categories.
  • This is the first week we start to see some differences between total DVOA and weighted DVOA. Buffalo and Denver have faded, while Cleveland has improved a little bit since the first couple weeks.
  • Remember when we were talking about 2008 as the year of the historically awful teams? Not anymore. The "Worst DVOA Ever" watch is officially retired this week. Cincinnati finally won, and while Detroit is still 0-8 and Kansas City 1-7, they've been playing teams closer. Right now, no 2008 team would rank among the 10 worst teams through Week 9, and only Detroit would be on the list of the 10 worst defenses (seventh, which isn't that special anyway).
  • New England drops to last place in pass defense this week. Just in case 2005 did not do enough to prove to Bill Belichick that you can't cobble together a secondary full of the worst veteran castoffs in the league and assume scheme will take care of everything.

All individual stats pages are now updated, as are playoff odds. Team stats will be updated shortly. Meanwhile, Week 10 means it is time for LOSER LEAGUE PART II! Now you can finally have the joy of owning Chaz Schilens and Matt Cassel. Click here for rules and signup. The winner of Part I will be announced tomorrow in Scramble for the Ball.

* * * * *

These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through nine 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 DVOA are adjusted to consider all fumbles, kept or lost, as equal value. They also include opponent adjustments, currently at 90 percent strength. SPECIAL TEAMS DVOA is adjusted for type of stadium (warm, cold, dome, Denver) and week of season. WEIGHTED DVOA is adjusted so that earlier games in the season become gradually less important. It better reflects how the team is playing right now.

As always, positive numbers represent more points so DEFENSE is better when it is NEGATIVE. 

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
WEIGHTED
DVOA
RANK W-L OFFENSE
DVOA
OFF.
RANK
DEFENSE
DVOA
DEF.
RANK
S.T.
DVOA
S.T.
RANK
1 NYG 42.7% 2 42.3% 1 7-1 25.0% 1 -15.5% 7 2.2% 10
2 PHI 36.6% 1 35.4% 2 5-3 17.6% 5 -16.1% 6 2.9% 6
3 TEN 27.0% 3 28.0% 3 8-0 6.6% 14 -21.8% 2 -1.4% 25
4 ARI 21.1% 8 21.4% 4 5-3 22.6% 2 1.1% 14 -0.5% 21
5 BAL 20.1% 4 18.9% 6 5-3 2.7% 18 -20.3% 3 -2.9% 26
6 PIT 19.8% 7 19.1% 5 6-2 -6.8% 25 -26.9% 1 -0.3% 20
7 CAR 15.5% 10 15.8% 8 6-2 9.8% 11 -5.8% 9 -0.1% 19
8 WAS 15.5% 5 15.6% 9 6-3 16.8% 6 -2.1% 12 -3.5% 28
9 TB 15.4% 6 15.8% 7 6-3 -0.4% 21 -16.4% 5 -0.6% 22
10 GB 15.2% 11 15.1% 10 4-4 9.5% 13 -3.7% 10 1.9% 11
11 CHI 12.1% 9 11.2% 11 5-3 4.7% 16 -6.8% 8 0.6% 17
12 MIA 9.4% 12 10.6% 12 4-4 14.9% 8 -3.0% 11 -8.5% 31
13 ATL 8.8% 16 7.9% 13 5-3 16.4% 7 9.3% 19 1.7% 13
14 IND 6.8% 15 7.7% 14 4-4 13.8% 9 5.9% 16 -1.1% 24
15 NO 6.0% 14 5.6% 15 4-4 21.7% 3 16.2% 25 0.5% 18
16 MIN 2.7% 18 3.0% 16 4-4 -2.1% 23 -16.9% 4 -12.1% 32
TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
LAST
WEEK
WEIGHTED
DVOA
RANK W-L OFFENSE
DVOA
OFF.
RANK
DEFENSE
DVOA
DEF.
RANK
S.T.
DVOA
S.T.
RANK
17 SD 1.8% 17 1.1% 17 3-5 18.3% 4 18.4% 27 1.9% 12
18 NYJ -1.7% 21 -2.9% 18 5-3 -1.5% 22 0.9% 13 0.7% 15
19 BUF -3.7% 13 -5.6% 19 5-3 0.0% 20 6.1% 17 2.3% 9
20 DEN -7.5% 22 -9.8% 23 4-4 13.5% 10 20.2% 28 -0.9% 23
21 JAC -8.3% 19 -9.0% 21 3-5 6.5% 15 17.4% 26 2.5% 8
22 HOU -9.5% 24 -8.1% 20 3-5 9.8% 12 22.9% 30 3.7% 4
23 NE -9.5% 23 -10.2% 24 5-3 0.7% 19 15.8% 24 5.6% 2
24 DAL -10.1% 20 -12.8% 25 5-4 4.1% 17 7.8% 18 -6.4% 29
25 CLE -12.0% 25 -9.5% 22 3-5 -5.6% 24 14.1% 22 7.7% 1
26 SF -15.5% 26 -16.0% 26 2-6 -17.3% 30 1.2% 15 3.1% 5
27 SEA -18.7% 27 -16.3% 27 2-6 -7.5% 26 11.8% 20 0.6% 16
28 OAK -32.3% 28 -31.4% 28 2-6 -23.4% 32 12.8% 21 3.9% 3
29 DET -34.1% 30 -32.7% 29 0-8 -10.5% 27 26.5% 32 2.8% 7
30 CIN -36.8% 31 -36.6% 30 1-8 -19.1% 31 14.4% 23 -3.2% 27
31 STL -38.7% 29 -36.7% 31 2-6 -15.7% 29 24.3% 31 1.3% 14
32 KC -43.1% 32 -42.4% 32 1-7 -14.3% 28 22.3% 29 -6.5% 30

  • NON-ADJUSTED TOTAL DVOA gives performance without adjustments for schedule strength, fumble recovery luck, and weather/altitude on special teams.
  • 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 most consistent (#1, lowest variance) to least consistent (#32, highest variance).


TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
W-L NON-ADJ
TOT VOA
ESTIM.
WINS
RANK PAST
SCHED
RANK FUTURE
SCHED
RANK VAR. RANK
1 NYG 42.7% 7-1 53.9% 7.2 1 -10.7% 32 19.7% 1 28.4% 31
2 PHI 36.6% 5-3 42.4% 6.7 2 -3.0% 24 11.9% 3 12.2% 10
3 TEN 27.0% 8-0 31.5% 6.5 3 -5.9% 27 -3.8% 22 5.5% 4
4 ARI 21.1% 5-3 20.4% 5.3 10 -3.3% 25 -2.7% 21 16.5% 16
5 BAL 20.1% 5-3 22.1% 5.8 6 -3.3% 26 7.1% 6 20.7% 22
6 PIT 19.8% 6-2 21.0% 6.0 4 5.4% 6 -1.8% 20 5.6% 5
7 CAR 15.5% 6-2 11.3% 5.7 7 2.8% 12 2.0% 12 22.4% 26
8 WAS 15.5% 6-3 13.0% 5.6 8 3.5% 10 2.6% 11 5.2% 3
9 TB 15.4% 6-3 19.2% 5.2 13 -2.4% 22 -4.5% 24 19.1% 19
10 GB 15.2% 4-4 10.9% 5.5 9 -0.2% 16 -0.5% 18 9.6% 8
11 CHI 12.1% 5-3 9.8% 5.8 5 2.0% 13 1.4% 13 4.6% 2
12 MIA 9.4% 4-4 17.8% 5.0 14 1.2% 15 -23.3% 32 18.6% 18
13 ATL 8.8% 5-3 11.1% 4.7 16 -1.6% 19 0.2% 15 25.8% 30
14 IND 6.8% 4-4 4.2% 5.2 12 5.5% 5 -7.4% 26 22.4% 27
15 NO 6.0% 4-4 8.6% 5.2 11 -0.5% 17 -0.2% 17 6.3% 6
16 MIN 2.7% 4-4 -1.8% 4.5 17 4.3% 8 10.4% 5 7.1% 7
TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
W-L NON-ADJ
TOT VOA
ESTIM.
WINS
RANK PAST
SCHED
RANK FUTURE
SCHED
RANK VAR. RANK
17 SD 1.8% 3-5 5.0% 4.8 15 -2.7% 23 -10.7% 30 13.2% 13
18 NYJ -1.7% 5-3 6.3% 4.4 18 -10.4% 31 -8.2% 27 14.9% 15
19 BUF -3.7% 5-3 -0.1% 4.1 21 -7.5% 29 -12.8% 31 17.3% 17
20 DEN -7.5% 4-4 -4.5% 3.5 24 -6.7% 28 -9.5% 29 20.8% 23
21 JAC -8.3% 3-5 -4.8% 4.3 19 -1.8% 20 5.8% 8 3.8% 1
22 HOU -9.5% 3-5 -10.6% 3.3 26 -1.5% 18 4.1% 10 14.1% 14
23 NE -9.5% 5-3 -0.1% 4.2 20 -9.8% 30 -1.4% 19 22.4% 25
24 DAL -10.1% 5-4 -10.8% 3.6 23 6.6% 4 14.4% 2 24.2% 28
25 CLE -12.0% 3-5 -16.0% 3.9 22 7.0% 3 4.7% 9 24.4% 29
26 SF -15.5% 2-6 -17.7% 3.4 25 2.8% 11 -6.7% 25 10.5% 9
27 SEA -18.7% 2-6 -21.4% 3.0 27 4.1% 9 1.0% 14 19.7% 20
28 OAK -32.3% 2-6 -33.9% 2.3 29 -2.2% 21 -3.9% 23 32.5% 32
29 DET -34.1% 0-8 -36.7% 2.4 28 4.6% 7 11.5% 4 12.4% 11
30 CIN -36.8% 1-8 -43.4% 1.7 32 7.6% 2 6.2% 7 12.7% 12
31 STL -38.7% 2-6 -40.6% 1.8 30 8.2% 1 0.0% 16 19.9% 21
32 KC -43.1% 1-7 -37.3% 1.7 31 1.7% 14 -8.8% 28 21.8% 24

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 04 Nov 2008

52 comments, Last at 08 Nov 2008, 2:46pm by tally

Comments

1
by Glenn (not verified) :: Tue, 11/04/2008 - 4:26pm

Green Bay lost on Sunday, so they should be 4-4 not 5-3

7
by The Ninjalectual :: Tue, 11/04/2008 - 5:18pm

FO has a snazzy new look to the site, but apparently had to fire their fact-checkers to pay for it. There have been obvious factual errors in nearly every article from week 4 on. It kinda causes you to question the accuracy of DVOA and D-whatever they picked to replace DPAR.

2
by Devin McCullen (not verified) :: Tue, 11/04/2008 - 4:56pm

If you want to see why Miami's leading the Playoff Odds, look at the future schedule column. That's the other 3 AFC East teams, Oakland, KC, SF, St. Louis and Seattle.

46
by RickD :: Thu, 11/06/2008 - 12:42am

The other three AFC East teams have more wins than Miami does.

3
by Bywater Brat (not verified) :: Tue, 11/04/2008 - 4:59pm

What a gruesomely anxxiety-riddled day at work...only to find my Steelers without much movement. There isn't as much playful banter when they come out so late...I would think that the election wouldn't be of much concern to the supposedly results-driven audience given the complete inefficiency of voting, then again the Seattle and Boston crowds may have started the celebrations a bit early...Regardless, I have to say aside from PHI, BAL and CAR these rankings are looking better than they have in years past.

10
by JCRODRIGUEZ (not verified) :: Tue, 11/04/2008 - 5:25pm

Here-here, I was expecting at least to be above the Ravens, nevermind Arizona...anyway, let's just pray that Big Ben can have his shoulder attached with masking tape and get some one on one chat with that Arians guy...boy the playcallling make my head spin...actually, taking everything into account a #1 or #2 seed in the AFC looks pretty within reach...I will gladly take it...

4
by RBurgh (not verified) :: Tue, 11/04/2008 - 5:08pm

Net W-L records sum to zero, so if GB record is wrong, someone else's is too.

5
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Tue, 11/04/2008 - 5:11pm

Holy cow, Philly's back in the top 10 for special teams rankings! Leading the way is, of course, Sav "What's ROBO-PUNTER in Australian" Rocca, but the punt return team's above average, too. Akers's field goal flurry pulls him back to about average, too.

Now, it would be nice if opposing field goal kickers could start missing a bit. At this point, even Aaron has to be wondering if the Eagles are cursed, or something.

20
by Bobman :: Tue, 11/04/2008 - 8:00pm

My Australian is rusty, but I think the translation you are looking for is either Kangaroo foot or Roo-tail foot. Packs a mighty wallop.

6
by Wait, what? (not verified) :: Tue, 11/04/2008 - 5:15pm

"[Miami's] offense has lost only one out of seven fumbles."

I'm confused by the phrasing here. DVOA still penalizes teams for fumbles regardless of which team recovers them, right? So shouldn't it be "Miami's offense has only fumbled seven times?"

39
by Scott C :: Wed, 11/05/2008 - 1:59pm

Well, VOA only looks at lost fumbles, so DVOA is penalizing the Miami offense for dropping the rock but VOA is only penalizing them for the one turnover.

So, the statement is meant to indicate that the usual "why is DVOA so high/low for team X when they don't look that way" answer isn't due to one of the most common reasons -- unsustainable fumble luck.

The classic example is Atlanta from several years ago that caused the formulation of the "Football Outsiders Message Board Curse" when a gaggle of Falcon Fans were blasting FO for ranking the Falcons so low on the message board at mid-season. The low Falcon DVOA was due to them recovering almost every fumble in the first half of the season. They had allowed more points than they scored, yet still were leading their division, and most national "rankings" had them ranked pretty high due to the W-L record. In the second half of the season that trend went back to the mean and they lost a lot of games as DVOA predicted. The generic DVOA complaint formulation comes directly out of one of the Falcon fan complaints if I recall correctly.

8
by panthersnbraves :: Tue, 11/04/2008 - 5:19pm

The Panthers were off and moved up three spots!

9
by Bjorn Nittmo (not verified) :: Tue, 11/04/2008 - 5:24pm

Any tracking of previous games pitting DVOA #1 vs. #2? I can't believe the NFL isn't playing this up for Sunday night's Eagles-Giants game.

11
by Kevin from Philly :: Tue, 11/04/2008 - 6:10pm

I bet you they bring out the Randall Cunningham (after bouncing off Banks) to Jimmie Jiles TD film clip.

22
by Bobman :: Tue, 11/04/2008 - 8:15pm

Merely one of the most awesome plays ever. Sitting in my living room in NYC I saw it, was dumbfounded and tried to think of someone to call who I knew would be watching. I called a college buddy in LA and all I said when he answered was, "Did you see that?" He had.

12
by Aaron Schatz :: Tue, 11/04/2008 - 6:28pm

Hey, yeah, Miami has fumbled seven times. Six recovered, one lost. So if we DIDN'T mark all fumbles equal -- and DVOA thought they only fumbled once instead of 3.5 times -- they would be even higher. (And in VOA, they are.)

I fixed Green Bay; if I messed up another W-L, let me know. I do those by hand and make mistakes every few weeks.

13
by Key19 :: Tue, 11/04/2008 - 6:29pm

Well, Brad Johnson/Brooks Bollinger has finally deflated the Dallas offense ranking enough that if Romo comes back and puts up a huge game against Washington, the Dallas offense will jump big and Washington's defense will jump down big.

Once again, I argue that DVOA needs to take into account drastic temporary changes in starting lineups. Dallas' offense surely isn't 17th when Romo's in, and yet the Redskins defense will be graded like it is. Kind of a flaw in the system if I do say so myself.

I remain solid in my belief that if Romo returns in Week 11, Dallas will beat Washington. Sorry, DVOA.

14
by Richie :: Tue, 11/04/2008 - 6:41pm

Key19, are you talking about drastic changes in starting lineups like Vince Young losing his job? OK, so that turned out to be not temporary, but at what point did we know that? At what point does Kerry Collins' performance change from being "substitute" to "starter"?

How about Leftwich for Roethlisberger?

- A Dolphins fan wrote this.

15
by MJK :: Tue, 11/04/2008 - 7:01pm

Something's fishy about DVOA and New England...

Subjectively, both Cassel and the pass defense seem to have been improving each week. And objectively, two of what I had thought would be their three worst games (total destruction against the Wildcat, and a very close win over a horrible KC team in Week 1) should be getting weaker in weighted DVOA. So why is their weighted DVOA worse than their total DVOA? What were the numbers on the Colts game?

I think I understand why their pass defense DVOA took a hit at the Colts game--their gameplan seemed to be to guard against the deep pass and force Manning to march down the field (which he did), but in the process shorten the game so that a couple of random events one way or the other could decide things (oddly, the Colts seemd to use exactly the same strategy). DVOA hates defenses that give up consistent short gains while guarding against the big play (just like it hates boom-or-bust offenses).

47
by RickD :: Thu, 11/06/2008 - 12:52am

It's a bit early for Weighted DVOA to start dropping games. From the FoxSports explanation:

"These ratings use a weighted DVOA which discounts games early in the season in order to provide a more accurate look at how good teams are right now. Games played more than eight weeks ago become gradually less important."

I expect the Pats (and the Colts, for that matter) to start making up ground in Weighted DVOA in the coming weeks.

16
by Becephalus :: Tue, 11/04/2008 - 7:12pm

Must say that DVOA matches my intuitions of the teams strengths very very closely this year. Not really any rankings that surprise me. The mainstream sports media really does seem to still neglect the importance of special teams. PIT should be fine without Ben as Parker is back and the offense hasn't really been good anyway. More importantly the schedule is getting a lot softer.

The Wire should win the Nobel prize for literature.

18
by hector :: Tue, 11/04/2008 - 7:36pm

As long as we're talking about offenses that are better than conventional wisdom, how about the San Diego Chargers?

Well, they lead the AFC in points scored (and are just 10 points off the NFL lead). I don't think it's that big a secret. The strawman may disagree.

17
by Gold_Star_for_R... :: Tue, 11/04/2008 - 7:33pm

I'm stunned.
Not by the possibility - they're playing well - but because these are the Cardinals.

19
by noahpoah :: Tue, 11/04/2008 - 7:58pm

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't (D)VOA a measure of a team's performance relative to the rest of the league? If so, how can you compare directly across years? You write "the overall DVOA of the league, compared to the baseline of the past five years, is a whopping 3.8%", but where does this number come from and what does it mean?

For that matter, how is it that the sum of the total DVOA column is negative (ditto for the total non-adj VOA)?

In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they aren't. - Yogi Berra

25
by Ashley Tate (not verified) :: Tue, 11/04/2008 - 9:02pm

You are wrong. DVOA is a measure of a team's performance relative to the rest of the league over the past 5 years, not for just the current year, based on standard metrics like % of necessary yards gained/allowed for a first down.

So the comment you quoted simply means that offensive performance is 3.8% higher across the NFL than it was over the past 5 years.

48
by RickD :: Thu, 11/06/2008 - 12:56am

Hmm.

Well, the NFL teams playing today are only playing against other teams that are playing today.

Comparing stats across eras in confrontational games never really makes all that much sense. (By "confrontational", I mean games where athletes oppose each other, as opposed to the clock, the tape measure, or the golf course.)

21
by the silent speaker (not verified) :: Tue, 11/04/2008 - 8:15pm

Heh, six teams have more wins already than Detroit and Cincinnati are projected to get the entire season. Combined.

23
by Bobman :: Tue, 11/04/2008 - 8:18pm

Screw that! Just look at Det's future schedule! They should have kept Millen a couple more months to permanently brand him with the humiliation of of helming an 0-16 team.

24
by Jimmy :: Tue, 11/04/2008 - 8:29pm

If the Lions do indeed acheive perfection and run (under) the table then I suspect most (if not all) people will see them as the team Matt Millen built.

27
by jebmak :: Tue, 11/04/2008 - 9:14pm

I will always see them as the team that Ford built.

40
by Scott C :: Wed, 11/05/2008 - 2:03pm

Built Ford Tough (TM)

44
by zlionsfan :: Wed, 11/05/2008 - 5:33pm

eh. Millen was always good at taking responsibility: he just wasn't good at changing what he was doing that brought about the need to take responsibility.

Ford, on the other hand ... the wonder won't be the 0-16 or 1-15 record this team will have, it's that twice in 20 years, the Lions managed to land a solid RB and parlay that into multiple playoff appearances. (Even if 1982 was sketchy at best.)

I think the NFL should take the franchise from him and run it like MLB did with the Expos/Nationals.

26
by JasonK :: Tue, 11/04/2008 - 9:08pm

Word flying around teh interwebs is that Schefter reported on NFLN that the Raiders have released DeAngelo Hall!

28
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 11/04/2008 - 9:57pm

If you are just paying attention, or even paying attention at all, to points allowed, you really are missing just how well the Vikings defense is playing. Frerottian interceptions, general Jacksonian incompetence, the worst punting DVOA that one could possibly imagine, and occasional bouts of fumblelitis, have left the Vikings defense looking like a metaphorical, legendarily lonely, 1st Minnesota, charging down from the ridgeline at Gettysburg, against hopeless odds. At least for making the playoffs, that is. You can beat Detroit, after all, with just one functioning unit.

Arghh. If you can't enjoy your tems making the playoffs, you may as well write about those elements you can enjoy in a hyperbolic fashion.

29
by jimm (not verified) :: Tue, 11/04/2008 - 10:57pm

Will - one good sign for the offence, teams are starting to pay a price for 8-9 in a box approach to defending the Vikings. The big strike is actually a part of the offence now but Frerotte is horribly inaccurate much of the time in short and medium throws.

The special teams as well has hurt the Vikings badly but I don't worry as much about that because I think there is a lot more luck involved in special teams play. But you Frerotte isn't going to get accurate all of a sudden. I think the Vikings need to keep attacking deep because Frerotte throws deep passes well and maybe it will get a safety out of the box the way it did against Houston in the 2nd half and at least the interceptions will be 30-40 yds down the field.

The Viking defence is clearly of championship calibre.

30
by Independent George :: Wed, 11/05/2008 - 1:06am

I can see NYG being ranked #1 overall, but I'm absolutely shocked by how high they score. They strike me as solid all-around, but not spectacular. I still think their pass defense consists of a pedestrian secondary whose weaknesses are concealed by a strong pass rush.

Their second-half schedule is murder, but being 7-1 means that going .500 the rest of the way still likely earns them a playoff spot.

31
by mawbrew :: Wed, 11/05/2008 - 9:17am

About halfway through the year, may as well review some preseason thinking to see how on/off target it was.

Generally on target

1. The Cowboys would not be as good as most folks were expecting. Injuries, coaching and suspect front office moves have undermined a talented roster.

2. The coaching change in Baltimore would improve the Ravens. But I didn't think the improvement would be this dramatic.

3. Miami would benefit most from the QB carousel. Pennington has been very good.

4. Marvin Lewis has peaked in Cincy. Of course, Palmer's injury as been disaterous, but I still don't see them ever getting back to the playoffs with him as HC.

5. The Titans would be better with Collins at QB than Young. I think that's clear but I had no idea they would be so much better than last year overall.

Surprised (or missed by a mile)

1. The Bears are much better than I expected. I thought their offense would be historically bad. Other than improved play by Orton, I'm still not sure how they've done it. Apologies to Bears fans.

2. The really is the year for the Arizona Cardinals. After a while you just dismiss them because they are the Cardinals. But barring catastrophy they will be in the postseason this year. Congrats to Cards fans.

3. Jacksonville has been much worse than expected. Was depth really that much of an issue?

4. Atlanta. I take solace in the fact that almost nobody saw this as a competitive team before the season started. A real culture change almost overnight.

33
by Ambientdonkey :: Wed, 11/05/2008 - 10:12am

No need to apologize to me, I thought the same thing about the Bears offense, just glad I was wrong about it. The defense on the other hand I was sadly correct about. I find it hard to believe that DVOA rates that atrocity as above average.

36
by TomC :: Wed, 11/05/2008 - 12:33pm

"Atrocity"? Bears fans (of which I am one) have been spoiled by so many good defenses over the years, I don't think we remember what a truly bad defense looks like. The run D is still very, very good, and so far the pass D has been able to make just enough big plays. That may not be a recipe for long-term success, but I'm sure Denver or the Bengals would happily trade units with you.

As for the success of the offense, I worry that we're going to find out in the next four weeks just how much difference a QB makes. That O-line didn't magically learn how to pass protect over the offseason, and the thought of someone with Rex's pocket awareness having his blind side protected by John St. Clair makes me very afraid. Sunday against Tennessee will be interesting, to put it mildly.

32
by ammek :: Wed, 11/05/2008 - 9:42am

The offensive environment of 2008 has been quite strong -- the overall DVOA of the league, compared to the baseline of the past five years, is a whopping 3.8% -- but there are no teams with historically standout offenses.

Here's one (surprising) explanation: the best passing teams can't rush -- not even averagely. Last season only two of the top nine offenses overall had negative rushing DVOA; this season, three of the top four do, including teams boasting the decade's two most prolific RBs, L Tomlinson and E James.

In theory, an outstanding passing offense ought to provide opportunities for the running game; this is how New England's strong rushing DVOA in 2007 was explained. In 2008, this isn't happening. Only the Giants and Washington have both rushing and passing DVOA exceeding 10%, and they are two of the run-heaviest offenses in the league. Three others -- the Alex Gibbs triumverate -- boast both passing and rushing DVOA in excess of the 2008 average of 3.8%. All the remaining offenses are lop-sided -- or just plain bad.

By comparison, the top eight defenses all have negative DVOA in both rushing and passing.

Furthermore, there are only four rushing offenses with DVOA above 10%, compared with eight defenses below -10% (plus another two on -9.8 and -9.7).

34
by TGT - But not logged in (not verified) :: Wed, 11/05/2008 - 10:12am

The offensive environment of 2008 has been quite strong -- the overall DVOA of the league, compared to the baseline of the past five years, is a whopping 3.8% -- but there are no teams with historically standout offenses.

What's really interesting about this, is even though offenses are doing better overall, it's high ranked defenses that are contributing to the top DVOA teams. Of the top 12 DVOA teams, only 1 has a defense outside the top 12, and that one (Arizona) is 14th. Half the top-12 defenses are outside the overall top-12 and only 3 top-12 special teams are in the overall top half!

Can anyone point to a factor that's causing this? As a Raven's fan, I'm cool with high defense/low offense at the top of the DVOA standings, but it doesn't seem normal. The special teams is also interesting. Might the obvious discrepancy note that special teams are not being rated properly? Are teams pulling their defensive starters from special teams?

35
by Grafac (not verified) :: Wed, 11/05/2008 - 12:04pm

The Colts are 13th in rushing offense behind a 29th rank line (at run blocking) and have two backs that aren't in the top 20 in DYAR.

37
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 11/05/2008 - 1:48pm

If anyone still thinks that Bill Parcells' talents and accomplishments have been overrated, well, I guess there is no convincing some people.

38
by Dice (not verified) :: Wed, 11/05/2008 - 1:50pm

I'm suprised the 'Skins are still doing pretty well. Thankful for the bye week and the big loss, hopefully they'll be very ready for Romo and 'Boys coming to FedEx.

41
by Tom Gower :: Wed, 11/05/2008 - 3:23pm

TEN's ranking matches up well intuitively with what I think of them-very good, but not quite as elite as normally considered, defense, average offense, and below average special teams. They still feel to me like the 3rd best TEN teams of the DVOA era-behind 2000 and 2003. 2003 had that great passing game (wow, that felt weird to type) and could put up points. The playoff loss to NE still hurts, because with a little luck, I see that team as 14-2 and having HFA itself, which I'm convinced would make for a different result. 2000, meanwhile, feels like a better version of the current edition-better defense, better special teams (until Al Del Greco got the yips), and Derrick Mason at WR-KR-PR doing the same thing Chris Johnson is at RB this year. Plus, with McNair at QB, there was this level of confidence that he could make the big play to win the game in the closing seconds. I know I certainly don't have the same level of confidence in Collins right now, and I'm not sure if any other TEN fan does, either. Anyway, 8-0, WOOOO!

50
by MJK :: Thu, 11/06/2008 - 1:59am

2003 was the "Ice Bowl" playoff game, right? Great game. As I recall, it could have gone either way...

42
by Chris (not verified) :: Wed, 11/05/2008 - 4:45pm

So how many passes did Jason Campbell throw OVER 10 yards and complete in the Steelers debacle? That would not include 4 yard TE drags, WR screens, RB checkdowns etc. How many times did he throw a pass in the air over 10 yards and complete it? Do you want to guess if it was more or less than the 7 times he was sacked?

43
by Josh in TN (not verified) :: Wed, 11/05/2008 - 5:28pm

While I agree on the surface that the Giants are probably a better team than my Titans, and the Eagles might be too, is still confuses me how NYG move up after beating #24 Dallas, the Iggles knock of #27 Seahawks and only drop one spot, but the Titans take out #10 GB and can't bypass either of the top two. Is it because the Titans didn't run away with the game like NYG and PHI did?

On a different subject, though, it's nice to see that Baltimore, GB, MIN and Indy are in the top half. Then again, it's still a bit scary to notice that we squeeked by Baltimore and GB, had a pretty even game against MIN, and played Indy before they started playing decently. I was concerned that the Bears would take us down this weekend, but with Orton out, I'm much less concerned than I was last week.

45
by Wanker79 :: Wed, 11/05/2008 - 5:48pm

I'm not sure if past/future schedule will comfort Tennessee fans or not, but...

1 NYG Past:32nd Future:1st
2 PHI Past:24th Future:3rd
3 TEN Past:27th Future:22nd

So the two teams above them have a murderous remaining schedule and Tennessee has basically the same type of schedule as they've already had.

BTW, here's NY's remaining schdule: @Phi, Bal, @Ari, @Was, Phi, @Dal, Car, @Min
And Philly's: NYG, @Cin, @Bal, Ari, @NYG, Cle, @Was, Dal

Ooph

49
by RickD :: Thu, 11/06/2008 - 1:01am

I would guess that depends on whether Titans' fans care more about winning games or about making a claim on the #1 spot in DVOA.

If I were a Titans' fan, I would care far more about winning games. This isn't the BCS. Impressing the computers just isn't that important.

51
by evo34 (not verified) :: Sat, 11/08/2008 - 4:43am

I'll keep asking this until I get a reply (either on this site or to one of my emails): what is the general methodology used to calculate your ATS picks in the premium subscriber section? I have seen exactly *zero* info. describing the process. [Point me to something on the site if I have missed anything]. Again this week, I see a significant discrepancy between the ATS and the SU picks. You have Hou +1 Bal as an ATS pick, and yet show Bal with a 59% chance to beat Bal SU. This doesn't work, and suggests that either you have a fundamental misunderstanding of football scoring, or you are using two incompatible systems at once. At the very, very least, you need to address this in an intelligent way (something beyond, "just trust us"). People have paid money for this, so it is well beyond a hey-this-is-just-a-blog-so-take-it-or-leave-it type of issue.

52
by tally :: Sat, 11/08/2008 - 2:46pm

"You have Hou +1 Bal as an ATS pick, and yet show Bal with a 59% chance to beat Bal SU."

I don't have the Premium Subscription, so you'll need to clarify this part for it to make any sense. Is it a 59% chance of Baltimore beating Houston SU or Houston beating Baltimore SU? If the pick is Houston getting one point beating Baltimore ATS, then Houston having a 59% chance of beating Baltimore SU is consistent with the ATS pick.