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14 Dec 2010

Week 14 DVOA Ratings

by Aaron Schatz

Remember a few weeks ago, when teams were all bunched together and seemed like the NFL had more parity than it had seen in years? For the most part, that's still true, but on each end of the DVOA ratings you'll find two teams pulling away from the rest of the league.

The Patriots continued to rise after their 36-7 beatdown of the Chicago Bears, and they are even more impressive if we look at weighted DVOA rather than full-season DVOA. In the weighted DVOA formula, the largest percentage change in weight of a game is when that game goes from being 12 weeks ago to 13 weeks ago. The Patriots have only two losses this year, and one of them was 13 weeks ago. Their weighted DVOA is now at 42.5%, and only one team has ever finished the season with a higher weighted DVOA: the 2007 Patriots, of course, with 42.9% weighted DVOA. The difference? That team cooled down in the second half of the season. This current team is playing better than ever.

Right behind the Patriots are the Pittsburgh Steelers, with a big gap between those two teams and the rest of the league. Yes, the Steelers have weaknesses, especially on the offensive line, but they've played very well for the last few weeks, including 59.3% for Sunday's game against Cincinnati. The Patriots have 11 games with DVOA over 20%, the Steelers have 10, and no other team has more than eight.

Oh... and only one team has zero. That would be the worst team of 2010, the Carolina Panthers. Well, they are one of the worst teams of 2010. The Panthers and Arizona Cardinals have been trading the bottom spot back and forth for weeks, but there are now ten whole percentage points between those teams and the rest of the league.

Scroll down past our main tables for a look at some interesting time-based splits for teams in 2010.

* * * * *

These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through 14 weeks of 2010, 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. SPECIAL TEAMS DVOA is adjusted for type of stadium (warm, cold, dome, Denver) and week of season. WEIGHTED DVOA represents an attempt to figure out how a team is playing right now, as opposed to over the season as a whole, by making recent games more important than earlier games. 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 NE 38.3% 1 42.5% 1 11-2 48.7% 1 12.1% 27 1.7% 11
2 PIT 35.2% 2 35.5% 2 10-3 12.9% 9 -19.1% 1 3.2% 8
3 PHI 25.1% 3 25.8% 5 9-4 24.2% 3 0.5% 14 1.4% 13
4 NYG 22.8% 5 26.9% 4 9-4 12.3% 10 -15.4% 2 -4.9% 31
5 BAL 22.0% 6 27.3% 3 9-4 10.0% 13 -6.5% 6 5.5% 2
6 SD 21.6% 8 25.2% 6 7-6 19.8% 4 -12.0% 3 -10.2% 32
7 GB 19.6% 4 17.5% 7 8-5 13.5% 8 -9.0% 4 -2.9% 28
8 ATL 17.8% 7 15.3% 9 11-2 16.9% 5 3.2% 16 4.1% 7
9 NO 15.1% 9 16.6% 8 10-3 14.7% 7 -2.8% 10 -2.4% 26
10 TEN 10.7% 14 8.8% 11 5-8 1.0% 17 -4.6% 8 5.1% 3
11 NYJ 10.4% 10 3.7% 14 9-4 -0.1% 18 -6.1% 7 4.4% 6
12 MIA 10.2% 11 9.9% 10 7-6 6.1% 15 -3.4% 9 0.6% 19
13 IND 5.0% 15 2.8% 15 7-6 15.2% 6 6.4% 19 -3.9% 30
14 KC 3.9% 13 -0.4% 16 8-5 11.8% 11 5.6% 18 -2.3% 25
15 HOU 2.9% 16 3.7% 13 5-8 26.9% 2 21.4% 30 -2.6% 27
16 CLE 1.9% 12 3.9% 12 5-8 -2.0% 21 -1.3% 11 2.6% 9
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 TB -0.8% 17 -0.4% 17 8-5 7.5% 14 7.2% 23 -1.2% 21
18 CHI -4.6% 18 -3.1% 20 9-4 -16.5% 30 -6.8% 5 5.1% 4
19 JAC -6.3% 19 -3.0% 19 8-5 11.4% 12 22.3% 31 4.6% 5
20 DET -8.3% 25 -8.7% 22 3-10 -3.3% 23 6.5% 20 1.5% 12
21 SF -9.1% 20 -6.5% 21 5-8 -6.8% 26 0.5% 13 -1.8% 22
22 MIN -10.2% 21 -9.6% 24 5-8 -10.4% 27 0.4% 12 0.6% 18
23 OAK -10.3% 23 -1.3% 18 6-7 -5.6% 25 3.9% 17 -0.8% 20
24 CIN -11.4% 22 -16.2% 26 2-11 -1.1% 20 7.1% 22 -3.1% 29
25 BUF -13.4% 28 -9.1% 23 3-10 -2.5% 22 11.6% 25 0.7% 15
26 DAL -13.5% 26 -14.7% 25 4-9 -0.2% 19 14.2% 28 0.9% 14
27 WAS -18.7% 29 -20.5% 29 5-8 -4.7% 24 12.1% 26 -1.8% 23
28 STL -19.0% 27 -17.2% 27 6-7 -13.0% 28 6.6% 21 0.6% 17
29 DEN -19.3% 24 -19.6% 28 3-10 5.3% 16 22.4% 32 -2.3% 24
30 SEA -24.8% 30 -31.8% 30 6-7 -13.1% 29 19.1% 29 7.5% 1
31 ARI -34.8% 32 -31.8% 31 3-10 -29.8% 31 7.4% 24 2.4% 10
32 CAR -36.1% 31 -34.4% 32 1-12 -34.0% 32 2.8% 15 0.7% 16
  • NON-ADJUSTED TOTAL DVOA does not include the adjustments for opponent strength or the adjustments for weather and altitude in special teams, and only penalizes offenses for lost fumbles rather than all fumbles.
  • 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 NE 38.3% 11-2 32.9% 10.6 1 5.3% 10 5.5% 11 18.6% 19
2 PIT 35.2% 10-3 31.8% 9.9 2 7.0% 4 -7.9% 26 12.9% 14
3 PHI 25.1% 9-4 28.6% 9.5 4 0.0% 19 -0.3% 17 10.4% 10
4 NYG 22.8% 9-4 27.5% 9.6 3 -7.1% 29 8.7% 6 24.0% 25
5 BAL 22.0% 9-4 14.6% 9.2 5 5.4% 9 1.9% 15 4.8% 1
6 SD 21.6% 7-6 24.8% 8.5 7 -4.6% 25 -13.3% 30 25.7% 28
7 GB 19.6% 8-5 21.7% 8.5 8 -2.5% 23 18.8% 2 15.6% 17
8 ATL 17.8% 11-2 17.8% 8.8 6 0.5% 18 -15.3% 31 5.5% 2
9 NO 15.1% 10-3 20.4% 8.2 10 -10.8% 31 13.0% 5 9.2% 7
10 TEN 10.7% 5-8 6.5% 7.3 12 3.7% 14 3.9% 14 25.9% 29
11 NYJ 10.4% 9-4 13.7% 7.5 11 6.2% 6 5.7% 9 14.8% 16
12 MIA 10.2% 7-6 7.7% 8.2 9 7.6% 3 5.5% 10 11.4% 11
13 IND 5.0% 7-6 3.8% 7.3 13 4.5% 11 -2.0% 20 8.5% 4
14 KC 3.9% 8-5 11.4% 6.9 14 -6.5% 27 -6.2% 25 25.1% 26
15 HOU 2.9% 5-8 -0.5% 6.5 17 6.0% 7 -5.0% 23 21.0% 22
16 CLE 1.9% 5-8 2.4% 6.6 16 6.5% 5 15.3% 3 18.5% 18
TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
W-L NON-ADJ
TOT VOA
ESTIM.
WINS
RANK PAST
SCHED
RANK FUTURE
SCHED
RANK VAR. RANK
17 TB -0.8% 8-5 2.1% 6.9 15 -4.3% 24 -6.0% 24 11.6% 12
18 CHI -4.6% 9-4 -6.2% 5.9 19 -1.3% 21 6.6% 7 26.0% 30
19 JAC -6.3% 8-5 -9.2% 5.8 20 3.7% 15 -3.6% 22 20.3% 21
20 DET -8.3% 3-10 -7.6% 5.5 22 4.0% 13 -0.3% 18 7.8% 3
21 SF -9.1% 5-8 -4.6% 6.0 18 -6.8% 28 -10.7% 29 25.4% 27
22 MIN -10.2% 5-8 -12.9% 5.8 21 3.3% 16 4.1% 13 9.2% 8
23 OAK -10.3% 6-7 -5.1% 5.0 25 -0.6% 20 -3.5% 21 37.7% 32
24 CIN -11.4% 2-11 -18.1% 4.8 28 10.8% 1 15.2% 4 9.1% 6
25 BUF -13.4% 3-10 -17.1% 5.1 24 7.8% 2 19.6% 1 14.0% 15
26 DAL -13.5% 4-9 -15.9% 5.2 23 5.9% 8 -9.4% 27 23.8% 24
27 WAS -18.7% 5-8 -18.0% 4.7 29 4.2% 12 1.0% 16 8.6% 5
28 STL -19.0% 6-7 -11.6% 4.9 27 -11.0% 32 -10.0% 28 12.4% 13
29 DEN -19.3% 3-10 -18.3% 4.6 30 -2.0% 22 4.7% 12 22.2% 23
30 SEA -24.8% 6-7 -21.5% 4.9 26 -8.7% 30 -0.7% 19 26.1% 31
31 ARI -34.8% 3-10 -27.0% 3.3 31 -6.1% 26 -19.6% 32 19.3% 20
32 CAR -36.1% 1-12 -37.8% 2.9 32 1.9% 17 6.1% 8 10.2% 9

Best and Worst DVOA Ever Watch

BEST OFFENSIVE DVOA
AFTER WEEK 14
  WORST OFFENSIVE DVOA
AFTER WEEK 14
  WORST DEFENSIVE DVOA
AFTER WEEK 14
  WORST SPECIAL TEAMS
AFTER WEEK 14
2007 NE 50.6% x 2005 SF -48.8% x 2008 DET 25.6% x 2010 SD -10.2%
2010 NE 48.7% x 1997 NO -43.8% x 2008 STL 25.3% x 2000 BUF -10.1%
2002 KC 41.8% x 2002 HOU -43.4% x 2004 MIN 22.5% x 1995 PHI -9.8%
2004 IND 39.0% x 2007 SF -36.6% x 2010 DEN 22.4% x 1997 SEA -9.1%
1998 DEN 35.6% x 1999 ARI -36.4% x 2010 JAC 22.3% x 2008 MIN -9.0%
1995 DAL 35.2% x 2004 CHI -35.8% x 2004 SF 22.0% x 1997 STL -8.9%
2004 KC 33.8% x 2006 OAK -35.6% x 2002 ARI 21.4% x 1998 OAK -8.8%
1993 SF 33.0% x 2010 CAR -34.0% x 2002 CIN 21.4% x 2002 CIN -8.8%
2009 NO 31.1% x 2000 CLE -33.0% x 2010 HOU 21.4% x 1996 NYJ -8.5%
2006 SD 30.9% x 1993 TB -32.9% x 2004 STL 21.3% x 2009 GB -8.4%

The 2010 Patriots still haven't passed the 2007 Patriots for the best offense of the DVOA Era if we measure things as of the current week, but their 48.7% rating is enough to pass the 2007 Patriots if the current Pats can keep things near this level for three more games. Also, congratulations to the Houston Texans for getting out of the 2010 defensive basement. They passed the Broncos and the possibly playoff-bound Jaguars this week. I don't know if Indianapolis is healthy enough to beat Jacksonville this week in the de facto AFC South championship game, but I have a feeling that a Patriots-Jaguars or Chargers-Jaguars playoff game would be a bloodbath.

More on Schedule Strength

Last week, I wrote a big thing about alternate ways for us to measure schedule strength in the future. I appreciate all the suggestions in the comments. However, I do want to point out that we can't really create a context-dependent schedule strength measure that changes based on the quality of the team which has that schedule. That makes it a lot harder to explain schedule strength in articles we write off-site, and it would be strange to use such a metric when we rank schedule strength before the season starts. If we do change the way we measure schedule strength, we're going to use the same format for all teams so we can compare teams on neutral ground.

Good Times, Bad Times

From Twitter user @azmanz: Can you run DVOA for Dallas since Wade Phillips left? Would that make Philly's win more impressive?

Yes, it probably does make Philadelphia's win more impressive, because the Cowboys have played better since they changed head coaches. It's interesting to note where they have played better. Here are the Cowboys' splits between Weeks 1-9 and Weeks 10-14.

Pass
Off
Rk Run
Off
Rk Pass
Def
Rk Run
Def
Rk All Off Rk All Def Rk Spec
Tms
Rk Total Rk
Wade Phillips Era (Weeks 1-9) 5.6% 22 -4.4% 25 44.5% 32 -7.9% 11 -4.1% 23 18.7% 28 -0.7% 19 -23.6% 29
Jason Garrett Era (Weeks 10-14) 31.8% 7 -7.2% 25 9.7% 19 4.0% 23 5.8% 16 7.6% 25 3.6% 8 1.7% 17

For these tables -- and all the tables below here -- the Rk is based on where that rating would Rk this week, not where that team would have Rked during the time period in question.

The run defense has actually declined with Garrett as head coach, but the pass offense and pass defense have both improved substantially. I'm not sure of the reasons for the pass defense to improve -- the pass rush seems to be better, and perhaps the cornerbacks are healthier now than they were early in the season. You might say it makes sense for the pass offense to improve when your offensive coordinator becomes head coach, but then again, he was calling the plays during the first half of the season too. Even stranger, that massive improvement in the passing game has come with Jon Kitna under center instead of Tony Romo. Romo still has a higher DVOA than Kitna on the season, because Kitna's worst games came when Phillips was still the head coach.

Here are some more interesting splits based on player injuries and suspensions:

Pass
Off
Rk Run
Off
Rk Pass
Def
Rk Run
Def
Rk All Off Rk All Def Rk Spec
Tms
Rk Total Rk
PIT w/o Big Ben
(Weeks 1-4)
-9.6% 28 10.3% 6 -24.3% 1 -37.5% 1 -4.9% 24 -29.5% 1 3.3% 8 27.9% 2
PIT w Big Ben
(Weeks 6-14)
54.8% 2 -9.8% 28 -5.3% 5 -29.9% 1 19.8% 4 -13.8% 3 3.2% 8 36.8% 2

The Pittsburgh offense, as expected has gotten much better since Roethlisberger's return. But the Steelers haven't run roughshod over the league because that improvement was accompanied by a similar (although unconnected and smaller) decline in pass defense. Even more surprising is the drop in the running game's effectiveness. A better quarterback is supposed to move safeties back and create room for the running game, but that doesn't seem to be happening with the Steelers.

Pass
Def
Rk Run
Def
Rk All Def Rk
NYJ all games 8.6% 16 -25.0% 2 -6.1% 8
NYJ w/Revis active (no Weeks 3-4) 3.2% 10 -28.2% 2 -11.0% 4
Pass
Off
Rk Run
Off
Rk All Off Rk
NE before Moss trade 67.0% 1 28.7% 1 44.1% 1
NE since Moss trade 76.9% 1 27.4% 1 50.6% 1
Pass
Off
Rk Run
Off
Rk All Off Rk
CHI all games -10.6% 29 -9.1% 27 -16.5% 30
CHI w/Cutler (Weeks 1-3, 6-13, and 1H of Week 4) 0.3% 26 -10.4% 27 -12.3% 29

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 14 Dec 2010

175 comments, Last at 20 Dec 2010, 11:02am by DeltaWhiskey

Comments

1
by battlered90 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 6:22pm

The Jags incredibly high (low?) defensive DVOA is making it much harder for me to accept that the Texans are a playoff-caliber team burdened with an awful secondary and mediocre rest of the defense. Kindly do not bring this up again so I can continue living in my fantasy world where Kubiak doesn't need to be fired and I don't have to suffer through more years of "rebuilding".

4
by chemical burn :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 6:26pm

"Rebuilding?" If the franchise has never made the playoffs aren't they just in plain old "building" mode?

8
by RickD :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 6:31pm

+1
*chuckle*

40
by battlered90 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 8:05pm

I think the team was building under Casserly and Capers and then rebuilt under Smith and Kubiak when they ditched all the original Texans players this year by getting rid of Kris Brown. Maybe they took the rebuilding mantra too seriously. The goal is to improve the team guys.

118
by lobolafcadio :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 10:59am

Special teams are the difference maker here between the Texans and the Jags.

2
by LorenzoStDuBois (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 6:25pm

Always look forward to the ratings.

New England's defense is surely below average, but you would have to think they do better than 27th in the league, especially after the last 2 weeks, no?

11
by Bobman :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 6:34pm

Yeah, 27th doesn't quite pass the smell test, does it?

In the "be careful what you wish for" category, for years we Colts fans have said all Manning needs is an average D... and now we almost have one.

We forgot about the part where everything else falls apart (even to the point where Polian admits, somewhat, to blowing it on assembling the OL). But ranked 19 while playing maybe three opening day starters in the back seven is pretty good in my book, especially when facing an over-weighted bunch of top offenses, passers, and RBs, some multiple times--I mean Indy faces Arian Foster, CJ, and MJD twice each, while they counter with street free agent Javarris James. Sheesh.

56
by Otis Taylor89 :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 9:34pm

Uh, two of the top three RBs in DVOA were street Free Agents. The Colts run game sucks for other reasons as well.

15
by MJK :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 6:37pm

DVOA looks at the entire season. The Patriots defense has had two really good games (the last two), about six games where they've played OK for two and a half to three quarters and been horrible for one to one and a half quarters, and about five games where they've just sucked. I'm pretty sure they're trending up, but overall DVOA doesn't say that...just that they've been pretty bad on average.

Weighted DVOA will weight the recent performances higher, and I'm sure the upward trending defense helps their wDVOA be as high as it is. However, the tables above for defense only are total DVOA, not weighted.

21
by B :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 6:46pm

27th seems right to me. After all, is holding the Jets to 3 points really that impressive? They scored 6 this week, at home. The Patriots D produces a lot of turnovers, but they give up a lot of yards. And how many times have we seen them give up a big play on 3rd and forever? And the only way they stopped the Jets rushing attack was by making it irrelevant.

65
by RichC (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 10:20pm

I would argue that if you have an elite offense, giving up yards isn't all that important, and getting turnovers is.

Field position isn't as valuable with an elite offense.

81
by B :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 11:35pm

I agree, but it doesn't make the defense any better, just less of a liability.

97
by Scott C :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 1:26am

Right. DVOA doesn't adjust itself for the rest of the team, it works on league averages. With an average offense, the NE defense would be a bigger liability.

Other related things:

The quality of your return teams are more important if you are a very good defensive team with a mediocre offense (ex, 2006 CHI).

The quality of your punt team matters less if you have an awesome offense, and hence don't punt often. The reverse is true too -- a poor offense gains more from a good punt team (ex, last few years of Raiders).
Similarly, the quality of your kickoffs matters more if you score more often. The quality of your kickoff returns matters the less often you score.

Offense and defense go together too -- a good offense needs a defense that creates more offensive posessions more than one that limits yards or scores itself. A poor offense needs a defense that limits yards and scores more itself.

None of this sort of thing is captured by DVOA when making a full team rating. Its just giving you the quality of play on average for each unit.

43
by PatsFan :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 8:16pm

No.

I think 27th is right on.

The Pats are allowing opposing QBs to complete almost 70% of passes and (more relevant to DVOA) are horrible in allowing 3rd down conversions (even with the past two games).

Someone on either a network broadcast or a sportswriter blogger pointed out two weeks ago that not only were the Pats 32nd in defending 3rd downs (measured by percentage of 3rd downs converted against them), but they'd have to register 22 consecutive stops on 3rd down just to move from 32nd to 31st. So they are giving up lots of opponent successes.

49
by Pat Swinnegan :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 8:51pm

This is getting at one problem with using 3rd down percentage to rate defenses, namely that poor defenses are going to face more 3rd downs. I would expect that DVOA, because it's a per-play-average statistic, suffers the same sort of problem. The poorer a defense is, the more opportunities it gets to show how much it sucks, while a better defense gets off the field quickly and doesn't have a chance to move its success rate much. (Obversely, I guess you'd expect success rate stats to overrate a good offensive performance?)

71
by AudacityOfHoops :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 10:54pm

I'm confused. Isn't the fact that DVOA is a per-play average what PREVENTS the situation you're talking about here:

"The poorer a defense is, the more opportunities it gets to show how much it sucks, while a better defense gets off the field quickly and doesn't have a chance to move its success rate much"

Whether you give up 1 success point per play for a 15-play drive, a 10-play drive, or a 5-play drive, your average is still 1.

Or are the 2 defenses in your sentence actually the same defense at separate times? Then, I think I see what you're saying. That does seem like it might be a problem.

Let's ignore the effects of down, distance, time remaining, and the other context that DVOA takes into account. And let's assume a binary success/fail outcome, which is simpler than actual DVOA, but should make it easier to talk about. Also, assume one team is on offense the whole time. Given those assumptions, if I understand correctly, DVOA can be thought of as viewing a football game as a series of plays, each with the exact same success probability. To simulate a game, I would flip the same (loaded) coin over and over again.

But what if success rate of the plays within a drive are actually correlated. At the start of each drive, I select a slightly different coin to use for the entire drive. The drives where I use a coin weighted more towards "success" will end up with more plays, and so those coins will be over-represented in the per play average.

Let's simplify it even further. Say that at the start of each drive (always beginning from the 30 yard line), we flip a coin that will tell us whether A) every play will go 10 yards, or B) every play will go 0 yards. Over the long run,
the success rate will be 70%, and half of all drives will end in a TD. If we look at this from DVOA's point of view, every play will have a 70% success probability. That means that DVOA believes that every down set will have a (1-(0.3)^3) = 0.973 probability of gaining a first down. THAT, in turn, would mean that the probability of scoring on each drive would have to be (0.973)^7 = 82.6%. But we've already established that the probability of scoring on each drive is 50%.

So in my little imaginary world, DVOA overrates the offense, because it doesn't realize that success rate within a drive is correlated.

So I guess now my question is, do successful plays clump together within drives, as they do in my example? I imagine somebody at some point has studied this. Maybe it's even in the DVOA explanation, and I forgot about it. Anybody have any clue?

72
by RichC (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 11:06pm

What hes saying is that if a defense is bad for 4 games, and good for 4, it probably has twice as many bad plays as good plays.

140
by Mikey Benny :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 3:45pm

But... that's the same for everyone?

154
by Pat Swinnegan :: Thu, 12/16/2010 - 1:54am

Right. The issue isn't that a team is going to be unfavorably compared to any other team, so much as that it's going to be unfavorably compared to itself.

87
by PatsFan :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 11:43pm

Trying to close the tag... fail

128
by MJK :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 12:38pm

Here, I'll try...

95
by Pat Swinnegan :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 12:58am

Or are the 2 defenses in your sentence actually the same defense at separate times?

Yeah, pretty much, because when we talk about a defense improving, we mean from one game to the next, but those games in some sense won't be weighted equally, as what gets weighted equally are the plays. I think the upshot is that DVOA (and any sort of success rate, I suppose) will tend to overstate an improvement in the offense, and understate an improvement in the defense.

The solution would seem to be to normalize each game so that the number of plays recorded doesn't affect the weighting of a game. Or you could just look at those cool DVOA graphs that Aaron puts up.

88
by rs (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 11:47pm

I would think that the problem with using 3rd down conversion percentage is that unless you know how often teams convert 1st and 2nd downs it isn't as meaningful. Giving up 50% of your 3rd downs (or even more) is fine if your opponent is always, always in 3rd down situations.

(From a DVOA perspective, though, the defense is effectively rated by opponents success rate, for a more balanced/nuanced point of view).

98
by Scott C :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 1:30am

"This is getting at one problem with using 3rd down percentage to rate defenses, namely that poor defenses are going to face more 3rd downs"

A really bad defense will have ZERO third downs!

More important is to look at the third down context, what is the average # of yards to go on third down? Poor first and second downs will yield more third and shorts.

70
by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 10:46pm

27th is fair for the entire season, but I would take them over at least 15 other defenses at this moment in time.

73
by JonFrum (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 11:14pm

The Patriots defense has been shredded all year - measured by both yards and points. For most of the year, they've been 'bend and also break.' Only a highly productive offense has kept them winning games. They certainly benefited from Sanchez throwing balls at DBs all game, and I suspect that early success on offense has buoyed the defense in recent games. My eyeball impression is that the defense is getting better - from terrible to 'needs improvement.' And that would win the Super Bowl.

76
by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 11:25pm

The Patriot defense has gone from "terrible" to "better than average" and still has room to grow.

Even before the Jet destruction, I broke down all the games looking at how the defense performed at various points since the bye week. The results were quite clear; when NE was not leading by at least 14 points, the young defense allowed roughly 19 ppg. When they were ahead by two touchdowns their play dropped precipitously to roughly a 36ppg pace.

So, they didn't know how to finish, but they were more than competent when the game was still in doubt. Now they've started figuring out how to close contests out and the results speak for themselves. There are not 15 better defenses than the Patriots' right now.

75
by CuseFanInSoCal :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 11:15pm

(trying to close tags here)

3
by Bobman :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 6:25pm

Aaron, is "weighted" the last ten games?

thx

7
by chemical burn :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 6:31pm

I'm kinda happy to see Philly's DVOA sinking. I'd love it if by the end of the season people were complaining that DVOA underrates them and they were overperforming vs. expected wins...

Any chance we can see Philly's pass defense DVOA with Samuel versus without? Or even better: with Samuel and Patterson, versus any other line-up?

34
by Pass to Set Up ... :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 7:27pm

I think their current position is more realistic. The offense is playing well but has been getting sloppier over the past few games, especially in the red zone. The defense is playing a break-not-bend game that's very dependent on turnovers (and atrocious in the red zone). It would be nice to see the Eagles do normal football plays at a competent level, even though it's exciting to watch their big plays.

5
by jfsh :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 6:29pm

Those splits are really interesting. Romo v. Kitna matters less than Phillips v. Garrett, Moss doesn't matter at all, Cutler is only a small upgrade over CHICAGO BEARS QB, Revis somehow makes the run defense better and the pass defense worse, and the Steelers celebrate their awesome passing attack by playing worse in all other phases of the game.

12
by RickD :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 6:34pm

No, Revis really is making the pass defense better. Look again.

27
by jfsh :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 6:51pm

Oops, you're right. Completely misread that chart.

57
by Dan :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 9:34pm

Only a small upgrade? Cutler missed a game and a half, and that was enough to bring the Bears passing offense down 11 points in DVOA. Todd Collins has posted -268 DYAR on only 29 passes, which is really quite astounding even for QB BEARS. He loses 9 yards every time he drops back to pass, relative to a replacement level QB.

92
by jfsh :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 12:21am

Oh another good point, I was thinking that was the Bears with/without Cutler, not everyone/Cutler only. I was surprised to see how small the difference was because of Todd Collins's amazing suckitude, but you're right, it is a pretty big difference for such a short amount of time.

Note to self: think twice, post once.

80
by JIPanick :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 11:33pm

I'd have split it into three sets: Phillips/Romo, Phillips/Kitna, Garrett/Kitna.

It was painfully and disgustingly obvious that the whole team quit when Romo went down, but I think you'd get a better functional look at the differences between the "real" Phillips Cowboys and the Garrett Cowboys as well as a more predictive DVOA if you dropped the back to back debacles.

I think DVOA/DYAR for QBs has Romo/Kitna pegged about right. I've been very pleased with Kitna's play but, outside of the Giants blowout and the Lions game, even on his good games I see 4-5 plays where I think immediately "You know, Romo would have made that play. Those few plays have been especially galling with the close Saints and Eagles losses.

I'm absolutely *stoked* to see Romo playing QB for Garrett's team, be it late this year or at the start of next season.

6
by RickD :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 6:30pm

...and the Pats' defense is still at 27th!

10 points surrendered in 8 quarters to two 9-win teams, and their ordinal rank is the same.

9
by chemical burn :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 6:32pm

Really, shutting down the Bears and Jets is somehow proof of ability? [curses to himself over Bears blowing up the Eagles.]

26
by cfn_ms :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 6:51pm

Yes. Even shutting down Carolina is impressive, especially if you're using "27th best defense" as your benchmark.

22
by Ryan (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 6:46pm

Defensive DVOA isn't calculated against the number of wins your opponent has, is it?

I assume it's based on the fact that the Jets offensive is almost perfectly average, while the Bears is well below.

25
by RickD :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 6:50pm

I know all that (for both of you) but...10 points in eight quarters! You would think there would at least be a little movement towards the median defense. Are there really only 5 defenses that wouldn't be expected to do such a good job against the Bears and the Jets?

27th is really, really low.

31
by Jovins :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 7:11pm

What's the field position? What's the context? How many fluky turnovers happened? How many missed field goals?
If a team starts every drive at their own 1 yard line, take it to the other 1 yard line, and misses every field goal, the defense pitches a shutout, but that's not going to predict future success.

Points are a poor predictive statistic. DVOA is meant to be predictive. Based on the entirety of the season, the Patriot defense is predicted to perform at the 27th level (as I understand DVOA). This doesn't mean they haven't played two good games.

36
by RickD :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 7:40pm

I've been watching the Patriots all season. Their defense has definitely been playing better the last two weeks. Consider, for example, their early season near-meltdowns against Buffalo and Cincinnati, two other stellar offenses. And if holding the Jets do 3 points isn't impressive, how does it compare to letting the Jets score 28 points???

Fact is that the Patriots defense was much worse earlier in the season, and they deserved their low ranking. I'm just surprised we haven't seen any movement at all over the past five weeks, when they've been playing better. When they were playing poorly, they were 27th. Now they're playing better, they're 27th. Their consistency at being exactly 27th is phenomenal. (In fairness, one week they dropped to 28th, or climbed to 26th, I forget which.)

Remember that team that let Michael Vick score 132 points in 54 seconds? The Redskins defense is rated higher than the Patriots.
Teams rated lower: Texans, Cowboys, Seahawks, Jaguars, and Broncos.
That's it. Worse than Cardinals, Bills, Bengals, Lions, etc.

47
by Nathan :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 8:30pm

it dropped to 28th after the cleveland game iirc

61
by Otis Taylor89 :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 9:58pm

With the Pats offense scoring so much, kicking off constantly and never punting from deep in their own zone, the Pats D can give up 70 yards plus per drive and their opponent still can't get in the end zone.

48
by PantsB (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 8:48pm

Points are actually extremely predictive. If you only had points for and points against you could construct predictive models that aren't as good as DVOA but are pretty damn strong - http://www.pro-football-reference.com/blog/?p=337

The Patriots forced 4 fumbles and recovered 2 vs Chicago and forced one, recovering zero vs the Jets. They're 2nd in picks and 17th in scoring defense. They're 5th in turnovers per drive and 23rd in points per drive before this weeks games. The low DVOA is linked pretty intrinsically to the high amount of yards they give up, which is the worst predictor of actual success (a cornerstone of this site's sabermetrics).

For whatever reason, DVOA has never liked the Pats Defense. It has nothing to do with biases, IMO its stylistic. Much like Aaron and others have suggested Offensive DVOA might be biased against big play offenses, I suspect its biased against semi-bend-but-don't-break defenses like the BB Patriots have had.

52
by Jovins :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 9:12pm

Points scored and points against is predictive. But it isn't isolating defensive performance. Field position has a much larger effect on games then most people realize. And with an offense as good as the Patriots, rarely is the other team going to have good field position.

Also, if you're going to talk about the Patriots defense with regards to itself, then use the DVOA number, rather then the relative position to other teams. Just because the Patriots are playing better, doesn't mean that a) there wasn't a large gap between them and the teams above them, or b) the teams above them aren't also playing better.

Watching the Patriots play, yes. Their defense has improved. Early in the season, their pass defense especially was simply atrocious. Now it's just poor.

67
by RichC (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 10:33pm

"Watching the Patriots play, yes. Their defense has improved. Early in the season, their pass defense especially was simply atrocious. Now it's just poor."

DVOA thinks its pretty much exactly the same though, and thats clearly a problem. They were at about 14% after the Browns game, but they've been sitting at 12% or so all season.

They've clearly gotten better. What DVOA can't adapt to is that the better your offense gets, the more important defensive POINTS gets, and the less important defensive YARDS get.

DVOA's goal is to seperate out the defense and the offense, and that just can't be done. They're interrelated, and they quality of one affects the goals of the other.

As to the bend but don't break thing, the Pats have given up 1 play of longer than 50 yards this season, and only a half dozen longer than 30. How many other teams can that be said of?

53
by Jovins :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 9:13pm

Also, I might be wrong, but I thought FO looked at some bend but don't break defenses, and found out that bend but don't break defenses tend not to perform at sustainable rates?

108
by PantsB (not verified) :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 3:04am

Its entirely possible that's true in general but it certainly seems true for the BB Pats.

Pats 2001-2010
DefPtsRank/DefYRank/DVOArank/TOranks
6/24/13/8
17/23/14/16
1/7/2/2
2/9/6/3
17/26/27/31
2/6/7/4
4/4/12/9
8/10/21/21
5/11/16/12
17/27/27/5 (so far)

Its pretty consistent. Lower ppg rank allowed than ypg without sufficient turnovers to explain it. Pts/drive doesn't vary from ppg until you get to 07-10 and even then its pretty small.

13
by Theo :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 6:36pm

How many standard deviations is Favre off the average?

#1 is 297
#2 is 205 Peyton's running streak.
#3 is 116 Jaworski
#4 is 111 Brady
#5 is 107 Ferguson
#6 is 100 Eli manning (active)
#7 is 95 Dan Marino
#8 is 92 Johnny Unitas
#9 is Roman Gabriel

Only Eli and Peyton Manning have an active running streak in this. Rivers shows up at number 15 for the next active streak after sitting behind Drew Brees.
Peyton Manning 'only' needs 5 and a half more seasons to grab the record.

That is 92 games, the same as #8 Johnny Unitas did from 1958 to 1965.

And from Peyton Manning to the #3 is the same as the #9 to Roman Gabriel who started 89 games from 1965 to 1972.

The difference from even 2 to 3 is ridiculous.
But then from number 1 to 2 is even more mind boggling.

And #2 and #6 are brothers.

16
by Bobman :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 6:39pm

I was reading a condensed version of this to my wife this morning (she failed to appreciate it)--the Jaworsky thing is what crystalized it for me. Ignore Peyton for now--Favre passed the old #1 by almost 200%. How'd you like a RB to end his career with 50k yards? Or a QB to pass for 150k? Or anybody to score, what, 550 TDs?

Put another way, it took Favre seven years to break the previous record, and then he built on it for the next ten. Christ.

39
by zlionsfan :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 8:05pm

I think Jerry Rice did a pretty good job of improving the standards that were set before him.

35
by Thok :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 7:38pm

Average/Standard deviation are bad measures for longest streaks of starts, since the distribution doesn't look normal at all. It's especially bad since most people in the world have a streak of 0 consecutive games starting.

82
by JonFrum (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 11:36pm

This demonstrates why I don't care about such 'records.' They lend themselves to flukes. This is not Favre lifting 297 pounds, and the next strongest man lifting 205. A guy hits Brady in the knee, and he's out for a year. What does that say about the difference between Favre and Brady? Favre has been very, very lucky. He has flipped a coin 20 times and come with 20 heads. Interesting - and trivial.

The guy has had a long, successful career, and he's been remarkably free of injury. Congratulations. But this record is even less impressive to me than the consecutive hits record in baseball. You need to be good, and you need to be lucky. Favre has been damn good for a long time. And damn lucky. If he had missed one game halfway through, Manning would already have the record. Would that make Favre's career the slightest bit less successful? Not to me. If he had played through an ACL tear for a year, then I'd be impressed. Truth is, Favre is no tougher than all the other tough guys - he just has a rooting section in the media to pimp the 'gunslinger.'

96
by dbt :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 1:06am

I'm as much of an Un-Fan of Favre as you'll find. I'm hoping that he plays on Monday so my Bears can take him to the woodshed one last time.

However, he's played through a lot of shit to get to that record. There's a reason he spent years addicted to painkillers early in his career. The only comparable example I can come up with is Manning playing the beginning of 2008 on essentially one knee. On the flip side, Favre has played with a broken thumb on his playing hand and thrown 300+ yards. Ce la vie.

99
by whitty (not verified) :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 1:40am

Another example for you: Manning the Younger separated his AC joint in Week 1 of the 2007 season. The consensus was that he could miss a month. He didn't miss a single game.

Still has the babyface, but he's a tough son of a beach.

113
by Kevin from Philly :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 5:50am

More of a crybaby face lately, but yeah.

101
by RickD :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 1:49am

I sometimes wonder whether a player's performance is helped or hindered by playing through injuries. In Cal Ripken's case, I think it hurt him, especially in his later years. Just a few days off per season would have helped him a lot.

It's not quite the same with a QB, who is expected to play every game. With Favre, I think it's a combination of good luck, toughness, and willpower. He certainly hasn't been so lucky as to avoid all injuries. But he's been lucky to avoid the kind of injuries that inevitably lead to missed games.

121
by Podge (not verified) :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 11:28am

He did play a few days after his dad died, and played brilliantly, which has to get him some props. And didn't he play his last 3 or 4 games with the Jets with some sort of busted shoulder?

I did work out the numbers for Manning to reach Favre's records. To match Favre's records needs to add to his current totals something like 29% to his TDs, 33% to his yards, 36% to his completions, 43% to his attempts and 44% to his starts. He also needs to add something like 78% to his INTs, 125% to his sacks, 180% to his fumbles and over 300% to his fumbles lost.

Favre's numbers compared to the last guy are pretty phenomenal. He's got about 10,000 yards and 100 TDs on Marino, about 15-20% extra. I'm not sure what the previous records were for attempts and completions, but I'm gonna guess he's got about 10% extra on all of them. You can't say that his simple longevity combined with his talent doesn't deserve a lot of credit.

129
by Shattenjager :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 12:55pm

Previous record for completions was 4967 by Marino, which means he surpassed that one by 26.7%.
For attempts, it was 8358 by Marino, which means he surpassed that one by 21.6%.

89
by B :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 11:51pm

I notice we're not looking at any other position, just QBs.

10
by MJK :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 6:34pm

So the splits have me wondering. New England's offense was good at the start of the season, but is exceptional of late. It basically underwent five significant changes over the course of the season:

1). Randy Moss --> Deion Branch
2). Kevin Faulk --> Danny Woodhead
3). Laurence Maroney as starting RB --> BJGE as starting RB
4). Connolly and Neal at G --> Mankins and Connolly at G
5). Gimpy Welker --> Healthy Welker

Obviously, all of these except *perhaps* #2 are improvements. (#1 didn't look to be an improvement at the time, but I think the numbers have born out that it was). But which of these do you suppose are the biggest?

Is replacing Moss with Branch really the big difference, or is it more that it happened at roughly the same time as these other four changes occurred and we're just confusing causation with correlation? The evidence in Minnesota and Tennessee notwithstanding, I personally don't think Moss has really declined to the point where he's a worse receiver than Deion Branch, but I do think there might be something to the argument that the switch helped force the Pats to change offensive philosophies, and that defenses have a harder time with the new philosophy.

Is Danny Woodhead really a better 3rd down back than Faulk (currently) is? He's probably faster and more able to push the pile, almost as good as a receiver, and slightly worse as a pass protector...

I think it's obvious that BJGE is a better RB than Maroney, which highlights how badly draft experts (and NFL personnel departments and scouts, including the Patriots') can screw up at times.

Getting Mankins back obviously helps...but Stephen Neal (when healthy) is pretty good too, so I'd be surprised if it was that much of an upgrade.

And Welker did look pretty good early in the season, even though he says he was playing hurt...

Maybe it's one of those "sum of the parts is greater than the whole" thing...

17
by Bobman :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 6:43pm

MJK,
I vote for sum of the parts, but if you want to trade away or cut an aging, decrepit, senile Faulk, my friends in Indy would love to comfort him in his golden years. (Actually, he would not fit their O scheme too well, but he'd STILL be an upgrade in some ways. Plus, he always killed us.)

Is it possible that Brady is finally 100% after the knee surgery? Could last year, good as it was, have still been a recovery year?

86
by JonFrum (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 11:42pm

"Is it possible that Brady is finally 100% after the knee surgery? Could last year, good as it was, have still been a recovery year?"

That's exactly what I"ve been thinking. Everyone is asking if this is the best Brady has played. I think this is just Tom being healthy Tom. People said that it would take a while before he could really be confident of the knee, but then he got on the field, and everyone just assumed that he was 'back.' Welker seems to have improved significantly over the season as well. He's still not cutting upfield as much as he used to - I think his yards after catch has suffered - but he seems more aggressive about running routes and going for the ball.

18
by RickD :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 6:43pm

Kevin Faulk was not healthy this season. And he's gotten long in the tooth. Danny Woodhead is playing like Faulk of five years ago.

The (when healthy) caveat regarding Stephen Neal is important. Neal wasn't healthy at all this season. The O-line play has been very good since Mankins' return. I'd say it's been much improved because of his return. Let's not forget they were trying to use Kaczur at left guard at one point. It helps a lot to have the same five guys in the same five positions, game after game, and that Pats have had that since Mankins' return.

While Branch is not better than Moss, the passing attack is much, much better because Brady isn't trying to do what he does poorly (throw deep) and is going back to what he does extremely wall (throw short and medium passes).

BJGE is a huge, huge upgrade over the artist formerly known as Laurence Maroney.

Basically, the running attack has coalesced around BJGE and Woodhead, instead of Fred Taylor and Maroney, and the passing game has returned to the state its been in previous years.

The one factor you're overlooking is the development of the rookie TEs. Not that they started poorly, but they've both become receivers that Brady trusts now (one poor game by Hernandez notwithstanding).

29
by Dave :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 6:58pm

You could combine all of those and it'd still only be a small part of it. Most of it is simply that the very well coached and well QB-ed team has had 3/4 of a season of time to work together and practice and improve. There's a fine chance we'd be seeing the same dominance even if none of those personnel changes had been made. Except #5, I guess. Well, and most likely #3, as Maroney was just plain bad.

63
by Otis Taylor89 :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 10:03pm

You forgot the rookie TEs improving just by having more game reps.

69
by armchair journe... :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 10:42pm

I don't know if we can really blame the draft experts on Maroney vs. The Law Firm... In my recollection, Maroney looked really strong in his rookie season, and BJGE looked really mediocre in his. The draft experts didn't seem too far off after the respective first year returns.

I think most everyone would admit to being pretty surprised that Maroney fell off a cliff in year 2 and 3, and shocked that BJGE became a solid starter---particularly after spending last year essentially not playing at all.

_______________________________
armchair journeyman quarterback

130
by Jimmy :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 1:03pm

I think it is possible that Moroney would have been more effective over the years if he hadn't had the shoulder injuries. It is all well and good to coach a RB to follow his blocks and work his legs on contact but it is probably nearly impossible with bad shoulders in the NFL.

133
by Shattenjager :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 1:29pm

Maroney's numbers were better in 2007 (835 yards, 4.5 YPC, 199 DYAR, 16.7% DVOA) than in 2006 (745 yards, 4.3 YPC, 31 DYAR, -4.5% DVOA). Obviously, at least some of that (perhaps all of it) was because of the general improvement of the offense, but I don't think he actually fell of a cliff until after that year.

14
by JMM* (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 6:37pm

" A better quarterback is supposed to move safeties back and create room for the running game, but that doesn't seem to be happening with the Steelers."

Unless there is a clear correlation between personnel packages / formation and play calls.

24
by CraigInDC :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 6:50pm

The decline in the running game is almost certainly due to offensive line injuries (and they aren't that good when healthy). The drop off from Max Starks to Jonathon Scott has been enormous. The interior of the line has played through injuries -- in one game they played through them merely because there wasn't anybody left and they probably shouldn't have been playing. In another game they were down to their 4th and 5th tackles. The defense can leave their safeties back because the DL and LB are winning most of the 1-on-1 matchups without any help.

This has had less of an impact on the passing game because Roethlisberger is able to play through it.

19
by JMM* (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 6:44pm

Sorry about the double post, but was the "(unconnected and smaller) decline in pass defense" for the Steelers a result of playing the Pats?

23
by RickD :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 6:47pm

DVOA is supposed to take the opposition into account, but the truth is that ratings based on a small number of games are not always that reliable. The decline in the Steelers' pass defense is measurable, but hardly at a magnitude that I would think it meant anything other than statistical noise.

20
by erniecohen :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 6:46pm

The decline in the PIT run O and pass D coincided not with the return of Roethlisberger, but with the injuries to Starks and Smith.

30
by drobviousso :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 7:00pm

Both lines were decimated by injury, to the point that they've had to swap roster spots with practice squad NTs just to play the nickel package, and where every player that could line up at RG - except Pouncey - has done so.

28
by milo :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 6:54pm

That a team that has won 7 straight games is followed by a team that has won 6 straight games is followed by a team that has lost 6 straight games in these calculations is a true source of wonderment.

32
by bkjsun :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 7:14pm

Not sure if this has been asked before but it would be interesting to see home vs. road splits for DVOA. Is there a consistent difference between performance at home or on the road?

If so, then maybe strength of schedule could be based on whether you played the team at home or on the road. For example, if you played Atlanta in Atlanta that seems significantly tougher than playing them at your house.

41
by zlionsfan :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 8:08pm

Home and road splits are available as part of the premium content. Surprisingly, Atlanta isn't that different home or away ...

33
by Raiderjoe :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 7:20pm

cgharegs 6 and Raiders 23?

Something clearly worng with computer. Is DVOA computer doing coke wuith BCS computer?

37
by RickD :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 7:43pm

I'd have more sympathy if the Raiders would show up for their non-divisional games.

42
by Raiderjoe :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 8:13pm

szhowed up vs Jagsuar but just fell a little short in end. Goign to reboudn just fine. Will detstro Broncos again, amybe 42-6 this time, Then will go on to beat Cotls and then scalp Cheisf in finale.
Raiders 9-7

Let;'s see about Charegrs. ood chance to lost to 49ers but even if win no bif deal. then play Bengals,. Sgould win that one. Bengals are liek retarded housecat. Then last game Charegsr play Broncos another crpa team. Chargers will find wauy to go 2-1 or 1-2.

cheisf goignt o lose to Raiders in week 17. Will do no better than split with Ramms and titans.

charegrs 8-8 or 9-7 at ebst
Chiefs 8-8 or 9-7 at best
Raiders will be 9-7 and win division

62
by Shattenjager :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 10:01pm

As a Broncos fan, I agree with Raiderjoe's prediction for the Broncos-Raiders score.

78
by JIPanick :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 11:26pm

I think he's being generous to the Broncos. If Arizona can lay 43 on 'em...

106
by Shattenjager :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 2:22am

You may have a point.
It doesn't really matter. Denver isn't winning any games before 2012.

74
by CuseFanInSoCal :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 11:14pm

49ers, Broncos, and Bengals to finish off the year -- Chargers will be 10-6 unless Rivers is hurt.

Croyle's starting this week so the Chiefs should lose to the Rams, but with Tennessee and Oakland to finish off, they're probably 10-6 as well. Good thing the Bolts have the tiebreakers.

And even if the Raiders won out, they couldn't get to 10-6. Since they likely actually will go 1-2 down the stretch (losing to Indy and KC), they'll be home for the holidays again.

85
by Raiderjoe :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 11:42pm

no, Raiders will make playooffs

also evry team plauing after holidays becsasuse season end january 2 but knew wgat you meant

by the way, nice new big uns in torui b;ack demonstratates ad

136
by donk (not verified) :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 2:09pm

Of course, RJ has said that the Raiders would make the playoffs every year for the last ten years.

137
by DGL :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 2:23pm

Stopped clocks, and all that.

109
by KCFan (not verified) :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 3:33am

Cassel still might play. And they could still beat St. Louis without him, although obviously much less likely.

38
by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 8:00pm

The Jaguars have the least favorable weather special teams adjustment in the league? That seems ... odd.

44
by Treima6 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 8:21pm

The Cardinals are not 3-10. It hardly makes a difference except that it now means they are more or less out of the running for the #1 pick in 2011, but I'm just putting it out there.

45
by BlueStarDude :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 8:22pm

Re: Cowboys improvement in passing defense: less man-to-man with crappy safety help and more zone with crappy safety help. It's especially helped Scandrick who has gone from the biggest goat to actually regaining some of his rookie form.

And there's also the main difference in the team overall: the fact that they actually practice seriously now. The biggest problem under Phillips this year wasn't lack of effort: they just weren't sharp.

132
by AnonymousD (not verified) :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 1:26pm

I think a big reason why the pass defense DVOA has shot up has been the interceptions.

Phillips (8 games): 5 interceptions
Garrett (5 games): 10 interceptions

The pass defense is still bad though. As Aaron mentioned, the pass defense DVOA under Garrett has improved from terrible to below average. Other advanced metrics, like ANY/A or Burke's work, also indicate that Dallas still has a bad pass defense.

46
by BlueStarDude :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 8:23pm

hit button twice by accident.

50
by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 8:58pm

I am quite surprised at how well Pitt's rating was against Cincy. Their offense was putrid and the defense was bailed out by some God awful QBing. If the Bengals had any one of 10-15 quarterbacks they win that game going away.

51
by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 9:06pm

That should say "any one of 10-15 OTHER quarterbacks".

Mea Culpa.

54
by MilkmanDanimal :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 9:25pm

I think Tampa has been within +/-1 of 0.0% four consecutive weeks. Fear the average.

55
by MilkmanDanimal :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 9:29pm

Yet another double-post. The internet is apparently twitchy today.

58
by BucsFanofDeltona (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 9:54pm

That makes sense. Watching the Bucs play seems to be average.

59
by Jonadan :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 9:55pm

After Houston's heartbreaking, bizarre loss that got me upset with the OT rules (again? still?), I decided to run some numbers, based on hypothetical records if games ended in a tie at the end of regulation and that was it.

1 ATL 11-2 ATL 10-1-2
2 NE 11-2 NE 10-2-1
3 NO 10-3 NO 10-2-1
4 PIT 10-3 CHI 9-4-0
5 BAL 9-4 NYG 9-4-0
6 CHI 9-4 PHI 9-4-0
7 NYG 9-4 PIT 8-3-2
8 NYJ 9-4 GB 8-3-2
9 PHI 9-4 BAL 7-3-3
10 GB 8-5 JAC 8-5-0
11 JAC 8-5 TB 8-5-0
12 KC 8-5 NYJ 7-4-2
13 TB 8-5 KC 7-4-2
14 IND 7-6 IND 7-5-1
15 MIA 7-6 SD 7-6-0
16 SD 7-6 MIA 6-6-1
17 OAK 6-7 STL 6-6-1
18 SEA 6-7 SEA 6-7-0
19 STL 6-7 OAK 5-7-1
20 CLE 5-8 CLE 5-7-1
21 HOU 5-8 TEN 5-7-1
22 MIN 5-8 HOU 4-7-2
23 SF 5-8 MIN 4-8-1
24 TEN 5-8 SF 4-8-1
25 WAS 5-8 ARI 4-8-1
26 ARI 4-9 WAS 3-7-3
27 DAL 4-9 BUF 3-7-3
28 BUF 3-10 DAL 3-9-1
29 DEN 3-10 DET 3-9-1
30 DET 3-10 DEN 3-10-0
31 CIN 2-11 CIN 2-11
32 CAR 1-12 CAR 1-12

While it makes a little difference in the overall standings, the weird thing is that running by the records with the (hypothetical) draws the playoff seeds (after 13 games) are exactly the same, as far as I can tell:

Actual With Draw
1 Atlanta Atlanta
2 Chicago Chicago
3 Philadelphia Philadelphia
4 St Louis St Louis
5 New Orleans New Orleans
6 New York Giants New York Giants

1 New England New England
2 Pittsburgh Pittsburgh
3 Jacksonville Jacksonville
4 Kansas City Kansas City
5 Baltimore Baltimore
6 New York Jets New York Jets

64
by Pass to Set Up ... :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 10:03pm

Ties? Hey man, this is America. You play to win the game.

Let the Europoors play nil-nil povertyball games~

84
by Jonadan :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 11:42pm

Woah. Um, like, woah. No. On the following grounds:

1) NFL still has rules for ties. They happen with decent regularity.
2) If the game is tied at the end of regulation, how is recording it as a tie not the right way to do it?
3) You don't play to win the game in the NFL. You play to win the title, which means playing to win the playoffs - which, to make, you have to, yes, play the games and win them. I'm totally down with no ties in playoff games - the idea would be ludicrous. But in the regular season, the result of any single game isn't "final" for the season any more than the score of the first quarter is "final" for the game.
4) The NFL's OT rules are Not Good. I just can't get behind the one-score-ends it (and the NFL is getting uncomfortable with it too, not that the playoff revisions are much better).
5) Dude, less with the racism and denigrating comments. Please?

Basically: the NFL should either do ties or not. And if not, OT periods should be actual OT periods, not (usually) play a few minutes till someone scores.

And for the guy below who was all "playoff implications, did you expect them?", the Jets record looks way different. 7-4-2 is way more vulnerable (say, for WC purposes) than 9-4, and given the Jets' recent play 7-4-2 looks like a way more accurate record overall. (At the other end of the scale, 3-10 is a lot worse than 3-7-3 - and 3-7-3 is probably *also* more representative of the Bills' overall play.)

I mean, there's definitely some idea that better NFL teams will win the OT games most of the time - but I don't think Pittsburgh (10-3) is actually two games better than Green Bay (8-5) - and the difference is two OT wins vs two OT losses. I'm a big fan of the tie, when that's how the game ends.

102
by Pass to Set Up ... :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 1:51am

Sorry. I forget that I'm not supposed to troll on FO. Please forgive me, I was raised in a series of bad neighborhoods (kuro5hin and 4chan).

I tried to give you a hint with the tilde sarcasm mark at the end there.

94
by jfsh :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 12:25am

Well, then the answer is obvious. Remove overtime, and any tie counts as TWO losses. No more of this namby-pamby "tie with a field goal" nonsense! And might as well go for two - at worst, you only lose once!

123
by Podge (not verified) :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 11:36am

This would be awesome. Imagine its a tie game, you're at midfield with the ball, with 1 second left on the clock. Do you try for the TD, risking a tie and 2 losses, or do you go for a safety to lose but only once. I think in this situation you'd have to eliminate offsides to give the D a chance to defend both end zones.

125
by Kurt :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 12:18pm

Wouldn't you go for the TD, since the defense would let you waltz right in to avoid two losses of their own?

66
by Tim F. (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 10:23pm

You really thought discarding overtime losses would significantly alter current standings?

My heart goes out to Houston fans, I thought it was rough following Miami.

(Which is worse: bad team colors or the stupidest, most redundant name conceivable? Eh, I guess a decade without a QB and having one of the best O's with absolutely no D are far worse.)

68
by Raiderjoe :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 10:40pm

yes, Hosuton Texans crap name and not original and dolpshins have effeminate colors. Have to wonrder what Hosuton tema namers were dirnkign or smoking when come up with name. also have to ask quesiton of what type of midn bending drugs dolphsin poeple truipping on when deciide on aauqua and corla as team colors. Woo wooo wooo. Pinwheels and all colors of rainbow. Merry go roudn music. Luney bin- go there right now Danny Thomas .

93
by Danger Dan (not verified) :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 12:23am

God bless you, raiderjoe.

77
by Jonadan :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 11:25pm

I hadn't thought much about it at all. What I was hoping, though, was that the Jags or Colts had a few OT wins in there somewhere that would put Houston theoretically back within striking distance (hypothetically). Alas, no.

100
by Scott C :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 1:47am

They are significantly altered. Well, the wild card stuff is. With ties, the Chargers would be favored to get the wild card over the Jets, for example, given their remaining schedules.

83
by JMM* (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 11:40pm

Bal @ 7-3-3 ahead of Jac 8-5? So you ranked by win %, not total wins. OK. I'm not sure I'd do it but I'm ok with it.

It will be interesting if there is no change. I've wondered if eliminating OT would be "cleaner" than the year end tie breaking procedures.

90
by B :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 11:55pm

A tie counts as half a win, so Bal a 7-3-3 would be 8.5 wins vs Jax 8 wins.

127
by MJK :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 12:36pm

Unless you use NHL rules, where a tie counts as one third of a win. In that case, Bal and Jax would still be tied.

138
by Spielman :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 2:26pm

The NHL doesn't even have ties anymore. If they used NHL rules, they'd play nine on nine for three minutes and forty-five seconds, and then have a goddamn field goal kicking contest.

139
by c0rrections (not verified) :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 2:43pm

What NHL rules are you referring to? A tie always counted as 1 point (now they just have OT losses with the same principle). Wins are worth 2 points.

Perhaps you are confusing it with the olympics where it was 3 to 1 on wins verses OT losses.

142
by Kurt :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 4:50pm

I think World Cup soccer also awarded three points for a win, and one for a tie.

144
by Andrew Potter :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 4:57pm

Most soccer leagues now do, ostensibly to encourage teams to play for a win instead of a draw.

148
by Eddo :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 6:00pm

Right. The NHL scoring system makes it advantageous for both teams involved to play for overtime. Any game that goes to OT is worth a total of 3 points, while any game ending in regulation is worth 2.

If every team agreed to not try during regulation, then just accept the 50/50 proposition of OT, they'd wind up with 123 points (41 x 2 (wins) + 41 x 1 (OT losses)). The best regular season team last year, Washington, finished with 121 points.

It's a huge flaw in the NHL, in my opinion. They should make it so every game is worth 3 points: 3 if you win in regulation, 0 if you lose in regulation; 2 if you win in OT, 1 if you lose in OT.

157
by dbostedo :: Thu, 12/16/2010 - 10:00am

"3 if you win in regulation, 0 if you lose in regulation; 2 if you win in OT, 1 if you lose in OT."

The NHL was considering that point system around the time of the lockout and wound up not doing it I think. I don't remember why it was rejected, except maybe because of the complexity of having another column in the standings? (I know it doesn't seem like much, but W, L, OTW, OTL as headings and how many points they're worth could confuse people who don't really follow hockey, and the NHL was thinking toward growing the sport.)

161
by Anonymus (not verified) :: Thu, 12/16/2010 - 10:49am

Award:
3 points for victory;
2 points for OT victory;
1 point fot OT loss;
0 point for loss.

If the game remains tied in the end of the OT, both teams recieve 1 point, and it's considered as a OT loss for tehm both.

And that would be it...

For instance:

1 NE 33 (10-1-1-1)
2 ATL 32 (10-1-0-2)
3 NO 32 (10-0-2-1)
4 PIT 29 (8-2-1-2)
5 CHI 27 (9-0-0-4)
5 NYG 27 (9-0-0-4)
5 PHI 27 (9-0-0-4)
8 GB 27 (8-0-3-2)
...

162
by Anonymus (not verified) :: Thu, 12/16/2010 - 11:15am

Ops! I've should have read all comments before posting.

One more simple solution would be award 2 points for victory, 1 point for OT victory, 0 for ties and losses (or 1 and 0,5)...

But this wouldn't unbroke the heart of our Texans friend that have begun this discussion...

60
by Dales :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 9:57pm

But the Steelers haven't run roughshod over the league because that improvement was accompanied by a similar (although unconnected and smaller) decline in pass defense. Even more surprising is the drop in the running game's effectiveness. A better quarterback is supposed to move safeties back and create room for the running game, but that doesn't seem to be happening with the Steelers.

It seems to me that a decline in pass defense will lead to the opponent's defense being able to rest up more, which will help in stopping a running game.

I think defenses can wear down. I think back to the Giants-Titans game as an example. The Giants stuffed Chris Johnson, but kept finding ways to give the ball back to Ten or to extend their drives. Eventually, Johnson exploded.

So, I think it is possible that the decline in the Steelers' pass defense has contributed to their running game losing effectiveness.

79
by Anonymous2 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 11:27pm

Can we get some quarter-by-quarter by DVOA splits? Curious what DVOA thinks about the Ravens blowing 4th quarter leads against New England, Buffalo, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Houston.

91
by milo :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 11:58pm

That's in the Premium DVOA database.

BAL Offense by qtr: 5 20 8 12, Late and close: 8
BAL Defense by qtr: 17 3 1 22, Late and close: 5

--so mostly worse in the fourth quarter, but better when close.

103
by RickD :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 1:55am

We've seen the Baltimore defense play very poorly recently in the 4th quarter against the Falcons and the Texans. The old Rex Ryan defense of 5 years ago would not have done that.
I fear that this version of the Ray Lewis-led Ravens defense is nearing its end.

104
by jonnyblazin :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 2:05am

Right, people point out how the Ravens have lost 4 fourth quarter leads so far. Are they chokers? Maybe. But they've held a lead in the 4th quarter of every game they've played! I don't think any other team can say that, but I could be wrong.

105
by androlebow44 :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 2:20am

Since the Seahawks and Rams both lost this week, can FO bring back the odds of the NFC West division winner going 7-9, 8-8, or 9-7? 10-6 is now impossible as each team has 7 losses. I also suppose a winner could even go 6-9-1.

Is the NFC West in contention for having the worst collective DVOA for a division of all-time?

Also . . . if New Orleans and Atlanta win out, we can see a 13-3 team play as a 5-seed on the road against a 7-9 4-seed! That has to be unprecedented.

I think a lot of fans would be interested in finding out these answers.

112
by BigCheese :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 4:55am

Well, I can tell you that the posibility of both Atlanta and NNew Orleans winning out is exactly 0%... :P

- Alvaro

115
by Spielman :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 9:14am

Heh, yeah. Although if the Saints win the remaining head to head, and both win all their other games, 7-9 hosting 13-3 is still on the table.

135
by androlebow44 :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 1:47pm

Exactly, that's what I meant.

116
by Theo :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 9:57am

Playoff seeds should be by winning percentage. Now the division winners are the first 4.

141
by Sergio :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 4:34pm

You could also expand that thinking to abolish the playoffs, simply crowning the winningest team of the season.

I personally find it good as it is. Win your division, win your conference, win your Superbowl. If you don't win your division, you have to be the best of the rest to have a shot at it.

Seems fair and a reward for an entire season's work.

-- Go Phins!

143
by Andrew Potter :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 4:55pm

I'd agree with that if all teams played an equal schedule, but they don't.

145
by Aaron Schatz :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 5:06pm

Yes, my apologies for leaving this out.

Odds are now 25.9% for a 7-9 champion and 59.5% for an 8-8 champion. Remember, the playoff odds system does not project ties, only wins and losses.

107
by Q (not verified) :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 2:59am

"Right, people point out how the Ravens have lost 4 fourth quarter leads so far. Are they chokers? Maybe. But they've held a lead in the 4th quarter of every game they've played! I don't think any other team can say that, but I could be wrong."

Green Bay has come close to accomplishing this also. They have had the lead in the 4th Quarter in 11/13 games so far and in the other 2 (Mia, Atl) they were tied in the 4th quarter.

120
by Bobby Wommack (not verified) :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 11:15am

Last year's Pats team lost 6 games, they had the lead in the 4th quarter in 4 of those. Doesn't necessarily mean you're better than your record is. Not saying that's the case for the Ravens or Pack, but when teams find ways to lose in the 4th, its not always easy to turn that around.

110
by LetsGoJets (not verified) :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 3:41am

Teams seem to finally win when you least expect it (2005 Steelers, 2006 Colts). I have an odd feeling this is the San Diego Chargers year. If they go 10-6 and still finish behind the Chiefs, they can swipe away a WC seed from the Jets if they go 10-6 as well (which I think they will with losses to PIT, CHI and a win against BUF). I'm calling Chargers-Saints superbowl with San Diego winning and Rivers being MVP.

152
by otbricki22 (not verified) :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 11:57pm

I just have a hard time imagining a team with a head coach named Norval beating the Patriots in Foxboro.

153
by greybeard :: Thu, 12/16/2010 - 1:40am

Chargers can win at Indy but not at Foxboro?

Patriots don't lose games at Foxboro to lesser coaches? They lost to Ravens last year.

You know Chargers played at Foxboro in 2007 playoffs against the team that went 16-0 and lost 21-12 and it was a close game until the last 5 minutes of the forth quarter?

You also know that Patriots lost to Cleveland this year?

And Chargers and Patriots played this year and the score was 23-20 despite 4 TOs by Chargers.

Chargers with Norval as their coach have #3 defense and #4 offensive DVOA and Patriots has #27 in defensive DVOA this year. Their problem has been ST and it has improved significantly in the last 8 weeks: -19% to -10% DVOA. Which suggests that they are almost league average now.

I think it is quite possible that Chargers beat Patriots at Foxboro, not as likely as Patriots beating them, but not something that requires much imagination.

158
by Anonymous454545 (not verified) :: Thu, 12/16/2010 - 10:34am

A Charger-Pats playoff game NEEDS LdT on the sideline watching. He likes to sit those out. Would he fly up just to watch like every other NE-SD playoff game?

111
by Alyssa (not verified) :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 4:46am

I like the way you think- but I'm scared to dream. The Chargers disappoint me a lot in the playoffs!! Still, San Diego is dangerous- DVOA says they are quite good, and top 5 offense and defense means good things in the postseason. NE is playing incredibly well, but SD matched up with them well and forced mistakes- even with 3 first half turnovers the Chargers only lost by 3 points. With Rivers playing at such a high level, the Chargers have to take advantage now.

114
by iapetus (not verified) :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 7:37am

I can't help noticing that weighted DVOA and reality have the teams in completely the opposite order in the current AFC South rankings. Which one's wrong? :D

117
by FalconsHmmmm (not verified) :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 10:58am

What's the lowest-rated DVOA team ever to win the super bowl? Has any winner been rated #8 or worse, as the champ-to-be Falcons currently are?

119
by Mark S. (not verified) :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 11:06am

The 07-08 championship Giants finished 16th in reg. season DVOA.

122
by Alternator :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 11:34am

Those Giants, if I recall correctly, were also significantly higher ranked in weighted DVOA.

124
by nat :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 12:03pm

Nope. They were 21st in weighted DVOA. They truly were a surprise in the playoffs.

It was an amazing story that should give heart to all playoff underdogs: Yes, you can win the close ones. Yes, you can exploit good matchups. Yes, you can play above yourselves. Yes, you can catch the game-changing pass with your helmet. :-)Yes, you can become the Champions.

Yes, you will deserve it.

126
by TomC :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 12:33pm

Other than the Bears (who are clearly ranked too low because Ditka cures cancer, etc.), the two teams that jump out at me are Tennessee and Miami. Every time I watch either one of those teams, I think "how have they won any games this season?", even if they're winning the game I'm watching. I guess one answer for Tennessee is "really high variance"---i.e., maybe I've missed all their good games. But Miami's variance is pretty low, so my eyeballs are way out of sync with DVOA on that one.

146
by tuluse :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 5:25pm

The only Miami game I've seen was against the Bears, and I assume their passing attack is a lot better with QBs other than Thigpen.

151
by Sergio :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 11:27pm

Not really.

Thigpen was OK against the Titans. The problem isn't the QB: it's the OC. Quite frankly, he makes me pine for Kippy Brown, who was a shudder-inducer by himself.

And, against the Bears, the problem was exacerbated by a non-existing OL.

Maybe I should rephrase: the problem *is* the QB, but there's not much difference between Henne and Thigpen, at least not in results. They're both average QBs.

-- Go Phins!

131
by Jeff Fogle :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 1:19pm

"However, I do want to point out that we can't really create a context-dependent schedule strength measure that changes based on the quality of the team which has that schedule."

Yes, you can.

"That makes it a lot harder to explain schedule strength in articles we write off-site,"

Are you analysts or article writers? You're NOT going to pursue something that leads to a deeper understanding because it might be harder to explain in articles? You're purposely choosing to NOT pursue a deeper understanding for that reason?

"and it would be strange to use such a metric when we rank schedule strength before the season starts."

Well, it would be impossible to use such a metric before the season starts. You can use the standard "projection" you're using now for that. It's not like preseason strength of schedule estimates are sacred. It's a cross-your-fingers-and-hope-for-the-best projection anyway. They don't matter at all once actual games are being played and the actual schedule strength is being defined.

*Use your standard method for preseason projections.

*Develop more intense methods for "strength" (caliber of teams faced) and "difficulty" (additional nuances created by game placement within sequences of divisional games, road trips, bye weeks, etc..) that can be used as the season unfolds.

*Say "we rate so-and-so's schedule as the fifth strongest based on who they played, but only the 10th most difficult because they've played more home games so far" or something like that.

That's not enough to satisfy the demands of off-site articles? There's such a demand from less stat-minded fans for the "inside baseball" of Klingon projection formulas that you have to find a kindergarten Klingon for off-site article readers or you're not going to make changes?

People want insights. Pursue insights. Reality has a way of explaining itself once it's discovered...

134
by ammek :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 1:47pm

Shouldn't there be an 'AJ Smith mistakes revisited, part two' option: NYJ-NO?

147
by DeltaWhiskey :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 5:50pm

Greeting, my apologies for the hiatus. Mother died and so have been out of pocket. Anyhow, here are this weeks breakdown

TOT DVOA:
AVG: 0.68%
SD: 19.03%

ELITE: NONE
GOOD: NE PIT PHI NYG BAL SD
AVG: GB ATL NO TEN NYJ MIA IND KC HOU CLE TB CHI JAC DET SF MIN OAK CIN BUF DAL
BAD: WAS STL DEN SEA ARI CAR
HORRID: NONE

COMMENTS: Suprised the NE has not separated themselves yet. Also surprised by the absence of no "HORRID" teams...a lot of parity.

WEIGHTED DVOA:
AVG: 1.16%
SD: 1962%

ELITE: NE
GOOD: PIT BAL NYG PHI SD
AVG: GB NO ATL MIA TEN CLE HOU NYJ IND KC TB OAK JAC CHI SF DET BUF MIN DAL CIN STL
BAD: DEN WAS SEA ARI CAR
HORRID: NONE

OFF DVOA:
AVG: 3.60%
SD: 16.33%

ELITE: NE
GOOD: HOU PHI
AVG: SD ATL IND NO GB PIT NYG KC JAC BAL TB MIA DEN TEN NYJ DAL CIN CLE BUF DET WAS OAK SF MIN
BAD: STL SEA CHI
HORRID: ARI CAL

DEF DVOA:
AVG: 3.32%
SD: 10.54%

ELITE: NONE
GOOD: PIT NYG SD GB
AVG: CHI BAL NYJ TEN MIA NO CLE MIN SF PHI CAR ATL OAK KC IND DET STL CIN TB ARI BUF WAS NE
BAD: DAL SEA HOU JAC DEN
HORRID: NONE

S.T. DVOA:
AVG: 0.41%
SD: 3.66%

ELITE: SEA
GOOD: BAL TEN CHI JAC NYJ ATL
AVG: PIT CLE ARI NE DET PHI DAL BUF CAR STL MIN MIA OAK TB SF WAS DEN KC NO HOU GB CIN
BAD: IND NYG
HORRID: SD

For those who've hated the broad average range, it's only gotten worse. This suggests to me that "any given SUnday may be more true than ever.

149
by Eddo :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 6:01pm

Sorry to hear about your mother, DeltaWhiskey. My condolences to you.

------

As for your clusters, have you thought about splitting "AVG" into "AVG+" and "AVG-"? That way, each group would only contain one standard deviation's worth of teams.

155
by DeltaWhiskey :: Thu, 12/16/2010 - 9:58am

Thanks.

I've been giving thought to how to split up the AVG group; however, I haven't come up w/ a way that makes me happy. The problem with the split your suggesting separates CLE from TB. Moreover it would cluster CLE with the likes of GB and ATL and cluster TB with the likes of CIN, BUF and DAL.

What I am considering is some way to split the AVG group into three clusters, perhaps AVG-, AVG, and AVG+. One option is to take the mean and SD of the AVG group and break them out again. With Week 14 data you get the following for TOT DVOA:

Mean: 0.48%
SD: 10.81%

Yielding
AVG+: GB ATL NO
AVG: TEN NYJ MIA IND KC HOU CLE TB CHI JAC DET SF MIN OAK
AVG-: CIN BUF DAL

I'm still left with a rahter large (13 team) AVG group, but I think breaking out on top at NO passes the eyeball test as does the break betweeen OAK and CIN.

159
by nat :: Thu, 12/16/2010 - 10:38am

My condolences to you and your family.

As for splitting the average group, have you considered using 1 SD bands that are centered on multiples of SD rather than bounded by multiples of SD? That lets you have an "Average" group centered on the true average (which you seem to want, judging from your CLE/TB comment) while having all bands equally wide (which followers of your analysis seem to want).

The AVG band would range from -0.5 SD to +0.5 SD. GOOD would go from +0.5 SD to +1.5 SD. ELITE would start at +1.5 SD. You could add ELITE+ and ELITE++ bands in the unlikely event a team managed that level of performance, or you could give the 0.5 to 1.5 band a name between AVG and GOOD, such as HIGH-AVG or AVG+.

160
by DeltaWhiskey :: Thu, 12/16/2010 - 10:48am

Thanks.

I've considered making the type of split you've described and looking at the data over the past few weeks this might work. What I've liked over the long haul is that while the AVG group has been cumbersomely large, the break from AVG to the others has made sense looking at the numbers and also subjective sense. You are also correct about my thoughts on centering at true average.

Perhaps a 1 SD band around AVG (i.e. +/- .5 SD) and then a 1.5 SD bracket keeping ELITE and HORRID at the 2 SD mark?

If I have a chance later today, I'll play with it more.

163
by DeltaWhiskey :: Thu, 12/16/2010 - 11:56am

Found a little time: Here's how it breaks out:

ELITE: > +1.5SD
GOOD: +0.5SD TO +1.5SD
AVG: -0.5SD TO +0.5SD
BAD: -0.5SD TO -1.5SD
HORRID: < -1.5SD

ELITE: NE PIT
GOOD: PHI NYG BAL SD GB ATL NO TEN NYJ MIA
AVG: IND KC HOU CLE TB CHI JAC DET
BAD: SF MIN OAK CIN BUF DAL WAS STL DEN SEA
HORRID: ARI CAR

COMMENTS:
1. I don't like that both the BAD and the GOOD groups are larger than the AVG group
2. The differences at the break from AVG to BAD is 0.80%. This is a hard break to defend. However the difference between JAC to DET is 2.00% which would be a little more defensible...perhaps. So if DET can muster a little more suckitude this could break well.
3. The differences at the breaks from GOOD to ELITE and BAD to HORRID are each at least 10.00%. I can live with this.
4. T-tests comparing the groupings to one another all reach significance. Not the most valid way to test for differences, should have done ANOVA, but lack the capabilities here. Nonetheless, at least some indication that these groups may be are different.

165
by nat :: Thu, 12/16/2010 - 12:05pm

I don't like that both the BAD and the GOOD groups are larger than the AVG group

For me, it's not so much a like/don't like issue. I'm mildly surprised, though. It's not a large effect and it's only one sample, so I wouldn't worry about it.

I don't think it's a problem with the bands you've chosen. I think it's how the teams are actually distributed in strength. This year's "parity" is more about there being a shortage of really good and really bad teams, not about there being an unusually large number of dead-average ones.

169
by chemical burn :: Thu, 12/16/2010 - 6:15pm

Condolences. Love that you post this though and are developing it. I was actually just commenting to a friend that my favorite stuff on FO this year is actually just being posted in the comments (by a guy named deltawhiskey...)

171
by DeltaWhiskey :: Fri, 12/17/2010 - 1:33pm

Thanks for the kind thoughts and props. I need to do some testing to see who this shakes out.
Applying this model to the 2009 TOTDVOA:

AVG 0.66%
SD 22.51%

ELITE: NONE
GOOD: BAL GB NE PHI DAL NO MIN IND NYJ PIT SD
AVG: DEN ARI CAR HOU MIA NYG ATL CIN SF WAS TEN JAC BUF
BAD: CHI CLE TB KC SEA OAK
HORRID: STL DET

Comments:

1. Looking at it through this lense, at least we can now say that that BAL, while the "best" DVOA team, was not ELITE...that argument is over now.
2. T-tests again suggest each group is different.
3. OAK to STL and BUF to CHI difference >10.0%. Other break, not so good. Clustering this way has its merits, I'm wondering if looking for large break points near these arbitrary breaks more sense. For example, the GOOD group has a %5.00 difference at NO to MIN, which certainly suggests a greater break than the 1.70% break at SD to DEN. Although, now subjectivity creeps in.

173
by tuluse :: Fri, 12/17/2010 - 5:51pm

Yeah, I don't understand why you are looking for large breaks. Is there any reason NFL teams should have large gaps in quality and not be a smooth slope?

174
by Arkaein :: Fri, 12/17/2010 - 8:57pm

The answer I'd give is that if the purpose of this is putting NFL teams into descriptive categories then those categories work best when the teams within a category are more alike than teams between any two categories. If the best AVG team is much more like the worst GOOD team then the worst (or even average) AVG team, then the benefit of using simple classifications becomes a bit dubious.

When DeltaWhiskey first started doing his weekly categories based on standard deviation I suggested that clustering methods might produce better categories. The simplest clustering method would simply be to split the pool of teams at the largest DVOA gap between any two adjacent teams until a stopping criteria is met. This criteria could be either a certain number of clusters or a minimum DVOA split threshold.

Now, you're right in that there's no inherent reason that there should be large gaps in ordered DVOA, except for the fact that the population of NFL teams is quite small. This single-variable clustering technique wouldn't work, for example, if we wanted to categorize all people in the US by height, because the distribution would be too smooth.

I do think it is a valid method for the NFL though. The groupings in most cases would be have more internal similarities than using standard deviation. There is the problem that the labels, and maybe the number of labels used could change from week to week as the clusters change shapes, but this would reflect the fact that the clusters would be driven by the nature of the data.

175
by DeltaWhiskey :: Mon, 12/20/2010 - 11:02am

Exactly, and much better said than I could have.

Thanks.

170
by Andrew Potter :: Thu, 12/16/2010 - 7:13pm

Thanks massively for working this out and posting it. I've been in the group wanting to see this particular breakdown for a few weeks. Generally speaking, it passes my eyeball test - very few surprises and those that did surprise me are marginal.

Plus, you know, it's always enjoyable to see my favourite team listed as elite!

172
by DeltaWhiskey :: Fri, 12/17/2010 - 1:58pm

I agree, having your team in the ELITE category is always good for a little self-esteem boost. I knew if I messed with this enough I could get PIT into that group.

Glad you like, here or the OFF, DEF, and S.T. under this new format.

OFF DVOA:
AVG: 3.60%
SD: 16.33%

ELITE: NE
GOOD: HOU PHI SD ATL IND NO GB PIT NYG KC
AVG: JAC BAL TB MIA DEN TEN NYJ DAL CIN CLE BUF DET
BAD: WAS OAK SF MIN STL SEA CHI
HORRID: ARI CAL

DEF DVOA:
AVG: 3.32%
SD: 10.54%

ELITE: PIT NYG
GOOD: SD GB CHI BAL NYJ TEN MIA NO
AVG: CLE MIN SF PHI CAR ATL OAK KC IND DET STL CIN TB ARI
BAD: BUF WAS NE DAL SEA
HORRID: HOU JAC DEN

S.T. DVOA:
AVG: 0.41%
SD: 3.66%

ELITE: SEA
GOOD: BAL TEN CHI JAC NYJ ATL PIT CLE ARI
AVG: NE DET PHI DAL BUF CAR STL MIN MIA OAK TB
BAD: SF WAS DEN KC NO HOU GB CIN IND NYG
HORRID: SD

COMMENTS:
1. None of the BAD teams have any category above AVG.
2. RE: TOTDVOA - Each ~7.5% of DVOA equals one win (i.e. based on regression equation for correlation of WINS w/ DVOA, DVOA = 0 yields 8 wins, DVOA 7.5% yields 9 wins, therefore, 7.5% DVOA = one win:
a. Dif between ELITE and GOOD is ~10.0% or 1.5 wins
b. DVOA range of GOOD is ~15% or 2 wins
c. DVOA range of AVG is ~13% or almost 2 wins
d. DVOA range of BAD is ~15% or 2 wins
e. Dif between BAD and HORRID is ~10% or 1.5 wins
3. Applying this to 2009
a. Range of GOOD is ~17% or a little over 2 wins
b. Range of AVG is ~20% or almost 3 wins (this is nice since an average season is usually going to be between 7 and 9 wins)
c. Range of BAD is ~13% or almost 2 wins
d. Difference between BAD and HORRID is ~13% or almost 2 wins.

In my mind, looking at these numbers through this WIN prism provides some validation of the clusters.

150
by Jerry :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 7:54pm

Condolences. I hope you were able to enjoy Mr. Polamalu the last couple weeks.

156
by DeltaWhiskey :: Thu, 12/16/2010 - 9:59am

Thanks. I didn't get to observe Polamalu in action, but certainly was pleased with his contributions. It's my mom's fault I'm a Steeler fan as she grew up near PIT, and while I was raised in TX, we were not allowed to be Cowboy fans.

164
by Hurt Bones :: Thu, 12/16/2010 - 12:03pm

Condolences. How people become fans is always interesting. Years ago I was on the ferry from PEI to Nova Scotia. I was in a conversation with a trucker. We were talking baseball, and he said he grew up in Queens in the 50's. His friends were all split. Some were Giants fans or Dodger fans, and a few were Yankee fans. So he asked his father who he should root for. "Well, I met your mother in Philadelphia." So he became a Phillies fan. Ashburn was his favorite player.

167
by DeltaWhiskey :: Thu, 12/16/2010 - 12:18pm

Thanks.

My son became a Packers fan when Favre led a comeback on T-giving against the Lions. My other son is an Eagles fan b/c he likes eagles. The only rule I had for them when choosing teams was that there would be no fair weather fans.

166
by Joseph :: Thu, 12/16/2010 - 12:06pm

"and while I was raised in TX, we were not allowed to be Cowboy fans."

This is not a bad thing.

Regarding your mother, my condolences. I just found out my mom has a cancerous tumor, but it's small, and in her EAR, of all places. Going to check for others; hopefully not, because she has been pretty healthy, no smoking history, etc.

168
by DeltaWhiskey :: Thu, 12/16/2010 - 12:19pm

Thank you for your thoughts, I hope all checks out well with your mom.

It may not have been a bad thing, but it made things a little tough...character building I guess. Had the Cowboys won 2 Super Bowls, who knows how much more character I would have.