Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

13 Sep 2011

Week 1 DVOA Ratings

by Aaron Schatz

You love them when your team is high! You hate them when your team is low! Once again, the famous Football Outsiders DVOA and DAVE ratings return for 2011.

Now, some of you may be familiar with DVOA, but you have never met our good friend DAVE. Well, DAVE is our rating that combines the preseason projection with the results of early games to give us a better prediction of how each team will rank at the end of the year. For those who don't know the story, this metric is called DAVE as a reaction to criticism that our stats are too much alphabet soup. I mean, who can argue with a guy named Dave? (Technically, it stands for DVOA Adjusted for Variation Early.) In this week's DAVE ratings, the preseason projection counts for 90 percent, and the current VOA counts for 10 percent.

There's never much to say after just one week of games and this year is no exception. Buffalo is the big mover this week, going from 18th in our final DVOA projections to 12th in DAVE thanks to their dismantling of the Kansas City Chiefs. The exceptionally high preseason projection for Pittsburgh also looks a little silly now given how badly they played against Baltimore. After one week, Pittsburgh is dead last in DVOA, and has dropped to fifth in DAVE. The playoff odds report no longer favors Pittsburgh to even win its own division, although it is still a likely playoff team.

Each week, one or two teams will have a higher rating than their opponents, and lose anyway. It's more obvious early in the season, when only one or two games are actually going into each team's season rating. This week's "accidental losers" was Tennessee, which had a significantly higher VOA rating than Jacksonville. Way to play well at all the wrong times, guys. It's also interesting to note that Atlanta, even without any opponent adjustments to consider, has a rating above 0% and is only slightly lower than Chicago. The Bears recovered all five of the fumbles in the game, one for a touchdown, but the Falcons actually had more net yardage (386 to 377).

All stats pages are now updated with 2011 data except for OFFENSIVE LINE and DEFENSIVE LINE, which will be updated after Week 2. The FO Premium splits database will also be updated for 2011 after Week 2, next Tuesday. Right now the default stats pages still point to 2010, but we'll be fixing that soon; to get 2011 stat pages, add "2011" to the end of the URL.

Please be aware that the special teams ratings are going to be somewhat sketchy until we can fully get a handle on what the kickoff move to the 35-yard line is really going to mean to average kickoff returns.

* * * * *

These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through one week of 2011, measured by our proprietary Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) system that breaks down every single play and compares a team's performance to the league average based on situation in order to determine value over average. (Explained further here.)

OFFENSE and DEFENSE VOA are adjusted to consider all fumbles, kept or lost, as equal value. SPECIAL TEAMS VOA is adjusted for type of stadium (warm, cold, dome, Denver) and week of season.

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

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

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
VOA
TOTAL
DAVE
RANK W-L OFFENSE
VOA
OFF.
RANK
DEFENSE
VOA
DEF.
RANK
S.T.
DVOA
S.T.
RANK
1 BAL 100.9% 22.9% 3 1-0 43.8% 3 -53.5% 1 3.6% 13
2 BUF 70.9% 4.0% 12 1-0 28.4% 5 -35.8% 3 6.7% 9
3 HOU 57.6% 12.1% 8 1-0 20.2% 10 -16.9% 8 20.6% 2
4 NE 39.1% 30.3% 1 1-0 57.0% 2 14.8% 21 -3.1% 19
5 SF 36.7% -2.3% 17 1-0 -28.7% 28 -19.6% 7 45.8% 1
6 PHI 30.4% 24.8% 2 1-0 28.2% 6 -2.5% 17 -0.3% 16
7 GB 29.2% 13.2% 7 1-0 59.6% 1 25.8% 25 -4.5% 21
8 DET 28.7% 0.6% 16 1-0 22.6% 8 -14.5% 9 -8.5% 24
9 WAS 27.3% -6.7% 20 1-0 24.8% 7 -5.0% 15 -2.5% 18
10 TEN 25.4% -15.1% 26 0-1 20.2% 9 -5.7% 14 -0.6% 17
11 CIN 18.8% -8.7% 23 1-0 -0.4% 16 -24.4% 5 -5.1% 22
12 OAK 16.3% -11.4% 24 1-0 -8.4% 23 -36.1% 2 -11.4% 25
13 CHI 15.7% 7.7% 11 1-0 -2.5% 19 -8.3% 11 9.9% 6
14 SD 15.4% 21.6% 4 1-0 5.2% 14 -26.0% 4 -15.8% 29
15 ATL 10.6% 9.0% 9 0-1 -4.0% 21 -10.7% 10 3.8% 12
16 NYJ 8.8% 16.7% 6 1-0 2.6% 15 -3.8% 16 2.4% 14
TEAM TOTAL
VOA
TOTAL
DAVE
RANK W-L OFFENSE
VOA
OFF.
RANK
DEFENSE
VOA
DEF.
RANK
S.T.
DVOA
S.T.
RANK
17 ARI 2.2% -14.2% 25 1-0 17.4% 13 29.1% 26 14.0% 5
18 JAC -1.9% 1.6% 15 1-0 -1.5% 18 5.1% 20 4.6% 11
19 MIN -6.1% -2.9% 18 0-1 -23.7% 26 0.9% 18 18.4% 3
20 NO -7.1% 8.1% 10 0-1 39.5% 4 53.9% 31 7.3% 7
21 DAL -7.2% -7.0% 21 0-1 -1.3% 17 -7.2% 12 -13.0% 27
22 TB -11.9% -8.0% 22 0-1 -5.2% 22 22.4% 24 15.6% 4
23 CLE -16.3% -3.3% 19 0-1 -25.2% 27 -6.8% 13 2.1% 15
24 SEA -25.6% -22.4% 32 0-1 -18.5% 25 -22.5% 6 -29.6% 32
25 DEN -26.2% -15.9% 27 0-1 -31.8% 29 1.7% 19 7.2% 8
26 NYG -31.9% 3.0% 14 0-1 -2.9% 20 16.8% 23 -12.2% 26
27 CAR -35.5% -16.5% 28 0-1 18.3% 11 32.5% 28 -21.3% 30
28 MIA -43.1% 3.5% 13 0-1 18.0% 12 54.0% 32 -7.1% 23
29 STL -53.1% -17.7% 29 0-1 -10.8% 24 38.1% 29 -4.2% 20
30 IND -84.3% -19.6% 30 0-1 -39.5% 31 16.4% 22 -28.5% 31
31 KC -89.4% -19.8% 31 0-1 -34.0% 30 40.9% 30 -14.5% 28
32 PIT -92.6% 19.7% 5 0-1 -69.5% 32 29.4% 27 6.3% 10

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 13 Sep 2011

142 comments, Last at 18 Sep 2011, 7:19am by Mr Shush

Comments

1
by xtimmygx :: Tue, 09/13/2011 - 3:41pm

I don't know what thread to put it in, so I'm just gonna do it here, but coaches misusing timeouts has to be one of the things that pisses me off most when watching football. Why in the hell did John Fox call a timeout at 2:05 left in the 4th quarter last night. I'm pretty certain saving 40 seconds is a lot more important than 5, if they hadn't used that timeout then they would have probably gotten the ball back with at least 30 seconds.

4
by Thunderbolt of ... :: Tue, 09/13/2011 - 3:56pm

The relevant sequence:
1-10-OAK 41 (2:11) M.Bush up the middle to OAK 43 for 2 yards (J.Mays).
Timeout #3 by DEN at 02:05.
2-8-OAK 43 (2:05) M.Bush right tackle to DEN 45 for 12 yards (B.Dawkins). R20
Two-Minute Warning
1-10-DEN 45 (2:00) J.Campbell up the middle to DEN 48 for -3 yards (J.Hunter).

If Fox takes the timeout at 2:05, then after the Raiders' 2nd down play the clock will presumably be stopped at the two-minute warning. If Fox saves the timeout, then the 2nd down play will start with 2:00 left, and the Broncos can use the timeout to stop the clock after that, at 1:55 or 1:53 or whatever. So using the timeout when Fox did actually saves a few seconds.

An argument can be made that it's smart to save the timeout to force the Raiders to keep calling runs, rather than having the option to run a 5-second pass play before the two minute warning, but from a pure timing perspective, Fox made the right move.

5
by dbt :: Tue, 09/13/2011 - 3:58pm

I'm going to give this one to John Fox. You are incorrect about how much time is saved, because he's forcing an entire play before the 2:00 warning.

With your strategy:

2:11 1st-10: 2 yard rush.
2 minute warning
2:00 2nd-8: 12 yard rush.
-final timeout-
1:55 1st-10: kneel x3

The failure here isn't the placement of the timeout, it's the inability to stop Michael Bush on 2nd and long. Let's assume that Michael Bush doesn't run for a first down, since the moment he does the game is over regardless:

Your strategy:

2:11 1st-10: 2 yard rush.
2 minute warning
2:00 2nd-8: short rush.
-final timeout-
1:55 3rd-?: short rush.
1:10 4th-?: punt.

Fox's strategy:
2:11 1st-2: 2 yard rush.
-final timeout-
2:05 2nd-8: short rush.
2 minute warning
2:00 3rd-?: short rush.
1:15 4th-?: punt.

Net difference: 5 seconds in Fox's favor. You have to realize that the two clock stoppages there are completely fungible.

6
by dbt :: Tue, 09/13/2011 - 3:59pm

(damn. too much typing.)

10
by Babylon :: Tue, 09/13/2011 - 4:30pm

The only caveat, is it allowed the Raiders, if they wished, to call a pass play instead of being highly motivated to do a running play.

Of course, Bush blew through the defense for a first rendering it moot.

44
by Intropy :: Tue, 09/13/2011 - 7:54pm

That isn't so cut and dry either. If the clock read 2:03 then yes they could call a pass play without losing any time. At 2:05 there's the chance a pass play results in an incompletion at 2:01. At 2:10 there's little chance that an incomplete pass takes you to the 2 minute warning.

37
by xtimmygx :: Tue, 09/13/2011 - 7:10pm

Hmm,

Perhaps this shouldn't be such a pet peeve of mine then. I do hate that it gives the other team a chance to pass because the 2 minute warning will happen though, and I did miscalculate in my head when I said that they could have gotten an extra possesion. For some reason I have been thinking about this wrong in my head because the play clock eats up 40 seconds, but by calling the time out before the 2 minute warning you are stopping it from running off only 11 seconds. But clearly I am wrong.

103
by horn :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 12:00pm

Yes, you should always call the TO then, because the opponent may stop the clock *again* with an incomplete pass. TOs are fungible, but the optimal strategy is what Fox did.

2
by heylarry21 :: Tue, 09/13/2011 - 3:45pm

Good to see that the Chargers have jumped all the way up to 29th in Special Teams. Here's to baby-steps. Unfortunately they have also lost their starting kicker for the year...

11
by Ferguson1015 :: Tue, 09/13/2011 - 4:30pm

Yeah, and it is starting to look a little less likely that the Charger's Defense finishes 2nd to last by the end of the year. Although Offense looks pretty mediocre instead of the #1 team that DVOA projected.

Then again, it is a little early to be looking at that (see Buffalo at #3 as evidence).

12
by Scott C :: Tue, 09/13/2011 - 4:30pm

If you believe that they will play at exactly this level for the next 15 games, sure.

However, the offense can easily play better, the defense worse, and ST's better than this one game. Its hard to say that the Chargers even have a ST problem ... there was a record setting 10 punt/ko returns for TDs last week across the league. Expect that to diminish over the coming weeks.

Its hard to read much into the first game for any team. Are the Steelers going to be worst in DVOA? I doubt it.

17
by Ferguson1015 :: Tue, 09/13/2011 - 4:42pm

Oh I completely agree. Let's just say that it was pleasant to see them outperform their projected place. That doesn't mean that they are going to be a top 5 team for the entire season, it just means that I am optimistic about their chances for the season. Then again, the Patriots might come in next week and put them in their place, or as far as I know, in the next game Antonio Garay, Takeo Spikes, Eric Weddle, and Phillip Rivers will all go down with injuries next week and completely screw over the Chargers for the season.

I was just surprised when the original DVOA rankings came out and said that their defence would drop from 7th to 31st and it is nice to see them have a nice game against the Vikings to show that they are still around.

As for Special Teams, I'm not as worried about that, some of that ranking comes from the kickoff return for a touchdown, and I'm not sure what factors into it, but I'm sure it doesn't help you S.T. score when your kicker goes down with an injury on the first play of the game, forcing the punter to make all of the kicks from then on, including kickoffs and such. Besides they mention in the column that their ST scores are going to be a little off with the new rule change.

34
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/13/2011 - 6:10pm

The Vikings may have three guys, and probably do have at least two guys, playing on the offensive line who could not start anywhere else.

53
by zlionsfan :: Tue, 09/13/2011 - 9:02pm

Not even Indianapolis?

56
by andrew :: Tue, 09/13/2011 - 9:18pm

Heck one of them used to start in Indianapolis and the Colts let him go.

66
by Scott C :: Tue, 09/13/2011 - 11:56pm

I don't buy the 31st in defense projection at all either. I don't yet believe they will be dominant on defense.

They should be fairly strong on defense and tough to put up a lot of passing yards against. NE next week will be a great test -- they did well against Brady last year, and the secondary could improve this year.

20
by Drunken5yearold-anom (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2011 - 4:51pm

I wouldn't be too concerned about the Charger's offense. Rivers was off just a little bit in the first half and missed some open receivers, especially that potential TD throw to Vincent Jackson. Couple those errant throws with some un-attempted field goals (due to Kaeding's injury) and this game was a 35-10 affair masquerading as 24-17.

It was encouraging to see the Charger's D do a relatively good job in stopping Peterson. I never bought the next-to-last projection for the D and wonder what factors were driving the calculation (ineffective pass rush?). The Chargers have been notorious for their boom-or-bust pass rushing the last couple of years (either they get the sack or don't come anywhere near the QB).

I think the main weaknesses for this team will be in the power running game; both generating tough yards between the tackles on offense as well as stopping power runs from the other team. The O-line is built for pass protection and doesn't really open any holes for the running backs. The D-line (apart from Garay) gets very little push.

21
by Ferguson1015 :: Tue, 09/13/2011 - 4:59pm

I tend to agree that San Diego will have trouble in the power running game despite Tolbert's bowling ball-like body, because of the lack of push by the offensive line. River's will be just fine, and I was actually heartened because of the performance of the running backs in the game. I'm sure the number got brought down by all of the check-down throws that had to be made, as well as the fact that the Wide Receiver's were pretty much taken out of the game.

82
by Neoplatonist Bolthead (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 9:04am

30-10 if Kaeding makes that tackle and doesn't get hurt. Otherwise, I agree.

The power running game has me a bit worried. But Mathews is clearly developing as a receiver. It'll be interesting to see what they do offensively next week, to combat the Patriots' new interior pass rush. I'm predicting a lot of shotgun and a lot of screens mixed in with the downfield assault.

It's slightly troublesome that Minnesota's average secondary was able to prevent all the deep action in this game, even if it exposed its own exploitable holes. It was kind of funny watching the FOX announcers make excuses for Minny's inability to stop the Chargers' screens and midrange attacks: "Oh, yeah, they'll give you those little shots all day," doesn't work very well when you're explaining away back-to-back 15-yard gains.

114
by Scott C :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 4:42pm

It wasn't Minnesota's secondary that stopped the deep action, it was the blitz and constant pressure. The chargers adapted to constant heat and blitz pressure with more blockers, and lots of short, quick passes.

Short quick passes aren't deep, but in the Charger's case they are often 5 to 12 yards downfield with 3 or 5 step drops and 'hot read' routes based on the blitz.

46
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 09/13/2011 - 8:13pm

At the moment, the Lions are out-charging the Chargers.

3
by cisforcookie (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2011 - 3:54pm

super bowl loser's curse for the win!

7
by Doofman (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2011 - 4:08pm

Typo alert: The ST column header says "S.T. DVOA" instead of "S.T. VOA"

8
by Philippe (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2011 - 4:21pm

I like the DAVE stat, since I don't think anyone believes BUF is the second best team. Any change we'll get this table in a format where we can change the sort order?

15
by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2011 - 4:36pm

You can copy/paste it into Excel if you want it sortable. Only drawback is you'll need to do it every week if you want to stay current.

89
by graywh :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 10:17am

Shouldn't be that hard to add javascript table sorting.

http://tympanus.net/codrops/2009/10/03/33-javascript-solutions-for-sorti...

9
by Deelron :: Tue, 09/13/2011 - 4:27pm

So it looks like all San Francisco has to do to be a Super Bowl contender is have Ted Ginn score two touchdowns off of returns every game. Easy.

74
by Whatev :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 2:04am

Didn't Miami think basically the same thing a couple years ago?

13
by Burbman (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2011 - 4:31pm

So from the table above, Seattle's anemic offense outperformed San Francisco's non-existant offense, and Seattle's Defense narrowly outperformed San Francisco's. Special teams did decide the game, but how can it be by enough to create a 62.3% difference in VOA? Isn't special teams like 1/7 of the total?

18
by drewcalhoun :: Tue, 09/13/2011 - 4:48pm

On average it is 1/3 as important as offense or defense, but at the margins it is very important. I'd say two TD returns in a row is at the margin.

19
by Reinhard (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2011 - 4:50pm

Common question. I believe that the special teams rating has already been adjusted by 1/5 or whatever the factor is. Meaning that now you can just add up O - D + ST to get the total.

23
by tuluse :: Tue, 09/13/2011 - 5:03pm

I think he was asking how 1/7 of the game caused a 62% difference in total VOA. That does seem like a spectacular difference.

27
by bravehoptoad :: Tue, 09/13/2011 - 5:21pm

It wasn't just the touchdown returns. Andy Lee, SF's punter, had something like a 52-yard NET punt average. 35 net yards is usually a great game for a punter...but 52? Wow.

And there was a lot of punting.

30
by Burbman (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2011 - 5:42pm

but VOA does not penalize a team for the distance their opponent's punts travel in the air. If that were the case, you would also see Denver way down on the ST rankings. I am sure Seattle's poor showing was due primarily to the big returns given up. I would just expect two teams with below average offense, and top ten defense (at least until we add the "D" to DVOA) would have been fairly close to zero total VOA, with ST being the deciding factor, but only swinging each team about 5% from zero in either direction. In other words, I think SF is ranked way too high, and Seattle way to low in VOA, but that DAVE is pretty close for both teams.

31
by bravehoptoad :: Tue, 09/13/2011 - 5:53pm

but VOA does not penalize a team for the distance their opponent's punts travel in the air.

That would be GROSS punt distance.

NET punt distance includes return yards. Lee had 52 NET yards per punt. Seattle would be very much penalized (and SF rewarded) for that.

Really, that's just an outstanding punting game.

71
by Reinhard (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 12:52am

Harbaugh was running the ball ineffectively on 2nd and 3rd down to take the ball out of Alex Smith hands, and to get the ball into the hands of our best player, Andy Lee.

126
by PunterForTheWin (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2011 - 1:10pm

I nearly shot my mocha out of my nose when I read that. I salute your insight into the 49ers.

PS Here in Oakland, our punter has been the best player on our team for most of the past decade (I think that McFadden has finally put an end to that)

128
by Shattenjager :: Thu, 09/15/2011 - 6:01pm

Asomugha?

29
by navin :: Tue, 09/13/2011 - 5:35pm

SF's offense was horrible because the run game was atrocious (-36.9%). The passing game was actually only mediocre (2.4%). Harbaugh isn't (I HOPE) going to run this much against better opponents so that number should improve. This week's game against Dallas should be a better barometer.

38
by MJK :: Tue, 09/13/2011 - 7:13pm

Common misconception. Offense, defense, and ST DVOA are all on the same "scale". There is no weighting factor of 3/7, 3/7, and 1/7. Where the "1/7" comes from is that the VARIATION of top to bottom DVOA in a given category across the league is something like +/-30% for offense and defense, and +/-10% for special teams (or maybe double those numbers...don't remember for sure).

In other words, it is not uncommon for a team to perform 30% better (or worse) than league average on offense and defense, but very uncommon for special teams to perform more than about 10% better (or less than 10% worse) than league average on special teams. Hence the fact that having top-of-the-league special teams is about 1/3 as important as having a top-of-the-league offense or defense, because top-of-the-league special teams means you generally have a +10% ST DVOA, whereas having a top offense means you have somewhere around a 30% offensive DVOA.

Of course, what happened here is that SF's ST VOA (for this one game) was close to +50%, and Seattle's was close to -20%, so Seattle was particularly abysmal and SF was unbelievably (and unsustainably) great.

Of course, if Ted Ginn Jr. runs two balls back for TD's every game of the season and SF's ST DVOA really does sit at +50%, then for them it wouldn't be accurate to say that special teams are 1/7 of how good they are. In that case, their special teams are getting them two TD's per game, and obviously are just as important, or perhaps more important, than their offense and defense.

40
by Rhombus (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2011 - 7:32pm

Very well said, thanks for pointing that out. I always thought it was weighted not cumulative, I'll be looking at the chart a lot differently now. My question now is, what was the highest single ST VOA/DVOA in history? Because a combination of 53-yard net punting average, a perfect 4/4 on field goals, and 2 return touchdowns seems like it could be in the running.

41
by Rhombus (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2011 - 7:34pm

EDIT: single *game* VOA/DVOA in history, obviously.

48
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 09/13/2011 - 8:27pm

1966, Eagles over Cowboys, 24-23. The Eagles generated 80 total yards and lost 3 fumbles, mustering only a field goal. They were bailed out by *two* KR TDs and 1 PR TD. It's the only game since 1940 with 3 return TDs.

On the downside, 1 missed FG and a net punting average of 38 yards. On the upside, the punter went 4-9 for 55 yards.

To put this game in context, in week 5 of 1966, the Eagles didn't score 3 ST TDs. They lost 56-7. Dallas was a much better team, outscoring their defense 79-10 in the two games.

75
by Podge (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 4:01am

I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that 1966 is before the DVOA era.

95
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 11:06am

Only because Aaron hasn't gotten there yet.

14
by Yaguar :: Tue, 09/13/2011 - 4:34pm

Gotta tell you, I'm not used to seeing the Colts as the projected 30th best team in the league.

16
by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2011 - 4:40pm

I'm not used to them BEING the 30th best team in the league either. Alas, that's where we find ourselves.

It's not all bad though. Reminds me of the days when, as a young tyke, I'd go down to the Hoosier Dome to see the likes of George Wonsley and Gary Hogeboom strive to lose by single digits.

26
by Yaguar :: Tue, 09/13/2011 - 5:16pm

I became a fan as a 10-year-old at the beginning of 1998, so I remember exactly one bad season, and it was 13 years ago.

I always knew that someday they'd be a bad team again. I didn't know they'd be this bad this quickly. But honestly, I'm happy that for once we won't get treated like abject moral failures for "only" winning two AFC championships and "only" one Superbowl.

I know that the same despicable people will start denigrating Phillip Rivers for his perceived lack of playoff heroics instead, but it's nice to have a momentary reprieve.

I'm ready to root for Blair White and Jim Caldwell and goddammit, Donald Brown. They're terrible, but they're my guys and I want them to become slightly less terrible. Let's watch some football.

32
by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2011 - 6:03pm

Well then, you're about to get a taste of what it really means to be fan. Sounds like you're going into it with the right attitude.

51
by Purds :: Tue, 09/13/2011 - 8:46pm

Any Colts fan older than 20-years-old remembers the harsher days of the past. I was presented by buddies with a T-shirt in college that read, "I Love a Winner" on the front, and "Go Colts, 1-15" on the back. But hey, everyone knew I was a loyal Colts fan then. Time to prove it again.
I will say that I have been reminding myself these past few years to realize that I am/was living in the "good old days," just like I reminded myself in 1996-2002 as a Yankee fan that I was in the midst of the good old days.
Unfortunately, there don't seem to be a lot of quick fixes in our Colt future. We shall see.

60
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 09/13/2011 - 10:23pm

I'm proud of my team's overfeated season.

63
by Yaguar :: Tue, 09/13/2011 - 10:36pm

I've rooted for the Washington Nationals (lol) since their inception, so I know I can root for a bad team. Also, I love football enough that I even like bad football. I watched John Skelton square off against Jimmy Clausen when I happened to be in Arizona one Sunday. And I enjoyed it, even though I doubted that Mr. Skelton would impress me. (He did not.) I'm willing to watch bad matchups, like DeMarcus Faggins covering Greg Camarillo (or at least, trying to.)

Oh, and I hope the Texans win the division, because it's about damn time that Andre Johnson gets to play in the playoffs.

77
by Mr Shush :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 5:46am

With sentiments like and the near-universal expressions of concern for Manning's health and hopes he would return over at the Chronicle message boards as it became clear how serious his injury was, is the AFC South the most genteel division in football (as well as the second-worst)? The only bitter in-division rivalry I can think of is Texans-Titans, and it may only be Houston fans who are bitter about it (for obvious reasons). I suppose that's to be expected in a division with two of the three* newest franchises in football and two transplants.

*Depending on how you see the whole Browns 2.0/Ravens issue.

80
by zlionsfan :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 8:43am

I think we agree on both things: yes, it's a very well-behaved division (I happen to like that sort of thing myself), and no, the Ravens are not a "new" franchise regardless of what shenanigans the NFL tries to pull. (For the record, I do have an authority problem when it comes to sports: the current Browns are a new franchise, a complete game where you don't give up any hits is a no-hitter, the part of college football that doesn't use playoffs is I-A, and the Big Ten divisions are East and West.)

Actually, wouldn't it be two of the four newest no matter how you see it? If you believe the Ravens are new, they came into the league in 1996, after the Panthers and Jaguars. If you believe the Browns 2.0 are new, they came into the league in 1999. (Not that your point is any different: it's still two of the newest teams and two transplants.)

90
by Verifiable (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 10:18am

which part of the official no-hiter definiton do you dislike? The requirement to go at least 9 innings or the no-hitter by committee? I hate the FCBS/Whatever the hell the other divison is called naming convention.

97
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 11:12am

Except The Big Ten split isn't East/West.

East: Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Indiana, Purdue
West: Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Northwestern

Legends: Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern
Leaders: Illinois, Indiana, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Wisconsin

104
by Shattenjager :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 12:31pm

They're called "Legends" and "Leaders?"
. . .
Wow.

112
by CuseFanInSoCal :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 3:45pm

No, they're "Why is Wisconsin here?" and "Where is Wisconsin?"

106
by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 12:49pm

They aren't divided on strict longitudinal boundaries, but the Leaders clearly has a southeastern tilt, while the Legends has a northwestern (not to be confused with Northwestern) tilt.

108
by Eddo :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 1:03pm

I prefer:

"The M's, the N's, and Iowa"
and
"NOT the M's, the N's, and Iowa".

Much better than the awfulness ("Legends" and "Leaders" they actually came up with).

120
by Jerry :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 11:53pm

[T]he Ravens are not a "new" franchise regardless of what shenanigans the NFL tries to pull.

Keeping the history in Cleveland is the right idea, though. When the team moved to Baltimore, the fans there didn't become happy that the Browns beat the Colts in the 1964 Championship game. What Otto Graham and Jim Brown (and Paul McDonald) did belongs to Cleveland, just like what Johnny Unitas did belongs to Baltimore.

33
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/13/2011 - 6:05pm

We fans of the team which managed to lose in four straight Super Bowl appearances, now followed by losses in five straight Conferencee Championship appearances, can only look upon Colts fans with envy.

50
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 09/13/2011 - 8:33pm

If you want some fun, since the Patriots stopped cheating, Tom Brady is 5-5 in playoff games, with two wins over Jaguars teams who didn't deserve to be there, and one win over a Chargers team where almost every player with a positive VORP was injured. This stretch includes coughing up the largest collapse in conference title game history.

It's not just the Colts who are guilty of moral failure.

58
by Lebo :: Tue, 09/13/2011 - 9:50pm

How do I reach these keeds?

67
by Scott C :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 12:08am

Mr. Cartmenez ? I'm a big fan.

69
by RickD :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 12:40am

Really? You had to go there?

Get over yourself.

59
by nat :: Tue, 09/13/2011 - 10:16pm

Abject failure? Hardly. More like a dead-average success.... in the playoffs.

With their mix of wildcard round and divisional round starts in the playoffs, one Super Bowl win and one loss in the Manning era is pretty much the expected average result. Three Conference Championship appearances is below average, but only just. Give them an A+ for getting to the playoffs and a class-average C as a playoff team. Nothing to be ashamed of.

And taking the package as a whole, only the Patriots and Steelers won more Super Bowls, won more Conference Championships, and had more Conference Championship appearances in the Manning era. That doesn't give the Colts an A+, but third best is a solid A for the era. No 'abject failure' there, either.

62
by Ben :: Tue, 09/13/2011 - 10:28pm

Ahh, you're in for a special treat then :) I became a fan at about 10 as well, but that was in 1988. Trust me, you didn't miss much in those intervening 10 years...

Though, it's certainly kind of liberating being a fan of a crappy team. You expect to lose most of the games, so when you do it's not as disappointing, and a win is a nice surprise.

That being said, I certainly don't want another decade of crappiness ;)

78
by Mr Shush :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 5:59am

I think the Colts are pretty terrible. But it's a bit early to be certain - we'll have a much better idea after they play the (definitely pretty terrible) Browns and the Texans play the (probably fairly decent) Dolphins. It's not completely impossible that the Colts are 22nd-26th in the league kinda-bad, and the Texans are really, really good. Granted I think it's more likely that they're 27th-31st in the league (they're definitely better than the Seahawks) and the Texans are kinda-good, but we don't yet have enough data to be certain.

22
by jebmak :: Tue, 09/13/2011 - 5:02pm

I think that sorting by DAVE would make more sense (at least to me), as that is the more important number.

Have you tried that before and received negative feedback?

I would be all for it in any case.

24
by tuluse :: Tue, 09/13/2011 - 5:12pm

I would need to see evidence of how much better DAVE is compared to VOA. I'm still not sure I would like to see teams ranked by DAVE. I prefer to see them ranked by what they've actually done not what FO thinks they will do.

28
by drobviousso :: Tue, 09/13/2011 - 5:31pm

FWIW, I'd rather see sorted by VOA than DAVE, if select-sortable tables aren't possible.

35
by strannix (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2011 - 6:48pm

I agree in the abstract, but the whole point is that, after one week, and without any reasonable opponent adjustments, we don't really have any idea what they've actually done. Or at least, we have no way to meaningfully contextualize it.

DAVE doesn't strike me as a perfect way to address that, but at least it's an acknowledgement of the problem.

79
by Mr Shush :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 6:28am

Do you have massive issues with a certain former Ravens and Redskins center?

25
by bravehoptoad :: Tue, 09/13/2011 - 5:14pm

It's making me teary. I haven't seen SF that high in a decade. -28 something % offense, and still #5.

45
by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 09/13/2011 - 7:58pm

It is good to see the niners in the top half of the table, though the special teams is unlikely to continue at that level. You really have to hope for the offense to improve as the coaching staff gets more time.

36
by Raiderjoe :: Tue, 09/13/2011 - 7:08pm

Is DAVE and Dvoa drumk? Mo way Raiders ate 12th best team. Clearly top 10 team in league when really lool at team and coahing syaff amd personal.

39
by dbt :: Tue, 09/13/2011 - 7:22pm

VOA has them winning the AFCW right now, to be fair.

54
by zlionsfan :: Tue, 09/13/2011 - 9:04pm

I'm not drunk, but I can't vouch for DVOA.

113
by jedmarshall :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 3:56pm

If JaMarcus Russell were still on the team, I would believe they ate the 12th best team. Without him I'm highly doubtful that's possible.

42
by Raiderjoe :: Tue, 09/13/2011 - 7:42pm

Then VOa good. Fid not scan to that column before. Janikowski 63-yd fielfd goal laat night. Raiders did not even play greta. Jusr good

43
by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2011 - 7:49pm

Why are NE's and Miami's STs so close? Miami had terrible starting field position all day, largely because they couldn't return and when they did it was due to holding. OTOH, NE had a couple solid returns and excellent starting position all game.

I know NE's would be depressed a little due to the missed figgie, but that wouldn't bump Miami's IIRC. That has me scratching my head a little.

72
by RickD :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 12:59am

Fields punted considerably better than Mesko did.

47
by Julio (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2011 - 8:20pm

NE's ratings haven't changed much from last year, which makes sense since
their defense seems to be about the same. Maybe better up front but worse
in the backfield. CHAD HENNE passed for 400+ yards? NE has a wonderful candy-coated
offense but the good defenses in the league will stop it in the playoffs just
like the last two years unless they develop a real running game. They've become
the Atlanta Braves.

52
by Purds :: Tue, 09/13/2011 - 8:50pm

I will say this for NE's running backs. I love the way they run north-south for the extra 2 yards at the ends of plays instead of trying to get the big gainer and consistently leaving potential yards on the field (I am looking at you, Reggie Bush -- just take the extra 2 yards some times, and don't worry about trying to break it for an extra 20.) I hate to admit that this comes form good coaching. Damn you BB.

65
by PatsFan :: Tue, 09/13/2011 - 11:44pm

I love the way they run north-south for the extra 2 yards at the ends of plays instead of trying to get the big gainer and consistently leaving potential yards on the field

Well, unless they're Lawrence Maroney.

Of course, he's not here anymore...

64
by Scott P. (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2011 - 11:34pm

Last year the Patriots scored 80 points in 3 games vs. the Jets. I don't think that counts as "stopping them."

70
by RickD :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 12:48am

"...unless they develop a real running game."

The Pats had the 2nd best running game in the NFL last season, according to DVOA.

BJGE was the 3rd best RB in the NFL last season, according to DYAR and DVOA.

The Pats are not a perfect team and there are certainly areas that need to be improved. But you're going to have to do better than that.

73
by Purds :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 1:14am

Pass rush! Pass rush! Pass rush! If you can't generate it in the playoffs, you're toast. The past few years, the Pats haven't been able to get to the QB in the playoffs, and almost every playoff team has a QB wwho will kill you if you give him all day to throw.

92
by Johnny Socko (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 10:46am

Come on guys, the REAL reason the Pats have lost their last 3 playoff games is because their choker QB can't win the big games!

76
by Mr Shush :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 5:37am

I agree that the Patriots have a solid running game and that it's certainly not the reason they haven't succeeded in the playoffs recently (Purds is much closer to the mark on that score) but FO's numbers definitely overstate its effectiveness, because they don't (can't) take into account the extent to which it's helped by the strength of the NE passing attack. The Patriots aren't the 2nd best running team in the NFL (though they're very likely top 10 and plausibly top 5) and Green-Ellis is not even close to the 3rd best back (though he is undoubtedly a good and valuable player).

84
by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 9:13am

Actually, NE's lack of trust in their running game had a much larger impact on the Jet loss than their pass rush issues. Thankfully, the latter looks much better and NE clearly agreed with me that the running game needed some attention.

85
by Mr Shush :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 9:28am

Forgive my ignorance, but aren't the Patriots starting offensive line, starting tight end and top two running backs the same players as last season?

87
by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 10:03am

They also drafted two high RBs, a first round road grading OT and a mammoth OG who would have been a top talent if not for cancer.

The Jets dared NE to run and NE refused. On top of that, Benny wasn't able to get outside, nor was he a good receiver, which made NE's rushing attack very predictible. About the only thing NE had trust in by the second half was draws to Woody.

Only one of the new guys saw the field in Miami (they also turned over their blocking TE, but I don't consider that an upgrade, just a change due to Crumpler's injury) but the emphasis was clear. It was high time to make the running game a stand alone option.

88
by PatsFan :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 10:06am

Yep, modulo injuries (Solder started for an injured Vollmer on Monday, and of course Koppen will be out for months-to-season now).

The running game changes (such as they are) were to dump the old man backs and draft two rookie RBs.

93
by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 10:51am

Not at all. That is a common misconception, but you don't select two RBs in the top 3 rounds if all you are doing is filling the back end of the roster.

NE targetted RB and terrific run blocking OL specifically to upgrade the running game.

What I find interesting is that Benny actually looks a little quicker this year, so it might not have been necessary, but that doesn't change what their intentions were.

91
by Julio (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 10:45am

Exactly. No matter how good you are, including Brady,
you can be stopped if you are one dimensional. The
Jets played disciplined defense and didn't give Woodhead
any lanes for zigzagging and stopped Brady. A power
running game is essential because there is nothing
you can do about it (unless you give up on the pass
completely), you get pushed out of the way.

94
by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 10:54am

Precisely. There is no reason why a team should ever run for a league average ypc against an opponent who has 6-7 DBs on the field for nearly the entire game, especially when you are supposedly a top 3 running game according to DVOA. It was pretty pathetic.

96
by Mr Shush :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 11:09am

Of the last 10 Superbowl champions, I would say at most three could plausibly described as owning a good power running game - the 2004 Patriots, 2005 Steelers and 2007 Giants. The common traits of recent champions have been good quarterbacking (actually in every case except the Giants better than just good) and a strong pass rush. A good running game's nice - and a legitimately terrible one is a major handicap - but this isn't the 70s any more.

99
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 11:39am

The 2001 Pats were a power running team. The 2003 Pats were arguable. They were primarily a dominant defense with a middle of the road passing/running attack. While Brady turned into a superstar, by 2003, he was still just a really good game manager.

107
by Mr Shush :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 12:54pm

The 2001 Pats had a passing DVOA of 12.2% (10th) and a rushing DVOA of -4.3% (17th). They may have liked to run the ball, but they weren't much good at it. The 2003 Pats had a passing DVOA of 15.8% (12th) and a running DVOA of -7.0% (25th). That sure as hell doesn't sound like a good power running team to me.

109
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 1:50pm

They may not have been efficient about it, but they sure spent a lot of time having a 5-11, 235 lb tailback slam into the line so their inexperienced QB would stop throwing INTs.

111
by tuluse :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 3:20pm

No one said they were good at it.

121
by Mr Shush :: Thu, 09/15/2011 - 5:48am

Well, the comment which sparked this discussion said

"A power running game is essential because there is nothing you can do about it"

I took that as implying a good power running game, because quite evidently there is plenty you can do about a bad power running game, starting with pointing and laughing. Actually, there obviously are things you can do about a good power running game too - bringing a safety down into the box, running out an extra defensive lineman, and so on. But you take the point.

My initial response then specified that only three Superbowl champions in the last decade had a good power running game, which someone attempted to refute by citing the 2001 and 2003 Patriots.

Insofar as I can understand the position I'm disagreeing with at all, it appears to be along the lines of "To win in the playoffs, you need to run the ball up the gut a bunch of times with a big back behind big linemen, even if you're only picking up two yards a clip. And none of that zone stretch malarky - that's right out. Pussies." I don't think that's true. In fact, I think it's entirely possible to win championships with a spread-based offense and a mediocre running game featuring an undersized back who's primarily there for his abilities as a receiver and pass protector.

124
by Julio (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2011 - 9:48am

You don't have to be PRIMARILY a power
running team, but you have to be able
to pull out SOME kind of running play
when you need it. In the SB against
Carolina, the Pats were backed up and got
out of it with a surprise running play
from Antowain Smith. In the next SB, the
Pats were going nowhere until they changed
their game plan to screen plays, then at
the end used up time with Cory Dillon runs.
Last year the Pats didn't have anything
other than Brady and Woodhead, and the Jets
defense had most of the passing and the
screens well-defended. The obvious way to
offset the pass rush is with some kind of
running play, but the Pats didn't have it,
and they won't get through the top-notch
AFC defenses in the playoffs without SOMETHING
in the running game. Even subterfuge would
be better than nothing.

125
by Mr Shush :: Thu, 09/15/2011 - 12:10pm

I think last year's Patriots were a vastly better running team than the 2003 version. Give me Green-Ellis over Antowain Smith any day of the week. The Jets just had a really good defense which played a great game. It happens. Being completely unable to run the ball is obviously a problem, but it's not a problem the 2010 Patriots had in general - just look at their DVOA. Getting your run offense shut down in some one particular game is just one of those things.

115
by Lebo :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 4:58pm

The 2005 Steelers did not have good quarterbacking.

116
by Intropy :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 5:18pm

Ben Roethlisberger started playing for the Steelers in 2004. He did miss four games due to injury in 2005.

118
by Lebo :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 6:14pm

Yeah, and he was rubbish in the Super Bowl. But I suppose that the previous post could've been referring to the season-long quarterbacking performances (and not Super Bowl game performances) for the Super Bowl winning team. But even then, from memory, Big Ben was more of a game manager (albeit a good one). But I think there's a difference between 'good game managing' and 'good quarterbacking'.

119
by Intropy :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 6:41pm

He had a bad Super Bowl, a phenomenal run in the playoffs except the superbowl, and an excellent regular season. He finished the season #2 in DVOA. I wish I had the single game DVOAs to back up the description of the Super Bowl and playoffs. Unless "game manager" means someone who plays for a team with a balanced or run heavy offense as opposed to one playing for a pass heavy offense, I will agree with the characterization. Otherwise, Roethlisberger was a good quarterback in 2005.

127
by Lebo :: Thu, 09/15/2011 - 5:54pm

The original post said: "The common traits of recent champions have been good quarterbacking (actually in every case except the Giants better than just good) and a strong pass rush."

And I wrote that the 2005 Steelers did not have good quarterbacking; which is probably unfair. What I should have written is that they did not have 'better than just good' quarterbacking (a three-game stretch in the playoffs aside). And I certainly do not agree with you that Roethlisberger had an "excellent" regular season.

Roethlisberger was asked to throw only 268 passes in the 2005 regular season. That was the 30th most in the NFL that year. And about half of the 529 passes that Eli Manning (the only other quarterback in the 10 year sample who was not "better than just good") threw in 2007. In my opinion, throwing half as many passes makes Roethlisberger's job easier in comparison to Manning's. This is because the opposing defenses would more likely be preparing to stop the run than the pass. (And, to my knowledge, DVOA won't account for this.) In a similar way, LaDainian Tomlinson has a career passer rating of 146.9.

129
by Intropy :: Thu, 09/15/2011 - 6:38pm

It would seem, then, that you are saying that a quarterback in a balanced attack is a game manager. There's something to be said for bulk. A player who is good more frequently for his team is supplying more value than one who is good less frequently even if they are good at the same rate. You especially have to worry about the extremes, otherwise you might conclude that Antwaan Randle-El was the greatest passer in NFL history. But once you're away from those extremes, rate stats tell you how a quarterback performed better than bulk stats do. Yards per attempt is a better yard stick than yards. 268 passes isn't a guy who got the benefits of being a trick play guy and it's certainly a significant enough sample size for a single season measurement. Roethlisberger may have had the benefit of people needing to honor the run more than other passers, like Eli Manning. But we're looking at the #2 DVOA at 35.1%. There's no way that the running effect slaps down a guy with that performance all the way to merely "good." I can see the argument that Palmer and Hasselbeck were better that year in addition to Manning, but we're still pretty firmly in the excellent range.

130
by Mr Shush :: Thu, 09/15/2011 - 8:25pm

Factoring in supporting cast, I would argue that Brady was definitely better than Roethlisberger that year - and arguably better than Manning. The Pats were bordering on a one man show that year. I do think 268 passes is a low enough volume to suggest that defenses may have played the run more and the pass less and made Roethlisberger's job easier, but not by so much that his per play performance isn't still hugely impressive.

131
by Lebo :: Thu, 09/15/2011 - 8:43pm

Look, I mostly agree with the points that both you and Intropy have made. But I can't get past the idea of Roethlisberger throwing double the number of passes and maintaining anything close to a 35.1% DVOA. That season, the Steelers' rushing DVOA was over 20% lower than their passing DVOA (4.4% c.f. 35.1%). So if Roethlisberger's DVOA was an accurate reflection of his ability, why didn't Cowher call a lot more passes?

134
by Jerry :: Fri, 09/16/2011 - 1:24am

Well, while Ben was out injured for four games, Cowher shouldn't have called the pick six that Tommy Maddox threw to Rashean Mathis in overtime. While Charlie Batch had a 25.6% DVOA for his 37 passes, Maddox had a -34.0 for his 83.

Teammates certainly enter into the evaluations; that's why Ben has as many championships as Peyton and Brady combined in the last five years. But despite his just-good-enough Super Bowl, Roethlisberger was an excellent quarterback in 2005.

135
by Mr Shush :: Fri, 09/16/2011 - 5:30am

Well, to a certain extent I think that probably wasn't rational behaviour on Cowher's part. But it also reflects the reality of a very good defense putting the team in win-to-run type situations. It's worth bearing in mind, too, that almost every good offense has better DVOA passing than running - even teams like the 2010 Texans with really good running games. Last year only two of the 19 teams with positive offensive DVOA ran better than they passed (the Eagles and Jaguars).

Look, I'm absolutely not disagreeing that Roethlisberger's DVOA would have been lower if he'd been asked to throw more. I'm just saying that I think it would still have been very high - maybe 20-25%, 5th-7th in the league.

137
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Fri, 09/16/2011 - 4:16pm

I like how a team with a passing attack with a superlative DVOA and only 250 attempts doesn't have a large enough sample size to be considered "better than good" (Roethlisberger), but a team with a running attack with a superlative DVOA and only 250 attempts does have a "better than good" running attack.

What a double-standard.

138
by Mr Shush :: Sat, 09/17/2011 - 7:42am

I don't think the issue's sample size, I think it's about what those totals may imply about the way opposing defenses are likely to have gameplanned. I'm also unclear on which rushing attack you're talking about. 250 attempts for a team over a whole season seems incredibly low.

141
by Lebo :: Sun, 09/18/2011 - 1:45am

Yes, that's what I was trying to convey.

98
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 11:20am

Really? NE had 49 pass plays and 21 rushes, despite spending most of the game with a two-score lead (Brady had one 3-yd scramble).

The other teams who had similar ratios? NYJ, Pittsburgh, Miami, Tampa, Atlanta, Denver, and New Orleans -- who all spent most of the game trying to dig out of an early deficit, and who other than NYJ tend to have substandard rushing attacks.

Even Indy ran at a higher ratio than New England. Are we sure the Pats have worked on their running game at all? They've got maybe the most unbalanced offensive game in the NFL at the moment. New England looks a ton like the Marino Dolphins right now.

105
by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 12:43pm

I never said NE was implementing the entire playbook in week 1, I said they invested heavily in their running game during the offseason, which is true.

FWIW, neither of the new RBs set foot on he field (one wasn't even active) and the road grading OG is still on NFI. No one said they'd turn into the 2004 Chiefs overnight. Beyond that, you are reading way too much into one week. NE will be pass heavy in any random game if they like the matchups but by season's end they'll be around 55/45. The important part is having the improved running game up and running by the playoffs, not week 1.

83
by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 9:09am

Actually, the defense looks significantly different. They are much deeper and strong on the DL, getting consistent pressure on Henne that increased as the game went on. They are also significantly better at CB than they were last year, with both Ras-I and Bodden looking better than any non-McCourty DB on the team in 2010.

For the most part, Miami's success was one part Henne playing a terrific game (he made half a dozen solid throws while be smacked by a DL) and one part NE is typically a slow starting defense.

As for total yards, Miami had three noteworthy drives for the first 55 minutes or so, the opener when NE was still feeling them out, and the long drives that ended in GL stands. Aside from that Miami didn't have a single drive go for more than 31 yards or 6 plays until garbage time.

Drive 1 - 12 plays 84 yards Touchdown
Drive 2 - 3/9 yards Punt
Drive 3 - 6/31 Punt
Drive 4 - 3/1 Punt
Drive 5 - 4/24 Punt
Drive 6 - 1/-1 End of Half
Drive 7 - 2/9 Touchdown
Drive 8 - 10/87 Field Goal
Drive 9 - 3/6 Punt
Drive 10 - 3/-4 Punt
Drive 11 - 10/76 Downs
(Welker's 99 yard TD)
Drive 12 - 8/74 Touchdown
Drive 13 - 9/63 End of Half

5 of 11 drives were 4 and outs. That's pretty solid considering it was on the road in sweltering heat. NE also manned up on the GL two seperate times. 10 total points from Miami when they had to earn them the hard way until the game was out of reach is fine with me.

110
by Purds :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 2:32pm

Let's not get too crazy after Week 1 here. Yes, it was a good win for the Pats, and they did it even when they had some breaks go against them (obviously their center's injury, but perhaps a more subtle but important factor for that one game was that NE played in Reggie Bush's first game as a feature back -- I doubt he will be as fresh all year. He's just not going to be able to sustain feature-back carries and hits.)

But, this is the Miami team that was something like 18th in DVOA last year on offense, and Henne was around the same place in DVOA and DYAR last year. This wasn't the Saints, or Packers, or Colts ... scratch that last one. You know what I mean, though.

Overall, the Pats looked very good. But, it's a long season. I can't figure out the ability level of the new defense against a moderate offense in week one. Too many variables. If you need to question the complications of such a short sample size, look no further than Brady's one interception, which was really a fluke (yes, it should have been incomplete, but that bounce and interception? -- a bit unusual).

Anyway, I am not saying the NE defense is the same as last year, but I don't buy that one game against a modest offense will prove us too much.

117
by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 6:01pm

Nor did I. I was merely suggesting that NE's defense did better than a 400+ yard passing day would normally indicate, and I stand by that.

BTW, I am not remotely in Henne's corner, but he played very well on Monday. This wasn't NE's typical MO of midling QB's having tons of time and finding wide open guys left and right. Chad had to make at least 4 passes while being planted into the turf and a lot of the yardage came on picture perfect throws to guys who were well covered. If he keeps playing like that, Miami is going to be better than 18th in offensive DVOA at the end of the year.

Oh, and here is a post from another board that I think is relevent in this discussion

NE's opening game defense is always a work in progress.

2003 - 31 points to the Bills (though with mitigating circumstances)

2004 - Allowed Indy to drive up and down the field and only won because of two Edge red zone fumbles (one inside the 1 yard line) and a well timed sack. Indy ran for 200 yards on NE that day.

2005 - A terrible Oakland team scored 17 points with some long plays to Moss.

2006 - A terrible Buffalo team gave NE all it could handle, putting up 17 first half points and 99 yard rushing before NE finally came to life

2007 - The Jets actually moved the ball pretty well with two long TD drives before NE's offense put the game away

2008 - The Brady game, hard to get anything out of it

2009 - Buffalo again gave NE all it could handle, putting up 24 points and going up and down the field all day.

2010 - about the only time that the defense started great out of the gate under BB. Of course 30 minutes in they started sinking fast and it wasn't until week 4 that they finally got their heads on straight.

In week one games, I look mostly for 1:1 matchups and how guys do there, almost like preseason in a way. Unless there is some major roster gap (like DL in 2002 or CB in 2010) the group always gets better as the seeason goes on.

100
by RichC (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 11:47am

Henne passed for 220 of those yards in the 4th quarter, and yet his team never got within 14 points.

Sometimes, the clock is more important than the yards column in the box score. DVOA has no way of understanding that.

101
by RichC (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 11:47am

Henne passed for 220 of those yards in the 4th quarter, and yet his team never got within 14 points.

Sometimes, the clock is more important than the yards column in the box score. DVOA has no way of understanding that.

49
by tuluse :: Tue, 09/13/2011 - 8:31pm

I was looking over some DVOA rankings from last year and I really hope that DeltaWhiskey-where ever he is-does his tier lists again.

55
by zlionsfan :: Tue, 09/13/2011 - 9:14pm

Detroit is in the top half of the table (either way you sort it), had a good performance on both offense and defense, and is heading into a Week 2 matchup where the questions "They really aren't that bad, are they?" and "Those were pretty big injuries; can they be overcome?" apply to their opponents and not to the Lions.

I'm old enough that I seem to recall something like justifiable optimism at the beginning of a season before, but it's been quite a long time (2000, maybe). I'm not exactly going to rush down to Vegas to bet on the Lions to win (although at 60 to 1, that 2.2% looks like a good deal), but it's nice not to have to look at the "chance of getting #1 pick" table just yet.

61
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 09/13/2011 - 10:26pm

The last season that the Lions were reasonably optimistic, Barry Sanders got so fed up with WC Ford's 40-year coma and Bobby Ross's idiotic offense, that he decided he'd rather be able to walk when he's 60, and retired early.

81
by zlionsfan :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 8:44am

Take a small, quick running back and put him in a power-I offense ... nope, no problems here ... /s

102
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 11:50am

It's not totally ludicrous. Sanders' Heisman season came in a 2-WR I-formation set (it's weird seeing Sanders running behind a FB). That said, Oklahoma State had a much better power-running offense line than the late-90s Lions had, and a power running game worked to all of Sanders' and the Lions' weaknesses -- they were great at spreading the field and letting Sanders' waterbug style work in space where he almost couldn't be tackled. Ross turned chicken salad into chicken shit.

139
by digitalmojave (not verified) :: Sat, 09/17/2011 - 2:28pm

There are legends told of how badly Cory Schlesinger dominated Brian Urlacher in one game back in the day.

122
by BJR :: Thu, 09/15/2011 - 7:25am

Vegas seems to like them as well. 8 point favourites this week, although that may be more to with the Chiefs' poor showing last week. I don't suppose anybody can remember the last time the Lions were a TD+ favourites in any match?

132
by Raiderjoe :: Thu, 09/15/2011 - 8:57pm

maybeb Thanksiigving day game 2000.

133
by Eddo :: Thu, 09/15/2011 - 11:35pm

34-9 victory over New England?

I love Raiderjoe.

57
by andrew :: Tue, 09/13/2011 - 9:20pm

How much weight does special teams DVOA put on making really long field goals?

68
by Scott C :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 12:27am

Well, I'll try to guess.

A 63 yard field goal is kicked when you are at about the 45 yard line of your opponent.

If you punt instead, you likely give the opponent the ball near the 15, which is 'worth' about 2 points of field position (30 yards). The difference in expected field position from a kickoff (~20 yard line?) means the value of the kick versus punt is a little less than 3 points.
Since 15 yards is about equal to one point, and ~22 points is about 100% DVOA, a 63 yard field goal is worth about 1 point more than a 48 yard field goal, or 4.5% DVOA.

Missing a 63 yard field goal is a big negative play (if not end of game or half), since your opponent gets the ball on your 47 instead of their 15, about 2.5 of field position or about a 5 point swing in value compared to making the kick. That is the reason why long kicks aren't usually attempted except at the end of a half or game -- a high chance of pinning your opponent deep is equal in value to making more than 90% of such kicks.

123
by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Thu, 09/15/2011 - 8:02am

Nice try, but you have to remember that DVOA is designed to filter out randomness, not just to assess performance on the field. No kicker can consistently hit really long field goals (let's say 55+) the way they can under 40. So DVOA will not value a made 60-yard FG much more that a 50-yarder, or even a 40-yarder, because it's not a repeatable skill. And if you miss, DVOA will not punish you much. It's not the kicker's fault that the coach decided to kick instead of going for it, and the expectations of hitting a 60-yarder are pretty low. The fact that missing hurts you in field position is a strategic issue but it has nothing to do with the quality of your special teams.

86
by ZephyrSP (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2011 - 9:42am

-The Redskins- are clearly ranked -too low in the DAVE- because -their preseason projection was bad-. -The ranking I wrote on this napkin- is way better than this. -You is teh idi0t-

136
by FBCapper (not verified) :: Fri, 09/16/2011 - 2:54pm

Another consideration in the first few weeks should be if a team has a new head coache. With the lockout, the 7 new coaches did not have time to put in their full playbook or really understand the full capability of their team. 6 of 7 new coaches lost in week 1.

140
by ScottyB (not verified) :: Sat, 09/17/2011 - 2:54pm

Jets 12th in ST? They blocked a punt for a TD and hot a 50-yard FG (and another 35ish yarder). No complaining, I just don't understand.

142
by Mr Shush :: Sun, 09/18/2011 - 7:19am

Doubt they get any credit for the return on the blocked punt - that's probably regarded as random.