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27 Dec 2011

Week 16 DVOA Ratings

by Aaron Schatz

Although a few teams have moved up and down a bit, there's no change at the top of the Football Outsiders DVOA ratings this week. Green Bay is still at number one in overall DVOA, and Pittsburgh is still number one in weighted DVOA. In fact, one week after having their worst single game of the season, the Packers had their best single game of the season according to DVOA, with single-game DVOA of 77.0%.  The Packers open up a little bit of a lead on the rest of the league and no longer are in line for the title of "lowest-rated number one team in DVOA history." Right now that title would still go to the 1993 San Francisco 49ers at 25.6%. (The 2003 Chiefs were also lower than the Packers though 15 games, but they had a big game in Week 17 to get back above 30% for the season.)

Aaron Rodgers' big game against Chicago also helps the Packers re-take the top spot in offensive DVOA. The offensive DVOA rankings are a good example of how the ratings are a better guide for comparing teams than the rankings are. Yes, Green Bay is No. 1 and New England is No.2, but the difference between the two teams is .058%. That could be one play. The difference between New England and No. 3 New Orleans is .733%, bigger but still pretty small. By comparison, the difference between New Orleans and No. 4 Carolina is 12.3%. Really you've got three teams virtually tied and all far ahead of the rest of the league, far enough ahead that they rank first, third, and fifth overall despite all ranking among the ten worst defenses in the league. The Patriots are now dead last in defense.

(As long as we're looking at tiny differences between teams, by the way, the difference in total DVOA between No. 4 Houston and No. 5 New Orleans is just .046%.)

Despite the big games that Rodgers and Drew Brees had this week, it's pretty clear that nobody will be breaking either Tom Brady's record for the most passing DYAR in a season or Peyton Manning's record for the highest passing DVOA in a season. Brees currently leads with 2,301 DYAR. Rodgers is second at 2,249 DYAR, and Brady is third at 2,141 DYAR. To catch up to Tom Brady's 2,788 DYAR from 2007, Brees would need the biggest passing DYAR game in history in Week 17. Not going to happen. However, Brees could catch the 2,493 DYAR that Peyton Manning had in 2004. If the season ended today, Brees would have the fourth highest season all-time, Rodgers would be fifth, and Brady would be seventh. Unless he crashes in Week 17, Brady's last four healthy seasons will all rank among the top eight passing DYAR seasons.

In DVOA, Rodgers (52.1%) is well ahead of Brady (42.3%) and Brees (41.9%) but he would also need a great day in Week 17 to catch the record -- and he may not even play this week. If he doesn't, Rodgers will finish the season sixth all-time in passing DVOA. Manning's record is 60.6% in 2004. Brady had 56.9% in 2007 and 53.5% in 2010. Since our stat rankings use 100 passes as the minimum, there are also two quarterbacks who only played part of the year but ended up with higher DVOA ratings than Rodgers currently has: Boomer Esiason for the 1997 Bengals (53.6%) and Wade Wilson for the 1992 Falcons (55.4%). Both of those guys had fewer than 200 passes.

* * * * *

These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through 16 weeks 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 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 GB 27.9% 1 24.6% 2 14-1 37.0% 1 11.5% 24 2.3% 6
2 PIT 24.1% 3 32.2% 1 11-4 18.1% 5 -4.2% 9 1.8% 9
3 NE 22.0% 2 20.1% 4 12-3 36.9% 2 18.3% 32 3.4% 5
4 HOU 21.1% 4 17.4% 7 10-5 13.6% 8 -6.4% 5 1.1% 12
5 NO 21.1% 7 23.9% 3 12-3 36.2% 3 15.5% 28 0.4% 17
6 SF 19.8% 5 18.4% 5 12-3 0.3% 18 -11.8% 2 7.8% 2
7 BAL 17.0% 6 14.6% 9 11-4 6.9% 13 -14.6% 1 -4.5% 28
8 NYJ 14.6% 9 10.4% 12 8-7 -1.2% 19 -10.8% 3 4.9% 4
9 ATL 14.3% 8 17.2% 8 9-6 9.3% 12 -6.0% 7 -1.1% 23
10 PHI 12.4% 10 17.6% 6 7-8 11.7% 9 -1.5% 11 -0.8% 21
11 DET 11.1% 12 11.8% 11 10-5 10.1% 11 -5.8% 8 -4.8% 30
12 TEN 7.2% 15 2.6% 18 8-7 5.2% 15 3.3% 15 5.3% 3
13 NYG 6.4% 14 2.7% 17 8-7 14.1% 7 8.5% 21 0.8% 14
14 DAL 6.2% 11 5.8% 15 8-7 11.7% 10 4.0% 17 -1.5% 24
15 CHI 3.7% 13 3.0% 16 7-8 -11.8% 27 -7.5% 4 7.9% 1
16 SEA 2.7% 17 13.6% 10 7-8 -2.0% 21 -3.7% 10 1.0% 13
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 CAR 1.3% 20 8.7% 13 6-9 23.9% 4 17.3% 30 -5.3% 32
18 CIN -0.1% 18 -1.9% 20 9-6 1.8% 17 3.9% 16 1.9% 8
19 MIA -0.3% 19 7.3% 14 5-10 -1.5% 20 0.8% 13 2.0% 7
20 SD -2.2% 16 1.8% 19 7-8 14.4% 6 14.1% 26 -2.5% 25
21 WAS -4.4% 23 -4.3% 21 5-10 -4.3% 24 0.4% 12 0.2% 19
22 OAK -4.7% 21 -6.8% 23 8-7 4.9% 16 9.9% 22 0.3% 18
23 BUF -6.9% 24 -22.0% 28 6-9 6.4% 14 12.3% 25 -1.0% 22
24 DEN -9.8% 22 -5.6% 22 8-7 -3.9% 23 6.3% 18 0.5% 16
25 CLE -13.8% 26 -12.6% 25 4-11 -5.0% 26 10.3% 23 1.4% 10
26 KC -16.7% 25 -9.6% 24 6-9 -14.6% 30 1.9% 14 -0.2% 20
27 JAC -18.4% 28 -15.6% 26 4-11 -21.9% 31 -6.3% 6 -2.8% 26
28 ARI -20.9% 27 -21.6% 27 7-8 -14.1% 29 8.0% 20 1.2% 11
29 TB -21.9% 29 -35.0% 32 4-11 -4.9% 25 17.5% 31 0.5% 15
30 MIN -22.4% 30 -30.0% 29 3-12 -2.7% 22 16.3% 29 -3.3% 27
31 IND -32.7% 32 -30.5% 30 2-13 -13.0% 28 14.8% 27 -4.8% 31
32 STL -36.2% 31 -34.5% 31 2-13 -23.8% 32 7.9% 19 -4.6% 29
  • 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.
  • 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 VAR. RANK
1 GB 27.9% 14-1 30.4% 11.9 1 -3.5% 29 7.0% 4
2 PIT 24.1% 11-4 24.7% 10.6 3 -2.6% 28 14.9% 19
3 NE 22.0% 12-3 22.7% 11.0 2 -1.0% 23 9.8% 7
4 HOU 21.1% 10-5 25.5% 9.6 8 -4.3% 32 16.3% 22
5 NO 21.1% 12-3 21.5% 10.4 4 -4.0% 31 13.8% 14
6 SF 19.8% 12-3 22.1% 9.8 6 -2.1% 26 6.8% 3
7 BAL 17.0% 11-4 16.9% 10.2 5 -0.3% 18 25.2% 31
8 NYJ 14.6% 8-7 12.6% 8.3 12 1.1% 14 21.0% 28
9 ATL 14.3% 9-6 11.1% 9.7 7 2.4% 11 5.0% 1
10 PHI 12.4% 7-8 11.7% 8.3 13 1.8% 13 18.5% 24
11 DET 11.1% 10-5 14.4% 8.9 9 -1.1% 24 10.1% 8
12 TEN 7.2% 8-7 12.4% 8.1 16 -3.7% 30 17.7% 23
13 NYG 6.4% 8-7 2.1% 8.3 11 4.4% 4 15.0% 20
14 DAL 6.2% 8-7 9.8% 8.3 10 -0.3% 20 13.2% 13
15 CHI 3.7% 7-8 3.0% 7.6 17 3.5% 7 14.9% 18
16 SEA 2.7% 7-8 2.1% 8.1 14 0.4% 15 16.0% 21
TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
W-L NON-ADJ
TOT VOA
ESTIM.
WINS
RANK PAST
SCHED
RANK VAR. RANK
17 CAR 1.3% 6-9 3.2% 7.4 20 -2.4% 27 18.9% 25
18 CIN -0.1% 9-6 6.6% 8.1 15 -0.3% 19 7.5% 5
19 MIA -0.3% 5-10 -2.3% 7.5 18 2.6% 9 11.2% 11
20 SD -2.2% 7-8 1.4% 6.7 24 -0.3% 21 19.7% 26
21 WAS -4.4% 5-10 -11.6% 6.9 22 -0.6% 22 11.7% 12
22 OAK -4.7% 8-7 -1.1% 7.4 19 0.3% 16 20.7% 27
23 BUF -6.9% 6-9 -5.5% 6.8 23 2.6% 10 31.0% 32
24 DEN -9.8% 8-7 -8.3% 7.0 21 2.1% 12 10.1% 9
25 CLE -13.8% 4-11 -9.2% 6.3 25 -1.6% 25 6.8% 2
26 KC -16.7% 6-9 -18.6% 5.9 26 2.6% 8 23.1% 30
27 JAC -18.4% 4-11 -17.4% 5.3 29 5.2% 3 14.5% 16
28 ARI -20.9% 7-8 -15.7% 5.3 28 -0.2% 17 10.5% 10
29 TB -21.9% 4-11 -28.4% 5.4 27 7.7% 1 22.6% 29
30 MIN -22.4% 3-12 -22.6% 4.8 30 3.6% 6 14.8% 17
31 IND -32.7% 2-13 -37.1% 3.6 31 4.3% 5 14.0% 15
32 STL -36.2% 2-13 -43.2% 3.3 32 6.7% 2 9.5% 6

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 27 Dec 2011

128 comments, Last at 30 Dec 2011, 9:40am by Mr. Guest to you

Comments

1
by AB in DC (not verified) :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 4:07pm

Stunning to see teams like Seattle, Carolina, and Miami in the top-15 weighted DVOA, considering how bad they looked in the first half.

5
by Gold_Star_for_R... :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 4:11pm

Not even the Cardinals' 5-2 second half can save their weighted DVOA.

37
by DejSpin (not verified) :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 5:27pm

I think that seeing Carolina ranked as the #4 offense is most stunning of all. Although it does demonstrate how misleading the ordinal rankings can be. Carolina ranks 2 spots behind New England on offense and 2 spots ahead of them on defense. So seemingly they should have similar overall rankings, but instead Carolina is 14 spots behind them in the overall rankings. Crazy.

75
by Insancipitory :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 10:26am

One of the things I always thought would be interesting for DVOA/Dave rankings is if the varience was used to create a chunk representing some convienent (yet arbitrary) quantity of rank value. Teams would then be slotted accordingly. Packers (or Steelers) might be 1, then Steelers at 3, Pats at 4, Texans and Saints tied at 5, down to the Rams at 33/4 whatever. Alternatively, the teams could be slotted year to year against a historical scale, using a quanta history suggests as a meaningful difference one could have some confidence in.

2
by PackersRS (not verified) :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 4:09pm

Some questions:

Is it coincidence that the best offense are also amongst the worst defenses, in this year that yardage records are being broken? And that, except for Carolina, those teams are #1, #2 and #3 in W-L?

How will DVOA value the "meaningless" games? And games where teams rest starters midgame?

6
by tuluse :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 4:25pm

It could be effects of the salary cap. Teams are forced to either concentrate on offense or defense.

That or it's just some random fluctuation.

20
by RickD :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 4:52pm

If you look at points/game, Green Bay is #12, New England is #14, and New Orleans is #15.

These are all defenses where it's easier to move the ball than it is to score.

25
by tuluse :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 4:59pm

If you look at points per drive, they rank GB #20, NE #23 NO #22.

That's with starting field positions of GB #2, NE #3, and NO #6.

The offenses give their defenses great field position and they're still in the 2nd half of the league in terms of allowing points.

36
by RickD :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 5:22pm

"The offenses give their defenses great field position and they're still in the 2nd half of the league in terms of allowing points."

The total number of points allowed is more important than the number of points/drive. And apparently that's a function of not only the defense, but also the offense and the special teams. If the offense is burning clock with long drives, the defense won't be on the field giving up points. And good punting helps, too.

This is an interesting table:
http://www.teamrankings.com/nfl/stat/opp-yards-per-point

Apparently the Pats are #2 in "yards/point." Green Bay is #3 and New Orleans is #7.
Deviation from the mean in this statistic is a way of measuring how bad yardage-based measures are at rating scoring defense from yardage defense.

It's something to think about.

Of course, pitching a shutout really can throw "yardage per point" off the charts. Consider Pittsburgh's row.

42
by tuluse :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 5:42pm

"The total number of points allowed is more important than the number of points/drive."

Why? A team can only score a maximum of 8 points per drive. Points per game is a function of how many drives a team faces.

The chart of yard per point is still factoring special teams and offense, I'm not sure it's a good measure of defense at all. Allowing long scoring drives is the worst thing a defense can do when you have a good offense as it shortens the game while allowing points.

48
by RickD :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 6:06pm

The total number of points scored is more important because that's what determines who's won the game.

"Allowing long scoring drives is the worst thing a defense can do when you have a good offense as it shortens the game while allowing points."

I think the argument is that the Pats/Saints/Packers are allowing a significant number of non-scoring long drives.

I'm finding it difficult to reconcile the relative position of "points scored" and "points/drive." Are these teams somehow giving up more points/drive but yet giving up fewer points? Are they somehow not facing as many opponent drives? For example, are the Patriots masters of having the last drive of the first half and the first drive of the second half.

I will concede the point that "points/drive" is an interesting statistic. But I think you've missed my point regarding yards/point. The point is that using "yardage" as a quickie replacement for "points" has a validity that is constrained (in some fuzzy way) by an expectation of some kind of homogeneity across teams for the "yards/point" statistic. A team that can give up a good deal of yardage without giving up many points is playing better defense than a team that gives up less yardage but many points.

50
by tuluse :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 6:15pm

"The total number of points scored is more important because that's what determines who's won the game."

True, but that doesn't mean it's measuring how well the defense played.

"A team that can give up a good deal of yardage without giving up many points is playing better defense than a team that gives up less yardage but many points."

Maybe. What if the team that doesn't give up a lot of yards has their offense turning over the ball in FG range every other drive? It's by no means the defenses fault they're giving up more points.

"Are they somehow not facing as many opponent drives?"

Yes, absolutely. It's not very mysterious either. They have good offense that do a good job of holding on the the ball and they have bad defense that let the other team hold onto the ball for long periods of time. It comes together for less drives per game.

107
by RC (not verified) :: Thu, 12/29/2011 - 11:12am

"True, but that doesn't mean it's measuring how well the defense played."

The defense's job is to give up less points than the offense scores. Sometimes a 10 minute FG drive in the 4th quarter when you have a 21 point lead is a very good way to do this.

When you have a lead, reducing the remaining drives in the game is a very valid strategy. Its the reason why teams run the ball. Its one of the reasons defenses go soft with big leads.

DVOA has no concept of time, or its value. Thats a flaw, and trying to explain it away doesn't help.

111
by Eddo :: Thu, 12/29/2011 - 11:42am

"DVOA has no concept of time, or its value."

Stop saying this. DVOA certainly has a concept of time - it buckets plays based on when they occur in the context of the game.

Now, it's very, very likely that DVOA is not modeling endgame situations properly. I won't argue that. But DVOA certainly tries to take time remaining into account.

52
by Eddo :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 6:24pm

"Are they somehow not facing as many opponent drives?"

That's exactly it.

The league average for drives faced is 161. The Patriots have faced 151 drives, the Packers 155, and the Saints 156. That puts them at 1.05, 0.61, and 0.50 standard deviations below the mean. (EDIT: To clarify further, the Patriots have faced one whole game's worth of opposing drives less than an average team, the Packers and Saints each about a half game's worth.)

Points per drive isn't perfect (the starting field position issue is important), but it's better than total points given up.

51
by Eddo :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 6:22pm

"The total number of points allowed is more important than the number of points/drive."

Yes, absolutely, when it comes to winning games.

However, as tuluse is pointing out, the offense and special teams can have quite an effect on total points allowed, since they can control the pace of the game and where the opponent starts each drive.

I'd like to see the actual points and yardage given up per drive against the expected points (based on starting field position) and total yardage available.

79
by PackersRS (not verified) :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 12:15pm

That was the whole point of my questions. I think DVOA overvalues yardage.

Or else, we reach the conclusion that defense is but an afterthought. Or that what's happening this season is a one in a million aberration.

3
by Joshua Northey (not verified) :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 4:09pm

This is going to sound odd, but I feel like MIN is more of a -10% team rather than -20%. They felt to me like a 6-10 team who caught some bad breaks, rather than a true 3-13 team. Then again I haven't looked at the fumble numbers opponent field goal success etc.

7
by tuluse :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 4:25pm

They were reasonably good early in the year, but they've been getting worse over the weeks.

72
by MC2 :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 2:42am

True, which makes the MSM's ongoing love affair with Ponder all the more puzzling.

92
by LionInAZ (not verified) :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 11:13pm

What makes you think Ponder is the biggest problem? The Vikings went from giving up less than 25 pts per game in the first half of the season to giving up 33 points a game in the second half of the season. The defense has been getting worse since the start of the season, mainly because of injuries to the secondary.

97
by MC2 :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 11:53pm

I didn't say Ponder was the biggest problem. I actually think that he has been about average for a rookie QB. What I don't understand is the determination of many of the talking heads to lump him in with Newton and Dalton, who have both been far better than average.

115
by LionInAZ (not verified) :: Thu, 12/29/2011 - 1:34pm

We must be seeing different media. I haven't heard all that much gushing over Ponder, except that he's done better than expected considering all of the criticism laid on the Vikings for taking him in the 1st round. At least he hasn't completely sucked like Blaine Gabbert.

121
by MC2 :: Thu, 12/29/2011 - 3:27pm

I would say that Ponder's performance has been much closer to Gabbert than to Newton or Dalton, yet Gabbert has been universally ripped (and rightfully so), while Ponder has received little to no criticism. Of course, Ponder doesn't have much talent to work with, but neither does Gabbert.

4
by Otis Taylor89 :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 4:10pm

If they make the playoffs, the NYGs will be the only team that has played a Top 10 schedule, which I find hard to believe.
I know the top teams are hurt by the fact that they can't play themselves and therefore play weaker teams, but it seems like this year appears to be out of balance more than normal.

It's probably a testament to the coaching job Coughlin has done with all the injuries, playing a brutal schedule and you still have a good shot at making the playoffs. Compare that against GB, NO and SF, all playing Bottom 5 schedules.

19
by Anonymiss (not verified) :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 4:51pm

I think it's amazing the Giants are in their current position. They've had brutal injury luck starting in the preseason, and always seem to have a few key players out each week in addition to the ones that they already lost for the season.

Considering the injuries they've had (especially on the defensive side) and their schedule, I think their coaching staff deserves a lot of credit. I know a lot of people are angry at their DC... but I think he should keep his job. Their secondary was devastated by injuries long before it was devastated by Rodgers, Brees and Romo.

58
by Dales :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 7:36pm

I give Perry a pass. There is only so much one can do with two mediocre linebackers and a host of replacement level or worse fill-in linebackers.

I cannot stand Gilbride. I hate the way he calls games, and I believe that his offensive style relies too much on the quarterback and receivers making the same read.

8
by nat :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 4:28pm

I am surprised at the correlation between DVOA and strength of schedule. You'd think that adjusting for opponents would have removed most of that correlation.

Did something change in this year's DVOA opponents' adjustments?

9
by AJ (not verified) :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 4:30pm

there has definitely been a spike in offensive numbers across the board over the last few years. its hard to say whether this is simply a blip in time(like a bubble in an economy), but it sure feels like the era has changed forever toward explosive offense and passing. if that is the case...we really do need to alter our perceptions of what is now considered great dvoa versus record setting.

80
by Jimmy :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 12:57pm

I would very much agree. When the stats say that all the best seasons have been in the last five years (since some important rule changes affecting the passing game - or rather since they drove the final stake into the heart of NFL pass defenses) it makes little sense to claim that these acheivements are all the result of the modern QBs being better football players than their forebears.

81
by NYMike :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 1:08pm

Although athletes do get better over time. Witness the swimming records and running records dropping every year. I agree it's more to do with rule changes, but that's not the only thing going on.

84
by Jimmy :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 1:25pm

I don't think athletic training has reached the point where it can make Tom Brady meaningfully quicker. For the most part QBing should probably have been made more difficult by increasing athleticism by defenders (warning, wild claims being made!!!!).

10
by Drunkmonkey :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 4:31pm

Denver is clearly ranked too low because John Elway hates Tim Teebow, and wills his team to loose to make Teebow look bad. The ranking system in my head is way better than this. Denver hasthe favr of god on its side, and that will put thm inthe playoffs.

11
by Eli (not verified) :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 4:37pm

Where does 1984 Dan Marino rank in the all-time QB DYAR years?

15
by JIPanick :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 4:44pm

DYAR only goes back to 1992 at the moment, so it's unranked.

18
by Anonymous454545 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 4:47pm

look for it in about a decade on your "i soemthing or other 7"

12
by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 4:38pm

NE finally reclaims their rightful place on defense!

What is funny is that I thought the defense played very well in the second half. Get Chung back and I think people will be surprised at what this unit is capable of.

17
by RickD :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 4:46pm

The shortest path between the current Pats' defense and one that would be considerably better entails getting Devin McCourty to play at his 2010 level.

Chung would certainly help.

I also think the team would probably be better off having Meriweather or Sanders at safety, as opposed to Edelman or Slater. I didn't think the secondary would get this much worse from 2010 to this year, but it certainly has done that.

22
by tuluse :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 4:54pm

I find a Pats fan wishing for Meriweather humorous. That guy has not met a tackle didn't want to lead with his helmet into.

24
by RickD :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 4:57pm

You really think the Pats are better off playing 3rd string WRs at safety than somebody who went to the Pro Bowl last year? I know Meriweather was overrated, but surely there's some level of ability there.

26
by tuluse :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 5:00pm

I don't really know, but I think it's funny regardless.

40
by boltsfromtheblue :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 5:33pm

Well, it's not like he deserved to go to the Pro Bowl...

44
by RickD :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 5:44pm

"Deserved" is a tricky word. With Ed Reed injured, it's not like the AFC was swimming in high-quality free safeties last year.

Meriweather is somebody with a lot of physical gifts. He's also, to all appearances, not terribly bright. And his attitude towards the game is nowhere near as appealing as Matthew Slater's. But he's less likely to be burned by a speed receiver than Slater or Edelman is.

It's just that there's a positive probability he'll tackle the CB instead of the WR every once in a while. (He did that to McCourty last year.)

Clearly I'm of several minds on the Meriweather issue. In the big picture, I'm OK with letting him go, I just wish that BB had had a better idea of a replacement lined up. Last season, the top three safeties in the rotation were Chung, Meriweather, and Sanders. BB got rid of two of the three very late in the preseason. That's not good management.

88
by ColtsAuthority :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 2:15pm

Antoine Bethea was a rock for the Colts in 2010. That's one name that absolutely should have gotten it over Meriweather.

102
by Mr. Guest to you (not verified) :: Thu, 12/29/2011 - 9:29am

"That's not good management"

Why? Meriweather and Sanders were awful last year, and I don't know about Sanders, but it was obvious to most that Meriweather was not going to accept a backup role. Dumping both gave Ihedigbo and Brown the opportunity to play more frequently to, hopefully, be better options in January. ProFootballFocus believes they're both better right now.

103
by dryheat :: Thu, 12/29/2011 - 9:44am

Except that it's been clear that neither Brown nor Ihedigbo is as good as the two they're replacing. If Belichick was that down on his non-Chinese-Jamaican safeties, he didn't really do much to improve the situation, unless he expected Barrett and Dowling to remain healthy, which would've flown in the face of history.

I do think that Chung being out has greatly exascerbated the situation, needing to fill two safety spots from the Murdered Row of Brown, Ihedigbo, Slater, Moore, and Jones.

127
by Mr. Guest to you (not verified) :: Fri, 12/30/2011 - 9:32am

"Except that it's been clear that neither Brown nor Ihedigbo is as good as the two they're replacing"

I don't think it's clear. I'd agree that both Chung and Ihedigbo are SS so Belichick left himself without a FS, but Ihedigbo is certainly a better player than Meriweather was. With his speed, Chung should be FS when he's back, pushing Ihedigbo to his more natural position. But that tandem is better than any other the past 2 years.

126
by rk (not verified) :: Fri, 12/30/2011 - 9:00am

Ed Reed's injury is irrelevant; he still made the Pro Bowl. Eric Berry and Michael Griffin went as alternates. Either of them would have made a better selection than Meriweather.

47
by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 5:59pm

Yes. I'd take Wilfork playing safety before I'd want to see Meriweather on the team again.

35
by dryheat :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 5:16pm

I think Belichick would like a mulligan on getting rid of Sanders to save his 3.1 million salary. Was he overpaid? Maybe, but he was starter-quality who could line up the defense. I was OK getting rid of him or Meriweather, but both seemed then and now to be a strange decision, seeing how those two and Chung were the entire safety rotation last year. Belichick either mis-evaluated what he had in Sergio Brown and Josh Barrett, and/or thought that the injury-prone DBs (Barrett and Dowling) would stop being injury-prone.

39
by RickD :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 5:30pm

This is basically what I think, and thought at the time. If you want to dump salary, I think you should do so during the offseason, when there's plenty of time to find replacements. I don't like how BB makes personnel decisions in the secondary. He seems to hold the positions in contempt. He never wants to pay anybody back there market value because he figures he can always draft some new guy who's fast. This season was the worst in memory for purging veterans only to see their replacements flounder.
I also think something is seriously deficient with the coaching. One or two failures can be blamed on the players involved, but when you're up to seven or eight, and you have players seriously regressing in their second seasons (Butler and McCourty), it starts to seem like the longer the players are around the coaching, the worse they become.
I hope BB isn't so consumed by hubris that he cannot recognize his current approach to building a secondary is failing miserably.

54
by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 6:35pm

Hubris has absolutely nothing to do with it. The Patriots tried to rebuild the defense from 2006-2008 (Meriweather/AD/Wheatley/Wilhite/Crable etc) and failed miserably. What you are seeing is rebuild 2.0 occur on the fly. With guys like Love/Deaderick/McCourty/Chung/Arrington/Pryor/Nink this group is only a couple players and some experience away from being very good.

49
by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 6:12pm

Meriweather was terrible in the preseason, blowing several coverages in NE's altered coverage schemes. He was a solid cut.

Sanders was hurt most of camp and he had a relatively poor tackling game in the preseason finale. I was definitely surprised by his cut and think he could help the team.

My opinion is that BB looked at what he had and said to himself, "I aint winning with this group", then decided to move on. Sure, they might be terrible, but that is better than a certain terrible in Meriweather. I fully expect the safety spot to be carpet bombed in the offseason.

70
by paddypat (not verified) :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 12:09am

I guess I was surprised to see McGowan cut too. I really thought that Bodden, McGowan and Ty Warren would come back and improve the defense significantly. I would say that there's something wrong with the NE coaching viz Wilhite, Butler, McCourty, etc. except that none of the guys that BB has cut have really caught on anywhere else. Moreover, McCourty is hardly alone in terms of sophomore slumps among CBs this year. Sam Shields has fallen off a good measure too, as have several other players. I wonder just how much the missed training camp hurt those guys.

108
by RC (not verified) :: Thu, 12/29/2011 - 11:18am

Ty Warren has come to camp 3 years in a row unable to play football.

The idea that he was going to improve the team is absurd.

112
by dryheat :: Thu, 12/29/2011 - 11:51am

He's moved on. The writing on the wall was him skipping minicamps to get his degree. He was one of my favorite players, and I'll not begrudge him for wanting to move on from football, but I'm disappointed that he decided to take large sums of money from the Patriots and Broncos when it was clear that he had no intention of playing.

128
by Mr. Guest to you (not verified) :: Fri, 12/30/2011 - 9:40am

In a footrace between Sanders and McGowan, the turtle would win. Neither belonged as part of a young, rebuilding defense.

13
by M :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 4:40pm

Looking at the Vikings' DVOA on pass defense, I shudder to think what the numbers would look like if they didn't have a better-than-average pass rush.

While it's far from a perfect measure of quality, I looked at NFL pass rating against over the past decade since it at least somewhat strips out the effects of pass rush. The only team over the last decade to have a higher pass rating against was the 2008 Detroit Lions. When THAT particular team is your closest peer for pass defense, you have real problems in your secondary.

14
by tunesmith :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 4:42pm

If I'm reading estimated wins right, you'd expect both Oakland and Denver to lose this week (to San Diego and KC respectively), which would put Denver in the playoffs.

31
by dryheat :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 5:08pm

I don't think estimated wins is predictive, but rather a measure of actual wins vs. expected wins based on performance criteria.

41
by RickD :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 5:35pm

Estimated wins are based on a simulating the season from the start, using current strength levels. You cannot really substitute them for a prediction of the result in the last game alone, using actual W-L records from the first 15 games. That kind of thinking would "expect" Green Bay to have a negative number of wins next week.

85
by FrontRunningPhinsFan :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 1:43pm

Robopunter plays for Detroit now?

16
by Anonymous454545 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 4:44pm

NE Defense is clearly ranked too high because as the Al Davis quotes in this year's FO book demonstrate, you can be ranked 33rd or worse in the current NFL.

I miss the days, when the unremarkable, but somewhat trusty James Sanders and UMAine's own Brandon McGowan were playing safety. I don't know what an Ihedigbo is, but it has something to do with a "missed tackle."

21
by tuluse :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 4:54pm

Always liked McGowan since he stone walled Jerome Bettis back in 05. I wasn't ever completely sure why the Bears got rid of him. He wasn't exactly good, but as a backup, he seemed acceptable.

93
by LionInAZ (not verified) :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 11:20pm

No one is ever completely sure why the Bears get rid of any player. Many of them seem to do well outside of Chicago.

65
by Judy (not verified) :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 10:12pm

Sorry, but an Ihedigbo is an injury timeout, you'll have to pick a different NE DB to rename missed tackles.

67
by Malene, Copenhagen (not verified) :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 11:32pm

I believe this is the official terminology for NE DBs:

An "Ihedigbo" is when one player is involved in multiple injury timeout in the same game.

A Chung is when a player appears on the injury report during the week, is taken off friday, yet still doesn't suit up Sunday.

A plain missed tackle is just "a Sergio".

If a missed tackle occurs because of being out-of-position, that's a Molden.

If there's a tackle for more than 10 yards gain because of not-even-lining-up in the same TV frame as the WR, that's a "Nate".

A Sterling, on the other hand, is when overpursuit has taken the player completely away from the play.

Finally, "A Waiver" is when a player is put on the Ventrone Wire numerous times. Something like that.

God, this secondary is killing me.

73
by Mr Shush :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 9:28am

Having just emerged from 6 years in a near-identical hell, I can tell you the way out is to sign Jonathan Joseph and Danieal Manning. Hope that helps.

89
by ColtsAuthority :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 2:17pm

And Wade Phillips.

76
by Anonymous454545 (not verified) :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 10:36am

Thank you for the clarification. "Ihedigbo" is the only name I remember--probably because of all the injury timeouts, now that you mention it. Otherwise, I've treated that that secondary like my in-laws' in-laws --I'm not going to bother learning those names because I'll hopefully never see them again!

77
by dryheat :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 11:19am

I've treated that that secondary like my in-laws' in-laws

Wouldn't that population include you?

71
by paddypat (not verified) :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 12:13am

I just have to interject, on the Pats radio this week for the Miami game, one of the announcers said, "Gosh, if only I had a dollar for every time Ihedigbo had a stinger in his shoulder." And then, after a pause, the other guy said, "At least he's consistent at something."

23
by BroncFan07 :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 4:55pm

Looks like KC unlocked the blueprint for beating Green Bay. I believe it is "Hope Green Bay plays really bad."

68
by Arkaein :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 11:55pm

Don't forget "injure more offense tackles than they have replacements for".

P.S. in case anyone thinks I meant otherwise, I am not implying KC did anything intentional to cause injuries.

27
by milo :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 5:00pm

Could someone explain to me how DVOA works. In week 15 the Saints defense allowed Minnesota 0 net passing yards through 3 quarters. The Vikings second successful pass play was at 12:22 left in the fourth quarter, the score was 42-13 at that time. They got 41 passing yards in an 11 play drive after the 2 minute warning when the Saints were just trying to go home without any injuries. That leaves a single drive with 4 successful passing plays in the fourth quarter.

DVOA says the Saints pass defense was 17%. That's well below average. For the season that's 25th in the league.

Final numbers: 14-32 for 120 yards with 2TD, 1INT, 62.0 passing rating.

This should be considered an above average performance.

29
by tuluse :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 5:07pm

I think the main issue would be the "D" in DVOA, which is opponent adjustments.

The Vikings are really bad at passing, so not completely smothering them is considered bad.

The Vikings are at -13.8% passing DVOA, so that gives the Saints approximately 3% VOA, which would be 15th in rank or just ever so slightly above average.

34
by milo :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 5:12pm

Do those numbers look ever so slightly above average to you?

33
by Aaron Schatz :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 5:12pm

A few issues here.

First of all, DVOA is a per-play metric. The main reason the Vikings didn't have successful pass plays for the first three quarters is that they barely had any pass plays. They had only 21 pass plays through three quarters, when they were terrible (-54.2%). Then they had 19 pass plays in the fourth quarter, when they moved the ball great (83.0%). They didn't have four successful pass plays in the fourth quarter. They had 10.

Second, I know people hate it when I say this but those fourth-quarter drives do say something about the teams involved. Even by the standards of "team in the fourth quarter with a big lead trying to go home without any injuries," the Saints were lousy.

Third, that interception was a hail mary so we don't penalize for it any more than any other incomplete pass.

Fourth, strong opponent adjustments for playing the Minnesota pass offense, which ranks 29th in DVOA.

38
by nat :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 5:28pm

Second, I know people hate it when I say this but those fourth-quarter drives do say something about the teams involved.

That theory may carry less weight until you've confirmed that fourth-quarter DVOA does indeed correlate as well to next and/or previous season's DVOA as the other three quarters. There's reason to believe it doesn't, especially for defenses.

45
by RickD :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 5:47pm

"That theory may carry less weight until you've confirmed that fourth-quarter DVOA does indeed correlate as well to next and/or previous season's DVOA as the other three quarters."

One of the four quarters is going to be the worst. That's hardly a justification for ignoring 1/4 of all the data you have.

53
by nat :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 6:31pm

True enough. It depends on how much worse it is.

It was pretty bad when I looked at the correlation of fourth quarter defensive DVOA this year compared to defensive DVOA last year. But it really should be looked at systematically for many years and by more than just me. For now it's just "reasonable cause" for caution.

Why don't you look at the correlation yourself? You've got fourth quarter defensive DVOA for most of this season, and full-year defensive DVOA from last season. Please check it out and let us know what you find. It's still only one year. But you might catch an error and thus clarify things. Or you might confirm it, and give us better justification to be cautious with fourth-quarter DVOA.

56
by Eddo :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 6:49pm

I'm not sure that would, in itself, be sufficient. You'd have to repeat the process, separating out each of the first, second, and third quarter DVOAs.

I agree that using caution, for now, is sensible. But that's true for almost any one-value metric out there.

69
by nat :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 12:03am

FYI, fourth quarter defensive DVOA was negatively correlated with last year's defensive DVOA, as of the December 13 FO Mailbag article.

That's right. Negative correlation. So damned straight use caution when judging any defense's innate quality by their fourth quarter DVOA.

That's not an "any one-value metric" level of caution. That's a "psychic seance automatic writing from beyond the grave" level of caution. Arthur Conan Doyle probably had pictures of fourth quarter defensive DVOA dancing in his garden.

Okay. I kid. It would be worth checking if this pattern holds up over a number of years. It would be worth checking how the other three quarters fare under the same scrutiny. This year may just be a wacky-wacky outlier.

83
by Jimmy :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 1:22pm

There are many, many ways of chopping up a football game that don't use the rather arbitrary 'how many minutes of game clock have expired' then dividing into four groups - four, just four - simply because it happens to mesh with an unempirical observation you have made. If you purchased premium you would be able to go away and sort all the data (that you say you need) and carry out whatever analysis you like and get back to us with it. That would be my recommendation and it will probably be a faster way to get the answers you want than asking the same question in the threads every week.

91
by armchair journe... :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 10:41pm

(nodding)

46
by milo :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 5:57pm

So what's the average rate of successful pass plays in the first 21. Is it more than 1? 1 out of 21 is -54.2%, but 10 out of 21 is +83%? The Vikings passed 32 times for 120 yards. The league average is 34 times for 229 yards. The Vikings average 182 passing yards/game. 44% completion percentage vs. 57% season average. That's not within one standard deviation.

You can opponent adjust all you want, but if the Vikings have a bad pass offense, the Saints defense in this game made it look substantially worse. What you are saying is that it is nearly impossible to have a good defensive passing performance against the Vikings. That seems kind of silly.

Third. The interception was not a Hail Mary. It was the last play of the game, but you can look at the film, there was only one Viking receiver anywhere near the ball.

63
by NYMike :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 8:36pm

Whether or not a play is technically a Hail Mary is not relevant. What is relevant is that throwing an interception on the last play of a half has no negative value beyond an incomplete pass unless it's returned for a touchdown. And at the end of the game, the TD wouldn't matter unless it changed the outcome of the game (I'm not talking about covering spreads here). Don't get hung up on what the play looked like.

60
by Paul M (not verified) :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 7:41pm

At some basic level, the fact that plays over 3/4 of a game that helped produce a 29 pt lead are weighted nearly equally to plays over 1/4 of a game that had no impact on the final won/loss outcome is simply wrong. I'd want to see the data that says that garbage time is meaningful-- it's almost as if spring training baseball games are valued as much as the regular season. I simply believe this is a fundamental flaw in DVOA that is undermining its overall credibility. Maybe not a lot-- but enough to continue to be a big part of the weekly buzz around here.

94
by LionInAZ (not verified) :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 11:34pm

The problem with the concept of "garbage time" is that garbage time is meaningful only after the game is over. You can not decide what is "garbage time" while the game is in progress. There have been enough comebacks from 3+ TDs behind in late games that you can not declare a game over and garbage time begun until the final few minutes of a game. Hell, the Lions scored 34 points in the 4th quarter to win a game against the Bears a few years ago! That's why discounting substantial parts of games is dangerous and foolish.

98
by justanothersteve :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 11:59pm

I disagree. While there are occasional comebacks from large point deficits, it is far more likely a 3+ touchdown lead will hold up. Prevent defenses with a sufficient lead or little enough time work more often than not. Otherwise DCs wouldn't use them. The problem is usually when DCs use them with small leads or too much time left on the clock. (Just look many of Tebow's wins.) Or worse, in overtime.

I'm not saying to ignore them. I'm saying they need to be discounted. As in adjusted for. Yes, it would make the formulas here even more complicated. But to give equal value to a drive when the score is the same in the last two minutes as one when a team drives for 3 points while down 24 points with 5 minutes to go (and take 3 of those minutes off the clock to score) is not giving the correct value to a team for both.

118
by cjfarls :: Thu, 12/29/2011 - 1:55pm

They are discounted/adjusted for. DVOA takes into account time of game and score. The boundaries may not be of fine enough scale or placed correctly to your liking, but it IS accounted for.

This gets to the point of "what is garbage time". Your definition may differ from DVOAs, but that doesn't mean it isn't accounted for... and as the mailbag ponted out, removing "garbage time" completely makes DVOA worse.

64
by MJK :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 9:48pm

Even by the standards of "team in the fourth quarter with a big lead trying to go home without any injuries," the Saints were lousy.

Two issues. First off, how solid is the sample size here? How often are teams with a big lead in the fourth quarter occurring?

Sceondly, how important is this, really, to winning? Yes, the Saints may have been terrible in the 4th quarter (as the Patriots were against the Colts in the 4th quarter), but in neither game was the leading team's win ever really in doubt (although the Colts appeared to get close, they still would have needed to recover an onside and then move the ball, with scant seconds and no timeouts remaining). How much does that really tell us about a team? I'd be willing to bet that a team's DVOA in the 4th quarter of a game when they are leading big has very little correlation, perhaps even a negative correlation, with their wins.

I know Aaron has said that including these plays actually improves DVOA's correlation with winning, but I've always found that very surprising. I would be curious to know more details about that statement.

It would not surprise me that a teams performance when TRAILING big in the 4th quarter correlates with winning, because it says something about a team's coaching, mental toughness, and ability to execute when the other team knows what's coming. But it seems to me that once one team breaks say, the 90% chance of winning mark in the 4th quarter, how they play is pretty much immaterial to how good a team they are. And if they're way worse than average...is that really saying anything about that team?

109
by RC (not verified) :: Thu, 12/29/2011 - 11:25am

"I know Aaron has said that including these plays actually improves DVOA's correlation with winning, but I've always found that very surprising. I would be curious to know more details about that statement.
"

It pulls good teams down, and bad teams up, IE, closer to the mean.

Thats the only reason it helps with the correlations. Its not meaningful on any level.

This is the problem when you have people trying to design metrics based on fitting a curve, and reasoning.

There's a negative correlation between quarters 1-3 and quarter 4 dvoa.

28
by Aaron Schatz :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 5:02pm

Playoff odds now updated.

55
by Anon (not verified) :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 6:45pm

It seems like the Ravens should have a share of the #1 seed probability given to the Steelers. If NE loses and both the Ravens and Steelers win , or only the Ravens win , the Ravens get #1 seed. The Steelers only get it if both the Ravens and NE lose.

59
by Hurt Bones :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 7:38pm

I was thinking the same thing. Not even one tenth of one percent.

61
by Paul M (not verified) :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 7:44pm

I don't think the playoff odds model has ever been designed to take into account those type of tiebreaker situations. It means it is essentially junk at this stage of the season unless you're in a straight heads-up win or lose situation like the Cowboys and Giants.

82
by Chappy (not verified) :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 1:15pm

This is clearly not true. The Ravens have roughly a 2/3 chance at the #2 seed while the Steelers are 1/3. Given that the Steelers have an easier opponent, there is clearly a tie-break element going on (straight, opponent-unadjusted odds would be roughly 50/50). This is why the #1 seed odds are so strange for the Ravens. You'd think they should have low odds relative to the Patroits, but they should still have higher odds than the Steelers.

86
by Eddo :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 1:52pm

The Patriots/Ravens tiebreaker would come down to strength-of-victory (in favor of the Ravens). It could be that the playoff odds report can't include this in the model properly giving the Ravens artificially low odds.

62
by Dales :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 7:45pm

The Playoff odds system appears to be saying that the NFC is favored to win the Super Bowl this year.

That sounds right to me.

30
by Sifter :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 5:07pm

You won't hear a lot of Philly fans saying this, but I think if you'd told me before the season that it would be 8-8, but with a strong finish and be #6 in weighted DVOA, I wouldn't have been too upset. A little disappointed, but I'm excited about next year now.

32
by dryheat :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 5:11pm

Well, you're certainly right about the first 10 words. Really, as a Philly fan, you're not that upset that one of, if not the, odds-on favorite to win the Super Bowl in August, is ~500? If so, you might belong to a class of one.

43
by M :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 5:42pm

Sifter may have been accurately gauging the stupidity of having an O-line coach run the defense after an offseason shortened by lockout. I thought it was stupid at the time, but usually give Andy Reid the benefit of the doubt.

Reid will likely keep his job, but the current rumor is that Castillo is out as D-coordinator next year and the soon-to-be-fired Spagnuolo will be the new one for 2012. This may make the Eagles a legitimately dangerous team next year.

57
by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 7:24pm

If you think anyone is an "odds-on" favorite to win the Super Bowl, especially in AUGUST, then your expectations for this sport are incredibly out of whack. Anything can happen, that's what we love, but a sober evaluation of them in August would have noted that the Defense had an amount of coaching and personnel turnover that precluded a fast start.

66
by dryheat :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 10:24pm

I have nothing to do with it. There are odds put out by people who make a lot of money with odds. At the onset of the season, those people set odds correlating with the Eagles winning the Super Bowl.

74
by Mr Shush :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 9:37am

I do not think odds-on means what you think it means.

The Eagles may well have been favourites (I can't remember) but I very much doubt the odds were shorter than 10-1 or thereabouts.

90
by RickD :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 8:07pm

The Eagles certainly were never "odds-on" favorites to win the Super Bowl. They were not even the favorites, if we can trust Gambling911.com. The top two favorites in late August were....New England and Green Bay.

Philly was third.

87
by Kevin from Philly :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 2:03pm

You're certainly a glass half full guy, and I admire that, but nobody expected 8-8 before the season started except the harshest of Andy's critics. Instead of making me optimistic for next season, all I can think about is that they'll just find a different way to screw up. I kinda think they're already in the process, given that they're not looking to resign DeSean Jackson.

95
by LionInAZ (not verified) :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 11:39pm

You're certainly a glass half-empty guy, or else you'd be thinking about how Dallas, the Giants,and the Skins will inevitably find ways to screw up next year, too.

113
by chemical burn :: Thu, 12/29/2011 - 12:30pm

Yeah, that was my main thought heading into last week: as bad as the Eagles have been, there is nothing that Jerry Jones, Tom Coughlin and Dan Snyder can not find a way to do worse. If the Eagles get Spags back next year, then they are going to win the division... (although, I feel bad that Castillo's career will probably be ruined - he was an excellent o-line coach and frequently worked wonders with bad injury situations. I wonder if anyone will give him a shot at his old job...)

114
by dryheat :: Thu, 12/29/2011 - 1:07pm

I'm not sure how you lump Coughlin in with the two owners. I think he's proven to be an excellent coach. The fact that the Giants are playing for a division title this weekend with the injuries they've had to deal with I find impressive.

119
by chemical burn :: Thu, 12/29/2011 - 3:06pm

Really? You think Coughlin is a good coach? I'd say he's the reason the Giants can't escape mediocrity even with a great QB and a great D-line. I think NY has a good front office, but constantly struggle when they shoud be excelling. I guess the Eagles owning the Giants for four years running makes me happy to see him over on the other sideline. Anyway, I lump him in with the others because they can be clearly traced to their team's struggles - as long as he's in NY, the Giants will be a 9-7 (-ish) team that the Eagles can rely on to make stupid mistakes to hand them games...

125
by armchair journe... :: Fri, 12/30/2011 - 2:53am

This critique is a mite bit ironic coming from a fan of an Andy Reid team.

I also think Coughlin is a good coach. The guy running the training/medical staff is probably the one they need to fire.

//AJMQB

116
by Kevin from Philly :: Thu, 12/29/2011 - 1:41pm

You have a point, but winning your division games doesn't matter if you're losing to teams like the Seahawks and Cardinals.

120
by chemical burn :: Thu, 12/29/2011 - 3:09pm

Seahawks and Cardinals have proven to be at least ok teams. I'd say losing to the Giants at home is just as egregious as losing to the Hawks in their house. Handing the game to the 49er's in such a ridiculous fasion has to be the most infuriating thing to happen this season. The Falcons and Bills losses are up there, too, though for the Eagles just doing everything they could to lose...

122
by greybeard :: Thu, 12/29/2011 - 3:53pm

It was a great win for 49ers.

124
by Kevin from Philly :: Thu, 12/29/2011 - 4:26pm

Of course, there are always going to be a few egregious losses during the season - it's just something you have to accept with the Eagles. The larger point is that they've been in decline for several years now, and I can't expect that's going to change without a change of command. At the very least, the personell department needs a major housecleaning - their drafts have been pretty awful on the defensive side the last five years.

78
by Paul M (not verified) :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 11:31am

OK-- some early (very possibly premature) playoff analysis and predictions.

I am going to assume the top seeds hold in both conferences, and the Jets and Denver are the final AFC entrants and, just to be perverse, that the Cowboys beat the Giants. And the Lions defeat a watered down Packer squad to best Atlanta for the 5 seed.

NFC

#6/#3 Atlanta at New Orleans. Round Three-- tough to do this (a sweep) for the Saints, but they look way too strong in the Dome and elsewhere: NO 34, ATL 24

#5/#4 Detroit at Dallas. Young Lions coming out party? Or Romo/Garrett winning a second straight big one? I think Detroit is the better team. I don't think they will win this game, however: DALL 24, DET 21

AFC

#6/#3 Jets at Houston. Here we go again with the road/Sanchez magic. NYJ 23, HOUS 20

#5/#4 Pittsburgh at Denver. Tebow Magic ends. Big. PITT 38, Denver 16

Div. Round

NFC

Dall at GB. Praying for -15 degree temps and the spirit of Jethro Pugh. (Is he still alive??) Pack wins easy GB 35 DALL 20

NO at SF. Maybe the most interesting game of the entire playoff season. Saints have never won a road playoff game; Niners haven't won any playoff games in a while. Totally contrasting styles. Harbaugh and that defense do it in the rain. SF 23 NO 21

AFC

Jets at New England. Wow. Again?? Again???? No. Not this time. NE Tight Ends too good. NE 31 NYJ 23

Steelers at Ravens. Gimpy Ben vs. Flacco. I go with gimpy. PITT 24 BAL 17

Conf Champs

SF at GB. Lots of echoes in this one plus the revisit of the 2005 draft. Packers too strong GB 30 SF 16

Steelers at NE. Pittsburgh gathering steam as some teams always do this time of year. 3 straight road wins just as Pack did last year. No title for Belichick for 7th year running. PITT 28 NE 24

Super Bowl

Yep, only the 2nd ever rematch (Dall-BUFF was the first). And this time..... I'll go with GB to repeat (did you ever think otherwise?) though the opposite outcome would hardly shock me. This time it is Rodgers late to win it-- GB 31, PITT 27.

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by LionInAZ (not verified) :: Wed, 12/28/2011 - 11:42pm

My prediction is that Paul M will be wrong on most of his predictions, as is the usual case when people try to predict matchups of games weeks in advance.

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by justanothersteve :: Thu, 12/29/2011 - 12:01am

To be honest, I don't think Dallas gets by Detroit which mucks up his entire NFC scenario.

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by Intropy :: Thu, 12/29/2011 - 12:40am

Heck, I don't think they get by New York.

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by t.d. :: Thu, 12/29/2011 - 5:25am

The top teams in both conferences, Green Bay and New England, have both had extremely easy schedules for the second half of the season. Detroit should have been a test for the Packers, but Suh was kicked out (the score was 7-3 at the time). New England got Philadelphia with Vince Young. Neither team will have faced a decent team with anything on the line in a really long time when they host their divisional round games, and it will be interesting to see if this has any effect. DVOA makes the playoffs look wide open this year, while the conventional narrative would make the Packers and Patriots heavy favorites

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by Athelas :: Thu, 12/29/2011 - 9:55am

How my expectations have changed--I would be happy for the Patriots to win just one playoff game. They are such a flawed team, with Carter out, their O-line in shambles, Brady hurt--on top of their dreadful secondary.

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by Athelas :: Thu, 12/29/2011 - 9:55am

Oops!

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by Raiderjoe :: Thu, 12/29/2011 - 11:10am

Raiders makim playoffs. Going to slap arpund steelers first rd.

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by Kevin from Philly :: Thu, 12/29/2011 - 1:46pm

I'm rooting for you RJ, but when the requirements for them to make it don't fit on the ESPN bottom line crawl, it's not gonna be easy.

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by Eddo :: Thu, 12/29/2011 - 4:01pm

It's not *too* complicated. The Raiders are in if they win, and the Broncos lose.

They also make it if they win, Cincinnati loses, and either (a) the Titans lose or (b) both the Jets and Titans win.

[All scenarios]

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by Aaron Schatz :: Thu, 12/29/2011 - 11:31am

For the many, many people who have asked... yes, it looks like we didn't have tiebreakers working quite right for "margin of victory" so that explains the BAL-NE thing. We'll try to re-run with it fixed later today.