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» Catch Radius: Best of the NFC

Part I of our catch radius season finale spotlights the NFC kings of double coverage (Calvin Johnson), the sideline (Jordy Nelson), the drag route (DeSean Jackson) and the red zone (Dez Bryant).

04 Dec 2012

Week 13 DVOA Ratings

by Aaron Schatz

New England is back on top this week, as the 49ers drop into third place after losing to St. Louis. Denver is number two, and these three teams have been ranked one, two, and three in some order every week since Week 8 except for after Week 10, when San Francisco briefly dropped to six after the first St. Louis game. The team that broke into the top three that week was Seattle, which now ranks fourth. These four teams are all above 30% and there is a reasonably sized gap between them and the rest of the league. Of course, the fact that San Francisco and Seattle have to compete for the same division title means that neither team is near the top of our Super Bowl odds. The AFC big three of New England, Denver, and Houston rank one to three... followed by six different NFC teams.

One of those six NFC teams is Chicago, but the Bears' calling card, their historically great defense, has declined over the last three weeks. It's still historically great, but not to quite the same extent. Three weeks ago, the Bears' defense was at -39.9%, the second-best ever through 10 weeks. Now the Bears defense is at -29.2%, the sixth-best ever through 13 weeks. Perhaps you noticed in Quick Reads that Russell Wilson had the highest DYAR of any rookie quarterback in DVOA history this week. The adjustments for playing the Bears defense are high, but they're not as high as they would have been three weeks ago, in part because of Wilson's success this week. The Bears played seven games between Week 3 and Week 10. In each of those games, the Bears had defensive DVOA better than -25%. In their last three games, the Bears have defensive DVOA of 1% (SF), -22% (MIN), and 8% (SEA). That's not particularly bad, but it isn't as good as the Bears were playing before, and with their offense, average or even slightly above-average defense just isn't gonna cut it.

A couple of hours ago I posed the question to readers on Twitter: Can anyone think of specific personnel reasons why the Bears defense has been much worse since Week 11? Obviously, there are plenty of non-personnel reasons, starting with simple regression towards the mean. This could all just be the usual random variation, and they just happened to have three weaker games in a row instead of spreading them out. Their strong defensive rating was also built on a lot of turnovers, and we know that a big turnover margin is unsustainable for a long time, but it isn't like the Bears have been giving up tons of yards and living off only turnovers. The Bears were allowing 4.9 yards per play through Week 10, and that has gone up to 5.7 yards per play since, so the issue is not just one of turnovers.

A number of readers brought up that they aren't bringing the same kind of pass pressure recently. There does seem to be some indication of this. I don't have updated pass pressure numbers yet, but Chicago's Adjusted Sack Rate has dropped from 7.3% in Weeks 1-10 to 4.4% in Weeks 11-13,. They've gone from 2.9 sacks per game to 2.0 sacks per game, and the drop in ASR is even larger because of the opponent adjustments (San Francisco has the worst offensive ASR in the league this season). A number of people who responded to me on Twitter specifically picked out Julius Peppers as a player who doesn't seem to be having the same kind of success in recent weeks.

Some people suggested that the Bears' Cover-2 is simply built to stop passing games, not running games, and they've dealt the last three games with three strong running teams. The problem with this is a) the Bears don't actually play Cover-2 as their primary coverage scheme anymore, and b) Houston is a great running team, and the Bears had a great defensive game against them even though the team lost 13-7.

Lots of people brought up age, and the idea that an older defense will decline later in the season as players get tired and start to deal with nagging injuries. This is definitely an idea worth testing, but unfortunately I don't have time to do it this afternoon. However, there is a defense older that Chicago's -- Pittsburgh, where the Steelers' defense has improved dramatically over the last few weeks instead of getting worse due to age. I checked just a couple of other old defenses, and didn't find a trend of late-season decline. The Steelers' defense also got better in the second half of last year. In 2010, both Pittsburgh and Denver had defensive starting lineups that averaged over 30 years old, older than this year's Bears, and both defenses improved slightly in the second half of the season. (Yes, Pittsburgh's defense has been pretty old for a while, although they bring in a new starter or two every year.) The 2000 Panthers and 2006 Dolphins are two other defenses that averaged over 30, and they were basically the same in the first and second half of those seasons.

However, even if it isn't as simple as age = injuries = decline, it is true that the Bears are dealing with some defensive injuries. Readers specifically picked out issues with Charles Tillman, Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs, and Chris Conte. Conte got hurt early in this week's game, and replacement Craig Steltz had problems, although that doesn't explain the other two games. Tillman was listed as probable with a shoulder injury last week, and of course, he's not getting his usual sleep. (I know people laugh when you point out that a player's performance dips right after he brings home a newborn baby, but we are talking about something that significantly affects your health and sleep schedule.) But if Tillman had an injury before that, it wasn't important enough to put on the injury report. Briggs has been probable for two weeks, but he has also played. Urlacher's injury is going to be a bigger problem going forward -- he was listed as probable with a hamstring injury last week, but then he heard it "pop" late in the Seattle game and apparently he's going to be out the next three or four games. Tim Jennings also hurt his shoulder during the game and will miss the next couple of games. These are actually the first major injuries for the Chicago defense; over the last three weeks, any defensive players on the injury report (Tillman, Briggs, Stephen Paea, Shea McClellin, etc.) were listed as probable.

It could be that the offense is hurting the defense. It's conventional wisdom that when the offense doesn't get a lot of time of possession, the defense suffers because it gets tired. That's another one of those issues that I've always meant to study, although you would need to control to make sure that you were controlling for the quality of the defense overall. Between that and the old defense issue, we may have a nice framework here for the Chicago chapter in next year's book. You're welcome, Rivers.

The Chicago pass defense and run defense have declined about the same amount. We don't have defensive coverage numbers yet (again, we're stuck because of our lack of financial resources and dependence on volunteers for game charting) but the "defense vs. receivers" numbers do show some indication of the issues. Chicago's coverage on "other receivers" and running backs in the passing game has stayed the same, but their DVOA against tight ends has gotten worse, and their DVOA against No. 1 and No. 2 receivers has gotten much worse. Looking at sides, the DVOA on passes to the left side has declined a lot more than DVOA on passes to the right side. That would seem to suggest that Tillman has struggled more than Jennings in recent weeks. Here are the numbers, which all include Defensive Pass Interference as part of yardage totals and DVOA:

Chicago Bears Pass Defense, Weeks 1-10 vs. Weeks 11-13
Weeks 1-10 Weeks 11-13
Receiver DVOA C% Yd/Pass Receiver DVOA C% Yd/Pass
WR1 -45.4% 50% 6.7 WR1 16.9% 64% 9.3
WR2 -31.2% 47% 7.1 WR2 31.5% 62% 10.9
Other WR -51.2% 58% 6.5 Other WR -22.3% 53% 6.1
TE -44.5% 68% 5.9 TE -4.2% 53% 5.7
RB -27.0% 80% 5.0 RB -19.2% 80% 4.7
Direction DVOA C% Yd/Pass Direction DVOA C% Yd/Pass
Left -34.9% 61% 6.4 Left 31.0% 69% 9.3
Middle -32.0% 62% 7.5 Middle -50.6% 47% 4.9
Right -53.2% 57% 5.2 Right -20.8% 56% 5.3

Obviously, we can't say what will happen with the Bears defense over the next few weeks. My guess is that Tillman and Peppers will play better but the team won't return to their previous level because a) it was ridiculously good and b) Urlacher and Jennings are hurt. Of course, I'm talking here about FO adjusted numbers -- if you don't adjust for opponent, I'm sure the Bears defense will look awesome just by virtue of getting to play Arizona once.

* * * * *

BEST DVOA EVER (OR AT LEAST SINCE 1991) WATCH

BEST TOTAL DVOA
THROUGH WEEK 13
x BEST OFFENSIVE DVOA
THROUGH WEEK 13
x BEST DEFENSIVE DVOA
THROUGH WEEK 13
x BEST ST DVOA
THROUGH WEEK 13
Year Team DVOA x Year Team DVOA x Year Team DVOA x Year Team DVOA
2007 NE 62.5% x 2007 NE 47.3% x 2002 TB -39.5% x 2012 BAL 11.5%
1991 WAS 56.6% x 2010 NE 43.2% x 1991 PHI -36.5% x 2007 CHI 11.3%
1998 DEN 47.1% x 1993 SF 40.7% x 1991 NO -31.6% x 2011 CHI 11.0%
2004 PIT 44.1% x 2004 IND 39.5% x 2008 BAL -30.8% x 1994 CLE1 10.9%
2004 PHI 42.9% x 1998 DEN 39.4% x 1997 SF -30.3% x 2004 BUF 10.8%
1999 STL 41.6% x 2002 KC 38.1% x 2012 CHI -29.2% x 1996 CAR 10.5%
1995 SF 41.2% x 1995 DAL 35.8% x 2006 CHI -28.7% x 1998 DAL 10.3%
2004 NE 41.2% x 1992 SF 35.5% x 1995 SF -27.9% x 2001 PHI 10.1%
1994 DAL 40.8% x 2012 NE 34.0% x 2005 CHI -27.4% x 1997 DAL 9.8%
1997 SF 40.4% x 2011 GB 32.5% x 2007 PIT -25.5% x 1993 GB 9.5%
2007 DAL 39.0% x 2005 SD 32.2% x 2004 PIT -25.2% x 2002 NO 9.5%
2012 NE 38.9% x 2005 CIN 31.3% x 2008 PIT -24.8% x 2000 MIA 9.0%

As noted above, the Bears are dropping down this table a bit, but Baltimore's special teams are back on top.

* * * * *

These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through 13 weeks of 2012, 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>

All stats pages should now be updated, including snap counts. FO Premium will be updated later tonight.

TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
LAST
WEEK
WEIGHTED
DVOA
RANK W-L OFFENSE
DVOA
OFF.
RANK
DEFENSE
DVOA
DEF.
RANK
S.T.
DVOA
S.T.
RANK
1 NE 38.9% 2 39.7% 1 9-3 34.0% 1 1.7% 18 6.6% 2
2 DEN 37.0% 3 38.1% 2 9-3 19.2% 2 -15.4% 5 2.4% 10
3 SF 35.1% 1 32.2% 4 8-3-1 18.8% 3 -17.3% 3 -1.0% 23
4 SEA 31.9% 4 35.6% 3 7-5 12.9% 5 -12.8% 6 6.1% 3
5 GB 23.7% 6 22.3% 5 8-4 16.2% 4 -6.5% 7 1.0% 12
6 CHI 22.2% 5 20.2% 6 8-4 -13.1% 26 -29.2% 1 6.1% 4
7 HOU 18.6% 8 16.4% 8 11-1 6.8% 11 -18.0% 2 -6.1% 31
8 NYG 16.5% 7 18.4% 7 7-5 12.2% 6 -3.8% 12 0.5% 15
9 BAL 12.6% 9 9.6% 10 9-3 2.7% 14 1.6% 17 11.5% 1
10 ATL 6.3% 12 2.1% 14 11-1 1.9% 16 -3.7% 13 0.8% 13
11 WAS 4.3% 14 7.1% 11 6-6 11.8% 7 3.1% 20 -4.3% 28
12 CIN 3.0% 10 11.0% 9 7-5 4.3% 12 4.6% 22 3.3% 9
13 TB 2.7% 13 2.9% 12 6-6 7.9% 10 0.5% 16 -4.7% 29
14 DET 0.9% 11 0.8% 15 4-8 11.4% 8 6.3% 24 -4.1% 27
15 PIT -0.4% 18 2.7% 13 7-5 -4.5% 20 -4.0% 11 0.2% 16
16 DAL -2.0% 15 -3.9% 19 6-6 3.9% 13 4.6% 23 -1.2% 24
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 NO -3.1% 16 -1.1% 16 5-7 8.6% 9 15.5% 30 3.8% 8
18 CAR -3.5% 19 -2.0% 18 3-9 2.2% 15 -1.3% 14 -7.0% 32
19 MIN -4.0% 17 -7.6% 23 6-6 -3.9% 19 4.5% 21 4.5% 5
20 STL -4.3% 21 -4.5% 20 5-6-1 -6.4% 21 -4.7% 9 -2.6% 26
21 MIA -5.3% 20 -6.6% 21 5-7 -10.8% 24 -4.3% 10 1.3% 11
22 BUF -7.1% 23 -1.3% 17 5-7 -1.8% 18 9.8% 26 4.4% 6
23 SD -8.3% 24 -6.8% 22 4-8 -9.0% 22 -1.0% 15 -0.3% 20
24 ARI -9.4% 22 -10.8% 25 4-8 -26.7% 32 -17.2% 4 0.1% 17
25 NYJ -10.6% 26 -11.3% 26 5-7 -15.9% 29 -5.6% 8 -0.3% 19
26 CLE -13.6% 25 -10.0% 24 4-8 -15.7% 28 2.1% 19 4.1% 7
27 PHI -18.9% 27 -21.4% 28 3-9 -11.4% 25 7.5% 25 -0.1% 18
28 IND -19.6% 28 -19.2% 27 8-4 -0.2% 17 17.9% 31 -1.6% 25
29 TEN -28.9% 29 -26.6% 29 4-8 -14.8% 27 13.0% 27 -1.0% 22
30 JAC -34.4% 30 -33.2% 30 2-10 -20.6% 30 13.2% 28 -0.6% 21
31 OAK -34.6% 31 -34.9% 32 3-9 -9.1% 23 19.5% 32 -6.0% 30
32 KC -35.8% 32 -33.8% 31 2-10 -22.1% 31 14.3% 29 0.6% 14
  • NON-ADJUSTED TOTAL DVOA does not include the adjustments for opponent strength or the adjustments for weather and altitude in special teams, and only penalizes offenses for lost fumbles rather than all fumbles.
  • ESTIMATED WINS uses a statistic known as "Forest Index" that emphasizes consistency as well as DVOA in the most important specific situations: red zone defense, first quarter offense, and performance in the second half when the score is close. It then projects a number of wins adjusted to a league-average schedule and a league-average rate of recovering fumbles. Teams that have had their bye week are projected as if they had played one game per week.
  • PAST SCHEDULE lists average DVOA of opponents played this season, ranked from hardest schedule (#1, most positive) to easiest schedule (#32, most negative). It is not adjusted for which games are home or road.
  • FUTURE SCHEDULE lists average DVOA of opponents still left to play this season, ranked from hardest schedule (#1, most positive) to easiest schedule (#32, most negative). It is not adjusted for which games are home or road.
  • VARIANCE measures the statistical variance of the team's weekly DVOA performance. Teams are ranked from most consistent (#1, lowest variance) to least consistent (#32, highest variance).



TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
W-L NON-ADJ
TOT VOA
ESTIM.
WINS
RANK PAST
SCHED
RANK FUTURE
SCHED
RANK VAR. RANK
1 NE 38.9% 9-3 41.9% 10.7 2 -1.8% 18 3.5% 11 9.9% 13
2 DEN 37.0% 9-3 35.0% 11.1 1 -2.0% 19 -17.9% 31 6.7% 8
3 SF 35.1% 8-3-1 30.9% 9.6 4 4.4% 7 14.0% 4 24.8% 31
4 SEA 31.9% 7-5 19.8% 9.7 3 6.8% 3 3.5% 10 5.5% 2
5 GB 23.7% 8-4 16.4% 8.9 5 4.2% 8 -2.4% 21 12.6% 18
6 CHI 22.2% 8-4 19.3% 8.7 6 1.1% 14 2.8% 14 13.3% 22
7 HOU 18.6% 11-1 28.5% 7.3 7 -4.4% 27 -1.1% 18 12.1% 16
8 NYG 16.5% 7-5 14.9% 7.1 9 2.7% 9 -0.8% 17 26.2% 32
9 BAL 12.6% 9-3 18.9% 7.2 8 -5.6% 30 15.2% 2 16.9% 24
10 ATL 6.3% 11-1 14.7% 6.7 10 -6.2% 31 4.2% 9 13.1% 21
11 WAS 4.3% 6-6 7.5% 6.2 12 0.7% 15 -5.5% 25 11.7% 15
12 CIN 3.0% 7-5 11.5% 5.9 15 -6.3% 32 -2.2% 20 19.0% 28
13 TB 2.7% 6-6 8.0% 6.5 11 -2.6% 22 -5.0% 23 5.9% 6
14 DET 0.9% 4-8 -0.7% 5.9 16 1.4% 12 10.7% 5 5.9% 7
15 PIT -0.4% 7-5 3.9% 5.8 17 -4.7% 29 -5.2% 24 21.2% 30
16 DAL -2.0% 6-6 -4.6% 6.0 14 4.8% 6 1.0% 16 8.3% 10
TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
W-L NON-ADJ
TOT VOA
ESTIM.
WINS
RANK PAST
SCHED
RANK FUTURE
SCHED
RANK VAR. RANK
17 NO -3.1% 5-7 -0.8% 5.4 21 1.2% 13 3.4% 12 9.6% 12
18 CAR -3.5% 3-9 -4.5% 5.6 20 5.3% 5 -9.9% 28 12.5% 17
19 MIN -4.0% 6-6 -3.9% 5.6 19 2.5% 10 15.1% 3 5.1% 1
20 STL -4.3% 5-6-1 -11.4% 5.6 18 13.1% 1 5.9% 8 7.9% 9
21 MIA -5.3% 5-7 -5.0% 6.0 13 -2.7% 23 8.1% 6 17.5% 27
22 BUF -7.1% 5-7 -8.1% 5.3 22 -2.2% 20 2.9% 13 17.3% 26
23 SD -8.3% 4-8 -4.2% 4.6 25 -4.4% 28 -12.3% 30 5.5% 3
24 ARI -9.4% 4-8 -15.1% 3.9 28 6.8% 4 22.5% 1 5.6% 4
25 NYJ -10.6% 5-7 -13.8% 5.0 23 9.3% 2 -19.7% 32 20.1% 29
26 CLE -13.6% 4-8 -2.8% 4.8 24 -3.6% 25 1.3% 15 13.4% 23
27 PHI -18.9% 3-9 -21.8% 4.1 27 0.6% 16 6.6% 7 12.7% 19
28 IND -19.6% 8-4 -12.2% 4.1 26 -4.4% 26 -6.9% 26 9.4% 11
29 TEN -28.9% 4-8 -30.5% 2.4 29 1.7% 11 -10.2% 29 17.0% 25
30 JAC -34.4% 2-10 -32.2% 1.8 32 -2.2% 21 -1.5% 19 5.7% 5
31 OAK -34.6% 3-9 -28.0% 2.0 31 -3.3% 24 -2.7% 22 13.0% 20
32 KC -35.8% 2-10 -40.8% 2.2 30 -0.3% 17 -7.7% 27 11.5% 14

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 04 Dec 2012

138 comments, Last at 07 Dec 2012, 5:08pm by In_Belichick_We_Trust

Comments

1
by Walshmobile :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 7:48pm

As a Skins fan I'm surprised they're so high for weighted DVOA. I guess knocking off NYG helped a lot, but I'd figured they'd be closer to their DVOA (because Philly is awful, but I guess Dallas is also better than expected)

2
by Rich A (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 8:07pm

The Patriots are nearing replacement level on defense, watch out!

That being said, I wasn't particularly impressed with their offensive output this past Sunday vs Miami. I guess having Gronk and no WR's other than Welker makes for an interesting offensive scheme.

I wonder why Brady and Lloyd haven't been connecting much

3
by Snack Flag (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 8:29pm

They're nearing an average defense, actually. It seems like the additions of Talib and Dennard (while also moving McCourty to CF) have stabilized the back end. Also, Brandon Spikes has been mighty impressive recently.

7
by Paddy Pat :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 8:53pm

Lloyd seems to have good and quiet games depending on coverage. He's not terribly fast, just very nimble, so he struggles to gain separation against certain CBs. At least, that's my impression. The Patriots definitely had a bad offensive game... a trap game?? Heh. Brady seemed off, receivers were dropping the ball, etc. But the Pats tend to struggle in Miami. I imagine we'll see a much more polished performance in the two bigger games coming up.

The Pats also seemed to wildly respect the Dolphins' run defense, and Brady doesn't seem to have the stamina to throw on every down anymore like he once did Circa 2002. In the game against Seattle where the Pats also schemed to abandon the run from the start, Brady went through several stretches of inaccuracy... he seems to wear down.

12
by RickD :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 9:29pm

Brady doesn't have the stamina to throw all game?

He's averaging more passes per game than he did in 2002. Actually, he's on pace for a personal record for #attempts.

The Pats did better in the 2nd half when they put more emphasis on running the ball.

I have no idea what's wrong with Lloyd. Many here were warning that Lloyd was overrated. It might be that simple.

44
by Malene, copenhagen (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 4:38am

Why does there have to be something wrong with Lloyd? Clearly, there was something wrong with expecting him to be close to a new Moss, but why on earth would anyone expect more than just "pretty good"? That's what he's been so far, no?

He's got 50 catches so far. As Bedard of the Globe noted, this is "just as many as Vincent Jackson of the Buccaneers, who signed a five-year, $55.6 million contract in the offseason.

The Bills’ Stevie Johnson (55), and Davone Bess (56), and Brian Hartline (60) of the Dolphins are the only other AFC East receivers to have as many receptions as Lloyd. None of them play in an offense with Wes Welker (92 catches), Rob Gronkowski (53 in 10 games), and Aaron Hernandez (27 in six games)."

How about we just relax a bit on Lloyd?

53
by QCIC (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 10:17am

Part of it is a perception problem because people talk themselves into these insane expectations. Projecting Brady to throw for 6000 yards on 500 completions.

They look at last years team that passed a ton, add in Lloyd, and say imagine how much better the passing attack will be with his 90 catches. Ignoring the fact that you only get so many plays.

That said he hasn't played great either.

71
by Lido997 (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 2:10pm

That doesn't necessarily mean he isn't wearing down more, number of repetitions =/= quality of repetitions

27
by JonFrum :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 11:19pm

If the hit-on-the-hands passes hadn't been dropped, you'd be remembering how good he looked. It's easy to start wondering why each and every pass isn't thrown perfectly.

33
by Insancipitory :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 12:03am

The great tragedy of Lloyd's career will be revealed when he has his genome evaluated for an NFL Echocast Special after we have perfected our knowledge of genetics and epigenetics in 2035. It will then be revealed that he has an incredibly rare disorder, hyperclutchism, resulting from a doubling of the DJetterX factor.

This will lead a panel of experts, and Skip Bayless, to conclude that if he were paired with any of the least accurate QBs of his era, he would have completely rewritten the record books until the change to the 20 game touch-tackle format.

4
by Doubting Thomas (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 8:43pm

Denver just doesn't look anywhere close to the second best team to me....and I say that despite or maybe in some weird way because I'm a lifelong Broncos fan.

8
by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 8:53pm

Peyton Manning, a good line, good receivers and a defense with a pulse sounds pretty scary to me.

9
by The Hypno-Toad :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 9:03pm

I am... less confused about their position than I was when they first got up to #1. But there is something that isn't triggering in my perception of the Broncos to where this just doesn't quite fit with what I'm seeing.
My guess is that since this is the first time in years that the Broncos have been worthy of being held to a high standard, I'm more than happy to make my standards impossibly high. Also, as they're the only team that I have any emotional entanglement with, it's very hard to not guard against Mola Ram-esque pain suffered during years like 2005 and 1996 when I fully bought in.

15
by Piglet (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 9:50pm

Damn, you sure know how to remind a Denver fan of bad times. 2005 was devastating, and there is no word that does justice to 1996. (Thank goodness 1997 and 1998 worked out the way they did.) It is strange being a Denver fan this year. Having Peyton Manning come to your team feels like something one would do in Madden because one is a fanboy, not something that really happens in the NFL. Interestingly, it makes the regular season feel kind of irrelevant, all that really matters is whether Denver can win at Houston or Foxboro in January, and whether Manning stays healthy that long. Last year was, candidly, more fun, although I imagine that the playoffs will be much more fun this year.

26
by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 11:18pm

There is a decent chance any playoff game with the Patriots occurs in Denver. All the Broncos need (other than winning out) is for New England to drop a game. Obviously, New England is in the driver's seat (well, I guess Baltimore is), but there is a reasonable chance the Broncos can nab the #2 seed.

28
by RickD :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 11:25pm

All the Broncos need to do is finish with more wins than the Pats, eh?

31
by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 11:43pm

Yup. I know it seems obvious, but that was just in response to the earlier poster. I feel like many people outside this site just feel like this MNF game contains the AFC's #1 & #2 seeds come playoff time.

138
by In_Belichick_We... :: Fri, 12/07/2012 - 5:08pm

This site thinks this MNF game contains the #1 and #2 seeds.

36
by The Hypno-Toad :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 2:10am

It's funny, I have very few clear memories of the Broncos in 1997 and 1998. But my recall of the crushing collapses is pretty strong.
Matt Damon has a line in Rounders about not being able to remember any of the hands that built his bankroll, but remembering everything about the hand that broke him. It's kind of like that, minus the concept of having any control/contribution to those events.
I have never been around more people who were visibly heartbroken than walking out of Mile High after the Jacksonville game in 1996. 2005 would have been similar if a quarter of the attendance hadn't been Steeler fans.

13
by RickD :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 9:36pm

Denver has played a very soft schedule. Thus they've had good results and that can tend to inflate the score a bit. If they were in the NFC East or NFC North they would have had many more tough opponents.

We'll see how they do in Baltimore, though with all of the injuries that Ravens have had recently, I wonder if they'll be able to give the Broncos a real challenge.

25
by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 11:17pm

Denver's schedule has not been 'very soft'. It is about average. Their past schedule DVOA rank is 19th.

Compare them to the Patriots.

The Patriots have beaten teams ranked 2, 20, 21, 22 (twice), 25 (twice), 28, 29.
The Broncos have beaten teams ranked 12, 13, 15, 17, 18, 23 (twice), 31, 32.

So, outside of the Patriots beating the Broncos, the Broncos have the next five best wins (CIN, TB, PIT, NO, CAR).

The other factor in Denver's favor is the teams they have lost to rank #1, 7 and 10.

29
by theslothook :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 11:33pm

Deleted

30
by RickD :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 11:35pm

So, outside of the Patriots beating the Broncos

Yeah, "outside of that".

"The other factor in Denver's favor is the teams they have lost to rank #1, 7 and 10."

It shows no ability to lose. The Broncos' three games against their three toughest opponents were losses by 10, 6, and 6 points. The Pats admittedly lost to Arizona, but their 3 losses are by a total of four points.

But in any case, I didn't bring up the Broncos' weak schedule to get into a pissing contest about who had the softer schedule. I brought it up to point out that a soft schedule might inflate a team's DVOA. The same phenomenon might well apply to the Pats.

We'll see over the next two weeks as the Pats play the Texans and 49ers. Meanwhile, the future schedule of the Broncos is clearly the softest of any of the AFC divisional leaders. They have one tough game at Baltimore, but the other three are gimmes. The Pats have arguably two gimmes, the Texans one, and the Ravens zero.

32
by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 11:46pm

Losing close to good teams and beating bad teams has long been a recipe for a good DVOA (just look at the 2009 Ravens that went 9-7 and ended the year with the #1 DVOA, despite losing to pretty much every good team they played that year).

I was pointing out that the Broncos have played far from a 'very soft' schedule. They've played a thoroughly average schedule. Some of this is them having three easy opponents left (including teams ranked #31 and #32), but their schedule was front-loaded, and some of the 'easy' games at the beginning of the year, like Cincinnati and Tampa haven't been that easy.

I'll definitely give you that the Broncos future schedule is the easiest left, but that is what happens when the Broncos toughest games were all pre-bye.

127
by Silm (not verified) :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 2:01pm

they both play easy schedules by virtue of that the other 3 opponents in their division are embarassment. Moreover, they were both division winners last year so they both had to play the other division winners like HOU, BAL and each other. Their schedules are practically identical IMO and i dont view the NFC-S vs. NFC-W as that big of a difference in degree of difficulty. schedule has not been a factor this year in my opinion between these two teams.

129
by Danish Denver-Fan :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 4:11pm

Well it has been a factor *so far*, since the Patriots have yet to play Houston and San Fran. (allthough I'll concede that the Ravens were much better in week 3 than they'll be this week against the Broncos).

38
by Seth Lichtenstein (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 2:20am

Why? They just crushed a good Tampa team while New England and San Francisco had bad games against lousy Miami and St Louis.

39
by Paddy Pat :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 2:52am

Miami and St. Louis are hardly lousy. Both teams have regressed in the second half of the year, but both looked very competitive on the field and in DVOA terms earlier. That Miami team is fully capable of rising to the occasion and dishing out a strong performance from time to time--they would still be in playoff contention had they not lost back-to-back games in over time early in the year. Just saying...

40
by RickD :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 3:10am

Denver beat Tampa by 8.
New England beat Miami by 7.

But Denver "crushed" Tampa while New England "had a bad game."

Tampa is a massive 8 points ahead of Miami according to DVOA.

Also, Denver was playing at home while the Pats were in Miami.

One of the problems that Pats fans have is that when, after scoring 190 points over a 4-game stretch (which is, mind you, more than the 1990 Patriots scored all season), a mere 23-16 road victory is called a "bad game."

41
by Seth Lichtenstein (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 4:12am

Tampa scored a bunch of garbage time points. A Prater field goal made the game 31-13 with 7:36 left and effectively ending the game, after which the Bucs added 10 meaningless points.

42
by merlinofchaos :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 4:13am

To be fair, the Denver-Tampa game was not as close as the score indicated.

There is a legit possibility that Denver will end the season 13-3 but as was pointed out to me earlier, between Houston and San Francisco coming up on the Patriot's schedule, NE could easily drop one game or the other and end 12-4. I, for one, am very excited to see Broncos-Ravens, Patriots-Texans and Patriots-Niners coming up. They're all like a taste of the playoffs, only the losers will get a shot at redemption.

56
by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 11:13am

Neither was the Patriots/Dolphins.

I think Pats/49ers should be a great game, but Patriots-Texans just seems like exactly the sort of game where the media hypes it way up, and the Patriots come out and win by 20.

They've got a 20% DVOA advantage, they're at home, and Houston is a southern dome team. Its an 8:30 game, and it'll probably be about 40 degrees and raining at kickoff.

70
by td (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 2:00pm

God, Pats fans being insufferable douches has had a long shelf life. You do realise that a 40 degree rainy night plays much more into the Texans' hands than into the Pats', right? The Pats once again rolled through the soft part of their schedule, but they won't be seeing the Jets or Bills in the postseason. They're good, but their real tests haven't happened yet, and they're probably going to have to win twice on the road in the playoffs to get to the Super Bowl. They'll probably get a tougher slate than Tebow/Flacco, too

78
by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 4:08pm

He appears overconfident, but "insufferable" is a bit harsh. If anything, your comment meets the criteria.

If NE has feasted on the "soft" part of their schedule, what has Hou done? Their prior schedule is a good deal weaker than who NE has played, based on both SOS and DVOA.

A 40 degree rainy night play more into the Texan's hands? Why? Is it the 21 total rushing yards they have on the year over the Patriots? Because NE's ypc, rushing TDs, fumbles and fumbles lost are all equal to or better than Houston's. Want to use DVOA? OK, then NE's rushing efficiency blows the Texans' out of the water, basically 14% - 0%. Sure, NE has a passing offense that takes pressure off the running game, but it isn't as if Houston's is deficient.

All that assumes that rushing success is what you meant, of course, which is debatable.

As for defense, Houston has a clear edge there, but NE's rush defense is actually right there with them. The minor gap (3%) is more than made up in NE's edge on the rush offensive side of the ball.

Houston's pass defense blows NE's out of the water, of course, but NE once again has a corresponding offensive edge.

In any event, there isn't a single factual basis for your argument. Was he overconfident about a matchup that looks like a tight one? Sure, but you are equally slanted on the other side of things.

97
by Texans4269 (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 7:19pm

All I know is that as a Texans fan NE worries me a lot with the Texans secondary being so banged up. The hope is that with NE tight end and other receivers this will give us a break. I do know that the Texans are capable but I also know this is the NFL and NE is an elite team. That being said so are the Texans this year. The soft schedule plays into them being 11-1 so it will be a big test for the Texans. Go Texans.

102
by Insancipitory :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 8:23pm

How're the Texans LBs in coverage? Can they man up on Welker? It sure as hell felt like Brady and Co did whatever they wanted against my Seahawks.

115
by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 12:12pm

The Texans aren't an elite team. They're a good team (+18%) with a weak schedule. The Patriots, Denver, SF, and SEA are elite teams (all +30% or better).

Typically, 15 points of DVOA is worth roughly 3 points, and homefield advantage is worth 15%. (could be 17%, doesn't change the number much)

So, it looks like this NE: 38%+15%=53% HOU: 18%. NE should be atleast a 7 point favorite, maybe more.

Houston has a chance to beat NE, but that chance is probably about the same size as the chance that NE comes out and curb stomps Houston. This game isn't a whole lot different than Houston playing, say STL or BUF.

121
by dmstorm22 :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 12:31pm

Personally, I think DVOA is underrating the Texans.

Also, and this is a personal thing, I like to discount the Special Teams DVOA for a teams overall DVOA. I do this because of small sample size issues (far fewer Special Teams plays than offense and defense), and the incredible impact unpredictable and volatile acts that Special Teams can have, like turnovers are return TDs.

Anyway, so if you just look at offense and defense, it is much closer, about 32% for the Pats and 24% for the Texans.

I would still make the Patriots a favorite, but I do think the chances of the Texans winning are more than the Patriots crushing them.

72
by merlinofchaos :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 2:11pm

While I agree that NE is damn good, I wouldn't underestimate the Texans like that. I *do* agree that NE has the edge, but 20+ margin of victory? I'd be very surprised. NE did that to the Broncos by shocking the hell out of their defense early in the season. I still say that trick is used up and it won't work again, and the Texans have a great defense. How much do they have to slow down Brady? And can Houston put up points on the NE defense? I think the answer is yes. But then, it's hard to say how much. I really think it'll be a great game for all NFL fans.

79
by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 4:14pm

How was Denver's defense "shocked"? They had just faced NE twice in the final 2 months of the prior year and knew exactly what to expect. Hell, the Patriots didn't even have Hernandez - the guy who torched Denver the worst - available in that game.

NE didn't surprise them, they simply manhandled them, which is now a three game trend of doing so. As poorly as NE matches up against the Giants' defense, they seem to have a great feel for what Denver wants to do.

This has nothing to do with Houston, of course, which I expect to be a close game.

81
by merlinofchaos :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 5:16pm

Did you catch any of the articles about the super fast hurry up with one word commands? Denver simply wasn't expecting that, and it wasn't until late in the 3rd quarter that they started figuring out how to beat it. NE was consistently getting the ball snapped while Denver was still setting up.

Ridley got massive yardage while running against a nickel formation which has slightly different personnel now.

Add in 3 Denver fumbles giving Brady a lot of short fields (and no defense is likely to stop that, no matter how good) and you have a bad game for Denver. It was clearly Denver's worst loss of the season, but I think in their next meeting (and my sense is that Denver and New England are the two most likely candidates to meet in the AFC conference championship) it will be a completely different game and NE fans would be nuts to think it'll go the same way.

Don't get me wrong -- I think New England will put up a bunch of points against Denver's defense, but I think a second meeting will not be the same. And I think Denver's offense can do the same to New England's defense.

89
by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 6:17pm

Hmmm... I guess I missed that. Considering that NE used the hurry up to great success against them in both 2011 games, they must have been going at break-neck speeds for it to be *that* much faster in October.

I don't doubt that Denver has made defensive changes since then. They also look a lot more efficient offensively, which is what I'd be concerned with. Denver hold NE under 27 would surprise me, but Denver winning a 34-31 game wouldn't.

90
by theslothook :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 6:28pm

Whats interesting is, the Pats offense of that day bears no resemblance to the offense since. That game made me think the offense had morphed into a run heavy out of spread type of offense peppered with short passing and play action. Instead, as recently as last week, the offense has gone even more spread with more passing and less running.

Stunning, but NE just is annoying flexible, they do whatever they want every week.

95
by tuluse :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 7:06pm

I think it's more like the Patriots do whatever the defense doesn't want them to do.

96
by merlinofchaos :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 7:16pm

The Patriots offense ran 89 snaps in that game, in 35:49 minutes of possession. In 24:11 minutes of posession, Denver ran 66 snaps. While Denver's average time per snap is shorter, what's *really* interesting here is that New England ran 54 rushing plays of that 89 snaps, so rather more incompletes.

What I remember of the game is that the Patriots were lining up and snapping the ball so fast on a couple of drives that the Denver D was completely on its heels and had trouble even lining up, and that's part of how Ridley was able to get such amazing yardage. And the offense that day looked a lot different from what I've seen in other games, though I have only seen RedZone channel snippets of most of the other NE games, so my observations are admittedly suspect on that part. But others have said similar things.

That offense is scarily flexible, though. I'm excited for Monday. I want to see how they do against Houston's D, which is about 3 points better than Denver's by DVOA.

98
by Texans4269 (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 7:22pm

You must not have watched Houston beat Denver and they didn't use hurry up. It will be Houston and NE in the AFC Conference game.

99
by merlinofchaos :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 7:30pm

Sure, it's possible.

But the Houston Denver game came very early in the season, before Manning and the offense had found their identity, and Denver was in that game until the very last play. I won't say with confidence that Denver will win a rematch but you can't say that Houston beat Denver once and so will again. If they meet in the playoffs, it should be a great game.

103
by theslothook :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 8:49pm

People assume head to head matchups provide a great indicator of future matchups, but this simply isn't the case. Check this year alone, with SF playing STL, with both games going to overtime. And yet, the script didn't follow at all, with both teams posting positive voa on offense the first game and then negative offensive voa the second.

Or lets go to history. The broncos beat the colts in week 16 of 2003, but then in the wildcard round, they got absolutely torched. The Patriots in 2010 murdered the jets 45-3 at home and then lost in the playoffs in a game that really wasn't as close as the final score indicated.

The point is, the texans may have beaten the broncos but if they were to face each other again in the playoffs, odds would say the game wouldn't follow the same script. The texans could still win, but I'm not sure I would feel anymore confident just because the texans won in week 3.

116
by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 12:14pm

If Denver was surprised by that, they're terribly coached. NE's been running that hurry up for years.

123
by cjfarls- (not verified) :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 1:05pm

Umm, no - I don't believe they have. NE has run a no huddle for a long time, and Denver had already played against no huddle Atlanta, etc. prior to the game (so folks said it wouldn't be an issue). But NE's new one-word play call system was said to be a relatively new development, and the indeed, everyone watching and reporting on the game said it seemed like NE was moving faster than they had in other games and that Denver was caught unprepared for the speed NE was lining up and snapping in the first half. By the 2nd half, DEN had adjusted and tightened things up but by then NE was comfortable ahead (though PM made a nice little 4th Q run to make it much closer than NE likely preferred).

NE I think will be a poor matchup for Denver due to relatively poor coverage LBs that Denver has... without an elite cover LB, Gronk/Hernandez/Welker become a scary combo. But benching Joe Mays, the return of DJ Williams, and the emergence of Trevathan will hopefully keep it close enough for a nice PM-TB duel. Certainly not a game I'd put money on.

45
by Podge (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 5:50am

I get that feeling with each of the top 4 "elite" teams this year. They all look pretty good, but none look great. I think its probably because they are all a bit more balanced than great teams in previous years. Apart from the Patriots offence, none of the others have an "elite" unit (over 30% DVOA). They are just unspectacularly balanced. Even the Pats offence doesn't really feel as elite as the top offences last year (even though its DVOA is higher).

51
by Alternator :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 6:50am

In an absolute scale, the New England offense isn't as good as last year--2011 was an insane year for offenses in general, though. Compared to the rest of the league, the 2012 team is a bit better on offense, because the league in general is down.

52
by PatsFan :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 9:21am

(Renews complaint about DVOA being switched to being relative to each season's league average rather than to a standard baseline.)

60
by Brent :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 12:20pm

Yeah. Maybe a rolling average for the baseline would make some sense...

108
by Red (not verified) :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 12:40am

That's actually not true. Offense is slightly better across the board in 2012 than it was in 2011.

Yards/Game
2011 - 346
2012 - 351

Points/Game
2011 - 22.2
2012 - 22.9

ANY/A
2011 - 5.9
2012 - 6.0

Comp %
2011 - 60.1
2012 - 61.5

Int %
2011 - 2.9
2012 - 2.7

In 2011, there were three historically dominant offenses that people remember (GB, NO, NE), but in 2012 there are just a lot of solidly good offenses, and very few terrible ones. This is especially true of QB's, whose stats are much more tightly packed in 2012 than in 2012. Peyton Manning leads the league in NY/A at 7.3, but that's only one yard better than the league average of 6.3.

5
by ZQ (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 8:50pm

A little more than slightly confused by Aaron calling Houston a "Great Running Team" when their DVOA is slightly negative rushing and they rank #12

124
by cjfarls- (not verified) :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 1:25pm

As always, stats are dependent on context, which not even DVOA can fully account.

Anyone who thinks HOU is a mediocre running team isn't looking at the 8-9 defenders in the box for basically every play they run. DEF don't scheme to stop HOU from passing, even though they are proficient there. Same would apply to DEN last year (who's passing talent was a bit less).

6
by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 8:52pm

I was going to put up a post a few days ago proposing that the Bears' defensive DVOA had been inflated by the unsustainable number of turnovers that they were creating. I was put off by the chance of boosting them with a rebounding FOMBC. I'd expect them to still be good at creating takeaways but they were always due a dip. It's a very good defense but I doubt I'm the only person who didn't think they deserved to be ranked as one of the best units in decades.

Conversely, the niners D seems to have been heading up in the past month and from watching the games I would guess that the reason would be that Justin Smith has begun to play like his usual self over the past four weeks. I have no idea why he was so quiet early in the year but he destroyed the Bears line and was pretty brutal against the Saints and the Rams.

10
by JohnD (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 9:12pm

Absolutely warms my heart to see the Chargers with a 0.3% chance of making the playoffs. I expect the Colts to lose once they reach the postseason (although Baltimore definitely seems primed for an upset if they meet in the first round) but to lose to the Chargers would just be awful.

I don't want to carry that particular Manning-era legacy forward into the Luck era.

18
by Scott C :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 10:12pm

So you're telling me... there's a chance?

22
by JohnD (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 10:29pm

They're definitely better than lottery odds.

67
by justanothersteve :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 1:43pm

Only if you fail to account for the Norv variable.

23
by RickD :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 10:44pm

Yes, Lloyd.

37
by merlinofchaos :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 2:10am

While technically the Chargers have a better chance of making the playoffs than I have of, say, winning the lottery (if I were to buy a ticket), I would probably still be more likely to bet money on the lottery than a Chargers playoff entry.

74
by galactic_dev :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 2:18pm

Can anyone tell me why DVOA hates the Colts so much? Is it just that it doesn't measure how "clutch" Luck is?

75
by Insancipitory :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 3:31pm

I would guess it's based off stuff like how the Colts won the Lions game. 4th and 10 TD is a huge play. But it also was proceeded by 3 increasingly expensive failures.

DVOA likes big plays, It just likes them more when their mixed in with lots of other successful plays. But doesn't everyone?

86
by Arkaein :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 6:04pm

Indy has been outscored by 41 points on the season, which like DVOA is a better indicator of overall team quality than wins and losses. A team with a scoring differential of -41 at this point in the season is typically about 5-7, not 8-4. Just look at the AFCE, non-NE teams.

93
by Ben :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 6:43pm

My pet theory is that DVOA really dislikes the fact that the Colts' defense has forced so few turnovers. The Colts have also faced pretty much all of the worst offenses by DVOA (and still face KC). Since the defense has not pitched shutouts and forced a ton of turnovers against that competition, it gets penalized.

Unadjusted, the defensive pass VOA is around 25th, which doesn't surprise me. The defensive rush VOA is 31st, which I find a little surprising. Not that I thought they were good, but I'm surprised it's that bad.

On the offensive side, Luck has chucked a bunch of INTs. My guess is that is why the offensive DVOA is mediocre.

136
by LionInAZ :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 7:01pm

It's more likely that they're punished for close wins over bad teams while getting blown out by good ones, with the win over the Packers being the anomaly.

11
by Zach (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 9:28pm

Is it time to start considering the Seahawks an elite offensive team? I find this really hard to fathom as a Seattlite, but the numbers seem to be indicating it. They're 5th in OffDVOA, and 2nd in the weighted category. Russell Wilson has been playing lights-out football the last two months, and they've got talent at the skill positions.

The defense has declined, but that's been more than compensated for by the growth in the offense. Yes, they're 7-5, and yes, they may well be without both of their starting CBs at some point, but if they keep playing like this on offense they might be able to overcome that. If you'd told me that to start the season, I'd have thought you were crazy.

20
by Perfundle :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 10:17pm

Not until they run more of their offense through Wilson, though the last game was a step in the right direction. So many of his games at Wisconsin started out with Montee Ball running on first and second down, with the opponent putting nine in the box, and half of the time they'd eventually have to punt. When they used the pass to set up the run, the results were so much better, and as a bonus, passing to set up the run meant that the second half was run-dominated, just when the opponent's defense is tiring.

It doesn't help Seattle's national perception that they play in the hardest defensive division by far. Put the 3rd, 4th, 6th and 9th best defenses in the same division and you get a feedback loop where knowing both sides are good at defense leads to extremely conservative offensive gameplans.

14
by okalriii (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 9:46pm

SF still riding out the early season success and a Grade A defense. With Colin O'Sullivan this number should plummet or an early playoff exit is due.

16
by JohnD (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 10:01pm

3 teams, each roughly 4 games ahead of their estimated wins: Houston, Atlanta, Indy. Which of these is not like the others?

92
by LionInAZ :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 6:34pm

I'd say the Falcons.

17
by Special J :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 10:03pm

I know people laugh when you point out that a player's performance dips right after he brings home a newborn baby, but we are talking about something that significantly affects your health and sleep schedule.

Wait, has FO really looked into the decline in play after having a baby? That would be hilarious. So many questions! Like, how does the dip after adding a 2nd child compare to having your 1st? How long does it take to bounce back? Are any positions more affected by fatherhood than others? How is Antonio Cromartie having his best season despite adding child #11 and #12?

19
by Scott C :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 10:13pm

no NFL player can't afford a night nanny.....

130
by Intropy :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 4:13pm

But they may not want to.

21
by Perfundle :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 10:29pm

Somnolence Efficiency Ratings

SVOA (Season-adjusted Value over Average) (Baby born during offseason? Training camp? Regular Season? Playoffs?)

vs. #1 Boy
vs. #2 Boy
vs. #1 Girl
vs. #2 Girl
vs. Twins

Could be an exciting new field.

24
by Noah of Arkadia :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 11:00pm

For one thing, I think Cromartie's kids are from many different people, hence he doesn't get to live with most of them. I'd say kids are only a factor if you actually are a caring parent (not saying whether Cromartie is or he isn't). If you delegate most of the work, they shouldn't be a problem at all.

Philip Rivers has seven kids, by the way. I've been wondering for a while if it's a factor in his decline. I believe potentially it could be a pretty big one, but we'll probably never know for sure.

------
FO posters are a peacock. You got to let us fly!

46
by Podge (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 5:55am

During the Rams game against the Cards, they mentioned that Rams C Scott Wells adopted three kids during the offseason, and so far this year he's either been injured or not particularly good. Last year he was a pro-bowler (for what that's worth as an OL). So clearly, there's some sort of tipping point between 3 kids and 6 kids.

I think this is Peyton Manning's first season where he's had kids, and he's been as good as ever. Although maybe they had some sort of episode during the week leading up to the Atlanta game...

47
by Podge (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 5:56am

Sorry, to be clear, Wells apparently already had 3 kids before he adopted the 3.

54
by Noah of Arkadia :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 10:40am

As far as Peyton, I'm pretty sure it's easier to handle when you're older and more mature than when you go on a kiddie spree straight out of college. It's got to be harder to regain your balance when you've never had a chance to settle within yourself and all you've ever known at home is noise, noise, noise and chaos.

For most it's probably just the lack of sleep, but for some it may be even harder, particularly when there's some other kind of crisis at the time.

------
FO posters are a peacock. You got to let us fly!

111
by Subrata Sircar :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 6:02am

Speaking as a non-athlete who had his first kid after 40, the mental side might be easier, but the physical side is harder. I used to live on 4-6 hours of sleep a night in college and just after; it was not uncommon for me to walk night watch until 8am and then go and play pickup hoops for 2-3 hours. That kind of youthful stamina is very useful when infants are involved.

Infants are generally on a 90-120 minute schedule for the first 60-120 days of their life - that is, they sleep, eat, eliminate and GOTO 10 every hour and a half. If you're caring for them, you don't get to sleep except when they do, and it's very hard to live on an hour of sleep at a time, as any new parent can tell you.

Mentally, though, maybe it's easier, but NFL players are probably used to a substantial amount of their day-to-day revolving around them. Having children turns that completely around - life revolves around the infant, and that inversion, even if you've been looking forward to being parents for years, is probably also stressful. (In my darker moments, I wonder how much that stress contributed to last week's tragic events.)

Anyway, congrats to the Tillmans and hope their kid starts sleeping through the night early.

117
by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 12:20pm

I'm pretty sure that someone who makes 20M (Peyton) a year, or even $4M (tillman) doesn't have to worry about a lot of the things that normal parents do. I'm sure hes not the one getting up at 3:30 in the morning to feed the kid. Someone gets paid to do that.

137
by Noah of Arkadia :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 7:38pm

They could do that, but I wonder how many of them do. Caring after the child is part of the bonding element of parenting. If you pay someone to take care of the troublesome side of children, well, you're pretty much paying them to be the parents.

I guess it depends on their priorities. Is their career first and foremost, or is it their family?

------
FO posters are a peacock. You got to let us fly!

113
by justanothersteve :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 10:28am

Unlike most people, even a lot of average pro athletes, Peyton can probably afford a 24/7 nanny like Alice Nelson or Mr French.

34
by Perfundle :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 12:52am

So, Seattle has the 2nd-ranked overall variance, but the 28th-ranked defensive variance. Their offense, and more specifically Wilson, has shown the ability to at least put the team in striking distance regardless of how much the defense tries to lose the game. The only conclusion is that if/when Sherman and Browner get suspended their offense is going to shoot to first place.

48
by Podge (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 5:57am

Ah, so Pete Carroll has been spiking them with illegal drugs to make sure the offence improves?

He's a genius!

49
by Podge (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 5:59am

I wonder what the correlation is between their defensive DVOA and the games they've won? Because it would seem likely that the offense basically has a fixed level of output, and whether that's enough for a win is determined by whether the defence turns up or not.

35
by Ender (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 1:41am

The weather in the Houston game made that one more or less useless when trying to explain trends. I don't think anyone who was being honest thought the Bears could keep up their early season success. This is nothing more than regression to the mean in what is a good but not amazing defense.

43
by The Hypno-Toad :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 4:29am

Earlier tonight I was thinking back on the theme from earlier in the season that the NFC was so clearly superior to the AFC (which seemed pretty evident at the time). I don't particularly disagree, but this season has not turned into the inter-conference bloodbath that I thought it might be. If I'm reading things right, the NFC is 4 games over .500 vs. the AFC for the season with 14 left to play.
Actually the only division from the NFC that has clinched a winning inter-conference record is the South, and I can't imagine it surprises many people to discover that the Afc West is not very good.
While I do think that the NFC is better top-to-bottom, and that the disparity is likely to increase as Brady and Manning continue to age out of their primes, Rivers continues to fall apart and Roethlisberger continues to get injured, it's nice to see that for at least this year, the NFC doesn't hold exclusive rights to compelling football.

50
by Podge (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 6:01am

10 of the bottom 12 in DVOA are still from the AFC (unless I'm miscounting somewhere).

58
by The Hypno-Toad :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 11:21am

My point (to the extent that I had one) wasn't that the AFC was good. Overall it's clearly not. It was more that with the clip at which the NFC was beating the AFC at the beginning of the season, I'm (somewhat) surprised that the AFC, with all of those bad teams, was able to stop the bleeding, as it were. And maybe FO wasn't the right place for me to bring that observation, as it was pretty much entirely referring to W-L.
From what I see, DVOA has the actual balance of power figured out pretty well. A couple of really good teams from each conference at the top, second tier is dominated by NFC teams, and the bottom is basically a tour of the AFC.

55
by QCIC (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 10:42am

The main things that changes that perception IMO:

Indy much better than anticipated.
Philadelphia much worse than anticipated.
Arizona collapsed after going 4-0.

If you put Indy in for 4 or 5 wins like most expected, and Philly in for 9 or 10 the conferences look a lot more unbalanced.

Granted there are other examples, but I think those are the big ones.

A few weeks into the year people still have inconsistent beliefs about what will happen.

SO a team like Arizona will have continued overperformance projected while people will still forecast a turn around for someone like Philadelphia. There are only so many wins to go around, but people don't have to comes to terms with that until about week 10.

57
by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 11:20am

"Philadelphia much worse than anticipated."

I'm not sure why people keep thinking Philly is going to be good. They have some fantastically big names, but they have no roster depth whatsoever, and they have a terrible quarterback.

59
by Kevin from Philly :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 11:44am

Andy has made a lot of stupid moves this year, but he's had winning seasons after making equally stupid moves (e.g.starting the year with no competent punt returner). People were expecting the birds to do OK, because they've generally done OK over the years under Reid. My theory is that, much like the Soviet Union and Peter Pan, people need to believe in a coach for his system to work. Once that belief disappears, the whole thing implodes. Fortunately, other than Vick, Andy doesn't have any weapons of mass destruction for us to worry about.

61
by Cybit (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 1:09pm

Alternatively, didn't the Eagles lose most of their starting OL? That seems to doom most teams as far as I can tell, and is often a factor in "surprising" recoveries in the following season.

For instance, everyone will think Indy will do fantastic next year. They remind me of TB in 2010. Had a surprisingly easy schedule, everyone expected them to get better, their schedule got harder, they collapsed. I see the same thing next year for Indy.

64
by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 1:35pm

The eagles are 55-52-1 since 2005.

Andy Reid may have been a fantastic coach at one point, but hes not anymore.

3-9 is worse than expected, but I'm not sure why some people thought this was a playoff team.

69
by BJR :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 1:55pm

But we were talking about expectations for Philly before the start of the season, which means 52-43-1; a solid winning record in what is consistently probably the toughest division in the NFL.

Until this year Reid has always turned out solidly above-average teams in Philly which have consistently been in the thick of the playoff hunt at this time of year. So yeah, it is a surprise to most fans to see them floundering like this.

118
by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 12:24pm

They've been 8 and 8 twice in the past 5 years, and 6-10 once. Thats not consistent.

Between a base level of "slightly above average", poor drafting, and one of the worst quarterbacks in the NFL, I think the expectation that they weren't going to be bad is a bit silly.

It was possible they'd be good, but pretty much everything had to go right. And when the most important player on your team is an injury prone quarterback, thats not real likely.

77
by Rick S (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 3:37pm

The end of Reid's tenure in Philly is similar to the end of Shanahan's in Denver... In both cases it was/will be Reid/Shanahan the GM that gets Reid/Shanahan the COACH fired.

119
by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 12:27pm

Eh, its impossible to separate the two. Does Nnamdi Asomugha look bad because he wasn't actually as good as he looked in oakland (the GM made a mistake) or because hes being poorly used/poorly coached (the Coach made a mistake). Is rookie X terrible because he doesn't have any talent? Or because hes a square peg and hes being used in a round hole?

Unless you're watching a ton of film, know what plays are being called, etc. There's no real way to know.

62
by Paul R :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 1:20pm

Warning: Possible Dumb Question Ahead

Imagine a team plays a 16-game schedule, and every week their opponent is dead last in DVOA in every category. (Ranked 32nd in offense, defense and special teams.)
The team finishes with a perfect 16-0 record. (Obviously 100% to make the playoffs.)

Where would such a team be likely to rank on the DVOA chart?

63
by tuluse :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 1:31pm

It would depend on how well they played that per play.

If they averaged 10 ypp on offense while allowing 3 ypp on defense and forced 5 turnovers a game, they would still rank quite high.

68
by burbman (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 1:46pm

Answer would be dependent on how they won all those games. Were they 16 last second field goals in overtime, or did they score touchdowns on every single drive, and hold the opponent to three and outs all day? If you play a tight game against a poor team, your DVOA is not likely to look very good. If you absolutely destroy them, it shouldn't take too much of a hit.

65
by DisplacedPackerFan :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 1:40pm

Pointless little bit of coincidence.

Green Bay's overall DVOA didn't change between week 12 and 13. They were at 23.7 last week and they are 23.7 this week. Offense went from 15.0% percent to 16.2%, Defense went from -7.5% to -6.5%, special teams from 1.3 to 1.0.

Just one of those things and some of it has to do with earlier games carrying less weight I would think since the single game DVOA was 35.3% (33.4% O, -3.9% D, -2.0% ST) which at a quick glance looks like it should have changed things a little differently.

Just a little coincidence I figured I'd point out, I don't really have much to discuss on it, don't disagree with any of it, it just popped out at me.

66
by Jimmy :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 1:42pm

My two cents on the Bears' defense.

They have been absolutely lethal in their Tampa2 (T2) this year. Yes they mix in other coverages but for most of this season they were playing more of T2 than they had in a few years (a monstrous pass rush will do that), they were only changing up to man-free or firezone blitz packages when they wanted to, rarely allowing the offense to dictate coverages. When used as a change up (if I am using this right) it was very effective, mainly because it confused offenses' reads leading to DBs getting a chance to break on the ball. Over the last few weeks teams are using non-standard personel groups (eg extra linemen, loads of TEs) to force the Bears out of their T2 comfort zone. This stops the Bears defenders working together to cover the field and allows coordinators and QBs to identify matchups that will work - if the safety in manfree / cover1 can't add leverage to the man covering player he is effectively in single coverage, the Bears' corners are not great at this and well schemed teams can find these matchups too often for this Bears fan's liking.

The fact is this shouldn't have taken this long, every coach in football knows what routes to run to break down T2, yet many teams had tried it this year against the Bears and it hadn't worked. They have a very good and deep front four together with a back seven that doesn't have any real weaknesses (at least until injury strikes, we will have to wait and see how they get on with some starters out), if they play to the scheme together then they are going to be very difficult to beat, it is a solid scheme. So make them play out of a different defensive scheme, they are nowhere near as good out of single high coverages.

73
by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 2:12pm

That is consistent with my perception. The key is to make the Bears account for the possibility that you are going to play sluggoball, while still being able to go downfield with such a personnel grouping. Easier said than done, of course (ask the Vikings), but there are teams which can do it.

76
by Rick S (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 3:31pm

With a 28 DVOA Ranking, would the Colts have the lowest DVOA rank of a team to ever make the playoffs?
If not they certainly must be close... With that said, could Andrew Luck be considered a serious MVP candidate?

The AFC is the conference of haves and have nots, with the majority of top teams and bottom teams being from the AFC.

80
by nat :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 4:36pm

...could Andrew Luck be considered a serious MVP candidate?

Adam Schein of nfl.com thinks so.

But he's nuts to think so. There are a dozen or more QBs having better seasons, not to mention players at other positions. Luck isn't even the best of the rookie QBs.

He's a fine quarterback, and may have the best career of his draft class. But you don't or shouldn't get awards for having potential. And you shouldn't get awards based on how much your team tanked the previous season in order to draft you, either.

82
by theslothook :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 5:25pm

I don't think Luck deserves the MVP either, but there are two other things you said, one debatable, the other flat out ridiculous.

Lets start with teh debatable one, whether there are other rookie qbs playing better than Luck. By numbers? Yes there are, but keep in mind, the Redskins and Seahawks both sport significantly better offensive lines than the colts. THe colts are also starting a plethora of rookies and 2nd year guys at the skill positions, with wayne the loan exception. Add that to the fact that the colts defense is the worst in football and you realize that not all situations are created equal when simply cross comparing stats. Btw, this has been true for most of Brady's career. And finally- Rg3's numbers also look better when you factor in the read option baylor stuff, combined with the fact that he's thrown more passes behind the line of scrimmage than any other qb. I really hate knocking RG3- hes been really amazing, but the disparity in numbers between he and luck are misleading.

Now to the more absurd claim about the colts tanking. The colts tanked to get luck? really???? Strange how everyone who made this argument last year promptly shut up when the colts won 2 of their last 3 games. Does that really sound like you're tanking, especially when you're in a race with the rams for the number 1 overall pick. Not too mention, the entire coaching staff and front office got fired so I'm pretty sure they weren't purposely tanking so that the next regime would be better off.

83
by tuluse :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 5:38pm

I don't know if they were tanking or not, but starting Curtis Painter is as good as waving a white flag.

84
by theslothook :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 5:55pm

Who else could they have started? Collins was hurt(shocker) and at the time, there probably wasn't a huge discernible difference between Painter and Orlovsky. After watching both players, there was a slight advantage to orlovsky, albeit, akin to falling out of a 40 story building compared with falling out of a 60 story building.

87
by tuluse :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 6:11pm

I know the Colts were in a harder situation that most since Manning got surgery and then the lockout happened, but they still had 2 years of Painter on the team to evaluate him. If the coaches thought he could start for an NFL team they deserve to be fired.

91
by theslothook :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 6:33pm

Well, honestly, they went on the cheap with their backup qb because they assumed(rightly I might add), that any missed time from Peyton would send the team into a death spiral. Once that became a reality, they tried desperately to spend last minute with collins(he was the highest paid backup) in the offseason and it failed. Painter really is a 3rd stringer/out of the league type.

94
by tuluse :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 7:06pm

they assumed(rightly I might add), that any missed time from Peyton would send the team into a death spiral

You would not characterize this as "tanking" or "waving a white flag"?

100
by theslothook :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 7:48pm

The problem is, waving the white flag and tanking are two different things. Waving the white flag implies that the team has made a conscious choice to accept the results from their risk reward strategy. When their investment went belly up, or neck up, they had to accept it.

The tanking that Nat is shamelessly implying is that the colts, once in this rut, actively engaged in trying to lose every game so that they could get the first overall pick. This is a completely different accusation and one that I think is completely wrong.

104
by nat :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 9:45pm

Let me rephrase: the poor offensive performance that was almost entirely due to replacing Manning with horrible QBs and making no real effort to compensate or improve elsewhere on offense.

It's unreasonable to compare the two years as if the previous year reflects anything about the quality of the Colts OL, backs, or receivers. Instead, the players interpreted the QB decisions as a measure of management's intent, and applied themselves accordingly.

I doubt any player was instructed to throw any game. Of course, that wouldn't really be necessary. Once Manning went out, all the personnel decisions focused on winning in 2012 with whatever new QB they could draft. And all the players focused on saving themselves for 2012. And the game plans were as much about developing non-QBs for 2012 as anything. It's not immoral. It's perfectly natural. And It's not "tanking". But it does make inter-year comparisons useless.

105
by theslothook :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 11:12pm

Lets begin with each point: "the poor offensive performance that was almost entirely due to replacing Manning with horrible QBs and making no real effort to compensate or improve elsewhere on offense." This is wrong for a few reasons. The colts backups sucked, yes, but I argue just about any backup would. THats what you get when you pair a backup and a horrible team. You could put Matt Cassel back there and they still would've gone 2-14. Don't believe me? See the chiefs this year and they have a vastly superior roster to last years colts.

Your next point : "Once Manning went out, all the personnel decisions focused on winning in 2012 with whatever new QB they could draft. And all the players focused on saving themselves for 2012." That also is completely wrong. When it became clear Manning was lost, they went out and paid Collins big money to come out retirement. That certainly isn't a 2012 roster decision - thats a do all we can at the last minute to save the season type of move. In addition, given the entirety of the roster and front office turnover, I hardly think anyone on the team was just "mailing it in" or playing for 2012. Just about everyone on the team, save for Wayne, Freeney and Mathis, was gutted. Again, they won 2 of their last 3, thus showing they were trying to win at all costs right up until the end. There's really no two ways about this, they weren't tanking, no one was looking forward to the future. The reality is, this was a bleeding roster from 2007 onward that finally hit the skids and crashed and burned.

106
by nat :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 11:42pm

How much personnel turnover on the offense was there, really?

107
by Insancipitory :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 11:54pm

That brings up the interesting question of how you want to measure that. Transactions? New starters? Total minutes played by new players? I think that last one would be particularly interesting to look into with other variables and see if that's predictive into future seasons.

zwznb

109
by theslothook :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 12:41am

Comparing just total rosters on offense: Only one receiver remained the same(Wayne), with the rest rounded out mostly by rookies and Donnie Avery.

Running backs - relatively the same, though Vick ballard(rookie) has supplanted brown as the starter

Offensive line - 4 new starters.

Qb-Obv

Tight ends- 2 rookie starters.

Essentially, everything was turned over except wayne and the colts last 2 first round picks,

112
by nat :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 8:08am

Essentially, everything was turned over except wayne and the colts last 2 first round picks.
So there's no point in comparing to last season.

120
by Johnny Socko (not verified) :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 12:30pm

Claiming the Colts lost games on purpose (aka tanked) is just not logical, for all the reasons theslothook already pointed out. Of the people in the position to tank (Polian, Polian Jr., coaches, and the players), most are now unemployed. They desperately tried to save the season last year, which would have saved their jobs in the process, but were simply unable to do so. Polian Sr. was particularly interested in preserving the season because he was setting the table for his son to take over. I bet he deeply regrets not being able to hand the reins over to his son.

Also, Luck is not a serious MVP candidate. He's turned the ball over way too much to be considered.

122
by nat :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 12:50pm

I willingly amend "tanked" to "sucked". I really don't think anyone consciously tried to lose. At most, they were aware that Colts fans were hoping they lost. That might have taken the edge off their play. But these are professionals, and do like to win if they can.

I have no idea why they used the QBs they did in the way they did. But terrible choices aren't necessarily intentionally terrible.

Regardless, this just means Luck has to be judged by his own stats, with no grading curve. He's in the running but not in the lead for rookie of the year. He's not a serious MVP candidate.

I like his upside, though. He's going to be a really good professional QB. Probably as soon as next season.

133
by theslothook :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 5:16pm

I finally understand Nat's general premise of why Luck isn't an mvp candidate, though I still think that while the two rosters are wholly different, any time you start a complete overhaul the way they did, its pretty unlikely that the new team will be all that talented. In fact, this team is still woefully lacking in talent overall. Their best players currently are still their the vets they retained - ie- Freeney, Wayne, and Mathis. Sure, some of the rookies have been quite nice(see- Dwayne Allen, Vick Ballard), but most of them are all still too raw.

Again, as a colts fan, I fully acknowledge the media's perception of Luck is all warped and he's being overrated by the media calling him an MVP. While I think as a rookie, he's the best qb of the trio(this is purely my opinion based off a number of factors), that doesn't make him a mvp.

135
by nat :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 5:33pm

I actually agree in part. Luck deserves some credit for playing with a unit that hasn't had years together, not because they must suck (they could be good. Luck is good, after all, and he's new), but because they may not have gelled yet. But I expect that applies to some extent to all QBs. (Consider the patchwork OLs that some top QBs have) Also, the critical bit of timing and coordination is largely between the QB and everyone else. All rookie QBs have that problem equally.

So if you want to say something like "Luck is the 17th best QB in his performance, which is pretty good considering he is a rookie AND is playing with players who are mostly new to each other, too." I have no objection. I just don't see how that caveat could make up for more than 350 DYAR that separates him and RG3. To say nothing of the 1000-1300 DYAR that separates him from the top QBs of the year.

But you are welcome to your praise of him as a rookie QB. He's quite good.

126
by tuluse :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 1:57pm

Well a guy like Jim Isray could see what's going to happen and put constraints on the GM and coaches such that they are not able to win, and thus kill several birds with one huge boulder by jettisoning the executive staff he doesn't think is up to the task and putting his team in position to select The Best QB Prospect Since John Elway™.

101
by Ben :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 8:08pm

Well, that offense was designed so much around Manning, that pretty much any non-Manning QB wouldn't be able to run it, in my opinion. However, in the opinion of the Colts' coaches, a backup that had been there for a few years should have been able to. They went a good chunk of the season trying to get Curtis Painter to play like Peyton Manning. Now, while I would call that stupid, I wouldn't call it tanking.

Of course, the team truly believed that Manning was going to play at some point last year. So, the early part of the year, they didn't want to blow up the offensive philosophy, since they figured they would be using it when Manning was back.

110
by Jeff Huter (not verified) :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 1:37am

Not changing the offensive scheme in hopes of Manning returning and bad coaching made a bad situation worse. I still believe a run heavy offense and better coaching and the Colts could have been competitive and won 6-8 games last year with Painter. The success this year is really due to much better coaching and an upgrade at QB. Caldwell was pathetic. Personally I think the best thing to happen about Manning getting hurt last year was that he couldn't mask the absolute incompetence of Caldwell. This year's team would likely be winless like last year's team if Caldwell were still head coach.

85
by theslothook :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 5:58pm

And you of all people Tuluse should know what happens when you pair bad backup with no talent-you get Caleb Hanie and last year's bears offense- the offense that made previous years of bears offensive ineptitude look like 2011 Packers.

88
by tuluse :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 6:15pm

The Bears started Hanie for 4 games and replaced him. The Colts started Painter for 8 games.

114
by JustinM (not verified) :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 11:34am

Listened to the BS Report and about how dangerous the Seahawks are with their top 10 rating in Off, Def and ST.

Would GB be a top 10 in all three categories if Crosby was kicking at an average level? If the Packers could get somewhat healthy, and a top 10 team in all three, I would suspect they would jump above Seattle as far as a dangerous playoff team.

125
by DisplacedPackerFan :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 1:45pm

Very likely yes. They rank 31st in FG/EP at -11.4 (ahead of SF), 14th in kickoff at 1.8, 14th in kickoff return at -0.1, 2nd in punting at 12.8, 14th in punt returns at -0.1, 9th in hidden at 2.9, 21st in weather at 0.5. If Crosby weren't 1/7 from 50+ and instead was at his career average (he was 12/24 coming into the season) so 3 or 4 of 7, their ranking in FG/XP wouldn't be hugely better, but would like be around -5 or -6, and while I don't know the whole conversion form points added to DVOA I would think would push them up around 2 - 3% DVOA. That is just fixing the 50+, he is 5 of 7 in the 30-39 range and 5 of 6 from 40-49. Those two short misses probably hurt even more than the 6 misses from 50+.

Of course the other side of that coin is that if Masthay weren't punting as well as he is (he's always shown the ability to kick this well but hasn't ever sustained it this long) then the Packers don't rate so high. They are pretty much what you expect to happen on special teams in most other phases of the game. Which I'll take. I'd rather have special teams not really help or hurt, than to be crap like they tended to be.

128
by JustinM (not verified) :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 2:11pm

After the 2010 run I would take average special teams any day of the week. This year Masthay has become a weapon at pinning kicks and the coverage units have been much better than I can ever remember.

In my mind, teams that rely on Special Teams become as shaky as teams that rely on turnovers in the playoffs. Opponents tighten up return game/coverage just as much as teams prioritize taking care of the ball in post-season.

131
by Michael Gormley (not verified) :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 4:44pm

Wondering why the Texans offensive DVOA is so low? They are in second in the league in scoring behind MNF opponent Pats. Clearly DVOA is more sensitive than total points scored but I would think they were better correlated than that. Is the Texans schedule so bad that it drags them down against teams facing stiffer competition?

As a Texans fan, I know Kubiak routinely shuts down the offense as it gets later in the game and the scoring margin gets larger. I would be interested in a DVOA breakdown by quarter of games or even better a DVOA breakdown when games were in doubt based on scoring margin or win probability or some other stat. I would expect that the Texans offensive DVOA is better early in games or when games are close.

132
by Michael Gormley (not verified) :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 4:48pm

I see by looking at VOA vs. DVOA in the second table my schedule assumption plays a large role. The Texans DVOA is 10 points lower than their VOA indicating they are underperforming (compared to Denver or Pats) against their cupcake schedule. It might be worthwhile to have a column in the table with the DVOA vs. VOA splits so we can see when the defensive adjustments are making a big difference in the rating. Although this information may be redundant with the other information in the table already.

134
by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 5:17pm

It might also have to do with Houston's defense being really good. So, they grind teams down with additional possessions that some other teams don't get.

I don't know if this is accurate or reflective of the Texans' offense, just putting it out there.