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09 Dec 2014

Week 14 DVOA Ratings

by Aaron Schatz

Each week, the New England Patriots inch just a little closer to the Denver Broncos in our weighted DVOA ratings, but once again they have not quite caught up. A large part of the football commentariat seems to have written off the Broncos as one of this year's top Super Bowl contenders, apparently because the Broncos had the gall to lose two road games against quality opponents. (Yes, St. Louis counts as a quality opponent.) There's no doubt that Denver's best games came earlier in the year, but the Broncos have still been a top team all season long. They've lost games, but they don't really have a lot of close victories. Denver's wins are all substantial, with a single-game DVOA of at least 37.1% in each of their last six victories. That includes this week's win over Buffalo, which wasn't as close as the 24-17 final score seems to indicate.

And so, there's still a healthy gap between the Broncos and the rest of the league, nearly 10 percentage points. In weighted DVOA, that gap is between the Broncos/Patriots and the rest of the league, but it is still there. There's also a healthy gap between our top five and the rest of the league. Like everyone else, our top five includes New England, Green Bay, Seattle, and Denver. Our fifth team that is standing above the rest of the league is Baltimore. There was a thought a few weeks ago that perhaps the Ravens were ranked too high in DVOA because the opponent adjustments for beating up on the NFC South just weren't strong enough. However, the Ravens continue to play strong games. This week's win over Miami had a single-game DVOA of 67.9%, Baltimore's best game of the entire season. What's weird about the Ravens is that their worst games have all come against division rivals. The Ravens clobbered the Steelers back in Week 2, but otherwise their four division games are their only four games with negative DVOA ratings.

I've written a few times this year about how 2014 seems to be the year without extremes. For the most part, that's still true. Right now, no team ranks among the all-time 20 best or worst teams by offensive, defensive, or total DVOA. However, there are a couple of places where teams are starting to historically stand out.

First of all, the Philadelphia Eagles improved their special teams DVOA to 9.0% this week, moving them up to 14th place all-time in special teams DVOA through 13 games. It's not spectacular or anything -- the Eagles' special teams DVOA is not as high as last year's No. 1 team, Kansas City, or the No. 1 team from the year before, Baltimore -- but it's pretty good. The Eagles have excelled the most on returns, and they are on pace to become the fourth team since 1989 to rate as at least two touchdowns better than average on both kickoff and punt returns. The other three teams: the 2003 Chiefs, the 2010 Bears, and the 2013 Chiefs.

Teams are also standing out on the extremes when it comes to the running game. The Seattle Seahawks have actually slowed down a bit since a few weeks ago, when they appeared to be threatening the 2000 St. Louis Rams for the record for best run offense DVOA of all-time. The Seahawks are now at 27.3%, which is ninth among all teams we have measured. The gap between the Seahawks and the rest of the league is quite ridiculous, as no other team has a run offense DVOA above 10.0%. Kansas City is second at 9.7%.

An explanation digression here: Remember that for teams, we throw all the plays into one team DVOA rating and then see how teams do running compared to passing. Since passing is generally more efficient than running the ball, that means that the average run offense DVOA isn't actually zero. And since offensive DVOA includes some penalties, that means that the average of running and passing isn't zero either. Right now, the league average for pass offense DVOA is 12.2%, and the league average for run offense DVOA is -5.6%.

But of course, there's average, and then there is Oakland. Latavius Murray had 23 carries for 76 yards in this week's win over San Francisco. For the Raiders, that qualifies as a wonderful rushing performance. Darren McFadden is averaging 3.2 yards per carry this year. and the corpse of Maurice Jones-Drew had 90 yards on 41 carries. As a result, the Raiders have a league-worst rushing DVOA of -26.4% which would be the sixth worst ever measured if the season ended today.

If the Raiders had to play the Detroit Lions this year, that might create a black hole of rushing suckitude so dense, even Matthew McConaughey could not escape. The Lions may actually challenge the 2000 Baltimore Ravens for the title of greatest run defense in recent history. Right now, Detroit's run defense DVOA of -34.9% is tied with the 1991 Philadelphia Eagles as the second-best we've ever measured. The Lions are also allowing just 2.76 Adjusted Line Yards per carry; the record is 2.75 by the 2006 Minnesota Vikings, followed by 2.78 for the 1998 Chargers and 2.82 for the 2000 Ravens. In the last two games, Chicago and Tampa Bay running backs carried the ball a grand total of 17 times for just 18 total yards.

And guess who else has a historically great run defense? Now we've circled back to the reasons why people seem to be undervaluing the 2014 Denver Broncos. It's not as flashy as Peyton Manning throwing for six touchdowns, but the Broncos are allowing just 3.5 yards per carry this season.

BEST RUN DEFENSE DVOA 1989-2014 x BEST RUN OFFENSE DVOA 1989-2014 x WORST RUN OFFENSE DVOA 1989-2014
Year Team DVOA   Year Team DVOA   Year Team DVOA
2000 BAL -36.6% x 2000 STL 36.5% x 1991 IND -30.2%
1991 PHI -34.9% x 2011 CAR 32.1% x 2005 ARI -29.1%
2014 DET -34.9% x 1998 DEN 31.4% x 2002 HOU -27.4%
1998 SD -32.9% x 1993 SF 30.5% x 2013 BAL -27.2%
2006 MIN -30.5% x 2002 KC 29.3% x 2013 JAC -27.1%
1995 KC -30.5% x 1990 DET 29.2% x 2014 OAK -26.4%
2010 PIT -29.0% x 2003 KC 28.9% x 1995 ARI -25.1%
2008 BAL -28.6% x 1998 SF 27.8% x 1991 PHI -23.0%
2014 DEN -27.9% x 2014 SEA 27.3% x 1998 NO -22.9%
2000 TEN -27.4% x 2006 SD 27.2% x 2006 DET -22.9%
2007 BAL -27.3% x 2005 DEN 26.8% x 2000 ATL -22.8%
2000 SD -26.6% x 2000 PIT 26.4% x 2000 SD -22.5%
Note: 2014 teams Weeks 1-14 only, other teams full-season stats.

* * * * *

A quick note on the playoff odds report: we previously did not have the correct tiebreaker format set up for the listing of which team is likely to get the No. 1 overall pick. This week, as part of our reprogramming of the simulator code, we also made sure we had that tiebreaker working correctly. That's very important now that there are five teams with 2-11 records. Beating San Francisco dropped Oakland's chances of getting the No. 1 pick from 65 percent to 11 percent in one week, a colossal change. Instead, the teams most likely to get the No. 1 pick are now all teams that need quarterbacks: Tampa Bay, Tennessee, and the New York Jets.

* * * * *

Once again in 2014, we have teamed up with EA Sports to bring Football Outsiders-branded player content to Madden 15 Ultimate Team. Each week, we'll be picking out a handful of players who starred in that week's games. Some of them will be well-known players who stood out in DVOA and DYAR. Others will be under-the-radar players who only stood out with advanced stats. We'll announce the players each Tuesday in the DVOA commentary article, and the players will be available in Madden Ultimate Team packs the following weekend. We will also tweet out images of these players from the @fboutsiders Twitter account on most Fridays. One player each week will only be available for 24 hours from the point these players enter packs on Friday.

And this week's players may be coming to MUT a little early this week... but you'll have to wait and see what's up there.

The Football Outsiders stars for Week 14 are:

  • ROLB Melvin Ingram, SD (24-HOUR HERO): Sack, pass deflection, two run TFL plus a third run tackle for just zero yards.
  • CB T.J. Carrie, OAK: 4 Defeats, including two TFL and two tackles that prevented third-down conversions after receptions.
  • RG David DeCastro, PIT: Led Le'Veon Bell on a counter pull 11 times for 125 yards and 2 TD.
  • SS Roman Harper, CAR: 3 passes defensed plus 3 combined tackles.
  • LOLB Brandon Marshall, DEN: 9 combined tackles, 3 passes defensed, interception.

The stats here might not quite get across how good Melvin Ingram was against the Patriots; he was dominant, but he had a lot of plays that we don't have counted as a stat because Ingram's penetration forced the running back to change directions so he could be tackled by someone else, or opened up a space for another Chargers defender to get pass pressure. Also, we had a hard time deciding whether Ingram and Brandon Marshall should be listed on the left or the right since both players tend to switch back and forth a lot.

We had lots of good possible candidates this week, so sorry if your favorite player who had a big Week 14 game was not included. It's important to do a mix of big stars and under-the-radar players. And if you were really looking for a new Julio Jones and want to know why he's not here, feel free to blame all the complaints we get about doing too many wide receivers! 

* * * * *

All stats pages are now updated with Week 14 information -- or will be in the next few minutes -- including FO Premium, snap counts, and playoff odds. Those updated stats pages include the brand new "defense vs. receivers by direction" table we introduced with an ESPN Insider article this weekend. Make sure to check that out if you missed it. The new table gives defensive DVOA vs. passes by distance and direction: short/deep as well as left/middle/right. You will now find that table on the team defense stat page and are welcome to discuss in the comments below.

You can also read the new weekly playoff odds report on ESPN Insider to get more commentary on the current playoff odds.

* * * * *

These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through 14 weeks of 2014, 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 for strength of schedule and 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 DEN 35.0% 1 32.6% 1 10-3 24.8% 2 -13.9% 3 -3.7% 26
2 NE 26.3% 2 31.0% 2 10-3 15.2% 4 -5.1% 10 6.0% 3
3 SEA 25.6% 5 24.7% 5 9-4 15.1% 5 -12.3% 4 -1.8% 19
4 GB 24.7% 3 24.9% 4 10-3 27.3% 1 1.9% 18 -0.6% 18
5 BAL 24.0% 4 25.9% 3 8-5 13.1% 7 -2.7% 12 8.2% 2
6 MIA 14.1% 6 15.4% 7 7-6 9.9% 10 -7.2% 8 -3.1% 23
7 PHI 13.7% 7 15.4% 8 9-4 -2.6% 16 -7.2% 7 9.0% 1
8 KC 12.4% 8 18.2% 6 7-6 8.6% 12 1.1% 16 4.8% 6
9 DET 9.8% 11 9.4% 12 9-4 -3.9% 18 -18.3% 1 -4.6% 30
10 BUF 9.4% 9 9.6% 11 7-6 -10.4% 25 -14.9% 2 4.9% 5
11 IND 8.3% 10 9.9% 10 9-4 3.1% 13 -0.5% 14 4.7% 7
12 PIT 7.2% 13 10.4% 9 8-5 20.2% 3 12.6% 30 -0.4% 16
13 DAL 3.6% 15 3.9% 14 9-4 13.3% 6 10.2% 28 0.6% 13
14 SF 2.0% 12 0.9% 15 7-6 -5.7% 19 -12.1% 5 -4.3% 28
15 SD 1.6% 16 0.6% 17 8-5 9.5% 11 6.0% 25 -1.8% 20
16 CIN 0.5% 17 -5.4% 20 8-4-1 -1.4% 15 3.0% 23 5.0% 4
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 STL -0.1% 20 8.7% 13 6-7 -9.1% 23 -5.6% 9 3.3% 9
18 NO -1.4% 14 0.7% 16 5-8 11.8% 8 14.5% 31 1.3% 11
19 ATL -1.6% 19 -1.5% 18 5-8 10.6% 9 16.2% 32 4.0% 8
20 ARI -2.6% 18 -3.4% 19 10-3 -9.5% 24 -10.4% 6 -3.5% 25
21 CLE -3.5% 21 -5.8% 21 7-6 -7.2% 20 -3.4% 11 0.4% 14
22 HOU -7.7% 22 -5.9% 22 7-6 -3.3% 17 0.4% 15 -3.9% 27
23 MIN -9.9% 24 -7.2% 23 6-7 -11.1% 26 1.4% 17 2.6% 10
24 NYG -10.6% 25 -9.2% 24 4-9 -8.0% 22 2.9% 22 0.3% 15
25 CHI -11.1% 23 -17.0% 25 5-8 3.0% 14 9.7% 27 -4.4% 29
26 CAR -16.9% 28 -21.6% 28 4-8-1 -7.8% 21 2.6% 19 -6.5% 31
27 NYJ -18.3% 26 -19.4% 26 2-11 -14.8% 28 2.9% 21 -0.6% 17
28 OAK -22.1% 30 -20.2% 27 2-11 -18.8% 29 4.2% 24 0.9% 12
29 WAS -27.8% 27 -36.4% 31 3-10 -12.3% 27 8.2% 26 -7.4% 32
30 JAC -30.1% 32 -24.1% 29 2-11 -27.7% 32 -0.7% 13 -3.1% 24
31 TB -30.8% 31 -28.8% 30 2-11 -25.1% 31 2.8% 20 -2.9% 21
32 TEN -33.3% 29 -39.5% 32 2-11 -19.1% 30 11.1% 29 -3.0% 22
  • 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 DEN 35.0% 10-3 31.5% 11.7 1 5.3% 5 -6.7% 26 9.0% 5
2 NE 26.3% 10-3 22.7% 8.9 5 4.2% 6 1.7% 14 18.5% 22
3 SEA 25.6% 9-4 21.7% 9.2 3 1.0% 13 -0.3% 17 16.4% 17
4 GB 24.7% 10-3 26.2% 9.0 4 0.7% 14 -3.9% 22 13.5% 11
5 BAL 24.0% 8-5 27.9% 9.4 2 -3.7% 25 -13.8% 31 9.9% 7
6 MIA 14.1% 7-6 15.4% 8.3 6 5.5% 4 -0.6% 19 17.6% 19
7 PHI 13.7% 9-4 12.4% 8.1 7 -5.0% 27 -11.6% 27 15.4% 15
8 KC 12.4% 7-6 8.2% 7.7 9 5.6% 3 -4.4% 23 22.6% 29
9 DET 9.8% 9-4 12.9% 7.9 8 -2.2% 20 1.2% 15 7.8% 4
10 BUF 9.4% 7-6 8.4% 7.1 12 3.4% 9 9.6% 4 4.7% 1
11 IND 8.3% 9-4 12.1% 7.7 10 -2.8% 23 -12.5% 29 11.0% 8
12 PIT 7.2% 8-5 8.4% 6.9 14 -6.8% 30 3.8% 9 15.2% 14
13 DAL 3.6% 9-4 6.5% 7.2 11 -7.2% 31 -1.9% 20 17.7% 20
14 SF 2.0% 7-6 -0.4% 6.7 16 1.1% 12 8.2% 6 13.8% 12
15 SD 1.6% 8-5 2.6% 7.0 13 4.0% 7 16.5% 2 18.0% 21
16 CIN 0.5% 8-4-1 2.2% 6.8 15 -2.7% 22 12.9% 3 20.7% 26
TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
W-L NON-ADJ
TOT VOA
ESTIM.
WINS
RANK PAST
SCHED
RANK FUTURE
SCHED
RANK VAR. RANK
17 STL -0.1% 6-7 1.1% 5.5 23 0.2% 15 4.1% 8 34.6% 32
18 NO -1.4% 5-8 -2.6% 6.2 18 -0.6% 16 -14.5% 32 23.4% 30
19 ATL -1.6% 5-8 1.3% 6.2 20 -4.5% 26 -3.7% 21 13.1% 9
20 ARI -2.6% 10-3 -1.0% 6.5 17 3.2% 10 9.2% 5 6.1% 3
21 CLE -3.5% 7-6 3.8% 6.2 19 -5.4% 28 2.5% 10 13.2% 10
22 HOU -7.7% 7-6 3.9% 5.0 25 -9.1% 32 0.7% 16 5.7% 2
23 MIN -9.9% 6-7 -8.3% 6.0 21 -1.0% 17 4.3% 7 14.7% 13
24 NYG -10.6% 4-9 -13.7% 4.7 26 -2.8% 24 -4.7% 24 19.5% 23
25 CHI -11.1% 5-8 -15.1% 5.6 22 2.9% 11 -0.5% 18 9.5% 6
26 CAR -16.9% 4-8-1 -20.8% 5.0 24 3.8% 8 -12.0% 28 15.8% 16
27 NYJ -18.3% 2-11 -24.0% 4.6 27 8.2% 1 2.4% 11 16.5% 18
28 OAK -22.1% 2-11 -30.4% 4.3 28 6.6% 2 18.9% 1 19.5% 24
29 WAS -27.8% 3-10 -24.6% 3.4 29 -5.5% 29 2.2% 12 25.1% 31
30 JAC -30.1% 2-11 -26.8% 2.4 32 -2.0% 19 -5.7% 25 19.8% 25
31 TB -30.8% 2-11 -24.7% 3.2 30 -2.5% 21 2.2% 13 21.4% 27
32 TEN -33.3% 2-11 -30.1% 2.8 31 -1.4% 18 -13.4% 30 22.3% 28

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 09 Dec 2014

94 comments, Last at 19 Dec 2014, 4:29am by DefendTheDen

Comments

1
by N8- :: Tue, 12/09/2014 - 8:34pm

I'm actually surprised that the Packers Weighted DVOA didn't take a bigger hit from the Atlanta game.

5
by dank067 :: Tue, 12/09/2014 - 8:47pm

I hadn't really been following Atlanta for awhile, somewhat surprised to see their DVOA isn't too awful (-1.6%), though it obviously shouldn't be playoff-worthy, and they do have the ninth-ranked offense (10.6%). Still a red flag for the Packers defense, but I guess it wasn't that bad of a performance overall.

46
by ChrisS :: Wed, 12/10/2014 - 10:39am

GB offense played very well, but Atlanta has the worst defense according to DVOA so that will be heavily discounted. The GB defense played poorly, but as you say Atlanta has a good offense so that will also be adjusted towards the mean. So net a positive DVOA game for GB but not as good as they had been playing.

64
by DisplacedPackerFan :: Wed, 12/10/2014 - 3:50pm

That is essentially correct. Without giving out too much of the info that FO has in the Premium database the Atlanta game was Green Bays 8th best overall DVOA game this year. It rated as their 3rd best offensive game overall (6th pass / 4th rush) and it was their 12th best or 2nd worst, defensive game. The pass D was quite bad, not as bad as against NO, but it was bad. The run D was 7th, it was actually better than average. Somewhat surprisingly it was the 2nd best special teams game, I guess the blocked extra point didn't hurt that much.

6
by Perfundle :: Tue, 12/09/2014 - 8:47pm

Weighted DVOA doesn't necessarily go down after a bad game, because a bad game might be simultaneously removed from the start of the season.

18
by justanothersteve :: Tue, 12/09/2014 - 11:13pm

Makes sense because the Packers third game was against Detroit. Eddie Lacy first lost a fumble that the Lions returned for a TD and was then tackled for a safety. Rodgers was sacked twice, best remembered for a Detroit LB injuring himself celebrating one sack. The Packers defense played ok, intercepting Stafford twice. Detroit won, giving them the tiebreaker which will probably be settled in week 17.

44
by thebuch :: Wed, 12/10/2014 - 10:10am

Well, DVOA measures everything on a per play basis, and offensively they had a great first half, and in the second half they didn't have nearly as many plays, even if some were finally unsuccessful.. But also had the long TD and the game clinching run. They also didn't have any turnovers or fumbles they recovered. Their defense also had a strong first half, although they did give up a lot of successful plays in the second half (although it won't factor into DVOA, each Falcons drive for a score other than the one with the 79 yarder took quite a bit of time off the clock, so even if everyone felt their defense was playing "horrible", with a 24 point lead the most important thing was to take time off the clock and make sure the clock would expire before ATL ever got the ball back with a chance to take the lead, which it did)

2
by Otis Taylor89 :: Tue, 12/09/2014 - 8:35pm

And ARI keeps moving down, down, down to 20...with a 10-3 record.
CIN defense #23 - how is that possible?
And, of course, the team nobody wants to play STL is at #17. I fail to understand what happened to their defense at the beginning of the season as it seems like they thought they were still playing exhibition games for the first month or Jim Haslet was secretly coaching them as well as WAS.

19
by rrsquid :: Tue, 12/09/2014 - 11:23pm

I wonder how often an outright division leader has had the worst DVOA in the division.

41
by big10freak :: Wed, 12/10/2014 - 8:42am

Cincy's defense is ranked 23rd because their defensive line brings nothing and their best linebacker has been out since about game five or six. And too much Adam Jones having to play pass defense.

3
by merlinofchaos :: Tue, 12/09/2014 - 8:36pm

Seeing that Buffalo has the #2 ranked defense in DVOA, I feel a lot better about the Bills-Broncos score -- getting 3 rushing TDs against a top ranked defense is really good.

I hope next week we see a bit more true balance, where the passing offense actually looks goo d AND the rush offense looks good and the defense is forced to pick their poison.

8
by Otis Taylor89 :: Tue, 12/09/2014 - 9:04pm

Good game this weekend BUF #1 pass D vs. GBs #1 pass O - in BUF. Two men enter, one man leaves.

45
by Mike B. In Va :: Wed, 12/10/2014 - 10:23am

It's all about the Packers' line. If they can't protect Rodgers - and Buffalo's front four is as good as it gets - it's going to be a long day for him.

That said, I think he'll work the middle of the field, since I anticipate Spikes being in to counter Lacy, and Searcy will probably be out so Duke Williams will be exploitable, since they definitely need Graham on the outside against Cobb/Nelson. Maybe Quarless/Rodgers up the seam, with Kuhn in to block? How much 11 vs 21 personnel do they use?

I don't expect Buffalo to win this game, but if the offense can get ANYTHING going the D can usually keep them in it. Should be fun to watch.

54
by Anon Ymous :: Wed, 12/10/2014 - 1:36pm

Green Bay can probably win a 17-13 with just defensive scores. Good God is Orton terrible. I watched the Buffalo/Denver replay and Buffalo probably wins that game 31-17 with good quarterbacking. Not great, just good.

75
by Perfundle :: Wed, 12/10/2014 - 6:00pm

Why is it that these journeyman backup QBs (your Ortons and Hoyers), if pressed into starting service, tend to start out decently and crater midway through the season and not after a couple of games? Is 8 games worth of tape really that more useful than 2? Besides, even if the offensive game plan is different, their weaknesses should have been present in earlier tapes from previous years.

80
by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/10/2014 - 7:01pm

Getting 6 more games of tape of a qb working with a particular roster, really is pretty valuable.

83
by Duff Soviet Union :: Thu, 12/11/2014 - 3:36am

He's still better than EJ Manuel.

9
by Otis Taylor89 :: Tue, 12/09/2014 - 9:04pm

Good game this weekend BUF #1 pass D vs. GBs #1 pass O - in BUF. Two men enter, one man leaves.

4
by BroncFan07 :: Tue, 12/09/2014 - 8:46pm

I think people have forgotten about Denver largely because I doubt anyone thinks they can win in Foxboro.

7
by PatsFan :: Tue, 12/09/2014 - 9:04pm

Even if that's true, it only takes one NE loss to not be playing Denver at Gillette.

12
by LelouchViBritannia :: Tue, 12/09/2014 - 9:16pm

One NE loss *IF* Denver runs the table. I wouldn't take that for granted given their schedule.

11
by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 12/09/2014 - 9:14pm

Same reason people forgot about the Colts in '06, that they couldn't beat SD if it came to that. Well, that or the roughly 2,500 rushing yards they gave up.

Honestly, if I'm a Broncos fan, I'm liking how the rest of the AFC is playing out below you. Assuming NE wins out, if the Colts end at #3 it is probably the best possible outcome (other than maybe CIN ending at #3). I think out of all the teams #3 and below in the AFC, the one with the best shot in NE in Rd. 2 is Baltimore, which looks to be likely if they can win that divison.

13
by Bobman :: Tue, 12/09/2014 - 9:44pm

I won't go so far as to think the opposite is true of Colts/Broncos, but it's close: The team with the #2 rush D against a team that cannot really run well? "Okay, big shot, take away my biggest weakness. I'll hardly notice it."

Not very Belichickean. Sort of the anti-BB situation, really.

Of course Den has some hellish pass rushers to deal with and unless Luck gets tutoring from Fred Biletnikoff, that spells trouble.

But for the Colts to face a team with a great run D? I'm okay with that.

The rest of it, I agree with. Let somebody else beat up the Pats and maybe take them out like the Pats beat SD for the Colts back in 2006.

79
by cjfarls :: Wed, 12/10/2014 - 6:56pm

Thats the thing with the Denver run DEF though... because their run DEF is so good, they can tee-off the pass-rushers. They are the #3 defense for more than just a great run DEF.

Denver's biggest problem in pass DEF has been missing Danny Trevathan and (to a far lessor extent, except that Steven Johnson is terrible) Nate Irving in coverage in the middle of the field. Irving is gone, but Trevethan should be back in a week or 2 which should help alleviate that a lot, and Brandon Marshall's coverage work has vastly improved from early season (when it was pretty terrible). But Gates, Gronk, Kelce, Chandler and other good TEs have been kinda shredding them.

Both Bmarsh and Trevathan together should tighten up the middle a lot... and that weakness is probably overstated, as much of that might be schematic where DEN gives up a ton of garbage yards/points to let teams back in the game, so it may be they are sacrificing the middle of the field in exchange for rolling the clock (before many think they should).

20
by jonnyblazin :: Tue, 12/09/2014 - 11:27pm

"the one with the best shot in NE in Rd. 2 is Baltimore"

I'd bet Brady would be licking his chops to face the Ravens secondary though.

30
by dmstorm22 :: Wed, 12/10/2014 - 12:27am

Sure, but I think he would rather face the Colts lack of pass rush than Doom and Suggs (and Ngata, who would be back).

50
by Hurt Bones :: Wed, 12/10/2014 - 11:15am

Yes, I think a very good quarterback would rather face tough coverage and no rush, than lots of open receivers and the likelihood of spending most of the day with his head planted in the turf.

15
by Rick_and_Roll :: Tue, 12/09/2014 - 10:37pm

Another reason Denver could be under the radar is that they are winning games in a much different way than they have in the Peyton era. In recent weeks, Manning has been more of a complimentary player to a strong running game and stout defense. It's bad for fantasy, but it is a more proven way to win games in Dec/Jan/Feb. However, the primary reason has to be Peyton's history of both bad games and bad luck in Foxboro.

Hopefully this season plays out like 1997 where Denver started on fire, but then had some tough road losses where they were dismissed a non-contender. That year they went on a Revenge Tour where they defeated the teams that beat them late in the season (KC, PIT) as well as Jacksonville who upset them in the playoffs in 1996. This Bronco fan's dream scenario would be a Revenge Tour 2, where they beat Baltimore in the 1st round, Patriots in the AFC Championship game in Foxboro and then Seattle in the SuperBowl.

23
by TomC :: Tue, 12/09/2014 - 11:55pm

Another reason Denver could be under the radar is that they are winning games in a much different way than they have in the Peyton era. In recent weeks, Manning has been more of a complimentary player to a strong running game and stout defense.

With apologies to Jesus and MLK, Jr., if the 2014 Broncos win a Super Bowl by running the ball and stopping the run, I may have to nominate John Fox for Greatest Human Being Ever.

24
by Rick_and_Roll :: Wed, 12/10/2014 - 12:01am

Yep, Denver winning with running and defense... The formula Same as the Tebow era, but without Tebow!

43
by Bright Blue Shorts :: Wed, 12/10/2014 - 10:04am

Relying on a RB rather than the QB was also the formula that finally brought two SB wins to close out the Elway years

26
by Bobman :: Wed, 12/10/2014 - 12:03am

R&R I admire a man with a keenly developed sense of vengeance. Good luck.

But remember, your Broncos beat my Colts in Week 1. And the Broncos' D strength matches up with the Colts' O weakness. Sadly (for me) the Colts' D is hot and cold, sometimes just fine vs rush or pass (yay!), and other times... uh, you guys didn't sign Jonas Grey, didja? Because sometimes I think a coat rack in a uniform could average 6 YPC against them. Jeez, what year was the Simpsons "inanimate carbon rod" joke bandied about here like it was going out of style? 2004? 2005? Probably didn't last as long as Catholic Match Girl jokes or Brady 12 (genuflect) jokes, but same principle seems to apply for Den RBs right now with the third stringer tearing it up.

31
by Rick_and_Roll :: Wed, 12/10/2014 - 12:29am

Denver has a tendency to build up big leads and then takes the gas off, allowing teams to make it close. Andrew Luck is the type of guy to exploit this with a win. Earlier this year he brought the Colts back to within a TD after it looked like a blow out.

52
by Ryan :: Wed, 12/10/2014 - 11:32am

He's not a All-World kind of guy, but the return of Arthur Jones to the line-up has made the Colts run D look at least functional. The numbers with him on the field vs off are pretty glaring (don't have them off the top of my head, but YPC and long runs go way down when he's healthy). If/when Colts go to DEN/NE, I'm hoping it won't be a "rush running back X 72 times" kind of game.

32
by spujr :: Wed, 12/10/2014 - 12:39am

I agree but would still worry about facing Seattle. I think they are the best team in the league if they discipline themselves and not act like clowns. There's little fault in Russels game and I don't think any team can effectively contain him (I know a few have but every QB has their off days). THAT SAID, I don't see them beating GB at home again in the playoffs. Having GB vs Den for the championship game would be more like 1997 in any case.

10
by big10freak :: Tue, 12/09/2014 - 9:13pm

Getting a bit uneasy on the Packers offensive ranking climbing as the defense and special teams continue to slowly slip back. Giving me flashbacks to 2011.

25
by TomC :: Wed, 12/10/2014 - 12:02am

Special teams I'll grant you, but I am very tempted to think that GB's regression on defense has a lot to do with regularly being up 5 TDs in the 2nd half. I know this goes against Aaron's findings that DVOA in garbage time has some predictive value for non-garbage time, but it's one of those intuitive beliefs I find very hard to let go of.

33
by Perfundle :: Wed, 12/10/2014 - 12:40am

Those generally aren't the games that are dragging down Green Bay's score. Apart from last night, they allowed a lot of positive plays against Miami and Chicago (first time), and let a pretty bad offense in Minnesota hang around for too long.

42
by big10freak :: Wed, 12/10/2014 - 8:43am

I would expect in those situations to see some sack totals. Instead the pass rush seems to have regressed so much to the point that in the review of the game against Atlanta the lead Packers beat writer termed the Packers pass rush as 'standing around'.

14
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/09/2014 - 9:55pm

If I had to bet on a champion, I guess I'd go with Seattle, even though I don't like their chances nearly as much if they don't catch the Packers for HFA. Offenses just aren't constructed, with a heavy emphasis on very physical offensive line play, very often anymore, to best attack what the Seahawks like to do on defense.

16
by tuluse :: Tue, 12/09/2014 - 10:49pm

Another way to look at it might be that Seattle's defense is designed to stop modern offenses.

22
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/09/2014 - 11:47pm

Exactly, and kudos to Carroll.

17
by whateverdude :: Tue, 12/09/2014 - 11:10pm

I think a physical running team would have the best shot against Seattle because it exploits the weakest link of their D (the d-line). With Mebane out it's basically down to Bennett, Avril, and a bunch of average guys. They can get by with this rotation when the offense dominates time of possession, but the longer a game goes on the more vulnerable they'll become.

29
by Perfundle :: Wed, 12/10/2014 - 12:24am

Well, the best three rushing teams after Seattle are Kansas City, Dallas and Miami, and the smart money is on all three missing the playoffs. You still need to be able to pass on Seattle to beat them.

One thing that has been quite successful against them this year has been to get a receiver matched on a linebacker or Chancellor and run a corner or wheel route, draw the outside corner on that side away on an intermediate route, and run a post or seam route opposite the side of the first route to draw away Thomas. Green Bay got a long pass interference against Wagner, San Diego got a few long passes, and even Sanchez got a TD with it against Wright.

Currently I'm wary of Detroit. I haven't watched them much, but Stafford and Calvin are always capable of dominating a game, and now they have Tate who should know a few tricks in dealing with Seattle's defense. Their defense looks capable of stopping Lynch without having to load the box, and if it turns into a defensive slog one jump ball to Calvin in the endzone can easily turn the tide. They're better than their DVOA too, not only because Calvin is healthy now, but also because Henery and Freese are no longer on the team, which should add at least 3% to their special teams DVOA.

35
by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/10/2014 - 12:53am

Could Detroit win a game 13-10 or 16-13 in Seattle? Sure, but my money would be very strongly on Stafford throwing an INT or two, and Seattle winning 20-10.

47
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Wed, 12/10/2014 - 10:41am

Seattle's a great team, don't get me wrong, but I fear the Packers more than the Seahawks, because of matchups. Nobody runs on the Lions, but their weakness on defense is DB depth. The great quarterbacks with a deep receiving/TE corps are set up to take advantage of that (which is why the game in Foxboro was a blowout). I could see Rodgers doing the same thing in Lambeau.

Either way, I think the Lions are a few players away from being able to compete with either team on the road in the playoffs.

51
by ChrisS :: Wed, 12/10/2014 - 11:17am

Even the non-depth DB's have not been very good vs NE or last week against TB. Allowing over 300 yards (including 2 PI) to Josh McCown is not good. Getting the two ints is very good for the DB's. But the DL and LB's getting 6 sacks and many more hits and hurries is what made the pass defense effective.

21
by jacobk :: Tue, 12/09/2014 - 11:46pm

Compared to last year Seattle has gained 5.7% on offense, lost 13.6% on defense, and lost 6.5% on special teams. Too bad special teams has been such a disappointment (I'm actually a little surprised they only lost .9% after the clown show in Philly)--if they had been able to maintain last year's performance they would be in striking distance of a threepeat atop the DVOA rankings.

As it is it looks like they would need an end-of-2012-esque run to close the gap on Denver. Oh well. At least there's still a reasonable chance to climb into the top seed in the NFC even if they can't manage the best DVOA.

49
by big10freak :: Wed, 12/10/2014 - 10:48am

The special teams step back is almost certainly tied to injury and guys typically on special teams having to move into starting roles.

Seattle has had to work through a fair amount of injuries especially to the defense

56
by Perfundle :: Wed, 12/10/2014 - 1:40pm

I would say the main reasons are actually mainly due to Tate leaving, Richardson not being smart about taking kickoff returns out (although this was their weak area last year too), and Ryan inexplicably not being able to field snaps consistently. The coverage teams have been pretty good save for a trick-play punt return TD by the Rams.

55
by LyleNM :: Wed, 12/10/2014 - 1:38pm

I'm guessing Ryan's fumble counts against the offense not against special teams.

27
by bubqr :: Wed, 12/10/2014 - 12:05am

I might be underrating BAL too much, but it sure looks like we got a 2-team race to the Superbowl in each conference (GB vs SEA / NE vs DEN). It would shock me to see any other team making it to the big game.

28
by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/10/2014 - 12:17am

With those four, the games I'd be most interested in would be NE vs. SEA, or DEN vs. GB.

36
by jonnyblazin :: Wed, 12/10/2014 - 1:14am

BAL might have a chance in a game in cold and wind. Their secondary is easily their biggest weakness but the rest of their units are solid to excellent, if the weather neutralizes the passing game they can definitely score an upset.

40
by Jerry :: Wed, 12/10/2014 - 4:43am

It would shock me to see any other team making it to the big game.

It wouldn't shock me at all. This seems like a year where anything can happen.

48
by bubqr :: Wed, 12/10/2014 - 10:45am

I think that after a shaky early season, where it looked like GB/SEA/NE might not be up to the task (those articles about NE having to start transitioning to the post-Brady era feel like yesterday), they very much cemented their spot as clear contenders the past few weeks, with the Broncos only looking a bit weaker recently. I don't recall that much of a clear top4 the past few years.

57
by Perfundle :: Wed, 12/10/2014 - 1:48pm

The top 4 teams last year seemed pretty clear too, especially when all of them made the conference championship game.

66
by Richie :: Wed, 12/10/2014 - 4:28pm

I think that was the first time the top 2 seeds in each conference made the championship game since 2005.

70
by tuluse :: Wed, 12/10/2014 - 5:30pm

The Bears were the 2 seed in 2005 and did not make the conference championship game.

73
by Perfundle :: Wed, 12/10/2014 - 5:33pm

I think he means the year 2005, i.e. the 2004-2005 season.

82
by tuluse :: Wed, 12/10/2014 - 9:00pm

Ok, that makes sense.

71
by Perfundle :: Wed, 12/10/2014 - 5:30pm

San Francisco actually wasn't the second seed, although it's easy to forget that.

34
by Paul R :: Wed, 12/10/2014 - 12:42am

"Right now, the league average for pass offense DVOA is 12.2%, and the league average for run offense DVOA is -5.6%.
"...the Raiders have a league-worst rushing DVOA of -26.4%"

In other words, the defense-adjusted-value-over-average for rushing is below average. And the Raiders' value over the below-average average is 26.4% below the below-average average value over average.

61
by shoutingloudly :: Wed, 12/10/2014 - 3:12pm

Now you're just being mean. Try to find a different mode, before we drive Aaron onto a highway median.

37
by Perfundle :: Wed, 12/10/2014 - 1:27am

With only three games to go none of the teams are likely to drop below average, so the NFC West should field four above-average defenses for the third-straight year; it was only six years ago that all four were below average. Since 2002, no other division has had three straight years of above-average or below-average rankings for each of their teams in either offense or defense.

38
by DefendTheDen :: Wed, 12/10/2014 - 1:57am

In regards to showing the historical relevance of the Lions, Seahawks, & Raiders, I was curious if the Green Bay Passing Offense is close to cracking the historical top 10 list at 50.1% for the year.

39
by Perfundle :: Wed, 12/10/2014 - 2:15am

Nope: http://www.footballoutsiders.com/dvoa-ratings/2014/historical-dvoa-estim...

Even if you throw out all the estimated ones, Green Bay still doesn't crack the top 17.

94
by DefendTheDen :: Fri, 12/19/2014 - 4:29am

Thanks for that. And to Buffalo for cementing that point on Sunday.

53
by Julio :: Wed, 12/10/2014 - 12:06pm

There have to be home and road splits for DVOA because teams play
entirely differently sometimes home and away. The Pats offense has
trouble away, this last game against the Jets will be like pulling teeth.
Before they played the Pats, SD was giving up 24.5 points on the road
but only 14 at home, making them one of the best defenses at home.
The Pats O performance against SD was one of their best of the year
despite the relatively low number of points.

Julio

58
by Anon Ymous :: Wed, 12/10/2014 - 1:55pm

True, but SD was facing a fairly tame set of offenses at home. Oakland, NYJ and Jacksonville, to name a few. Their opponent's average scoring per game is 17.5, only three points higher than what SD was allowing, so the split isn't entirely SD's making.

59
by Perfundle :: Wed, 12/10/2014 - 2:08pm

Brady only getting 26 DYAR, LaFell adding a fumble after a reception and the running game being horrible doesn't sound like one of their best performances of the year. I don't see how it's better than how they played against Cincinnati, Buffalo, New York, Chicago, Denver, Indianapolis, Detroit and Green Bay.

60
by dmstorm22 :: Wed, 12/10/2014 - 2:21pm

Yup, I think the OP was either seeing something no one else did, or is just wrong.

That was, to me, their worst game on offense since the KC game. Brady threw numerous passes that were either thrown poorly or into serious coverage. He hasn't been great the last few games of the streak, apart from the Detroit game.

The run-game was average at best.

All that against a bad defense. Their defense is playing really well right now when trying to stop a human QB and not Aaron Rodgers, but that offense did struggle against SD.

63
by duh :: Wed, 12/10/2014 - 3:50pm

What was odd to me was after they got down 14-3 they went to an empty backfield uptempo approach and moved right down the field before stalling near the goal line. I kept waiting for them to go back to that but don't recall them doing so

65
by Julio :: Wed, 12/10/2014 - 4:10pm

It was a good performance on offense by the Pats because
they won on the road against a good defense. I would guess the
Pats would have put up 40 against them at home.
Julio

74
by Perfundle :: Wed, 12/10/2014 - 5:47pm

It was a good performance on offense by the Pats because
they won on the road against a good defense.

It was a good performance on defense by the Pats because they won on the road against a good offense. They held a team 9.7 points, 148 yards and 1.7 yards per play under their previous averages at home. San Diego's defense was horrible entering the game, in 28th place; they improved by 4 percentage points and 3 places this week.

87
by Julio :: Thu, 12/11/2014 - 11:26am

The point of my op was that home/road splits should
be accounted for. SD was giving up 14 pts/game at home,
putting them at the top of the league, 24.5 points per
game on the road, one of the worst. The Pats offense did
a great job against a good defense.
Julio

62
by andrew :: Wed, 12/10/2014 - 3:50pm

Detroit's run DVOA will almost certainly improve this week going against Matt Asiata.

67
by Ben :: Wed, 12/10/2014 - 4:28pm

I'm still surprised to see the Ravens bunched with the other top 4 teams and even having a better weighted DVOA than the Packers and Seahawks.

I've not particularly watched them, but what exactly do they do well? I took a quick look at their rankings in the traditional stats, and while they're not bad a anything, they don't seem to be exceptional at anything either.

I wouldn't have been surprised at all to see them in that second tier of teams (MIA, PHI, KC) but am just wondering what do they do that DVOA is so fond of?

68
by Rick_and_Roll :: Wed, 12/10/2014 - 4:56pm

Here is my evaluation of Baltimore:
They run the ball well, have a great pass rush, solid run defense, clutch QB and great special teams. If the opponents OL can withstand their pass rush, their pass defense isn't very good...

69
by jonnyblazin :: Wed, 12/10/2014 - 5:09pm

That's pretty accurate. They have a great front seven and offensive line. Osemele and Yanda in particular are a nasty set of guards. Flacco is having his best season under Kubiak.

However, their secondary isn't good. And their WR's, TE's, and RB's are underwhelming, although Forsett is obviously very effective in Kubiak's scheme.

Their special teams is great, although that's expected when the HC is a long time special teams coordinator.

I also think Dean Pees is a C- coordinator, but they've been getting by because Ozzie always stacks the front seven with talent. That's more of a subjective evaluation though.

72
by tuluse :: Wed, 12/10/2014 - 5:31pm

Everyone underestimates special teams impact. If you remove special teams, Miami would have a higher DVOA than Baltimore.

81
by Anon Ymous :: Wed, 12/10/2014 - 7:02pm

Pees never impressed in NE and was summarily dismissed. Quite a few Pats fans point to his success in Baltimore as evidence of Bill making a mistake or perhaps scapegoating him for personnel issues.

77
by Hurt Bones :: Wed, 12/10/2014 - 6:03pm

I think you're a little hard on Dean. He's no mad genius, but I think he does an above average job with the talent. More of a C+/B-. The Ravens are 32nd in DVOA against deep passes, but 1st against short passes. The deficit in secondary talent as opposed to scheme is magnified on the deep passes. When Chykie Gorrer Levine is starting for you, even Albert Einstein has problems.

78
by Perfundle :: Wed, 12/10/2014 - 6:17pm

The definition of insanity is starting Chykie, Gorrer and Levine.

- Albert Einstein

76
by Anon Ymous :: Wed, 12/10/2014 - 6:01pm

Is it asking too much to know what NE's defensive VOA and DVOA were against San Diego?

84
by The Hypno-Toad :: Thu, 12/11/2014 - 3:59am

I feel like St. Louis is likely to beat the Cardinals tonight, maybe even by a considerable margin. Would that cement their place as every analyst's dark horse playoff team for next season? Or is there another team that might be more appealing to the #hotsportstake crowd? The only other contender that I can think of is if Cleveland plays exciting football with Manziel as the starter while going 1-2 or something.
I am not saying that the analysts would be wrong about either team being in the playoffs next year, I'm just trying to identify the team that will be the unanimous "I tell ya, no one else is talking about this team, but I have a feeling..." choice among the talking heads.

85
by Perfundle :: Thu, 12/11/2014 - 4:32am

They still need to find a QB. If you want to go by DVOA, it would be Miami and Buffalo. Miami just needs to find the courage to throw deeper than 20 yards, while Buffalo needs a QB just like Saint Louis but has a better defense.

Of those two, I think Miami has a better chance of meeting your criteria, because Buffalo, is, well, Buffalo. And while Cleveland is also Cleveland, Manziel clearly obliterates anything to do with their past history.

89
by Rick_and_Roll :: Thu, 12/11/2014 - 12:31pm

Both in St Louis and at Tennessee, Ficsher has coached a lot of those "watch out for next year" teams. I think the division is too tough, they don't have a QB, and IMO the Rams (and Ficsher) have teased potential too many times.

Miami seems like the team on the brink of being really good, especially if they got a better coach. Great defense, young and improving QB, good skill players. If Miami could somehow get Harbaugh, that would make the AFC East a competitive division for the first time in the Brady/Bellichick era.

88
by jacobk :: Thu, 12/11/2014 - 11:40am

It will be the third straight year Fisher has led a team with a terrible quarterback to a 7 or 8 win season (assuming they finish out 1-1 against the Giants and Seahawks). I think the talking heads will be a little leery of getting excited unless the Rams land a "name" at quarterback. Also making things difficult will be the Cardinals getting half their team back off of IR next year and the Seahawks (probably) looking formidable over the offseason.

I think it would take the Rams landing somebody like Jameis Winston to really dominate the preseason buzz. Otherwise it's Johnny Football all the way.

90
by tuluse :: Thu, 12/11/2014 - 4:27pm

Some other picks would be Detroit if they miss the playoffs, the Chargers, the Chiefs, maybe the Texans.

93
by The Hypno-Toad :: Fri, 12/12/2014 - 12:39am

Man, I am super, super bad at understanding things about NFL teams.

86
by Tim R :: Thu, 12/11/2014 - 11:04am

What's the all time variance record?

91
by Vincent Verhei :: Thu, 12/11/2014 - 4:38pm

2005 SF 49ers, 36.7%. (They varied from a high of "very bad football team" to a low of "MY EYES! MY EYES! IT CAN'T BE UNSEEN!") This year's Rams, right now, would make the top 5.

Record low is 3.3% by the 1990 LA Raiders.

92
by Vincent Verhei :: Thu, 12/11/2014 - 4:42pm

Actually, that's a little harsh. Those 05 49ers did have three games with at least 20% DVOA.

But they also had three games below -120%.