Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

23 Sep 2014

Week 3 DVOA Ratings

by Aaron Schatz

This week, the Cincinnati Bengals sit atop the Football Outsiders DVOA ratings for only the second week ever. Yes, that's right: going all the way back to 1989, we find only one other week where Cincinnati topped our DVOA ratings, exactly nine years ago. In Week 3 of 2005, the undefeated Bengals were on top with 69.6% DVOA.

That's the number based on the current formula, of course. If you actually go back to look, you can see that things were a lot different back in the third year of Football Outsiders' existence. The formula at the time had Cincinnati even higher even though it already included a small amount of opponent adjustment early in the season, plus at that point we numbered the DVOA columns based on the week to come rather than the week that just ended. Instead of DAVE, we were ranking teams early in the year with something I cobbled together called "FOX Rank," because that was back when the DVOA ratings appeared each week on FOXSports.com with a comment about each team. Wow, was that a long time ago.

Anyway, I digress. The Bengals have not been this good in a long time. The Bengals had only been No. 1 once before today, but they were in the top three in seven different weeks. Six of those weeks were Weeks 2-4 and 13-15 of 2005. The other was Week 2 of 1995, when the Bengals started out with two wins that were not as close as the final scores but then lost four straight and finished the season 7-9. Not as fun as 2005.

Have the Bengals been on top of the DVOA ratings less than any other team? Nope. There are five franchises that have never had a week at No. 1 in DVOA: Arizona, Carolina, Detroit, Minnesota, and the new Cleveland Browns. (The old Browns were No. 1 for 10 different weeks in 1989.) Atlanta has only been No. 1 for only one week (Week 3 of 2012) while the Bengals now join two other franchises that have only been No. 1 twice: Jacksonville (Weeks 9 and 11 of 1999) and the New York Jets (Week 4 of 1993 and Week 9 of 2011).

What team has been No. 1 most often? Scroll down for the answer or click here.

As remarkable as it is to see the Bengals on top for only the second time, it's even more remarkable to see just how low their rating is as the No. 1 team. Last year, Seattle and Denver were No. 1 and No. 2 after three weeks, each with over 65% DVOA. Including both of those teams, there have been a remarkable 83 different teams since 1989 with a higher rating after three weeks than the current Bengals. This is only the fifth time that the No. 1 team after Week 3 was below 40%. The others: Buffalo 2011 (39.7%), Kansas City 2010 (36.5%), Tampa Bay 2000 (35.2%), and Kansas City 1994 (33.5%).

Adding in the opponent adjustments next week should boost the Bengals a bit, especially since one of the teams they beat is the team which currently ranks No. 2, the Atlanta Falcons. Of course, Atlanta's rating is primarily caused by a single blowout victory over Tampa Bay this week. (If you missed it, I wrote specifically about that game in a special XP commentary late Thursday night.) I don't think any of us expect Atlanta to finish this season as a top-five team. And that blowout means that while Cincinnati is an abnormally low-rated No. 1 team right now, Tampa Bay is absolutely not an abnormally high-rated No. 32 team.

The numbers should start to make more sense in a week once we've incorporated early opponent adjustments, but there are some interesting wrinkles here. For example, although they haven't looked particularly impressive, the New England Patriots are still No. 7 so far in 2014. The Patriots' offense has been mediocre, ranking just 23rd, but the Patriots' defense ranks No. 1 in the league. Only the Lions have allowed fewer yards per play, and only the Bears have as many interceptions plus fumbles (including fumbles recovered by the offense). The Patriots have been average against the run but they have an awesome pass defense so far even though Darrelle Revis has only looked really good in one of the three games. Some of this is a case of "small sample size, it's still early," but of course, that's also a reason to believe the offense will get better. Some of this is also a case of "we're not including opponent adjustments yet," however, which suggests that the defense isn't quite this good but the offense hasn't really been any better than it has looked so far.

It's also a bit of a shock to see Arizona only ranking 12th despite being one of only three still-unbeaten teams. This is also one where your first instinct is to think, "opponent adjustments should take care of that." Except... the teams Arizona has played haven't really been that good. San Francisco is only No. 18, San Diego is No. 20, and the New York Giants are No. 28. Except... San Francisco and San Diego should see their ratings go up once we're adjusting for the fact that each one had to play good teams, and that in turn should raise Arizona's rating. That's two excepts. You can see where this starts to get confusing to guess at in your head before we have enough weeks of sample size.

* * * * *

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.

The Football Outsiders stars for Week 3 are:

  • WR Julio Jones, ATL (24 HOURS ONLY): Led all Week 3 WR with 95 DYAR. Caught 9 of 11 passes for 161 yards and 2 TD.
  • LE Cameron Heyward, PIT: 3 hurries, 3 QB hits, 1 sack, and drew an offensive holding call.
  • MLB Curtis Lofton, NO: 6 run tackles, all for Stops and a combined 0 yards, plus an additional TFL on a Matt Asiata pass reception.
  • RB Joe McKnight, KC: Second among all Week 3 RB with 54 DYAR. Caught 6 of 7 passes for 64 yards and 2 TD. Yes, we were also shocked to find out he is still in the league.
  • RG Mike Pollak, CIN: Subbing for the injured Kevin Zeitler, allowed no sacks or hurries and helped Bengals running backs to 83 percent Success Rate on runs up the middle or to the right side.

* * * * *

All stats pages are now updated with Week 3 information, including FO Premium, snap counts and playoff odds are also fully updated. There is (or soon will be) a new format for the tables on the snap counts page which should be easier to read and will offer filtering and searching capabilities.

* * * * *

And the answer to our DVOA trivia question... You all remember which team DVOA always loves in an extra special way, right? The most frequent team atop the DVOA ratings has been Philadelphia, in 42 different weeks of the regular season between 1989 and right now. The Eagles have been No. 1 at least once in nine different seasons: 1992, 1993, 1994, 2001, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2009, and 2010.

Three different teams are tied at No. 2, with Dallas, Denver, and New England all spending 33 different weeks at No. 1. As you might imagine, all of the Cowboys' No. 1 appearances are between 1992 and 1997. Denver's are all 1997-1998 or 2012-2014. New England was actually No. 1 after Week 2 of 1997, but only spent one week at No. 1 during the three Super Bowl seasons (Week 7 of 2004). The rest of their No. 1 appearances are all from 2007-2012.

San Francisco is fifth with 32 different weeks at No. 1.

* * * * *

These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through three 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 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. As always, positive numbers represent more points so DEFENSE is better when it is NEGATIVE.

Please note that there are no opponent adjustments in DVOA until after Week 4. (It's still called DVOA below because I honestly didn't feel like going through and changing all the tables manually this year. You folks know what's up, anyway.) In addition, our second weekly table which includes schedule strength, variation, and Estimated Wins will appear beginning after Week 4.

DAVE is a formula which combines our preseason projection with current DVOA to get a more accurate forecast of how a team will play the rest of the season. Right now, the preseason projection makes up 55 percent of DAVE.

To save people some time, please use the following format for all complaints:

<team> is clearly ranked <too high/too low> because <reason unrelated to DVOA>. <subjective ranking system> is way better than this. <unrelated team-supporting or -denigrating comment, preferably with poor spelling and/or chat-acceptable spelling>

TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
LAST
WEEK
TOTAL
DAVE
RANK W-L OFFENSE
DVOA
OFF.
RANK
DEFENSE
DVOA
DEF.
RANK
S.T.
DVOA
S.T.
RANK
1 CIN 36.3% 4 18.8% 3 3-0 20.8% 6 -14.8% 5 0.7% 12
2 ATL 35.8% 16 13.9% 6 2-1 22.3% 4 1.2% 17 14.6% 1
3 DEN 24.7% 1 24.3% 1 2-1 20.1% 7 -5.3% 10 -0.7% 16
4 SEA 24.6% 5 20.1% 2 2-1 24.3% 2 -2.1% 12 -1.7% 21
5 CHI 24.3% 11 15.9% 5 2-1 5.4% 11 -19.9% 4 -1.0% 18
6 BUF 21.9% 3 8.8% 9 2-1 5.6% 9 -2.3% 11 14.0% 2
7 NE 21.5% 9 17.4% 4 2-1 -8.3% 23 -27.1% 1 2.6% 9
8 PHI 20.9% 10 12.1% 7 3-0 5.1% 12 -7.0% 7 8.9% 3
9 WAS 17.0% 2 2.7% 15 1-2 13.9% 8 -20.1% 3 -17.0% 32
10 PIT 14.9% 22 8.6% 10 2-1 21.9% 5 12.6% 25 5.7% 5
11 DET 14.2% 7 2.6% 16 2-1 0.7% 17 -24.7% 2 -11.2% 29
12 ARI 12.2% 8 3.2% 13 3-0 -4.7% 22 -11.5% 6 5.4% 6
13 NO 10.8% 20 11.7% 8 1-2 24.6% 1 15.4% 31 1.6% 10
14 BAL 2.5% 13 -2.0% 18 2-1 2.2% 15 -0.4% 15 -0.2% 14
15 CAR 1.8% 6 1.7% 17 2-1 4.4% 13 -2.0% 13 -4.6% 24
16 CLE 1.5% 17 -6.7% 21 1-2 23.6% 3 18.9% 32 -3.2% 23
TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
LAST
WEEK
TOTAL
DAVE
RANK W-L OFFENSE
DVOA
OFF.
RANK
DEFENSE
DVOA
DEF.
RANK
S.T.
DVOA
S.T.
RANK
17 GB -0.1% 12 8.4% 11 1-2 -4.5% 21 2.2% 18 6.6% 4
18 SF -1.9% 15 4.9% 12 1-2 5.4% 10 4.8% 21 -2.4% 22
19 DAL -2.1% 19 -5.2% 20 2-1 3.3% 14 8.5% 24 3.1% 8
20 SD -6.3% 25 3.1% 14 2-1 -1.8% 19 5.6% 22 1.0% 11
21 IND -8.2% 28 -4.5% 19 1-2 1.3% 16 13.4% 27 3.8% 7
22 HOU -11.1% 18 -10.0% 24 2-1 0.0% 18 6.1% 23 -5.0% 26
23 NYJ -12.3% 21 -7.1% 22 1-2 -17.7% 28 -6.4% 9 -1.0% 19
24 MIA -13.9% 23 -9.4% 23 1-2 -4.3% 20 -6.8% 8 -16.5% 31
25 TEN -23.2% 14 -13.6% 25 1-2 -13.7% 25 -0.4% 14 -9.9% 28
26 OAK -24.7% 27 -21.1% 30 0-3 -25.0% 29 0.1% 16 0.5% 13
27 KC -25.8% 30 -15.6% 28 1-2 -11.5% 24 13.8% 28 -0.5% 15
28 NYG -26.5% 31 -15.0% 27 1-2 -14.2% 26 3.2% 19 -9.2% 27
29 STL -29.7% 29 -14.7% 26 1-2 -14.8% 27 14.0% 30 -0.9% 17
30 MIN -35.0% 24 -16.3% 29 1-2 -29.2% 30 4.5% 20 -1.3% 20
31 JAC -52.6% 32 -31.3% 32 0-3 -34.0% 31 13.9% 29 -4.7% 25
32 TB -65.3% 26 -29.8% 31 0-3 -38.6% 32 12.8% 26 -13.9% 30

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 23 Sep 2014

105 comments, Last at 30 Sep 2014, 1:10pm by Mr Shush

Comments

1
by opticallog :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 6:01pm

"Except... San Francisco and San Diego should see their ratings go up once we're adjusting for the fact that each one had to play Seattle, and that in turn should raise Arizona's rating."

San Francisco hasn't played Seattle yet. They've played Dallas, Chicago, and Arizona.

29
by Aaron Schatz :: Wed, 09/24/2014 - 12:05am

Oops! I've got Seattle on the brain I guess. I'll fix that.

2
by jonnyblazin :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 6:07pm

The Ravens rankings:

Offense: 15th
Defense: 15th
Special Teams: 14th

It doesn't get more mediocre than that.

3
by DrunkenOne :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 6:08pm

Good to see Washington back to their rightful worst special teams in the league ranking

11
by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 7:37pm

I saw a stat recently that Washington has the worst overall FG% in the league over the past 15 or 20 years.

20
by PeterJMoss :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 10:09pm

Sadder when you consider they released some decent kickers over that time who then established themselves later - Akers, Suisham, Novak.

Current kicker isn't bad at FG but bad at kickoffs.

86
by usernaim250 :: Thu, 09/25/2014 - 5:23am

It was funny to see Gano against Suisham the other night.

Akers was the big one. He probably would have saved Norv's job and put the team in the playoffs in 2001. Which just brings back so many horrible memories. I mean your #1 receiver has played exactly 1 full season without injury so you make sure you spend a million on a fourth string RB but don't have a contingency plan other than James Thrash if Westbrook goes down? And even though you have no deep threat and your QB can't throw terribly far and everyone crowds the box and your interior line is shot by injury, you still defeat the reigning champs, the will-be-champs, and the will-be-runner ups (Rams, Ravens, Giants) all on the road, and you lose several games due to missed FGs, and you fire the coach mid-year standing at 7-6.

As to the current team, I can sort of see big returns as fluke events, but the number of blocked kicks surrendered in the last couple years is mind-boggling. If you add blocked punts, FG, and extra points, what's the record?

4
by Perfundle :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 6:30pm

Can someone fix the missing 2013 pulldown choice on the Offensive Drive Stats page?

30
by Aaron Schatz :: Wed, 09/24/2014 - 12:07am

Fixed!

5
by Sporran :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 6:35pm

Philly's Defense is better than their Offense? Is there a typo somewhere?

6
by Kevin from Philly :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 6:50pm

I suppose maybe they were watching Flyers pre-season when game charting this week. If we have the 7th rated defense in the league, then the NFL is officially arena football.

8
by Sporran :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 7:00pm

Looking back at the past couple of weeks, it seems a lot of it si due to the Jacksonville game, and some from the Indy game. Turnovers probably help, as well as volume -- Philly's offensive plan does result in their defense being on the field for a lot longer than most other defenses, so Philly's D probably looks better on a per-play basis than they do in total.

7
by coboney :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 6:57pm

Well this is the first time I've done this but lets see how the Zlionsfast speak works...

San Francisco is clearly ranked too low because Score doesn't properly adjust for rediculous penalties. First Half and penalty adjusted rating is way better than this. Go 49ers

That was catharic without attacking anyone. Hm. Will have to remember that to talk to myself.

60
by Sisyphus :: Wed, 09/24/2014 - 11:31am

"That was cathartic without attacking anyone. Hm. Will have to remember that to talk to myself."
Consider doubling up on your meds as well. (You can pretty much get the same effect as 500mg of Thorazine by merely hitting yourself in the middle of the forehead with a ballpeen hammer, serendipitously producing a cute dimple.)

9
by Perfundle :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 7:07pm

The AFC South only having a 10.7% of producing a wild-card team in just Week 3 is depressing.

49
by Mr Shush :: Wed, 09/24/2014 - 8:14am

Given the teams that are actually in the AFC South, what I find depressing about that is that the chance is as high as 10%. The AFC South winnner isn't going to be good enough to deserve a playoff spot, never mind the runner up. It's not quite the 2010 NFC West, but it's not all that much better, either (and I speak as a Texans fan).

50
by BJR :: Wed, 09/24/2014 - 8:20am

At half-time on Sunday, Tennessee, Houston and Jacksonville had scored a combined 0 points between them. That would have been an appropriate moment to retract that division's right to any playoff berth.

10
by commissionerleaf :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 7:36pm

Cincinnati is clearly ranked too high because Andy Dalton slaps pass rushers with his wet noodle of a right arm and will soon be arrested for the practice. Ranking teams while stoned at a Denver-area pizzeria is way better than this. Andy Luck will pwn the entire AFC South and earn an opportunity to lose to a man who shaves properly in the playoffs.

12
by Lyford :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 7:50pm

"Patriots have been average against the run but they have an awesome pass defense so far..."

Opposing QBs - Ryan Tannehill, Matt Cassell, Derek Carr.

The following comments are from a Patriots fan, and I fully recognize that a) I've been spoiled by their play for the last 10 years and b) I'm going to see warts and flaws in the Patriots (because I watch them every week, usually a couple of times) that I wouldn't see in other teams.

That said, I think the Patriots have played very poorly so far. The offense has been really bad, the defense has been mediocre, and only a weak schedule (Vikings without Peterson, Raiders) has allowed them to win two of their first three. It's hard for me believe that there are only six teams that DVOA likes better thus far, because frankly, other than the Bucs last Thursday, I haven't seen anyone play much worse.

25
by RickD :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 10:29pm

I don't think it's really fair to say that the Pats' defense has been mediocre. Yes, that could apply to the Dolphins' game, but they were good against Oakland and excellent against Minnesota.

It would be fair to say that they haven't really been tested.

You are judging the Pats on the standard of watching them a lot. I'm a Pats fan who lives in the DC area. In spite of their flaws, the Pats have looked a good deal better than the Redskins. And the Redskins are far better than the Jaguars.

Not too many teams are playing at a high level right now.

My personal feeling is that the Pats are roughly the 4th-6th best team in the AFC right now, behind Denver, Cincy, and San Diego, with Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Indy at about the same level. Maybe Buffalo, too. And who in the NFC other than Seattle looks very strong right now? The Cardinals perhaps. I don't see the Eagles' 3-point victory at home over the 'Skins as a sign of dominance. Carolina and Chicago have shown flaws, and San Francisco is having major problems itself.

33
by chemical burn :: Wed, 09/24/2014 - 12:55am

Wow, good against Oakland and excellent against Minnesota? How did they ever shut down those juggernauts?!

43
by eggwasp :: Wed, 09/24/2014 - 4:34am

phony holding calls, thats how they shut down the Raiders ;)

Never mind that the Pats offense struggled against a Raiders D missing 2 of 3 starting linebackers, the other being in his 3rd game. I thought the Pats offense was supposed to exploit these things?

48
by Lyford :: Wed, 09/24/2014 - 8:01am

"phony holding calls, thats how they shut down the Raiders ;)"

I haven't figured out whether the complaints about that call are jokes or if people really think it was a bad call. But I re-watched it three times yesterday and when Chung tried to turn to the ball carrier, Jackson wrapped him and tackled him. (The Patriots defense could take lessons. :-P ) It was blatant, and right at the point of attack. They've got to call that.

69
by RickD :: Wed, 09/24/2014 - 1:02pm

They weren't "mediocre" which is what my point was.

81
by chemical burn :: Wed, 09/24/2014 - 7:40pm

Even a mediocre defense can look "great" against such amazing opponents. And with Buffalo, Miami and the Jets in their division I suspect they will continue to look "great" for most of the year. I have no idea how good they are or not, but so far the one game where they faced an even mediocre offense, they didn't look impressive.

90
by mehllageman56 :: Thu, 09/25/2014 - 3:28pm

Their pass defense may continue to look great, but the Bills and the Jets do know how to run the ball, and that is where the Pats would be vulnerable. The Dolphins want to run the ball, but Moreno's hurt, so we'll see.

13
by Ferguson1015 :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 8:07pm

I'm a little surprised to see the SD Offense get a little worse. I suppose it was a poor performance running the ball though so maybe I shouldn't be surprised.

I'm also surprised that the Special Teams stayed pretty much the same since I felt it was probably their worst game all season in this regard (Scifres had 3 touchbacks. I'm not sure I can even remember the last time that happened. Not to mention quite a few squib kicks when they were kicking into the wind).

16
by Scott C :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 8:47pm

Yeah, I think SD will get a pretty hefty adjustment once we get adjustments.

But their running game was _horrrible_ this game, and so far this year. Mathews looked decent against tough defenses, but the O-line has been horrible at run blocking and Brown runs into the back of his own guys at the LOS. The Offensive DVOA page has them ranked very high when passing (which will surely be even higher after adjustments) and absolutely horrible in the run game (which should come up to 'very bad' after adjustments kick in).

Given how bad their O-line has been so far both running and pass blocking, its absolutely amazing what Rivers has been doing to compensate. Looking off safeties while avoiding the rush, stepping up or to the side, then delivering the ball at the last moment consistently so far this year. All three games, he's been taking lemons and making lemonade.

22
by Sixknots :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 10:13pm

Yes!! Rivers is the OMVP by a mile after 3 games this year.

14
by bobrulz :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 8:12pm

What I would really like to know is how the Bucs and Jaguars stack up to the worst teams ever after 3 weeks.

31
by Aaron Schatz :: Wed, 09/24/2014 - 12:10am

Not even close to the bottom. Something around 20th worst ever. The worst-ever team after Week 3 was Washington in 2001 at -92.1%.

32
by PaddyPat :: Wed, 09/24/2014 - 12:46am

Is that team the one with the greatest turnaround then? Not much of a stat--highest turnaround after 3 weeks--but it certainly tosses a bucket of cold water over the "jump to conclusions" crowd.

35
by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Wed, 09/24/2014 - 1:04am

Yes, that team lost their first 5, then won their next 5 and finished 8-8. They finished the year 17th overall in DVOA, but 3rd(!) in weighted DVOA. Marty Schottenheimer's finest hour, IMHO.

34
by MC2 :: Wed, 09/24/2014 - 1:00am

Ah, yes. That was the year that Jeff George started the first two games, and then got cut. Not benched, but cut. I don't think I've ever seen that, before or since.

36
by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Wed, 09/24/2014 - 1:05am

Yes, to be replaced by the immortal Tony Banks.

46
by Guido Merkens :: Wed, 09/24/2014 - 7:35am

Well, the 2007 Browns started Charlie Frye in week 1, had him throw 10 passes and take 5 sacks, then traded him to the Seahawks after the game.

66
by Mike B. In Va :: Wed, 09/24/2014 - 12:07pm

This still ranks as the best "WTF?" moment of my football-watching life. I didn't believe it until I saw it from multiple sources...

38
by Perfundle :: Wed, 09/24/2014 - 1:41am

I'm guessing 2nd-worst was Jacksonville last year?

15
by acr :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 8:33pm

Whoa checkout that Chicago Bears defense in 4th, that's not even supposed to be the strength of our team this year.

17
by mehllageman56 :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 9:11pm

That will probably end when they play a veteran quarterback who doesn't throw interceptions. Probably by halftime this Sunday in Green Bay.

Seriously, they've allowed a lot of yards. Jets got 414 yards, more than they gained against the Raiders. The Bears have just faced a number of inexperienced quarterbacks so far.

27
by tuluse :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 10:50pm

The Bears forced 4 fumbles against the Jets recovering only 1 because the rest went OOB. That's something DVOA sees as essentially 2 turnovers.

They're also 11th in giving up yards per drive (30 per).

58
by Rick_and_Roll :: Wed, 09/24/2014 - 11:04am

Much of the Bears success stems from young QBs imploding. The NFC North divisional race will probably be the most exciting and competitive of all the divisions this season.

It seems like every 6-7 years the Bears (and Chiefs but not this season) have one of those teams that steals a few wins with turnovers to give them an inflated win total. This feels like the Bears year.

59
by mehllageman56 :: Wed, 09/24/2014 - 11:27am

Good points. It's just weird seeing that both the Niners and the Jets outgained the Bears by a lot; perhaps that's on the Bears offense.

72
by dbt :: Wed, 09/24/2014 - 2:16pm

The bears o-line is pretty hosed right now on the interior and can't run, and both of their super-stud WRs have been playing on bad legs. The change in gameplan for the Jets at the end of the first half when bmarsh went out for a few minutes was amazing.

Honestly, his numbers are kinda shit but Cutler's playing some of the best ball I've seen him play lately.

74
by Will Allen :: Wed, 09/24/2014 - 4:03pm

I can't tell you how many times I've thought Cutler was going to make at least a semi-permanent change for the better, only to see him backslide into his same old sloppy self. He was terrible against the Bills. I didn't pay close attention against the Niners, but obviously he must have been very good in the 2nd half. I thought he was just ok against the Jets. Yes, his receivers are banged up, but the dbs he faced weren't great, either.

83
by anotherpatsfan :: Wed, 09/24/2014 - 10:39pm

sounds like you think Cutler is lazy...

18
by kamiyu206 :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 9:46pm

Wow. Didn't expect San Diego's rating is this low, even without opponent adjustments.

19
by The Hypno-Toad :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 9:50pm

Denver's are all 1997-1998 or 2012-2014

I could have sworn that Denver was ranked #1 after week 17 in 2005 after the Colts' annual "rest everyone and forfeit" final game of the season. Maybe I'm making that up, but I thought I had posted something about DVOA trying to trick me into believing. Is this maybe a result of the updates to the formula a couple of years ago?

21
by PaddyPat :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 10:13pm

I thought that was honestly a pretty good squad. I was shocked when Pittsburgh beat them. They finished first in weighted.

23
by The Hypno-Toad :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 10:19pm

Yeah, I really liked that team too, lots of fun to watch. And I certainly didn't expect the Steelers to beat them, once again proving that I don't actually understand football well at all. But going into the playoffs I assumed that the Broncos and Colts would meet in the conference championship and that the Colts would destroy them as per Denver's mid-decade status quo. I really, really underestimated Pittsburgh's team that season.

And thank you for the clarification on the final rankings.

37
by Bobman :: Wed, 09/24/2014 - 1:10am

" I really, really underestimated Pittsburgh's team that season..."

Yeah, tell us about it. --2005 Colts

39
by jamie_k74 :: Wed, 09/24/2014 - 2:20am

Speaking as a Steelers fan, let's not underestimate the effect of plan old luck. They were a pretty good team (not many easybeats get to 11-5), but on "any given Sunday" there's a fair bit of randomness involved. Some years (Baltimore, 2012) it may be more apparent than others (Seattle, 2013) but every SB winner has had some luck on their side.

63
by Bernie :: Wed, 09/24/2014 - 11:38am

As a Colts fan, I remember that game all too well. After Bettis fumble, the Colts really should have won. I still cannot fathom why Harper tried to juke around Roethlisberger instead of just trying to outrun him to the sideline and then up field for the score. Maybe the knife wound in his thigh had some effect, who knows. But even with that odd decision and the resulting tackle, the Colts play call decisions on the final drive were puzzling at best. If I remember correctly, there were somewhere around the 25 yd line or so and it was 2nd and 1 and Manning went for it all to Wayne in the endzone where he was pretty well covered and the pass was broken up. Then we get stuffed on 3rd and 1 and then cue Vanderjagt. It always annoyed me that we didn't just try to pick up the first down, and get within 15 yds or so with 30 secs left...it would have been different if Wayne had been wide open.
They should have won that game, but they gave it away with a combination of poor play early, and then poor playcalling late.

68
by mehllageman56 :: Wed, 09/24/2014 - 1:02pm

I was in a pro-Steelers bar in Portland watching that game. A Steelers fan called his wife to tell her the Steelers had won right before the Bettis Fumble. Everyone got mad at him right after that. The Steelers fans wanted me to come back the next week because they thought I was good luck for them; I was a Jets fan and had no rooting interest in the playoffs that year. The AFC playoffs around then just had weird outcomes.

76
by Jerry :: Wed, 09/24/2014 - 5:16pm

I was ready to book my flight to Denver as soon as the Steelers scored the clinching touchdown. I had to wait until Vanderjagt's miss.

And, Bernie, those passes to Wayne were against a rookie backup corner. To his eternal credit, Bryant MacFadden made the plays, but that's exactly the kind of matchup you'd expect Peyton to (try to) exploit.

78
by Hummingbird Cyborg :: Wed, 09/24/2014 - 6:58pm

As a Broncos fan, I remember how happy I was when the Colts lost. It's understandable that Broncos fans would fear those Colts teams, but I thought that those Broncos would be able to handle those Steelers.

Looking back, those Steelers held the first, second, third and fifth place offenses in the playoffs to each under 20 points.

100
by BengalFaninIN :: Fri, 09/26/2014 - 5:13pm

RE: 2005 Steelers, Carson Palmer and Chris Henry take one step to the left on that opening play. The Steelers don't get a chance to beat the Colts. Pittsburgh trailed 17-14 at the half with John Kitna leading the team, and both Chris Henry and Carson out for the game after that single play.

The Colts were clearly, to me, the best team in the league (The numbers agree) however they played astonishingly badly for most of the Steelers game, until the end when they suddenly started to play like the best team. Big Ben makes a touchdown saving tackle on an interception return from his back as much fun as all this stats stuff is. While it does have some predictive power, random events, which we can call luck, destiny, heroic effort 'clutch plays' whatever, have a huge influence on the outcome of the games. Of course this is much of what makes them fun.

That was a very good Steelers team, they had won eleven games. The best team doesn't always win, nor the luckiest team. It's usually the best team that is lucky.

While I'm wasting everyone's time. That Steelers squad had probably been better the previous year. Is there some correlation between two year DVOA and championships? There's an old saw that you have to come close before you can win the big one. Also known as playoff experience etc. Not sure if exists or not. Or if exists in some sports and not others. (Seems likely to exist in the NBA, not sure about football, where each year's team is more of a different animal than the one from the previous season.)

Though the next years Colts repeated the patter, not being as good on paper as the previous years team, and then winning the SB.

105
by Mr Shush :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 1:10pm

You see something similar in European soccer - teams winning the European Cup after their best years in terms of domestic league competition are behind them. Chelsea and AC Milan spring to mind in particular.

87
by Rick_and_Roll :: Thu, 09/25/2014 - 11:37am

What bothered me was that Shanahan basically blew that team up after that loss. In 2006 he had two #1 picks and instead of using them to fortify the trenches or draft a RB, he used both picks to get Cutler. Replacing Plummer, who was beloved in the locker-room, with a douche-bag like Cutler brought the team from contender to mediocre and was the beginning of the end for Shanahan.

As a lifetime Bronco fan, 2005 is still probably the biggest missed opportunity considering that Pittsburgh took care of Indy for them (who they couldn't beat) and the 2005 Seattle team was a very beatable SB opponent.

24
by Sixknots :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 10:26pm

Wait, what? Arizona is clearly ranked too low because they just beat SF and dropped from 8th to 12th. TMZ is way better than this. WTF, (Oh crap, I don't know any more chat speak).

26
by RickD :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 10:34pm

Wow, that's a surprisingly low number for the Chargers. Would anybody out there take the Browns over the Chargers at a neutral site?

And if the Redskins merely had a 0.0 special teams, they'd be #3 in the NFL? That's the way to cash in on one rout of an awful team.

28
by tuluse :: Tue, 09/23/2014 - 10:51pm

Just remember no opponent adjustments. That Seattle game will look a lot better in a few weeks.

40
by spujr :: Wed, 09/24/2014 - 4:05am

Funny to see Seattle's offense ranked better than Denver's and Denver's defense ranked better than Seattle's...

41
by sdboltsfan :: Wed, 09/24/2014 - 4:07am

It's really frustrating to see San Diego ranked 20th, even without opponent adjustments factored in. How is it that the two teams the Chargers soundly beat are ranked 4th and 6th? It makes no sense. I realize there are a lot of complicated math factors involved, but it doesn't even pass the logic test. It's not as if people are saying "San Diego isn't as good as people think" which is what usually happens when DVOA disagrees with other sites / popular opinion. Just this week Aaron and others were saying Philip Rivers leads the current MVP discussion. It just seems like the Chargers have played better than this indicates... two impressive wins and a close loss. If we haven't factored in opponent adjustments yet, it really doesn't explain how the Bills are still ranked so high following such a crappy performance vs. San Diego (since the Bills aren't getting credit yet for playing a good team). I can understand why Seattle is ranked so high, and Arizona makes sense too, but the Bills ranking baffles me. Sometimes I really hate being a Chargers fan- even when I think they might be good, somewhere important it disagrees. I trust DVOA more than anything.

Alyssa

44
by Malene_copenhagen :: Wed, 09/24/2014 - 5:30am

I think part of the explanation must be that SD has not actually been very good *per play*. They rank pretty low on yards per play, for instance. (5.0 vs SEA, 5.3 vs BUF, 4.8 vs ARI).

For comparison, SEA had 7.2 yards per play. I would think SD had a very high DYAR in their win over SEA, but a low DVOA, since they essentially won by running 75 plays against SEAs 40 plays.

If most of your plays are 3-6 yards, you need a very lucky distribution to keep drives alive. I think DVOA might suspect that you can't keep that up, especially since SD has been just 11-28 on 3rd down in their other 2 games.

64
by sdboltsfan :: Wed, 09/24/2014 - 11:48am

Thank you Malene_copenhagen... that at least makes it a little more understandable to me! Hopefully opponent adjustments will provide a good boost. During the games I kept hearing the Chargers were doing well with 3rd down conversions (hence their ability to sustain long drives), but maybe not. I also thought DVOA liked teams being successful with short gains that moved the chains, but maybe the way the Chargers are doing so didn't feel sustainable since the run game has been suspect.

82
by Alternator :: Wed, 09/24/2014 - 9:07pm

Consistent short gains are good.

Consistent longer gains are much better.

88
by Rick_and_Roll :: Thu, 09/25/2014 - 11:43am

Maybe they are relying on converting third downs too much...

If you compare their Denver 2013 win and their Seattle win, the formula was the same. Physical defense and being lights out on 3rd down.

42
by Omroth :: Wed, 09/24/2014 - 4:12am

Sigh. As an Atlanta fan, I'm used to coming on here after a hot start to have DVOA tell me the team is worse than it looks. Now I have to come here to be told that even DVOA is over-rating the Falcons!

45
by Peregrine :: Wed, 09/24/2014 - 7:26am

Ha. I hate our defense. If offered the #17 defense for the whole season, I'd grab it and cackle in delight as I ran away to hide. If we can protect Ryan, the offense will give us a puncher's chance in every game.

At Vikings, at Giants, v Bears. Should have a good sense of the team by then.

Also, I was really impressed by the Bengals. Felt like they beat us with one arm tied behind their back.

101
by BengalFaninIN :: Fri, 09/26/2014 - 5:30pm

The Falcons aren't terrible by any stretch. The Bengals aren't the best team in the league either. They have played pretty well so far, the defense is formidable, the offense promises to be better without Chucky Jr. running the show.
Look at
http://www.pro-football-reference.com/years/2014/
For a simpler, less advanced, but in many ways revealing look at how teams have played so far this year.
Point differential remains a hugely useful stat in showing how a team has played in the games completed. The Bengals are first, and have only played one bad team. (Titans, sorry they suck.)

Am I the only who thinks that John Gruden's constant on air shilling to get his brother a head coaching job was a factor in him getting the 'skins position? Their owner is notorious for doing stupid things, and picking your new head coach based on the recommendations of media personalities would seem to be stupid.
Bengals fans have been hearing for several years how talented this offensive unit is, how brilliant Gruden is, how terrible Dalton is, despite his stats, which would seem to indicate that he's adequate at least.(You can't put up those numbers and suck, that's not what that word means.)

102
by LionInAZ :: Fri, 09/26/2014 - 6:07pm

I don't like Jon Gruden very much, but it's safe to say he's not just another media personality.

103
by BengalFaninIN :: Fri, 09/26/2014 - 9:46pm

I agree he's not just a media type. He surely knows what he's talking about. But it's his brother he's talking about, so likely he's not being terribly impartial. Then others in the media start talking about how great Jay Gruden is, based on John hyping him etc. That's what I should have said.

47
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Wed, 09/24/2014 - 7:42am

I know they haven't played mediocre to bad defenses, but I'm astonished at the Browns being the #3 offense at +23.6%. Also dead last in defense. Raise your hand if you saw that coming.

51
by BJR :: Wed, 09/24/2014 - 8:22am

Browns have turned the ball over zero times this season. Something I suspect will be regressing towards a mean rather soon.

53
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Wed, 09/24/2014 - 8:59am

Good point, but even then, I expected them to be in the bottom half of the league. Yet another piece of evidence that preseason performance is 99% meaningless.

55
by ChrisS :: Wed, 09/24/2014 - 9:52am

And the other 1% is useless. Preseason team results are useless at best and always misleading. Individual performance matters but only in the mostly unknowable context of assignment and scheme.

52
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Wed, 09/24/2014 - 8:58am

Meant to say "have played", not "haven't played".

56
by OldFox :: Wed, 09/24/2014 - 10:41am

Seeing the Browns' defense ranked dead last is disturbing, especially since the new head coach comes in with a reputation as a defensive guru. Part of it is due to the fact that they've faced three very good offenses, of course, but still, any Browns fan would have to be concerned.

Something to keep an eye on ... the Browns have been giving up a lot of yardage on the ground, and that isn't a fluke. Mike Pettine's defense in Buffalo last year was good overall but it also gave up a lot of yardage on the ground. And this year when he broke camp he had 12 defensive backs on the roster. The man is obsessed with shutting down the other team's passing game. Which is all good and fine, unless they come back with "Okay, then we'll just run the ball down your throat." As they clearly are doing.

62
by mehllageman56 :: Wed, 09/24/2014 - 11:32am

Not sure that Pettine's run defense being bad is a trend or a fluke at this point. The Jets only had one year with a substandard run defense, although it was the last year Pettine was there. One year in Buffalo and three games in Cleveland isn't enough to prove it yet.

67
by Perfundle :: Wed, 09/24/2014 - 12:58pm

Also, Buffalo had the second-worst run defense DVOA in 2012. Expecting massive improvement against both the pass and the run in one year is probably not very realistic.

54
by elementasrat :: Wed, 09/24/2014 - 9:41am

Anyone know when the offensive and defensive line statistics are updated?

75
by ALauff :: Wed, 09/24/2014 - 4:12pm

Was wondering about this also.

57
by osoviejo :: Wed, 09/24/2014 - 11:04am

Would it be possible to see every team's total weeks at #1?

61
by madstork :: Wed, 09/24/2014 - 11:31am

New England is clearly ranked too high because they got their ass kicked by Miami. ESPN power rankings is way better than this. Brady is WASHED UP and NE SUX lol.

65
by nat :: Wed, 09/24/2014 - 11:57am

Not bad, and possibly true, too.

Although if Brady is washed up, it's in the sense that he's washed up on the shores of the Isle of Bad Wide Receivers II: Danny Who?. (Sequel to the 2006 hit movie IofBWR: The Eyes of Reche Caldwell)

70
by mehllageman56 :: Wed, 09/24/2014 - 1:05pm

While the trolling is funny, I have a feeling Brady's years as a dominant quarterback who can drag a weak defense to the AFC championship game are done. Luckily for the Pats, the Jets allowed Revis to become available.

Goddamnit, I hate it when I jinx my own team.

93
by Independent George :: Fri, 09/26/2014 - 12:17am

For a while, it looked like the Pats were preparing for his decline by building a power-running offense that would let him complete a lot of high-percentage passes since he couldn't stretch the field outside anymore. Then came the homicide charges, and the Gronk injuries, and now they're just good enough to be competitive without being dominant.

71
by RickD :: Wed, 09/24/2014 - 1:07pm

Those would be the ESPN rankings that also have NE at #7?

Both seem a bit high to me.

73
by Lance :: Wed, 09/24/2014 - 3:09pm

"San Francisco is fifth with 32 different weeks at No. 1."

No doubt as FO reaches back further and further into the 80's this number will rise. It will be interesting to see what happens. I'm guessing that SF will quickly pass 33 weeks in the near future (meaning, as FO goes back in time). New England probably isn't going to be that impressive through the rest of the 80's (even their Super Bowl appearance then was sort of a fluke). Dallas wasn't anything until 1981 or so, which leaves Denver-- which did have a lot of success in the 80's post-1984.

Will they catch Philly before they likely had some more #1 weeks in the early, early 80's.

One has to wonder: once it's all said and done, in the Super Bowl era, who is going to have the most #1 weeks in DVOA?!?

77
by dbt :: Wed, 09/24/2014 - 6:25pm

Probably the Steelers. I wonder how DVOA will deal with pre-1978 offense though...

79
by Hummingbird Cyborg :: Wed, 09/24/2014 - 7:01pm

Wait. The Cowboys were pretty good in the seventies.

80
by commissionerleaf :: Wed, 09/24/2014 - 7:32pm

In the fullness of time, aren't we needing to talk about the Bears and Packers?

85
by Lance :: Wed, 09/24/2014 - 11:13pm

I arbitrarily but deliberately stopped at the Super Bowl era, leaving out much of the Packers' 60's greatness, plus, I'm sure other amazingly good teams-- even Cleveland! Unlike baseball, which has more or less been the same forever, football of a few decades ago doesn't much resemble today's game. The question is how far back do we go? Goalposts used to be on the goal line. Players used to play offense and defense. A whole host of rules that aided the passing game didn't exist. Where does someone say "this is football" versus "this sort of was football, but the metrics as we've designed them stop making sense"? Obviously the metric designers will make that decision, but until then I've put down a quite arbitrary line, and am curious to know the answer...

84
by Lance :: Wed, 09/24/2014 - 11:08pm

I was tracking backwards from their early 90's greatness. For much of the 80's they were middling or worse. But in the early 80s, they were good. Of course, that was the tail end of a fantastic 70's that was only ruined by some amazing Steelers squads (among a select few others).

89
by RickD :: Thu, 09/25/2014 - 12:15pm

1985 was a weird season in that the Bears were the only legitimately elite team. Well, I say that while keeping in mind that the NFC East had several very good teams (Giants, Redskins, and Cowboys) that had to play each other.

In the AFC, the Pats were the 2nd wild card at 11-5, while the #1 seed was Miami at 12-4. That's a fairly tightly packed bunch (the other three teams were the Raiders at 11-5, the Jets at 11-5, and the Browns taking advantage of a weak division to qualify at 8-8). The Pats won three road games to win the AFC, the first time any playoff team had done that.

Yes, the Pats imploded in the Super Bowl, and no, they weren't a team at the same level as the Bears. For some reason, instead of playing their own (rushing) offense against the Bears, they tried to use a Dolphins-style short passing game. I guess the thinking was that the Dolphins were the only team to beat Chicago, and that was the approach they used. Well, Tony Eason wasn't Dan Marino and by the time Grogan got into the game, the Pats were down 20-3.

To reiterate: the Pats first six play calls were passes. Five incompletions and a sack. Not that the rushing game inspired much confidence (11 rushes for a net 7 yards and a fumble).

91
by mehllageman56 :: Thu, 09/25/2014 - 3:46pm

The Pats were missing Fryar to start the game, and then their starting tight end got hurt on the first drive. Running was pointless against that Bears defense. They did give the Bears a better game in the regular season.

The Dolphins didn't have a short passing game back then, Marino threw deep all the time, like O'Brien and the Jets did as well. If you don't believe me, try to find video of the 51-45 overtime game between them in 1986. Marino threw short plenty of times, but it wasn't really a short passing offense like the Niners. The problem for the Bears against the Dolphins was that they couldn't get to Marino because of his release, so he torched them downfield. Marino was a matchup disaster for the 46 defense, which was predicated in getting the quarterback on the ground.

92
by Independent George :: Fri, 09/26/2014 - 12:13am

To be fair, running their usual run-heavy offense would likely have only kept the score down; I'm completely on board with rolling the dice when you're outmatched.

That said, I've never understood how teams can watch film of Dan Marino (or his contemporary equivalent) torch their next opponent's defense, and then decide that they just have to replicate what he just did. "It's so simple! We just need to run our offense like we've got a HoF QB under center!"

94
by Will Allen :: Fri, 09/26/2014 - 1:46am

That sounds like a Viking fan from the past decade (excepting one year) complaining about offensive coordinators; (adopting whiny tone of voice) "OOOOHHHH, the playcalling is SOOOOOOOO predictable! (offensive coordinator's last name) SUCKSSSSSSS!"

Makes me want to ask them if they've ever seen a high school game, and if they thought the coaches were just really stupid, or maybe the talent on the field dictated what variety of plays that could be called. Yeah, sure, let's let 'er rip with KellyHolcombBrooksBollingerGusFerotteTavarisJacksonSageRosenfelsJoeWebbChristianPonderMattCassell. That'll be exciting.

Hopefully, I'll not be adding on to that name in 18 months. But I probably will.

95
by Sakic :: Fri, 09/26/2014 - 8:34am

You forgot BradJohnson 2.0...

98
by Will Allen :: Fri, 09/26/2014 - 2:36pm

Out of deference to the fact that he and McNabb had very significant career accomplishments, I didn't toss them in with that bowl of dregs.

96
by mitch :: Fri, 09/26/2014 - 9:06am

All the major web sites have the Bengals no. 1, including myself.

I have the Bengals slightly behind the Seahawks of last season and slightly ahead of Denver of last season after 3 games.

I don't think the Bengals are that far back of other no.1 ranked teams as DVOA makes them out to be. We'll see going forward. Although they are very likely to have a regression at some point soon.

The Bengals appear to be the class of the AFC at this point and should be the favorites to win the AFC.

And speaking of 2005, my power ratings did have the Steelers no.1 ahead of the Colts that season if you take into consideration that Big Ben missed a number of games and with him in the line-up the Steelers were the best team in the league during the regular season.

The 85 Bears were amoung the greatest teams in Super Bowl Era according to my ratings.

97
by BJR :: Fri, 09/26/2014 - 9:54am

I'd avoid rushing to judgments this soon into the season. The Bengals have had 3 impressive victories so far for sure, but none of the teams they have defeated would be described as Super Bowl contenders.

If you believe they should be the favorites for the AFC ahead of the Broncos you ought to be heavily investing with any reputable sportsbook.

99
by Perfundle :: Fri, 09/26/2014 - 4:18pm

I don't know what you mean by major web sites. Most subjective power rankings have Seattle first, including ESPN, CBS, USA Today, PFT, Sporting News, SBNation, Bleacher Report and AP. As for objective power rankings, Massey-Peabody, Sagarin and 538 have Seattle first as well.

104
by mitch :: Sun, 09/28/2014 - 11:03am

Major web sites which use mathmatical probabilities not opinion based power ratings.

Those sites will blow away ESPN and CBS and the like.

Mathmatical probabilities will poinmt to the Bengals easily as the Best team, hands down at this point in the season.

Does not mean they'll remain no. 1 but very well could.

Having Seattle no.1 is using last year as a guide, not this year, only 8 teams have repeated in the SB ERA, hardly a strong correlation to having last years no.1 the no.1 team of this year.

Any power rating with Seattle no.1 is about as square as it gets.