Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

30 Sep 2014

Week 4 DVOA Ratings

by Aaron Schatz

Cincinnati remains on top of the Football Outsiders DVOA ratings after taking Week 4 off. In fact, the three teams on top of our ratings all had last week off, but Seattle and Denver closed the gap on the Bengals thanks to the introduction this week of opponent adjustments. Those adjustments are currently at 40 percent strength and will increase in strength each week until they are full strength after Week 10. If the Bengals can ward off last year's two Super Bowl teams, perhaps they'll do it with their remarkable consistency. Cincinnati's total DVOA for each of its three games so far: 38.6%, 45.3%, and 41.2%.

Obviously, a lot of talk today has been about New England because they were the most recent team to get clobbered on national television. However, the Patriots are actually one of five teams that ranked in the top eight of the 2013 DVOA ratings but currently rank in the bottom half of the 2014 DVOA ratings. Those teams are:

  • Kansas City, 2.3% DVOA, 18th, 2-2 record / No. 6 in 2013
  • San Francisco: 0.9% DVOA, 19th, 2-2 record / No. 7 in 2013
  • New Orleans: -4.9% DVOA, 21st, 1-3 record / No. 4 in 2013
  • New England: -5.8% DVOA, 23rd, 2-2 record / No. 5 in 2013
  • Carolina: -18.3% DVOA, 27th, 2-2 record / No. 3 in 2013

Yes, the Chiefs are here even though they clobbered the Patriots last night. That Week 1 loss to Tennessee sure does look strange now, doesn't it?

How much hope do these teams have of righting the ship and playing at a playoff level for the rest of the year? Obviously, the answer to that question depends on the specifics of each team's situation, but let's take a general look to see what happens to teams stuck in this same situation.

There were, of course, 192 teams ranked in the top eight of DVOA between 1989 and 2012. Yay for simple math! Four games into the next season, 52 of those teams had a DVOA below 0.0%. That's 27 percent of teams, which actually seems like a lot to me, even with the fact that NFL teams are a lot less consistent from year to year than college football teams or teams in the other major professional sports. Another ten teams had a DVOA between 0.0% and 3.0%, making them comparable to this year's 49ers and Chiefs.

Here's a look at the record of those teams:

  • 9 started 0-4
  • 19 started 1-3 (21 if we include the teams between 0.0% and 3.0%)
  • 18 started 2-2 (23 if we include the teams between 0.0% and 3.0%)
  • 6 started 3-1 (9 if we include the teams between 0.0% and 3.0%)

Here were the worst of those teams; I'm listing 11 of them because the two Tennessee teams are close together and over five DVOA percentage points away from the team ranked 12th (the 1994 Broncos).

Worst Four-Game Starts by Teams Ranked Top 8 in DVOA Previous Season, 1990-2014
    Previous Year First Four Games Final Stats
Year Team W-L DVOA Rk W-L DVOA Rk W-L DVOA Rk
2013 NYG 9-7 13.4% 7 0-4 -48.7% 31 7-9 -15.7% 27
1996 ATL 9-7 13.9% 6 0-4 -47.0% 28 3-13 -28.7% 28
2009 CAR 12-4 18.0% 6 1-3 -42.6% 29 8-8 7.1% 15
1994 HOIL 12-4 16.3% 5 1-3 -41.8% 27 2-14 -32.3% 28
1999 ATL 14-2 18.8% 7 0-4 -40.9% 29 5-11 -19.2% 26
2005 NYJ 10-6 27.0% 4 1-3 -32.1% 28 4-12 -20.9% 26
1999 DEN 14-2 32.6% 1 0-4 -31.4% 26 6-10 8.6% 12
2007 CHI 13-3 23.9% 5 1-3 -31.3% 27 7-9 -4.8% 20
1995 PHI 7-9 10.9% 7 1-3 -29.7% 26 10-6 -5.3% 18
2009 TEN 13-3 23.8% 5 0-4 -27.0% 26 8-8 -6.6% 21
2004 TEN 12-4 22.9% 2 1-3 -26.6% 30 5-11 -17.6% 26

Only one of these teams recovered to make the playoffs: the 1995 Eagles. The good news for fans of the five teams in question is that none of them have been quite this bad so far in 2014.

Looking at the total group of teams that started with DVOA below 0.0%, 18 of those 52 teams (35 percent) recovered to make the playoffs. Of course, not all those teams are comparable to our five mediocre teams from 2014. We can toss out the 0-4 teams and the 3-1 teams. In fact, one win means so much in a 16-game NFL season, even this early, that comparisons for New Orleans should really be different than those for the other four teams. So here's a more accurate portrayal of history:

As noted above, there are 23 teams in our study group that started 2-2. Thirteen of those teams -- over 50 percent! -- recovered to make the playoffs that same season. Twelve of these teams were within five DVOA percentage points of the 2014 Patriots, and eight of those teams made it to the playoffs including the Patriots themselves twice, in 2003 (-6.6% DVOA through Week 4) and 2005 (-2.3% DVOA through Week 4). There are also 17 teams within five DVOA percentage points of the 2014 49ers or Chiefs -- this includes a few teams that are above 3.0% DVOA, of course -- and 11 of those 17 teams (65 percent) eventually made the playoffs including last year's 49ers, who started out 2-2 with -1.2% DVOA.

On the other hand... 22 of these 23 teams had higher DVOA ratings than Carolina has right now. The exception: the 2001 Colts, who were playing poorly even before Edgerrin James tore his ACL in Week 7, and finished the year 6-10. The only teams to follow a top-eight DVOA season with a similar DVOA start to the 2014 Panthers and still make the playoffs are the 1995 Eagles, as noted above; the 2002 Steelers, who started 1-3 with -21.0% DVOA before winning the AFC North at 10-5-1; and the 2007 Chargers, who started 1-3 with -14.5% DVOA before winning the AFC West at 11-5.

New Orleans has it a bit harder than these other teams because it is now 1-3 instead of 2-2. Only five of the 21 teams in our study group which started the season 1-3 eventually recovered to make the playoffs (24 percent). I just mentioned three of them above. The other two were the 1993 Oilers, who started 1-3 with a -7.9% DVOA but finished the year 12-4 and fifth in the league in DVOA, and the 2004 Packers, who started the year 1-3 with -2.2% DVOA. They didn't really get much better, finishing the year 12th with 2.8% DVOA, but managed to end the year 10-6 to win the NFC North.

I also wanted to take a look at the collapse of the Patriots offense, which is 28th in the league through four games. Here are the teams that rank lower on offense: Jets, Buccaneers, Raiders, and Jaguars. That's a scary list to be on, isn't it? Has there ever been another team to see its offense collapse this massively early in the season after such a run of success? It can be hard to find one because it's so hard to find another team with a similar run of success in the first place. The Patriots have ranked in the top five of offensive DVOA for five straight seasons. The only other teams to accomplish that feat: San Francisco (1989-1995), Dallas (1991-1995), Kansas City (2001-2005), and Indianapolis (2003-2008).

So instead, I went looking for teams that ranked in the top five for just three straight years. There are 27 such spans since 1989, including the current Patriots. Only four of these teams began the following season with offensive DVOA that ranked 20th or worse:

  • The 1999 Broncos had -23.0% offensive DVOA after four games, which ranked 28th. Of course, John Elway had retired, and Terrell Davis tore his ACL. The Broncos eventually improved their offense as the young players, especially Brian Griese, got more experience. They had 9.5% offensive DVOA the rest of the way, which ranked 11th for the period between Week 5 and Week 17 of 1999. For the full season, the Broncos finished with 3.4% offensive DVOA, ranked 14th, but they missed the playoffs at 6-10.
  • The 2002 Rams had -16.8% offensive DVOA after four games, which ranked 28th. Kurt Warner got hurt in that fourth game and Marc Bulger started for half the season. Torry Holt missed five games. Marshall Faulk and Orlando Pace each missed six games. The Rams finished the year with -10.2% offensive DVOA, which ranked 26th, and a 7-9 record.
  • The 2003 49ers had -12.7% offensive DVOA after four games, which ranked 27th. Like this year's Patriots, they were embarassed in Week 4, falling 35-7 in Minnesota. The 49ers offense had all the same players as the year before, and I remember their offensive collapse being a bit of a mystery. (This was the first season of Football Outsiders.) And the 49ers were the one team on this list to give the Patriots some hope, because their offense recovered (in circumstances much more similar to the Patriots than the 1999 Broncos were). In Weeks 5-17, the 49ers had 14.2% offensive DVOA, which was the seventh-highest rating in the NFL during that 13-week stretch and much closer to the 19.3% offensive DVOA the 49ers had in 2002. The 49ers finished the year with 7.8% DVOA for all 16 games, which ranked 11th. However, they missed the playoffs at 7-9 because of a mediocre defense and poor special teams.
  • The 2012 Chargers had the infamous "what the hell went wrong with Philip Rivers" year. Marcus McNeill was hurt and Vincent Jackson was gone to Tampa Bay. They had -11.0% DVOA after four games, which ranked 20th. The Chargers finished with -10.0% offensive DVOA, which ranked 24th, and a 7-9 record.

The stories of those four teams don't exactly give great hope to Patriots fans. Perhaps they could put things back together the way the 2003 49ers did. Historically, Tom Brady has been better than Jeff Garcia, and I hear Terrell Owens is still around somewhere if the Patriots want to sign him. The Patriots also won't have the field position problems that 49ers team had. While the offense has collapsed, the Patriots special teams are once again in the NFL top ten, so at least some things stay consistent in Foxborough. The Patriots have had above-average special teams every season since 1996. That's the silver lining for Patriots fans. The cloud? Well, scroll down and notice the first schedule strength numbers of the season. The Patriots' schedule ranks 30th through four games. It ranks third the rest of the way. Uh-oh.

* * * * *

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 4 are:

  • WR Reggie Wayne, IND: Led all Week 4 WR with 73 DYAR. Caught 7 of 8 passes for 119 yards and a TD.
  • FS Husain Abdullah, KC: 8 tackles, 3 passes defensed, and a pick-six.
  • RT Doug Free, DAL: Dallas RB had 8.3 yards per carry with a 100 percent Success Rate running right.
  • ILB C.J. Mosley, BAL: Led NFL with 11 Stops in Week 4.
  • CB Xavier Rhodes, MIN: Allowed only 2 completions on 8 targets (not counting WR screens) with 4 passes defensed and a run TFL.

* * * * *

All stats pages are now updated with Week 4 information -- or will be in the next few minutes -- including FO Premium, snap counts and playoff odds. I know a lot of people will ask about the KUBIAK fantasy projections midseason update and when it is coming out. It takes a ton of time to put together. I hope to have it out Thursday night but no promises.

* * * * *

These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through four 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. Because it is early in the season, opponent adjustments are only at 40 percent strength; they will increase 10 percent every week through Week 10. As always, positive numbers represent more points so DEFENSE is better when it is NEGATIVE. 

DAVE is a formula which combines our preseason projection with current 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 45 percent of DAVE for teams with four games played, and 55 percent of DAVE for teams with three games played.

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 41.7% 1 21.2% 3 3-0 19.2% 5 -21.5% 1 1.0% 13
2 SEA 32.7% 4 23.8% 2 2-1 25.4% 2 -8.9% 8 -1.6% 21
3 DEN 30.3% 3 26.8% 1 2-1 19.7% 4 -11.2% 4 -0.7% 18
4 ATL 26.2% 2 12.6% 5 2-2 26.6% 1 10.9% 27 10.6% 2
5 BAL 21.1% 14 9.0% 7 3-1 16.1% 6 -4.7% 13 0.3% 15
6 GB 20.8% 17 18.3% 4 2-2 14.8% 8 -1.1% 18 4.9% 5
7 DET 16.2% 11 5.8% 10 3-1 4.0% 15 -20.6% 2 -8.4% 28
8 ARI 16.1% 12 5.0% 12 3-0 -4.0% 21 -14.4% 3 5.7% 4
9 PHI 10.5% 8 7.9% 8 3-1 -8.3% 22 -7.9% 11 10.9% 1
10 BUF 8.4% 6 3.7% 14 2-2 -10.8% 23 -8.6% 9 10.5% 3
11 NYG 8.3% 28 2.1% 17 2-2 1.0% 18 -11.1% 5 -3.8% 26
12 SD 7.8% 20 9.1% 6 3-1 4.5% 13 -2.5% 15 0.8% 14
13 DAL 7.1% 19 0.5% 19 3-1 12.1% 10 8.3% 23 3.3% 8
14 CHI 6.4% 5 7.6% 9 2-2 4.2% 14 -3.3% 14 -1.2% 20
15 PIT 5.1% 10 4.3% 13 2-2 12.5% 9 10.1% 26 2.7% 10
16 CLE 4.4% 16 -5.4% 22 1-2 20.8% 3 13.4% 29 -3.0% 25
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 IND 2.5% 21 0.7% 18 2-2 9.0% 11 9.9% 25 3.5% 7
18 KC 2.3% 27 -2.0% 20 2-2 5.6% 12 3.5% 19 0.2% 16
19 SF 0.9% 18 5.3% 11 2-2 1.1% 17 -9.3% 6 -9.5% 30
20 MIA -4.7% 24 -5.1% 21 2-2 -2.6% 20 -9.2% 7 -11.3% 32
21 NO -4.9% 13 2.9% 16 1-3 15.7% 7 20.2% 32 -0.5% 17
22 WAS -5.5% 9 -7.1% 23 1-3 3.3% 16 -2.3% 16 -11.1% 31
23 NE -5.8% 7 3.2% 15 2-2 -17.0% 28 -8.0% 10 3.2% 9
24 HOU -7.2% 22 -8.1% 24 3-1 -11.1% 25 -6.5% 12 -2.7% 23
25 NYJ -16.3% 23 -10.3% 27 1-3 -19.7% 29 -1.4% 17 1.9% 11
26 MIN -17.6% 30 -10.2% 26 2-2 -10.8% 24 7.9% 22 1.1% 12
27 CAR -18.3% 15 -9.4% 25 2-2 -2.5% 19 13.1% 28 -2.7% 24
28 TEN -27.9% 25 -17.9% 29 1-3 -16.0% 26 5.8% 20 -6.2% 27
29 STL -31.6% 29 -15.6% 28 1-2 -16.7% 27 14.2% 30 -0.7% 19
30 OAK -33.9% 26 -26.8% 30 0-4 -31.1% 31 6.9% 21 4.2% 6
31 TB -48.3% 32 -26.9% 31 1-3 -30.8% 30 8.8% 24 -8.6% 29
32 JAC -50.1% 31 -33.7% 32 0-4 -33.9% 32 14.3% 31 -1.8% 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 CIN 41.7% 3-0 41.1% 4.0 1 6.5% 8 -4.7% 30 0.1% 1
2 SEA 32.7% 2-1 28.6% 2.9 3 19.6% 1 -4.5% 28 9.4% 10
3 DEN 30.3% 2-1 27.0% 2.9 4 12.5% 3 -3.2% 24 9.8% 11
4 ATL 26.2% 2-2 27.1% 3.1 2 -7.3% 24 0.7% 12 29.7% 25
5 BAL 21.1% 3-1 21.3% 2.4 12 8.2% 6 -4.6% 29 12.5% 14
6 GB 20.8% 2-2 14.3% 2.8 5 9.7% 5 -4.1% 27 21.6% 20
7 DET 16.2% 3-1 24.2% 2.6 7 -1.4% 17 -1.2% 18 12.4% 13
8 ARI 16.1% 3-0 9.9% 2.6 9 5.7% 9 4.3% 6 5.2% 6
9 PHI 10.5% 3-1 10.7% 2.5 10 -13.0% 29 0.8% 11 5.9% 8
10 BUF 8.4% 2-2 13.6% 2.3 15 0.6% 16 -2.2% 21 6.6% 9
11 NYG 8.3% 2-2 2.3% 2.3 14 4.9% 11 -1.5% 20 44.4% 30
12 SD 7.8% 3-1 16.7% 2.5 11 1.8% 15 -3.2% 25 5.8% 7
13 DAL 7.1% 3-1 9.3% 2.6 6 -15.9% 31 2.3% 8 25.9% 22
14 CHI 6.4% 2-2 5.3% 2.6 8 3.4% 13 -2.6% 22 15.5% 17
15 PIT 5.1% 2-2 7.8% 1.9 17 -10.3% 28 2.8% 7 17.2% 18
16 CLE 4.4% 1-2 4.2% 2.3 13 7.1% 7 -3.0% 23 0.4% 2
TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
W-L NON-ADJ
TOT VOA
ESTIM.
WINS
RANK PAST
SCHED
RANK FUTURE
SCHED
RANK VAR. RANK
17 IND 2.5% 2-2 12.6% 1.5 25 -9.3% 26 -1.3% 19 15.3% 16
18 KC 2.3% 2-2 6.8% 2.1 16 -2.0% 19 -0.5% 17 45.5% 31
19 SF 0.9% 2-2 4.2% 1.6 23 10.0% 4 1.9% 9 15.0% 15
20 MIA -4.7% 2-2 7.1% 1.9 18 -7.2% 23 0.4% 14 11.8% 12
21 NO -4.9% 1-3 -5.1% 1.7 20 5.0% 10 0.4% 13 22.4% 21
22 WAS -5.5% 1-3 -4.9% 1.7 19 -9.6% 27 -3.3% 26 46.9% 32
23 NE -5.8% 2-2 -2.8% 1.5 26 -13.5% 30 8.8% 3 41.5% 28
24 HOU -7.2% 3-1 -2.4% 1.6 24 -5.7% 22 -5.1% 31 2.0% 4
25 NYJ -16.3% 1-3 -9.9% 1.2 28 2.4% 14 -0.3% 16 4.8% 5
26 MIN -17.6% 2-2 -15.7% 1.4 27 -4.0% 20 0.2% 15 42.1% 29
27 CAR -18.3% 2-2 -17.3% 1.6 22 -1.5% 18 7.8% 4 27.5% 24
28 TEN -27.9% 1-3 -27.2% 1.6 21 13.4% 2 -7.0% 32 32.8% 26
29 STL -31.6% 1-2 -24.4% 1.0 29 -19.6% 32 9.2% 2 27.1% 23
30 OAK -33.9% 0-4 -35.2% 0.3 31 -8.5% 25 9.3% 1 2.0% 3
31 TB -48.3% 1-3 -44.8% 0.9 30 -4.7% 21 7.1% 5 39.4% 27
32 JAC -50.1% 0-4 -50.7% 0.2 32 3.8% 12 1.3% 10 21.4% 19

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 30 Sep 2014

137 comments, Last at 03 Oct 2014, 11:54pm by Perfundle

Comments

1
by James-London :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 7:04pm

Miami's ST are worse than Washington's? Have the coverage units been that bad, or do the KO return in the BIlls game and the blocked punt hurt that much?

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

6
by johonny :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 8:03pm

Their returner fumbles a lot too.

8
by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 8:06pm

I'm also shocked that anyone's ST is worse than Washington.

72
by Noah of Arkadia :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 12:56pm

I'm wondering the same thing, especially since Buffalo is 3rd in special teams. How would both teams rank if we excluded that game?

------
Who, me?

2
by Scott C :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 7:15pm

What are the biggest discrepancies between Run and Pass offense ever? San Diego is currently at more than 92% DVOA difference between run and pass offense.

7
by Perfundle :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 8:04pm

Going by numerical difference between the two DVOA values can be misleading, because a historical good pass offense can distort the numbers even with a decent supporting run offense. Even with that, 2009 San Diego is tops in both numerical and ordinal difference. They were 1st in pass offense at 59.6% and 31st in rush offense at -13.3% for a 30-place difference. Second is 2003 Tennessee, who were 1st in pass offense at 54.7% and 30th in rush offense at -11.4% for a 29-place difference.

On the flip side, 1992 Seattle had the biggest difference going the other direction, but that was solely because they had the worst pass offense in FO's database. 2004 Atlanta is far and away the winner in biggest ordinal difference at -28, with a 31st-ranked pass offense at -35.5% but 3rd-ranked rush offense at 16.9%. They were also at -18 in 2005 and -22 in 2006. Nothing says pre-prison Vick more than those numbers.

43
by Scott C :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 1:17am

Yeah, I get that the numerical difference can be misleading for a lot of reasons. I'm just interested in how extreme this one is so far.

From watching the games, this looks quite a bit worse than 2009, and the numbers back that up. However, it has only been a few games, and the offensive line chaos will not likely last all season -- and Mathews should be back at some point.

3
by anhonestmess :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 7:16pm

Ha, I bet the Lions are 2-3 missed field goals from being a top 4 team. Which, as a Lions fan, is unsettling...

48
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 6:00am

I'm just happy they realized they needed a new kicker before he cost them any games. Other than that, I think the special teams aren't bad. Sam Martin has been amazing on both kickoffs and punts, and the coverage teams are decent. Jeremy Ross just needs to learn to take a touchback when it's appropriate.

90
by EricL :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 2:45pm

There are a lot of returners in the league right now that need to learn that lesson.

44
by Scott C :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 1:22am

It has been this way for a long time. It only really gets mentioned during weeks 4 to 10, and no explanation has been given as to why it is a 10% bump each week.

Because it is a 10% bump each week, it is clear that the percentage of opponent adjustment applied has never been subject to research to identify what the 'ideal' adjustment percentage for each week is, because there is no way the ideal curve is a linear line from week 4 to 10.

One could experiment with increasing and decreasing the % of opponent adjustment each week over history and see which ratios best predict wins for the season -- or those which best predict end of year DVOA.

68
by Perfundle :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 12:19pm

I don't think there's any more reason other than providing a gradual transition between the preseason projections and the final rankings.

4
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 7:53pm

If the Vikings win the VOA contest against the #6 Packers, or even play it close, after getting the best (I presume) of the #4 Falcons, but losing convincingly to the #21 Saints and #23 Patriots, I think Minnie will need a "Matt Cassell sucks and Adrian Peterson was indicted 48 hours before kickoff" adjustment.

50
by stevenemacks :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 8:47am

Yeah, there should be a MIN rating and a MIN* rating. Seems fair.

5
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 8:02pm

Xavier Rhodes is really coming on, as is another Vikings cb, Josh Robinson, It's amazing what improved coaching can accomplish. On the other hand, the guy they added, Captain Munnerlyn, has not done well.

9
by Rick_and_Roll :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 8:07pm

San Diego doesn't seem like the 12th best team after whipping Seattle and barely losing on the road against a good Arizona team. Maybe their Buffalo performance really hurt them, but it seems most teams struggle the week after playing Seattle.

Atlanta doesn't seem like the 4th best team, as it seems their dominating Thurs night game has over-valued them.

BTW, not a fan of San Diego, but their ranking doesn't seem to make sense...

10
by formido :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 8:12pm

Whipping? Seattle was within a score to the very end. Seattle turned it over on downs and there was just enough time that SD was forced to take a field goal. If any one of a number of plays had gone differently, for example SD recovered all 4 fumbles in the game, Seattle may well have won.

21
by Ferguson1015 :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 9:02pm

While the score may have been close, San Diego did dominate Seattle for quite a bit of that game. Good on Seattle and poor job by the Chargers for letting the Seahawks hang around long enough to get a chance late in the game.

Also, 2 of those fumbles were behind the line of scrimmage with only Chargers around them so it isn't exactly surprising that they fell on them and Seattle recovered a fumble of their own as well.

56
by LinksterAC :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 10:51am

I'd be interested to see the DVOA breakdown for the game. From viewing, it looked like Seattle was clearly outplayed throughout the entire game, and that the final score was closer than the balance of play would indicate. Traditional statistics bear that out, as the Seahawks were at large TOP and yardage disadvantages.

And I've got to play devil's advocate here: if you're going to take positive plays away from the Chargers, you have to account for Percy Harvin's touchdown that clearly wasn't a touchdown. He stepped out of bounds 30 yards away from the end zone. Seattle, I believe, also had one or two fumbles that they managed to recover.

95
by Perfundle :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 4:20pm

They were clearly outplayed on defense, but only in the sense that San Diego Kept converting third downs. You might as well say that Seattle was clearly outplayed by Denver on the final two drives before halftime in the Super Bowl before the final play of each drive. In turn, Seattle outplayed San Diego on offense.

Also, Seattle lost a fumble on a kickoff.

73
by Scott C :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 1:55pm

I'm not sure DVOA handles TOP advantages properly. Well, more specifically if it handles play count advantage.

DVOA is the per play quality of a team. If a team manages to take plays away from an opponent, and that opponent is a good one, they press their advantage (SD vs Seattle) if they take plays away from a bad one, it might actually go the other way.

In this case, I think it is potentially a real flaw in DVOA. TOP doesn't matter, but total plays do, and the ability to keep an opponent's offense off the field is not only a function of the defense.

Seattle's offense did very well against San Diego, which is reflected in DVOA, but they had so few plays that the total value (DYAR) didn't add up to a win.

Therefore, I'd be interested not in a DVOA breakdown of this game, but a DYAR breakdown.

94
by Perfundle :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 4:20pm

I don't think a DYAR breakdown would be very interesting, because it would simply say that San Diego outperformed Seattle; you might as well look at the final score for that. There wasn't anything like extremely long plays or an imbalance of fumble recoveries (there were zero fumbles for both teams, and no interceptions either) that DYAR would pick up on, after all.

Edit: Oops, must've looked at the wrong page. Seattle did lose a fumble on a kickoff.

97
by Will Allen :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 4:24pm

Has Aaron ever mentioned how closely superior VOA is correlated to winning the game?

105
by Scott C :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 8:09pm

vs YAR?

I wonder if games with high YAR / VOA differences (due to one team with many more plays, keeping the ball away from the other), correlate with when VOA doesn't predict the winner well.

106
by Scott C :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 8:12pm

I do.

I suspect in this game, Seattle outperformed or nearly matched San Diego in VOA, but underperformed in YAR.

Both offenses played better than their respective defenses (positive YAR), but San Diego's offense had almost 2x as many plays. On a per play basis, the difference would be much smaller than as a total.

109
by Perfundle :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 8:17pm

Well yes, that's what would be expected. By uninteresting I mean nothing out of the ordinary would show up.

12
by Perfundle :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 8:17pm

Going by the stats, they neither whipped Seattle nor played Arizona close. Seattle outgained them by 2.2 yards on a yard per play average, and Arizona outgained them by 1.4. DVOA doesn't like teams that meander their way through drives, as San Diego did against Seattle (17 third down attempts on only 9 drives, and 5.0 yards per play), because it's historically not sustainable.

23
by Ferguson1015 :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 9:05pm

Doesn't it value consistency though? I also thought it put a premium on 3rd down conversions, so why would having more converted 3rd downs be bad?

25
by Perfundle :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 9:22pm

Converting 3rd downs is nice, but not having to convert 3rd downs is even better. The third downs they had to convert were of 13, 9, 9, 9, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 7, 7, 5, 2, 2, 2, 1 and 1 yard in length, which means there were quite a lot of failed downs before them.

61
by LinksterAC :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 11:34am

True, but San Diego continues to perform admirably on third downs, against some of the best defenses in the league. It may not have historical precedent, but that doesn't mean it's not sustainable. If a team continues to do it game in and game out, it may suggest that they're just really good at converting long third downs. And with what we know about Rivers' strengths, is it really so hard to believe?

EDIT

If you watched the game, they beat Seattle convincingly. They also played Arizona close. San Diego led by eleven points going into the final quarter. It took an anomalous number of dropped passes to kill most of their drives. Even then, they still probably win if Rivers doesn't fumble a routine shotgun snap, pushing them out of field goal range.

Against the Bills, the Chargers totally controlled the game.

The current FO rankings underestimate them, but as the season wears on, and opponent adjustments become a bigger factor, I expect the Chargers will continue to leap up the charts. They are very, very good.

63
by TGT :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 11:48am

I don't remember any research on third down conversion consistency in season, but it's not well correlated season to season. A big difference between third down DVOA and that of first and second down was one of the markers for regression.

74
by Scott C :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 2:00pm

They are performing pretty good on other downs too, I think.

The _running game_ is not performing well on other downs, but the passing game has been very good on 1st and 2nd down, so I don't think there are any markers for regression due to down discrepancy there.

64
by tuluse :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 11:58am

Week 4 is not "game in and game out", it's 4 games. Anything can happen in 4 games. The 2007 New York Giants can win a Superbowl in 4 games.

69
by Perfundle :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 12:28pm

It's not even 4 games. San Diego was only 6-15 (40%) against Arizona and 5-13 (38.5%) against Buffalo. Considering the league average is 43.5%, they were below-average in two of their games.

75
by LinksterAC :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 2:00pm

Against Arizona, there were a lot of anomalous drops.

Against Buffalo, many third down conversion failures came late in the game with the result almost, if not completely, secure.

81
by Perfundle :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 2:12pm

Do drops not count as missed third-down conversions or something? The DVOA numbers accurately reflected their performance in the game.

Against the Bills, San Diego converted only 2-5 third downs in the first half, including failing all three times in the second quarter. The game was hardly out of hand at that time.

92
by LinksterAC :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 3:48pm

Drops certainly count, but so do the third down conversions against Seattle. My argument is only that if one is anomalous, and subject to a regression towards the mean, it's the former, not the latter.

Anyway, as another poster mentioned, the truth is in the numbers. DVOA has San Diego as a top 3 passing offense, and the worst ranked rushing offense. Watch their games and it's clear what's going on: first down is two yards and a cloud of dust. So is second down. But Rivers seems to be pretty good at converting 3d and anything. NY Times has a nice write-up on this, where they call him the league's MVP so far.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/01/sports/football/its-early-but-these-nf...

His QB rating on third downs this season is over 120. On 3d and 10 or greater, it's 158.3 (or perfect).

96
by LyleNM :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 4:23pm

DVOA is suggesting that 2 failures out of every 3 plays is probably not a formula for sustained success - which is what 2 yards on first down and 2 yards on second down is. You are right that Rivers has been superb at converting, but the smart money wouldn't be on him sustaining that over the course of a season.

108
by Scott C :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 8:16pm

THey don't do run-run-pass every time. There are quite a few third and 1's and third and 2's. In the Seattle game, they consistently got third and short.

The smart money is also on their offensive line and running game regressing towards average too and not being _this_ bad the whole season. If they continue to have an injury bug there, it may stay as bad. If they get healthy it will very likely get better.

110
by Perfundle :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 8:19pm

They didn't consistently get third and short; that was the whole point. Look at post #26 above; they were in third and at least seven for 64.7% of the time.

111
by Scott C :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 8:22pm

Also, DVOA is not just success rate +.

It knows that a two yard run on first down "failure" is a much smaller failure than -2 yards on first down. It doesn't count 2 of 3 plays as failures, it adds all of them up -- if three plays equals first down, at the end of the day, that is good.

116
by Perfundle :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 8:39pm

If that's all that DVOA did, why even bother with it? You could just look at the play-by-play to give you that information. The point of DVOA is so that going 0 yards, 0 yards, and 10 yards to get a first down is considered less sustainable than going 5 yards, 4 yards, 1 yard.

129
by Scott C :: Fri, 10/03/2014 - 3:15am

Yes, but you can't just count failure / success.

2/2/6 is more sustainable than -2/-2/14

133
by Perfundle :: Fri, 10/03/2014 - 12:47pm

And not having failures at all is more sustainable than having them. San Diego had a lot more failures than their impressive 3rd-down conversion rate would indicate.

98
by Perfundle :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 4:30pm

You don't think a 10-17 conversion rate (10-16 really, considering the last one was a kneeldown) against one of the best defenses is also anomalous?

As for your second paragraph, you're only making the point that DVOA is accurate in its assessment that San Diego's offense is not operating completely optimally. If Rivers is so successful on third down he should be just as successful, if not more so, on first and second down, so if they would've thrown it more often they probably would have a better offensive DVOA rating.

101
by LinksterAC :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 4:54pm

Regarding your first question. Based on what I've seen from Rivers' play this year (and throughout the majority of his career), it's certainly far less out-of-the-ordinary than the relative drop-a-palooza we saw from his receiving corps agains Arizona. The guy is just flat out good.

Regarding your second point, I can't say I disagree. I imagine the entire Chargers fan base moans every time they see a run on first down. That said, maybe the coaches are using the run to set up the pass in a way that DVOA can't capture. That is to say, perhaps futility in the Chargers' run game somehow facilitates the dominance we see in their passing game. Not saying I beleive that, but it's interesting to ponder on the disconnects between strategic intent and statistical evaluation.

114
by Scott C :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 8:28pm

Yeah, JAX bit on some play-action big time on early downs last week. If they never ran on early downs, that probably wouldn't work.

When they have gone run-run-pass late in games, they have been unsuccessful. DVOA is showing that.

Most of the time they are not, and the passing game DVOA on first and second down is quite good. If they passed every down, it stands to reason that it would be less successful and more predictable. That said, they could probably pass _more_ -- and they certainly did against JAX.

112
by Scott C :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 8:24pm

Downs are also not truly in isolation.

They got a TD on first down off a play-action that probably would not have worked had they not been doing those 1 and 2 yard runs previously.

As noted earlier here, there can be strange skews between run/pass dvoa due to how they are coupled. Running into the pile every now and then sets up play action passes. Conversely, making the defense respect the pass keeps 8 guys out of the box.

EDIT: The TD referenced was not the Seattle game.

115
by Perfundle :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 8:33pm

So passing on first down should be more successful than passing on third and long when the opponent knows you're going to pass, right? Right now San Diego is passing only 46.1% of the time on first down in the first half (second half ignored because they were usually ahead by then), even though they have the worst YPC on first down at 2.03 and the 3rd-best YPA at 10.85. Doing something so futile for 53.9% of the time is not "every now and then."

130
by Scott C :: Fri, 10/03/2014 - 3:25am

The only point is you can't just look at those numbers in isolation because they are coupled.

If they pass 100% of the time on first down it won't be for 10.85 YPA. Even the poor runs into the pile can help make the better plays less predictable and more effective.

I'm not arguing that they would not have been more successful if they passed more -- they certainly would have had more success with more early down passes given the results. However prospectively they can not yet give up on the running game so early in the season. They need to try and make it work better, and see if they can solve some of their problems for longer term effectiveness through the rest of the season. If they can get the o-line playing at a mediocre level, and Mathews back, they should be able to get a decent running game back.

134
by Perfundle :: Fri, 10/03/2014 - 12:55pm

A earlier article showed that play-action on early downs works regardless of how often the team runs it. They certainly don't need to run it more than they throw it given the personnel they have; once they get Mathews back it's a different story, but they certainly made it more difficult on themselves by running so much. Also, they wouldn't need to be better than 10.85 YPA; they just need to be better than the 6.14 YPP they're at for runs and passes combined.

66
by BJR :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 12:06pm

The pass offence is very, very good. The running game has been awful.

Defensively, they've had significantly upgraded play in the secondary which has improved the overall play from *abysmal* last year to *average* this.

That's a good mix in today's NFL, so the team's prospects currently look good. But they are relying on outstanding play from it's QB. Of course that can be sustained, but is obviously more fragile than if the good play was distributed more evenly across the team. If Rivers misses time, or his play declines, given the divisional opposition, the team is sunk.

71
by Perfundle :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 12:37pm

As someone who is rooting for the Chargers, because any team who can get the better of Seattle's defense to that extent is impressive, I ask you to stop try to incur the FOMBC.

77
by Scott C :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 2:01pm

If a team plays four-down football and has a successful fourth and 1 after three plays each time, they 'fail' 3 of 4 times but are unstoppable. If DVOA is based purely on success/failure (which it is not) then its totally broken.

80
by Perfundle :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 2:07pm

Uh, who said they fail 3 of 4 times? If they get 5 yards on first down and 3 yards on second down, they only fail once. But they're likely to have failed twice if they end up with a 3rd-and-7 or longer, unless an offensive penalty was committed, but then those are also negative plays for the offense.

131
by Scott C :: Fri, 10/03/2014 - 3:28am

I said so.

If they go 3 yards, 3 yards, 3 yards, 1 yard, its fail/fail/fail/success.

DVOA is not success rate, it scores plays much more granularly than that, and accounts for much more than only down and distance as success rate does.

Its not like a 3 yard run on first down is horrendously worse than a 4 yard run on first down as success rate would indicate.

93
by theslothook :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 4:04pm

People need to also recognize that one game isn't indicative of either team's true quality as its highly subjected to noise. There's this assumption made by everyone that team's play the same every week and the variation is due entirely to opponent and injuries. I don't want to get too technical here, but I highly suspect the outcome of that game was as much a function of normal random variation as it was about superior charger execution. Wasn't it also a 108 degree day?

We see that when we see rematches between teams those rematches follow a completely different script.

You can gleam some things from it, but not to the extent that some people are implying.

17
by Hummingbird Cyborg :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 8:43pm

Opponent adjustments are only 40% and their schedule hasn't been that easy. It wouldn't surprise me to see them rise as adjustments are ramped.

45
by Scott C :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 1:30am

The Chargers have played very poor in the running game, especially when trying to run out the clock late in the game. DVOA is not happy with this. Look at their run/pass DVOA split.

DVOA overall has to be taken with a litte more context. In a situation where SD is forced to run the ball or where that has more levarage (late in game with a lead, goal line), they are fairly weak. When put in a position to pass, they are extremely strong and can play dink/dunk or deep pass depending on what the defense gives them. The passing game is more important for regular season wins. When matched up with a higher ranked team, if they can minimize exposing their weakness and play to their strengths, they can win. This is what happened against Seattle. This is what did not happen against Arizona, where they failed to protect a big lead.

11
by bstar :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 8:17pm

It would be much easier on the eyes if the teams were listed by DAVE instead of DVOA. And then switch it back once DVOA becomes the better gauge of team strength.

13
by Perfundle :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 8:21pm

I like it better the way it is. Preseason rankings don't contribute anything to the gauging of current team strength.

22
by RickD :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 9:02pm

If they didn't contribute anything, they wouldn't be listed at all.

24
by Perfundle :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 9:11pm

They're listed because there's more than just current team strength being evaluated.

28
by RickD :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 9:43pm

They're listed because using DVOA in isolation with data from less than a handful of games is not a good way of measuring current team strength. It's too dependent on the vagaries of scheduling, and not enough games have been played yet for opponent adjustments to be used accurately.

Or to put it another way: did anybody really think, before last night's game, that the Patriots really had the best defense in the NFL? They had the best DVOA. Was that really a good estimate of their "current strength"?

Apparently not.

35
by Perfundle :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 10:28pm

Before last night DVOA was still VOA, so opponent adjustments weren't being accounted for. If opponent adjustments were at 100% right now, then New England's DVOA rank would be fairly accurate, yes.

29
by dbostedo :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 9:44pm

They're listed because they correlate better with a team's future performance than regular DVOA does early in the season.

51
by RickD :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 9:11am

That's the point Perfundle refuses to concede.

70
by Perfundle :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 12:31pm

Where did I say that I disagree with that point? I've said all along that the current DVOA is measuring a team's current strength, which you refuse to concede. The original comment I was replying to also mentions team strength, not future performance.

136
by bstar :: Fri, 10/03/2014 - 5:28pm

I think you've largely missed my original point.

I'm saying DAVE is the number we care more about early in the season. That's obvious. Just list the teams that way. It's not THAT great, but it's still much better than VOA the first few weeks of the season. I'm not saying "don't list VOA/DVOA at all", just that it's not that informative of a number as it will be later in the year. FO makes it pretty clear which is the better number early on. That's why they highlight the DAVE column and NOT the DVOA one.

Once DVOA becomes the better number, sort it that way. Simple, and much easier on the eyes early in the year. It's just common sense.

137
by Perfundle :: Fri, 10/03/2014 - 11:54pm

It might be what you care about, but there are plenty who disagree, including me. Personally, I find VOA/DVOA more useful, because even now, DAVE still incorporates a huge whack of preseason results, and so it's pretty much the same as a subjective power ranking, whereas DVOA tells you how the teams are actually doing.

As for DAVE being highlighted, why would you need to highlight the DVOA column when the chart is being sorted by DVOA itself? Practically every single stat in this website revolves around DVOA, not DAVE, or weighted DVOA, which is what the DAVE column get replaced by later.

14
by theslothook :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 8:24pm

Seattle's offensive is fascinating. Greg Cosell noted that its really based on the movement abilities of three runners - harvin, wilson, and lynch. They don't really run a conventional offense consistently.

15
by Perfundle :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 8:41pm

Yeah, the main source of DYAR for those three players don't tell the whole story. In one fewer game than most teams, Wilson is second among QBs in non-passing DYAR (20 rushing, 10 receiving), Lynch is third among RBs in receiving DYAR and Harvin is first among WR/TEs in rushing DYAR.

It's a shame that Harvin and Tate hardly ever got a chance to play together. It would've been interesting to see how teams defend YAC monsters on both sides of the field.

19
by theslothook :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 8:50pm

There aren't any implications behind this, but do you feel like if Wilson were asked to run a standard drop back offense, could he operate it successfully right now and if not, would he be able to in the future?

20
by Ian Chapman :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 8:59pm

I believe that if Wilson were asked to run a conventional drop back offense, he could do so quite well. In fact I think that in such a case, Wilson's stat-line would be similar to Andrew Luck's (and vice-versa). Wilson isn't Kaepernick or even a Michael Vick that passes a bit better.

-Ian

26
by Perfundle :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 9:29pm

Right now their game plan is so far away from a standard drop back offense that it's impossible to tell. Wilson has dropped from being 2nd in air yards per attempt in 2012 and 3rd in 2013 to 8th-last this year. The game plan works great when you have Harvin running all those screens, and mitigates against poor pass protection, but it's not putting all of Wilson's talents to use.

16
by Kal :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 8:42pm

Chicago's defense is...14th? I...um...err...wha?

18
by theslothook :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 8:48pm

They've only had 1 game where there defense was abominable and the bills game featured multiple long runs that are discounted because of their lack of predictability.

27
by Perfundle :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 9:31pm

The 8 turnovers forced helps as well.

65
by tuluse :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 11:59am

Plus several forced un-recovered fumbles.

78
by Pat :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 2:02pm

Just to clarify I don't think you mean to imply that the long runs don't have any predictability - it's that a long run doesn't necessarily predict future success more than a moderate run. Once a guy gets behind a defense the difference between a 20 yard run and a 60 yard run might just be where the original line of scrimmage was.

Regarding Chicago I'm not even sure that the Bills game would qualify as 'abominable' for the defense - it wasn't good, sure: VOA had it at 11.2%, but that's not that terrible, and in terms of results, all but the first and last scoring drives came on short fields from turnovers.

30
by Dales :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 9:46pm

3 NFC East teams in the top 15. Or 13, to be exact. Probably won't last, but if it does that's an unexpected development for the year.

36
by jonnyblazin :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 10:33pm

AFC North is looking very strong as well, in terms of DVOA:

1st: CIN
5th: BAL
15th: PIT
16th: CLE

100
by Dales :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 4:51pm

Indeed. The difference is, I expected that division to be good. I did not expect the NFC East to be.

31
by Sixknots :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 9:49pm

OK, everyone, the top DVOA teams in AFC/NFC do not have a "special Super Bowl match-up". We need to come up with a Sea-Cin for Aaron to list. Suggestions please!

34
by Vincent Verhei :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 10:04pm
38
by Aaron Schatz :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 11:16pm

I'm sorry, but there's nothing special about a Seattle-Cincinnati matchup unless we let Ken Griffey Jr. flip the coin or something.

40
by Hurt Bones :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 11:42pm

There's nothing 'special' about the Flacco Bowl PHI vs BAL 1.0%, but it's listed. I think one of the Jim Caldwell reunion bowls (IND-DET or BAL-DET) is more compelling.

79
by Pat :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 2:04pm

Um, it's pretty commonly known Flacco was born near Philly and grew up a Philly fan. I think it's also safe to say that if that matchup did happen, that fact would be drummed into your head a hundred times over.

84
by Hurt Bones :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 2:19pm

Lots of players grow up as fans of other teams, we generally don't say 'Player X Bowl' or if we do it's often enough that's it's not 'special'. It's also John Harbaugh against the team he was a long time coach for, but that's not that 'special' either. If Caldwell took the Lions to the Superbowl, and then faced the team he was OC for the previous year or the team that fired him as head coach, those would be more compelling story lines IMHO.

85
by Perfundle :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 2:26pm

At least it's some sort of connection. Given the weak attempts people have been putting up, it seems there's basically no connection between Seattle and Cincinnati.

88
by Hurt Bones :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 2:31pm

If I was going to call the potential PHI-BAL matchup anything it would be the Juan Castillo reunion bowl.

102
by Aaron Schatz :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 4:54pm

We list the Flacco Bowl because of the Mike Tanier connection.

104
by jonnyblazin :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 8:06pm

It's the Cary Williams reunion bowl!

135
by Kevin from Philly :: Fri, 10/03/2014 - 2:13pm

Ah...That'll be ensconced in the FO bowl list!

41
by andrew :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 12:17am

The John Kitna Bowl?

46
by PaddyPat :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 1:48am

Amen. For a guy who came into the league as a free agent representing himself, he had a glorious career!

42
by MC2 :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 1:09am

Houshmandzadeh-Mania!

52
by justanothersteve :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 9:28am

Both Seattle and Cincinnati have had the nickname Queen City. (In fact, both have been referred to as the Queen City of the West.) Don't know if that is a good idea for a "special Super Bowl match-up" name.

60
by herewegobrownie... :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 11:33am

As well as Charlotte.

You'd have to call the roughly 0.3% playoff odds game, which also happens in the regular season, the "Luke Kuechly Homecoming Special."

58
by bravehoptoad :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 11:11am

Chief Seattle and Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus were both...ah...good fighters? As opposite as two people could be otherwise?

32
by Peregrine :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 9:58pm

Atlanta is clearly ranked too high because I'm a season ticket holder and I'm already thinking about the draft because this might be the worst defense I've ever seen, and that's saying something.

Oh, and the Falcons put two of their starting OL on IR today.

33
by MC2 :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 10:01pm

Why do the Playoff Odds list the chances of teams going 16-0, but not 0-16? Surely, teams like Oakland and Jacksonville must have at least a 0.1% chance of that "feat".

37
by MaineRaider :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 10:49pm

Oh wow, Tony Sparano has his work cut out for him--31st in estimated wins and 1st in future strength of schedule! And good luck trading down from that #1 draft spot in April (Mariota-land)because Dan Synder doesn't have a bunch of first round picks to sacrifice for it this time.

39
by theslothook :: Tue, 09/30/2014 - 11:30pm

Actually he does. THe rg3 trade is officially off the books, so his line of credit is once again there for the splurging.

47
by mehllageman56 :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 2:35am

Would taking Mariota be that bad an idea for the Raiders? Is Derek Carr that good that you pass on Mariota or Hundley?

49
by BlueStarDude :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 8:41am

DeMarco Murray is listed with only 2 fumbles, but I believe that should be 3.

53
by DisplacedPackerFan :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 9:50am

I know turnovers are valuable and opponent adjustments help (1 great, 2 decent and 1 sucky offensive opponent), but Green Bays defense going from 2.2% to -1.1% (with a -0.5% run defense!) feels like smoke and mirrors. The officiating in the game was horrible and it extended drives for both teams, but there were no punts. If it wasn't for the Green Bay Defensive MVP, Jay Cutler, this would have been a 44-38 game won by whoever won the coin toss in overtime. But Jay Cutler is a hell of a defender for the Packers and made a few great defensive plays so the score looked a lot different.

I'm really curious how a defense that gives up 176 rushing yards a game, at 4.6 yards per carry, can have a negative DVOA. I can understand the passing defense numbers, even without the ints. The run defense though I was expecting to see it hanging around 20% or so. I know it ranks 23rd, so it appears run defense in general this year is quite good, but it doesn't feel that way. Heck the Packers could rush for 150+ yards if they got to play their own rush defense even with Eddie Lacy seeing a huge hole and bouncing into a tackler instead like he has been.

Rodgers has proven that if you don't have a pass rush he'll kill you. I'm curious what will happen in the Carolina and Tampa games. A good front 7 kills this team.

57
by Steve in WI :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 11:00am

I disagree that the game would have been that close without the turnovers. Green Bay looked like they could score at will while the Bears would likely have been stopped on a few drives (at least to the point of taking a field goal rather than a TD) even without the mistakes. Frankly, if the Bears offense had played perfectly, I see it being something like a 45-35 loss.

Yes, it's technically true that neither team punted, but the Bears had five drives end without scoring (time expiring in the 2nd quarter, interception, interception, 4th down failure, time expiring at the end of the game). You can definitely argue that failing to score at least a field goal at the end of the 1st half is more on the Bears than the Packers, but I'd give them credit for the next 3 stops.

99
by DisplacedPackerFan :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 4:40pm

The Bears stopped the Packers at least twice but the refs decided that wasn't right and made bad calls. While there were crappy calls all over the place I think the Bears were shafted worse.

I also don't think the Packers really stopped the Bears. I think Bennett scored at the end of the half. Cutler stopped the Bears when he made a bad decision and Williams an NFL starting level CB play on the tipped int that Matthews came down with. It wasn't a great CB play, it was what you expect a starting CB to do when a QB makes a mistake, in some cases that's just a broken up pass though. Cutler or Marshall then stopped the Bears with a throw to a route that wasn't run that gift wrapped the int to Shields.

All that being said, I'm in full agreement with what you've said elsewhere. Had the coaches made any adjustments at all on defense things might have worked differently.The Packers could not run, and the Bears still didn't drop a safety back to help in coverage when they were getting carved up. I also didn't see many blitzes to try and shake up the pressure. I don't think the Packers line is that bad really, well when Sherrod has to play it is, but he wasn't playing. But this o-line is better at pass blocking than any they have had in year. They can be manhandled but the Bears don't have that type of personnel.

The execution on that onside kick was inexcusable too. The Bears should have had that, but it looked like some of the Bears players were as surprised by it as the Packers.

So yes I still think the Packers would have won, even if the Cutler mistakes and the ref stupidity was corrected, but I don't think it would have looked as bad as the final score made it. The Packers had no answer for the run game or for Bennett. They did cover Jeffries and Marshall decently, so they may have forced a punt or forced a FG instead of a TD. Neither team had a defense, but Rodgers did have one of those days.

107
by Perfundle :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 8:14pm

I was wondering why Pro Football Reference's game play finder only had Green Bay's rush defense as giving up only 4.25 yards per carry, and it turns out that two plays were the difference. One was the lateral from Smith to Kerley in the Jets game, where Smith carried it for 2 yards and Kerley for 35, and the other was the fumble by Cutler which he picked up a yard behind the line of scrimmage and ran for a further 16 yards. How does DVOA deal with these two plays? For the fumble, does it simply throw out what happened after the fumble? And for the lateral, does it simply get counted as a 37-yard run for the Jets, and then a 2-yard run by Smith and a 35-yard run for Kerley in their individual stats? In this case it doesn't matter because Smith's part of the run was enough to pick up the first down, but what if it didn't? Would Smith be assigned a failed run for his portion, or would it simply be tossed out entirely?

113
by Vincent Verhei :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 8:27pm

1. The Smith/Kerley play is actually listed as two plays on the play-by-play: a Smith run for 2 yards and a Kerley run for 37 yards, both on third-and-1 from the Jets 25 at the 9:48 mark of the first quarter. That will have to be cleaned up in end-of-season work.

2. Cutler is credited with a 15-yard run and an aborted snap, fumble kept on that play. Which sounds pretty accurate.

117
by Perfundle :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 8:42pm

Thanks for the information!

123
by mehllageman56 :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 11:28pm

The Jets currently lead the NFL in sacks and are one of the best run defenses in the NFL. They had a 21-3 lead and still couldn't stop Rodgers from killing them.

54
by Will Allen :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 10:07am

I'm really looking forward to the Cowboys at Seattle in 12 days. It seems to me that the Cowboys offensive personnel matches up well with Seattle's defense.

76
by Perfundle :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 2:01pm

It's tricky to say at this stage. I assume you're referring to Dallas' great running game as far as matchups go. Seattle has a great rush defense, but it's been against three really bad rushing teams (#20, #27 and #32 in rushing DVOA). I don't know how much clarity the Washington game will provide, because if the playoff game against them in 2013 is any indication, a great running game is useless if there's no passing threat, and I don't have a lot of confidence that Cousins will provide that.

83
by Will Allen :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 2:16pm

I just want to see a big, young,and athletic offensive line, with a good running back, good tight end, dominant wide receiver, and of course, a qb with some talent, play against a very interesting and dominant defense. It'd be more interesting in Dallas, but I'm looking forward to it.

86
by theslothook :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 2:28pm

Not to snark at Tony Romo, but he feels like the wrong qb to face Seattle. In any case, I suspect the cowboys will take the conservative route with Seattle.

89
by Will Allen :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 2:41pm

Romo, for most of his career, has had lousy blocking in front of him, and for many of those years the defense was awful as well. In the face of that, he's been extremely productive. I think the Bears, for instance, would have been significantly better off, in the Lovie Smith era, with Romo.

55
by vividnum :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 10:31am

Wow - 49ers are ranked 19th overall, but 17th ranked offense and 6th ranked defense. Both higher than 9th and 10th ranked eagles and bills. But getting crushed by special teams DVOA.

59
by bravehoptoad :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 11:19am

Kind of like Miami, the team right below them in total DVOA.

Brad Seely is supposed to be a good coach, creating fabulous special teams wherever he goes, but in SF he's only had a good unit when the 9ers reserved roster spots for special teams specialists like Costanzo, Osgood, Spillman, Ventrone, etc. A couple years ago they let go of Costanzo and a couple other guys and the special teams sucked. Last year they brought in Ventrone and Osgood and the special teams were good again. This year with 12 draft picks and all their depth there's no way they were going to do that again, and once again the special teams suck.

I'm changing my mind about Brad Seely. Wishing the 9ers would have kept Dave Phipp. His special teams kicked the 9ers collective asses last weekend.

62
by herewegobrownie... :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 11:42am

When Seely was with the Browns, Mangini was also big on making him have special-teams specialists (including several of the names you just listed, plus of course Dawson.)

Now the Browns are just putting RBs and WRs on returns, which doesn't work all that well when Benjamin is coming back from an ACL and is afraid of contact. But it allows more focus on offense and defense (to say nothing of how the team no longer has so many old Jets never-was's. I was embarrassed to have Abe Elam on the Browns roster, as long as everyone is talking about Rice, Roethlisberger, etc.)

82
by Kevin from Philly :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 2:14pm

That'll hapen when you give up two ST TD's in a game.

67
by tuluse :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 12:08pm

I think I really dislike this Bear's team, even if they manage to make the playoffs (probably a 50/50 shot right now).

Outside of the receiving talent there is just no ability for this team to impose it's will on the opponent. They're sloppy in all phases. The defense constantly looks 2 steps behind their opponent and often confused, seriously a read option is not that hard to defend. The linebackers are useless (this is probably my biggest gripe, a decade of Urlacher and Briggs has spoiled me).

And how do you run an onside kick where no one even looks for the ball?!

Trestman seems like a smart guy, so there is a good chance he'll figure out, but probably not this year.

/airing of grievances

87
by theslothook :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 2:30pm

I'm not clear how past bears teams imposed their will. If anything, past bears teams got by with a defense that forced turnovers and special teams. The offenses ranged from bad to cover your eyes awful.

This squad just feels like an inverted version of those extremes.

118
by tuluse :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 9:19pm

"I'm not clear how past bears teams imposed their will"

"a defense that forced turnovers and special teams"

Edit: To give a less glib response.

My favorite Bears team since 2001 (when I started watching seriously) was the 2005 team. Yes the one with the scrappy crappy rookie Kyle Orton. The defense just smothered teams and the offense would get out of the way and make just enough big plays to win games. Every game was tense and exciting and opponents would leave shaking their heads wondering how they just lost a game 13 to 3.

I like watching teams where every player knows their role and responsibility and fills to--at a minimum--compentence. Outside of the long time offensive line woes and quarterbacking, the Lovie Smith teams delivered that. They never lost games because safeties were falling over themselves to cover extra gaps because the linebackers couldn't figure out to stop a option play so they ran themselves out of a simple iso up the gut.

Outside of watching Marshal, Jeffery, and Bennett just outmuscle defenders, I don't enjoy how this team plays football.

Now, I'm sure you (or someone) could nitpick my use of the word compentence to death, I'm not even sure it's the word I mean, but the last paragraph should get my intended meaning across.

120
by theslothook :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 9:54pm

I wonder how you'd feel rooting for vintage colts under PM. It was an entirely different kind of perspective.

124
by tuluse :: Thu, 10/02/2014 - 12:39am

I watched quite few Colts games, and I really appreciate Manning himself, but I don't know if I'd enjoy the team as a whole.

However, before Dungy retired, the Colts were frequently a complete team.

125
by theslothook :: Thu, 10/02/2014 - 1:39am

There were really only two seasons I thought Manning had anything resembling a complete team in Indy. One was 2005 and the other was 2007 - the two years the colts had good defenses. Ironically, those were also years that the colts got upset and lost, while lesser teams managed did progressed further.

126
by theslothook :: Thu, 10/02/2014 - 1:39am

There were really only two seasons I thought Manning had anything resembling a complete team in Indy. One was 2005 and the other was 2007 - the two years the colts had good defenses. Ironically, those were also years that the colts got upset and lost, while lesser teams managed did progressed further.

121
by theslothook :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 9:59pm

As an aside, I am a bit surprised to find that the 2012 D ranked not just higher than the 05 one, but significantly. Now, both offenses were bad in both years, so I'm not sure that explains it. I still felt the 05 D was better.

91
by Independent George :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 3:16pm

Ever since my office started cracking down on personal internet usage, I've been kind of disconnected from the conversations here. *sniff* I miss you guys!

Anyway, the thing I love most about these early-season DVOA rankings is the astronomical VAR we always see through week 7 or so. I like to imagine an anthropomorphic calculator throwing it's hands up in the air, grumbling "hell if I know!".

103
by tuluse :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 7:08pm

If Office George walks through that door, he will kill Independent George.

119
by tictoc :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 9:38pm

I dunno, I'd prefer independent george to walk thru the door and stab office george in the eye.

122
by Independent George :: Wed, 10/01/2014 - 10:01pm

Office George needs to work from home on Mondays so he can go back to Independent George. But if he spends too much time on FO, Independent George will lose his job and kill Office George.

127
by BJR :: Thu, 10/02/2014 - 8:42am

Little late here, but what the heck has happened to Carolina's defense the past two weeks? I mean I could have foreseen that defense regressing towards league average this season, but it's cratered in truly spectacular fashion the past fortnight against two maybe good, but certainly non-elite offences. Their best pash-rusher is suspended I know but there don't seem to be any other significant personnel issues, certainly not to explain their lousy run defense. Can anybody out there provide any explanation?

128
by mitch :: Thu, 10/02/2014 - 6:17pm

Ratings are way off base on Falcons and Colts.

Won't be long before the Colts will be in or close to the top 5 in these ratings.

Ravens also don't belong in the top 5 and the 9ers are much better than 19th and should be better in any power ratings than KC.

132
by usernaim250 :: Fri, 10/03/2014 - 7:30am

Just how much karmic retribution is there for Mosley winning league MVP and Green's punt return eliminating da Bears in 86?