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» Four Downs: NFC West

Our offseason Four Downs series ends with a look at the NFC West's biggest remaining holes and their most notable UDFA signings. The Rams and 49ers have to kick-start their passing games, Arizona's offense lacks a big dimension, and the Seahawks continue to rely on Russell Wilson's magic tricks.

07 Oct 2014

Week 5 DVOA Ratings

by Aaron Schatz

We all know that teams constantly change between seasons in the NFL. It seems this year like they are all changing from week to week. It seems like nobody knows anything. But that's not true at the top of the Football Outsiders DVOA ratings, where the more things stay the same, the more they stay the same.

The top two teams in DVOA right now are the same two teams that have been No. 1 and No. 2 at the end of the last two seasons, except switched around. The Denver Broncos ascend to the top spot with their big win over Arizona combined with Cincinnati's loss in New England. Seattle stays at No. 2, although their overall DVOA goes up a little bit as opponent adjustments get a little bit stronger. There's a gap of nearly 10 percentage points between Denver/Seattle and No. 3 Green Bay, and then another reasonably large gap between Green Bay and the rest of the league.

Seattle and Denver's strong early play is even more impressive when you consider that they played each other and a number of other good teams. Based on average DVOA of opponent, Seattle has played the hardest schedule in the league so far. Denver's schedule ranks third. The rest of the year, Seattle's schedule ranks 28th and Denver's ranks 25th.

Even with the sizeable gap between Seattle/Denver and the rest of the league, neither of last year's Super Bowl teams is playing at a historic pace. In fact, one of the hallmarks of this season has been the total absence of superlative teams or even units. That's in part reflected in the fact that no team even made it to 4-0 this year, but DVOA gives us an even better look at the situation. In most years, we're usually running tables at this point that talk about where some current team stands among the best or worst teams in DVOA history through X number of weeks. That's not going to happen in 2014. No team this year ranks among the top 20 or bottom 20 teams through Week 5 in total DVOA, offensive DVOA, defensive DVOA, or special teams DVOA.

Along with the fact that there are no superlative teams this year comes the fact that the teams with the best win-loss records have definitely not been the best teams overall. In part, that's because Denver and Seattle already had their bye weeks. However, there are three teams currently at 4-1. San Diego ranks No. 7 in DVOA. The other two teams, Dallas and Philadelphia, rank 12th and 13th. Philadelphia, as we all know, has built its wins on a ridiculous number of defense/special teams return touchdowns. The Eagles have DVOA below 0% for two of their four wins this year (Week 1 against Jacksonville and Week 5 against St. Louis). Dallas has been a bit better and its success is a bit more sustainable, though the Cowboys are still getting dragged down in DVOA by their poor Week 1 performance against San Francisco. These teams have also succeeded by playing easy schedules so far. Philadelphia has had the easiest schedule in the first five weeks, and Dallas ranks 29th. For the rest of the season, Philadelphia's schedule is fifth and the Cowboys rank 13th.

By the way, the Cowboys and Eagles end up with some quirky results in this week's playoff odds report. You will notice that Dallas is listed ahead of Philadelphia because, while they both are listed with 9.7 mean wins, the Cowboys have a slightly higher mean wins total without rounding the numbers. However, the Eagles actually make the playoffs in a higher percentage of simulations, in part because they currently have the tiebreaker of division record (1-0 to 0-0). The same quirky result ends up in the AFC East, where we have the Patriots slightly ahead of Buffalo in mean wins but still a little bit behind the Bills in playoff odds because the Bills are 1-0 in the division and the Patriots are 0-1.

The other team I want to briefly mention this week is Atlanta, who still rank a surprising sixth in DVOA despite a losing record. How can the Falcons be so high when their defense is horrible and their offensive line has been hemorrhaging starters? Well, of course, those offensive line losses aren't reflected in their past performance. I don't expect the Falcons to stay in the top three for offensive DVOA all season, but that's where they are now. And DVOA agrees that their defense is horrible -- they rank 28th right now in defensive DVOA. Mostly, the Falcons are still riding their huge win over Tampa Bay in Week 3, still the best single-game DVOA any team has had this season. In addition, their losses the last two weeks have been closer by DVOA than by final score. Against the Vikings in Week 4, the Falcons were surprisingly good on third downs, converting 10 of 15 opportunities. This week was the opposite: the Falcons were horrible on third downs, converting just 2 of 13 opportunities. But they outgained the Giants on the average play, with 5.9 net yards per play compared to 4.9 for the Giants, and that boosted their DVOA close to 0%.

* * * * *

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 5 are:

  • DT Gerald McCoy, TB (24-HOUR HERO): 4 QB hits, 3 hurries, and two run tackles for a loss.
  • CB Chris Harris, DEN: 4 passes defensed and no receptions allowed in man coverage.
  • C Daniel Kilgore, SF: 49ers running backs averaged 4.6 yards per carry with a 71 percent success rate running up the middle.
  • RB Branden Oliver, SD: Led all Week 5 running backs with 68 DYAR; 19 runs for 114 yards and a TD, 4 catches for 68 yards and a TD.
  • P Jon Ryan, SEA: Five punts inside the 20 and a rushing first down.

* * * * *

All stats pages are now updated with Week 5 information -- or will be in the next few minutes -- including FO Premium, snap counts and playoff odds.

* * * * *

These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through five 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 50 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 27 percent of DAVE for teams with five games played, and 40 percent of DAVE for teams with four 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 DEN 41.3% 3 34.5% 1 3-1 26.3% 1 -15.6% 2 -0.6% 19
2 SEA 38.5% 2 29.4% 2 3-1 23.8% 2 -12.0% 4 2.6% 9
3 GB 29.3% 6 25.8% 3 3-2 18.1% 5 -6.4% 12 4.7% 5
4 BAL 22.6% 5 15.2% 4 3-2 10.8% 10 -10.2% 5 1.6% 13
5 CIN 19.5% 1 13.3% 6 3-1 14.4% 6 -7.2% 9 -2.1% 22
6 ATL 18.7% 4 12.5% 7 2-3 22.1% 3 12.7% 28 9.3% 2
7 SD 15.7% 12 14.7% 5 4-1 9.0% 11 -5.6% 13 1.0% 17
8 NYG 9.8% 11 6.2% 9 3-2 3.2% 14 -8.8% 7 -2.3% 23
9 DET 9.2% 7 4.5% 13 3-2 -3.9% 20 -22.6% 1 -9.5% 30
10 NE 6.7% 23 8.9% 8 3-2 -5.4% 21 -6.5% 11 5.6% 4
11 PIT 6.5% 15 5.5% 12 3-2 10.9% 9 6.3% 21 1.8% 12
12 DAL 5.8% 13 2.6% 17 4-1 11.1% 8 7.4% 24 2.1% 10
13 PHI 5.6% 9 5.6% 10 4-1 -5.5% 22 -1.0% 16 10.2% 1
14 KC 4.9% 18 2.0% 18 2-3 4.3% 12 1.0% 17 1.6% 14
15 BUF 4.4% 10 2.6% 16 3-2 -17.4% 27 -13.8% 3 8.0% 3
16 SF 4.1% 19 5.5% 11 3-2 0.5% 18 -9.9% 6 -6.3% 29
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 4.1% 17 2.7% 15 3-2 3.5% 13 3.1% 20 3.7% 7
18 CLE 2.2% 16 -4.1% 20 2-2 21.2% 4 17.9% 31 -1.1% 21
19 CHI 0.8% 14 3.0% 14 2-3 2.2% 16 -4.1% 14 -5.5% 26
20 ARI 0.4% 8 -1.5% 19 3-1 -8.2% 24 -6.7% 10 1.9% 11
21 MIA -2.9% 20 -4.3% 22 2-2 -0.7% 19 -8.7% 8 -10.9% 32
22 CAR -7.9% 27 -5.5% 23 3-2 1.0% 17 10.1% 27 1.2% 16
23 WAS -8.1% 22 -8.3% 24 1-4 2.9% 15 1.1% 18 -10.0% 31
24 HOU -9.5% 24 -9.4% 25 3-2 -9.4% 26 -2.8% 15 -3.0% 24
25 NO -10.6% 21 -4.2% 21 2-3 11.6% 7 22.3% 32 0.1% 18
26 TEN -21.6% 28 -17.9% 27 1-4 -8.4% 25 7.1% 23 -6.1% 28
27 NYJ -23.6% 25 -18.3% 28 1-4 -24.9% 29 1.7% 19 2.9% 8
28 STL -25.7% 29 -16.0% 26 1-3 -7.8% 23 12.9% 30 -5.1% 25
29 MIN -27.2% 26 -20.6% 29 2-3 -20.1% 28 8.4% 26 1.3% 15
30 OAK -33.3% 30 -27.2% 30 0-4 -31.2% 31 6.7% 22 4.6% 6
31 TB -40.1% 31 -29.4% 31 1-4 -26.3% 30 7.8% 25 -6.0% 27
32 JAC -49.2% 32 -39.9% 32 0-5 -35.5% 32 12.8% 29 -1.0% 20
  • NON-ADJUSTED TOTAL DVOA does not include the adjustments for opponent strength or the adjustments for weather and altitude in special teams, and only penalizes offenses for lost fumbles rather than all fumbles.
  • ESTIMATED WINS uses a statistic known as "Forest Index" that emphasizes consistency as well as DVOA in the most important specific situations: red zone defense, first quarter offense, and performance in the second half when the score is close. It then projects a number of wins adjusted to a league-average schedule and a league-average rate of recovering fumbles. Teams that have had their bye week are projected as if they had played one game per week.
  • PAST SCHEDULE lists average DVOA of opponents played this season, ranked from hardest schedule (#1, most positive) to easiest schedule (#32, most negative). It is not adjusted for which games are home or road.
  • FUTURE SCHEDULE lists average DVOA of opponents still left to play this season, ranked from hardest schedule (#1, most positive) to easiest schedule (#32, most negative). It is not adjusted for which games are home or road.
  • VARIANCE measures the statistical variance of the team's weekly DVOA performance. Teams are ranked from most consistent (#1, lowest variance) to least consistent (#32, highest variance).



TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
W-L NON-ADJ
TOT VOA
ESTIM.
WINS
RANK PAST
SCHED
RANK FUTURE
SCHED
RANK VAR. RANK
1 DEN 41.3% 3-1 37.6% 4.4 1 11.9% 3 -4.0% 25 8.3% 7
2 SEA 38.5% 3-1 29.7% 4.2 2 19.5% 1 -4.8% 28 6.3% 6
3 GB 29.3% 3-2 26.0% 3.9 3 -0.5% 18 -3.9% 24 16.5% 20
4 BAL 22.6% 3-2 21.6% 2.9 10 4.9% 7 -6.5% 29 10.3% 10
5 CIN 19.5% 3-1 19.0% 3.6 4 6.6% 5 -2.7% 21 17.6% 21
6 ATL 18.7% 2-3 23.0% 3.3 6 -9.7% 28 0.4% 16 26.4% 25
7 SD 15.7% 4-1 26.7% 3.4 5 -5.9% 24 2.8% 9 8.7% 8
8 NYG 9.8% 3-2 3.2% 3.2 7 2.1% 14 -3.2% 22 30.5% 27
9 DET 9.2% 3-2 15.5% 2.8 12 2.4% 13 -4.7% 27 13.0% 16
10 NE 6.7% 3-2 10.7% 2.2 22 -7.8% 26 5.4% 3 35.8% 31
11 PIT 6.5% 3-2 10.5% 2.6 17 -14.5% 31 2.4% 11 12.2% 14
12 DAL 5.8% 4-1 7.0% 2.8 14 -12.7% 29 0.8% 13 18.5% 22
13 PHI 5.6% 4-1 7.7% 3.0 8 -15.0% 32 4.7% 5 5.0% 4
14 KC 4.9% 2-3 5.5% 2.8 13 5.5% 6 0.6% 14 34.0% 30
15 BUF 4.4% 3-2 7.6% 2.7 15 2.7% 12 -1.8% 18 5.9% 5
16 SF 4.1% 3-2 9.1% 2.3 21 3.5% 11 3.7% 8 12.7% 15
TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
W-L NON-ADJ
TOT VOA
ESTIM.
WINS
RANK PAST
SCHED
RANK FUTURE
SCHED
RANK VAR. RANK
17 IND 4.1% 3-2 11.3% 2.9 9 -0.3% 17 -4.3% 26 10.7% 11
18 CLE 2.2% 2-2 4.3% 2.8 11 -0.8% 19 -3.7% 23 0.8% 1
19 CHI 0.8% 2-3 1.2% 2.6 18 1.3% 15 -2.6% 20 11.6% 13
20 ARI 0.4% 3-1 -6.1% 2.4 20 17.7% 2 2.7% 10 15.6% 18
21 MIA -2.9% 2-2 7.9% 2.4 19 -4.3% 23 0.5% 15 11.0% 12
22 CAR -7.9% 3-2 -9.1% 2.7 16 -0.2% 16 4.0% 7 24.5% 24
23 WAS -8.1% 1-4 -7.7% 2.0 23 -1.0% 20 -7.2% 31 31.9% 28
24 HOU -9.5% 3-2 -4.6% 1.8 24 -4.3% 22 -7.0% 30 1.8% 2
25 NO -10.6% 2-3 -7.0% 1.7 25 -8.1% 27 5.0% 4 15.2% 17
26 TEN -21.6% 1-4 -18.8% 1.5 26 7.3% 4 -9.1% 32 26.8% 26
27 NYJ -23.6% 1-4 -20.7% 1.3 29 4.3% 9 1.8% 12 8.8% 9
28 STL -25.7% 1-3 -18.3% 1.3 30 -13.9% 30 9.7% 2 22.0% 23
29 MIN -27.2% 2-3 -28.7% 1.5 28 3.7% 10 -2.6% 19 33.8% 29
30 OAK -33.3% 0-4 -34.7% 0.5 31 -7.3% 25 12.3% 1 2.2% 3
31 TB -40.1% 1-4 -33.7% 1.5 27 -3.8% 21 4.4% 6 36.2% 32
32 JAC -49.2% 0-5 -47.1% 0.2 32 4.7% 8 -0.1% 17 16.5% 19

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 07 Oct 2014

140 comments, Last at 10 Oct 2014, 8:19pm by intel_chris

Comments

1
by Perfundle :: Tue, 10/07/2014 - 5:52pm

I'm guessing Seattle's defensive ranking jumped because of the offensive fireworks put on by their three previous opponents this week, and not from anything that happened last night.

2
by theslothook :: Tue, 10/07/2014 - 5:59pm

I'm not sure the redskins did a whole lot last night that hurt SEA's dvoa. The long td pass is discounted and the redskins were largely contained most of the night. But yeah, the opponent adjustments are helping too.

8
by Perfundle :: Tue, 10/07/2014 - 6:08pm

I saved last week's DVOA pages, and Seattle's defensive VOA went from -1.6% to -2.5%, so it's clearly both the opponent adjustments getting stronger and the opponents themselves getting stronger that's pushing them up. But it's a surprising split: they have the best rush defense and an average pass defense.

124
by Tracy :: Thu, 10/09/2014 - 12:57pm

Given that Seattle's played teams that rank 1,2, 6, and 18 in offensive pass VOA and rank 11, 12, 22, and 32 if offensive rush VOA, and given that opponent adjustments are not fully integrated, I think that their defensive rush/pass DVOA split may be skewed a bit. That they held the passing offenses of San Diego, Denver, and Green Bay to league-average type performances is actually quite impressive.

125
by Perfundle :: Thu, 10/09/2014 - 1:43pm

They did not remotely hold Rivers to a league-average type performance, and they didn't hold Cousins to one either. The average pass defense ranking is pretty accurate right now, given their lack of interceptions.

3
by mmeiselman :: Tue, 10/07/2014 - 6:01pm

Was any adjustment made to the bills projection after the QB switch? Wouldn't expect too much change but it should be something right?

76
by Voldemort_Ravens :: Wed, 10/08/2014 - 6:51am

What projection? But the answer is no, how exactly would you go about doing that, even if you wanted to? Would you do it for every team, any time any starter gets hurt? It's an impossible proposition.

103
by mmeiselman :: Wed, 10/08/2014 - 1:53pm

The preseason part of the projection that goes into DAVE has been changed in the past, like when Aaron Rodgers was hurt last year an adjustment was made, If I remember correctly.

4
by formido :: Tue, 10/07/2014 - 6:01pm

The season is still young. I wouldn't count on there being no superlative teams by the end of this season. Seattle started off against Green Bay, Denver, and San Diego and while I know DVOA is supposed to adjust for that, what I've noticed is that their DVOA jumps when they play a stretch of weak teams.

5
by theslothook :: Tue, 10/07/2014 - 6:01pm

I am pretty surprised SD's offense has ranked so low. Maybe it's the rush offense thats dragging their rating down some, but I figured this week's performance would give them a big boost.

41
by shoutingloudly :: Tue, 10/07/2014 - 9:30pm

I was surprised, too, but it's their rushing offense. Their passing is #1, at 58.9% (0.3% ahead of Denver), while their running offense is dead last, at -31.5% — a percentage point worse than Oakland and three worse than Jax. The opponent adjustments being so weak this early in the season may be a big part of the issue here. They've played Seattle (#1 DVOA rushing D), Buffalo (#3), and Arizona (#4), so they can't possibly go on looking so bad at running the ball.

Still, their inability to do anything against good run defenses will put extra pressure on Rivers when they play other good run defenses, e.g. their two upcoming games against Denver (#7, with an extra helping of Pot Roast). That he's looked so good despite such a terrible run game is a big part of why he's (at this rate) looking like a great candidate for MVP. Even though it kills me to admit it.

55
by Scott C :: Tue, 10/07/2014 - 11:44pm

What is surprising is that they did not go up from the bottom of the pile in rushing DVOA after the game against the Jets this week.

Yeah, most of the yardage came on a couple long runs and the rest were not that impressive, but it did not look like worst in league rushing.

71
by Jerry :: Wed, 10/08/2014 - 1:44am

Of course, a couple of long runs sprinkled into a collection of unsuccessful runs will lead to a bad DVOA.

121
by Rick_and_Roll :: Thu, 10/09/2014 - 11:26am

McCoy is committed to the "50 Rule", or whatever it's officially called, that I think was made popular by Hank Stram and have heard referenced by a lot of high IQ football types (Chris Landry, Ron Wolf, etc.).... The "50 Rule": when your pass completions and rushing attempts add up 50, then you win the majority of the time. Obviously without Rivers's absolute lights out ability on 3rd down and medium/long, SD would not be able to continue their level of commitment to running the ball even when it's ineffective. This strategy enabled them to beat Seattle this year and win in Denver last year.

126
by Perfundle :: Thu, 10/09/2014 - 1:50pm

That's a pretty nonsensical criteria (it failed in the Jaguars game, for one), and in fact San Diego's playing style doesn't help them reach it at all. If they really wanted to get to 50 they would speed up their drives to get more plays in, instead of waiting until the last second to get each snap off. Besides, they don't need to emphasize running the ball to get to 50; short, high-percentage passes will do just as well.

6
by scubachris13 :: Tue, 10/07/2014 - 6:01pm

Wow, I didn't realize just how bad Miami's special teams are. If you they were league average, they would jump up to 10th in DVOA.

86
by Noah of Arkadia :: Wed, 10/08/2014 - 11:09am

And I'd still like to know if they have been consistently bad or if it's just the abysmal performance against Buffalo. Which begs the same question about Buffalo, who are 3rd in special teams.

Another strange thing is their rather low variance, since all their games have had lopsided scores: two for and two against.

------
Who, me?

120
by SportsHec8 :: Wed, 10/08/2014 - 8:49pm

How is anyone's special teams worse than Detroit. They're historically bad at fg's

7
by merlinofchaos :: Tue, 10/07/2014 - 6:03pm

Wow, Denver defense ranked #2. That is just not something I expect to see, especially after how bad the defense was last season.

15
by Hummingbird Cyborg :: Tue, 10/07/2014 - 6:44pm

Last season the plexiglas principle worked against the Broncos. This year it worked for them on defense.

Anyhow, Denver had a lot of injuries last year on defense and actually had a decent defense and had a decent pass defense when Miller played. This year, the team brought in a legit safety after the Ihenacho disaster and brought Ware in to bolster the pass rush.

Considering the injuries and new players brought in, it would be a surprise if they didn't improve.

19
by Will Allen :: Tue, 10/07/2014 - 7:04pm

Denver is just a flat out better team this year, compared to last, even ignoring o-line injury issues. Sanders is a huge upgrade over Decker for Manning's skill set, and as you note, the defensive personnel is significantly improved, front to back. Hell, they were still hoping the elderly Champ Bailey could contribute last year.

Seattle is still a matchup nightmare for their offense, but the gap is narrowed, and the defense is better positioned to make it a competitive game. If they played in Denver, I think the Broncos would win, but in a final game match-up I'd still make the Seahawks a 7 point favorite, even if I don't think it would be nearly as one sided as what occurred last February.

20
by theslothook :: Tue, 10/07/2014 - 7:11pm

At this point, if Dallas doesn't do well against SEA, I'm not convinced that any offense in the league matches up well with Seattle. Ultimately - their personnel are too good. I think you would almost need the combination of vintage 2000 chiefs offensive line with Peyton Manning to hurt this defense.

22
by Perfundle :: Tue, 10/07/2014 - 7:22pm

Uh, San Diego?

Well, once they get Mathews back and aren't on their seventh center, at least.

25
by theslothook :: Tue, 10/07/2014 - 7:39pm

I still felt like that was the result of the heat and random variance. Given how they've destroyed every other top pass offense - I'd expect them to stymie SD if they played again.

28
by Scott C :: Tue, 10/07/2014 - 7:53pm

yeah, there was definitely some positive luck / variance for SD in that game, but at the same time there isn't an offense playing right now that has the same tools for beating press man coverage and causing mismatches over the middle.

30
by theslothook :: Tue, 10/07/2014 - 8:03pm

I just thought Rivers was playing out of his mind in that game. Actually, playing out of his mind this whole season. I didn't see the arizona game but has he even had one bad game this whole year?

48
by Ferguson1015 :: Tue, 10/07/2014 - 10:22pm

That would be his worst game by far so far. But then again, his receivers (and TEs and RBs) had a bad case of the drops, especially on 3rd down. Although that last drive to try and re-take the lead was very 2012 Chargers O. So I would still call it Rivers worst game of the season so far.

26
by Kal :: Tue, 10/07/2014 - 7:40pm

I think that if your passing game is heavily centered on the TE and RBs, you could do fairly well against Seattle. You need a decent but not insane OLine and one or two good to great TEs, and a very good QB.

San Diego has already shown that they work. The Cowboys could easily beat Seattle for this reason as well. But other than that, the only team on their schedule that fits that bill at all is perhaps the Giants, and maybe the Panthers if you squint.

Playoff wise they might have a harder time of it. Dallas will still likely give them some problems. No one really fits from the NFC North. Same with basically anyone from the South. The East is about the only division that would cause issues.

Denver would be a close matchup, and SD would be a hell matchup. The Pats would also likely be very hard.

27
by theslothook :: Tue, 10/07/2014 - 7:44pm

The saints last year had an offense that qualified in theory with graham, sproles, a good offensive line and a good qb - and their offense got destroyed.

I have a feeling people are overreacting to one loss against San Diego. Seattle has looked bad on defense before, but that's because teams have poor games, not some kind of stylistic flaw in the defense that can be exploited week to week.

29
by Scott C :: Tue, 10/07/2014 - 8:03pm

I agree to some extent. But it the SD game wasn't as much about Seattle playing poorly as it was SD playing near flawlessly. But, they have been playing close to that peak ever since, minus 2 more centers and 3 RBs. Rivers is doing the same magic tricks escaping the rush that he did against seattle elsewhere, except he has many more down-field throws which is not a surprise with the other team's secondaries not able to defend the deep pass as well. Time will tell if that can keep up.

If it is not an early season fluke, it will still be a good match-up for Seattle's defense.

In a re-match, I expect the other side to play a bigger role -- Seattle's offense vs San Diego's defense. I believe the Chargers can move the ball and score on Seattle. I am unconvinced they can keep the Seattle offense to only ~40 plays again, and with more plays, Seattle should score more points.

32
by knucklebear :: Tue, 10/07/2014 - 8:32pm

I disagree, the SD defense is playing much better than it was in Week 2.

Remember, Flowers was out vs the Seahawks and is playing as good as any corner in the league. They were also missing Jarrett Johnson who is their biggest run stopper. With those two back, the D is better and they're showing it.

57
by Scott C :: Tue, 10/07/2014 - 11:50pm

So you disagree and think that they can have a near 2:1 TOP and play advantage in a rematch?

I also think the Chargers D is better than week 2, but it was not their D that stopped Seattle that game, it was mostly the offense playing keep-away. I doubt they can consistently get such a huge advantage in play count.

65
by Perfundle :: Wed, 10/08/2014 - 12:22am

Yeah, you only have to look at last year. San Diego went from controlling the ball for 39 minutes in their win at Denver to only 24 minutes in the playoff rematch.

Plus, merely controlling TOP isn't enough either. They had it for 38 minutes in the first Denver game and still lost that one.

36
by theslothook :: Tue, 10/07/2014 - 8:54pm

Even Denver moved the ball against Sea in the SB - they just turned it over a lot too.

I'm not saying Seattle won't surrender yards or points. They will. They give up big plays with more frequency than the average pundit would have you believe - especially since E.Thomas is now being treated like some kind of god that never gets burned deep.

Even with all that, I don't think SEA has any weaknesses personnel wise on defense - which is why trying to beat them with long methodical drives is difficult.

107
by commissionerleaf :: Wed, 10/08/2014 - 3:21pm

The Saints actually had two of the best passing game allowed by Seattle last year, so this makes a lot of sense and is supported by the data. Actually, Manning's performance in the SB was arguably a top 3 or top 5 performance against the Seattle defense last year. They scored 8 points. That's how dominant Seattle was and is.

Seattle's offense is probably a little bit overrated because they look so good in efficiency stats while playing with a lead. Russell Wilson is great, but the receivers are merely adequate and Harvin is a trick play weapon not a superstar.

112
by Perfundle :: Wed, 10/08/2014 - 3:56pm

They look quite good in efficiency stats while playing from behind too. Since 2012, they've had the fourth-highest yards per play, the third-highest yards per attempt, the third-highest yards per carry and the fifth-highest points per drive when trailing.

31
by tuluse :: Tue, 10/07/2014 - 8:16pm

The Chicago Bears offense is actually built pretty well for facing Seattle. Our receivers don't really get separation, they just out muscle defenders.

33
by Will Allen :: Tue, 10/07/2014 - 8:50pm

Right now, the Bears just don't have the o-line to match up. We'll see once they get healthier. If the Seahawks have no respect for your ability to run, they just consume even great passing attacks.

37
by theslothook :: Tue, 10/07/2014 - 8:56pm

I have no faith in Cutler being disciplined enough to beat that defense. Otherwise, yes I agree those type of receivers might make it work.

49
by tuluse :: Tue, 10/07/2014 - 10:25pm

Oh trust me, I wouldn't expect the Bears to come close to winning. I think Lynch, Wilson, et all would probably combine for about 400 rushing yards.

And yeah, Cutler is mistake prone, but not much a team can do about that. Just in terms of how an offense is built, the Bears would be better than most at attacking the Seahawks.

129
by intel_chris :: Thu, 10/09/2014 - 2:36pm

I wish the Broncos could get Bailey back if just for the practice squad or an assistant coach of some kind. His play against the Patriots where he got an interception and Ben Watson chased him down to cause a fumble on the other end of the field is still one of my all time favorite football plays even if the rules the officials had to interpret made it a questionable result. I thought those two were some of the best football players of that time and they actually proved it on the field.

Denver may have been wise to let him go, but as a fan, I can still miss him. I also thought the way he was willing to try to play other "lesser" positions was a nice touch of professionalism (or at least that's what I heard he offered at the end of last season).

9
by PaddyPat :: Tue, 10/07/2014 - 6:10pm

What does anyone make of the NFC South? The Saints offense has overcome defensive ineptitude in the past. This year their offense is just meh-good and their defense is abysmal? Is that likely to change? Will the division likely go to the Panthers after Atlanta's offensive line settles? Such an odd start for that division.

10
by theslothook :: Tue, 10/07/2014 - 6:17pm

Gut feels says NO will win it as they have the most talent offensively, now that Atlanta may soon be signing me to play left tackle.

Honestly - it makes no sense. Unless you believe sproles has been the glue for their offense all along, there really isn't a good reason why their offense has struggled so much. I only saw one game of theirs - against ATL - but even that looks like a mirage given how awful atlanta's defense is. Has anyone whos watched the saints enough to know what's going on?

56
by CincySaint :: Tue, 10/07/2014 - 11:50pm

Big Saints fan here. I've seen all their games.

On per drive basis the Saints' offense has played very well -- #1 in yards per drive and #2 in points per drive.

BUT....

Slightly below average in number of drives due to the poor defense and lack of turnovers. And near the bottom on offense in turnovers per drive and particularly INTs bec Brees' has forced/made some poor decisions. It doesn't look like the defense is going to get any better so the offense is going to need to clean-up its act.

Bottom line -- whoever wins the two NO-CAR games will win the division. ATL is headed downhill from here with a bad D and a newly porous O-line.

122
by Rick_and_Roll :: Thu, 10/09/2014 - 11:39am

Seems like there will be a 3 team race with a 9-7 record taking it and the 2nd & 3rd place teams being 8-8.... Essentially becoming the NFC East of the last few years.

11
by Sixknots :: Tue, 10/07/2014 - 6:19pm

The Lions #1 in defense DVOA? And by a significant margin over #2 compared to the splits between the next 5-7 teams. What's happening in Detroit?

58
by Scott C :: Tue, 10/07/2014 - 11:52pm

Yeah, seeing that gave me the chills.... [cue twilight zone theme]

74
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Wed, 10/08/2014 - 5:58am

The best thing Jim Caldwell did for the Lions is bringing Teryl Austin with him from Baltimore. The Lions had a good run defense last year, too, but Austin has been MacGyver-like in his ability to put together a respectable pass defense with over-the hill players, street free agents, and practice squad rookies in the secondary.

Of course it's typical of the Lions for their offense to be stuck in the mud as soon as their defense is fixed. It's like 1993 all over again.

78
by coboney :: Wed, 10/08/2014 - 7:51am

I don't think much of Caldwell as a coach generally but he does seem to have done a good job here of bringing in solid coordinators and getting the hell out of their way so he doesn't mess it up.

83
by Will Allen :: Wed, 10/08/2014 - 10:04am

Given that hiring a good staff may be the most important job of a head coach, it is hard to be good at this, while not being at least slightly above average overall. If Caldwell did a good job in this area, AND gets Stafford to be a consistent professional, he'll be the best head coach the Lions have had in decades, maybe going back to the 1950s.

95
by ChrisS :: Wed, 10/08/2014 - 1:01pm

Joe Schmidt is the only Lions coach in the last 50 years with a winning record over more than 1 season. In the last 40 years there a ZERO. Oh The Humanity!

100
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Wed, 10/08/2014 - 1:31pm

I did kind of like Bobby Ross as a coach. He got decent play out of the 1999-2000 teams that were completely bereft of talent. Has there ever been another coach that resigned mid-season when his team had a winning record?

12
by Perfundle :: Tue, 10/07/2014 - 6:28pm

With his improved passing, Luck has seen a corresponding downturn in his scrambling and running ability; he's failed every one of his 3rd and 4th-down attempts on the ground. Is that the fault of his offensive line?

Also, for anyone who watched Sunday's game against the Ravens, what happened here in the fourth quarter?

(12:43) (Shotgun) A.Luck up the middle to IND 36 for -10 yards.

How do you lose 10 yards up the middle without fumbling the ball and have it not be considered a sack?

14
by Ben :: Tue, 10/07/2014 - 6:43pm

It was a bad shotgun snap over his head that he just fell on instead of trying to scoop it up.

66
by Bobman :: Wed, 10/08/2014 - 12:25am

I was listening on the radio while in the car. The announcers made it sound like it was way over his head and he turned around and caught it like Willie Mays (or a WR catching over his shoulder) then went down. They went on and on about how he prevented 7 the other way with his reactions. New center--after four weeks of decent OL play, they put in a new guy... why exactly? There were a handful of muffed snaps/forgotten snap counts, etc in that game. Pretty sloppy, really.

82
by turbohappy :: Wed, 10/08/2014 - 10:02am

Yeah I didn't get it either. AFAIK Shipley was not injured. If they thought Harrison was the guy, why even bring in Shipley? He's done nothing but play solid football after the first half of the opener.

94
by Ben :: Wed, 10/08/2014 - 12:13pm

Harrison had a thumb injury the first few games of the year. I think Harrison would have started from game 1 if he was healthy, they brought Shipley in because the literally had no healthy centers on the roster before week 1.

104
by turbohappy :: Wed, 10/08/2014 - 2:08pm

You're right, I got my players confused. Still not sure Shipley shouldn't be the guy, but it makes more sense.

Still don't understand what's going on with Holmes though. He's still listed #1 on the depth chart, but hasn't played or been on the injury report in 2 or 3 weeks.

118
by Ben :: Wed, 10/08/2014 - 6:20pm

That's the part that I find strange too. The guy who began training camp as the starter isn't even making the game day active roster now, even though he's not listed as injured any more.

It's strange.

13
by Mike B. In Va :: Tue, 10/07/2014 - 6:30pm

...and Buffalo is 15th, pretty much right where I'd put them.

16
by Steve in WI :: Tue, 10/07/2014 - 6:45pm

The Chicago Bears special teams is clearly ranked too high (yes, I know they're 26th) because they have been an abject failure in every possible way. They get tackled at the 10-yard line when taking kickoffs out of the end zone, they commit penalties on every remotely successful punt return, and they manage to look even worse than the ragtag bunch of street free agents assembled by a lousy GM than they are. The sequence of events that led to Carolina getting their first punt return TD since the Bush administration should have been grounds for cutting players and firing the special teams coordinator on the spot.

I believe that if it hasn't happened already, opposing teams will start intentionally landing kickoffs at the goal line to ensure a return; kind of the philosophical opposite of how they used to kick away from Devin Hester.

Hell, even Robbie Gould missed an easy field goal on Sunday; clearly their incompetence is contagious and given the chance will infect good players like him.

24
by tuluse :: Tue, 10/07/2014 - 7:37pm

The Jets, after a 15 yard penalty, tried to kick high and short to force a return.

52
by TomC :: Tue, 10/07/2014 - 11:09pm

I agree with everything except the "lousy GM" part. Given the quality of Emery's top-of-the-roster draft and FA acquisitions, I can only dock him so many points for not getting the ST guys right. I think the real problem is the entire administration top-to-bottom not paying enough attention to that phase of the game and just assuming that you can throw random guys and a retread coach together and have a passable unit. I want to believe that Emery and Trestman are smart enough to realize this and do things differently in the future.

If this situation persists beyond this year, I will retract my objection.

93
by Steve in WI :: Wed, 10/08/2014 - 12:03pm

I see your point, and I hope that I'm overreacting to the state that the Bears are in right now, but here's why I think Emery isn't a good GM:

1. Special teams speak for themselves. As you said, almost no attention has been paid to the unit on any level. While it was probably inevitable that Bears fans were going to be disappointed in the post-Toub, post-Hester era, it's inexcusable for special teams to be this terrible.
2. Drafting. While it's too early to fully evaluate any of his drafts, there are some glaring issues that bother me.

2012: Shea McClellin was/is a bust. Alshon Jeffery was a great pickup. No one else from the 2012 draft class is even on the team anymore now that Isaiah Freye was released.
2013: Kyle Long was probably a good pick, but I think the Bears could have traded down and gotten him. In my opinion, Jon Bostic is a bust. Jordan Mills has been pretty good and Marquess Wilson may contribute when he's healthy.
2014 (with the caveat that it's really too early to evaluate this one at all): Kyle Fuller was probably not a bad pick and he looks like a genius pick now that Tillman is out. If he turns into Tillman 2.0 and contributes at a high level for the next 10 years, then obviously he was a great pick. That said, the Bears' most glaring weakness was at safety and Emery did not draft one until the 4th round. I don't know what to make of Vereen but the fact that he can't get much playing time with the safeties being this bad doesn't impress me.

3. Free agency. I give Emery partial credit for at least attempting to address the Bears' biggest issues the last two years (unlike Angelo before him), but so far I'm not impressed with anyone he brought in this season except for maybe Willie Young. Lamarr Houston has more disgruntled tweets than tackles and no sacks, and we're seeing why the Vikings were happy to let Jared Allen go. None of the many free agents he brought in to compete at safety were able to unseat Chris Conte and most of them are already off the team.

4. Coaching. Joe DeCamillis is apparently a terrible special teams coach. Forget the lack of talent; a replacement-level coach should be able to get his team to stop committing stupid penalties and stop running the ball out of the end zone to get tackled at the 10. Mel Tucker seems to be a pretty bad defensive coordinator for many of the same reasons. It's one thing for a defense that has glaring holes to not play well; it's another thing to consistently commit bad penalties and allow wide-open receivers to catch 15-20 yard passes again and again.

And then there's Trestman, the supposed quarterback guru and offensive genius. While there have been injuries to both the offensive line and wide receivers, in general the Bears offense has been highly disappointing. Instead of taking a step forward, they've taken a big step back. Cutler is still who he has always been, which shouldn't be surprising at his age but was something that Trestman was hired to change. Trestman also is inept at making halftime adjustments, which is why his team has gotten absolutely destroyed in the 2nd half in the past 2 games. The bottom line is that while the Bears' offense has not been that bad, Trestman wasn't hired (and roughly 2/3 of the Bears' cap money was not dedicated to the offense) so that their offense could be "not bad." It's supposed to be able to carry the team, and that's not happening right now.

One last thing: when the Bears picked Trestman, supposedly their short list also included Mike McCoy and Bruce Arians. Now, I don't know if it was as simple as saying they could have had any of the three (and odds are it wasn't), but I can definitely say that with hindsight I rank Trestman a clear 3rd out of those 3 candidates. I suspect there's a reason he was never given an NFL head coaching job before.

113
by tuluse :: Wed, 10/08/2014 - 4:19pm

"I suspect there's a reason he was never given an NFL head coaching job before."

I doubt it's a good one in a league where Mike Singletary gets a coaching job with basically no qualifications.

17
by Will Allen :: Tue, 10/07/2014 - 6:46pm

The Vikings have had so many unique or random things go very wrong, yet after their most difficult stretch of the schedule, they are 2-3. If Bridgewater gets and remains healthy, they still have a good chance to be playing meaningful games in December. They aren't likely to have their best offensive player suspended 48 hours before a game again. They won't be starting Christian Ponder again on a Thursday night road game against a top 5 DVOA team. They won't be starting Matt Cassell again.

It isn't good to be relying so much a rookie qb, but it's better than the alternative, or Joe Webb. There's a good chance that the rest of the season will provide a lot of illumination on how good a head coach Zimmer is going to be. As strange as it may sound to say it about a guy who, through his first 5 games, has seen his team lose three games by 11 or more, and two of those by 20 or more, I think he has managed the train wreck pretty well. The tough thing to evaluate is if Bridgewater plays poorly; there just won't be enough information to evaluate the coaching as opposed to the talent level of the roster. The game just revolves so much around qb play that it makes other elements harder to judge.

21
by theslothook :: Tue, 10/07/2014 - 7:12pm

I am a bit surprised that the defense hasn't been better, but that could just be a function of poor offense.

85
by BJR :: Wed, 10/08/2014 - 11:00am

Some of that bad luck is about to even out if Megatron can't go Sunday.

18
by Will Allen :: Tue, 10/07/2014 - 6:54pm

Very, very, much looking forward to the Dallas offense versus Seahawk defense matchup. I think the Dallas offense presents a more difficult challenge to Seattle's defensive personnel than Denver's offense. It'll be an interesting contrast to examine.

23
by Perfundle :: Tue, 10/07/2014 - 7:36pm

The 32nd rushing defense going up against the best rushing offense doesn't look promising for Dallas, though. Of course, that was against normal rushing games; who knows how well they'll do against Seattle's utterly unconventional one, where QBs and WRs rival the RB for DYAR supremacy. Don't know why Seattle has stopped running jet sweeps for Harvin, because it would be better for his health than using him as a traditional running back.

As for your point, Seattle's rush defense can't continue to be this strong, can it? I haven't watched the tape to see who has been most responsible for it. Wagner for one, certainly, but how about players on the DL?

34
by willybhu :: Tue, 10/07/2014 - 8:54pm

Mebane has still been a monster inside. It hasn't been so much Cliff and Michael Bennett getting penetration on rushing downs, they seem to be more concerned with containment, so their numbers are down from last year. I do think a lot of our improvement against the run has a lot to do with Bobby's huge improvement, and KJ has stepped up in a major way too. It's still just too hard to run against an 8-man box with fast linebackers and big safeties.

39
by Will Allen :: Tue, 10/07/2014 - 9:03pm

Everybody is playing well, it seems to me, and of course their overall scheme relies heavily on Earl Thomas being able to cover so much as a single high that Chancellor becomes a 4th linebacker, with exceptional coverage skills. Of course, run blocking on a silent count is easier than pass blocking on a silent count, and both teams are aware of this. This might mean that the Seahawks become more run conscious, which might tempt the Cowboys to go downfield early. Dez Bryant won't be as easily physically overmatched as many even quality receivers are against the Seahawks. The best games often have a quality to them like the scene with the poisoned wine in "The Princess Bride", and I think this one qualifies.

67
by Bobman :: Wed, 10/08/2014 - 12:29am

When will the NFL start random testing for iocane powder? (Player's excuse: I didn't know it was banned and I am just trying to prevent myself from getting poisoned! It must have been in a supplement.)

That's a great comparison, BTW.

53
by TomC :: Tue, 10/07/2014 - 11:12pm

Gah! What Einstein at Fox decided to flex the Bears-Falcons to the late game? I was really looking forward to watching DAL-SEA live.

35
by willybhu :: Tue, 10/07/2014 - 8:54pm

I don't understand how Cleveland has a better offensive DVOA than San Diego. Is it because they somehow manage all their quality drives at the end of games?

40
by Vincent Verhei :: Tue, 10/07/2014 - 9:21pm

Cleveland is averaging more yards per play than San Diego (5.8 to 5.6) and has fewer turnovers (1 to 2, and granted CLE has played four games to SD's five), so it's not a total mystery.

I mentioned this in Quick Reads this week: Brian Hoyer has been below replacement level in the first half of games this year, but after halftime, he has more DYAR than anyone except Andrew Luck.

43
by Will Allen :: Tue, 10/07/2014 - 10:03pm

That's an indicator of good coaching and a player with enough brains and professionalism to benefit from it. How much trade value is a publicity-loving former 1st round qb, who never gets on the field, likely to have after two seasons?

110
by commissionerleaf :: Wed, 10/08/2014 - 3:25pm

In general, or when the Raiders are looking for a quarterback?

116
by Danimal :: Wed, 10/08/2014 - 6:09pm

this made me laugh

117
by Will Allen :: Wed, 10/08/2014 - 6:19pm

Me, too, but being fan of a team which has had one well quarterbacked year in the past 10, I try to demonstrate restraint.

123
by JIPanick :: Thu, 10/09/2014 - 12:04pm

Aren't those the same thing?

45
by Ferguson1015 :: Tue, 10/07/2014 - 10:05pm

It's also the fact that SD has the worst Rushing Offense in the league. Apparently the impressive rushing offense displayed against one of the best teams at defending the run was just enough to put them near the 31st and not absolutely terrible.

38
by nuclearbdgr :: Tue, 10/07/2014 - 9:00pm

The Packers ST are 5th? Wow.

81
by DisplacedPackerFan :: Wed, 10/08/2014 - 9:40am

They even released a player recently to help with special teams. Ryan Taylor never worked his way into the offense and his ST contributions were slipping. This let them move Kevin Dorsey off the practice squad onto the active roster (TE for WR). Dorsey was on most of the #1 special teams units by the end of preseason, but the prior logjam at WR made him a little less valuable than Taylor. Sure Boykin's injury may be worse than first thought, but Dorsey isn't getting on the field in front of Nelson, Cobb, Adams, and probably not Janis either. I think the move was mostly ST related.

I think the talk about fixing special teams, the hiring or Ron Zook (I was very dubious of this) as an assistant ST coach, and the reduction in injuries seems to be paying off. I don't recall any really awful ST plays. The 46 yard kick return they gave up to Sherels is one of the worst of the season, and while that isn't good, those happen.

It still feels strange. The lack of injuries really feels strange, I see other teams losing big names every week and the Packers aren't. That is completely opposite of what I've gotten used to the last half dozen seasons.

99
by dank067 :: Wed, 10/08/2014 - 1:28pm

As hilarious as it would be if Ron Zook was truly making the difference with special teams, I have to imagine the lack of injuries is the biggest thing. It would be nice if the injury/nutrition coordinator they hired away from Philadelphia really does have magic powers, but seeing Philly's injury issues so far this season is a reminder that luck is still probably the most dominant factor with injuries. Just have to enjoy the health while it lasts.

42
by Thok :: Tue, 10/07/2014 - 9:31pm

When exactly do opponent adjustments start affecting special teams DVOA? Because as far as I can tell, the 49er's poor special teams ranking is driven almost entirely by the results of the game against the Eagles.

60
by Aaron Schatz :: Tue, 10/07/2014 - 11:59pm

There are no opponent adjustments for special teams, only weather and altitude. I've never been able to get the opponent adjustments to work right. They always tended to throw things off and lead to less predictive value. I don't know if I was doing them wrong or something; it's something to test again in the future.

73
by Thok :: Wed, 10/08/2014 - 4:43am

Fair enough. I'll just mentally add a couple of points to the 49ers DVOA for the rest of the year.

77
by Voldemort_Ravens :: Wed, 10/08/2014 - 7:01am

As Aaron just stated, the model is less predictive that way. But if you just have to believe that your favorite team is teh gr8est evr, go for it.

79
by Thok :: Wed, 10/08/2014 - 8:41am

I didn't realize that mentally raising a team from 4.1% DVOA to 6.1% DVOA (like I said, a couple of points) was making them "teh gr8est evr", or would even affect anything that was posting on this site by anybody but myself. And in the long run, it won't matter, since the special teams performance against the Eagles will be averaged over 16 games instead of 5; either the Niners will have other bad special teams games and my mental adjustment will be proven wrong, or the Eagles game will naturally be filltered down.

I'm aware that Aaron has not found any good systematic way to regress special teams based off of opponent adjustments. I'm also aware that one should not blindly rely on models, even if there may not be a good way to fix them.

44
by Dales :: Tue, 10/07/2014 - 10:04pm

Wow. Eli 16th or so in DYAR-- and 4th in QBR?

59
by Scott C :: Tue, 10/07/2014 - 11:58pm

QBR is really strange. It just is. If a QB scrambles for a first down late in a close game, it treats it almost like a 60 yard TD pass in value. Also it does not adjust for opponent.

64
by tuluse :: Wed, 10/08/2014 - 12:15am

Also, QBR is a rate stat and DYAR is a counting stat.

69
by RickD :: Wed, 10/08/2014 - 1:07am

Yes, "total" QBR is a rate stat.

And that drives me nuts.

Perhaps they can introduce "average" QBR to be a cumulative stat.

46
by Ferguson1015 :: Tue, 10/07/2014 - 10:07pm

I wouldn't mind seeing an Eli Manning revenge game (SD-NYG). I suppose you could also call it 2004 draft special or something like that instead.

47
by Paul R :: Tue, 10/07/2014 - 10:17pm

Baltimore, who last week ranked higher in offense and defense than Indianapolis, lost to Indianapolis, but moved up in the total DVOA rankings.
Perhaps the Ravens turned in a dominating performance? That would be a surprise to me. Watching the game, it seemed that neither team played exceptionally well.

50
by jonnyblazin :: Tue, 10/07/2014 - 10:36pm

Yeah I was going to comment on the same thing, I'm very surprised the Ravens moved up in DVOA after that stench-fest. Looks like the Ravens got very good marks for defense, as they forced 3 TO's and won more plays than they lost. I think Luck made some key 3rd down conversions that kept the chains moving for Indy though.

51
by Ben :: Tue, 10/07/2014 - 11:00pm

I suspect that the 2 red zone turnovers forced by their Defense helped their cause (and helped sink Indy's offensive DVOA).

80
by JimZipCode :: Wed, 10/08/2014 - 9:22am

Thank for commenting on this. I'm a Ravens fan, and it's very jarring to see them in the top 5 in DVOA, after losing a game like this.

A couple notes – these are my guesses as to things that contribute to their (absurdly) high ranking:

• The Ravens are very balanced. The only teams that have all 3 units in the top dozen, are all clustered in the top 5 of the rankings, including the Ravens.
• They have been very good defensively in the red zone, again. Dean Pees' defense goes against everything Ravens fans are used to rooting for: bend-but-don't-break, give up a ton of yards, rush only 4 guys, stay on the field. It's brutal to watch. But they just don't seem to give up TDs in the red zone. I wonder if DVOA rewards them disproportionately.
• Aaron noted in audibles that the Ravens had bad fumble luck in this game. Maybe DVOA not penalizing them as much as the scoreboard would suggest.
• Possibly DVOA likes the high percentage dink-and-dunk passing they did in week 2 more than I did. Probably the week 4 blowout is also helping their overall score – Carolina is not terrible in DVOA, out of the bottom 10.

And I wonder if DVOA may be onto something. As mediocre as they've looked on TV, the Ravens are really only a few plays from being 5-0. If Tucker makes the long FG in week 1, and Flacco doesn't choke away the scoring chance at the end of the half, then the Ravens would have taken an extra point on the Steve Smith TD instead of going for two: that's 7 points in a game they only lost by 7. Their drive at the end of that game could have been for the go-ahead FG. Likewise in this game: Flacco hangs out that 4th-down bomb to Smith one yard further downfield, and they're going to overtime. They'd be a pretty mediocre-looking 5-0 team, but their DVOA wouldn't look out of place.

92
by Jim C. :: Wed, 10/08/2014 - 11:57am

Don't go to sleep on the Ravens. With their remaining strength of schedule, expect them to be playing for the division lead at the end of the season.

108
by CaffeineMan :: Wed, 10/08/2014 - 3:24pm

Funny, when the Pats had Dean Pees as a coordinator, giving up plenty of yards but doing decently in the Red Zone, and the Ravens still had Rex Ryan, the Pats defense was down at the bottom for DVOA. I used to wonder the exact opposite. :-)

I never developed enough of an opinion to argue about it. I just figured that if a team gave up long drives they were more likely to get scored on than teams that didn't, unless they were Robo-Strong inside the red zone and allowed almost nothing. So I figured that the Pats DVOA provided an accurate picture of their defense for those years.

I'm guessing there's something else than bend-but-don't-break that is the cause of what you're seeing with the Ravens.

127
by JimZipCode :: Thu, 10/09/2014 - 2:12pm

Ha. I agree with you about long drives: it can't be a good sign for a D. That's funny that it was Pees' signature in New England too. I guess I have to give him his due: they have been Robo-Strong in the red zone the last couple years, or very near it. But they get dragged up and down the field until they get there, which means the offense doesn't get as many snaps, and it looks like they wear down at the end of the 4th Q. I miss Rex Ryan. :-)

Speaking of, there's a long thread on a Ravens discussion board this week, about whether Rex would come back to the Ravens, if he gets fired this season in New York. The opposing camps are:

(a) Sure, Rex loved living in Baltimore + knows the Ravens organization is a great place to work + has solid relationships with Ozzie et al + is friends with Harbaugh going back to their days as college coaches + credits Bisciotti for helping him prep for interviews for getting the NY job. It'd be like coming home after his adventures in NY.
(b) No effing way Rex would go back to the Ravens, after they passed over him for Harbaugh, and Bisciotti said Rex didn't seem like a head coach to him. He carries a chip. Rex will never work for Bisciotti again. More likely to replace Lebeau in Pittsburgh, for the chance to beat up on the Ravens twice a year.

I'm hoping for A; but B has a disturbing ring of truth to it.

131
by CaffeineMan :: Thu, 10/09/2014 - 3:55pm

It's possible those long drives (especially for the Ravens this year) may not be as long as you think, so DVOA does not reflect what your eyes tell you. I don't watch the Ravens, so I don't know. But, I do know that there is often no correlation between the intensity of a fan's rage at wanting the defense to GET OFF THE G**-D*** FIELD! and what DVOA measures. :-)

I'm curious about this because I've always envied the Ravens defense.

Are you sure its Pees and not personnel?

And given Rex's experience as HC of the NYJ, don't you figure he might reflect that there was something to what Bisciotti said? And that any grudge he held is gone? Or do you think he's not that reflective?

And regardless of what Rex wants, would the Ravens want him back? The front office, not the fans. :-) And could they run his schemes? Ozzie apparently joked "we're sending him up I-95 with a sign around his neck saying - Need Corners"

133
by jonnyblazin :: Thu, 10/09/2014 - 8:17pm

Yeah I'm not wild about Pees's defense, although they did certainly play very well during the super bowl run. It's just that the run might have been more about Ray Lewis and Ed Reed than anything else. I've got a suspicion that their on-field adjustments and leadership really made the Ravens defense hum, and now that they're gone that level of excellence can't be reached.

The personnel also seems to be weaker. Suggs and Dumervil haven't really been as advertised, Ngata is slowing down, and their secondary outside Jimmy Smith is abysmal. On the bright side, Mosley looks awesome and should anchor that D in the middle for years to come.

I still wonder how they'd do with a different coordinator though. For instance the Ravens defense was solid under Mattison, and then the one year Pagano was DC they were 1st in DVOA. Then with Pees they've been solid again.

And I don't think there's any chance Rex comes back. If he wants to be a DC, many teams would be interested, so I don't think he'd come back to Baltimore with his tail between his legs given other options.

132
by Jerry :: Thu, 10/09/2014 - 6:49pm

More likely to replace Lebeau in Pittsburgh, for the chance to beat up on the Ravens twice a year.

Not very likely. Linebackers coach Keith Butler has been waiting patiently for Lebeau to retire, while turning down chances to interview elsewhere. Unless there's a much broader changeover, Butler will get his chance.

61
by theslothook :: Wed, 10/08/2014 - 12:06am

So this is for Charger fans. I got into a debate with a friend last night so I am curious to hear where people side on this.

Those who watched Rivers closely- can you tell me if he was as good at throwing from under pressure and with bodies around him in his vintage years of 09-2011 as he is now and last year? Is it the same, worse, or improved?

68
by Scott C :: Wed, 10/08/2014 - 1:00am

Improved, more consistent, but its not like he hasn't done this before.

Even in 2006 when he first took over from Brees he showed great ability to stand tall in the pocket, side step the rush, and throw at the last moment before taking a big hit.

In 08- 09 - 10 he would occasionally have two or three game streaks like this. Recall that until the 'funk' of '11 and '12 he was:

1. The highest rated passer in history
2. The only player to have so many consecutive starts without a 3 INT game -- He started his career with 87 consecutive regular season starts without a 3 INT game ( and 7 playoff games). The firs half of 2011 had more 2 INT games than his previous full seasons and then in the 8th game, he threw 3 INTs for the first time. He threw 4 INTs in a game one time (2012) and 3 INTs in one other game (2013). His good years were remarkably consistent. He may still hold the record for the longest consecutive streak without a 3 INT game in the passing era.

2010 was the most similar season to this one, injuries everywhere (he threw to 17 receivers, the team used 70 active players, Gates injured, no LT, etc), carrying the team, probably should have shared the MVP with Manning but they lost too many games. People talked about how amazing it was that Manning threw to 16 different receivers, and ignored Rivers basically doing the same thing but for a team with slightly fewer wins fewer nationally televised games, and not as many 4QGWDs. Manning was compensating for a horrible defense, Rivers was watching a special teams implosion lose him games.

In 2011 he started having more bad games and making mistakes more often like staring down the receiver instead of staring off the safety and forcing plays rather than taking easy yardage. The end of 2011 was good, but 2012 was just mistake prone.

What is different now:
Norv's scheme got him to the line late, often with the play call coming in VERY late so he had to hurry, line up, and snap before the play clock ran out. There was typically a play a game where the play call came in too late to avoid delay of game.
Now they get to the line quickly but don't snap it quickly, so he can diagnose the defense and call protections, which seems to have made him MUCH more comfortable and prepared for the pass rush.

He is currently 'in the zone' with staring-off the safety and keeping his eyes downfield until he throws the ball, using his peripheral vision to manage the pass rush. This has lead to the great consistency so far this year, but its only been 5 games.

Tidbits from my memory:
In 2006 in one of his first games I recall he let go of a pass with a huge pro bowl DL-man (Sapp on raiders?) in his face who hit him hard just as the throw got out, and it went for a TD. The DL guy talked some trash on the ground thinking he stopped the play and Rivers got up, jumped up and cheered in the lineman's face and is quoted with saying something like "How do you like that, big boy?" Little did I know this sort of thing was not a fluke, the 'how did he get that pass out of there with that accuracy?' pass happens every couple games, and the jawing with defensive lineman is non-stop.

Also in 2006 there was the Cincinati game where they came back from ... 30+ ? points down in the second half or so with the Rivers and LT show. It was LT's historic season, so people often forget how many critical pass plays under pressure were involved. Yeah, it helps to have LT / Gates as outlet receivers, but a guy in his first starting season in the NFL generally doesn't have that kind of grace under pressure.

The only skill I can say with certainty he is much better at now than 2006 to 2008 is his accuracy on passes to running backs in the flat on dump-offs. He is great at those now, but missed them regularly back then. He specifically had that as one of his off-season self-improvement tasks.

TL;DR

None of this is new, he isn't a whole new player. He is 'in the zone' now and there are few mistakes so far, with a better scheme and coaching.

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by Ferguson1015 :: Wed, 10/08/2014 - 3:47pm

Yes, he has been doing that since he started in 2006. It has always been one of his greatest strengths as a passer and the reason that he flourished under Norv's Deep Ball Offense. To give you further proof, I will direct you to an article written by Greg Cosell prior to the 2012 season(Noted NFL Films Producer and avid film watcher):
Chargers Philip Rivers is NFL’s Toughest Pocket Passer
http://nflfilms.nfl.com/2012/06/13/cosell-talks-philip-rivers/

Specifically, these two paragraphs:

One critical measure can be summarized as pocket toughness. There are a number of factors that define it. In the NFL, you have to be able to throw the ball effectively when the pass protection, for any number of reasons, is not sturdy and secure. It could be a stunt in which a looping defensive lineman is not blocked. It could be a blitz scheme in which a rusher is not accounted for and gets in clean. In either scenario, the quarterback must look down the gun barrel and release the ball knowing he is going to get hit. More often than not, it’s a situation in which the pocket gradually closes in, and the functional space to deliver the football is significantly reduced. The overriding point is you must throw the ball in the eye of the storm. It’s a compulsory attribute to play the position at a high level.

Rivers does this better than any quarterback in the league. He plays in a Norv Turner offense that puts a premium on intermediate and downfield throws. That features a higher percentage of five- and seven-step drops. The ball, by design, does not necessarily come out quickly. The ideal timing of a five-step drop is 2.1 seconds; a seven-step drop is 2.6 seconds. (By contrast, the ball should come out on a three-step drop in 1.5 seconds.) More time in the pocket means more time for the pass rush to diminish space and minimize that comfortable cradle. Rivers does not flinch in the face of pressure. Even when it’s present, he still steps into his throws and delivers the ball with accuracy and velocity. And he has been doing this since 2006, his first year as a starter.

62
by theslothook :: Wed, 10/08/2014 - 12:07am

/

54
by techvet :: Tue, 10/07/2014 - 11:40pm

If we are giving playoff odds on a Texas Bowl, why not an All-California Bowl? (SD vs. SF)

63
by Deelron :: Wed, 10/08/2014 - 12:13am

The return of Super Bowl XXIX?

70
by RickD :: Wed, 10/08/2014 - 1:09am

The revenge of Stan Humphries?

101
by TomC :: Wed, 10/08/2014 - 1:37pm

At least we could be pretty confident this one wouldn't have a point spread of 20+ (which still wasn't big enough!). They might revoke my meathead-Bear-fan credentials for saying this, but that Super Bowl was the most lopsided, easiest-to-predict, over-before-it started one in my lifetime (which goes back to about SB VII).

72
by Duff Soviet Union :: Wed, 10/08/2014 - 3:25am

It's look I might have been wrong about the Giants. After week 1 I thought they were going to have a total season from hell / first pick in the draft type year.

75
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Wed, 10/08/2014 - 6:07am

If you told me at the beginning of the season that the Lions would have the #1 defense after 5 weeks, I would automatically assume they'd be 5-0, and a top 5 team. I would have never dreamed that the offense would be struggling like this. And I expected the special teams to at least be a little better (and didn't expect the kicker(s) to look like Charlie Brown trying to kick field goals with Lucy as their holders).

84
by Will Allen :: Wed, 10/08/2014 - 10:08am

I haven't watched them closely yet; what's the biggest issue? Calvin Johnson being obviously slowed by injury, allowing opposing defenses to play them normally?

88
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Wed, 10/08/2014 - 11:37am

Calvin Johnson is one issue (he's been a decoy at best the past two weeks). Luckily, Golden Tate as lived up to his billing. Without him, the offense would have been approaching Jaguars levels of ineptitude. It's hard to tell how good Stafford has been overall (he looked great against the Giants and Jets), because his pass protection has mostly been awful.

That leads to the second issue. The offensive line (which was really good last year) has been a mess this year. At right tackle they lost LaAdrian Waddle for 3 weeks (he also played poorly when he finally got back in), AND his backup Corey Hilliard for the whole season. At left guard, the usually reliable Rob Sims has been, quite frankly, terrible so far this season. Larry Warford is having a bit of a sophomore slump. (To be fair the Panthers, Jets, and Bills defensive lines aren't exactly easy matchups).

How has the Minnesota front seven looked so far this year? That, and how they gameplan to use Bridgewater against a really good defense will determine the outcome of next Sunday's game.

91
by Will Allen :: Wed, 10/08/2014 - 11:50am

I'd say the Vikings defensive front has looked mediocre at best so far, but they have had so many weird circumstances, resulting in ridiculously awful offensive performances in three of the five games, that evaluating the team at this point is fairly problematic, other than the obviously awful qb production in two and a half games. I really don't know what to expect at all.

114
by Duff Soviet Union :: Wed, 10/08/2014 - 4:38pm

Both the Lions passing DVOA and rushing DVOA are virtually identical to last year. The reason the offense looks worse is simply that they're calling more running plays because "run to win" I guess. It's Simpson's paradox.

115
by Perfundle :: Wed, 10/08/2014 - 4:58pm

Simpson's paradox doesn't matter so much as the fact that they do have the same passing DVOA and rushing DVOA as last year, neither of which were good.

119
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Wed, 10/08/2014 - 6:31pm

The passing DVOA from last year was pretty good through week 12 (Stafford spent most of the year in top 10 DYAR), then the offense faceplanted, costing the Lions a playoff spot.

The reason the Lions are running more and passing less this year is because they've spent more time trying to close out games with double digit leads against the Giants, Packers, and Jets. Even in the Bills loss they had a two score lead for the majority of the game. In the one game where they trailed for the majority (Carolina), they had 48 pass attempts.

It makes sense to run more when you have a big lead, but the Lions just aren't very good at it.

96
by ChrisS :: Wed, 10/08/2014 - 1:12pm

Because of the OL the running game has been a disaster. The RB injuries are also contributing to the awful run game and also to the poor RB passing results. Golden Tate has been great.

87
by nickbradley :: Wed, 10/08/2014 - 11:36am

This is bizarre. The 49ers are ranked below the three teams they've beaten, and above the two teams they've lost to.

89
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Wed, 10/08/2014 - 11:39am

Well the 49ers did clearly outplay the Bears and Cardinals for large stretches of those games. Since the Cowboys terrible first half in week 1, they've looked awesome. The game against the Chiefs was basically a draw until the very end. I haven no explanation for the Eagles, though.

136
by nickbradley :: Fri, 10/10/2014 - 12:23pm

Yeah that makes sense...how does DVOA treat penalties? The Bears and Cardinals losses were entirely due to penalties, so I'm not sure how that's factored in.

90
by gomer_rs :: Wed, 10/08/2014 - 11:40am

What I've seen of the Seahawks this year is they are average on pass defense. Their D line seems to have gotten much better at stopping the run, but they lost a lot of depth in the secondary and in the pass rush rotation.

The team they remind me of on defense is the 2013 Panthers.

Their offensive line is still terrible.

-----

I remember when they were the Sea-chickens.

97
by Perfundle :: Wed, 10/08/2014 - 1:12pm

The lack of depth in the secondary hasn't been the main issue. Each of the starters have all been picked on in coverage at various times in the games (Maxwell in the first game, Chancellor and Sherman in the second, Maxwell again in the third and Thomas and Chancellor in the fourth). Burley and Josh Thomas aren't doing that badly.

The biggest reason for the decline in the pass defense, though, has been the lack of interceptions. Thomas dropped one against Green Bay, Chancellor dropped one against Denver and two were dropped against Washington, so it's not for want of chances. That makes me think they're just getting unlucky, and the interceptions will come soon enough.

98
by LyleNM :: Wed, 10/08/2014 - 1:16pm

They also faced Rodgers, Rivers and Peyton in their first 3 games. True, they didn't get any turnovers against Cousins, but as they face more QBs who are average and below, the pass defense will look more like what we expect.

109
by EricL :: Wed, 10/08/2014 - 3:25pm

Facing the big three in their weeks before the bye is probably the biggest factor.

And, other than two nearly perfect throws from Cousins on the two long plays to Jackson, the Seahawks pretty well shut down the Redskins passing offense. On a better night, they may have come away with three INTs in that game.

REALLY curious to see the running matchup vs. Dallas, though.

134
by Karl Cuba :: Fri, 10/10/2014 - 9:45am

Has the defense been getting less pressure? Before the session I thought that the reduced depth for their DL rotation could lead to less pressure, which could reduce the number of turnovers but I haven't seen any data.

135
by dmstorm22 :: Fri, 10/10/2014 - 10:43am

I don't know if it has been less pressure, but I think secondary depth has hurt them, and Maxwell and Chancellor are getting beat in coverage a lot more this year than last.

Sherman is still good and Thomas is still good, but the rest of the secondary seems to have taken a slight step back.

137
by Perfundle :: Fri, 10/10/2014 - 3:03pm

They brought plenty of pressure against Rodgers, although most of that was after Bulaga went out. Pressure seemed to be good against Rivers as well, but he kept escaping it. You can't expect that much pressure on Manning, though he was still hit numerous times. And Cousins faced a lot of pressure that Washington tried to alleviate by having him throw quick passes. What I dislike is the conclusion that since Cousins hit Jackson with two deep passes when the pressure was picked up, the pass rush must've bee poor that day. It's just like the pick-6 in the Super Bowl massively inflating the pressure that Seattle brought.

Whatever depth was reduced from Clemons, McDonald and Bryant leaving has been made up with Avril and Bennett playing more and being very good while doing so.

One other thing is that QBs seemed to be unnaturally accurate with their deep balls against Seattle this year. Rivers' accuracy has already been covered in an FO article; Rodgers made a very accurate throw to Cobb where he looked to be just flinging to ball down the field; and the two deep passes Cousins made were perfect; contrast that second Cousins pass with the one Manning missed in the Super Bowl, where Thomas was beaten in the same way.

138
by theslothook :: Fri, 10/10/2014 - 3:59pm

Has chancellor been struggling or is it Thomas? I know Sherman has been fine.

139
by Perfundle :: Fri, 10/10/2014 - 4:29pm

Each of them was responsible for one of Jackson's deep passes, but it's mainly been Chancellor, especially against San Diego. I don't know how much his ankle problems are affecting him, but what teams are doing more is making Chancellor cover intermediate-deep passes one-on-one. That means having more receivers running routes, and that means fewer blockers to protect. Normally the pressure gets to the QB before the routes are run, but Rodgers and Rivers were great at escaping pressure, and Cousins had excellent protection on the first pass that beat Chancellor.

102
by TomC :: Wed, 10/08/2014 - 1:50pm

The Seahawks D (run and pass) looks fine to me. They were dominant against Washington except for a couple of plays where D. Jackson outran everybody (which seemed to surprise Marshall et al.---not sure why, given that most people seem to know that Jackson is pretty fast). What surprised me was how bad their offense looked. As gomer_rs says, the O-line was terrible (including the veterans like Okung and Unger), especially in pass protection, and a large chunk of the offense came from Wilson Scrambling Magick (TM), which, no matter what Jon Gruden tells you, is not sustainable. Between that and all the penalties, they look vulnerable for the postseason if they don't get the #1 seed.

105
by Perfundle :: Wed, 10/08/2014 - 2:12pm

Well, they managed to sustain it for an entire season last year. And second, remember that Zach Miller was out. If you take everything into account (run blocking, pass blocking, not committing penalties), Miller is probably the best at performing OL duties; he handled Matthews best in the Packers game, for instance.

106
by Perfundle :: Wed, 10/08/2014 - 2:20pm

Also, it wasn't just those two plays. Cousins overthrew an open receiver for a would-be touchdown right before the half, and Seattle once again gave up a late-game TD drive.

128
by intel_chris :: Thu, 10/09/2014 - 2:17pm

Why is SD's DAVE ordinal (5th) so much higher than their DVOA ordinal (12th)? Is it something to do with opponent adjustments?

130
by Perfundle :: Thu, 10/09/2014 - 3:07pm

12th is for last week; they're 7th right now. And the two don't match because San Diego was projected to be better than Cincinnati and Atlanta in the preseason projections.

140
by intel_chris :: Fri, 10/10/2014 - 8:19pm

Thanks, I was misreading the columns (thinking last weeks DVOA ordinal was the DAVE one). That and the fact, that the diff is simply swapping SD with CIN and ATL makes much more sense.