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19 Jan 2015

Week 20 DVOA Ratings

by Aaron Schatz

As usual after the Conference Championship games, we're not going to bother with the full 32-team table of weighted DVOA ratings, since there are only two teams left and most teams haven't played for three weeks. Instead, let's just look at the two remaining teams, Seattle and New England.

At the end of the season, we had Seattle as the No. 1 team in the league with New England at No. 4. However, our weighted ratings had Seattle and New England as the top two teams going into the postseason. That certainly hasn't changed since both teams have advanced to the Super Bowl. The weighted DVOA formula now includes both playoff games for each team, while completely removing any consideration of the first six weeks of the season. Weighted DVOA no longer accounts for New England's 2-2 start, including the blowout loss in Kansas City, although it also no longer accounts for the blowout win of Cincinnati that followed that loss. Weighted DVOA also no longer accounts for two of the losses that were part of Seattle's 3-3 start, although the Week 7 loss to St. Louis still has 20 percent strength in the formula.

As a result, both teams are much higher now in weighted DVOA than they are in total DVOA. With their big win this week over Indianapolis, and a single-game DVOA of 91%, the Patriots take a slight lead over the Seahawks in weighted DVOA even though the specifics of the weighted DVOA formula means that Seattle's loss to the Cowboys is now gone from weighted DVOA for the first time. In addition, if we do a version of total DVOA that includes the playoffs, New England's win over Indianapolis moves them back up to the No. 3 spot that they dropped from after losing to Buffalo in Week 17.

Here's a look at both Super Bowl teams using both formulas. Note that the Patriots actually rank lower in weighted defensive DVOA than in regular defensive DVOA even though their rating is better, because defense around the league improved in the second half of the season. (The same thing is true about special teams, but that's less because of special teams improving around the league in the second half of the year, and more about a couple of teams that had some big games in November and December and thus moved ahead of the Pats in weighted special teams DVOA.)

TEAM DVOA RANK OFF
DVOA
OFF.
RANK
DEF
DVOA
DEF.
RANK
S.T.
DVOA
S.T.
RANK
NE (DVOA through Week 20) 26.7% 3 16.7% 5 -4.5% 9 5.5% 5
NE (WEI DVOA through Week 20) 39.8% 1 21.3% 3 -12.4% 12 6.1% 7
SEA (DVOA through Week 20) 30.7% 1 15.5% 6 -16.8% 1 -1.7% 20
SEA (WEI DVOA through Week 20) 38.8% 2 16.0% 4 -25.2% 1 -2.4% 17

This Super Bowl could not be a closer statistical matchup. Our playoff odds formula gives New England a 50.5 percent chance of winning Super Bowl XLIX. Our FO Premium spread formula projects the line as New England -0.27. You are reading that correctly. That's less than half a point.

If we were to use the "total season including playoffs" DVOA ratings rather than the weighted ratings, our picks would be Seattle in 52.2 percent of simulations with a projected line of Seattle by -0.55. That's still basically a toss-up. By comparison, last year we had Seattle winning 58.3 percent of simulations with a projected line of Seattle -2.8.

Unfortunately, I do not have DVOA ratings yet computed as of each week of the playoffs going all the way back to 1989, so I can't say if this is the closest Super Bowl matchup of all-time by weighted DVOA as measured through the playoffs. However, I can point out the surprising fact that from 1989-2012, the top two teams in weighted DVOA as of the end of the regular season never both advanced to the Super Bowl. It's now happened in both 2013 and 2014.

Here are the ratings for the Conference Championship games. New England's 45-7 stomping of Indianapolis ended up as one of the top five single games of the year by DVOA. Note that the Jon Ryan touchdown is scored in the current DVOA formula as an offensive play, not as special teams. (That's on the to-fix list for the future.)


DVOA (with opponent adjustments)
TEAM TOT OFF DEF ST
SEA 22% -10% -38% -6%
GB 42% -4% -25% 23%
NE 91% 32% -45% 14%
IND -53% -32% 8% -14%
VOA (no opponent adjustments)
TEAM TOT OFF DEF ST
SEA 0% -13% -19% -6%
GB 9% -20% -7% 23%
NE 81% 26% -41% 14%
IND -67% -38% 16% -14%

For those curious, the top six single-game DVOA ratings of 2014:

  • Miami 37, San Diego 0 in Week 9 (111.4% DVOA)
  • Kansas City 41, New England 14 in Week 4 (103.1% DVOA)
  • St. Louis 52, Oakland 0 in Week 13 (97.2% DVOA)
  • New England 45, Indianapolis 7 in AFC Championship (91.3% DVOA)
  • Carolina 27, Arizona 16 in NFC Wild Card (87.5% DVOA)
  • Dallas 42, Indianapolis 7 in Week 16 (84.0% DVOA)

These are not adjusted for whether teams were at home or on the road. Opponent adjustments are based on the entire regular season, so yes, Carolina is getting a little bit of an unfair boost for playing the Ryan Lindley Cardinals instead of the Palmer/Stanton Cardinals. (That's why I decided to include six instead of five.) And if you are wondering about what seemed like the biggest blowout of the year at the time, Tampa Bay ended up so horribly bad for the entire season that Atlanta's ridiculous 56-14 win from Week 3 only ended up with 70.7% DVOA.

 

* * * * *

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 the Divisional round are:

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 19 Jan 2015

78 comments, Last at 30 Jan 2015, 7:04pm by normgambles

Comments

1
by ryan5581 :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 6:52pm

I can't say if this is the closest Super Bowl matchup of all-time by weighted DVOA as measured through the playoffs. However, I can point out the surprising fact that from 1989-2012, the top two teams in weighted DVOA as of the end of the regular season never both advanced to the Super Bowl. It's now happened in both 2013 and 2014.

Where will this SB rank in terms of best combined quality? Perhaps we can rank Super Bowl matchups by harmonic mean of the two teams' weighted DVOA in the regular season? Looks like it may be second, behind last year's SB?

2
by Perfundle :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 6:57pm

Surprising that Seattle ended up with a significantly higher offensive DVOA than last year's conference championship, when they only had -25%; I guess a major reason is that DVOA thought far less of San Francisco's defense than conventional opinion did.

On an unrelated note, has there been a team in the fourth quarter and overtime as good as Seattle's in DVOA history? It's certainly not a perpetual trait of Carroll's teams, but this year has been bonkers. The last four games alone have been: 21-0, 14-0, 17-7 (garbage time TD for Carolina) and 21-6 (counting OT).

3
by ryan5581 :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 7:11pm

Seattle was only second in Q4/OT this year:
http://www.footballoutsiders.com/game-previews/2015/2015-nfc-championshi...

Not sure who was better. Though it was certainly a wild ride with Wilson as my fantasy QB this year!

5
by Perfundle :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 7:29pm

I didn't say just their offense (although maybe you saw my original post before I edited it). Their offense was 2nd and their defense was 4th, so I'm pretty certain they were 1st overall. Also, I believe those numbers are for the regular season only, and they've certainly improved on that in the last two playoff games. The second half/OT split would work as well, because they're already first in both offense and defense for the regular season.

4
by Vincent Verhei :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 7:28pm

They were second offensively. Given that they were also fourth on defense, it's reasonable to guess they were first overall.

For the record (Premium Content spoiler!), the Steelers were only Q4/OT offense better than the Seahawks (36.0% to 35.6%), and the 49ers, Cardinals, and Bills were the better Q4/OT defenses.

6
by PatsFan :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 8:14pm

I know the numbers are what they are, but I can't shake the feeling that for this game they overrate NE massively because NE happens to match up well against IND (i.e. that NE's success in this game isn't necessarily "transferable" to other teams whereas DVOA does "transfer" that success to other teams).

NE is clearly ranked too high because numbers lie. The Mark I eyeball is way better than this. I don't see NE with more than a 30% chance to win the game.

7
by RickD :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 8:25pm

But these same Colts are coming off wins over Cincy and Denver. This system isn't designed for "Team X matches up well against Team Y". Presumably the NE/Indy advantage isn't the only one out there. Let's not forget that Seattle got to play Arizona when they had to resort to their third string quarterback.

Based on what I saw yesterday, a 50-50 split seems reasonable. Seattle hasn't faced a healthy, elite QB running a complete team in quite a while. And I'm not convinced that their offense will do well against the Pats' defense.

30% is a bit ridiculous. If you're saying you'd give me 2-1 odds against the Pats, I would happily take them.

8
by Perfundle :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 8:36pm

Seattle hasn't faced a healthy, elite QB running a complete team in quite a while

People continually adding qualifiers to what Seattle's defense has faced is a bit ridiculous. First it was they hadn't faced a decent QB. After Carolina it was that they hadn't faced an elite QB. Now it's a healthy, elite QB running a complete team? How many games does it take to see that Seattle's defense can take on any offense? What difference is there between a somewhat hobbled Rodgers and a healthy Brady? Rodgers' amazing pass protection more than made up for his relative lack of mobility (he was certainly more comfortable moving around than against Dallas), and Brady isn't mobile anyway. Seattle's passing offense without Richardson is the much bigger question mark than their defense.

9
by Otis Taylor89 :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 8:48pm

Well Rodgers seemed to be far from 100% and didn't seem to have the ability yesterday to really drive the ball, but his 75% is still better than 90% of the leagues 100%.
Having said that, Brady is part of the 10%, especially with a health Gronk, who is a better QB than a hobbled Rodgers.

13
by ooter :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 11:29pm

Maybe he didn't have the ability to drive the ball yesterday because he was facing Seattle's defense...

27
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 9:37am

Isn't an Aaron Rodgers with no mobility and no deep ball basically a Tom Brady?

33
by RickD :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 11:37am

But it's not an Aaron Rodgers "with no mobility and no deep ball". It's an Aaron Rodgers with impaired leg strength who doesn't know what throws he can trust. And that was before he rolled his ankle.

I know you guys are having fun with the trolling here, but what you're suggesting is quite ridiculous.

10
by PatsFan :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 9:05pm

What difference is there between a somewhat hobbled Rodgers and a healthy Brady?

Well, one difference is that GB's offense all year has made Rogers's ability to move a key component and so when that was taken away they had to change things on short notice which presumably negatively impacts them. Another difference is that it affects Rogers's throwing.

So saying "well, with that injury Rogers moves about the same as Brady, so why would Brady be any better?" is silly.

11
by Perfundle :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 9:34pm

Rodgers got injured against Tampa Bay, and reinjured himself against Detroit three weeks ago. Green Bay has had far more than short notice to adjust their game plan. Also, Rodgers' ability to move around was definitely not taken away against Seattle. His only touchdown, for instance, came after he had escaped the pocket and rolling to his right. It definitely affected him (slow scramble in their final drive, issues planting to throw), but certainly not as much as it did against Dallas. Green Bay's offense with a healthy Rodgers is significantly better than New England's with Brady, so I don't think it's silly at all to say that Green Bay with a hobbled Rodgers is roughly at the level of New England on offense.

16
by RickD :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 11:58pm

" Also, Rodgers' ability to move around was definitely not taken away against Seattle. "

His ability to move around, his ability to plant and throw with confidence, were both affected. At one point he rolled his right ankle, which made things worse.

Rodgers didn't have a single long completion in the second half. We're talking about the MVP here.

"Green Bay's offense with a healthy Rodgers is significantly better than New England's with Brady, so I don't think it's silly at all to say that Green Bay with a hobbled Rodgers is roughly at the level of New England on offense."

You really have no evidence to support that. It's a supposition, based on wishful thinking.

17
by Perfundle :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 1:25am

At one point he rolled his right ankle, which made things worse.

In the second half I believe, when they were hardly passing anyways.

Rodgers didn't have a single long completion in the second half. We're talking about the MVP here.

He didn't have one in the first matchup either. Seattle is rather good at preventing the long pass.

You really have no evidence to support that. It's a supposition, based on wishful thinking.

No, not really. It's based on how Rodgers actually played against both Dallas and Seattle. In any case the Patriots haven't faced the best defense in the league either so I don't see why your original point is really relevant. Are you suggesting Seattle's defense hasn't proved enough yet? The injuries to Sherman and Thomas are far more important than any supposed lack of elite competition.

20
by Jerry :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 3:48am

At one point he rolled his right ankle, which made things worse.

In the second half I believe, when they were hardly passing anyways.

Of course, it's entirely possible that Rodgers' health was a consideration in that playcalling.

21
by Perfundle :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 3:53am

True, and none of the talking heads cared to bring it up either.

Still, before he rolled his ankle, he was having his struggles in the first half too, despite having gobs of time. One thing Patriots fans can point to is Seattle's difficulty in covering TE Rodgers' seam routes, and their relative weakness against TEs in general, but I can't imagine Seattle will play Gronk the same way when he's New England's best receiver.

26
by CamraMaan :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 8:18am

Is the combo of Brady and Gronk (plus the other NE receivers) any better than Brees and Graham (plus the other NO receivers) were last year when Seattle shut them down? I'll credit NE with giving Seattle the blueprint to shutting down the Saints and Graham, but they did it rather well last year. GB's TE Rodgers benefited from playing 3rd/4th fiddle behind Nelson and Cobb, and D.Adams if you want to include him as an emerging receiver. Gronk is target #1 for a defense to shut down. Enter Kam Chancellor... big, fast, physical, smart. He was Jimmy Graham's worst nightmare, and it'll be hard to imagine Pete Carroll devising a plan that doesn't include Bam Bam Kam covering Gronk as much as possible. So question is really how much can all the other NE receivers accomplish against the rest of the Seattle defense? Yes, respect will be given to stopping Blount in the run game, no question about that. But the had to stop Lacy and worry about Nelson and Cobb last game as well. Edelman and LaFell are not Nelson and Cobb... they're honestly more like Baldwin and Kearse... dangerous when given an opportunity to shine, but not elite as WR threats.

Under the assumption that Sherman and Thomas are 90% healthy or better, I think the Seattle defense matches up well against NE, since their primary target is Gronk. It makes the focus of the defense much more streamlined, and they have the manpower to get the job done.

The big factor in the SEA/GB game that is being overlooked is the lack of Britt and Helfet in the run/pass blocking sides of the game. Both should be healthy and playing against NE, which means the Seattle offense could be argued to be expected to play better against NE. Missing Britt meant J.Peppers was playing against a backup who really hasn't had to play RG all season, and it showed.

41
by PaddyPat :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 1:04pm

The general theme of this thread, demeaning the Patriots' attack and pointing out all of the virtues of Seattle, is really fairly silly. This Patriots' team doesn't have the powerful passing offense of some Pats teams of the past, nor does it have a consistently punishing running attack, but it plays very effective complementary and situational football, scoring consistently in the redzone, going five wide when there's weakness to target, going 6 linemen when there's weakness to target, etc. Some of you guys make it sound like you think Seattle's defense is just flatout inhuman, but they're not the defense they were last year--not even close. According to DVOA they finished this year as last year's Carolina defense. Last year, they were better than the 02 Buccaneers. You can argue all you want about whether Julian Edelman is Doug Baldwin, but the point is that the Patriots used to win Super Bowls when their receivers were David Givens, Deion Branch, and Troy Brown...

On the flip side, the Seattle offense does some things well, sure. Most Super Bowl quality offenses do. The New England defense is a good unit this year with a strong red zone presence. There will definitely be some curiosity in how they use Revis, but there's nothing one-dimensional about their secondary personnel--the Pats often cycle Revis, Browner, Butler, Arrington, and Ryan, trying to make the coverage hard to determine and hard to exploit...

Basically, I think there's a lot going on in this matchup, and it's very foolish to make blanket statements either way to attempt to encompass one team or the other. This is not going to be last year's Super Bowl.

49
by Anon Ymous :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 2:01pm

"Is the combo of Brady and Gronk (plus the other NE receivers) any better than Brees and Graham (plus the other NO receivers) were last year when Seattle shut them down?"

Is the game going to take place in Seattle with the 2013 Seahawk defense?

FWIW, Gronk is substantially better than Graham. Gronk's 19.4% DVOA this year - which was the second lowest of his career and at least 10% lower than his average - was higher than any Graham season sans his rookie season (22.9, though a few were close). A marginally down Gronk is pretty much even with elite Graham.

But even if we accept Graham as being the better receiver, the simple fact is that Gronk is an elite blocker as well.

Seattle's OL is worth watching, though I expect them to play better regardless, They are too good to look that bad again. I'm not sure how much the pass blocking will matter, since NE generally contains guys like Wilson in the pocket and forces them to win with scripted plays. Even more so since I fully expect NE to play with at least three fatties on the line most of the time.

The biggest thing Seattle has going for it is that NE's LB corps isn't very deep, and only Hightower is really suited for pounding. The Patriots are so much better when match ups dictate sub most of the time, which is one reason why - oddly - the Jets give NE problems.

53
by Perfundle :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 2:21pm

Is the game going to take place in Seattle with the 2013 Seahawk defense?

If you take out the games Wagner missed, Seattle's defense this year is just as good as they were last year if not better. Sherman and Thomas' injuries are another matter, of course.

Seattle's OL is worth watching, though I expect them to play better regardless, They are too good to look that bad again.

Nonsense, they're fully capable of sucking just as bad.

62
by game3525 :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 4:02pm

Gronk is a completely different player from Graham, a better and more physical player. On top of that Seattle's defense isn't at the level it was last year.

64
by Perfundle :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 4:17pm

If you take out the games where Malcolm Smith played major minutes they absolutely are. More than anyone else he really sucked. It does mean that their depth is definitely lacking compared to last year, but with the starters in the back 7 playing they're just as good as last year.

66
by Otis Taylor89 :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 5:17pm

How do you know?
- After Week 7, SEA played two games against one team that made the playoffs, ARZ, one of which Larry Fitzgerald was out and one game Ryan Lindley was the QB.
- They hadn't played a game against a winning playoff team (week 7 was against CAR) since losing at home against DAL.
-Since Week 7, here are the teams they have played:
OAK
NYG (who lost at home to IND the week before 40-24)
KC
ARZ
SF
PHL (with Sanchez)
SF
ARZ
STL (with their #27) offense

KC was the best of the teams and they lost on the road. PHL finished at #7, but Sanchez is Sanchez. Now I think SEA was the big reason SF fell off a cliff and they did finish #11 in DVOA, but they had so many issues, starting with the coach already out the door. You may be right, maybe they were better when they got some guys back, but those were some poor teams and they probably would of had the same outcomes even with Malcolm Smith playing a lot.

67
by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 5:50pm

If that's your argument, they played bad offenses in the regular seaosn in 2013 also, 2nd easiest schedule of opposing offenses.

25
by Otis Taylor89 :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 7:41am

"In any case the Patriots haven't faced the best defense in the league either so I don't see why your original point is really relevant."
You may want to look at what Brady did to BUF (on the road no less) and DET, both who had similar defenses on results as SEA.

I feel this game really sets up well for the Pats as they love to take away the one thing you love to do, in this case running the ball with Lynch. I just think back to that 2012 game at SEA where they were on the verge of blowing them out with a hobbled Hernandez, Gronk just getting back to form after foot surgery, until they lost both their safeties and had to use rookies. The Pats seem to be as healthy as they could ever hope to be, unlike last year when they were a shell of a team beaten by another she'll of a team in DEN.

28
by CamraMaan :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 9:42am

DET excelled as an elite run defense, so you game plan to pass more with Brady. BUF excelled more as a pass defense, so you game plan to run the ball down their throat to open up the passing game. Seattle is elite at both stopping the run, and defending the pass. So like every other team Seattle faces, NE will have to hope they can establish the run to open up the passing game. Its a predictable game plan for the Seattle defense, to stop the run, and then try to contain the short passing game, primarily focused on Gronkowski. So who succeeds more on their respective sides of the ball in this offense/defense matchup could dictate a lot of how the rest of the game plays out.

32
by Otis Taylor89 :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 10:48am

I would say both defenses (DET and BUF) were very good at both the run and pass, but were both exceptional at only one aspect, however SEA's defense was definitely over inflated by playing a bunch a tomato can backup QB's that DVOA couldn't pick up on.
SEA won't be playing at home (NE will probably have the crowd advantage, for what that worth), will be playing against an underrated defense and an overall healthy, veteran team with maybe the best coach of all time - NE is no tomato can.

36
by Pen :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 11:41am

Rodgers, Manning, Rivers, Romo. They've faced some elite QB's out there.
The only real comparison is Denver, who rank 3rd and 5th on defense and NE racked up 43 in NE. So NE can put up points against a good defense. But Seattle can shut down a good offense too. Just ask the #1 offense, GB. Spotted them five turnovers, field position on the 19, 23, 33, and their own 44 twice and how many points did they manage?

44
by Anon Ymous :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 1:28pm

Yes, and they didn't do too hot against Romo or Rivers and GB moved the ball much better than their 16 first half points suggest. Of your examples only against Manning did Seattle look genuinely dominant, though the two losses came during the team's down period.

54
by Perfundle :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 2:26pm

GB moved the ball much better than their 16 first half points suggest.

How is 4.3 yards per play a good result for them in the first half? Green Bay did not move the ball well at all.

56
by Anon Ymous :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 3:00pm

My eyes tell me differently, but that stat is misleading even aside from that.

First off, GB went in with a run emphasis (by my count they had a 18/16 P/R ratio prior to the 2 minute drive) which is going to suppress per/play yardage a little. More importantly is that you aren't taking a very nuanced view of the drives.

GB's opening drive went 10 plays for 51 yards, but they got the 51 yards in only 7 plays before stalling.

The next drive was 5 for 18, but it only took them 2 plays to get the 18 (down to the 1 yard line).

The next drive went 5 for 22 but it took them only two plays to get the first 16.

The next drive went 7 for 56 and a TD.

Finally, on the next drive, Seattle stepped up stopped GB dead in their tracks, 6 for 11.

The next drive went 3 plays for 23 yards and ended on a pick that was entirely unforced (in field goal range).

Yes, it is a credit to the defense that they stepped up and stopped GB in some key situations, keeping the score manageable for their later heroics. But the low y/p number is primarily attributable to the lack of big plays and a few stuffs that increase the total plays, with a smidge of help from short fields skewing things toward smaller approaches. Unless you think it was Seattle's plan to allow Green Bay to drive from the 20 to field goal range.... or to drive from the 19 to the 1 yard line in two plays.... or the 23 to the 7 in two plays, etc.

Said another way, had Green Bay scored TDs on 4th down, their y/play figure would remain almost unchanged while scoring 23 points. That doesn't even account for the turnovers killing FG opportunities or the fact that the second pick came on first down when it looked like GB had Seattle on the ropes.

58
by Perfundle :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 3:31pm

So forcing Green Bay to stall shouldn't count towards Seattle's low YPA allowed? And it wasn't just some key situations; it was on every drive except one. As for the run emphasis, getting an elite passing team to make suboptimal running plays is a defensive success by itself.

If you're going to talk about unforced errors, Seattle was offsides on a 3rd-and-6, offsides on a 2nd-and-10 and committed an illegal use of hands on a 3rd-and-13. Considering that Green Bay didn't convert a single third down longer than 1 yard by themselves the entire game, the first and third penalties were crucial.

61
by Anon Ymous :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 3:50pm

"So forcing Green Bay to stall shouldn't count towards Seattle's low YPA allowed?"

I figured you would go there, which really misses the point.

"And it wasn't just some key situations; it was on every drive except one."

Sure, which is why I gave copious amounts of credit to Seattle for stepping up at key times. But that doesn't in any way refute the fact that Green Bay moved the ball better than the score and the ypa indicate.

"If you're going to talk about unforced errors, Seattle was offsides on a 3rd-and-6, offsides on a 2nd-and-10 and committed an illegal use of hands on a 3rd-and-13"

Yes, Seattle made plenty of mistakes, which I neither denied nor does it address the main point. The worst offense of the three above - the last one - happened in a drive that Seattle stopped after only 11 yards, so it was more of an annoyance than anything material to the numbers. Of course, Seattle deserves a lot of credit for shutting down the next set of downs for GB.

Perhaps you would prefer it if I added the disclaimer of "assuming the same number of turnovers, GB moved the ball better than the score indicated." I'm not saying they would have scored 16 points in a TO free game, I'm saying that, given how easily they moved into FG position, and the GL on shorter drives, they usually go over 16 points if that same scenario played out 100 times.

63
by Perfundle :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 4:02pm

The worst offense of the three above - the last one - happened in a drive that Seattle stopped after only 11 yards, so it was more of an annoyance than anything material to the numbers.

The first one happened in a drive where forcing a stop on the 3rd-and-6 would've meant a 3-and-out and 47 fewer yards on that drive.

You're right that of the drives where they weren't already in field goal position they got there quicker than I would've expected of them.

52
by Perfundle :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 2:16pm

You may want to look at what Brady did to BUF (on the road no less) and DET, both who had similar defenses on results as SEA.

Well I would've thought that what Seattle did to Green Bay would be a good approximation to what they should be expected to do against New England, but apparently not.

I feel this game really sets up well for the Pats as they love to take away the one thing you love to do, in this case running the ball with Lynch.

Plenty of teams have successfully taken away Lynch. Carolina and St. Louis (first game) this season, New Orleans (first game) and Denver last season. That alone doesn't stop Seattle from racking up yards and points on them.

23
by mrt1212 :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 4:37am

It's hella silly.

15
by RickD :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 11:49pm

"What difference is there between a somewhat hobbled Rodgers and a healthy Brady? "

A healthy Brady is better than a hobbled Rodgers. He knows what his body is going to do, what kinds of throws he can make, doesn't have to worry about not having enough strength in his legs, etc.

Seriously, you don't think it matters that Rodgers was limping all over the place?

Ask the Broncos and Colts how much it matters to be facing an injured QB.

47
by Anon Ymous :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 1:46pm

Yeah, it is pretty silly. While it is true that Rodgers is the mobile QB who best approximates Brady's pocket skills, GB's offense utilizes the advantages Aaron's mobility offers. Taking that skill away requires them to run a sub-optimal game plan.

And even if we assume that sub-optimal game plan is still comparable to whatever approach NE might take, you now have a QB who is throwing with less than full confidence in his abilities.

And even if we assume that a tentative Rodgers is comparable to a confident Brady, you still have to account for the fact that Aaron wasn't able to practice all week, which likely had more to do with GB's second red zone failing than anything Seattle did.

So even if we grant everything to those making the absurd argument - the game plan, the confidence, the throwing ability, all of it - it still doesn't hold water.

55
by Perfundle :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 2:34pm

You don't think it matters that Rodgers was limping on only a few of his plays and that he had almost immaculate pass protection?

Ask Seattle's defense how much it mattered that Rodgers was supposedly immobile when he escaped the pocket and threw that TD to Cobb.

43
by Anon Ymous :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 1:26pm

"I know the numbers are what they are, but I can't shake the feeling that for this game they overrate NE massively because NE happens to match up well against IND"

I agree, but then you have to add in that DVOA still counts the season ending Buffalo game, as well as the fact that DVOA and NE have a quirky relationship. NE's win over Chicago this past year was as dominant as they come, but their total DVOA in that game was in the neighborhood of +10% - an OK win, nothing special.

I realize that the Bears game isn't a big factor in weighted DVOA, just offering it up as anecdotal evidence.

You can't discount the inflation of Seattle's defense, either. DVOA doesn't realize that Seattle was able to face a weaker Arizona unit twice, or that they got to face the nadir of Kap's season twice. Yes, Seattle was a contributing factor, but one could reasonably support that SF would have been a tougher challenge (at least offensively) earlier in the year.

All told, I think there is enough wiggle room on both sides to think that the "true" numbers would still have this game be pretty much a pick 'em.

12
by Joshua Northey :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 10:41pm

I am liking NE quite a bit. This shaped up perfectly for them.

29
by CamraMaan :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 9:45am

I'm just kinda curious why you think so? In terms of NE offense versus SEA defense, how does NE match up well? In terms of NE defense versus SEA offense, how does NE match up well?

34
by RickD :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 11:39am

Well it's been stated that Seattle has difficulties covering tight ends...

39
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 12:43pm

It's going to be somewhat offense dependent.

Against Denver, you compromise and defend Julius Thomas less robustly because he's not even Denver's best receiving Thomas. Against a Dallas or Atlanta you cover Bryant and Jones, and maybe compromise on Witten and Gonzalez.

But against a Gronkowski or a Graham, where they are that team's #1, you base the pass defense on them. Most defenses don't have DBs who can matchup to Graham (6'7", 260-lb) and Gronkowski (6'6", 265-lb). But Seattle does, in Kam Chancellor (6'3", 230-lb). Chancellor's as big as Gronk, and he's faster. And if he goes right, the 6'4" Sherman is on that side, too.

Seattle is uniquely qualified to handle the stretch-4 tight-ends that teams like NE and NO use.

38
by Otis Taylor89 :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 12:41pm

I think you are forgetting the Gronk factor. This is the 1st postseason since his rookie year that he's been healthy throughout. If he's healthy the last 3 seasons they almost certainly advance to all 3 SB's and they would probably win the 2011 SB when he was only a decoy due to playing with a torn ligament. He's no Jimmy Graham, he's 270 lbs, 6'6", runs a 4.5 with 34 in vertical. I don't care if you are Kam Chancellor or Earl Thomas, you aren't going to shut him down by yourself. He's also a nightmare in the red zone, the biggest problem GB had this weekend.
Look at Gronks DVOA from 2011 and 2012 and tell me SEA will handle him like Jimmy Graham.

40
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 12:47pm

http://www.nfldraftscout.com/ratings/dsprofile.php?pyid=70168&draftyear=...
http://www.nfldraftscout.com/ratings/dsprofile.php?pyid=103531&draftyear...

Graham actually has better measurables than Gronkowski. He's taller, faster, and has a better vertical. He also has his original ACLs.

Gronkowski may be a better player, but it's not because his physical attributes are better.

42
by Otis Taylor89 :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 1:04pm

Show me the next time Graham blocks an outside speed rusher solo and it will be the 1st time - Graham is a big WR, not a TE.

45
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 1:34pm

I don't think we were discussing whether Gronkowski could block Chancellor, only whether Chancellor could cover him.

I believe the discussion was about Gronkowski's merits as a primary receiver.

This is a fun Super Bowl. It pairs my least favorite fan bases -- the smug superiority of Pats fans and the ignorant paranoia of Seahawks fans.

59
by Digit :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 3:46pm

I think Chancellor can cover him just fine, but Gronk's being a superior blocker means NE can disguise offensive plays better, because he can block, he can catch, and he can do -both- on the same play, making it more difficult for Chancellor to decide whether to play for the pass or play for the run.

That's the wrinkle Gronk adds over Graham, imo, to an offense, that makes it more difficult to just straight-up cover him.

60
by Anon Ymous :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 3:50pm

Yes, and considering that AB missed this obvious-yet-fundamental point, I find his line of, "the smug superiority of Pats fans" to be quite hypocritical.

68
by blan :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 6:58pm

Check out the difference in bench press reps. 23 for Gronkowski compared to 15 for Graham.

46
by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 1:41pm

They almost certainly don't beat Denver with a healthy Gronk last year, and beating BAL is not overly likely either. They weren't really close in those games (and if you're going to say 'if Gronk played', then why don't you give Denver Von Miller or Ryan Clady back last year).

I absolutely think Kam Chancellor or Earl Thomas can do a decent job 1v1. The last time these teams played, Gronk went 6-61 and no TDs. I'm sure the Seahawks take that right now.

48
by Otis Taylor89 :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 2:00pm

Gronk played 7 games last year - I think they take home field over Denver he was able to play some of those games.
The Pats dominated that 2012 game before their secondary fell apart with injuries at the end. It's interesting how many of SEAs defense is still playing for them since 2012 and even two(Branch,Browner) are now playing for NE.

51
by Anon Ymous :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 2:12pm

"They almost certainly don't beat Denver with a healthy Gronk last year, and beating BAL is not overly likely either."

Considering that NE's offense stalled something like 5 times inside the maroon zone, with at least three ending with no points (and due to receiver drops) it is extremely likely that NE has a larger halftime lead than 13-7 against Baltimore. Hell, it took an abundance of unforced errors to only be leading by that much even *without* Gronk. The odds are that NE beats Baltimore if Gronk were able to suit up.

Denver is another story, but Gronk dictates coverages as much as any receiver in the league, so it can't be so easily dismissed. I agree that NE fans shouldn't overlook who Denver was missing.

I don't see how the numbers from the 2012 game are relevant in any way. Other than Gronk, there literally isn't one single receiver or runner from that game who will be active this week. If you are going to play that card, then we might as well say that NE putting up nearly 500 yards of offense against Seattle means that they'll have no problem moving the ball in two weeks.

14
by young curmudgeon :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 11:42pm

"However, I can point out the surprising fact that from 1989-2012, the top two teams in weighted DVOA as of the end of the regular season never both advanced to the Super Bowl. It's now happened in both 2013 and 2014."

Just curious--have there been tweaks, refinements, adjustments, etc. to the formulae, weightings, etc. that have increased the ability of DVOA to do this? (Recognizing that it's not designed as a predictive instrument and that a "one and done" playoff can sometimes result in a team that is generally superior losing on the way to the Super Bowl.)

50
by JIPanick :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 2:10pm

I went back over the history expecting to find that most years both of the two top spots were dominated by the same conference (Triplet Cowboys/Young-Rice 49ers or BB Pats/Manning Colts, etc), and that it was fairly common for the best WDVOA team from each conference to make the Super Bowl even if they weren't 1-2 (which would go a long way toward explaining why 1-2 is so rare). That did happen a couple times, but the real weirdness is that WDVOA is 13/26 calling the NFC champ but only 6/26 calling the AFC champ.

'89 Both NFC; The top team from each conference in WDVOA made the Super Bowl
'90 Split; neither made Super Bowl (Eagles, Chiefs)
'91 Both NFC; The top team from each conference in WDVOA made the Super Bowl
'92 Both NFC; The top NFC team made the Super Bowl, the top AFC team (Chargers) did not
'93 Split; The top NFC team made the Super Bowl, the top AFC team (Oilers) did not
'94 Split; neither made Super Bowl (Cowboys, Steelers)
'95 Split; neither made Super Bowl (49ers, Chiefs)
'96 Split; The top NFC team made the Super Bowl, the top AFC team (Broncos) did not
'97 Split; The top NFC team made the Super Bowl, the top AFC team (Steelers) did not
'98 Split; The top NFC team made the Super Bowl, the top AFC team (Jets) did not
'99 Split; The top NFC team made the Super Bowl, the top AFC team (Raiders) did not
'00 Both AFC; neither made Super Bowl (Bucs, Titans)
'01 Both NFC; neither made Super Bowl (49ers, Steelers)
'02 Split; The top NFC team made the Super Bowl, the top AFC team (Jets) did not
'03 Split; neither made Super Bowl (Eagles, Titans)
'04 Both AFC; The top NFC team made the Super Bowl, the top AFC team (Bills) did not
'05 Both AFC; The top NFC team made the Super Bowl, the top AFC team (Broncos) did not
'06 Both AFC; neither made Super Bowl (Eagles, Ravens)
'07 Both AFC; The top AFC team made the Super Bowl, the top NFC team (Packers) did not
'08 Split; The top AFC team made the Super Bowl, the top NFC team (Eagles) did not
'09 Both NFC; neither made Super Bowl (Packers, Ravens)
'10 Both AFC; The top NFC team made the Super Bowl, the top AFC team (Patriots) did not
'11 Split; neither made Super Bowl (Saints, Steelers)
'12 Split; neither made Super Bowl (Seahawks, Broncos)
'13 Split; The top team from each conference in WDVOA made the Super Bowl
'14 Split; The top team from each conference in WDVOA made the Super Bowl

18
by Blykmyk44 :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 2:53am

Two things...

1) seems like all of NE skill over SEA is in ST...which feels like the more inconsistent part of the game from game to game.

2) this game narrative will be the same as last year. Everyone saying how the SEA offense just doesn't look like it can compete with the other team and how the other team's offense will come up with a game plan that will solve seattle.

Even when you read past additions of audibles at the line you see a consistent theme. The guys all talk about how the offense isn't playing great for the first half of their emails and then you get to the end of the game where Seattle has inevitably built a double digit lead and all the comments from before are ignored. At a certain point you have to admit that SEA's offense scores points and breaks down the opposing team's will.

Same will happen to NE unless they can do four things:
1) win the to battle
2) out together at least three long drives
3) be better on third down
4) win top

If they don't do this they lose...we have three years of Seahawks football to show this us true.

30
by CamraMaan :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 9:51am

Don't forget, however, that both teams tend to do well in the second half of games. Take this with a grain of salt, but this could be a game where the score is 3-6 at halftime, and 34-33 when its all said and done. Both Belichick and Carroll seem to be towards the top of their class at making halftime adjustments, and motivating their respective teams to play hard early, and even harder late, to finish out games. To hell with the off/def matchups, the coaching matchups here could be the best underlying story lines... :)

65
by JFP :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 4:54pm

Take this with a grain of salt, but this could be a game where the score is 3-6 at halftime, and 34-33 when its all said and done.

I was thinking the same thing. Somewhat similar to the Pats/Panthers SB.

19
by Blykmyk44 :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 2:55am

Also...NE's weighted dvoa is basically = to GBs season DVOA except for ST. A smart person should write a big piece showing how ne will dominate ST since that is where all of their advantage appRently lies.

22
by Perfundle :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 4:05am

I'm not sure what you saw against Green Bay that made you think Seattle's special teams won't be the considerably weaker unit in the Super Bowl. Their return teams have been bad all year and don't show any signs of improving, especially with Baldwin taking over Richardson's role of taking kickoffs deep in the end zone and running it to the 13. Also, with Edelman very dangerous on punt returns, Ryan will probably be instructed to kick it short or out of bounds to prevent returns, and he's been having issues with accuracy, so that'll probably be in the Patriots' favor as well.

24
by mrt1212 :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 4:42am

I am really hoping for a WWE style reveal in the Superbowl of Norwood (or whoever, it could be freaking Sweezy for all I care) coming out returning punts and this whole Brian Walters fiasco is never spoken of again.

31
by CamraMaan :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 10:00am

Jon Ryan rarely out-punts his coverage, partially because our punt coverage is very fast and dangerous (see: Ricardo Lockette, i.e. the Head Hunter). Punt returns are overrated in the NFL, as a half decent punt coverage team will limit returns to 5-9 yards, which is rarely a "game changer". Its the kick-off returns that are more dangerous, in terms of big returns... Seattle led the league with the least attempted punt returns, but was tied for 11th with the most attempted kick-off returns, averaging ~24 yds/attempt. If special teams is to benefit the Patriots, its most likely in this way.

35
by RickD :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 11:40am

This is cool how people are arguing that DVOA should tell us which of the two teams ought to be favored. If only they would play it on a field so we could tell for sure!!!

37
by Pen :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 12:01pm

DVOA has done pretty well so far. With the exception of Indy, who proved they were an outlier and didn't belong, DVOA nailed 3 of the 4 teams to make the CCG's. DVOA nailed the top two teams from each conference once you adjust for choke factor (Manning).

57
by Alternator :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 3:16pm

Once you adjust for serious QB injury, you mean?

I mean, Peyton had an atrocious game, to the eye just as bad as Wilson had this last week, but he's old and injured - those really are pretty valid explanations.

69
by RickD :: Wed, 01/21/2015 - 1:13am

This.

I'm hardly a Manning defender, but it's clear that his injury affected his ability to throw the ball normally. There's no doubt in my mind that a healthy Manning would have led the Broncos to a victory over the Colts.

The real question now is whether Manning can stay healthy for a full season and a complete set of playoff games.

70
by Will Allen :: Wed, 01/21/2015 - 2:04am

Maybe it'll help if he can adjust the air pressure of the balls exactly to his liking.....

http://espn.go.com/boston/story/_/id/12202450/nfl-says-new-england-patri...

I think I can accurately predict all internet Patriots commentary for the next few decades.

71
by Bright Blue Shorts :: Wed, 01/21/2015 - 9:50am

Perhaps this is the *key* halftime adjustment that the Pats have been making ;-)

72
by RickD :: Wed, 01/21/2015 - 12:17pm

I hope the NFL has something to offer more than leaks to Chris Mortensen. That's a weak way to deal with this issue.

74
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 01/21/2015 - 2:47pm

Ad hominems are a weak way to rebut an argument.

77
by RickD :: Fri, 01/30/2015 - 2:23pm

I didn't think an unsubstantiated smear constituted an "argument".

73
by In_Belichick_We... :: Wed, 01/21/2015 - 1:05pm

DVOA may have nailed 3 of the 4 teams to make the CCG's but the simple NFL standings did as well.
I'm not anti-DVOA or anything, I just think this isn't a very strong argument. A 10 year old would have looked at the NFL standings and predicted NE, Denver, Seattle, and Green Bay in the CCG's. The exact result provided by DVOA.

Baltimore winning in Pittsburgh is good DVOA evidence. When you look at their schedules, Pittsburgh performed well against decent teams and the Ravens only beat the powderpuffs. Based on schedule results and standings, Baltimore didn't stand a chance to win that game in Pittsburgh.

75
by jebmak :: Wed, 01/21/2015 - 5:41pm

Pffft...

If they hadn't deflated the balls, it only would have been a top 10 performance.

76
by mitch :: Sun, 01/25/2015 - 9:43am

My probabilities have Seattle winning by a 75% to 85% probability. I don't give the Patriots much chance in this game.

Think what you want, but Seahawks walk away with the repeat win.

DVOA is built more for the regular season then the playoffs and particularly the Super Bowl.
It makes mistakes judging Super Bowl teams.

78
by normgambles :: Fri, 01/30/2015 - 7:04pm

Hi Aaron, any comment on DVOA or weighted DVOA projections from this blog post: https://sethburn.wordpress.com/2014/10/20/i-received-a-request-to-post-t...

Your preseason bets were incredibly bad.Are you concerned that DVOA/wDVOA appear to not have any predictive value?