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07 Sep 2016

2016 DVOA Projections

by Aaron Schatz

Before we get to the preseason DVOA projections, have you seen our announcement from Wednesday about our two new Football Outsiders premium products? Click here to read about our new Weekly Fantasy Projections subscription and our new Premium Charting Data subscription.

Without further ado, here are our final DVOA projections for 2016, updated from the season forecasts in Football Outsiders Almanac 2016.

For those new to our website, you can find an explanation of DVOA here. For this season forecast, offense, defense, and special teams DVOA are all projected separately using a system based on looking at trends for teams over the past decade. Our system starts by considering the team's DVOA over the past three seasons and, on offense, a separate projection for the starting quarterback. Then we look at a number of other variables which suggest when a team will be better or worse than would otherwise be expected due to standard regression towards the mean. Factors include major offseason personnel changes, coaching experience, recent draft history, combined tenure on the offensive line, and certain players returning from injury (or, in the case of these preseason updates, certain players getting injured in the preseason).

The numbers we are presenting here are exactly what the projection system spit out. As we say every year: "A few of them will look strange to you. A few of them look strange to us." As always, the offensive projections come out in a wider range than defensive projections because offense performance tends to be easier to predict (and more consistent from year to year) than defensive performance. If you are looking for subjective projections, Thursday we will be running our usual staff predictions article where we all talk about where we think the numbers are wrong.

We've also done our first playoff odds report simulation based on these updated DVOA projections, and I've added the playoff odds and Super Bowl championship odds to the table below. At the start of a new season, our simulation is very conservative about the average number of wins and losses expected for each team. Obviously, the NFL is going to have teams that are 11-5 or better, and it is going to have teams that are 5-11 or worse. Once again this year, we are using a "dynamic" playoff odds simulation. Each time it plays through the season, it adds 1.5% to the DVOA of every winner and subtracts 1.5% from the DVOA of every loser before moving on to the next week's games.

Personnel changes aren't the only difference between this updated simulation and the one we did for Football Outsiders Almanac 2016. This is a smaller simulation which only uses one set of mean projected DVOA ratings, rather than using 1,000 different sets of ratings to represent that some teams have a wider range of probable performance quality than others.

This preseason simulation also accounts for the following major injuries and suspensions:

  • Dallas DVOA is reduced by 11.5% in Weeks 1-6 due to the injury to Tony Romo. In 25 percent of simulations, Romo returns in Week 8. In 25 percent of simulations, Romo returns in Week 10. In 25 percent of simulations, Romo returns in Week 12. And in 25 percent of simulations, Romo does not return all season.
  • Kansas City DVOA is reduced by 2.0% in Weeks 1-6 due to Justin Houston starting the season on PUP.
  • New England DVOA is reduced by 13.0% in Weeks 1-4 due to the suspension of Tom Brady.
  • Pittsburgh DVOA is reduced by 4.0% in Weeks 1-3 due to the suspension of Le'Veon Bell.

The DVOA listed below for these teams incorporates these penalties (so, for example, the listed offensive DVOA for New England is one part Garappolo projection and three parts Brady projection). The impacts of other early-season injuries and suspensions have been incorporated into the full-season projected DVOA for the teams in question.

The odds of getting the No. 1 pick listed below (and listed on the playoff odds report page) do not incorporate traded picks. Remember that Cleveland owns Philadelphia's first-round pick, Philadelphia owns Minnesota's first-round pick, and Tennessee owns Los Angeles' first-round pick.

Projected division champions are colored in light yellow and projected wild card teams are colored in light purple, although the Cowboys and Giants are virtually tied and there's even more uncertainty than usual around that prediction because of we don't know if and when Tony Romo will return from his injury.

TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
TOTAL
RANK
MEAN
WINS
OFF.
DVOA
OFF.
RANK
DEF.
DVOA
DEF.
RANK
S.T.
DVOA
S.T.
RANK
SCHED SCHED
RANK
NO. 1 PICK
ODDS
PLAYOFF
ODDS
S.B. WIN
ODDS
SEA 24.4% 1 10.4 11.7% 3 -10.4% 2 2.3% 5 0.5% 12 0.1% 74.3% 15.7%
ARI 18.2% 2 9.8 12.0% 2 -8.0% 3 -1.7% 24 -0.1% 17 0.3% 65.4% 10.4%
NE 17.7% 3 9.7 9.7% 5 -3.9% 6 4.1% 2 0.3% 14 0.3% 66.0% 11.3%
PIT 15.8% 4 9.7 16.2% 1 -0.3% 15 -0.7% 19 -1.2% 23 0.3% 63.7% 9.2%
KC 14.7% 5 9.6 9.2% 6 -3.7% 7 1.8% 7 -1.1% 22 0.4% 61.6% 8.2%
GB 8.5% 6 9.2 9.8% 4 0.1% 17 -1.3% 22 -3.3% 31 0.7% 55.6% 5.4%
BAL 7.2% 7 8.8 -3.6% 23 -4.8% 5 6.0% 1 -1.5% 25 1.0% 48.1% 4.0%
CAR 6.7% 8 8.6 5.4% 9 -3.2% 8 -1.8% 26 0.5% 13 1.2% 50.3% 4.0%
CIN 4.1% 9 8.5 1.5% 12 -2.2% 9 0.4% 12 -1.3% 24 1.4% 41.8% 2.7%
BUF 2.6% 10 8.1 2.6% 10 2.1% 22 2.1% 6 1.4% 10 1.9% 38.1% 2.3%
SD 1.6% 11 8.4 7.5% 7 6.8% 31 0.9% 9 -2.5% 27 1.7% 40.5% 2.4%
DEN 1.0% 12 8.0 -10.0% 30 -11.7% 1 -0.6% 18 1.4% 9 2.1% 34.0% 2.0%
LARM 1.0% 13 7.7 -5.2% 25 -6.5% 4 -0.2% 15 3.3% 4 2.7% 28.4% 1.5%
DET 0.5% 14 8.3 1.2% 13 -0.5% 14 -1.2% 21 -2.8% 28 1.8% 40.0% 2.5%
MIN -0.3% 15 8.1 -2.3% 20 0.3% 20 2.4% 4 -1.1% 21 2.0% 36.3% 1.9%
NO -1.9% 16 7.5 6.8% 8 6.6% 30 -2.2% 31 2.0% 8 3.3% 30.9% 1.2%
TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
TOTAL
RANK
MEAN
WINS
OFF.
DVOA
OFF.
RANK
DEF.
DVOA
DEF.
RANK
S.T.
DVOA
S.T.
RANK
SCHED SCHED
RANK
NO. 1 PICK
ODDS
PLAYOFF
ODDS
S.B. WIN
ODDS
DAL -2.1% 17 8.0 -2.0% 19 0.2% 18 0.2% 13 -3.3% 30 2.7% 39.5% 1.5%
NYJ -2.2% 18 7.4 -1.8% 17 -1.3% 13 -1.6% 23 4.2% 2 3.0% 26.7% 1.3%
NYG -2.6% 19 8.0 -0.6% 14 0.2% 19 -1.8% 25 -2.1% 26 2.3% 40.2% 1.9%
IND -2.6% 20 7.9 -1.9% 18 1.4% 21 0.7% 11 -1.0% 20 2.3% 38.8% 1.7%
OAK -2.8% 21 7.6 -1.0% 15 -0.3% 16 -2.0% 27 0.8% 11 3.0% 27.7% 1.1%
TB -4.2% 22 7.4 -3.8% 24 -1.7% 12 -2.1% 29 2.0% 7 3.9% 28.7% 1.1%
HOU -5.5% 23 7.6 -9.0% 28 -2.1% 10 1.5% 8 -0.9% 19 3.0% 33.9% 1.1%
ATL -6.5% 24 7.1 2.0% 11 6.3% 28 -2.2% 30 2.7% 5 4.7% 24.3% 0.7%
TEN -8.5% 25 7.5 -2.9% 21 6.3% 29 0.7% 10 -3.2% 29 4.3% 30.2% 0.9%
JAC -8.6% 26 7.1 -9.8% 29 -1.7% 11 -0.5% 16 -0.6% 18 4.6% 26.4% 0.8%
PHI -8.6% 27 7.2 -6.8% 26 5.3% 26 3.5% 3 0.0% 16 4.6% 26.2% 0.8%
WAS -8.9% 28 7.2 -3.1% 22 5.3% 25 -0.5% 17 0.1% 15 4.3% 26.2% 0.9%
CHI -9.3% 29 7.4 -1.2% 16 5.4% 27 -2.7% 32 -3.5% 32 4.6% 24.5% 0.8%
MIA -13.7% 30 6.3 -8.7% 27 3.9% 24 -1.1% 20 3.7% 3 8.1% 13.3% 0.3%
SF -15.8% 31 6.0 -10.9% 31 2.8% 23 -2.1% 28 4.5% 1 10.5% 9.2% 0.2%
CLE -19.9% 32 5.8 -11.0% 32 9.0% 32 0.1% 14 2.2% 6 13.0% 9.1% 0.1%

Which teams saw the biggest drop in mean wins since the book, and why?

  • Dallas and Minnesota, because of injuries to their starting quarterbacks.
  • Green Bay, because of changes on the offensive line. This had impact both because Josh Sitton is an All-Pro lineman, and because the changes reduced offensive line continuity.
  • Arizona, also because of offensive line changes. This is actually my fault, as I still had Lyle Sendlein listed as the center when we did the book, rather than A.Q. Shipley. With Shipley as the center, the Cardinals now have only one starting offensive lineman who has been with the team more than two years (Jared Veldheer, who has been there for three).
  • Denver, because an offense projected with Mark Sanchez at quarterback was bad but an offense projected with "unknown seventh-round pick" at quarterback is even worse. For those who are curious, doing the projection with Paxton Lynch at quarterback wouldn't be much better since he has a poor QBASE and is younger than Trevor Siemian.

Cleveland has the biggest gain in mean wins since the book, in large part because Josh McCown has a lower projection than Robert Griffin III and I had McCown as the Cleveland starter in the spreadsheet when I did the book forecast. Otherwise, teams with improvement since the book (Washington, Detroit, New York Giants) mostly move up because of changes in their opponents.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 07 Sep 2016

94 comments, Last at 21 Nov 2017, 8:51am by alisha

Comments

1
by milehighmeltdown :: Wed, 09/07/2016 - 8:13pm

Sad to think there are ways to go down after "1foot in retirement Manning" or Mark Sanchez. We embrace our dink-and-dunk bootleg, 3yds and a cloud of dust overlords.

28
by nat :: Thu, 09/08/2016 - 10:20am

I understand the projection. I really do. The assumption is that a starting QB, no matter how badly in decline, has to be better than a complete unknown, or he would have been cut from the team. Some of last year's trouble must have been bad receivers and bad offensive line, right?

Maybe not.

I suspect this projected drop will be in the running for "most off target" at the end of the year. Not that Denver will have a good offense. But it won't be -10% DVOA. And it probably won't rank 30th either.

2
by davepyne :: Wed, 09/07/2016 - 8:45pm

Are the adjustments from the "major injuries and suspensions" reflected in the TOTAL DVOA ratings, or just in the 3 "Odds" columns at the right side of the chart?

6
by Aaron Schatz :: Wed, 09/07/2016 - 11:08pm

Both.

3
by Arkaein :: Wed, 09/07/2016 - 9:18pm

Seems hard to believe that even with Minnesota getting dinged for a QB injury, that the loss of Sitton *still* drops GB's postseason odds by almost 10%.

With Minnesota's postseason odds dropping by 5%, I would think that GB would get a bit of a boost in their odds to win the division, or at least enough to offset the loss of Sitton.

18
by xMRNUTTYx :: Thu, 09/08/2016 - 8:53am

(Full disclosure: Bears fan here)

I think part of the issue is that DVOA doesn't like Bridgewater much better than Bradford: -5.1% vs. -8.2%. They were 22nd and 24th in that last year, respectively. So these projections probably aren't going to show a massive drop for Minnesota's offense because of this.

Regarding the Packers, it does seem weird that a guard could make that big of a drop but considering the overwhelming criticism- outside of coaching and playcalling- of the Green Bay offense the last 5 years has been the line play, it does make sense that losing your best, most consistent lineman would have a big impact on expected offensive output.

20
by Arkaein :: Thu, 09/08/2016 - 9:28am

I understand that trading Bridgewater for Bradford probably isn't huge (and I agree, as a Packers fan I'm worried that the trade makes Minnesota better in the short term that they would have been otherwise).

DVOA does think that switching to Bradford is a negative though, and since Minny was originally predicted to come in second in the division, and so hurting their DVOA helps the Packers, both in reducing their strength of schedule and in reducing the projected wins for their top contender for the division title.

Obviously losing Sitton hurts GB, and I was not happy with the news. However, it doesn't seem that frequent that I can remember seeing DVOA projections so drastically affected by a single interior lineman change.

4
by Thok :: Wed, 09/07/2016 - 10:51pm

The prediction for Detroit feels too high (I don't trust their offense), but on the other hand I'm not sure who will be the sixth NFC playoff team after Seattle, Arizona, healthy Aaron Rodgers, Carolina, and NFC East slightly less train wreck edition; Detroit is as good a choice as any.

9
by Insancipitory :: Thu, 09/08/2016 - 1:42am

A lot of Detroit's problems seem to be related to field position and big plays on defense. Part of that is the Lions not being very good on that side of the ball, some is just misfortune. They should comeback somewhat particularly on turnovers and starting field position. A little bit of regression to the mean could have a big impact on their record.

13
by Thok :: Thu, 09/08/2016 - 7:14am

Regression to the mean is great. I'm not sure it's that big of a factor with Detroit, and it's already seems weighted into the projection. I'm just expecting the loss of Calvin Johnson to overwhelm any minor defensive gains.

14
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Thu, 09/08/2016 - 7:49am

Their schedule is also projected to be one of the easiest in the league. The projection expects a team that was average on both sides of the ball last year to remain average, and take advantage of an easy schedule to be in contention for the last playoff spot. Calvin Johnson was great and all, but you can't expect a non-quarterback to affect mean win projections that much.

32
by Eleutheria :: Thu, 09/08/2016 - 10:55am

On Stafford with or without Johnson. Stafford's played in 5 games without Johnson. Evaluating Stafford's performance in those games compared to his rest of season averages, without Johnson Stafford has a slightly higher completion % (60.62 vs 59.16), much fewer interceptions (1.55% of attempts vs 2.68% of attempts), a much lower yards per attempt (6.7 vs 7.3) but by far the biggest difference was in sack rate (9.8% vs 4.3%). His DYAR in the 5 games in question were -24, -71, -42, -87 and 33.

So it looks like Stafford plays a lot more conservatively without Johnson, which would be a shame if that trend continues since Stafford's tendency to gunsling is one of the reasons I love him. But again, it's only five games, so not sure how much (if anything) should be inferred. I also seriously doubt Stafford will play this badly without Johnson, as there's a big difference between having 1 or 2 weeks to plan a game around the fact that your best player in injured, and having an entire offseason to prepare for the retirement of your player. Stafford will have more practice/chemistry with his current receivers then the ones that were fitted into the lineup to replace Johnson and the current playbook will be centered around what Stafford does well, not what Johnson does. This means we shouldn't expect as big of a decline in performance.

And on the flip side, there are 47 games Johnson has appeared in that Stafford was not QB for. And Kitna, Culpepper and Hill have performed slightly better without Johnson than with Johnson (at least according to the WOWY scores develoepd by Neil Payne here: http://www.footballperspective.com/which-receivers-elevate-their-quarter..., how much of that though is due to Culpepper with Moss is difficult to say)

25
by Raiderjoe :: Thu, 09/08/2016 - 10:05am

think have Detroit at 7-9, . my picks can go +- 2 games in either direction and I wodultn be shocked. so, if Liosn go 9-7 or 5-11 and anywhere in between, not surprise. anything less then 5 wins or greater than 9 is amaxing stuff. so lions and Bikes battling it out for 2nd place si not outlandish at all. have bcucuaneers beating out Vikes fior final nfc wild card spot.

26
by Raiderjoe :: Thu, 09/08/2016 - 10:06am

by the way, mmy picks shared here_ http://www.footballoutsiders.com/discussion/2016-nfl-predictions

feel free to read and then psot your own predictions

27
by Raiderjoe :: Thu, 09/08/2016 - 10:08am

oh, have lioons at 6-10. 7-9 must've not looked right thenight I went through all 256 games to come up with records. originally had 49ers at 2-14, lions at 7-9, jets at 10-6, couple other teams differernt too. took a win away from oen team here, gave a win to another team there.

29
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Thu, 09/08/2016 - 10:22am

I think about 7 wins is a fair projection. In fact, I would prefer that to 9-7 and getting hammered in the wildcard round (which would mean Caldwell would keep his job). Better to know who you really are and what you have to improve on, than be fooled into thinking you're only a few players away.

48
by bigpoppapump :: Thu, 09/08/2016 - 2:00pm

Had a little (I do mean little) bet on Det to win the SB today. 130/1. These projections imply 40/1 would be correct so it obviously won't win but might be fun for a few weeks...

5
by Raiderjoe :: Wed, 09/07/2016 - 11:05pm

No way shoudl Raiders be 21st. Dvoa computer drunk?
Raiders a top 12 tema,now. Even chiefs fans would agree to that. Raiders will just show on field soon enough.

10
by Insancipitory :: Thu, 09/08/2016 - 1:46am

Raiderjoe dropping in with the zlionsfan template. Everyone reading it has to finish whatever they're drinking.

12
by The Ancient Mariner :: Thu, 09/08/2016 - 6:03am

Yes, but Raiderjoe is so much more entertaining about it.

16
by ChicagoRaider :: Thu, 09/08/2016 - 8:18am

Why poke at a guy who knows at least 10x the football of anyone here but a writer because he has a heart? Have you considered that he is right about EVERYTHING ELSE.

42
by Richie :: Thu, 09/08/2016 - 1:40pm

Mad props to raiderjoe for keeping the drunk act up all these years. It must be hard to intentionally have typos and grammar errors, yet still (mostly) be comprehendable.

65
by Insancipitory :: Fri, 09/09/2016 - 2:26am

Poke? For all I know RaiderJoe's invocation of the zlionsfan template was 100% intentional. I've done it myself from time to time. It's two great FO features that go great together. I just thought I'd point it out in the event anyone was scanning past it with their attention set to 'casual.'

19
by xMRNUTTYx :: Thu, 09/08/2016 - 8:56am

This is what happens when you don't put the "These are calculations, not our opinions" header at the beginning of these posts, guys.

7
by Will Allen :: Wed, 09/07/2016 - 11:44pm

Of course, it's completely reasonable to drop the Vikings'mean wins the most. I hate that Bridgewater's career is at risk. I think the Vikings' season is going to be a fascinating experiment, exploring many questions.....

1. How good a coach is Zimmer?
2. Has Bradford been a victim of bad circumstances, or is he just a mediocre, at best, qb?
3. Is Peterson, at age 31, still able to move a team's offense up 5 or 6 spots in a team's offensive DVOA rank?
4. Can having 7 or 8 major veteran defensive contributors age 26 or younger, and two other pro bowl veterans just entering their prime, swamp the predicted regression for the Vikings defense?

I'm really looking forward to seeing how this plays out. Not for the 1st time I'm struck by the fact that the game gets more interesting the less you care about who wins.

8
by techvet :: Thu, 09/08/2016 - 12:21am

The beloved Playoff Odds page has the following: "This report lists the odds of each team earning the first overall draft pick in the 2015 NFL Draft." Should that reference the 2017 NFL Draft instead?

I was quite surprised to see the Lions given slightly better odds of finishing ahead of the Vikings.

Lane Taylor, the whole world is watching.

December 11, 2016: Packers vs. Seahawks could decide who's #1 in the conference.

11
by Bright Blue Shorts :: Thu, 09/08/2016 - 5:31am

Don't know about anyone else but I like seeing LARM back in the picture ... just missing LARD now ...

22
by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 09/08/2016 - 9:46am

Mmmmmm lard....

23
by JboxCSU :: Thu, 09/08/2016 - 9:57am

Took me a bit to understand why they weren't just LA...I get it now.

68
by davepyne :: Fri, 09/09/2016 - 9:42pm

I still don't get it. Why aren't Los Angeles Rams simply writted as "LA"?

15
by FrenchEagles :: Thu, 09/08/2016 - 8:13am

How do you take into account the change in coach and especially in defensive coordinator? I know it must be very hard to plan, but I'm surprised to see the Eagles defense ranked at the 23rd position given the players, the defensive coach and what the preseason has shown (which I know is not taken into account in your statistics).

17
by Eleutheria :: Thu, 09/08/2016 - 8:45am

How much does the Cowboys No1/playoffs/Super Bowl odds change based on Romo's return date?

21
by Mostly Anonymous :: Thu, 09/08/2016 - 9:38am

FYI "This report lists the odds of each team earning the first overall draft pick in the 2015 NFL Draft" has the wrong year.

24
by MilkmanDanimal :: Thu, 09/08/2016 - 10:04am

It says something about New Orleans that I saw they have the projected 30th defense, and I immediately wondered why they were "going to be so much better". I'm assuming DVOA specifically factors in losing Rob Ryan and Brandon Browner as inherent positives.

I assume Tampa's offensive rating of 24th is due to distrust of the offensive line? I was surprised the offense was low, and that the defense is a projected 12th. I would have expected the offensive and defensive projections to pretty much be flipped.

Also, the special teams rating is clearly too low due to the power of MORTAR KICKS.

Sorry. As a Bucs fan, I am legally required to delude myself as to the value of inexplicably-drafted kickers.

30
by Will Allen :: Thu, 09/08/2016 - 10:29am

I think the loss of Gase is really going to hurt the Bears' offense. However, adding Sitton may help quite a bit. Who knows how it all will affect Cutler's play?

47
by tuluse :: Thu, 09/08/2016 - 1:58pm

And who knows how good the next OC will be. It's not unreasonable to think Fox can pick coordinators well.

50
by Will Allen :: Thu, 09/08/2016 - 2:08pm

Fox hires staff very well; he wouldn't have had the career he has had if this were not the case. I think Gase is among the best o-coordinators, however, and those guys aren't easily replaceable.

61
by tuluse :: Thu, 09/08/2016 - 4:08pm

I agree, the odds are low.

53
by TomC :: Thu, 09/08/2016 - 2:32pm

I think the loss of Gase is really going to hurt the Bears' offense.

Apparently FO does too, because they've dropped from 6.9% last year to a negative projection. The only other obvious loss is Forte (oh, and Martellus Bennett), but Langford actually had better rush DVOA than Forte last year. And then there's the fact that all the starting WRs were hurt last year.

56
by Richie :: Thu, 09/08/2016 - 3:22pm

Apparently he loses that ability by flying to Miami (or by turning over OC duties to Christensen). The Dolphins fall from -7.3 to -8.9 offensive DVOA.

31
by lokiwi :: Thu, 09/08/2016 - 10:35am

ANy reason that your projections see a regression for the Vikings defense? No real major contributors lost, and most of the playmaking talent is young. Is it a function of higher expectations from scheduled opponents (GB will certainly be better on O this year), or am I just missing something?

33
by Eleutheria :: Thu, 09/08/2016 - 11:17am

Not sure what's causing it but it won't be a function of scheduled opponents.

Not sure how much this plays a role in it, but your defense as more aging vets then up-and-comers in your starting line-up: Robison 33, Greenway 33, and Newman 38, are all on the downside of their careers, while only Kendricks 23 and Sharrif 24 are younger players.

It's also not that much of a decline. Your DVOA was projected to be -2.1% last year and turned out to be -1.8%. Factor in a natural regression to the mean, and you're DVOA is only ~1.5 lower from whatever other factors go into the projection.

35
by Will Allen :: Thu, 09/08/2016 - 12:24pm

Robison and Greenway are likely to be very situational players. Danielle Hunter, who had a huge December, is going to get a lot of the snaps that Robison used to get. He's 22. Anthony Barr may be their best player on defense. He's 24. Rhodes is 26. Trae Waynes is 24.

They didn't turn the ball over a lot last year, and that has a lot variance unrelated to defensive performance, so that will likely improve. The projected regression isn't crazy, but it really wouldn't be surprising if they actually improved.

36
by LyleNM :: Thu, 09/08/2016 - 12:43pm

This same "feature" occurred for the Seahawks in 2013. The previous season's defensive improvement was expected to regress without any realization that the age of the defenders made it quite likely that the improvement was a substantial change in the quality of the defense. Is this a feature I expect FO to focus on or fix? No; they get it right more often than not and we can all do a mental correction if necessary. The second year in a row of good performance changes the baseline for that defense anyway.

38
by Will Allen :: Thu, 09/08/2016 - 1:00pm

If you tell me that the Vikings defense will have better health than last year, when Barr, Joseph, Floyd, Rhodes, Smith, and others all were significantly hobbled by injury at times, and I'll guarantee that they will improve significantly. Of course, they could easily have worse health this year than last, so who knows? My biggest concern is that Barr and Floyd in particular seem to have consistent health problems so far. Sometimes those issues go away with young players. Robert Smith was hurt a lot his first two or three years, then performed at a near HOF level at running back for several years, before retiring young. More often, however, it seems that guys who start out constantly nicked up continue with that trend. Keeping my fingers crossed.

40
by Eleutheria :: Thu, 09/08/2016 - 1:21pm

The issue is defenses are really inconsistent, it's much safer too assume last years top ranked defense will get worse, even if they're young, hence the 2013 Hawks choice.

But Vikings were a middle ranked team, so the change can't be explained by just regression to the mean.

39
by Eleutheria :: Thu, 09/08/2016 - 1:18pm

I don't know the Vikings well enough to know the ins and outs of their defense. I just googled their depth chart and then looked at the age of each of their listed starters, lol

49
by Will Allen :: Thu, 09/08/2016 - 2:04pm

Yeah, Robison and Greenway are only starters in the most nominal sense. Newman will be a real starter until be begins to slip, or Waynes, who improved at lot during his rookie season, clearly bests him out. They are going to have at least 7 veterans, aged 26 or younger, getting major snaps, and that is exclusive of the two Pro Bowlers, Smith and Griffin, who are just now entering what should be their prime.

37
by lokiwi :: Thu, 09/08/2016 - 12:47pm

Good point on the regression to the mean. I think I was surprised by the low rank (estimated 20 when they finished 13th weighted last year), but the raw number drop is small.

34
by johonny :: Thu, 09/08/2016 - 11:19am

This projection in no way increased my desire to watch this season. It feels like rinse and repeat in the AFC east yet again. I was planning on passing on opening day and now I'm glad for that choice. I was hoping Miami would at least get the number 1 pick and it seems they have a chance, but will probably blow that too :) Another terrible, long, dull season.

41
by Richie :: Thu, 09/08/2016 - 1:24pm

Why do you use LARM instead of LA for the Rams?

43
by Eleutheria :: Thu, 09/08/2016 - 1:41pm

To distinguish them from the Los Angelas Raiders.

It's not a big deal for this article, but future weeks when they want to show all time lists, the two LA franchises should be distinguished.

57
by Richie :: Thu, 09/08/2016 - 3:25pm

Ah yeah, I see in the pre-1995 DVOA charts that LARM and LARD are used. And HOIL for the Oilers and CLE1 for Browns 1.0.

59
by Aaron Schatz :: Thu, 09/08/2016 - 3:47pm

It's in preparation for the possible move of the Chargers (or, less likely, the Raiders) to Los Angeles for 2017. With that on the horizon, I decided to stick with the old LARM until we know for sure there will only be one team in Los Angeles. If that's the case next year, we'll use just LA for the current Rams (though we'll still use LARM for the pre-1995 Rams). The Raiders would be LARD again, and the Chargers would be LACH (which is how we have the 1960 Chargers listed in our historical spreadsheets).

62
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 09/08/2016 - 6:00pm

What's your codes for the Chicago Cardinals, or the Steagles?

63
by Richie :: Thu, 09/08/2016 - 6:26pm

I'm hoping the Baltimore Colts are BOLT.

64
by tuluse :: Thu, 09/08/2016 - 6:30pm

The Cardinals have to be CHIC.

66
by Raiderjoe :: Fri, 09/09/2016 - 6:13am

Steagles probably woudl be PHPI. Card-Pitt combine porbably CHPI.

44
by Mugsy :: Thu, 09/08/2016 - 1:52pm

I really thought the Jets defense could be top 10 this season- the projection here takes a bit of the wind out of my sails for sure ~ However, seems to me the Jets have increased speed and youth, while ditching Cromartie. I can't see how they can be worse than last year. Could be due to a brutal schedule I 'spose

46
by theslothook :: Thu, 09/08/2016 - 1:54pm

I think they will regress. Fitz had his best season ever a year ago. A return to his prior levels would drop the Jets to a 7-9 team no matter how little the defense regresses.

60
by Led :: Thu, 09/08/2016 - 4:00pm

It's definitely reasonable to think the offense will regress due to Fitz turning back into a pumpkin, but the OP was talking about the defense. I agree that the projection for the defense seems pessimistic. The preseason performance suggests the ST could be much improved, at least in the sense that the punt/punt coverage may not be a dumpster fire again. But we'll find out.

45
by theslothook :: Thu, 09/08/2016 - 1:53pm

I apologize to packer fans in advance. GB is a popular pick to win the sb(its mine) - but if they don't win, the media at large will conclude the reason is something hiding in Rodgers' DNA. Now that Manning has retired and Romo is injured - Rodgers is the true successor to the choker crown.

51
by bigpoppapump :: Thu, 09/08/2016 - 2:09pm

No chance that becomes the narrative. AR has a ring. Dalton is 0-4 in playoffs. The King is dead, long live the King!

52
by theslothook :: Thu, 09/08/2016 - 2:14pm

Manning had a ring too. That didn't stop anyone.

58
by Cythammer :: Thu, 09/08/2016 - 3:37pm

Narratives get set in stone early in a player's career, and after that, it's almost impossible for them to change. Rodgers won a Super Bowl early enough in his career that he's probably safe forever from the choker label. In Manning's case, however, the storyline was already chosen by 2006, and it would've taken something monumental to change it. If, instead of winning in 2006, he won in, say, 2003 - and everything else in his career was the same - the narrative would've been quite different. As always, utter irrationality reigns supreme in such discussions.

54
by Mountainhawk :: Thu, 09/08/2016 - 2:33pm

I'm assuming the 4.6% chance at the Eagles picking #1 represents the chance they finish with the worst record in the league, not the chance that the Vikings do.

55
by Eddo :: Thu, 09/08/2016 - 2:56pm

From the article: "The odds of getting the No. 1 pick listed below (and listed on the playoff odds report page) do not incorporate traded picks. Remember that Cleveland owns Philadelphia's first-round pick, Philadelphia owns Minnesota's first-round pick, and Tennessee owns Los Angeles' first-round pick."

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by Mountainhawk :: Fri, 09/09/2016 - 1:24pm

Oops, thanks. I figured that was the case, but missed that in the article.

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Methinks the Pats defense is ranked a little too high. 12th last year, rising to 6th this year, and they traded off Chandler, and lost Ninkovich for a little while as well. But then - 3.9 is not that much better than the -3.4 they had last year, so perhaps the defensive rankings themselves are just weird.

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