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25 Oct 2016

Week 7 DVOA Ratings

by Aaron Schatz

Philadelphia's big upset victory over Minnesota on Sunday has propelled the Eagles back into the top spot in the Football Outsiders DVOA ratings. The Eagles actually opened up a pretty big gap between themselves and the rest of the league with this win. Right now, the difference between the Eagles and No. 2 Seattle is larger than the difference between Seattle and No. 9 Buffalo. Minnesota takes a big hit, even with the opponent adjustments for losing to another top team, and falls all the way down to No. 4. We originally listed them third when Any Given Sunday first published on Monday evening, but Denver passed the Vikings with a big win on Monday night. The Broncos now have the top DVOA in the AFC, with a Jacoby Brissett-sized asterisk of course.

What's remarkable is that Philadelphia is currently the No. 1 team in DVOA despite ranking just 24th in offensive DVOA. Only one team in DVOA history led the league in overall DVOA for a full season despite having a below-average offense: the 2002 Buccaneers, who ranked 20th on offense but had one of the best defenses in NFL history. The Eagles defense isn't that good, but it is currently leading the league in DVOA, and so are the Eagles special teams. Of course, the Eagles also play the hardest schedule in the league from Week 8 onwards. Four of the Eagles' next five games come against teams ranked in the top eight in DVOA, and the other game is on the road against the No. 13 Giants.

The Eagles are just one example of this year's huge general trends. You've read about these in previous DVOA weekly commentaries, but they seem to just be getting stronger as the year moves along.

There aren't any teams that are historically great or historically terrible. The Eagles are not the lowest-rated team to ever rank first in DVOA after Week 7, but they are close. The 2000 Dolphins, 2010 Giants, and 2011 Packers all led the NFL with DVOA below 30% after Week 7. However, the Seattle Seahawks are the lowest-rated team ever to rank second in DVOA after Week 7, and Denver is the lowest-rated team ever to rank third in DVOA after Week 7. On the other side, Cleveland is back in the bottom spot after the Jets upset Baltimore on Sunday, but the Browns have the second-highest rating ever for a team in last place after Week 7. (The 2004 49ers were slightly higher than this year's Browns after Week 7, then completely imploded over the second half of the year and ended up as one of the 10 worst teams in DVOA history.)

We're seeing this same effect with individual units. The Cowboys are currently No. 1 on offense; in 27 years, the only lower-rated offense to rank No. 1 after Week 7 belonged to the 2001 Rams. (Yes, the Greatest Show on Turf, also known as The Greatest Strength of Schedule Adjustment on Turf.) Houston is currently in last place for offensive DVOA at -21.6%, and that is miles ahead of the previous record for the highest offense in last place after Week 7, which belonged to the 2001 Redskins at -27.4%. Defensive ratings aren't quite as condensed -- we'll get to that in a moment -- but nonetheless, Philadelphia is not close to the best defenses in DVOA history and Detroit is not close to the worst defenses.

Special teams is a bit of a different issue, because the kickoff changes over the last couple years have changed the amount of value teams can get above or below average out of kickoffs. The Titans are currently in last place in special teams, but they have a higher rating than any other team that was in last place after Week 7... except for last year's Houston Texans.

For the second straight year, the best and worst defenses are stronger than the best and worst offenses. In almost every year of the DVOA era, the strongest offense is stronger than any defense (i.e. further from 0%) and the weakest offense is weaker than any defense. Last year was the rare exception, and this year is even more of an exception. Right now there are three defenses that are stronger than the No. 1 Dallas offense, and two defenses that are weaker than the No. 32 Houston offense.

The defenses are the real story here. After this week, there are now five different defenses with DVOA below -20%: Philadelphia, Minnesota, Seattle, Arizona, and Denver. In 27 years of DVOA history, only 22 teams have ever finished a season with a defense this good. No season ever had more than three defenses below -20%. Now obviously, that's not the right comparison, because the best and worst teams are generally further from average early in the season when there's a smaller sample and the opponent adjustments aren't at full strength. But this year is almost as unique when we compare it to the history of DVOA through Week 7. There have been 55 different defenses since 1989 with DVOA below -20% after Week 7, or roughly two per season. Only one other time, in 1996, were there five defenses with DVOA below -20% after Week 7, and just barely: Green Bay, Dallas, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and Denver. The last three of those defenses were less than one percentage point below -20%. In 2008, there were four defenses below -20% after Week 7. In 1992, there were three plus one defense right at -20%. In the last three seasons, there have only been four defenses that were this good after Week 7: the 2013 Seahawks, the 2014 Lions, and the 2015 Broncos and Jets.

Nobody is well-balanced this year. Right now, the top four teams in overall DVOA are also four of the top five defenses. However, every single one of these teams is below average in offensive DVOA, although Denver is almost at zero. The next three teams in the DVOA ratings are the top three offenses: Dallas, Atlanta, and New England. These three teams are all below average on defense. There are only two teams right now that are in the top ten for both offense and defense, Green Bay and San Diego, but those teams are ranked tenth and ninth on offense and both are also below average on special teams. The only team that is above average in all three phases of the game is Buffalo, by a tiny margin -- they rank seventh on offense, sixth on special teams, and 16th on defense with a defensive DVOA of -0.2%.

This is one trend that does not apply to this year's bad teams as much as it applies to the good teams. The Jets and Browns are both 26th or lower in all three phases of the game. San Francisco also ranks in the bottom ten for all three phases. But Chicago is the only other team that ranks in the bottom half of the league on both offense and defense. The Bears are actually the most balanced team in the NFL: 21st on offense, 19th on defense, and 20th on special teams. They are extremely well-balanced in unexciting sub-mediocrity, and apparently also scheduled to be on prime-time television every week until the end of the universe.

The NFC is much better than the AFC, although the AFC West is excellent. The DVOA top ten stayed the same as last week, just with a lot of scrambling in the order. That means that once again only three AFC teams are in the top ten: Denver, New England, and Buffalo (which drops from third to ninth after losing to Miami). At the bottom of the league, the AFC has the three worst teams and five of the bottom seven.

The imbalance between the divisions is even more stunning than usual this season. Every team in the AFC South is now 20th or lower in DVOA. In our latest playoff odds simulation, the AFC South is won by a team with a losing record 9.1 percent of the time and a team with an 8-8 record 30.8 percent of the time. On the other hand, the NFC East and AFC West are stacked. Right now, every team in the NFC East has a winning record and a DVOA over average. Every team in the division ends up with a winning record in 12.2 percent of simulations. Every AFC West team also has a DVOA above average, and three AFC West teams rank in the top dozen. Thanks to easier schedules, there's an even greater chance of every team in the AFC West ending up with a winning record, currently 14.7 percent of simulations.

One other trend this year is the struggles of field goal kickers. I noted in my Twitter feed that I would write about that in today's commentary, but I've run out of writing time, so I'll do that with a separate post later in the week. But if you want to see something fascinating, take a look at the special teams DVOA page and compare Indianapolis and Baltimore to the rest of the NFL in FG/XP value.

* * * * *

Once again this season, we have teamed up with EA Sports to bring Football Outsiders-branded player content to Madden 17 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, beginning at 11am Eastern on Friday. We will also tweet out images of these players from the @fboutsiders Twitter account on most Fridays. The best player of each week, the Football Outsiders Hero, will require you to collect a set of the other four Football Outsiders players that week, plus a certain number of Football Outsiders collectibles available in Madden Ultimate Team packs.

The Football Outsiders stars for Week 7 are:

  • RB Jay Ajayi, MIA (FOOTBALL OUTSIDERS HERO): Led all NFL RB with 70 rush DYAR in Week 7; second straight week with 200 rushing yards (28 runs, 214 yards, TD).
  • MLB Jordan Hicks, PHI: Led NFL defenders with 5 defeats in Week 7: run TFL, run stuff on third-and-1, sack, and two tackles to prevent third-and-long conversions. Also had 2 PDs.
  • RB Jeremy Hill, CIN: Led all NFL RB with 82 total DYAR in Week 7 (9 runs, 168 yards, TD, plus 2 catches for 24 yards).
  • FS Daniel Sorensen, KC: 4 defeats in Week 7: sack, interception, and two tackles to prevent third-down conversions.
  • DT Brandon Williams, BAL: Sack and seven run tackles for a combined gain of only 10 yards.

An explanation for those who may be new to Football Outsiders: our "defeats" stat measures the biggest defensive plays, combining tackles for loss, forced fumbles, interceptions (and tipped passes leading to interceptions), and tackles or passes defensed that prevent a conversion on third or fouth down. J.J. Watt usually leads the league in this stat, but of course he's done for the year. Instead, two Buffalo Bills players are our leaders: Lorenzo Alexander with 18 and Zach Brown with 15. Luke Kuechly of Carolina and Markus Golden of Arizona are tied for third at 14 defeats each. And tied with 13 defeats are Lamarcus Joyner of the Rams, Zach Orr of the Ravens, Nick Perry of the Packers, and K.J. Wright of the Seahawks. Lavonte David, who is usually up at the top with Watt, has only 10 so far.

* * * * *

All stats pages are now updated through Week 7 of 2016. Snap counts, playoff odds, and the premium DVOA database are also fully updated.

* * * * *

These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through seven weeks of 2016, measured by our proprietary Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) system that breaks down every single play and compares a team's performance to the league average based on situation in order to determine value over average. (Explained further here.)

OFFENSE and DEFENSE DVOA are adjusted to consider all fumbles, kept or lost, as equal value. SPECIAL TEAMS DVOA is adjusted for type of stadium (warm, cold, dome, Denver) and week of season. As always, positive numbers represent more points so DEFENSE is better when it is NEGATIVE. Because it is early in the season, opponent adjustments are only at 70 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 9 percent of DAVE for teams with seven games played, and 19 percent of DAVE for teams with six 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 PHI 30.3% 4 22.6% 1 4-2 -5.9% 24 -26.6% 1 9.5% 1
2 SEA 21.9% 2 22.4% 2 4-1-1 -2.2% 20 -23.6% 3 0.5% 15
3 DEN 20.5% 9 19.0% 3 5-2 -0.8% 17 -20.1% 5 1.2% 12
4 MIN 20.2% 1 15.7% 7 5-1 -5.6% 23 -23.9% 2 1.8% 11
5 DAL 19.3% 5 15.4% 8 5-1 22.7% 1 2.5% 20 -0.9% 21
6 NE 18.3% 7 18.7% 4 6-1 19.2% 3 1.4% 18 0.5% 16
7 ATL 18.2% 6 16.2% 5 4-3 20.3% 2 8.1% 26 6.0% 3
8 GB 17.8% 8 16.0% 6 4-2 4.7% 10 -13.3% 7 -0.2% 19
9 BUF 14.1% 3 12.9% 9 4-3 10.2% 7 -0.2% 16 3.6% 6
10 ARI 7.7% 10 8.6% 10 3-3-1 -7.2% 25 -21.5% 4 -6.6% 30
11 SD 7.3% 13 6.6% 11 3-4 4.7% 9 -5.9% 8 -3.3% 24
12 KC 4.1% 14 5.6% 12 4-2 -1.2% 18 -2.4% 13 3.0% 8
13 NYG 4.0% 17 3.4% 14 4-3 -2.1% 19 -5.5% 9 0.7% 14
14 PIT 3.4% 12 4.8% 13 4-3 9.5% 8 8.0% 25 1.9% 10
15 WAS 2.9% 11 1.9% 15 4-3 4.2% 12 3.8% 22 2.4% 9
16 MIA 1.7% 20 0.5% 17 3-4 -0.5% 16 -2.2% 14 -0.1% 18
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 OAK 0.6% 18 0.0% 18 5-2 12.4% 5 14.9% 28 3.0% 7
18 CIN 0.2% 25 0.5% 16 3-4 12.0% 6 5.6% 23 -6.2% 28
19 BAL -3.1% 15 -2.3% 19 3-4 -18.0% 30 -14.1% 6 0.8% 13
20 TEN -4.3% 16 -4.7% 21 3-4 4.2% 11 0.7% 17 -7.8% 32
21 NO -4.8% 21 -4.1% 20 2-4 13.8% 4 17.2% 29 -1.4% 22
22 CHI -6.6% 19 -6.6% 23 1-6 -3.5% 21 2.4% 19 -0.6% 20
23 TB -8.4% 29 -7.7% 24 3-3 -4.3% 22 -0.4% 15 -4.6% 25
24 CAR -9.3% 24 -6.5% 22 1-5 0.4% 15 3.1% 21 -6.5% 29
25 LARM -10.5% 22 -9.3% 25 3-4 -20.1% 31 -4.4% 10 5.2% 5
26 JAC -12.2% 23 -11.4% 26 2-4 -16.5% 29 -4.3% 11 0.0% 17
27 IND -13.2% 28 -12.2% 27 3-4 1.9% 14 22.3% 31 7.1% 2
28 DET -16.2% 26 -14.9% 28 4-3 4.0% 13 26.3% 32 6.0% 4
29 SF -21.4% 27 -21.2% 29 1-6 -11.5% 27 7.2% 24 -2.7% 23
30 HOU -25.4% 30 -23.9% 30 4-3 -21.6% 32 -3.4% 12 -7.2% 31
31 NYJ -32.7% 32 -30.1% 31 2-5 -16.2% 28 11.6% 27 -4.9% 27
32 CLE -33.1% 31 -32.1% 32 0-7 -8.3% 26 20.1% 30 -4.7% 26
  • 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 PHI 30.3% 4-2 35.8% 5.3 2 -4.9% 26 10.4% 1 13.9% 24
2 SEA 21.9% 4-1-1 23.5% 4.8 7 -6.2% 29 3.4% 8 12.4% 22
3 DEN 20.5% 5-2 29.2% 4.9 6 -4.4% 24 1.5% 15 10.6% 18
4 MIN 20.2% 5-1 18.7% 5.4 1 2.2% 12 -2.4% 23 10.9% 19
5 DAL 19.3% 5-1 21.0% 5.0 3 -0.5% 22 3.0% 9 5.1% 7
6 NE 18.3% 6-1 19.9% 4.9 5 -4.5% 25 -4.7% 29 16.5% 29
7 ATL 18.2% 4-3 13.8% 4.9 4 4.0% 8 0.6% 18 8.4% 12
8 GB 17.8% 4-2 15.7% 4.5 8 1.4% 14 2.8% 10 8.7% 13
9 BUF 14.1% 4-3 19.0% 4.0 11 -5.7% 28 -3.6% 27 16.4% 28
10 ARI 7.7% 3-3-1 12.7% 3.6 15 -2.7% 23 2.1% 11 11.0% 20
11 SD 7.3% 3-4 9.1% 3.8 12 1.9% 13 -6.0% 32 2.0% 2
12 KC 4.1% 4-2 3.4% 4.4 9 -8.6% 31 2.0% 12 37.6% 32
13 NYG 4.0% 4-3 -3.8% 3.7 14 6.0% 3 3.4% 7 0.7% 1
14 PIT 3.4% 4-3 3.2% 3.3 20 3.5% 9 -5.3% 30 33.9% 31
15 WAS 2.9% 4-3 4.7% 4.0 10 0.7% 17 9.3% 2 9.9% 16
16 MIA 1.7% 3-4 0.0% 3.7 13 2.9% 10 -5.9% 31 15.6% 27
TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
W-L NON-ADJ
TOT VOA
ESTIM.
WINS
RANK PAST
SCHED
RANK FUTURE
SCHED
RANK VAR. RANK
17 OAK 0.6% 5-2 2.6% 3.1 22 0.8% 16 1.1% 17 9.0% 14
18 CIN 0.2% 3-4 4.7% 3.3 19 -0.4% 21 -1.1% 21 12.2% 21
19 BAL -3.1% 3-4 6.0% 3.3 18 -8.1% 30 4.9% 3 6.0% 9
20 TEN -4.3% 3-4 3.3% 3.5 17 -9.4% 32 -2.2% 22 10.0% 17
21 NO -4.8% 2-4 -1.4% 3.5 16 4.2% 6 -0.6% 20 2.1% 3
22 CHI -6.6% 1-6 -4.7% 2.8 24 0.0% 20 1.6% 14 6.6% 10
23 TB -8.4% 3-3 -10.2% 2.9 23 0.9% 15 4.6% 4 20.7% 30
24 CAR -9.3% 1-5 -9.7% 2.3 28 4.0% 7 3.9% 5 5.9% 8
25 LARM -10.5% 3-4 -5.5% 3.2 21 0.2% 19 -0.1% 19 14.4% 25
26 JAC -12.2% 2-4 -6.4% 2.3 26 0.5% 18 -3.0% 25 4.7% 6
27 IND -13.2% 3-4 -9.6% 2.4 25 -5.3% 27 -3.2% 26 3.4% 5
28 DET -16.2% 4-3 -14.2% 2.3 27 2.3% 11 3.6% 6 8.1% 11
29 SF -21.4% 1-6 -22.9% 1.8 31 5.0% 5 1.4% 16 14.9% 26
30 HOU -25.4% 4-3 -23.6% 2.1 29 5.6% 4 -3.6% 28 9.8% 15
31 NYJ -32.7% 2-5 -35.7% 1.9 30 6.9% 1 -2.7% 24 12.9% 23
32 CLE -33.1% 0-7 -33.7% 0.3 32 6.6% 2 1.8% 13 3.1% 4

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 25 Oct 2016

158 comments, Last at 28 Oct 2016, 9:29pm by pats-fan-in-nyc

Comments

1
by DezBailey :: Tue, 10/25/2016 - 6:26pm

Week 7 BES Rankings released earlier today - http://besreport.com/week-7-bes-rankings-2016/

The BES still has the Vikings ranked No. 1 even after the loss to Philly but their score did come back to earth quite a bit. Cowboys, Patriots, Raiders and Seahawks round out the BES top-5. Seahawks face the Saints next week thus it'd be smart to start as many of their top players in fantasy as you can.

BES and DVOA are in relative agreement on the top-10 except for the Raiders. BES has them ranked 4th...DVOA 17th. BES respects moreso the fact that the Raiders are 5-2 and 1st place in an embattled AFC West. All four teams are top-20 in DVOA with three in the top-12. That division is going down to the wire.

Staying in the AFC West, the BES has the Chiefs 11th...DVOA 12th. A nice little boost upward after consecutive wins, including one on the road against a hot Raider offense. Chiefs offense is getting better...17th in the BES, 18th in DVOA. BES, however, has their defense ranked 8th. That's a unit playing better each week with a lot of young guys improving game-to-game.

Overall, good stuff as always by DVOA!

2
by Karma Coma :: Tue, 10/25/2016 - 6:30pm

The second most likely Super Bowl matchup at this stage is MIN vs NE (7.2%), the "No Moss No Mas" Bowl.

3
by Tundrapaddy :: Tue, 10/25/2016 - 6:32pm

"In our latest playoff odds simulation, the AFC West is won by a team with a losing record 9.1 percent of the time and a team with an 8-8 record 30.8 percent of the time. On the other hand, the NFC East and AFC West are stacked."

You guys might want to correct this. I assume that the above should read 'In out latest...the AFC South is won by...'

18
by Aaron Schatz :: Tue, 10/25/2016 - 9:22pm

Fixed!

4
by Anon Ymous :: Tue, 10/25/2016 - 6:34pm

It's kind of amusing that DVOA considers what might have been NE's worst defensive performance (outside of the second half against Miami) worth a 2% bump in season average. Not that I don't understand the mechanics behind it, it's just funny considering the ongoing discussion and difficulty in pinning them down.

5
by RickD :: Tue, 10/25/2016 - 6:49pm

Two things:
a) opponent adjustments- PIT has a very good offense and DVOA "doesn't know" that Ben was out.
b) the Pats only gave up one TD and three FGs. So they had some good plays mixed in with the bad ones, esp. in the red zone.

I thought the D was worse against Buffalo, a team which certainly has a weaker offense than Pittsburgh (even PIT w/o Ben).

33
by Anon Ymous :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 11:36am

a) I know, see "[n]ot that I don't understand the mechanics behind it" in my original comment.

There is an argument that they played worse against Buffalo, which again, is why I said "what might have been". Either way, it wasn't significantly better than the baseline DVOA had drawn to date, they just benefited from what the formula can't see. Which is why I find it amusing, because NE is usually getting the worse end of that stick.

39
by Cythammer :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 1:33pm

The Bills have a good offense, in fact it's the team's strength. I doubt they are worse than a Steelers' offense being lead by Landry Jones.

41
by Noah Arkadia :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 2:17pm

I doubt it, too. Buffalo has been a top 10 DVOA offense since last year, while Pittsburgh's offense without Big Ben is, who knows? But not top 10 seems like a good bet.

43
by theslothook :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 2:19pm

For all of what dvoa says about the bills offense - I have always found Tyrod to be a shaky qb. He's truly a scramble and heave thrower but without Mike Vick's speed or arm. I know it sounds strange to say, but I could easily see him falling down the route of Rg3 /Kaep.

75
by RickD :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 5:59pm

If we're going to downvalue PIT's offense because of Ben's injury, I would say we should do same for Buffalo, who are without Shady McCoy at the moment.

My eye test says that the Bills' O isn't as good as Pittsburgh's. The numbers may not back that up at the moment, but that's because the Steelers haven't had a lot of time playing with all three of (Ben, Brown, Bell).

77
by Anon Ymous :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 6:02pm

"If we're going to downvalue PIT's offense because of Ben's injury, I would say we should do same for Buffalo, who are without Shady McCoy at the moment."

Looking forward, I agree. But that wouldn't apply to the argument put forward in your prior comment since Shady played in that game.

105
by Noah Arkadia :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 7:33pm

"the numbers may not back that up at the moment, but that's because the Steelers haven't had a lot of time playing with all three of (Ben, Brown, Bell)."

He also said without Ben. With Ben, I agree, the Steelers are clearly the better offense.

109
by Anon Ymous :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 7:59pm

No argument here, but that doesn't have much to do with the point I made.

6
by Perfundle :: Tue, 10/25/2016 - 6:50pm

I didn't notice it last week, but Detroit is shockingly low in this. I understand Houston being much worse than their record because they barely beat a lot of bad teams and get blown out against good teams, but Detroit has scored exactly as much as they've given up against a fairly average schedule. Seems like they're due for a blowout loss, likely against the Vikings in two weeks.

But before that, they'll be setting their league-worst defense against Houston and their league-worst offense! I wonder how many times that has occurred.

21
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Tue, 10/25/2016 - 10:29pm

The Lions, Colts, and Saints are functionally the exact same team, just with varying levels of luck (insert obligatory "no pun intended here." The Lions have been clearly outplayed in their last 5 games (one against a terrible Bears team), but have been insanely lucky in the last 3. Next week against Houston will be another toss up, but I agree with you about the Minnesota game in week 9. I would take the Vikes even giving the points.

42
by theslothook :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 2:18pm

I didn't think the Lions talent on defense was as bad as the Saints or Colts, but dvoa suggests its actually worse than both.

46
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 2:49pm

Missing DeAndry Levy, Ziggy Ansah, and Haloti Ngata for long stretches has exposed the lack of depth on defense. Now Darius Slay may also be out for a while, too.

7
by RickD :: Tue, 10/25/2016 - 6:55pm

We're back in the "Why does DVOA love Philly so much?" zone. I mean, sure, they've beaten the Vikings and Steelers, but somehow lost to the Redskins. Yeah, a good team, but I'm far from convinced they're the best team in their own division (and I don't mean the Redskins).

16
by Will Allen :: Tue, 10/25/2016 - 7:58pm

I keep waiting for somebody to hang 40 on the Cowboys, but they have only given up more than 20 once, and that was barely. I guess it helps when your offensive line keeps the ball all the time. I love watching great offensive lines matchup against good defenses, so I'm looking forward to the Eagles and Vikings games. Maybe Marinelli can keep that limited defensive personnel hidden with consistently great effort.

8
by Otis Taylor89 :: Tue, 10/25/2016 - 6:56pm

Yeah, don't expect to see PHI up at the top for very long as their future schedule is brutal.
Looking at the two teams with the easiest remaining schedule, MIA and SD and its not hard to see both teams turning things around in the 2nd half of the season.

10
by Cuenca Guy :: Tue, 10/25/2016 - 7:04pm

With only 7 teams in the AFC at 4-3 or better, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see one or more of the 3-4 teams make the playoffs. While Tennessee and Indianapolis have a great chance with how bad Houston is, Miami and San Diego are excellent candidates, especially with their remaining schedules.

San Diego is almost 30% to make the playoffs in the latest odds.

9
by Cuenca Guy :: Tue, 10/25/2016 - 6:59pm

You want to make the playoffs? It's better to not play than to win. And what's even better is to tie! And in some cases, it's even better to lose than to win.

I know DAVE adjustments and what other teams did affect your playoff odds (duh), but Kansas City's odds to make the playoffs actually dropped by 2.9%. Dallas' odds went down by 1.5% during their bye week while Seattle's odds only went down by 0.5% after their tie...it's not bad when you went on the road and tied with the only other team that has a realistic shot to take the division.

Houston actually lost and saw their playoff odds go down 2.7%, better than the 2.9% that happened with Kansas City. Houston was expected to lose at Denver, and Kansas City was supposed to win at home against the Saints. I essentially understand the whys...I just thought it was some interesting numbers.

12
by Perfundle :: Tue, 10/25/2016 - 7:24pm

Seattle's odds didn't go down only because they tied. They went down because they tied while playing poorly, which sharply dropped their rating. Considering they only fell 0.5%, I bet their odds would've gone up even with a 0% DVOA game.

14
by Cuenca Guy :: Tue, 10/25/2016 - 7:38pm

I get all that. I was really just pointing out some interesting numbers I saw in the playoff odds.

11
by JP_Wright :: Tue, 10/25/2016 - 7:10pm

Typo:
The imbalance between the divisions is even more stunning than usual this season. Every team in the AFC South is now 20th or lower in DVOA. In our latest playoff odds simulation, the AFC West is won by a team with a losing record 9.1 percent of the time and a team with an 8-8 record 30.8 percent of the time.

Assume you meant the AFC South, not West.

13
by poplar cove :: Tue, 10/25/2016 - 7:35pm

I don't understand why the Lions 26.3% defensive DVOA this season isn't considered the worst defense or you said in the article about 'not even close to the worst". What am I missing?

15
by Cuenca Guy :: Tue, 10/25/2016 - 7:40pm

He's talking about in all the years that have DVOA. There are many worse defenses (in other years) after 7 weeks.

17
by Will Allen :: Tue, 10/25/2016 - 8:18pm

I think it very unlikely that the Patriots lose two other games, besides losing in Denver, and I don't think the Broncos are going to lose less than two the rest of the way, even assuming a win over the Patriots. So 13-3 NE gets HFA over 12-4 DEN. I think the Patriots defense will be good enough at home to allow the Bradkowskis to beat anyone in January. That leaves me wondering which of the NFC defensive sluggers matches up best against the Patriots, or if the Cowboys can block their way past that group. For some reason, I expect Atlanta to fade again, but I haven't really watched them closely.

19
by RickD :: Tue, 10/25/2016 - 9:43pm

Well, if you think the Broncos beat the Pats at home, then any future losses would almost have to come within the division. Their other non-divisional games are on the road, sure, but @NO, @TEN, and @JAX. So it'll come down to Oakland, KC, and San Diego.

Bizarrely, the Broncos still have zero divisional wins. They only have the loss to the Chargers. Right now the AFC West looks very tough. The NFC East as the best last-place team by record (everybody is above .500), but the AFC West looks stronger, with all four teams having positive scoring differentials.

And they're going to be beating up the AFC South all season long.

23
by Will Allen :: Tue, 10/25/2016 - 11:25pm

It was a good schedule for the Patriots to lose very important players for some games. Kubiak's playcalling is extremely important to the Broncos offense.

(Edit) Stealing that game in Arizona may be one of their most important victories, if they win HFA. I can't help but think that Darth was thinking that, as he left the field, grin on his face.

47
by Richie :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 2:51pm

Do you think he is analyzing the whole season schedule that carefully to know that week 1 is potentially a pivotal game?

51
by Will Allen :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 3:13pm

I think he knew the game without Brady in which they were most vulneable was the opener in AZ, and it thus pleased him mightily to walk off the field with a win, especially given that he is well aware that every game is critical to obtaining HFA, and his team benefits mightily from HFA.

76
by RickD :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 6:02pm

Belichick cares more about how well the team is playing than whether they have a high seed. Yes, having a bye week helps, but his concern in September is to have the team playing as well as he can get them to play. And then let the playoff standings take care of themselves.

I'm sure he saw the opener @ ARI as a challenge all summer long. Instead of just shrugging and saying "Well, without Brady we have no chance" he and McDaniels made sure that Garoppolo could play at a pretty high level.

81
by Will Allen :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 6:11pm

Well, yes, having the team play as well as he can is pretty conducive to winning games.

91
by Rick_and_Roll :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 6:32pm

I think last years experience reinforced the importance of home field to New England. The only hiccup I can see for them in the AFC is playing at Denver which is pretty much the only place where they have a history of losing. If New England and Denver where to play in the playoffs at Mile High, I'd put that as a 50-50 game due to the crowd noise, altitude and pass rush against their shaky OL, but at Foxboro its probably at least an 80/20 game.

106
by Richie :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 7:37pm

FWIW, New England has lost 3 straight at Miami, and still has to play there this year. And 2 of those losses were late in the season with HFA potentially on the line. Though I think they kind of conceded that game in week 17 last year.

And if Miami's rejuvenated running game is for real (we'll see), that might be another tough matchup for them.

147
by PaddyPat :: Thu, 10/27/2016 - 4:39pm

Yeah, my first thought here was that Miami is probably just as miserable a place for the Pats as Denver. There just has never been any question of New England playing at Miami in the playoffs during the Brady/Belichick era because... the Dolphins have been terrible. If Miami ever had a team worthy of the franchise though, I think New England would really struggle against them. Matt Light never dealt well with Jason Taylor, and Cameron Wake gave the team fits after that, and back in the day with Sam Madison and Patrick Surtain, and Zach Thomas, that defense was beastly to play against.

20
by Alternator :: Tue, 10/25/2016 - 9:51pm

I think I might actually favor the Cowboys here - either Dak is figured out by defensive coordinators, and a healthy Romo takes over, or Dak continues to be good - either way the Cowboys offense can continue to roll.

Cowboys vs. Patriots would also pull absolutely insane ratings, so the zebras might be instructed to try and nudge it along.

22
by theslothook :: Tue, 10/25/2016 - 11:02pm

I honestly would be stunned if the Pats didn't at least get to the sb even with a loss to Denver(which I don't think will happen either). This feels like a 14-2 season where the second loss comes from resting starters in week 17.

24
by RickD :: Tue, 10/25/2016 - 11:55pm

Pats getting lucky this week and last with injuries to Roethlisberger and McCoy. Yes, going to Denver is always tough, but shouldn't be as tough this year as it was last year. (And they could have won the regular season matchup had they not muffed a punt.)

Seattle could also be a tough game, though they don't look like quite the powerhouse they've been in recent years. And then games against divisional rivals can always be unpredictable. Right now Ajayi is running over everybody. Pats might be happy to not see Fins until Week 17. I though the Pats would win 11-12 when I first saw the schedule, but they've already won 2 of their three toughest road games (@ARI, @PIT).

But all of this is just talk about HFA. It's way premature to make playoff predictions. I still remember the consecutive 1st round exits a few years back. I mean, yeah, most of the other AFC powers seem to have real weaknesses. But they also have strengths. Denver's defense is awesome, and the offense in Pittsburgh is much more dangerous when at full strength.

25
by Bobman :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 2:31am

As we often see, it can be all about matchups. Is an opponent particularly strong where you have a weakness? Can coaches or other players compensate for that? Can the Broncos dial up a savage pressure package once more vs the Pats and if so, can their O generate enough to win? Probably and possibly. Can the Pats take away whatever is strongest about the Broncos offense and at the same time, keep the Broncos backup scoring strategy at bay. Probably and probably. Playoff HFA will probably be a big deal and we all know the Pats have ridden that train to the SB numerous times.

The Pats have set themselves up pretty damn well so far; I'm almost glad the Colts are having a crappy year because being the second-best behind a winning machine like that (like back in 2007) is pretty dismal--you find yourself up by 10 in the 4th quarter thinking your team is hot shit and suddenly they allow two late TDs to Randy Moss (which more or less happened vs HOUSTON two weeks ago, so come on!). You sit back and wonder how it all went so wrong.

If my team is gonna get chewed up and spat out by any juggernaut, I'd rather it be a deeply flawed team that barely makes the playoffs than a team I actually harbored post-season winning hopes for.

26
by PirateFreedom :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 2:38am

I agree with way premature.
We don't know who will be healthy through the playoffs and that's always a big deal. There have been many years where I wondered what might have been if Gronk or Talib or Welker or Mankins or other key players had been healthy instead of diminished or out for that year's terminal game.
I imagine it is the same way every year with all serious contenders in the NFL meat grinder.

27
by Will Allen :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 4:53am

Yep, injuries, unfortunately, will likely significantly affect how we are talking about these matchups in 10 weeks.

79
by RickD :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 6:06pm

+1; +1

Every season, half of the "Who's in? Who's out?" results come down to injury luck. For example, in the NFC East last year I'd say the Redskins had the luck as Dallas and NYG had serious injury issues. When you have four teams grouped so tightly, injuries matter a lot.

In the past three seasons the Pats have had: below average injury luck, above average injury luck, below average injury luck. Easy to figure out which of the three made the Super Bowl.

83
by Will Allen :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 6:14pm

It's why I am surprised to see the Vikings at 5-1, and why I fear the next 6 won't go as well. Once you cross a certain threshold for injuries, you end up with no margin for error, and it is hard to play 16 games with no margin for error.

48
by Richie :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 2:53pm

Do you really think the NFL would send instruction to the referees like that?

37
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 1:21pm

Minnesota, oddly enough.

Denver beat NWE twice last year with suffocating defense and a Milton Berle offense.

If Minnesota can avoid letting their history psyche themselves out, they have a decent chance.

40
by Anon Ymous :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 1:38pm

The defense wasn't so suffocating the first time around. NE was able to put up 24 points with the D team and that was with a few key drops and, yes, some brutal penalties that either ended NE drives or prolonged Denver ones.

The second game was very impressive.

112
by Grendel13G :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 10:58pm

Agreed. The Broncos were fortunate to win their regular-season game against the Pats last year, but their defensive performance in the AFC championship game was a thing of beauty.

158
by pats-fan-in-nyc :: Fri, 10/28/2016 - 9:29pm

Their defensive performance in the AFC Championship game was a thing of 'god dammit, Stork, stop tipping the snap count'. If the game were in Foxborough, Miller doesn't get nearly the same jump on the Pat's OL.

86
by Will Allen :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 6:21pm

It's amazing how close, in my opinion,the Vikings came to getting to 6-0, despite never doing a thing on offense, and being behind 21-3 in the closing minutes. If they get two more yards on the int return very early in the game, they get out to a 7-0 lead, and then on the next possession, they were a fortunate bounce away from returning Wentz's fumble for a td. If they get out to 14-0, they may have been able to go turtle ball for the win, without having blocked anyone all day long. Hard to live on defensive tds, of course, but they almost managed it.

124
by FireSnake :: Thu, 10/27/2016 - 9:38am

Huh?

They still play the Broncos, the Seahawks, the Ravens, the Dolphins at Miami Gardens (where they always suck), the Jets twice, even LA might give them fits with the strong DL - maybe not enough to win, but still enough for the Pats to get some players banged up to hurt them later.

Against the Broncos scumbags, it will be very important not to lose Gronk and High to injury, since the Broncos will undoubtedly targeting these two guys again (worked last time).

I don't understand how people not realize what a small tightrope the Pats are walking. They are not two classes better than the competition, they just usually make less small and medium mistakes. But there have been games even against smaller competition, where they suddenly start to fumble, start to collect penalties.

And since Scott O'Briens departure, the sometimes superb but often crappy ST play has made them MUCH more vulnerable than before. They have a much higher volatility on ST play since he left. I am not only talking Gostkowski here ... the execution quality in all phases has suffered.

128
by Will Allen :: Thu, 10/27/2016 - 11:27am

My view of what is likely is always contingent on health.

28
by James-London :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 5:48am

Miami appear to very balanced- 16th overall, 17th in DAVE, 16th in O, 14th in D(!) and 18th in ST.
Whether being balanced to the definition of mediocrity is a good or bad thing I'll leave you to decide...

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

31
by Laufy :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 10:41am

and a 0.0 in non-adjusted VOA. the most interesting part of that is the huge swings this team has gone through already...playing Seattle to a draw, getting blown out early vs New England before coming back and ending up with a higher DVOA (if I recall the week 2 commentary correctly), then three straight awful performances before beating two good teams handily in Pittsburgh and Buffalo.

they're trending up with the 2nd easiest schedule remaining according to DVOA, so hopefully that balance stays intact if they can take advantage of the next month.

32
by leviramsey :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 10:49am

Remember that average is still objectively pretty good. We see that in why DYAR exists (there's huge value in being league-average for a lot of snaps).

I'm fairly comfortable saying that a team where their 24 starters (including kicker and punter) we're all league average (defining league average as the quality of the average starting player) would be a definite playoff team and would have a decent chance of sneaking a title most years. The reason is that it's almost surely fallacious to consider talent at playing a given position anything resembling normally distributed among the population of NFL players at that position.

Talent at playing defensive end, say, is almost certainly normally distributed among, say, male humans in their twenties (it's largely the sum of a whole host of ultimately physical attributes; and those attributes tend to be normally distributed overall, so their sum will be more or less normal). But the sample of starting NFL defensive ends is a tiny fraction of male humans in their twenties. There are probably 5-10 million males in North America in their twenties, and those starting at DE in the NFL are drawn from probably the 150 best of those (which allows for a whole lot of scouting mistakes and guys who have the talent to be a starting DE but are playing LB, etc.), i.e. the right-most .002% of a normal distribution. That distribution in turn is most decidedly not normal: a substantial majority of that sample is below the sample average (which is disproportionately affected by the very few players who are far above average). Out of 64 starting DEs in the NFL, around 40 of them are below average, so having two average DEs means you have 2 of the top 25 in the league, which is going to be better than most teams.

The Reid/McNabb-era Eagles might be the example of this sort of team. How many of their starters were outside of the 60th-80th percentile at their position? Owens and maybe Akers? Yet how many 11-plus win seasons (including playoffs) did those teams put together?

38
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 1:25pm

Oddly enough, if you look at starting player anthropometry, you still get a lot of bell curves. Football players, generally speaking, are still normally distributed; they are just centered on the 95th percentile instead of the 50th.

Those Reid teams usually had plus-plus linemen, plus QB/RB/DL/SS, neutral kickers/DBs, minus LBs/TEs, and minus to minus-minus WRs

35
by Noah Arkadia :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 11:57am

Their balance comes from stinking the first five weeks and being brilliant the last two. So which one is it? Maybe the health of the offensive line will tell.

49
by Richie :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 3:01pm

I'm hoping it's not a mirage like when they lit up Tennessee and Houston in weeks 6 and 7 last year (after firing Philbin).

At least the wins against Buffalo and Pittsburgh this year are slightly more impressive.

80
by RickD :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 6:09pm

At the very least, Ajayi has my attention. And not just because I cut him from my fantasy team after his first-week shenanigans. Fins have invested a lot in the line and if they have a stud RB, everybody will have to pay attention to that.

Unfortunately, they're still suck with Tannehill at QB.

107
by Noah Arkadia :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 7:46pm

I'd rather have Andrew Luck, but I am much more concerned about CB, S, the health of the offensive line, Devante Parker, TE, the kicker and a couple of other players on defense. If it ever gets to the point where Tannehill is keeping the team from taking the final step, I'll be very pleased indeed. Especially considering the gem we have as GM.

29
by BearDown103 :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 8:38am

How about the NFC South? Does that have a real chance of a losing record champion?

30
by MdM :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 9:57am

So the Eagles' D is ranked #1, but we Eagles fans always assume that any 3rd and long is going to be converted. Has anyone analyzed this to be able to comment on it?

64
by Vincent Verhei :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 4:38pm

You know what? You're not wrong, it's not in your head, and you're not imagining things.

Eagles' defense DVOA rank by down and distance:

1st down: 2

2nd-short: 13
2nd-med: 2
2nd-long: 1
All 2nd: 1

3rd-short: 15
3rd-med: 7
3rd-long: 30
All 3rd: 26

78
by Perfundle :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 6:03pm

Reminds me of Seattle in 2012. I don't know what your criteria for "long" is, but Seattle allowed the highest conversion rate of 3rd and 8+ that year, with zero turnovers forced. But they allowed the 4th-lowest conversion rate of 3rd and 7 or less that year, with the highest turnover rate by far.

103
by Vincent Verhei :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 7:18pm

Short: 1-2 yards
Med: 3-6 yards
Long: 7-plus yards

82
by RickD :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 6:11pm

omigod that's hilarious.

I mean, I feel bad for Eagles' fans, but it's rare that you see a remark like that so utterly supported by stats.

Clearly the counter-strategy for an offense facing the Eagles is to take 2 kneeldowns on 1st and 2nd down, to make sure you don't get too close to the first down marker. :)

34
by Soulless Mercha... :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 11:48am

The Great Buffalo Meltdown of 2016 has begun. As we all knew it would.

62
by Mike B. In Va :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 4:26pm

I don't think it'll be as bad as previous years, but, yeah.

36
by BJR :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 12:51pm

I've seen the 'level playing field/no elite teams' narrative repeated a lot lately, but Vegas certainly disagrees. The Patriots are a 6 point fav at Buffalo this week (that might come down a little if McCoy were healthy, but not much), and a rough cross-comparison of recent betting lines suggests they are currently rated a full 3 points better than any other team in the league on a neutral field. Unless the standard across the rest of the league really is that bad, that certainly puts them in 'elite' territory according to the sportsbooks.

It seems pretty obvious that any stats driven rating system is very likely to be severely under-rating 'current' New England based on the entirety of their performance this season, so it's a little disappointing to not see proper context being applied to the narrative.

44
by nat :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 2:22pm

...any stats driven rating system is very likely to be severely under-rating 'current' New England

That would apply to the offense only, right? The defense and special teams don't have any compelling excuses for their mediocrity to date.

The Brady-led offense should continue to push their overall DVOA higher, maybe into contention for the top spot in a few weeks. But "elite"? I don't think so. Not unless the defense and/or special teams turn things around in a big way. As it stands, the Patriots are a very good but still quite flawed team.

45
by theslothook :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 2:42pm

I could see the Special teams progressing upward over time, assuming Gostkowski's funk isn't a persistent issue. Scott mentioned this - for as poor as NE's defense can be; they're usually pretty good in the red zone,

65
by Hoodie_Sleeves :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 4:51pm

That's one of the things that DVOA seems to have fits with - red zone defensive DVOA tends to regress to the team mean the next year - except with the Patriots, who are consistently better in the red zone than elsewhere.

DVOA assumes its non-predictive, but it's a very clear philosophy (the focus outside the redzone is to prevent big plays - make a team execute at a high level for a lot of plays. The focus in the red zone is to prevent 7 points). With an offense as good as NE's, significantly limiting variance is more important than absolute efficiency on the defensive side.

The Patriots currently lead the league (at least the part that has played 7 games)in points allowed - despite leading the league in special teams turnovers (which are usually extremely short fields, and lead to points). The Pats defense is 3rd in the league in percentage of drives that allow points (and the difference between them and the next team is bigger than them and the first team)

Some of that is field position(about half according to expected points curves) because of (usually) good special teams and offense - but its a consistent thing with this team - they consistently give up less points than can be accounted for.

67
by theslothook :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 5:01pm

I have to be honest - I was thinking of doing an article on how reasonable a bend but don't break philosophy really is. I remember isolating a number of teams that had huge skews between their red zone dvoa and the rest of the field dvoa and then just did some basic rudimentary comparisons for the next year. Nearly every one of those teams got worse in the red zone significantly; which led me to the conclusion that bend but don't break isn't a real philosophy at all.

It also doesn't even make sense. Defenses are designed to stop teams from anywhere on the field. No one willing concedes huge gains and I can't imagine the techniques for defense are all that different in the red zone vs short yardage. And yet Ne manages to do so; which makes me quite puzzled.

The other puzzlement is how well NE manages to keep their run game efficient despite a continuous roster churn of offensive linemen.

Its why I consider BB the greatest coach in any sport ever and would trade multiple first rounders to get(assuming he was willing to coach for a while).

73
by Hoodie_Sleeves :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 5:46pm

" Defenses are designed to stop teams from anywhere on the field. No one willing concedes huge gains and I can't imagine the techniques for defense are all that different in the red zone vs short yardage"

I don't think this is true though - the responsibilities of a defender change significantly.

Let me give a couple examples:

CB:
At your own 30 yard line, the consequences to a cornerback of getting beat over the top are very very high, but the consequences of giving a cushion are low - you give up a short completion and maybe a first down.

Inside the Red Zone, however, the consequences of giving too much of a cushion are high - there's a good chance you give up a TD, while the consequences of getting beat deep are lower - the receiver may run out of field, or you may force the QB into making a very difficult throw.

So you have to play your receiver differently - which means different skills are emphasized.

These sort of things apply all over the defense too - if you're playing against a QB capable of scrambling, failing to keep him in the pocket probably means a scramble and a slide for a 15 yard first down. In the Red Zone? That's death - so you have to have your LBs and DL play differently.

I think BB goes in with the expectation that if given enough drives, his offense will generally outscore his opponent - so avoiding big mistakes is more important than being successful all the time. The Patriots are more likely to lose a game because of big plays than another team being able to consistently string together 10+ play drives - so they consciously make the decision to sacrifice some potential performance to lower variance.

Most of the Pats losses over the last couple years are similar to the Denver game last year - something goes horrifically wrong (multiple special teams fumbles in Denver), or the Ravens playoff game a couple years ago where Brady fumbled on the first couple of drives and Ray Rice had a big TD.

What's really interesting about the Pats though is that their offensive philosophy seems to be the exact opposite to their defensive one - their goal is basically to take that short stuff and move down the field at 5 yards a play - something that they dare other teams to try.

115
by morgzord :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 11:52pm

C'mon. That's soft on a great team. BB holds ST's in the highest regard, so to excuse aways loses to ST error's is to excuse away loses to BB. Playoff games and games between top 5 teams are won on errors, opponent errors that is. you could say the exact same thing happened in 2013 at NE with the Welker (DEN) fumble.
You gotta win all phases to beat a contender.

116
by theslothook :: Thu, 10/27/2016 - 12:54am

I just mean--- why is it better for a defense to prioritize red zone vs trying to be good generally? If you think about it, stopping a team and forcing them to go 3 n out is better for your offense than letting them march the length of the field.

In the end, i realize defense has to play differently given down and distance, but my point was - I get that defenses play differently given the down and distance and field position, but do we really believe bb spends his time trying to make his d better in the redzone rather than making his d generally better off overall?

119
by Bright Blue Shorts :: Thu, 10/27/2016 - 5:10am

I think you're looking at it from the wrong angle.

BdontB is about avoiding the quick or easy score as opposed to prioritising the redzone vs other areas of the field. By its nature, the redzone is just a harder place to gain yards.

It's a philosophy of trying to make the opponent string together lots of plays if they're going to score. Psychologically that's tough for a lot of opponents beyond Peyton Manning in his prime. It opens up chances for turnovers,penalties, incompletions for drives to end or even a FG attempt to be missed. It can also be demoralising to know you've been moving the ball up and down the field all day but then to only have a few points on the board.

The Rams-Titans SB is a classic example of how BDB works. The Greatest Show on Turf was a scary offense. Yet at halftime they only led 9-0 - they'd been held to 4 FG attempts, one of which was missed. With 2-mins to go they'd only scored 16 points. That's what every BDB defense wants to happen. But the next play - when the Titans gave up a 73-yard touchdown and lost the game is an example of what BDB hopes to avoid and the very reason why.

130
by Bright Blue Shorts :: Thu, 10/27/2016 - 11:50am

Hoodies_Sleeves said "What's really interesting about the Pats though is that their offensive philosophy seems to be the exact opposite to their defensive one - their goal is basically to take that short stuff and move down the field at 5 yards a play - something that they dare other teams to try."

Superb point. That does seem to be the Pats base offense.

The only thing I've ever heard BB say about offensive philosophy is that he moved away from run-first because you don't have your star QB in there just to hand off the ball. But if he didn't have Tom Brady (e.g. Jacoby Brissett) he'll do something else.

I think BB's offensive philosophy is actually to try and do whatever the opponents can't stop based on a versatile personnel. Think how he killed the Colts a few years ago with Jonas Grey's 200yds and 4 rushing TDs.

On Sunday against the Steelers it was kind of apparent that the current offense is almost unstoppable. Three small WRs who require fast DBs to stay with them. Two big TEs who can split the zone. A large RB who can run over DBs when the opponent focuses on trying to stop the pass with extra DBs. Plus a changeup back in James White and still waiting for Dion Lewis to come back. On any week that lineup makes them hard to stop if they gameplan correctly against the opponent's weakness.

The other thing to realise about BB is that in changing his offensive trend regularly, he also finds ways to take players other teams don't want and therefore he's able to keep the salary cap lower.

But a lot of that is me attempting to piece things together.

134
by Anon Ymous :: Thu, 10/27/2016 - 12:47pm

To top it off, NE used very little of their 2TE offense against Pitt, preferring to run on the few occasions both Gronk and Bennett were both on the field.

As long as the OL holds their own, you can just about pen in 24 points every week. And I think that number will look conservative in a month when the team works out a few of the remaining kinks.

122
by nat :: Thu, 10/27/2016 - 8:01am

Since 2010, the NE defensive red zone drive stats show a team that is in consistent, but mostly below average, sometimes badly so. Seriously. Look at the drive stats pages.

Your "bend but don't break" narrative just isn't supported by the facts.

123
by dmstorm22 :: Thu, 10/27/2016 - 9:28am

It's more confirmation bias that we look at a few high-profile games where there red zone defense was good (Super Bowl XLVI being the best example) and a few soundbites from NE players and coaches of 'bend but don't break'

Their red zone defense has been awful in some of the losses as well, such as the 2010 and 2012 playoff losses to the Jets and Ravens (7 TDs on 7 Red Zone possessions). Came within a bad Manning pass of giving up 3/3 in last year's title game as well.

125
by RBroPF :: Thu, 10/27/2016 - 10:09am

See comment 119 by Bright Blue Shorts above.

The Bend Don't Break strategy doesn't require above average red zone defense. It requires not giving up big plays, especially not long touchdowns.

Bend Don't Break recognizes that offensive efficiency suffers greatly in the red zone for all teams, and therefore aims to make the offense drive all the way through the red zone to maximize the chances of the drive stalling.

You should look at ratios of points allowed to yards allowed to see why DVOA always underrates the Patriots defense.

137
by theslothook :: Thu, 10/27/2016 - 1:17pm

This prompted me to look into the red zone dvoa for Ne over the years. It turns out, you're half right. Between 01-05 - the red zone defense generally was tied to the performance of the overall defense. Between 07-2011 - the red zone defense was actually quite horrible even though the rest of the defense was average or above. Then in 2011 to 2015 - the red zone defenses were top 5 even when the rest of the defense was either horrible or just average. And now in 2016 - its back to being horrible.

Frankly - this feels like evidence to suggest that there is no BB voodoo when it comes to red zone defense. I think he(along with every other coach) tries to play good defense no matter where they are on the field.

Again, this is one of those things that sounds great in theory, but doesn't stand up to the facts. Being persistently good in the red zone while being terrible everywhere else simply doesn't show up in the data.

141
by Anon Ymous :: Thu, 10/27/2016 - 1:43pm

FWIW, Bill has actually spoken on this subject, so it isn't just ad hoc rationalization. He has made it abundantly clear that yards are of little consequence so long as points are kept to a minimum. Near as I can tell, he wasn't just paying lip service; it's a genuine strategic approach.

I'll see if I can dig up an actual quote....

143
by tuluse :: Thu, 10/27/2016 - 3:07pm

Then why did he fail so hard from 07-11? It doesn't really matter what his approach is, it matters what can actually be accomplished through design.

144
by Anon Ymous :: Thu, 10/27/2016 - 3:14pm

"It doesn't really matter what his approach is"

Considering that is what people are discussing in this thread, it is *all* that matters. Whther the approach is successful or not is a related but different topic.

148
by tuluse :: Thu, 10/27/2016 - 4:45pm

No, people are asserting that he can cause good defensive redzone performance relative to overall defensive performance.

They have to prove that is true (or at least plausible) for any of this to matter.

149
by Anon Ymous :: Thu, 10/27/2016 - 5:39pm

Actually, no. Hoodie makes that claim, but the rest of the discussion seems to be centered around whether the Patriots even utilize such a strategy. According to Bill's own words, they do. Whether it has been successful is a different subject entirely, though it is one that would be interesting in its own right.

50
by Anon Ymous :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 3:09pm

Especially when 2-8 are separated by 4%. NE is one of a bunch of relatively even teams near the top, with the potential to be better if the offense keeps up its recent performance. That seems like a reasonable assessment to me.

52
by dmstorm22 :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 3:26pm

I know judging a team by Points is passe, and that is correct. But in this 'Brady Eff-You' mode three games, the Patriots have scored 33, 35 and 27 points. This isn't 2007 all over again. It isn't even 2nd half 2010 yet.

Maybe they become that good.

Personally, I think they just seem better than they are because there is no clear team to point to as being their equal. There is a group of teams with great defenses and middling offenses (MIN, SEA, DEN) that are all good enough to beat New England but wouldn't be favored against them.

Also, with the Patriots, I don't want to crown them too early. Injuries is the key factor, and yes they have the inside track at HFA, but they did last year when they were 10-0, and again at 12-2.

I wouldn't be wholly shocked if the Patriots lose this week in Buffalo.

53
by theslothook :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 3:31pm

The only injuries that would really torpedo Ne's chances of winning are gronk and brady. In the past, Ne's offenses have lived off a kind of balance with death by a thousand cuts. This year, at least in all 3 of Brady's games, its heavy gronk game with everyone else playing off him. And outside of a few deep bombs to hogan, the entire vertical portion of Ne's game involves Gronk. A realistic argument could(and should) be made: he's the offensive player of the year so far.

56
by Anon Ymous :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 3:49pm

FWIW, the Patriots are in much better shape than last year to withstand offensive injuries. The only possible exception is at tackle, but that's because they already lost their starting RT.

59
by dmstorm22 :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 4:13pm

As of now yes. My point is injuries could come in future. Of course that is a rather obvious point to make. They could happen to any team.

63
by Anon Ymous :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 4:31pm

"As of now yes."

If you're going to assume the Patriots hemorrhage even more players than their top 3 rate last year, then sure. They could have another season ending nosedive. But we should be able to discuss how teams stand without factoring in near-unprecedented variables, no? Don't these conversations have unstated, "the entire OL won't simultaneously retire due to unsanitary locker room conditions" assumptions?

84
by RickD :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 6:15pm

The Patriots were in great shape at midseason last year. Then Solder got injured. And Lewis. And Edelman. And Gronk. And...it was like the mirror of what happened to the defense in 2013. Death by a thousand cuts.

94
by Anon Ymous :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 6:34pm

Sure, but that is tangential to the comment I made. That last year's team suffered injuries is not in debate, my point was that this year's team is better prepared for an equivalent amount of injuries than the 2015 squad was.

FWIW, Solder was already gone by this point, but that's a minor point of contention.

120
by BJR :: Thu, 10/27/2016 - 7:11am

Yes, just the offense. But the article did also state that there were no 'great' units this year (as well as no great teams), so it was that statement specifically to which I was taking exception. To simply look at current DVOA numbers and declare 'no great units' is not good analysis; it plainly ignores what is happening at this point in time.

I'd also argue that a team can be 'elite' without achieving balance across all three units. An historically great offence, combined with average defense and special teams will dominate most opponents. Perhaps some improvement is needed for NE to reach this, but it is certainly within reason. And once again I'll reference Vegas ratings which currently have NE as the best team by a significant margin. Unless you strongly disagree with this rating (in which case, fire up your account!), or think there are simply no other good teams in the league whatsoever, then this surely qualifies as a definition of an elite/dominant team.

69
by Rick_and_Roll :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 5:25pm

As a Bronco fan, it pains me to say that right New England is the best team in the NFL. The Brissett games are an anomaly that provide a DVOA thats not reflective of their team. One of the games they were shut out playing a high school offense and the other they won a sloppy game where they got way ahead early based upon turnovers and special teams and they pretty much played a 'four corners' offense the rest of the game.

With that said, they were the best team at this point of the season as well....

54
by Raiderjoe :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 3:37pm

I don't havbe dan mairno 4th best all tiem. think j. unitas, j. Montana, r. staubach, t. bardy better than marino,. Vould Marino be top 10 in ym official ranmkings> Yes, yes he can. Did my list last year when drinking one night. shodul make more offifical lsit some time when not drinkign

55
by LyleNM :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 3:45pm

I can appreciate arguments for Unitas, Montana, Brady and Peyton as being better than Marino but I can't fathom any reasonable argument in favor of Staubach as better than Marino.

57
by Will Allen :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 3:50pm

Evaluating qbs who had almost all their production in the '70s is pretty hard.

58
by theslothook :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 4:07pm

I really wonder how great Montana was in a vacuum. The 49ers had an embarrassment of riches throughout his run and he was in an offense that was way ahead of its time. Scott also noted how the nfc was defense heavy, qb lite while opposite was true in the AFC. Ive asked people i sort of trust who watched that era tell me who they thought was best. I kept hearing Elway first.

Also, Fran is absolutely in my top 5.

85
by RickD :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 6:19pm

Montana probably had the best late-career/new team years of any of the elite QBs I can think of (though, really, what's the competition? Favre? Namath?)

Elway has always been my pick for "best QB", esp. if you got the early Elway who could scramble. By comparison, I didn't like how Marino's teams never got far in the playoffs after the first couple years (though that was more Shula's fault than Marino's). I don't see Montana as a QB with the physical gifts that Elway had.

90
by Will Allen :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 6:31pm

Yeah, the fact that an old Joe Montana went to the Chiefs, and accomplished what he did there, pretty much ends the debate as to how good he was. He was great, great, great.

96
by Rick_and_Roll :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 6:36pm

John Elway won the Super Bowl MVP in his last game...

99
by Will Allen :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 6:41pm

Yep, Elway was great, great, great. Like I said, I think trying to make these delineations is pretty much for entertainmnet purposes only. I don't think we can strip out enough context to rank these guys in an empirical manner.

92
by JIPanick :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 6:32pm

Manning in Denver was better than Montana in KC. The other Hall of Famers who made a Pro Bowl at 35+ for a team that isn't the one where they made their name are Favre in Minnesota (as you mentioned), Warner in Arizona, and Moon in Minnesota. I would also submit Gannon in Oakland and Cunningham in Minnesota for consideration.

97
by Will Allen :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 6:38pm

Moon had a really good year in Seattle at age, I think, 40 or 41 (!). That man could flat sling it.

(edit) Yep, Moon made the Pro Bowl at age 41. Not bad for a guy the dopes in the NFL didn't get on a roster until age 28.

93
by Will Allen :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 6:33pm

Old Fivehead, 2012-2014 was nuthin' to sneeze at, numb fingers and all.

98
by RickD :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 6:38pm

That was clearly an oversight on my part.

102
by Will Allen :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 7:00pm

Some day, I've got to get my hands on a video of a Monday Night Game from October 1971, when a horrid Giants team with Tarkenton at qb took on a championship Cowboys team. I saw it as a little kid, and became a Tark fan. Years later, I read Dr. Z asserting it was the single greatest game he's ever seen a qb play. One guy, with no help around him, nearly beating a team loaded with HOFers playing in their peak era, on sheer will, moxie, and athletic ability.

114
by theslothook :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 11:26pm

I feel like Foust and Fran are both lost to the winds of history. Fran in particular deserves better. He barely figures on anyone's list and yet his accomplishments are just amazing. To me, he was easily the best qb of the 70s. Easily.

61
by LyleNM :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 4:21pm

True, Will, but it's not so hard to have rather coarse groupings of overall QBs. My personal top dozen or so would definitely include 70s-and-before QBs such as Unitas, Graham and Tarkenton. Staubach would be in at least the next grouping (if not lower).

And, slothook, I also watched a lot of football in the 80s and I would put Elway below Marino, Montana and Kelly. (Not far below, but below.)

66
by theslothook :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 4:57pm

I tried to get a sense of why they put Elway where they did. Advanced stats doesn't seem to like Elway very much, but naturally, the talent around him could be big explanation.

Anyways - they replied with - he routinely carried entire teams on offense. That kind of explanation may be the result of some kind of preconceived narrative at the time or maybe they were influenced by some of his magical comebacks late in games. Who knows.

Can you provide some color to my question btw; I am quite curious.

70
by LyleNM :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 5:42pm

Uh, Marino routinely carried entire teams on offense and he did it better than Elway. Not to mention, Marino never really had a defense as good as those that Elway had. (Yeah, yeah, the Broncos D's never showed up in the Super Bowl.) But Mecklenburg and Atwater really do belong in the HoF and about the only reason they aren't in is RINGZZ.

Don't get me wrong, Elway was a great QB but a length behind Marino and Montana. And in my opinion a nose behind Kelly.

89
by RickD :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 6:29pm

"Marino routinely carried entire teams on offense and he did it better than Elway."

Marino made one Super Bowl. Elway made five. Right?

Marino lost an AFC Championship game to Tony freakin' Eason.

Given the heights he achieved in his first three seasons, the rest of his career didn't achieve the level I think it should have. How do you have the best season of your career at the age of 23? It's not like he was derailed by injuries like some QBs were. He was healthy. But he stopped improving.

Yes, a lot of that falls on Shula and the weak defenses that the Dolphins had. But some of it is on Marino. When he should have been the king of the AFC, he ceded the title to John Elway and Jim Kelly.

108
by Noah Arkadia :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 7:57pm

He lost to Eason in how many rounds? This isn't box. In my mind Elway doesn't even make the HoF if not for the last two glorious seasons which he rode on the shoulders of the team Shanahan built. And this is the part of the argument where Elway supporters bring up how much Dan Reeves held him back. And to that I say, if your own coach doesn't trust you...

133
by LyleNM :: Thu, 10/27/2016 - 12:28pm

""Marino routinely carried entire teams on offense and he did it better than Elway."

Marino made one Super Bowl. Elway made five. Right?

Marino lost an AFC Championship game to Tony freakin' Eason. "

You make this statement literally on a page where the separate contributions of offense, defense and special teams are assessed in order to determine the overall quality of a team.

By that logic, it's Drew Brees' fault that the Saints didn't make the playoffs last year and aren't going to this year.

139
by theslothook :: Thu, 10/27/2016 - 1:22pm

It came at the expense of the team I root for, but thank god brees got his superbowl ring or we'd never hear the end of it. I strongly suspect he would be forced to wait on his hall of fame bid and probably get the dreaded stat padder label.

Its one reason I feel for Rivers. I feel like, any other organization besides the browns and we might think of Rivers as a hall of famer. Once Vjax left in 2010 - the Chargers were an offense of Rivers, Gates, and whatever motley crew they had on the o line and receiving core. The defense has generally been below average and the special teams have been terrible. He feels like this era's Archie Manning/

142
by Will Allen :: Thu, 10/27/2016 - 2:44pm

What Rivers has accomplished playing for the Spanos family dopes is pretty remarkable.

150
by Richie :: Thu, 10/27/2016 - 6:19pm

Yeah, any time the Chargers start doing well, I look at their offense and wonder how they do it.

The Chargers currently have 9 offensive players on IR.

Travis Benjamin (who I guess was not good enough for Cleveland to keep?) and Tyrell Williams are the top receivers this year.

The Chargers are in the bottom 5-10 rushing offenses in the league. (In conventional and FO stats.)

How are they doing it?

145
by Hang50 :: Thu, 10/27/2016 - 4:11pm

Rivers, when on his game, throws to tighter windows than anyone I've ever seen play. I don't know what the difference (from Rivers' point of view) is between "on his game" and something less than that, but he's plain scary when it's there.

I cannot get out of my head the beat-down he put on the (then reigning champion) Seahawks in Sept 2014. The Seattle defense was there in all its Super Bowl-winning glory, and he picked them apart all day.

As a Denver fan, I found it a terrible beauty. And then he did the same thing just a few weeks ago, torching (esp. in the first half) the Broncos secondary.

151
by gomer_rs :: Thu, 10/27/2016 - 8:44pm

Philip Rivers has really been wasted on a team with terrible management his whole career. At one point the fired Marty Shottenheimer (One of the best HC never to go to a SB) in order to hire Norv Turner (proven terrible HC). Aside from getting picks for a QB (E. Manning) that didn't want to play there, I can't think of a single front office decision by SD that ever really made sense to me.

At least Drew Brees got the opportunity to win a SB.
_______

I remember when they were the Sea-chickens.

152
by Bright Blue Shorts :: Fri, 10/28/2016 - 3:47am

In itself, drafting a QB who has professed no interest in playing for your franchise seems a bit of a pigheaded move.

But it brings up a question that I've never really heard asked. How would the Giants have fared if they'd kept Rivers and the draft picks?

153
by duh :: Fri, 10/28/2016 - 4:02am

Philip Rivers in winds of the Jersey stadiums is something to think about.

155
by tuluse :: Fri, 10/28/2016 - 11:02am

They got a king's ransom for Eli, so I think drafting him as an asset makes perfect sense.

156
by Bright Blue Shorts :: Fri, 10/28/2016 - 11:18am

Indeed they got a good outcome.

As an outsider, it looks to me like a risky move but I don't know how confident the Chargers could have been of either finding a trade partner or actually get him to play for the team. Obviously they still had Brees at that point even though he hadn't bloomed, so I guess they held the upper hand in contract negotiations if Eli threatened to sit out the season.

157
by BJR :: Fri, 10/28/2016 - 12:15pm

Rivers did get to sit for two years (a luxury very few rookie QBs get nowadays), before becoming starter on an absolutely loaded offence, which was pretty much kept together for his first 3 years. Of course that team endured various playoff disasters so never achieved any glory, but it was undoubtedly a very favorable situation for Rivers early in his career.

But, yeah, since then the team has been badly managed and he's had to carry it almost on his own.

68
by Rick_and_Roll :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 5:04pm

From that era I'd put Elway ahead of all but Montana, who's big game performances in the playoffs can't be ignored. Elway in the 1980s literally had less around him by far than any other team that made it to multiple SuperBowls. The Bills (0-4) and Vikings (0-4) had a host of HOFers on their team. Elway is the only player from the 1980s teams that is in the HOF or has a shot to be, with the lone exception of Atwater who was a rookie in '89 and is a long shot to get in.

I'd argue that no player has come closer to carrying a team on his own to a title than John Elway in the 1980s. The next closest would be Tom Brady, but he had more defensive talent complementing him and probably the best coach ever.

71
by theslothook :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 5:45pm

/

72
by theslothook :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 5:45pm

/

74
by theslothook :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 5:46pm

I'm not sure I buy this argument that Brady hasn't had good supporting casts even on offense. That was certainly true from a receiver perspective back from 01-06; but from 07 on - Brady has had a pretty strong supporting cast(with an exception of the 2013 season sans gronk). Not coincidentally, Brady's numbers become meteoric when his teammates are great. Btw - that is not a controversial statement nor is it limited to Brady.

88
by Will Allen :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 6:28pm

Brady's had some years with bad receivers, but he's always benefitted from sound o-line play, and he's never had a truly subaverage defense to compensate for.

In any case, I think making fine delineations among great qbs is a pretty difficult task.

121
by BJR :: Thu, 10/27/2016 - 7:25am

There was 2011, when Brady reached the Super Bowl with a defense ranked #30 in DVOA. Indeed he hasn't benefited from playing with a truly better-than-average defense in at least 10 years.

136
by Anon Ymous :: Thu, 10/27/2016 - 1:06pm

I suppose it depends on how pedantic you are with "better-than-average" seeing as the past two years were both in the top half, though by a small margin.

If I'm being really pedantic, I would point out that 2007 was a good defense - the last gasp of that early Patriots unit - so it has only been 9 years since Brady had a top 10 defense supporting him. :)

146
by Hang50 :: Thu, 10/27/2016 - 4:19pm

I am (and was) a big Elway fan, but I'd rate him a bit behind Montana too. The reason is that Montana, it seems to me, could work well with a wider range of receivers due to that sweet delivery of his. Elway relied on receivers who could reliably catch his fastball. He just crushed the hands of his receivers, esp. in his early and mid-career. I remember Vance Johnson doing an interview saying he basically had to write off his hands.

87
by JIPanick :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 6:23pm

The argument is very straightforward: After adjusting for era, Staubach was a more efficient passer, and could run where Marino could not.

95
by RickD :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 6:36pm

This is why I don't think you should "adjust for era".

Dan Marino came into the NFL and his stats in 1984 changed what people thought was the upper bound of QB play. Staubach never did anything remotely close to that. Marino was a 59.4% passer. Staubach was a 54.4% passer. I'm not willing to just grant him a 5% bump in completion percentage just because he played in a different era. That would be like pretending Carl Lewis could have run faster than he did because Usain Bolt can run faster than Carl Lewis ever dreamed of doing.

The entire practice of "comparing players from different eras" is inherently dubious. We should never take it too seriously.

100
by Will Allen :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 6:53pm

If the rules for sprinting in the Carl Lewis era required the runners to wear ankle weights, you'd better adjust for that. Make Marino play in a league where receivers can be mugged anywhere on the field, where defensive lineman can employ the head slap, and offensive linemen have to keep their hands close to their chest, and Marino's completetion percentage likely drops a lot, and his int percentage jumps a lot. I won't even get into how much more qbs could be hammered back then.

From about 1970, until 1978, passing was just incredibly more difficult.

104
by tuluse :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 7:19pm

Likewise, if Staubach grew up with modern nutrition and training, didn't have to go fight Nazis, had modern lightweight equipment, etc blah blah blah

110
by Will Allen :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 9:00pm

Im not sure I get your meaning, but the rules diffetences really did render it a very different game.

111
by Will Allen :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 9:00pm

Im not sure I get your meaning, but the rules diffetences really did render it a very different game.

113
by tuluse :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 11:17pm

My point is that it's a totally different environment. If you don't even try to adjust for era, what's the point of any comparison?

117
by Will Allen :: Thu, 10/27/2016 - 4:40am

With this in particular, the rules changes really made it a very, very, different game. I think they had a bigger impact than the 3 point shot had on basketball.

118
by Will Allen :: Thu, 10/27/2016 - 4:41am

With this in particular, the rules changes really made it a very, very, different game. I think they had a bigger impact than the 3 point shot had on basketball.

101
by theslothook :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 6:53pm

I don't think the idea is dubious - I just think we're hamstrung by a ton of variables we cannot account for and a small amount of degrees of freedom that make any kind of statistical attempt very dubious.

That said - era adjustments do matter and at a certain point, qbs started having generally the same role. I accept that 1940s qbing was nothing like 2000 era qbing, but 1980s qbing and 2000 era qbing seems reasonably similar.

In any case - this is why I asked what people's impressions were from the 80s, especially people reading this site who do their best to be objecting and not let narratives color their opinions.

I saw some of Michael Jordan. He was the best player undoubtedly of his era, but I'm not quite sure why he gets labeled as this universal goat when there have been other players who were really really good too. Somehow the narrative and perception of Jordan colored a lot of basketball mindsets.

131
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 10/27/2016 - 11:56am

I think parent's argument was that Staubach was the better QB. You make a good argument, but you're arguing about who was the better passer.

In the context of your analogy:
Bolt is clearly a better sprinter than Lewis was. However, if the question was actually "who was the better track athlete", then Lewis has a much better argument. Lewis was also an elite long jumper.

126
by Raiderjoe :: Thu, 10/27/2016 - 10:15am

Pretty sure Staubach retuired as all time leader in passer rating . not be-all, end-al;l stat but is good enough for the most part. staubach tremneoud scrambler, superb passer, great leader. marino stationary, great apsser, not considered on same level intangibles as Staubach. staubahc ialso has RINGZ if you r into tjhat aspect. am persionally not a huge RINGZ guy b ut will occasionally use it as tiebreaker and this is case where I think ti is valid to look at- bebhcuuase these guys are close. ti is not like we are comparing trent dilfer to dan fouts here.

127
by Bright Blue Shorts :: Thu, 10/27/2016 - 11:06am

According to Wikipedia, retired as 2nd highest at 83.6 behind Otto Graham.

How do you compare Bradshaw to Staubach, RJ?

129
by JIPanick :: Thu, 10/27/2016 - 11:40am

Otto Graham's NFL passer rating was 78.2 - you have to include the AAFC to get the higher figure.

154
by Raiderjoe :: Fri, 10/28/2016 - 10:09am

Bradhsaw had some crappy years. Staubach relaly mnever did. at their heights, Bradshaw probably a tick belwo Staubach. Staubach a little more accurate. Bradshaw had tendency to make great throws art key moments but Staubach renowned for comebacks. two greta players.

60
by dmstorm22 :: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 4:16pm

My Top-10

Manning
Montana
Unitas
Brady
Marino
Elway
Staubach
Young
Tarkenton
Favre

132
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 10/27/2016 - 11:58am

I struggle with where to place Warner.

On one hand, he was really hot and cold.

On the other hand, he dragged StL and Arizona to three Super Bowls, and had them in a position to win all three with one defensive stop.

135
by Anon Ymous :: Thu, 10/27/2016 - 12:49pm

"Dragging" isn't the word I would use for those StL teams, particularly 2001.

138
by Will Allen :: Thu, 10/27/2016 - 1:20pm

I think Warner's 3rd act in Phoenix earns him a spot.

140
by theslothook :: Thu, 10/27/2016 - 1:25pm

The cardinals receivers were pretty great that year though. The rest of the team...meh