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» Scramble for the Ball: Championship Quartets

Blake Bortles. Nick Foles. Case Keenum. Can it get worse than that? Andrew steps out of the way and lets Bryan throw up a dozen tables to try to come to an answer.

12 Dec 2017

Week 14 DVOA Ratings

by Aaron Schatz

This week, the Philadelphia Eagles and Los Angeles Rams played the best and closest of the recent DVOA Bowl games. The Eagles pulled out a 43-35 win (that was really a 37-35 win plus a meaningless touchdown returning the Rams' fumble on an end-game "zillions of laterals" attempt). So the team that wins the DVOA Bowl should be No. 1 in DVOA now, right?

Nope.

DVOA analyzes the play-by-play and cares not for the simple binary of win and loss. And when it analyzes the play-by-play for this game, it says that the way the Rams played is much more indicative of future success than the way the Eagles played. It was one of a number of close games this week where the team that lost came out with the higher DVOA rating.

Here's a look at the DVOA. Remember, both teams get big bumps from the opponent adjustments. But those bumps are similar for both teams, so I'm going to just run DVOA here and not also VOA:

DVOA OFF DEF ST TOT
PHI 18.4% 19.1% -15.9% -16.6%
LARM 62.5% -9.6% 4.1% 76.3%

What's going on here? One issue is that there were three fumbles in the game and the Eagles recovered all three. But when I mentioned this on Twitter, people rightfully pointed out that one of those fumbles was the meaningless final play. Another was an aborted snap to Nick Foles, and that's a play that only gets a small penalty in DVOA because it's usually recovered by the offense. So the fumble recovery luck is not a big issue here.

No, the bigger issue here is the problem of measuring efficiency vs. total value. DVOA measures the former. The Eagles outgained the Rams, 455 yards to 307 yards. But the main reason behind that is that the Eagles ran 85 plays to just 45 plays for the Rams. That's a disrepancy similar to last year's Super Bowl. The Rams were much more efficient, gaining 6.8 yards per play compared to just 5.4 yards per play for Philadelphia. The Rams were not as good on third down, but they rarely even got to third down. The Rams were 2-of-7 on third downs. The Eagles were 8-of-20. That's a better percentage, but also, wow, 20 third downs. There was also a red zone discrepancy, as the Rams scored on all four of their red zone trips while the Eagles scored on three of five.

And then there's the issue of special teams. The gap between the teams is not just about the blocked punt that the Rams returned for a touchdown. The Rams got 74 yards on four kickoff returns while the Eagles didn't return a single kickoff. However, the DVOA system does penalize the punting team more for a blocked punt than it credits the return team. That's something that needs to be fixed in the next iteration of the system.

To those questioning: at a certain point, yes, I do need to figure out what to do about these ridiculously lopsided games where one team is more efficient but runs far fewer plays. Is there some predictive value to running more plays that I should be including? It's certainly a project for the future. (And am I asking for trouble by being open and honest about the possible deficiencies of the DVOA system? Of course I am.)

But with the Rams climbing to No. 5 on offense this week, they've achived something remarkable. The Rams are currently ranked in the top five in all three phases of the game. This is remarkably rare. Going back to 1989, there are only four other teams that ranked in the top five in all three phases any time after Week 14: the 1991 Redskins, 1992 Eagles, 1996 Packers, and 2012 Seahawks. Expanding that to the top six in all three phases brings in more teams, but still only four teams since the year 2000. Most of them are the rival the Rams will have to face this week. The teams to rank in the top six in all three phases since 2000, any time after Week 14, are:

  • 2012 Seahawks after Weeks 14-17
  • 2013 Seahawks after Week 14
  • 2015 Chiefs after Week 14
  • 2015 Seahawks after Weeks 16-17
  • 2017 Rams after Week 14

That's right. Nobody did this so late in the season between the Jaguars in 1999 (after Week 14) and the Seahawks in 2012.

This doesn't mean that the Rams are one of the greatest teams in DVOA history, or that they should be considered the Super Bowl favorites. At 35.5% DVOA, the Rams are tied with the 2012 Broncos and 2007 Cowboys as the No. 19 teams DVOA has ever measured through Week 14. And much like the 2012 Seahawks, the Rams are probably going to have to go on the road at least once in order to advance to the Super Bowl. If they lose this week, they'll probably have to go on the road three times.

Let's take a look at the two other major "reverse DVOA" games from this week:

DVOA OFF DEF ST TOT
NO -3.6% -34.9% 3.7% 35.0%
ATL -24.7% -19.7% 2.4% -2.6%

This is another game where the winning team had more plays, and the losing team was more efficient. The numbers are closer, as the Saints had 52 plays at 5.9 yards per play while the Falcons had 65 plays with 5.3 yards per play. A much bigger issue was penalties, as the Saints committed 11 for 87 yards, and the Falcons only 4 for 35 yards.

DVOA OFF DEF ST TOT
BAL 49.3% 11.9% 16.8% 54.2%
PIT 56.1% 38.7% 6.3% 23.7%

And a third game where the team that ran more plays had fewer yards per play. The Steelers had 85 plays at 6.4 yards per play, while the Ravens had only 62 plays with 6.7 yards per play. The Steelers actually had more penalties in this game, but much of that was defensive pass interference, a penalty that is counted in DVOA. The Ravens started their average drive at the 26 and the Steelers only at the 21, which you see impacting that big gap in special teams DVOA.

Baltimore's problem in this game was a total inability to convert third downs. The Ravens had -73.3% DVOA on third downs, with four conversions but also an interception and a fumble. Pittsburgh had a 148.3% DVOA on third downs, with 12 conversions out of 18. So even though Baltimore and Pittsburgh had similar overall offensive DVOA, Pittsburgh was able to do much more to sustain drives.

But seriously, look at those offensive numbers. Going into this game, the Ravens and Steelers were ranked No. 1 and No. 5 in defensive DVOA. Now the Steelers are down to No. 11 in defensive DVOA, and the Ravens are... well, somehow, the Ravens are still No. 1, just a lot lower than they were last week. In one week, the Ravens' defensive DVOA went from -23.4% to -19.5%.

Usually, that would knock you out of the top spot, except that this week saw another battle of two strong defensive teams that inexplicably had a ton of offense: Jacksonville's win over Seattle. So look at what happened to these four teams this week.

  • Baltimore's defense went from -23.4% (1) to -19.5% (1), while the offense jumped from -9.8% (23) to -5.8% (22).
  • Pittsburgh's defense went from -10.6% (5) to -5.5% (11), while the offense jumped from 14.9% (5) to 18.2% (3).
  • Jacksonville's defense went from -21.8% (2) to -19.2% (2), while the offense jumped from -2.8% (20) to 0.4% (16).
  • Seattle's defense went from -7.0% (9) to -3.1% (13), while the offense jumped from 3.4% (13) to 6.1% (12).

Finally, let's look at one more game. This one didn't have the team with the higher DVOA lose the game, but it's interesting to look at nonetheless.

DVOA OFF DEF ST TOT
IND -21.7% -12.7% -13.6% -22.6%
BUF -32.9% -17.0% -1.0% -17.0%

Unfortunately, the weather adjustments for DVOA are generic and based solely on what week of the season it is, whether the team plays indoors, and the team's home climate if it plays outdoors. There are then a couple of extra adjustments after that, correcting for the altitude in Denver, the ease of field goals in Florida, and the difficulty punting in San Francisco's old stadium. What I don't have are specific adjustments for snow and high-wind games that can help us correct for what happened in Buffalo on Sunday. Part of the problem is that there simply aren't enough games where the snow is that bad. A lot of the snow games that Vince Verhei wrote about in Quick Reads on Monday were light snow, not the crazy "lake effect snow" conditions we saw this week. But again, this is something I would love to play around with when I get time to do improvements on the system. In the meantime, readers will just have to look at Colts and Bills numbers with the knowledege that the offense/special teams are a bit depressed (and the defense enhanced) by the snow from last Sunday.

The Bills and Colts both dropped in DVOA this week, but the Dolphins and Broncos both climbed with upset wins, which puts Cleveland back in the No. 32 spot. The Browns still finish 0-16 in only 40 percent of simulations, which seems surprisingly low. The odds in the simulation for each week: 28 percent odds of beating Baltimore at home this week, 36 percent chance of winning in Chicago in Week 16, and 16 percent chance of winning in Pittsburgh Week 17. However, those odds do not account for the possibility that the Steelers will have their playoff spot clinched and thus sit starters.

The Browns are just not as awful as you the 0-13 record makes it seem. The gap between the Browns and the Giants/Colts (essentially tied for No. 30/31) is less than a percentage point. Moreover, at -27.5%, the Browns are the second-best team to ever be in last place after Week 14. Only the 2001 Bills (2-11, -24.6% DVOA) were a better last-place team according to DVOA. Other years with strong last-place teams included 1995 (Arizona, 4-9 and -28.7% DVOA); 1997 (Chicago, 2-11 and -30.9% DVOA); and 2006 (Oakland, 2-11 and -31.3% DVOA).

Meanwhile, the "Awful Eight" separation from earlier this season is now completely gone. There is no significant gap between the bottom teams and the middle teams in the NFL. We're back to having 16 teams above zero and 16 teams below zero, and the biggest gap in the rankings between one team and the next is the 6.8% gap between No. 16 Atlanta and No. 17 Washington.

* * * * *

Once again this season, we have teamed up with EA Sports to bring Football Outsiders-branded player content to Madden 18. This year, our content for Madden Ultimate Team on consoles comes monthly, while our content for Madden Mobile comes weekly. Come back to each Tuesday's DVOA commentary article for a list of players who stood out during the previous weekend's games. Those players will get special Madden Mobile items branded as "Powerline, powered by Football Outsiders," beginning at 11am Eastern on Friday. Our stars for Week 14 are:

  • DT Johnathan Hankins, IND (HERO): 7 run tackles for a total of 8 yards. Four prevented third-down conversions.
  • TE Trey Burton, PHI: Led all tight ends with 40 DYAR in Week 14 (5-for-6, 71 yards, 2 TD).
  • OLB Chandler Jones, ARI: Sack, 2 run TFL, 2 QB hits.
  • C Cody Whitehair, CHI: Chicago RB had 36 carries, 227 yards, 2 TD, with 63 percent success rate on runs up the middle.
  • RT Daryl Williams, CAR: Carolina RB had 24 carries, 138 yards, 3 TD against one of the NFL's top run defenses.

* * * * *

All stats pages should now be updated through Week 14, including snap counts, playoff odds, and the FO Premium DVOA database.

* * * * *

These are the Football Outsiders team efficiency ratings through 14 weeks of 2017, 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.

WEIGHTED DVOA represents an attempt to figure out how a team is playing right now, as opposed to over the season as a whole, by making recent games more important than earlier games.

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
WEI.
DVOA
RANK W-L OFFENSE
DVOA
OFF.
RANK
DEFENSE
DVOA
DEF.
RANK
S.T.
DVOA
S.T.
RANK
1 LARM 35.4% 1 40.0% 1 9-4 15.3% 5 -12.0% 4 8.2% 2
2 NO 30.8% 3 35.7% 2 9-4 24.7% 2 -7.8% 9 -1.7% 21
3 PHI 29.9% 2 33.9% 3 11-2 15.8% 4 -12.3% 3 1.7% 12
4 PIT 25.1% 4 22.6% 6 11-2 18.2% 3 -5.5% 11 1.3% 14
5 BAL 23.7% 5 24.7% 4 7-6 -5.8% 22 -19.5% 1 10.0% 1
6 MIN 20.0% 6 20.4% 7 10-3 12.7% 7 -8.1% 8 -0.8% 19
7 NE 18.2% 7 22.7% 5 10-3 25.1% 1 12.8% 30 6.0% 5
8 JAC 16.8% 8 19.6% 8 9-4 0.4% 16 -19.2% 2 -2.7% 23
9 CAR 14.4% 10 14.4% 9 9-4 -0.4% 17 -10.8% 6 4.0% 8
10 KC 9.7% 11 -0.5% 15 7-6 13.1% 6 9.6% 27 6.2% 4
11 SEA 8.1% 9 10.6% 12 8-5 6.1% 12 -3.1% 13 -1.0% 20
12 DAL 7.5% 12 13.3% 10 7-6 9.7% 9 9.0% 26 6.8% 3
13 LACH 6.9% 16 12.6% 11 7-6 9.6% 10 -5.7% 10 -8.4% 31
14 GB 4.6% 13 4.3% 13 7-6 3.4% 13 0.6% 16 1.7% 13
15 DET 3.8% 15 -1.5% 16 7-6 3.3% 14 4.5% 20 5.1% 6
16 ATL 2.8% 14 1.8% 14 8-5 10.0% 8 6.5% 22 -0.7% 18
TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
LAST
WEEK
WEI.
DVOA
RANK W-L OFFENSE
DVOA
OFF.
RANK
DEFENSE
DVOA
DEF.
RANK
S.T.
DVOA
S.T.
RANK
17 WAS -4.0% 17 -10.3% 21 5-8 -2.6% 19 -3.1% 12 -4.5% 27
18 OAK -7.4% 21 -9.7% 20 6-7 8.7% 11 16.3% 32 0.2% 17
19 TEN -7.8% 20 -13.4% 22 8-5 -2.6% 18 6.0% 21 0.8% 15
20 CIN -9.6% 18 -8.0% 18 5-8 -5.6% 21 4.4% 19 0.4% 16
21 HOU -9.7% 19 -14.0% 24 4-9 -5.3% 20 0.6% 18 -3.8% 26
22 ARI -11.2% 23 -6.5% 17 6-7 -16.2% 28 -11.9% 5 -6.8% 30
23 BUF -12.0% 22 -16.7% 25 7-6 -17.3% 29 -1.0% 15 4.3% 7
24 CHI -14.0% 26 -9.1% 19 4-9 -13.3% 26 -2.8% 14 -3.5% 25
25 TB -15.1% 25 -18.1% 26 4-9 2.1% 15 14.0% 31 -3.2% 24
26 NYJ -18.4% 24 -13.6% 23 5-8 -9.2% 23 7.0% 23 -2.2% 22
27 SF -20.9% 27 -19.8% 27 3-10 -13.0% 25 9.8% 28 1.9% 11
28 MIA -21.0% 31 -21.3% 29 6-7 -16.1% 27 7.6% 25 2.6% 9
29 DEN -23.7% 32 -32.0% 32 4-9 -24.0% 32 -9.0% 7 -8.7% 32
30 NYG -26.9% 28 -26.2% 31 2-11 -11.0% 24 9.9% 29 -6.0% 29
31 IND -26.9% 29 -20.8% 28 3-10 -22.2% 31 7.2% 24 2.5% 10
32 CLE -27.5% 30 -21.9% 30 0-13 -21.3% 30 0.6% 17 -5.6% 28
  • 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 LARM 35.4% 9-4 31.3% 10.1 2 0.2% 14 -6.9% 23 17.3% 25
2 NO 30.8% 9-4 24.8% 11.1 1 1.7% 11 -10.2% 28 8.7% 9
3 PHI 29.9% 11-2 30.9% 9.7 3 -1.7% 21 -8.9% 27 14.2% 19
4 PIT 25.1% 11-2 26.2% 9.4 4 0.5% 13 -6.3% 20 10.7% 15
5 BAL 23.7% 7-6 25.7% 8.8 6 -0.1% 17 -21.3% 32 19.8% 29
6 MIN 20.0% 10-3 15.7% 9.2 5 6.5% 3 -6.3% 21 4.9% 3
7 NE 18.2% 10-3 21.8% 8.1 9 -4.9% 28 -1.8% 15 9.3% 11
8 JAC 16.8% 9-4 22.1% 8.1 10 -3.0% 26 -12.8% 30 22.1% 31
9 CAR 14.4% 9-4 11.8% 8.5 7 2.7% 8 -2.6% 16 6.1% 6
10 KC 9.7% 7-6 12.9% 8.2 8 -1.7% 20 -12.6% 29 16.1% 22
11 SEA 8.1% 8-5 12.9% 7.2 13 -3.0% 25 10.6% 8 5.4% 4
12 DAL 7.5% 7-6 8.4% 7.7 11 -2.2% 23 10.2% 10 20.8% 30
13 LACH 6.9% 7-6 15.8% 6.5 16 -4.9% 29 -5.4% 19 9.6% 12
14 GB 4.6% 7-6 1.6% 7.4 12 3.2% 5 12.8% 6 6.0% 5
15 DET 3.8% 7-6 1.2% 6.9 15 3.6% 4 -6.3% 21 3.9% 1
16 ATL 2.8% 8-5 4.1% 6.9 14 2.1% 9 10.1% 11 4.8% 2
TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
W-L NON-ADJ
TOT VOA
ESTIM.
WINS
RANK PAST
SCHED
RANK FUTURE
SCHED
RANK VAR. RANK
17 WAS -4.0% 5-8 -12.6% 5.5 20 10.0% 1 -20.6% 31 16.6% 24
18 OAK -7.4% 6-7 -1.1% 6.2 17 -5.3% 30 14.8% 5 12.2% 17
19 TEN -7.8% 8-5 -3.9% 6.0 18 -5.9% 31 10.4% 9 18.6% 27
20 CIN -9.6% 5-8 -7.3% 5.9 19 -4.2% 27 15.9% 3 19.3% 28
21 HOU -9.7% 4-9 -10.8% 5.2 22 0.0% 15 5.0% 12 18.6% 26
22 ARI -11.2% 6-7 -12.3% 4.6 25 2.7% 7 -7.6% 25 10.3% 14
23 BUF -12.0% 7-6 -9.7% 5.3 21 -2.8% 24 -7.9% 26 16.5% 23
24 CHI -14.0% 4-9 -17.3% 4.8 23 8.8% 2 -1.2% 14 15.6% 21
25 TB -15.1% 4-9 -13.9% 4.5 26 -0.7% 19 16.0% 2 7.4% 8
26 NYJ -18.4% 5-8 -12.6% 4.2 27 -6.0% 32 18.6% 1 12.2% 18
27 SF -20.9% 3-10 -21.9% 3.5 29 0.0% 16 14.8% 4 6.5% 7
28 MIA -21.0% 6-7 -19.2% 4.7 24 1.9% 10 -4.8% 18 15.4% 20
29 DEN -23.7% 4-9 -15.6% 4.0 28 -1.8% 22 -7.1% 24 23.0% 32
30 NYG -26.9% 2-11 -26.8% 2.8 32 2.9% 6 4.9% 13 9.9% 13
31 IND -26.9% 3-10 -27.4% 2.9 30 -0.3% 18 -3.2% 17 8.9% 10
32 CLE -27.5% 0-13 -31.7% 2.8 31 1.4% 12 11.6% 7 12.0% 16

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 12 Dec 2017

90 comments, Last at 15 Dec 2017, 7:29pm by CHIP72

Comments

1
by RickD :: Tue, 12/12/2017 - 7:46pm

Did the Patriots climb up to the #1 spot in offense this week?

20
by Aaron Schatz :: Tue, 12/12/2017 - 10:54pm

They fell less than the Saints fell.

24
by RickD :: Wed, 12/13/2017 - 12:04am

Feels weird after such a disastrous outing.

2
by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 12/12/2017 - 7:59pm

Interesting you mention the defensive tumbles. Ever since Week 1 was low-scoring across the league, I've been tracking overall scoring and yardage.

Right now the NFL is averaging 22.1 points per team per game. This is the lowest mark since 2010 (22.0), the season before the great offensive passing jump of 2011.

The NFL is also averaging 337 yards per team per game. This is a drop of 13 yards from last year, and the lowest again since 2010 (336), and every other season is 10+ yards per game per team more.

What's odd is the supression seems to be on its face that bad teams are less bad. Judging by simply points allowed, only three teams are on pace to allow less than 300 points. However, the worst scoring defense is on pace to allow just 423 points (Washington).

3
by TomC :: Tue, 12/12/2017 - 8:14pm

Philly beats the #1 team and drops a spot! I am so sick of that anti-Eagles bias in DVOA.

6
by RickD :: Tue, 12/12/2017 - 8:31pm

You're supposed to use the template.

Also, for the site regulars, it's hilarious to think DVOA has an anti-Eagles bias. For years one of the common questions here was "Why does DVOA love the Eagles so much?"

10
by Eddo :: Tue, 12/12/2017 - 8:54pm

TomC has been a regular here for a long time.

14
by RickD :: Tue, 12/12/2017 - 9:34pm

Poe's Law raises its head again.

60
by Richie :: Wed, 12/13/2017 - 3:37pm

Today I learned about Poe's Law.

76
by Grendel13G :: Thu, 12/14/2017 - 12:05pm

Me too! Poe's Law is now my second-favorite law/aphorism, next to Hanlon's Razor.

81
by ChrisS :: Thu, 12/14/2017 - 4:43pm

I had never heard of Hanlon's Razor. But googling I found out that I knew the aphorism and Hanlon may not have coined it "This phrase or very similar statements have also been attributed to William James, Napoleon Bonaparte, Richard Feynman (who might well have quoted it), Goethe, and indeed, Robert Heinlein:"

19
by Jerry :: Tue, 12/12/2017 - 10:21pm

You got at least one chuckle, Tom.

45
by TomC :: Wed, 12/13/2017 - 11:09am

Somebody had to make that joke, so I figured I'd get out in front of it.

4
by Richie :: Tue, 12/12/2017 - 8:24pm

I can't remember any game ever having as much snow as the Bills-Colts game. It looked about 6 inches deep for most of the second half.

I don't even think the Patriots snowplow game in 1982 had that much snow.

Didn't Baltimore and Philadelphia play in a real snowy game 3 or 4 years ago? Did that have this much snow?

8
by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 12/12/2017 - 8:49pm

Think you're confusing two games there with teh Baltimore v. Philadelphia. There were two games in 2013, one was Minnesota @ Baltimore, the other Detroit @ Philadelphia, that had tons of snow (might have been the same week?).

The Detroit @ Philadelphia game comes close in terms of amount of snow. It was so bad the teams stopped trying kicking at some point.

Still, I don't think it accumulated as much as this Colts @ Bills game. That was insane.

12
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Tue, 12/12/2017 - 8:58pm

https://www.pro-football-reference.com/boxscores/201312080phi.htm

This is the game you’re thinking of. LeSean McCoy went off in this game, too, because the Lions secondary kept slipping and falling whenever they tried to change direction to tackle him.

17
by CHIP72 :: Tue, 12/12/2017 - 10:13pm

Lions/Eagles and Vikings/Ravens weren't the only games with snow that week - Chiefs/Redskins and Dolphins/Steelers had snow too, and Raiders/Jets might have had snow.

The Vikings/Ravens game is best remembered for having something like a half-dozen lead changes in the last 2 1/2 minutes, or something like that.

33
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 12/13/2017 - 9:29am

Detroit attempted one XP, which went comically awry.

Philly went for a 4th-7 from the DET 10 instead of attempting a FG.

Detroit had two return TDs in the game, which offset Bell's two red zone lost fumbles.

Philly scored TDs on their last 5 possessions, four rushing. Once they figured out how to run on the field, DET had no answer.

16
by CHIP72 :: Tue, 12/12/2017 - 10:03pm

I've followed the NFL since 1981, and the only snow game that I remember that may have been worse than the Colts/Bills game was a 1985 Buccaneers/Packers game at Lambeau Field. Here's a story about that game: http://ftw.usatoday.com/2014/11/green-bay-packers-tampa-bay-bucs-snow-bo...

The Tuck Rule Game in the 2001 playoffs between the Raiders and Patriots had a lot of snow too, though I don't think it was quite as bad during that game as Sunday's Colts/Bills game.

23
by techvet :: Tue, 12/12/2017 - 11:21pm

Bob McGinn has referred to that Bucs-Packers game from time to time over the years.

I distinctly remember 1984 Packers @ Broncos having snow but nothing like this Bills-Colts game.

62
by Richie :: Wed, 12/13/2017 - 3:41pm

I have a vague recollection of that game. It looks like they had pretty good accumulation, but not quite Bills-Colts level.

http://www.steamboattoday.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/120115_Snow_Bow...

61
by Richie :: Wed, 12/13/2017 - 3:39pm

That one looks pretty gnarly, but I can't find any pictures that show as much accumulation as Buffalo had last week.

https://addins.wkow.com/blogs/weather/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Snow-Bo...

28
by rosmith51 :: Wed, 12/13/2017 - 1:36am

Lions v Eagles in 2013...

It started snowing around 10:30, so there was already a few inches on the ground before the game started.

It then snowed another 6 inches during the game.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FcdUDWssXyU

34
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 12/13/2017 - 9:32am

And it started snowing early, and harder than expected. I had run out to the store around 10 am. I got home around 1pm; it took me 90 minutes to cover the last 1.5 miles.

63
by Richie :: Wed, 12/13/2017 - 3:45pm

Yeah, that one looks pretty good.

But it looks like they were able to keep the major field markings cleared. Also, the yellow first down line was working. I don't think they were able to keep the yellow line active for the Bills-Colts game. Not sure if that had to do with the amount of snow, or some other issue.

In that Eagles-Lions game, they also had some kind of graphical field numbers superimposed. I don't think I've seen that in any other game.

5
by DezBailey :: Tue, 12/12/2017 - 8:30pm

Has there ever been another game in the Brady/Belichick era where the Patriots failed to convert a single 3rd down?

7
by RickD :: Tue, 12/12/2017 - 8:32pm

No. The last time that happened was in 1991.

18
by dryheat :: Tue, 12/12/2017 - 10:13pm

Not under Belichick. Nor Carroll. Nor Parcells. Gotta go back to Dick MacPherson's first year.

30
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Wed, 12/13/2017 - 6:37am

The Huge Millen era!

Bledsoe/Brady is kind of like Favre/Rodgers (yes, I know Bledsoe is not a good as Favre) as far as being spoiled with good quarterback continuity. Looking back at the dreck they dealt with before that is kind of jarring.

9
by max :: Tue, 12/12/2017 - 8:49pm

Has the #1 Team in DVOA ever not win their division? Cause if the Rams lose in Seattle on Sunday that could very well happen this year.
max

11
by Eddo :: Tue, 12/12/2017 - 8:55pm

I believe it's happened more than you would think. The 2012 Seahawks, cited a bunch in this article, did not win their division (San Francisco did).

13
by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 12/12/2017 - 9:12pm

The 2015 Seahawks as well, as Arizona did.

Though I think entering Week 17 the Cardinals were #1 and Seattle #2 and the Cardinals rested as they had nothing to play for.

21
by Aaron Schatz :: Tue, 12/12/2017 - 11:00pm

Four teams: 2008 Eagles, 2009 Ravens, 2012 Seahawks, and 2015 Seahawks.

38
by BJR :: Wed, 12/13/2017 - 9:42am

Amazing how every team in that division has been great at some point over the past few seasons. I remember when it was a laughing stock circa. 2009/2010.

15
by CHIP72 :: Tue, 12/12/2017 - 10:03pm

It's interesting to me that the NFC playoff race can currently be broken down like this:

*Teams 9-4 or better: did not make the playoffs last year
*Teams either 8-5 or 7-6: all made the playoffs last year

The only 2016 NFC playoff team not in that #6 seed (Atlanta) or "in the hunt" (Seattle, Detroit, Green Bay, Dallas) grouping is the Giants at the bottom of the NFC at 2-11.

22
by techvet :: Tue, 12/12/2017 - 11:19pm

Nit: "...the next is the 6.8% gap between No. 6 Atlanta and No. 17 Washington."

I think you mean No. 16 Atlanta.

25
by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/13/2017 - 12:43am

This Vikings team is not the one that soundly whipped the Saints, Rams, and Ravens, and absent some good injury luck for the balance of the season, it isn't going to be.

Tell me everybody's injury situation for the next 8 weeks, and I'll tell you who wins.

39
by CBPodge :: Wed, 12/13/2017 - 9:43am

The Rams have a pretty big advantage here so far. We've had a few injuries (Woods has missed the last three, Webster is done for the season, Robey-Coleman has missed a game or two), but we've dodged a tonne of bullets - this week alone, it looks like Whitworth, Havenstein and Johnson all got hurt but won't miss a game.

Long may it continue.

40
by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/13/2017 - 9:49am

I've been on their bandwagon since week 1, although I picked the Eagles on Sunday. They do appear to be healthier than anyone else. If that continues, they have an extremely good chance of winning in February, which would be a remarkable story.

64
by Richie :: Wed, 12/13/2017 - 3:48pm

"they have an extremely good chance of winning in February, which would be a remarkable story."

As long as you don't live in St. Louis.

67
by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/13/2017 - 4:18pm

Hey, all I wrote was that it would be "remarkable". I would be remarkable for Jeff Fisher, too.

26
by Cythammer :: Wed, 12/13/2017 - 1:05am

The Jets-Chiefs game from last week was another recent example of one team running far more plays than the other, but at much inferior efficiency. The Jets outgained the Chiefs by a scant 14 yards, 488-474, but ran 85 plays versus only 46 for KC. That means the Jets averaged 5.7 yards a play, and the Chiefs a remarkable 10.3. The main reason the disparity in plays was able to occur was because the Jets were 13-20 on third down.

Anyway, I would bet that DVOA gave the Chiefs a better rating for that game, probably by a very large amount. From an offensive perspective it's amazing they lost at all. How often does a team average over 10 yards a play, commit no turnovers, and lose? Not often I bet.

37
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 12/13/2017 - 9:40am

Similar game.
https://www.pro-football-reference.com/boxscores/200909210mia.htm

Miami went 15-21 on 3rd down.

Others along those lines.
https://www.pro-football-reference.com/boxscores/200211240den.htm

This one is fascinating.
https://www.pro-football-reference.com/boxscores/199909120cle.htm

Pittsburgh ran 89 plays to Cleveland's 25. Pittsburgh converted 15 more 3rd downs (15-0).

44
by nosoop4u :: Wed, 12/13/2017 - 10:57am

At least Cleveland held them to 0/1 on 4th down, and had fewer penalty yards in that game.

I guess you meant that game was interesting from a number of plays disparity, because Cleveland certainly wasn't more efficient with their 25 plays. 40 TOTAL yards of offense, 4 turnovers, and 12:11 time of possession. Oh my!

27
by bobrulz :: Wed, 12/13/2017 - 1:08am

How bad was the Jets offense this week? I'm sure adjustments for Denver's defense make it not quite as bad as it looked, but still, 100 yards of total offense is REALLY BAD.

65
by Richie :: Wed, 12/13/2017 - 3:55pm

13th-fewest yards in a game since 2000.

Of course, the Browns are the worst with a 26-yard performance against Buffalo in 2004.

http://pfref.com/tiny/17GnC

More fun from that game. Luke (not Josh) McCown had 62 yards passing, but lost 65 yards to sacks.

Only 20 times has a player ever passed for at least 20 yards in a game, but get sacked for more yardage than he threw for.

http://pfref.com/tiny/aCKDJ

29
by wiesengrund :: Wed, 12/13/2017 - 2:11am

I'm curious about the NO v ATL DVOA. Yes the saints gained more yards per play, but the Falocns won all of these battles: yards per pass/dropback, yards per run, 3rd down rate, red zone %, yards per drive, rushing success rate and passing success rate.

I get that they recovered their own fumble and that the three picks get heavily penalized by DVOA. But I find it interesting that not even winning the success rate battle can offset that.

59
by Eddo :: Wed, 12/13/2017 - 2:13pm

Success rate probably correlates to VOA, but it is measuring something different. Success rate is more or less the 0-value marker, but you can still get more value on top of that.

So a team that has a 50% success rate, but each time only just gets the yardage necessary to succeed, will probably have a worse VOA than a team with a 40% success rate that is getting an extra 50% of the needed yardage each time it succeeds.

31
by Chuckc :: Wed, 12/13/2017 - 8:48am

The Rams got 74 yards on four kickoff returns while the Eagles didn't return a single kickoff.

74 yards on 4 kickoff returns is less than the 100 yards you'd get if they were all touchbacks. How does that work in the Rams' favor?

36
by CBPodge :: Wed, 12/13/2017 - 9:34am

The Rams drives after kickoffs started on the 26, 41 (this was at the end of the half on a squib, so I'm happy to throw that out), 29, and 20.

41
by nuclearbdgr :: Wed, 12/13/2017 - 9:52am

Are you assuming that the kickoffs all went to the endzone? If kicked short, they may have started past the 25.

42
by NoraDaddy :: Wed, 12/13/2017 - 9:56am

The four non-touchback kickoffs started drives at the 21, 41(this was a squib kick and should be discounted), 29, 20. Ignoring the squib, the average start was the 23. How is this better than taking the touchback?

47
by nosoop4u :: Wed, 12/13/2017 - 11:41am

On the Q1 kick that was returned to the 21, there was a penalty on the Eagles during the kickoff, so the drive started at the 26.

On the Q3 kick that was returned to the 29, it was kicked to the 15, so there was no touchback available there; it had to be returned.

Only the Q4 kick that was returned to the 20 resulted in worse field position than a touchback.

LA did take the touchback on the 4 other Eagles kickoffs.

50
by ChrisS :: Wed, 12/13/2017 - 12:40pm

Thanks for the detail on the kick returns. With that, I really don't see this a much of an explanation of the huge difference in special Teams DVOA.

57
by NoraDaddy :: Wed, 12/13/2017 - 1:54pm

Looking at the Rams punt game shows a big part of the disparity. 5 punts all traveled over 50 yards and the average starting LOS was the 13. Not sure why Aaron didn't highlight this instead. Man Hekker is amazing.

32
by big10freak :: Wed, 12/13/2017 - 9:07am

GB 13th in special teams?? Xmas miracles do happen

55
by ammek :: Wed, 12/13/2017 - 1:38pm

Dead last in 'Hidden' though.

And on that subject, Bill Barnwell was discussing the Rams' absurd number in the Hidden column – this week up to +36.6 points, which is 23 points more than any other team. As 'Hidden' is a composite of three different elements, it would be interesting to know if the Rams are benefiting from good fortune in all three, or if there is one that stands out. For instance, from the raw numbers, I can see that Rams' opponents have kicked 18 of 28 field goals (64.3%), versus a league average of 84%. That might account for about 15 points, assuming the distance of the missed kicks is roughly average. Opponents' punt and kickoff distance are more difficult to read. The Rams have blocked three punts; does the return yardage on blocks contribute to the 'hidden' total?

35
by CBPodge :: Wed, 12/13/2017 - 9:32am

Would it be possible to calculate DYAR for teams (I'm not sure whether the Y would be right there - I have no clue if you'd look at total yards, net yards, total points, net points, or something else)? That would create a volume element, similar to have DYAR compares to DVOA for individual players.

43
by nat :: Wed, 12/13/2017 - 10:48am

What you're asking for is essentially an opponent adjusted net points stat, possibly with a small adjustment for non-predictive events like fumble recoveries and interception returns.

[edit]

For example, the Patriots' opponents were such that an average result would have been around 13 net points, while the Steelers's opponents would lead you to expect 4 net points. So, rather than seeing the Patriots as better by a 118-69 point difference, you could adjust that to a 105-65 difference, or about 3 points per game.

With home field advantage, that would make the upcoming game a toss up.

Personally, this doesn't look like an interesting analysis to do. I would not trust adjusted net points as a predictor, and would prefer net points or W-L record as a descriptive stat for overall team success anyway.

Do we really need a schedule (and fumble luck) adjusted net points or W-L record? What would be the point, other than giving fuel to whiners?

46
by johonny :: Wed, 12/13/2017 - 11:18am

Miami has somehow beaten the Chargers, Pats, and Falcons while losing in rather comical fashion many other games. I really don't know where they are in this second season under Gase. Is there snow on tap for Sunday in Buffalo?

71
by James-London :: Thu, 12/14/2017 - 7:11am

Concur. If you told me Miami won or lost Sunday's game by 20 points I'd buy it.
Is Tyrod likely to play, or are Miami going to blow it horribly afgainst Nathan Peterman?

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

48
by nosoop4u :: Wed, 12/13/2017 - 12:03pm

؟ How do the Saints have so many estimated wins?!

NO is clearly ranked just right because they haven't played any snow games, which are the true determination of a team's strength. Flipping a coin is way better than this. I had to post this because it's been 16 hours and no1 else did.

49
by t.d. :: Wed, 12/13/2017 - 12:13pm

I think the Titans will lose out and (probably) miss the playoffs

51
by nosoop4u :: Wed, 12/13/2017 - 12:46pm

Amazingly, if Ten loses out, Buf/Mia split their remaining season series, LACH beat KC this week, KC beats Mia week 16, and Den beats KC week 17, and all other games go as expected, Ten would make it as the six seed at 8-8 with the conference record tiebreaker over Buf & KC.

52
by t.d. :: Wed, 12/13/2017 - 1:01pm

Yeah, there's a good chance the six seed could be awful this year (and maybe both wildcards). Meanwhile,the NFC goes at least nine deep...

66
by Richie :: Wed, 12/13/2017 - 4:01pm

It would be nice to eliminate the conference designations, and just pick 4 wildcard teams, regardless of conference. Then, seed the 12 playoff teams from 1 to 12.

72
by aces4me :: Thu, 12/14/2017 - 9:23am

As I am sure you know, the owners will never implement a playoff system where the division winner doesn't get a home playoff game. Because lets face it, a home playoff game is all half the teams in the league can realistically aspire to.

77
by Richie :: Thu, 12/14/2017 - 3:16pm

My system could allow for that. Instead of seeding 1-12, you seed the division winners 1-8, and the wildcards 9-12. The top 4 seeds get a bye and home field in round 2. Seeds 5-8 host the wildcards in round 1.

79
by aces4me :: Thu, 12/14/2017 - 4:21pm

The superbowl has always been an AFC versus NFC affair. Hard to imagine they want to change that.

84
by Richie :: Thu, 12/14/2017 - 5:01pm

Yeah, it's tradition. But AFC/NFC designations are pretty arbitrary at this point. Do many people really care about whether an AFC or NFC team wins?

53
by t.d. :: Wed, 12/13/2017 - 1:02pm

.

54
by Pat :: Wed, 12/13/2017 - 1:32pm

"No, the bigger issue here is the problem of measuring efficiency vs. total value. DVOA measures the former. The Eagles outgained the Rams, 455 yards to 307 yards. But the main reason behind that is that the Eagles ran 85 plays to just 45 plays for the Rams."

Aaron:

Up until the point where Wentz left, the Eagles averaged 6.5 yards/play, pretty comparable to the Rams (and in fact, that's dragged down by the second half: in the first half, they were actually above the Rams, at about 7.4 yards per play to the Rams 7.0 yards/play.

After Wentz left, that number, uh... dropped. A lot. To 3.43 yards/play. Nick Foles's two drives consisted of around what, 5 successful plays out of 23? I don't entirely think that's Foles's fault - I think they were being very conservative because their defense basically handed them the game.

But it'd be really interesting to look at that game by half, and before/after Wentz's injury.

56
by bodio :: Wed, 12/13/2017 - 1:46pm

"The Rams got 74 yards on four kickoff returns..." - that's an average of 18.5 yards per kickoff return. The starting spot is the 25-yard line if you don't return the kick (assuming it gets into the end-zone). So how is this a POSITIVE for the Rams?

58
by ammek :: Wed, 12/13/2017 - 2:06pm

The DVOA rankings which look most odd to me – Rams at #1! Ravens at #5! Chargers below Chiefs! – can be explained by special teams. I think I'm not really able to compute special teams into how I think of a team's performance, so I'm glad that DVOA takes it into account (many other ranking systems do not).

That said, we're seeing some huge special teams numbers this year. Baltimore's +10% DVOA would be the best in a decade, and fourth-best in the entire DVOA era; the Rams' 8.2% would be fifth-best in the last 10 years. At the other end I think there have only been a couple of recent seasons more calamitous than the 2017 Broncos and Chargers.

It has been rare for a team to be above average in all five component parts of special teams DVOA, but the Ravens are presently more than +5 points to the good in each category. I think that's only been done three times before, most recently by the great Bears special teams of 2007. At the other end, Denver and the Giants are negative in all five aspects.

And in general, the special teams numbers seem quite spread out this season. The eighth-ranked Panthers (+4.0%) would have been #1 in 1992, except of course that they didn't exist.

69
by jmaron :: Wed, 12/13/2017 - 6:05pm

Baltimore has been top 4 in Special Teams DVOA rankings for the past 6 years, and 7 of the last 8.

68
by rmonihan :: Wed, 12/13/2017 - 6:01pm

By no means am I a DVOA expert. So take this with a grain of salt - but I was thinking about your comment regarding the number of plays and lopsided results.

While it's possible that teams which are efficient and score quickly can often lead to lopsided score results, I'd assume it doesn't account for one other thing - time of possession. The Eagles had the ball almost twice as long as the Rams...which gives them the opportunity to run twice as many plays. Even inefficient plays (or less efficient) can be meaningful if you have the ball long enough, and it puts pressure on the other team to take chances, leading to potentiall 'more efficient' outcomes (if those chances play out properly).

The Rams were losing by 2 TDs. Then they took the lead. It seemed that it may play out the more efficient team would use less time but still win because...well...efficiency. In a bizarre way, this is exactly why Chip Kelly doesn't care about the clock. When his teams are efficient, it forces the other team to take chances. If those teams become even a little more efficient as a result, they can win the game being 'half as good' if they own the clock.

So maybe there needs to be a time factor added to the efficiency. Maybe the Eagles earning 5 yards per play but having twice as many plays is better than 7 yards per play with half as many? In essence, when you equalize based on time (Eagles Plays per Minute 2.170213 versus the Rams Plays per minute of 2.16, the Eagles appear far more efficient with total yards per plays per minute of 209.6569 versus the Rams of 142.1296).

If teams rack up tons of yardage and lots of plays but still don't own the clock, it works against them (if the Eagles had managed to run 85 plays in only 30 minutes to the Rams' 45 in 30 minutes, the Rams are far more efficient).

Just spitballin' - but it's a thought. I don't have the body of work or evidence you do, but I took a look at the Syracuse v Clemson game - which was much closer - and Clemson was slightly more efficient than Syracuse (5.56 yards per play versus 5.3) . But Syracuse still won. Compared using plays per minute, and SU had a big advantage....

70
by Tundrapaddy :: Wed, 12/13/2017 - 8:50pm

Hey, FO staff or knowledgeable readers -

About the 'Playoff Odds' report; does the current '10.6%' chance of MIN winning the Super Bowl include the standard DVOA bump for home-field advantage, should they make it that far?

I don't want to count poultry while staring at eggs, but I am curious.

73
by Aaron Schatz :: Thu, 12/14/2017 - 9:54am

No, but I was already planning on rectifying that by next week. Since we don’t know the effect of a SB at home, I’m going to give the Vikings 1/2 the usual HFA.

74
by Will Allen :: Thu, 12/14/2017 - 10:01am

That seems about right. If the Vikings get there (HA!HA!HA!HA!), they will not have the noise advantage they typically receive in a home game.

75
by nat :: Thu, 12/14/2017 - 10:10am

That seems right, if arbitrary.

HFA is typically thought to be about crowd noise and crowd pressure on the officiating. For a Super Bowl, you're going to get a higher percentage of out-of-towners at the game than normal, which would reduce both effects.

What's the normal HFA in the playoff odds simulation, about 15 DVOA?

78
by Richie :: Thu, 12/14/2017 - 3:19pm

Are we sure the Vikings would have ANY HFA? Don't most of the Super Bowl tickets get sold months in advance, except a portion that each participating team gets to sell?

Would the NFL even allow them to do their "home field" things like having the Viking guy blow on the viking horn?

80
by dmstorm22 :: Thu, 12/14/2017 - 4:21pm

I guess the argument is the tickets on the secondary market may more easily be scooped up by Vikings fans who wouldn't have to factor in travel and lodging costs.

I'm hoping it happens just to see what it is like for a team to play the Super Bowl in their home stadium.

It happened in 2012 in the UEFA Champions League Final with Bayern Munich playing in Munich against Chelsea. Munich still lost, but it definitely felt like a home game from what I can remember.

90
by CHIP72 :: Fri, 12/15/2017 - 7:29pm

There have been two Super Bowls where one of the teams played in their home market but not in their home stadium:

Super Bowl 14 (1979 season): Los Angeles Rams (home stadium Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum*) played the Super Bowl at the Rose Bowl and lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-19.

Super Bowl 19 (1984 season): San Francisco 49ers (home stadium Candlestick Park) played the Super Bowl at Stanford Stadium and beat the Miami Dolphins 38-16.

I'm a little too young to remember SB 14 (or if you prefer, SB XIV), but I know in SB 19 (XIX) that the 49ers did have a bit more of a crowd advantage playing roughly 20 miles from home.

*Interestingly, the 1979 season was the last year the Rams played at the LA Coliseum (before moving back to LA from St. Louis of course) before they moved to Anaheim Stadium in 1980.

82
by Steve in WI :: Thu, 12/14/2017 - 4:47pm

Isn't there also something to be said for familiarity with one's own stadium and the advantage of getting to sleep in one's own bed all week instead of travelling? Even if the crowd makes it feel like a neutral site, I would think there's a real benefit for the Vikings if they make it.

85
by Richie :: Thu, 12/14/2017 - 5:03pm

Interestingly, the NFC will be the designated road team this year.

Are there more than two locker rooms at the stadium? If not, would the Vikings have to use the visitors locker room?

87
by thewhitesnake8 :: Thu, 12/14/2017 - 5:16pm

If I remember correctly from an announcement when they won the bid, they actually had this scenario in the deal. The Vikings would get to use their own locker room, but still be the "visiting team."

86
by Bright Blue Shorts :: Thu, 12/14/2017 - 5:12pm

Teams usually travel to the Super Bowl at the start of the week having had an extra week of practice since Conf Championships so I don't think travel in itself is an issue.

But I wonder if it's a detriment to be sleeping in your own bed and surrounded by family/friends but not focused on it like a team staying together in a hotel? Also knowing that everywhere you walk in the city is going to be laden with pressure/hope/support to win.

(I don't think there's an answer to that. It'll depend on individuals and on the culture of the team)

88
by big10freak :: Thu, 12/14/2017 - 5:24pm

You had to be there but I was sitting next to my dad during a Packer/Vikings game played in MN. Vikings score and the horn goes off. Pause after it finishes and my dad, who rarely said 2 words if none would do says, "I hate that f8cking horn". I just about fell off the couch. My mother was mortified (ex-English teacher. Hard core profanity doesn't work for her)

89
by Jerry :: Fri, 12/15/2017 - 2:53am

I think in addition to the allotments for all 32 teams and the large one for the league, there's a chunk of tickets set aside for each participating team, and another for the host team. So Viking season ticketholders who might have resold their tickets could hang on to see if they'll get to watch the Vikes. And, as another poster mentioned, Minnesota fans can buy secondary-market tickets knowing that they don't have to incur travel expenses.

83
by Tundrapaddy :: Thu, 12/14/2017 - 4:47pm

Cheers for the response, Aaron and others.

Here's to hoping that the O-line stays (or 'gets') healthy by playoff time.