Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

09 Dec 2005

Welcome to Perpetual Putridity

The latest from Bill Simmons addresses this year's bad teams. Lots and lots of bad teams. By Bill's count, 13 of them that just plain suck. I both agree with him and disagree with him. I agree that it does seem like there are a ton of bad teams, although Buffalo and St. Louis can be frisky at home and Oakland is a lot better than people realize. I disagree with his hierarchy of the other 19 teams -- but I think most of our disagreements (Oakland included) are related to this year's colossal schedule strength wackiness, and of course a major reason for that colossal schedule strength wackiness is that there are so many bad teams and only 0.5 of those teams are in the AFC West or NFC East. (0.5 teams? Yes, Philadelphia since McNabb went out for good, that's 0.5 teams.)

Oh, and as a former radio disc jockey and music director, I have to say that Bill couldn't be more right about the colossal mountain of suck that was major-label "alternative rock" circa 1997. Man, there was so much bad stuff you people didn't even hear because even we the radio people knew how bad it was.

(By the way, for those who don't know, my secret claim to fame/shame is that I'm one of the people responsible for Creed. I was the second DJ in America to play them on the air and I pressured my PD into adding their record into rotation as an unreleased demo. Hey, we wanted ratings and it was Daytona friggin' Beach, people loved that garbage and I just turned down the speakers whenever I played it on the air.)

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 09 Dec 2005

71 comments, Last at 12 Dec 2005, 7:32pm by Richie

Comments

1
by DNL (not verified) :: Fri, 12/09/2005 - 5:59pm

Dear lord. If I only had a time machine and a pencil, I'd go back to your DJ years and save humanity from Creed.

2
by VarlosZ (not verified) :: Fri, 12/09/2005 - 6:05pm

Like Simmons, I contend that there are lots of bad teams, and they are worse than bad teams usually are. And I have proof.

By my count, NFL Underdogs this season have covered the spread only 36.5% of the time (not including pushes), which is historically bizarre. I've seen other estimates for this number, most of which are lower (the numbers will vary because different people use different lines).

And this should be a point of pride for you, Aaron: DVOA saw this coming. As I've mentioned here before, I've built a simple spreadsheet that picks games against the sread using DVOA. Last year, starting at Week 6, it picked 84 Favorites and 89 Underdogs. This season, the exact same system has picked 72 Favorites and only 45 Underdogs.

I'll email the spreadsheet to you. I'm sure you could build one that's much more impressive (if you haven't already, that is), but you may get a kick out of it.

3
by ABW (not verified) :: Fri, 12/09/2005 - 6:07pm

Aaron, I wish you hadn't told me that you were responsible for Creed. I'm not sure I can take anything you write seriously anymore.

Seriously though, Simmons is being a little pessimistic here. I think that Buffalo, Oakland, St. Louis and Philly all deserve inclusion in the borderline crummy category. I would also probably kick Pittsburgh down to the mediocre team level. That still leaves a lot of teams that totally suck, but it does balance it out a little bit. However, a C-note says this is a one-year aberration and things look more normal again next year as teams like the Philly, the Jets and Green Bay bounce back and teams like the Browns, Titans and Cardinals continue to improve.

4
by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Fri, 12/09/2005 - 6:28pm

Thank you NFL expansion. The owners need to contract...

Buy out New Orleans.
Buy out Arizona.
Buy out Houston.
Buy out Baltimore.

All those players are now free to go to other teams.

5
by Duck in MA (not verified) :: Fri, 12/09/2005 - 6:33pm

I agree that this year is more of an abberration towards "suckiness", it's hard to say how much better next year will be. I think it's a little easier to project which teams will improve (like those previously mentioned), but what team is doing well now that will implode? It's harder to see those coming (see the Eagles), which is where DVOA comes in. But parity is definitely a two-edged sword.

6
by jebmak (not verified) :: Fri, 12/09/2005 - 6:33pm

Dolphins made "borderline crummy" yesssssssssssssss.

7
by VarlosZ (not verified) :: Fri, 12/09/2005 - 6:42pm

ReL #4 (contraction).

It could never happen, but I wish it would. Too many teams dilutes the talent pool and, more importantly, the chances of each fan's team of winning the Super Bowl.

But instead of making each of those four teams' players free agents, there should be a Contraction Draft. I may have to do a mock draft now, just like Simmons' did a couple of years ago with the NBA. Ooh, this sounds like fun.

8
by Chris Owen (not verified) :: Fri, 12/09/2005 - 6:45pm

"No submediocre teams that can look frisky on the right day.
(Note: I find this astounding. That's a staple of the last six weeks of the season -- the overachiever that pulls off 2-3 upsets, gets its fans excited for the following season and screws up thousands of three-team teasers across the country. Actually, why am I complaining?)"

I'm not complaining either. One of the toughest things about gambling on the NFL is that there's so little difference between the 9-7 team that rides into the playoffs with our old friends "momentum" and "swagger" and the team that stumbles to 7-9, playing like world beaters one week and like the Generals the next. You can parse the categories a lot of ways, but the bottom line is that there isn't a glut of teams forming a mediocre middle. It's been really nice seeing so many clear power vs. dog matchups this year.

I liked the assessment of Seattle. I imagine that they'll be fine this week, but check out their secondary. According to the Seahawks website, the top three corners are Trufant, Jordan Babineaux, and punt returner Jimmy Williams. The third safety is Etric Pruitt, who was activated for the first time last week.

9
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Fri, 12/09/2005 - 6:49pm

Matthew Furtek (#4 )--
Buy out New Orleans.
Buy out Arizona.
Buy out Houston.
Buy out Baltimore.
All those players are now free to go to other teams.
So we've added, what, a dozen good players to the pool?

10
by David Mazzotta (not verified) :: Fri, 12/09/2005 - 6:49pm

I’m one of the people responsible for Creed. I was the second DJ in America to play them on the air and I pressured my PD into adding their record into rotation as an unreleased demo. Hey, we wanted ratings and it was Daytona friggin’ Beach, people loved that garbage and I just turned down the speakers whenever I played it on the air.

You are the cynical bastard that drove me to Sirius. I thank you.

Regarding his estimation that the sun shines out Reggie Bush's sphincter: Normally I would laugh about what an empty gesture it would be for a bottom-dweller to draft a big name RB, but Houston actually has a reasonable offensive line that might make it possible for Bush to succeed against grown-ups. (In contrast to say, the 49ers)

This that could make Bush into a real success story, instead of a another first-pick (Heismann?) bust.

11
by admin :: Fri, 12/09/2005 - 6:50pm

Standard disclaimer:

DVOA is not designed to be used to pick individual games on its own. We always point out that the formula is meant to be accurate in the long-term, and that other things need to be considered for specific games, such as injuries and specific matchups.

12
by C (not verified) :: Fri, 12/09/2005 - 7:04pm

Re: #10

The Texans O-line run blocking is because they zone-block. They are not winning physical battles at the point of attack, but using techinique and scheme to create lanes. Which means that after this offseasons purge the Texans O-line strengths could easily be gone, if a new coach who doesn't like zone-blocking is brought in.

Now, Reggie Bush would be excellent in a zone-blocking situation; he has the speed to make people pay if he a crack in the defense. But I wouldn't count on the Texans still zone-blocking next year. I mean, they're the Texans, always finding new and creative ways to screw up their line.

13
by Luz (not verified) :: Fri, 12/09/2005 - 7:04pm

i think it is funny that simmons wants a year with a bunch of 14 and 13 win years.

1. that would naturally mean that alot of teams would have to lose to those power teams. thus, more 1, 2 and 3 win teams are inevitable.

2. didn't we have that year last year?

pitt won 15
NE won 14
Phila won 13
Indy won 12
SD won 12

pretty good, i'd say.

14
by bobman (not verified) :: Fri, 12/09/2005 - 7:09pm

#9 and #4

Added a dozen, but removed so many more. And removed four holes from the schedules.

But really, if suckitude is what it takes to put the Colts at 12-0 and maybe farther, I'll take it. It's not like 4 teams were added this year, so no * next to their record.

Not sure if it's me or him, but this is the first time I actually liked a Simmons column since his "Steve McNair horse tranquilizer" column during the playoffs two years ago. I only read them because you'll all ridicule me if I don't. And to pick up on those topical Creed jokes.

15
by Devin McCullen (not verified) :: Fri, 12/09/2005 - 7:10pm

Well, now we all have a reason to keep Aaron gainfully employed with football writing.

I don't know that expansion's had that big an effect. After all, they were at 28 teams for almost 20 years; there's certainly a larger pool of athletes to draw from on population growth alone. They may have gone from 30 to 32 too quickly, but the owners inflicted that on themselves.

I'd tend to blame the salary cap more; because it's so hard to keep units together, I think the quality of play suffers.

16
by Becephalus (not verified) :: Fri, 12/09/2005 - 7:13pm

I thought that was pretty funny. Especially about the Pats fans sb musings and the Whatever after the SEA/SF line.

17
by Bobby Mozitis (not verified) :: Fri, 12/09/2005 - 7:23pm

I really don't think drafting Reggie Bush would be very smart for the Texans. They have so many problems to solve on their team that picking a RB (one of the few positions they don't need), no matter how good he is, doesn't seem to make much sense. The logical thing to do would be to trade the pick and get a lot of picks and players in return, which shouldn't be hard because everyone is drooling over Bush and some teams will be eyeing Leinart.

18
by Bowman (not verified) :: Fri, 12/09/2005 - 7:25pm

#4

Shouldn't it be:

Buy out NY (one of them)
Buy out SF
Buy out Bal
Buy out Ari

Leaves only 1 team in major metro areas, and still leaves regional teams. (I'ld listen to JAX over ARI)

You could just eliminate the 4 smallest markets (JAX, GB, ARI, and ??). Of course that leaves out growth potential...

19
by DMP (not verified) :: Fri, 12/09/2005 - 7:34pm

I don't know if I'm just more sensitive this year because of the big letdown with the Lions, but I'm with Simmons in that there are so many bad teams that are not only bad but look COMPLETELY discombobulated all the time. Lions, Ravens, Browns, Bills, Jets, Texans, Cards, 49ers, Rams, Saints, Titans. The Jets have injury excuse and the Saints have Katrina, but I still wouldn't count them out of discombobulation without Katrina since this is still a Haslett/Brooks/Crappy D production. May be the Rams too. But the rest? Yikes.

20
by Potomac Drainage Basin Indigenous Person (not verified) :: Fri, 12/09/2005 - 7:47pm

You guys see the Daily Show a few years back about a couple of fans who sued Creed after a lousy concert? Colbert says "For years, people have been complaining that Creed sucks. You've finally decided to do something about it."

21
by fromanchu (not verified) :: Fri, 12/09/2005 - 7:52pm

i really like simmons' writing style, but a lot of this stuff strikes me as bitterness about the patriots having a rough season. he talks about how tough it is to predict but many experts are siginficantly above his practically 500 record. i think, it's been very eas to predict and using a little dvoa and a little personal judgement have predicted games at 78% this year. yeah, there are bad teams but there are sien teams that look very very good.

22
by Scott de B. (not verified) :: Fri, 12/09/2005 - 7:55pm

1. that would naturally mean that alot of teams would have to lose to those power teams. thus, more 1, 2 and 3 win teams are inevitable.

Not necessarily. Just because wins are concentrated doesn't mean that losses have to be. You could have a bunch of 6-10 teams.

23
by dedkrikit (not verified) :: Fri, 12/09/2005 - 8:14pm

Wow. I agree that Simmons is very pessimistic. But then he explains it all with his gambling problem. I also question the numbers he threw together leading into his tirade. How easy could it have been to have gone back to change the numbers in each category to make his argument seem more sound?

24
by Kevo (not verified) :: Fri, 12/09/2005 - 8:20pm

For the record, I'd take Hanson over Creed any day of the year.

25
by Becephalus (not verified) :: Fri, 12/09/2005 - 8:54pm

I thought maybe 5 of the 13 were not in the bottom tier and that the article was basically hyperbole. Certainly STL/OAK should be ranked with the teams that can pull off a surprise upset. I am always confused when people complain about bad teams and parity in the same article. Parity REDUCES the number of bad teams. If only the 8 or 12 biggest markets had most of the good players you would have a lot of perenial losers. As of now there are only a few of these the 90s Bengals, ARI, Millen Lions etc. Most of the bottom dwellers this years are expansion teams or have been good in the past 5 years.

As for the comment about wouldn't it be nice to have 13 11+ win teams...well there are only 256 wins to go around so asuming the 11+ temas average 12 wins that leaves 19 teams with an average of 5.1 wins a piece. WOuldn't that mean there were 13 good teams and maybe 15 horrible teams (assuming a few win 7-10 games) exactly what Simmons was complaining about.

Like I said earlier, I think the article was really funny, but his arguments and suggestions are just plain stupid.

26
by Chris (not verified) :: Fri, 12/09/2005 - 8:56pm

Let me get this straight real quick...

Bill Simmons, in the same article where he complains about parity, is upset that theres so many bad teams and only a few good teams?

27
by Becephalus (not verified) :: Fri, 12/09/2005 - 8:57pm

Just to continue my rant a tiny bit further...it would be real nice if every team was 11-5, but that isn't possible now is it?

28
by Sean (not verified) :: Fri, 12/09/2005 - 9:31pm

Ah, Bill Simmons- lamenting all this bad football now that the Patriots aren't 14-2. Unfortunately, his column doesn't hold any water with DVOA. Comparing this season with seasons past, there are actually more elite teams than usual this year. There are currently five teams with DVOAs above 30%; last year, there were only three. In 1999, there were only two, and again only three in 1998. Sixteen teams are above 0% this year, as compared to thirteen teams last year, and fourteen teams in 1998. (1999 was a year with a lot of somewhat above-average teams, as nineteen teams had positive DVOAs.) The really bad teams are a bit more plentiful, though, as 3 teams have DVOAs of -30% or more, and another 3 of -20%, compared to two and two of each last year. But in 1999, there were actually four teams with -30% DVOA, and those teams weren't going through four quarterbacks a piece.

29
by Murr (not verified) :: Fri, 12/09/2005 - 9:49pm

Well, a big part of the problem is that there is no clear Great team in the NFC, which there has been for the past several years (mostly the Eagles, but a couple other random teams thrown in).

I think Cincy should definitely be in the Very Good teams, along with possibly Seattle (nobody wants to give Seattle any credit, even though they're playing well). And the Giants have certainly looked like a Very Good team recently, since their defense started showing up.

Anyone notice that his 8 Decent teams include Kansas City *twice*? Heh - nice edit job, Page 2. Anyway - I think JAX with a healthy Leftwich and Fred Taylor should be a Good team, along with both KC's. :-)

I agree with the rest of the decent teams, along with the 2 half-decent, and the borderline crappy. But, I agree with Aaron that OAK and STL should be put into the Frisky category.

Can't argue with the rest of the Sucky teams, except for the obvious statement that the Eagles would be much higher on the list if they hadn't lost 8 starters on offense this year.

Some simple shifting, and his numbers look much different. Of course, it wouldn't have made for nearly as funny a column, I guess....

30
by admin :: Fri, 12/09/2005 - 11:03pm

Actually, I said OAK and BUF at home, but you are right, so I went up and added STL at home.

31
by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Fri, 12/09/2005 - 11:20pm

Okay you guys.

Everyone is saying "bad team"/"good team" based on record and DVOA.

The problem I have with the league right now is that every team is inconsistent... could be free agency... I dunno... I just hate watching a lot of mediocrity...

32
by FastEddy (not verified) :: Fri, 12/09/2005 - 11:32pm

I love Bill Simmons, he makes me laugh consistently. But this week he was maybe a little too deep into the beverage of his choice. ("Your honor, please let the record show that the witness made the drinky-drinky motion.")

Several teams suck and have for years. Others had major injury problems. And then there's the schedule. It was trivial to pick winners last week and this week. Just a bunch of mismatches. That's what happens when you make up a schedule before the season, some weeks are crummy.

Other teams have made impressive turnarounds in relatively short periods, like Cincy and Chicago (which might have been even better if Grossman had played). Note that these teams have black coaches, for what that's worth. Arizona sucks, but they have 2 great WRs and Warner hasn't been terrible. They need a runner, and their D, which looked ok last year, relapsed this year.

St. Louis looks terrible on D, but that's because Lovie Smith has been impossible to replace. If they find a better D coordinator, maybe they can improve in a couple of years. Oakland hasn't been good, but Randy has apparently been hurt all year.

Hey, it's the NFL. This year was not really different than any other, except maybe a few more injuries.

And oh yeah, I can't quite see how Simmons can rate San Diego so high with their poor pass D (even though I like the Bolts). I also don't see why Cincy should rank lower than the Bolts. They're playing some awfully good football right now.

33
by Kal (not verified) :: Fri, 12/09/2005 - 11:40pm

#32:

San Diego is ranked high because they walloped the Pats. Any team that wallops the Pats gets ranked highly. Any team that doesn't, doesn't.

It doesn't seem like that off a year, and statistically last year seemed a lot worse. Remember how last year it was the Eagles, the Falcons...and then this mash of NFC crap? And how offended folks were that someone could win the NFC west at 8-8? Well, now we've got at least one quality team in each NFC division, one quality team in each AFC division except perhaps the AFC East, and guess what - the league sucks.

Bah.

There are a lot less upset wins though. That part is a bit surprising. The gulf between have and have-nots is fairly high.

34
by admin :: Sat, 12/10/2005 - 12:24am

I'm surprised. People don't think there are an abnormal number of teams this year where you watch them and think, "Man, how the heck did this team ever win a game?" I thought I couldn't see a team play worse than Houston did against Kansas City and then the following week Detroit looked like a junior high team against Atlanta. The Jets give me the same feeling and I haven't even seen the 49ers or Cardinals yet. Honestly, the only teams this bad last year were San Francisco and Cleveland in the second half of the year.

Add to that the Tennessee Teen Titans defense and the fact that Green Bay and Philadelphia sat down together to a dinner of roasted black cat in broken mirror sauce. It just seems like there are some bad, bad teams. Last year only one team ended up with less than four wins, only three teams with less than five.

35
by Browns Dude (not verified) :: Sat, 12/10/2005 - 12:24am

Open letter to Bill Simmons:

Well, Billykins, the Patriots can't win every year.

This scorched earth policy of yours is too transparent.

There's been less parity this year than in previous years, more of a separation between the playoff teams and non playoff teams.

Quit whining, Bill.

36
by Ted (not verified) :: Sat, 12/10/2005 - 12:26am

Man, has there ever been a more reviled band in music history than Creed? Do you know anyone who doesn't hate these guys? And yet they sold millions and millions. You figure it out. Also, in addition to all the crap music Bill did mention around that time frame he left out Hip Hop's "shiny suit" era (Puff Daddy, Mase and a bunch of other crap I would like to pretend never existed) widely considered to be Hip Hop's lowest point ever, although the 50cent/Ja Rule/ Lil Jon era could give it a run for it's money. Sadly I was one of the people who actually liked Live back then. Don't look at me like that I was 13 or 14 when Throwing Copper came out. I actually listened to that album a little while ago to see if it held up. Dear God, what was I thinking?
On another note I loved the "Quite Frankly" joke. Do you know that Stephen A Smith has about a four year contract with that show? Unbelievable.

37
by FastEddy (not verified) :: Sat, 12/10/2005 - 12:50am

Aaron 34, maybe there are a few more bad teams this year. Certainly the Jets and Philly, but that's injuries. Remember, too, that Miami sucked really bad last year. Not so much this year. Bills collapsed last year and continued that pattern this year. Detroit's been bad for years, just somewhat worse this year. Arizona wasn't great last year, not improved this year. SF was bad last year too. Tennessee also, although worse this year (salary cap problems, you could see it coming.)

Chi sucked last year, due to injuries, not so much this year. Cincy was 8-8 I think last year, this year they've picked up. Giants up, Dallas about the same, Washington about the same.

So some have picked up, some have gone down, some have stayed about the same. Roughly equivalent, although as someone said the separation between good and bad teams seems to have increased somewhat.

I think that if you listed all 32 teams and their records for last year and this year, you'd see that there hasn't been a great change in the numbers of teams in each category, except:
- Teams that got decimated by injuries this year.
- Teams that had a decent record last year, but were obviously failing fast at the end of the year (Buffalo, as the Mularkey regime really started to kick in on suckiness; Tennessee.)

I'm not saying there aren't more sucky teams this year. I'm just saying that it isn't all that big a difference.

38
by Andrew (not verified) :: Sat, 12/10/2005 - 12:56am

Is winning/quality really going down?

Based just on win/loss, look over this, including 2005 projected at current winning percentages:

13+ wins
1999 - 4
2000 - 1
2001 - 3
2002 - 0
2003 - 2
2004 - 3
2005 - 2

11-12 wins
1999 - 2
2000 - 7
2001 - 5
2002 - 5
2003 - 5
2004 - 3
2005 - 9

10 wins
1999 - 2
2000 - 4
2001 - 3
2002 - 4
2003 - 6
2004 - 2
2005 - 0

9 wins
1999 - 3
2000 - 4
2001 - 2
2002 - 7
2003 - 1
2004 - 4
2005 - 5

8 wins
1999 - 9
2000 - 2
2001 - 2
2002 - 3
2003 - 2
2004 - 4
2005 - 1

7 wins
1999 - 1
2000 - 3
2001 - 6
2002 - 5
2003 - 3
2004 - 3
2005 - 3

5-6 wins
1999 - 6
2000 - 5
2001 - 7
2002 - 4
2003 - 9
2004 - 9
2005 - 6

0-4 wins
1999 - 4
2000 - 5
2001 - 3
2002 - 4
2003 - 4
2004 - 3
2005 - 6

There were 13 teams with 6 or fewer wins last year. It looks like there will be 12 this year.

Why is he complaining?

39
by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Sat, 12/10/2005 - 1:00am

So everyone is stoked about the SNF and MNF schedule in the final weeks?

Detroit @ Green Bay
New Orleans @ Atlanta
Atlanta @ Chicago
Green Bay @ Baltimore
Minnesota @ Baltimore
New England @ J-E-T-S
St. Louis @ Dallas

40
by Dennis (not verified) :: Sat, 12/10/2005 - 1:07am

Re #38 There were 13 teams with 6 or fewer wins last year. It looks like there will be 12 this year.

I agree that Simmons is overstating it quite a bit. But the key difference this year, according to your stats, is the # of teams on pace for 4 or fewer wins - it's double from last year. There are more teams this year that really suck as opposed to just being bad.

41
by foos (not verified) :: Sat, 12/10/2005 - 1:41am

Click my name for the best possible Creed-related article of all time. I can't resist excerpting it: "311, I am ready to fight."

42
by ChrisFromNJ (not verified) :: Sat, 12/10/2005 - 1:55am

#38 and #40-

Also, that this increase in 0-4 win teams is at the expense of the middle of the pack. 1 8-8 team, as opposed to 4 last year, and 9 with 7,8, or 9 wins, as opposed to 11 last year.

43
by charles (not verified) :: Sat, 12/10/2005 - 2:12am

RE 39:
Come on, Furtek skins-boys next week. Already has been moved from 1 to 4. what do you need primetime for when you have that too look forward too.

44
by Sean (not verified) :: Sat, 12/10/2005 - 5:04am

It's easy to think that the quality of play in the league has gone down when you are an AFC East fan, but according to DVOA, not only has the general level of play gone up, but it's gone up almost entirely across the board. Division leaders this year are almost all stronger than the division leaders last year. Moreover, with a few exceptions, division bottom dwellers are better than their equivalents from last year. Here's a list of the best and worst team in each division, 2004 on top:

AFCE
NE 35.6
MIA -15.5
NE -4.7
NYJ -33.9

AFCN
PIT 35.4
CLE -19.4
CIN 41.0
BAL -17.3

AFCS
IND 34.7
TEN -22.5
IND 40.0
HOU -36.5

AFCW
SD 19.2
OAK -19.1
DEN 32.9
OAK 3.6

NFCE
PHI 28.7
WAS -2.4
NYG 31.7
PHI 4.2

NFCN
GB -5.0
CHI -32.0
CHI 14.9
GB -12.1

NFCS
ATL -2.9
TB -2.0
CAR 12.9
NO -25.1

NFCW
SEA -3.3
SF -46.5
SEA 24.9
SF -70.7

Basically, the AFC East has completely imploded, the Saints and Texans have imploded, and the 49ers have somehow managed to be twice as bad as they were last year, when they were the worst team in the league. But generally the quality of the top teams has gone up, drastically in the case of the NFC. They may actually play some football in that conference come playoff time this year, which would be a big change from last year.

45
by Flux (not verified) :: Sat, 12/10/2005 - 9:29am

As others have sort of said, the "everyone sucks this year" thing is just perception. Remember last year, when there was basically 1 good team in the entire NFC, and everyone else was like 6-10? This let Atlanta get to 11-5 without playing worth a sh!t. On the other hand, there were 3 14 or 15 win teams for like the first time ever, and SD won like 10 or their last 11, and all of the big winning teams were covering the spread every time. SD did it in like 15 of their games last season, IIRC.

Since Simmons is a gambling guy, he noticed that and mentioned in a few columns that every gambler was making a fortune on 3 team teases every week, starring some combo of Indy, SD, pitt, and NE.

The glut of terrible teams is pretty bad this year, though I thought maybe that was perception as well, being as I live in the Bay Area and every sunday I get treated to SF and Oakland. Of the GB, SF, Tenn, NO, Arizona, Hou, Cleveland, and Baltimore wins, how many came against each other, or some of the other teams with 4 or 5 wins?

Take the CHFF's quality wins standings -- sure they're overrated (mostly by their own authors) and the methodology of determining a "quality" opponent is a bit suspect, but check out the bad teams -- they never beat anyone good.

Det + Hou + Ari + Tenn are a combined 0-26 against quality teams, while Buff, NYJ, Cleve, Balt, GB, NO, SF, and Oak are all somewhere between 1-5 and 1-8 against quality opponents. Added together, those teams are a combined 8-73 (quick math withstanding) against good teams, and I'm not even including Atlanta and Minn, who are 1-4 and 1-5, respectively.

I don't know if this is historically unusual, but it's probably what's making Bill Simmons write so many of these teams off; they might beat each other, but they're just about automaticaly discounted against a quality opponent. The other side of the coin is that lots of teams (paging Jacksonville and Seattle) are fattening up on awful opposition and may be far less imposing than their record makes them appear.

46
by Flux (not verified) :: Sat, 12/10/2005 - 9:51am

Just for the hell of it, I took a quick look at the records for the year.

Arizona 4-8: beat SF, Tenn, StL, and SF (again).

Baltimore 4-8: Beat NYJ, Pitts, Cleve, and Houston.

Cleveland 4-8: beat GB, Chi, Miami, and Houston.

Detroit 4-8: GB, Balt, Cleve, Arizona.

Green Bay 2-10 : Beat Atl and NO.

Houston: 1-11: Beat Cleve (by 3).

NO 3-9: Beat Carolina, Buff, NYJ.

NY Jets 2-10: beat Miami and Tampa.

SF 2-10: beat StL and Tampa.

Tenn: 3-9: Beat Balt, Houston and SF.

It's not exactly scientific, and there are outlyers, but if these teams didn't all play each other, there might be multiple winless teams. It's fun for trivia too.

How did 8-4 Tampa give both SF and NYJ one of their 2 wins? They'd be tied with Seattle if they hadn't thrown those 2 away.

If Cleveland hadn't lost to Balt, Det, and Houston, (in back to back to back weeks) they'd be damn near in the wildcard race.

And on the #1 draft pick race, I also note that Houston (1 win) still gets to play SF, Tenn, and Ari. They might finish 4-12! SF (2 wins) still plays SF and Houston. GB (2 wins) has Det and baltimore. The NYJ (2 wins) don't play anyone truly awful, though Buff, Oak, and Miami are all borderline. So really, there's no telling who will manage the worst record of all, with all of that head to head "competition" remaining.

(Do you think Reggie Bush's friends send him emails like this?)

47
by Shalimar (not verified) :: Sat, 12/10/2005 - 11:31am

Do you know anyone who doesn’t hate these guys?

I know a few strippers who loved Creed. Apparently, the dull music is easy to dance to for women who don't move that well, and no one listens to the horrible lyrics in a strip club.

48
by Tom Kelso (not verified) :: Sat, 12/10/2005 - 12:13pm

Picking up some loose facts from earlier in the thread:

Buffalo did not start collapsing last season. The Bills were a popular pick because of their "great" stretch run last season. I know this because of the responses I got when pointing out that the Buffalo stretch run was a fraud, built from lousy teams and home games against bad road teams like St. Louis and Seattle. The expected model for the Bills was that they would be competitive due to strong defense, good running game, and Losman not screwing up too much.

What happened? The loss of Pat Williams didn't help the defense, the loss of Takeo Spikes REALLY didn't help the defense, the offense sputtered due to a combination of no room for McGahee and Losman's inexperience, and Holcomb got hurt. So Buffalo slid from chic team to crappy team.

Even crazier is Baltimore. This team was not only expected to contend, it was expected to playing well into January. Instead, they have played a total of two good games all season -- both against Pittsburgh -- and maybe half of one against Indianapolis. That might put them with STL and OAK on Simmons' list but that'd be a bit of a stretch. When a team expected to be good turns out to be THAT bad, that helps in creating a perception that the league has declined. How that makes them "perpetually putrid" is as much a stretch as saying that this bunch is scrappy.

BTW, the first time I read the title, I didn't look closely enough, and thought he was saying "Perpetual Punditry." Anyone else think that's roughly a synonym?

And to answer a question that is truly a thought experiment, the four smallest markets in the league are JAX, GB, IND and TEN. Now while getting rid of Indy might restore karmic balance to the league, and expiate the curse of Atreus, I don't think that's going to happen any time soon. Contracting the Packers or Titans would get you the NRA response: "from our cold, dead hands." Not to mention that buying up a franchise or four would be prohibitively expensive (I believe the Ravens, for example, were rated as the sixth most valuable franchise in all of sports by Forbes). Plus, the talent dilution argument is a load of garbage. There are more potential football players than ever before; as the pool widens -- and the league is taking lots of steps to do just that -- the talent level increases.

49
by admin :: Sat, 12/10/2005 - 12:19pm

The reason why DVOA is up for a lot of division leaders as well as cellar dwellars is that DVOA is up overall. And the reason DVOA is up overall is that kicking numbers are way up this year, particularly punting. So I'm not sure that really indicates this year's teams are better than last year's teams, just that I need to re-work the special teams baseline in the off-season.

50
by jebmak (not verified) :: Sat, 12/10/2005 - 1:32pm

Fast Eddy, how can you say that Detroit is somewhat worse this year. The last four seasons they have won 2,3,4, and 6. I would say they are near the top of their game right now.

51
by B (not verified) :: Sat, 12/10/2005 - 1:59pm

Aaron: I just lost a little bit of respect for you. Although your creation of the best football site on the internet and some greawt innovative statistics makes up for your responsibility for the Creed disaster. It could be worse, though. You could be responsiby for Hootie and the Blowfish.

52
by Jerry F. (not verified) :: Sat, 12/10/2005 - 3:35pm

Creed is worse than Hootie. Hootie, et al suck, but they aren't self-important about it.

While I'm at it, a quick amazon search confirms Live hit it big in 1994, during Simmons'"magical run of alternative and hip-hop music." They were pretty much out of the loop by the time acts like Creed started stinking up the place.
Also, Andrew K. didn't start seling out arenas until after the Strokes, Eminem and the White Stripes hit it big.

53
by Scott de B. (not verified) :: Sat, 12/10/2005 - 4:44pm

he talks about how tough it is to predict but many experts are siginficantly above his practically 500 record. i think, it’s been very eas to predict and using a little dvoa and a little personal judgement have predicted games at 78% this year.

Is that against the spread? If so, you should be able to single-handedly finance Football Outsiders.

54
by Murr (not verified) :: Sat, 12/10/2005 - 6:38pm

Well, I don't know that the entire band Creed is self-important -- I think Scott Stapp is personally responsible for about 98% of that himself. (And, I'm ashamed to admit I own a Creed CD - bought it after hearing "Higher" the first time (without realizing it was being played every 15 minutes on the radio - damn Clear Channel), and before I knew anything about Scott Stapp.)

And my hatred for Hootie is much, much less than it was in the early 90's, when you just could NOT get away from their songs. I was at Penn State at the time, and I think at least one bar in town was playing one of their songs at all times.

55
by Dan Riley (not verified) :: Sat, 12/10/2005 - 6:45pm

Re#16
"I thought that was pretty funny. Especially about the Pats fans sb musings..."

I don't think that was meant to be funny. Personally I took it as spot on analysis.

56
by Jeff F (not verified) :: Sat, 12/10/2005 - 9:19pm

One little thing I'd like to point out:

If the overall level of play is worse, then not only will the bad teams be playing worse, and against each other, but their results from playing each other will likely showcase similar numbers as compared to two better teams playing each other.

If half the teams suck, as opposed to having 8 teams outright suck, the overall DVOAs won't likely be significantly lower or higher because the bad teams have to play against each other; everything balances out at least somewhat.

What can be accounted for is physically watching the play, seeing horrible passes, dropped passes, missed tackles, blown coverage, horrible offensive line play, and other issues, too.

It seems that there is more of that this year, and that's something that can't be demonstrated through win/loss records or even DVOA, entirely.

Then again, I see the Pats more than anyone else, so I could be coming at this with a clouded perspective, as I have been used to seeing very good play from the team I watch most often.

But, games between two good teams look a lot different than games between two bad teams. The latter is just sloppy.

57
by CaffeineMan (not verified) :: Sat, 12/10/2005 - 9:36pm

RE: Pats fans playoff run analysis

I think it was intended to be funny AND intended to be right on. And it was. :D The kind of statement that made me laugh out loud and say "That's so true..." because I've watched myself do something similar. A good jab at the homer mentality, Pats fan style. :D

And I agree with Aaron's comments about there being a greater number of teams out there that make you say "How did they win that many game?" I think Simmons got that part correct, although his specific list has some problems.

And what's also interesting to me is people who:

1) Take Simmons as a serious analyst. Lighten up, he's a humor columnist who's a big sports fan and sports is his vehicle for humor. That's why he's on Page 2. He has some observations that are on target and some that are off target, but he'll never be Mr. Deep Statistical Analysis. So, like the DVOA bashers that show up periodically, why bother reading if you don't like his style of column?

2) Misattribute his motives in this column and say he's writing it because the Pats are doing badly. This is straight out of his interest in point-spread-based betting. He says right up front that he can't predict the lines any more and than goes on to give his reasons why. I mean, have fun with his list, sure, I disagree with it too. But I think y'all need a little more perspective if you're going to accurately analyze his motives, rather than his results.

58
by NF (not verified) :: Sun, 12/11/2005 - 3:22am

#47: Best pre-Sunday comment of the week.

59
by Ryan H (not verified) :: Sun, 12/11/2005 - 3:36pm

Does every comment page on an outside article have to turn into a dogpile of smarmy know-it-alls?

60
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Sun, 12/11/2005 - 4:40pm

Ryan H (#59 )--

Of course.

It's the collective frustration we have, being so much smarter than these sportswriters, yet reduced to commenting on somebody else's website.

61
by ToxikFetus (not verified) :: Mon, 12/12/2005 - 11:37am

Not only are the Rams currently starting a quarterback who graduated from Harvard, not only does their game-breaking offensive player double as a white wide receiver, but the coach is named Joe Vitt and got his mustache from the Dave Wannstedt Starter Kit.

Priceless

62
by st pete, FL (not verified) :: Mon, 12/12/2005 - 12:13pm

Oakland a lot better than people realize..?

Good grief -they looked like the Keystone Cops yesterday ...

63
by Dan (not verified) :: Mon, 12/12/2005 - 2:37pm

Ahhh gamblers, they all have a system, and when it doesn't work, it's like the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy "All instances where The System doesn't match reality, it is reality that is wrong."

64
by Richie (not verified) :: Mon, 12/12/2005 - 2:53pm

This is like one of those commentators who say "the NFL is just so crazy and unpredictable this year" Yet, EVERY YEAR, EVERY COMMENTATOR is saying that.

65
by Richie (not verified) :: Mon, 12/12/2005 - 2:56pm

I think the perception of bad teams is because team quality is unpredictable from year to year. So when MNF schedules Seattle vs Philadelphia, that looks like it will be a good game. Instead, it ends up being labeled a "poorly played game". 20 years ago, there was probably a higher percentage of MNF games amongst good teams.

66
by Richie (not verified) :: Mon, 12/12/2005 - 3:25pm

I thought "Mental Jewelry" and "Throwing Copper" were very good albums by Live. Everything they've done since then has sucked.

67
by Richie (not verified) :: Mon, 12/12/2005 - 3:28pm

I do think that some of Simmons' reasons for parity are possible problems for the NFL. I keep thinking about the size of players. I wonder if the NFL has ever thought about having weight limitations on the players.

How are 210 pound quarterbacks supposed to walk again, when 270 pound linebackers that run like WR's blindside them?

68
by Melish (not verified) :: Mon, 12/12/2005 - 5:50pm

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a new Carl.

69
by Stravinsky (not verified) :: Mon, 12/12/2005 - 6:19pm

#67: The NFL should eliminate free substitution and go back to making players play both sides of the ball. Tough to be a 5'10 450 pound lineman when you have to go from run and pass blocking to chasing RB's and QB's without leaving the game.

70
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Mon, 12/12/2005 - 6:43pm

Stravinsky (#69 )--

Yeah, that'll cut down on the injuries.

71
by Richie (not verified) :: Mon, 12/12/2005 - 7:32pm

Melish, I do not have a mysterious database that I refer to, yet refuse to actually use.