Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

18 Dec 2012

Week 15 Quick Reads

by Vince Verhei

After a season full of nail-biters, the Atlanta Falcons finally got a blowout win on Sunday, stomping the New York Giants 34-0. They outgained the Giants in total offense (394 to 256) and first downs (22 to 10) and also forced more turnovers than their opponents (3 to 0). It was the first time this year the Falcons have thoroughly outplayed a quality opponent. It was not, however, a "statement" win. It was just one game in a long season, and a clear outlier at that, not a new standard. Atlanta was outside the top ten last week in Football Outsiders' DVOA ratings, and one game out of 14 won't change that too much. And even if you're not a believer in Football Outsiders' methods, recent history is full of so-called "statement" games that didn't say much about either team when all was said and done.

The Falcons stand at 12-2 after Sunday's win, but Football Outsiders' "estimated wins" stat says that a team with similar play-by-play performance "should" have won 8.4 of those games, with 3.6 extra victories coming through luck in the form of soft scheduling, random turnovers, or other factors. That's rarefied air when it comes to overachievement. Since 1991, 11 other teams have finished with winning records and at least three more actual wins than estimated wins. A quick look back at those overachievers paints an ominous picture for this year's Falcons:


Overachievers, 1991-2011
Year
Team
Actual Wins
Estimated Wins
Difference
Fate
Playoff Wins
1992
IND
9
5.5
3.5
Missed playoffs
0
1993
DET
10
7.0
3.0
Lost wild card game
0
1996
MIN
9
5.7
3.3
Lost wild card game
0
1998
ARI
9
5.8
3.2
Lost divisional round
1
1999
IND
13
9.5
3.5
Lost divisional round
0
2001
CHI
13
9.6
3.4
Lost divisional round
0
2002
GB
12
9.0
3.0
Lost wild card game
0
2003
CAR
11
7.7
3.3
Lost Super Bowl
3
2003
STL
12
8.2
3.8
Lost divisional round
0
2004
ATL
11
7.7
3.3
Lost NFC championship
1
2006
SEA
9
5.4
3.6
Lost divisional round
1

Only two of these 11 teams reached the conference title game. Only two others won even one playoff game. The other seven either missed the playoffs outright or went one-and-done, including some teams whose first game came at home after a first-round bye. The most recent team to suffer that fate: the 2003 St. Louis Rams, who went 12-4 but lost their first playoff game at home to Carolina. That Carolina team, it's worth noting, were also overachievers, and far and away the most successful of the bunch once the playoffs started.

Why are the Falcons so low in FO's rankings? Though they've only lost two games, they've been in severe danger of losing many others. Seven of their wins have come by eight points or less, and many of those have come over bottom-dwellers like Oakland, Philadelphia, and Arizona. They should be scolded, not celebrated, for a three-point comeback win over the lowly Raiders, a team that has lost to the Dolphins, Broncos, Ravens, Saints, and Bengals by at least 20 points apiece.

Atlanta has been particularly weak in the running game, on both sides of the ball. They've averaged only 3.7 yards per carry on their own rushes (29th in the league), but given up 4.9 yards per carry on opponents' runs (30th).

Despite our best efforts, we at Football Outsiders have thus far failed to take over the world. Some people reading this (many of them, no doubt, residing in the 404 area code) will insist that the Falcons have the best record in the NFC, and that means they're the best team in the NFC, fancy computer numbers be damned. Even those readers, though, should take caution and not get overly excited by one game. Recent history is littered with teams that made "statements" by beating playoff-bound teams in December, then fell flat on their face in the playoffs:

  • In 2007 the New England Patriots went 16-0 in the regular season, including a 34-13 win over a Pittsburgh Steelers team that entered the game at 9-3 and eventually made the playoffs. The Patriots won two playoff games before falling 17-14 to the Giants in the Super Bowl.
  • The Steelers were again the victims of a "statement" win the next season, losing 31-14 to Tennessee in Week 16. The Titans finished 13-3 but lost their first playoff game to Baltimore. The Steelers finished 12-4 and won the Super Bowl.
  • The 2010 Patriots won 14 games, including victories over playoff-bound Jets and Bears teams in back-to-back weeks by a combined score of 81-10. They then lost their first playoff game, at home, to the Jets.
  • Last year, a pair of NFC teams made "statement" December wins before going up in smoke. The Saints crushed Atlanta 45-16 on their way to a 13-3 mark, while the 49ers manhandled Pittsburgh and also went 13-3. The Saints beat the Lions in the postseason, but were promptly beaten by the 49ers, who in turn were promptly beaten by the Giants.

Games like that make Atlanta's win on Sunday seem much less relevant. It was the best game they've played this year, but that, by definition, makes it the fluke, not the standard. It was an important win for the Falcons because it brought them one step closer to clinching home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. But it would be a mistake to think they're significantly better now than they were one week ago.

Quarterbacks
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
1.
Aaron Rodgers GB
23/36
291
3
0
223
227
-5
As usual, the quarterback who faces the Bears finishes higher than his raw numbers suggest, though the Chicago defense looks less formidable each week. Still, this was the third-best game for any quarterback so far this year, behind Rodgers' own six-touchdown performance against Houston and Tom Brady's four-score outing against the Rams. In the first quarter against Chicago, Rodgers went just 2-of-6 for 5 yards with two sacks and no first downs. He obviously got better, especially in the third quarter: 6-of-9 for 71 yards, with one touchdown and four other first downs, plus a 16-yard DPI.
2.
Matt Ryan ATL
23/28
270
3
0
202
202
0
In the middle of this game, Ryan went just 5-of-10 for 77 yards and a sack, with one touchdown and three other first downs. Of course, he started out 8-of-8 for 80 yards, one touchdown, and four other first downs. And he finished 10-of-10 for 113 yards, one touchdown, and six other first downs.
3.
Drew Brees NO
26/38
307
4
0
154
147
7
Second downs: 10-of-14 for 108 yards with four touchdowns and two other first downs.
4.
Tony Romo DAL
30/42
341
2
0
144
156
-12
On first down, the Cowboys called 27 pass plays with only 5 runs. On second down, that split was 12-7; on third down, 5-6. Romo only went 2-of-5 on third downs for 12 yards and only one conversion, so I guess they knew what they were doing. (The third-down runs gained 12 net yards, including a 5-yard loss on third-and-1, one touchdown, and two other first downs.)
5.
Tom Brady NE
36/63
443
1
2
114
96
17
Brady had only 59 total YAR before opponent adjustments. Third downs: 3-of-10 for 24 yards with two sacks and only one first down.
6.
Ryan Tannehill MIA
22/28
220
2
0
110
89
21
Tannehil rushed five times for 54 yards. Three of those runs went for first downs. The others were 6- and 8-yard gains on first-and-10. As a passer, he was best between the 40s, going 6-of-6 for 65 yards with four first downs, plus a 13-yard DPI in the middle of the field.
7.
Russell Wilson SEA
14/23
205
1
0
106
59
47
Wilson's first six pass attempts (not including a pair of sacks) resulted in six completions for 111 yards and six first downs. He struggled in the red zone, though, going 4-of-9 for 19 yards with one touchdown and one other first down. He failed to convert any of his three third downs inside the 20, leading to several short field goals. So yes, Seattle could easily have scored more than 50 points. Also, none of that includes what Wilson did as a runner (nine carries, 92 yards, three touchdowns, two other first downs). Inside the 20, he ran three times for 34 yards, two touchdowns, and a 7-yard gain on first-and-10.
8.
Kirk Cousins WAS
27/37
329
2
1
87
78
8
The Washington Redskins surprised draftniks last April when they took Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins in the fourth round. Cousins will never be a full-time starter in Washington unless Robert Griffin flounders -- and considering what Washington traded away to get him, if Griffin flounders, the Redskins are doomed. Mike Shanahan, though, knew he was going to need a backup quarterback, and had more faith in Cousins than he did in any available veteran passers. Cousins rewarded that faith with his efforts against Cleveland. He got off to a rough start, going 1-of-6 for 4 yards with an interception and a sack. His last pass of the first quarter, though, was a 54-yard touchdown to Leonard Hankerson. Cousins gradually improved throughout the game, and by the fourth quarter he was largely unstoppable. He completed each of his last eight passes for 108 yards and seven first downs.
9.
Sam Bradford STL
35/55
377
3
1
70
65
5
Red zone passing: 7-of-9 for 43 yards with three touchdowns and two other first downs.
10.
Cam Newton CAR
19/33
231
2
0
60
60
0
Unlike Bradford, Newton struggled in scoring range, going 4-of-8 for 44 yards with one touchdown, one other first down, and one sack inside the San Diego 40.
11.
Matt Schaub HOU
23/31
261
1
0
58
58
0
The Texans were only ahead 23-17 when the fourth quarter began, and they could have really used a strong finish from Schaub to finish Indianapolis once and for all. What they got was 5-of-7 for 31 yards with no first downs and a sack. Somehow they still scored two more field goals in the period without giving up any more points.
12.
Ben Roethlisberger PIT
24/40
339
2
1
47
49
-2
To the left: 3-of-9 for 27 yards and two first downs. To the right: 11-of-18 for 152 yards with two touchdowns, six other first downs, and one interception. Up the middle: 10-of-12 for 160 yards and seven first downs.
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
13.
Peyton Manning DEN
17/28
204
1
0
42
42
0
First downs: 4-of-10 for 73 yards with one sack and only one first down, although that one first down was a 51-yard touchdown.
14.
Andrew Luck IND
14/26
186
2
0
31
28
3
Third downs: 0-of-7 for no yards. That's not "zero" as in no first downs, that's "zero" as in no completions. To be fair, four of those passes came with 15 or more yards to go. But three of them came with 8 yards or less to go.
15.
Carson Palmer OAK
18/29
182
0
0
29
29
0
The Raiders had 22 plays inside the Kansas City 40, 16 runs and six passes. Those runs averaged 2.2 yards each with only two first downs (one of those a 2-yard run by Palmer on third-and-1). It's easy to say they should have passed more, but Palmer went just 3-of-6 for 30 yards and one first down, so it's now as if he set the world on fire either.
16.
Colin Kaepernick SF
14/25
222
4
1
28
76
-48
Kaepernick was erratic against New England, but he made his completions count. The average completion this season has gained 11.6 yards, and 56 percent of them have gone for first downs or touchdowns. Kaepernick had four touchdowns and seven other first downs in his 14 completions, and they averaged 15.9 yards each. And that doesn't include a 35-yard DPI. However, he had big problems with ball security, with one interception and four fumbled snaps. The 49ers were extremely lucky to recover all four.
17.
Jake Locker TEN
13/22
149
0
0
20
6
14
On the Jets' side of the field, Locker went 4-of-7 for 36 yards with three first downs and two sacks.
18.
Christian Ponder MIN
17/24
131
0
0
8
-10
18
Ponder went 0-for-2 on deep passes against St. Louis. His average pass traveled only 5 yards past the line of scrimmage, shortest of any starter this week. For the season, Ponder's average pass has traveled 8.3 yards past the line of scrimmage, shortest of any player with more than 10 passes. That's all passes, complete and otherwise, so he's not even trying deep passes. If defenses are constantly stuffing the box to contain Adrian Peterson, isn't it Ponder's job to make them pay for it with deep shots?
19.
Chad Henne JAC
18/34
221
0
0
3
24
-20
On Miami's half of the field, Henne went 5-of-18 for 33 yards with two first downs and a sack.
20.
Ryan Fitzpatrick BUF
21/37
217
1
2
-25
-18
-6
To the left: 8-of-16 for 100 yards with one touchdown, four other first downs, and a pick-six. Up the middle: 8-of-12 for 101 yards with one interception and six first downs. To the right (Richard Sherman's side): 5-of-9 for 16 yards and one first down. That does include a completion to C.J. Spiller that lost 9 yards, but none of those completions gained more than 9 yards.
21.
Jay Cutler CHI
12/21
135
1
1
-30
-31
1
Third downs: 3-of-5 for 22 yards with two sacks and no first downs. Those completions: a zero-yard gain with 12 yards to go (Brandon Marshall fumbled that ball to boot, though the Bears recovered), and two 11-yard gains with 20 or more yards to go.
22.
Joe Flacco BAL
20/40
254
2
1
-31
-17
-13
First three quarters: 16-of-34 for 148 yards with six first downs and a pick-six, plus a 6-yard DPI. His first pass of the fourth quarter was incomplete, and by that point the Ravens were down by 28 points. He then threw back-to-back touchdowns of 31 and 61 yards. When he got the ball back Baltimore was down by 17, and he finished up 2-of-3 for 14 yards with no first downs and three sacks.
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
23.
Matt Stafford DET
24/50
246
0
3
-37
-37
0
On mid-range passes (thrown to receivers 6 to 15 yards past the line of scrimmage), Stafford went 6-of-16 for 53 yards with three first downs and a pick-six. League average on those throws is 59.9 percent completion rate, 7.5 yards per pass.
24.
Nick Foles PHI
17/33
182
1
1
-46
-28
-18
Foles' 11-yard touchdown pass to Riley Cooper pulled Philadelphia within a 10-7 margin of Cincinnati with more than 11 minutes left to go in the second quarter. From that point forward, Foles went 8-of-18 for 65 yards with two first downs, one interception, one sack, and one intentional grounding foul.
25.
Eli Manning NYG
13/25
161
0
2
-74
-74
0
Manning only had five first downs all game. Four of them came after the Giants had fallen behind by 17 points. One of them came on his last throw of the game, when they were down by 34. On Atlanta's half of the field, he went 6-of-11 for 54 yards and one first down.
26.
Ryan Lindley ARI
14/21
104
0
1
-82
-83
1
Lindley also had five first downs in the game, and none of them came on second down, when he went 3-of-6 for 8 yards with a fumbled snap.
27.
Brandon Weeden CLE
21/35
244
1
2
-105
-105
1
On Washington's side of the field, Weeden went 2-of-5 for 8 yards with no first downs and one interception. Yes, that's it, and no, I'm not forgetting anything. Only one of those passes came inside the Washington 40.
28.
Andy Dalton CIN
13/27
127
1
0
-108
-124
16
Dalton also had five first downs, which seems to be the magic number for quarterbacks who had lousy games this week. At least one of those was a touchdown. On third and fourth downs, he went 4-of-10 for 44 yards with with three first downs, three sacks, and a fumble.
29.
Philip Rivers SD
16/23
121
1
0
-117
-96
-21
Rivers had — seriously — five first downs. Three of them, including his touchdown, came when the Chargers were down by at least 24 points in the fourth quarter. On second downs, he went 4-of-7 for 20 yards with no first downs and two sacks.
30.
Brady Quinn KC
18/32
136
0
1
-158
-158
0
Quinn's team got shut out, but hey, he got six first downs. All of them came in the second half with the Cheifs down by at least 12 points. In the first half he went 8-of-12 for 35 yards with two sacks and an interception.
31.
Josh Freeman TB
26/47
279
0
4
-169
-168
0
Well, he had 16 first downs, so there's that. Of course, none of those were touchdowns, and it wasn't for a lack of opportunity. Inside the Saints' 40, Freeman went 4-of-16 for 32 yards with one first down and no interceptions. Eight of those passes came inside the 20.
32.
Mark Sanchez NYJ
13/28
131
1
4
-202
-188
-14
Sanchez completed 46 percent of his passes, for 4.7 yards per throw, with four interceptions. Those are all the worst numbers for any quarterback who has played the TItans this year.


Five most valuable running backs
Rk
Player
Team
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
1.
Marshawn Lynch SEA
113
1
14
0
54
46
8
For the second week in a row, Lynch is the most valuable running back in fairly limited action. Each of his ten runs gained positive yardage and four gained 10 or more, including a 54-yarder. He also caught the only pass thrown his way for 14 yards and another first down.
2.
DeAngelo Williams CAR
93
0
51
1
46
12
34
Williams had 93 yards on 22 carries against San Diego, his highest rushing total since gaining 115 yards against New Orleans in October of 2011. Though he did lose a fumble, he was stuffed for no gain just twice, with eight runs for 6 yards or more and three other short-yardage first downs. He also caught both of the passes thrown his way, one a 6-yard gain on second-and-7, the other a 45-yard touchdown on second-and-10.
3.
Knowshon Moreno DEN
118
1
8
0
45
50
-5
Moreno gained 3 yards or more on 20 of his 22 carries, and 5 yards or more 13 times. He had a 6-yard touchdown and five other first downs. He caught two passes in three targets for 8 yards, though neither catch was a successful play. Finally, he had one hurdle of Ed Reed.
4.
Adrian Peterson MIN
212
1
0
0
41
41
0
I noted this in Audibles yesterday, but here are Peterson's first eight carries, by yardage gained: 4, -2, -2, -2, -1, -3, 8, 82. By the end of the day he had ten runs for 10 yards or more, but had been stuffed for no gain or a loss eight times. It's a similar story most weeks. He makes so many big plays that he's always in the top five, but he also makes so many bad plays that he's never No. 1 for the week. He leads the league with 49 10-yard runs (Washington's Alfred Morris is second with 42), but he has been stuffed for no gain or a loss 62 times. Only one player has been stuffed more often (Houston's Arian Foster, 63). Peterson has rushed for 1-to-9 yards 178 times, and that ranks eighth. (Foster is No. 1 with 226.)
5.
Danny Woodhead NE
61
2
23
0
41
58
-17
In rushing value alone, Woodhead was the most valuable running back of the week. He was stuffed for no gain or a loss only once, but he had two gains of 10 or more yards, two goal-to-go touchdowns, and two other short-yardage conversions. He caught five passes for 23 yards in 10 targets, but only of one those went for a first down and he was the target of incomplete passes on third-and-1 and fourth-and-1.


Least valuable running back
Rk
Player
Team
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
1.
Kregg Lumpkin NYG
39
0
0
0
-40
-31
-9
Things started off so great for Lumpkin. His first carry went for 9 yards on first-and-10, then he gained 8 yards on third-and-1 and 22 yards on second-and-10. He should have quit then. His last six carries: zero-yard gain on second-and-2; 1-yard gain on third-and-2; 2-yard gain on first-and-10; zero-yard gain on third-and-1; zero-yard gain on first-and-10; 3-yard loss and fumble on first-and-10. Somewhere in there he was also the target of an incomplete pass on fourth-and-2.
OTHER BACKS OF LITTLE VALUE: Robert Turbin, SEA (ten carries for 31 yards; one catch for -3 yards); Stevan Ridley, NE (nine carries for 23 yards, one fumble); Doug Martin TB (nine carries for 16 yards, three catches for 19 yards in five targets).


Five most valuable wide receivers and tight ends
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
1.
Brandon Lloyd NE
10
16
190
19.0
0
78
Lloyd had a career-best 190 yards receiving on Sunday night against San Francisco, just his second 100-yard day this season and his fourth of the last two years. Lloyd didn't reach the end zone against the 49ers, but he did pick up nine first downs (including a 38-yard DPI), one of them a conversion on fourth-and-4. Counting the DPI, he had five gains of 20 yards or more, including a 53-yard gain with the Patriots down seven in the fourth quarter. He was particularly effective on deep routes. He was targeted seven times on passes that traveled more than 15 yards past the line of scrimmage, and produced the DPI plus four other catches for a total of 167 yards.
2.
Andre Johnson HOU
11
13
151
13.7
1
68
Johnson had one touchdown and seven other first downs, and he went 3-for-3 on third downs: a 10-yard gain on third-and-9, a 3-yard touchdown on third-and-goal, and a 16-yard gain on third-and-15.
3.
James Jones GB
5
7
60
12.0
3
55
Hard to have a bad day when you catch touchdowns of 6, 8, and 29 yards. His other completions were a 6-yard gain on first-and-11 and an 11-yard gain on third-and-8.
4.
Julio Jones ATL
6
6
74
12.3
2
54
Not all of Jones' catches were productive. He had a 4-yard gain on first-and-10, and a 2-yard loss on second-and-6. Otherwise, though, he was golden: 10 yards on second-and-7, 40-yard touchdown, 19 yards on third-and-3, 3-yard touchdown.
5.
Eric Decker DEN
8
11
133
16.6
1
53
First seven targets resulted in seven catches for 120 yards, one touchdown, and four other first downs. Then he missed on three catches in a row, but his last target resulted in a 13-yard gain on third-and-8.


Least valuable wide receiver or tight end
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
1.
Demaryius Thomas DEN
4
9
13
3.2
0
-56
Thomas was even worse than his statline suggests. His receptions, in order: a zero-yard gain on second-and-7; a 5-yard gain on third-and-7; a 4-yard gain on third-and-5; and a 4-yard gain on third-and-14. He had nine targets and didn't produce one successful play. And his quarterback is Peyton Manning! If there's a shift in opponent adjustments, this could still finish as the worst game for a receiver this year. Right now it's third-worst behind a pair of -58 days by Pittsburgh's Mike Wallace (eight catches for 52 yards in 15 targets against Cincinnati in Week 11) and Philadelphia's DeSean Jackson (two catches for 5 yards in nine targets against Washington in Week 11).
OTHER RECEIVERS OF LITTLE VALUE: Jon Baldwin, KC (no catches in four targets); Darrius Heyward-Bey, OAK (no catches in five targets); Clay Harbor, PHI (three catches for 30 yards in six targets, one fumble).

Posted by: Vince Verhei on 18 Dec 2012

161 comments, Last at 09 Feb 2013, 1:02am by http://www.poussette-double.info

Comments

1
by RickD :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 12:04pm

Seems unfair that Woodhead is dinged for being a foot or two lower than a fourth down pass that was targeted at him, but that he had no chance at catching.

7
by Myran (not verified) :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 12:19pm

First time I've ever liked the comments from the commentators. "Woodhead ran into the coverage when he should have stopped at 3 yards and made it easy".

39
by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 1:14pm

Right. It was an interesting comment. Thing is, we can't be sure if that was Woodhead, or the playcall.

45
by RickD :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 1:24pm

I kind of doubt that Woodhead is granted the latitude to freelance his own routes.

In any case, Brady threw it way over his head.

I still have no idea what Josh McDaniels was thinking with that playcall.

Collinsworth consistently blames receivers first over QBs. I guess he thinks he always thinks he could have run a better route.

53
by Noah of Arkadia :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 1:38pm

WRs are supposed to adjust their routes depending on the coverage they read, or am I wrong?

------
FO posters are a peacock. You got to let us fly!

57
by PatsFan :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 1:41pm

I blame Brady. Regardless of the playcall, he should have seen in his pre-snap reads that the LB was giving Woodhead a 10yd cushion on 4th-and-3 or whatever it was, and then audibled to that "take the snap and immediately fire it down the line to the flanker" play that NE uses a lot when they see the flanker uncovered.

It would have been an easy first down.

99
by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 2:22pm

Yeah, that was an easy quick hitch, or even an immediate slant. Both would have gotten the first down easily.

If you rewatch the play, you can also see Welker come free at the sticks on the other side of the field when Lloyd runs two defenders off of him.

Long story short, that non-conversion was totally on the Patriots, SF was giving it to them and just refused to take it.

61
by RickD :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 1:44pm

Danny Woodhead is a RB. I suspect RBs are given less latitude than WRs, though I certainly may be wrong.

Collinsworth wanted more from him than adjusting his coverage. He wanted Woodhead to return towards the line of scrimmage, essentially redrawing his entire route. But really, why? Woodhead was open in the route he ran. It was just a bad throw. Yes, a different route might have made for an easier pass, but that's McD's decision, not Woodhead's.

I suspect Collinsworth had a lot more latitude to freelance than most of today's receivers do. I will give Collinsworth credit for being one of the best possession receivers back in the day.

84
by Tino (not verified) :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 2:07pm

I will give Collinsworth credit for being one of the best possession receivers back in the day.

I've got to take exception with this. I'm old enough to remember watching Collinsworth play and he always struck me as much more than a "possession receiver", especially early in his career. His yards per catch and long reception also compare favorably to Eddie Brown, who was allegedly the "game breaker" during the Esiason years.

113
by apbadogs :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 3:06pm

His (Collinsworth) YPC was over 16 for his career, pretty impressive. Eddie Brown was 0.8 yards higher.

124
by dryheat :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 3:33pm

Absolutely. He was my favorite non-Patriot growing up. My memory says he was a poor man's Steve Largent, but I might be upselling him. I also recognize I just compared one of the few memorable white WRs from the 80's with one of the others. I guess it's a built-in reaction to "white receiver was a possession receiver" line of thinking.

Collinsworth played QB at Florida, did he not? Which gives him a pretty good perspective on the QB/WR dynamic.

Regardless, I do think he's the only analyst in the game that would bother pointing something like that out during the play, and he was on it immediately. Maybe Mayock also.

128
by Tino (not verified) :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 3:49pm

It seems that any time a white WR is mentioned, he is automatically considered a "possession receiver", which may often be true, but I very specifically remember Collinsworth being considered a "downfield threat" by commentators during his playing days (obviously they could've been wrong, but it felt like the original comment was simply a white=possession stereotype).

I remember watching a Broncos/Bengals game in '86 where Collinsworth caught a short pass across the middle and outran everyone for a 46 yard TD (details courtesy of pro-football-reference.com) and thinking at the time "that white guy is fast!".

62
by Thunderbolt of ... :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 1:44pm

I seem to remember reading that the Patriots do use a lot of option routes where the receiver has the responsibility to read the defense. This is purportedly one of the reasons that Chad Ochocinco washed out - because, for whatever reason, he couldn't do that.

69
by Kyle D. (not verified) :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 1:52pm

But Woodhead was open on the route he ran, meaning he didn't misread anything. Is there one route that is the preferred option if everything looks open? That's a possibility, but it's pretty darn strange to blame an open receiver for not adjusting his route, which is what Collinsworth did.

83
by Occ :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 2:06pm

I took Collinsworth to be pointing out that the Patriots simply made that play/route/decision more difficult than it needed to be.

102
by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 2:30pm

Being open and running the right route can be mutually exclusive. On that play, there was no reason for Woodhead to run any further than the sticks. Hell, he didn't even need to run at all, a quick hitch and there is no way the defender stops him from getting the first down.

I don't know whether that is on Brady (by not audibling) or Woodhead, but someone made a mistake.

78
by IrishBarrister :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 2:03pm

That is correct. On third or fourth down, the Patriots often have their RBs and slot WRs run what they call a "stick" route: the receiver runs far enough up field to get the first down, and has the option to run an In, Out, Go, or Curl (inside or outside) depending on the coverage. It looked like Woodhead was running such a route and completely misread the coverage. Uncharacteristic for him - he is normally quite good in that situation.

100
by commissionerleaf :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 2:24pm

Why are we criticizing an open receiver for making the wrong adjustment, instead of criticizing the quarterback for throwing to the wrong spot. Woodhead didn't run into the coverage; he made a sight adjustment that was - at least - reasonable. We don't know if it was correct because we don't know his decision tree on that play. We do know he broke to an open area and Brady missed him.

118
by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 3:16pm

For the same reason that Wes Welker gets criticized for not catching a terribly thrown ball in the superbowl.

Some people just can't believe that Tom Brady is occasionally inaccurate.

132
by sundown (not verified) :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 4:02pm

At least Brady's wife hasn't weighed in on this one yet!

64
by Jacob Stevens (not verified) :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 1:46pm

The Patriots' playbook is filled with option routes, where the receiver's route changes according to the coverage. I don't recall the play in question, but out of the backfield there are two probable options that may have been included in his assignment: break out to the flat if the CB turns, or change his curl into a crosser if MOFO (middle of field open).

Woodhead's a vet and the Patriots have done a pretty incredible job with getting players to learn their assignments with very few mistakes, so it makes me reticent to accuse there being a miscommunication or mistake on coverage reading between him & Brady, but it's possible.

117
by Schmoker (not verified) :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 3:15pm

How much must it burn the Jets ass red every time Woodhead does anything? Going back to that Hard Knocks year, it was certainly all there for us to realize the Jets just don't know what they are doing on offense, but wins sure do have a way of clouding everything over, don't they? If anything were to tell you that the Jets are offensively handicapped, it would be that they wouldn't keep a guy as the last man on their roster who ended up going to, and being an integral part of, the best offense in football.

139
by Led :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 4:36pm

I liked Woodhead, but he is immensely more valuable to the Pats than he would have been to the Jets. I doubt he would be much more than a marginal player on most other teams. Plus the choice was between Woodhead and Joe McKnight, who was a 4th round draft pick that year and has turned into a very good kick returner. So it was a perfectly reasonable decision, even in hindsight. I happen to think McKnight is criminally underused on the Jets and may very well be a star he if were on the Pats. (One of the more bizarre of Sanchez's many shortcomings is his inability to throw the ball effectively to backs.)

2
by ZYX (not verified) :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 12:05pm

It seems to be personal with you guys and the Falcons.

9
by RickD :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 12:19pm

I was going to say that the numbers are objective, but really, the commentary isn't. For example, Vince compares a 34-0 "statement" game with other victories by as little as 17 points. We've seen commentary in the past that shows a positive correlation between "stomps" and playoff success. This game was a stomp over the defending Super Bowl champs. Surely that would constitute an uptick.

Also, comparing the difference between projected wins and actual wins is not itself especially interesting. You should also look at what projected wins and actual wins are. Who cares if a 9-win team should have only won 5.5 games? The fact that a 9-win team didn't make the playoffs obviously has no relevance to the Falcons, who should wrap up the #1 seed this weekend.

If you want to make predictions based on this Falcons team, you cannot compare it to teams that have missed the playoffs, or who have significantly fewer expected wins. Throw out those four teams (1992 Colts, 1996 Vikings, 1998 Cardinals, and 2006 Seahawks) and you have a far more reasonable peer group.

But still, that might not be quite adequate, as the estimated wins totals in the table are drawn from 16-game seasons, while the Falcons have not finished their seasons yet. They could finish with more than 10 estimated wins, yes? That would put them beyond any of the teams listed in the table.

30
by peterplaysbass :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 12:53pm

I don't think it's personal - it's just a bias against teams that are doing better than they deserve to. Isn't it upsetting when you play a hand of poker correctly and a fish catches his out to beat you against the odds? Yeah, well, it's also frustrating when mediocre teams get playoff byes.

46
by RickD :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 1:25pm

The Falcons aren't mediocre. They may not "deserve" the 1 seed, but they certainly are the best team in their division.

82
by peterplaysbass :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 2:04pm

Yeah, "mediocre" wasn't the best word to use. I'd agree that they're the best team in their division.

73
by Kyle D. (not verified) :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 1:56pm

And a hand of poker isn't an NFL season. This is more like the "fish" cleaning somebody out for the whole night (or multiple nights) and the loser writing it off as just pure luck.

89
by peterplaysbass :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 2:10pm

Sixteen games is a pretty small sample size. And a better analogy than losing one hand to a fish would be the examples of poker pros losing multiple hands to rich businessmen who like to play but aren't proficient. Ever watch High Stakes Poker?

I think the points of the article are:

1) This last ATL game will cause much of the casual football fanbase to overrate the Falcons in their own minds

2) The Falcons are good but not great

3) Much of the casual football fanbase will be surprised/disappointed when Atlanta most likely loses in the divisional or conference round in convincing fashion.

And with these points, I agree.

119
by WarrenG (not verified) :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 3:25pm

A poker hand is a bad analogy to a football game. The result of a poker hand is heavily based on luck. The best a poker player can do is get their money in with the best hand but they could still have a large chance of losing. A football game is almost entirely based on the skill of the players and coaches involved. Very few plays involve luck. By and large, when a football team wins a game, they deserve to have won that game.

As to the points of the article,

1) I agree that a lot of people will overrate the Falcons after this win.

2) I agree that the Falcons are good, not great (although the general theme to this article seemed to be that the Falcons are average).

3) I strongly disagree that DVOA (or this article) is capable of postulating that the Falcons will likely lose in their first playoff game in a convincing fashion. It also doesn't take into consideration that the Falcons will have home field advantage (most likely).

I'd say that, at home, the Falcons have at least a 50% chance of winning a playoff game against anyone. Just my opinion though.

125
by peterplaysbass :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 3:41pm

The analogy may not be sound, but the frustration feels similar. Even without the whole bounty-gate issue, I was similarly frustrated when Minnesota was able to outplay New Orleans in almost every facet of the NFC Championship game in 2010 and still lose on a field goal in OT. Sure the turnovers were awful (although we can see that turnover luck played a significant role in the outcome of that game), but what an unsatisfying ending for Vikings fans. (I wonder what the expected wins for both of those teams were here at FO..?)

Anyway, I don't think it's a lock that the dirty birds will lose their first playoff game, I just think it's reasonable to say that it's unlikely that they manke it to the SB even though the money in Vegas says it's fairly likely.

I'll go ahead and admit that I dislike the Falcons personally because of their inept representation of the NFC in the Super Bowl when they lost to the Broncos. I think the 15-1 Vikings could've made that game much more interesting, although I will concede that Atlanta came to the Thunderdome and beat the Vikes fair and square. (If only Denny hadn't taken that knee before halftime...)

159
by Slowcoma (not verified) :: Fri, 12/21/2012 - 9:44pm

Oh yeah - the Vikings have a much better history of representing the NFC in the Super Bowl. Hell in one of their four losses they actually scored in double digits and in total have been outscored 95 to 34. Solid logic.

158
by Whatev :: Fri, 12/21/2012 - 9:35am

You, and tons of other people, assume that there's a bright line to be drawn between luck and skill. There isn't.

135
by sundown (not verified) :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 4:11pm

Thankfully, no, I've missed High Stakes Poker. Golf is all the sleeping aid I require! But poker has a huge element of chance even at the highest levels so it's not at all surprising that casual players can sometimes defeat pros. It's a bad comparison to pro football.

As for what "casual" fans think, that's really not all that important given the unpredictable nature of the sport. The FO staff would certainly rank beyond being casual fans, yet their ability to predict outcomes is debatable at best. Back in the early days of the site, Aaron used to routinely explain that none of the stats were intended to be predictive. It's been interesting to watch over the years as they've evolved to the point where at least some of the staff now seem to believe they are, though there seems to be little real proof of that.

120
by Schmoker (not verified) :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 3:26pm

Numbers and/or bias aside, should not the Falcons be looked at sideways just based on the way they have flopped in the playoffs the past few years? It's one thing to be critical of future projections, but isn't it another thing entirely to completely write off past examples of exactly what FO and DVOA are predicting?

How many times do the Falcons have to follow up a strong regular season by then flopping in the playoffs before you make them start proving to you that they are good enough to win in January before you accuse people of underrating them? They have 43 regular season wins the past four season, and how many playoff wins has that led to? Is it really that unreasonable to believe an objective system is projecting them to be exactly the same team they have been for the past four seasons?

126
by WarrenG (not verified) :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 3:45pm

The main problem is that the Falcons of this year are not the same as the teams of the past four seasons. There's been many significant changes over the years. Does this mean that they are more likely to win in the playoffs? Not necessarily. It just means that you can't predict very much based on their performance in 3 games over the past 4 years.

134
by goldlw1 :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 4:10pm

Well then why should anyone consider the Patriots strong favorites to win a Superbowl since they have lose their last two appearances?

40
by goldlw1 :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 1:15pm

They should add a quite note that states, remember last year when the Giants were 12th going into the playoffs?

3
by Joemcd (not verified) :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 12:06pm

I am interested in having a similar analysis done regarding underachieving teams. Before week 15, Seattle had underachieved by 2.5 games versus expected. Is there some correlation between this and playoff success?

5
by Aaron Schatz :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 12:14pm

Anecdotally? Sure, say hello to your 2010 Green Bay Packers.

68
by Jacob Stevens (not verified) :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 1:51pm

Hellz yeah. Just made my day. The sweetest two words in the English dictionary: Underachievement!

4
by turbohappy :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 12:09pm

The other examples were good and the overall intent was solid, but I thought the example of the 16-0 Patriots losing in the Super Bowl muddied your argument as opposed to strengthening it.

49
by RickD :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 1:29pm

Yes. Given that the company line about the 2007 Patriots is that they're the best team evah, and that their loss to the Giants is usually dismissed as having been driven by enormous amounts of luck, using them as an example of an overrated team at this point seems bizarre.

77
by DEW (not verified) :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 2:00pm

Similarly, last year's 49ers are cited as a team which had a "statement" win then flopped in the playoffs, when they did in fact win a playoff game (indeed, they're mentioned as beating the Saints). It seems that part of the argument boils down to "Teams which have 'statement' wins over other playoff-bound teams in December aren't guaranteed to win the Super Bowl," which is both blatantly obvious and an example of extreme cherry-picking, since Vince is dismissing the entire value of so-called "statement" wins simply because they don't guarantee the best possible outcome of the entire football season.

88
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 2:08pm

In particular, it is simply ill-advised to argue that a close loss in a conference championship game, or Super Bowl, is an underperformance, relative to relative season accomplishment.

93
by Kyle D. (not verified) :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 2:13pm

I can't decide if the underlying point of the article was that "overrated teams are destined to lose", "if you lose you're overrated", or "even great teams can lose so a merely good one is bound to lose." Really, none of them make a great point and it does come across like they just have it in for the Falcons.

110
by bravehoptoad :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 2:57pm

Yes. What's "prompt" about a loss in the NFC championship game?

114
by apbadogs :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 3:09pm

The 49ers flopped in last year's playoffs? Really?

6
by wiesengrund :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 12:15pm

I am a bit surprised at the general structure of the argument here. If it is „Wait guys, ATL is still a mediocre team, and this game is an outlier.“ then that’s fine. This argument can be made by DVOA and your weekly numbers will reflect that, I don’t know, this game is two standard deviations above what Atlanta usually played this season, or something like that.

However, comparing the game to the other statement games is a bit sensationalist, for multiple reasons.

First, those teams like 2010 Pats and 2011 SF and NO are bad examples of „bad omens“. They were actually really competitive in the playoffs, and last year’s NO and SF teams even won playoffs games before being eliminated barely, and with a lot of dignity. I don’t know what the hype is, that gets refuted by those examples. Nobody argued that ATL would waltz through shutout after shutout after the Giants win. And I think even FO would not have scoffed at those teams back then, with or without their statement wins, in the beginning of the post season. What’s the cautionary tale there? That everybody can lose any given game?

Second, those teams actually don’t compare very good to this year’s Falcons precisely because they were actually great teams according to DVOA, which Atlanta is not.

Third, even if we compare them and we somehow think that their playoff appearances were "bad" and their losses kinda predictable beforehand since their statement wins were just hot air, what is the message here? If it’s “Look how great teams with statement wins can falter in the playoffs. How do you imagine a mediocre team will do?” then I have to wonder just how much sample bias is at work here. Of course the flipside would be “Look how mediocre teams without statement wins can win the SB a la last year’s Giants. Imagine what a mediocre team with statement wins could do?”

This is not well-reasoned analysis, this is contrarian provocation to garner page-views and hate-mail-responses. An article on how mediocre the Falcons are would have been well placed after the Carolina loss, but after this game it seems tacky and I’m really sad to find it on this site, even if I, as an ATL and FO fan, wholeheartedly agree that this team is mediocre and has a lot of problems.

60
by Bjorn Nittmo :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 1:43pm

Yes, the anecdotal evidence to support the conclusion that statement wins are meaningless is shockingly weak here, starting with the idea that 4 examples picked from recent years says much of anything. That 2 of those 4, the 2007 Patriots and the 2011 Saints/49ers, barely lost in the middle-late playoff rounds makes the argument look that much more desperate. It makes it seem that FO is a little too invested in a conclusion that most observers agree with (a 12-2 record overrates the Falcons performance this season and the threat they pose in the playoffs), thus committing the sin of placing pre-determined conclusion over the data (which shows that the Falcons are in fact a very good team, just not 12-2 good).

94
by Dr. I Don't Know (not verified) :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 2:17pm

As a non-Atlanta resident and total Falcons skeptic, I also agree with RickD, wiesengrund, and Bjorn. The rhetoric here is unnecessarily defiant and derisive (as if arguing with some kind of anti-statistics straw-men who would never visit FO), and the anecdotal examples range from perplexing (2007 Pats: What RickD said) to downright contradictory (2011 Niners/Saints: what Bjorn said).

The only additional comment I'd make is that virtually no one, not even in the anti-statistics straw-man community, really thinks the Falcons are the best team in the NFC. ESPN has ATL behind SF and only a tad ahead of GB -- and behind NE, DEN, and HOU. Vegas has ATL as second-favorites for the Super Bowl (7-1, with the Niners at 9-2 and Green Bay at 15-2), and that's including likely home-dome advantage. This article just seems like it's arguing, and arguing crudely, against something nobody believes.

98
by peterplaysbass :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 2:21pm

The Vegas line is telling (in that many people DO believe what FO is arguing against). Second most likely to win the SB? If I were a betting man, I'd bet against the Falcons. Those are pretty generous odds for a team that isn't that likely to win the SB according to FO's stats.

131
by Cuenca Guy (not verified) :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 3:58pm

I agree that Vegas having Atlanta 2nd shows that people are overrating the Falcons. John Clayton of ESPN inexplicably has the Falcons as #1...thankfully the other voters have more common sense. However, this article is unnecessarily anti-Atlanta and the whole "statement win" thing made no sense, especially when they included the Pats. I too would like to see an article about underperforming teams. Of course, it looks like I'll get to watch one of those stories unfold this year with the Seahawks, possibly the #1 team in DVOA after Week 15?

133
by peterplaysbass :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 4:07pm

We shall soon find out who is #1 in DVOA this week!

As far as the "statement-win" thing and the Patriots example - I agree. It seems we're on the same page here, it just took some dialogue to realize it.

FO's argument, while it wasn't made very well, is apt for casual football fans but less relevant for most FO readers.

Still not sure if the article is personally biased against the Falcons or not - it's hard for me to tell because I happen to dislike them myself.

152
by Eggwasp (not verified) :: Fri, 12/21/2012 - 4:29am

But the Vegas odds aren't a probability forecast, they are the best way of ensuring the bookies take the most money, and hedge their payout on the eventual winners. Given that ATL was the last unbeaten team - and not a massive preseason favorite, there's probably a lot of early-mid-season money placed at relatively wide odds on them. The bookies therefore have to dissuade punters from putting money on ATL now, to reduce their risk if they do win.

Vegas is NOT trying to predict the chances of a team winning - its trying to attract losing bets and hedging their payout on whoever wins.

103
by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 2:35pm

Add me to the list of observers that thinks the commentary isn't strong in this post.

8
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 12:19pm

I agree that Ponder is overwhelmingly likely a bust, but to be fair regarding his failure to go downfield, when Harvin isn't on the field (and even he isn't a typical wr in terms of downfield passing), the Vikings do not have a wide receiver who belongs on an NFL roster. It's quite amazing that, on December 18th, that they mathematically have a chance to win 10 games, once it is considered that their defense is below average.

Atlanta is like a lot of teams who play in domes. Their defense's deficiencies get disguised by home field advantage, which is why being the number 1 seed is so important. If they go the Super Bowl, and play Denver or New England, we won't be seeing the defense that made the Mannings look bad in the Georgia Dome.

20
by wiesengrund :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 12:40pm

If they go the Super Bowl, and play Denver or New England, we won't be seeing the defense that made the Mannings look bad in the Georgia Dome.

Because the Super Bowl is played in the windy and freezing confines of the Superdome? ;-)

23
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 12:42pm

Because the crowd won't be comprised of 80,000 screaming Falcons fans.

142
by Adam_S (not verified) :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 5:04pm

Yeah because that's what you said in your original comment.

33
by Tracy :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 12:57pm

I believe that the implication is that a domed stadium favors the home team defense because crowd noise doesn't dissipate into the atmosphere, rather it reverberates off the ceiling and back to the playing field. A Superbowl, even one played indoors, won't offer this advantage to either defense, since it is largely attended by neutral observers, not by rabid fans of one team or the other.

153
by Eggwasp (not verified) :: Fri, 12/21/2012 - 4:34am

I'm not saying it wouldn't have ANY effect - but is it really that much of an issue for the opposition offense? - compared to neutral domed stadium?
For the MANNINGS? Surely of all QBs, they'd be the ones that would be least affected by a loud home crowd. Peyton cos he's Peyton and Eli as he's been in far more pressurised situations facing superior teams and come through, unexpectedly to many observers at the time.

24
by peterplaysbass :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 12:42pm

Burton and Wright had a couple of nice plays and show plenty of promise - but they wouldn't see the field at all on most of the other teams in the league.

10
by Podge (not verified) :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 12:20pm

Very surprised to see Bradford that high. Do you have a split on him by quarters or score differential? I'd imagine he was pretty garbage early when the score was close, and pretty great late when it wasn't.

11
by Rhombus (not verified) :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 12:26pm

Surprised to not see Chris Johnson on your low-value running backs this week. Outside of his 94-yard TD run, he was as bad as I've ever seen: 20 carries for 28 yards. I don't think a single one of them was a successful play or a first down, although thankfully I didn't watch the whole game. Surely that performance had to outweigh his only positive contribution. With the Jets rush defense being in the lower half of the NFL, I'd be curious to know what his actual DYAR was.

12
by Anger...rising :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 12:29pm

Demaryius Thomas was open for long touchdowns twice; Manning overthrew him once, and the ball was late allowing it to be tipped away at the last instant the second time. Needless to say, I disagree with the assessment that he was worse than the numbers indicate.

85
by RickD :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 2:07pm

This relates to my point about Woodhead. Receivers are dinged when the QB throws uncatchable balls their way.

I understand the problem here. In compiling statistics, FO doesn't want to get into the tedious task of judging the catchability of each pass.

15
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 12:31pm

If you want to get a sense of how stupid most punditry about football is, reflect on how often you have been able to hear "experts", in the last couple weeks, wonder whether the Cowboys would stick with Romo if they failed to make the playoffs. If those "experts" are correct, that this was an open question, then Jerry Jones is a dumber schmuck than I even thought possible.

16
by JIPanick :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 12:33pm

I shudder to think how awful the Cowboys would be with "generic NFL QB" back there instead of Romo. He's one of the very best at making his line look better than it is, and consider how bad it looks with him in there...

21
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 12:40pm

It's been that way for his whole career. If Parcells had been given the power to build the roster in the way he preferred, and coached Romo's talent with that roster in mind, I'm pretty sure the Cowboys would have likely won multiple playoff games over the last 5 years.

29
by JIPanick :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 12:50pm

Agreed. He built a Super Bowl caliber roster as it was; with the weaker FO after he left it lasted about three years. In 2007 they lost a one-play contest to the Giants, in 2008 Romo got hurt and they missed the playoffs, and in 2009 they won a playoff game before getting clobbered by the Favre Vikings. 2010 was a lost year, and the last couple have been Romo carrying a team that would be awful without him into mediocre territory.

With Parcells still in charge, 2010-2012 probably look a lot more like the 2007-2009 teams, which underachieved in only winning one playoff game. Even better, they'd probably have won the East last year and spared us all another penny-ante Giants Super Bowl win.

38
by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 1:03pm

The Romo's made his line look good trope is a little overstated. Bledsoe was done by that point, nobody else was queueing to give him a starting job and his immobility made Romo look much better in comparison. Who has had the chance to play behind a good line during that period? Brady, Brees, maybe a couple of others but most qbs suffer behind poor units and while those Dallas units weren't superb pass protectors they could at least run block. Romo has also benefited from receivers that have been good to great while he's been there. Compare him to Alex Smith or Jay Cutler, crap lines, crap receivers and pretty crap coaches too, Romo's not had it that bad.

43
by JIPanick :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 1:19pm

It's not just the comparison to Bledsoe. I watch all the Cowboy games; Romo really does make this line - which has nothing to do with the old Bledsoe lines anymore - look a lot better than it is. He has great pocket presence, good mobility, and a lightning release - the ideal skill set for a quarterback always running for his life.

I do agree that Cutler has it even worse, as does Rivers. However, Rodgers, Ryan, Schaub, Eli, Brees, Brady, and Peyton all have it considerably easier than Tony does, at the moment. Roethlisberger has a similar level of help.

91
by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 2:12pm

Rodgers' line is a real mess right now. I'd also add that this has been a particularly bad year for the Dallas line, the interior three are as bad as I've seen, Free has not coped well with the move to right tackle and the very talented Tyrone Smith's family issues have probably not helped his progress this year.

97
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 2:20pm

They still don't have Flozell Adams having pigeons landing on him, however.

52
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 1:37pm

This is Romo's DYAR ranks since 2006, which is the last year the Cowboys were well-coached.

2006 8th
2007 4th
2008 11th
2009 7th
2010 19th
2011 4th
2012 3rd

To have accomplished this behind consistently lousy pass protection is remarkable.

86
by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 2:08pm

He's had Garrett as his offensive coach for most of his career. I don't really rate Garrett that highly as a head coach but he's a pretty decent offensive coordinator. And I still think the incompetence of his linemen is overstated, many teams have crap lines and he has had very good receivers.

95
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 2:17pm

I don't want to be unfair to Garrett; it is really hard to coach the Cowboys well, either as the head guy or assistant, because their owner is a moron. The fact is the team hasn't been well coached since 2006, however. The Cowboys offensive line is actually is better this year than it was when the likes of a well over the hill Flozell Adams was imitating a statue against speed rushers, but no, the incompetence of their line in thse years was not overstated. I'd say most of the criticism of Romo has been ridiculously overstated.

101
by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 2:24pm

Then we'll have to disagree, I don't buy the choker criticism but I don't think he reads defenses well.

108
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 2:50pm

It would really be remarkable for a guy, behind poor protection, to accomplish his DYAR rankings, if he was not at least decent at reading defenses. Look, is he anywhere close to Peyton Manning or Tom Brady? No, of course not, but I think it is a pretty wide chasm between "Not as good as The Forehead and Mr. Bundchen", and "Not a darned good NFL quarterback".

87
by Kyle D. (not verified) :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 2:08pm

All QBs are under a microscope, but the criticism Romo sees is ridiculous, made even crazier by the fact he was undrafted, making him the steal of the century.

One of the funniest bits of the offseason was a post I saw from somebody looking forward to Orton taking Romo's job. Behind that line, the only person wishing for that would be somebody wanting to hurt Orton.

115
by apbadogs :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 3:12pm

I keep trying to tell my 15-year old son that Romo is a damn good QB and he doesn't want to hear it, damn kids today.

115
by apbadogs :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 3:12pm

I keep trying to tell my 15-year old son that Romo is a damn good QB and he doesn't want to hear it, damn kids today.

22
by jimm (not verified) :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 12:41pm

I hope Jones is that dumb and Romo ends up a Viking.

25
by peterplaysbass :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 12:46pm

Yeah, me too.

Although Romo might not be too pleased - Minnesota needs someone to catch the ball other than Harvin. If they could get someone with 60% of Bryant's or Austin's abilities, the offense would be much better.

41
by Steve in WI :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 1:15pm

I haven't been following the commentary, but are they saying that the Cowboys should consider dumping Romo because he sucks, or because they need to rebuild the entire team? (I also haven't been following the Cowboys enough to know what their weaknesses are, exactly). If it's the latter, I don't necessarily think it's a ridiculous question.

I've always been a big Jay Cutler fan and I still believe he's an above-average QB, but I'm starting to wonder what purpose it serves the Bears to keep him. They'll never win a Super Bowl with him unless they can manage big upgrades at other positions (including the defense, since a large chunk of the current personnel is clearly not viable for much longer). I could understand a Cowboys fan making the same argument about their team.

We're in agreement on the issue of general football punditry either way, though.

47
by JIPanick :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 1:26pm

No, he's a "choker" who isn't "clutch" and he "always fails in December and January". It's not a general rebuild thing.

81
by RickD :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 2:04pm

He really needs to work on his "swagger."

154
by Eggwasp (not verified) :: Fri, 12/21/2012 - 4:42am

Please Please Please Please Please Please (enough?)
can Jones cut Romo and sign Tim Tebow because he's clutch and he just wins?
That would be the funniest thing in the history of football.

54
by TomC :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 1:39pm

All right, buster, come down off that window ledge. The Bears are likely to be better next year than they are this year. The O-line can't be any worse, and you'd imagine the new GM would want to demonstrate his "I'm not Jerry Angelo" bona fides by addressing the problem immediately through free agency. It's possible that Urlacher is done, but he wasn't anywhere near 100% this year either. Peppers will be a year older but possibly healthier (he's been on one leg all season). The rest of the defense is only going to stay roughly the same (Tillman & Briggs) or improve (all the kids). Finally, a WR corps of Marshall, healthy Earl Bennett, and one-year-more-of-experience-how-to-push-off-and-not-get-called Alshon Jeffrey could be damn near above average.

(Yes, I'm being a bit optimistic here, but the alternative is to lay my head on the tracks next to yours, and I'm not ready to do that just yet.)

67
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 1:50pm

Briggs and Tillman are both north of 30. They very well may be as good next year, but it would only be a mild suprprise if there was a signigficant decline in their production.

13
by Some guy (not verified) :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 12:31pm

Please change the "Most Valuable" titles in the running backs/receivers sections. You're using the terms incorrectly. Based on how you calculate DYAR, Peterson doesn't deserve to have the highest value. However, you're not going to win an argument that Peterson is less valuable to his team than Lynch is to his team.

If you're going to use "valuable", you should come up with a mechanism to compare a players DYAR to the team's total offensive DVOA. Whichever player contributed the most to DVOA would be the most valuable, not just the one with the highest DYAR.

31
by Scott P. (not verified) :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 12:54pm

That can't be done.

44
by ptp (not verified) :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 1:21pm

This is the same argument people make about MVP voting every year and it's bunk. Value is relative, yes, but what it's relative *TO* is entirely arbitrary. You want it to be relative to the player's team, but clearly the statistic is measuring how valuable a player's performance was in relation to other performances also measured by DYAR.

There is no inconsistency in the use of 'valuable' here.

51
by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 1:37pm

Value and Talent are not the same thing.

Peterson is supremely talented.

But right now, as the Vikings offense is constructed, hes simply not as valuable as you would think. Its not any fault of his own; it's because his team as constructed is unable to actually use the advantages he creates.

IE, with a better QB and WRs, the fact that you need to put 8 in the box would be supremely valuable. With the fact that the Vikings can't take advantage of that, its not producing any value.

Now, the counterpoint to this is that the Vikings passing offense, is probably getting a substantial DVOA bump from playing against 8-in-the-box, and they're significantly worse than the -4% DVOA they're being posted with. But there's no real good way to measure that.

If Adrian Peterson played for the Patriots (or any other team with a great passing game), he'd be supremely valuable.

A Baseball example that's similar is a sinkerball pitcher who gets a ton of ground balls, but plays in front of a terrible infield defense. He has a talent that is extremely valuable, but doesn't actually help win games because his team is unable to exploit the advantage.

58
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 1:42pm

They have a chance, albeit not a great chance, at 10 wins right now. Without Peterson, they may well be looking at a chance, and an even lesser chance, at 4 wins. He's pretty darned valuable, especially for an non-qb.

71
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 1:53pm

"IE, with a better QB and WRs, the fact that you need to put 8 in the box would be supremely valuable. With the fact that the Vikings can't take advantage of that, its not producing any value."

Can't take advantage of that? What on earth are you talking about?

Peterson is having a 2000 yard season with a QB who is less adept at passing than those on the Chiefs, Cardinals, or Jets. The Vikings are 8-6 despite playing a 20s-style offense and having only a mid-range defense. That this works at all is a testament to Peterson, and to assert that he's only mildly more valuable than Generic Patriots RB #3 indicates the flaw is with the metric, not the runner.

74
by JIPanick :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 1:57pm

"a QB who is less adept at passing than those on the Cardinals or Jets."

that's unpossible

76
by RickD :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 1:59pm

Can you imagine what AD's numbers would look like if he had the 1990s Cowboys' offense around him? It's amazing that he's having this season with essentially no credible passing game to frighten the defense.

127
by dryheat :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 3:48pm

They would look less impressive. I would assume that Aikman would still want to use Irvin and Novacek fairly heavily instead of running Peterson like a dog.

130
by peterplaysbass :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 3:57pm

Agree. We saw what Peterson's numbers looked like in 2009 with career-year Favre playing out of his mind. AP's 4.4 YPC is a career low so far, although he did have 43 receptions for 10 yards apiece - both career highs.

80
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 2:03pm

I projected the Vikings season at 2 to 5 wins, losing their last 8 games of the season. I'm convinced that the only reason I was wrong was because I didn't think it possible for Peterson to make the recovery from the knee injury, that he has made, in less than 12 months.

105
by Ryan D. :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 2:41pm

...and under 9 months, really.

56
by The Ninjalectual :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 1:39pm

So your argument is "DVOA is better than DYAR?" Okay. You can go by the DVOA ratings. It's easy.

59
by Led :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 1:43pm

The "value" is the value of the plays, which reflects the performance of the entire team. That is what it is. It's separate from how you value Peterson's individual contribution. I agree that he's the best non-QB offensive player in the league this year and is carrying the team on his back (which can't be easy on his rebuilt knee!). With Watt seeming to tail off, Peterson is probably the best all around non-QB. But that doesn't change the fact that the Vikings rushing attack, for a variety of reasons unrelated to Peterson, has too many negative plays to be the most effective game in and game out.

106
by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 2:41pm

Exactly.

its not saying "Adrian Peterson isn't great". It's saying "the running plays where Adrian Peterson takes the ball aren't that valuable".

Thats essentially because MIN continues to have to run into 8-9 man fronts because they can't throw the ball at all.

63
by RickD :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 1:45pm

You are conflating "value" with "relative value."

That's a common mistake.

Adrian Peterson is the most valuable RB in the league. That would be true if he were on the Vikings or the 49ers or the Chiefs.

But every week, some guy who has half as many carries/receptions and/or half as many yards ends up winning the weekly DYAR title. But it's a different guy every week, for the most part.

The basic problem here is that it's AD vs. The Field. There are so many other RBs in the league that, by chance alone, there's a good probability that at least one of them will luck out and have a high success rate for that week. DVOA/DYAR just love high success rates.

104
by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 2:36pm

val·ue [val-yoo] Show IPA noun, verb, val·ued, val·u·ing.
noun
1.relative worth, merit, or importance:

109
by RickD :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 2:55pm

From Merriam-Webster:

1. a fair return or equivalent in goods, services, or money for something exchanged
2. the monetary worth of something : market price
3. relative worth, utility, or importance
4. a numerical quantity that is assigned or is determined by calculation or measurement

5. the relative duration of a musical note
6. a. relative lightness or darkness of a color : luminosity
b. the relation of one part in a picture to another with respect to lightness and darkness
7. something (as a principle or quality) intrinsically valuable or desirable
8. denomination 2

The common usage of the word "value" is not "value relative to things surrounding an item" as much as it is "market price". When the definition says "relative" it means "compared to other objects of a similar type" and not "compared to the type of objects that is around an object." A diamond among a pile of diamonds has the same "value" if you move it to a grocery store and drop it in a bin of turnips. Finding the word "relative" in the definition doesn't change that.

Sports pundits essentially want to say that the value of a player should be judged has value(player)/value(team). But that's relative value, not value itself.

Edit: even if you want to use the word "relative", there's nothing to say that it must mean "relative to his team" as opposed to "relative to players in the entire league." The latter would be closer to my preferred definition of "value."

My feelings on this matter come far more from baseball than football. In baseball, there have been many MVPs who have clearly been far from the best players in their respective league. It's also been a problem in the NBA, when, for example, Steve Nash won the award over Kobe Bryant.

In football, MVP means "best QB on an elite team" which then morphs into "best RB" when no QB is having an outstanding year.

121
by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 3:27pm

We're going to have to disagree that the common usage of "Value" is "Market Price". They're two very different things.

66
by Aloysius Mephis... :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 1:48pm

For the season Peterson has the highest total DYAR, and his per-play value is higher than Lynch's as well. He just never ends up #1 in any given week.

14
by DGL :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 12:31pm

The commentary on AP made me wonder: Are RB stuffs more a factor of the RB or the O-Line? Is AP getting stuffed so much because his line is bad, but when they occasionally give him a crease, he explodes? Or is he getting stuffed so much because he's not good at reading the blockers, but when they give him a hole that I could get through, he's uncatchable?

17
by JIPanick :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 12:34pm

Or is he getting stuffed so much because defenses don't give a flying flip about Ponder and put a bunch of extra guys in the box?

18
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 12:35pm

He's getting stuffed because blocking 8 or 9 guys with 5 offensive linemen and a tight end ain't easy.

28
by Led :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 12:49pm

The high rate of stuffs and high rate of long TDs are related. With that many guys in the box, AP has no chance on most plays. But with his speed, a mistake by the defense (bad run fit, two guys in the same gap, missed tackle, etc.) and it's a TD because so many defenders are close to the LOS. It's a similar phenomenon with Chris Johnson, as was illustrated last night. Johnson is just not as good and doesn't run as hard, so he doesn't break tackles or move the pile like Peterson.

36
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 1:01pm

Oh, I agree, but it isn't just his speed; the unbelievable ability to change direction extremely quickly, and ability/strength/balance to shed off first contact, magnifies the smallest error in run fit, gap control, or pursuit angle into game changng blunders. I know you probably ween't just referring to straight line peed, but the contrast with another guy who ran for the Vikings, Herschel Walker, is instructive. Walker was probably faster in a 40 or 100 yard dash than Peterson, relative to NFL defenders, but he didn't have vision or great balance. It was incredibly frustrating to see Walker miss out on huge runs, when one guy could knock him off balance near the line of scrimmage without making much contact. Peterson turns those opportunities into 40-plus yard runs.

65
by Led :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 1:46pm

Agreed. It's the total package, not just straight line speed.

32
by jimm (not verified) :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 12:55pm

I would say it's simply a factor of so many defensive players focused on stopping the run. If you commit that many guys to the box you are going to blow up a lot of plays regardless of the oline or back.

Peterson is making teams pay for the defensive strategy, but it's still a good one. In the last 8 games Peterson has run for more yards than any other back in history and the Viking offence has contributed the following pts:

14,17,20,34,10,14,7,29 (an avg of 18.1 a game)

The Vikings are simply trying not to turn it over. They know that means about 20 pts and they hope the other team makes some turnovers.

34
by DisplacedPackerFan :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 12:58pm

He faces overloaded fronts, so he gets stuffed a lot. If he were facing fewer stacked fronts he would like have fewer stuffs, fewer 20+ yard runs and more 10-20 yard runs. I have no good way to prove this, but having seen about 5 of his games this year, it just seems likely. There are times he just has to get by that front and then outrun or or out muscle one defensive back. Of course he has also gotten around fronts, beaten a line backer, stiff armed a corner and then out run a safety too.

His season looks boom or bust, but I think it's really been an excellent season where defenses are adding some busts and booms and removing good and great moderate runs as well as a few extra mundane runs.

19
by jimm (not verified) :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 12:38pm

" If defenses are constantly stuffing the box to contain Adrian Peterson, isn't it Ponder's job to make them pay for it with deep shots?"

The funny thing is that Peterson is making teams pay for stacking the box with 1 or 2 50+ runs every week.

26
by goldlw1 :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 12:48pm

I am pretty sure I just read that teams like Philly in with the Falcons. Yeah, the Falcons beat them pretty well.

79
by Thunderbolt of ... :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 2:03pm

One game - that can be swung by a couple plays - is a pretty small sample size when you're trying to counter the data of DVOA, which looks at every single play of the season.

27
by DisplacedPackerFan :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 12:48pm

So Rodgers has had three 200+ passing DYAR games this year. I'm missing weeks 12, 16, and 17 for 2008 (two of those were Monday night games, week 12 and week 16 and I can't find any of that data on ESPN where Quick Reads were in 08 and I simply can't find the week 17 stuff there), but based on prior Quick Reads, he only had four 200+ passing DYAR games prior to this year, one of those the Atlanta playoff game.

He's also had 5 negative DYAR passing games this season. Again can't say for sure with the missing 08 data, but for the other 59 games prior to this season that I have passing DYAR for, he only had 5 games with negative passing DYAR (one of those the Detriot game in 2010 where he was knocked out in the 2nd quarter).

Again I've only been recording the quick reads passing DYAR, not rushing or combined.

I do wonder what his YAR was for the Bears game. He played well, coaching decisions, Mason Crosby, and the Peanut Punch likely kept them from scoring 30+ points (and the refs may have helped keep the Bears from breaking 20 though it wasn't quite as bad as some want to say), but the 4th best regular season passing DYAR game of his career doesn't quite fit, (I've got 281 in week 16 2010, and week 7 and 8 this year with higher passing DYAR). I realize DVOA doesn't see the Bears injuries, that's part of why I'd like to see the YAR.

92
by Flounder :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 2:12pm

Rodgers relative boom or bust nature this year is interesting. I think a big chunk of it is playing with, and I think this is a fairly obvious point, his weakest OL of his tenure. Other contributing factors to this untrained observer's eye are:

1) a bit of regression to a bit too much holding onto the ball, which is related to
2) more fumbles
3) simply not being quite as accurate as the unbelievable accuracy of the 2010 stretch run and most of the 2011 season.

On a separate note, if this Packer fan had an MVP vote, it would be for Adrian Peterson.

35
by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 12:59pm

"Only two of these 11 teams reached the conference title game. Only two others won even one playoff game. The other seven either missed the playoffs outright or went one-and-done, including some teams whose first game came at home after a first-round bye"

So, 4 out of the 10 teams that made the playoffs won their first game in the playoffs.

That seems like a pretty normal percentage to me, if you'd expect 5 out of 10. Considering these teams average 10.9 wins, I think you'd expect a little lower than 50% win percentage.

Seems like there's nothing really learned here.

70
by RickD :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 1:53pm

To do this analysis properly, you have to start with a variation of your obervation, that with 12 teams in the playoffs and only 11 games, the average team wins 11/12 playoff games.

I would then want to look at seeding and the estimated number of wins. For each of the six seeds, look at how many wins are expected as a function of the number of estimated wins over the regular season. And then do the same using actual number of wins instead of estimated number of wins.

I suspect estimated number of wins would be a better predictor of playoff success than actual number of wins.

The stuff about "statement wins" is probably a lost cause, since it's such a hard category to reasonably define. The basic argument should be that the Falcons are probably not as good as your typical #1 seed. Even though they just stomped the Giants.

37
by Ben :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 1:03pm

YAR must really hate interceptions for QBs. I thought this was probably Luck's least effective game this year (primarily due to the 0-7 on 3rd downs that was mentioned. Though, in his defense, it's difficult to throw with J.J. Watt in your face all day), but he ends up middle of the pack here. A number of his other games have rated lower in YAR, but have seemed to be better by the eye test. In most of those games, he has thrown a pick or two, however.

42
by Nick Bradley (not verified) :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 1:16pm

Eh, the Falcons are over-rated, but I think you blow it out of proportion.

Look at Pythagorean win Expectation and see how much they're deviating. Based on that, the Colts are off the charts, with 3.2 more wins than expected. Houston is ahead of Atlanta too in this regard.

I can also model expected wins as a function of their pythagorean score. And if I do that, the Falcons are 8th, with just 1.23 wins more than expected. By this measure, the Colts have 3.5 wins more than expected.

Now, this doesn't take into account strength of schedule, but it still tells a story.

And that story is that the Colts have no business being above 0.500...they should be 5-9 or 6-8.

72
by RickD :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 1:55pm

And yet, if they get the #5 seed and a trip to Baltimore, I wouldn't be surprised to see them upset the Ravens right now.

90
by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 2:11pm

"Look at Pythagorean win Expectation and see how much they're deviating. Based on that, the Colts are off the charts, with 3.2 more wins than expected. Houston is ahead of Atlanta too in this regard."

Pythagorean has said the Colts win more than expected pretty much every year this decade.

The Colts aren't very good, but Pythagorean Win Expectation generally underrates teams with strong offenses/weak defenses, and overrates teams with weak offenses/strong defenses.

For example, in PWE, a team that wins 14-3 gains more expected wins than a team wins 45-10. If a team gives up 14 points, they need to score 66 just to match that 14-3 win. Considering how teams will basically just let you score when you're down 30+ points, this doesn't work very well.

PWE works great for baseball, where a 6-3 game isn't a huge blowout, but is still a convincing win. In football, a 6-3 win is a nail biter. We'd probably be better off with something based off of Point Differential, versus Point Ratio.

Aaron's work has shown that outscoring a team by 21+ points means something. Doubling a team's score doesn't.

111
by RickD :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 2:59pm

Neither PWE nor scoring differential is the end-all be-all. Certainly a 42-21 victory is more impressive than a 6-3 victory, but it's also less impressive than a 21-0 victory.

I suspect PWE works much better in baseball because there's much less variance in runs/game than in the NFL's points/game.

155
by Eggwasp (not verified) :: Fri, 12/21/2012 - 4:57am

Also in baseball the two team's scores are *nearly* independent of each other, whereas in football there is shared, limited time; one team's success/failure can directly affect the success/failure of the opposition (through field position most obviously) and also the defense/ST can score points (and the offense concede) - which doesn't happen in baseball. I think that the interdependency of the points scored/points conceded totals will also reduce the predictive value of the PWE measure.

122
by Nick Bradley (not verified) :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 3:32pm

While that's all true, Aaron's work also showed the colts with 4.6 estimated wins going into this past weekend (9 actual wins).

If you adjusted PWE for opponent PWE, you'd get a close approximation of DVOA

50
by Hummingbird Cyborg :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 1:33pm

When discussing the Falcons win over the Giants, I thought that it might be nice to point out that the Giants are generally a good team, but also lead the league in DVOA variance and that sometimes the Giants are great and sometimes they are below average.

Go back to the Bengals blow out of the Giants and you can't be too surprised when you see them blow out an opponent or get blown out.

Nonetheless, it was an impressive victory that changed my expectations for the Falcons a little bit. This doesn't mean that I jump to the conclusion that the Falcons are sudden Superbowl favorites, but they also have a first round bye and seeing a team with maybe a one in three chance of winning each game they play winning two of those games doesn't happen that often, but it does happen. Since they'd only have to win two games and both are at home, it would a surprise to see them in the Superbowl, but it wouldn't be a total shock. It would just represent an unlikely, but not unfeasible outcome.

48
by ammek :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 1:29pm

Was Alshon Jeffery close to the least valuable WRs? I assume receivers get dinged for OPI, however dubitable the call.

107
by John Courage :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 2:47pm

I'm wondering the exact same thing. Something like 6 targets with 0 catches and 3 OPIs? That seems pretty horrendous. Maybe he didn't have as many targets as I remember?

112
by AnonymousWisconsinite (not verified) :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 3:02pm

He did draw one DPI and a defensive holding call on on one drive. That was probably enough to negate 2 of the 3 OPIs.

55
by WarrenG (not verified) :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 1:39pm

I'm half expecting, "Any Given Sunday: Falcons Over Giants".

I get it. FO is probably taking some ribbing due to their low valuation of the Falcons. As such, they feel the need to defend their numbers, especially when said Falcons come out and dominate a really good team. That being said, it does come off as a bit biased.

I've never claimed that the Falcons are the best in the NFC just because they have the best record. They certainly aren't mediocre either. They're a good, solid team who don't beat themselves and have done a surprising job of throttling good passing attacks this year.

75
by Myk (not verified) :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 1:58pm

Would Peterson's numbers seem to imply that teams are loading the box to stop him (since you don't have to respect Ponder) and therefore when he can get past the LOS there is much more room for him to break a long gain. If so, would that mean its actually bad strategy to sell out for the run against the great backs?

96
by peterplaysbass :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 2:18pm

A defense could probably prevent many of the long runs this way, but they'd yield successful running plays far more often. That, I think, would be even better for the opposing offense.

As a Vikings fan, I'd actually prefer that AP get 6 yards on 1st and 10 much more often.

123
by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 3:33pm

There's a cost there though. Adrian Peterson getting 6 yards consistently would probably lead to him getting a ton more carries, which isn't good for him long term.

129
by peterplaysbass :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 3:51pm

Well, he's average 6.3 YPC so far this year, and he's ahead of Dickerson's 14-game yardage from 1984 while having far fewer carries.

288 carries a year is 18 carries per game. At 6 yards per carry, that's 1728 yards. A pace like that would likely get a lot of victories for the Vikings and keep Peterson playing for years.

I'd happily take 6 YPC with a low standard deviation over 6 YPC with a high st-dev.

156
by Eggwasp (not verified) :: Fri, 12/21/2012 - 5:01am

Well yeah, if you had a standard deviation of Zero, I'd take 5 YPC and win every game.

157
by Eggwasp (not verified) :: Fri, 12/21/2012 - 5:01am

or even 3

136
by Cuenca Guy (not verified) :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 4:12pm

Interesting numbers on Wilson compared to his QBR. Unfortunately I can't go into detail because the filter keeps blocking my post.

137
by Cuenca Guy :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 4:19pm

Okay, I'm registered now. Maybe that helps.

Wilson posted a 99.3 out of 100 Total QBR, the best game of the year. Is the discrepancy possibly due to time of game weighting that DYAR doesn't do? I imagine number of action plays would matter as well since by my understanding, QBR basically gives a per play weighting whereas DYAR is a total? Is there some sort of DYAR metric that is per action play?

138
by JIPanick :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 4:32pm

I was under the impression that:
1) QBR does not take into account opponent quality and
2) the Bills are awful

You are correct that DYAR is a cumulative stat, and I believe you are also correct that QBR is an efficiency statistic. The "per play" equivalent of DYAR is DVOA, but that isn't posted in Quick Reads. Not sure if individual game DVOAs for QBs are posted anywhere - season values are on the QB page (won't be updated to include this week until the DVOA ratings are up).

Finally, in my subjective opinion, DVOA/DYAR performs very poorly on evaluating the rushing value of quarterbacks. I dunno if QBR includes that or not.

144
by Cuenca Guy :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 5:09pm

I forgot about the opponent quality. I found the DVOA for the season and Wilson is highly ranked in that metric.

QBR does take into account running which is why Wilson had such a high score by that metric. It also tracks penalties. Is there such a thing in DYAR or in QB DVOA?

Overall, I'm pretty new to DYAR so I'll have to read a bit more about it. Also, when does the DVOA generally come out? I'm interested to see if the Seahawks are #1 this week.

148
by JIPanick :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 5:33pm

DYAR/DVOA does track running, I just don't think it does it well. I know some penalties are accounted for but not which ones.

DVOA came out just a few minutes ago - go to the main page and refresh. Seattle is a close second to the Pats in the season rankings.

140
by KMarch (not verified) :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 4:52pm

Is this article a new experiment b/n Bleacher Report and FO? Rabble-rousing and cherry-picking? Where's the slideshow, Vince?

141
by KMarch (not verified) :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 4:56pm

Even in the quick-hit about Ryan's 2nd rated performance this week you start with the 'negative': "In the middle of this game, Ryan went just 5-of-10 for 77 yards and a sack, with one touchdown and three other first downs." Yeah, that's just a terrible stretch of passing. C'mon, guys.

145
by peterplaysbass :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 5:20pm

I think starting with the negative highlights the positve: Matt Ryan went 18/18 for 193 yards, 2 TDs and 8 first downs.

FO is high on Matt Ryan, and clearly we all know that Ryan, White, Gonzalez and Jones make for a formidable passing attack, but the point of the article is that public perception of Atlanta will rise to an artificial high in the aftermath of the game with the Giants, and that there's too much money flowing toward the Falcons in Vegas.

151
by wiesengrund :: Fri, 12/21/2012 - 4:21am

Followed up by: "Not all of Jones' catches were productive."

143
by kb (not verified) :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 5:08pm

I'm surprised Jeffery wasn't mentioned with the least valuable WR's. 4 targets zero catches and 3 offensive Pass Interference penalties? That is a very poor day.

146
by Vince Verhei :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 5:24pm

Well, you can't win 'em all.

147
by jklps :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 5:29pm

Sounds vaguely the same to comments made after the articles about

1)Denver being a bigger contender than Houston back in the first quarter of the season
2)Upset Watch from two weeks ago on Carolina/Atlanta.

149
by peterplaysbass :: Tue, 12/18/2012 - 5:35pm

Excellent point!

150
by Karl Cuba :: Fri, 12/21/2012 - 1:32am

Ha!

160
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your blog?

161
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